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Old S. F. Couple Recall Hectic Gold Rush Days

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Posted by Ron Filion on Friday, November 04, 2005 at 10:03:36 :

[Reprinted with permission of Cliff Day. These are his Great-grand Uncle & Aunt.]

Old S. F. Couple Recall Hectic Gold Rush Days
Chronicle Readers for 3 Score years - Pair Feat 60th Anniversary

Its a far cry from the turbulent days of the early California gold fields to the quiet and serenity of a modern home in San Francisco, but Mr. and Mrs. Albert Ament of 1531 Octavia street, both of whom have seen those days, have bridged the gap of time.

Today they are across the bay with Mr. Aments brother, Edward, Mayor of Berkeley, celebrating their sixtieth wedding anniversary and the date when they first became members of the Chronicle family.

Mr. And Mrs. Ament's life reads like the history of the West, rough and ready, with gold nuggets scattered in between months of hard work and trouble with indians. He was born in Peoria, Illinois, in 1849, and as soon as he was able to travel his father took the family down the Mississippi River on a flat boat to New Orleans. They then boarded a sailing vessel, and after a perilous voyage reached the Ithmus of Panama. There little Albert, then less than a year, was carried over the swampy hills on the backs of native carriers. Then aboard ship again, and finally to San Francisco, where their ship landed them at a spot near Kearny and Clay streets.

His family moved to the Santa Clara Valley, where his father engaged in the freighting passengers to the gold fields, in a wagon, at a price of $1000 a trip. His earliest recollection was the tolling of the bell in San Jose, which signaled a hanging of a murderer or thief. He said the bell used to ring quite often in those days, and that a theft of $50 was enough to incite the local vigilantes.

Ament became a miner, and says he made as much as $1000 in one afternoon. He still thinks that mining is a great game and would start out tomorrow for the hills if his strength would permit the hard work. His wife Rhoda, went with him in all his wanderings, some of which took them as far south as Mexico and throughout the entire state of California.

They both remember the time the Indians went on the warpath in the Lava Beds, in Modoc County, and how they alone, scared them off. Ament says, We could see the dust rising from the hoofs of their horses, and we knew it was the Indians, Rhoda and I were the only people within miles, and it looked like they ment business. Hurriedly gathering up some useless rifles which had accumulated about the house, we put them all out in front.The indians came by, their eyes popping out. They stopped, and I told them that there were many "Boston Men" inside. They dashed off, saying they did not care to fight so many "Boston Men."

Source: Sunday Chronicle, February 11, 1934

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