from Yaphank As It Is and Was
OFF FOR THE MINES-ADVENTURES IN CALIFORNIA
SUCCESS AND FAILURE-ON THE SEA AND LAND.
Mordecai Homan was born in Yaphank, December 17th, 1825.
Probably no man that ever lived in Yaphank, or lives here at the present day, possesses a wider practical knowledge of the world, than the subject of this chapter.
He has circumnavigated the globe many times, and has experienced the frozen excitement furnished by the whale fisheries in the bleak Arctic. He has seen London in its glory, and Paris in its beauty; is acquainted with the ups and downs of mining life, and familiar with the wild scenes in Australian mines and jungles.
He visited California during the gold excitement, when the country swarmed with desperate men and loose characters of all sorts, nations and color; when murdering, robbing, fighting, and gambling was the universal pastime, and mining the occupation. He has met desperate men on the sea and on the land, and mingled with murderers, counterfeiters, forgers, and villainous people of all nations, with some of the most depraved characters that ever sailed the seas or stalked the land. Not by taste or preference did lie associate with villains and hardened men, but as a natural consequence of an adventurous life.
When whaling was a remunerative business he made a number of voyages to the frozen North; but the fever soon' subsided, and his roving disposition allured him into newer fields of adventure. When but seventeen years old he sailed for the icy seas; but later in life we see him.
OFF FOR THE MINES.
In 1849 he joined a stock company, which purchased the bark ship Galindo, and sailed for San Francisco. Arriving there, the company disposed of the ship and dispersed for the mines.
Mordecai labored in the mountains a number of years, when he was stricken down with the small-pox in a most malignant form.
He was alone in a half-barbarous country, prostrated by a deadly disease, and surrounded by cut-throats and bad men; but hope never forsook him, and an iron constitution bore him through his terrible ordeal.
He arose from his couch of misery emaciated and feeble but kind hands and kinder hearts came to his succor, and his wasted form grew robust and strong. After his illness, being unable to immediately enter the mines in consequence of physical prostration, be "kept" store for the miners, &c., after which he sailed for Australia. There be worked in the vein a period, going all through the Australian mines, and remaining there about eleven months, when he sailed down the coast of Chili to Valparaiso. There he again shipped in the clipper ship Mischief, and set sail for China.
The ship touched at San Francisco, where Mordecai met an old friend and was induced to again enter the mines.
ADVENTURES IN CALIFORNIA-SUCCESS AND FAILURE.
Again he swung the pick and blasted for gold. He suffered many hardships and exposures; indeed, more than usually fell to his hardy companions.
By his efforts he had amassed a snug little fortune, and began packing his provisions and effects from the mountains toward Trinidad. He had packed and remained in an Indian encampment one night. The Indians appeared friendly, and gave him much salmon and other tokens of friendship. The encampment was composed of fifteen hundred warriors, who, a few days after, gathered in councils of war.
Mordecai saw that an ominous cloud was gathering along the frontier, and, combined with the influences and opinions of prominent leaders, the company immediately started down the coast toward Trinidad.
On the march they came upon and determined to encamp near rich diggings, although opposed by those who were aware of the intended Indian revolution and declaration of war.
He left his three partners at the camp. They expected to bury their gold dust, provisions, &c.. and then follow to the mines.
Mordecai was then prospecting, with others, when a friendly Indian arrived and reported that the camp bad been attacked, and "all hands killed and robbed." Their arrival at the camp verified the sad news. The Indians had surprised the camp and butchered and robbed all.
Mordecai not only was afflicted by the murdering of his partners, but lost seventy-five hundred dollars in gold dust, seven pack mules, and fifteen hundred pounds of provisions.
Two of his partners were killed outright, while the third -wounded and dying-had dragged his mutilated body into concealment.
He was rescued, but died soon after. The miners then consolidated and moved directly toward Trinidad. They met a body of soldiers on the march up the mountains, who were sent to their aid simultaneously with the first war -whoop.
Mordecai and many other miners entered the ranks, and returned to fight the dusky foe.
The incidents connected with his participation in the Indian war are to numerous to record. He assisted in demolishing Indian villages, destroying their crops, &c., and then returned with the band to Trinidad, and thence to San Francisco.
In 1856 he sailed for his Island home, having passed seven years in the wilds of California and Australia; meeting success and failure, sickness and exposure; and passing through adventures and escapes that would fill a volume of thrilling events.
Mr. Homan is about forty-nine years old-crippled and prematurely broken down. His memory is rich in reminiscences of travel and adventure, which makes him an interesting conversationalist. He is not egotistical, and is seldom the "hero" of hair-breadth escapes and bloody encounters. He is a thorough sailor and a superior navigator. His heart and kingdom are upon the "deep blue," and his love for excitement grows more enthusiastic as he sails down the tide of life. He probably will leave his boots at sea.
He is decidedly abrupt and unceremonious in his speech; but if he stumbles with his tongue, it is the head that's wrong, and not the heart that goes astray."