My lovely Margaret –
My longing to see you again grows stronger and stronger as each day elapses and each mile passes. Although the real endeavor has yet to even begin, the journey alone to arrive at the promising yet shrouded California landscape has been one of great anguish and hardships. Conditions in the caravan are grim and food is limited. I miss you and the babies more and more every day. Although it has only been five months as I write you at a rest stop in Salt Lake, imagining the next few years without you and the girls will be a true test to my emotional limits; although I know it will all be worth it. The guaranteed golds are in our near future and I promise to send my first remittance back to you.
[[cont.]]I know the most challenging conditions have passed as we just endured the trek through the Rocky Mountains. Though I am fortunate for my current well-being, seeing the decay or death of my comrades feeds my fear for the future. Written records reveal an unforgiving desert region before us. More than the geographical threats, I fear the barbaric violence and attacks of the primitive people more than anything else. Though over a year has passed since its occurrence, the Whitman Massacre and the following Cayuse War still reign fresh in the minds of these men, including me. Clipings from San Francsico's [["Daily Alta California"]] reinforce my impression of this inhuman race yet prepare me for their barbaic and hostile nature...
The Daily Alta California: November 1847
"13 Murdered by Indian Tribe, Including Missionary and Wife!"
On the 29th night of November, 1847, Marcus Whitman and his wife Narcissa were brudely abducted, held captive, and murdered by members of the Waiilatpu tribe. The killing took place on the Whitman's Protestant missionary located near Walla Walla, Washington - a region recently settled by Protestant pioneers. Eleven other white, missionaries were also mrudered during the attack. The exact cause of the brutal onslaught is unknown, though many rumors speculate blaim be placed on a group of local Catholics who may have been conspiring with the surronding tribes to place blame on the new Protestant arrivals. More details to come...
[[letter cont.]]I hope to speak to you again soon enough. I promise to write as soon as we make it to Sacramento.
Until then, much love, Charles
To continue the game, it is time to learn more about who Charles and how he came to this moment...[[background info]] Charles is a poor [[farmer]] or [[blacksmith]] from Pennsylvania who, at twenty-six years of age, felt it necessary to leave his wife, Margaret, and two young daughters, Emma and Ethel, to seek riches in the golden California landscape. The year is 1949 and word of the apparent treasures flooding the Pacific Coast have since made it east following Marshall's discovery at Sutter's Mill. Like most young American men joining the quest for gold, Charles is willing to take the chance and take the voyage west in hopes of financially supporting his loved ones. Forced to borrow money and take out a mortage on their Pennsylvania property, Charles intends on sending the first payment back to his wife, then 75% of all other riches until the debt it payed off. After making more than enough to pay for the trip back to Pennsylvania, Charles hopes to finnally return home and
[[back to route]] As you are nearing Sacarmento, you run into a group of Chinese workers. Desperate for supplies and an insight into the mining world, other men in the camp consider teaming up with them regardless of language or cultural barriers. Shocked and disturbed by this meeting, you have to now decide whether to continue this journey with the China men or by yourself..
[[together]] You quickly realize the severity of your decision as unforgiving natural elements take a toll on your lack of knwoledge of the land. After two days wandering in what you hope to be the correct direction, you attempt to hunt on your own but have little luck. You are now starting to doubt your choices and pose the decision once more..
[[travel to nearby native tribe for help]]
[[continue on own]]With the help of the Chinese, your caravan makes it into a small town about three miles outside of Sacramento. You are surprised by how much of the help the Chinese men were to you and have slowly developed a bond with two men in particular - Liu Wei and Zhang Min - who have served as the translators betweent the American and Chinese men.
[[cont. on]] On a rainy and melancholy day, you attend the funeral and burial of Zhang Min, an unexpetced but valued friend. The funeral is filled with mainly Chinese men which whom you are unable to speak to or understand, as well as a few white men from your camp. You say your last goodbyes to your friend and go back to camp to rest.
[[next day]] The first day of work has finally arrived. Though already disheartened by the schock of Zhang Min's death, which weighs heavily on your mind as today is his funeral, you grudgingly head to Sacramento to begin the hunt for gold...
Unfortunately, the weather challeneges your long-held expectations of the "Golden State" as rain pours down all day, perhaps depicting the tears so many men wanted to cry that day...
