Criminal Annals, Part 91- Chinese Miners

Continuing with the early issues of the Sacramento “Daily Union,” in the May 14, 1852 issue we find an article about a miners meeting at Centerville, which is an early name for Pilot Hill and surrounding communities. The subject: the influx of Chinese miners.

“Miners Meeting at Centerville, El Dorado Co.

“We have received with the subjoined resolutions, a note from the President and Secretary of the meeting, who state that they dissent from the views entertained by the majority who passed them, on the ground that if any foreigners were excluded from the mines, all should be.

“Whereas, Our mining district in this vicinity have of late a large influx of Chinese, and from the latest accounts we shall have a much larger; therefore:

“Resolved, That some speedy and effectual means be adopted to prevent any more coming in our diggings, and likewise to expel those now among us.

“Resolved, That a committee of four be appointed to notify the Chinese that are now here, and those that may come to Centerville mines, and its vicinity, that they are not privileged to work in said mines.

“Resolved, That the following named gentlemen compose the committee, to wit:

“Messrs. Peter Snyder, James T. Marsh, Alonzo Clark, and George Howland.

“Resolved, That the proceedings of this meeting be published in the Sacramento papers.
“JOHN D. GALBREATH, President, ROBERT E. DRAPER, Secretary. Sunday, May 9th, 1852.”

The May 16, 1852 edition of the paper has an article on a problem with State prisoners on the prison brig moored at Angel Island in San Francisco Bay. Since there were no buildings at the time strong enough to be used as a jail or prison, San Francisco, Sacramento and other places with waterfronts used ships that had been abandoned or could be purchased for a small amount of money from their owners. California’s oldest state prison, San Quentin, was not officially opened until July of 1852, although there were reports earlier than that of prisoners being take there.
“REVOLT OF PRISONERS. – The San Francisco Herald [an early, 1850, newspaper] gives the particulars of an uprising of the State prisoners on the prison brig, moored at Angel Island:
“There were thirty-two prisoners in all confined upon the brig, the most daring and reckless of the State convicts. These were guarded by four men, at the head of whom was George Kohler, a son of Frederick Kohler, Esq., and not more than 20 years of age. On bringing the prisoners out of their cells as usual in the morning, a portion of them made a rush upon their guards, drove them back for a moment, and in that moment managed to get hold of arms. A ferocious attack was then made on Kohler. They shot him in the left shoulder, and leaping upon him, bore him to the deck. Wounded as he was, however, he fought desperately, and while the contest was going on, the other guards rushed up with their muskets, charged upon the desperados, and ran one of the most ferocious who was upon Kohler, through the body with a bayonet. The attack was so vigorous that the convicts were forced before the guards, and Mr. Kohler having now recovered and armed himself with revolver, a final assault was made with charged bayonets upon the ruffians, and they were forced below and secured.
“Gen. Estell, the lessee, on hearing of the outbreak, proceeded to the spot with additional irons and reinforcements.”
Note: General James M. Estell had a contract with the State of California to run the prisons. He was also a member of the California State Assembly from 1857-1858.

The May 19, 1852 edition of the paper has a very short article regarding the court in Coloma.

“El Dorado.
“We have received a communication from J. Gordon, Esq., clerk of El Dorado county, in which he says that the District Court is now in session at Coloma. Some very important suits are upon the docket, and one criminal suit upon the calendar.

“Neilroy Powell has been indicted for murder.

“The weather is beautiful, and the miners are generally doing very well.”

The May 21, 1852 edition of the paper has an article taken from the San Francisco papers regarding another attempted escape by State prisoners, a forgery of the signature of Capt. Joseph Folsom and some ship problems.

“ANOTHER ATTEMPT OF THE STATE PRISONERS. – We find in the Alta [Alta California, a very early San Francisco newspaper (1849)], particulars of another attempt of the State prisoners to escape from confinement. The visits of a Mrs. Hall, whose husband has been sentenced to ten years, had been so frequent that the suspicions of the jailors were aroused, and it was deemed expedient to search her. On the person of Mrs. H. were found a file, and a key which would unlock five of the cells, and with a little filing, a sixth. The arrangements were almost concluded, and the probability is that the prisoners would have escaped on the next night. Had this timely discovery not been made, we should have had at large Adams, Bolan, Dougherty, Jimmy-from-town and several other gentlemen distinguished for their acquisitive propensities. Mrs. Hall has been arrested, and is now in jail, as is also a boy who was concerned in the plot.

“CHARGE OF FORGERY. – A. A. Tuffs was last evening arrested, charged by Capt. J. Folsom with forging his signature as an endorsement to a note of hand for $800, dated May 4, 1852, payable in ninety days, and purporting to be signed by Charles R. Bond, whose signature is also declared to be forged. Tuffs protests his innocence and declares he received the note ignorant of its fraudulent character, from an individual to whom he has sold some property. The examination before the Recorder this morning will elicit the true state of the facts.

“ARRIVAL OF THE SEAMAN’S BRIDE. – the clipper ship Seaman’s Bride, Capt. Myrick, arrived in our harbour this morning in 152 days from New York and 42 from Valparaiso, at which later port she was detained a considerable length of time to repair damages. In a gale she experienced about 800 miles to the westward of that port, she lost her foremast close to her deck, topmast, topgallantmast and mizzentopgallantmast. – HERALD.

“STEAMER IN DISTRESS. – A steamer, supposed to be the Ohio, is reported to be on the rocks outside the bay, below the lower telegraph station. No particulars have been received.

“The Antelope arrived about 3 o’clock. Mr. White, of Adams & Co’s Express, informs us that the Iowa had arrived at the Bay, and the Northern Light was reported.

“The vessel on the rocks was not the Ohio.”



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