A Wholesale and Damnable Outrage

Another tidbit from the Pioneer Collection at the California State Library — a letter from Butte County Sheriff J.Q. Wilbur to John Bidwell:

Hamilton, Butte Co. Cal.  July 4, 1851

Dear Major—

I should like to come up this morning with Fry but having some very troublesome business on hand I shall not be able to come for some days. My health is tolerable good only, and I have soon to take the field against a band of outlaws at Bidwells Bar, who have been committing a wholesale and damnable outrage upon one of my deputies, Mr. Dodge.


Random old-time gunfight illustration

What was it? A shootout in the street? A brawl in the barroom?

I wish I could tell you what that band of outlaws was up to at Bidwell’s Bar, but I can find no other information. Newspaper accounts can be scanty for 1851.

But Deputy E. K. Dodge would go on to be elected sheriff himself in September of 1851, just two months later.

Sheriff Wilbur goes on to inquire about a lame mule. Then he takes up the subject of local politics (“This ticket will not give satisfaction to the Democratic Party, for they certainly have put forward our very weakest men“).

He closes:

I hope to see you at Ophir today.  Your friend, J.Q. Wilbur

Ophir being the old name for Oroville.

What a tantalizing letter! If we only knew more about that band of outlaws and their “wholesale and damnable outrage.”

About nancyleek

Nancy is a retired librarian who lives in Chico, California. She is the author of John Bidwell: The Adventurous Life of a California Pioneer.
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