News & Tall Tales. 1800s.
A Day in Court
July 2, 1853, Daily Alta California, San Francisco
Police Court.--Before Recorder Baker June 29th
The Dock yesterday bore no small resemblance to the gallery of a theater. The lights and shadows of life in San Francisco were distinctly to be seen, from the flaxen-headed youth to the Mexican of the swarthy brow.
Mons. Dromard and Ramond forgot their dignity and from words they got out into the back yard, and then to blows. Ramond, who is an artist, handled his subject with a master-hand but Dromard thought, and Dromard is a connoisseur, that Ramond was putting it on a little too thick. Ramond was making his eyes darker than was natural, and his nose, (citizen Dromard had often prided himself on his nose) he had a fine nose and imagined it could not be beaten, but it was, and badly. The painter was making it too broad and flat to please the owner, but when did man ever see another perfectly satisfied with his portrait. His Honor, thinking they would be ornaments in the picture gallery below, gave orders to have them framed in iron for two days.
Wm. Bloomfield, a great big loafer, had went and kicked a small China boy because the boy had asked for his wages as a cook, or his bedding, if they would not pay him. Bloomfield said: "yes he might have struck him, and his foot might have touched him." His Honor told him to sit down, that he would sentence him to-morrow, and hinted gently to him that he was a brute.
J. Barry was arraigned for an assault and battery. Mr. Barry and one of the fair sex had a bit of a row about a bit of land upon which Barry was about to build a house. The lady was opposed to having Mr. Barry for a neighbor, and kicked up a breeze, but the undaunted Barry, knowing that "who would be free themselves must strike the blow," went to work. A house was to be built; he raised a "a bit of a stick," about 18 feet long; the lady happened to be at one end of it, and in consequence of its being rather unsteady in the hands of the excited Barry, she got a gentle hint from that end to tilt over, and over she tilted. His Honor, with "a plague on both your houses" tone of voice, told both parties to go home and behave themselves.
Raphael Rial, charged with stealing the ring from Mr. Randolph, was sentenced to six month's residence in the Broadway Tombs.
Mrs. Tye was charged with disorderly conduct. Mrs. Tye wished to recover several cups and saucers belonging to her, that were in possession of the bakers. She thought Mr. Baker was playing the tryant in keeping them from her. Mr. Baker said she was drunk, but Mrs. Tye loved her cups that was nobody’s business and drunk or sober, she was going to have them. Mr. Bakers said the lady was going to pull a revolver from her pocket to perform the untidy act of blowing his brains out, and not wishing to lose those valuable adjuncts to his personal property, he insisted upon tying her hands to her side by his own brawny ones; peace was proclaimed, and Mrs. Tye made the astute remark: "Thee God pays debts without money." The parties were fine $10 each.
George Chapin This gentleman was, about 2 oclock in the morning, found rummaging amongst the drawers of a person on Union Street, and was conveyed to the station house in the picturesque costume generally adopted by the "Digger Indians," to with: a coat and hat. His answers were very brief; was tight, was a farmer, didn't know how he came there. If Mr. Chapin can find any respectable persons today willing to clothe him with good characters, he may escape a "dressing" from His Honor.
Louis St. Clair was charged with assaulting Mr. Martin, a butcher at the Mission, with a knife. It seemed that a lady was purchasing a shin bone to make soup of. St. Clair insisted that Martin was charging too much. Martin thought that was none of his business, and went to put the Saint out of the shambles. The Saint got bull headed and resisted; "lambed" him in the head; but the red faced gent was ready for him; he got the Saints finger in his ponderous jaws, and was making hash of this delicious morsel; this caused St. Clair to squirm, no doubt like a string of new made sausages, when thoughtless people whistle in the August presence. He seized hold of a large knife and made a swoop at Martin's gaiters; his (Martin’s) right shin received the blow, and was pretty badly cut. Here the sport ended. It had commenced about a calf’s shin, and ended with the shin just below the calf. Louis was sent to Crosierville for five days.
The case of Devoe and Farrell was postponed until 12 o'clock today.
