Criminal Annals, Part 127 – Recontre

Continuing with the September 25, 1852 edition of the Sacramento “Daily Union,” we find under “From the Interior” some information from Nevada County, by way of the “Nevada Journal.”

“RENCONTRE.— Our town has been not a little excited for a day or two past, by a rencontre between a very well known and respected Methodist preacher located in this city, and another gentleman, who thought himself injured by some allusions in the pulpit to a habit of his of playing ‘poker’ during service hours instead of attending church The parties chanced to meet, when the aggrieved gentleman demanded of the preacher if he was the one alluded to, and ascertaining that he was, used high words, and the minister finally lost self control and threw his antagonist to the ground, saying that no one should curse him with impunity.

“The case came up for trial on Wednesday, and was conducted by an assemblage of the talent of the Nevada Bar, but the legal gentlemen were so deep in their disquisitions that the jury looked several ways for the right, and couldn’t agree.
“The circumstance will not probably be considered serious enough to get a re-examination, and will be a good lesson to all parties. It shows how necessary is self-control under all circumstances, and how easily the best of us may make work for repentance.”

This is followed by a note from the “San Francisco Journal” regarding crew problems on a ship.

“We learn from Captain Williams, of the brig Francisco, just arrived from Oregon, that a difficulty occurred on board the bark Charles Devans, between the officers and crew. He states that the chief mate was badly wounded in the affray, having been stabbed in five places by one of the seaman. – The fellow was arrested and imprisoned. The wounds inflicted upon the mate, were of such a nature, that little hope was entertained of his recovery. – S. F. Jour.”

The September 27, 1852 edition has a short article regarding a coroner’s inquest in Yolo County.

“CORONER’S INQUEST. Coroner Van Arnam, of Yolo county, held an inquest on Friday last, on the body of a man named John Filger, found dead on the bank of the river about twenty miles below Washington, Verdict— Death from intemperance. Deceased was a German by birth.”

Continuing with small articles inserted into the massive amount of political articles (1852 is a presidential election year) we find where a young lady accidentally caught her clothes on fire at home, something very common where all light and heat are by fire. Many kitchens were detached from the main living space to protect them.
“NARROW ESCAPE.— A daughter of Mrs. Woodland, Miss Eliza Woodland, came near losing her life yesterday evening, by the taking fire of her clothes. Just as the family were about seating themselves at the dinner table, she stepped into the kitchen for something, and while there, her clothes took fire from coming in contact with the stove. She instantly started into the house and rushed into the room where the family were seated, completely enveloped in flames. She was instantly seized by Mr. Skinner, who boards with her mother, thrown upon the floor, and wrapped in the carpet. This smothered the fire, and Miss W. escaped with slight burns on the arms and shoulders, though her clothes were pretty much destroyed by the fire. Mr. Skinner had his hand badly burned, and Mr. Shober, who went to his assistance, was also slightly burned. But for the presence of mind of Mr. S., the young lady would doubtless have lost her life.”

This is followed by an article regarding a young miner anxiously waiting for mail.

“A DECIDED TAKE IN.— Since the arrival at this place of the mails by the [steamship] ‘Panama,’ almost the entire street leading to the post office has been blocked up during office hours, by anxious expectants of letters from home. A large proportion of these is miners, many of whom have not been blessed with a letter for long and wearisome months, and whose hearts are yearning for information from friends, wives, parents and sweethearts. A long line is formed, and as each new comer arrives he drops into place, and squeezes himself along with the slow moving current towards the window of delivery. A belated youth on Saturday, observing the hundreds who preceded him, and impatient to peruse the love teeming billet doux of his far off languishing beauty, purchased the position of an indifferent individual who had arrived almost within speaking distance of the clerk— paid the demanded price, one dollar, fell into rank, and was rendered thrice happy by his good fortune. The complacent smile which lit up his countenance, inspired hopeful emotions in the hearts of those surrounding. The window was soon reached, the name announced, and the letter handed over. With trembling fingers he tore open the seal, hurried through its brief contents, and found it to be a dun for a small amount which he had neglected to pay previous to sailing for California.”

Following this is an article from San Francisco regarding concerns about the Chinese.

“LEARNING BAD TRICKS.— Lately we have observed several inebriated Chinamen on the streets. The other day a couple were before the Recorder for assault and battery. The San Francisco Journal informs us of another, named ‘Pon Lam,’ who was detected, a few days since, in stealing money from the counter of S. Brannan, of that city. It was his second offence. A day or two before he had succeeded in carrying off slugs to the amount of $500, and had returned to repeat the villany. We are sorry for this, for we had formed a very favorable opinion of the character of the Chinese, from the fact of their uniform inoffensive, upright and industrious nature. Hope the scoundrels among them are few.”
Note: The S. Brannan mentioned in the story is none other than Samuel Brannan, the publisher of the earliest newspaper in San Francisco, the “California Star,” and owner of several businesses in San Francisco, Sacramento and Coloma at one time. Mr. Brannan is credited with having purchased all picks, shovels and pans in the area in early 1848 and then running up and down the streets of San Francisco with a vial of gold in hand, announcing in a loud voice, “Gold in the American River.”


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