Criminal Annals, Part 106 – Road From Sacramento to Placerville

In the August 23, 1852 edition of the Sacramento “Daily Union,” there is an article about the need for a road or railroad from Sacramento to Placerville. This is followed by a couple of short articles regarding a fire and an accident in the Placerville area.


“Hunter & Co. have furnished us with the El Dorado News of Saturday.

“That journal has an excellent article on the vital importance of the immediate construction of a railroad or Macadamized road from Placerville to this city [Sacramento]. In lieu of the latter, if it is impossible at present to get a railroad, we would suggest a plank road; the expenses of construction would be far less, and judging from the comparative prosperity of such roads at the East, we are confident that the termini as well as the country along the line of the road would be more greatly benefitted by the plank road. But we shall have more to say upon this subject hereafter.”

Note: The Sacramento Valley Railroad, which would ultimately reach Placerville in 1888, was organized about two weeks before this issue of the paper was published.

“FIRE. – A fire took effect from a lamp in the Trio Hall, on Sunday last. The progress of the destroying element was soon arrested by the prompt action of the Hook and Ladder boys. – News.”

Note: The Trio Hall was located where The Bookery is presently and the Blue Bell Café used to be located (326 Main Street). Ben Nickerson, who came to town in 1849 with the intent of holding bear and bull fights, built the gambling hall here and, in 1852 the Union Hotel. Everything burned down completely in one of the great fires of 1856 that ravaged Placerville.

“ACCIDENT. – Several men were seriously, but not dangerously injured a few days since, while engaged in blasting rock on Mr. Philips’ contract on the line of the South Fork Canal. They were engaged in ramming a charge when the fuse caught fire from a spark, and thus communicated with the powder.”

A story in the August 4, 1852 edition of the newspaper mentioned that three brothers, Clay, George and Daniel Rhodes, who were out capturing wild horses, were missing an feared dead. We now get further information in a letter sent to the newspaper.

“DARING OUTRAGES NEAR SAN JOSE. – A few days since we published an account of certain young men named Rhodes, having gone into the tulares to hunt for cattle, and that fears were expressed for their safety owing their long absence. Some of the party have since returned to Daylor’s Rancho, and communicated the following acts to our correspondent:

“Daylor’s Ranch, Aug. 14th.

“Messrs. Editors: A few weeks since, George Rhodes took up a pre-emption claim about thirty-five miles east of San Jose, built a house, &c. He then , accompanied by his brother, Clay Rhodes, his cousin Ezekiel House and two Spaniards, went a short distance into the tulares to catch wild horses and cattle to drive in on his claim. After a month’s hard labor, they got together one hundred and fifty head of cattle and fifty horses, and started for home. When they had got within fifty miles of their encampment, they were overtaken by three Americans, (a portion of the band of desperados who have infested that section of country since ‘49) who, with cocked guns, compelled them to get off their horses. The boys, none of them over eighteen years of age, did so. The men then mounted their horses, took their cattle, saddles, &c., and started off. The next day, another portion of the same bandits – three men – came to Rhodes’ house, took all his horses and completely ransacked the house. When they were gone, Rhodes called upon his neighbors (the nearest about five miles) and obtained the assistance of two men and started in pursuit. They captured them, brought them to San Escedro [San Isidro, now Gilroy], and delivered them up to the Alcalde [like a Justice of the Peace]. The boys all fully identified them. They were searched and some of the stolen articles found upon them. They were captured with the horses in their possession. In spite of all of this, the Alcalde acquitted them. This man is the Alcalde of a place called San Escedro. His name is Abner. His surname the boys cannot recollect.

[signed] “W. R. G.”

Note: William Daylor and Jared Dixon Sheldon were married to sisters, Sarah and Catherine Rhodes and two of the three people credited by some with being the first to mine for gold in Placerville. Sheldon obtained a Mexican Land Grant called Rancho Omochumnes or Rancho Rio de los Cosumnes al Norte that extended about seventeen miles along the north bank of the Cosumnes River and encompassed present day Elk Grove and Sheldon, south of Sacramento. It was later divided into Sheldon’s Ranch, and Daylor’s Ranch. William Daylor died of cholera in 1850 and on July 11,1851 Sheldon was shot in a quarrel over a dam he had built that flooded miners’ claims.

In the same column with this story is another regarding a shooting in a Sacramento saloon.

“SERIOUS AFFRAY – ONE MAN SHOT – On Saturday morning about two o’clock,

a man named James Turner, with one or two others, entered the Diana Saloon, and called for something to drink. A dispute arose soon after between Turner and David Harris, the barkeeper, as to the payment of the liquor, the latter asserting that he had not, and the former that he had paid the required sum. Some harsh words passed, until the barkeeper went to the end of the counter, got a revolver, and discharged three or four shots at Turner, one of which took effect, the ball passing through the upper lip and lodging in the neck, from which it has not been extracted. It was stated by a witness that tumblers were hurled at the head of Harris by Turner, which provoked the former to fire, and by others that no violence was offered by the latter until after Harris had fired. The case came up before the Recorder on Saturday, but was not decided, his Honor permitting defendant to go free until this morning, on the recognizance of Mr. Whipley, the proprietor of the Diana Saloon. Turner was removed yesterday to San Francisco, the weather here being considered unfavorable for the speedy recovery of the patient. His wound is considered serious, although not dangerous.”


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