Monthly Archives: August 2015

Criminal Annals, Part 9: The Placer Times – Indian Problems

vol1no01p1 Masthead

Masthead of Placer Times, first edition

The first newspaper published in Sacramento, California, the “Placer Times,” ran weekly from April 28, 1849 to April 13, 1850, and tri-weekly until June 7, 1850 when it ceased publication. Its founder and editor was Edward C. Kemble, who was from an eastern newspaper family and at 19 had become the editor of the Alta California in San Francisco.

Since the Placer Times printed events that occurred in the greater Sacramento area, including the gold mines in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, it is an ideal publication in which to search for local news.

The major problems experienced in the mines at that time were attacks by the Native Americans and the retaliation by the miners or, vice versa. In its second edition, dated May 5, 1849, there are two front page articles that best describe this problem. One is regarding two Indian attacks on the northern boundary of El Dorado County, the Middle Fork of the American River, the second describing acts of retaliation by the miners.

“Placer Times, Saturday, May 5, 1849 ‘Indian outrages – seven white men murdered.

“The past month has witnessed scenes of outrage and violence in the mines, and events have occurred to disturb the tranquillity hitherto pervading the mining community – creating a question never before experienced since the discovery of the gold. The particulars of these outrages committed by the Indians were communicated to us shortly after occurring, and subsequently confirmed. The first, the massacre of five young men on the Middle Fork took place on or about the 13th last. A party of eight had encamped on this stream, three miles below a worked deposit known as the Spanish Bar. Three of the number started out prospecting one day, purposing to be absent five days, but on their return they found their camp abandoned and picked up an Indian arrow near by. This alarmed them and led to an examination of the place, and stains of blood were found, together with a number of Indian arrows, and a purse of gold, recognized as the property of one of their missing companions. They immediately started for Culoma (sic), and arriving at the Mill reported the matter, and added their suspicious of foul play. A party was soon made up who accompanied them to the spot occupied as their camp, and resuming the search discovered foot prints leading from the place; these they followed, which led them to an Indian rancheria. Upon examination of the several lodges a blanket was found, identified as belonging to one of their companions. The Indians upon being charged with the murder of these men, betrayed fear and guilt, and finally attempted to escape. They were pursued and two of them killed. The names of the five murdered men were James Johnson, Nathan English, Benjamin Wood and a Mr. Thompson.

“We had scarcely committed to paper the foregoing account, when the following particulars of the second outrage were received. Three men, whose names were Leonard, Sargent, and Carter, were at work together on the Middle Fork of the American. One day they were visited by a party of about twenty Indians, who labored with them during the remainder of the day, and encamped near by at night. The next day while the whites were at work, a short distance from camp, where their arms were deposited, Leonard received an arrow in his back; Sargent was shortly after wounded in the side and these two endeavored to swim the river, while Carter defending their escape with stones, contrived to keep the Indians in check. Leonard reached the opposite bank, and was shortly after joined by Carter; Sargent, though, was drowned. The two now set out for the ‘Forks’ while the Indians crossed the river in pursuit, but Carter was shortly obliged to abandon his companion, who declared himself unable to proceed; the Indians shortly after came upon Leonard and put him to death by beating in his skull. Carter escaped, told the story of his companion at the nearest camp, an procured a party to return. Nothing was discovered of the Indian murderers, however. These outrages so incensed the whites at Columa (sic) that a company was organized to capture the Indian criminals. Several prisoners were made, who, upon being taken to trial, attempted to escape and were shot.”
This is immediately followed by the second article.

“Terrible slaughter of Indians.

“The murders recently committed by the Indians on the American river have, as we expressed it our opinion, so thoroughly aroused the miners of that stream and vicinity, that nothing short of an unconditional slaughter of the Sacramento valley Indians would seem to appease the thirst for vengeance; terribly has their revenge been visited upon that miserable people within the week past.

“The Alcalde of this district received on Tuesday last a letter from Wm. Daylor, owner of a rancho distant 20 miles from this place, and situated on the Cosumne (sic) river, announcing the arrival of a large party of armed Americans on his grounds, and who had shot down three of this Indians while employed in digging a grave. On Wednesday following it transpired that an organized company, formed at the American, had traced a party of Indians from that river until within about ten miles of Daylor’s rancho, when, coming upon them suddenly, every man was instantly shot down, and the women and children taken into captivity. These Indians, it appears from the statements made by Daylor, corroborated by others, composed in part the mining troop employed by him on the Middle Fork, and who had, hearing of the excitement caused by the murders on that stream, abandoned the work to seek protection in their own village, under the immediate control of their employer. We cannot state with accuracy the number slain, although it is believed to have been not less than twenty. Three were killed a short distance from the house while employed in digging a grave for a member of Daylor’s family deceased.

