E C.V. celebrates the Bicentennial of the journeys of Jedediah S. Smith 
“Chasing the Buenaventura River”  through 35 Chapter territories – the ECV/JSS Bicentennial Trail Project  2023-2030

In the next few years, beginning summer 2023,  ECV is presented with an unparalleled opportunity to commemorate and celebrate the epic journeys of Jedediah S. Smith — one of the most legendary of the mountain men and the first non-native person to cross the Sierras.  As Dale L. Morgan writes in “Jedediah Smith and the Opening of the West” (1964): 

“In the exploration of the American West, Jedediah Strong Smith is overshadowed only by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark. During his eight years in the West, Jedediah Smith made the effective discovery of South Pass;  [from the East] he was the first man
to reach California overland from the American frontier, the first to cross the Sierra Nevada, the first to travel the length and width of the Great Basin, the first to reach Oregon [Columbia River] by a journey up the California coast. He saw more of the West than any man of his time, and was familiar with it from the Missouri River to the Pacific, from Mexico to Canada.”

The travels of Jedediah S. Smith were over twice the distance of Lewis and Clark – and covered a broader territory.
He and his fur trapping brigades opened up both a southern route and a central route to the west coast in 1826-1828.

He was known for his many systematic recorded observations on nature and topography. His expeditions raised doubts about
the existence of the legendary (mythical) Buenaventura River, and then effectively disproved its existence for once and for all.

Jedediah Smith and his comrades traversed the modern territories of no less than 35 E C.V. Chapters in 9 states (!!) 

Does the “JSS Trail” traverse your Chapter territory ?  Will your Chapter be “plaquing” the Trail during the Bicentenary ?

In fall of 1826, having crossed the Mojave Desert in August 1826, Jedediah Smith and his fur-trapping party arrived at Mission San Gabriel (about five miles southeast of present-day Pasadena). Smith’s party had left the second annual fur trader’s rendezvous in Soda Springs, Idaho (near the border of Utah) in late August 1826,  and traveled via the Mojave Villages (near present-day Needles, California) to Mission San Gabriel Arcángel – a journey of nearly 1,000 miles.    He and his group spent the winter of 1826 negotiating with Spanish authorities in Southern California,  and the spring of 1827 trapping beaver in the Central Valley north to Folsom CA.

On December 16, 1826, Smith had written in a letter to the 1st United States minister plenipotentiary to Mexico [Joel Roberts Poinsett] his plans to “follow up on of the largest Riv(ers) that emptied into the (San Francisco) Bay cross the mon (mountains) at its head and from thence to our deposit [cache] on the Great Salt Lake.”    The mythical Buenaventura River allegedly flowed west from the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific Ocean, and was imagined to be the western equivalent of the Mississippi River, draining an enormous watershed, making it possible to float goods to and from the Pacific Ocean.  It was shown on all the Spanish maps of western North America from 1778 until the 1830s — when the expeditions of Jedediah Smith in 1826-28 proved that it did not exist.

Here is a sample of the type of plaque that your Chapter may choose to ERECT for the Bicentenary of Smith’s travels:

                source: Castor Canadensis  http://jedediahsmithsociety.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/Castor-Summer-2016-1.pdf
In late May 1827, Smith started over the Sierra Nevada, up the Stanislaus River to Ebbetts’ Pass,  with just two men, seven horses and two mules. They intended to cross the Sierras, Nevada and Utah to rendezvous with his fur trading partners in Northern Utah:  

  “On the 20th of May, 1827 my preparations being finished.  I took leave of my small but faithful party and started on an enterprise involved in great uncertainty.  I took but two men with me — Robert Evans and Silas Goebel.  I had six horses and mules.  I had about 60 lbs. of meat and a part of my horses were packed with hay to feed them during the passage of the Mountains.”  J.S.S.

This was a journey begun by 3 men, without any map, through uncharted and unknown territory.   Some of the native tribes Smith encountered had never seen a white man, and had never seen a horse.   After great hardship, with great courage, they succeeded.

Plaquing the routes of JSS is something almost ALL Chapters have an opportunity to do during the Bicentenary period of 2023-2030.

Contact the ECV – Jedediah Strong Smith Bicentennial Celebration Committee Chairbrother   Wit Ashbrook  at (510) 847-8015 


Lorenzo Sawyer: Friend or Foe?

Welcome to Sacramento. It’s January 2020. You and the family are in town to see the Kings play. Your company has given you the tickets to the game and a night in the swanky Kimpton Sawyer. Sounds like an awesome night in Sacramento. Quick question. Who is Lorenzo Sawyer and why is your hotel named after him?

Lorenzo Sawyer was born on a farm in Le Roy, New York on May 23, 1820. He was the eldest of six children. In 1837, at the age of 17, he left the farm and pursued higher education in the field of law. He devoted the next eight years preparing for the bar. First in New York then in Ohio. In 1840 Sawyer emigrated to Ohio where he enrolled in Western Reserve College, and afterward continued studying at Columbus and Ohio Central College, graduating in 1846. He was admitted to the bar of the Supreme Court of Ohio in May 1846. He afterward went to Chicago, Illinois, where he passed a year in the office of future California Senator James A. McDougall (Like many Americans, McDougall was drawn to Gold Rush California in 1849; he resumed his law practice and was elected second attorney general for the new state of California). Soon afterward he entered into a law partnership with the Lieutenant-Governor John Edwin Holmes at Jefferson, Wisconsin, where he was rapidly acquiring an extensive and lucrative practice, when the California Gold Rush happened.

Joining a company of men from Wisconsin, Sawyer made his way across the country in seventy-two days, “an unprecedentedly short trip.” The group arrived mid-July 1850. He wrote sketches of this trip, which were published in the Ohio Observer, and copied into many of the western papers. They were highly appreciated and were used as a guide by many emigrants of the succeeding year. After working in the mines for a short time, he went to Sacramento and opened a law office there. Ill health, however, compelled him to seek the climate of the mountains, and accordingly he moved to Nevada City and entered upon the practice of law in October of that year. With the exception of a few months from February to August 1851 passed in San Francisco, during which time his office was twice burned, he remained in Nevada City until the autumn of 1853, when he returned to San Francisco. In 1853 he was elected City Attorney as a nominee of the Whig Party. In September 1854, he was again nominated for City Attorney by the Whig and American Party, or Know Nothings.

