MINERS & BUSINESS MENS
Sonora was first settled in the Summer of 1848, by a band of Miners from Sonora in Mexico. Hence it was called the Sonoranian Camp, and afterwards Sonora. Wood’s Creek and Jamestown, being afterwards settled by Americans, were called the American Camp, or Campo Americano, in contradistinction to the camp of the Sonoranians. The first white men who settled in Sonora, in 1848 and early in 1849, were Joshua Holden, Emanuel Linoberg, Casimer Labetour, Alonzo Green, Hiram W. Theall, R. S. Ham, Charles F. Dodge, Theophilus Dodge, Terence Clark, James Lane, Dr. William M. Shepperd, Alferd W. Luckett, Benjamin F. Moore, Dr. William Norlinn, Francisco Pavin, Jose M. Bosa, --- Eldordi, Remijio Riveras and James Frasier.
ALCALDES.--The first Alcalde was R. S. Ham, elected in the Fall of 1848. His successors were James Frazier, Hiram W. Theall, and Charles F. Dodge, who was in office at the time of the organization of the County, in the Spring of 1850. The first Justice of the Peace went into office on the first Monday in May, at which time the office of Alcalde ceased.
POPULATION.--In the Fall of 1849, Sonoranian Camp was by far the largest mining settlement in the County, the population being estimated at about 5000 persons. On Sunday, which was the great trading day, the narrow streets were thronged so as to be almost impassable. During the winter a portion of this population was distributed among new camps in the vicinity. In the Summer of 1850, the population was diminished at least one-half by the enforcement of the Foreign Miners’ Tax, which was then thirty dollars per month. The merchants, mechanics, physicians,--all classes,--suffered by this sudden exodus from our midst, and business stagnated in every department. In the Fall of 1850, there was quite an accession of white persons, and business revived. Since that time the population has not varied much from 3000, many being foreigners from England, Ireland, France, Germany and Italy.
FIRES.--The first fire occurred in the Fall of 1849, and swept off nearly the whole of the town, which then consisted of canvass, and of armadas, or brush houses. The second fire was on the night of June 17, 1852. It consumed all the most valuable portion of the city, from Church street on the South, to the United States Hotel on the North, destroying one life, and upwards of $700,000 worth of property. The third fire was on the night of August 17, 1853; loss $30,000. A fourth fire followed soon after,--on the night of October 3d, 1853, destroying one life and property to the amount of $300,000. On the night of November 2d. 1853, a fifth conflagration destroyed about $40,000 worth of property.
NEWSPAPERS.--The first newspaper published in the mines of California was the SONORA HERALD, which commenced its career on the 4th of July, 1850; John White & John G. Marvin editors and proprietors. The first seven numbers were printed on Foolscap, and were sold at 50 cents a copy. After reaching the 12th number, John White’s interest was transferred to J. R. Reynolds, extensively known as the Ex-Judge of the First Instance. He continued half proprietor for two weeks, then transferred his interest to Dr. Haley, who sold to Dr. L. C. Gunn, after a short suspension of publication. The 15th, 16th and 17th numbers were issued by Judge Marvin and Dr. Gunn. In the 18th number Judge Marvin retired, and E. L. Christman succeeded him. The Herald continued to be issued by Christman & Gunn until the 40th number, when Dr. Gunn became the sole proprietor. Under his auspices it continued till May 22d, 1852, when Walter Murray and James O’Sullivan succeeded him. On the 19th of February, 1853, Mr. O’Sullivan sold to Mr. Murray. On the 1st of August, 1853, Mr. Murray sold back to Dr. Gunn. In April, 1854, the Herald was sold to Mr. O’Sullivan and Alexander Murray, a brother of the former proprietor.
In September, Mr. Murray sold to Mr. O’Sullivan, and the latter remained the sole proprietor till after the election in 1855, when E. A. Rockwell was announced as editor and proprietor. It was first an Independent, then a Democratic paper, and is now devoted to the American party.
The MOUNTAIN WHIG was started in the Summer of 1852, under a Mr. Dunn, as editor and proprietor; but at the end of five weeks it expired. It was a Whig paper.
The UNION DEMOCRAT was commenced by A. N. Francisco, its present editor and proprietor, on the 1st of July, 1854. It is devoted to the Democratic party.
TOWN ORGANIZATION.--On the 7th of Nov. 1849, the citizens of Sonora organized themselves into a town government, mainly with a view of providing a Hospital for the sick.--Owing to the want of fresh vegetables during the previous year, multitudes of the miners were attacked with scurvy as soon as the rainy season commenced. This was especially true of the Mexicans, who died by hundreds. The sympathies of the benevolent were excited on beholding so much suffering, and a Hospital was built, and maintained for more than six months. The Hospital steward was paid $8,00 per day; lime juice was bought at the rate of $5 per bottle, potatoes at from $1, to $1.50 per pound, and everything else in the same proportion. These were not high prices in 1849; but they show how expensive it must have been to sustain the Hospital for several months during the prevalence of so much sickness. The amount received from the sale of town lots was altogether inadequate to pay accruing expenses; and the burden fell very heavily upon a few. There is still due between $500 and $600 to the Messrs. Dodge for beef furnished, in addition to sever hundred dollars paid by them in cash; and the expenses of coffins and burial were mostly paid by C. F. Dodge out of his fees as Alcalde. A few other displayed similar liberality.
