NEW DIGGINGS ON THE FEVER 1824-1864
The book can still be purchased from:
Southwest Graphics, Box 96, Darlington, WI 53530
Pages - V, VI, VII
More than one hundred years have passed since William Field of New Diggings reached for his Journal and made his final entry. Then, realizing, as he apparently did, that his days on earth were numbered, he asked the family doctor, E. B. Ferris, and his neighbor, Judge Blackstone, to witness his last will and testament, which provided for the disposition of an estate valued at the time at approximately thirty thousand dollars.
To Silas, the youngest of his eleven children, the Kentucky-born Field left one of his most precious possessions, - Young Tyrant, a thoroughbred stallion. To his oldest son, George, he bequeathed his watch. The 1250 acres of land he had accumulated in his lifetime, he divided among his eleven children, leaving the "home place" and some personal property to his wife, Sara.
The "home place" has remained in the family since his death in 1858, and fortunately for us, Field's journal and many of his papers have remained also, somewhere near the spot where he last placed them. Thus we are privileged, through the recorded word of this unusual farmer - miner -- (unusual in that, during those hectic years from 1833 to 1858 he kept and preserved a journal) to glimpse events and transactions that occured during those exciting times.
As a local historian, I am grateful to the descendents of William Field who have made these revealing glimpses possible. I would like to express my gratitude also to all others who have provided me with materials, help and encouragement.
Since this book is intended primarily for the people who have read and may possess copies of "new diggings is an old diggings" , I have tried to avoid repetition, and thus have not included some materials I might otherwise have used. It is my hope that the two books present a clear and accurate picture of "the new diggins" in its heyday.
The letters that came to us after publication of new diggings is an
old diggings were varied and interesting. One came from as far
away as Ulverstone, Tasmania, where F. W.
Heap, a nephew of the late Martin
Heath of New Diggings, sat down to write us concerning the
Heath family, one of the earliest
English families in the diggings. He said that among other things,
he had in his possession "an old fashioned book on needlework which was given
to my mother as a school prize, on the front page of which is written "For
good conduct. New Diggings, 1875."
M.H. Kelly of Waterloo, Iowa, wrote to Lloyd Newman:
"My father, John D. Kelly, came there (to New Diggings) practically direct from Ireland in about 1849, bringing his mother and other members of the family with him...He and his good friend, Bill Evans, struck the lead west of the church while working for Mr. Champion, which proved to be the foundation of the wealth of the Champion family.
'Charley Carter, when a child, fell down an eighty-foot shaft (abandoned) up near Denny Driscoll's house. You know from observation and experience of the danger of "damps" which I think was the common name for foul air. Father of course knew and understood the danger, especially since his oldest brother Timothy lost his life in this manner. Father went down on a rope, miner's fashion, and brought Charley up, who lived to tell the story.
'My mother, Johannah Lynch, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, and came to New Diggings with her parents as a young girl before Father's arrival. Her mother died of the cholera which swept that community in the early eighteen-fifties, leaving her the oldest of seven children. One of her brothers, Daniel P. Lynch, ran a grocery store there but later moved to Colorado. She and Father were married in 1856. As a young girl she attended catechism in the old church, was married in it, and her ten children were baptized there. This, I think, is an interesting and unusual record in family history.
I hope your history... will be worthy of the sturdy character of a people who left the imprint of their lives in Dog Hollow, Petticoat Lane, and on the West Ridge, as well as other places where they earned their living and raised their families in the hard but honest way.
Ernest Dunlop, a grandson of James H. Earnest, recalled his visits, as a boy, to his grandfather's farm.
"I used to ride an old blind horse around a circle which operated a primitive water pump at one of the mines", he wrote. "My grandfather was a fancier of race horses in his later days. I rode an old sway back named Oakland as a boy. This horse had been one of the fast horses in its day."
I am sorry that space does not permit of my quoting from the letters of other correspondents, - most of them descendents of New Diggings' pioneer families. The receipt of these letters was a rewarding experience, and provided some information for the present volume.
M. S. C.
Of Names and places Pages 1-7
County Coordinator Dori Leekley
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© 1997-1999 Dori Leekley
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