Criminal Annals, Part 128 – Suicide

Continuing with the September 27, 1852 edition of the Sacramento “Daily Union,” we find a note regarding another sad suicide for unknown reasons in Sacramento.

“SUICIDE. – A man by the name of David Staffy, aged 35 or 40 years, late of Washington county, Pa. committed suicide on Saturday night, at the bunting House, on K street, by stabbing himself in the breast.”

Each week the newspaper publishes a mortality report of the deaths in the City of Sacramento the previous week compiled by the City Sexton. It is interesting to note that the persons are generally not very old. The listing is by name, followed by age and former residence.


“Names of deceased persons for the week ending September 26th. 1852: George Leyman, unknown, unknown; William Kirkwood, 40, Ohio; William Kaup, unknown, Baltimore, Md.; Samuel B. Ford, 43, New York; James Marsh, unknown, unknown; Antonio Rodriquez, 20, Chili; Mrs. Cornelia Haynes, 22, Ashtabula. Ohio; James Fitzpatrick, 18, Ireland; Thomas Anderson, 28, Scotland; William Reuken, 28, Germany; Charles A Cummings, 4y.8 m., Massachusetts; Frederic Miller, 22, Germany; John Chapman, 43, Massachusetts; Sylvanus Brooks, 22. Illinois; Garrett Dalton, 22, Ireland; David Staffer, 35, Pennsylvania; William Scott, 52, Catskill, N.Y.; A Spaniard, unknown, Mexico; C.L. McKnight, 23, Cortland Co., N. Y.; Calma La Vena, 19, Mexico; Alfred Hite, 22, Ohio; Six Chinamen, unknown, Pekin, China; Infant child of Mr. Lyon.
[Cause of death] Cholera 4, Small Pox 1, Typhoid Fever 5, Consumption 2, Diarrhoea 1, Pneumonia 1, Inflammation of Brain 1, Fever 6, Unascertained 6, Suicide 1. Total 28.”

Under the heading “From the Interior,” is found some information on problems in Shasta and Trinity counties.

“The Shasta Courier of the 20th inst. says that a miner named Mitchell was murdered, on the east side of the Sacramento river, near Churn Creek, on the 17th. He was shot through the temple, and his brains beaten out. Two men, named Tom Bates and Ira Tattum, supposed to be guilty of the murder, were pursued and arrested by Capt. Corsant, near Feather river.

“The Courier also says that Hiram Lusk, of Rhodes & Lusk’s Express, was severely wounded in the leg by the accidental discharge of one of Colt’s revolvers — the belt which contained it becoming entangled in their office counter, and causing the pistol to fall upon the floor. The wound is not considered serious.

“A murder was committed near Weaverville on the person of a miner named William Bolt, formerly of Cole county, Mo., aged about twenty-four years. His corpse was found on the summit of the mountain, about three miles east of Weaverville, pierced by a bullet through the breast. The supposed murderers have been arrested.”

“The Indians in this county during the last ten days have committed quite a number of depredations. On Whisky Creek, a section never troubled by them before, besides robbing several cabins of blankets, provisions, &c., they drove off some twelve or fourteen head of horses and mules. We understand that Messrs. Larabee & Co., Johnson and Baker were the principal losers. — Shasta Courier.”

The September 28, 1852 issue of the Union, like the previous issue, is full of political discussions about the upcoming presidential election. However, in amongst these remarks we find the always entertainingly written results from the Recorder’s Court in Sacramento.

“RECORDER’S COURT. – Before Judge McGrew. – Monday, Sept. 27, 1852.

“There was a grand haul before the Recorder this morning— evincing a decided fall in the ‘moral thermometer,’ and a corresponding rise of fever heat. Two days having intervened since the holding of the Court, riot ran rampant, and a large liberty of the streets and of privilege was indulged. That particular class of individuals who glory in free institutions, free actions and free fights, improved the opportunity so luckily presented. The black eyes, bruised faces and swollen noses which, presented themselves, told how bravely the field had been occupied, and how hotly contested. The incense imbibed at the altar of Bacchus was still pregnant of odor, and diffused itself in the plethoric respirations of his dreamily affected votaries. First on the docket came Henry Bently for drunkenness and disorderly conduct. Plead guilty, was fined five dollars and costs, or twenty-four hours imprisonment, in default.

“James Nolan, for assault and battery, on the person of John Butler. Plead ‘not guilty.’ The evidence not being satisfactory, the prisoner was discharged.

“ David E. Vanalsten and C. H. Farly, for disturbing of peace by fighting. Plead guilty, fined $5 and costs, each, and were discharged.

“Joseph Chesley, for assault and battery— the offence consisting in slapping William Reynolds in the face for depreciating his workmanship as a mechanic, and calling him a liar. The plaintiff denied the statement in toto; he had not called the defendant a lair, but, on the contrary, the opprobrious epithet had been applied to him, with several qualifying adjectives, neither polite nor ornamental. – Prisoner found guilty: fined $5 and costs.

“Juan Baptiste, an old offender, for fighting and riotous conduct. Juan’s complexion was of that doubtful character sometimes found in egg plants— neither white nor black — but a kind of purple bordering between the two. Found guilty; judgment suspended.

“Semprana Nevara, for drunkenness and disorderly conduct – discharged.

“Auguste Stenegal, for riotous conduct and fighting. Plead not guilty. A negro making his appearance, uninvited inside the bar, and declaring to have received bruises across the arm from the aforesaid Stenegal, called from that gentleman various muttered threats, accompanied by an angry shaking of the fists, grinding of the teeth, and glaring of the eyes. The prisoner bringing no witnesses wished to have ‘the boys,’ who were sent for and were not found. It

is worthy of observation that he had a great contempt for courts of justice and accusations in general, as he sported a large segar and smoked it in the ‘August presence.’ Verdict of guilty entered, fine of $10 and costs, and forty-eight hours imprisonment.

“William Strong, a stout looking man, for assault and battery on the person of William, alias Felix O’Rourke, who, as many additional scars on his unfortunate physiognomy plainly showed, was this time the plaintiff in the action. Prisoner pleading guilty, was fined $5 and costs – in default, imprisonment.

“Several other cases were called, some of which were held over, and others of no material interest.”



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