Criminal Annals, Part 30 – The Placer Times: More About the Recent Election

The April 13, 1850 edition of the “Placer Times” has one final note on the recent election of city officials in Sacramento. It was picked up from a recent issue of the San Francisco newspaper, “Alta California,” and involves one Mr. Thomas J. Henley, who finished second to the winner and first elected mayor of Sacramento City, Hardin Bigelow.

“San Jose, April 5th, 1850

“Editors Alta California – Sirs: I see by the returns of the election at Sacramento City, that I am reported as having received a number of votes there as the democratic candidate for the office of Mayor. I was not a candidate, and would, had I been present, have cheerfully given my vote for the respectable gentleman (Mr. Bigelow) who I understand is elected. This is claimed here as a Whig victory. It is not so, as Mr. Bigelow is well known to be a democrat. By publishing this note you will oblige.
“Yours &c., THOS. J. HENLEY.”

Perhaps there are two men named Thomas J. Henley, or maybe not.

Mayor Hardin Bigelow (whose name is often spelled Harding) was a native of Michigan and Sacramento’s first elected mayor following the date Sacramento became a chartered city, February 27, 1850. A. M. Winn held the office at the time and Bigelow was elected on April 1, 1850. Bigelow was also credited in creating the city’s first levee system.

In 1850, many of those immigrating to Sacramento during the Gold Rush were unhappy with John Sutter and his land grant titles. This resulted in the Squatter’s Riots, of which Bigelow was injured. Shortly thereafter, he succumbed to cholera and died.

Also on page 2 of the April 13, 1850 Placer Times are two more interesting articles, one regarding actions of the Sacramento Criminal Court and the other regarding the sending of Army troops to California, a story picked up from the “Baltimore Sun.”

“Criminal Court – Sacramento District.– The prisoners, Flemming and Bowdon, having been convicted in stealing a sum in gold dust of the value of about $3500, from the tent of Capt. Swan and others, were sentenced to two years hard labor in irons, under the direction and for the benefit of Sacramento City. The boy Dennis and others, indicted as receivers of the stolen gold dust, were allowed to go at large on their good behavior, and the Court adjourned sine die [without fixing a day for future action or meeting].”

“Troops for California. – The Light Company 1, First Artillery, embarked from Fort McHenry on Sunday, in the A 1 United States transport ship Monterey, 600 tons, for California. This fine company numbered 84 non-commissioned officers and privates, with the following officers: 1st Lieut. A. R. Eddy, 1st artillery commanding; 1st Lieut. F. E. Patterson; 2nd Lieut. D. M. Beltzhoover; assistant surgeon, R. O. Abbott; Frank Ames, Sutler [a civilian merchant who sells provisions to an army in the field, in camp or in quarters]. The men have taken out ten families, and Lieut. B. is accompanied by his bride. The officers have taken with them a grand piano, which will, doubtless, contribute to lessen the weariness and monotony of such a protracted voyage. In addition to the battery of the company, the ship is freighted with the following – ten 32 pounder iron guns, ten 24 pounder do. do. [ditto, ditto], 1000 32 pound balls, 1000 24 pound balls, and a large quantity of ammunition; 1000 pounds sub-stores, 3,350 bricks, 5000 feet dressed flooring, 3,350 bushels kiln dried bats [siding ?]. The officers and men were in high sprits, and bid adieu to their old and familiar ramparts with glad hearts and buoyant anticipations. Col. Magruder, who has been ordered to the same port, will take the Isthmus route, leaving the city in a few weeks. Major Dusenbury is certainly entitled to praise for the activity and energy displayed in fitting out the ship for her voyage, having provided every article, rendered necessary for such a large corps, in a very short space of time. – [Balt. Sun.”

As a note, Eddy Street in San Francisco is named for William Eddy who surveyed some of the city, not this Lt. A. R. Eddy.

On page three of the same issue of the Placer Times is an article regarding an unfortunate accident which was picked up from the Stockton Times, a new newspaper. Although it is not mentioned in the story, you will note from the final comment that Mr. Ridder was probably from New York.

“Fatal Accident. – On the 17th of February, a fatal accident occurred eight miles from Stockton. A party of young men started from Stockton for the mines and encamped eight miles from this place. They were six in number – J. B. Ridder, C. E. B. Coffin, Stephen Read, John Duffy and two others. Not having wood enough for the night, Ridder went to get some, and while cutting, his revolver fell out of the holster; the hammer struck on the axe, and the pistol exploded, and melancholy to relate, the ball entered below th heart of Ridder. The ball was taken out of his back the next morning, but he survived only until next noon. New York papers will please copy. –[Stockton Times.”



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