Monthly Archives: December 2015

Criminal Annals, Part 12: The Placer Times – Foreigners

vol1no10p1aFollowing the June 30, 1849 article in the “Placer Times” regarding a group calling themselves the “Americans” forcing out Spanish speaking miners, we find a secondary article in the July 7, 1849 edition.

“The Mines – No important intelligence from the mine since our last. The movement to drive away foreigners from the Placer has been successful, so far as the region is concerned beyond the Mills. Already some scores of Mexicans and Chilians [sic] have re-crossed the river, and at the latest accounts were quietly encamped at Coloma. We have understood that the gold had been taken away from some of the foreigners before they left the mines, but we very much doubt the rumor. Unless great caution should be exercised, naturalized American citizens will suffer from this rigorous movement, hence it is to be hoped the United States authorities will take some immediate steps to investigate the affair.

“Since the above was in type we have seen several Spaniards from the mines who complain bitterly of the summary manner with which they were treated by the Americans and others. Only three or four hours’ notice were allowed them to depart accompanied with the threat that in case of noncompliance their tents and all their effects would be destroyed.”
On July 21, 1849 the Placer Times printed this somewhat “tongue-in-cheek” appeal to the citizenry regarding the discharge of firearms:

“Prompt measures should be taken to stop the discharging of fire-arms in our midst. – Balls hitting those ‘brave old oaks’ glance in every direction: a man was killed this other day by this process. People come here ‘loaded’ with revolvers and don’t seem satisfied until they shoot somebody, somehow.”

This was followed, in a later edition with the following:

“Another man came within six inches of being shot yesterday. Blaze away, ye miserable triflers with human life! Startle the sick and dying, it may be your turn to experience this annoyance anon.”

The lack of a strong government in California was not going unnoticed by those who had been put in charge. Brevet Major General Bennett C. Riley (1790 – 1853), the seventh and last military governor of Upper California, issued a directive to establish a civilian government on June 3, 1849. The July 28, 1849 edition of the Placer Times indicates that in response to this directive there was a mass meeting in Sacramento on July 5, 1949, where a committee was formed to create precincts for the Sacramento region and nominate candidates to a constitutional convention in Monterey, which would commence on September 1, 1849. The following gentlemen were nominated: John Bidwell, Capt. Shannon, Jacob R. Snyder, M.M. McCarver, John Sutter, L. W. Hastings, W. S. Sherwood, C.E. Pickett, John McDougal and John S. Fowler. the committee also established polling places, one of which was Coloma.

In the July 28 edition of the Placer Times is the following front page story:

“At a meeting of the citizens of Coloma and vicinity, held on Wednesday, the 18th July at the residence of Dr. Dye, for the purpose of taking into consideration the nominations made by the mass meeting held in Sacramento city on the 5th inst., the following business was transacted:
“On motion, Mr. Dye was called to the chair and L. W. Hastings appointed secretary.

“The chair not being fully advised as to the object of the meeting, called upon Mr. Shannon, who stated the object of the meeting as above, and read the proceedings of the mass meeting in Sacramento city; after which he addressed the meeting at some length, urging the necessity of extending further notice to the citizens at the different ‘diggings’ in this vicinity, for the election of local officers of this precinct, such as 1st and 2d alcalde (Justice of the Peace), sheriff, etc.

“On motion, a committee of five, consisting of Messrs. Shannon, Gordon, Bennett, Anthony and Monroe was appointed to draw up and present resolutions expressive of the sense of the meeting, and to nominate local officers for this precinct.
“This committee, having retired a few minutes, reported the following resolutions and suggestions:

“1. Resolved, That we approve of the nominations of delegates, made by the mass meeting of Sacrament city, and that we approve of the general action of that meeting; but that we set more in accordance with the Proclamation of Governor Riley.

“2. Resolved, That from the want of all legal authority, it becomes necessary to elect, on the 1st of August next, the local officers for this precinct, such as the 1st and 2d alcalde, or justice of the peace, one sheriff as well as one judge of the superior court, for the northern district – Your committee respectfully suggest the names of L. W. Hastings for the office of 1st alcalde, that of Elisha Packwood for 2d alcalde, and that of A. J. More for the office of sub prefect or sheriff.

“And your committee further suggest that it be submitted to this meeting, whether the present corresponding committee shall be continued as such.

“On motion, the report of the committee was unanimously adopted.

“L. W. Hastings having stated his objections to accepting the nomination as 1st alcalde, and having proposed to be excused by the meeting, whereupon, Capt. W. E. Shannon was nominated for the office of 1st alcalde.

“On motion, the corresponding committed appointed for this precinct, by the mass meeting of Sacramento city, was continued as such.

