THE GOLD RUSH OF 1849
By Helen George, Dist. 296.
Among the important and exciting discoveries during the early history of
our country was the discovery of gold in California in 1848. Even though it
was in the days before the telegraph, telephone or radio, the news was
quickly brought back to the East. The thought of gold shut out all ideas of
dangers and hardships which might have to be met. Men went wild over the
idea of getting riches.
Among the early settlers in the East was my great-grandfather, Horace B. George, who was born in Jefferson county, New York, in 1824. By this time the East was beginning to be more heavily populated. Better opportunities seemed to be had in the Middle West, where the fertile prairie lands were being taken by the settlers moving in. So at the age of twenty-four he came to La Salle county. The forest lands in this region were rapidly being taken and cleared by the farmers. Saw-mills were buirt along many of the streams. One of these was on the Fox river in Dayton township. My great-grandfather worked in this mill.
When the news of the great discovery came, it seemed a great opportunity, so my great-grandfather left his work and went to the gold fields. He bought up what tools, food and supplies he needed. He traveled with a group in a covered wagon train. It was a slow and weary trip. They had to be in fear of the Indians. Often they were hungry and thirsty. Some of them became sick and died. Others turned back.
When he finally got to California he saw that there were a great many other people coming from all parts of the country. A town had sprung up around the gold fields over night. People lived in anything they could find. More came every day. When he had been there some time things grew worse. People started stealing gold from others. Many men gambled and lost all their money. A igilance committee was formed by the leading men. They were to keep law and order. They hanged the worst men.
On returning he brought with him some gold nuggets. He certainly was proud of them. He was always ready to show them and tell of his adventures. He had one nugget made into a ring and another into a pin. These pieces of jewelry are still in the family, as my great-uncle, W. C. Cove, has them now.
When Mr. George came back he obtained 160 acres of land from the government in 1853 or '54. His brother Harvey settled there until 1863. His parents were Gilman and Fannie George; the former was born in Vermont and the latter in New Hampshire. They had five children - Moses, Harvey, Horace, the subject of this sketch, Mary, and Daniel. Horce married Miss Elizabeth Stadden. She was born in 1832. Mr. and Mrs. George have three children â€” William, who is dead; Ida B., wife of W. C. George, who now lives in Leland, and Edgar C, my grandfather, now dead, used to live in Leland also.
William Stadden, son of Mrs. H. B. George, and father-in-law of H. B. George, was born in Newark, Lacking county, Ohio, December 5, 1808. He was the son of John and Elizabeth (Green) Stadden. He came to La Salle county in 1831 and settled in Dayton township. During the Black Hawk war he moved his family to Springfield, returning two years later. In 1834 and 1835 he was sheriff of La Salle county, and in 1838 was elected to the state senate and served a term of three years. In 1848 he was a member of the constitutional convention at Springfield. He died Oct. 13, 1849. Their family of seven children are Mary, Jonathan, Elizabeth, Mrs. George, of Leland, 111., William, Maria, Aaron and Richard.