Criminal Annals, Part 95 – Hanging at Murphy’s Camp

The August 2, 1852 edition of the Sacramento “Daily Union,” reports in depth on the hanging of a man convicted of murder at Murphy’s Camp, in Calaveras county. As mentioned before, prior to the creation of Amador county in 1854, Calaveras county was our neighbor to the south.

“EXECUTION OF SAMUEL GREENE. – We have received through Adams & Co.’s Express, a copy of the Calaveras Chronicle extra, dated Saturday, 31st July, giving the particulars of the execution of Samuel Greene, convicted of the wilful murder of Wm. Lang, at Murphy’s Camp, on the 20th June last. Greene was born in Harrison county, Va., and was twenty-five years of age at the time of his death. He served under Col. Jack Hayes throughout the Mexican war, and emigrated to this State in 1848. The Chronicle thus details the closing scene:

“At 3 o’clock the Calaveras Guards, Capt. A. C. Lewis, in command, were drawn up outside the building in which he had been confined. The prisoner was conducted by the Sheriff of the county, B. F. Marshall, Esq., and his deputy, A. McFarlan, to the wagon which bore his coffin, on which he was placed. The Guards closed around with fixed bayonets, and the solemn procession moved towards the place of execution at the base of French Hill. Arrived on the ground, the Rev. I. B. Fish addressed the assembled multitude in a solemn and appropriate manner, and offered up a prayer, commending to God the soul of the unfortunate man.

“Greene then stood up and said – ‘Fellow citizens, I wish to make a few remarks before my death. I have to thank the Sheriff and the officers who have attended upon me during my imprisonment, for their kindness and attention. I attribute no blame to the jury who tried me they decided according to the law and evidence. I am myself alone to blame; what has happened has all been my own fault. I should have had my witnesses there at the proper time, but I did not expect to be tried so soon. As for myself, I have no fear, for I am confident God will forgive me.’

“A chair was placed on the scaffold, on which Greene took his seat, when the rope was placed around his neck and the Sheriff read the warrant of execution. The upright was then dragged by mules from under the scaffold, and the unfortunate man was launched into eternity. He fell full seven feet, and life became immediately extinct, as he never gave a struggle.”

In the following edition, August 3, 1852, there is quite a lot of information on what was going on in El Dorado county. It is in the form of a letter from Diamond Springs, from someone named Weber. This person is possibly a very early (1841) California pioneer named Charles M. Weber. Besides naming the creek he settled and named Weberville, a large active mining town located between Placerville and Diamond Springs. However, he is best known for developing and marketing the City of Stockton.

“El Dorado County Correspondence.

“Diamond Springs, Aug. 1, 1852

“Reception of the Whig Nominations – Ratification Meeting – Cattle – Emigrants – Camp Meeting, &c., &c.

“The Nomination of [General Winfield] SCOTT and [William Alexander] GRAHAM was received in this section with the highest degree of satisfaction, and the Platform adopted by the Convention has justified their expectations and meets their full endorsement and approbation. The great Whig party of the Union, through the action of this late Convention, has placed itself on the broadest and soundest National union principles, and the people will approve and sustain them by their values.

“The Whig Convention, unlike the Democratic, adopted a Platform first by an overwhelming vote by States, and then placed their men upon it, and thus present them before the people of the United States, who, on the first of November next, will be sure to say – all right.

“The Whigs hold a ratification meeting in this place to-morrow (Monday) night, and one in Weaverville [probably Weberville, just north of Diamond Springs, since Weaverville is in Trinity county and was barely a town in 1852] on Wednesday night, and they will be numerously attended by Whigs anxious for the day to arrive upon which they will be permitted to deposite [sic] their votes for old ‘Cherubusco’ [Churubusco].

Note: General Winfield Scott received this nickname because he was the commander at the Battle of Churubusco, which took place on August 20, 1847 during the Mexican-American War. After defeating the Mexican army at Churubusco, the U.S. Army was only 5 miles away from Mexico City. A month later, the U.S. forces defeated those at Mexico City and the war was over.

Franklin Pierce, who was a general in the U.S. Army and also present at Churubusco, was the “dark horse” Democratic candidate for President in 1852. He and his running mate, William R. King, would soundly defeat Scott and Graham. After the 1852 election the Whig Party quickly collapsed, and the members of that party did not even nominate a candidate for the next presidential race. The new Republican Party soon replaced it the Democratic Party’s primary opposition, nominating John C. Fremont in 1856 and Abraham Lincoln in 1860.

The article continues: “A large drove of cattle, some 350, from Salt Lake, passed through our town to-day, most of them in remarkably good condition – some of them even fine beef. A dealer in cattle remarked, as they passed, that they would bring $40,000 to the owners in California. They belonged to Messrs. Holliday & Ward, who have two more droves but a few miles in the rear.

“Emigrants are passing nearly every hour, and generally look to be in fine health and their teams in excellent order, considering the length of time they have been on the road.

“A sad and fatal accident happened to the wife of an emigrant, in Pleasant Valley, on Friday last. In putting her husband’s rifle into the waggon [archaic], it was accidently discharged, the ball taking effect in her right side, killing her almost instantly. She left a husband and one child to mourn her sudden death. She was buried here yesterday. I did not learn their names.

“The steam mill of Messrs. Lagrange & Luke at Ringold [Ringgold] was consumed by fire to-day. Loss about six thousand dollars. I have not heard how the fire occurred. It is a heavy blow to the enterprising owners, and almost an irreparable loss to the town and vicinity.

“A Methodist Camp Meeting is in progress about a half mile from our town, with some six or eight preachers in attendance, including Bishop Owen of San Francisco. It convened yesterday. To-day the Sacrament was administered, and three very good sermons preached to as quiet, orderly and attentive an audience of about two hundred persons as I ever saw in the States. There were between twenty and thirty ladies present.
[signed] “Weber.”




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