The first Town Council consisted of C. F. Dodge, Joshua Holden, C. Labetoure, Peter Mehen, E. Linoberg, J. B. Litton, Wm. Perkins, and -------.
They ordered a survey of the town into lots and streets by Cooper and Galledge, whose map was, for a long time, the official chart by which all disputed lines were settled. When it was decided at San Jose that Sonora was to be the county seat, Col. Freaner immediately dispatched a letter to Joshua Holden informing him of the fact, and advising him to confide the secret to only a few who should take up as many lots as possible in order to speculate on them, as he supposed they would soon become valuable. Instead of complying with his advise, Mr. Holden laid the matter before the Town Council that same evening, and they passed a resolution unanimously that no one should be permitted to take up vacant lots, but that all unoccupied lots should belong to the Town as such, and be sold to the highest bidder. The money derived from the sale of lots was devoted partly towards paying for the survey, and the rest towards defraying Hospital expenses.
The first Town organization not being based upon any Act of the Legislature, became null, of course, as soon as the County was organized under the Laws of the State, in the spring of 1850. From that time there was no Town Organization until May 1851, when, in accordance with a charter from the Legislature, Sonora became a city.
The first officers elected were Chas. F. Dodge, Mayor.--James F. McFarland, Marshall.--Alfred W. Luckett, Clerk.--L. A. Besaneon, Attorney.--Daniel F. Sayre, Treasurer.--Leander Quint, Recorder.--J. W. Richardson, Assessor.--A. F. Chatfield, Abraham Tuttle, I. P. Yaney, H. W. Theall, R. S. Gladwin, H. T. Fuller, and L. C. Gunn, Aldermen.
In 1852, Mr. Dodge was re-elected. In 1853, and again in 1854, Capt. George Washington Patrick was elected Mayor.
On the 9th of March 1855, in accordance with a petition from the citizens, the former charter was repealed, and a new charter granted, reincorporating Sonora as a city under a Board of five Trustees. This organization is much more simple, is attended with no expense, and is quite as efficient as the former government.
JUSTICES OF THE PEACE.--The first Justices for Township No. 1, were elected on the 1st Monday in May 1850, Major Richard C. Barry of Sonora, and Charles M. Radcliff of Pine Log. In the fall of 1850, Justice Radcliff removed his office to Sonora. In 1851, Sonora being a city, it was entitled to two Justices as such, and H. G. Platt and C. M. Radcliff were elected. In 1852, Robert W. Armstrong and Col. Jenkins. In 1853, James Lane and Thomas S. Hall. In 1854, Major Richard F. Sullivan and Thos. S. Hall. In 1855, Wm. H. Ford and T. S. Hall.
An idea of the power exercised by the first Justices may be inferred from the following advertisement in the Sonora Herald of July 1850.
“NOTICE.--All persons are forbid firing off pistols or guns within the limits of this town, under penalty; and under no plea will it hereafter be submitted to; therefore a derogation from this notice will be dealt with according to the strictest rigor of the law so applying, as a misdemeanor and the disturbance of the peaceful citizens of Sonora. R. C. Barry, J. P. June 9 1850.
WARS AND RUMORS OF WARS.--The first great excitement in Sonora, was in the early part of June, 1850, a graphic account of which was written by Walter Murray, for Sonora Herald in 1852, is as follows:
“It was a hot Summer’s Sunday afternoon in June, when a man on horseback came tearing into the little encampment on Mormon Gulch at full speed, evidently big with exciting intelligence. The miners, who happened to be scattered in groups, talking over the occurrences of the past week, eagerly rushed forward and gathered around the messenger, from whose broken exclamations they at length learned that there was something very like war upon the carpet. It appeared that the Collector appointed by the State Government to receive the Foreign Miners’ Tax had arrived at the county seat, and had issued his notice, calling upon all foreigners to come forward and pay up their first month’s assessment of thirty dollars. The attempt to collect this exorbitant impost, put the immense foreign population, with whom the county was literally overrun, into a state of intense ferment. Meetings had been held on the subject, inflammatory speeches had been made by Spanish and French orators, and at length it appeared that some great demonstration had been made against the odious tax. The messenger averred that the county seat was in the hands of the excited foreign mob, numbering some two or three thousand, all armed; that the safety of the place was menaced, and that the American inhabitants were fleeing from it. Furthermore, the principal citizens had sent couriers to the surrounding camps, asking for assistance.
“There had previously been so many rumors afloat of expected insurrection of the Spanish-American population, against the “proprietors” of the country, and “the boys” had in this way been kept in such a continual state of excitement, that the arrival of this intelligence operated at once like the putting of a spark of fire into a tinder box. Messengers, were immediately dispatched hither and thither, calling upon the miners to assemble within an hour at a given spot on the way to the county seat, and the “gulch” was in a moment alive with busy, bustling men, getting out their rifles and pistols, and preparing for the expected conflict.
