A little history about Eliza
Eliza Uncapher, born May 10, 1830 at Marion, Ohio to Adam and Susanne Ludwig Uncapher. Married John Winslow McCreight on October 7,1851 at Greensburg, PA. John was a timber merchant, known as 'Honest John'. He was born July 11, 1821 and died July 23, 1900. Eliza bore twelve children between 1852 and 1873, At the time of this diary, six of her children had died, all under eight years of age. Eliza died July 2, 1918 and is buried at Paradise, PA.
|[Eliza kept a diary for six and a half months, beginning November 2, 1886 and ending May 17, 1887. During this time span, she traveled by train from Pittsburgh, PA to the mining area near Kingman, AZ where she 'kept house' for five months for her husband John and son 'Will' who suffered from a lung condition. They then returned via the west coast back home. The record here is of the Arizona portion. Her son, Major I. McCreight, transcribed the diary from the original loose penciled notes in 1946 with great difficulty. As he wrote in his accompanying note, "--dim and very difficult to read.--allowance must be made----Mainly we want to see and know what they did and how."]|
a prelude to introducing Eliza to this western scene, the following
letters are presented. Both were addressed to Eliza's son, Joe, of
Reynoldsville, Pa. The first was written by her nephew, James B.
Uncapher, who evidently mirrors the anti-Indian sentiment of at least
some of the white population of the mining district. The second was
composed by her son, 'Will', a full three months before Eliza's arrival.|
Mineral Park, May 30th.
Mr. Jos. McCreight,
Coz Joe. Your letter 2 hand & was shure that you were indebted to me 2 that amt. 'Will' & I came to the Park this afternoon to see how things were going on since the Indian trouble's here but find every thing quiet. I only wish there had been 600 of them killed instead of 6-they are no good any how. only when they are Dead then they are good Indians. Thanks for the coat & vest. they are just the thing in this country. it is as hot as-hell o-there was a miner died at Gold Basin last Saturday and went straight to ---- but he could not stand it, and came back on Sunday for his overcoat. You have to build a fire to keep cool by. Well Joe we have another big "Bonanza" a claim that a party wanted $2,000 for 2 years ago. the lead is 40 feet wide and shows mineral on top. is an extension to the Monarch and is in I X L Basin. we have all the wood & water. also a fine place to bathe in which is considered a luxury in this country. I suppose 'Will' wrote you the particulars of the Indian fight. it occured only 1½ mile from our camp. The whites took the Mother and put her in jail here in the park so the Wallapai's could not get her but she is now at large. The Custom with them is to kill all of the bad Indians. also bad Indians relations. The "Hico's" or white men don't care much if they would kill the whole-outfit. they aint no good anyhow. The Chief She-rum-came to our cabin and told us if the Squaw came, not to keep her & we told him that we had not lost any squaws & that we were not keeping a Hotel. he went away contented. I guess you will think there is a lot of Indian news in this but the fact is we have so little to write about unless it should be rattle snake news. 'Will' & I killed 3 one day, one with 13 rattles and a button. it was a "whopper"-our garden is looking good. We have about 3 radishes that will be in good eating order about the 4th of July. also beans cucumbers beets and peas. as soon as we got in the park the boys commenced to call us convicts with the Seersucker coats on. 'Will' and I stop with our friend Geo Monroe who is the deputy Sheriff and has a room in the court house. he is a friend who I knew in Albuquerque N.M. and came here. he is one of the Dons[?]. The Camp is booming at present and the teams are kept busy hauling the ore to the rail road. we have considerable ore at present but don't know how much it will pay but are going to work about 2 months on our new discovery which we call the Westmoreland and then sell it. we think we will have no trouble to sell the claim we was working. The Monarch is on the same ledge and the next one with a 32 foot shaft in which we sunk. they want $10,000 for but 'Will" ' & I like Pork but--a hog we will take considerable less and then go into the cattle business which is much more safer. Well Joe I think this is about all the news I can think of at present & will close. had a letter from Bess. she has written me 2 letters. the first I ever got from her. the doctor is going to amputate Aunt Hall's leg, on act of Blood poisoning. Ma and Nina was over to Mt. P and had a pleasant. I am glad Jennie is with you & hope she may have an extra good time. how is Aunt Lyde. You did not say any thing about her. how did the operation effect her. 'Will's' health is extra good at times. he does a good bit of reading and has let up on smoking to a great extent. he likes the country. has not had any word from Maj. for some time. The paper with letter came all right but wish he had let me give him some pointers before he wrote. Well Joe I will close, hoping to hear from you soon & that you may be successful in that Mill business. With best regards to all-I will close from your Coz Jim
