Thursday, December 14, 2017

Haunted By History - A Well Written Trip Back In Time

(Copyright: Craig Owens)

Every once in a while I get the urge to write a review of another author's works because I am compelled to share it with the world. This will be one of several blog posts that include my new favorite authors and their books. For my first review and interview post, I chose to cover Craig Owens' newest book, "Haunted By History, Volume 1."

This is not your traditional haunted history book by any means! In fact, the unique design and format of this book seems to be what caught my eye from the start. For one, the book is printed on some of the finest quality paper. It is truly a coffee table book you can keep forever, and trust me, you'll want to. Author, Craig Owens' choice of locations for his first volume of this series is nothing short of amazing.

It is clear that Owens' research on each hotel within his one book surpasses most, if not all other books that individually cover each one. The book is 393 pages of thoroughly vetted historical research, intriguing stories of paranormal experiences and best of all, incredibly ingenious photography.

Besides being a skilled storyteller, Owens is also a very accomplished photographer. Not only do you feel like you are pulled into each history with his writing, but you also feel as if you are peeking through a window into the past with each turn of the page, by viewing every photo still published within.

The eight hotels and inns covered within the book are as follows:



  1. The Hotel Del Coronado
  2. The Victorian Rose Bed and Breakfast
  3. The Julian Gold Rush Hotel
  4. The Mission Inn Hotel & Spa
  5. The Alexandra Hotel
  6. The Wyndham Garden Ventura Pierpont Inn
  7. The Banning House Lodge
  8. The Glen Tavern Inn

"Spooky Night" at Glen Tavern Inn, Copyright: Craig Owens.

Recently was able to speak to Craig Owens directly and he was kind enough to answer a few interview questions I had for him about "Haunted By History, Volume 1." 

J'aime (Q):  Craig, when did you decide to write "Haunted By History?"

Craig (A):  "The book project unofficially started in 2009, while I was doing a vintage photo shoot at the Mission Inn. Although I had heard that the Inn was haunted, I wasn't there to ghost hunt. I did, however bring a couple of audio recorders just in case something odd happened during my four-day stay there. Well, as you might have guessed, a few odd things did indeed happen. On my second day at the Mission Inn, I recorded a woman's voice inside my suite after hearing the sound of heels clacking in the upper loft area. Because I was alone at the time, the sounds startled me. But the most unsettling experience occurred after midnight on my last night there. As I walked across the courtyard on the fourth floor in front of the Inn's Alhambra Suite, I saw a short, two-dimensional, inky black shadow dressed in some kind of a cowl peeking around a corner from an adjacent hallway. At first, I thought it was a shadow, until it suddenly darted out of sight from the corner. Having never seen a ghost before, I tried to find a logical explanation for it, but I couldn't. It shook me up and after I returned home, I slept with the lights on for the next ten days. I also became very curious about the Inn's history apart from the information found on the Internet.

But my fascination with the paranormal isn't the sole reason for writing the book. I had non-paranormal reasons for writing it, too, such as my love for historic hotels. In 2006, Los Angeles had already lost the Ambassador Hotel. Thanks to the Great Recession a few years later, other hotels fell into dire straits.  In late 2010, a bank foreclosed on the Aztec Hotel in Monrovia. Around this time, another bank foreclosed on the Pierpont Inn in Ventura, California. 

So in 2011, I decided to create a coffee table book that called attention to a handful of these existing hotels and beds and breakfasts, and I wanted to celebrate each one for what they are: great places to travel back in time using the ol' imagination. But I didn't want HAUNTED BY HISTORY to be a rehash of information found in other books. I wanted to fact-check everything while conveying a sense of fun and history in a unique, unusual way." 

J'aime (Q): Which location's history was your favorite?

Craig (A): "My favorite is the Alexandria Hotel in downtown Los Angeles. Not only was it the city's first five-star hotel when it opened in 1906, but it later became the main social center of the West Coast motion picture film colony from 1914 to 1921. Mary Pickford, Charles Chaplin, Rudolph Valentino, Gloria Swanson, D.W. Griffith, Buster Keaton all partied there. And yet, despite all its glamour and gaiety, wealthy people also checked into the hotel to carry out very unusual suicides."

J'aime (Q): So what are your plans for the future? Is there a Volume 2 in the works?

Craig (A): "Yes, I am working on a Volume 2, which covers the Amargosa Opera House and Hotel, Culver Hotel, Aztec Hotel, Zane Grey Pueblo, Bella Maggiore Inn, Grand Colonial Hotel, Palomar  Inn and the Queen Mary. 

Obviously, I would love to continue with the series. There are plenty of photos to take, people to meet, research to conduct, and urban legends to expose. But the future of Haunted by History really depends on the audience. Do readers really want to know the history of the place? Do they want to know if the ghost legends are real or are they cooked up for marketing? Do readers like my photos and do they conjure up a sense of fun and make people want to visit these hotels for themselves? Because Haunted by History requires a lot of research, fact-checking, and eye-catching photography, its future depends on those who love history, travel, and the paranormal."


It is easy to see how passionate Craig Owens is with keeping the history accurate by his impeccable research. At the same time he still manages to keep his audience engaged with palatable writing and exquisite photography. My own opinion is that Haunted By History is a fantastic read from cover to cover.  The book itself is massive, so it will take you some time to read it all, but that is the best part of it.  The first night I began to read it, I read two chapters and put it down to enjoy on another evening. It took me almost two weeks to finish the book, but I enjoyed every minute of it. It is like a delightful box of chocolates that you want to hold on to and savor a little bit at a time. 


To purchase your copy of "Haunted By History, Volume 1," please head on over to Bizarre L.A.'s website or you can pick up a copy on Amazon, too.

(Copyright 2017- J'aime Rubio, www.jaimerubiowriter.com)

Photos: Copyright, Craig Owens, Sad Hill, LLC. 





Wednesday, October 25, 2017

The murder of B.R.C. Johnson -Calaveras County History

Several years ago, as I was searching through archived records for one of my blogs, I stumbled across another story. This story was about the murder of a man known as Mr. Johnson.  I was so taken aback by the brutality of this crime, and the details behind the killing that I saved all the information I could find on it and set it aside so I could put all my attention on investigating it thoroughly in the future. Well, time passed by, and after working on other stories and projects, including publishing two new books in the last two years, I finally decided to dig through my files and cover Mr. Johnson's story so that he will no longer be forgotten from the annals of history.