“Being unarmed, and therefore forming no part of the expedition, I started, with a few others, ahead of the main body, which consisted of about 150 men; but all were so eager to get on, that it was with the utmost difficulty we could keep the smallest distance in advance. We met several persons on the way, with later intelligence from the seat of war, but their accounts were all contradictory--some saying that the excitement was all over--others that there was immediate need of our services. However, on we pressed, determined not to stop short of the place for which we set out. On arriving at an encampment of Mexicans, one mile short of our destination, we were surprised to see its motley inhabitants very quietly seated in front of their brush hovels, playing monte and other games, as if nothing unusual had transpired. They, too, were none the less surprised to see the little column of armed men advancing toward them in close order; especially when they heard the general yell which was joined in by the American party as they marched on to------. Re-assured by this apparent calm, I hurried on to the town, reaching it some five or ten minutes in advance of the party. All appeared quiet and peaceful as ever. On the outskirts of the town I fell in with a well-dressed, gentlemanly, middle aged person, the Collector himself, as I afterwards ascertained, who wanted to know who it was thus approaching in martial array. I informed him of the circumstances, as I had heard and seen them, and, in my confidence that the whole affair was a mere humbug, ventured to deprecate the step which had been taken by the inhabitants of the gulch in marching over in so hasty a manner. It appeared, however, that I was rather reckoning without my host, for my gentleman said, in a stern manner, rather reproving me for my lack of faith, that he was glad to see “the boys” acting in so patriotic a manner, and, plucking his hat from his head and waving it in the air, he set up a hearty cheer, which was joined in by a few who had by this time arrived on the ground. I was now pretty certain that there would be some fun, so I hurried on and waited to see the little procession enter town. Soon it came along, headed by a fife and drum, which by this time had been scared up, and, first and foremost by the glorious stars and stripes, borne aloft and waved very gracefully to and fro in the air by a patriotic inhabitant of the big city. Thus, with music sounding and banners waving, the little band marched through the whole length of the town, vociferously cheered all the way by the American inhabitants, who turned out en masse to see them. On arriving at the other end of town, the word “Forward by file left, march,” was given, when the foremost man found himself headed off by a well stocked bar, whereat each one as he arrived was “liquored up.” They were then counter-marched through town again, the same hospitality being extended at several places on the route, and were at length halted in front of the principal hotel, when my old friend, the Collector, mounted himself upon a pile of boxes and barrels, and commenced addressing the assembled crowd.--“Gentlemen,” said he, “it is not because I have been appointed by the government of this State the Collector of the Foreign Miners’ Tax for County of -----, BUT AS AN AMERICAN CITIZEN, that I congratulate myself and you, fellow-citizens of a free country, upon the glorious demonstration which you make here to-day. The laws of this State have been set at nought, and the persons and property of its citizens threatened, by an assemblage of armed foreigners, and immediately upon the receipt of the intelligence, you have hastened forward to succor your fellow-countrymen, and to support the outraged majesty of the law. I am not going to make a speech to you, gentlemen, but I cannot refrain from expressing my admiration of your conduct upon this momentous occasion. After speaking for about ten minutes, amid vociferous cheering, he informed our little party that supper would be prepared for them that night, together with other parties from neighboring camps, and on the morrow “TO BUSINESS.”
Accordingly all was soon bustle and hurry at the big hotel, waiters were hurry-skurrying to and fro, and all was busy preparation for a general meal. After an hour or so, which seemed an age to the hungry miners, the long tables were loaded down with eatables, and the word given to fall to; and fall to they did, in a manner only to be paralleled in California and in the mines.
“After supper the arms were all stowed away in a building temporarily devoted to the purpose of a guard house; a watch was set during the night, with regular reliefs; patrols were organized, and the city speedily assumed the appearance of being under martial law.
“Many and various were the reports circulated on that eventful night. According to some, the town was to be attacked and set fire to at different points. Rumors of assassination and massacre were fearfully rife, but at length morning dawned, and the country was discovered to be safe. Breakfast was spread out for the same hospitable board, and then all were assembled in the main street and divided into companies headed each by its captain and lieutenant. A column of some three hundred armed men in all was thus formed, which headed by the Collector and the Sheriff of the County, commenced its march through the disaffected camps.
“Alas! As we marched along, what a scene of confusion and terror marked our way. Mexicans Chilenos, et id genus omne--men, women and children--were all packing up and removing, bag and baggage to go. Tents were being pulled down--houses and hovels gutted of their contents; mules, horses and jackasses were being hastily packed, while crowds upon crowds were already in full retreat. What could have been the object of our assembly, except as a demonstration of power and determination, I know not; but if intended as an engine of terror, it certainly had the desired effect, for it could be seen painted upon every countenance, and impelling every movement of the affrighted foreign population. However, on we marched, through all this dire confusion, peacefully pursuing our way, until we reached what was deemed to be the head-quarters of malcontent, a camp containing some thousands of Spanish-Americans, about four miles from the county seat. Here we were halted for the last time; liquored up, of course, for it was the month of June, and the roads were dry and dusty; and after being paraded through the main street, and held for an hour or more in readiness, awaiting the report of certain officials dispatched to enquire into the truth of a rumor that a foreign flag had been hoisted somewhere in the vicinity, were finally discharged. Every man then fired his rifle in the air, re-loaded his piece, and started homeward, each on his own particular way. I, too, started for the “gulch;” and, until I reached there, never lost sight of the long train of fugitives scattered along the roads in every direction. Some were going North; some South; the great body was probably bound for home; some by way of the sea; others by Los Angeles and the Great Desert. Others, again, were scattering themselves over the country, to commence the career of bloodshed and cold-blooded atrocity which for months afterwards stained the pages of California history. Even those who were bound for home, often left behind them along the way, bloody traces of their deep-set hatred to Americans, or, perhaps, their natural thirst for massacre and pillage.”
From the day described by Mr. Murray murders and robberies were of daily occurrence, until the whole community became terrified, and began to devise measures of defence.
