Can You Believe It?
Cold Case mystery....
Everything in life that counts has "relativity"....
One of my sons and his wife are traveling over the High Sierras to the Nevada side of Lake Tahoe this weekend. He recalled a story of a missing relative of ours from the Gold Rush days of 1849. He wrote: "we'll be traveling almost the entire length of the Gold Rush area." and wondered what that relative's name and any details might be.
It turns out his name was Nathan Jasper and he would have been 33 in 1849. He and a brother sailed around the southern tip of South America just as many other Gold Rushers did and after landing in California, they decided to split up and prospect separately. They agreed to meet once a year to compare their good fortune, if any, and did so the first year or two, but then one year Nathan didn't show up. His brother having been unsuccessful in finding any trace of Nathan, or much of any gold, went back to Maine having found just enough gold to fashion a ring to take home with him.
His brother was never heard from again.
Times were rough in the gold fields of those days. "Claim junping" was not uncommon, nor was murder and accident. My Dad on his trips to California tried calling different Jasper families from the phone book wherever he happened to be, but with no success, and Nathan Jasper became a "Cold Case" in the Jasper/Jumper genealogy.
Nathan's dad was born John Jumper, but he and his children took some teasing for the name Jumper, The dad, John Jumper (as the tale goes) went to a Soke Court judge and said he knew that in America it is legal to change a family name. The judge, whose income came from the fines and justice he dispensed, agreed but told John that it would cost him $25 for each letter he wanted to change. Now you know where the expression to "get soked" comes from. John wisely put forward the massive sum of $50.00 and declared "Fine. Now our name is legally Jasper," changing only two letters of the former family name.
The name change in those days required confirmation by an act of the Maine legislature, and I have a copy of their approval of the name change. It explains how the son of a man born John Jumper could be born Nathan Jasper in Minot, Maine on May 7, 1816 and eventually disappear in the California Gold Rush of 1849 days.
Interestingly, my son who is just now curious about our "Cold Case" was also born on Nathan Jasper's birthday, May 7th.
© 2012 Demas W. Jasper All rights reserved.
Tales of The 1849 California Gold Rush
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