PLACERVILLE, CALIFORNIA

Opinion

Criminal Annals, Part 102: Emigrants and steamboat wrecks

By October 8, 2010

AN 1852 advertisement regarding the steamboats on the Sacramento river. Courtesy graphic

AN 1852 advertisement regarding the steamboats on the Sacramento river. Courtesy graphic

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The Aug. 16, 1852, edition of the Sacramento “Daily Union” has stories about both El Dorado and Calaveras counties, under their regular heading of “From the Interior.”

“FROM THE INTERIOR.
“El Dorado.
“The El Dorado News says that James R. Pile, formerly of Placerville, has purchased a press, and designs establishing a Democratic paper at Coloma.”
Note: James R. Pile was one of several people who established the “Miners’ Advocate” newspaper in Coloma on Sept. 25, 1852. It moved to Diamond Springs in October of 1853. Another of its founders was Daniel Webster Gelwicks, who, along with William A. January, would establish the “Mountain Democrat” in Placerville on Feb. 25, 1854.
The story continues:
“CARSON VALLEY. – Gen. Estill and Col. Wilkes arrived here on Thursday last from Carson Valley in excellent health, where they have been superintending the distribution of the relief fund. They report a large number of emigrants having arrived at the valley, generally in good health.
“The accounts we have from the emigration farther back, are not so favorable, and some of which are indeed deplorable.
“We stated last week that the cholera had made its appearance at Ash Hollow. The news we now have, confirm that statement. A gentleman just arrived from the plains, states that he saw forty persons burried [sic] in one grave at that place. Another person, also just arrived, states that he counted about 100 [copy damaged, could be 1,000] new graves on the Platt [Platte] river. We hope, however, that these accounts are greatly exaggerated.”
Note: Ash Hollow was a major campsite along the Overland Trail because it had good water, grass and wood. It is now part of the 1,000-plus acre Ash Hollow State Historic Park near Lewellen, Neb. Ruts made by the wheels of the wagons, sliding down the 25 degree slope of Windlass Hill, are still evident at this location.
The story continues:
“SOUTH FORK CANAL. – This work is now entirely graded, and all that is wanting to secure its speedy completion, is the lumber, which will be furnished as soon as the saw mills, that are being constructed, get fairly under way.
“Calaveras.
“The Chronicle was handed us yesterday by Adams & Co.’s messenger.
“We condense the news as follows:
“ROBBERY. – A robbery of $867 was committed on Thursday night last, at Sutter’s creek, from the house of Thomas H. Rioton. The robbers, among whom was a Mexican woman, are named Maria Ramos, Thomaso, Angeles and another Mexican, rejoicing in the sobriquet of John Doe. They came to the Hill [shortened name for Mokelumne Hill] on Friday morning, and hired horses to go to Butte City, as they stated. They were, however, observed to take a different direction. Mr. Rioton chased them to the Hill and got out a warrant for their arrest, which was given into the hands of an officer, who pursued and overtook them at Kelsoe’s ranch, on the Stockton road. When they were pursued they threw away the gold dust, amounting to some thirty-one ounces, which was afterwards recovered. The were brought back to the Hill, and retained for trial.
“OVERLAND IMMIGRATION. – On Monday last, a company of immigrants consisting of twenty-three persons, arrived at Jackson, via the Volcano route. The brought with them twenty-three head of cattle and two horses, and made the journey in 103 days from Independence [Missouri]. They lost three of their party at Goose creek, near the Humboldt.
“CONVICTED. – On Tuesday last, James Clark, found guilty of an assault upon the person of Wm. Frazier, with intent to kill, on the 21st of December last, was sentenced by the Court of Sessions to five years imprisonment in the State Prison. The sentence was accompanied with serious and good advice from his honor Judge Campbell.
Note: The Court of Sessions system was introduced in each county of California shortly after the attainment of statehood in 1850. The Court of Sessions was largely a provisional device for governing California counties prior to the first election of boards of supervisors. Thus its powers extended beyond the purely judicial, and included executive and legislative functions. It was presided over by an elected county judge and two appointed associated judges. The Court of Sessions in each county was disbanded upon the election of a board of supervisors.
The column ends with this interesting bit:
“TURNIPS. – Mr. John Edwards, of Ione Valley, has sent us a mammoth turnip, weighing twelve and a half pounds. This is the largest we have ever seen of this species of vegetable. It is entirely sound, and was raised on Mr. E.’s ranch at the valley.”
The following story, which is also in the Aug. 16, 1852, edition of the paper, relates a far too common story of a person heading back to his home in the East and being robbed.
“DARING ROBBERY. – On Thursday last Mr. O. H. Young, a carpenter of this city, and one of the firm of Young & Drew, left for San Francisco for his home in the east. After paying for his passage ticket, he had remaining the sum of $2200 in two bags, which he thoughtlessly placed in his coat pockets. On Saturday morning he took from one bag a fifty-dollar gold piece for the purpose of defraying his expenses across the Isthmus [of Panama], and immediately afterward had it changed. In a very short time he missed both bags, some dexterous pick-pocket having abstracted them, probably, which he was getting his ‘slug’ [common name for a $50 gold piece] changed. No traces, however, of the thief or money have yet been obtained. Mr. Young, notwithstanding his loss, intended sailing in the Panama which was to have left on Sunday morning.”
This is followed by a short article regarding the piloting, or lack of same, of steamboats along the route between Sacramento and San Francisco.
“ACCIDENT. – On Saturday evening, while the ‘Antelope’ was lying below the wharf at Benicia, waiting for the ‘Confidence’ to push out into the stream, the ‘Urilda’ came puffing and blowing up the straits, and by some unexplained manoeuver or gross carelessness, managed to run into the stern of the Antelope, carrying away the railing, seats, etc., but doing little damage. The Urilda was also somewhat injured.”
(To be continued.)

