The unresolved Adams bankruptcy

After his arrest for contempt of court Edward Jones soon handed over all the Adams & Co. assets under his control and was released, but Alfred Cohen either could not or would not answer for certain missing funds from the accounts. In addition there was the issue of ten thousand dollars Cohen claimed for his commission that the courts refused to allow. Then on February 27, 1856 workmen discovered a canvas bag containing large account books that had washed in with the tide along North Beach near the end of Montgomery Street. The books proved to be the ledger and cashbook of Adams & Co. They were badly damaged from time in the water and the pages that dealt with transactions in the two days before the failure had been torn out. The books, however, did not shed any new light onto the scandal.

Adams office @ Parrotts Granite Block, San Francisco

Cohen remained in jail in spite of many efforts to obtain his release. At last an appeal was made to the Supreme Court. When the issue finally came before the court that summer one of the three justices, Solomon Haydenfeldt, was out of the state on leave, the second, David S. Terry, was confined by the vigilance committee of San Francisco for knifing a man to death and in danger of being hung. The Chief Justice, Hugh C. Murray could not make a decision without a quorum so Cohen remained in jail until Terry was freed later by the vigilantes.

Hugh C. Murray

The case of the Adams & Co. bankruptcy continued before the courts for seven or eight more years until all of the funds had been squandered away in legal fees and there was nothing left to be gained from pursuing the matter. To many in San Francisco, and especially those who lost money, the whole affair had been nothing more than a preplanned swindle from the very beginning. For years afterwards Isaiah Woods, Palmer, Cook & Co. and others involved were denounced for what was considered a deliberate fraud. While charges were made against everyone connected with the scandal on either side, no criminal prosecution was ever undertaken and no proof of wrongdoing brought forward. The whole business at last became a confused story that became impossible to understand.



Speak Your Mind


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.