Sunday, October 6, 2013

Shot by a Woman, Sacramento Union, 1860

Published in the Sacramento Union on June 8th, 1860:
Shot by a Woman

A friend from Carson City, who arrived yesterday, informs us [the Sacramento Union] that a Mexican named Manuel Marquez was shot at that place by a woman, under the following circumstances:

The woman is married, has two children, and is living with her husband. The fellow approached her with proposals, which she resented as a gross insult. He then threatened her life and that of her husband, and did fire two shots into the house in which they lived.

Thereupon he was arrested, taken before Judge Cradlebaugh, and after the facts were elicited, was required to give bonds for his appearance at Court in the sum of five hundred dollars, or remain in the custody of the Marshal.

As the parties were leaving the Court room, the woman in company with her husband walked up behind the Mexican, when she drew a pistol from her pocket and shot him dead, the ball entering under his left shoulder and passing through the heart.

The act was applauded by those present.

The Mexican was a desperado, who had served a term in the California penitentiary.

-- end of article

The newspaper article above is presented here exactly as it was published in the Sacramento Union back on June 8th, 1860. News coming over the mountain by word of mouth was not out of the ordinary back in those days. And yes, especially since Carson City was already the capital of Nevada by 1860, any news coming out of Carson City was of interest on this side of the Sierra Mountains in California.

Carson City was named for the mountain man Kit Carson, who was part of the first whites who arrived with John C. Fremont and his exploration party in January 1843. Fremont named the river flowing through the valley Carson River in honor of Christopher "Kit" Carson, the mountain man and scout he had hired for his expedition. Prior to the Fremont expedition, the Washoe Indians inhabited the valley and surrounding areas. Settlers named the area Washoe in reference to the tribe.

By 1851, the Eagle Station ranch located along the Carson River served as a trading post and stopover for travelers on the California Trail's Carson Branch which ran through Eagle Valley. Its said that the valley and trading post received their name from a bald eagle that was hunted and killed by one of the early settlers and was featured on a wall inside the post.

As the area was actually part of the original Utah Territory, it was governed from Salt Lake City, where the territorial government was headquartered. Early settlers didn't like the fact that control of their area came from far away Mormon-influenced officials, and desired the creation of the Nevada territory.

Not too surprising, as in most Western towns and areas, a vigilante group was formed to keep law and order. Soon, this influential band of settlers, headed by Abraham Curry, sought a site for a capital city for the envisioned territory.

In 1858, Abraham Curry bought Eagle Station and thereafter renamed the settlement Carson City. As Curry and several other partners had Eagle Valley surveyed for development. Curry had decided for himself that Carson City would someday serve as the capital city and left a 10-acre plot open in the center of town for a future capitol building. That's called initiative - Western style!

Following the discovery of gold and silver in 1859 on the nearby Comstock Lode, Carson City's population began to rise. Abe Curry built the Warm Springs Hotel a mile to the east of the center of town. And yes, as  predicted, Carson City was selected as the territorial capital, besting Virginia City and American Flat. Curry loaned his Warm Springs Hotel to the territorial Legislature as a meeting hall.

The Legislature named Carson City to be the seat of Ormsby County and selected the hotel as the territorial prison with Abe Curry serving as its first warden. Believe it or not, today the property still serves as part of the state prison. Nevada became a state in 1864 during the Civil War, and Carson City was confirmed as Nevada's permanent capital.
As for the news story above, isn't it amazing how "the act was applauded by those present"?

I don't know if the Mexican desperado threatened her or not while walking out of the court, but all in all it really didn't mater. It appears that the fine lady involved was not going to take any chances of the desperado harming her family while the badman was out on bail.

Since those around her applauded, it tells me that she probably got off with killing him for reasons of self-defense. None of this surprises me really, back then folks simply did not wait for the law to handle their problems for them.

People were a lot more self-sufficient, self-reliant, and knew real well that their security was in their own hands - and not that of the government. Whether it be the Federal, state, county, or city governments, people back then knew that it simply was not the government's job to protect them from every harm.

People knew, without question, that it was their responsibility to look after themselves. And yes, just as the woman who took it upon herself to shoot that Mexican desperado and not wait for the law to protect her family, they did just that.

Isn't it interesting that history is repeating itself and we find ourselves in a position to fend for ourselves and note wait for the police to do something?Today, most Americans know way too well that by the time the police do arrive, that the perpetrators have come and gone, victims are injured or worse, property has been broken or stolen, and the police only take a report about what took place.

This lack of consequence for the lawless is making more and more Americans look after and provide for oneself without any help from others.

And yes, I see that as a good thing.

Tom Correa

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