EARLY DAYS IN CALIFORNIA
STEPHEN J. FIELD.
Printed for a few friends.
Copyright, 1880, by S. J. Field.
[From the New York Evening Post of November 13th, 1849.]
Among the passengers leaving in the Crescent City to-day is Stephen J. Field, Esq., of this city, brother and late law-partner of D. D. Field, Esq., one of the Commissioners of the Code of Practice.
Mr. Field is on his way to San Francisco, where he proposes to practise his profession, and take up his future residence. If he should realize either the hopes or the expectations of the numerous friends he leaves behind, he will achieve an early and desirable distinction in the promising land of his adoption.
Mr. William H. Parks, of Marysville, has always asserted that my election as Alcalde was owing to a wager for a dinner made by him with a friend. He was at the time engaged in transporting goods to the mines from the landing at Nye's Ranch on the Yuba River, called Yubaville, and arriving at the latter place whilst the election was going on he made the wager that I would be elected, and voted all his teamsters, numbering eleven, for me. As I had a majority of only nine, he claims that he had the honor of giving me my first office. The claim must be allowed, unless the person with whom he wagered offset this number, or at least some of the teamsters, by votes for my opponent.
After the election Mr. Parks introduced himself to me, and from that time to this he has been a warm and steadfast friend. He afterwards settled in Sutter County, but now resides in Marysville. He has amassed a handsome fortune, and takes an interest in all public affairs. He has represented his county as a Senator in the Legislature of the State. He is a gentleman of high character and has the confidence and respect of the community.
My opponent for the office of Alcalde was Mr. C. B. Dodson, from Illinois. I afterwards met him only once or twice in California, and knew little of his history. But when I was a member of the Electoral Commission, in February of this year (1877), a copy of a paper published in Geneva, Illinois--the Republican, of the 10th of that month--was sent to me, containing the following account of him, from which it appears that he, too, has lived a life of strange vicissitudes and stirring adventure:
An account of the various positions of the selected arbitrators says that in 1850 Judge Field was elected Alcalde and Recorder of Marysville, California. Judge Field's competitor for the position was our townsman, Capt. C. B. Dodson, who was defeated by nine votes. As there is no doubt that had the Captain gained the position of Alcalde he would have risen as his competitor did, to various judicial positions, and finally to the arbitrator's seat, these nine votes must be considered as the only reasons why Geneva does not number one of her citizens among the arbitrators for the highest of the world's official positions. Among the votes polled for our friend Dodson on that occasion was that of Macaulay, one of the family of the famous historian of England's greatest days and proudest times.
The Captain has been a natural and inveterate pioneer, and few citizens of the State have figured more prominently or proudly in its early annals. In 1834, forty-three years ago, Mr. Dodson came to dispute with the aboriginal Pottawatomies the possession of the Fox River valley. White faces were rare in those days, and scarcely a squatter's cabin rose among the Indian lodges. The Captain built the first saw-mill on the river, and he and Col. Lyon were the hardy spirits about whom the early settlers clustered for encouragement and advice.
In 1837 he was employed by the government to superintend the removal of the Indians to Council Bluffs and Kansas, and their successful emigration, as well as their uniform good will toward the whites prior to their removal, were largely due to his sagacity and influence among them.
When Capt. Sutter first found the yellow gold gleaming in the dirt of his mill-race, and all the world joined in a mad rush to the mines, the venturesome spirit of Capt. Dodson led him to press forward with the first, and he was a “forty-niner,” that pride of the old Californians. In that surging crowd of wild adventurers from the ends of the earth, the Captain was, as he has been among the early pioneers of Illinois, a directing and controlling spirit. Though he failed in his judicial aspirations for Alcalde, and Judge Field succeeded, yet his continued exertions and marked influence caused him to leave a name richly associated with all the early history of Marysville and vicinity.
When the war broke out, Mr. Dodson was among the very first to proffer his services, and he raised the first company of cavalry which went to the front from Kane County.
The Captain is not an old man yet in health and vigor, although an “old settler” in varied and numerous experiences. His name is marked in unmistakable characters on every prominent event of the early settlement of Northern Illinois, and blended and associated with all the pioneer way-marks of California. A friend and companion of all the great Illinoians of the generation which is now passing into old age, he has not yet ceased to be a spirit actively mingling in all the affairs of the present times. But we only started to tell of his contest with Field, not to write an eulogium on the Captain, for here where he is known it is better pronounced in his record, which lies in the memories of his friends.
Oath of Office as Alcalde.
STATE OF CALIFORNIA, SACRAMENTO DISTRICT. ss.
SACRAMENTO CITY, January 22d, 1850.
Personally appeared before me Stephen J. Field, First Alcalde of Yubaville, in the District of Sacramento, and made oath that he would discharge the duties of the office of First Alcalde as aforesaid with faithfulness and fidelity to the best of his ability, and that he would support the Constitution of the United States and the constitution of the State of California.
R. A. WILSON, Judge of 1st Instance, Sacramento District.
The following are the orders of the District Court mentioned in the Narrative. Order imprisoning and fining Mr. Field for alleged contempt of court.
EIGHTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT,
COUNTY OF YUBA.
At a term of said District Court held at Marysville, county of Yuba, on the 7th of June, 1850, present, Hon. Wm. R. Turner, Judge, the following proceeding was had: Ordered, That Stephen J. Field be imprisoned forty-eight hours and fined five hundred dollars for contempt of court. Order expelling Messrs. Field, Goodwin, and Mulford from the Bar.
EIGHTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT,
COUNTY OF YUBA.
At a term of said court held at Marysville, on the 10th of June, 1850, present, Hon. William R. Turner, Judge, the following proceeding was had:
Whereas, Messrs. Field, Goodwin, and Mulford, having set at defiance the authority of this court, and having vilified the court and denounced its proceedings, the said Field, Goodwin, and Mulford are hereby, by order of the court, expelled from the bar of the same. Order imprisoning and fining Judge Haun for releasing Mr. Field from imprisonment upon a writ of habeas corpus, and directing that the order to imprison Mr. Field be enforced.
EIGHTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT,
COUNTY OF YUBA.
At a term of said District Court held at Marysville, county of Yuba, on the 10th of June, 1850, present, Hon. Wm. R. Turner, Judge, the following proceeding was had:
Whereas, Judge Haun having, in defiance of the authority of this court, and in violation of the law, obstructed and prevented the execution of an order of this court to imprison Mr. Field for a contempt offered to the court while in session, by releasing the said Field from the custody of the sheriff; the said Haun is hereby sentenced to forty-eight hours' imprisonment and to pay a fine of fifty dollars.
The sheriff will enforce the order of the court to imprison Mr. Field for forty-eight hours.
