03 November 2010

California Quotes: The Mansion of Mr. Yount

"We stopped for a night at the hospitable mansion of Mr. Yount. This old man had led an adventurous and chequered life, in the course of which he had fought under Jackson at New Orleans, and in the Seminole war, had been taken prisoner by the Indians, and actually bound to the stake. He had been a hunter and trapper, and Indian fighter at large, in the heart of the continent, until his combative propensities were gratified--and he finally found himself one day at the "jumping-off place," and made his first attempt at ocean navigation on the bosom of the broad Pacific. In the unpretending skiff of an otter-hunter, often unaccompanied save by his trusty rifle, he coasted the shores and islands of California, in search of the pelt of his valuable prey.

While employed one day (in the year 1836) in his regular pursuit, he chanced to steer his skiff into the navigable creek or estuary of Napa, rightly judging it a place of resort for his furry friend.

The valley was then inhabited by none but Indians, and he made his way up to a beautiful spot, a few miles from his boat, which had been selected for a rancheria by a tribe called the "Caymus". Here he sat down to rest, when suddenly there flashed upon his mind, like a gleam of light, a long-forgotten prophesy of an old fortune-teller in his native state. He declares that the Sybil had predicted the spot of his future residence in terms exactly answering to the description of this valley, including all the accessories of grove, plain, mountain, river, and even "medicine-water" as the Indians call the springs.

The old man pondered over this prophecy, counted his gains, which had been considerable, and philosophized over the vicissitudes of human life--not forgetting, however, to examine the valley more carefully.

On his next visit to Monterey, he became a citizen of California, and obtained a grant of land embracing the charmed spot indicated by the western witch."

From: A Tour of Duty in California, 1849, p. 93.

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