Mineral Park Aug. 8 1886
Jim was over at the Park yesterday and brought your letter over. about them [postal money] orders that I received about three months ago. I wrote home the day I received them and told you that I had received them all right and have mentioned them several times since and finally wrote to Shultz about them. I paid out about $60 the day I got it for Bills we owed and $20 for an interest in a claim. bought a Bill of grub, a couple pairs of socks and have been living on the balance since. Jim and I have been burning charcoal for the last couple of weeks trying to make a raise to buy another sack of beans. You folks seem to be under the impression that the Gold and silver is laying around under the rocks here with eagles on it. Costs something to mine here. in the first place we ought to have (but haven't) $100 worth of tools. beside that we have to buy our own powder, fuse and caps and we can't live here on less than $30 a month even on Beans. we have four as good claims as there is in the Co. I think one of them lays right between two of the best mines in the camp. one of them is called the I.X.L. it is Just 110 ft deep. three men took out $6,000 in 50 days. the other one is called the C.O.D. 200 ft deep. they got $5,000 for last month's shipment. ours we call I O U. it lays right between the two on the same ledge. as soon as we get some grub ahead, we are going to work on it. it is supposed to cost about $7 a foot to sink a shaft here. we have property that is worth a couple of hundred thousand if we had it any place but here or could afford to work it. My health is good at present and as long as it is I think that I can rustle around and make a living and if I can't my credit is good. of course if we had a little money now we could make good use of it but by the time you would write three or four times to see if I wanted any money and then a couple of times to see where to send it by that time say in the course of two or three months we probably wouldent need it. so you needent bother about it. we don't owe more than 30 or 40 dollars and we have 20¢ credit up at the store so I guess we can make it all right without any assistance. as to the Cattle business I think that I have explained that several times. I haven't got the wealth to invest in it at present so I have dropped it. if I keep my health I propose to stay here till I make something if I have to stay here 40 [?] years. tell Mother that my health is very good and she need not be uneasy about me. love to all.
W H Mc
ARRIVAL IN KINGMAN[Probably Sunday Nov. 14, 1886]
I was surrounded with Indians as I got off the stage--I could scarcely get in for them--they stood around the door and laughed and chattered--I could not understand them--they came to the hotel to get the broken victuals for which they do the scrubbing and dirty work. We have all Chinese servants--all men and good cooks they are--we have the best of everything--they are all dressed when they come to town--but at the camp they go naked.
Nov. 15--It rained and hailed yesterday. Tom built a forge--Jim took the horse with pack saddle to the Park [Mineral Park P.O.,AZ] to bring over a grindstone. 'Will' started this afternoon on the claim he had been prospecting and found mine assayed at 20 oz. gold.
Nov. 21, Sun.--it has stormed and snowed all night and day and bad weather as I ever saw in PA though not so cold yet as it gets there. There is nothing we coud call vegetation to be seen.
Nov. 22--Jim and John went to the mines this morning--'Will' not so well--we stayed at hotel all morning--called on Mrs. Hyde in afternoon--and took a walk to the nearest mines just at the edge of town--this is county seat and largest town in county--is not larger than Sykesville [PA]--nearly all the houses are built of adobe--decent-looking houses but not substantial--an addtion to this hotel and used as a sleeping room fell in and killed the proprietor and his wife and one child, two children escaping. We occupy the room used by Mrs. Wilson, wife of one of California's millionaires. She came back on a visit to their mines today, only remained for dinner--she is a business woman.