B.R.C. Johnson, also known as Baptistine Roche Charles Johnson was born around 1821. It is unknown when he arrived in Calaveras County, but what is known is that he was the proprietor of his store/saloon along the Calaveras River somewhere between Valley Springs and San Andreas. I have been able to pinpoint a closer idea of where the store was located, since it is mentioned that it was west of Greasertown, and Greasertown was 4 miles west of San Andreas. I am thinking that his store was probably closer to Double Springs, but I have not been able to tie down an exact spot.

The Crime

On September 27, 1866, 45-year-old  B.R.C. Johnson was brutally murdered inside his store. Just after dusk, three men (one Mexican male- Jesus Miranda; one African-American male- John B. Ferguson; and one Chinese male- Ah Ching) entered his store acting like normal patrons. They ordered drinks at the bar and all seemed okay. Then during a short conversation with Mr. Johnson, Jesus Miranda suddenly drew his pistol and shot Johnson at point blank range.  In all Johnson was shot three times and then, as if that wasn't enough, the Chinese assailant took an axe and used it to penetrate Johnson's skull. There was not much taken from the store, only $30 and a few guns. Johnson's clerk survived out of pure luck when Ah Ching's revolver got jammed, giving the clerk ample time to run away.  By the time he had alerted someone for help, the murderers were long gone.



(Drawing is purely for example; Credit: Book: The Old West-The Gunfighters)


The Arrest

After the murder was committed, Miranda and Ferguson headed up to West Point to meet up with someone named Manuel Manoa. Ah Ching had parted ways with the two men at San Andreas and was never seen or heard from again.  After getting paid, Miranda eventually left for Southern California, while Ferguson remained in West Point, where he was captured only a few days after the killing. For Miranda, it was almost a year later when Deputy Sheriff Lee Matthews apprehended him in Los Angeles and brought him back up to Mokelumne Hill to stand trial.  In February of 1868, both men were convicted of the murder of Johnson and sentenced, by the Hon. S.W. Brockway of the District Court, to be hanged until dead on February 28, 1868.

The Great Escape

On a dark and stormy night in Mokelumne Hill, Ferguson and Miranda along with another African-American prisoner named Brian Fallon, who was in jail for the murder of Mr. McKisson at Rich Gulch, made their escape under the cover of darkness. The three prisoners successfully cut their way out of their cells from the ceiling which was composed of boards without covering. The men managed to break free from their shackles, pile buckets on top of one another along with an old chair and Ferguson reached the ceiling and cut his way out with a sharp pointed instrument  which the newspapers assumed was a three-cornered file.

While he was cutting away, the other inmates were singing, clanking chains, dancing and making noise to distract the jailer from hearing Ferguson breaking the boards apart.  Joe Douglass, who worked at the jail in the front room was totally unaware of what was going on in the back. When Douglass finally took a break to get dinner, the prisoners escaped.  At one point it looked as though the men might have contemplated committing another murder, as they would have had to climb over a partition into the front room where Douglass worked, and had he returned during the escape, he might have been attacked from above. But since there was a ventilation system, the inmates decided to crawl out of the building through there, and jumped to the ground. They eventually climbed their way over the jail-yard fencing area and ran down the hill to the river.

A witness saw the men running in the dark and alerted Douglass, who had returned from dinner. Sheriff James Oliphant and Deputies Matthews, Bates and Colton took off on the hunt for the three men but the weather was so bad, they had to return early and wait until the storm cleared in the morning to continue the manhunt.  Ferguson made it all the way to Clinton in Amador County before he was captured, and Miranda was caught shortly thereafter.

The Motive

Records I found via FamilySearch.com indicate that B.R.C. Johnson married Cisira Nandino on January 8, 1863 in Calaveras County.  According to information obtained by Maureen Elliot, she states that Mr. Johnson's wife deserted him around 1866, and would not allow him to see their daughter, Victorina A. Johnson, whom the couple had parented during their short  marriage.

As it turned out although she had left Mr. Johnson, his estranged wife still had plans for her husband, and the dying confession of John B. Ferguson let the cat out of the bag.  The web of deception grew larger and larger when the facts were revealed that although Miranda had conspired with Ferguson and Ah Ching at Garry's Saloon to commit a murder, Miranda had been propositioned earlier by someone representing Mrs. Johnson herself. It appears all fingers inevitably pointed to Cisira Nandino Johnson, as the one who wanted the dastardly deed done. 

John B. Ferguson, 20 years old and from Beardstown, Illinois, had been residing in Calaveras County with his parents for several  years prior to his involvement in Johnson's  murder. When he gave his full confession, he requested Reverend Cassidy and Walsh to visit him and asked forgiveness of his sins prior to his execution.


"On the Saturday prior to the murder of Johnson, I  met Jesus Miranda on China Street, in San Andreas, near Garry's Saloon. (Corner of Main and St. Charles Streets). He asked me if I would go with him and a Chinaman on Sunday evening to Johnson's store. I asked him why he wanted me to go and he answered, "to kill Johnson.." I told him I would go with him, but would not help kill Johnson. He said there is money in it and Manuel Manoa, Mrs. Johnson and a Mexican, who peddled fruit for Manoa, would pay him $500 or $600 to kill Johnson and he knew Johnson had in his store $800 or $1000, which we could get. I then consented to go with him.

On Sunday about noon, I met Miranda at the same place as before and told him I would not go with him on Sunday, but would go on Monday.  On Monday, a little after noon, I met Miranda at his cabin, back of China Street, in San Andreas; he put on his knife and pistol and we started for Johnson's store. I had no weapon with me. On the hill near Latimer's store, we met the Chinaman, who was armed with a revolver. We traveled together through Greasertown. We sat down on the road for some time, and I refused to go any further with him, but after a good deal of persuasion I consented to go along. We arrived at Johnsons's store just at dusk. He was standing on the porch in front of the store. We went in and Miranda asked us up to the bar to take a drink. We drank together and sat down. Miranda entered into conversation with Johnson, but I do not know what they were talking about. Shortly Miranda asked us up to drink again. About that time Johnson's clerk, Sturgnickle, who had been present since our arrival, left the store and went to the back room or kitchen.

While Johnson was in the act of passing the bottle of liquor on the bar, Miranda shot him. I then ran out of the door toward the barn. Miranda called to me to come back. Johnson was not dead when I got back, and was lying behind the counter, where he fell when first shot. Miranda then shot him twice more, and then cut his throat with his knife, and the Chinaman struck him on the head with an axe or hatchet. The understanding was that the Chinaman was to kill Sturgnickle, the clerk, and the reason he did not kill him when he come into the store from the kitchen, when the pistol was discharged by Miranda, was because his pistol would not go off. I then ran out to the corral, near the house; Miranda came after me and gave me Johnson's shotgun, returned to the store and brought me a revolver, after which he went back to the store, and with the Chinaman, search it for money and other valuables. The found only $30 in coin.

