Family Genealogy Research,  Ferguson

Ferguson Men and the California Gold Rush – George P. Ferguson Account

Background

Four Ferguson men left Gaston County, NC for the California gold fields in 1849.  They were James “Squire Jim” Ferguson, his son William; Squire Jim’s nephew, Robert Andrew Ferguson, and Alfred Hall Ferguson, son of George W. Ferguson.

The following was written by Alfred H. Ferguson’s brother George Porter Ferguson.  He lived in Hillsboro, Hill County, Texas for a number of years and certainly knew R.A. Ferguson as they did not live far apart.  It is interesting that George P. Ferguson states that his brother, Alfred, died in California.  This is not true.  Alfred remained in California until his death in January of 1909.  A quick search for our Alfred shows that he was a saloon keeper in Plumas, California in 1870.  In 1885, he married Julia D. Edwards.  Alfred was working as a carpenter in Alturas, California in 1888 and in 1900 he was working in the same town, but as a furniture dealer.  Hardly someone who died in the gold fields.

George Porter Ferguson, Hillsboro, Texas, narrative 1910

[The California Gold Rush of 1849]

R. A. Ferguson, in company with his uncle, James Ferguson, known as ‘Squire Jim Ferguson, of Gaston County, North Carolina; his son William Ferguson and my oldest brother, Alfred Ferguson, started on the 19th of February, 1849, for California.

They spent the night of the 18th at the home of my father, and on the morning of the 19th of February, 1849, they started for California. They walked to Yorkville, S.C. and then by water to New York. From New York they sailed on a vessel to Panama. They crossed the isthmus of Panama by private conveyance. After crossing Panama, they went by water to California. I am not certain just where they landed, but it seems that the first landing was in Sacramento City. Their tickets cost them $1,400.00 each.

The first work done by R.A. Ferguson after arriving in California, was driving a dray from the landing up to town. They gave him $10 a day, and his board for the first day, and for some time after that. ‘Squire Jim’ Ferguson and his son, William Ferguson and my brother Alfred Ferguson, each got $25 a day for carpenter work. They had to pay $1 a pound for flour. They worked there in town for awhile, and then got up a camping outfit and went into the mining regions.

Old man ‘Squire Jim Ferguson and R. A. Ferguson returned to Gaston County in the latter part of 1853, I think. My oldest brother Alfred died in California.

When R. A. Ferguson returned from California, he brought with him about $25,000.00 in gold, and carried that with him to Texas.

William Ferguson brought as much or more gold with him. Old ‘Squire Jim brought $25,000 or $30,000.00 with him. At his death his children got at least $4,000.00 a piece. ‘Squire Jim died soon after coming back. James Ferguson died at the age of 47 years.

These boys were known as “California” Bill and “California” Bob.

William Ferguson traded in cotton and slaves. He went to Mississippi about the commencement of the war, and it seems that he has been lost, as he was never heard of since.

The oldest son of “California” Jim (‘Squire Jim Ferguson) is William Ferguson – “California” Bill…

 

 

One Comment

  • Neil Ferguson

    My GG2 had a brother who left Cedar County Iowa in 1849 for California. He apparently had some success finding gold or work as in 1853 he was awarded two federal US mail routes. One required steam boat travel for the route between Sacramento and San Francisco. The other was Sacramento to the north up to Yuma City. It didn’t end well as his 1855 obituary listed cause of death as lumbar puncture. His name was John C. Ferguson. Aged 25 at time of death. He and his four brothers lived in Westmoreland County PA prior to moving to Iowa in 1848.

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