Doug Noble

Criminal Annals, Part 132 – Miners Convention

The October 1, 1852 edition of the Sacramento “Daily Union,” contains an article regarding who should or should not have the rights to the mining lands of California. It shows that nearly 160 years ago, things were not much different from today. The language is a bit crude, and perhaps racist by today’s standards, but it shows the mind of the American miner at that time.


“This convention, which assembled at Jamestown, Tuolumne county, on the 18th inst., recommended the holding of a State Convention of miners at Sacramento, on the 10th of November next, to memorialize Congress for the adoption of such measures as will protect native and citizen miners against foreign emigration, and also for a general system for the government of the public lands.

“The following resolutions embrace the spirit of the platform adopted by the convention:

“That it is the interest of this State and of the whole Union to take such measures as will preserve to California for the longest possible period, its present position as a bountiful and happy home for the immigrant from the older States.

“That the rich reward which labor commands in this State, and the proportionate profits which the tradesman and the merchant likewise enjoy, being the source from which we derive the rich stream of emigration from the older States, which is now flowing westward towards this country, are not circumstances which we who are favored should alone cherish and commend, but are rich National blessings, which should be fostered and not destroyed.

“That the mineral lands of California, being of limited extent, and of unsurpassed richness, and having been purchased with the blood and treasure of the American people, should rightfully be set apart by the General Government for the exclusive benefit of American citizens, and persons eligible for citizenship who shall have declared their intentions of becoming such.

“That we are in favor of the present Naturalization Laws of the United States, and recognize in them the proper and just means to carry out the principles for which Washington and our revolutionary fathers fought and bled.

“That we do not recognize either the legality or the justice of extending the benefit of those naturalization laws beyond the intention of their framers, and of the fathers of the American Union, so as to include the motly races of foreigners from Asia, Polynesia and South America.

“That although we have reason to believe that the well known and often declared will of the laboring classes of this State in relation to the introduction of any peon or cooly system of labor will forever prevent the legalization of any such system, yet we daily see around us the evidences of an insidious policy heretofore characterizing the government of this State, by which whole hordes of degraded, dark colored and worthless laborers, of mongrel race and barbarous education, are allowed, and even invited to come hither merely to rob the rightful owner of this dearly bought heritage.

“That it is the duty of the Legislature of this State to pass such laws as are constitutional and proper (such as a tax of $5 for hospital purposes upon each such emigrant, or in any other way that they may see-fit.) in order to impede and obstruct the emigration of the last mentioned class of foreigners into this State.

“That as Congress has made no provision to protect the mining interest in California, it becomes the duty of the people to take measures themselves to save the State from the effects of the ruinous immigration of foreigners who threaten to overwhelm the whole land with the vast hordes which are daily arriving upon our shores, and as a natural consequence to seize upon the rich treasures of the State, which rightfully and properly belong only to the citizens of the Union, who have purchased the country, and whose representatives the citizens of California this time may justly and properly be considered.

“That our representatives, when elected, be requested to use their utmost endeavors to accomplish the repeal any act of the Legislature of this State, authorizing or licensing the working of foreigners in the mineral lands.”

In 1852 the Official California State Animal, the California grizzly bear, still existed in the wild. Hunters often went after them, but were not always successful in their hunt. An article in the October 2, 1852 edition of the paper relates a story of one hunt.

“BEWARE OF GRIZZLIES. – We saw an old hunter yesterday, named Hopper, with his arm in a sling, and upon inquiring the cause, he related to us the following particulars:

“Accompanied by his son and another individual, in Aug. last, all armed with good rifles, he went into the mountains to hunt bear. They had not proceeded far till they divided off, keeping within hearing of each other’s voices, as is usual with hunters in time of danger. His attention was arrested by his son, who called to him that three grizzlies were in sight, at the distance of perhaps three hundred yards. The old gentleman cocked his rifle, with the intention of stealing upon them for a shot. In descending the point of a hill for that purpose, he rounded a clump of chapperel [sic], when, to his horror, he found himself directly upon a huge bear, lying down, which had not been previously discovered. The savage monster sprang up immediately, and made an attack. Being too close to discharge his piece, Hopper sought to save himself by prostrating himself on the ground. The bear caught him by the wrist of the right arm, and bit it through, at the same time wrenching it in such a manner as to break it at the elbow. He then retired a short distance, when Hopper, anxious to avenge himself by the animal’s death, made a motion to possess his rifle. The monster turned upon him a second time. Again he prostrated himself with his face to the earth, but the expedient did not save him. The bear seized him by either hip, biting out huge mouthfuls of the solid flesh. It then knawed [sic] him on the back, and left him. Beyond this Hopper’s memory is indistinct, as his wounds were so severe as partially to deprive him of reason.

