Criminal Annals, Part 25 – The Placer Times: Missing Deeds

vol1no42p1 head 3 2Continuing with the March 2, 1850 edition of the “Placer Times,” we find a notice in the advertising section of the paper regarding a problem with some missing deeds.

As a bit of background, the town of Nicolaus wasn’t much more than an idea at the start of 1850. On February 16, the Placer Times noted that “The public spirited proprietor of the tract of land heretofore know as “Nicolaus Ranche ’[also Nicolaus’ Ranch and Nicolaus Ferry] has responded to the repeated requests of the people, and has caused one mile square [640 acres] of it to be laid off into a town, to which he has given the name of the ranche.”

An advertisement later in the same newspaper notes that the owner, Nicolaus Allgeier, has appointed one Charles Berghoff as his agent and that Mr. Joseph Grant, in Sacramento, is authorized to sell the lots of this new town.

In the aforementioned article, Mr. Grant is described thusly: “His temperament is more sanguine than ours – for he boldly asserts that ‘Nicolaus’ will not only outstrip all the towns above, but will at not distant day rival both this city and San Francisco.”

The town of Nicolaus never reached the level Mr. Grant thought it would, but someone immediately thought the lots were very valuable.
“Notice. Stolen from the office of Charles Berghoff in the town of ‘Nicolaus,’ seven deeds bearing date 26th February, 1850, drawn by the above-named gentleman in my favor, conveying the following described property, to wit: Lot No. 1 of block No. 31, Lot No. 6 of block No. 91. Lot No 7 of block 7, Lot No. 7 of block No. 22, East half of Lot No. 4 of block No. 2 Lot No. 5 of block No. 18, Lot No. 1 of block No. 20

“I hereby caution the public against the purchase of the above unacknowledged and unrecorded papers, which have been cancelled and declared null and void; and notice is hereby given that I shall make application to the agent of Nicolaus Allgeier for new deeds conveying the property herein described. JOSEPH GRAF. Nicolaus, 27th Feb. 1850.”

The March 9 issue of the Placer Times has a number of interesting articles on Page 2, starting with one regarding the removal of squatters from the levee, where they had set up camp to get above the flood.

“Clearing the Levee. – The work of removing the obstructions upon the Levee commenced on Tuesday morning. With but few exceptions, all who had ‘squatted’ on the Landing left without resistance. One or two made a warlike demonstration, but were soon satisfied that the best thing they could do was to vamoose. Every shanty, we believe, is now removed, and we presume all other obstructions will be cleared of today, the five day’s notice having expired.”

The second article regards continuing crime in San Francisco.

“Another Murder at San Francisco. – On Sunday evening last two Frenchmen visited a house of ill-fame at San Francisco, and upon leaving, met three Chilenos at the door, who asked them ‘what they were doing there?’ One of the Frenchmen replied that ‘it was none of their business.’ Some angry words followed, when one of the Frenchmen, named Plantier, made an attempt to get past the Chilenos, whereupon one of the latter drew a Bowie knife and stabbed the Frenchman a number of times. – Plantier died of his wounds on Monday evening. The police arrested the murderer soon afterward and it is thought he will not escape without meeting the punishment he so richly merits.”
The third article regards a inquest into a death.

“Inquest. – An inquest was held at Sutter on the 3d inst. upon the body of a man found upon the bank of the Sacramento at that place. No marks of violence having been found upon the body, the jury returned a verdict of ‘death by drowning.’ The body was not recognized by any one before it was buried.”

Several weeks ago was mentioned the following article in the February 2 edition of the Placer Times: “Unlucky. – A man by the name of Parker, who came down in the steamer Lawrence from the Yuba, as he was getting off the boat, dropped a tin box, containing $4,900 in dust, into the river. A reward of $500 has been offered for its recovery.”

This is followed in the March 9 edition with this story:

“The tin box containing $4000 in dust, which was dropped overboard from the steamer Lawrence, was recovered on Sunday last. A man went down in sub-marine armor, and was gone about ten minutes. He took half of the pile for his trouble. A very good job for one of the parties at least.”

Finally, there is a short “filler” included only for its humor:

“A correspondent in a ‘Frisco paper, writing from this city, says he saw ‘a female pedestrian galloping through our streets.’ Hope she had a good time.”


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