Criminal Annals

Criminal Annals, Part 123 – From Shasta

Continuing with the September 20, 1852 edition of the Sacramento “Daily Union,” we find under “From the Interior” a number of interesting items.


“ The following items of news are gleaned from the Shasta Courier [1852-1905], of the 18th instant:

“THE TRINITY INDIANS SUING FOR PEACE. – We learn that the Indians on the South Fork of Trinity river, have quit their wild retreats in the mountains, and come into the mining settlements. Some two or three hundred came in and desire to make a treaty, binding themselves to refrain from stealing mules, stock, &c . and to cease shooting white men, and wish to be allowed to hunt, fish and dig roots, &c. in the vicinity. These are the Indians which Capt. Dixon, with about thirty men, chastised so severely some months since, for murdering Anderson and stealing his stock. One sound thrashing, for depredations committed, is worth more, in securing a lasting peace with these savages, than all the beef and blankets that can be given them. Until within the past few days, a commissioner would have been in great danger of losing his scalp, and especially his mule, if he had attempted to hunt them up to treat with them. They are now extremely anxious to treat on the above easy terms. They have, we understand, recently suffered considerably for the want of food, which they are now desiring to be allowed to procure along the streams and valleys unmolested.”

“LATER FROM OREGON. – We have dates from Oregon to the 1st inst. The overland immigrants are coming in rapidly. Julius C. Butham, late of Wisconsin, writes that there are ten thousand persons on the road. He packed through from Fort Hall, and reports a scarcity of provisions and grass, and much suffering, and also loss of stock.

[signed] “Yours, &c. Fenelon.”

“The [Yreka] Courier, in an impressive appeal to the State and National Governments, asks for protection to the citizens of Siskiyou against the depredations and murders of the Indians. It says that ‘fifteen men, immigrants and citizens of California, have been killed’ on the Yreka immigrant trail within a few months; besides many others that are supposed to have been murdered.
“It is hoped that the troops which passed through this place a few days since, will render the citizens of Siskiyou immediate and effective relief.”


“The Calaveras Chronicle comes to us this week unusually freighted with the record of crime and its punishment. A Chinaman, at Willow Bar, after being driven from his claim by the Chileans and restored to it by a decision of the American miners, had his leg broken in the attempt to get out of the way of a huge stone, rolled down a mountain upon him by his revengeful enemy. The broken limb had to be amputated.

“A male named C. Wiggins, was arrested by constable Stevenson, for grand larceny – having sometime previous stolen $500 worth of gold dust from Benjamin Ticknor.

“Jesus Brisano and Antonio Duartes were hung , by the citizens of Ione Valley, for horse stealing, having been arrested with the horses in their possession.

“On Monday, 13th inst., the body of Captain McAlpin was found at Vallecito, stabbed in several places. It appears that on the day previous, Dr. Wilson had whipped a Mexican boy for maltreating some American children, and the parents or friends of the boy were suspected of committing the crime, as Capt. McAlpin bore a striking resemblance to Dr. Wilson, and is supposed to have been mistaken for that gentleman. When found, Capt. McAlpin had his pistol in hand, cocked, with his finger on the trigger.”

The September 21, 1852 edition of the paper has an interesting article regarding a missing husband.


“A woman arrived at the Missouri Hotel yesterday in the Stockton stage, under the following circumstances: She and her husband, whose name is Patrick Venable, arrived in Diamond Springs from over the Plains last week. On Wednesday he sold his team at that place to one of his traveling companions, named Grove, for $380, and made a bargain with him to take himself and his wife to the Cosumnes, were he was going with his stock. They came on down to the Shingle Springs, where Mr. Venable, who is a blacksmith, stopped at the shop to enquire for work, and his wife has never seen him since.

“At the time he stopped, three men of the party were behind the wagon driving the loose stock, and Mrs. Venable supposing her husband to be with them, he was not missed until late in the afternoon, when she began to get uneasy because he didn’t come up. She was, however, reassured by the men that he would soon overtake them, if he had not, after coming out of the shop, taken the wrong road, and gone towards Sacramento. If he had done so, that probably he would not overtake them that night. The night and the next day passed without hearing anything from Mr. Venable, and the now nearly distracted wife, begged of the men to return with her in search of her lost husband, but they declined, and told her that as Mr. Venable, had calculated to go to Sacramento that more than likely he had, upon finding himself on the road to the city, determined to come here and see if he could obtain work.

“After waiting until she could endure the terrible suspense no longer, she started for the city on foot, without money and without friends.

“At a stage stand a few miles from here, some gentlemen made her up a small sum of money, and the proprietor of the line brought her into the city free of charge. Her only hope now is that her husband may have lost his way, and had not, up to the time of her leaving the company, found them. Should this not prove to be the case she fears he has been murdered for the small sum of money he had about him.

“Should he be living she expects to hear from him at the Missouri Hotel. They are from Atchison county, Missouri.

