Edward "Ned" Stout is one of those people that tall tales are
told about, and no wonder; throughout an adventurous life he left a deep
impression upon the history of British Columbia and its pioneer settlement
and development. He is an individual that, although gone, will not be forgotten
Ned was born in Bavaria, a province of Germany, September 26, 1827, and in his infancy was left an orphan. He acquired a good education in the public schools of his native country and remained in Bavaria until he was twenty years of age.
In that year, 1846, he left Europe and crossed the Atlantic for the New World, landing in New York. He proceeded from the coast, inland to Milwaukee, where he obtained employment on a schooner. There is some evidence that he joined his uncle here, Captain Stout, who worked a steamer operating on Lake Michigan.
Stout sailed on the lake until 1849, becoming familiar with nearly every port, from Chicago at the southern end to the Canadian frontier in the north. In the spring of 1849, he left inland navigation to join the great migration west.
"It was a long, but at that season of the year, a pleasant journey. I can remember it most distinctly. We passed over a beautiful country literally swarming with buffalo, elk and other deer, as well as antelopes." - Ned Stout
Stout's party went through the Black Hills by way of Salt Lake through the Sierra Nevada and arrived in 'Hangtown' or Placerville in November of 1849, the trip taking some 7 odd months to complete. Ned worked in the gold mines and prospected with fair success in this area for over eight years.
Hangtown derived its name from the number of desperadoes who were hung within its boundaries by the Vigilance Committee. In the centre of the town was an oak tree, with large, thick and wide spreading branches.
"One could count the number of hangings that had been carried out by the number of rings on the branches of the tree, just as you can tell the age of some trees by the number of circles or rings which can be counted within the bark when the tree is felled to the ground." - Ned Stout