The Scandalous Saga continued — Dirty Dealings in the Graveyard


Daily Alta California, 8 April 1884

Sarah Althea Hill tried potions and charms from an assortment of fortune-tellers – they were numerous in old San Francisco – but she had not secured Senator Sharon’s affections to her satisfaction. Another of the mystic league gave her a new charm. She should take some of Sharon’s clothing in a package and bury it in a newly-dug grave beneath the coffin.

So in the spring of 1883, Allie, along with her companion Nellie Brackett, went to the Masonic Cemetery and asked if there were any funerals scheduled. The women were honest, up to a point, about their reason for asking. They explained to the cemetery foreman about having their fortunes told and their desire to bury a package in a grave. This charm would get them rich husbands, they said. What was in the package? “Rose flowers and leaves,” said Miss Brackett, airily.


Daily Alta California, 8 April 1884 — Testimony of Mr. Gilliard

The two attractive young ladies persuaded the foreman, and he held the ladder while Nellie descended into the grave and deposited her package.

This escapade came out when the trial began, and Senator Sharon had the grave dug up and the package retrieved. The package contained, not flowers and rose leaves, but men’s socks, a collar, and the tail of a man’s shirt. In court the lawyers picked over the contents of the package and held up the moldy items with a pair of scissors.


Daily Alta California, 8 April 1884 — George Washington Tyler was the lead attorney for Sarah Althea Hill

It was all high entertainment and Tyler could not resist tweaking Sharon’s lawyer as they returned from lunch by exclaiming, “Avaunt! and quit me sight; let the grave bury thee, thou who desecrateth graves on Sunday, and bringeth forth socks!’

wasp vignette

A vignette from the Wasp on the Sharon trial

Next: Pistol-packin’ mama on the stand

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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