Record of Proceedings in the Court of Sessions, mentioned in the Narrative.
Court of Sessions of Yuba County.
Met at Marysville, June 10th, A.D. 1850, at 10 o'clock A.M., and was duly opened by R. B. Buchanan, sheriff of the county.
Present, Hon. H. P. Haun, County Judge, F. W. Barnard, Associate Justice.
IN THE MATTER OF STEPHEN J. FIELD. Application for Habeas Corpus.
On the reading of the petition of the applicant, duly authenticated by his oath, it is ordered that the prayer of the petitioner be granted, and that R. B. Buchanan, sheriff of Yuba County, or any person acting under him and having said Field in custody, bring the said Field into court forthwith, to be dealt with according to law.
In pursuance of the above order, the said Field came into court, and proceeded to address the court on the matter touching the cause of his confinement, and while making his remarks, and previous to the close thereof, and while the court was in session, R. B. Buchanan, sheriff of Yuba County, at the head of fifty men, entered the court, and stated that he came there for the purpose and with the intent to seize H. P. Haun, County Judge as aforesaid, and place him in close confinement, under and by virtue of a certain order or decree made by one William R. Turner, Judge of the Eighth Judicial District of the State of California.
The court informed the said Sheriff Buchanan that it was holding its regular term, and that order must be preserved while it was in session. The said Sheriff Buchanan then left the court, whereupon the business before the court was again resumed.
At the expiration of some five minutes, the said R. B. Buchanan, as aforesaid, re-entered the court, and stated that the said H. P. Haun, County Judge as aforesaid, must leave the court and go with him, as he was peremptorily ordered by William R. Turner, the Judge as aforesaid, to arrest the said H. P. Haun and keep him in close confinement for the space of forty-eight hours.
R. B. Buchanan was here notified that he was violating the laws of the land, and that he would be fined if he persisted in disturbing the session of the court. The reply of said Buchanan was “that he could not be trifled with,” and immediately seized the said H. P. Haun, County Judge as aforesaid, by the arm, and attempted to drag him from the room where the court was in session. Whereupon a fine of two hundred dollars was then and there imposed upon the said R. B. Buchanan for a contempt of court.
The said R. B. Buchanan then and there called upon the fifty persons ordered out by him as his posse to take hold of the said H. P. Haun, and take him from the court. But the persons in attendance, conceiving the order to arrest the Hon. H. P. Haun to be illegal and unjustifiable, refused to assist the sheriff in the execution of his illegal order. The sheriff then retired, and the court was then adjourned to 3 o'clock P.M.
Court met pursuant to adjournment. Court adjourned to to-morrow morning at 9 o'clock.
I hereby certify the above to be a true transcript of the record of the proceedings of the Court of Sessions on the 10th day of June, A.D. 1850. Witness E. D. Wheeler, clerk of the Court of Sessions of Yuba County, California, with the seal of the court affixed, this 26th day of December, A.D. 1850.
[L.S.] E. D. WHEELER, Clerk.
The records of the District Court show the following entry made the same day, June 10, 1850:
“A communication was received from H. P. Haun, stating 'that if he was guilty of obstructing the order of the court in releasing Field, he did it ignorantly, not intending any contempt by so doing.' Whereupon the court ordered that H. P. Haun be released from confinement, and his fine be remitted.”
The following is taken from the deposition of Mr. Wheeler, the clerk of the court, before the committee of the Assembly to whom was referred the petition of citizens of Yuba County for the impeachment of Judge Turner:
E. D. Wheeler, * being duly sworn, says: I reside in Marysville, Yuba County; I am the county clerk of that county; I know Wm. R. Turner, judge of the Eighth Judicial District; I am clerk of his court in and for Yuba County. [Note : Mr. Wheeler is at present (1877) District Judge of the Nineteenth District of the State.]
Question. Were you in court on the 7th day of June last, when Stephen J. Field was fined by Judge Turner and ordered to be imprisoned? If so, please to state what took place at that time in court.
Ans. I was in court on the 7th day of June last. A motion was made in a suit (Cameron against Sutter) in which Stephen J. Field was counsel for the defendant, upon which motion a discussion arose among the members of the bar employed in the case.
During the remarks of Mr. Field, Judge Turner said that it was useless to say more, as the mind of the court was made up. I think Mr. Field then offered to read from the Statutes, whereupon Judge Turner ordered him to take his seat, and that a fine of two hundred dollars be entered up against him, and that he be imprisoned eight hours or thereabout. Mr. Field replied, “Very well.” Then Judge Turner said, fine him three hundred dollars and imprison him--I do not remember the precise time--but think it was twenty-four hours. Mr. Field made some quiet reply--I think it was “Very well;” whereupon the fine was increased to four hundred dollars and the imprisonment made something longer. I think Mr. Field said something about his rights at the bar, and I think he appealed to the members of the bar. Then Judge Turner became quite furious, and in loud and boisterous language ordered the fine to be five hundred dollars and the imprisonment to be forty-eight hours, and ordered the sheriff to take him out of court. He was boisterous, and several times ordered the sheriff to take him out; to summon a posse; to summon the court, and he would turn him out.
Q. Did you see anything disrespectful in the manner, or hear anything disrespectful in the language of Mr. Field which occasioned the fine and imprisonment?
Ans. I did not.
Q. Did Mr. Field, in consequence of the order of Judge Turner, leave the court-room in company with the deputy sheriff?
Ans. He left in company with the deputy sheriff, and I suppose it was in consequence of the order of Judge Turner.
Q. Was the trial of Cameron against Sutter proceeded with after Mr. Field left?
Ans. It was.
Q. Who took the place of Mr. Field after he left?
Ans. John V. Berry, Esq.
Q. Were you in court on the 10th day of June?
Ans. I was.
Q. Were any members of the bar expelled by Judge Turner on that day? And if so, please state who they were and whether they were in court at the time, and whether or not the order was made upon a hearing of the parties.
Ans. There were three persons expelled, to wit: S. J. Field, S. B. Mulford, and J. O. Goodwin. I do not recollect whether the parties were all in court at the time. I am sure that Mr. Goodwin was in court. There was no hearing had to my knowledge.
Q. After the order imprisoning Mr. Field, on the 7th of June and before the 10th, were any steps taken by Mr. Field to be discharged on a writ of habeas corpus?
Ans. There were, and Mr. Field was discharged by the Judge of the County of Yuba.
Q. What was done by Judge Turner with Judge Haun, the County Judge, in consequence of his discharging Mr. Field from imprisonment on the writ of habeas corpus?
Ans. Judge Haun was fined fifty dollars by Judge Turner and ordered to be imprisoned forty-eight hours. This was on the 10th of June, at the same time that the other gentlemen were expelled from the bar.