“Mrs. Venable seems almost crushed by the weight of her misfortunes – she having lost two little children by death – all she had – in crossing the Plains, and now her husband has disappeared so mysteriously. She is entitled to the sympathies of the benevolent, and the mystery which surrounds the fate of her husband should be unraveled forthwith, by having steps taken to ascertain whether his is dead or alive.”



Criminal Annals, Part 122 – Calaveras Correspondence

Moving on to the September 20, 1852 edition of the Sacramento “Daily Union,” we find under “Calaveras Correspondence” an altercation between some Chileans and a young American.

“Calaveras Correspondence.

“Jackson, Sept. 18, 1852

“Messrs. Editors: – To-day being the anniversary of Chilean Independence, a large number of that nation congregated in our village, for the purpose of celebrating in a proper manner the birthday of their Republic. Everything went on harmoniously until I about one o’clock, p. m., when a difficulty occurred between one of them and a young American, by the name of Charles Thrall. The Chilean drew a pistol, and the American, being unarmed, was obliged to retreat; but, after procuring a revolver, and being on equal terms with his antagonist, an encounter occurred, which resulted in the Chilean receiving two wounds, one in the face and one in the shoulder, which are dangerous, if not mortal. Thrall was obliged to leave town immediately, hotly pursued by a large number of Chileans, who were in turn followed by all the Americans in our village who could procure horses. He succeeded in making his escape from his pursuers, who would have murdered him had they overtaken him. He is probably now in your city, and I understand is perfectly willing to I abide the result of a legal investigation of the matter. From all that I have learned relative to the matter, Thrall was perfectly justifiable in shooting the Chilean, and had he remained, would have not I only lost his own life in all probability, but there would have been a general fight between American’s and Chileans. As it is, much ill-feeling exists, which may result in something serious.
“I hear that disturbances have again broken out at Campo Seco, and that the Calaveras Guards, with the County Judge, will repair there to-morrow. – Many anticipate bloodshed and the inevitable result of all these excitements will be the ejectment of the Chileans, and perhaps other foreigners, from most of the mines of this county. This of course, will lead to retaliatory measures on their part, murders, robberies, &c, and for sometime to come I doubt not that the journals of California will teem with. accounts of scenes of violence in Calaveras county. We hope for, but scarcely expect, a different result.

“I will keep your readers advised of every event of importance that takes place here.

[signed] “S. N.”

This is followed by notes from several locales, under the usual “From the Interior” heading.



“ From the News we extract the following:

“POSTAL. – Postmaster at this place sent by the steamer of the 16th, for the Atlantic States, the following list of letters : Unpaid 807; paid by stamps 291; paid by money 326. Total 1433. Amounting, in all. to $123 70.

“ It will be seen by this that our Postoffice business has increased one half in the last two months.”

Note: The early newspapers printed monetary amounts with a space between dollars and cents, rather than a period.

Continuing with the article, “GEORGETOWN. – This little mountain village, it will be recollected, but a short time since was entirely consumed by the devouring element, and scarcely has the smoke of the fire ceased to curl above the green lofty pines that surround it, than we see the finest structures of the artisan rearing up, as it were with gigantic speed. Truly, this is a progressive age. But a few days since, nothing but desolation marked the places where now are to be seen many of the finest buildings that adorn this farfamed country. Those countenances that but yesterday spoke of trouble and dismay, are now beaming with joy and gladness.

“The prospects of Georgetown are indeed flattering, and judging from the rapid strides already , made, it will soon vie with any of its sister villages.


“From the weekly Placer Herald [Auburn (1852- 1966); Rocklin (1966- present)] of last Saturday, we extract the following items:

“CELESTIAL LYNCHING. – On Monday last, a Chinaman was caught in the act of robbing a store in this city, which he bad entered through the window. – The proprietor turned him over to his countrymen, who tied him up and whipped him until be was finally rescued by some of our citizens. They seemed exceedingly zealous in punishing the offence, each one taking a hand at the flogging as they had occasion to pass that way.

“MINING NEWS. – We learn that a number of mining companies on the Placer side of the Middle fork are doing extremely well, and some of them making big strikes. The Sub-Marine company, numbering thirteen men, were averaging over $3,000 per day at last accounts and have reached as high as $4,000 in one day. The Macatee company numbers three men and is averaging $3,000 per week.

“This reminds one of the good old days of ’49 in real earnest. We are expecting every day to receive a few specimens.

“HEARTBREAKING CALAMITY. – At Volcano Bar, on the 6th inst., as Mr. Urial Logsden was passing from the residence of Mr. McKay, where he, with his wife and three small children were stopping, a log rolled down the mountains from above, some quarter of a mile, struck one hundred and fifty feet above the house, bounded over the same, and struck directly across Mr Logsden, crushing him in the most shocking manner, scarcely leaving him in the human shape.

“Mr. L. had but a few days fore arrived over the plains with his family; his wife now being in a delicate situation, and not even the wherewith to provide food for her children, the youngest of which is not yet two years old.

