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Two Saints Of The Foot-Hills
by [?]

It never was clearly ascertained how long they had been there. The first settler of Rough-and-Ready–one Low, playfully known to his familiars as “The Poor Indian”–declared that the Saints were afore his time, and occupied a cabin in the brush when he “blazed” his way to the North Fork. It is certain that the two were present when the water was first turned on the Union Ditch and then and there received the designation of Daddy Downey and Mammy Downey, which they kept to the last. As they tottered toward the refreshment tent, they were welcomed with the greatest enthusiasm by the boys; or, to borrow the more refined language of the “Union Recorder,”–“Their gray hairs and bent figures, recalling as they did the happy paternal eastern homes of the spectators, and the blessings that fell from venerable lips when they left those homes to journey in quest of the Golden Fleece on Occidental Slopes, caused many to burst into tears.” The nearer facts, that many of these spectators were orphans, that a few were unable to establish any legal parentage whatever, that others had enjoyed a State’s guardianship and discipline, and that a majority had left their paternal roofs without any embarrassing preliminary formula, were mere passing clouds that did not dim the golden imagery of the writer. From that day the Saints were adopted as historical lay figures, and entered at once into possession of uninterrupted gratuities and endowment

It was not strange that, in a country largely made up of ambitious and reckless youth, these two–types of conservative and settled forms–should be thus celebrated. Apart from any sentiment or veneration, they were admirable foils to the community’s youthful progress and energy. They were put forward at every social gathering, occupied prominent seats on the platform at every public meeting, walked first in every procession, were conspicuous at the frequent funeral and rarer wedding, and were godfather and godmother to the first baby born in Rough-and-Ready. At the first poll opened in that precinct, Daddy Downey cast the first vote, and, as was his custom on all momentous occasions, became volubly reminiscent. “The first vote I ever cast,” said Daddy, “was for Andrew Jackson; the father o’ some on your peart young chaps wasn’t born then; he! he! that was ‘way long in ’33, wasn’t it? I disremember now, but if Mammy was here, she bein’ a school-gal at the time, she could say. But my memory’s failin’ me. I’m an old man, boys; yet I likes to see the young ones go ahead. I recklect that thar vote from a suckumstance. Squire Adams was present, and seein’ it was my first vote, he put a goold piece into my hand, and, sez he, sez Squire Adams, ‘Let that always be a reminder of the exercise of a glorious freeman’s privilege!’ He did; he! he! Lord, boys! I feel so proud of ye, that I wish I had a hundred votes to cast for ye all.”

It was hardly necessary to say that the memorial tribute of Squire Adams was increased tenfold by the judges, inspectors, and clerks, and that the old man tottered back to Mammy, considerably heavier than he came. As both of the rival candidates were equally sure of his vote, and each had called upon him and offered a conveyance, it is but fair to presume they were equally beneficent. But Daddy insisted upon walking to the polls,–a distance of two miles,–as a moral example, and a text for the California paragraphers, who hastened to record that such was the influence of the foot-hill climate, that “a citizen of Rough-and-Ready, aged eighty-four, rose at six o’clock, and, after milking two cows, walked a distance of twelve miles to the polls, and returned in time to chop a cord of wood before dinner.”

Slightly exaggerated as this statement may have been, the fact that Daddy was always found by the visitor to be engaged at his wood-pile, which seemed neither to increase nor diminish under his axe, a fact, doubtless, owing to the activity of Mammy, who was always at the same time making pies, seemed to give some credence to the story. Indeed, the wood-pile of Daddy Downey was a standing reproof to the indolent and sluggish miner.