James Richmond's
California Story

1860's Style Employee Relations

August 8, 1860 It is my business to see that the cows are all milked in time to meet the ferry. I have my string of twenty-five which I milk twice a day. We have to get up at one oíclock in order to meet the ferry at four. Twas my business to rout the men as I could always wake at a given hour. They all depended on me to call them yet some would grunt and roll over and take another nap. I have got tired of calling so many times. So this morning I said Boys, Iím willing to call you once or even twice before I go out. But it is just as much your business as mine to get up. Yet I am here to take the milk at four oíclock, And I will here after call you once and if you donít get up then youíll have to take the consequences, which will consist of a pail of cold water. Now remember I will call you but once.

The most of them agreed that they would be deserving of it if they did not get up. I saw one chap who looked very surly. He was the one who would invariably sleep the longest. He seemed to think that if his string was not done in time, the rest would help him out. We had all gotten tired of doing his work. He had been with us but AA few weeks. He acted as though that sort of thing would last. But I thought in time to put a stop to it.

I called them the next morning making enough noise to wake a regiment of men calling to him in particular and receiving a sulky growl in response as he rolled over to take another nap. I concluded that he would be up by the time I got around with the water if he intended to obey at all. When I returned he was still asleep on his back, his mouth wide open. I gave him the contents of the pail, full in the face. I imagine he took some of it in as there was open space there enough for it to enter. I did not wait to watch the effect, but went on to work.

He was soon right behind me, I knew he was mad but I apprehended no danger. Halfway to the barn I heard him halt. I half turned my head to see what he was about and received a well directed blow to my head. This staggered me a great deal, I kept my balance and went on to work while he slunk out of sight in the darkness, I had no time to attend to him as I was late with my work.

When the men came up for my cans they told me my head was bleeding. I explained that my friend had given me a whack. I was full of wrath at the way he had sneaked up and hit me. He did not come to milk his cows so we had to do it. I went to the house and had a dressing put on my head. I then set out to find the one who threw the stick of wood at me.

Found him in a corn field. He was waiting for me to go to the ferry so he could go into the house to gather up his belongings, but I did not go to the ferry that morning. I marched him back to the house ahead of me, at first he refused and showed an inclination to fight. I gave him a taste of my cowhides and told him to get moving or I would give him the pummeling of his life. He went to the house and I dismissed him with the toe of my boot. I think it might have left a lasting impression if not an agreeable one. He didnít have anything to say until he was a safe distance away where he stooped to swear at me.