The following account of a meeting held in Sonora on the 3d of July is copied from the Herald:
“PUBLIC MEETING.--In consequence of the continued acts of atrocity and bloodshed perpetrated on the inoffensive inhabitants of this county, by a band or bands of miscreants, who, as yet have escaped detection and consequently a merited punishment, a large meeting of the citizens of Sonora was held, on the evening of the 3d of July, to take into consideration what measures to adopt in the emergency before the community.
Dr. Shepherd was called to the chair, and Mr. Perkins appointed Secretary; E. M. Marshall, Esq., explained the object of the meeting in a very forcible and earnest manner. The following resolutions were then offered and adopted:
Resolved. That we will organize a company of twenty-five good men and true; that said company under an efficient captain, appointed by this meeting, shall immediately proceed to such portions of the county as have been the scenes of the late brutal murders and also to such other places as are likely to prove the hiding places of the murderers, and shall use all lawful means to bring to them justice.
Resolved. That a committee of three persons be appointed, whose duty it shall be to make application to the proper authorities for a company of United States dragoons to be stationed at this place.
Resolved. That the citizens of Sonora shall at this time contribute to the necessary funds to carry the foregoing resolutions into effect, and that the citizens of the other portions of the county be also requested to aid, and that a finance committee be appointed.
Resolved. That Justice Whitehead, of township No. 3, be requested to accompany the said posse; also Deputy Sheriff Stanley, of Sonora.
Resolved. That J. B. Litton be appointed Captain of the proposed company; also that Messrs. Tuttle, Marshall, Luckett, Perkins, Holden and Mehen be appointed to carry out respectively the provisions of the 2d and 3d resolutions.
Resolved. That the proceedings of this meeting be published in the Sonora Herald.
Resolved. That Capt. Litton shall at once raise the company of twenty-five men and report to the court of sessions now sitting.
The meeting was then adjourned.
The 10th of July, was the next great day of excitement. The Sonora Herald describes it as follows:
“Three Indians and a Mexican, named Pablo Martinez, Dionisio Ocho, Gabino Casias, Rinz Molina, were brought to Sonora, in the custody of four Americans, named Thomas Shirley, J. B. Owen, George Hudson, and Thomas Hill, and the report immediately became current that another horrible murder had been committed at Green Flat Diggings, about eight miles from town. The entire population of the town immediately crowded to the office of the Justice of the Peace, and a thousand inquiries were made relative to the particulars of the affair; and as the horrible details were related, the observer could see in the angry exclamations and flashing eyes of the people a settled resolve to avenge the crime that had been committed. The prisoners were arraigned before Judge Barry and then commenced a scene of confusion which baffles description. The universal cries were “String ‘em up.” “Hang them.” “We will have no mistake this time;” and a rope was actually prepared with which the people might at once hang the prisoners. The Sheriff, George Work, declared that the first man who interfered with the prisoners while they were in his charge, should do so only at the peril of his life. The evidence of the four Americans was then taken down in writing by Justice Barry, and it was to the following effect. They stated that they resided about a mile distant from the tent where the murdered men were found. On the previous evening a Mexican boy informed them that two Americans had been murdered at the Green Flat Diggings, but they took no notice of the report. In the morning, however, another Mexican called, and corroborated the report of the boy. Witnesses immediately proceed to the spot indicated, and there found the four prisoners in the act of burning the tent, and the bodies of two men. They were immediately taken into custody, and brought into Sonora. It also appeared in evidence that a shovel and pick axe, the property of the deceased, were found in the hands of the prisoners. The defense set up by the prisoners that it was a custom of their countrymen to burn the bodies of their dead; that the bodies had been lying dead for several days, and had become offensive in consequence of their decomposition. The demeanor of the prisoners was calm and becoming to an extreme, which, amidst the tumult, excited in some minds a sympathy that was mot marked. The personal appearance of three of the prisoners was very uncouth, but this is a peculiar attribute of their race. The Mexican’s countenance was a pleasing one; he had a fine head and well formed features. By the time the evidence was taken the excitement of the crowd was so great, it was proposed that the matter should at once be brought to an issue, and a jury of citizens be empanelled. This was done, as the best alternative that could be adopted. But Mr. M’Alpine and others objected to serve upon it, wishing that the law should take its course. Another tumult ensued, and the court retired to consult. During its absence the people elected a Judge from among themselves, and Peter Mehen was, with acclamation, proposed for the office. A rope was then passed round the necks of the prisoners, and they were led in this manner to a hill in the immediate neighborhood of the town, where the trial was commenced anew. Several hundred persons were present. A second jury was empanelled; the prisoners found guilty and sentenced to be hung. The Mexican was to be the first victim, and the cord was passed over the limb of a tree. He knelt down, kissed a cross he had in his bosom, muttered a few words in prayer, and with the calmest resignation, resigned himself to his fate. Just at this moment Judges Tuttle, Marvin and Radcliffe, and others arrived on the spot. Judge Tuttle begged the people to cease these violent proceedings, and in a powerful, feeling, and eloquent address urged them to respect the laws. The crowd became incensed, but Mr. Wm. Ford, throwing himself into it, was the most material assistance in saving the lives of the prisoners, who were then again seized by the officers and taken to the prison.
We may be allowed to urge the public to calm the excitement in which they are now involved. Far better would it be that a hundred guilty men should escape than the lives of four innocent men be sacrificed. Let us do to others as we would they should do unto us. Let no blind passion determine them to hang a man before he is proved guilty. There appears to be some mystery in this case. The coroner states that the deceased have been dead several days; that he found maggots in their skulls. Let every circumstance be calmly considered, and justice be done.”