In 1855, Sawyer was a candidate for Justice of the Supreme Court, and came within six votes of reaching the nomination. On March 6, 1861, he was admitted to the bar of the Supreme Court of the United States. Upon the reorganization of the State courts, under the amended constitution, Judge Sawyer was, in 1863, elected a justice of the Supreme Court of California, and drew a six-year term, during the last two years of which he was Chief Justice. During his term, he was noted for the thoroughness and elaborateness of his decisions and held in high regard. Sawyer was nominated by President Ulysses S. Grant on December 8, 1869, to the United States Circuit Courts for the Ninth Circuit, to a new seat authorized by 16 Stat. 44. He was confirmed by the United States Senate on January 10, 1870, and received his commission on the same day.

As Sawyer was making a name for himself, a group of angry farmers formed the Anti-Debris Association in 1878. It was in response to the fact that hydraulic mining on the upper Yuba River and Feather River watersheds dropped debris such as gravel, silt, and other mine tailings into the rivers. This debris raised the riverbeds so high that the Yuba River spilled out into a two-miles-wide, 20-feet-deep flow. As a result, the Yuba River overran hundreds of thousands of acres of orchards and pastures and (repeatedly from the late 1860s, and especially in 1875) buried the entire city of Marysville and much of what is now Yuba City in as much as 25 feet of muck. The bed of the Feather River was also raised substantially, which caused it to flood Sacramento repeatedly and has rendered it unnavigable, except by very small boats, to this day. At the time the Anti-Debris Association was formed, mining law in California was quite localized and relied on decisions of the mining towns’ inhabitants. The inhabitants of the mining towns cared more about their own ability to mine for gold than about downstream residents’ ability not to be buried in 25 feet of muck, so they chose to continue hydraulic mining regardless of the damage caused downstream.

After years of little success, wheat farmer Edward Woodruff filed a suit against North Bloomfield Mining and Gravel Company on behalf of the local farmers in the Central Valley Farmers; the case eventually became Woodruff v. North Bloomfield Gravel Mining Company.

Judge Lorenzo Sawyer, a Ninth Circuit Judge, and ironically, a former miner who came to California during the early gold rush, was assigned the case. He held a reputation for being a fair and thorough judge — a reputation he upheld in taking two years to investigate the abuses claimed by farmers. During the case, Sawyer made multiple trips to the mining sites in question, conducting interviews with both farmers and the miners. He also surveyed the sites and the surrounding ecosystems to gain a better understanding of the full implications of mining.

In court, several witnesses testified against the mining company, including the Southern Pacific Railway Company who feared consequences from hydraulic mining would eventually negatively impact the railroad’s infrastructure and influence. Mining had already restricted shipping and steamboat activity in the Sacramento Valley due to elevated river beds; the wealthy Southern Pacific voiced similar concerns. In court, photographs by John Todd were used by Woodruff’s legal team to defend the rights of the farmers. Todd’s photos showed the destruction caused by the mining and documented North Bloomfield’s lack of precautions to limit flooding. Due to strong support for the farmers in the valley, few testified in the miner’s defense other than the company. There is consequently very little written about the miner’s efforts.

After two years, Sawyer made his final verdict public on January 7, 1884, his decision reaching 225 pages. Sawyer concluded that the mining operations not only were harmful to farmers, but also to state-funded infrastructure and California citizens. As a result, Sawyer ruled that mining companies could no longer dump debris in waterways. While this did not stop hydraulic mining or make it illegal, it did severely limit the impact the actions of the mining monopolies, at least on paper.

After, what became known as, the Sawyer Decision, the Anti-Debris Association continued to maintain an active role in enforcement and pushing for further legislation. North Bloomfield Mining and Gravel Company continued to mine at Malakoff Diggins after the Sawyer Decision, although to a much lesser extent. In 1886, the operations that continued were found to be in violation of the Sawyer Act; miners had been continuing to dump their waste into local waterways. As a result, the company had to pay hefty fines and was required to change its operations process, once again reducing their profit margin. Continuing Sawyer’s legacy, the Caminetti Law, passed by Congress in 1893, further limiting mining and requiring that all hydraulic mining operations hold a license. North Bloomfield Mining and Gravel Company decided not to comply and was later fined. At this time, due to the heavy regulations and restrictions, many other smaller mining companies closed nearby and moved their businesses to Colorado, the Dakotas, and Alaska were few regulations existed. Malakoff Diggins remained one of the last hydraulic mining operations until it closed in 1910. It became a California State Historic Park in 1965.

While Sawyer’s decision is widely considered to be California’s first environmental law, the overall effectiveness of the act was questionable. Yet, it did place regulations on industry and set a precedent for years and laws to come. While the law is considered to be an important piece of environmental legislation, the success of the farmers resulted in California’s changing status as an agricultural empire, particularly within the wheat industry. The lawless nature of the gold rush had lost its attractiveness and, in its place, California was creating a new, modern image based on wheat and other cash crops. A fertile valley, low elevations, sunny weather, moderate temperatures, and the confluence of local rivers for irrigation purposes all allowed the Central Valley to prosper as an agricultural center, promising more profit than the gold rush. Yet, the mining industry still stood in the way. Sawyer recognized the impact that the old industry could have on California’s new economy, therefore, deciding that, in this case, governmental regulation was the best way to protect the rights of private ownership in agriculture from large-scale monopolies.

This history report was sourced from multiple wikipedia entries about Lorenzo Sawyer and the Sawyer Decision. Presented by Steven “The Natural” Armstrong ECV.