“On motion, the corresponding committee was instructed to use their utmost endeavor to have the coming election in August next conducted conformably to the Proclamation of Gov. Riley.

“When, on motion, the meeting adjourned.

“Clarkson Dye, Chairman, L. W. Hastings, secretary. Coloma, July 20th, 1849.”

Note: L. W. Hastings is the same Lansford W. Hastings, an attorney, who arrived in Oregon in 1842 and wrote “The Emigrants Guide to Oregon and California.” He later encouraged wagon trains to take his “Hastings Cut-off” as a shorter route to California. The Donner party was one group that followed his advice.


Criminal Annals, Part 11: The Placer Times – Gold Fever and Manifest Destiny

vol1no04p1aContinuing through the issues of the “Placer Times,” Sacramento’s first newspaper, we find that crime was not limited to the area of the mines, but also committed by those anxious to get there.

“Placer Times, Saturday, May 19, 1849

“The extracts from late papers (newspapers from the east coast that arrived with the ships) to be found on our first page, show how intense the excitement raging in the east respecting the gold discoveries in California; of course our limits will not permit of copious quotations from the different newspapers in our possession, but a tolerably correct idea may be derived from what has already appeared. It will be seen that women as well as men are seized with the infection, and that while thousands of persons are preparing to emigrate and thousands are on their way, the agitation continues quite as great as ever. Men are going mad on account of the gold and others, becoming desperate, commit crime to enable them to raise the means of getting to California. The papers tell huge stories of wealth revealed, and speculate upon the probable results of the fever just as ever. Some gloomily fancy the forebodings of distress and others exult in the richness of the new acquisition, as their political character determines them.

“We confess never to have deliberately and fully summed up the chances favorable to or against the welfare of the mass – the consequences likely to follow the workings of the mania, but a moments reflection has convinced us that in the multitude on its way her there are many who will encounter disease, privation and death. Many who will be successful, but which will be worse to them than if they dwelt in poverty all their lives. Many who are now rich that will be ruined, and more who where the possessed a penny before shall now be worth a pound. But the emigration will roll on unmindful of the fate or fortune of those around, until this, the pearl of our Pacific possessions, shall have developed her now slumbering resources, and the wilderness be truly made to ‘blossom as the rose.’”

For the next few weeks the Placer Times was filled mostly with ship arrivals, government proclamations and such, but in the June 30, 1849 edition something very disturbing showed up.

When the miners first arrived there was plenty of gold that was easily found and room for everyone to stake a claim. As the gold became harder and harder to find and the land more crowded, the American miners, believing that the land was really theirs (Manifest Destiny), started taking the claims belonging to those other than themselves.

Under the theory of “Manifest Destiny,” the people of the United States felt it was their mission to extend the “boundaries of freedom” to others (and to the Pacific coast) by imparting their idealism and belief in democratic institutions to those who were capable of self-government. It excluded those people who were perceived as being incapable of self-government, such as Native American people and those of non-European origin.

The first reported large-scale action by Americans, as is told in this story, involves taking the property of Spanish speaking miners, even though a majority of them were American citizens as a result of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which ceded California to the United States in 1848.

“A movement has taken place in the Gold Region which, from its probable results, calls not only for the intervention of the civil and military authorities, but seems to require an earnest expression of their feelings from all those citizens of the United States, who have a regard for the honor of their country, and who are resolved to maintain it. We allude to the forcible expulsion of certain foreigners and naturalized citizens of the United Stated from the Placers of the Middle Fork and neighborhood by an armed body of men calling themselves Americans.

“Of three individuals thus expelled, which we have seen, one is an old resident of California and a naturalized citizen of the United States. Another is a native Peruvian and naturalized citizen of the Unites States, who has, to our knowledge, periled his life many times in this country, fighting under the American flag, and who was severely beaten by the enemy because he refused to bear arms against us.

“We have been informed that hostilities have been commenced against those only who speak the Spanish language, but who cannot speak English, and not only are the English, French, Dutch, Italians, Portugese, etc. reported to have been unmolested, but we are informed that they actually composed a part of the expelling force. God grant that they may have composed the whole of it: that no American can have so far forgotten his own honor and that of his country as to expel those from the Placer whom our Government has sworn to protect in the full enjoyment of all the privileges of American citizens.

“We are informed that the Regulators gave to their victims three hours’ grace. This a piece of condescension for which these unfortunate men are doubtless thankful since it enabled them to escape with some of their animals, but they would certainly feel still more indebted had they been able to have brought away with them their provisions and machines..