Q. Did the Court of Sessions of Yuba County hold a session on that day?
Q. Did you continue in the District Court or did you go to the Court of Sessions?
Ans. I continued in the District Court.
Q. Who made up the records of the Court of Sessions on that day?
Ans. F. W. Barnard, one of the associate justices of the court.
Q. Look at this paper and state whether it is a copy of the proceedings of that court on the 10th of June, certified by you as the clerk.
Ans. It is. * [Note : The record of the proceedings is printed above.]
Q. Whilst you were in the District Court on that day did the sheriff of Yuba County give any information to the District Court about the Court of Sessions being in session?
Ans. He did.
Q. Did Judge Turner give any directions to the sheriff to arrest Judge Haun, notwithstanding he was holding his court?
Ans. He did, and told the sheriff to put him in irons, if necessary to handcuff him.
Q. Were any directions given about a posse?
Ans. There were. He told the sheriff to summon a posse forthwith and enforce the orders of the court. He addressed two or three professional gamblers present and asked them if they would not join the posse to arrest Judge Haun. Then the excitement became so great that several of the members of the bar requested him to adjourn the court; but before the court adjourned the Judge asked several of the members of the bar to join the posse; but they made excuses, whereupon the court adjourned.
Q. Was the order entered on the records of the District Court, expelling Messrs. Field, Goodwin, and Mulford?
Ans. It was.
Q. What day was that order entered?
Ans. On the 10th day of June.
Q. Has that order ever been vacated on the records of the District Court?
Ans. So far as it relates to Mr. Goodwin it has been vacated, but no further.
Q. Has Mr. Field or Mr. Mulford ever been restored to the bar by the District Court since the order of expulsion on the 10th of June?
The following is the petition to the Governor mentioned in the Narrative. Of course the Governor possessed no power to suspend a judicial officer from office. But at the time the petition was signed and sent to him the State had not been admitted into the Union, and Congress had not approved of the action of the people in calling a convention and framing a constitution; and it appeared very doubtful whether such approval would be given. There was a general impression that in the meantime the Governor could exercise the power to remove and suspend officers of the State which the former governors under Mexico possessed, or were supposed to possess. The petition, however, is none the less significant, as the expression of the opinions of the people of Marysville upon the conduct of Judge Turner.
To His Excellency Peter H. Burnett, Governor of California.
The undersigned citizens of Marysville, Yuba County, in this State, respectfully request that Your Excellency would suspend William R. Turner, District Judge of the Eighth Judicial District of this State, from his judicial office.
1st. Because the said William R. Turner is grossly incompetent to discharge the duties of a judge, he having exhibited during his judicial career, and particularly during the session of the District Court held at Marysville, in Yuba County, during the present month, ignorance of the most elementary principles of law,--such as to excite the derision of counsel, jurors, witnesses, and persons in attendance upon the court.
2d. Because the said William R. Turner has, during the session of the District Court held at Marysville, exercised the power vested in him as judge, in an arbitrary and tyrannical manner, outraging the rights of counsel, clients, and witnesses.
3d. Because the said William R. Turner has refused to hear counsel on questions of vital importance to the suits of their clients, and in one instance fined and imprisoned counsel for stating in the most respectful manner and in the most respectful language, that he appealed from an order made by him, though such is an acknowledged right of all counsel, and a right given by statute--under pretence that counsel by so doing was guilty of a contempt.
4th. Because the said Wm. R. Turner has trampled upon and spurned with contempt the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus which is guaranteed to all citizens by the Constitution of the United States and by the constitution of the State of California, and fined and imprisoned the Hon. Henry P. Haun, Judge of Yuba County, for the exercise by him of a judicial act in discharging a gentleman from arrest under a writ of habeas corpus.
5th. Because the said William R. Turner, to carry out his arbitrary order to fine and imprison the Hon. Henry P. Haun, Judge of Yuba County, for the exercise of a judicial act, ordered the sheriff of said county with a posse to invade the Court of Sessions of Yuba County while the said court was sitting, and over which the said Haun presided, and to carry off by force the said county judge and put him in close custody.
6th. Because the said William R. Turner ordered the sheriff of Yuba County, with a posse, to force Mr. S. J. Field from the Court of Sessions of said county whilst said Field was before said court on a writ of habeas corpus arguing for his discharge, and the said William R. Turner was informed that the Court of Sessions forbid the sheriff from disturbing the proceedings of the court on the hearing of said writ.
7th. Because the said William R. Turner has, in the exercise of arbitrary power, expelled counsel from the bar for giving their testimony as witnesses on the return of a writ of habeas corpus before the Hon. Henry P. Haun, Judge of the County Court, under pretence that by so doing they were villifying the court and denouncing its proceedings.
8th. Because the said William R. Turner, during the session of the District Court at Marysville, Yuba County, in the present month, frequently went into Court with revolving pistols upon his person, to the great scandal of the court and of the county
For the above, and other reasons, your petitioners respectfully request that the said William R. Turner may be suspended from his office, as the further exercise by him of judicial power will destroy all confidence of the community in the administration of justice, and all respect for the tribunals of the country; and your petitioners will ever pray.
Marysville, June 19th, 1850.
