I just read some kids books from the turn of the 20th century and I learned all about what it took to be a hero in gold country.
Here are some instructions.
1) You must be a white male runaway and/or orphan, preferably around 15. (In fact, if you want to be in the book at all, you must be male.)
2) You have to be cool with befriending with all kinds of men, including gamblers, murderers, ranchers, cowboys, trappers and prospectors.
a)Except: Don’t befriend slaves.
i) As a matter of fact, you should probably be judgmental of plantation owners who treat their slaves too well by letting them take breaks once in a while.
b) Or Indians. No befriending of Indians.
3) Carry a gun. Kill lots of animals.
a) Especially a camel, if you come across it. Kill it, cut off the legs and head, and then have a smoke.
b) If you happen upon a family of mountain lions, kill the mother and father with a revolver aimed at the heart, then bash the cubs’ heads in against a rock.
4) Be fearless. Do not be afraid of that guy with a gun. Do not be afraid of the German that follows you hundreds of miles, like a ghost, trying to steal your gold.
a) Except if someone is robbing you at gunpoint and you don’t have a gun, just give them your shit. Don’t be stupid and get yourself killed. You’ll find them later and recover your monies.
b) Remember, fate is a cruel mistress. Anything can be taken from you at any time, whether you’re on the right side of the law or the wrong side of the law.
5) Eat bacon, johnny cakes and coffee for every meal. If you can’t find johnny cakes, substitute with cornbread or hard tack.
6) Remember: only villains kill horses.
For further reference:
Elam Storm, The Wolfer by Harry Castlemon
The Haunted Mine by Harry Castlemon