HISTORY 

El Dorado County, California

LOCAL HISTORY

Diamond Springs

GO TO ACCOUNT OF jOHN c. jOHNSON

Took its name from a group of springs with beautiful clear water, which were located on that now mined out ground on the north side of Main street, in the center of town, opposite the livery stable, or Mr. Carpenter's residence. The old emigrant road, coming down across the summit, passing Silver Lake, Sly Park and Pleasant valley, went through here to Sacramento and the plains ; or joining off to the north towards Coloma, Placerville, Georgetown and all the mining camps in the northern part of El Dorado county, as well as across the American river in Placer county ; and the emigrants passing over this (Carson) road from the earliest times made this a favorite stopping or camping place, to take a short rest after the hardship and trial of the mountain passage. No attempt, however, had been made towards permanent settlement on this point, though it is said that one log cabin had been built up here in 1849, near some of the many springs ; but the owner of it did not succeed in drawing followers to the place ; they were all bound for Coloma, and none took time enough to test the ground. This went on till the latter part of the summer of 1850, when a party of emigrants from the State of Missouri, numbering about two hundred, under the leadership of one McPike, now of Santa Clara county, came down this way and took a fancy to stop here for a few days; but being satisfied with the location, as they found beautiful and plenty of water and pasture, and after they had learned to mine, discovered that the mining here was paying well, they concluded to make this a permanent camp and went on to build clap board houses. Thus becoming the founders of Diamond Springs. The springs, however, belong to those things that only can be talked about.

Diamond Springs is situated bout forty-seven miles east of Sacramento, three miles from Placerville, on the junction of the roads to the latter city and to Pleasant valley. A place so much favored by location and other conditions could not help to accumulate fast after the first start was made ; particularly after the discover of the richest placer mines all around town, it commenced growing as a worthy rival of the neighboring "Hangtown," concerning numerical strength, business and society life. In 1854, when the star of Coloma began to go downward, Diamond Springs was the rising star, that promised to take the place of the former as the county center. The proprietor of the Miner's Advocate sold out at Coloma only to publish his paper at Diamond Springs ; and of the size of the trade the town commanded, the many stores and other business places, that were doing a flush business, gave sufficient proof. A good many of the denizens of Diamond Springs have made themselves prominent so that their names deserve to be recalled in history : There were, M. K. Shearer, the most obliging Postmaster ; C. B. Patterson, G. M. Waugh, Samuel Haskett, J. H. Haynes, Dr. Samuel F. Hamm, Mathew Arnold, S. Smith, S Sims, Dr. S. F. Marquis, H. H. West, F. S. Davenport and Henry Larkin.

The Masonic fraternity is represented at Diamond Springs with Diamond Lodge, No. 29, F. and A. M., which installed in 1855, holding their meetings on Saturday proceeding the full moon. Mr. L. E. Brooke is the Secretary ; and El Dorado Chapter No. 4, Royal Arch Masonry, holding their meetings at Union Hall on the evenings of 1st and 3d Friday of each month; A. D. Parks, M. E. H. P.; L. E. Brooke, Secretary. Mount Zion Lodge, No. 114, F. and A. M., was constituted and the following officers installed by A. D. Parks, of Diamond Springs, R. W. S. G. W. on Friday, May 22d, 1857; Wm. McKean, W. M.; N. C. Boswell, S. W.; J. H. Watson, J. W.; J. R. Cobb, Treasurer ; G. W. McKean, Secretary ; Chas. C. McLean, S. D.; D. W. Strohn, J. D. ; Wm. Knox, Marshal ; E. King and J. S. Jacks, Stewards; R. S. Johnson, Tyler ; meetings were held on Friday of, or proceeding the full moon.

The Odd Fellows instituted their first lodge in this county and one of the first in the State, at Diamond Springs, it was called Diamond Springs Lodge, No. 9. of Diamond Springs, their day of meeting is Wednesday. Sometime in 1854, Zeta Encampment of I. O. O. F. was instituted here also, but was transferred from here to Placerville, in January, 1857. The Odd Fellows of Diamond Springs are in possession of a fine commodious hall in the two-story frame building on the hill, visible far away.

In 1854, when Placerville had started the agitation for the removal of the county seat from Coloma, of the five aspirants that finally became voted for, Diamond Springs came out third best, which could be considered pretty good, s the district of votes given for this place was very limited, being injured on both sides by the concurrence of Placerville on one and Mud Springs on the other side.

On August 5, 1856, about 9 o'clock A. M. flames were discovered to issue out of the Howard House, a large building in the heart of the town of Diamond Springs, built of the most combustible material, a strong breeze helped the flames to spread with fearful rapidity, sweeping everything before them. Scott's brick house, and the office of Wells, Fargo & Co., on Main street, escaped uninjured. Mr. Shearer, the Postmaster, saved the greatest portion of the books, furniture, etc., of the office, but lost the letters and his law library. Citizens of Placerville and other places came to the assistance and worked with commendable zeal to check the flames. The fire was supposed to be the work of an incendiary, and it was presumed that there was some connection between the three big fires destroying the largest towns of the Empire county. Placerville, Georgetown and Diamond Springs--inside of about a month. The total loss on property destroyed by fire in those three places was estimated at $1.500,000. 

