Stockton, San Joaquin Co., CA
Sunday, 16 May 1858
THE MURDERERS of FRANK LANE -- We are indebted to Mr. J.W. ROSS, of Mariposa, for the following extract from a private correspondence, received
in this city on Saturday. There is but little doubt that the party now in pursuit of the murderers of Frank LANE will succeed in capturing them. The character of the country into which they have fled, is too well known to afford them much chance to secrete. The letter of which the following is an extract, bears date of Friday, 7th inst.:
“Considerable excitement has existed in our town since Thursday morning, in consequence of the discovery of the gang of murderers who killed Frank LANE on the San Joaquin. They had stolen some saddles from McDermott & Co., in Mariposa, and taken them to their camp near the Mormon Bar, where they were discovered by Mr. POTTER, formerly Sheriff of Los Angeles county, who has been on their trial ever since the murder was committed. He came to town and secured the company of Sheriff CRIPPEN and a posse of men, and stared immediately in pursuit.
“A party of 16 were after the murderers all day yesterday, but returned without capturing them. Another party led by Deputy Sheriff HOWELL, left early this morning. The gang are 4 in number, on foot, but well armed. They were seen last evening heading for the Fresno, by a packer who came in and gave the information. They are hotly pursued and there is all probability of their capture.”
PURSUIT and CAPTURE of the MURDERERS of FRANK LANE GEIGER Shot -- One of the Murderers Killed Another Wounded and Captured
We have just received the Mariposa ‘Gazette’ Extra, containing the following important news:
“The presence of Robbers in this immediate vicinity has been manifest for 2 weeks past; but little did the people imagine that the murderers of LANE were encamped within a short distance from town, which they had the hardihood to visit often purchasing at different places such articles as they not conveniently steal. The facts are as follows:
Col E. POTTER, of Knight’s Ferry, has with others, been in the pursuit of the murderers of LANE ever since that event occurred. They were followed to
San Francisco and to various places in the coast range, and upon the San Joaquin river, but finally, all traces of the robbers and murderers seemed lost, and the party in pursuit disbanded -- Col. POTTER taking, alone, the route homewards by way of the lower Mariposa.
When at the sink of that stream, at the ranch of Mr. WATERS, he heard again of the party who had, as appeared, abandoned their horses and were traveling leisurely up the Mariposa Creek. There were 3 in number, and had passed several days before.
Col. POTTER immediately followed, hearing of them occasionally, to within 6 miles of Mormon Bar, 1 mile below this place, at which he arrived on
Wednesday evening last. At Jee’s store he was informed that 2 men had been encamped about half a mile back of the Bar and under circumstances of
rather a suspicious character, and further, was told that these men had left a day or 2 before.
Col. POTTER came to town, and on the following morning, accompanied by Sheriff CRIPPEN, proceeded to the place designated as their camping ground.
In the camp, articles were picked up corresponding to articles found in their former camps, and from it foot prints led up a hill of no great elevation, and covered densely with brushwood and rocks.
Col. POTTER leaving his horse with the Sheriff, followed the trail and on arriving at the top of the hill, found himself confronted by the 3 robbers, who were concealed, and could not be seen until within a few feet. Apparently not fearing a man alone, comparatively unarmed, they civily answered his questions regarding some stray horses.
Col. P. soon left their camp, and with the Sheriff came to town. Within 1 hour a large party had accompanied them back to the place but the robbers
had left for other parts. They had done so evidently with great precipitation, for a number of articles, stolen about here recently, and among them the 3 saddles, taken from the stable of McDermott & Co., on the Friday night previous, were found.
No doubt now existing as to their character, parties started in pursuit. Friday night it was ascertained that they were in the mountains to the eastward of Smith’s Bar, on the Mariposa Creek, about 4 miles from this place.
Yesterday morning a large party started to search that locality. Their camp for the night before, was found, but not the robbers. Information was then
received that a fresh trail of men had been found near the ranch of ALEXANDER & McCOY, 1 mile further on. At this place, a party of 7 were detached to make examinations.
The trail was found in an almost impassable gulch, upon either side of which was huge rock and impenetrable brushwood. Col. P. dismounted and followed the trail across the gulch to a large cluster of rocks, of a circular form, in the center of which stood a large live oak. It was a complete fort, and was accessible only in 1 place, and that by a cleft of some 15 feet in length, the width of which would admit but 1 person.
Into this place Col. P. penetrated, following on the trail, the others of the party waiting on the outside. When nearly in, 2 shots were fired at him, at a distance of not more than 8 feet, but did not touch him. He sprang out, called upon the party, and a most desperate fight commenced, the robbers having every advantage. There were but 2 of them, the other was out of camp.
Shooting was incessant for some minutes, when the robbers finding it warm work, rushed from their covert in different directions. One sprang upon Col. POTTER’s horse and galloped off, closely pursued by 1 of the party, who overtook him after a run of 500 yards, and gave him the full benefit of 2 loads of pistol bullets from a double barreled shot gun, which killed him almost instantly. He had been badly wounded before.
The other robber fled, some 300 yards down the gulch, and hid himself, but was discovered about 2 hours after, having crept from his place of concealment to a pool of water, and was drinking from his shoe. He was badly wounded, perhaps mortally, by a large rifle ball striking him in the left shoulder and passing downwards towards the right hip. On discovery he have himself up and was conveyed to ALEXANDER’s ranch, where his wounds were dressed, and from thence in the evening taken to this place [Mariposa]. What the prospects are of his recovery from his wound we are not informed.
Of Col. POTTER’s party, but 1, Mr. GEIGER, was seriously injured. He was struck by a charge of buck-shot, in 11 places, but is not, as we are happy to learn, dangerously wounded. Several narrow escapes occurred. Col. POTTER was grazed by a pistol ball in the elbow, and his escape from death appears miraculous.
Mr. ALEXANDER was grazed by a pistol ball in the neck, and cold lead flow in uncomfortable proximity to several others. The robbers were armed formidably, and that half of the attacking party were not killed, seems wonderful.
The personal appearance of the villains is not that of previous
descriptions. Each of the 2 captured is fully 6 feet in height; well built
muscular men, of rather light complexion; chestnut hair and marked
features, evincing determination, and to our eyes, desperation.
Transcribed by Dee Sardoch
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