The Best Little Whorehouse in Sacramento, Or The Demise of Cherry De St. Maurice

 August  15th 2019       History Report       

From 1880 through 1920 an area from 3rd st to the River Front bordered by Jst to the North and Mst to the south was known as the Tenderloin, Demi-monde (Half World),  and in my time as Skid Row. It was in this area where most of the illicit business of the time was conducted. 

Brothels where known as Dance Halls, Cribs, Sporting Houses and Parlors.  The best establishments were known as Parlors and the best of the best was the Cherry Club owned and operated by one Cherry de-saint Maurice.

The Parlor House was an upper-class destination with elaborate décor and bawdy music called “Ragtime”, used to set the mood, fast paced, wild and fun!

“Ragtime” music, as reported by the Sacramento Union in Feburary1906, was said to have a much greater power to mold the mind than many people give it credit. The institutions that foster this class of music are cheap vaudeville theaters – destroyers alike of the moral, esthetic and artistic senses.  The same has been said throughout history, about Beethoven, Bach, Jazz, Rock n Roll, Grunge and Hip Hop. Nothing really changes, only the dates. And that my Red Shirt Brethrens is something to remember about History in general.

            Cherry de-saint Maurice  ‘Queen of the Sacramento Tenderloin’

Cherry, like so many others traveling to the west, reinvented herself on the journey. While there has been much speculation on where she came from and who she was, she did such a good job of re-inventing herself that her real name has never been discovered. She says she was born at sea, her father French and her mother from Kentucky. One of her most treasured possessions was a huge doll that she often cradled like a living child. This of course brought on speculation that she had perhaps abandoned or lost a child in her youth. Who Knows?

What is known is that Cherry arrived in Sacramento in 1903 as a chorus girl with a traveling production company performing the musical comedy “Floradora” and left the company for employment at Fanny Browns Palace, a brothel on 2nd street.

Cherry did quite well and in 1907 she purchased an elegant two story home at 327 Lst, a house with ten bedrooms, large parlor and a full basement. She named her Parlor House  the “Cherry Club”. She decorated in sensuous luxury with nude paintings, silk drapes and all the finest of the day. And of course a piano. The club even had a telephone and was listed in the city directory as Main 543.

The Cherry Club was an instant success, it became a prestigious rendezvous place for prominent citizens, including Legislators, upper end business men and well founded travelers. The Cherry Club was well known throughout California as an elegant, fastidious resort of the highest caliber.

The intrigue and allure of the Cherry Club was much greater than the “trade”. Cherry was well read and versed, it was her own intellectual prowess that made the club so popular. She discussed the issues of the times with clergy, elected officials, and other intellects and was described as astute, well read, and educated. She could debate her positions with authority and vigor.

Cherry appeared several times before Governor Hiram Johnson and legislators arguing for them not to vote in favor of the Grant-Bohnett bill intended to ban Red-Light Districts in California. She loathed politicians who preached morality by day and frequented the Tenderloin by night.

Cherry’s business, like all businesses, had its share of ups and downs. In 1909 she took up with John Francisco with whom she had an earlier run in. In 1908, Francisco  assaulted Cherry, smashed furniture and broke out windows in the club. In 1909 Francisco bought the Oak Hall, just north of what is now the pocket area, which he renamed Francisco’s Oak Hall, it was a well know eating and drinking establishment. Francisco was severely burned in an accident and with his establishment failing, he sold it to Cherry. She also bought thirty-four acres surrounding Francisco’s Oak Hall and kept Francisco on a manager. Later she shit canned Francisco after he brought on a legal argument but left the area before the law suit came to court, he did not to return for some time.

1911 was not a good year for Cherry either. In addition to the lawsuit brought on by Francisco (he claimed fraud, she claimed ownership, which was dismissed due to Francisco leaving town) she had two separate burglary attempts with the perps going after her jewelry and cash. In the first, Slim Johnson was caught in the act and apprehended. In the second a former cook for the Cherry Club broke into the basement going after jewels and cash, he also was caught in the act and in attempting to escape got into a gun battle with police who apprehended him.

There was also an incident in which a 15 year old stole his fathers car and went on a joy ride with two female friends . Their first stop was at Oak Hall, then the Cherry club and three other establishments ending in Folsom. All the while drinking beer at each establishment. Cherry along with the other owners were arrested and charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor. The kid who was well known to the police and was a known juvenile delinquent, had a rich father and had been arrested several times in the past.  Cherry plead not guilty on the basis that the kid was already a delinquent and therefore she could not be liable for contributing to his delinquent status.  A Hearing was set for the summer of 1913, but alas, that hearing never came. Tragedy Struck!

On July 8th 1913, Cherry failed to respond to repeated knocks on the door to her private chambers.  After hours of waiting with no response an employee, Cleo Sterling, volunteered to peak into Cherrys bedroom through a window from outside, as she looked in, she shrieked and fell back at the sight of Cherry’s naked body laying face down on the floor, obviously dead.

 Police inspectors and the coroner quickly arrived on scene finding that money and jewelry had been taken. Police concluded that Cherry had been strangled from behind and that her neck had been broken. Evidently the culprit was of enormous strength.  Police also found that only a few drawers had been gone through and that not all of Cherry’s jewels had been taken. The only clews found at the scene were pieces of tape found under the body and a few fingerprints, new technology at the time.

Cherry’s death got the local rumor mill running full with much speculation as to who the culprit might be. 

With speculation running rampant, the police continued interviewing people close to the scene. Cleo Sterling was one they were having issues with and after two days her story began to fall apart. She was seen leaving Cherry’s Club with two men on the morning in question. Sam Raber, opium addict, local entertainer, and female impersonator, as well as Jack Drumgoole a third rate boxer from Reno. Raber and Drumgoole roomed together. A crucial piece of evidence was found at the Raber-Drumgoole residence, tape – the sort that boxers use to wrap their knuckles before a fight, the same type of tape found at the scene of the crime. Further it was found that Cleo Sterling was Rabers lover. Raber and Drumgoole were placed on a wanted list for the murder of Cherry de-saint Maurice!

