Western painter and storyteller Charles M. Russell tells a story about a couple of prospectors he knew. “Bedrock Jim” was working a claim in the Big Horn high country with his partner, “Pick Axe Jack.” And, it dawned on them that they were out of meat for supper. So, they went hunting. Not far from camp, Bedrock caught sight of an exceptional elk with large, pitchforked antlers. He got off a shot with his Henry and dropped the bull.
The two men strode over to admire the prize, leaning their rifles up against a fallen log. Standing over the 800-pound animal, they rolled over on its side. Bedrock could see a spot of blood on its neck. Thinking that its neck was broken, he grabbed a horn to straighten it out so that he could make a proper cut to the throat with his knife.
The elk got to its feet, still very much alive, and went after Pick Axe. The bull was fighting mad, and the two men were at once embroiled in a mighty struggle. To their misfortune, their guns rested on the wrong side of the angry elk.
Exhausted and unable to subdue the beast, Bedrock Jim scampered up a pine scrub growing near a rocky ledge. The small tree was not tall enough to accommodate both men, so Pick Axe Jack found sanctuary in a hole where varments had hibernated. Read more
Alarm reached a fever pitch in the mining towns and camps along the Sierra Nevada. In early 1853, A marauding gang of horsemen led by the enigmatic leader known as “Joaquín” terrorized the Mother Lode communities—Hornitos, Murphys, Sonora, Mariposa—plundering gold, stealing horses, and killing anyone who dared resist.
Newspaperman Andrew Joshua Bell followed the events concerning the dreaded Joaquín, writing notices for The Republican concerning the murders committed in the lonely gulches and solitary outposts of Calaveras County.
Then on August 19, 1853, the reign of terror appeared to come to an end. Willing spectators lined up around the Stockton House, paying a dollar apiece to view the severed head of Joaquín Murrieta Carrillo displayed inside a jar of whiskey. Seventeen people, including a Catholic priest, identified the pickled head as belonging to the notorious Bandido with signed affidavits. Read more
It was a complicated relationship—father and son, filled with so many expectations and disappointments.
Louren Upson, prominent editor of the Sacramento Daily Union, did not approve of the rudderless direction his son’s life had taken or the company he kept. Nineteen-year-old Warren Fremont Upson had taken up with rowdies and troublemakers from Sutter’s Fort, riding through the countryside and shooting off guns at all hours of the night, annoying the neighbors.
The boy didn’t seem interested in following in his father’s footsteps: studying law and preparing for a career in politics. He had a head full of adventure and was more interested in horsemanship than a place in society. Read more