“This disorderly proceeding may be attended with many serous results. Those Governments whose citizens or subjects have been the victims of this partiality ought to, and probably will, demand instant reparation for all damages which they may have sustained.

“Every child, that is every American child, ought to know that the government of the United States alone has the right to prevent persons from digging the gold region, and we will not question the common sense of our readers by attempting to prove it.


Criminal Annals, Part 10: The Placer Times – Inhuman Murder

vol1no02p1aSince the days of the Gold Rush the English language and the proper spelling of words has changed. In order to keep everything as original as possible, the words are being retained in these articles. If a word has a spelling different from today, the note [sic], Latin for “thus,” “so,” or “just as that, ” has been placed following the word to indicate that an incorrect or unusual spelling has been reproduced verbatim from the quoted original and is not a transcription error.

Continuing through the issues of the “Placer Times,” Sacramento’s first newspaper, we find the following regarding a serious crime in the Coloma area:

“Placer Times, May 5, 1849

“Inhuman Murder – A man named Doyle was murdered near the Columa [sic] mines a few weeks since, and nothing has been revealed as to the circumstances under which, or by whom, the deed was committed. His body was found secreted by the wayside, shockingly disfigured, his heart taken out, and skull fractured in several places. The prevailing impression among the miners of Columa [sic] appeared to be that this murder had been committed by white men, and every item of evidence seemed to justify this conclusion. Doyle had with him, when last seen, about $2000 of which his person was found plundered, and it it supposed the manner of death, and gross mutilation of the remains, had been resorted to to convey the impression that Indians had committed the deed. The black-hearted fiends who, from beneath a white skin, boast a mental superiority, and claim the sphere of our race their daily walk.”

Later in the same issue we find an article regarding something that was bound to happen, the creation of fake gold:
“Imitation Gold – beware of fraud! – The Alta California of April 19 contains the following extract of a letter from one of the principle houses in the city of Mexico.

“‘We have just been made acquainted by attaches to two of the embassies to this government, that they had recently received positive information, that from several ports in the United States packages of worthless metal, worked to imitate the gold found in the Placer of Alta California, had been shipped for the ports on that coast; we therefore advise you to exercise great caution in your future purchase of this kind of bullion.’”

“In addition to which we publish from the N. Y. Tribune of February 1, as follows – ‘We were shown a sample of the prepared spelter – the villainous counterfeit got up to cheat the greedy adventurer. It is in small grains and pieces resembling scales, mixed with black sand, and would readily be taken by the inexperienced, for the genuine metal. When mixed with a proportion of the true gold washings, it would e difficult to discover the cheat. We are told that a manufacturer in this city has received an order for 700 lbs. of this worthless compound, for the San Francisco market.”

In the advertising and public notice of this same issue is found first a “Notice to Squatters” by John Sutter, Jr. describing his extensive holdings and indicating that he will not allow trespassers on his land, a significant problem faced by all of the land owners that held property prior to the discovery of gold. A column later is also the following, which indicates another common problem in California at the time:
“200 Dollars Reward.

“Stolen on Monday night last, from before the office of the undersigned in Sutter’s Fort, two saddle horses, the one a sorrel and the other a light yellow color; both bearing the well known iron of the subscriber. The above reward will be paid, upon application, to any person who will give such information as will lead to their recovery, and the apprehension of the thief or thieves. J. A. Sutter, Sacramento City, Apr. 20, 1849.”
The next issue of the Placer Times, dated May 12, 1849, contains the complete letter by William Daylor regarding the killing of the Native Americans that was in the previous issue. Under the title “Correct dead of the massacre of the Indians on the Cosumne [sic] river,” it states that according to Mr. Daylor, he buried 16 Native American bodies, Mr. Rhodes buried another two and that the “party of armed white men” had killed another 27 along the way to Daylor’s place. Still missing are the women and children taken prisoner.

The May 19, 1849 issue of the Placer Times indicates that the government has a concern about the problems in California and is bringing in soldiers, but with some unique concerns.

“Troops for this valley – We understand that three companies of U.S. troops have been ordered to this section, and are now on their way here. Where they are to be stationed we are not advised, probably in or near the principal gold washings. The danger of desertion is not so great here as in the south we are inclined to think. Between this place and the various washings the country is much traveled and it would be difficult for a deserter to elude observation, and if proper measures are resorted to, subsequent detection. We apprehend no great difficulty in tracing out a runaway should he seek shelter in any of the washings between which and this place communication every day is held, and it is not probable he would prefer a mountain retreat and the vicinity of the hostile Indians. Perhaps to post them at the washings would do away with all fears on the subject of desertion.”