The next week was Court week, the County and the District Courts being both in session, for the first time. It was emphatically a week of excitement. We copy again from the Sonora Herald of July 20th.
GREAT EXCITEMENT--AN ARMED FORCE IN SONORA--110 MEXICANS ARRESTED.--On Monday morning last our town was thrown into a state of great excitement by the appearance in our streets of a company of about eighty men, armed with guns and rifles, bearing the American flag and marching “a la militaire.” Besides this band, which presented a most imposing aspect, about 300 miners arrived at an early hour in town, armed with revolvers, knives, lances, &c. The effect on this community here may be better imagined than described. These people came from the scene of the late murder, where the four Mexicans were found burning the bodies of two Americans, to see the laws carried out in the punishment of the men caught in that act. They were highly excited and would scarce submit to any delay. The halted opposite the court house, where Judge Tuttle appeared and addressed the throng, urging them to be moderate, and assuring them that the criminals would be tried as soon as possible, and that justice would be done; that if they were found guilty they would speedily meet their just deserts, and if not guilty, they should surely be acquitted. He further urged them to respect and sustain the laws, and acquiesce in the decision of the jury whatsoever it might be. At the conclusion of this sound advice, three cheers were proposed by some one in the crowd, but the excited people were not disposed to quietly await the delays of the law, and they sullenly marched back to the prison, and thence to their encampment in the neighborhood. A strong guard was placed over the Mexicans from the ranks of the Company.
In the course of the morning, Mr. Hinell, Captain of the company, waited upon Judge Creanor, and informed him that his company would not brook delay in the trial of the prisoners, and intimated that they must be tried on that day (Monday). The Judge replied that such could not be the case, since there was no grand jury empanelled, and the court would only that day commence its sitting. The Captain said that the company was resolved the trial should take place. The judge calmly but warningly advised them not to attempt any interference in the matter.
A rumor having reached town that the prisoners were colleagued with a number of suspicious persons in a Mexican camp some three or four miles distant, about twenty armed Americans accompanied our energetic sheriff, Mr. Work, to that place, who arrested and marched into town about one hundred and ten men,--nearly all the males in the camp. It appears that the four Mexicans who, were first apprehended were part of a company of 40 men, who worked at the aforesaid camp in the employment of a Mexican, who it was supposed, had not the fairest character, and that in all probability others of this company were implicated in the unhappy murder.
During the night of Monday, some hundreds of armed men entered the town, and on Tuesday morning there could not have been less than 2,000 riflemen in the streets. As may well be imagined, the excitement of the people was most intense, and groups of men might be observed in various places discussing the events of the past few days, some arguing in favor of Judge Lynch, while others as resolutely supported the law as at present constituted. The proceedings in the District Court opened this morning with one or two civil cases. At three o’clock, the trial of the four Mexicans, for the murder of the two Americans at the Green Flat Diggings. The prisoners were arraigned, when a circumstance took place which threw the court into the utmost confusion. When the prisoners plead “not guilty,” one of the guards, who was standing on a bench, dropped his double-barrelled gun, the hammers of which struck against a box, and both barrels went off with a violent explosion. Numberless revolvers were forthwith drawn, and the tumult became indescribable. One man in his haste to get out struck his gun against a board and it likewise went off. The effect of this incident can only be imagined. The struggle to quit the room on the part of the multitude was ter-
rible. Doors, windows, and every means of egress were put in requisition, a cry of alarm was set up by some persons and the street even was filled instanter.
Three Mexicans, who were in the crowd were deliberately fired at by some men. We asked the reason. One replied that they fired “on general principles,” another said that they fired “promiscuously among the Mexicans,” who, they thought, were attempting to rescue the prisoners. As soon as order could be obtained, the able district attorney, Mr. Booker, eloquently addressed the multitude in the street.
It was feared in the evening that some serious accident would occur, owing to the intoxicated condition of many of the armed men who were in the streets. Fortunately, however no event of importance occurred.
The 110 Mexicans brought in on Monday, and confined in a corral near town, under a strong guard, were examined by Judges Radcliffe and Barry. Nothing being elicited implicating any of their number, they were discharged and quietly permitted to return to their homes. The Messrs. Hendee, our talented daguerrean artists have taken a splendid picture of this motley group, which can be seen at their roms. (sic)
After the storm, there befell a calm; the people retired on Wednesday morning from the town in large numbers, and the community assumed its wonted quiet. Occasionally a noise was heard in the streets, but such only proceeded from a congregation of inebriated Irishmen. The trial of the prisoners was commenced at about 10 o’clock, and concluded at 4 o’clock. The charge was simply that four Americans found four Mexicans in the act of burning a tent and the bodies of two men deceased at the Green flat diggings. The defense set up, was that the bodies had been lying there in a putrid state many days, and it was in accordance with a custom of their countrymen that they were burned. There did not, in fact, appear a tittle of evidence against the prisoners, and the jury acquitted them. The public will rejoice at the triumph of law and order; may we ever find the same result, in whatsoever circumstances we may be placed. The prosecution was conducted by Messrs. Booker and Van Buren, and the defence by Messrs. Perley and Moore. The learned counsel on both sides made able addresses to the jury.