“On Thursday the district Alcalde visited the scene of bloodshed, and was shown the bodies of eleven Indians in one grave. The Indians report twenty-three missing of their Indian men in all. What is reserved for the visitors time will show. The Indians were without arms when slaughtered. By our next we may be placed in possession of further details, and corrections by required in the foregoing, all of which will be promptly presented.”

Note: William Daylor was a highly respected owner of a large rancho along the Cosumnes River. He, his brother-in-law, Jared Sheldon, and a friend of theirs, Perry McCoon, are credited with being the first white men to mine along Hangtown Creek at a place that would later be known as Placerville.

TO BE CONTINUED

Criminal Annals, Part 8 – The Hanging of “Irish Dick”

"A Vulcan Among the Argonauts"

“Vulcan Among the Argonauts”

In Part 7, the two writers introduced us to a person named Richard Crone, who was also known as Irish Dick, Bloody Dick and a few other names. He was hanged from the famous Placerville tree a couple of years after the famous first three.

In “Vulcan Among the Argonauts – being vivid excerpts from those most original and amusing memoirs of John Carr, Blacksmith,” edited by Robin Lampson and published in San Francisco in 1936, there is a very interesting story on this hanging and Placerville in the early 1850s.

“We found Hangtown, or what is now called Placerville, to be two rows of houses with a street between them, The houses were built principally of shakes, with posts driven into the ground on which to nail the shakes. There were about fifty or sixty of these houses in the place when we arrived there (August 9, 1850), the largest four of which were run as gambling houses, and were in full operation at that time. All sorts of games were in full blast, such as monte, faro, lansquenet and French monte, sometimes called three-card monte.

“Each gambling-house had from four to eight tables, which were loaded with gold and silver, great stacks of which were there to tempt the unwary miner to try his luck, which he often did to his sorrow. The tables were presided over by “sports,” as they were called, who were considered the aristocracy of the country. They generally wore white shirts and dressed in what the boys called “store clothes.” If a man came into camp with a boiled shirt on, he was set down as a sport, and generally correctly so. Frequently they would have a female “sport’ at the table. She was a generally well painted and dressed in the richest attire, and, as a rule, was a daughter of “la belle France.” The tables they presided over were generally well patronized, and many a well-filled purse of gold dust of some soft-pated miner was drawn in by these gilded damsels of France and Germany.

“Hangtown at that time was a perfect Babel; men from all the principal nations of the world seemed to have gathered there. You could hear the language of nearly every civilized nation spoken in the streets of that little burg, and the coin of every realm passed current; but most of the money was Mexican. Mexican gold “onzas,” worth sixteen dollars, and Mexican silver dollars were the most used, but the principal circulating medium was gold dust. Everybody had gold dust, and nearly everything bought and sold was paid for in gold dust, at the rate of sixteen dollars per ounce.

“Hangtown, when I arrived on the 9th of August, was but a small place; but before I left, two months later, it had grown twenty times as large, and started different kinds of business. All was bustle and excitement. No land monopolist allowed, or town-lot speculators. No man was allowed more lots than his business required, and if he dared claim any more he generally got the worst of it.

“The early fathers of California had a very simple and easy method of governing the country and administering the laws, and a very effective method it was at the same time. I will give you and instance of my first experience, and what I saw before the bar of Judge Lynch’s court. This was my first attendance at His Honor’s court, but by no means the last.

“I was standing looking on the games that were being dealt at the El Dorado saloon. In the game I was looking at there were three or four miners betting. It was the game of monte. One of the miners accused the dealer of drawing waxed cards on him; or, in other words, cheating him out of his dust. The gambler told him if he said so again he would cut the heart out of him. The miner repeated the words, when the gambler raised out of his seat, drew a large Bowie knife out of his belt and plunged it twice into the man’s heart; at the last plunge he turned the knife around in the man’s body. Pulling the knife out of the body and wiping blood off with his handkerchief, he coolly remarked: ‘You will never tell me I lied again.’

“The gambler was know as ‘Bloody Dick,’ or ‘New Orleans Dick.’ He was a New Orleans Irishman, and a hard case. Rumor said that this was the third man he had killed. I was within three or four feet of the man when he fell off his seat and expired.
“Word went immediately throughout the the town that ‘Bloody Dick’ had killed a man. In the meantime two men had seized him and taken his arms away, and in less than one minute he was surrounded by forty or fifty excited men, well armed, with a full determination that he would not have a chance to kill any more.

“It had been the custom among the gamblers, when one of their fraternity got into a scrape, to see him out. Ten or twelve drew their revolvers, but, seeing the angry crowd, they came to the conclusion that they would let Dick take his chances.