We then all went to San Andreas together. Miranda complained of the Chinaman for not killing Sturgnickle. Miranda and myself then started for West Point, leaving the Chinaman at San Andreas, and I have never seen him since; do not know where he is. Miranda told me he had made 3 or 4 efforts to kill Johnson within the month previous to the murder, but could not on account of the presence of too many persons at the store.The evidence as given by Sturgnickle, Johnson's clerk, in court was all true. I was the person he met as he came out of the kitchen, when the Chinaman was in pursuit of him. There was no agreement between Miranda and myself as to the amount I was to receive, but it was understood between us that I was to receive a part of the sum paid him.

After we arrived at West Point, Miranda met with Manoa's fruit peddler, who I think is a brother-in-law of Mrs. Johnson, and had a conversation with him, the purport of which I do not know, as I did not listen to it. I wish my parents, sisters and brother to be informed of the statement I have made and that my brother may take warning by  my fate and profit by it."--- Confession of John B. Ferguson.


The Outcome


On March 4, 1868, John B. Ferguson and Jesus Miranda were hanged on the old  hangman's tree in Mokelumne Hill, which was once located behind the courthouse (now behind the Hotel Leger). The first try for Ferguson failed when the rope was not properly adjusted and the knot slipped, causing him to fall to the ground. He then stated, "May God take care my soul," as he mounted the scaffold for the second time. At 12:45 the drop fell and Ferguson passed on. The newspapers seemed somewhat sympathetic to Ferguson probably because of his claim that he did not actually physically take part in the murder, but neither the County nor the press had any interest in Miranda's backstory. Besides the short mention that both men were hanged, there was not one detail about Miranda's execution either.

Although the newspapers indicate that Cisira was implicated, as well as Manuel Manoa and his "fruit peddler," I could not find any further record whether or not the authorities followed through to hold anyone else accountable for the crimes. In the end it was only Miranda and Ferguson who hanged for the murder, as Ah Ching was never apprehended.

This entire story bothered me to my core. From Miranda's complete disregard for a human beings life just for an easy payday, to Ah Ching's brutal over-kill by using an axe to finish off an already dead man. And don't let me get started on Johnson's estranged wife! She was another sick and twisted part of this story, and the fact she was able to manipulate men to do her dirty work just disgusted me. I see that Ferguson said he was repentant of his involvement but so many criminals say they are sorry after they are caught and facing serious consequences. Perhaps he was just a young man who got involved with the wrong people and made bad choices, but he knew the plan was to kill someone-- a perfect stranger, for money.  Unfortunately the punishment fit the crime for both Jesus Miranda and John Ferguson. I have often wondered about the other murderer, Ah Ching and how he conveniently disappeared. Did he take off and live his life free from the consequences of his actions, or did Miranda kill him too? Who knows really....perhaps a 50/50 cut between Miranda and Ferguson seemed like a better choice than cutting their money three ways. That is always a thought to ponder....remember there is no honor among thieves, so I wouldn't have put it past Miranda, and I doubt Ferguson would have been willing to admit another murder on his hands.

The whereabouts of Mr. Johnson's grave is unknown at the present time, but I am hoping maybe one day someone out there might have a missing piece of this story, so I can visit his grave and pay him my respects. He was the real victim in this story, a story that for far too long has been lost. 

Rest In Peace, Mr. Johnson -- You are not forgotten.

(Visit his Find-a-Grave memorial here.)






(J'aime Rubio - Copyright 2017,  www.jaimerubiowriter.com)

Sources:


Sacramento Daily Union, 3/2/1868
Daily Alta California, 1/27/1868, 9/15/1867
Sonoma Democrat, 2/1/1868
Stockton Daily Independent, 3/4/1868
Calaveras Chronicle 2/29/1868


Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Remembering Nat Cecil


During my line of work I have uncovered some really tragic stories of murder, accidental deaths, suicides and unsolved mysteries. But despite the fact that most of the stories I cover veer towards unexpected or untimely deaths, I have always believed that everyone's story deserves to be remembered. Whether a life was cut short by a dramatic ending or one's life was as happy and trouble-free as possible every life is worth remembering, good or bad, tragic or epic. It is with that thought that I am pleased to give you a short but hopefully enduring account of a man named "Nat." No, he didn't make a huge dent in history, and no, he didn't build bridges, skyscrapers, solve crime or invent the automobile. But he did live his life to the fullest and he had one heck of a "western" life in California's historic past.

I had been contacted by a dear friend of mine, Jeadene Solberg who had been drawn to Nat's story for many years. I researched his life the best I could and created his Find-a-Grave memorial for him, but I felt that he needed more than that. As a gift to my friend Jeadene, this is my tribute to Nathaniel Cecil for everyone to remember him by.

Nathaniel Cecil was born somewhere between 1835-1838 in Missouri (despite what his grave marker states). When he passed away the townsfolk were never completely sure of his birth year, but by way of Census records that became available so many decades later, we can create a more accurate timeline of his life.

When Nat was born, he was born a slave. And being so, he was considered the property of  S.G. Cecil, who brought him with his family from Missouri. S.G. Cecil also lived in Ione with his wife and seven children on their own farm. Census records indicate that Nat had to have been freed by S.G. Cecil sometime after arriving in California in 1857, because by 1860, he is no longer living or working for Cecil. As you will read later on, his obituary mentions that Nat worked to pay for his freedom at the cost of $1,500.00, and how he did that was through his next employer, Mr. Martin. 

By the 1860 Census, Nat is listed as working for James P. Martin in Ione on Martin's farm.
Nat was not the only "laborer" listed working and living on Martin's farm, but he is the only African-American laborer listed. In total there were six men listed: James Surface, Vol Richter, William Richter, Isaac Bunton, William Swearegan and Nat Cecil. 

I believe that at some point Nat stopped working on Martin's farm and eventually was offered the job working for Smith & Martin in their lumber camps (as also mentioned in his obit, however I think the newspaper mixed up the order of employment). Perhaps James Martin was the "Martin" in Smith & Martin, or maybe a relative. The Amador County Directories listed an A.C. Martin working as a Lumber Merchant during the 1870s-1880s. 

By the 1870 Census, Nat is no longer in Ione, but now he is in Township 3.  According to Amador County Maps, Township 3 spanned from just west of Pine Grove and Volcano, to all the way east past Buckhorn, and as far north as Shakeridge areas. Here it appears that Nat was bunking with twelve other working men, possibly at a boarding house. Nat is listed as 28 years old at the time, and working as a "Teamster."  