“At a meeting of the miners upon the bar, a committee was appointed for the purpose of raising means to provide for the widow and orphans, and send them home to their friends in the States, as soon as the situation of Mrs. Logsden will permit.”



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.”



Criminal Annals, Part 120 – Recorders Court

Continuing with the September 17, 1852 edition of the Sacramento “Daily Union,” there is a column devoted to the actions of the Recorder’s Court in Sacramento.

The Recorder’s Court, which is equivalent to our former Justice courts, handled minor and major crimes, passing the latter on to the Superior court if warranted. The County Recorder sat as the judge and the results of the hearings were often published.

“ Recorder’s Court. – Before Judge [ W. H.]McGrew.

“WEDNESDAY, Sept. 15th.

Fighting — Two interesting youths, the one a Chileno, rejoicing in the name of Jose, and the other an Indian, calling himself Antonio, were arrested and brought up for committing a breach of the peace, by quarreling and fighting, somewhere on I street. Both entered a plea of not guilty. Upon trial, it was shown that Jose was not only the assailing party in the fight, but was also very drunk at the time. Antonio only defended himself against the attack of the other, and was therefore discharged. Jose, was found guilty, and sentenced to ten days’ imprisonment in the county jail.”

“ Ramon Alamos, who had already become an ornament of the chain gang, a few days since, for stealing a saddle from Marshall & Stanley, and who, during his short service in that institution, had proved himself an able and efficient acquisition, was disrobed of his chains, and brought before His Honor to stand his trial upon a charge of stealing a pistol from T. J. Barnes, at the Crescent City Hotel, worth the sum of $30. The testimony and accompanying circumstance clearly established his guilt, and such was the judgment of the Court. A further term of six months was therefore added to his already pleasant condition.”

“Assault and Battery – Andrew Gordon whipped John Louis (both darkeys) for ticklin’ a pet squirrel belonging to the wife of the former. The Recorder regarded the provocation insufficient to justify the assault, etc., and therefore found defendant guilty, and rendered judgment against him for $415 , which he failed to pay and, in default, was sent to the Prison Brig for the term of ten days.”

“Grand Larceny – John Brown – arrested on the complaint of Henry Burt, charging him with stealing $775 – was discharged, the prosecution failing to appear at the time appointed for examination.

“Sept 16.

“Drunk and Disorderly – Benjamin Tidies, John J. Cozad and Daniel Watton were each fined $5 and costs for getting tight and disturbing the peace. Fines paid.”

“Assault and Battery – Robert Crayton dunned Lewis Smith for money, whereupon a quarrel ensued, which resulted in a fight, a bruised lip, and the ‘cleaning out’ of a member of the ‘numerous family.’ His Honor thought that Crayton was right, and hence his acquittal.”

And now some odds and ends from the San Francisco “Alta California.”

“GLEANINGS FROM LATE PAPERS. – The following items are from the Alta California:

“We learn that a severe fire has been raging in the neighborhood of Martinez, and that much property has been destroyed. There was at least $3000 worth of barley burned. The house, furniture, farming implements, &c., of Mr. Turner, a poor man, were destroyed. The fire is supposed to have originated about eight miles from Martinez, and has, swept everything in its way.”

“ A monstrous elk was killed a few days since near Port Orford [Oregon], which weighed as follows: carcass, 674 pounds; tallow, 95 pounds: hide, five pounds. His horns were five feet and seven inches in length, and there were six antlers on each horn, the longest of which measured one foot and eleven inches, and the shortest one foot and two inches. The meat was sold at the Port Orford market for twenty cents per pound.”

Note: A standing bull elk averages 710 pounds, however, Roosevelt elk that have been reintroduced into Alaska have reached 1300 pounds. The largest antlers are about four feet in length.

This is followed by another discussion about the actions of Mr. Bodley and the Relief Train.

“THE BODLEY SWINDLE AGAIN. – We are pleased to perceive that the entire press of the State, with the exception of the violent partisan papers which consider themselves bound to abide by the action of their leaders, unite in condemning the course of the parties who have been engaged in extorting monies from the suffering immigrant, and speculating upon the funds of the State. The last number of the San Francisco Herald thus vents its virtuous indignation upon the miserable beings who have been guilty of these damnable outrages:

“‘We call special attention to the developments contained in another column, of the infamous proceedings of certain appointees of [Governor] John Bigler, in charge of the Relief Train. Such heartless, cruel impositions upon the faint and weary emigrants as are here related, are sufficient to excite the indignation of the Governor’s most devoted toady. The entire community will cry aloud, with one voice, against the infamous creatures who have thus dared to pervert their considerate charity for the suffering and exhausted into the means of oppression and extortion. Let the accused be arrested and tried, and if they are found guilty, let the severest punishment fall upon them. If the repeated tales that are told of their proceedings are false, it is due to them that it be known, and our State relieved of the stigma of making charity the cloak for swindling.’”