Raber and Drumgoole were arrested in San Diego two weeks after the murder while trying to pawn a piece of jewelry from Cherry’s collection. The pawn shop owner saw Cherry’s name  engraved on the back of the piece and notified police. Both were apprehended on the spot.

As details of the crime emerged it was revealed that Cleo Sterling was the crime boss, she planned the robbery, not the first time she had planned a heist. Raber admitted to the robbery, but not the killing. Drumgoole had actually strangled Cherry although he only meant to make her pass out.

It turns out that Cleo Sterling had let both men into the Cherry Club in the early morning hours and that Raber and Drumgoole went to Cheery’s door pretending to be messengers. Cherry apparently having just stepped from the bath opened the door in the nude. Drumgoole held Cherry while Raber taped her up in an attempt to subdue her, but she kept fighting and that‘s when Drumgoole strangled her and broke her neck.

All three were tried for murder and robbery in separate cases. Sam Raber was found guilty and sentenced to death. He was hung in Folsom Prison January 14th 1915. Jack Drumgoole the actual strangler was sentenced to life in prison and died at San Quentin in 1920 from tuberculosis. Cleo Sterling, ring leader, was found not guilty and set free. It should also be noted that for the first time in Sacramento, fingerprint evidence was used at a trial.

As Cherry had no relatives or will all of her holdings went to the county of Sacramento, both personal and property.  She had a considerable amount of jewelry and her properties included the Cherry Club, Oak Hall, fifty acres of land in the Haggin- Grant land of Del Paso (North Sacramento) and a few other miscellaneous holdings. Of course there were people who claimed to be long lost relatives or claimed to be the one who Cherry wanted her holdings to go to. All were unfounded.

Cherry had a large turnout at her funeral which was held four days after her demise. Cherry de-saint Maurice is buried in the Odd Fellows Cemetery on Riverside Boulevard in Sacramento. Her grave site is in the No Marker, Section C Lot 45 Grave 12. This might be an excellent plaque to work on.

What say the Brethern??

This is another well plagiarized and stolen report based on the book “Wicked Sacramento” by William Burg

Bob “Popeye” Farrell     John A Sutter Chapter 1841 E Clampus Vitus®  XNGH, Dead Salmon # 6


Squatters Riots Aug 14th 1850

History Report July 18, 2019

 “There’s Gold in them Thar Hills” was the cry that brought thousands of illegal aliens to New Helvetia. Though not technically Illegal Aliens due to the Treaty of Guadalupe Hildalgo in February of 1848 (end of the Mexican American War), John A Sutter Sr. none the less considered them to be marauding, shiftless illegals.

In 1848 John August Sutter Jr. moved to New Helvetia to help his father, who once again was in financial straits. This did make some sense as John Jr. was schooled in counting, or as we know it today “Accounting”. By late 1848 John Sutter Sr. was completely disillusioned with New Helvetia as it had been totally over run with loiterers and drunkards.  John the Sr. deeded his son John Jr. a large tract of land near the confluence of the American and Sacramento Rivers and with that told John Jr. Fuckenze dis schite and headed for Coloma to start a business selling supplies to the Illegals, I mean Gold Prospectors, that had over run the area.

Mean while John Jr. was thinking of ways to make money to pay off his father’s debts. He considered selling his newly deeded land, the whole kit and caboodle, but the prospect of selling such a large chunk of land did not seem possible. He thought about selling off pieces of the land and decided he would call it Sacramento City which was not pleasing to John the senior as he wanted to start a town named Sutterville. Shit happens.

It was about this time that the Despicable Sam Brannan and a few other businessmen approached John Junior with a plan to buy his land, can’t lose they said. Junior hired William Tecumsah Sherman and Sam Brannan to help lay out a platte for the city and began selling lots. We’ll go more into John A Sutter Jr. in a subsequent history report, suffice it to say Junior got totally Fucked in the deal.

And this sets up the stage for the “Squatters Riots of 1850”. Settlers who arrived in the area found it difficult to find unclaimed land. Only 800 people held deeds to over 14 million acres of claimed land in California, and they weren’t selling cheap.

Most of the arrivals to the area could not afford lodging in New Helvetia or Sacramento City, so they just squatted on the lands surrounding Sutter’s Fort and began building their own cabins and shacks. Some Squatters even challenged the right that John A Sutter the senior had to the land from the Mexican Era Claim, they took him to court.

Prelude to the Conflicts

The Squatters were first roused into action by a lawsuit filed in Oct 1849 against a logger named Z.M. Chapman, he built a cabin close to Sutter’s Fort on land claimed by the Priest and Lee Company. As it turned Priest and Lee couldn’t prove they actually owned the land so the suit was dropped. This lead Chapman to extend his claim, there-by challenging Sutter’s original grants and subsequently all City owned lands. Dr. Charles L. Robinson, new to the area himself liked what Chapman was doing and built his own digs on somebody else’s land. Robinson helped organize the “Sacramento City Settlers” group and became it’s defacto leader.

In Late 1849 landowners of the area, headed by none other than our old buddy the Dispicable Sam Brannan, convinced the Sacramento City Council to issue a decree permitting the destruction of Robinsons property. Well, GOD said Up Bucket you assholes, I don’t like any of you! And in January of 1850 sent a humongous storm, it rained like the Billy for weeks. As a result most of Sacramento City was washed away including most all of the squatter shacks.

With the city being a giant mud pit, the majority of the squatters decided to do what they originally came for, go out and pick up all that gold that was just lying around for the taking. Off to the hills they went! Not long after a majority of the squatters found out that looking for gold wasn’t as easy as it seemed from all the news paper articles they had read in the east, so they returned to Sacramento City.

The newly returned squatters wanted the city government to recognize “Squatters Rights” and started holding public meetings and gatherings in the spring of 1850. They swore to defend their lands and formed the “Law and Order Association” along with an Irregular Militia. The Squatters and the Speculators, led by that no good despicable Sam Brannan, soon squared off. Shit started to get stinky after the Speculators destroyed a fence put up by a Squatter.