Stephen J. Field, Ira A. Eaton, James S. Green, T. B. Parker, E. W. Judkins, Harrington Osgood, Chas. W. Gleason, Geo. W. Hastat, S. Sartwell, jr., M. S. Ebright, S. C. Stambaugh, P. Steinman, Henry Cuttcher, M. Cunningham, Ed. B. Jefferds, Wm. H. Mitchell, Benj. Barker, H. Cecil & Co., Osbourn & Co., Asa Stearns, John Bennett, jr., J. P. F. Haskell, W. A. Crampton, J. C. Jewett, H. Stenhome, John Parks, Absalom Parks, David Parks, James Imbrie, Alfred Parry, H. C. Ward, Richard McRae, Wm. Johnson, F. Prunean, H. W. Taylor, R. A. Eddy, S. T. Brewster, C. Sala, Dericerpre, M. Donaldson Kinney, R. M. Foltz, Jas. F. Hibbard, Thomas Gaffney, Allen Gries, W. H. Swain, Oben Lacey, E. S. Peck, B. Smith, John Graham, Wm. Kyle, S. C. Tompkins, A. C. Ladd, C. B. Kinnard, Cyrus Crouch, H. H. Welch, Jas. Stuart, Jas. DeBell, Uriah Davis, L. H. Babb & Co., I. B. Purdy, G. Dimon, Henry J. Williams, D. W. C. Rice, N. Purdy, William K. Coit, James B. Cushing, Thomas West, S. B. Mulford, J. Ford, Wm. Ford, Charles A. Van Dorn, Gustavus B. Wright, J. Burlingame, G. Beaulamy, A. Mace, F. Frossard, C. W. Durkee, John S. Ryder, Geo. H. Childs, Ezra F. Nye, S. T. Nye, Geo. W. Durkee, John C. Marks, John L. Carpenter, Leonard Crofford, Robert Lacy, French Paige, L. A. Allen, James Hughes, J. C. Sargent, Wm. P. Hoyt, F. L. Reed, J. S. Bell, Henry B. Compton, G. F. Kussel, Reuben Scott, Warren Drury, Joel F. Whitney, O. C. Gardner, B. F. Taber, Johnson Thompson, jr., Ganahl & Co., T. W. Hall, J. Donnel, Wm. Irwin, Wm. W. Nelson, R. H. McCall, B. G. Bixby, Geo. L. Boswell, Wm. W. Tinker, Robert S. Baker, N. F. Cooke, Edwards Woodruff, J. N. Briceland, Joseph F. Emeric, John F. Delong, James Q. Packard, Sibley & Co., Boone, Larrow & Co., P. W. Hayes & Co., Geo. C. Gorham, R. Dunlap, M. Cameron, R. Brown, A. W. Loynes, F. Owradon, J. W. Turner, P. D. Bailey, James L. Springer, Matthew S. Smith, Wm. Fulton, John George Smith, Isaiah Porter, Wm. R. Taylor, John McClellan, R. H. Macy, Charles B. Mitchell, Thomas R. Anthony, Geo. W. Webster, Daniel M. Shepherd, M. J. Eavyerberth, Lewis A. Gosey, John Rueyer, Tehan Van De Wett, Wm. Cassede, G. P. Russell, S. G. Haywood, G. W. Hopkins, Wm. E. Wightman, E. Ferris, Samuel R. St. John, A. O. Garrett, D. C. Benham.
Letter of Mr. Eaton, by whom the message mentioned in the Narrative was sent to Judge Turner.
WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON, Aug. 7, '50.
DEAR JUDGE: I have given your message to Turner. He does not like it much, and flared up considerably when I told him. But it was no use. I have made him understand that you do not want any personal difficulty with him, but that you are ready for him, and if he attacks you he will get badly hurt. I will see you soon and explain. Give him --. You can always count on me.
Yours truly, IRA A. EATON.
The Narrative of Reminiscences was sent to a friend in San Francisco soon after it was printed, and was shown to Gen. A. M. Winn of that city. He was in Marysville in 1850 and also gave Judge Turner to understand the line of conduct I intended to pursue. The following letter has since been received from him.
SAN FRANCISCO, May 10 th, '80.
FRIEND FIELD: In looking over the Early Reminiscences of California I was pleased with the faithful recital of your trouble with Judge Turner at Marysville in 1850. Being there about that time I recollect to have met with Judge Turner and found him in a fighting rage, making threats of what he would do on meeting you. Although I have not an exalted opinion of men's courage, when they talk so much about it, I thought he might put his threats into execution and warned you of approaching danger.
The course you pursued was generally approved, and public opinion culminated in your favor. You made many warm friends, though Turner and his friends were the more enraged in consequence of that fact.
With great respect, I am, as ever, your friend,
A. M. WINN.
Hon. STEPHEN J. FIELD, Washington, D.C.
EXHIBIT H, No. I.*
[Note : By mistake, there are two Exhibits H; they are, therefore, marked No. I. and No. II.]
After the Narrative of Reminiscences was written, the Proceedings of the Assembly of California of 1851, on the petition of citizens of Yuba and Nevada Counties for the impeachment of Judge Turner, were published. Annexed to them was a statement by the editor of the causes of the indefinite postponement of the matter. They are there stated to be: 1st, That it was supposed that I had acquiesced in such a disposition of the case, because by the act concerning the courts of justice and judicial officers, Turner had been sent to the northern portion of the State, where he could do no harm; 2d, That the legislature did not wish to extend the session for the period which the trial of an impeachment would require; and, 3d, That the whole matter had become extremely distasteful to me.
A copy of this statement with the record of the proceedings was sent to the surviving members of the seven, mentioned in the Narrative, who voted for the indefinite postponement of the matter; and they wrote the replies which are given below as part of this exhibit. They are preceded by a letter from a member, written soon after the vote was taken.
Letter of Mr. Bennett.
HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY,
SAN JOSE, April 23d, 1851.
Hon. STEPHEN J. FIELD.
DR. SIR: I take pleasure in adopting this form to explain to you my vote upon the question put to the House in the final disposition of the case for the impeachment of Judge Turner.
Had the House been called for a direct vote upon the question of impeachment, I should certainly have voted for the impeachment; but finding that some of the members thought the wishes of the citizens of Yuba County had been accomplished by the removal of Judge Turner from your district, and on that account would vote against the impeachment, I thought there was less injustice in postponing the whole matter indefinitely, than in coming to a direct vote. I will also say that it was understood by many members that you would be satisfied with such a disposition.
I am very truly your friend,
F. C. BENNETT.
To the Hon. STEPHEN J. FIELD, San Jose.
Letter of Mr. Merritt.
SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH, May 4 th, 1879.
MY DEAR JUDGE:
Your letter of the 27th of April reached me day before yesterday, and the copy of the proceedings in the matter of the impeachment of W. R. Turner, on yesterday. The editorial comments on the case, so far as I am concerned, are exactly correct. I remember distinctly having voted for the indefinite postponement of the charges against Turner on the distinct understanding that you consented to it, or at least acquiesced, for the reasons:
1st, That Turner, by the passage of the bill concerning courts of justice, etc., had been sent to a district where he could do no harm and was out of the way; 2d, That you did not desire to extend the session of the Legislature; and, 3d, That the whole matter was extremely distasteful and disagreeable to you. I remember further very distinctly, even after this great lapse of time, that I was very much astonished when you told me that I had voted under a misapprehension as to your views and wishes. It is very certain that Turner would have been impeached had not a false report, as to your views and wishes on the subject, been industriously circulated among the members of the Assembly a short time before the vote was taken. That report alone saved Turner from impeachment.
Very truly your friend,
SAML. A. MERRITT.
Hon. S. J. FIELD, Sup. Ct. U.S.
Letter of Mr. McCorkle.
WASHINGTON CITY, D.C., May 8 th, 1879.
Hon. S. J. FIELD.
MY DEAR SIR: I have received your note and the printed record of the “Proceedings of the Assembly of the State of California of 1851, on the petition of the citizens of Yuba and Nevada Counties for the impeachment of Wm. R. Turner, Judge of the Eighth Judicial District of California.” The simple reading of the record recalls vividly to my mind all of the circumstances of the case and enables me to answer your inquiry in regard to the indefinite postponement of the motion to impeach Judge Turner.
