Criminal Annals, Part 121 – Calaveras Correspondence

Moving on to the September 18, 1852 edition of the Sacramento “Daily Union,” we find under “Calaveras Correspondence “ the lynching of two horse thieves. Following that is a report of a huge piece of gold found in northern El Dorado county.

“Calaveras Correspondence.

“Lynching in the Mines – Two Mexican Horse thieves Hung at Ione Valley.

“Jackson, September 15, 1852

“Messrs. Editors: – In my communication of the l4th, I mentioned that two Mexican horse thieves had been arrested and brought into this town, and that there was a probability of a ‘change of venue’ being had, which would transfer them to the tender mercies of Judge Lynch. Such has been the case. On Tuesday night the prisoners underwent an examination before Justice Dunham, and were committed for trial. Yesterday morning as the officer having them in charge was about to remove them to Mokelumne Hill, a party from Ione Valley rescued the culprits from his custody, and hurried them to that place, where they were summarily executed last evening. There was no doubt, about their guilt, as the stolen horses were found in their possession, and they confessed the whole. The horses were stolen in Ione Valley, and the farmers in that vicinity have suffered so severely recently in the loss of stock, that they are certainly to some extent, excusable in making an example of these two miscreants. The names of the Mexicans were Antonio Duarte, and Jesus Brisano. They were each between twenty and thirty years of age.

“Jackson and its vicinity are perhaps somewhat notorious in the. annals of California, for the prompt manner in which the decrees of Judge Lynch have been carried into effect; but this is, I believe, the first execution that has ever taken place for any other crime than that of deliberate murder.”

“A VALUABLE SPECIMEN – THE GREATEST DAY’S WORK OF THE SEASON. – Mr. Wescott, of El Dorado county, exhibited to us yesterday a splendid specimen found on Thursday at Spanish Dry Diggings, about a mile from Spanish Bar, on the Middle Fork of the American. It weighs 85 3/8 ounces, and is so nearly pure gold as to be worth the highest market price. Mr. John Bonser was the lucky finder. It was taken out within six inches of the surface, and where it was not more than eighteen inches to the bed rock. These diggings are famous for producing such, lumps, several large ones having been taken but in 1850 by the Spaniards who first discovered them. This specimen can be seen this morning at the office of Messrs. Read & Co., corner Third and J streets [Sacramento].

“Mr. Wescott, also informs us that these companies which have succeeded in getting into the river, are generally doing well in that section, some of them exceedingly well. The Empire Company, working just above Spanish Bar, took out with ten men and three rockers on Thursday last, what was estimated by all present, at from nine to ten thousand dollars! It had not been weighed when Mr. W. left. It is the greatest yield for one day which has been reported this season.”

Under the familiar “From the Interior” heading is found information from both Nevada and Santa Clara counties. The Nevada story is about what happens when ladies show up in a Gold Rush town, while the Santa Clara story discusses a horse stealing and the shooting of a known villain.


“Nevada [county and city].

“The Journal [Nevada City (1851- ?]of Friday was handed us by Adams & Co., and Wells, Fargo & Co.

“ A Hook and Ladder Company being organized in Nevada.

“Col. Phil. Edwards, was to have addressed the Whigs of Nevada last evening.

“The following additional items are from the Journal:

“MARKS OF IMPROVEMENTS are visible in every part of our city. Old buildings are being re-made, and new ones erected. The music of the hammer and saw are heard in all directions. The arrival of ladies in our midst has contributed greatly to this result. Society with us is improving vastly, and before another year, our city will have all the sober characteristics of ‘home.’

“Main street is now graced and benefitted by an excellent well and pump, capable of supplying the whole street with water.
“On Broad street, water has been brought in lead pipes, by Mr. John Williams, from Gold Run, a distance of a mile and a half, and will be ready for use in a few days.

“The sweepings and ash from the ruins of Adams & Co.’s building were washed out in a tom [long tom sluice box] one day last week, and it was calculated that about $300 worth of dust was mixed with the old nails, sand, etc., that remained after tomming.”

“Santa Clara.

“The Register [Santa Clara Register (1852-1853)]of Thursday, is upon our table, from which we extract the following:

“The Whig County Convention meets at San Jose, on the 18th inst.

“ HORSE STEALING. – On Thursday last, the citizens in the neighborhood of Gilroy’s, observed Dolores Pico loitering about that vicinity under suspicious circumstances, and towards evening he was arrested and taken before A. Worthen, Esq., the Justice of the Peace. After a full examination he was discharged, nothing having been elicited to detain him. Immediately thereafter, Pico was taken in hand by a spontaneous Vigilance committee, and various stringent methods adopted, with a view to make him confess – such as suspension manifestations and raw hide exercise; he stood all these, however, protesting his innocence. After the third very long and dangerous suspension, he said if the people would go to a certain spot near by a dense thicket, they would find a horse, saddle and bridle; search was accordingly made, and sure enough a fine American horse was found, which proved to be the property of Bruna Bernal, of this county. Pico was then placed under guard, and when our informant left, yesterday morning, he was still detained to undergo another examination, and will be surrendered to the civil authorities. The horse was stolen by him from Bernal a few days since. Dolores Pico is a wild dissolute son of a highly respectable family of this town. It is supposed that a gang of horse thieves are now in the vicinity of Gilroy’s.”

“A VILLAIN SHOT. – We learn that Claud Felix, for a long time known to be at the head of a gang of desperate thieves, was shot dead by a Californian, a few days since, at a fandango near the Mission of San Jose. This fellow broke jail from this city a few months since. He was charged with murder at the time he escaped.”



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