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October 14, 1863: Henley

October 14, 2013

[Today] we left Yreka and went to Cottonwood, about twenty or twenty-two miles—first across the valley-plain northeast, with grand views of Mount Shasta, then among low hills to Klamath River, which we crossed by a ferry. We camped about a mile from the town of Cottonwood, and as far from the river, in a field, a rather dirty place, without the shelter of trees from the sun by day or the cold of night, and remained there five days.

We stopped at the ranch of a poor man who had a little house, some fields, hay for our animals, a pretty wife and five little children, the oldest apparently not over seven or eight years old. I pitied the poor woman, for he was sick—I did not know how sick until she sent for me to see if I was a doctor or could help him. There was no doctor within twenty-two miles, and to get one costs fifty to seventy-five dollars per visit, which the man could ill afford to pay, so he had to put it off until he was not only in intense agony, but his life, I thought, in danger. So I set to work to doctor him, went into town late in the evening for remedies, and happily effected speedy and complete relief. He slept well the rest of the night, the first sleep for some days, and felt well in the morning, so he got up, ran around some, and was, of course, taken down again as a consequence. I will sum up by saying that I doctored him again before I left, to his great relief and the unbounded gratitude of his poor overworked wife. We were supplied with an abundance of good butter and milk while we were there, great luxuries to us, without pay, for they would take nothing. If he had not been relieved that night he would in all probability have died within a week. So much for my medical practice and its happy success.

Cottonwood is a little mining town, once busy and hustling, now mostly “played out,” two-thirds of its houses empty, its business dull, the whole place looking as if stricken with a curse. You have no idea of the dilapidation of a mining town in its decline, before it is entirely dead.

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