His "boarding buddies" or possible co-workers were listed as:
Jules Ferret, 56 – France  (Lumberman)
Henrique Ferret, 58 – France  (Miner)
Henry Barton,21  –Ohio (Lumberman)
Nathan Wright, 36 – Illinois (Lumberman)
Henry Rose, 39 - New York (Sawman at Mill)
Benjamin Thomas, 17 - Indiana (Sawman at Mill)
Nathaniel Cecil, 28 – Missouri (Teamster)
Oliver Boggswell, 39 – Connecticut (Teamster)
John Lance, 24 - Indiana (Lumberman)
Alonzo Parker, 39- Ohio  (Lumberman)
Frank Allard, 50- Canada (Lumberman)
John McCurdy, 26 – Australia (Engineer)

By 1880, Nat is back in Ione (Township 2) working as a "hearder" for Frank Frates' farm.
He is one of thirteen laborers listed which included: 8 Caucasians, 4 Chinese, and 1 African American. Finally, the 1900 Census is the first time that 63 year old Nat is listed as the head of his own household, however he was living in the same dwelling as the Rice family (John, Martha and John,Jr.). Perhaps he was renting a room from them, or on their property, but the census marked that he was living in the same dwelling as the Rice's. The coolest part of this census is that Nat is listed as a "Vaquero." A vaquero was considered a cattle-driver or cowboy. 

On January 25, 1907, Nathaniel Cecil passed away. His friends buried him in a small grave at the Ione Public Cemetery. A man who was born a slave, traveled across the country, was given the opportunity to earn his freedom and worked in the days of California's old west, he certainly led an exciting and interesting life. A life worth remembering. 

Obituary for Nathaniel Cecil --  ( death: January 25, 1907)

"Passing of a Colored Landmark"-- 

"On Friday last Nat. Cecil, the old colored man who had been such a familiar figure about lone, passed away at the Obermeyer home in the Grant. That had been his home for many years. The funeral took place at the lone cemetery Sunday afternoon, being conducted by Rev. F. P. Flegal. The obsequies were attended by a large assemblage, as old Nat was well liked by everybody who knew him. The remains were laid at rest in lone cemetery. Nathaniel Cecil was- born in Missouri and was about 70' years old. He was born a slave and was the property of S. J. Cecil, who- brought him to this state in 1857. Nat went to work for Smith & Martin in their lumber camps and with the first $1500 he earned, bought his freedom from his master. He then went to work tor J. P. Martin, riding after cattle, and later worked for the Rio Seco Grant. He had been riding continuously for 35 years and was an expert stockman. He has never married and left no kinfolks."
Amador Ledger, Feb 1, 1907


REST IN PEACE, NAT! --
Nathaniel Cecil's Grave, Ione Public Cemetery

(Copyright 2017-- J'aime Rubio,  www.jaimerubiowriter.com)


Photos: Ione Cemetery- by J'aime Rubio (copyright)
Nat Cecil's Obituary - Amador Ledger (2/1/1907)
Nat Cecil's grave- by Jeadene Solberg (copyright)

Sunday, August 20, 2017

History of the Argonaut and Kennedy Mines - Amador County






While traveling down historic highway 49 through Jackson you cannot miss the rusty remnants of the old Kennedy mine off in the distance. It is also impossible to ignore the towering shell of what is left of the Argonaut mine on the side of the hill as you drive down into Jackson as well.  Both mines share some pretty interesting and also tragic history. Here is just some of the history I have dug up over the years about these two amazing historic landmarks in Amador County. Enjoy!

ARGONAUT MINE


Discovery

The Argonaut Mine, which was originally known as the Pioneer Mine, was discovered around 1850, by James Hager and William Tudor, who according to the 1860 Census show were freed slaves living among the Chinese in Township 1, Amador County.  At some point around 1857, the property was acquired by George Stasal, Frank Hoffman, Peter Laubersima, William Slaughter, Charles Weller, Otto Walter and Louis Mentzlen to form the Pioneer Mining Company. It would later become The Argonaut Mining Company in 1893.

Infamous Robbery

December 1st, 1921--- According to the Sacramento Union newspaper, at approximately 1:30 a.m. the Argonaut Mining Company was robbed after bandits overpowered the two night watchmen, James Podesto and Reese Williams, blew the company safe and escaped with nearly $100,000 ($50,000 of which was in gold). The robbers wore red bandana hankerchiefs over their faces and carried pistols and shot guns.

“The mill safe then was wheeled to the convenient point and the bandits leisurely drilled a hole in the door, filled it with nitro-glycerin and blew it open. After removing all the gold inside they escaped in a waiting automobile…..Upon investigation it was found that the bandits had cut the telephone lines leading directly into the mill….The wheel tracks of a large car were plainly visible in the road to Ione, 12 miles distant. Rain began falling early, however, and when the posse reached that point it was forced to turn back.  Sheriff Lucot stated the robbery evidently had been planned by someone familiar with the methods employed by the company.”

It was believed that it was an inside job, and involved possibly eight men who worked at or were familiar with the mine. Two men were eventually arrested and at least one of men, Hiram Baker, was acquitted of the crime.  At that point Argonaut Consolidated Mining Company was owned by John T. Smith of New York, who was President, along with co-owners  E. A. Stent of S.F. and John Raggio of Stockton.

Mine Disaster

On August 27, 1922, the worst mine disaster in California history took place, when a toxic mix of gas and fumes caused a fatal fire 4,650 feet deep, trapping the miners below. There had been rumors that the fire could have been started by arson, from a rival employee at the Kennedy Mine, but there has never been any proof to substantiate the claim.  The fire lasted for 2 days, and rescue efforts lasted for weeks. All but one of the miner’s bodies were recovered and they were buried at the Jackson Cemetery. The 47th miner was not found until over a year later, when the mine shaft was being flushed out, the remains were accidentally discovered. It was the body of the man who wrote the message on the wall “3 o’clock, gas getting strong, Fessel.” The man was Edward William Fessel, and he was finally buried next to the other fallen miners. The fatalities of this disaster were Amador County residents, of Italian, Serbian and Spanish ancestry.

It was surveying work done years prior by Kennedy Mining Engineer, Walter Ephraim Downs that directed the rescuers to dig through to the Argonaut mine shaft in an attempt to rescue the trapped miners in 1922.  Although the effort was futile, his work gained national attention for giving the rescuers a fighting chance to reach the Argonaut shafts.  On another note,  Mr. Downs was the son of Robert Carleton Downs’ the superintendent of the Union Mine (later Lincoln Mine) in Sutter Creek and owner of the Hanford & Down’s stores which were located in Sutter Creek, Jackson and Volcano.  Walter Ephraim Downs’ brother, Fred, was the one who tragically drowned in the Preston Reservoir in Ione, in 1902.