“In less than ten minutes there was a crowd of at least five hundred men gathered in and around the saloon where the cutting took place. A motion was made by some of the crowd that he be hanged right away, but the crowd voted him a fair trial and a chance for his life. They elected a middle-aged man to act as judge and another as marshal. The marshal summoned twelve men to serve as jurors, who were immediately sworn. The judge sat on a big pine log in the street. The witnesses were called and sworn. They were the men who were playing at the game when the man was killed. Other witnesses also testified to the facts in the case. The case was then given to the jury, who returned a verdict of ‘guilty of murder in the first degree.’

“The question was then put to the crowd: ‘What shall be done with the prisoner?’
“Some one moved that he be hanged. The motion was seconded, and the man who acted as judge put the motion to the crowd, and a unanimous shout went up from at least one thousand men, ‘Hang him!’

The prisoner, in the meantime, was using the most blasphemous language to the men engaged in his trial that every polluted the ears of civilized men. He was then placed in a wagon drawn by two mules, and escorted by at least one thousand men to the fatal tree, a little back of the town, where five of his sort had already paid the penalty of their crimes by hanging from one of its limbs.

“It was a large oak tree. the wagon was driven under it, the rope tied around his neck and thrown over the limb, and hauled tight and made fast. He was in the meantime cursing the crowd, his God, and everything else, and spat in the faces of the men that were adjusting the rope.
“When everything was ready, the mules were started forward, leaving the body swinging between the earth and the limb. Some of the guard stayed at the tree for nearly an hour, so as to be sure he was dead. The body was cut down, and buried a short distance from the tree on which he was executed.

“That was a trial where justice was meted out with dispatch. No lawyers were present, no testimony objected to as incompetent, irrelevant and immaterial. When witnesses were sworn to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, they seldom if ever perjured themselves. It was not over one hour from the time the murder was committed in the saloon before the doer of it was tried and executed. No appeal was taken from Judge Lynch’s Court to the Supreme Court . His decision was final.”

TO BE CONTINUED

Charles Lincoln Wilson – The Sacramento Valley Railroad, Part I

Charles Lincoln Wilson

Charles Lincoln Wilson

Before the paddle wheels on the steamer “Oregon” had fully stopped, a young man with a vision stepped onto the dock at San Francisco. It was late in 1849, and the town was crowded with gold seekers that had heard of the instant riches lying in the streams and rivers of northern California. Most had left their homes and families in the search for it, but Charles Lincoln Wilson was different.

Wilson had been an orphan born on a farm in Maine and raised by neighbors. Early in life he enlisted in the army, which at that time was waging war with Mexico. Through rapid promotion Wilson reached the rank of colonel and then left the service to become a successful business man in New York. His background was in transportation, and now he was looking for success, not gold, in this new land.

When the “Oregon” pulled away from the San Francisco dock, another military man, Lieutenant William Tecumseh Sherman was on board, leaving California for the East. He had heard of Asa Whitney’s scheme for a coast-to-coast railroad and had actually spent some time scouting passes for a possible route. His future father-in-law, Thomas Ewing, then Secretary of the Interior, had obtained for him a new assignment on the East Coast and he felt he had seen California for the last time. He would soon return though, and his path would cross with that of Wilson.

By the spring of 1850, before California was even a state, Wilson owned a steam schooner that carried passengers and freight up the Sacramento River to the gateways to the Sierra foothills and the mines. He soon expanded his business to include a plank toll road and a toll bridge which, although built at great personal expense, poured profits into his rapidly expanding businesses.

With his bride, Sarah Jane Rood, a wealthy woman in her own right, they cruised along the Sacramento, watching the endless trains of wagons carrying freight from the river to the two main foothill towns, Negro Bar and Mountain City (later to become Marysville). Through their enterprises they accumulated a half-million dollars, and in 1852 they decided that iron rails from Sacramento to these two towns would be a profitable investment.

They took into their grand plan another transportation man, Commodore Cornelius K. Garrison. He had come west at the request of the Vanderbilts to help with their Nicaragua Steamship Line. He had made a small fortune in Panama and, after living a short while in San Francisco, had been elected its mayor. He would also be one of the first to help finance the early Pacific Railway surveys and was an ideal choice as a partner.

Early in 1852, another group of men had gotten together and incorporated the Sacramento, Auburn and Nevada Railroad, which was to be built to serve Negro Bar and Nevada City. Their scheme collapsed when it was reported to them that the first section of track they wished to build would cost in excess of two million dollars. Wilson reorganized this abandoned railroad company as the Sacramento Valley Railroad.

His plan was to first connect Sacramento to Negro Bar and Mountain City (Marysville) with future extensions to Tehama, Sonora and San Francisco. On August 16, 1852, the Articles of Incorporation were filed and Wilson immediately left for the East Coast to acquire more capital for rails and rolling stock and to engage an engineer to build the railroad.

Once in New York, he contacted the engineering firm of Robinson, Seymour and Company. Seymour’s brother, the Governor of New York, sent Wilson to see a young survey engineer, Theodore Judah, who had just put a railroad through the Niagara Gorge and was very interested in the Pacific Railway.