After returning from twelve hours of unsuccessfully mining in a nearby river beneath a downpour of frigid rain, you return to camp feeling more sick and fatigued than ever in your life. In fear that you may have come doen with cholera, the other men suggest you go into town the next day to buy medicine.
[[go into town to buy medicine]] Against your inherent beliefs, you give into your physical needs and make your way to a community of Miwok natives. At first, you are obviosuly met with extreme animosity and fear as the natives are by now used to the evil intentions of emigrants. With spears drawn towards you, you are quickly faced with a life or death decision:
unable to put his racist sentiments aside, you [[fight back]]
agree to approach peacefully and assimilate to their way of life [[work with them]] You decided to continue on your own, and you stumble upon a river that is downstream from an industrial city. By now extremely parchedd, you decide to drink from the river because you believe to be fresh water.
As you go on with your journey, you begin to experience vomitting and diarrhea. You are infected with cholera due to the water that you drank.
[[go into town to buy medicine]]
[[send money back home]]You make it town and spend the rest of the cash you had brough with you on the medicine to treat cholera. However, while your are in town, you see the options of booming buisiness and consider leaving the mining buisiness and get hired as a
[[continue mining]] My Margaret -
As I promised, here is some money for you and the girls. Sadly, my expectations decieved me. The land here appears fertile but I am in no shape to begin farming. The trek to California alone tested my physical and mental endurance and disease runs rampant. As I made the foolish decision to seperate myself from my caravan, I was quickly in desperate needs of food and water. Sadly, I seem to have contracted cholera and the illness is intensifying quickly. At this point, I don't think I will even be able to make it to town to buy medicine, so instead I am sending you the last of all I have. Please take this small earning I have to offer and remember me in my better days. Send my love to Emma and Ethel, I hope they will remember their father fondly.
[[eventually dies]] Desperate for a new source of income, you agree to work for an unknown Bavarian immigrant by the name of Levi Strauss with an innovative vision to make pants out of a thick and resiliant denim material perfect for physical labor.
[[get to work sewing!]]
<img src=https://www.levistrauss.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/history-of-denim2.jpg> You continue on the path of mining for more gold and realize that more and more people are moving into California. A huge wave of people hit the mining town that you are currently in. The dense population also comes with many [[consequences]]...You're in luck! Due to the sudden boom buisiness and creation of local towns admist the largest emigration in California history, many farms are expanding and requiring more labor to meet the nutritional needs of California's growing population.
You get offered a farming job by two different families with two different wages...
[[oranges]] Like most young American men joining the quest for gold, Charles is willing to take the chance and take the voyage west in hopes of financially supporting his loved ones. Charles started apprenticing in his dad's blacksmith shop at the age of fifteen in hopes of one day taking ownership of it. However, in the past year, his father's sudden death left the shop to Charles' older brother as stated in his father's will. Because of that, mixed with the growing incitement to move west, Charles has decided to try his luck in mining and send any acquired wealth back home.
[[back to route]] Being unarmed, you put up little to no fight against the tribe of Miwok men. You are soon surrounded and tragically murdered..though maybe you deserved it
[[Start over->back to route]]You continue to work with them for the next three years. During that time, you fall in love with a native woman but you hesitate because you think of your wife, your children, and your Christian values...
[[fall in love and stay with the native woman and the tribe]]
[[leave the tribe]]You lay there awaiting your eminent death realizing that you've done all you could to support your family
[[start over->back to route]]
Though you are relieved beyond belief to finally make it the promised California soil after 9 months of an agonizing journey, the celerations are deferred due to the appalling conditions of the camp. Food supply is limited and unvaried. Men have been wearing the same wet clothing for weeks and sleep between puddles of mud is arduous.
To your great dissapointment, you wake up one morning to the news of Zhang Min's death. As funeral and burial plans are being made for the next day, you must decide whether to attend and skip the first day at the mine, or to get a headstart working...
[[attend his funeral and skip a day's work]]
[[don't attend funeral]] The next day you awake before dawn to get to work and make-up for a day's lost wages, however the weather is still dismal and your body feels weaker than usual. After a fourteen hour work day you return to camp and collapse. The other men fear you have developed Cholera and suggest you go to town the next day and get medicine.
[[go into town to buy medicine]] Unfortunately, the reality of the unforgiving and competitive gold rush was not as shiny as it first appeared to you miles and miles away in Pennsylvania..You have accpeted your fate of death..rip Whenever there is a sudden increase in population, there is always one person with some type of contagious disease. A coworker of yours has a severe case of tuberculosis is in very close proximity of you every single day.