John Hanley, the lad that played off drunk in the hall on Mission street, goes to the tombs for three months.
June 30 After the "Major" had comfortably seated his class, the exercises commenced by calling to account:
Senor Sixto, for trying to open a room in a lodging house, by removing the screws from the lock. He and his companion had been forbid the premises; his plea that he wanted to see a friend, didn’t remember his name, wouldn’t go down; but he did, to be sentenced to-morrow, when he no doubt will have the screws put to him.
Mr. Gradan only gets rummy when he comes to town. He can’t stand much liquor; one glass quite overcomes him, but he can’t leave that glass alone, and then he generally takes more to keep it company; he really won’t do so again. He will not for two days, at least, for he will be kept out of harm’s way.
John Nickerson, with his good natured phiz peering out of a cloud of happy looking whiskers, begged in a most piteous to be let off this time. "I beg of you! I beg of you! this is the first time I was ever here; I was tight, to be sure, but I beg of you to let me go." His honor had to smile, and release John from the tight place he was in.
The next case was lady Assing. Assing is from the Celestial Empire, and dwelling on Dupon street, where like too many of her fair countrywomen she thinks if angry she can use all the vile epithets she has learned of the English language in the open street; but she has found herself mistaken; her royal highness was sent below to learn better manners for ten days.
Alexander Furman, a negro, was charged with grand larceny by a very intelligent colored woman; he was in her house on the day of the robbery, and she left him there alone for some time. A small black girl in her evidence stated that she saw the prisoner come out of the house and take three slugs out of a purse and then throw the purse under the corner of the house; she picked it up and next day showed it to the woman that had been robbed, who upon looking for her cash first discovered she had lost it. She suspected the prisoner, and found in his house when she went there a dress pattern and a visette upon the bed, that had been filched from her. When she accused him, he and his Senorita gave her some rough treatment. Don Alexander was sent before the Sessions and his Senorita was discharged.
Wm. Bloomfield, the big bully who so badly treated the dwarf of a Chinaman, was sentenced for thirty days. He begged to be sent to sea he may be yet; it would do the State some service, and he knows it.
John Shoemaker. Little Johnny was brought in delirious; "the man with the poker" had been after him; he will have a guard to try and keep him off for ten days.
Wm. Thompson, a fine clean looking gentleman, was charged with the robbery of several persons at the Temperance House, Pacific wharf; he acknowledged the act to them, and was sent up to the Court of Sessions.
Wm. Jordan had slashed and cut away at his neighbors fence, and threatened to demolish his house if it suited his purpose. He will be sentenced to-morrow.
Early California: Rulers and Rebels, Chronicles (1535-1846), Destiny's Children, Killing for Land, The Forty-niners. . .
Black Fire: The True Story of the Original Tom Sawyer--and of the Mysterious Fires That Baptized Gold Rush-Era San Francisco
The first biography of the little-known real-life Tom Sawyer (a friend of Mark Twain during his brief tenure as a California newspaper reporter), told through a harrowing account of Sawyer's involvement in the hunt for a serial arsonist who terrorized mid-nineteenth century San Francisco. hen 28-year-old San Francisco Daily Morning Call reporter Mark Twain met Tom Sawyer at a local bathhouse in 1863, he was seeking a subject for his first novel. As Twain steamed, played cards, and drank beer with Sawyer (a volunteer firefighter, customs inspector, and local hero responsible for having saved ninety lives at sea), he had second thoughts about Shirley Tempest, his proposed book about a local girl firefighter, and began to envision a novel of wider scope. Author Robert Graysmith worked as an artist at The San Francisco Chronicle during the years of the Zodiac Killer; he wrote "Zodiac" and "Zodiac Unmasked" about those murders.
