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January 17, 2012

Jonathan Davis of the Old West

    Think about the "Old West." Most folks give the wrong dates. Actually, the "Old West" begins with the west expansion runs from 1840 to 1905. Jonathan Davis is one of the most courageous men of the old west. Concerning "shoot outs," there were only thirty shoot outs where ten people lost their lives, and if you increase the number of people who lost their lives to twelve, then there were only twelve. Hollywood has a different version of shoot outs in the old west, but, a lot of those fellows suck a dick. Born in 1824, Jonathan joined the Palmetto Regiment in South Carolina as a Lieutenant in 1846 to fight in the Mexican War. One thousand Americans lost their lives in the Battle of Chula Vista in 1847 and Jonathan was severely wounded.

    Jonathan was discharged in 1848 and went west to the Placerville diggings to seek gold, supplementing his income working as a marshal, a constable, or a sheriff. Jonathan and two friends, Doctor Sparks and Jim McDonald, were walking in the American River canyon in 1854 and were jumped by an outlaw gang of fourteen men. This gang was accused of recently killing ten people, four in the preceding week. Jim McDonald was immediately killed and Doctor Sparks was severely wounded. Jonathan drew his two muzzle loader Colts and calmly killed eight members of the gang, the Colts emptied, he drew his Bowie knife and his boot knife to defend himself against the four remaining gang members who then charged him with sabers and killed three of them (I reckon the last gang member ran away). Jonathan sustained two minor wounds and had sixteen holes in his hat, shirt and trousers.

    Now, the question arises: how do we know he was calmly shooting? Brother Peanutbutter was a member of a hunting party in the distance on the other side of the river and witnessed the whole battle and when the hunting party arrived in Placerville they told the story. Jonathan took Doctor Sparks to Auburn, Doctor Sparks died of his wounds ten days later. A coronerís inquest found all the bodies and found Jonathan innocent and praised him for his effort. The battle was written up in the Placerville Mountain Democrat, soon after in the San Francisco Chronicle and later even in a New York news paper, and then... the battle disappeared from history until John Boessenecker, a noted historian, came across the battle in his research which he documented in a book, "Gold Dust and Gunsmoke: Tales of Gold Rush Outlaws, Gunfighters, Lawmen, and Vigilantes" [Paperback] by (ISBN-10: 0471390186 | ISBN-13: 978-0471390183 | Publication Date: September 11, 2000).

    Jonathan eventually moved to Arizona, in fact, there is a statue of Jonathan in Sedonia, Arizona. Jonathan died in 1896. Jonathan never bragged or boasted about this shootout, he claimed he did not do anything special, only did what was expected of him, and, there is nothing in California about this extraordinary event... there should be.

Reported by,

Brother Don "Peanut Butter" Breeland, well known Historian Extraordinaire