Criminal Annals, Part 30 – The Placer Times: More About Candidate Joseph Grant

Last time it was mentioned that one losing candidate for Mayor of Sacramento had decided to protest the results. The editor of the “Placer Times” inserted in the April 6, 1850 issue a small, somewhat tongue-in-cheek, story about this action.

Joseph Grant had received about 16.5 percent of the votes and though this was only the second election in California, which was not even a state at this date, he decided that there had been some foul play and wrote a letter of protest to the authorities. As you can tell from his letter, the election process might have been a bit “casual.”

“TO THE PUBLIC.
“The following protest was served on Wednesday morning last on the Hon. J. S. Thomas, at that the time the highest legalized authority in the District. For reasons satisfactory to himself, his Honor has deemed it imperative on him to administer the oaths of office to the returned officers; but it remains to be seen whether his course will be sanctioned by the authority above him, to which in comments with myself, he owes allegiance.
“Jos. Grant, Friday morning, 5th April, 1850.
———-
“To the Honorable J. S. Thomas, Prefect Sacramento District:

“The undersigned respectfully protests against the election for City Officers, held in Sacramento City on Monday, the 1st inst. on the following grounds, to wit:

“1st – That the election was not ordered by the Prefect [a chief officer, magistrate, or regional governor], and consequently must be considered a nullity.

“2d – That the polls were not closed at 5 o’clock P. M. as ordered by the proclamation, and consequently the election was invalidated.

“3d – That no election for City Officers was ordered at ‘Sutter’s fort,’ where a ballot was held, and in consequence the vote there should be rejected.

“4th – That the ballot boxes were taken from the places where the votes were received and their contents counted privately.

“5th – That the ballot boxes were placed in charge of parties during the night of the 1st instant, without the seals of the Judges or Inspectors being affixed.

“6th – That the ballots were opened by the Inspectors before they were deposited in the boxes, thereby creating a dangerous precedent, which, if not checked, may reflect discredit and opprobrium [harsh criticism or scorn] on the people.

“7th – That illegal and fraudulent voting was practiced at the polls, and farther that American citizens possessing the rights of suffrage were not allowed to exercise that privilege.

“The undersigned being prepared to prove the foregoing charges protests against any and every officer being qualified by virtue of the election held on the aforesaid Monday, the 1st instant.

“Respectfully, &c [archaic etc.] JOS GRANT. Sacramento City, 3d April, 1850.”

On the front page of the April 13, 1850 edition of the Placer Times is another warning, similar to one printed last winter. It is always amazing someone can immediately come up with a method of stealing from the public.

“Spurious Gold Dust. – There is every reason to suppose that arrangements are making to practice on this community a stupendous fraud by throwing into circulation a large amount of spurious metal, and it is time that our merchants should be upon the look out. We understand from unquestionable authority that a large amount of metal purporting to be and bearing the semblance of gold dust, was received in this port per steamer California, having been shipped from some of the Mexican ports on the Pacific coast. We also learn that it has been ascertained almost to a certainty that arrangements have been made for the shipment of a constant supply of the spurious metal to this port. Whether it is to be used in coinage, disseminated through ‘quicksilver gold’ [gold combined with mercury] or mixed with other dust can only be conjectured. It behooves all parties who may be likely to become the victims of fraudulent attempts to throw this trash into circulation, to keep a strict watch, and we hope that the parties concerned may be detected and brought to justice. – [Alta Cal. 1st.”

On the same page is an editorial regarding growing pains the new City of Sacramento is experiencing because business owners are expanding their buildings out into the street. This, along with squatting on other’s land, was not an uncommon practice during the early years of California when property lines and title issues were at best unsettled.

“Building Into the Street. – In this land of the ‘largest liberty’ there seems to be no limit to the rights and privileges which certain people have. A year ago the levee was public land, and was occupied as such until a short time since; last fall, you could hardly buy a lot and get it paid for, no matter how quick you done it, before some modest individual would take possession of the same, and swear that he had as good a right to it as any one. But this has nothing to do with ‘Miss Smith brown bread!’ [saying of unknown origin] What we would like to ‘get through the hair’ of some of our very worthy citizens is the fact that they are crowding their improvements a shade too far into the street. In many instances those who have had the ‘good looks’ of Sacramento in view, and have placed their buildings upon the line of the street, find themselves decidedly in the background, and almost out of sight until the passer-by gets abreast of their premises. The obvious injustice of this extending buildings ‘ad libitum’ [at one’s pleasure] into the street, is not the only evil attending it. It entirely destroys the appearance and beauty of the street, and the system is one which is not tolerated in any well-regulated city. There should be passed, forthwith, an ordinance prohibiting the construction of any thing in the street, except the ordinary awning.”