Isthmus of Panama Then and Now: Ship Canal, Cruising Panama, Panama Fever, A Year in Panama, History of the Railroad, Trees of Panama and Costa Rica
The History of the Gold Discoveries of the Northern Mines of California's Mother Lode Gold Belt As Told By The Newspapers and Miners 1848-1875
Lewis J. Swindle
While in the U.S. Military stationed in Turkey in the eary 1970s, Swindle became interested in minerals and geology. In returning to the U.S. and during the 26 years he lived in Colorado, he spent countless hours in the mountainous terrain looking for, digging and collecting the minerals known to exist in the Pikes Peak Region. In moving to the California and the Gold Belt Region, he searched out the history of the gold in the region.
Rooted in Barbarous Soil:
People, Culture, and Community in Gold Rush California
(California History Series)
A mercurial economy swung from boom to bust, and back again, rendering everyone's fortunes ephemeral. Competition, jealousy, and racism fueled individual and mass violence. Yet, in the very midst of this turbulence, social and cultural forms emerged, gained strength, spread, and took hold. Rooted in Barbarous Soil examines gold rush society and culture.
The Age of Gold:
The California Gold Rush and the New American Dream
H. W. Brands
“I have found it.” These words, uttered by the man who first discovered gold on the American River in 1848, triggered the most astonishing mass movement of peoples since the Crusades. California’s gold drew fortune-seekers from around the world. That discovery accelerated America’s imperial expansion and exacerbated the tensions that exploded in the Civil War. The Gold Rush inspired a new American dream — the “dream of instant wealth, won by audacity and good luck.” Brands tells his epic story from multiple perspectives: of adventurers John and Jessie Fremont, entrepreneur Leland Stanford, and Samuel Clemens — alongside prospectors, soldiers, and scoundrels. He imparts a sense of the distances they traveled, the suffering they endured, and the fortunes they made and lost.
San Francisco Memoirs:
1835-1851: Eyewitness Accounts of the Birth of a City
Malcolm E. Barker
In July 1846 San Francisco was a tranquil settlement of about 150 inhabitants. Three years later it was an international metropolis with more than 30,000 people thronging its streets. Recalled in this intriguing collection of personal anecdotes from those tumultuous times are the days when San Francisco Bay extended inland to Montgomery Street. Bears, wolves, and coyotes roamed the shore. The arrival of 238 Mormons more than doubled the town's population.
Skull in the Ashes: Murder, a Gold Rush Manhunt, and the Birth of Circumstantial Evidence in America
More San Francisco Memoirs 1852-1899: The Ripening Years
Malcolm E. Barker
Gold Dust and Gunsmoke
Tales of Gold Rush Outlaws, Gunfighters, Lawmen, and Vigilantes
A collection of true tales of villainy and violence during the California Gold Rush. How gold fever ignited a rush of families, but also prostitutes, feuds, lynchings, duels, bare-knuckle prizefights, and vigilantes.
The Trials of Laura Fair: Sex, Murder, and Insanity in the Victorian West
On November 3, 1870, on a San Francisco ferry, Laura Fair shot a bullet into the heart of her married lover, A. P. Crittenden. Throughout her two murder trials, Fair's lawyers, supported by expert testimony from physicians, claimed that the shooting was the result of temporary insanity caused by a severely painful menstrual cycle. The first jury disregarded such testimony, choosing instead to focus on Fair's disreputable character. In the second trial, however, an effective defense built on contemporary medical beliefs and gendered stereotypes led to a verdict that shocked Americans across the country. Carole Haber probes changing ideas about morality and immorality, masculinity and femininity, love and marriage, health and disease, and mental illness to show that all these concepts were reinvented in the Victorian West.
Embarcadero: Sea Adventures from 1849 to 1906
Tales of the colorful characters who went down to the sea in ships to and from the port of San Francisco.
Mud, Blood, and Gold
A year in the life of San Francisco: 1849. Based on eyewitness accounts and previously overlooked official records, Richards chronicles the explosive growth of a wide-open town rife with violence, gambling, and prostitution, all of it fueled by unbridled greed.
The Naval Order of the United States has a history dating from 1890. Membership includes a wide range of individuals, many with highly distinguished career paths.
The San Francisco Commandery meets the first Monday of each month at the San Francisco Italian Athletic Club in San Francisco, California and holds two formal dinners each year.