[[continue]]You continue working in the mines and realize that, over the past few days, it's getting harder and harder to breathe. You begin to have a coughing fit and cough up blood.
You look around and there are multiple people with the same symptoms as you .
You ask a fellow miner what's happening to you, and he says that you've been inflicted with [[tuberculosis]]. You begin to doubt your decision to stay and continue as a miner. It is not too late to go back home. You [[manage to scrape up enough money to get medicine and continue to mine for more gold]] OR [[go home to wife and children]].You eventually run out of money to continue buying medicine because you have not been going to work. You eventually die alone.You still die, even though managed to make it home to your wife and children.
...at least you didn't die alone.You fell in love with the native woman, have children with her, and abandoned your other family and your Christian values.
You are content and spend the rest of your life with them, never writing back to your wife and children ever again.You leave the tribe but you are unable to find a solid jobs. You start working menial jobs. You eventually go back home to your wife and kids and work with at your dad's blacksmith shop again.
Your live a very melancholy life.After just a week working in his small manufacturing shop, buisiness is a-boomin and you receive your first paycheck! It isn't much, but will cover just enough to send a letter back home updating the wife and kids about your working situation?
[[send the letter]]
[[save the money]] My Dearest Margaret -
So much has occurred in my short time being in California it feels as if two centuries have passed since I have seen you. When I first arrived to the so-called "Golden State" I came down with a horrible spell of Cholera, an illness unfortunately so common out here that has already taken the lives of dear friends. I do aplogize for not sending you money sooner as I had to spend the last of what I had on medicine. However, it seems as if this illness was a blessing in disguise as during my time in town I acquired a new, prosperous job! The density, overcrowding, and bad fortune in the mines was simply not worth the physical demands and financial gain seemed so few and far between. I do hope this job provides me with more stability and profit and hope to send you a small payment soon to help take care of the ever-growing children.
Love you forever, Charles
[[go on]] You have chosen to save the money in hopes of earning enough to pay for the shipping of an envelope filled with some cash to send home in a few weeks...Unfortunately, your recent absence and silence has caused much worry and grief in your wife as she is desperately trying to write you but has no accurate knowledge of your location...
[[three weeks later]] Smart choice! A bushel of weat is sold for $1.82 and is in extremely high-demand as an inexpensive yet reliable source of food for California's newcomers.
After a week of working in the wheat fields, you receive your first paycheck! It isn't much, but will cover just enough to send a letter back home updating the wife and kids about your working situation?
[[send the letter]]
[[save the money]] You have chosen to be a farmer on a small orange plantation, a sight you would never even dreamed of seeing before coming to California! Fortunately, cowboys love them some citrus, plus it is a great cure for scurvy and other nutritional deficiencies. You contiune to work on a growing orange farm for the next four years with steady wages, contacting your wife and kids via letter regularly. After four years, your hard work and dedication pay off and you are able to move Margaret, Emma, and Ethel out to California via steam boat and live happily ever after!The loving response and positive spirits of your wife's letter back give you the mental and emotional strength to continue working ardently for Strauss, whose ingenious vision fortunately is a massive success! Busy with work and settling into your new life, you haven't been able to find the time or moeny to send anything back to the wife and kids. Unfortunately, after a couple weeks of her letter being passed through mining towns in search of someone knowing you whereabouts, a friend from your old caravan directs the letter your way. You [[read it]].. My Once Beloved -
I feel ashamed to have ever believed the fool who first said "distance makes the heart grow fonder" for their "wisdom" has done nothing but bring me great grief yet realization. I can no longer feel devotion to a man I have not made contact with in months or seen in years; and your lack of effort to care for me and the girls financially like you said has led me to see your truest self. I understand now your honest intentions behind traveling to that far-off land as you are nothing but a coward who wanted an easy excuse out of a marriage and a family. If you ever do recieve this letter, please know the girls no longer ask for you, cry for you, or remember you. And as for me, I have found plenty comfort in the affection of my new lover whom I am betrothed to marry in just two short months.
Yours no longer,
[[conclusion]]Horrified and heartbroken, you fill the rest of your days as a wheat farmer in the Sacramento Valley. Harvesting a variety of grain crops provides you with the financial means to survive, but your morals, values, and emotional state-of-being forever remain ravaged. Good thing saloons and prostitution are also avaliable in the Wild West...if that counts for anything.