Criminal Annals, Part 94 – Excitement in El Dorado County.

Jumping ahead a couple of months to the July 28, 1852 edition of the Sacramento “Daily Union,” we find an interesting article taken from the “El Dorado News,” regarding “Excitement in El Dorado County.”

“EXCITEMENT IN EL DORADO COUNTY – DASTARDLY OUTRAGE – ARRESTS, &c. – We are indebted to Mr. [Thomas A.] Springer, of the El Dorado News, for the following intelligence: – – – On Thursday last an ox was stolen from ‘Jimmie’s Ranch’ and tracked to a Mexican camp on Indian Creek, where a part of the animal was found hanging in the house of two Mexicans. By this time they, the Mexicans, had decamped but the party in pursuit took four or five of the most respectable Mexicans in the camp, men of good character, who had resided there for two years, and detained them as prisoners. They protested their innocence and demanded their release, and also informed the ranch party at which the beef was found, that they were innocent, still they refused to release them. In the mean time the sheriff of the county, Mr. Buchan, came for the purpose of taking the five men into custody, but when he arrived on the ground a large number of persons had assembled, who refused to deliver up the Mexicans, and abused and insulted the sheriff. They moreover informed him that if he did not leave in fifteen minutes, his person would not be respected. The sheriff then left, being unprepared to parley with the crowd. Immediately afterwards the party whipped two of the Mexicans and then turned them loose. Mr. Buchan came immediately on to this place [Coloma] and Diamond Springs, and raised a posse of about one hundred men, and left soon after for the scene of disturbance, for the purpose of arresting some of he ringleaders of the ranch party. A portion of the sheriff’s party returned here this evening about 10 o’clock, having arrested two or three of them. A portion of the posse, headed by the sheriff, are still in pursuit of the others.”

The following edition of the newspaper, July 29, 1852, has a followup story with a different view of things, in the form of a letter from a local citizen.

“El Dorado County Correspondence.

“Discharge of the Sheriff’s Prisoners – Mexican Insolency – Chinese – Whig Nominations, &c.

“Diamond Springs, July 27th.

“To the account sent you yesterday of our late Sheriff excitement, I add the subjoined particulars.

“The two men brought here were discharged, the prosecutor being unable to find any statutory provision which met the case. In fact, the Sheriff failed to show that they had violated the statute in such manner as to authorize the Justice to bind them over, notwithstanding he was very desirous to sustain the Sheriff and vindicate the law.

“It turned out that the Sheriff went into the crowd where they had the five Mexican in custody, and were preparing to give them a trial under the miner’s code, and required those who had them in charge to surrender them to him, as Sheriff of the county. But, as several attempts had been made by the Mexicans in the neighborhood to rescue the prisoners, under the lead of some American hombres who considered themselves favorites with the Mexican women around the camp, and the Sheriff coming up in company with one of them, induced the crowd to doubt his being in reality the Sheriff of the county – he being a stranger – and caused them to treat him with the disrespect they did. They asked to see his authority, but he did not produce any. He really had no proof, and appeared among them merely as a peace officer, made no attempt to serve process – had none – and consequently no charge against the defendants of having resisted process could be sustained under the statute.

“The posse, of some 200 men in all, were summoned to assist the Sheriff to execute process, which, it was alleged had been resisted, when, at the same time, he had no process against either of the offenders; and those brought were arrested with no warrant, except the naked order of the Sheriff.

“It has turned out a rather bunglingly done up affair throughout and caused no small degree of trouble and expense, with no return, except to prove that when called upon to sustain the officers of the county in the discharge of their duties, our citizens are ready and willing instantly to answer. It is vitally important that the law and its officers be sustained in all instances; but, at the same time, it is equally important that those officers take care always to have the law on their side.

“In the section where these difficulties occurred, the Mexicans are reported to be troublesome, dangerous and disagreeable neighbors. They will exercise their thieving propensities, and in this case had stolen a fine ox, killed and were eating it when discovered. Those whipped, were tried by a jury of twelve men and sentenced to be punished upon the testimony and their own admissions. At the very time the Sheriff was present, a party of armed Mexicans made their appearance, and exchanged several shots with a party who went out to meet them – the Mexicans firing first.

“Such collisions are much to be regretted, as they tend to engender a state of feeling among the miners which will e likely to end in the expulsion of foreigners from the mines.

“The Chinese are flocking into the mines daily, but if rices does not fall soon, it is feared a famine will prevail among them.

“We are looking eargerly [sic] for the news of the doings of the Whig Convention, expected now by every stage. Some of the late Locofoco nominations at Benicia, are not so acceptable here among the party as they might have been. The Whigs are hopeful and confident.
[signed] L. C.



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