Ed. Note: Dave Henderson was over 100 years old
when the following interview was held. He had a colorful
career in mining all over the world, including the mines at Julian. His
appearance on the Julian mining scene took place
some 16 years after the visit during which Mary Morse wrote
her account, published in this issue. It will be observed that by this time
the quest for gold had taken on more of the characteristics of a
business venture and lost much of the romance,
if there ever was any, of "gold fever."
Interview by Edgar Hastings,
January 19, 1957
I was born in Calaveras County, California, on August 12,
1856. I was educated in San Francisco at the Turk Street School of Mines, in
Arizona, and in Oxford, England. I spent five years in England and graduated as
a mineralogist. I came back to San Diego in 1884.
I know all about the Butterfield Trail. I went over it with
my father in 1876. The stage ran from Julian to Yuma. My name is on the big book
at Vallecitos now. The trail went down Rodriguez Canyon, to Vallecitos which was
a station with plenty of water, then down to the sand hills and knolls, some of
them as big as a house, then to Indian Wells, and from there to Yuma. I crossed
to Yuma on a scow or float across the Colorado River.
I rode on the old stage road up the San Diego River past El Capitan and up to
Julian. It branched off and went to Foster. When they made a new road it went on
the high ground by Ramona. This did not go the way the road
does now, but went through Reedy Canyon. I rode a mule on it once and came out
The stages had six and eight horses, but six was the usual number. On the desert they used
all mules. The old Concord stages had leather springs, and most of them carried
six passengers on an average, but some of them carried eight. I also saw some of
the old camels, but not at very close range. They were useless and ruined many
a horse, because a horse is afraid of the smell of a camel.
I have been all over the world, including Alaska, South
Africa, China, and all the South American republics, working for the Avino
Mining Company, which had its headquarters in London. Their work was primarily
in Mexico and Bolivia.
I worked in the mines at Julian from 1886 up until the time
when I was eighty. I worked in the Chariot, the Ranchita, the Hobart, and in the
Alvina. The owner of the latter was killed after he took out $60,000.
I saw the Stonewall Mine working, but it never did pay.
There was only one shoot of ore which went down to the bottom and cut off at 600
feet. I went to look at it after it was pumped out, but we didn’t pay much
attention to the Stonewall because there was so much water there. They worked
only about six hours a day, and spent the rest of the time pumping. They used
some old English Cornish pumps. I used to drink whiskey and eat with Governor
Waterman, and have worked with his son Walt and his grandson Bob.
I sank three shafts on the Chariot,
which was a good paying mine. The Ranchita paid good, too,
after Ted Borden got it. Ted was a milkman’s son from New York.
I saw America Newton many times, but that was 72 years ago.
America was her nickname?her real name was Dyer.
I remember the meeting between the miners and the farmers
concerning the ownership and use of the land. The miners won out in the long run.
Williams, a Cornishman, I believe was the man who said that the land was more
valuable for a farming country than it was for a mining country. There were a
great many Cornish miners there. They were good workers and most of them, when
they got $4 a day thought that was a good price, and it was in those days.
Down where Banner is now, by that crook in the road, I believe there were 300 tents on the
side of that hill. The miners used the bushes for tent stakes. There was one good
mine in that canyon. A Los Angeles company bought a part interest in it and
changed its name. It isn’t working now because miners have wanted $2 an hour for
the last nine or ten years. The owners can’t pay that much because the ground
won’t pay it. The ore was not low grade but paid more than $70 per ton. In the
early days $60 to $70 per ton was big pay.
Then they ran into gold in the form of sulfides, and they
couldn’t do anything with them. This ore would have to be sent to a smelter or a
chlorination plant or a cyanide
plant, and they talked about putting in a chlorination plant. But they stopped
work because it took money to do this, and these men of small means didn’t have
it. They were doing well to have $1000 put away for payday.
Frazier and the Baileys started apple orchards a good many
years ago. The Baileys had a big house where the packing house is now.
The road went through and came out at the head of where the
Banner Grade is now, but the grade was not in then. They took a very steep
canyon south of there and came out at Banner. This went down past the old Pine
I traveled part of the old Jackass Trail on foot. It came up
from Mexico, crossed at Campo, then went to Buckman Springs, up the
canyon on the east side, over the knoll, up through
the valley, and on to San Bernardino County. Buckman had a kind of an eating
house there for awhile. You couldn’t call it a hotel, but it was a place to eat
and a place to sleep. There were also two or three tents there. The trail went
on an angle through the valley, on past but not through Julian, through the
Santa Ysabel Valley, joined the Butterfield Trail close to Warners, and then fell
back to the west.
I rode a mule on the trail from Campo to Yuma many times, stopping for
water at Mt. Springs, at Coyote Wells, and again
at the Colorado River.
I have never seen a gun fight in that country; I’ve never
even seen two men quarreling.
There was a turquoise mine on Crescent Peak in San
Bernardino County. Preston Murray had the turquoise dug out and piled up on the
ground, but there was no nearby market for it. Then a man named Sims came from
Los Angeles and asked to market the gems in New York. He took the turquoise and
sold it in New York for $100,000 to Tiffany’s. Upon Sims’ return to this
area, Murray asked him for his share of the money, but Sims refused to part with
any of it.
A little later Sims and a man called "Red Calf Charley" Smith
were driving two mules and a buckboard through the area when they were spotted
by Murray, who was in a butcher shop.
Murray jumped up, grabbed a rifle and fired a shot after the
rig. Sims was killed. The trial was held in San Bernardino and Murray was
acquitted with the statement that he was justified in taking that action.
The Jackass Trail would go winding through the canyons up
past Riverside to San Bernardino where this happened.