Bacon & Beans from a Gold Pan
by George Hoeper
as told by Jesse Coffey
This is the authentic tale of Jesse and Dot Coffey, two young newlyweds who turned to the
California gold fields during the Great Depression in order to make their living.
Jesse Coffey panned his first gold nugget out of the Yuba River when he was only ten years old.
From that moment on he was never far from a gold pan. It was in his blood. In fact, his
grandparents were among the early arrivals in the gold fields, back in 1848.
The year 1935 saw Jesse and Dot out of work, like millions of others during those hungry years.
So the couple moved to the foothills of the Mother Lode country to make their living. Starting
out at Agua Fria creek in Mariposa county, the two traveled the Gold Country for four years,
finally ending up at the Yuba River, near Downieville. Some days they managed to pan a few cents
worth of gold, other days a few dollars, but they always managed to to find enough to “buy bacon
What makes this story interesting are the descriptions of the places and countryside the couple
worked and lived in, and the people they met. It was a different time and most of the folks were
friendly and willing to help others as much as they could.
If you’ve traveled through the Gold Country much at all, you’ll recognize the places you read
about in this book. And you’ll enjoy the story, it’s a very good tale. And true.--E. K.