Inserted here is copy of a letter Eliza wrote this day to her son, Joe, in PA:
Mineral Park Oct [sic] 22 (should have read Nov 22)
Dear Joe, We have been here almost a week and do not know how long we will [stay?]. Not long [we think?] as it would take a small fortune to stay here all winter. have been trying to persuade "Will" to go East or at least leave here as he is not so well as he was when he left home. the air is too rare for his lungs, he cannot climb easily as I can. he and I were [-ing?] to the mining [...illegible... ] direct, but much farther by the Burro path we had to follow it winds around points, beside a precipice at the base of which lies the carcass of a horse which fell over loaded with wood. the path is scarce a foot wide, the mountain close to the right, around a butte which a [sic] wished to ascend but had no time. John and Jim have been at the mines all week digging for ore. they have one tunnel about 50 ft and another about 10 ft. they have some good ore on the Dump, have not sold any yet. they have a good Cabin to stay in but too small for all of us. Jim got dinner thought I was too tired, had good Bread Jim baked Splendid Steak Penn butter, Bologna Tea, and to celebrate the occasion canned apricots, all well got up. The mines are in the Hualapai Mts with the Sacramento Valley on the right, going from here and the Hualapai Valley on the left of the mountain all [?] in the Hualapia [sic], Indian, Res. On the way up I could see into Cal Nevada, and Utah, such strange plants, Brush, and Cacti. this town is the County seat. the [?] are trying to have it moved to Kingman, the largest town in the County, about as large as Sykesville. the houses are built one story and of adobe. There is a school of about 12 or 15 scholars. the teacher gets $10.00 per month. wish I could teach school, could afford to stay then. I was met by about a dozen Indians big and little when I got off the stage. some of them talk English. they wear clothes in town, American fashion-, but go naked when at their own camp. they are around the Hotel most all day, after the broken vituals [sic]. Antelope, a young squaw just passed my window. she is considered the handsomest around but drinks like a fish, and is bad as can be. The married ones are decent, would be killed if they were not. they pack hay and wood to town and do washing and cleaning. I want to get a Rabbit skin mantle from a Mohave squaw if I can. "Will's" friend thinks he can get me one for four or five doll. I wrote Lill [?] you to send $200.00 in Po Orders. If sent, send $300.00 more as we may take Will to Los Angeles with us. Tell Maj my advice would be to try for something farther East, this is a place to make and spend faster. "Will" thinks he would do well in store but so much has to be trusted out to go into the cattle business would require much capital. "Will" says if Maj had come when he wrote him first he could have had all the Butcher business in town as there was no butcher here then. Be good all of you and you will be happier there than any place seen yet. Love to Babies and all and write soon
Nov. 23--'Will' is better. He and I went up to the mines--they are in the Hualapai mountains--the highest peak, Sherum's Peak, called for a chief--is within 3 miles of town. We were very hungry and tired after a seven mile walk over the mountain and through the cacti and every kind of jaggery plant--saw some wiciups or Indian huts--saw some braves fancifully dressed, on horseback on the way to Hackberry, AZ--'Will' and Tom went to the Park to get the mail. Just saw 10-mule team come in with bells on to take Christie's ore to railroad--with two large red wagons unlike any ore wagons.
Nov. 27-Went up to the mine--found some pieces of float ore--helped sort some--they sacked 11 sacks of good ore to ship--it takes 16 sacks to make a ton--climbed the butte on the way--saw a train of pack mules tied in a single file and led by the driver. Such looking saddles almost covering the mule and curved metal hooks to put the sacks of ore on the mule--a single mule carrying as much as 6 or 8 hundred pounds.
Nov. 28, Sun.--Been all day sorting and labeling specimens--some very reliable ones--wrote home to Lill (daughter).
Nov. 29--Visited with Mrs. Sherman, our landlady, in the yard of the hotel; about 15 big and little Indians in the yard--saw baby about 2 months old entirely naked, quite pretty features; saw baby with sack of sand just large enough to cover its chest and bowels fastened on by strips of cloth wound around the body--the arms are next placed down the sides and more strips wound on arms, then it is fastened o a frame made of sticks, about an inch through, bent like an ox-bow and fastened by weaving grass back and forth part way down, leaving the top and bottom bare; the child is fastened to this by more strips and a kind of rim like an old-fashioned bread basket without a bottom put over the head.--pleasant ladies--got letter from Lill, so glad to hear from home. 'Will' not well today.