TO BE CONTINUED

Criminal Annals, Part 29 – The Placer Times: A Bit of ‘Tongue in Cheek’

Last time it was mentioned that one losing candidate for Mayor of Sacramento had decided to protest the results. The editor of the “Placer Times” inserted in the April 6, 1850 issue a small, somewhat tongue-in-cheek, story about this action.

Joseph Grant had received about 16.5 percent of the votes and though this was only the second election in California, which was not even a state at this date, he decided that there had been some foul play and wrote a letter of protest to the authorities. As you can tell from his letter, the election process might have been a bit “casual.”

“TO THE PUBLIC.

“The following protest was served on Wednesday morning last on the Hon. J. S. Thomas, at that the time the highest legalized authority in the District. For reasons satisfactory to himself, his Honor has deemed it imperative on him to administer the oaths of office to the returned officers; but it remains to be seen whether his course will be sanctioned by the authority above him, to which in comments with myself, he owes allegiance.

“Jos. Grant, Friday morning, 5th April, 1850.
———-
“To the Honorable J. S. Thomas, Prefect Sacramento District:

“The undersigned respectfully protests against the election for City Officers, held in Sacramento City on Monday, the 1st inst. on the following grounds, to wit:

“1st – That the election was not ordered by the Prefect [a chief officer, magistrate, or regional governor], and consequently must be considered a nullity.

“2d – That the polls were not closed at 5 o’clock P. M. as ordered by the proclamation, and consequently the election was invalidated.

“3d – That no election for City Officers was ordered at ‘Sutter’s fort,’ where a ballot was held, and in consequence the vote there should be rejected.

“4th – That the ballot boxes were taken from the places where the votes were received and their contents counted privately.

“5th – That the ballot boxes were placed in charge of parties during the night of the 1st instant, without the seals of the Judges or Inspectors being affixed.

“6th – That the ballots were opened by the Inspectors before they were deposited in the boxes, thereby creating a dangerous precedent, which, if not checked, may reflect discredit and opprobrium [harsh criticism or scorn] on the people.

“7th – That illegal and fraudulent voting was practiced at the polls, and farther that American citizens possessing the rights of suffrage were not allowed to exercise that privilege.

“The undersigned being prepared to prove the foregoing charges protests against any and every officer being qualified by virtue of the election held on the aforesaid Monday, the 1st instant.

“Respectfully, &c [archaic etc.] JOS GRANT. Sacramento City, 3d April, 1850.”

On the front page of the April 13, 1850 edition of the Placer Times is another warning, similar to one printed last winter. It is always amazing someone can immediately come up with a method of stealing from the public.

“Spurious Gold Dust. – There is every reason to suppose that arrangements are making to practice on this community a stupendous fraud by throwing into circulation a large amount of spurious metal, and it is time that our merchants should be upon the look out. We understand from unquestionable authority that a large amount of metal purporting to be and bearing the semblance of gold dust, was received in this port per steamer California, having been shipped from some of the Mexican ports on the Pacific coast. We also learn that it has been ascertained almost to a certainty that arrangements have been made for the shipment of a constant supply of the spurious metal to this port. Whether it is to be used in coinage, disseminated through ‘quicksilver gold’ [gold combined with mercury] or mixed with other dust can only be conjectured. It behooves all parties who may be likely to become the victims of fraudulent attempts to throw this trash into circulation, to keep a strict watch, and we hope that the parties concerned may be detected and brought to justice. – [Alta Cal. 1st.”

On the same page is an editorial regarding growing pains the new City of Sacramento is experiencing because business owners are expanding their buildings out into the street. This, along with squatting on other’s land, was not an uncommon practice during the early years of California when property lines and title issues were at best unsettled.

“Building Into the Street. – In this land of the ‘largest liberty’ there seems to be no limit to the rights and privileges which certain people have. A year ago the levee was public land, and was occupied as such until a short time since; last fall, you could hardly buy a lot and get it paid for, no matter how quick you done it, before some modest individual would take possession of the same, and swear that he had as good a right to it as any one. But this has nothing to do with ‘Miss Smith brown bread!’ [saying of unknown origin] What we would like to ‘get through the hair’ of some of our very worthy citizens is the fact that they are crowding their improvements a shade too far into the street. In many instances those who have had the ‘good looks’ of Sacramento in view, and have placed their buildings upon the line of the street, find themselves decidedly in the background, and almost out of sight until the passer-by gets abreast of their premises. The obvious injustice of this extending buildings ‘ad libitum’ [at one’s pleasure] into the street, is not the only evil attending it. It entirely destroys the appearance and beauty of the street, and the system is one which is not tolerated in any well-regulated city. There should be passed, forthwith, an ordinance prohibiting the construction of any thing in the street, except the ordinary awning.”

TO BE CONTINUED

Criminal Annals, Part 28 – The Placer Times: News from the Sandwich Islands

Tucked away at the very bottom of page one of the April 6, 1850 issue of the “Placer Times” is an interesting little note about something that is rarely mentioned in history books.

