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Montana Freemason                                             March 2018                                 Volume 94   Number 2
        got some lunch. Everything going on auctions, goods  steak,  bread,  and  butter.  In  the  ensuing  time;  Tim
        selling cheaper than in the states found it much diff erent  Wilcox wanted to trade their team for a ranch and had
        than what I expected  no letter walked back 6 miles to  found a chance for such a trade. Henry and Cornelius
        wagons - pretty tired.“                                were  at  fi rst  opposed,  but  they  fi nally  allowed  him
                                                               to  sell  the  mules  and  harness  for  not  less  than  $275
          The next day their train rumbled into Virginia City  and then divide the money. Tim succeeded in selling
        and fi nally on the 13th of July, a letter reached Cornelius  them for $300, and on August 10 and 11; they divided
        from his wife. On his third day after arrival at Virginia  communal property and paid joint bills:
        City, Hedges attended Masonic Lodge.                     “So, we separated amicably,” wrote Hedges on the
                                                               11th, “at Tim’s sole request -Hope he will do well.”
          He was later to write and describe a situation which
        he  found  in  Montana  Territory  and  at  Virginia  City   The separation was of business interests only, for Tim,
        upon his arrival:                                      too, moved near Helena in 1865, and the friendship of
          “In  the  early  organizing  history  of  no  single  state  the Wilcox’s and Hedges’ continued for years. Both his
        in  the  Union,  were  there  such  rough,  discordant  luck and mood ran in streaks. On August 20, he wrote,
        elements brought together as in the case of Montana,  “Saw many of our fellow travelers very few have acted
        and to render the situation still worse almost the entire  wisely or have done as well as we have.” But by the
        population  was  gathered  in  a  few  camps  where  the  24th, with a prospect of a reduction in wages, he was
        sentiment of the majority represented the whole. There  contemplating returning home. He reasoned “It looks
        was no recognized circulating medium but gold dust.  more and more discouraging claims working out, hands
        Greenbacks  were  at  a  discount  when  received  at  all  discharged, pilgrims coming, prices going up & wages
        their only use was for the merchants to send east to  coming down, we’ll see.” For the sake of the future of
        purchase goods. There was no Sunday as distinguished  Montana, it’s extremely fortunate that his luck took an
        from  the  other  days  except  by  increased  gambling  upturn.
        and  dissipation.  The  very  ease  with  which  fortunes
        were  made  in  the  mines  encouraged  recklessness  in   On September 1, they fi nally were able to buy a claim.
        squandering  them  and  every  sort  of  dissipation  and  They (He, Henry, and two fellows by the name of John
        crime. In such a devil’s hot-bed were scattered a few  and Whit) bought into Claim #66 in Highland Gulch,
        seeds of Masonry. Greenbacks were then worth only 40  complete  with  cabin,  tools,  boxes,  and  a  set  of  gold
        cents on the dollar, when negotiable at all.”          scales. The 2nd was spent moving their eff ects from
                                                               their tent to the cabin; and on Sept. 3, he wrote: “we
          About  the  same  time,  Cornelius  was  arriving  in  all went to work on our claim stripping for a pit -took
        Virginia  City,  Edna  and  Willie  left  Independence  to  turns with a wheelbarrow -Did a hard day’s work, but
        return to Mrs. Hedges’ girlhood home at Southington,  enjoyed being my own master.” On the cultural Side,
        Connecticut. There they remained until the spring of  he noted that day that he had read The Montana Post
        1867, with Cornelius joining them in the late fall of  for the fi rst time.
                                                                 The  acquisition,  however,  of  a  claim  was  not  the
          Meanwhile, Hedges was going through the agonizing,  magic answer to success; the total run from their pit
        often  heartbreaking,  process  of  putting  himself  on  a  was only $60.60, and of that, $33.85 came out of one
        solid  fi nancial  footing.  For  the  fi rst  month  and  one- day’s run. Thus by September 14, they were back to
        half, he and Henry Clark worked for wages shoveling  working for wages.
        tailings and providing the “elbow grease” for some of
        the windlasses in Highland Gulch near Summit City,       On  the  17th,  they  took  up  a  new  claim,  and  with
        just above Virginia City. Their initial wages were $5.00  renewed hope sent one of their number, Dave, to join
        per day.                                               in on the Yellowstone gold rush.

          On July 20, he commented “the sweat rolled off , my     By  October  1,  he  was  back  with  the  discouraging
        hands soon  blistered  -  It  seemed  as  though  I  could   news of a false alarm. And the next day, Hedges related
        not  long holdout - somehow survived. Hardest day’s  “traded my pistol to Dave for his share of the pony...
        work I ever did.” By the 22nd, he confi ded “learned to  traded one rubber blanket for his bake oven -Dave is
        slight my work some, fi nd that no one else will do the  going home.”
        work at the wages…wrists lame and swollen.”
                                                                 His luck continued to run in streaks, on October 19,
          On  July  28,  their  sugar  gave  out,  and  they  went  he traded his gold watch for a $27 lumber bill, but the
        without,  thus  by August  2,  they  were  living  on  beef  very next day they had their best run yet, cleaning up

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