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Rocking the Cradle

My son enjoys panning for Gold. He has different types of equipment that he hauls to various places to pursue his hobby. The method he uses is somewhat different than that used in 1849. Because of my interest in history and my son’s interest in panning for gold,  I recognized what Elijah Allen Spooner was talking about in his diary where he wrote of his experiences during the California Gold Rush in 1849-50. This diary is available online through the BYU Harold B. Lee Library Digital Collections along with several other dairies http://overlandtrails.byu.edu/.

Elijah records, “But it is rather a tedious business, taking it all round, for we have to be a man of all sorts of work, and a house maid besides. Have to cook, wash dishes, make beds, wash our clothes, darn old stockings, patch the old pants, cut & bring wood and then rock the cradle all day. And aint this tuff now?”

One might think this sounds like the work of a pioneer mother. But in the gold fields of California rocking the cradle had a very different meaning. The cradle Elijah was rocking was not a baby cradle, he was rocking a sluice box, designed to separate gold from the dirt!

Studying the journals and diaries of the time your ancestors lived will enlighten you to what life was like for them. I encourage you to journal and write of your daily experiences maybe give some detail that will be of interest for generations to come.

Many journals and diaries are located online You can use any search engine to locate many journal collections. Simply use the search term “pioneer journals” and see what comes up.

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