Criminal Annals, Part 34 – The Placer Times: News from the Eastern Papers

The April 29, 1850 edition of the “Placer Times” is filled with news from a number of eastern newspapers which have recently arrived. That, along with a lengthy story on the “Nicaragua Question,” regarding the need for a canal between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, leaves very little space available for local news. However, on the front page, within the public notices, is an interesting insertion regarding something that continues to this day, a request by the local government for more money. It should also be noted that they can have an election with 12 days notice.


“I, HARDIN BIGELOW, Mayor of the City of Sacramento, by virtue of authority vested in me, and in accordance with a resolution passed by the City Council at its last session, do issue this, my Proclamation to the people of said city:

“Whereas, by the 7th section of the Act of Incorporation, the City Council is restrained from raising, by taxation, a revenue to exceed one hundred thousand dollars per annum, without direct authority from the people,

“I therefore, direct that the legal voters of said city, assemble at the Court House and City Hotel, as authorized by said resolution, on Monday, the 29th day of April, 1850, then and there to cast their votes for aor against the raising, by said Council, the sum of two hundred and fifty thousand dollars, for the purpose of construction a levee around said city.

“In witness whereof I have hereto affixed my hand and seal, this the 17th day of April, A. D. 1850, HARDIN BIGELOW, Mayor.

One often hears of the severe weather problems experienced by ships travelling “around the horn,” the tip of South America, through the Straits of Magellan. Although most ships did not stop after passing through the Straits, before reaching Valparaiso, Chile, some had to put a boat ashore for supplies or trade either before or after this dangerous part of their trip.

There is a story in the May 1, 1850 edition of the Placer Times relating to some difficulties experienced between the sailors and the local natives, taken from notes placed in bottles, something most people associate only with south seas novels.


“Several letters which had been enclosed in bottles, and thrown overboard in the Straits of Magellan and the Pacific Ocean, were picked up along the shores of the Straits by Indians, obtained from them by a trader, and sent to Mr. Smith, of the Merchants’ Reading Room, Boston. The most important of these contains the gratifying intelligence that Mr. Bourne, mate of the schooner John Allayne, had escaped from the Indians. It will be recollected that the schooner John Allayne, Captain Brownell, from New Bedford, while at anchor in the Straits, had three of her men, who were on shore, detained by the Indians, who demanded ransoms for their liberty. Their demands were compiled with, but they treacherously detained Mr. Bourne, and the schooner had put off without him. It appears that he was a prisoner ninety-seven days, and at last made his escape from Port Santa Cruz, where the Indians had taken him, by jumping into the river, and swimming to an English boat, which conveyed him to Sea Lion Island, whence he departed on a whaling cruise, and, at last accounts was on his way to San Francisco. Another letter signed by Mr. Bourne, but written in a different hand, contains an account of the murder of a ‘Captain Eaton,’ who appeared to be trading for horses with the Indians. The name of the vessel to which he belonged is not given.”

Page two of the same edition quotes from a southern newspaper a very interesting outline of a plan to bring slaves to California, a plan which the local editor questions. After all, the newly adopted Constitution of California forbids slavery.

“CALIFORNIA. – The Southern Slave Colony. – In the “Jackson Mississippian” of the 1st instant, under the above heading, we find the following curious advertisement, which we copy for general information. What’s in the wind now?

“Citizens of the Slave State desirous of emigrating to California with their slave property, are requested to send their names, number of slaves, and period of contemplated departure, to the address of “Southern Slave Colony,’ Jackson, Mississippi. All letters, to meet with attention, must be post paid.

“It is the desire of the friends of this enterprise to settle in the richest mining and agricultural portions of California, and to secure the uninterrupted enjoyment of slave property. It is estimated that by the first of May next, the members of the slave colony will amount to about five thousand, and the slaves to about ten thousand. The mode of effecting the organization, &c. [etc.], will be privately transmitted to actual members. Jackson, February 24th, 1850.”

At the top of page three of the same edition is the following note in regard to the election that took place two days earlier:


“The Levee Tax. – The appropriation was carried almost unanimously. The vote stood: In Favor of the Tax….. 543, Opposed….. 15.
“Common Council. – Another meeting was to take place last evening, but too late for our paper (which goes to press at an early hour) to give the proceedings.”

At the bottom of the same page, following two notes regarding a cake that was given to the staff of the newspaper and the fine salmon served at the “Sierra Nevada,” a Sacramento hotel, is the following short article:

“BASS. – A captain of a company from Holly Springs [location unknown], named as above, killed a man a few days ago somewhere up the Middle Fork. They were going to hang him when he was rescued by a party of Mississippians and escaped from the sheriff’s rope.”


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