Help on the Journey to Weaverville

Weaverville, the Royce's Destination

Weaverville, the Royce's Destination


 Continued from Sept. 14…


After leaving Salt Lake, the Royces,  with a few additions to their party, headed in to the desert and literally missed their turn.  They ended up far into the wasteland, with little food and water.  A situation, Royce remembered, “so new and unexpected, that it seemed for a while to confuse—almost to stupefy—most of the little party.”  Their oxen were starving and they fed them the ticking from their mattresses… rationing what little water they had to make it last.

 After much debate, the group turned back to search for a place where they could feed the livestock and get more water.  They met a small wagon train on the way, and though those folks could spare no supplies, they did ensure Royce’s group made it back to the “Humboldt Sink” where water and grass were plentiful. It would be this chance meeting that Royce later credited with saving her family’s lives.

 After finding the Sink and resting,  the group headed back out into the desert.  This time they found the right road, successfully crossed the desert and made it to the foot of the Sierra Mountain Range.  By this stage of their journey, they were short of food and exhausted.  Snow was already flying in the mountains, posing yet more danger.

 The little wagon train was contemplating their situation as they struggled to push their wagon and supplies through the heavy sandy soil, when two men from the California Relief Company arrived, seemingly “heaven-sent” to Royce.  They were there to help see them safely over the Sierra Nevada Range

  One man explained his presence this way…

  “We were ordered as far as the Truckee Pass.  When we got there we met a little company that had just got in.  They’d been in a snow storm at the summit; ‘ most got froze to death themselves… and just managed to get to where some of our men had fixed a relief camp.  There was a woman and some children with them; and that woman set right to work at us fellows to go on over the mountains after a family she said they’d met on the desert going back for grass and water ‘cause they’d missed  their way.  The said there was only one wagon, and there was a woman and child on it; and she knew they could never get through them canons and over them ridges without help. We told her we had no orders to go any farther then. She said she didn’t care for orders. She didn’t believe anybody would blame us for doing what we were sent out to do, if we did have to go farther than ordered.  And she kept at me so, I couldn’t get rid of her.  You see I’ve got a wife and little girl of my own; so I felt just how it was; and I got this man to come with me and here we are, to give you more to eat, if you want it, let you have these two mules, and tell you how to get right over the mountains the best and quickest way.”


Royce credited this fortuitous arrival of the Relief Party with their successful arrival in California .   After resting in what their guide book called Pleasant Valley Gold Mines, they moved on to a little gold mining town called Weaverville.


[Sarah Royce kept a diary of her journey to California in 1849.  She later rewrote the journal and in 1932, her son published it  as “A Frontier Lady”.  I found an excerpt in  “No Rooms of Their Own”, women Writers of Early California”, edited by Ida Rae Egli. ]


5 Responses to Help on the Journey to Weaverville

  1. […] quiet (and ineffectual) voice of reason Ah… done with the little detour about the Royce’s journey to Weaverville and the Relief Parties formed to help the emigrants get to California […]

  2. I am assuming you know that the “relief companies” were sent out from Sutter’s enclave at what is now Sacramento. This was necessary when Sutter realized that some people known to be behind those who had arrived safely, were now in the “missing”. Many a wagon train suffered because of the “directions” given to them along the way, and especially at Fort Laramie. Men had set out from Sutter’s with enticements to bring wagon trains to Sutter’s “New Helvetia” near the confluence of the Sacramento and American Rivers. Otherwise, they would have been continuing on over the well-known and safer Oregon Trail. Those people who originally settled the Humboldt Bay area came from Sonoma, Bodega Bay, and the San Francisco Bay area – most were in search of land for farming and some were shopkeepers, and other city-folk.

  3. Did the Royce’s continue on to Weaverville in that same year (1849)? I have never seen that name in the stories of the earliest arrivals at Weaverville. This has my aroused my curiousity.

    • lynette77 says:

      I’ll have to look into it more. I must confess that I’m reading about early San Francisco Madams, and Sarah Royce’s name comes up as one of those early settlers who campaigned against the profession (and women).

      Actually I think that book gives a brief bio on Royce, hold on…. Yup…

      The book says that the Royces were in Weaverville for a few months, but didn’t to well. In January of 1850, they moved to San Francisco…

      So there you go. They probably weren’t there long enough to be noted. The Linseys, folks who would care for Lucy’s children after she was murdered, also tried Weaverville pretty early on but didn’t stick.

  4. Renata says:

    I just stumbled upon your post, while trying to figure out how the Royce family ended up in “Weaverville” (Trinity County) when the mining camp was not yet named (if even existing in 1849). As it happens, there was another place, on the South Fork of the American River, called Weber’s Creek and the mining camp there was called “Weberville” or “Weaverville” depending on the source. This makes a lot more sense as Sarah Royce refers to the nearby settlement of “Hang Town”, as well as citing a trip they took to Sutter’s Fort which took 4 days by wagon.
    Here is a link to a brief description of the other “Weaverville”:
    It can also be found on a 1851 map called “Mining District of California” published by William Jackson.

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