Criminal Annals, Part 104 – Indian Issues

The August 17, 1852 edition of the Sacramento “Daily Union,” has a very short article from Marysville regarding Indian problems. This is followed, in the next edition, with a larger article from Marysville on the arrest of an Indian warrior.

“From the Express [Marysville “California Express” 1851- 1866] of Monday, delivered by Wells, Fargo &Co.’s express messenger, we extract the following item:

“MORE INDIAN MURDERS. – We learn that towards the latter part of last week, a company of four Chinese, working near the Honcut [a former Maidu settlement in Yuba County, located near the mouth of Honcut Creek], were attacked by a party of twenty Indians, and three of them killed. The other escaped badly wounded, and gave the alarm, when a company fitted out immediately and started in pursuit.”

“ARREST OF AN INDIAN WARRIOR. – A correspondent of the Marysville Herald [1850-1858], writing from Foster’s Bar [on the North Fork of the Yuba River], gives the following account of the arrest of an Indian murderer.

“Quite an excitement prevailed among the peaceable citizens of this place to-day, which will probably end in the death of an Indian. The circumstances I will detail. An Indian well known at the Bar, calling himself Lancisco, was passing this place to-day, in company with some twenty or thirty other Indians, male and female, on their way to Oak Valley, where, it is said, a fandango is to be held this or to-morrow evening. He was recognized by some of the citizens of this Bar as being the celebrated Indian who committed several murders in the neighborhood of Forbestown last winter, and of whom one of the Indians hung at that place confessed to be the worst Indian in the country. As soon as recognized he was stopped, but on being informed that a strong disposition was felt by the people to hang him, he vamosed and made tracks across the river towards Oak Valley. Right after he left, evidence pretty conclusively showing he was the man who had thus far evaded punishment for his crimes, was given, and several persons dispatched after him to arrest him. One of the men that went in pursuit of him, fired a pistol to frighten him. This only caused him to run the faster, when another shot was fired, which took effect in his hip, penetrating through the lower part of the rectum, causing a dangerous, and, as the physicians say, a mortal wound. He was shot immediately back of this place, and is now in durance vile [imprisonment – (archaic)]. What his fate will be is not yet determined. Strong fears are entertained that, if his wounds do not cause his death in the next twenty-four hours, he will be hung. The crimes alleged against him are enormous. It is said that the Indian hung at Forbestown confessed that Lancisco killed, with his own hands, more than twenty-one white persons.”

The edition of August 18, 1852 has some interesting correspondence from the Stockton area. The first subject is the arrival of a famous singer in Stockton. The second is regarding two gentlemen shooting at each other in the street. The subject of the third is bear problems, and the fourth, a bit of bragging.



“Gregory [Express] has places us under obligations for the first delivery of our Stockton exchanges.

“Signora Biscaccianti has arrived at Stockton, and was to have given her first concert, at the Methodist Church, last evening.”
Note: With a land full of men and gold, it was only a short time before famous entertainers made the long trip to California.
Signora Biscaccianti, who was born Eliza Ostinelli to a famous Boston musical family in 1825, at the age of eighteen left America to cultivate her voice in Italy. In 1847, Miss Ostinelli, who by this time had changed her name for that of Biscaccianti, a distinguished family of Milan, returned to America. After a concert tour in Europe she came to California, giving concerts in the principal cities. She was the first great singer to visit California.
The article continues: “We clip the following items from the Journal [Stockton “Journal” 1850-1852]:

“The town of Mariposa was this morning (Aug. 15) the scene of the most desperate affray, which resulted in the death of Alonzo Edwards, Esq., Clerk of Tulare county.

“It appears that some difficulty existed between the deceased and Robert Collins, Esq., of Mariposa, growing out of the interference of the latter in the domestic affairs of the former. Consequently, on his arrival from Tulare, Edwards immediately attacked Collins, and fired two shots at him, from a revolver, neither of which took effect. Collins being unarmed at the time, ran into his room, and came out with a double barreled gun, loaded with buck shot, upon which Edwards ran up the street, and Collins pursued him some distance, when he fired, and Edwards fell, and expired almost immediately – one shot taking effect in the back of his neck.

“This is one of those cases wherein blame attaches to all the parties, and in which the law is seldom vindicated.

“The correspondent of the Journal at Stanislaus River, under date of 4th August, says: ‘We noticed in your paper, a short time since, an account of ravages which a member of the bruin family had been committing in this neighborhood. A few nights since Mr. Henry Grissim, of Oak Grove Ranch, who had been watching his re-appearance, saw him in the immediate vicinity of his hog-pen, and, firing at him, had the good fortune to mortally wound him, with a single shot. Great credit is due to Mr. Grissim for his perseverance and intrepidity in ridding the neighborhood of this truly formidable animal. He measured eight feet ten inches in length, and six feet nine inches in circumference; and, although extremely poor, would fully weigh 900 pounds.

Note: Before dying out in California, the California grizzly bear (Ursus californicus) was the largest and most powerful of carnivores that thrived in the great valleys and low mountains of the state, probably in greater numbers than anywhere else in the United States. As humans began to populate California, the grizzly stood its ground, refusing to retreat in the face of advancing civilization. It killed livestock and interfered with settlers. Less than 75 years after the discovery of gold, every grizzly bear in California had been tracked down and killed. The last one was killed in Tulare County in August 1922.
Black bears (Ursus americanus), the common bear in California, do not naturally reach this size or weight.

he article continues: “Mr. G. has also in his possession an egg, laid by one of his hens, measuring 7 1/4 inches by 6 1/8. Lest you should deem this rather a stretcher, we will deposit it in your sanctum, when next we come to town. Who can beat this?”



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