California Gold Rush Letter Sheet And Bankdraft Of Texas Ranger John Coffee Hays For Sale
Very rare, original,1851personal bank draft of John Coffee Hays, plus an original 1852 California gold rush letter sheetdepicting thehanging of Jose Forner. Sheriff Hayspersonally swung the ax that cut the rope at Forner's hanging, and isstanding at the bottom of the stairs leading up to the platform.
Letter sheet is in good condition, glued to a thin,butstiff, cardboardbacking. Letter sheet measures 10-1/4"x 8-1/2". The famous Texas Ranger, CaptainJohn Coffee "Jack" Hays,cameto California to try his luck in the gold fields but was urged by Samuel Brannento run for Sheriff. He became the first elected Sheriff of the lawlesstown of San Francisco in 1850. Sheriff Hays found that the citizens felt the criminal element was so out of control in the city that a Committee of Vigilance was formed, and was taking part in extra-judicial hangings.
In fact,the "OLD CUSTOM HOUSE", where this check was cashed,is the exact same building where the"Sydney Duck", andthief,John Jenkins was hung from a beam in 1851. See photographs 6 & 7.Hays sought to establishthe Sheriff's Department as the law. And in a surprise move Hays and his deputies raided the headquarters of the Committee of Vigilance, rescuing two ruthless killers, Robert McKenzie and Samuel Whittaker, from the noose. He placed them in his jail to await legal trial. Four days later, Hays was lured away from his jail to watcha bull fight. While Hays was away the Committee of Vigilance raided the jail and lynched the criminals.On one hand Hays was outraged. On the other he was keenly aware of the fact that this situation existed, because there had been an absence of justice before his arrival. He surmised that the good citizens of San Francisco had to witness justice triumph.In December of 1852 in front of a large crowd, Sheriff Hays stood on a scaffold he helped build and personally swung the ax, which cut the rope, which released the hatch, which dropped 32 year old convicted murderer Jose Forner into eternity, (see thelast photo in the gallery).
It was the first legal hanging in San Francisco.
Bank draft is in excellent condition and has fascinating reference to the early"gold dust trade" economy prevalent in early San Francisco. Written completely in his hand, it has the dateof"30'th January 1851", made out to F.C. Gray for $1,255.50 to be paid in "Coin, or gold dust at $16 per ounce, Troy", and signed "John C Hays / Sheriff ".
This is really a nice piece of San Francisco Gold Rush history.
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