The Aug. 16, 1852, edition of the Sacramento “Daily Union” has stories about both El Dorado and Calaveras counties, under their regular heading of “From the Interior.”
“FROM THE INTERIOR. “El Dorado. “The El Dorado News says that James R. Pile, formerly of Placerville, has purchased a press, and designs establishing a Democratic paper at Coloma.” Note: James R. Pile was one of several people who established the “Miners’ Advocate” newspaper in Coloma on Sept. 25, 1852. It moved to Diamond Springs in October of 1853. Another of its founders was Daniel Webster Gelwicks, who, along with William A. January, would establish the “Mountain Democrat” in Placerville on Feb. 25, 1854. The story continues:
“CARSON VALLEY. – Gen. Estill and Col. Wilkes arrived here on Thursday last from Carson Valley in excellent health, where they have been superintending the distribution of the relief fund. They report a large number of emigrants having arrived at the valley, generally in good health. “The accounts we have from the emigration farther back, are not so favorable, and some of which are indeed deplorable. “We stated last week that the cholera had made its appearance at Ash Hollow. The news we now have, confirm that statement. A gentleman just arrived from the plains, states that he saw forty persons burried [sic] in one grave at that place. Another person, also just arrived, states that he counted about 100 [copy damaged, could be 1,000] new graves on the Platt [Platte] river. We hope, however, that these accounts are greatly exaggerated.”
Note: Ash Hollow was a major campsite along the Overland Trail because it had good water, grass and wood. It is now part of the 1,000-plus acre Ash Hollow State Historic Park near Lewellen, Neb. Ruts made by the wheels of the wagons, sliding down the 25 degree slope of Windlass Hill, are still evident at this location. The story continues:
“SOUTH FORK CANAL. – This work is now entirely graded, and all that is wanting to secure its speedy completion, is the lumber, which will be furnished as soon as the saw mills, that are being constructed, get fairly under way. “Calaveras. “The Chronicle was handed us yesterday by Adams & Co.’s messenger. “We condense the news as follows: “ROBBERY. – A robbery of $867 was committed on Thursday night last, at Sutter’s creek, from the house of Thomas H. Rioton. The robbers, among whom was a Mexican woman, are named Maria Ramos, Thomaso, Angeles and another Mexican, rejoicing in the sobriquet of John Doe. They came to the Hill [shortened name for Mokelumne Hill] on Friday morning, and hired horses to go to Butte City, as they stated. They were, however, observed to take a different direction. Mr. Rioton chased them to the Hill and got out a warrant for their arrest, which was given into the hands of an officer, who pursued and overtook them at Kelsoe’s ranch, on the Stockton road. When they were pursued they threw away the gold dust, amounting to some thirty-one ounces, which was afterwards recovered. The were brought back to the Hill, and retained for trial. “OVERLAND IMMIGRATION. – On Monday last, a company of immigrants consisting of twenty-three persons, arrived at Jackson, via the Volcano route. The brought with them twenty-three head of cattle and two horses, and made the journey in 103 days from Independence [Missouri]. They lost three of their party at Goose creek, near the Humboldt. “CONVICTED. – On Tuesday last, James Clark, found guilty of an assault upon the person of Wm. Frazier, with intent to kill, on the 21st of December last, was sentenced by the Court of Sessions to five years imprisonment in the State Prison. The sentence was accompanied with serious and good advice from his honor Judge Campbell.
Note: The Court of Sessions system was introduced in each county of California shortly after the attainment of statehood in 1850. The Court of Sessions was largely a provisional device for governing California counties prior to the first election of boards of supervisors. Thus its powers extended beyond the purely judicial, and included executive and legislative functions. It was presided over by an elected county judge and two appointed associated judges. The Court of Sessions in each county was disbanded upon the election of a board of supervisors. The column ends with this interesting bit:
“TURNIPS. – Mr. John Edwards, of Ione Valley, has sent us a mammoth turnip, weighing twelve and a half pounds. This is the largest we have ever seen of this species of vegetable. It is entirely sound, and was raised on Mr. E.’s ranch at the valley.”
The following story, which is also in the Aug. 16, 1852, edition of the paper, relates a far too common story of a person heading back to his home in the East and being robbed.
“DARING ROBBERY. – On Thursday last Mr. O. H. Young, a carpenter of this city, and one of the firm of Young & Drew, left for San Francisco for his home in the east. After paying for his passage ticket, he had remaining the sum of $2200 in two bags, which he thoughtlessly placed in his coat pockets. On Saturday morning he took from one bag a fifty-dollar gold piece for the purpose of defraying his expenses across the Isthmus [of Panama], and immediately afterward had it changed. In a very short time he missed both bags, some dexterous pick-pocket having abstracted them, probably, which he was getting his ‘slug’ [common name for a $50 gold piece] changed. No traces, however, of the thief or money have yet been obtained. Mr. Young, notwithstanding his loss, intended sailing in the Panama which was to have left on Sunday morning.”
This is followed by a short article regarding the piloting, or lack of same, of steamboats along the route between Sacramento and San Francisco.
“ACCIDENT. – On Saturday evening, while the ‘Antelope’ was lying below the wharf at Benicia, waiting for the ‘Confidence’ to push out into the stream, the ‘Urilda’ came puffing and blowing up the straits, and by some unexplained manoeuver or gross carelessness, managed to run into the stern of the Antelope, carrying away the railing, seats, etc., but doing little damage. The Urilda was also somewhat injured.”(To be continued.)

David Martinelli

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