“His son and the man accompanying him, became frightened when they first beheld the attack, and took safety by climbing a tree.

“The old gentleman says he is determined to have his revenge yet, but the next time he goes in pursuit of grizzlies, he will be careful to have one of Colt’s six-shooters with him in addition to his rifle.”




Criminal Annals, Part 131 – Chinese on K Street

The October 1, 1852 edition of the Sacramento “Daily Union,” has, on page two, a short discussion on the Chinese in Sacramento, followed by an interesting comment on the E Clampus Vitus group.

“THE CHINESE ON K STREET. – We have before noticed the fact that the Chinese had congregated to such an extent on K street, between Fifth and Sixth, as to occupy nearly every house between those two streets, on both sides of K. The houses are occupied mostly for trading purposes, and almost any article sold in this market of China manufacture or production may be found in these Chinese stores, to which their queer looking Chinese signs are sure to attract attention. But in addition to stores, one may find eating, drinking and gambling houses. – To the surprise of the ‘natives’ they manifest an inveterate disposition to gamble when they have money, and they pursue the calling with as much ardor, intent and apparently delightful excitement as a Mexican can do. Their gambling houses, as we are informed, ‘run all night,’ and they are extensively visited by the staid and demure looking ‘Celestials’ in the city. Their contests over the games they play, are particularly interesting to lookers on, who understand about as well what they say as they would the gabbling of so many geese. It is easy, however, to perceive they are in dead earnest in their betting.

“The Chinese are a peculiar race to us; we do not know them, never shall know them, as they are in character and disposition, so long as they remain in a dependent position. They visit our shores to make money enough to enable them to return and live at home in comparative ease the remainder of their days. One left K street a few days since, with $4,000 to buy China goods and return with them. He is a merchant and on the road to fortune.

“The influence upon labor to be yet effected by this Chinese immigration, is a subject which commends itself to the attention of every laboring man, and is fruitful of suggestions which we may hereafter present to our readers.”

“THE FOLLOWING card appears in the advertising columns of the San Francisco Herald [under several names 1850-18?]:

“E CLAMPUS VITUS. In the Sacramento Union of this date an article is published, which reflects improperly upon the aim and objects of the above mentioned Order. The presumption of the author is not worthy of being noticed in any other way than by saying, that frequently “Fools rush in where Angels fear to tread.’

“ By order of E. C. V. San Francisco, Sept. 28, 1852.

“The ‘presumption of the author’ we are more than ever convinced, however, was perfectly correct, and the card of the worthy members of the nominal ‘E Clampus Vitus’ Club does not undertake to deny it. Our second ‘presumption’ is, that a sufficient number of ‘fools’ have already ‘rushed in’ where sensible men have no occasion to tread.”

Note: This is probably not the last we will hear on this subject.

Next is the information from the previous session of the Recorder’s Court in Sacramento. Then as now, the same names seem to be reappearing.
“Recorder’s Court.- Before Judge McGrew. Thursday, Sept. 29, 1852.

“A full court this morning set off the total absence of cases yesterday. Among the ‘features,’ we observed a venerable colored lady with an umbrella, in allusion doubtless to the hazy weather which has for some time prevailed, and a nervous individual, who emptied his stomach at the back door, by vomiting. Too much of the ‘ardent’ had made him very sick.

“Edward Crickard, for drunkenness and disorderly conduct, was found guilty on his own confession, and fined $5 and costs.

“William O’Rourke and Matthew Rice, for disturbing the peace and fighting. On a hearing, Matthew was discharged, with many thanks to the Court for its leniency for letting him out of the hands of the law ‘for once.’ Before reaching the street door, however, the aforesaid Matthew in the exuberance of his happiness, performed several very ungentlemanly actions, which caused his re-arrest. A salutary admonition from the Court humbled him considerably, when he was a second time discharged.

“William O’Rourke was found guilty. His presence before the Recorder has become a matter of almost daily occurrence; and each time that he comes he bears with him additional scratches and wounds on the face, till his physiognomy is covered with blotches. Mr. O’Rourke would doubtless reform if he could, but the boxing and drinking propensity was so strongly developed in his illustrious progenitors, that he imbibed it as a family legacy, and yields to the seductive influences which it inspires. Judgment suspended till to-morrow.

“John Carroll, Chas. McGinley, and, Henry Davidson, for an assault and robbery. Case continued.”

In the same edition we find a note from the Union regarding the printing in another newspaper of a story very similar to one they had printed two years before.

“PLAGIARISM. – The Times and Transcript [actually Placer Times and Transcript. San Francisco, but previously in Sacramento. 1852 – 1855]of Tuesday morning, contains the following:

“Good. – ‘Waiter,’ said an ambitious youth, in the excellent coffee establishment on Washington street just above the Bella Union. ‘What makes these hot rolls so cold always!’ ‘I don’t know,’ was the prompt reply, ‘unless it’s because they are made of Chili flour.’”

