James Clair Flood: The ‘Floodavellian’ silver king
James Flood's appearance belied his talent. He was of medium height, ruddy, heavy-set, with massive shoulders and short neck. But Flood was shrewd and calculating. His poor Irish immigrant parents moved to New York where Flood was born on a late Autumn day. He attended public schools for several years, but -- like many children of poor Irish immigrants -- left school to learn in a trade and apprenticed as a carriage maker. The discovery of gold lured many New Yorkers to California and Flood was no exception. Arriving in California in 1849, he sought work in the carriage trade, but as the trade was virtually nonexistent, he hired as a carpenter earning 16 dollars a day, roughly the value of an ounce of gold. Dissatisfied with this pinch of gold, Flood decided he could do better in the gold fields and left for the placers where he did reasonably well -- amassing $3,000 in one year.