Criminal Annals, Part 73 – The Cosumnes Tragedy

The July 3, 1852 edition of Sacramento’s “The Daily Union,” has a very interesting, but somewhat lengthy story on a crime that was committed at Big Bar, a mining camp in El Dorado County on the Cosumnes River, east of the confluence of the Middle and South forks. It involves some difficulties between the French and Chinese miners and is appropriately called “The Cosumnes Tragedy.”

This story is really an account of what happened, which was presented to the residents of the community and, upon approval, submitted to the newspaper for publication. It appears to be an itemization of the steps that the citizens in the area went through to assure that the accused received as fair a trial as possible.


“BIG BAR, Cosumnes River, June 28th 1852.

“A meeting was called by the residents of Big Bar, on the morning of the 28th, to take into consideration and present to the public a true and impartial account of the shooting of a Chinaman on said bar on the even of Thursday, the 24th, and the execution of the perpetrator on Sunday, the 27th.

“The meeting being called to order, a President and Secretary was chosen. The President having stated the object of the meeting, the Secretary on the trial read the proceedings of the trial.

“A committee of five was then chosen to draw up an account of the proceedings, and present the same to a meeting to be called on the following day, for their approval and for publication.

“On June 29th, a meeting was held pursuant to adjournment, to hear the report of the committee.

“The meeting being called to order, the proceedings of the 28th, were read and approved. The report of the committee was then called for and read, when the following resolution was adopted:

“Resolved, That the report of the committee be accepted and forwarded to Sacramento for publication in the Union.


“On Thursday, June 24th, 1852, about 5 P.M., the miners were startled by the report of a pistol, which was immediately followed by the cry of several Chinamen following after Monsieur Raymond alias Rogers, who was walking hastily from the bar to the bank where his tent was situated, with a small crowbar in one hand, and concealing a pistol in his bosom with the other. Several miners ran to the spot and saw a Chinaman lying upon the ground shot through the head, the ball having entered the left eye and passed through behind the right ear. They immediately called out to arrest the Frenchman, which was done by a miner who met him on the bank and demanded his arms, when he drew his pistol from his bosom and gave it up. He was taken to the public house, when the guard noticed that he had a Bowie-knife in his possession, which he refused to surrender until the guard drew his pistol and demanded it. By this time the miners had collected together, and the question arose, What shall be done with the prisoner?, when it was agreed to inform the miners for three miles up the river, and postpone the investigation until they arrived, which was about 8 ½ P.M. A meeting was then called and a chairman appointed. A motion was then made and carried that a jury of twelve men be elected to try the prisoner.

“The jury was chosen accordingly, and proceeded to trial. The witnesses being examined, the jury retired, but could not agree, there being three that were not satisfied with the Chinese interpretation – It was then agreed to let the matter rest until the arrival of an officer from Mud Springs, it being ascertained that Mr. Holmes, who had arrived her the evening previous, had offered his services to the Chinamen to procure them justice. The constable arrived about 3 P.M. on the following day, when a meeting of the miners was called, and it was unanimously agreed that the prisoner should not leave the Bar until a meeting of all the citizens and miners, as far as they could come, had been informed of the transaction, and their will ascertained. A motion was then made and carried, that four men be chosen to guard the prisoner; secondly, that three men be chosen to inform the citizens and miners of the transaction, and request their presence at this place on Sunday, the 27th, at 10 A.M., to know their will concerning the prisoner. The meeting then adjourned. The prisoner had every privilege that could possibly be extended to him. He was asked if there was any person, or persons, whom he would wish to have present at his trial. He wished to address a note to a friend in Drytown, who knew where to find two of his friends, whom he wished to have defend him. A messenger was sent to request their attendance, and they stated that they would be present early on Sunday morning, but they did not appear.

“At about 11 o’clock A.M. on Sunday, 27th, the people having assembled, the meeting was called to order. A motion was then made that a committee be appointed to empanel a jury of twelve men to try the prisoner for the murder of a Chinaman, and that no man be qualified to act as a juror on the committee that had any knowledge of the prisoner or of the circumstances connected with the transaction. A director was then chosen to preside over the court, which was then declared ready for the trial. The witnesses on the part of the people were then examined:



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.