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A Clue from the Goldfields
13 Feb 2015
Like his father, Charles Wynne Aubrey must have felt the urge to write to the papers. In a letter to The Morning Post, in England, he gave his impressions of the San Francisco gold fields. The paper published it as a ‘son of Colonel Aubrey’ - Henry Harcourt Wynne Aubrey whose story is told in Sons & Spouses.
He dated it 30 September 1849, eleven months after arriving in New York, having sailed from London – steerage - on the ‘Orleans’.
In the context of describing the awful conditions the gold diggers had to endure, in their quest to find gold, he makes a casual comment: I have met many a man here I knew at Valparaiso.
What was he, and they, doing in Chile? How and why did he get there? Working there? Valparaiso was a stopover for vessels supplying the needs of the Californian gold fields. Was Charles passing through, waiting and working with other would-be miners, for a ship to take them all to California? And gold?
By then, the gold rush was in full swing, and Charles was able to give his first-hand impressions of San Francisco.
‘This is the most extraordinary country in the world,’ he wrote. ‘All you have heard and been told regarding the gold in this country is too true; the quantity of gold in this country is perfectly inexhaustible, but the washing for it, and the digging for it is the difficulty to overcome.
‘The water is so bad that it at once gives a man the fever prevalent up there, and many a poor fellow leaves his bones there. One is sure of getting gold, in more or less quantity, some are fortunate enough to dig their fortunes in a few weeks, and others just make enough to sustain themselves but all get gold'.
In spite of the awful conditions, Charles Aubrey survived as a miner and by 1860 was living in Township No. 8 Placer California.
As far as we know, he never returned to New York or Valparaiso, but spent the rest of his life in Placer County, married one Maria Skivington, and had a daughter called Delia Jane Aubrey who was born in 1861.
Charles Wynne Aubrey died on 28 August 1904 at Auburn, Placer, California aged 75.
What prompted him to spend his life in and around Placer County? Digging for gold? And what happened to his daughter Delia Jane and he
They are the descendents of Henry and Barbara Wynne Aubrey, whose story, and portraits, are featured in Sons & Spouses.