Well, with a short concert season, we have found ourselves with a little bit of time on our hands and what an amazing story is emanating from this old timer!
We know it came out of what had been the Wells Fargo Office in Angels Camp, California, just down the road from us. Each of the Wells Fargo Agents that either worked or owned that office had signed the door of this safe with the dates they had been the official Wells Fargo Agent.
(Note: we had to wrap plastic over the door where the signatures were to protect them from being rubbed off by a curious on looker. Why someone would do that is beyond me, but, luckily we caught the offending finger before it could do too much damage! A Plexiglas cover is being designed to replace the plastic wrap.)
The first signature belongs to a J. C. Scribner who was the first agent from 1856 to 1892.
Having seen that name before, it was time to dig. In the back office reference library is a reprint of a book printed in 1885 titled "Calaveras County, Illustrated and Described 1885."
Page #72 ...
"At Angel's, J. C. Scribner keeps a general merchandise store, and a good line of drugs. He also acts as agent for Wells, Fargo & Co.'s express. He came to Calaveras County as early as 1849, and purchased the business formerly conducted by Mr. Angel, the founder of this camp. The wooden building occupied first by Mr. Scribner was burned in 1855, and he replaced it by a very substantial stone building the following year (1856). He has remained in business at this place ever since."
This lovely book also has an etching of said store as it looked in 1885.
According to the Survey card, J. C. Scribner was:
"Dear to hearts of Angels Camp citizens because of folk lore around Scribner, practical joker of old school. Said to have been the one who furnished the grapeshot that decided the race in Mark Twain's famous story "Jumping Frog of Calaveras County."
Now, this story was an actual event that occurred downtown Angels Camp sometime between 1856 and 1865. Samuel Clemens heard the folklore while socializing in the Angels Hotel, just across the street from Scribner's store. Maybe we will have time for that in another blog.
May, 1892, the Wells Fargo agency was taken over by R. Rasmussen. At this time, I am still looking to see what happened to J. C. Scribner. If I find anything interesting, I will most certainly post an update.
Hope you have enjoyed this little bit of historic trivia.