John App – After the Gold Rush Diary, Part 1 of 4

John’s last diary entry was June 23, 1850. He is near present day Elko, Nevada and he seems impatient to get to his destination. So, what IS his destination? That is the part of his journey that needs to be recreated from as many sources and timing of events as possible.

John probably continued journaling in another book that has been lost to the ages. During his life he wrote down even the most uneventful details sometimes at random and in the margins. We do not have his writings for the period between this date and his arrival into the present day Jamestown, California area.

We know that upon his arrival in that area he prospected and staked claim on a quartz-bearing gold mine, called the App Quartz Mine. It was in the area of the southern mines along the Mother Lode. We also know that he married Leanna Donner (the second oldest surviving Donner daughter from the Donner Party) in October of 1852 at Sutter’s Fort in present day Sacramento, California. They homesteaded near Jamestown near a now extinct town called Quartz Mountain, California.

For John to gain knowledge enough to discover and work a hard rock mine would mean he would have had to have had some experience. It appears that John proceeded from his camp on June 23 into an area of California north of San Francisco in both Nevada and Amador Counties. This was a gold mining area and is located on the north western part of the Mother Lode. The Mother Lode was a 120 mile long area rich in gold that ran from northwest to southeast. He seems to have worked the mines in this area from July, 1850 until about June, 1852. Sometime during this period he undoubtedly met Leanna Donner. She had been rescued from the Sierras in the spring of 1847 and had found refuge, along with her sisters, at Sutter’s Fort in Sacramento, California. Sacramento was a supply depot for the gold fields, so the miners frequented this area and probably John App was among them. She also spent some time at Sonoma (with a Swiss couple “Bruner”) and with her oldest sister, Elitha, at her and her first husband’s (Perry McCoon) ranch along the Cosumnes River (he was killed in a horse riding accident in 1850). After that Elitha and Leanna continued to live together. In 1852 they were staying at a hotel in Sacramento.

He is not included in the 1852 California census for some reason… maybe a historian would know what circumstances would cause that. A reasonable explanation is that he was in a remote area and was simply missed, or that he was out of state although there was no compelling reason or time for him to be gone. The presumption is that he was gaining knowledge and experience about mining, and in June of 1852 joined the Clark-Skidmore Party (probably somewhere around Reno, Nevada and near Truckee, California) for the journey to the Sonora, California area (this is in the Jamestown and Quartz Mountain area).

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About storiesretoldblogger

I am an Elkhart, Indiana native and became interested in applying video to history when consumer video cameras were first introduced on the market in the late 1970’s. My production company, Stories Retold, specializes in preserving oral history, traditions, and values with video. Primarily interviewing individuals, I sometimes document families, and on occasion document an entire community. My niche is developing a personal relationship with clients which helps me to tell their story just the way they would like to have it told. Everyone has a story worth preserving, and I enjoy discovering interesting stories from people with whom I come into contact on a daily basis. In years to come, these videos will be priceless as they portray original stories complete with visual images and actual voices filled with all the primary material and emotion that was intended to be. I gain a strong sense of personal satisfaction with each completed project whether it involves an individual or an entire community.
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