Drury “Drew” Bailey and the Founding of Julian City, Part Two
In 1858, asked to write about why “A Rolling Stone Gathers No Moss,” Drury “Drew” Bailey compared it to “the wanderer who starts…with bright hopes of soon making a fortune [without effort]. After reaching the place of his destiny, he finds it not to be the thing it was represented.” So he abandons hope.
“If a man wants to gain knowledge or riches,” Bailey concluded, he shouldn’t look where he can find it with ease. “For what is not worth laboring for is not worth having.”
Bailey was 14 when he wrote those words in a schoolhouse in Gainesville, Georgia. As things turned out, they told his life story.
Ex-Confederate soldiers, Drew, his brother James, and Mike and Webb Julian headed west from Georgia in 1867. Although their paths parted, the men worked their way from one mining town to the next and rejoined in southern Utah. When they heard of plans for a railroad from El Paso to San Diego, Drew vowed to “help build a great city” at the terminus and call it home. But when Alonzo Horton refused to hire ex-Confederates, Bailey found land in the Cuyamacas “worth laboring for.”
When the group reached the mountains, only three or four families lived amid the pine-studded ridges and broad bunch-grass meadows. Game and fresh water abounded. In November 1869, Drew surprised the others by saying: “This is the most beautiful place I ever seen since I left home.” They should farm the land, he said, raise cattle and crops. Although the others disagreed, they helped him build a small log cabin on 160 homesteaded acres at the southern end of a mountain valley.
In the winter of 1869–1870 (most likely between mid-December and early January), Fred Coleman discovered flakes of gold in a creek four miles west of Bailey’s cabin. Once word got out, at least 75 prospectors muscled in and staked territories along both sides of the creek. When they weren’t panning or sluicing, they disputed rights and claims. Shouts led to fistfights. Some resulted, writes Helen Ellsberg, “in occasional pick and shovel battles.”
Drew and Mike Julian began exploring a hillside on the north side of the property. On February 20, 1870, Drew found the first quartz gold. He called the site Warrior’s Rest, and named himself and seven others as partners, since by law each “partner” added an extra 200 feet to a claim.
The discovery, which turned out to be a mere “pocket,” became a magnet. Like a chaos of bloodhounds, frantic prospectors swarmed today’s Gold Hill, desperate for yellow veins in white rocks. With one eye on the ground, the other on their competitors’ progress, they hacked at every hard, exposed surface, kicked clods of dirt, cursed, and kept moving. No time to reflect on rewards; stop and someone else will grab your prize.
Two days later, wanting relief from the mania, Henry Bickers followed a bear track up a slope. Two hundred yards above the camp, he spied free gold in a four-pound rock. Bickers, George Gower, and J. Bruen Wells made the claim. They added 18 relatives from around the country, giving them a total of 4200 feet.
The find became the first “producing” mine: the George Washington stood within sight of Bailey’s cabin. Later that day, or early the next, Mike Julian and Caliway Putnam discovered the Van Wert mine in a nearby draw. Others followed. Paul Hayden’s yielded “$1 to the pound.” On March 22, Ed Skidmore, another ex-Confederate soldier, happened on the richest find of all: the Stonewall Jackson Mine at the foot of Cuyamaca Mountain (times being what they were, he had to shorten the name to Stonewall). Skidmore took many partners, but most sold their shares for $50 or $75, “because they didn’t realize that mining entailed such hard work.”
Word of instant jackpots spurred a stampede to the region. “Imagine 800 men turned out loose in the mountains,” wrote the San Diego Union, “with as little sense and as much ‘friskiness’ as so many horses. The people here are positively wild. Such a thing as a sober thought is unknown.”
Convinced that boomtown real estate was its own bonanza, Gower, a surveyor, platted a town site on the timber and grazing land. But under homestead laws, Drew Bailey had “squatter’s rights.” In February, he and several others had formed the Julian Mining District. Mike Julian became the first recorder, and Drew decided to name it (and eventually the town) for his cousin. Why? “Mike was the best looking, and a favorite of the ladies,” said Drew, adding that “Julian sounded better than Bailey for a town.”
“Of the group,” says his grandson Richard Bailey, “Drury was the most unselfish and sharing.” That he would name his home for someone else, “is just like him. Also, remember they had been through the war together and were all very close.”
“A slight man” — he was five-foot-two — “with a serious countenance,” writes Helen Ellsberg, Bailey thought beyond himself. Though an “inveterate” smoker, he didn’t drink, except eggnog at Christmas. “Three fingers of the rot-gut dispensed over the Julian bars,” he said, “would put a miner on the millionaire’s trail…until he was brought up in the gutter broke.” Still, he bought rounds in the saloons and puffed an ever-present cigar or pipe.
His private acts of generosity became legendary. When an out-of-work miner’s son died, Bailey met him on the street, shook hands, and — claims one version — squeezed $500 into his palm ($50 would have been a small fortune, and probably closer to the actual amount). “The most open-handed of men,” says James Jaspar, Bailey had “many friends and few enemies.”
In late February, Drew hired John L. McIntire to survey a town site where the mining camp had grown. McIntire made many of his calculations on foot, wending around tents and shanties, large campfires and hobbled horses. James Pascoe, the county surveyor, delivered a platted map in March 1870.