Criminal Annals, Part 130: Mayhem and More Mayhem

Continuing with the always entertaining Recorder’s Court listings in the Sept. 28, 1852, edition of the Sacramento “Daily Union,” we find the following:

“Recorder’s Court.- Before Judge McGrew. Monday, Sept. 27, 1852.

“Juan Baptiste, an old offender, for fighting and riotous conduct. Juan’s complexion was of that doubtful character sometimes found in eggplants – neither white nor black – but a kind of purple bordering between the two. Found guilty; judgment; suspended.

“Semprana Nevara, for drunkenness and disorderly conduct  – discharged.

“Auguste Stenegal, for riotous conduct and fighting. Plead not guilty. A negro making his appearance, uninvited inside the bar, and declaring to have received bruises across the arm from the aforesaid Stenegal, called from that gentleman various muttered threats, accompanied by angry shaking of the fists, grinding of the teeth, and glaring of the eyes. The prisoner bringing no witnesses wished to have ‘the boys,’ who were sent for and were not found. It is worthy of observation that he had a great contempt for courts of justice and accusations in general, as he sported a large segar and smoked it in the ‘August presence.’ Verdict of guilty entered, fine of $10 and costs, and forty- eight hours imprisonment.

“William Strong, a stout looking man, for assault and battery on the person of William, alias Felix O’Rourke, who, as many additional scars on his unfortunate physiognomy plainly showed, was this time the plaintiff in the action. Prisoner pleading guilty, was fined $5 and costs— default, imprisonment.

“Several other cases were called, some of which were held over, and others of no material interest.”

In the following edition of the paper, dated Sept. 29, 1852, is found literally nothing but advertisements and political comments about the upcoming election. Even the source of much local information, “From the Interior,” contained little but political information. However, there is a small list of actions from the Recorder’s Court.

“Recorder’s Court. – Before Judge McGrew. Tuesday, Sept. 28, 1852.

Michael Murry, for disturbing the peace. Michael and several companions were indulging in a series of gyrations denominated ‘pugilistic’ – advancing and shying off – making loud noises and threats. Before anything serious occurred, however, Michael, the principal offender, found himself on his way to the station house. Found guilty and fined $5 and costs.

James Horton, for disturbance of the peace. Mr. Horton having arrived from the plains on Sunday, considered it his duty, in his own language, to ‘see the pictures.’ In looking at them at a certain Chinese house, he became intoxicated, flourished a pistol, and behaved badly in other respects. Fined $10 and costs.

John Williams, for like cause. The prisoner was a genuine specimen of the true hearted sailor, and related his defence in a frank, unvarnished style. He confessed. his weakness on the score of drinking – said he always would indulge – but hoped the court would deal gently with him, in consideration of this being his first offence. The sympathies of the Court, and all others present, were strongly in John’s favor. The evidence against him convicted, however, and he was fined $5 and costs.

“Case of Wm. Dennis, continued from yesterday. Petit larceny, for stealing a trunk from on board the steamer Antelope. Found guilty, and ordered to three months imprisonment.

Juan Baptiste – case continued from yesterday. Fined $30 and costs; in default ten day’s imprisonment. Not having the spare change about him, Juan was sent up.

A case of inquiry against North Wellington, (colored,) charged with stealing $300. The evidence, was complicated, abundant, and conflicting. The defendant was discharged.

Augustus Stenegal, for assault and battery upon the person of Jackson Jordan. No witnesses and prisoner discharged.”

In the Sept. 30, 1852, edition of the Daily Union is found an interesting letter from Monterey regarding a robbery.

“FROM THE INTERIOR.

“The last number of the San Joaquin Republican [Stockton, 1851-1854, then became a daily from 1854-1873] furnished by Adams & Co.’s Express, contains an interesting letter from a correspondent at Monterey, dated Sept. 18th, from which we extract the following:

“On the 12th, (Sunday,) a Sonorian [sic] journeying to the Salinas river, was met by a party of five Mexicans, who stopped and robbed him, taking his serape and some trifling articles. After the robbery, they immediately proceeded towards the river, whilst the Sonorian returned to Monterey. After his arrival here, he procured another horse, and proceeded to the Salinas and made known the circumstances of the robbery to Henry Cocks, Esq. Justice of the Peace, who immediately collected and armed a party of eight persons and proceeded to the house of a noted character; upon arriving within a short distance of the place, alarm was given by the dogs barking, and immediately the lights in the house were extinguished, and shots were fired at the assailing party; they however charged up and fired a few rounds in exchange, when the inmates of the house broke and ran in various directions. Two were shot down, and one was badly wounded who escaped; the next morning one of them returned to the house, when the owner under pretence [arch.] of shooting a squirrel, directed a boy to reach him his gun, which he immediately cocked and leveled at the robber, ordering him to give up his arms, which he did, and then broke from the house. Chase was given, and he was overtaken and killed. An inquest was held to-day on the three bodies, and a verdict returned in accordance with the circumstances. Some of the horses of the party were taken and recognised [arch] as belonging to various rancheros in the neighborhood – having been stolen.

The above transaction has caused great excitement, and universal satisfaction is manifested at the promptitude of the action, as the leader of the band was killed, and he was known as a most desperate character.

“The same writer adds that these men were probably a portion of a large band of horse-thieves who have infested that neighborhood, mostly Mexicans; and that a report had just come in that eleven more scoundrels belonging to the same band, had been surprised and attacked by a company of Americans from San Jose. Six of them were killed, the remainder taken prisoners and carried to San Jose.”

“The Indians. —We learn from the sheriff of Tulare county, who called upon us yesterday, that the Indians are quiet and no alarms are entertained by the settlers. Large numbers of emigrants are settling down on the fertile plains with their families There is every prospect of that portion of the country being thickly settled – Ib.

(To be continued.)

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