A Virginia Goldminer – The Sad End

David Shrum left Virginia in 1855 to mine gold in Grass Valley, California. In September 1858 he wrote back home to his brother, Orlando, who is my second great-grandfather. Sadly, David was crushed in a mining accident in 1861 and died several days later.  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.

We own a small ditch in connection to our claims, which runs water about two months in the year. The rest of the time we will have to buy water, if it can be had, which will be about 6 months in the year, or it ___8 months. We have had an exceedingly cool and agreeable summer, with 2 days rain (page partially torn). We may have a shower or two this month (page partially torn) much before the middle of November or the first of December. Then the winter storms will commence and the snow will fall to the depth of 3 or 4 feet, higher up in the mountain it falls to a much greater depth, and lays nearly all year. Not withstanding, the deep snows the weather is not as near as cold as it is in Virginia. But you have heard enough about California for the present, and I must say something about Home.

The photo we think David was referring to that he sent back to his family in Virginia

I sent my likeness home about a month ago, which I hope you will see and tell me  wether you think it favors me.


I also sent John one about three months ago. I wrote to Moses this summer, but  I have not received an answer yet. Can you tell me where Jacob Kibler is? I hope you will not do as I have done, but answer this letter soon. What kind of wife did Moses get? I must now close my ill composed letter; but will write one to Alfred and sent it too.

Your brother
David Schrum


Below are the news articles about David’s sad accident and death just 3 years after he wrote this letter to his brother.

The article on David Shrum’s mining accident. The transcription is below

“A man named Davis (sic) Shrum was caved on, at Omega, Tuesday afternoon. His spine was seriously injured by the accident, and at the time Dr. Meek, the attending physician left Omega, 10 o’clock, yesterday morning, the lower portion of the body was completely paralized and the patient was in a very feebile condition.”

David lasted 5 days in his condition and died on April 22, 1861.

Reporting on the death of David Shrum, 1861. The transcription is below.

“Home Matters.  Death of David Shrum – The circumstances attending the terrible accident which befell Mr. Shrum, who was caved upon at Omega, on Tuesday, 16th inst,, suffering a dislocation of the vertebral column and a consequent paralysis of the lower extremities, were related in our issue of last Wednesday. He lingered until Monday, 22d inst., retaining his reasoning powers, in their full vigor, when he calmly and fearlessly sunk into that slumber “that knows no waking.” The deceased, who has thus been cut down in the prime of manhood, leave a large circle of friends at Grass Valley, as well as at Omega, to mourn his fate. His remains were conveyed to this city yesterday, and interred by the Sons of Temperance, in accordance with his dying request.”

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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