John Madden, squatter and later head coach for the Oakland Radiers was arrested on charges of “unlawful occupation” and found guilty on August 8th 1850. The Squatters thought this unfair and distributed hand bills accusing the Speculators of “Brute Force”. Doc Robinson started working with a journalist, James McClatchy (later he started and edited the Sacramento Bee) and together they founded a news paper called the “Settlers and Miners Tribune”. They promptly started throwing shit at the Speculators as they were impeding immigration to the City. At the same time Doc Robinson enlisted (drafted) Joseph Maloney to head the Settlers Militia in case any military action was required. On August the 12th Mayor Hardin Bigelow promised not to screw with the Squatters.

Of course Mayor Bigelow, being a true Politian, lied and on August 13th 1850 issued a writ of restitution to the place where John Madden, who lost the Squatters wrap, lived prior to his arrest. The writ called for the arrest of James McClatchy and Richard Moran, another Free Soil advocate. Both men were rounded up and jailed on the ship La Grange which was used as the Sacramento City hoosegow. Bing Maloney, head of the golf course, no wait, James Maloney head of the militia and Doc Robinson called on their troops to free Maddens land from the government. And this set the stage for the Squatters Riots of 1850.

Hardin Bigelow hearing of the Squatters Militia on the march incorrectly assumed that they were heading for the shitty ship La Grange to bust out McClatchy and Moran. Bigelow called his troops and marched off to confront the Squatters marauding Militia.

On August 14th 1850 the two groups met at the corner of 4th and J streets. Hardin Bigelow called for the Squatters to stand down and relinquish their weapons. Then the shooting began. Don’t know who shot first, but in the aftermath, both Hardin Bigelow and Dr. Charles Robinson were severely wounded.  The City Assessor J.W. Woodland and Joseph Maloney, head of the Squatters Militia were killed along with two spectators who were watching the events unfold. 

General Albert Winn, head of the City Council ordered 500 militiamen towards the city and declared Marshall Law until the matter at hand could be resolved. The next day Sherriff Joseph McKinney led a party of 20 to find the Squatter James Allen who was involved, by some accounts, in the action of the previous day. They left Sacramento City and headed towards “Brighton” and found Allen in his cabin. The Sherriff went inside and ordered the Squatters to surrender, he was answered with gunfire and staggered out of the adobe and died at the entrance of the cabin. By the time it was all over the Sherriff was dead along with Allens brother and two other squatters. The remaining squatters surrendered and for the most part the ordeal wound down and ended. James Allen, subject of the search escaped the melee and was never seen again.

Hardin Bigelow as a result of his wounds and the cholera epidemic of October 1850 resigned his position as Mayor and moved to San Francisco were he passed in November of 1850. Dr. Charles L. Robinson still a popular figure in the community was elected to the State Senate while he was still in prison awaiting trial for murder. He was subsequently discharged without trial and served as a State Senator from 1851 through 1852. He later moved to Kansas and became the 1st Governor of the newly admitted state in 1861. He also became the only Governor of the state to be impeached. The charges were unfounded and he was found not guilty at trial. Later he became a State Senator of Kansas from 1873 to 1881.

There is a plaque at 4th and Jst, set in 1982 by our past brothers of New Helvetia Chapter 5 E Clampus Vitus® commemorating the events of the Squatters Riots.        

This tale has been stolen from many unreliable and disreputable sources, including the internet and “Brighton: Who Shot The Sherriff” by Bill George current President of the Sacramento Historical Society.

With Regards to All Brothers of Equal Indignity

Bob “Popeye” Farrell  XNGH Johann A Sutter Chapter 1841 E Clampus Vitus®


Sacramento Valley Railroad History Report

Just sit right back and you’ll hear a tale, a tale of a fateful trip. That started from this tropic port aboard this tiny ship —- No wait, wrong story!

This hysterical report is on the Sacramento Valley Railroad, the “First in the West”. We’ll actually the second in the West, but we’ll save that report for another time, it involves three drunk brothers. This report will be in three parts, first the Sacramento Valley Railroad, kind of a timeline. Second the Big Wigs in charge and how they all intertwined and lastly who really built the Sacramento Valley Railroad.
Plans for the Sacramento Valley Railroad were first drawn up in 1852 and after some legislative changes in the railroad financial laws in the year of 1853, the idea of starting a railroad from Sacramento to the mining town of Negro Bar, thence to Marysville was started in earnest. The need was clearly there, with some 239,000 people in the greater area purchasing an average of 162,700 tons of product and supplies a year, a faster more reliable way of transporting goods throughout the region was required. Charles Lincoln Wilson President of the SVRR set the project in motion, first traveling to New York and recruiting 28 year old engineer Theodore Judah to layout the route. Judah himself had the overall vision of building a transcontinental railroad which earned him the nickname of “Crazy Judah” as such a notion was clearly nuts, crossing the Sierras, deserts and vast open expanses, JUST NUTS.
In 1854 a New York construction firm had agreed to build and equip the project for 1.8 million dollars, a huge amount of money for the time. Construction on “The Road”, as it was called, began February 12th 1855. Wilson resigned as president of the SVRR on Feb 10th of 1855 and was replaced by Captain Joseph Libbey Folsom an Ex Army officer and businessman who was buying land in San Francisco as well as thousands of acres along the American River, including Negro Bar and Granite City. Folsom granted SVRR right of way across his land and two blocks of his land in Granite City for the rail yard.. Construction was moving right along when Folsom croaked in mid July of 1855 and was replaced by C.K.Garrison, a businessman from San Francisco. His Vice President was none other than William Tecumsah Sherman, banker and business man, later to be known for his civil war exploits.
The little settlement of Granite City was renamed “Folsom” shortly after J.L. Folsom kicked the bucket. In July and August of 1855 the Road was being built at the rate of two city blocks a day. The project was moving along Balls to the Wall.
October of 1855 proved to be a shitstorm month for the SVRR! The company didn’t have the money to pay the contractors, so the whole kit and kabootle went into receivership. San Francisco banker J. Mora Moss was appointed as trustee and he cobbled together a deal with the investors and the contractors to continue on with the “Road”.
January of 1856 the Road reached the town of Folsom following the route that Theodore Judah had laid out. On February 22nd 1856 the Sacramento Valley Railroad officially opened for business. A big Inaugural Ball was held with lots of hoopla, dinning, dancing and excursion trains running the route from Sacramento to Folsom. The party lasted well into the morning hours, musta been some clampers involved! The route is still in use today and has been used everyday since it’s completion. It is the route that the light rail takes today from Sacramento to Folsom. Running from R street in Sacramento, along Folsom Blvd to the town of Folsom ending along Sutter Street. Judah had decided to build the first section of the Road from Sacrament to Negro Bar and when it was complete he would build the next section from Folsom to Maysville. With the completion of the first section the SVRR owners decided to make Folsom the terminus of the line. This bode well for the city of Folsom.
With Folsom set as the terminus 90 % of the materials, supplies equipment and other necessities for the mining communities in California and Nevada (in the 1860’s) flowed through Folsom, via the SVRR. SVRR built brick buildings housing machine shops, foundries, freight drops, warehouses. There were 20 Stage Coach Lines, 30 freight wagons a day left Folsom most with 8 mule teams or more heading out to mines all over the mother lode country as well as crossing the Sierras to the Silver mines of Nevada. There were Hotels, restaurants, churches, hardware stores, every manor of commerce was locating in the town of Folsom. While most mining towns died away after the gold was played out < Prairie City, Salmon Falls, Mormon Island to mention a few > Folsom continued to prosper, the community grew into a solid town.

