Ceiminal Annals, Part 69 -Troubles in Placerville

Pacific House

The April 28, 1860 edition of the “Mountain Democrat” has an interesting note regarding a meeting of local Placerville citizens “to rid themselves of a certain class of suspicious characters.” The meeting involves people living in the Cedar and Spanish hills areas. It is not known if they were successful.

To orient you to the area, there were two Spanish hills, Big Spanish Hill, where the Eskaton facility is located and Little Spanish Hill next to it. Cedar Hill is more to the south of the Placerville Police station.


“PUBLIC MEETING AT CEDAR HILL. – At a meeting of the citizens of Cedar and Spanish Hills and vicinity, to take measures to rid themselves of a certain class of suspicious characters living in their midst, the following resolutions were adopted:

“Be it Resolved,

“1st – That such conduct as living in concubinage with Digger Indians, we believe to be morally wrong and a disgrace to the community, and it is the sense of this meeting that those who persist in doing so shall seek their abode elsewhere.

“2nd – That this meeting embrace this opportunity to notify all such characters to leave this vicinity previous to the first day of May.

“3rd – That a committee of three by appointed to visit all suspicious persons and furnish them with copies of these resolutions.

“4th – That these resolutions be published in the Mountain Democrat.

“SAMUEL STADDON, Ch’r, W. P. Earl, Sec’y, Cedar Hill, April 25, 1860.”

Previously we have reviewed the famous “Bullion Bend Robbery,” in length. In the July 16, 1864 edition of the Mountain Democrat we find a description of the men who robbed the stage at Bullion Bend and murdered Deputy Sheriff Joseph M. Staples on July 1, 1864. The information was provided by the landlady of the Somerset House, which was in the town of Somerset, near the intersection of Grizzly Flat and Mt. Aukum roads.

“DESCRIPTION OF THE STAGE ROBBERS. – The landlady of the Somerset House gave the following description of the villains who robbed the stages and murdered [Sheriff’s Deputy Joseph M.] Staples, and who have not yet been arrested. They took breakfast at her house on the morning after the robbery, and after they shot Staples they remained some time and she observed them attentively: John Clendening – weight 150 pounds, dark hair, long whiskers, 5 feet 9 inches high, 30 to 33 years of age, from Santa Clara; George Baker – 5 feet 10 inches high, blue eyes, dark hair, upper lip shaved, weight 150 pounds, 28 to 30 years of age, from San Jose; John Creal – 5 feet 5 inches high, heavy set, dark hair, dark eyes, long whiskers, weight 150 pounds, 23 or 24 years old; Ab. Gillespie – 5 feet 9 inches high, light complexion, dark hair, no whiskers, weight 140 pounds, boy, looks rather effeminate; Ralph Henry – 5 feet 10 inches high, dark hair, long whiskers, thinks hair and whiskers colored, weight 145 or 150 pounds, 28 or 30 years of age.”

Note: The names of the people involved in this robbery and murder vary from story to story, as does the spelling of their names. This is not uncommon in these early newspapers since most of the information reached them by word of mouth.

Following this story, in the same edition, is a very colorfully written one about thieves in the City of Placerville.

“THIEVES ABOUT. – Several houses in our city have been entered within the week by fellows of the light-fingered persuasion, who are industriously ‘plying their vocation.’ On Saturday night the Bowman House was entered, the till robbed, and the pockets of several of he boarders lightened of their contents. On Sunday morning a thief walked softly into the sleeping room of the proprietor of the Orleans Hotel, and took from his pocket upwards of fifty dollars in hard cash – the proprietor sleeping soundly during the performance. His wife awoke just as the thief was leaving the room, gave the alarm, but it was too late, the bird had flown. Other houses, private residence, have also been robbed during the week. Our citizens must keep their eyes open and doors locked, if they wish to save themselves from such disagreeable visits. Our Police are vigilant, but their beats are large, and not easily watched.”

The March 17, 1866 edition of the newspaper relates the story of a counterfeiter travelling in El Dorado County and distributing his fake greenbacks wherever he could.

“COUNTERFEITER ARRESTED.– On the 4th instant, a traveler, named David Lindsey, paid to Wm. Pasch, toll keeper at the Pacific House, 20 miles east of this city, a counterfeit $5 greenback. Pasch was shrewd and suspicious, and he at once sent the bill to Under Sheriff [James Bunyan] Hume, stating his suspicions. Hume received it early on Monday morning, discovered that it was a counterfeit, and telegraphed to the officers at Lake Valley, Taylor and [Charles] Watson, to arrest and search the man who had passed it – describing him. Watson arrested him, but permitted him to take his horse to the stable, and while there Lindsey hid in the hay fifteen hundred dollars in counterfeit greenbacks. W. Thurber, keeper of the stable, found it and handed it over to Charley Watson. The counterfeiter was brought to his city, examined before Justice Sherwood, and held to answer in the sum of one thousand dollars. While the friends of Lindsey were procuring bonds, Hume telegraphed to the U.S. District Attorney at San Francisco, stating the facts, and he telegraphed a warrant in the name of the President of the United States, with orders to bring Lindsey forthwith before the U.S. Grand Jury then in session in San Francisco. On Saturday Sheriff Griffith started below with Lindsey, counterfeit bills and witness. The Grand Jury, we learn, found a true bill against him, and subsequently L. pleaded guilty. The Recorder, from which we take the above, says, Lindsey lived a number of years in Placer county, went to the Eastern States about two years ago, and started from New York to California again, on the 11th day of December last. He has about $700 in genuine and $1,570 in spurious greenbacks.”



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