Criminal Annals, Part 49 – Stage Accident

Still continuing with excerpts from Paolo Sioli’s 1883 “Historical Souvenir of El Dorado County, California with Illustrations and Biographical Sketches of its Prominent Men & Pioneers,” under the heading “Criminal Annals,” we find a report of an accident involving a stagecoach, a “bold robbery” and the arrest of some highway robbers.



“On the morning of March 27th, 1861, the stage from Placerville to Folsom met with a very serious accident, at the crossing of Deer creek, on the Placerville and Sacramento stage road. Leander or ‘John’ White, driving the forward stage, Mr. Crowder the second, and on reaching the crossing of Deer creek, White found the flood running and the bridge washed away. He hesitated a moment, and meantime the second coach came near. Crowder seeing what was going on advised him not to attempt to cross; this warned the passengers to get out; White, however, thought he could go over easily enough and let his horses plunge into the deep and rapid water. But no sooner had the coach entered the water, then it was swung round and overturned, uncoupling the forward running gear and enabling the horses to escape. The driver, though, fastened by means of the drawn-up leather apron, was floated out, rose two or three times in making efforts to gain the bank, but was taken away by the swift current, and he disappeared under the water. His body was found in some driftwood at an old dam, and in the endeavor to get it Mr. Shed came near enough drowning also.

“Mr. Leander White was one of the earliest inhabitants of El Dorado county, and one of the pioneer stage drivers. He left California late in 1855, going east and to Canada, from where he returned accompanied by his wife, who was left with two helpless children at Sacramento to mourn his sudden death.”

“Spanish Camp, January 17th, 1863.

“On Saturday last, the l0th of January, this camp was visited by a band of guerrillas, who had as little respect for the rights of property and law as there is possible in man. About 7 o’clock four men—W. Porter, C. S. Smith, P. West and Ike Hitchcock, seated themselves in the store of W. [William] E. Riebsam for a game of whist, Messrs. [A. J.] Adams and Riebsam were standing near. Suddenly four men entered, each armed with a large navy revolver, cocked and held at the party around the whist table. They ordered all in the store to remain quiet, which order it was useless to resist; one of the robbers put up his revolver, turned around to a coil of rope, cut off several lengths and tied the men in the store. They then searched each man, taking every valuable and attempted to open the safe, the key of which they had taken from Mr. Riebsam, but failing, they forced Mr. R. to unlock it for them. They soon rifled the safe of its contents, but there being but little cash in it they were greatly exasperated and departed. They took in cash and dust about one hundred and seventy-five dollars, and clothing and provisions to the amount of about one hundred and twenty-five.

“The man who opened the safe and searched our pockets was masked, and the man who tied us was very large, dressed in a gray frock-coat and dark pants.

“After leaving here they took the road towards Sacramento; a short distance from E. Bryant’s they met Mr. Brandon’s teamster and robbed him of forty-five dollars in cash.

“We thought it prudent to quietly submit under the circumstances; we were unarmed and at the mercy of the robbers. Whilst we were bound two Chinaman and a white man came into the store, and it was some time before they could comprehend affairs. They, too, were served like us. H. N. I. [unknown correspondent].”


“Three desperate fellows, giving their names as Faust, De Tell and Sinclair, started from Sacramento in the later days of July, 1867, with a determination to make money some way. They commenced by robbing houses along the road, and on Tuesday, August 3d, stopped a teamster on his return from Carson Valley, just above Sportsman’s Hall, and made him shell out; then coming up the road, robbing houses at their pleasure, also picking up a man who was driving a water cart on the road, for ten or twelve dollars. Under-Sheriff [James B.]Hume, with a posse of three or four men, went in their pursuit, and being informed of their course between the time, by Constable Watson, of Strawberry, he lay in wait for them at a point in the road near Osgood’s toll house, which they could not well get around. About half- past eleven on August 5th, the robbers came up all armed with rifles. Hume ordered them to stop, whereupon one of them fired, the shot taking effect in the fleshy part of Hume’s arm, though not hurting him seriously. Hume then ordered his men to fire, and when the smoke cleared away they found two of them lying on the ground, one being dead, the other unhurt; the third one had been seen falling off the bridge, and until the next morning was believed to be drowned in the creek ; but then they found that he had recovered and crawled under the bridge, where he stayed until all were in the toll house, when he—minus two coats—started back towards Placerville. One hour after daylight the Sheriff’s party struck his track, and he was captured a short distance above Brockless’ bridge, and both the prisoners brought to Placerville and lodged in jail. Before Court Sinclair stated : My name is Walter Sinclair; am one of three men that were in the party that fired upon the Sheriff’s party; am from Arizona; served there under Gen. Conner; am from New York; aged 21 years. The dead man was a German by the name of Faust; age unknown ; was with deceased and another man named Hugh De Tell. Their trial ended with a sentence for a good long term to be sent to the State prison.”



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