Criminal Annals, Part 51 – A Fight Among Chileanos

Again 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 couple of odd stories regarding difficulties in El Dorado County followed by a group of hangings under the title “The Death Penalty.”

“At Pekin, in the lower part of Mud Springs township [now the town of El Dorado], three Chilenos [people from Chile] became engaged in a fight on Sunday, March 18th, 1866, the result of which was the killing of Casas Rojas and Marcellius Bellasque by Pedro Pablo. The murderer was arrested by other Chilenos present and handed over to special constable [James G.] Bailey, who started to Shingle Springs. The night being dark and stormy, and under cover of the darkness the prisoner freed himself from the handcuffs, jumped from the horse and escaped. The sheriff was notified, and sent Under-Sheriff [James B.]Hume and Jailor [John] Cartheche in pursuit of the murderer, who finally was discovered by a brother of one of the murdered men in a quartz mill near Diamond Springs, on the following Wednesday. He informed Constables Bailey and Shrewsberry of his whereabouts, and they arrested and brought the culprit to Placerville ; where he was examined before Justice Sherwood and committed to jail awaiting the action of the Grand Jury.”

“A terrific and most savage fight with knives took place near Garden Valley, on the morning of April 30th, 1866. The combatants were Joseph Eaton and Alexander Gladden; both had been drinking together very hard, and became engaged in a quarrel, which resulted in the fight. Gladden cut off a part of Eaton’s nose, besides inflicting some more wounds upon him; but Eaton cut his assailant in a terrible manner, literally, to use the language of one who saw the murdered man, ‘slicing him up.’”


“The accumulation of disorderly, unruly and desperate fellows and the crimes they had committed, had caused the people of El Dorado county at various instances to take the law in their own hands, and deal with those rogues just as they deserved it. This was well enough and could be excused on account of the unsettled condition of the whole country ; but as the population was rapidly growing, and the courts were gaining strength, it became time to have the law take its own way, and the execution of the lawful sentences by the officers of the law. James Logan, for the murder of Fennel at Coon Hollow, and Wm. Lipsey, for killing Powelson at Cold Springs, were the first to be convicted of murder in the District Court of El Dorado county. Their execution took place, according to the sentence of Judge Howell, on Friday, November 3d, 1854. The assemblage of people to see the unusual sight was the largest ever known in El Dorado county. From early morning of that day every thoroughfare leading to Coloma from all parts of the county, far as well as near, were thronged with one continuous line or mass of people on foot, on horseback, in wagons, carts and every conceivable mode of locomotion then in use in California. This procession resembled to a certain extent a sample-carte of nationalities and races, all different shades of skin, from white to black, were represented, and all seemed under the same influence, as though an invisible power directed their steps towards Coloma; and hours
before the execution the streets of that town were nothing else than a dense mass of human beings, while the hillsides were covered with thousands more.

“The crowd was estimated at from six to eight thousand persons. The execution took place at Coloma, on the hill where the cemetery now is located ; Rev. Mr. Taylor officiating, and Drs. Taylor, of Coloma, and [D. L.]Stephenson, of Cold Springs, sworn physicians; David E. Buell, Sheriff, and J. [John] S. Welton, Deputy Sheriff.

“On October 26th, 1855, Crane, the murderer of Miss Newnham, and Micky Free, one of the murderers of Howe, were executed by hanging at Coloma. And again an execution took place at Coloma on January 23d, 1857, and was the last one that occurred amid that community, and concerned the hanging of Andrew Best, for the murder of an Indian squaw, and Elijah Archer for the murder of Mr. Fuller, of Placerville.

“John Robinson, convicted of the murder of Gregoire Aubemet, near Greenwood Valley, on the 4th of March, 1861, in the District Court, was sentenced to be executed on August 2d, but filing a writ of supercedeas [sic] [Supersedeas: a writ containing a command to stay the proceedings at law], his execution was postponed and a new trial granted, which resulted in the same conviction and sentence. His execution took place on July 18th, 1862.

“Jim, and Jim Patterson, Indians, indicted for the murder of Charles Gay, on June 26th, 1861, near Salmon Falls, found guilty of murder in the first degree, and sentenced to suffer the extreme penalty of the law. Their execution took place on November 1st, in the jail yard. Their bodies were permitted to hang twenty minutes, when they were cut down, placed in coffins and delivered to some Indians, who conveyed them to Gold Hill to Captain John, Chief of the tribe, who burnt them in due form.

“C. W. Smith, convicted of the murder and robbery of F. L. Smith on the Carson road, on April 23d, 1862, was sentenced by Judge Myers to be hanged on the 6th of January, 1863, and Juan Belencia, convicted of the murder of a Chinaman near Pleasant Valley, to be hanged on January 16th, 1863.

“No doubt the line of those who had to give up their lives for other lives they had taken, and sacrifice their blood for the blood that had been shed by them, is quite a large one, but as it cannot be the intention of this article to give a full record of all of them, we will conclude with the last criminal who had to suffer the death penalty.

“James K. Page was executed at 8:15 A. M., on August 10th, 1883, in the jail-yard at Placerville, for the murder of an unknown man in New York ravine, near Folsom, May 10th, 1883.”


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