Criminal Annals, Part 93 – News from All Over

In the May 29, 1852 edition of the Sacramento “Daily Union,”there are two articles of interest, the first being the result of what appears to have been a duel between two men in the Stockton area, and the second has news about problems regarding the United States obtaining a right of way across Mexico and “Lynch Law” in the gold mines of Australia.

The “Stockton Journal,” from which the first story is taken, was first published in June of 1850. As a side note, in 1854 a difficulty occurred between the publisher at that time, John Tabor, and Joseph Mansfield, the publisher of the “San Joaquin Republican.” Tabor shot and killed Mansfield, for which he was sentenced to death by hanging. Petitions from all over the state and even Tabor’s home state of Texas, caused Governor Bigler to pardon him in 1855. In spite of their names, both papers appear to have been Democrat in their philosophy.

“From the San Joaquin.

“The Journal of Friday is received, for which we are indebted to Gregory’s Express.

“The affray which we have heretofore noticed as having taken place between Mr. Oscar Livingston and Capt. John Carphin, promises to prove more serious in its results than was at first anticipated. The Journal says, both are dangerously, and it is thought, mortally, wounded. Carphin, at the last accounts, was very low. A ball penetrated about two inches below the right nipple, going through the membrane lining the abdomen, and probably lodging in the intestines. He had also a wound on the head. Dr. Langdon has been unremitting in his attention to the unfortunate man. A ball entered Livingston’s breast, passing along under the muscles and fracturing the arm. The wound is about a foot in length. He is in a dangerous condition. Dr. Ryer has done all for him that surgical science can effect. Capt. Carphin is a native of England, and leaves a wife and three children. Mr. Livingston is from Philadelphia. They came to California in 1849.”



“Late from Mexico. Late from Australia.

“The mail steamship Panama arrived at San Francisco on Thursday night, bringing the mail and 550 passengers, including 70 females and as many children.

“By the Panama we have dates [newspapers] from the city of Mexico to the 8th May, twenty-four days later. Embryo revolutions seem to be occupying the attention of Government to the exclusion of every thing else. Many persons suspected of being engaged in revolutionary plots have been arrested. Congress seems to be doing little more than thwarting the wishes and views of Government.

“The question of granting the United States a right of way across to Tehauntepec is engaging a great deal of public attention, and there is a strong probability that the policy indicated by the late annulment of the Garay grant will be reconsidered and abandoned.

Note: In 1849 P. A. Hargous of New York City purchased the Garay grant, made in 1842 by the Mexican government, to open a transit concession across the Isthmus of Tehauntepec, the shortest distance across Mexico between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Mexico nullified this concession in 1851, but in 1853 A. G. Sloo was given an almost identical grant. Both Hargous and Sloo demanded American protection for their concessions. The Gadsden Purchase Treaty (signed in 1853 and ratified by Congress in 1854), which acquired the land which is now the southern part of Arizona and New Mexico, included a provision allowing the U.S. to transport mail and trade goods across the Isthmus of Tehauntepec via a plank road and railroad. The route was later considered as a location for a canal, but it was determined to be unfeasible.
The article continues: “The Commandant General of the State of Vera Cruz has received orders from the supreme government to proceed with some troops to Goatzacoalcos [Coatzacoalcos, a port on the Isthmus] in order to complete the fortifications there commenced. The moving cause of this measure is the fear of an invasion of the Isthmus by the North American ‘pirates,’ who, under the guise of workmen, are preparing, it is purported, to set out from Louisiana to the number of 500.”

“From New South Wales.

“By late arrivals at San Francisco, we have dates from Australia to the 24th of February. It seems our Colonial neighbors are having a repetition of the terrible scenes of crime and violence through with California has gone. – The San Francisco Herald says:

“The accounts from the mining regions are very cheering, as far as the yield of gold is concerned; but in other respects it is gloomy. The miners are suffering with sore eyes, and a horrible state of society prevailed in some places. Murders and robberies were of frequent occurrence. At Fryais creek, a correspondent says quarrels, dissensions, bloodshed and danger of the direst description reigned supreme.

“ ‘The Government is palsied, whilst the ill-doer runs on a career of unchecked crime and rapine, or at the most is checked by an occasional pistol shot, or similar act of summary justice, responded to by a groan; and the effect manifested next morning by blood stains; when a few observations are bandied about from tent to tent that a man was shot, and no more is heard of the matter. A surgeon is called in to attend a wounded man, no questions are asked, the fee is paid, and if the man die, he is disposed of.’

“The Sydney Morning Herald of the 23d February contains the following:

“ The ‘Reign of Terror,’ commenced at the gold fields of Victoria. To quote the words of the Melbourne Argus, ‘Judge Lynch is baring his red hand among them;’ and the same paper, in illustration of this fearful assertion, states, that the troopers, who on the 12th inst., brought down nine prisoners to Melbourne from Mount Alexander, reported that Lynch Law had begun in terrible earnest. The report was that a digger had killed one of his comrades with a pick, and that despite the military and police, the mob seized the aggressor and hung him at once, over the hole where he had committed the murder.”

Note: In 1851, Edward Hargraves discovered a “grain of gold” in a waterhole near Bathurst, New South Wales, Australia. Hargraves was convinced that the similarity in geological features between Australia and the California goldfields (from where he had just returned empty-handed) boded well for the search of gold in his homeland. He was proved correct.

New South Wales yielded 26.4 tonnes (850,000 ounces) of gold in 1852. This was a mere drop in the ocean compared to the yield from neighboring Victoria when they joined the rush for gold. In 1852 alone, 370,000 immigrants arrived in Australia and the economy of the nation boomed.



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