Criminal Annals, Part 84 – Execution of a Murderer

Letter Sent by Gregory’s Expresss

In the April 26, 1852 edition of the “Daily Union” there is a story about a murder and hanging at Monroeville, Colusa county.


“We are indebted to Mr. Hanford, Gregory’s Express messenger, for the following:

“A man name Bowman, who was tried and sentenced to death for murdering another by name of Levi Sigler, was hung on Saturday the 23d, at Monroeville, Colusa county. He appeared cool and collected , and walked to the scaffold as if he were going on every day business, and there requested a person present to speak for him, which was done. The rope was then cut, and afer hanging half an hour the body of the unfortunate man was taken down an soon after interred. Bowman has a father residing in Oregon.”

Note: Monroeville was an early California town on the west bank of the Sacramento River. It was once the county seat for Colusa County, but is now part of Glenn County. In the restored cemetery is the grave of William B. Ide, the only Commander/President of the Republic of California, which only lasted 25 days (June 14-July 9, 1846), but gave us our flag.

In the following edition of the newspaper, dated April 27, 1852, there is an editorial regarding the Chinese immigrants, which the editor calls

“Cooleys,” questioning why they are in California and why they shouldn’t be required to pay a special tax.


“ It seems that this question is beginning to demand a prominent consideration. What at first appearance rather novel and interesting in respect to Chinese immigrants, is now becoming an alarming evil. As long as our people labored under the impression that the Celestials who were congregated in California were voluntary adventurers in our midst, like themselves attracted here to acquire wealth by honest industry, and like themselves free from all obligations to return unless by choice, thus long were they disposed to extend every facility to Chinamen in the common pursuit of wealth. But now the people have become acquainted with the fact that these subjects of Asiatic birth and manners are nothing more than the mere tools of unprincipled and cormorant speculators, not as Americans may become the hired subjects of speculation, without incurring any special peril in the contingency of violating their contracts, but like the impoverished subjects of benighted Asia, leaving as pledges of fidelity their nearest relatives in the hand of those too, who have the right to sacrifice them in the event of a breach of contract.

“Heretofore our people have regarded them with special interest, believing that by their incidental intercourse with Americans, their observations of our manners and customs, their adoption of our costumes and acquirement of our language, would led to such a diffusion of knowledge and such a promotion of social and political enlightment, as would abundantly pay the votaries of progress and improvement for their forbearance and kindness. But it is now pretty well understood that the manner in which these people immigrate into our State is such as to preclude almost entirely their being benefitted by the associations or Republican freedom. Hence Americans, born and reared under the banner of the great Republic, seeking subsistence from those resources of country to which they have a natural and inalienable right, are justly dissatisfied to see their substance torn from them by such powers of speculation.

“Instead of benefitting the Chinamen by their forbearance, they are but throwing into the hands of foreign speculators the elements of princely wealth, as a sort of requitement for their use of Cooleys as serfs and slaves in the California gold mines. Not only this. There is now no doubt about the perfect inundation of our State with this kind of population, unless some step be taken to discourage and reduce it.

“But the question occurs as to what shall be done ? In our opinion, the policy of the State is to levy a tax upon them in such a way as to make them a source of support to our State, and less a resource of wealth to those who are using them for purposes of speculation. there is no reason why Californians should be burdened with onerous taxation especially where it is so appropriated as to afford exemption and protection to parties who are reaping the immense benefit of Chinese laborers.

“If Chinamen came here under circumstances that made it probable that they would become identified with our country, our habits and language, then it would be a different question. Then it would be anti-American to discourage them by any system of license or by any terms of proscription.”

On the same page is a letter to the editor that has a different view of the Chinese situation.


“We are indebted to a friend for a copy of the letter just received by him from the mining districts:

“Sacramento, April 26, 1852.

“Messrs. Editors: I have received a letter from a friend in the mines, of which the following is an extract:

“We are going to have dreadful times in the diggings. Meetings are to be called, and speakers chosen to be sent all over the mines, to address the miners on the Cooley bill, and take measures to drive the Chinese out. The miners are wrothy [archaic: full of anger], and down on those who voted for the bill. You must try and send me the names of those who voted for that execrable measure – a disgrace to every American.

“Yours, J. W.”

The next edition, April 28, 1852 has an article involving Indian problems in Weaverville, Trinity county.

“KILLED BY THE INDIANS. – A few days ago, John Anderson, last of Jefferson City, Mo., was most inhumanly murdered by the Indians near Weaverville, Trinity county. He rode out a short distance from camp, and upon his horse coming in without him, his companions went in search of him. His body was soon found, with fourteen arrows in it; his scull [sic] was broken and his throat cut. Our informant also states that the Indians in that section of country are more hostile than ever, committing innumerable depredations. A company from Weaverville has gone out in pursuit of the murderers of Anderson.”



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