Criminal Annals

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.”

 

TO BE CONTINUED

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.

“FROM THE INTERIOR.

“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.

 

TO BE CONTINUED

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:
“COLUMBIA ITEMS.
“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.

TO BE CONTINUED

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.

“MORTALITY REPORT.

“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.”

 

TO BE CONTINUED