An entry in the advertisement and public notice section of the same issue includes a notice showing that people are becoming extremely concerned about the safety of their mining locations and are letting the public know that they will not allow trespassing:

“Notice is hereby given that he residents at the junction of the North and South Forks having formed themselves into a company for the purpose of daming [sic] and turning the river from its original bed, this is to caution all persons from trespassing upon their claim, as they are determined to defend it with their lives.

“By order of the company, Benjamin I. Fairfield, Pres., G. W. Huff, Secretary. May 10th, 1849.


Steppin’ Out – Panda Express

Panda_Express_logo.svgEvery time I drive by WalMart on Missouri Flat Road, I remind myself that it has been a long time since I have visited Panda Express, which is at the corner of Missouri Flat and Forni roads, but accessed through the WalMart parking lot. Then, like with many things, I forget a few minutes later.

I decided to write myself a note the next time I was there and, finally, emailed Russ Salazar, who agreed to meet me there for lunch the following Tuesday.

Panda Express is sort of like a buffet, if you have not been there. Each of their many dishes which are continually being prepared in their open kitchen, is kept warm on display. You choose what you want and they dish it onto plates in front of you. Then you pay and find a table or booth where you enjoy your food (the booths are a bit tight).

They serve more than a dozen entrees from which to choose, along with appetizers and side dishes, and you can choose a bowl, one entree, two entrees or three entrees and a side for your meal. If a dish is spicy, they note that with a picture of a chile pepper; if it is lower in calories, they note that with a “Wok Smart” symbol.
They are a fast food restaurant with drive through service, and their food is good. It is prepared fresh and seasoned for the average person. Even their spicy food is not that spicy.

After looking over the menu, Russ and I decided to each try three different dishes and a different side and share.

Russ chose Beijing Beef, Broccoli Beef and his favorite, Honey Walnut Shrimp, as his entrees and fried rice as his side. I chose Kung Pao Chicken, Sweetfire Chicken Breast and String Bean Chicken as my entrees and white steamed rice as my side.

Russ then asked the same question I asked the first time I was there. “Do you have hot tea to drink with your meal?”

No they don’t. I don’t know why and the cashier didn’t either. I guess the “burned by hot coffee at McDonald’s” problem is the cause, but I am with him, I really like hot tea with Chinese food.

hen Russ got to the table he had Shanghai Angus Steak, a premium dish that like the Honey Walnut Shrimp, costs a little more. He told me they were out of the Broccoli Beef and rather than wait, like I did for more of the String Bean Chicken Breast to be cooked, he changed his order. I am glad he did, because it was the best dish of all of them.

We started by sharing the Honey Walnut Shrimp. Russ had a restaurant in Sacramento that was famous for this dish and wanted to compare. The shrimp was nicely cooked, but the tempura batter on them was still doughy and wet inside. The dish tasted very good, but was, in Russ’ words, “Skimpy on the walnuts.”

The Beijing Beef was crispy on the outside and pleasantly spicy. A nice dish overall.

The Shanghai Angus Steak was full of really tender beef, asparagus, onions and mushrooms and the sauce was very savory. It was the favorite of both of us.

I liked the Kung Pao Chicken, which is a mixture of chicken, peanuts and vegetables, with chile peppers for “warmth,” Russ is not big on chicken dishes, but he thought it was quite good.

We both thought the String Bean Chicken Breast was more than a bit drab and really needed more sauce and even some salt (they don’t over salt most of their dishes, which I like).

My favorite chicken dish was the Sweetfire Chicken Breast. From the name you can tell it also had some chiles in it, although not too many. We both liked the combination of the sweetness and the heat from the chiles.

Russ’ side dish, fried rice, was just okay and surprisingly had corn in it.

What can you say about steamed white rice: not much. It is usually the only thing I put soy sauce on (get packets from the cashier).

There are a lot more entrees to choose from, like Orange Chicken Grilled Teriyaki Chicken, Black Pepper Chicken, Mushroom Chicken, and usually a special dish or two.

In addition to the sides we chose, thy also have Chow Mein, Mixed Vegetables and Brown Steamed Rice.

Something we did not try was their appetizers: Chicken Egg Roll, Vegetable Spring Rolls, Cream Cheese Rangoons, Crispy Shrimp and Chicken Potstickers.

I guess I have to go back just to try several other of the dishes.

Drinks include, bottles water, juice, bottled drinks and fresh-brewed iced tea, but no hot tea.

Dining Room hours are from 10:30 until 9 daily. The Drive-Thru is open until 10.

For more information you can call (530) 626-5269 or visit on-line at

Oh, they also do catering and you can order meals to go in those cute boxes, which, by the way, were originally designed to hold shucked oysters, not Chinese food.