Notorious Mountain Area events from the 1850s

Nuggets from the Past

February 17, 2011 

In the new book, "As We Were Told, Vol. II," there is a section on "Yesterday's Notorious Events: Shootings, Robberies, Lynchings & Incidents from the 1850s to the 1900s."

The article is most interesting and worth spending some time reading. Here are some excerpts:

The First Indian Removal: In 1851 a treaty was signed with the Indians forcing them to quit claim their lands. The Indians were very resentful and there were fears of an Indian uprising.

Records show orders being issued in relation to an expected problem by James D. Savage, Major Commander, California Battalion. On May 6, 1851, his battalion was camped in what Major Savage called Coarse Gold Gulch.

Indian Attack at Store: Major James Savage had opened several stores, putting one of his Indian wives to work in each store. One of his enterprises was located on the Fresno River in Gold Gulch [Coarsegold]. Savage never allowed an Indian inside any of his stores, but instead he had built a special opening in the side to allow a "pass-through" of any merchandise an Indian had bought.

On Christmas night in 1850 at one of Savage's stores near the Fresno River, a double murder occurred. Savage had put two clerks and a man named Brown in charge of the store. Indians, who were on the verge of revolting, broke into the store and killed the two clerks. They then destroyed the store building. Brown, in his night clothes and barefoot, was carried across the river by the Indians and his life was spared.

Trading Post at Millerton: On Jan. 15, 1851, at a trading post two miles from the fort at Millerton, an incident occurred. The post was run by two gents named Cassady and Lane. They were also engaged in mining, employing about 30 men. The trading post and mining camp were well secured as the post was encircled by ditches and the mining camp was in a stone enclosure. Even though the Indians were on the verge of warfare, the men felt they were safe from attacks.

The Indians killed two men in the Finegold area, just 10 miles southeast of Gold Gulch, and they killed two other men below Millerton. Shortly after, word was received that Cassady had also been killed.

A Dr. Leach, who was attached to the Mariposa Battalion, accompanied a detachment of about 30 men to verify the facts. They found Cassady's body along the banks of the San Joaquin River. Company A of the Mariposa Battalion was sent near the headwaters of the San Joaquin where they battled with the Indians, killing 13.

James Savage Killed: On Aug. 16, 1852, an incident occurred on a rancheria (reservation) located along the Kings River. An unknown number of men rushed onto the Rancheria and killed many older Indian women.

It was thought that the men were incited by a Major Harvey and a Mr. W. J. Campbell because they had become jealous of Savage's success with the Indians. Savage immediately complained to the Indian Commission and publicly declared that Harvey was not a gentleman. Word got back to Harvey and he met with Savage in the presence of Judge Marvin. Savage and Harvey began arguing. Harvey demanded that Savage retract his statement regarding his character.

Savage slapped Harvey in the face, and in the course of doing so Savage's pistol fell to the ground and was picked up by Judge Marvin. The judge failed to disarm Harvey, and Harvey, finding Savage unarmed, shot him five times, killing him instantly. Harvey was not prosecuted and lived out his life in freedom. Interestingly, Harvey was also a judge.

Comments may be sent to Kay Good at chs@sti.net. "As We Were Told, Vol II," can be purchased at Coarsegold or Fresno Flats museums, Dorsey's Hallmark or Oakhurst Giftworks.

Comments may be sent to Kay Good at chs@sti.net. “As We Were Told, Vol II,” can be purchased at Coarsegold or Fresno Flats museums, Dorsey’s Hallmark or Oakhurst Giftworks.

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