Another Tragic Death – “The ill-fated Argonaut Mine, scene in 1922 of the disaster in which 47 men were killed, today claimed the life of another. Claude Smith, 22, was instantly killed when a dynamite cap he had set blew up prematurely because of a defective fuse. A companion, Harvey Jones, was badly injured.” – Healdsburg Tribune, March 17, 1930.





KENNEDY MINE

According to Amador County history, the Kennedy Mine started in January of 1860, when Andrew Kennedy filed a mining claim along with four other men who were associated with the Oneida mine, to the north. Kennedy had dug a prospecting shaft approximately 100 feet deep, using a bucket attached to a winch. Within a year or so, Kennedy sold his interest in the mine for $5,000, due to the fact it wasn’t doing very well.  By 1869, the mine was sold to eleven businessman from Jackson in the amount of one dollar. The men formed the Kennedy Mining Company. 

“So named from its discoverer was developed by John Fullen, James Fleming and James Bergon, working the rock at the Oneida Mine. In 1871, it was taken by a joint-stock company, the Richlings being large owners. The mine has hardly been a success, and in 1880 it was closed down. The vein is close to the foot-wall and has pitched rapidly to the east, following a pitch of nearly forty-five degrees, which is considered very flat. It is believed that it will eventually join a vein about six hundred feet to the east, called the “volunteer.” The lode does not follow the rift of the slate and consequently is not a true fissure vein.” – Page 149 “History of Amador County” by Jesse Mason

July 1872- In a record 9 days, the Kennedy Mine made nine thousand dollars (equivalent to about $170,000 today). The mine made over $300,000 between 1870 and 1878.

“September 18, 1874 – Boarding House at the Kennedy Mine was destroyed by fire.” –History of Amador County, 1881.

The mine was sold in 1886, for $97,500 to bay area investors, and the company changed its name to “Kennedy Mining and Milling Company.” The mine operated until 1942, when all mines were closed by the U.S. Government to support the war effort. At that time, the Kennedy Mine was listed as the deepest gold mine in all of North America, with a vertical distance measured at 5,912 feet, and 50 miles of underground excavations. In 1961, Sybil Arata purchased the property to live out her retirement. She resided in the Manager’s Residence “Bunkhouse” for the rest of her life.  Her final wishes for her property were to keep the area open for wildlife to roam, and for the mine to be preserved for historical posterity.

An interesting tidbit -- In 1904, an escaped ward, Dan Gillette, from the Preston School of Industry made his way up to the Kennedy Mine property and tried to fit in with the employees there at the new boarding house. He managed to get himself a free meal and hide out for a while, and just as he was going to head down into the mine along with the other miners, Constable Kelly from Ione, who was hot on his trail, arrested him.

Deaths at the Kennedy Mine

Obviously this is not a list of every man who died at the Kennedy Mine, but here is a list of the few stories I have been able to dig out of the archived newspapers of the time period. 

On March 15, 1902, miner David De Ricci made a misstep, falling backward down into the east shaft 2,600 feet. “In his descent, his arms, legs, the back portion of his head and every vestige of clothes were torn from his body.”—

May 26, 1902 -- A miner named Francisco Giovanoni lost his life at the Kennedy Mine shortly after midnight on the night of May 26. The fatality was purely accidental. It occurred at the 2300 foot level of the north shaft. There were from fifteen to twenty men around there at the time. A plank 18 inches wide was in position for the men to walk to and from the shaft, and below this was a chasm thirty feet deep, made by the excavation of ore. Deceased was in the act of carrying the lunch bucket to the station when he was seen to make the fatal step off the planking, and fell to the bottom of the chute.”—Amador Ledger, May 30, 1902.

June 12, 1902 - 30 year old Walter Williams was instantly killed when about 200 feet from the top of the shaft, his body came in contact with a shaft timber. He was caught on it and dragged out of the skip. His head and body were crushed between the skip and timbers. His companions C. Parker and B. Allison could not explain how the accident happened because the shaft was so dark. Williams had only worked at the mine three weeks and was new to the area. No one knew where he came from and he had no family to contact. All that was known was that he was a member of the Knights of the Pythias and was living with Henry Osborne at Kennedy Flat.

March 6, 1905 – Edward Hallam was killed at the Kennedy Mine today. He was descending a shaft from the 2400 foot level when a skip came down in another compartment. It is believed he got scared and let go his hold. He fell, breaking his neck.” – Los Angeles Herald, March 7, 1905

December 7, 1909, Italian immigrant Luigi Riviera was crushed to death by several tons of rock falling on him while working at the 3,150 level of the mine with Fred Hicks. Engaged in placing a butt cap in the hanging wall above the tunnel timbers, the rocks gave way and a huge slab came down on him, killing him instantly.

March, 1911-- James Baldwin was crushed to death while working at the 3400 level of the mine.  Baldwin and his co-workers were told to be careful working in the area that had been blasted earlier. While cleaning out the loose dirt a large mass of rock fell from above, crushing him.  Baldwin’s helper claimed he could hear Baldwin hollering that he was stuck, but given the massive amount of rock and dirt that covered him, the coroner felt death was almost instantaneous.

November 17, 1913 – Miners, Chris Begovich and Jako Acimovich died from a premature explosion while in the mine shaft.  Mike Vijovich also died in 1913, after falling 300 feet down a shaft. After straightening a mine can that had fallen on its side, he lost his footing and slipped.

On December 20, 1915, the timber boss William Harvey and A Targo both met their death when they fell down the main shaft of the mine, a total of 3,900 feet.  According to the newspaper accounts, Harvey had been working in compartment 37 since 8 o’clock in the morning. As he was descending a ladder at the entrance of the shaft he became dizzy and slipped, falling. As his body was going down the shaft, just below was A. Targo, who was standing on the edge of the shaft. Harvey’s body smacked Targo’s knocking him off the edge and down the shaft with Harvey. Both died and their bodies were “badly mangled.”

You can find some of the men mentioned above in the Jackson City Cemetery or the adjoining Catholic Cemetery.