The Big Wigs
While there are many more then I will mention here these are some of the more connected men involved one way or another with the Sacramento Valley Railroad. Listed in no particular order.

  1. Charles Lincoln Wilson first president of the SVRR. Wilson owned a steamship company servicing Sacramento, owned toll roads, bridges, and he started the SVRR with a few other associates (money men) He was instrumental in lobbying the legislation that eased the financial restrictions placed on building of Railways in California.
  2. Peter Burnett, 1st Governor of California, clerk for John Sutter and was no doubt one of the persons that Wilson was lobbying with to pass the reform on railroad financing
  3. Sam Brannan, well known shit disturber and hustler of the time. Ordered the first steam locomotive in California in 1849 from the Globe Locomotive works in Boston. He intended to use it to build up the lowland in San Francisco to create his own land on which he would then build warehouses, businesses, and wharfs. He named the Locomotive the “Elephant”. A common phrase at the time was “ to go see the Elephant”. His Elephant turned into a giant Elephant turd when the city leaders of San Francisco refused him the rights to use city streets to run his locomotive. Of course they were the very ones who already owned the waterfront, warehouses and wharfs. And again it was his own shit disturbing that caused his plan to fail. He has had many other failings due to the same problem. Another hysterical lesson for another time. Long story, no shorter, he sold his Locomotive to the SVRR, and Theodore Judah renamed it the CK Garrison and was the first Locomotive run in the State of California
  4. Theodore Judah (Crazy Judah) civil engineer, planned the Niagara River Gorge Railroad and saw it to completion. He completed the SVRR, was recruited for the Central Pacific Railroad transcontinental project and successfully laid out the route from Sacrament to Promontory Point Utah. He died in 1863 before completion of the CPRR of Malaria contracted while transiting the Panama Isthmus enroute to New York City for another meeting to recruit more investors for his transcontinental project.
  5. The “Big Four” Stanford, Huntington, Hopkins and Crocker they had their fingers in every pie.
  6. Captain Joseph Folsom, Ex army officer, Businessman, Banker, Land speculator, took over for Charles Wilson when he resigned as president of the SVRR. Folsom was sharp enough to buy thousands of acres of land along the American River just happening to coincide with the route of the SVRR. Overall probably a good guy.
  7. C.K. Garrison, 5th Mayor of San Francisco, Steamboat Captain on the Mississippi River, Shipping Agent, Ship Builder and Capitalist. No doubt hob knobbed with the “Big Boys” of the times. Was in charge of the SVRR when it went tits up.
  8. William Tecumsah Sherman “Banker” Vice President of SVRR under C.K. Garrison. Also was well known to John Sutter and helped John Sutter Jr. lay out the town of Sacramento. Later, Sherman became best known for his civil war exploits.
  9. J Mora Moss, San Francisco banker appointed as trustee of the SVRR after its insolvency. Later he became the 1st Vice President and 3rd President of the San Francisco Gas Company (later to be known as PG&E). He was involved with the California Telegraph Co., the Market St Railroad as well as regent of the University of California. Another well connected businessman.
    On a personal note, most of these afore mentioned men came to California with little to their name, no money, no supplies, mostly just the clothes on their backs. I believe that the one thing that most of them had in common was the ability to legally steal. Some were lawyers, some had been businessmen in the East, but all ended up running in the same circles. From that stand point I’d say not much has changed today.

Who Really Built the Railroad?
I want you to look at the brother next to you, across the table from you, down the table from you.
These are the men who really built the SVRR, men just like us, men who go to work everyday, men who do the hard jobs, men who get the job done. We are the men who in the mid 1840’s would have gone to California to see the Elephant. We are Clampers and we are the embodiment of those who have gone before us. We built it all.
What Say The Brethren?

Most of these words have been stolen (plagiarized – big word for a clamper) from other sources. Most notability from Cindy L. Baker’s book “First in the West The Sacramento Valley Railroad” other sources include the internet which as everybody knows always contains the truth, or at least a part of the truth, or maybe a small part of the truth, or maybe none at all, but none the less I stole (plagiarized) it anyway.

You think I’m putting’ my name on this stolen piece of shit!! What the Hell, are you Bat Shit CRAZY!