“From the Sandwich Islands. – We learn from Capt. King of the brig Wilhelmine, arrived yesterday from Oahu, S. I. that a large emigration may be expected to leave those Islands this spring. He says that among them are a number of farmers intending to pursue their agricultural pursuits in California (Alta. Cal.).”

When John Sutter arrived in California 1n 1839 he came from Switzerland by way of the Sandwich Islands (now Hawai’i). His crew were mostly natives of those islands and were called Kanakas. They drew the wrath of the early gold miners since they could swim and were excellent divers. While the miners attempted the tedious job of moving streams and rivers from their beds in order to get at the gold, the Kanakas would simply swim out and dive to the bottom where they would pick up nuggets that nobody else could get to.

For that and other reasons, they were considered by the Americans to be no better than the Native Americans and were treated very poorly. A large number of them moved north and worked for the Hudson’s Bay Company, but they left their name on about a dozen places in the Mother Lode, like Kanaka Valley, Kanaka Bar and others.

On page two of the same issue, is a story about what has replaced the random pistol firing that so irritated the citizens of Sacramento and especially the editor of the newspaper.

“Blasting Logs. – The dangerous practice pistol firing having nearly gone out of fashion, blasting of logs has been introduced, as it seems to be the requisite to have some system in operation to bring people to an untimely end. We think, however, that these triflers with human life have had their days, and that the strong arm of the law will hereafter interfere with the careless operations of those engaged in exploding their ‘villainous saltpetre.” The particulars of the melancholy death of Mr. Briggs will be found in another column.”

“Sacramento City, Saturday, March 30th, 1850.

“To the Editor of the Placer Times:

“Dear Sir: You have, doubtless, heard of the melancholy accident of this morning, resulting from the incautious blasting of logs on the corner of 5th and K streets; and it is only surprising that more fatalities of a similar nature have not, ere this, taken place. The victim of this criminal negligence was a Mr. Briggs, clerk in the Bull’s Head. Every one coincides in speaking well of him. He had been educated for the ministry, and in his quiet and gentlemanly appearance gave fair promise of being an honor to the profession. At the time of the explosion he was seated at a door immediately fronting the log – perhaps some twenty paces off. A number of persons were passing at the time, some of whom were not very far from the flying and death-dealing missiles. One of these missiles, weighing about 10 lbs. sped its way toward the door where the subject of this notice was, all unconsciously, reading the morning’s paper. A gentleman stood behind him viewing the progress of the ‘blast,’ when to the horror of all present it was discovered that both men were desperately wounded – the brains of Mr. Briggs spattering over the boots and pantaloons of the gentlemen who stood near him.

“Can there not, Mr. Editor, be some preventative put to this improper and dangerous practice of blasting logs in our most thronged and public streets?

“Respectfully, your friend and servant, AN OLD HAND AND ONE OF FREMONT’S MEN.”

Although there is no mention of it, the logs lying about the streets are probably left over from the flooding that took place during the previous winter.

Also on page two, and continuing onto page three of the same issue are two reports, one of a suicide in Sacramento and the other a probable murder.

“Suicide. – A jury of inquiry, summoned by G. W. Bell, Deputy Sheriff of Sacramento District, to examine the body of W. Stephen Wilson, found dead in the upper story of the store occupied by B. F. Voorhies & Co. on J street, in this city, brought in the following verdict: That the deceased came to his death by cutting his throat with a razor on the 2d day of April inst.

“A friend informs us that the cause of Mr. Wilson’s committing suicide, was solely the fact of his having heard of the death of a lady in the States, which whom he was deeply in love.”

“Probable Murder of a Mail Carrier. – We learn that about three weeks since the body of Mr. Lewis R. Colgate, mail carrier between Natoma and Santa Barbara, was found upon the road, evidently murdered by some person or persons unknown. The mail bag and mule ridden by the murdered man, were gone, and no trace has been heard of them. Mr. Colgate had been four months engaged in carrying the mail, and was a worthy, steady man, belonging, we believe, in the city of New York. – Pacific News, 3d.”

Finally, with the recent election over and the votes all counted, one losing candidate has decided to protest the results. The editor of the Placer Times has inserted a small, somewhat tongue-in-cheek, story about this action.

“Col. Grant. – This gentleman’s equilibrium has been somewhat disturbed by the result of the election for Mayor, as will be seen by his Protest in another column. Notwithstanding, he says he shall run next for Governor, and will probably stump it throughout the State, so as to give all the inhabitants thereof a touch of his quality. The great Rancho party will rally around him and he will undoubtedly be elected – if he gets votes enough. In the interim, newspapers will be sold at $2 each – poor persons can have them gratuitously.”

TO BE CONTINUED