Criminal Annals, Part 114 – Shooting Affray

Continuing in the September 13, 1852 edition of the Sacramento “Daily Union,” we find an article regarding another shooting in Sacramento.

“SHOOTING AFFRAY – A MAN DANGEROUSLY WOUNDED. – About 8 o’clock last evening, a disturbance took place in a saloon on J street, between two men named Joseph Stokes and Thos. Collins, occasioned by some old grudge between the parties, which resulted in Stokes receiving a blow over the mouth from a tumbler thrown by his adversary. Soon after the parties adjourned to the street with their friends, closely watched by Marshal McDowell, who soon perceived Collins with a cocked pistol in his hand. He immediately ordered him to put up his weapon, and retire. The Marshal then instantly rushed up to Stokes, who had commenced firing, and seized him, but not until after he had discharged three shots, two of which took effect upon the person of Collins, the one entering and passing through his neck, and another shattering his left arm near the elbow. The wound in the neck will probably prove mortal, although he was living at a late hour last night.

“This affray occurred on the corner of J and Second streets, in the most crowded thoroughfare of the city, and it is wonderful that innocent parties were not injured by the shots which were flying in every direction.

“This sort of reckless shooting has grown into an alarming evil in this community and it is high time that the severest punishment the law inflicts should be meted out to all persons connected with such dangerous transactions.”

On the next page of the same edition of the newspaper is information from the mining areas under the usual heading, “From the Interior.”



“SUICIDE. – A man by the name of Jim Rhino, a member of the Indiana Bar company on the North Fork of Feather river, committed suicide on Saturday last by jumping into the flume and being crushed by the wheel. Our informant states that he had expended about $600, and that the work not yielding equal to his expectation, he threatened to put an end to his life. He was a native of Tennessee. Insanity, growing out of his disappointments, is believed to have been the cause of the rash act.”

“LYNCHING. – On Monday night last a negro was arrested at Beall’s Bar, for stealing a watch. A people’s jury was empaneled, the theft confessed, and thirty-nine lashes duly administered.”


“We shall give in to-morrow’s paper a list of the deaths on the Plains the present season ; also the arrivals at Placerville during the present week.

Mining has pretty much ceased in this vicinity, owing to the scarcity of water. There are a number of Chinese at work in the creek, with the pan and rocker, and we learn that in some instances they are doing well. – News.

“The Coloma Bar Company have been engaged, since the falling of the river, so that the bar can be worked. They have succeeded in turning the main stream, and now only have to pump out the holes, when it is expected that a rich yield will be returned for their labors. – Ib.”


“PAINFUL NEWS FROM YREKA. – We are grieved to learn by M. Cram of the death of Honorable Thomas H. Coats. He was one of the party. who went out from Yreka under Capt. McDermitt to protect the immigrants and was killed by the Indians on Rush Creek, some 130 miles [from] Yreka, on the emigrant trail. A gentleman by the name of Long, and two others, were killed in the same fight. We have no particulars. Mr. Coats was a member of the last Legislature from Klamath county, and is a brother of Jas. M. Coats, Esq., of this place. — Courier.[Shasta Courier (1852-1872)]”

The edition of September 14, 1852 reports on a new crime in Santa Clara and gives the results of the examination into the shooting mentioned the previous edition.

“ROBBERIES IN SANTA CLARA. – The last number of the Register [Santa Clara Register published in San Jose 1852-1853] states that on the Monday previous, a Mexican named Ramva Moreno was arrested at the farm of the County Clerk. On Sunday, an unsuccessful attempt had been made to take the life of Manuel Joy, living down the valley, and from the number and appearance of the party, they are supposed to be the same who attacked the house of the clerk. The latter had heard that a party was in the neighborhood, and so he was ready when they came. The party halted close to the house of Mr. M. and enquired for the road, when Mr. McClure came out, and afterwards Mr. M., when the party discharged several shots in the direction they stood, and then put spurs to their horses. Mr. M. pursued, and in a few yards came up to Moreno, who had became entangled in the brush in his hurry to escape, and was captured and brought in next morning, as above stated. After his arrest, he was recognized by a young man – a Chilean – as one of a party who had robbed his house the day before of all that was valuable, and taken a horse from the same place.”

“EXAMINATION AND DISCHARGE. — William Barr, charged with shooting at Joseph Stokes on Sunday night with intent to commit murder, was examined before Justice Sackett yesterday and discharged, on the ground that the charge against him wis not sustained by the evidence.

“Joseph Stokes was also examined for shooting Thomas Collins with the like intent, and discharged, the testimony showing that he had been on two previous occasions, maltreated and struck by Collins without redress, and that in this instance he acted in self defence, Collins being the assailing party and firing the first shot.”

“FAILURE OF DAMMING COMPANIES. We regret to learn, that owing to the incapacity of several of the flumes on the rivers to contain the body of the water of channel, and the frail and insecure manner in which others have been constructed, that many of the companies have been compelled to abandon their claims as worthless, or to suspend operations until another season. This is the more to be regretted, as the ground attempted to be drained by several of these companies, is known to be very rich.”



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