On April 2, 1854, Wilson and Judah left for California and, shortly thereafter, Judah opened up an office in Sacramento’s Hasting’s Building, at the southwest corner of 2nd and J Streets, and started the business of surveying the Sacramento Valley Railroad’s proposed route.
During this same time, Wilson, with the help of Judge Divine, a promoter of a railroad from San Jose to San Francisco, lobbied the California State Legislature to change the Railroad Act of 1853, which stood in their way of financing and progress.

With the law amended, the route was surveyed and the right-of-way acquired. A contract was signed on November 24, 1854, with the firm of Robinson, Seymour and Company of New York, retaining them and Lester Robinson as Chief Engineer to build the railroad. On February 12, 1855, construction began.

TO BE CONTINUED

Steppin’ Out – Jimboy’s Tacos

Absolutely-Final-JB_Logo_2015_FINALIn the early 1970s, there was a Jimboy’s Tacos located on Broadway in Placerville, in the shopping center across from Chuck’s Pancakes. I recall eating there a couple of times and then it disappeared.

It wasn’t until early 2006 that the two former Burger Kings, one in Cameron Park and one at the corner of Broadway and Schnell School Road in Placerville, were purchased and converted to Jimboy’s.

During that thirty year lull, my only source for their original (ground beef) tacos was at Denio’s Farmer’s Market and Swap Meet in Roseville, were we often stood in a long line to get a couple of tacos. I understand that small Jimboy’s has now moved from Denio’s, across the street to the other flea market.

My friend Russ Salazar recalled enjoying the tacos at Denio’s and had been after me for some time to visit the Jimboy’s at 1405 Broadway, so a few weeks ago, we did just that.
On our list for that day were, for sure, two of their original tacos and something else that we thought looked interesting.

As we were about to walk in I noticed something rare on the outside of the building, a pay phone – and someone was using it. Kind of amazing in a time when most kids get a cell phone before they are old enough to attend school.

We wandered in and checked out the menu. That day there was a special, one Diablo Shrimp taco and one Steak taco, with or without rice and beans. Russ wanted to try the rice and beans, so we ordered two of the special, one with rice and beans and one without, and added two original tacos.

The Diablo Shrimp taco consists of a Parmesan cheese crusted, grilled corn tortilla filled with Diablo shrimp, coleslaw, chipotle mayo and salsa cruda. The Steak taco has the same Parmesan cheese crusted, grilled corn tortilla, but is filled with lettuce, Monterey Jack cheese, onions, pico de gallo and steak.

While waiting for our food, I wandered to the salsa bar to get one of everything. They had several salsas in cold containers that you dipped out of and one squirt bottle tucked into an ice bath (loved the chipotle salsa). They also had sliced jalapeños and a few other things to try.
So, before I tell you how we liked them, let me describe their original, ground beef taco. It has a Parmesan cheese crusted, grilled corn tortilla filled with lettuce, American cheese and their specially seasoned ground beef.

Notice what all there tacos have that you don’t usually find? The Parmesan cheese crusted grilled corn tortilla. It makes the difference. I’ve tried it at home, but it just isn’t the same.

Back to the food. Russ, my Mexican food expert, said this about the rice and beans. “The rice is fluffy and flavorful, has a good texture and is not sticky or overly spicy. The beans are excellent and don’t have that “canned taste.” He believes good beans and rice are a necessary part of a good Mexican meal.

I tried them and liked them, but I really like refried beans that are made with lard, lots of lard. Fortunately, I don’t eat refried beans that often (that’s for my doctor if he happens to read this)

I loved the shrimp taco. Good sauce, good tasting shrimp and lots of them. Russ mirrored that comment. I thought the steak was a bit tough, but very tasty. Russ said I complain too much.

The original taco was just as we knew it would be: delicious. It wasn’t too oily and had that wonderful, crunchy shell around the well seasoned beef. We thought about ordering a couple more, but didn’t.

The menu has at least eight kinds of tacos and seven kinds of burritos, which you can have regular or super. They also serve a taco salad, tostada and quesadilla that you can have with your choice of meat. And, you can have most anything vegetarian, if that is your diet choice.

Now, something I didn’t know about, some of their restaurants serve burgers and fries, along with breakfast items.
Well, they have much more on the menu than I can fit here, including daily specials, so drop by, call or check out their webpage at jimboystacos.com.

Both the Placerville (1405 Broadway) and Cameron Park (3431 Coach Lane) Jimboy’s serve breakfast and have the same hours: Monday through Friday from 9:30 a.m. until 9 p.m.; Saturday from 9:30 a.m. until 10 p.m. and on Sunday from 9:30 a.m. until 9:30 p.m.

For more information you can call Placerville Jimboy’s at (530) 621-1511 and Cameron Park at (530) 677-2411.