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Anthony, E. M. (ca. 1826-?). An 1856 Legal Order to Arrest "Sailor Jim," One of Yreka’s (Siskiyou Co., California) Earliest and Most Ill-Fated Murderers Doomed to Be Hanged Twice. Yreka, Siskiyou County, California: 24 December 1856.



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Quarto (ca. 31x20 cm, 12 x8 in.) 1 p. Brown ink on blueish wove paper. Docketed on the verso. Fold marks, a few minor stains, but overall a very good document written in a legible hand.

A legal order issued by E. M. Anthony (ca. 1826 - ?), a Justice of the Peace in Yreka, Siskiyou County, California, on 24 December 1856. The document instructs law enforcement to arrest Sailor Jim, one of the earliest local murderers, for assault with intent to commit homicide. The order, prompted by a complaint from C. Gray, directs any sheriff, constable, marshal, or policeman to present Sailor Jim before the issuing magistrate in Yreka or the nearest accessible magistrate in the county.

The legal order was issued the same day Sailor Jim shot John W. Burke on French Gulch near Yreka. Danforth Hartson (aka Sailor Jim) immediately fled and was soon followed by the Sheriff of Yreka, his deputies, and about thirty miners. Jim claimed self-defense in a fight that followed his argument with the victim, whom he knocked to the ground and then shot in the chest. With Burke's dying declaration explicitly accusing Hartson of the murder, he was convicted of first-degree homicide and sentenced to execution on 15 July 1857.

Sailor Jim, a violent drunkard involved in several killings, was best known for the end of his life: “When everything was ready the fatal drop was made to fall, and every one was horrified to see the criminal’s head slip out of the noose, after sustaining a severe jerk. Sailor Jim fell clear through the platform to the ground, from which he was raised in a half-conscious condition and again assisted upon the scaffold. While they were making preparations to hang him the second time, he said, “For God's sake, don't do that again." This time more care was observed, and soon his lifeless body hung at the end of the rope. All the agony of mind, if there is such, that is suffered by a criminal during the preliminaries to an execution, Sailor Jim parsed through twice. The awakening from what he no doubt imagined was death to a realization that he must go through the torture again, must have been terrible to him. No wonder he entreated them not to make another blunder. He made a confession, in which he admitted the killing of Burke, but claimed it to have been in self-defense.” (Wells, H. L. (1881). History of Siskiyou County, California Illustrated with Views of Residences, Business Buildings and Natural Scenery: And Containing Portraits and Biographies of Its Leading Citizens and Pioneers. P. 100.)

Overall, a historically important legal document about one of the most notorious California murderers. 

The text of the document: 

A complaint on oath having been this day laid before me by C Gray that the crime of an assault with intent to commit Murder has been committed and accusing a person known as Sailor Jim whose real name is unknown thereof You are therefore commanded forthwith to arrest the said above named Sailor Jim and bring him before me at my office in Yreka or in case of my absence or inability to act before the nearest and most accessible Magistrate in the county.”

Item #MA61
Price: $1250.00