A Virginia Goldminer Part 3

While my second great-grandfather, Orlando Shrum, was a young man living in Shenandoah County, Virginia with his parents and siblings in September of 1858, he received a letter from his older brother David, who lived in Grass Valley, California. David had set out a few years earlier to find his fortune in gold mining. I’ve been sharing David’s letter to Orlando here in several posts. Start with part one of the letter HERE.

Spelling and grammar are left as it was.

“I bought into a set of claims this summer, which required all the ready cash I had.  Soon after buying, the water failed and we will have no more work until rains commence, probably not until December or January. In the meantime we are making extensive preparetion for working when water does come. It requires considerable money to make our improvements. We have a flume in course of erection (and nearly completed) to convey water to the claims at a “height” of 140 or 150 feet from bedrock; said flume will be 1500 feet long and sixty feet high, (above the surface of the ground) and will cost the company about $1,000.00.”


Hydraulic mining, like the kind David described in his letter to Orlando, came to be in the later part of the 1850’s. High pressure water dislodged the rock and sediment. Although it was successful, it resulted in extensive environmental damage like erosion and flooding. Photo copyright: Wikipedia

“In addition to this, we are having  about 300 feet of sheet iron pipe made, to conduct water from the flume, down the bank, through gutta percha hose.  The pipe will be 11 inches in diameter and will cost us about $1.00 per running foot.

Our claims are among the best (or are so considered), on a hill, and if they continue to pay as they have done, will satisfy us, for the large expendenture we are making upon them. The claims here, however, are somewhat uncertain, and owners do not realize their expectations. I will let you know how they pay when we get to washing.”

Next time : Read the final part of David’s letter where he finishes up his news about his mining claim and asks about home in Virginia.

I have joined an online challenge by Amy Johnson Crow to write about 52 ancestors in 52 weeks. I’m so far behind it is not even funny. But Amy says it’s not about how much you write, but that you just keep writing. So here I still am.  I’m writing about the prompt “Family Legend.” You can join any time and find all the details here: 

Click here to sign up for the 52 Ancestors Challenge 

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