Name: William Warner Forwood
Birth: 11 MAR 1788 in Harford MD
Death: 09 JUL 1853 in Placer CA
The following is a newspaper article dated July 31 1958. About the gold rush days of the 1850's.
EARLY DAY MAIL SERVICE IN SPRING GROVE RECALLED
Traffic was moving over the Rock Island road, north of Monmouth, as long as 120 years ago, and by 1835 it was of sufficient volume to make Spring Grove the first stop station on the stage route between Monmouth and Rock Island and to open Spring Grove's first post office.
Letter's of that day were folded like an envelope and stamped closed with a wax seal. Postage was 25c. Here we have a letter of that day. It's dated in Springfield, Illinois in 1840. It's addressed to Monmouth's first postmaster, Daniel McNiel, and readdressed to Wm Forwood, regarding titles to his 640 acres of land in Spring Grove Township.
Late in 1848 news began coming with every stage trip telling of the first gold rush in America. Gold-the word had the sound of the shining magic. Men rushed to buy outfits and left for the West.
Among the first forty-niners, to leave Monmouth was Wm Forwood two sons, Phillip and Shad. And with every stage trip came more glowing accounts from California. As Wm Forwood watched the westward trek, for many followed the Rock Island road Thur Spring Grove in covered wagons, on horseback and walking, he found himself thinking how he could improve his acres with the gold that could be picked so easily from a creek bed. Little dreaming as he joined the stampede to the gold fields the drama of his journey and grim results of his hopes.
Here we have a letter he wrote from Sacramento City, dated Sept 29, 1850, to L. A. Cunningham, Spring Grove P. O. and reads:
Dear L. A. Cunningham:
This will inform you I am in good health and hope these few lines may find you and family and all my relatives in good health. Thanks to the Great Giver I arrived in Hangtown: 50 miles from Sacramento City, on the 30th of August after a long and tedious trip of 105 days over mountains and through dust to the knees, privation on every side and starvation on every side. In short, I have never seen anything to cope with it. Rifles are scattered all the way from Cainsville to Hangtown. I suppose the number to be about 10,000 and wagons by the thousands. I have tried mining about 3 weeks and found it poor business. John Smith of Monmouth was our foreman in a small company and at the end of 3 weeks I settled with the company and left. The country is all dug up and but a very few have or are making more than their board. I have not heard of Phillip and Shad since I left Cainsville. Neith-have I heard of L. P. Rockwell, or any of our neighbors except one of of the Brownlees and I didn't get an opportunity to make any inquiry of him.
California is a bleak place: nobody knows his nearest neighbor; everything is high and labor scare. I am now at work on the levy at $3 per day, trying to make a raise and then I shall try the mines again. A common long handle shovel costs from $16 to $20, a miners shovel from $10 to $14, flour 18c to 20c per lb., pork 30c to 35c, butter 30c to 40c per lb., meals are from $1 to $2.50, board $3 per day. Immigrants are coming in by the thousands and three-fourths of them in a state of starvation. God only knows when the California doings will end.
Now for a description of the traveling across the plains. I bought my way into two ox teams which cost me my two horses and $50. With these outfits all complete, 9 yoke of cattle in all, and I had the privilege of riding when I pleased. But the roads were so bad and the loads so heavy that I was forced to walk.
I started with them at Edsville in Iowa and walked to Cainsville, 250 miles where I saw Joseph and L. P. Rockwell. We lay there 8 days waiting for grass and crossed the river on the 18th of May to join Col. McDonell's company and traveled up the north side of Platte river. We had good grass and bad water. Its all saline country and poison to man and beast. At Fort Lacama the Sowe mountains began and you are never out of sight of snow until you are in Sacramento Valley. We took the south pass by Salt Lake and Hot Springs. There is no timber of any amount from the mouth of Elk Horn Fork until you come to Salt Lake and not much then except in the Tamons. I would never advise anyone to cross the plains, it's a complete hell to man and beast. There is nothing here but starvation and trouble. Everyone that can get as much as will take him back is off. Every boat is loaded all bounded for home.
We crossed one desert of 58 miles. At St. Mary Sink I saw Capt. Clap stop his horse and he counted 84 dead horses and as many cattle. It is said that there were at least 5,000 died with cholera, we kept about 20 miles ahead of it. A great many starved to death, I helped all that I could as long as long as i had.
I wish you to write as I want to hear from home. There is no place for a mechanic and here houses are built of canvas mostly and roofed with the same. Their living consists of bread, meat, potatoes and coffee. Potatoes are 20 cent per pound. I want my folks to write and let me know how things go on and I shall write once a month and return soon. I advise you to stay where you are. Nothing more at present but remain your loving father.
Wm M. Forwood
Other letters told how he had found his sons building up a large saw mill, Wm. Forwood never returned to Spring Grove, he died of fever far from home and loved ones, and was buried in the little town called Yankee Jim in Placer County, California. His wife, Sarah Rutledge Forwood, was buried in Norwood Cemetery beside her son Benjamin, who so lovingly cared for her.
William is listed as William W Forwood on the Illinois 1840 census in Warren County, Unknown townships on page 186.
Source: 1850 Illinois Census Warren County dated Oct 25 1850 page 66 Ancestry Image #130 line 20 dwelling #926 family #926
Forwood William age 60 born PA occupation farmer
Forwood Sarah age 60 born Maryland
Forwood Phillip age 28 born Maryland occupation cooker
Forwood Shadrack age 22 born Maryland occupation farmer
Forwood Jane age 18 born Maryland
Forwood Harriet age 16 born Maryland
Source: 1852 California Census Placer California
Forwood W. W. age 64 born PA 1788
Sarah T Gilbert b: 1791 in Maryland
26 FEB 1816
in Harford MD
- Benjamin Franklin Forwood b: 18 DEC 1816 in Hartford Co., Maryland
- Joseph R Forwood b: 31 DEC 1817 in Hartford Co., Maryland
- Phillip G Forwood b: 1824 in Westmoreland PA
- Shadrack R Forwood b: ABT 1828 in Maryland
- Sarah Jane Adeline Forwood b: 08 JUL 1831 in Brandywine New Castle DE
- Harriet E Forwood b: ABT 1834 in Westmoreland PA