J’aime Rubio, Copyright 2017 – (www.jaimerubiowriter.com)

Some of my sources
History of Amador County, - Jesse Mason, 1881.
History of Amador County, - Federation of Amador County Women’s Clubs, April 1927
Los Angeles Herald, March 16, 1902
Amador Ledger, May 30, 1902
Amador Ledger, June 13, 1902
Los Angeles Herald, March 7, 1905
Amador Ledger, December 10, 1909
Amador Ledger, March 3, 1911
Sacramento Union, May 2, 1914
Press Democrat, December 21, 1915
Sacramento Union, June 14, 1916
Sacramento Union, September 19, 1922
Sacramento Union, December 2, 1921
Los Angeles Herald, December 7, 1921
Sacramento Union, December 9, 1921
Sacramento Union, April 20, 1922
Sacramento Union, May 13, 1922
Sacramento Union, August 29, 1922
Sacramento Union, September 19, 1922
Healdsburg Tribune, March 17, 1930
Amador Ledger, April 22, 1904
Amador Ledger, April 29, 1904



Thursday, May 18, 2017

The Many Lives of Fanny Sweet (Part Three)

At this point Fanny had been through at least two husbands, Mr. Smith and Mr. Hinkley--as well as her relationship with Rube Raines in Sacramento. Now she was single once more.

After having allegedly traveled to Havana for a few months in the early part of 1857, Fanny came back to the states and traveled to Ohio for about five months.  According to her autobiography she stated that she went to Ohio "to look after a tract of land near that place, which Mr.  Hinkley had purchased for her." This was not true. The real reason she came to Ohio had to do with her real family, the Browns. Of course she wasn't about to say that in the papers because for her entire adult life she a lived fantasy story (lie) that her real name was Minerva Seymour (or Fanny Maria Seymour) and that she had been born in England. I will get into this in greater detail later on in my final blog post.

When Fanny arrived at Ohio for a visit, she found out that her mother Rebecca Smallwood White had died several years prior. She hadn't kept in touch with the family for so many years, so it was quite a shock to her when she found out about her mother's passing.  She quickly purchased a small piece of land (half an acre) on her mother's homestead in Proctorville, that now belonged to her younger brother Charles. She then had her mother's remains exhumed from the church cemetery in Rome (about 90 miles west of there) and moved her coffin to the plot of land (located at 96 County Road, 70, Proctorville, Lawrence County, Ohio). There she had an obelisk of marble and granite erected for her mother's grave. She also allegedly penned the poem that was put on her stone.
(credit: Carl on Findagrave)

"To the memory of Rebecca White, 
widow of John J. Brown. 
Departed this life
November 15th, 1851,
In the 57th year.

"Hush the winds, and still
The evening gloom. 
Whilst I return to view
My mother's tomb,
And scatter flowers o'er the dust I love.
Farewell, dear Mother;
A little while we pass,
to meet where peace and pardon binds up the broken heart."--


Fanny remained in the area for about five months, but her visit caused quite a rift between her family. According to court records, Fanny not only had her mother removed from the Rome churchyard cemetery and reburied, but she took it upon herself to remove her sister's child who was buried with its grandmother, and had the child reburied with Fanny's mother once more. It mentioned in the Louisiana Annual Reports, Volume 50, that the child's mother, Mary McVey was agreeable to Fanny's actions of reburying their mother. They planned the task together to have a beautifully constructed iron fence built to surround the grave of their mother. Obviously she must have known about the details, including the reburying of her own child, especially since Fanny was staying at her home at the time.  James McVey, however, had been out of town when this took place, and once he learned of the news he was not happy with it at all. 

"McVey having been absent at the time of their removal, he made a complaint about it upon his return, and trouble ensued between him and his sister-in-law about it, which eventuated in a prosecution of the former on a charge of criminal libel, which was preferred by the latter. The affidavit was made and signed by R.F. M. Hinkley, on the 12th of September, 1857......The suit is entitled, 'State of Ohio v. James McVey,' and was instituted before Peras R. Polley, justice of the peace in Lawrence county. The suit is based upon a letter, alleged to have been written by James Mcvey, although signed by 'Judge Lynch,' in which she is notified that the citizens would no longer allow their peace and quiet to be disturbed by the passions and avarice of such an outrageous female monster, and notifies her to leave the place, or expect a 'suit of tar and feathers and a free pass down the river on a slab.' On her affidavit, signed and sworn to as R.F.M. Hinkley, McVey was arrested, and gave bond. The case was continued on September 14, 1857, on account of the absence of one of the witnesses, Charles Clinton Brown, and was tried on the 17th day of September, 1857." --Louisiana Annual Reports, Volume 50

The case was thrown out and Fanny ended up paying the costs of the court fees which was six dollars. According to Fanny's own writing, she claims she then traveled to New York for two years and three months. First living at the Everett House, then a private boarding house on Clinton Place. From there she moved to the Webster House and then onto the Hotel St. Julian.

Back to the Big Easy

(Using snippets from her autobiography, which is quoted below in italics, you can finally read in great length what Fanny's side of the story is.)

“In the month of March, 1860, she came back to New Orleans once more, her steps guided, as they must have been, by some evil destiny. Here she rented a small cottage on Canal street, and soon after made the acquaintance of “Mr. M”, the agent of a leading firm. In June she herself purchased the property on Gasquet Street, for seventy-five hundred dollars, and here she resided with “Mr. M”; by his request, they having assumed the title of Mr. and Mrs. Sweet, when on Canal Street."

I still have not been able to determine just who "Mr.  M" was, or why he wanted to carry on their relationship under the names, "Mr. & Mrs. Sweet," but their relationship proved to be a most volatile one according to her own words and it appears that we have found the number one reason why the expose' in the True Delta was published about her. 

"During fits of temporary estrangement he may have circulated false reports concerning her that formed the basis of some of the stories that have been published of her in this connection. Stories as ludicrous as they are impossible. If he ever did state that she was “subject to horrible dreams, in which her spirit seemed to struggle with apparitions of vengeance,” to which the reporter of the True Delta, in a sudden frenzy of literary rupture, must have added, “In such moments she would grind her teeth together and mutter the most fearful oaths and imprecations that mortal ever heard, while she would seize the bowie knife that she kept under her head and brandish it in the air, finally awaking with a start and a groan. Was it unlikely that these spectres, haunting her pillow and wringing her soul with such fear as to bring the cold sweat in large drops to her forehead, were the dark figures that conscience disentombed from their graves to pursue her even in slumber?" 

If “M” ever did state this, then he manufactured the falsehood out of whole cloth, without a shadow of foundation save what he may have found among the fruitful promptings of a diseased imagination. The story of his having purchased for her the property on Gasquet Street, and having paid her a large sum to leave the city, which she received from him and then failed to go, is equally false and absurd.
As for carrying weapons, she never owned one, except a revolver that “Mr. M” gave her when she went to New York, and that she soon afterwards gave it to Officer McLaughlin, the night watchman on her beat.

