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Kate's Gold Strike!
As Kate Morgan stood there and looked out on empty fields she could not stop the salty tears that trickled down her cheeks. She was angry for it seemed that the gold fever in the West had taken every thing that was dear to her.
First it was her husband Daniel. His argument was that if he could just pan enough gold then they could by their own land next to her fathers and live as the should on their own land. He was convinced as were many others that what they heard about the California strike, was a man could find gold nuggets with little or no effort if he had a mind to take the adventure.
The day he left he had promised her he would be back within that year. it was not long before she overheard her two brothers planning the same journey and one morning when she entered the kitchen she found her mother sitting at the kitchen table with a letter crushed in her hand. Now there was no one to work the land except her father and he worked himself until he came down with the fever and it took both her parents to the grave. She had only received one letter from Daniel since he had left and that was two weeks after he had left and then---nothing? It was like they all had dropped off of the earth. After she sold the farm for half of what it was worth she felt that she had no choice but to go west to the gold fields and find her husband and brothers.
Kate took one last look at the empty house as she climbed up into the wagon with all her worldly goods. A neighbor had helped her disassemble and load a small stove that had a side oven that her grandmother had given her, it had been used as an outside stove in the heat of the summer. She had carefully packed supplies such as bacon, sugar, flour, rice, beans, dried fruit, coffee and tea. Her neighbors stood there and waved good-by but she knew what they were thinking for it showed in their eyes---they thought her a complete---fool!
The wagon train stretched out for miles and many people died along the way. She was strong and determined to find what lay ahead---for there was no turning back. Smiling she gave a quick snap of the reins over the stubborn mules in front of her---yes she could be just as stubborn. With every new face that appeared in front of her, she would give them the names of her husband and brothers and enquire if they had crossed paths with them?
Shortly after arriving in Sacramento she became acquainted with a young Chinese girl---Ling-Lee that she met as she slowly made her way up the river. The girl could speak some English and told her that her family had set up a tent half way up the river and they did laundry for the miners, for it was to dangerous for them to make a legal land claim and foreigners were not liked and she feared for her family for some of the men that were panning for gold were mean and the greed of it made them dangerous and she should arm herself.
Kate liked the family immediately. She could see that along the river miners lived in tents and cooked out on an open fire but she could smell mostly burnt beans and bacon coming from their fires. There was no aroma of baked bread. This gave her the idea and she asked Ling-Lee if her father and brother would know how to get her small cook stove up to this area so she could maybe bake and sell fresh bread to the miners. She had used most of her money in the journey to get here. It seemed that this spot at the edge of the river would allow her to see the comings and goings of the miners and also there was a chance that her Daniel would be one of them.
Three days later her tent was set up and Ling-Lee's father had made a contraption that the mules carried and the small cook stove was in place. The first day that she baked bread there was a commotion out side her tent. When she peered out there stood six miner's and one had Ling-Lees father by the shirt demanding that he hand over bread that they could smell.
She was glad that she had brought her fathers rifle and pistol. she stepped out of the tent with the pistol in hand and pointed it directly at the man that held Mr. Ling-Lee, she hoped that they would not see how scared she was. Each one of those men wore a gun at their hip.
"Gentle men, there is no need for threats or unruly conduct to my friends for I am the one baking biscuits and bread and intend on doing it each day for those of you that wish to purchase it." There was a long pause before one by one they withdrew their hats and a small man with heavy beard and rags for clothes stepped forward.
"Ma'am, would those biscuits be ready soon, for I'm will-in to pay with gold nuggets for a taste of um," he said and she seen all the others nodding in agreement. She swallowed the smile that wanted to surface and lowered her pistol.
That evening miners were standing in line with their one and only tin plate held out to her and Ling-Lee as she filled them with biscuits and gravy. Some had even attempted to wash some of their filth from their hands and face. It was not long before she found herself cooking hearty stews to serve along with those biscuits. Several day later some of the miners even brought her fresh game, rabbits and even a deer. Ling-Lees father had made rough tables out side with a canvas top. She only served on big meal a day and that was supper for the early hours were used for preparing every thing.
Many new faces came and old faces left. Kate now had more money than the men that struggled panning gold. If they found a few nuggets they would high-tail it down to the nearest town and drink it or gamble it away. Days, weeks and months past and still there was no sign of Daniel or her brothers. It was only when they heard that gold was discovered in Nevada that she and the Ling-Lee family moved on.
It is said that there is a big house just right out side of Sacramento that sits high up on a hill that looks down over the river and on any given day------------------------------- ONE CAN SMELL FRESHLY BAKED BREAD