A home invasion in Stockton 1849

At the San Joaquin River city of Stockton in the fall of 1849 three men on a drunken revel entered the tent of a man from Chile and attacked his wife. Her husband ran them off but as they fled they managed to fire their pistols at the tent, though without hitting anyone.

Stockton 1856

Two of the three culprits were soon apprehended and hauled before the local Alcalde and a jury where the case was heard and a verdict of fifty lashes for the principal offender and twenty for his cohort were decreed, to be executed at once after which the scalawags had forty-eight hours to leave town or face a death sentence. The two men were stripped to the waist, tied to a tree along the main street and flogged in the presence of the Alcalde, the sheriff, and a crowd of onlookers who laughed at every cut of the whip and cheered at any offhand comment someone made. While a few in the crowd expressed opposition to the punishment a vast majority, citing the lack of prisons and guards, thought that there was no other choice available except for the much more severe capital punishment.




  1. Effective for the time. Wonder if they really did leave or if the third was ever found? You know me, always want to know more.

    • It was easy to get lost during the gold rush, Doris. Men were always moving around. I expect the third man went off somewhere and was never found, or perhaps he committed another crime in some other mining town and they hung him. Many men who came to California disappeared.

  2. Harold Grice says

    And for some, it is likely why they came to California in the first place, to disappear from somewhere else.

    • Even before gold was discovered a lot of those who volunteered to fight in the Mexican War and came to California with Stevenson’s Regiment of New York Volunteers were gang members and criminals who agreed not to return to New York on pain of being sentenced for their previous crimes. These men were mustered out just as news of the gold spread through California. Many got very lucky. But you are correct, people came to California for many reasons.

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