Criminal Annals, Part 23 – The Placer Times: 13 Pound Gold Nugget in Hangtown

vol1no39p1 head 2 9The February 9, 1850 edition of the “Placer Times” devotes the whole front page to the proposed legislation to create the City of Sacramento. However, on the second page it has a number of interesting items of local news.

The first article has nothing to do with crime or criminals, but involves a find by a woman in Hangtown.

“The Placer – New Diggings. – Persons just returned from the mines give very favorable accounts of the success of those now employed in various sections of the placer. A gentleman recently returned from a trip to Hangtown and vicinity, informs us that the miners are doing a good business in that locality. A woman, who had been assisting her husband to wash out the gold near the village just mentioned, took it into her head to scratch round a little in a ravine with a case-knife on her own hook, when she soon dug out a lump weighing just 13 pounds! As some fifty persons have seen this specimen weighed, we think there is no occasion for doubting the story.”

Following that is a bit of a “tongue in cheek” story that shows politicians have always been politicians.

“A Very Disastrous Affair. – the reporter of the Alta California has been ejected from his seat at the reporters’ table in the Senate of this State, because that paper did not choose to publish the ‘whole’ proceedings of that August body, to the exclusion of other matters of interest, as well as several columns of advertisements. We look upon this as a very melancholy case. Men who have become so dignified and smart as our Senators, certainly cannot live long, and we are hourly expecting to hear of the suspension of the Alta California, on account of this demonstration of the ‘learned Thebans.’
“P.S. – We have just learned that the reporter has been re-instated his his seat.”

In the next column of the second page is a short story regarding a possible murder along the South Fork of the American River that was important enough to be picked up and later reprinted by the Alta California.

“Supposed Murder. – The body of a man was found on the South Fork, about two miles above the mouth of Weber’s Creek, on the 30th of December. It was supposed, by the persons who found it, that the man had been killed by a wound in the throat. The name of the deceased could not be ascertained.”

Following this is a short article regarding the “selling” of women in San Francisco.

“Something Fresh – Selling Women at Auction. – We learn from the Alta California that a vessel recently arrived at San Francisco from Sydney, New South Wales, having on board three women, who being unable to ‘settle their passage,’ were take on shore by the captain, and sold at auction to liquidate the debt. Fifteen dollars each was the highest bid for services for five months. The gallant captain coolly pocketed the $45 and walked off, well satisfied with the ‘live stock’ operation. We may be over sensitive about such things, but we must be allowed to say that we consider this a most barbarous and disgraceful proceeding.

The fourth column on the second page of this issue is mostly devoted to a letter regarding a very important issue that would hang around for many years, the property rights of the Mexican citizens, which many people were openly ignoring.

“Mr Editor – Having noticed a communication in your paper relative to the Criminal Court of Sacramento District, and having heard several persons express an opinion that the Court had no authority to exercise certain privileges, it may be of service to state how far the U. S. Government is concerned in protecting the property of persons now Mexican citizens, those who have been Mexican citizens, or those who obtain property from Mexican citizens who may have disposed of the same according to the provision of the Treaty. The following articles of the Treaty may be read with advantage:

“Article 8. Mexicans now established in territories previously belonging to Mexico, and which remain for the future within the limits of the United States, as defined by the present treaty, shall be free to continue where they now reside, or to remove at any time to the Mexican Republic, retaining the property which they possess in said territories, or wherever they please, without their being subjected, on this account, to any contribution, tax or charge wherever.

“Those who shall prefer to remain in the said territories, may either retain the title and rights of Mexican citizens, or acquire those of citizens of the United States. But they shall be under the obligation to make their election within one year from the date of the exchange of ratifications of this treaty; and those who shall remain in the said territories after the expiration of that year, without having declared their intention to retain the character of Mexicans, shall be considered to have elected to become citizens of the United States.

“In the said territories, property of every kind, now belonging to Mexicans not established there, shall be inviolable respected. The present owners, the heirs of these, and all Mexicans who may hereafter acquire said property by contract shall enjoy with respect to it guarantees equally ample as if the same belonged to citizens of the United States.

“Art. 9. Mexicans who, in the territories aforesaid, shall not preserve the character of citizens of the Mexican Republic, conformably with what is stipulated in the preceding article, shall be incorporated into the Union of the United States, and be admitted at the proper time (to be judges by the Congress of the United States) to the enjoyment of all the rights of citizens of the United States, according to the principles of the Constitution; and in the mean time shall be maintained and protected in the free enjoyment of their liberty and property, and secured in the free exercise of their religion without restriction.”


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