Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Special Notices

Volunteer Engine Company, No. 7. -- An adjourned Monthly Meeting
of your Company will be held THIS (Friday) EVENING, at 8 o'clock.
By order. J.BREWSTER, Jr., Sec'y 

Knickerbocker Engine Company, No. 5 --- Attend a special meeting
of the Company, to be held THIS (Friday) EVENING, at 8 o'clock.
Punctual attendance requested.
H.G. LANGLEY, Sec'y.

Empire Engine Company No. 1 -- The monthly meeting of the
Company will be held THIS (Friday) EVENING at 8 o'clock. By order.

Daily Alta California
Volume 11, Number 243
2 September 1859

In the 1850s, fire companies competed to be the first to fires. Hundreds of men pulled engines ( large, heavy, hand operated pumps) through muddy streets. Since only the first company at a fire was paid, the crews sometimes engaged in massive brawls to decide who would have the honor.

Well heeled patrons purchased engines, hired captains, and established fire houses that were more like club houses.

Apparently, the competition extended their competition to holding all their meetings at the same time.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Suffrage in the Sandwich Islands

The right of suffrage having been granted to the people residing in the Sandwich Islands, an election is to lake place on the first Monday in January, for members of a Legislative body, termed the Parliament. The Honolulu Times congratulates its citizens upon the attainment of this great privilege, and hails the event as auspicious for the future growth and prosperity of the country. We have not seen the law prescribing the right of suffrage, and do not know precisely how far it extends, but believe that it embraces all, both native-born and foreign, who have resided in the Island for a specified period. An adopted Hawaiian writing upon the subject, says that this is the long wished for opportunity to engraft a vigorous shoot of Anglo-Saxon energy upon the less thrifty tree of Hawaiian Legislation, and that it is sincerely to be hoped that the friends of progress will not supinely suffer the precious time to pass without taking some vigorous steps in the matter.

Sacramento Transcript
Volume 2, Number 30
28 November 1850

Good start guys, right up until you started engrafting things. 

Saturday, July 25, 2015

New Agent July 2015 Critique Blog Hop

A big thank you to Michelle Hauck who hosted the NewAgent contest. These are the pitch paragraphs and the first 250 words from my novel NOTORIOUS. I'd like to see your critique in the comments. I have very thick skin so don't feel the need to pull your punches. Thank you.

Genre: Historical Mystery
Word Count: 84,000


VESPERTINE CLEMENT lives above her uncle's book shop during the San Francisco gold rush and tries to avoid a life of professional domesticity. MRS. ADLER, a director of the Women's Benevolent Society where Vespertine works as a notary, summons her and delivers the news, unless she can prove the innocence of a fallen woman accused of murder, the society will fold.

Vespertine, accompanied by the amicably corrupt SERGEANT CUINN of the police, sets out to solve the murder before her job disappears. The coroner doesn't think a woman should examine the corpse. The victim's family has gathered a mob to see justice done by means fair or foul. Her uncle wants her to settle down and start a family.

She concludes that poison killed the victim, not his wounds. Using a chemistry textbook from her uncle’s shop, and some glass tubing borrowed from the dye makers, she arranges a public test for poison with an audience in the police station. The test is a complete failure.

She has only four days to start again, protect the society, and save a woman from the gallows.

First 250 Words:  

They played a farce. Vespertine asked questions and her visitor lied. The important part was to finish before anyone interrupted.

“Mr. Jackson, of Ablemarle County Virginia, emancipated you in March of 1852?” Vespertine asked her visitor.

The woman stared, stupefied. No more than twenty-five, the sun and wind had battered her.

“Mr. Jackson freed you last March?” Vespertine tried again.

“Yes, Miss. In March.” The visitor’s companion reached over and patted her hand gently.

The three women sat close around a battered sea table wedged in an alcove. Fruit crates, stacked three high and brimming with papers, filled the space behind Vespertine. Cards tacked to the ends told of the contents. A curtain blocked the view from the hall and riffled each time one of her visitors brushed it with the back of her cap.

“Did he free others at the same time?”

The woman nodded. “Mr. Johnson died—”

“Mr. Jackson.” Vespertine corrected her.

The woman’s companion stiffened. 

“Mr. Jackson died.” The woman wet her lips. “He didn’t have no children. No wife.”

“He manumitted— He freed all his slaves at that time?”

The visitor nodded. Her companion clutched her bag tight to her abdomen with both arms. Calm people didn’t come to The Women’s Benevolent Society, desperate people did. People with problems they could not solve themselves. The people with unsolvable legal problems came to see Vespertine.

Friday, July 24, 2015

A Hell of an Ending

An Amusing Lawsuit.
A Mr. Smith, author of "Stanfield Hall," and a writer of some repute in England, was recently sued by a London publisher for unfaithfulness to his engagements. It seems that Mr. Smith, being employed in writing a novel for said publisher, stopped midway, refusing to complete his task. Lord Campbell asked if the tale was discontinued before the hero and heroine were married. Counsel for plaintiff replied that it was after the marriage, but the author not knowing how to dispose of the dramatis personae. blew them all up in a steamer! ... The publisher said that his readers did not like this sudden ending ; but, for our part, we think it quite an ingenious termination, and one exceedingly appropriate in this very explosive age.

