On February 2, 1848 the Treaty of Guadelupe Hidalgo was signed ending the Mexican War. To the United States, Mexico gave up its claims to lands north of the Rio Grande and was forced to give America vast territories that included California. For the United States, the spoils were considered worthy of the young country’s victory. It was becoming an empire, for Mexico the loss of 35% of its territory was devastating. So when word of gold came out, it didn’t take George very long to figure out where he was going next, and though he didn’t believe people were picking up nuggets as big and as fast as reported, he thought it must be a better way to make a living then what he was doing now. So, when they reached the end of the trail on the last drive, he took his money and with no clear idea on where he might be heading, started his ride further west.
With nowhere special in mind, he met up with three other drifters and pooling their money together, started work on the claim where George was now standing. A lot of work but not much to show for it, he and the others had been working this nameless stream for six months. After all of their backbreaking work they might have taken $300.00 maybe $350.00 worth of dust from the water. They weren’t rolling high, that’s for sure.
With a sigh, George went back to work. It didn’t matter that his shoulders ached and his legs were bothering him. The expression burning daylight, a familiar term on ranches, was one ingrained into him and as long as the sun was above, he’d be working but as far as this place was concerned, well he didn’t think there was much point in staying on. He wasn’t going to get rich here, he was sure of that, at least pretty sure. He could look for more ranch work. It was something he knew how to do and finding work with everybody looking for gold shouldn’t be too difficult but the truth was he wasn’t up for it anymore, besides, maybe it was time for a change of scenery as well as work.
When they all quit for the day and cleaned up, he told his partners he was going to leave. As expected they did not argue with his decision, after all when they struck it rich it would mean more for them, three shares instead of four. They bought out his shares and some of his equipment, below its value to be sure but it was enough for him to get a new start someplace new. He just had to think of where an opportunity might present itself and what he could do.
Looking at a rough map he thought he might head out to Sacramento, maybe even Mariposa. It really wasn’t a difficult decision as he didn’t know anyone in either place as far as he was concerned one was as good as the other. He’d just flip a coin. It was the easiest way.
The next morning he packed what little he carried with him, mounted his horse and rode off. He’d flipped the coin.