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What’s it all about?
Submitted By: Webmaster Date: March 05, 2010, 02:27:35 PM Views: 1740

Originally published in the Hewgag Monitor by Tom Barry in February, 1986


   For the past several years, it has been the intention of the board of Directors of Chap. 10 to provide some printed Primer of sorts to present to newly initiated Brothers.

   Some publications are available from various Chapters and some are advertised for sale in The Clamper, (Ed. Note: The Clamper has not been published for many years now, and the chapter then provided a subscription to The Flatlander Nugget, instead.) which the chapter provides to new initiates, in the form of a free year's subscription. (Sadly, even the Flatlander has now gone out of business.)

   Many of the names on our mailing list have been members for a short time so we present here a short and incomplete history of the Order so new members may know just what the hell they have gotten themselves into.

   Information here has been gleaned from work by Duff Chapman XSNGH, Carl Briggs XSNGH, and newspaper stories by Bob Wyckoff XNGH Chap. 10.

   Chapter 10 is a direct descendant of the re-forming of E Clampus Vitus by a group of history buffs in the early 30s. In May of 1932, on their first annual pilgrimage to the Gold Country, the group came to Camptonville, and was regaled with stories of the old days by William Bull Meek, an old-time Clamper and retired teamster and stage coach driver. But this is a story to come later in another issue of this rag. For now, let us go back even further.

   On Jan. 24, 1848, James W. Marshall, an employee of John A. Sutter, discovered gold in the tail race of a mill he was building to produce lumber for Sutter. News spread slowly in those days, and gold had been seen in California earlier, but news of Marshall’s discovery loosed a tide of humanity bound for California. Since most people could not get to California in less than 5 months, few were able to arrive in 1848.

   1849, however, would prove to be the beginning of the Gold Rush. Among those leaving for California in Jan. 1849, was a 49 year-old man from Will County (near Joliet), Illinois. Joe Zumwalt, not as young as many of the gold-seekers, but still full of the stuff of which pioneers are made, came west to seek his fortune.

   While passing through Bowling Green (Pike County), Missouri, Joe and his partner C.W. Wright stopped at a newspaper office to inquire of the condition of the road to California. While there, they picked up some copies of the ritual of “Ecclampus Vitus.” Some 8 months after leaving Illinois, the party reached the Diggins in Sept. 1849. Settling his family in Sacramento, Joe and others returned to the Diggins, traveling extensively from one location to another, as in those days, news of a rich strike sent placer miners scurrying to that location to try their luck.

   Evidence shows that Joe Zumwalt visited Camptonville, Downieville, Sierra City, Hangtown and many other locations. He tried to start Chapters of E Clampus Vitus in some of these places, but due to the restlessness of the miners, no success was attained.

   As the Placer mining became harder, and the focus of the search for gold turned from the rivers and streams to the quartz outcroppings from which the gold came, individuals were less able to finance the working of a mine. Partnerships were formed, companies became employers and many men worked for others, rather than trying their luck on their own.

   Working conditions were miserable, hours were long and pay short. Benefits? Who heard of those? A man injured or unable to work because of sickness was no use to a company, and he was let go.

   The miners did have some spare time and soon, in 1851, at Mokelumne Hill, Chapter 1001 of E Clampus Vitus was formed. Perhaps it was the more stationary population, but this time the idea took. Soon, Chapters were springing up all along the Mother Lode. What did they do? Well, Brothers, you will have to wait till next time as space is limited here for the present.

Rating: ***** by 2 members.
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HALISHA SR.GUNNY


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April 06, 2010, 03:33:44 PM
lovin it....keep er goin


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  • Tom Barry: Tom Barry: Mistake on the newsletter page with the plaques. Should be Scotts Flat, not Hammon Grove.
    September 03, 2016, 06:30:03 PM
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