Wide West
Volume 3, Number 50
22 February 1857

John Frederick Smith was the author of Stanfield Hall: an Historical Romance , a sensation novel in 3 volumes, but apparently, his later works bore more than a passing resemblance to George R.R. Martin. 

A Most Unfortunate John

Larceny — John Wright, an unfortunate John, made complaint yesterday to his Honor the Recorder, that, seduced by the winning smiles of a fair senorita, with olive complexion and glossy ringlets, who resides in the classic vicinity of Pacific street, he left his purse under his pillow, and waking from his innocent and unconscious sleep yesterday morning, discovered that seventy dollars had disappeared from his purse. The woman was of course suspected and arrested. She stoutly denied the charge and refused to give bail, saying she would rather go to prison, and was committed by the Recorder to answer to the charge this morning. In the meantime John may deplore the loss of his money and make up his mind to avoid for the future that St. Giles of San Francisco — Pacific street, above Dupont.

Daily Alta California
Volume 2, Number 191
19 June 1851

No word concerning the Serenity

CENTRAL WHARF. – The appearance of life and bustle on Central Wharf, is really remarkable. The crowds of men are not equaled in any street in the city. Almost every day a new building is presented to the view, and we have no it doubt that in three months, either side of the wharf will be lined with stores. We counted fourteen steamers at this wharf yesterday morning, to wit: Sea Gull, New Orleans, Confidence, West Point, Miner, H. T. Clay, Hartford, Mariposa, California, Jenny Lind, Union, San Joaquin, Martha Jane, and Fire Fly. The largest class of ships can come up to the wharf at any state of the tide, and find every facility for discharging their cargoes.
Daily Alta California
Volume 2,  Number 15
24 December 1850

System of a Villain

MURDER AND ARSON AT SAN JOSE. – We are indebted to the indefatigable Mr. Hackett, of Berford & Co.’s Express, for the interesting items of news from San Jose, furnished below: – On Sunday night last, at Digby Smith’s Ranche, were found the bodies of three murdered men, two of them proving on investigation, to be Digby Smith and partner, each pierced with two balls, and the third, a stranger, having his head split open. The house was burned down, and it is yet unknown if robbery was also committed. It is surmised that the stranger was one of the attacking party, and lost his life in the struggle that ensued. Mr. Smith was from Burlington, N. J., and was the cultivator of an extensive farm about two miles this side of San Jose.
The store of Baker & Co. was robbed last week during the middle of the day, while the clerks were at dinner. We are not informed of the amount abstracted.
It cannot fail to be noticed that there are many most desperate characters in the country, who, failing to realize their expectations in the mines by honest labor, are determined to grasp the earnings of other men at all hazards. It has been observed that at one period most of these outrages were committed at the North, about Coloma and that region; then they became frequent at Sacramento, were known here, and now they have passed to the southward. It cannot be doubted that there is in this country more than one systematic gang of villains, whose actions thus far can only be traced by the bloody stains they have left after them, and whose extirpation is only to be effected by a better organization of police throughout the country than we yet possess
Daily Alta California
Volume 2, Number 9
18 December 1850

Quite a village


A letter in the Placer Times dated Logtown, El Dorado county, gives rather favorable accounts of Grass Valley, whence the Indians were driven by by the Army of Invasion in the recent war. He says that the placers in Grass Valley are promising. Of Logtown he says,
The miners here are doing a good business. It is estimated that in this valley – about three miles in length – there is already dirt thrown up which will yield from 3 to $500,000. I should judge there were about 1000 men engaged, and to whom this amount will fall. Almost all are now engaged working. Logtown is quite a village; I suppose there are not less than 20 stores, two blacksmith shops, two taverns, shoemakers, bakers, carpenters, and one gambling house – this last house, however, does but a limited business, there being but a comparatively few miners green enough to “buck up” to monte or other games. Eucre, ten-pins, and old sledge constitute the principal games in this Burg. We have preaching here nearly every Sabbath and always a good attendance.
Daily Alta California
Volume 2, Number 11
20 December 1850

Flour, Timber, Cognac, and a very Large Oven

STARK & Co., foot of Sacramento st. offer for sale 100 barrels Oregon fresh Flour; 25,000 feet Oregon lumber ; 20 forty gallon casks superior cognac brandy and one iron house, 15 by 20, complete and ready for putting up. j2
Daily Alta California
Volume 1, Number 11, 2 January 1850
Early San Francisco suffered from a series of conflagrations. Corrugated iron buildings were thought to be fire-proof. And they were.  Unfortunately, it didn't protect its contents, including people sheltering from the fire, from the high heat of a structure fire.

A Natural History of Dragons

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