A bill introduced by yourself, increasing and changing the numbers of the judicial districts of the State, had passed the Legislature, and became a law some weeks before the motion to impeach Judge Turner was called up. By this law Judge Turner was banished to the Klamath--a region inhabited almost exclusively by savage red-skins, the elk, and grizzly bear, and as Turner was supposed by anthropologists to be a resultant of that mysterious law of generation denominated atavism or reversionary heredity, and bore the impression, in not only the bodily form, but the instincts, passions, manners, and habits of the “cave-dwellers” of the rough-stone age, there appeared to be a fitness and adaptation in the new locality and its surroundings to the man, which was at once appreciated and approved by all persons familiar with him, and his conduct and behavior, both on and off the bench.
Under these circumstances the report obtained general credence, that you and your constituents were satisfied with the removal of Judge Turner from the bench of the Eighth Judicial District; and I have no doubt influenced all or nearly all who voted to indefinitely postpone his impeachment.
As for myself, having a personal knowledge of the truth of the charges made against Judge Turner by the citizens of Yuba and Nevada Counties, I am free to say that no consideration other than that you and your constituents were satisfied with Judge Turner's removal from the Eighth Judicial District, could have induced me to cast my vote for the indefinite postponement of Judge Turner's impeachment.
Do you realize the fact, my dear Judge, that more than a quarter of a century has elapsed since these events transpired? Though my respect for you as a man, and my admiration for you as a jurist, have increased since we were actors in these scenes; yet I am frank enough to say to you, that if I had to play my part again, with my increased experience, I would not vote to indefinitely postpone the impeachment of a judge whom I knew to be guilty of the charges made against Judge Turner by yourself and others, even though the report were true that you and your constituents were satisfied with his simple removal from your judicial district.
Respectfully and truly yours, &c.,
JOS. W. McCORKLE.
Letter of Mr. Bradford.
SPRINGFIELD, ILL., May 8 th, 1879.
MY DEAR FRIEND: Yours of the 27th April should have been answered ere this, but before doing so I desired to get all the reminders that I could. I looked carefully over the journal. All that I had recollected in the whole matter was that I had an intense feeling in favor of sustaining your position, and when you informed me that I had voted to dismiss the proceedings I was profoundly astonished. I thought you must be mistaken until I saw the journal Some very satisfactory assurance must have been given me that such vote would be satisfactory to you, and I only wonder that I did not have the assurance verified....I assume that the Editor is correct in the explanation as given.
Very truly, J. S. BRADFORD.
Letter of Mr. Carr.
SAN FRANCISCO, May 15 th, 1879.
MY DEAR JUDGE: I have received your letter and a printed copy of the record of the proceedings of the Assembly of California of 1851, in the matter of the impeachment of William R. Turner, Judge of the then Eighth Judicial District of the State. In reply, I have to say, that the statement of the Editor as to the vote on the motion to indefinitely postpone the proceedings is correct, so far as I am concerned.
It was distinctly understood by me, and to my knowledge by other members of the Assembly, that you had consented to such postponement, it being explained that the postponement was not to be taken as an approval of the Judge's conduct. On no other ground could the motion have been carried. If the vote had been taken on the charges made, articles of impeachment against the Judge would undoubtedly have been ordered.
Your consent to the postponement was understood to have been given, because of the change in the judicial districts by an act introduced into the Assembly by yourself, under which Judge Turner was sent to a district in the northern part of the State, where there was at the time scarcely any legal business, and which was removed to a great distance from the district in which you resided, and because of the general desire manifested by others to bring the session of the Legislature to a speedy close. The impeachment of the Judge would have necessitated a great prolongation of the session.
No member of the Assembly justified or excused the atrocious and tyrannical conduct of the Judge towards yourself and others.
I am, very truly, yours,
JESSE D. CARR.
Hon. STEPHEN J. FIELD.
EXHIBIT H, No. II.
Letter of Judge Gordon N. Mott giving the particulars of the difficulty with Judge Barbour.
SAN FRANCISCO, Apr. 28 th, 1876.
Hon. STEPHEN J. FIELD.
DEAR SIR: Your letter of the eleventh instant, in which you requested me to give you, in writing, an account of the affair between yourself and Judge W. T. Barbour, at Marysville in 1853, was duly received.
The facts in relation to that unpleasant affair are as fresh in my memory as if they had happened yesterday; and I give them to you the more willingly for the reason that you incurred the spite and malice of Judge Barbour, by acts of personal and professional kindness to me, which gave him no just or reasonable cause of offence; and though the following statement of facts will place the character of Judge Barbour, now deceased, in a very bad and even ludicrous light, the events in mind are nevertheless a part of the history of our early days in California, and I see no impropriety in complying with your request. The facts are as follows: You and I were walking together along D street in the city of Marysville, when we met Judge Barbour, who, after using some offensive and insolent remarks, gave you a verbal challenge to meet him in the way resorted to by gentlemen for the settlement of their personal difficulties. You accepted the challenge instantly, and referred him to me, as your friend, who would act for you in settling the preliminaries of a hostile meeting. In half an hour I was called upon by Hon. Chas. S. Fairfax as the friend of Judge Barbour. He said Judge Barbour had told him that Judge Field had challenged him to mortal combat, and requested him to meet me for the purpose of arranging the terms of the meeting between them. I told Mr. Fairfax at once that such was not my understanding of the matter; that I was present when the challenge was given by Judge Barbour and accepted by Judge Field. After further consultation with you we agreed that it was better for you to accept the false position in which Judge Barbour seemed determined to place you, and “to fight it out on that line,” than longer submit to the insolence and persecution of a bitter and unscrupulous adversary. Mr. Fairfax then claimed, in behalf of Judge Barbour, that, as he was the party challenged, he had the right to the choice of weapons, and the time, place, and manner of the combat; to which I assented. He then stated that Judge Barbour proposed that the meeting should take place that evening in a room twenty feet square; that each party was to be armed with a Colt's navy revolver and a Bowie-knife; that they should be stationed at opposite sides of the room, and should fire at the word, and advance at pleasure, and finish the conflict with the knives. I told Mr. Fairfax that the terms proposed by his principal were unusual and inconsistent with the “code,” and that I could not consent to them or countenance a conflict so unprecedented and barbarous. Mr. Fairfax agreed with me that Judge Barbour had no right to insist upon the terms proposed, and said that he would consult with him and get him to modify his proposition. Upon doing so he soon returned, and stated that Judge Barbour insisted upon the terms he had proposed as his ultimatum, and requested me to go with him and call on Judge Barbour, which I did. I had now come to the conclusion that Barbour was playing the role of the bravo and bully, and that he did not intend to fight, and resolved on the course that I would pursue with him. Mr. Fairfax and myself then called on Judge Barbour, and I repeated what I had said to Mr. Fairfax, adding that it would be shameful for two gentlemen, occupying such positions as they in society, to fall upon each other with knives like butchers or savages, and requesting him to dispense with the knives, which he still refused to do. I then looked him straight in the eye and said, well, sir, if