Fresh accounts of murders having been received during the day, a public meeting was held in the Square, of which the following is a report:
PRIMARY MEETING.---At a primary meeting held in the town of Sonora, in pursuance of a public notice, to take into consideration the proper course to be pursued to insure a better protection for the life and property of the citizens of Tuolumne; on motion, A. Elkins was called to the chair, and A. W. Luckett appointed Secretary. Mr. Cave stated briefly the object of the meeting. Judge Tuttle, being loudly called upon, addressed the meeting, urging the necessity of active measures on the part of the whole country, to arrest the progress of crime and insure the security of the citizens. Messrs. Huntington, Holden, Mehen and Ford also addressed the meeting. On motion of Judge Tuttle, the chair was empowered to appoint a committee of seven to give notice of a mass meeting of the citizens of the county to be held at some future day, for the purpose of carrying out the objects of the primary meeting. On motion of Mr. Cave the committee of seven were instructed to call the mass meeting on Sunday, the 21st instant, at one o’clock, in the town of Sonora. The chair appointed Judge Tuttle, Joshua Holden, Sonora; J. W. Van Benschoten, Wood’s; D. S. Dikeman, of Jacksonville; Runnells, of Sullivan’s Diggings; W. C. Wade, of Mormon Gulch; Capt. Stewaart, of McLane’s Ferrys, aid committee. On motion, Messrs. Holden and Tuttle were instructed to immediately notify the committee of their appointment. On motion the thanks of the meeting were tendered to Judge Marvin, for kindly offering to aid in giving the necessary public notice; also to Judge Tuttle, for his energy in the cause. On motion of Mr. Cave the meeting adjourned. Signed by the officers.
At the close of the meeting much alarm was excited by the news that 400 armed Mexicans were encamped within three miles, who intended to make an attack upon the town. A becoming spirit was manifested forthwith. About 50 armed men volunteered their services as a patrol for the night. They were enrolled, and immediately proceeded to fulfil (sic) the duties of their office.
The next Sunday, July 21st, witnessed a tremendous gathering in Sonora. Says the Sonora Herald:
It has been announced by handbills, sent by express to all parts of the county, that a mass meeting would be held in the plaza at Sonora, on this day. At an early hour there were numerous arrivals from the adjoining districts, and at noon several hundred persons, amongst whom were noticed a deputation from the Indian ranch, had collected opposite to the house of Messrs. Litton & Lyons. Maj. Elkins was voted to the chair, and Mr. Luckett officiated as secretary of the meeting, which was addressed by Mr. Cave, and eloquently and with much good sense by Mr. Warren, and others. The following are the resolutions adopted by the meeting:
WHEREAS, The lives and property of the American citizens are now in danger, from the hands of lawless marauders of every clime, class and creed under the canopy of heaven, and scarcely a day passes but we hear of the commission of the most horrible murders and robberies; and we have now in our midst the Peons of Mexico, the renegades of South America, and the convicts of the British Empire; we therefore submit the following:
Resolved, That all foreigners in Tuolumne county (except persons engaged in permanent business and of respectable characters) be required to leave the limits of said county, within fifteen days from this date, unless they obtain a Permit to remain from the authorities herein after named.
Resolved, That the authorities referred to, be a committee of three, to be chosen or selected by the American citizens of each Camp or Diggings.
Resolved, That all the good citizens of this county, shall resolve themselves into a committee of the whole to carry out the object of this meeting.
Resolved, That all foreigners in this county be, and they are hereby notified to turn over their fire arms and deadly weapons to the select men of each Camp or Diggings forthwith (except such as may have a permit to hold the same;) such select men shall give a receipt to such foreigner for the same, and each and every good citizen shall have power to disarm all foreigners.
Resolved, That the select men of each Camp or Diggings hall promptly carry out the duties assigned them.
Resolved, That 500 copies in Spanish and English of these resolutions be published and forthwith distributed through the county.
Resolved, That the select men of each Camp or Diggings, take up subscriptions to defray the expenses of such publication, and remit the money thus collected to the proprietors of the Sonora Herald.
A.B. Perkins, Tuolumne River; Samuel Cross Stanislaus River; Robert L. Murphy, Sonora; Robert H. Hill, Franklin Hardy, Stanislaus River; John Cave, Jamestown; John G. Marvin, Empire City, Committee.
After disposing of the resolutions, loud calls were made for Mr. Van Buren, who spoke in a very eloquent and forcible manner in opposition to the measures that had been proposed. He was for sustaining the law at all hazards. The meeting dispersed with very different feelings from those entertained in the commencement.
This was the last meeting of any account.--Frank Ball, at that time a deputy collector under Gen. Besancon, penned the following humerious (sic) description of it:
The great Greaser Extermination meeting.
In Sonora one hot and sultry day,
Many people had gathered together,
They were bound to drive the Greasers away,
And they cared not a fig for the weather,
For folks had been robbed and folks had been
And none but the Greasers would do it,
And the hearts of the people with vengeance
And they swore that the Greasers should rue it.
First on the stand Mr. Cave did appear,
And loudly and long did harangue ‘em.
He said that the Greasers had filled him with fear,
And he thought it was best for to hang ‘em;
But the least they could do was take all their
Their pistols, and muskets, and crowbars,
And he would not object to have some of their
If the people thought best to go so far.
The gentry from Sydney, they laughed in their sleeves;
And the pickpockets loudly applauded it;
For they knew there would be a fine harvest for
And none could complain---because law did it.
