Criminal Annals, Part 134: From Salmon Falls doctor to legislator

GWspring2004The October 4, 1852 edition of the Sacramento “Daily Union,” opens with a front page devoted mostly to advertisements and politics. In a column of odds and ends, is found one very interesting article from Canada.

“ANNEXATION OF CANADA TO THE UNITED STATES. — Mr. Papineau, who has just been elected to the Canadian Parliament by an extraordinary majority, has published a long address, in which he declares he is in favor of annexing Canada to the United States.”

Note: Louis-Joseph Papineau (1786-1871) supported the Montreal Annexation Manifesto that called for Canada to join the United States of America. He was a leader of the reformist Patriote movement, a political movement that existed in Lower Canada (present-day Quebec) from the beginning of the 19th century to the Patriote Rebellion of 1837 and 1838 and the subsequent Act of Union of 1840. The movement was a liberal reaction against colonial control of the government of Lower Canada, and a more general nationalistic reaction against British presence and domination over what had previously been an exclusively French territory.

Following an increasing  number of political articles is one simply entitled, “Placerville.”

“The prompt messenger of Hunter & Co.’s Express laid the El Dorado News [Coloma 1851, ultimately becoming the “Mountain Democrat”] on our table yesterday, at an early hour. We cull from it the following items:

“The stock of the South Fork Canal Company has been all taken and the books closed. This work, the News says, ‘is truly one of the most gigantic of any age or country, and certainly surpasses, in magnitude and importance, anything of the kind ever undertaken and accomplished by private individuals.”

“Dr. S. A. McMeans had written a letter explaining his course on the ‘cooley bill’ [Foreign Miner’s License Tax of May 1852]of the last Legislature. The Doctor explains why he voted for the bill. He is a candidate for reelection to the next Legislature.

Note: Dr. Selden Allen McMeans (1808-1876) was born in Knoxville, Tenn., served in the Mexican War and arrived in California around 1849. He was one of the first doctors at Salmon Falls, El Dorado County. He was elected to the California State Assembly in 1851, and again in 1852. In 1853 he was elected to the position of State Treasurer, a position he held until 1856.

In 1859, he moved to Virginia City, Nevada, after the Comstock Lode silver strike. When the news of the firing on Fort Sumter reached Virginia City in 1861, he announced that he, and a group called the Knights of the Golden Circle, would capture Fort Churchill for the Confederacy. But when they received news of a detachment of Union soldiers heading to Virginia City, they changed their mind. After the Civil War, he organized the Democratic Party in Nevada and became its first chairman. He finally moved his practice to Reno, where he died 1876.

Continuing with the article, “ FUGITIVE SLAVE CASE. –  A woman was arrested in this place, on Tuesday last, on the plea of being the property of Amelia Raymon, who brought her to this country in 1850. The case was tried before Thomas Wallace, Esq., who, we understand, discharged the woman, on the ground that the complaint did not state that she was to be taken back to Louisiana. She was subsequently arrested, to be tried before Judge Hall, on Thursday evening; but before the hour of trial arrived, however, a compromise wise was effected, and the woman discharged.

“RAIN. –  Just before our paper went to press this morning, it clouded up very suddenly, and in a few minutes we were favored with a refreshing shower of rain, which seemed to betoken, in the miners’s faces, the ‘good time coming.’ The shower was accompanied by repeated flashes of lightning and peals of thunder, which is something unusual; and we think the probability is that the weather, as well as the country, is becoming Americanized.”

Under the heading “From the Interior” are articles from Shasta, Sonoma and San Jose.

“SHASTA.

“We have received copies of the Shasta Courier [1852-1872], Marysville Herald [1850-1858] and Miner’s Advocate[Coloma 1852-Diamond Springs 1855], for which we are indebted to Adams & Co.’s Express. We make such selections from these as are of a general interest to our readers. We clip the following from the Courier:

“IMPORTANT FROM YREKA. –  Mr. Rains, of Cram, Rogers & Co.’s Express, furnished us with the sad news which we give below. Mr. Strawbridge forwarded. his letter to Mr. Rains after he left Yreka, and we are consequently in possession of no particulars except those contained in it:

“Yreka, Sept. 28, 1852.

“Dear Rains: Since you left yesterday a detachment from Ben Wright’s party beyond the Butte has reached here, conducting an imigrant [sic] train; they report that twelve miles from the trail the bodies of three men, one woman, and two children have been found, butchered by the Indians.

“You will recollect a short time since (about the time Coats was killed) Ben found a quantity of children’s clothing in an Indian camp. This was probably the property of this last murdered party, who, it is supposed, constituted one family. Some papers which may lead to a knowledge of their identity are in possession of D.D. Cotton, Esq.

“ All quiet here as you left us. ‘ Yours, truly, Jas. Strawbridge.”

“TROOPS FOR THE NORTH. — It is reported that a company of dragoons are now at Reading’s ranch. They departed from Benicia some weeks ago. It will be seen, therefore, that the progress of this body of troops towards the place where they are expected to do important service is rapid –  expeditious –  very. At this rate of travel they will probably reach their place of destination in the course of a month or two. In the meantime we have published the name of many who have been murdered. In another column it will be found that six more victims have been added to the list. We will not insult the common understanding and virtuous impulses of our readers with a single word of comment –  the facts speak for themselves.”

“INDIAN HUNTING. –  Owing to some depredations recently committed on Clear Creek [Shasta county] by the Indians, Capt. Larabee organize a small party and gave them chase. The party returned a few days since, bringing with them a number of squaws and children. During their absence on the scout they killed fifteen Indians. We are not furnished with a full account of the work done by this volunteer and independent company of frontier soldiers. It is probable that this wholesome and impromptu chastisement will eventually check the serious depredations which had lately become alarmingly frequent on Clear and Cottonwood Creeks. Should the Indians, however, still continue troublesome we are assured that this timely castigation will be repeated, and prosecuted even to a greater length, by the same company or another similarly organized.”

TO BE CONTINUED

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