October 13, 1863: Yreka
At Yreka I found a tremendous pile of letters, no less than fifteen, besides some for King. Some were from friends not heard from for a long time. These letters were read, and on the next day, a quiet Sunday, were again read over and over again, and some few answered. You at home little know the blessed charm that letters can have, their true value to the person that wanders, homeless and desolate, especially when his bed is the ground and his canopy the sky, and when all he holds dear is so far away.
We remained [here] three days, camped in a quiet field about a mile and a half from town. We were often visited by Indians—there was a large encampment near us. Some of them were the best looking I had yet seen in the state, far superior to the miserable Diggers of the central part of the state. Some of the squaws were quite pretty, but they had their faces painted in strange ways, often looking absolutely disgusting. Some had streaks of black, others streaks of black and bright red, others red with a red streak running over the top of the head; some appeared as if spattered with black or red or both—mere daubs of color, without any apparent design. I was told that all these styles mean something—married and single women paint differently—but what they mean I did not study out. These Indians are the remains of several tribes, the Klamath, Shasta, Siskiyou, and another tribe—now all united into one which numbers about two hundred warriors.
Yreka is a rather pretty little place, surrounded by low hills, with mining in all the gulches. While here, the temperature sank to freezing every night, but the days were warm.