And they swore Mr. Cave was an “illigant boy,”
And if any said nay, they would beat him,
And some on proposed, in the height of his joy,
They should choose a committee to treat him.
For the space of an hour Cave continued to spout,
Pouring vengeance on all of the Greasers,
But at last he caved in, for his voice it gave out,
Being smashed into ten thousand pieces,
But that speech, it is sure to immortalize Cave,
And I hope coming folks will take warning,
And choose (if they would their property save)
Some American place to be born in.
THE HOLDEN GARDEN DIFFICULTY.--This occurred on the 12th and 13th of March, 1851.--An arrangement was being made between Joshua Holden, claimant of the garden, and the Washington company who were mining upon it. It was said that direspectul (sic) remarks were made by two members of the company, and epithets applied to Mr. Holden in his absence. Hearing of this he went to the garden on the morning of 12th, accompanied by a party of men, said to be gamblers, with pistols at their sides. Mr. Holden first whipped one and then the other of the two men who had abused him; and when members of the Washington company attempted to interfere, the gamblers presented their pistols and prevented them. In the afternoon these same gamblers jumped a portion of the claim of the Washington company. The next morning the jumping part went with rifles and six-shooters, and found the Washington company, numbering twenty-two, all armed, fully prepared to contest the ground with them.--The latter kept quietly at their work in the ditch; the others arranged themselves on the hill-side perhaps one hundred yards distant. The first shot was fired by Alexander Saloschen, one of the gamblers’ party, which was quickly returned with a volley. All the arms on both sides, were fired off, amounting, it is supposed, to from sixty to seventy-five shots. Leven Davis, one of the gamblers, was shot in the forehead, and died immediately, Saloschen, who commenced the attack, was slightly wounded in the check.--Three of the miners were wounded, two of whom died afterwards from their wounds.
In an hour after the attack the whole county was in excitement. Couriers had been dispatched to the different Camps, announcing that the gamblers of Sonora had attacked the miners, and calling for help. An immense meeting was soon held, which appointed a committee to draft resolutions, and then adjourned until 3 o’clock. The resolutions reported were adopted as follows:
WHEREAS, An outrage of the grossest nature has been perpetrated upon the miners of Sonora, Wood’s Creek, Shaw’s Flat and vicinity, while in the peaceable pursuit of an honest livelihood, by a party of cut-throats and gamblers, headed by one Joshua Holden, and residing in Sonora, therefore
Resolved, that the said Holden be immediately arrested and tried by the civil authorities of the county.
Resolved, That all those persons who were engaged in making the unprovoked attack, on the morning of the 13th of March, are, in the opinion of this meeting, guilty of an attempt at premeditated murder; and to prevent the occurrence of like scenes again, we demand the immediate arrest and trial of said persons; the cases to be tried and submitted as in the above resolution.
Resolved. That in the event of any future aggression by the individual who claims this garden, or by his abettors, we pledge ourselves to rid this region of their presence.
Resolved. That this meeting pledge their sacred honor to carry out these resolutions, and to renders, their assistance, if necessary, in apprehending the various parties; also to use their influence in preventing the use of fire-arms, in determining such disputes in future.
Resolved, That these resolutions be published in the Sonora Herald.
It was with difficulty that the crowd could be restrained from more violent measures. It was proposed to hang Mr. Holden forthwith, and to give the gamblers one hoar to quit Sonora on penalty of being hung. But the counsels of a few calm and resolute men prevailed.
The Grand Jury afterwards found true Bills of Indictment against Mr. Holden and all the persons who made the attack; but, owing to the absence of witnesses, or some other cause, the cases were never prosecuted to conviction.
Sunday June 15, 1851, was another day of great excitement in Sonora. Two of the murderers of Capt. George W. Snow were arrested here in the morning, and taken to Shaw’s Flat to be tried. About 11 o’clock, the same morning, a difficulty occurred between two Chilenos. Marshal McFarlane arrested one of the parties. Just then another Chileno came up and snatched the prisoner’s belt from around him, with his pistol. In a few minutes he came up to the Marshal with it cocked, a crowd of Spaniards being gathered around. McFarlane fired at him and wounded him. The rescuing party fired three shots nearly at the same time. Americans immediately came out with their revolvers, and the Spaniards were dispersed.--The Chileno who made the attack upon the Marshal, fought with desperation, and at last fell, pierced through the body with three balls, any of which must have proved fatal. During the remainder of the day--that night—and for several days afterwards, there was considerable excitement, caused by mutual jealousy and fear.
John Shelden rushed to the assistance of the Marshal, in the affray above described, and shot the Chileno while in the act of aiming at Mr. McFarlane. It was for this act that revenge was harbored for more than three years, until a favorable opportunity was presented, and Mr. Shelden, acting as night police, was stabbed.--One of the murderers has since been hung.
Next came the hanging of Jim Hill in Sonora, on the evening of Sunday, June 29. He had been tried and condemned at Camp Seco, but was rescued by the Sheriff, and brought to Sonora. Before reaching the jail a crowd took him away by force, and hung him. He had confessed his guilt, having been connected with a band of robbers and horse thieves. An attempt having been made to fire the city the night previous, there was great excitement, and a regular patrole (sic) was established. The next day a vigilance committee was formed, which was in session several times each day for several weeks. Under this committee a large night watch was established. Many petty crimes were punished by whipping, and suspicious persons were ordered to leave the county. To the credit of the members of the committee be it said they refrained from all excesses, and turned over to the officers of the law the only man that came before them charged with a capital offense. Order being restored, the committee disbanded, and the detection and punishment of offenders was left to the regularly constituted officers.
