The Goldfinder Series, Book One, The Gold Hunter, Prelude (Entry 1)

The Goldfinder Series is four historical novels beginning in the California Gold Rush and ending after the American Civil War. Book One, The Gold Hunter; Book Two, The Gold Shaper; Book Three, The Gold Soldier; Book Four, The Secret of Gold Lake.

Clues to the location of the legendary lost Gold Lake will be scattered throughout the Series for those inclined to search for golden treasure.

In Book One, Petr Valory discovers the biggest gold motherlode of all time, a gold lottery greater than any possessed by kings or pharaohs–hidden beneath a small and nameless mountain lake high in the Sierra Nevada. So it begins this way.

Book One, The Gold Hunter


John Valory had no interest rushing into the Gold Rush. California was a long walk away, a mule killer and a man killer. He worked at Cates Saw Mill in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, a dollar a day and glad to get it ripping pine logs into planks, and he became a drinking man. But a letter arrived, February of 1851, a letter so tattered and worn it looked as if it had fallen from the moon: John, You want timber mountain and saw mill so come and get it. Dain King of Gold Nation Mining Company buys every stick of lumber you make. Sketchy directions followed having to do with bearing northwest from Pyramid Lake out of Nevada Territory and then into California through Beckwourth Pass, and thereupon to North Fork of the Feather River. Keep asking for Colonel King as he is well known in these parts. Handwriting simple and clear, but the signature smeared from a stray drop of rain as to be unreadable. Maybe M, maybe K.

Maybe every drunk is but a man with a broken dream–and one dream away from sober. Here was a last chance. John quit whiskey and bought a good used Studebaker covered wagon for fifty dollars and three mules for seventy-five dollars. His wife Magya was easy because he told her they would go to San Francisco where she could restart her opera career. The little girl Annabel was persuaded by the promise of a pony for riding in the hills. Petr needed no promises. Petr Valory was sixteen and sure a shovelful of California dirt would produce enough gold for all dreams to come true. Mostly good dreams, but a few scary ones he couldn’t talk about.

September 1851 the Valorys made it to the eastern slopes of the Sierra Nevada and found a foot of fresh snow, and more on the way. A gold hunter named Big Jack helped them build a cabin with a good fireplace and a sleeping loft for the children. In the spring John began cutting trees and his lumber business took off. The letter had been true enough. But after John realized who “Dain King” was, he wasn’t happy. Then Petr found his goldmine and all hopes of happiness died in the strangling hands of greed.



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