Instead of her having  made blood-thirsty threats against him or annoyed him in any manner, by going to his room or his office, she was herself constantly annoyed by him and attempted in vain to get rid of him. But the letters and telegraphic dispatches he sent her after he left the city and went to New York –which have been read by a score of persons here – in which he urged her to sell her property at any sacrifice and join him in New York, and that he would come for her but that his politics were such as to render the visit unsafe, are sufficient evidence to refute all the stories in regard to her horrible treatment of him.

To advance in detail the proofs of falsity of the innumerable slanders told against her, would but weary the already over-taxed reader, but some of them appear uncalled for, so monstrous, the mere recurrence to them at this time startles and appalls her."---

At some point after she had attempted to end things with "Mr. M," she made acquaintance with a man by the name of William G. Stephens. I am unsure where she met him, but I believe it was in either New Orleans or New York. He was having some "dangerous" business dealings with people in the north at the time, but had just made some contracts with the Confederacy to go abroad and purchase munitions and medicine for their government. This is where the recent gossip and rumors of Fanny being a lesbian, and claiming she would rather where men's clothing than women's started.

You see, Stephens was an upstanding man in society. He came from a good family and he had a good reputation. He became intimately associated with Fanny, to put it mildly. (She was his mistress). Stephens' wife had died and it was not said how long after her death he became intimate with Fanny. Perhaps it was too soon, perhaps he didn't want his children to know about the affair, and maybe, it was the fact he knew his family wouldn't approve given her background, so he kept this amorous affair to himself. Still, he couldn't manage to be without her for very long, so he came up with the crazy idea to have Fanny come stay with him, but to dress in men's clothing and pose as his nephew while his children were away from the house, so no suspicion could be raised.  By day, Fanny pretended to be his young nephew, and by night she could be herself, and share a bed with her lover. There is no way to know if at some point he decided to allow his children to know Fanny personally, but I would like to think he did given later writings that she mentions them.

When Stephens decided to go on this trip to Mexico to get gun powder and quinine for the Confederates, he chose to take his best friend, Fanny (disguised as his nephew of course), and his other business partner Mr. Lincoln. Fanny claimed that she contributed $150 gold and $850 cash of her own money towards their trip, and that Stephens' contributed between $1,500.00 and $1,600.00 of his own money. She was very adamant that Stephens didn't bring as much money as the newspapers claimed, especially since later they tried to blame her for stealing this "alleged" money.

She also stated that she never manipulated or controlled Stephens' and that it was an insult to insinuate such a thought being that he was a man fully capable of thinking for himself. She described Stephens as being "a man of strong mind and resolute purpose, cool and calm in his deliberations, who took no step without having well considered it, and viewed it by a conscientious as well as worldly standard, but who, having once taken that step, was unflinching as a rock."

She stated that Stephens left about $4,000.00-$5,000.00 in his bank at the time of their departure towards Mexico. During the trip Stephens allegedly obtained letters of guaranty from Governor Lovell & Commodore Hollins to "satisfy the scruples of Texas authorities" in Houston, so they could pass through on to Mexico. But on their way Stephens started to get sick. Several days went by and he kept wanting to press onward, despite the urging by Fanny for him to stop and seek medical help. Fanny expressed that Stephens told her he was "worn down with anxiety and fatigue," but that he wanted to keep going and would not abandon his mission.

She claimed that Texas Attorney General Flourney, City Marshal Boyce and Lieutenant Sparks were witnesses of her "urging Stephens to stop and get treatment." He got so bad he could not lift a pitcher of water on his own, he complained of his back hurting and extreme chills. By the time they got to Santa Rosa, Stephens tried to get out of the wagon on his own but overestimated his footing and fell backwards onto the ground. Lincoln and Fanny helped him up and she went for help at a nearby home of Mr. Burton to get some tea for Stephens. Nothing helped though. This went on for another few days, until they reached a ranch owned by a Mexican rancher, where they sought assistance but were refused until Fanny removed the gold chain from under her clothing and handed it to the rancher's wife. She accepted it and welcomed them into her home. The lady of the house sent a boy to the nearest town to fetch a doctor. The next morning the boy came back with the news that the doctor was in Brownsville.  They tried to make Stephens as comfortable as possible in the back of the wagon, but he passed away on the way to Brownsville.

Fanny claimed that as soon as they made their way to town, "the refined and gentlemanly inhabitants of the place came rushing up from every direction, flocking around the wagon, crying "Spies!! Runaway!! Here they are, So one of them is dead is he? Served him right. Pity they didn't all die!"

Apparently someone who knew they were coming that way had traveled ahead and told people in the surrounding areas that their party were defectors or traitorous spies trying to abandon the Confederacy and take their money with them out of the country. The people surrounding the wagon were only interested in the money they thought Stephens, Fanny and Lincoln had on them.

Fanny stated that Mr. Marshall who owned the hotel, took kindly to her and let her rest in his sitting room until a room could be fixed for her upstairs. Then Mayor Dye, D.A. Derby and a lawyer, Mr. Cummings was called to the hotel for Fanny to show the "letters of guaranty" that Stephens had on his person. She claimed the coroner declared the cause of death to be "congestive chills," and there was no further discussion about it.  She did claim a man came rushing in the room and he started taking most everything of Stephens' belongings, papers, clothes, money, etc. She was having a difficult time trying to keep it together. Also remembering she had to pretend that he was her uncle, all the while hiding grief that the man she loved had just died. She was able to keep some of Stephens papers, besides the ones the Administrator had taken, and she then went back to New Orleans.She claimed that her only concern was what would become of Stephens' children, which gives the impression she had grown very fond of them, so she went to seek out Stephens' father to give him the bad news and for him to take charge of Stephens' estate at once.

Newspaper accounts later speak of her referring to those children as her own, perhaps she felt compelled to worry for them, being that they were now orphans. The Sacramento Daily Union newspaper stated, "another issue gives the statement of a gentleman who said that he had seen the photographs of her two children, who were at the time, in a convent in Louisiana and had read a letter to their mother from the Superior." It appears that Stephens' father may have put them in a convent after Stephens' death.

It was not long after that, that rumors started swirling around which fanned the flames of more slanderous gossip claiming not only that Fanny had poisoned Stephens and took all his money, but now they were trying to blame her for her former husband, Hinkley's death as well. These accusations were printed in the newspapers, claiming that she was a murderess and even a voodoo practitioner, despite the fact they had absolutely no evidence to prove such an allegation. This is when Fanny had enough and decided to write a novel of a response to be printed in the newspapers to set her story straight once and for all. Her very lengthy "autobiography" was published in two parts over two weeks in the South Western newspaper in January of 1862.

