Criminal Annals, Part 119 – Much Ado About Nothing

The September 17, 1852 edition of the Sacramento “Daily Union” opens up with an article called “Much Ado About Nothing,” covering a series of subjects including the arrival of milk cows, the newly formed Sacramento Valley Railroad and sad news about the familiar Mr. Thomas Collins.


“VALUABLE IMPORTATION. On yesterday afternoon, a drove of two hundred and fifty cows from the other side of the plains, made their appearance in this city. They were the property of the late Mr. Michael Smith, of Missouri, who, however, died on the Platte river, when they were taken in charge by another member of the train, who is to deliver them to relatives of the deceased residing on a ranch in Napa valley. This valuable stock of animals are generally in good order. Some of them were obliged to do the work of their male fellows [oxen] on the plains, the latter having become completely exhausted. Although they left the Missouri river on the 1st May, but twenty of them are among the dead and missing.

“A few more such importations as the above will reduce the price of milk and butter to the same level with other table luxuries.”

“SACRAMENTO VALLEY RAILROAD. – The books of the Sacramento Valley Railroad Company were to have been opened in San Francisco on Wednesday, at the Merchant’s Exchange. Upward of two hundred thousand dollars of the necessary amount of stock has been subscribed, and we have sanguine hopes that the citizens of the commercial metropolis will speedily complete the sum requisite for commencing the work. The importance of the immediate construction of this line, is apparent to all who are in any degree familiar with the immense amount of trade which must necessarily concentrate at this point, if a railroad but pierces the heart of the mining country of the north.”

“DEAD. – Thomas Collins, the person shot in affray of Sunday evening, died last night at 9 o’clock.”

In a letter from San Francisco, the subject of the Relief Train comes up again.


“The Relief Train Swindle.

“San Francisco, Sept. 15, 1852.

“The ‘Charity firm of Bodley & Co.,’ is producing its meed [(archaic) a fitting reward] of excitement and indignation, as well here as in the mines, and the whole concern heartily condemned as a disgrace to the State, and by none more so than the upright and honorable men of the party under whose auspices the emigrant relief train was put in operation. It is too bad that a whole party is obliged to bear the odium cast upon it by the actions of anyone of its members, as in this case of Bodley and the Democratic party. It is to he hoped that something more than a mere discharge from his position will awarded to him. He should be branded and passed through the community as the most splendid specimen of a counterfeit upon the name of man on record.”

Following this letter is more correspondence, this time from Sierra county.

“Sierra County Correspondence.

“Cowhiding by a Lady – Rows – Mining Intelligence, &c.

“Downieville, Sept. 13th, 1852.

“Messrs. Editors: A most singular occurrence as ever agitated a community, took place this morning. A certain lady in this town actually undertook to cowhide [flog, usually with a cowhide whip] a certain gentleman. Monstrous proceeding! Yes, the tranquility of our mountain town was aroused from its torpor by one of the feminine gender entering a barber’s shop, and inflicting summary chastisement upon an unfortunate individual undergoing the process of shaving, taking advantage of his impotent situation. A well directed blow across the face, proved rather an unwelcome salute; indeed, the attacked could not reconcile it with any established rules of etiquette extant, and, as the wisest course, entreated a cessation of hostilities; but, alas! words were useless, and he was compelled to beat an inglorious retreat.
“Shortly after this, great excitement was created by a fight, not an uncommon spectacle here, as nearly every day witnesses stabs, bitten ears, &c. Two of the parties were run out of town, and afterwards pursued as far as Goodyear’s Bar. They, however, eluded the vigilance of their pursuers, and made. their escape.

“The ‘Sailor Boys,’ last week, took out 180 oz. – one piece weighing seven pounds. Mining around here seems to be improving; failures are seldom in vein or tunnel claims. Immigrants are daily arriving, and invariably find profitable employment. The winter diggings are most extensive.”

This is followed by an article copied from a San Francisco newspaper, the “San Francisco Journal,” a Whig paper published from 1852-1856. The story is about the problems that recently occurred in the San Francisco area called Pleasant Valley.

“EXAMINATION FOR MURDER. – Josse Forni was arraigned for preliminary examination before the Recorder, at 1 o’clock, Wednesday last, for the murder of Jose Atari, day before yesterday, in Pleasant Valley. Bentura Sago, a former partner of the murdered man, was called to the witnesses stand, and was undergoing an examination at the time we went to press. He testified to the amount and description of the money found on the body of the deceased, alleging that he had paid it to him.

“The prisoner looked exceedingly pale and was evidently much agitated. It is said that he endeavored last night to persuade a Mexican boy, who was permitted to visit him, to procure some poison for him that he might destroy himself. The knife with which the horrid butchery was perpetrated, is a slender Bowie knife with a blade least a foot in length, which is covered with the blood of the deceased, almost to the hilt. A large crowd was present at the examination.– S. F. Journal.”



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