On Wednesday, May 25, 1853, Mrs. Bridget M. Evoy was traveling by Hall & Crandall stagecoach from Shasta to Marysville. When the stage stopped at Dry Creek House she discovered that the gold she was carrying in a carpetbag was missing.
This was no small amount of gold dust. She had $1800 in two purses and both were missing. This is the equivalent of $51,800 today.
Although Mrs. Evoy was described by the Shasta Courier as “an old lady of about 70 years of age,” she was no frail and vulnerable female. She was a 61-year-old widow, long accustomed to faring for herself. and a shrewd businesswoman. At the age of 58 she led her family to California, riding horseback from St. Louis, Missouri. By 1853 she owned property in Marysville, Yuba City, and the mining community of Briggsville in Shasta County, where she ran a boarding house.
She had just sold a piece of real estate in Briggsville, and was taking the proceeds, together with money earned from running “California House,” to the bank in Marysville.
According to an article in the Shasta Courier, when she discovered her loss, she immediately informed the other passengers. Among the passengers were two men, Colonel John H. Harper, a former state senator from Trinity, and a man named Cummings. The the northbound stage arrived and all the passengers got out to be searched.
One of the passengers, Colonel Harper of Trinity, threw off his cloak at once, and requested that he might be searched. Another passenger [Cummings] immediately picked up the cloak, and took out of the side pocket a purse of gold with the name of the lady marked on it. On further search they found another purse in his coat pocket containing upwards of a thousand dollars.
The stagecoach returned to Neal’s Ranch, and the next day Col. Harper had a hearing before Justice Thomas S. Wright and was detained in the Hamilton jail to await trial.
To give you an idea where these places are located, Neal’s Ranch was about 10 miles south of Rancho Chico. Neal Road and the landfill are located there today. Dry Creek House was located ten miles south of Neal’s Ranch, about where Sohnrey’s Family Foods is located today on Hwy. 99.
Next time: The Trial of Col. Harper