Apr 29, 2009, 07:32 PM
Gypsyheart~ Queen of Rust
AMERICUS M. PITTS Buried Tin Cans Full of Gold...Butte County
A. M. PITTS.--A delightful old-timer whose family history had to do with the romantic beginning of things, whose home had an atmosphere of the mystic and fascinating past, and who himself, while always alive to all the local issues, loved to dwell dreamily on the days of yore in which he also had a part, was A. M. Pitts, who resided with his wife and family on the old A. M. Pitts homestead adjoining Biggs on the northeast. He was the founder of this pioneer estate, and was a ’49er, hailing from Georgia, who started across the continent when he first held of the gold discovery. He outfitted in his native state and his maiden trip was accomplished amid all the dangers and hardships of the plains when he was only twenty years old. For a while he mined gold in Mariposa County, and then went to Plumas County where he was also fairly successful; but he determined to abandon mining and go into the stock business instead.
Taking what money, therefore, he had saved, he returned east, in company with Lewis Posey, as far as Arkansas; here they bought a drove of cattle and brought them back to Butte County, where they pastured them between Feather River and Butte Creek. Mr. Pitts took up government land and made a settlement on the farm where Walter was born and now lives. This was in 1855, and the first well that he dug in that year is still in existence--open and curbed up with brick hauled by him from Marysville. Covered as it now is with an ivy vine, this old well is an historic relic, which, in its setting of old live oaks, is in itself artistic.
In 1865, A.M. Pitts was married to Miss Nannie Anderson, a native of Missouri, whose parents crossed the plains in 1860 and were early settlers on Dry Creek, between Oroville and Chico. Mr. Pitts died November 7, 1899, aged seventy-two, and his wife passed away January 24, 1915, in her sixty-sixth year. They had three children: Walter, who retains the old home place; Laura, who resides with her brother; and Grace, who is the wife of Dr. B. Caldwell, of Biggs.
Walter Pitts and his talented sister, Miss Laura, are members of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, at Gridley, and endeavor to be consistent Christians. The pictures in their home show that their mother was a woman of rare beauty, and that the father possessed great firmness of character. They have in their possession some most attractive landscape views about Biggs, taken on the old place, and, although not an elderly man, Walter lives in the past and dwells on the earlier pioneer scenes before the building of the railway and the laying out of the town. He describes the country as it looked before the making of the surveys for the Central Pacific Railroad, now the Southern Pacific Railroad.
He remembers very well, for example, the building of what is now the Southern Pacific line through Gridley and Biggs north to Chico; poppies grew and blossomed everywhere. The land where Biggs stands was owned by A. M. Pitts and Lewis Posey; and Pitts and Posey laid out the original town site of Biggs, personally superintending the work, for they were adjoining landowners and took a great interest in the development of the region. Mr. Pitts became acquainted with and had business dealings with some of the well-known Southern Pacific Railway men. Major Marion Biggs, after whom the town was named, did not own the land at all. He was a very popular man and a friend of the big men in the railroad project, and the town site was named as a compliment to him.
Walter Pitts was born on March 20, 1866, and few men of his age and residence in California can better enliven the hour with recollections of pioneer days. He recalls the ear-marks that his father had for his stock, that for the left ear being different from the right and both being a departure from other ear-marks in the neighborhood. He also tells of an incident which grew out of the early Californians’ habit of burying their gold in tin cans, and the story has more value because it was a true occurrence in the experience of his father. In fact, the story was published in the “Biggs Argus” for January 4, 1895, where it appeared, as follows:
“In the year 1855, A. M. Pitts while in the prime of manhood settled on the land adjoining Biggs on the east, the present homestead of the family. At that time this country was sparsely settled and neighbors were far apart. Mr. Pitts commenced stock-raising and farming, his nearest market for grain being Marysville, while his stock he drove to a more distant market, even as far as points in Nevada. In the fall of 1863, with the assistance of hired help, he started with a band of sheep for Reece River, Nev. A few days before starting on this trip, Mr. Pitts had sold a lot of stock, for which he had received a large sum of money, and as the banks in those days were not considered safe, he followed the usual custom of the country, and being alone at the time he selected a desirable spot and buried the money, mostly in twenty-dollar pieces of dates ranging mostly from 1859 to 1863, in tin cans. He marked the spot carefully and also made a memorandum in a little book he carried with him in his pocket, and leaving the ranch he went across the country some miles to the Anderson ranch, where his sweetheart, the present Mrs. Pitts, nee Nannie R. Anderson, resided; and after a sad goodbye took up the long journey to Reece River. He reached his destination in safety and disposed of his stock.
“He remained at Reece River several months and then returned.
“Shortly after reaching home he concluded to visit the spot where he had laid away the little fortune to see if the marks had been disturbed, and one can judge of his disappointment when he found nothing to aid him in locating the pocket. Even the memoranda had been lost. On the spot where he expected to find the marked stake, his partner during his absence had built a large hog pen, and in the pen the porkers had made deep wallows. He made diligent search for his lost gold but without success. A few years later he married the girl, who as his wife, has been his companion and helpmate all these years, and husband and wife together hunted for the lost treasure. A son and two daughters, Walter, Laura and Grace, all now grown and a most happy family, were later let into the secret, and the entire family, always in comfortable circumstances, have often talked over the lost nest-egg. Now comes the present denouement. In the month of May last, while standing near the old hog wallow, with his wife and son, Mr. Pitts, now a feeble old man but with his mental capacity in full vigor, saw a bright object before him which proved to be a twenty-dollar piece, and immediately he seemed to feel that the hand of Providence had revealed the lost pocket. His wife and son joined in the excitement, and in a few moments picks without handles were secured. Laura and Grace reached the scene and prospecting began. Mrs. Pitts proved to be the best judge of rich gravel as she was the first to find a nugget.
“The youngest child was elected receiver, and the rest of the family vied with each other in making the gravel fly. In an hour’s time several hundred dollars in bright yellow twenty-dollar pieces had been found. ‘Mrs. P’s happy! Thank the Lord!’ would ring out in rejoicing. During the past nine months the family have dug up the soil in and around the old ‘wallow’ repeatedly, and the labor has been well rewarded.
“As near as Mr. Pitts can remember he has found the greater portion of the gold. Mrs. Pitts, who has been the most persistent as well as the most successful, found the bottom of one can, which evidently located the exact spot where the money was buried, and as the gold found was scattered in all directions from that spot, it proves that the hogs during the past thirty years had scattered it.
“The ‘Argus’ rejoices with Mr. Pitts and family in their good fortune in finding their own.”
I go a great distance,while some are considering whether they will start today or tomorrow
Apr 29, 2009 07:32 PM
Search tags for this page
butte county, california legends
gold in butte county
gold mining butte county california
gold mining in butte county ca
lost treasures of oroville ca
metal detecting plumas county
new era mine butte county california
stories of lost gold in plumas county calif.
true lost gold mine stories in nevada
where to find gold in butte county
Click on a term to search for related topics.