John A. Sutter Life and Times

John A Sutter, born Johann August Sutter In 1803 In Kandern, Baden Germany, close to the Swiss Border. His Swiss father was a printer by trade. Sutter apprenticed  in the printing  trade, attended a military school and spoke four languages. At 21 John Sutter married Annette D’beld a Swiss girl from a well off family. Sutter married up! He opened a drapery shop and managed to go through most of his wife’s money in a few short years and had to come up with a suitable plan to escape a prison term for being a debtor.  His plan was simple, put his brother in charge of the wife and family and haul ass for the New World. This he did in 1834, leaving behind a wife and four children.

Sutter traveled to the New world from Le Harve France using  a French Passport to New York City. After arriving Sutter traveled to the St Louis area and worked for a few years as a merchant and inn keeper. It was during this time the he got the idea to be an agricultural giant. Having heard about good land being available in the west he set about making plans to head to Califia later to be known as California. Setting out from Missouri in April of 1838 with a group of trappers and mountain men Sutter eventually ended up at Fort Vancouver, the end of the Oregon trail. He was anxious to head to Califia, but was cautioned against the overland  trip as it was to dangerous in the winter and the Nez Pierce Indians weren’t all that friendly. So he did the next best thing, he borrowed more money and got passage on board the ship Columbia bound for the Sandwich Islands, today known as the Hawaiian Islands.  He had plans to sail from Hawaii to California, but the only ship going the way had already sailed by the time Sutter arrived.

It was in Hawaii that John A Sutter presented himself as a Captain in the Swiss Guard along with letters of introduction he had managed to acquire on his journey. While staying in Hawaii Sutter managed to convince some businessmen to invest in his Agricultural ideas and establish a mercantile presents in California. He must have been, if nothing else, a good “bullshitter” . After four months he left Hawaii with ten Kanakas (Native Hawaiians). Sutter signed on to the brig Clementine to carry goods to New Archangel (Sitka Alaska), Sutter would travel as the Super Cargo on that voyage. He departed Hawaii on April 1839 and arrived in New Archangel a while later. While in New Archangel he became friends with the Russian Governor Kupreanof   who helped Sutter with several details as well as letting him use the Ship Clementine to sail to California to drop supplies off at Fort Ross and Yerba Buena, which Sutter did before sailing to Monterey to declare his cargo.

Sutter arrives in Monterey to talk with Governor Alvarado in late August of 1839. At first the Mexican Governor is not very enthusiastic about Sutters idea of a land grant, stating that all the land was already taken and that any remaining lands would go to family members. The Governor changed his mind once he learned that Sutter did not want any of the coastal lands, he wanted the interior. He wanted the “El Sobrante” or left over land. This presented the Governor with a solution to two possible problems. 1st there was no establishment in the interior as the Indian population controlled the area and two if there were a presents in the interior he might be able to keep the Americans out of the territory. So with that line of thinking prevailing, the Governor told Sutter that he would be granted land based on two conditions, one he had to become a Mexican Citizen and two that after one year as a citizen and if Sutter were successful he would be officially granted the almost 50,000 acres of land (75 SQ miles). Sutter got his citizenship on Aug 20 1840 and was officially granted land title in Aug of 1841.

After concluding business in Monterey Sutter sails back to Yerba Buena (San Francisco) and hires the schooner Isabella and two smaller vessels to transport his provisions and supplies up the river. fter two weeks the Sutter flotilla arrives at the confluence of the Sacramento River and the American River as it is now known. Here Sutter decides to use this area as his new territory which he names for his old home Helvetia. The new land is now known as “New Helvetia”. It is recorded that about 200 Indians watched Sutter and 12 others come ashore that day, ten Kanakas and two German sailors. The Indians must have found it curious that a white man was traveling with people that looked like them, of course they were looking at the Kanakas. In any event the natives did not attack Sutter or his group. Sutter promptly put up his tents and had a few brush huts built. This was the beginning of Sutters Fort.

Sutters Fort was well underway by 1840, and Sutter needed to attract settlers to the area so his dream of running an agricultural and mercantile center could manifest itself. He began advertising in Eastern publications that he would provide land and the start up for ranches to anyone who was interested. In 1841 John Bidwell arrived and began working for Sutter in various positions. One thing that Bidwell instilled in Sutter was that the people back east were afraid of the Indians and that Sutter needed to show that they would be safe in California. Bidwell suggested walling in the fort and once that was done the people would come to a safe place. It is also important to mention that about that time not only was the fort coming along, but it also had its first distillery

1841 was also an important year for Sutter as he managed to purchase Fort Ross and Bodega Bay from the Russians for $32,000 which he got by mortgaging New Helvetia. He also established the Hock Farm just south of what today is known as Yuba City.

Sutter’s Fort was pretty much completed by 1844 and it grew in importance as the destination for westward travelers, all trails, paths and what would become roads lead to Sutter’s Fort.

1846 turns out to be a busy year for Sutter. On June 14th 1846 The Bear Flag Revolt took place wresting power from the Mexicans and Declaring California a “Lone Star State”. Thus giving the Americans the upper hand, some three weeks later the United States concluded its war with Mexico and all the western territories came under US jurisdiction and John Sutter was given the title of Lieutenant in the United States Army.  At the same time the west was becoming a popular destination for those seeking a new, better life. The wagon trains from the east were literally a non stop line from Missouri to Sutters Fort. All this was good news for Sutter as his plan for creating an agricultural empire was coming to fruition.   He by now had some 13,000 head of cattle and horses, and was growing enough produce to satisfy the needs of the area. In short he was becoming successful. Later on the ill-fated Donner Party decided to spend the night near what is now Donner Lake. That didn’t work out so well for them and John Sutter was once again called upon to help out. He did, sending food supplies and men to the aid of the Donner Party. In February of 1847 47 of the 87 people of the Donner Party were rescued and taken to Sutters Fort where Sutter granted them permission to stay until they were once again well.  

