Richinbar Mine

Richinbar Mine
Richinbar Mine - Photo from 1940 - Courtesy of Arizona Geologic Survey files

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Virginia, California - Historic Mining Camp

William Porter Jones wrote three letters while living in Virginia, California 1860-1861.    These letters provide a rare view of the life of a placer miner:  "I am mining and I now regard my prospects as better than they ever have been since I came here.  I have always had money to get what I needed and now I have a good claim and I owe no man in California a cent but have money owing to me.  My claim has paid better than I expected.  I have only been washing for three weeks and have done well - the expense of opening my claim has been great therefore I have saved but little but now I am ready to save what I take out of it so you see I am in fine spirits...I am still 'hoisting grit' some days making several dimes and others but precious few."  These excerpts express the optimism of a young man seeking his fortune while acknowledging the harsh realities of a placer miner.

Virginia was a placer mining camp located along the Aurora Ravine, about 20 miles south of Grass Valley.  While the town of Virginia did not survive, the site is located about half-way between Lincoln and Auburn.  It is interesting to note that most modern roads follow the alignment of the roads shown on the historic map dated 1892.

The William Porter Jones letters are housed in the Sharlot Hall Archives:

Testimonial Letter

I received this letter from Joyce Sackett, thanking me for my historic research and song-writing work.  Joyce is the great-niece of William Porter Jones, the subject of my song, "A Miner's Letter Home":
"The first I heard of Robert Gibney was that he had seen the donation of the Sharlot Hall Museum.  My message said that he had written a song about our Great-Uncle, William Porter Jones, who was massacred by Indians in 1864 in Prescott.  In Bob's exploring of mining in the territory, he was drawn to the story described in the letters.  Bob came to meet my husband and me in Sun Lakes.  He had many photos of where the events occurred and sang as Uncle Will had expressed himself as he wrote home to his family (in Missouri).
A friend and I went to the 2012 Glendale Arizona Folk & Heritage Festival as Bob sang and told stories of the miners.  We were pleased to see that descendants of other miners came to see him.  Bob has a passion to explore Arizona history and to share it in song and story.  Also his passion includes remembering the miners and their contribution to Arizona history.  My sister and I are so pleased to share our heritage with others who want to understand the past." - May 2012