Criminal Annals, Part 58 -Mother Rebukes Crowd

Continuing through the Seventh-Fifth Anniversary Souvenir Review Edition of the “Mountain Democrat,” published on January 6, 1928, we find more crimes under the title, “Operations of Vigilantes” and in other areas of this historical newspaper, including one article regarding a mother’s comments at the hanging of her son.


“Reporting the hanging of “Thomas Page, August 10, 1883, the Democrat discloses a crime of unusual features, at the same time throwing side lights on some interesting features of social conditions and law enforcement in he community at that time.

“Page who had been duly found guilty of murder, had previously been convicted of manslaughter, having killed a man while drunk and having been sentenced to San Quentin therefor and subsequently pardoned by Governor Perkins – his family evidently having considerable influence.
“During this and subsequent trial for murder, Page’s demeanor was unusual and so abnormal in many respects that one reading of it is unconsciously convinced that he was mentally incompetent. It is probable that the same facts today would free him on the ground of insanity while under the influence of liquor.

“Details as to the crime for which he was hung cover the facts that after several drinks at a Placerville saloon, he was returning to his home, when he met a stranger with whom he traveled for some distance. When near the New York ravine where it crossed the road, Page killed the stranger without warning and in cold blood, with a Winchester which he was carrying. He then shot and cut the throat of the stranger’s horse. Nothing has ever been learned of the victim’s identity.

“The hanging was held at 8 a.m. in the jail yard. Page’s mother, who was present, rebuked the large crowd which has gathered to see ‘her poor boy hung.’ Having been indifferent to proceedings thruout [sic] his imprisonment and trial, refusing to confess to the minister or to an officer which [with?] whom he spent his last night on earth, denying guilt, which was obvious, Page all but collapsed at the foot of the gallows and asked for a drink of whiskey, which the officers refused to give him. The rope was adjusted by J. H. Napier, the cap fitted, and a prayer offered by Rev. Tindall. He apparently fainted before the drop fell; his neck was broken and death was instantaneous.

“The officer with whom he spent his last night describes his talk as wild and incoherent; he persistently refused to disclose he identity of his victim, if he knew who he was.”


“In 1887 Placerville was the scene of one of the most important trails ever held in the United States, which was the culmination of attacks made by the San Francisco Chronicle upon the ‘Federal Ring,’ which it was claimed at that time, was making money out of the allotment of mail, naval and other government contracts, as well as from the appointment of subordinate public officials.

“The case was a criminal indictment for libel of Aaron A. [Augustus] Sargent and Horace F. [Francis] Page by the Chronicle, of which the DeYoungs were the proprietors and who were the defendants in the case.

“The numerous lawyers and the many witnesses filled the court house for several days, as well as putting the price of rooms at the hotels at a premium. Charles DeYoung had almost taken possession of the Central hotel, where he established his lawyers and witnesses and the organization necessary to wire a report of the trial to his paper, having a number of the editorial staff of the paper present. The government forces were at the Carey [often spelled this way] House, where the Associated Press had established headquarters. More than 9000 words were telegraphed out daily during the trial.

“Judge Irwin presided; the DeYoungs were represented by Judges Alexander Campbell and David S. Terry; Page and Sargent had employed Delos Lake and G. J. Carpenter to assist District Attorney [George H.] Ingham. The jury were Hiram Stoddard, William Cooper, George E. Fitch, Lyman S. Bell, E. J. Loomis, E. Fairchild, George W. Phillips, W. H. Crawford, James Shepard, C. Johnson, F. Weiss and C. P. Young.

“Each step in the proceeding was hotly contested, reminding one and indeed ranking in importance with the case against S. Clair and Fall so recently receiving public attention.

“Among notables present were T. B. Shannon, collector of the Port of San Francisco; George C. Gorham, secretary of the United States Senate; O. H. La Grange, superintendent of the United States mint, and many minor public officers.

“The proceedings resulted in a new trial being ordered by the court, after which an agreement was entered into to continue the case until afer the next session of congress, when it was designed to make the subject a matter of investigation by that body.
Note: Both Sargent and Page had been members of Congress from California’s 2nd District, Page following Sargent in that position. Sargent went on to be a United States Senator from California. In January of 1878, then Senator Sargent introduced the 29 words that would later become the19th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, giving women the right to vote.
There is no easily found information on the outcome of this trial, perhaps because Sargent died in 1887, the year of this trial, Page three years later.


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