The losses at Diamond Springs, after a rough estimate, were as follows.
G. P. Morrill, druggist $2,500
W. P. Scott, buildings 2,000
Mrs. Walk, house & furniture 1,000
F. Caufman, carpenter 600
P. Strelitz, jeweler 3,000
Golden Exchange Building 1,500
Peter Gile, livery stable 2,000
Church 4,000
George Fryer, saloon 3,000
George Thoonn, house 600
F. McCoy, saloon and furniture 1,500
T. Boyle, store and goods 1,000
J. P. Steele, livery stable 1,000
Thos. Davidson, dwelling 1,000
C. Irving, dwelling 1,000
N. A. Chipman, dwelling 400
E. N. Strout, dwelling 1,500
James Wylie, dwelling 1,500
Mrs. Holland, house 2,500
N. Lepper, bookstore 800
W. S. Day, store and goods 3,000
N. Rhine, goods and building 10,000
R. Fouke, crystal saloon 2,500
T. H. and W. L. Cunningham 25,000
J. R. Fuller, market 25,000
J. Ullman, store 35,000
Kaufmann, store 3,000
Wm. Harris, store 3,000
Thos. Fa heringham, store 2,500
John Moss 300
M. K. Shearer, dwelling 2,000
Young & Allen, hotel 1,000
Bradberry, dwelling 1,000
Carpenter, temperance house 1,500
Isaiah Hull, building 1,000
C. B. Patterson, law library 400
L. Bradley, dwelling 1,000
George Lander, furniture 800
J. Oliver, dwelling 750
John S. Welton, Nebraska saloon 5,000
Mary A. Thomas, building 2,000

Another destructive fire visited Diamond Springs on the 23d of September, 1859, which had swept away a great many buildings in the central portion of town before its ravages could be checked. The loss on property after a rough estimate amounted to between $50,000 and $60,000.

Probably but few know that the Digger Indians burned their dead and will do so up to this day if no law officer interferes with their habits. Immediately in the rear of Ham Hawley's and Bob Shirley's stables at Diamond Springs, was the consecrated ground on which they paid the last funeral rites to their deceased warriors, wives, brothers, sisters, sweethearts and children by cremation. For hundreds of miles around were the dead transported on liters to this sacred spot, where it was supposed that the spirits of the departed, in the flames of the pine fagots, took their departure to the happy hunting ground beyond the sky. We witnessed one burning in 1852, of a chief, who had been brought from Georgetown. There ceremonies occupied some ten hours, and ran into the late hours of the night. It was a wild, weird, sickening, stinking operation. Hundreds of Diggers had collected from everywhere (they were more plentiful then than now), the bucks dressed in all manner of attire, with painted faces, the women and female children with tarred heads. The dead body of their chief was placed naked on the ground, then covered with pine splints and fired, when bucks and squaws set up as unearthly, maniacal a howl as ever came from mortal throats. Round and round they danced until there was nothing left of the corpse of poor "Digger Jim." At a late hour of the night the spectacle was a scene for n artist. Hundreds of rough dressed, uncouth, unshaven miners, storekeepers, visitors, etc., had collected and almost surrounded the Indians. The stench from the burning body was almost intolerable, the burning fagots kept up a bright light, but no one interfered with the ceremonies, for there were no hoodlums in those days. Some one notified Coroner Tommy Daugherty that he was wanted, and away he went without asking any questions, on a bucking mustang, to hold an inquest on a dead "Injun," followed by many notables of the county. There were present as near as can be recollected: Ben. Post, Ballard, Billy Carr, Jim Plummer, Bob Graham, Bob Carson, (Kit's brother), Tom Davidson, Church A. C. Waldron, Uncle Billy Rodgers, Dave Buell, the Brace brothers, E. B. Carson, Old Wetherwax, Fred Chamberlain, Carey of the Carey House, John Fountain, Miss Puss Williams with her pleasant face and laughing curls: now the wife of J. Q. Brown, and the prattling children of the Titus Hotel, Tom Springer, Ned McCabe, Al Merrill, Pete Schram, Bill Donahue, Theron Foster, Net Wilton John O'Donnell, Jack McDougal, Pat Lynch, Mike Borowsky, Cockeyed Johnson of Johnson's Pass, Geo. Coddington, Feo. Fryer, Bob Bell, and the handsome face of Mrs. George Thomas, the blonde, and Mike and "Mommy" Shearer were there; Bart Richardson, Bill Connell, (doublefoot), Chauncy Noteware, Alfred Briggs, and sturdy John Conness, Chase and Elias Willow, Joe Simmons and the Davis brothers, Jim Hume, Jack Moses, Capt. Billy Smith, Sam and Jim Grantham, Ross Sargent, John Bell, A. C. St. Denver, Major Bee, Dick Savage, "Boomerang Bill," Bill January and Roush, Dan Gelwicks, and Sam Seabough, and Col. Ned Baker, the editor and orator.


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