you insist upon those terms, we shall accept. I saw his countenance change instantly. “His coward lips did from their color fly;” and he finally stammered out that he would “waive the knife.” Without consulting you, I had determined that if Barbour still insisted upon a conflict with Bowie-knives I would take your place, believing that he would not have any advantage over me in any fight he could make; and knowing, moreover, that you had involved yourself in the difficulty on my account, I thought it only just for me to do so. But it was demonstrated in the sequel that Barbour was playing the game of bluff, and that he did not intend to fight from the start. It was finally settled, however, that the combat should take place as first proposed, except that pistols only were to be used. Mr. Fairfax and myself then commenced looking about for a room; but in the meantime the affair had been noised about town and we found it impossible to get one. Mr. Fairfax then, after consulting Judge Barbour, proposed that the meeting should take place the next morning in Sutter County; to which I assented; and all the terms and preliminaries were arranged and agreed upon. At that time there were two daily lines of stages leaving Marysville for Sacramento, and you and your friends were to go down the Sacramento road to a point below Bear River in advance of the stages, and I was to select a suitable place for the meeting. Judge Barbour and his friends were to follow us in one of the coaches and I was to hail the driver as he approached the place of meeting. You and your adversary were to be stationed one hundred yards apart, each armed with as many Colt's revolvers as he chose to carry; to fire upon each other at the word, and to advance at pleasure and finish the conflict. Our party was promptly on the ground according to agreement; and when the first coach came in sight I hailed the driver and found that Judge Barbour and his friends were not aboard, and the coach passed on a little below us and turned out of the road and stopped. Soon after the other coach came in sight, and I again hailed the driver, who stopped the coach, and Judge Barbour instantly jumped out, and in a very excited manner said that he was going forward to the other coach, and called on the passengers “to take notice, that if that d--d rascal” (pointing to you) “attacked him he would kill him.” I stepped in front of Judge Barbour and said: Hold! Judge Field will not attack you, sir; remarking at the same time to Mr. Fairfax that this was strange conduct on the part of his friend, and not in accordance with our understanding and agreement; that each party was to bear his portion of the responsibility of the meeting which was to take place between them. Mr. Fairfax appeared both astonished and mortified at the pusillanimous conduct of his principal, who seemed determined to rush forward to the other coach; and I requested him to wait until I could go back and consult you in the matter, for I was afraid that you might possibly be provoked to make the attack. When I returned to you and explained what had been said at the coach, you asked if it would be proper for you to make the attack. I told you most decidedly not; to let the coward go, and he would never annoy or trouble you again. Mr. Fairfax, who possessed a nice sense of honor, and was a gallant and accomplished gentleman, was so disgusted and mortified at the conduct of his principal that he left him and came over and joined our party, and after taking breakfast with us at Nicolaus, returned with us to Marysville, while Judge Barbour went on his way to Sacramento. Thus, what threatened in its inception to be a sanguinary tragedy, ended in a ridiculous farce. The determined and resolute stand which you assumed in this affair with Judge Barbour, saved you from any farther insolence or persecution from men of his class.
This letter has been drawn out to a most tedious length, and yet there are many circumstances connected with our early life and times in Marysville that I would add but for fear of trying your patience.
Please write to me on receipt of this, and tell me how my memory of the facts contained in this letter agrees with yours.
Very respectfully and truly your friend,
GORDON N. MOTT.
Letter of L. Martin, Esq., the friend of Judge Barbour in his street attack.
MARYSVILLE, Tuesday, March 21, '54.
Hon. JUDGE FIELD.
DEAR JUDGE: I was glad to hear a few days ago from our friend Filkins that the trouble between you and Judge Barbour had been settled, and that the hatchet was buried.
I wish now to explain my connection with the assault made upon you about a year ago by Barbour. * You have always appeared to think me in some way implicated in that affair, because I was seen by you at that time not far off from him. The facts are these: Judge Barbour told me the night before that he expected to have a street fight with you, and wanted me to accompany him. I had heard of his conduct in the affair of the intended duel in Sutter County, and knew there was bad blood between you, but I was astonished at his saying there was going to be a difficulty between you in the street. I consented to accompany him, but I supposed of course you had received notice of his purpose, and that there would be no unfair advantage taken by him. I was, therefore, surprised when I saw you in front of your office with your arms partly filled with small pieces of board, apparently to kindle a fire. Barbour's drawing a pistol upon you under these circumstances, and calling upon you to draw and defend yourself, was not what we call at the South very chivalric. It was not justified by me then, and never has been in any way or manner, and I told him he had acted badly. I was glad to hear you defy him as you did, and dare him to shoot. I reckon he is not very proud of his conduct. I have never approved of his action, and should never have accompanied him had I believed or suspected he had not given you notice of his purpose. [Note : It was February 21, 1853.]
With great respect I am very truly yours,
Sections four, five, and seven of the act entitled “An act to expedite the settlement of titles to lands in the State of California,” approved July 1 st, 1864.
SEC. 4. And be it further enacted, That whenever the district judge of any one of the district courts of the United States for California is interested in any land, the claim to which, under the said act of March third, eighteen hundred and fifty-one, is pending before him on appeal from the board of commissioners created by said act, the said district court shall order the case to be transferred to the Circuit Court of the United States for California, which court shall thereupon take jurisdiction and determine the same. The said district courts may also order a transfer to the said circuit court of any other cases arising under said act, pending before them, affecting the title to lands within the corporate limits of any city or town, and in such cases both the district and circuit judges may sit.
SEC. 5. And be it further enacted, That all the right and title of the United States to the lands within the corporate limits of the city of San Francisco, as defined in the act incorporating said city, passed by the Legislature of the State of California, on the fifteenth of April, one thousand eight hundred and fifty-one, are hereby relinquished and granted to the said city and its successors, for the uses and purposes specified in the ordinance of said city, ratified by an act of the Legislature of the said State, approved on the eleventh of March, eighteen hundred and fifty-eight, entitled “An act concerning the city of San Francisco, and to ratify and confirm certain ordinances of the common council of said city,” there being excepted from this relinquishment and grant all sites or other parcels of lands which have been, or now are, occupied by the United States for military, naval, or other public uses, [or such other sites or parcels as may hereafter be designated by the President of the United States, within one year after the rendition to the General Land-Office, by the surveyor-general, of an approved plat of the exterior limits of San Francisco, as recognized in this section, in connection with the lines of the public surveys: And provided, That the relinquishment and grant by this act shall in no manner interfere with or prejudice any bona fide claims of others, whether asserted adversely under rights derived from Spain, Mexico, or the laws of the United States, nor preclude a judicial examination and adjustment thereof.]