FLETCHER’S GOLDOMETER--The early history of Sonora would be incomplete without a description of the visit of the mysterious man with his mysterious instrument in the Fall of 1850. A Mr. Fletcher, at Murphy’s Camp, in Calaveras county, professed to have invented an instrument by which he could detect where there was gold, before digging. It consisted of a rod three feet long with a ball at one end of it. The rod made of steel cane, or some other elastic substance, twined around with silken thread. What the ball contained no one was allowed to know. Mr. Fletcher said the instrument would not act in other hands, as it depended upon the peculiar electrical condition of his system. Still he would not allow any one to examine it. All was mystery!—mystery! Taking the lower end of the rod in both hands, the rod being in a perpendicular position, he walked over the ground. If there was gold in the vicinity, the rod would bow or bend towards that particular locality; if there were two or more deposits it would wave semi-circularly,--at least, so he said. To use his own explanation, “the motive power was an animal-magnetic influence acting through a metallic agency, the action of the instrument depending upon his peculiarity of temperament, and therefore it would not work in other hands.”
Mr. Fletcher had all the bearing of an enthusiast, and hence his partial success in duping others. He visited Sonora and other mining localities exhibiting his goldometer, and making shrewd contracts with the credulous. He charged nothing in advance for showing where the gold was; only he was to have a certain proportion of all the gold taken out from such places. Scarcely a hole was sunk, with or without the advice of the goldometer, that did not pay something, and of course he had a good thing of it. He met with no success in Sonora, but had some disciples at Carson’s, and quite a number at Murphy’s. The following communication from a Dr. Sprague, published in the Sonora Herald of September 7th, 1850, will be read with more interest now than at that time.
“Agreeable to several requests I submit a brief, but, I believe, candid statement of facts upon the subject of Mr. Fletcher’s instrument for finding gold. I will, firstly, describe the instrument; secondly, its operations; and, thirdly, its practical results. First, the instrument. It is a substance, bulb, or ball, of metallic or other combination, attached to a single or double stem, which is elevated from ten to fifteen inches above his hands. Second, its operation. It is carried erect, and on coming to a lead or deposit of gold, it instantly drops and continues declined, more or less, until the gold is crossed, when it rises, unless attracted in a reverse line to its erect position. It apparently determines the edge of the lead with peculiar exactness. It operated over rocks and earth alike. In some places where there is no attraction at one part of the rock, the other side has it powerfully strong. Third, its practical results. Mr. F. has determined the exact locality of the gold in a large number of places on this flat (Murphy’s), and described the line of its direction before it was dug, as many will testify. He has given very accurate judgment of the probable amount in many instances. It is true that in some cases where he has directed, they have come to the rock without finding gold, but the attraction continues or increases. Holes have been sunk nearly 30 feet deep, and the deeper they go the stronger is the attraction. The attraction varies in quickness according to distance, and but little in apparent strength. Mr. F. is convinced and I fully concur with him, that vastly the largest deposits of gold are deep and below the rock, and that to be obtained, mining must be substituted for surface washing.
I have been very intimately acquainted with Mr. Fletcher’s operations and experiments, and think I am fully conversant with his views. I fully believe Mr. Fletcher to be incapable of practicing a deception upon the public, but is a very retiring modest man. E. SPRAGUE.
CHURCHES OF SONORA.--The Roman Catholics were the first to establish a church. They had religious services in the winter of 1849-50, and even planned the church edifice. In the summer of 1850, a small adobe building was erected, which was found afterwards to be in the street and torn down. A wooden building was erected in the summer of 1851, and still another in the spring of 1853. The foundation stone of the last laid by Mr. Peter Mehen on the 22d of April 1853. This is the building now occupied every Sunday by this denomination.
The Methodist Church South sent Rev. Cyprian Gridley as a missionary to Sonora in 1850. His first sermon was preached on the 29th of September. Rev. Joseph S. Malone succeeded him, preaching his first sermon on the 14th of September, 1851. He was succeeded on the 16th of May, 1852, by Rev. William H. Long, whose connection with the church was dissolved on the 19th of July, and Rev. Mr. Malone re-occupied the pulpit. He left in April 1853, for the Atlantic States, and Rev. Morris Evans filled his place until the spring of 1855, when the Rev. O. P. Fitzgerald became the pastor. The church edifice was erected in January 1852.
The Methodist Episcopal church was organized under the preaching of Rev. David Deal, whose labors commenced on the 7th of March, 1852. By his active exertion a large and handsome church edifice was erected in June of the same year. He was succeeded in the spring of 1854, by a Dr. Hadley, who soon left a position for which he had no qualifications of head or heart. The Rev. J. W. Brier succeeded to the vacancy, preaching alternately here and at Columbia. In the spring of 1855, the Rev. Isaac B. Fish succeeded Mr. Brier.
The first Presbyterian Church was organized in the summer of 1853, under the preaching of Rev. Silas S. Harmon, a missionary from the Howe Missionary Society. He commenced his labors in April 1853. A large and beautiful edifice has been erected, which was dedicated in the spring of 1855.
The Israelites have held regular meetings since September, 1851, although as yet they have no synagogue erected.
Transcribed by Sue Wood.
Proofread by Betty Vickroy.
© 2008 Sue Wood.
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