"The poison that had previously been instilled into the public ear still rankled there and kept alive the flames of prejudice. And this, is the "remarkable conspiracy," and the "diabolical case of poisoning."---(from her autobiography in the South Western, 1862).

In her writings she fully addresses all the accusations and rumors, including giving a rundown of the details of her life. Here are just a few of the responses she had regarding the many defamatory allegations made about or against her:

“And this then is the reported poisoning of Mr. Hinkley by his wife while they were crossing the isthmus on their “bridal tour.” And a lock of his hair, taken from his scalp while the warm blood yet tricking over it, and sent as a memento mori to Mrs. Hinkley by a rough but good-hearted Nicaraguan volunteer, of Walker’s army, was discovered by her work table after Mr. Stephen’s death, and heralded to the world as a “Voudou Love Charm!” Great heavens! What part of slanders heaped upon her reputation could be called surprising after that? And a few little papers of homeopathic powders, that any druggist would have recognized at a glance, which happened to be found in the same casket, having been left there and forgotten, gave rise to a grave discussion as to whether they were subtle poisons to destroy rich old men, or equally vicious love powders with which to seduce innocent young men! And this gives the lie to the story that they were in a casket which she said was not to be opened until after her death."


“Let us investigate the facts. She has been accused of seducing men by some unexplained and unnatural powers of witchcraft, and ruining them, body and soul; of shooting one man and poisoning another. From her very infancy, it has been said, she has been a stranger to virtue, an enemy to honor, growing up in wickedness and pursuing a reckless career of villainy, without an impulse of good to prove a heart or a blush to speak for shame. Truly, if such were the case, she could scarcely be dismayed by its assertion, or have wept such tears of poignant anguish, or felt the burning flush which comes unbidden at the painful task of writing the refutation of such cruel and malignant falsehoods.”--

“Strange as it may appear to some unwilling minds, this “Female Outlaw,” this “modern Lucretia Borgia,” was once a happy, guileless, ignorant girl, knowing the world only as a beautiful landscape, peopled with warm hearted, right-minded, sincere and trustful men and women.”

South Western, 1/8/1862
“There are many men of position and high standing now in this community whom she could call upon for positive evidence to refute some of the baseless slanders that have been hurled against her, but that she would rather be crucified by them, without a murmur of complaint escaping her lips, than drag them into such connection to shield herself. With such a life as hers has been—the creature of circumstance and the victim of deceit and passion—no one dares to urge a word in her defense, lest their motive be misconstrued, nor to deny the inventions of calumny, lest they fall, themselves, before it. And thus, alone and deserted, what reply can she make to the assertion that she was a vicious, designing, lawless, desperate virago, a walking arsenal and a plotter of murder, except by calling upon the supreme ruler of the universe to hear her solemn denial to the world? She was wrong in straying from the pleasant path of virtue to those ways of sin where the unhappy rush madly on, goaded from bad to worse, until they become morally insane, but her faults were those of weakness of purpose, not the promptings of a corrupt heart.” --

She continues to respond to further accusations here:

"Who could have invented the story that she was a devotee of voudousim? What officer of police was it that unblushingly hazarded the lie that she was caught engaged in a voudou dance? If they have a spark of shame left slumbering in their breast, let them blush now. What is voudousim? The writer known not what the word means. She has read that it was an idolatrous superstition among the more ignorant and degraded class of negroes. Further than that she has yet to be enlightened.

Who is it that asserts she attempted to throw a woman over the balcony of a house in Dauphine Street, and then threw her down stairs and broke her colar bone? The writer’s memory is not a bad one, and surely such an exploit as this could not have escaped her, nor the police records, but her first knowledge of it was by reading the affair with full particulars as given in the newspapers.

In that portion of her autobiography published last Sunday,, she passed over those few years of her early life when she was living in public houses in this city. But let it not be thought it was passed for concealment. No, she is willing to expose the diary of it to the public eye, for there was no act of it where she ever wronged or injured any other than herself.

It seemed strange that a plea of cruel treatment, very naturally made by her slave woman, who is now awaiting trial for arson, to the effect that she set fire to the house, “in revenge for cruel treatment received at the hands of her mistress,” should be published at this day, after the very full explanation that was had before recorder Emerson of the manner in which she treated the same servant, when the proofs of her kindness and forbearance were irrefutable, and the vague allegations of cruelty made at random by a maliciously disposed party, were set aside and she was honorable discharged.

If the incident related of two police officers who were afraid to partake of refreshments, said to have been offered to them by her was true, it would only prove their silly affectation. But there is not a particle of foundation for it. Indeed, the only one of a long train of slanders against her that is founded on truth, is the shooting of Putnam in Sacramento, and if that was wrong, under the circumstances, then the usually received theories of right and self-defense are overthrown.

It was asserted in one of the papers that she blackmailed a gentleman of this city to the amount of ten thousand dollars. This is quite as false as any of the balance. She never extorted money from any one. Whatever she has received was given freely and without any solicitation on her part. On the contrary, she has often checked the generosity of a friend. If any person lives in the world who can say they ever proffered her money unwillingly, let them come forward and thereby convince her of a deliberate falsehood.

It is not for her to speak of good qualities of the heart that have overweighed, in the opinion of those who know her best, the false steps of her life. If anyone wishes testimony concerning her traits of character let them ask of all the poor and unfortunate who lived in her neighborhood on Gasquet street, many of whom braved the storm of public censure when she was so recently “a prisoner without a crime,” by striving to obtain admission to her, to offer her their honest sympathy and to assure her of their disbelief in the accusations heaped upon her head.

Let them ask those volunteers for whom she took the blankets off her bed, and deprived herself of what she learned they were in need of. Let them ask the first regiment of Wigfalls’ Texas infantry that passed through this city, temporarily stopping at Woods press near her house, who sent her so warm and grateful a letter, in response to her free-will gift of five hundred dollars, unasked and unmentioned up to this time. Yes, let them ask every person who ever came to her in need, for not one did she ever turn away."----  (South Western, 1862).

So, was Fanny to stop the rumors and slander being thrown at her from every direction? Was this finally the end to Mrs. Fanny Sweet's story? Of course not! Hers was a life much too complicated and exciting for my work to be done just yet. There's still a few more chapters of her life left to cover.

Check back soon for my finale blog post
 on "The Many Lives of Fanny Sweet."

(Copyright, 2017- J'aime Rubio, www.jaimerubiowriter.com)