SEC. 7. And be it further enacted, That it shall be the duty of the Surveyor-General of California, in making surveys of the private land claims finally confirmed, to follow the decree of confirmation as closely as practicable whenever such decree designates the specific boundaries of the claim. But when such decree designates only the out-boundaries within which the quantity confirmed is to be taken, the location of such quantity shall be made, as near as practicable, in one tract and in a compact form. And if the character of the land, or intervening grants, be such as to render the location impracticable in one tract, then each separate location shall be made, as near as practicable, in a compact form. And it shall be the duty of the Commissioner of the General Land-Office to require a substantial compliance with the directions of this section before approving any survey and plat forwarded to him.--[13 Stats. at Large, pp. 333-4.]
That part of the fifth section, which is included within brackets, was inserted at the suggestion of the Commissioner of the General Land-Office.
The act entitled “An act to quiet the title to certain lands within the corporate limits of the city of San Francisco,” approved March 8 th, 1866.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That all the right and title of the United States to the land situated within the corporate limits of the city of San Francisco, in the State of California, confirmed to the city of San Francisco by the decree of the Circuit Court of the United States for the Northern District of California, entered on the eighteenth day of May, one thousand eight hundred and sixty-five, be, and the same are hereby, relinquished and granted to the said city of San Francisco and its successors, and the claim of the said city to said land is hereby confirmed, subject, however, to the reservations and exceptions designated in said decree, and upon the following trusts, namely, that all the said land, not heretofore granted to said city, shall be disposed of and conveyed by said city to parties in the bona fide actual possession thereof, by themselves or tenants, on the passage of this act, in such quantities and upon such terms and conditions as the legislature of the State of California may prescribe, except such parcels thereof as may be reserved and set apart by ordinance of said city for public uses: Provided, however, That the relinquishment and grant by this act shall not interfere with or prejudice any valid adverse right or claim, if such exist, to said land or any part thereof, whether derived from Spain, Mexico, or the United States, or preclude a judicial examination and adjustment thereof.--[14 Stat. at Large, p. 4.]
Letter of Judge Lake giving an account of the Torpedo.
SAN FRANCISCO, April 29, '80.
Honorable STEPHEN J. FIELD.
MY DEAR SIR: In the winter of 1866 I was in Washington attending the United States Supreme Court, and was frequently a visitor at your room.
One morning in January of that year I accompanied you to your room, expecting to find letters from San Francisco, as I had directed that my letters should be forwarded to your care. I found your mail lying on the table. Among other matter addressed to you was a small package, about four inches square, wrapped in white paper, and bearing the stamp of the Pioneer Photographic Gallery of San Francisco. Two printed slips were pasted upon the face of the package and formed the address: your name, evidently cut from the title-page of the “California Law Reports;” and “Washington, D.C.,” taken from a newspaper. You supposed it to be a photograph, and said as much to me, though from the first you professed surprise at the receipt of it.
You were standing at the window, when you began to open it, and had some difficulty in making the cover yield. When you had removed the cover you raised the lid slightly, but in a moment said to me, “What is this, Lake? It can hardly be a photograph.” A sudden suspicion flashed upon me, and stepping to your side, I exclaimed, “Don't open it; it means mischief!”
When I had looked at it more nearly, I said, “It's an infernal machine” or “a torpedo.” I carried it over to the Capitol, opposite to your rooms, where Mr. Broom, one of the clerks of the Supreme Court, joined me in the examination of your mysterious looking present. It was put in water, and afterward we dashed off the lid of the box by throwing it against the wall in the carriage way under the Senate steps. About a dozen copper cartridges were disclosed--those used in a Smith & Wesson pocket pistol, it appeared afterward--six of them lying on each side of a bunch of friction matches in the centre. The sides of the cartridges had been filed through, so that the burning of the matches might explode the cartridges. The whole was kept in place in a bed of common glue, and a strip of sand-paper lying upon the heads of the matches was bent into a loop to receive the bit of thread, whose other end, secured to the clasp of the box, produced that tension and consequent pressure requisite to ignite the matches upon the forcible opening of the lid. To make assurance doubly sure, a paste of fulminating powder and alcohol had been spread around the matches and cartridges.
There was a newspaper slip also glued to the inside of the lid, with words as follows: “Monday, Oct. 31, 1864. The City of San Francisco vs. United States. Judge Field yesterday delivered the following opinion in the above case. It will be read with great interest by the people of this city.” Then followed several lines of the opinion. Even that gave no clue to the source of the infernal machine, but from the fact that it was evidently made by a scientific man, and that from its size it must have been passed through the window at the post office, instead of into the letter-box, it was thought [that there was] a sufficiently conspicuous mode of action to expose the sender of the torpedo to detection. Whoever it may have been took a late vengeance for the decision of the Pueblo case--if such was the veritable motive of the frustrated assassination--as the decision referred to was rendered in 1864. On that account it was conjectured that the contriver of the machine might be some guilty person, who had received sentence from you, and who used the reference to the Pueblo case to divert suspicion from himself.
So far as I know, all efforts to discover the author of the intended mischief have been fruitless.
The box with its contents was sent to the Secretary of War, who directed an examination by the Ordnance Department. General Dyer, then Chief of Ordnance, pronounced it a most cleverly combined torpedo, and exploded one of the cartridges in a closed box, producing a deep indentation upon its sides.
General Dyer added, among other analytical details, that the ball weighed 52 grains.
All the circumstances connected with the reception of the infernal machine were too singular and, at that time, ominous, not to remain vividly impressed upon my memory.
Very truly, your friend,
The following is an extract from the Report to the Commissioner of the General Land-Office by the Register and Receiver of the Land-Office in California, to whom the matter of the contests for lands on the Soscol Ranch was submitted for investigation, showing the condition and occupation of the lands previous to the rejection of the grant by the Supreme Court of the United States, and the character of the alleged pre-emption settlements which Julian undertook to defend.
