Hay view from Castle

Hay view from Castle
Hay-on-Wye, Powys (formerly Breconshire), Wales. The "Town of Books" (and Vaughans!)

Thursday, October 23, 2014

John Lewis & the Gold Country

We still do not understand the "why" of John's and Jane Vaughan Lewis's separation. We know that he was interested in mining because of his letter to Brigham Young and he may have been discouraged by the response. And it seems pretty clear that John did go to the gold fields in California, was drafted into the Union Army, and returned to the gold fields and the saloon business after the Civil War. Then, his death seems well-documented and a match with the right person in the right place.

The geography helps along with the National Park Service map for the California National Historic Trail. Remember that John first reappeared in Bridgeport, Nevada County, California. (And that's a different place than Bridgeport in Mono County, California.)

There were several trails over the Sierras as there were through the Great Basin. There were many bad choices because there was no good one. Yet please note that there is a direct route from Mormon Station (Genoa), Nevada to the Sacramento Valley. Follow No. 7, the Georgetown/Daggett Pass Trail to No. 5, the Georgetown Trail, and you end up in . . . Georgetown, just a few miles south of Bridgeport.

California Trail, GPO 2008-339-126/80149 Reprint 2006
The remaining details of John's life, with the exception of his Civil War duties, all occurred in Sierra County, California, upriver on the Yuba on the same western slope of the mountains. He was drafted in 1863 while at Hog Canyon up a tributary of Pauley Creek that flows down to Downieville the county seat. It is in Downieville in 1864 that a tax debt was recorded for John while he was in military service. Then, in 1867, his death and burial were recorded in Alleghany, just a few miles south of Downieville.

Here's a Google map with Hog Canyon indicated in relative position to Downieville and Alleghany in Sierra County:

John Lewis, born 1822 in Hakin, Huberston, Pembrokeshire, Wales. Died 1867, Alleghany, Sierra County, California, United States of America. I think I got you right. Rest in Peace until the Resurrection Day.


  1. John Lewis was second cousin to my ancestor William Twigg who also joined the LDS Church in Pembrokeshire, Wales. Was wondering if there are any photos of John in existence. Thanks. tomgoldrup44@gmail.com

    1. Wow! Good to here from you! We have not found a photo of John Lewis yet. There is one of his wife, Jane Vaughan Lewis Johns, taken in Nevada in the 1860s. You can find it under her name on this page or check out FamilySearch.org.


Comments welcome, but are screened for propriety and relevance.