​A Forty-niner from Tennessee

The Diary of Hugh Brown Heiskell

Hugh Brown Heiskell was the fifth child out of ten children. He was a Knoxville lawyer,who studied law at East Tennessee University, hailing from Tennessee who traveledout west with his cousin Tyler in hopes of finding gold back in 1849. He lived his lifeas a farmboy and had a great curiosity for the surroundings and wildlife out west.Heiskill and his cousin joined a wagon train from St Louis for their journey and
kept a diary of his journey describing the environment and what happened at certain points of their journey, either being prosperous or troublesome. Heiskill also wrote about the camp life, the people they met, and his great interest of the Indians and their culture. He left on his trip from East Tennessee on May 23, 1849 and arrived at the mines on October 24, 1849, yet he died a bit less than a month later on November 16


"Immediately we ascended a small [hill?] where again I came near oversetting; in fact, if Tyle had not held on to the upper side of the wagon t would have went over. My genius certainly does not lie in driving oxen nor have I as of yet been able to find in what it does lie." (21)
Hugh Heiskell did not have great skill in leading the wagon down the hill because he was use to always working on the farm and only studied law while he was in Tennessee. He only knew how to carry out activities relating to ones he used to do on the farm showing his limited experiences in the other fields of work besides farming and law.
"Four miles from where we nooned, we entered into a beautiful valley. Surface uneven, but covered with fine grass, wild flax abundant. Soil-very fine- rich and light, slightly gravelly- good for wheat. The Mountain sides green with luxuriant grass, quaking aspen, and service berries." (20)
This quote illustrates Heiskell's eye for detail for which he was famous for in his diary entries of his autobiography. Brown was able to describe the exact mental picture of what he saw upon entering the valley that people usually would not have noticed upon sight like how the soil was slightly gravelly and would be good to use to grow, which also shows his knowledge of farming crops because he knew what soil would be acceptable to grow wheat in again just by the immediate sighting of the soil.

"Three men with pack mules rode up, having left Allen's and Turner's 2nd Pioneer line 75 miles behind. Are pushing on to overtake Jones' train. They gave us some news from the states, having left one month later than we. Reported the death of ex-president Polk and that there were a thousand deaths a week at St. Louis."(23)
This quote shows how people traveling out west were so isolated from society because the only way They could obtain news was by hearing about current events from other people also traveling out west who left society after they did. Also, this quote shows what the people traveling west had to give up, which was being apart from the eastern civilization and leaving their families to go search for gold.
"We are [heartened?] to find most excellent grass, for it has a gloomy effect to camp without it, more perhaps through fear and doubt of getting through than feeling for the cattle, though we are not destitute of feeling." (33-34)
The people of the wagon train were not completely selfish showing how they did not only care for themselves to have a camp where there was grass and how they actually care about other objects than themselves like the cattle. This situation also relates to how the people would also care for the other people and would help each other out in times of trouble.
"There is a fortune here for every man in California.-There is one for me and if I keep my health I will make it, and not be always about it either, and come home. I wish some of the other friends were here, and if any of them do come, or any person, I can give them some information, that would do them good service." (82)
This quote illustrates how Heiskell had success finding gold in California and how happy he was to gain his own fortune. He also wishes to go back home to share his fortune with his family back on the east coast and if one friend came over to the west coast, he would gladly share his fortune with him showing how nice-hearted and caring a person Hugh Brown Heiskell was.

By reading about Hugh Brown Heiskell's travels out west, greater reasons have become apparent as to why the forty-niners in America's history went out west to search for gold. The forty-niners wanted to go look for gold to find wealth for themselves, but some actually were going to find wealth to bring back to their families too. In the process of finding gold, they had to travel across America and endure the hard travels through the valleys and the deserts, and they had to leave their families behind with only a promise that they will come back home. In the end, have learned about what purpose the forty-niners had for traveling out west and what they had to endure and give up to go search for gold during the gold rush.
Works Cited:
Guice, John D. W. "A Forty-niner from Tennessee: The Diary of Hugh Brown Heiskell." Proquest.
Journal of the Early Republic. Web. 17 Nov. 2009. <http://www.historystudycenter.com/search/
Heiskell, Hugh Brown. Forty-niner from Tennessee the diary of Hugh Brown Heiskell. Knoxville: University of Tennessee, 1998. Print.
"jai.jpeg" Web. 18 November, 2009. http://www.bhaderwah.com/images/jai.jpg
"miners_.jpg? Web. 18 November, 2009. http://www.learnnc.org/lp/media/uploads/2009/06/miners_.jpg
"T00574.jpg" Web. 18 November, 2009. http://utpress.org/covs/T00574.jpg
"wagon-train-mural.jpg" Web. 18 November,2009. <http://www.museumofwesternart.com/images/wagon-train-mural.jpg>