Criminal Annals, Part 21 – The Placer Times: The Disturbance at the Mines (Continued)

vol1no36p1 head 1 19In response to the information from the “Alta California,” regarding a problem between the American and Chilean miners on the Calaveras River, as printed in the January 19, 1850 issue of the “Placer Times,” the Placer Times printed a second letter that was sent to the Alta California and dated Stockton, January 3, 1850. Unfortunately it provides only one side of the story.

“I have just seen four delegates who have been sent from the Calaveras to this place for the purpose of laying before our citizens a correct account of the proceedings in the mines which led to the deplorable occurrences of which I have already given you the particulars. It appears that the Chileans, in the endeavor to have Judge Collier and other Americans on the Calaveras arrested, were aided by certain persons who would now wish to shirk all responsibility. A meeting of the citizens of Stockton was held yesterday, for the purpose of hearing the Calaveras delegates; and those gentlemen vindicated in a most able and satisfactory manner, the course pursued by the Americans toward the Chileans on the Calaveras. The latter had, by false swearing, procured from the Prefect of this place, a writ for the arrest of Judge Collier and other persons. If this writ had been placed in the hands of a proper officer, its injunctions would have been promptly obeyed. Instead of which it was given to a parcel of the lowest order of Chileans – none of whom could speak a word of English – who, instead of presenting it in open daylight, stole upon their unsuspecting victims in the dark, and dragging them from their beds, tied them; murdering all who offered the least resistance. Such were the facts elicited by the meeting held in this place yesterday. The Delegates from the Calaveras, to all of whom I have been introduced, are most respectable and intelligent gentlemen. The following are their names: Robert Hart, Esq. of Virginia; Col. J. C. Gilman, of Wisconsin; Dr. L. L. Battle, of Tennessee; S. A. Booker of Virginia.

“The Delegates report that they met the Americans with the Chilean prisoners between Stockton and the Calaveras. There is no truth in the rumor that the latter were executed on the road. It is said that the Chileans are reinforcing on the Calaveras and there is reason to suspect that they are endeavoring to induce the Indians in the neighborhood to join them.”

The second page of the same issue of the Placer Times is mostly a story on the recent flooding of Sacramento. This would occur several times until, dirt was brought in and the streets raised about 10 feet, making the second story of most buildings, the first story. Most of the labor was done by the Chinese immigrants (Celestials they were called). A similar thing was done in Seattle, WA, where tours under the street are now given.

There are also two other interesting articles on the second page, one regarding the dead animals left most likely victims of the recent severe flooding and people moving to the high ground of the levees, and another regarding how San Francisco handled problems with thieves during the recent fire in that city.

Unlike today, where editorials are usually placed in a separate column, the editor of the Placer Times, as he often does, adds his opinions at the ends of stories.

“Criminal Court, Sacramento District. – January 5, 1850. The Grand Jury came into Court and presented as a nuisance the dead cattle lying about the city in a state of decomposition; also the encumbrances on the Levee; also presented true bills against G. B. Stevens and others, as a public nuisance. It was therefore ordered by the Court that the Clerk give public notice to all persons having decaying animals or animal substances on their premises, to remove or bury the same withing a reasonable time, or that they will be proceeded against according to law; also that all persons trespassing upon the Levee be required to removed therefrom, according to the regulations fo the City ordinance.”
“Grand Larcenies. – The following named persons were convicted of acts of grand larceny at the late fire in this city, and severely sentenced as appears: W. Quinn, 2 years hard labor in public streets, with ball and chain; Peter Notfear, Patrick Ayre, Thos. Crosby, Thos. Duhity, Jose Maria Antonio, Jose Antonio, 1 year hard labor in the public streets, with ball and chain; George Campbell, Lucian Munius, 6 months hard labor in the public streets, with ball and chain – Alta California.

“The above indicates the way they ‘put through’ the thieving rascals at San Francisco, and it is high time the same system was in operation here. The numerous burglars and petty thieves among us should be detected and summarily punished by our city authorities. All citizens doing business should assist the authorities in arresting the prowling vagabonds, for their own safety if for no other reason.”


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