Stockton, CA: 7[?] March 1864. Quarto bifolium (ca. 24,5x19 cm). 2 pp. Brown ink on lined laid paper. Written in a legible hand. Fold marks, paper slightly age-toned, several minor tears on the outer margins, but overall a very good letter.
Rare early manuscript description of California criminals, compiled by [police?] officer Jerome Myers from Stockton (San Joaquin county) and sent to other California officials in the course of his investigation. The manuscript regarded one Charles W. Delacy, his younger brother George Delacy, one James Craven, one Upton Guswell and his younger brother Charles Guswell who was “a very light complexion fellow and if dressed in ladies clothing would pass for a lady.” It turned out later that the alleged Delacy brothers were, in fact, the criminals named James Driskoll (“Charles Delacy”) and George Taylor (“George Delacy”) who had been previously convicted for robbery and burglary. Driskoll “was sent to the State Prison from Placer County in 1859 for ten years, for robbing Wells, Fargo & Co’s stage. He escaped from prison in July last, and has about five years yet to serve. Taylor was sent for three years from Nevada county for burglary, and has, we believe, served out his time. These men are regarded as among the most skillful and accomplished burglars in the State” (City Intelligence// Sacramento Daily Union, Vol. 27, No. 4056, 22 March 1864, p. 3). The whole party was arrested in March 1864 in Stockton after a series of burglaries in the town, and a murder of a police officer at Auburn a few weeks prior (Sacramento Daily Union, ibid.; see the development of the story in: Sacramento Daily Union, Vol. 27, No. 4112, 26 May 1864, p. 3) At that time the local newspaper published an article about the arrested criminals and supplemented it with the text of a letter addressed to one Mrs. Nellie Sinclair who was presumed to be the wife of one of the Delacys (Further Arrests of Supplosed Burglars// Stockton Daily Independent. Monday, 7 March 1864). This is the article which is mentioned in our document. Both Delacys were subsequently sentenced to serve seven years in prison, and “Charles” (James Driskoll) died there in 1867 (see the complete story of the two “brothers” in: Wilson, M. Stagecoach Robberies in California: A Complete Record, 1856-1913. Jefferson, North Carolina, 2014, pp. 11-12). Overall a rare original document related to criminal investigation in California.
The text of the letter (original spelling):
“Charles W. Delacy, described Height 5 feet 8 in, heavy set, broad shoulders, stands strait, dark hair, hair grows down low on the forehead, heavy eye brows and eye brows project considerable and heavy mustash and chin whiskers, pants dark brown, coat black, black neck handkershief and a black hat and very [genteel?] in manners. His Brother Geo Delacy is about the same height and not quite as broad shouldred, lighter complexion, large and fuller eye and better looking, he is twenty six years old and his Brother thirty years. George wears a light [pair?] of pants, black coat and vest and a mustash and whiskers, but not as heavy as his Brother’s.
James Craiven or J. McKinggy[?] as the last named was pound on his arm, height is about 5 feet 7 ½ in, light hair, blue eye and is smooth faced with the exception of a light sprinkling of a mustash, he is not as well dressed as the Delacys, clothing about the same. Upton Guswell, a young man about 23 years of age, about 5 feet 6 ½ in, light complexion, hair lip and show his teeth very bad smooth face and very light complexion, and Charles Gaswell a younger brother about 19 years old and still smaller, a very light complexion fellow and if dressed in ladies clothing would pass for a lady. Clothing very plain. The father in law of Delacy and father of two last named young men I mentioned I am told use to keep a publick house in Placer County or at least they say so, we think they are connected with others up in that country of the same stamp. We wish to know if you know any of the circumstances of this murder that the letter speaks in the paper which we have found in the possession of Mrs. Nellie Sinclare, if so please telegraph and write also the particulars. Respectfully yours in haste, Jerome Myers.”.
Price: $950.00 USD
Status: On Hold