“Nearly two years ago, the Daily Union published the subjoined anecdote, which occurred in Sacramento:

“‘Waiter !’ cried a man at one of our restaurants the other day, ‘your hot rolls are all cold. What’s the reason?’ The waiter, who by-the-way, was a I native of the sod, after scratching his head a moment, replied: ‘I don’t know, sir, unless the blundering cook has made them of Chilly flour.’”

“A marvellous [sic] coincidence of ideas, truly!

“He who steals my purse steals trash.”



Criminal Annals,Part 130 – Recorder’s Court.- Before Judge McGrew

Continuing with the always entertaining Recorder’s Court listings in the September 28, 1852 edition of the Sacramento “Daily Union,” we find the following:

“Recorder’s Court.- Before Judge McGrew. Monday, Sept. 27, 1852.

“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 I 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 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— default, imprisonment.

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

In the following edition of the paper, dated September 29, 1852, is found literally nothing but advertisements and political comments about the upcoming election. Even the source of much local information, “From the Interior,” contained little but political information. However, there is a small list of actions from the Recorder’s Court.

“Recorder’s Court. – Before Judge McGrew. Tuesday, Sept. 28, 1852.

“Michael Murry, for disturbing the peace. Michael and several companions were indulging in a series of gyrations denominated ‘pugilistic’ – advancing and shying off – making loud noises and threats. Before anything serious occurred, however, Michael, the principal offender, found himself on his way to the station house Found guilty and fined $5 and costs.

James Horton, for disturbance of the peace. Mr. Horton having arrived from the plains on Sunday, considered it his duty, in his own language, to ‘see the pictures.’ In looking at them at a certain Chinese house, he became intoxicated, flourished a pistol, and behaved badly in other respects. Fined $10 and costs.

John Williams, for like cause. The prisoner was a genuine specimen of the true hearted sailor, and related his defence in a frank, unvarnished style. He confessed. his weakness on the score of drinking – said he always would indulge – but hoped the court would deal gently with him, in consideration of this being his first offence. The sympathies of the Court, and all others present, were strongly in John’s favor. The evidence against him convicted, however, and he was fined $5 and costs.

“Case of Wm. Dennis, continued from yesterday. Petit larceny, for stealing a trunk from on board the steamer Antelope. Found guilty, and ordered to three months imprisonment.

“Juan Baptiste – case continued from yesterday. Fined $30 and costs; in default ten day’s imprisonment. Not having the spare change about him, Juan was sent up.

A case of inquiry against North Wellington, (colored,) charged with stealing $300. The evidence, was complicated, abundant, and conflicting. The defendant was discharged.

“Augustus Stenegal, for assault and battery upon the person of Jackson Jordan. No witnesses and prisoner discharged.”

In the September 30, 1852 edition of the Daily Union is found an interesting letter from Monterey regarding a robbery.


“The last number of the San Joaquin Republican [Stockton, 1851-1854, then became a daily from 1854-1873] furnished by Adams & Co.’s Express, contains an interesting letter from a correspondent at Monterey, dated Sept. 18th, from which we extract the following:

“On the 12th, (Sunday,) a Sonorian [sic] journeying to the Salinas river, was met by a party of five Mexicans, who stopped and robbed him, taking his serape and some trifling articles. After the robbery, they immediately proceeded towards the river, whilst the Sonorian returned to Monterey. After his arrival here, he procured another horse, and proceeded to the Salinas and made known the circumstances of the robbery to Henry Cocks, Esq. Justice of the Peace, who immediately collected and armed a party of eight persons and proceeded to the house of a noted character; upon arriving within a short distance of the place, alarm was given by the dogs barking, and immediately the lights in the house were extinguished, and shots were fired at the assailing party; they however charged up and fired a few rounds in exchange, when the inmates of the house broke and ran in various directions. Two were shot down, and one was badly wounded who escaped; the next morning one of them returned to the house, when the owner under pretence [arch.] of shooting a squirrel, directed a boy to reach him his gun, which he immediately cocked and leveled at the robber, ordering him to give up his arms, which he did, and then broke from the house. Chase was given, and he was overtaken and killed. An inquest was held to-day on the three bodies, and a verdict returned in accordance with the circumstances. Some of the horses of the party were taken and recognised [arch] as belonging to various rancheros in the neighborhood – having been stolen.

The above transaction has caused great excitement, and universal satisfaction is manifested at the promptitude of the action, as the leader of the band was killed, and he was known as a most desperate character.

