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18 June 2014
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Legacies - Cornwall

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Immigration and Emigration
Your Story: St Ives to California in 1871: Sarah Glasson's story

The emigration of the Glasson family to America in 1871 followed a pattern familiar to thousands of Cornish families. Father went on ahead to a pre-arranged job, or perhaps to an area where Cornish families had settled and there was a prospect of work, and having secured employment and prepared a home he would then send for the rest of the family.

The Glassons in West Cornwall were noted for the number of blacksmiths they produced and Sarah talks of her father Josiah Glasson who was a blacksmith in St. Ives. Her mother, Sarah, was one of a large Craze family, one of whom William, was subsequently Mayor of St. Ives.

Josiah found employment as a blacksmith with the principal mining company in North Bloomfield, a town of some 1700 inhabitants, which grew up around mining operations dating from around the 1850's, situated about 12 miles from Nevada City. The company worked the Malakoff/North Bloomfield mine, the world's largest hydraulic operation. It was four years before Josiah felt confident enough to send for his family.

In 1871 he had decided to return to St. Ives but had gone only a few miles when he was persuaded to return by the Company's Chief Engineer and Superintendent who asked him to take charge of all the mine blacksmiths in connection with a major project. The hydraulic mining operation, which replaced the pick and shovel and the gold pan, used powerful water monitors similar to those used for china clay extraction in Cornwall. These required vast amounts of water and the means of disposing of the tons of waste gravel, mud and water from the mining operations. The project on which Josiah was employed was a great mining engineering feat - the making of an 8,000 feet long drainage tunnel through solid rock.

Words: Tom Richards

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