"Honest Sam" Upham was one of many middle-class Americans who traveled to California to strike it rich in the Gold Rush. Upham reached California by sailing south around South America, before reaching San Francisco. His memoirs, Notes of a Voyage to California Via Cape Horn, and Scenes of El Dorado, In the Years 1849-'50 offer detailed accounts of the both the journey and the miner's life in California. Upham included in his account his own version of a popular mining song, "Song of the Gold-Digger:"
I came from Quakerdelphia With my wash-bowl on my nee, I'm going to California, The gold-dust for to see. It rained all night the day I left, The weather it was dry, The sun so hot I froze to death, O Anna, don't you cry! Chorus— O California! That's the land for me, I'm going to Calaveras, With my wash-bowl on my knee. The Osceola I did board, And traveled on the sea; And every time I thought of home, I wished it wasn't me! The brig she reared like any horse That had of oats a wealth— But she found she couldn't throw me, So I thought I'd throw myself. Chorus— Ann Eliza! Don't you cry for me, I'm gong to Calaveras, With my wash-bowl on my knee. I thought of all the pleasant times We'd had together, dear; I thought I ought to cry a bit, But couldn't find a tear; The pilot-bread was in my mouth, The gold-dust in my eye, And though from you I'm far away, Dear Anna, don't you cry. Chorus—O Ann Eliza! Don't you cry for me, I'm going to Calaveras, With my wash-bowl on my knee. I soon shall be in mining camp, And then I'll look around, And when I see the gold-dust there, I'll pick it off the ground. I'll scrape the mountains clean, old girl, I'll drain the rivers dry, A pocketful of rocks bring home, So, Anna, don't you cry. Chorus—O California! That's the land for me, I'm going to Calaveras, With my wash-bowl on my knee. Upham found modest success as a miner before falling ill, and in 1850 he left California for Philadelphia. Thus, Upham represents the myriad ambitious men who went west to make their fortunes, only to return east when fortune proved too elusive. For every miner who became wealthy in California, many more either failed outright or found mining less lucrative than they expected.
Samuel C. Upham, Notes of a Voyage to California, via Cape Horn, Together with Scenes in El Dorado, in the Years 1849-50. New York: Arno Press, 1973