Criminal Annals, Part 130: Mayhem and More Mayhem

Continuing with the always entertaining Recorder’s Court listings in the Sept. 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 eggplants – 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 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 Sept. 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 Sept. 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.

(To be continued.)

Natural or Unnatural?

“High-tech tomatoes; mysterious milk; super squash. Are we supposed to eat this stuff? Or is it going to eat us?”

— Annita Manning



Natural or unnatural?

I often get odd questions from people who I enjoy looking up. One, which a number of people have asked me is, “What is ‘natural,’ and what does it mean?”
The confusion hit me several months ago when I picked up a jar of peanut butter at the store. The label was very old-fashioned looking and said “natural.” Thinking it was just peanuts and salt, like the ones labeled “Old-Fashioned,” I discovered it contained quite a list of ingredients, in fact the same ingredients that were on the regular jar of processed peanut butter. The only difference, the price was higher for the “natural” peanut butter.

Most people have a common-sense definition of what “natural” is or should be. For example, “natural” to a lot of people simply means being able to pronounce all the ingredients and not needing a chemistry textbook to understand them. Good luck on that one. The simple dictionary definition is “something not manmade or artificial.”

Many people have written about the subject and come up with many ideas which show how really hard it is to define, and also point out that all things “natural” are not necessarily good. Fleas are natural, flea collars are unnatural; nudity is natural, clothes are unnatural; being bitten by a snake and dying is natural and civilization, indoor plumbing and cars are all obviously unnatural.

Back to the subject at hand, the Federal Trade Commission is the watchdog for bogus environmental claims. The FTC’s guidance does not address “natural” marketing claims specifically. However, it does include a section that states: “… every express and material implied claim that the general assertion conveys to reasonable consumers about an objective quality, feature or attribute of a product or service must be substantiated.”

Since most of us that read that say, “What?” It is obviously up to the consumer to make the final decision.

When it comes to food labeling, there is not much help. It is only applied to meat, fish and poultry products. In that case, “natural” labels can only be used if they do not contain “artificial flavoring, colors, chemical preservatives, or synthetic ingredients” (whatever that may mean). Thus, in most cases the “natural” label has no official definition and can be used without any government approval.

So, what do you do? If you want to feed your family foods with the least artificial ingredients, educate yourself — read and ask questions, and, by the way, as my son told me 20 years ago, the Internet has more misinformation than information.

Then pick brands that not only list, but discuss their ingredients. Then, stick to those brands if you like them. And remember, just because it is in the “natural” food section of the grocery store does not mean it should not be scrutinized.

D’Agostini’s Delights Bakery and Café – Mt. Aukum

“We should look for someone to eat and drink with before looking for something to eat and drink.”

— Epicurus




D’Agostini’s Delights Bakery and Café
Last weekend, on my way back from trying some wines in Amador County during the “Big Crush” event, I stopped by D’Agostini’s Delights Bakery and Café in Mt. Aukum. As I said a few years ago when I first wrote about it, it is a place you might easily miss if you weren’t looking for it.

It is located at 8031 Mt. Aukum Road in Mt. Aukum, just south of the intersection of Mt. Aukum and Omo Ranch roads and is owned by Nikki D’Agostini, whose family has lived in the Mt. Aukum area for generations.

D’Agostini is a delightful young lady with a lifetime of experience in the baking business, a genuine and wonderful smile and, as you will notice when you see her, piercingly beautiful blue eyes. When I arrived I spotted her getting ready to deliver a couple of wedding cakes she had made and, unfortunately, only had a couple of minutes to spend with me.

She opened this bakery and restaurant in April of 2007 and has been serving breakfast and lunch, Wednesday through Sunday ever since to local residents, owners and employees of the many local wineries and visitors to the area.

As you walk into the restaurant the first thing that you notice is that the place is spotlessly clean. “We are clean freaks,” said D’Agostini, “so the place is always this way.” Then something else catches you, the delicious aroma from the freshly baked goods in the display case: huge cinnamon rolls (everyone’s favorite), cookies and muffins, among other delights. And in the refrigerated case, savory breakfast croissants, lemon squares, tarts, cheesecakes, cakes and more, including a wonderful looking chocolate Kahlua Frangilica cake, which she said was the local favorite. And, if that isn’t enough, her speciality is wedding, birthday and special event cakes, custom-made for you.

As I did last time I asked D’Agostini what was her number one breakfast dish. First she said, “Eggs Benedict,” pausing a minute and then adding, “and also the country fried steak, with homemade gravy, eggs and potatoes.” For lunch, the burgers and paninis seemed to top the list, especially the house burger, which is a grilled chuck Angus burger topped with melted bleu cheese on a toasted bun with garlic ailoi.

Looking over her large menu I noticed that she has vegetarian dishes at both breakfast and lunch, which she told me are quite popular. And, since they are a family restaurant, they also have a variety of kid’s dishes on the menu.

She is very particular about the restaurant and the food and makes sure that her restaurant has good, consistent food and is a place she would eat. Everything is fresh and she even picks up the vegetables herself. And don’t forget, she serves old-fashioned milkshakes, floats, sodas, coffee and coffee drinks, along with great local wines and beer to accompany the meal.

D’Agostini’s Delights is open Wednesday through Friday from 7 a.m. until 2 p.m. and on Saturday and Sunday from 7 a.m. until 3 p.m. Breakfast is served until 11 a.m. and noon on Sunday. You can even call ahead to order food, pastries and cakes to go, and, don’t forget about her custom-made wedding and other special event cakes. For more information call 530-620-0777 or visit