1847 turns out to be another monumental year for Sutter if for no other reason than his hiring of James W. Marshall. Sutter hired Marshall to oversee and build a sawmill on the American River by Coloma. Sutter needed the lumber for selling to all the new folks arriving in California. On January 24th 1848 while Marshall was inspecting the tail race for the mill he spotted what he thought might be gold. He took this to Sutter and at the fort, in a private room, he and Sutter preformed test on the material to see if it was indeed gold. It was. Sutter wanted to keep this information under wraps and swore Marshall to secrecy. Sutter also told his friend and co-worker Sam Brannan about the discovery and Sam Brannan promptly published the gold finding in his newspaper. And this was the start of the California Gold Rush.

 John Sutter had sent for his eldest son to come help him manage the Fort in early 1848.  John Sutter Jr. arrived in September 1848 just in time to see his fathers legacy begin to crumble and Junior was immediately inundated by John Sutter’s creditors.

By 1849 the human stampede had begun in earnest. Gold seekers where everywhere. Thousand and thousands of people were on the move to California pushing law and order before them. They arrived in California with very little and only wanted to get to the diggin’s and find the yellow flake. In the process they destroyed Sutters crops or took what they wanted, rustled his cattle and horses  and paid no attention to John Sutters holdings.  From this point Sutter tried to become a merchant to the miners, but his business partners cheated him and his creditors pursued him. John Jr. along with Peter Burnet (first Governor of California) and William Tecumsa Sherman laid out the grid for what John Jr. called Sacramento and they began selling land parcels to get money for John Sutters creditors.

By the end of 1849 Captain John A Sutter had given up on Sutters Fort. He sold it in late 1849 or early 1850 to Alden Bayly for $7000. Sutter had sent for his wife and children and when they arrived John Sutter moved to his Hock Farm to continue to grow food and ranch cattle.

By 1857 Sutters Fort was almost gone. Much of the bricks used to build the structure had been removed and used on other buildings in Sacramento. All that remained of the Fort was the main building and it was in poor shape. Sutter continued to live at Hock Farm until 1865 when a disgruntled employee burnt the place to the ground.  Sutter decided to try to obtain restitution ($50,000) from the US government for his help in colonizing the west and California. In 1871 Sutter and his family, with the exception of John Jr., moved to Lititz Pennsylvania.

June 18th of 1880 Captain John A Sutter passed away without having ever realized his over all goals. His wife passed away early January 1881.

I have not mentioned the Indigenous Indians much, but it should be noted that Sutter did use the Indians to build his fort as well as to tend his lands and crops. Sutter did pay the Indians, he generally went to the tribal head (Chief) and settled with him as to how many he would need and the amount to be paid. Most trades were no doubt in material goods, knives, cooking pots, fabric ect.

-Bob “Popeye” Farrell- XNGH #6 JAS1841

The Story of Ulysees S. Grant


September 21st, 2017


One legend has it that he was incarcerated for drunkenness, in either the old Benicia Barracks or the newer Benicia Arsenal guardhouse. Another myth relates that the “young lieutenant” was subjected to a “little trial” in which, according to variations, he was either acquitted or convicted and incarcerated – or not. Another story has him reprimanded in California by his superior officer for drinking on duty.
One version states that Grant replaced Lt. William Tecumseh Sherman at the Benicia Arsenal and was incarcerated in the Arsenal Guardhouse for 30 days because he was drunk and fired a cannonball at Martinez.

So, what are the facts?
Well according to books I’ve read such as “Grant” by Jean Edward Smith and “The Trial of Grant” by Charles G. Ellington, the stories about Grant having been tried and incarcerated in Benicia or anywhere else are absolutely false. When ordered to California in 1852 after leaving Panama on his way to Benicia with the 4th infantry, he was the regimental quartermaster. He was also a bit of a drinker. That part is true and he was also a very decorated war hero. But he lost a lot of equipment to theft and accidents, such as pack animals falling into rivers. At the close of his Benicia duty, he faced an official Board of Survey not a trial “to investigate and report upon the losses and damages to public property” that had occurred in Panama under Grant’s charge as the regimental quartermaster. Such a board was a normal military administrative device to determine liability for the loss of $1,350 worth of supplies… Or maybe he did get drunk and fire cannons at Martinez. Maybe this entire story is crap? Maybe we’ll never know.

Delivered to the brethren, this date, September 21st, 6022
by “Who Me”
John A. Sutter Chapter historian
Submitted by NGH Paul “Sparks” Laue on October 12th, 6022

The Story of James W. Marshall


October 18th, 2017


On Jan. 24, 1848, James W. Marshall, an employee of John A. Sutter, discovered gold in the tail race of a mill he was building for Sutter. News spread slowly in those days, and gold had been seen in California earlier, but news of Marshall’s discovery sparked more interest. Since most people could not get to California in less than 5 months, few were able to arrive in 1848.
1849, however, would prove to be the beginning of the Gold Rush. Among those leaving for California in Jan. 1849, was a 49 year-old man from the address Will County (near Joliet), Illinois. Joe Zumwalt came west to seek his fortune. While passing through Bowling Green (Pike County), Missouri, Joe and his partner C.W. Wright stopped at a newspaper office to ask about the condition of the road to California. While there, they picked up some copies of the ritual of “E Clampus Vitus.” Some 8 months after leaving Illinois, the party reached the Diggins in Sept. 1849. Settling his family in Sacramento, Joe and others returned to the Diggins. Joe Zumwalt visited Camptonville, Downieville, Sierra City, Hangtown and many other locations. He tried to start Chapters of E Clampus Vitus in some of these places, but due to the restlessness of the miners, no success was attained. As the Placer mining became harder, and the focus of the search for gold turned from the rivers and streams to the quartz outcroppings from which the gold came, partnerships were formed, companies became employers and many men worked for others, rather than trying their luck on their own. The miners were finally coming together and settling down. In 1851, at Mokelumne Hill, Chapter 1001 of E Clampus Vitus was formed. Perhaps it was the more stationary population, but check this time the idea took. Soon, Chapters were springing up all along the Mother Lode and all over California.
Delivered to the brethren, this date, October 18th, 6022
by “Who Me”
John A. Sutter Chapter Historian
Submitted by NGH Paul “Sparks” Laue on October 19th, 6022