A general report of the facts established by said evidence is briefly as follows: * When the United States government took possession of California, Don Mariana Guadaloupe Vallejo was in the occupancy of the rancho of Soscol, claiming to own it by virtue of the grant from the Mexican nation, which has recently (December term, 1861) been declared invalid by the Supreme Court of the United States. His occupancy was the usual one of the country and in accordance with the primitive habits of the people. He possessed the land by herding stock upon it. General Vallejo, as military commandante of his district, consisting of all Alta California lying north of the bay of San Francisco, was necessarily the leading personage of the country. His influence among the rude inhabitants of the Territory was almost monarchical, and his establishment was in accordance with his influence. His residence at Sonoma was the capital of his commandancy, and the people of the country for hundreds of miles around looked to General Vallejo for advice and assistance in business and for protection and defence in time of trouble. These things are part of the history of California. [Note : The evidence taken before those officers.]
He had other ranchos besides that of Soscol, as that at Sonoma, which was devoted to agriculture and residences. The Soscol he especially devoted to the herding and grazing of stock, for which purpose it was most admirably adapted. Wild oats grew in great luxuriance all over this tract, from the water's edge to the tops of the highest hills, and being surrounded on three sides by the waters of the bays and rivers, required little attention in the way of herdsmen.
On this rancho General Vallejo kept as many as fifteen thousand head of horses and horned cattle running at will, attended only by the necessary vaqueros employed to watch and attend them.
There was no other use to which the land could at that time be devoted. The want of reliable labor and lack of a market both forbade agricultural operations beyond personal or family necessities. It was not practicable then, nor for years after, to put the land to any use other than stock pasturing.
We have, therefore, to report that the possession that General Vallejo had of “Soscol” in 1846 was the usual use and possession of the time and the country, and that it was the best and most perfect use and occupation of which the land was capable.
The rancho was, therefore, reduced to possession by General Vallejo before the Americans took possession of the country.
Soon after the American occupation or conquest, General Vallejo began to sell off portions of the “Soscol,” and continued this practice until about the year 1855, at which time he sold the last of it, and does not appear to have had or claimed any interest since.
This sale and consequent dividing the land into small parcels produced its usual effect in the way of improvements.
From 1855 to 1860 the “rancho of Soscol” was almost entirely reduced to absolute and actual possession and control by his vendees, being by them fenced up into fields, surrounded by substantial enclosures, and improved with expensive farm-houses, out-buildings, orchards, and the like, and was cultivated to grain wherever suitable for that purpose.
It had upon it two cities of considerable importance, viz: Benicia and Vallejo, each of which had been at one time the capital of the State of California.
No rural district of California was more highly improved than this, and but a very small portion equal to it.
The title to “Soscol,” before its rejection by the United States Supreme Court, was considered the very best in all California. All the really valuable agricultural land in California was held under Mexican grants, and, as a consequence, all had to pass the ordeal of the Land Commission.
From 1853 to about 1860 very few had been finally passed upon by the courts, so that during that time the question for the farmer to decide was not what title is perfect, but what title is most likely to prove so by the final judgment of the Supreme Court.
Amongst the very best, in the opinion of the public, stood “Soscol.”
One conclusive, unanswerable proof of that fact is this, that there was not a single settler on the grant at the time it was rejected. Not one person on it, except in subordination to the Vallejo title. Every resident on the whole tract held his land by purchase from Vallejo, or his assigns, and held just precisely the land so purchased, and not one acre more or less. This fact was not even disputed during the whole eight months of investigation through which we have just passed. It is a notorious fact that of the grants in California which have stood the test of the Supreme Court, very many have been entirely in the possession of squatters, and all with more or less of such possessions, and the final patent has alone succeeded in recovering the long-lost possession to the grantholder. There were no settlers on the “Soscol.” The people had the most perfect confidence in the title. It had been twice confirmed by tribunals of high authority and great learning--first by the United States Land Commission, and then by the District Court of the United States.
It only wanted the final confirmation by the Supreme Court, and none doubted that it would follow of course. Business could not, and would not, await the nine years consumed in adjudicating this title. Farmers were obliged to have lands, and they bought them. Capital must and would seek investment, and it was lent on mortgage. When all titles required the same confirmatory decree, the citizen could not discriminate, but exercised his best judgment.
The sales of lands upon the “Soscol” were made at prices which called for perfect title; they brought the full improved value of the land. Money was lent on mortgage in the same way.
The deeds and mortgages, which accompany the respective cases, are the very best evidence of the opinion the public entertained of the character of the Soscol grant title. The people were amazed when it was announced that the Soscol grant had been rejected.
No fact developed by this examination has appeared so surprising to the mind of the register and receiver as that there were no pre-emption settlers on the “Soscol.” This is so unusual in California that we expected to find the contrary. There was no possession on the tract adverse to the grant title.
Thus stood matters until early in the year 1862, when the intelligence reached California that the grant had been rejected by the Supreme Court. The struggle soon began. There was at that time employed upon the United States navy-yard at Mare Island, and also upon the Pacific Mail Company's works at Benicia, a large number of mechanics and laborers.
There was also in the towns of Benicia and Vallejo a large floating population. Tempted by the great value of these lands in their highly improved state, many of these persons squatted upon the rancho.
The landholders in possession resisted.
The houses of the great majority of the settlers were erected in the night time, as it was necessary to enter the enclosed fields by stealth. These houses were built of rough redwood boards set up edgewise, with shed roof, and without window, fire-place, or floor.
They were about eight feet square, sometimes eight by ten feet, and never over six feet high.
We have no hesitation in saying that they were utterly unfit for the habitation of human beings, and further that they were never designed for permanent residences. The mode of erecting these shanties was as follows: The planks were sawed the right length in the town of Vallejo or Benicia, in the afternoon of the day, and at nightfall were loaded upon a cart. About eleven o'clock at night the team would start for the intended settlement, reaching there about one or two o'clock in the morning. Between that hour and daylight the house would be erected and finished. Sometimes the house would be put together with nails, but when too near the residence of the landholder in possession, screws would be used to prevent the sound of the hammer attracting attention. Very few of this class of settlers remained upon their claims above a few days, but soon returned to their ordinary occupations in the towns.
Generally after they would leave the landholders would remove the shanties from the ground. In some cases they would pull them down with force immediately upon discovering them, and in the presence of the settlers.
A few of them got settlements near enough to their places of employment to enable them to work in town, or at the navy-yard, and to sleep in their shanties; some regularly, others only occasionally. These generally remained longer than the others, but none of this class remained up to the time of trial.
None of the settlers, who went on since the grant was rejected, have attempted regular improvements or cultivation. A few have harvested the grain planted by the landholders, as it grew on their 1/4 [quarter-section]; they would harvest it, and offer this as evidence of good faith and cultivation.
We have no hesitation in pronouncing, from the evidence, that these are not settlers within the spirit of the pre-emption laws, but are mere speculators, desirous of getting the improvements of another to sell and to make money.
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