Page 30 - Cornelius Hedges Story
P. 30

17 The Cornelius Hedges Story

    On July 20, he commented “the sweat rolled off, my hands soon
blistered - It seemed as though I could not long holdout -
somehow survived. Hardest day’s work I ever did.” By the 22nd, he
confided “learned to slight my work some, find that no one else will
do the work at the wages…wrists lame and swollen.”43

    On July 28, their sugar gave out and they went without, thus
by August 2, they were living on beef steak, bread, and butter.44
In the ensuing time; Tim Wilcox wanted to trade their team for a
ranch and had found a chance for such a trade. Henry and Cornelius
were at first opposed, but they finally allowed him to sell the mules
and harness for not less than $275 and then divide the money. Tim
succeeded in selling them for $300, and on August 10 and 11; they
divided communal property and paid joint bills:

   “So, we separated amicably,” wrote Hedges on the 11th, “at
   Tim’s sole request -Hope he will do well.”45
    The separation was of business interests only, for Tim, too,
moved near Helena in 1865, and the friendship of the Wilcox’s and
Hedges’ continued for years. Both his luck and mood ran in streaks.
On August 20, he wrote “Saw many of our fellow travelers very
few have acted wisely or have done as well as we have.” But by the
24th, with a prospect of a reduction in wages, he was contemplating
returning home. He reasoned “It looks more and more discouraging
claims working out, hands discharged, pilgrims coming, prices going
up & wages coming down, we’ll see.”46 For the sake of the future of
Montana, it’s extremely fortunate that his luck took an upturn.
    On September 1, they finally were able to buy a claim. They (He,
Henry, and two fellows by the name of John and Whit) bought into
Claim #66 in Highland Gulch, complete with cabin, tools, boxes,
and a set of gold scales. The 2nd was spent moving their effects
from their tent to the cabin; and on Sept. 3, he wrote “we all went to
work on our claim stripping for a pit -took turns with wheelbarrow
-Did a hard day’s work, but enjoyed being my own master.” On the
cultural Side, he noted that day that he had read The Montana Post
for the first time.47
    The acquisition, however, of a claim was not the magic answer
to success; the total run from their pit was only $60.60, and of that,
$33.85 came out of one day’s run. Thus by September 14, they were
back to working for wages.48
   25   26   27   28   29   30   31   32   33   34   35