Page 29 - Cornelius Hedges Story
P. 29

For This And Succeeding Generations  Gardiner 16

   “Started out at 6:30 to go up to Virginia City estimated 15
   miles, found it 40 and much uphill at that got very tired before
   I got through - reached the city about 2:30, got some lunch.
   Everything going on auctions, goods selling cheaper than in
   the states found it much different than what I expected no letter
   walked back 6 miles to wagons - pretty tired.”
    The next day their train rumbled into Virginia City and finally
on the 13th of July, a letter reached Cornelius from his wife. On his
third day after arrival at Virginia City, Hedges attended Masonic
    He was later to write and describe situation which he found in
Montana Territory and at Virginia City upon his arrival:
   “In the early organizing history of no single state in the Union,
   were there such rough, discordant elements brought together as
   in the case of Montana, and to render the situation still worse
   almost the entire population was gathered in a few camps
   where the sentiment of the majority represented the whole.
   There was no recognized circulating medium but gold dust.
   Greenbacks were at a discount, when received at all their only
   use was for the merchants to send east to purchase goods. There
   was no Sunday as distinguished from the other days except by
   increased gambling and dissipation. The very ease with which
   fortunes were made in the mines encouraged recklessness in
   squandering them and every sort of dissipation and crime. In
   such a devil’s hot-bed were scattered a few seeds of Masonry.
   Greenbacks were then worth only 40 cents on the dollar, when
   negotiable at all.”40
    About the same time Cornelius was arriving in Virginia City,
Edna and Willie left Independence to return to Mrs. Hedges’
girlhood home at Southington, Connecticut. There they remained
until the spring of 1867, with Cornelius joining them in the late fall
of 1866.41
    Meanwhile, Hedges was going through the agonizing, often
heartbreaking, process of putting himself on a solid financial footing.
For the first month and one-half, he and Henry Clark worked for
wages shoveling tailings and providing the “elbow grease” for some
of the windlasses in Highland Gulch near Summit City, just above
Virginia City. Their initial wages were $5.00 per day. 42
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