“The same writer adds that these men were probably a portion of a large band of horse-thieves who have infested that neighborhood, mostly Mexicans; and that a report had just come in that eleven more scoundrels belonging to the same band, had been surprised and attacked by a company of Americans from San Jose. Six of them were killed, the remainder taken prisoners and carried to San Jose.”

“The Indians. —We learn from the sheriff of Tulare county, who called upon us yesterday, that the Indians are quiet and no alarms are entertained by the settlers. Large numbers of emigrants are settling down on the fertile plains with their families There is every prospect of that portion of the country being thickly settled – Ib.



Criminal Annals, Part 129 – E. Clampus Vitus

Moving to the September 28, 1852 edition of the Sacramento “Daily Union,” we find a note regarding a new, but curious, organization in town, one that exists to this day.

“‘E. CLAMPUS VITUS.’ — Some the San Francisco editors are puzzling their heads, to know what can be the objects or aim of a newly created secret society, bearing this name in that city. Although we are not prepared to say that the association is precisely similar to those we have heretofore known, yet we can state, for the information of the curious, that the term implied a degree of waggery to be practised by the knowing ones upon greenhorns; and that its existence was merely nominal — its meetings being held only when a victim presented himself for initiation, and consequent immolation. The hundred dollars contributed to the fire companies we presume was intended merely to create mystery, and hoax the good citizens of the Bay city. We warn them to keep their eyes about them, and to beware of taking the degree of the ‘Burning Shame.’”

In the same column is a note about a confusing celebration in the Chinese community. I cannot find any Chinese holiday or celebration around that time, so it must have been a local event.

“CELESTIAL EXHIBITION. —Yesterday seems to have been a gala day with them. They seemed to be celebrating the day for some reason, but what we could not learn. Business was pretty much suspended, and just at sundown they commenced firing crackers, and for about half an hour they kept the street and the air nearly filled with them. The ‘noise and confusion’ created were sufficient to cause the collection of some hundred and fifty to two hundred persons, to see what was to pay. The crackers didn’t give a bad imitation of a sham militia fight with muskets. The John’s [a name given to all Chinese, for some reason] seemed to enjoy the fun with as great a relish as so many boys would have done on the fourth of July. It was an innocent ‘fuss,’ and we were sorry to see the police interfere and arrest I some of the ‘long-tails’ [a reference to the men’s pigtail or queue] for violating the ordinance. Let the Celestials have their fun.”
The next item in the same column mentions a recent drowning in the Sacramento River.
DROWNED. — We learn from Dr. May [S. J. May, coroner 1851-1853], who visited the scene of the calamity, that a man, supposed. to be Thomas Fulton, from Socorro, New Mexico, was drowned a short distance below Sutterville, on the Sacramento river. The body was recovered yesterday morning, and these facts, ascertained from a small memorandum book which was found in his pocket. He was dressed in mining costume, and from that fact, is supposed to have been a miner. An inquest was held over the body, and the verdict rendered ‘ accidental drowning.’”

Under the usual heading of “From the Interior,” are some notes from the Sonora area.
“We clip the following items from the Sonora Herald [1850-?]of Sept. 25th:
“SINGULAR CIRCUMSTANCE. — A week or two since. a young man was taken sick in Columbia with symptoms of small pox. He was taken to the public hospital, and every attention was paid him. In a few days his right arm commenced mortifying, when it was ascertained that he had been vaccinated at Stockton with impure matter, and the virus had spread throughout his entire system . His arm became a mass of corruption, and after lingering in the most excruciating pain, he died on Monday morning last. His death was caused alone, we are told by medical gentlemen, by impure vaccine matter.”
“MURDER. — A most atrocious murder was committed in this city on Tuesday morning last, before daylight. The victim was Dr. McGregor; a native of Scotland, aged about 65 years. He was found dead in an alleyway known as Hospital street, which leads to a quarter of our city inhabited by Mexicans and other Spanish American foreigners. He had received but one wound, which was in the right breast, and was apparently inflicted by a long and sharp dirk-knife. A penknife, with the blade open was found in his right hand, the blade directed towards the wound, and having some blood on it. The wound, however, was probed and found to be an inch deeper than the blade of the pen-knife; and therefore the general opinion is, that the penknife was placed in his hand by the assassin after the murder was committed.
“The Doctor was last seen alive by a man from Springfield, who called upon him to attend on a sick person at that place. He went to Springfield, attended upon the patient, and returned about two o’clock, A. M. After that hour nothing further is known of his movements, save that it is supposed he was called out on another professional visit, — and we believe there is evidence to this effect — but by whom he was called out is not known.
The Herald says that a negro named Peter Sykes has been arrested, although no satisfactory evidence Has yet been elicited to prove him the perpetrator of the deed.”

As usual, the information from the Recorder’s Court takes up a long column in this paper.
“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 action 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 disturbance 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 liar, 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.