Adios to Amos Frye

Amos Frye’s death made him famous in a way that his life never would have. The story appeared in the Shasta Courier, the Sacramento Daily Union, the San Jose Republican, the Daily Alta California (San Francisco), and others around the state. It even showed up as far away as New England (last paragraph in the second clipping).

Sacramento Daily Union 5 July 1852
Buffalo Commercial 16 Aug 1852, posted on

Notice that the first article says Frye was “of Missouri” and the second “of Mobile.” It’s likely that he was born in Mobile, Alabama; it is known that he came to California by way of Missouri, where he may have lived for some years. The date of “12th July ” is wrong. The fight took place on either June 28th or 29th, 1852.

Weekly Butte Record 3 April 1854

Amos E. Frye was buried in a plot that John Bidwell set aside on the ranch for the Chico Cemetery.

Bidwell, as Frye’s employer, became the executor of his estate. Frye’s few possession were sold at auction in January 1853. An entire year went by until probate was settled in court.

Note that the court is located “at Bidwell.” That would be Bidwell Bar, which at that time was the county seat.

Here is the inventory of Frye’s property sold at Rancho Chico. My thanks to “Rooty” who posted this on

Amos Frye’s entire estate consisted of six horses, two weapons, saddle, bridle and halter, a coat and a cloak, and an old pair of boots. According to Measuring Worth, one dollar in 1853 had a purchasing power of forty dollars today, in case you would like to calculate the value of his estate.

Who inherited? Amos Frye had a nephew living near Stockton, who wrote to Bidwell in November 1853 that he was contemplating returning to the States in the spring and would like to have the estate settled by then.

John Bidwell Papers, California State Library

Stockton No 18th 1853

Mr. Bidwell ser

            I received a line from you a short time a go statin that you had not got threw with the settling the estate of of my deseast uncle you will send me a statement of the settlement and oblig me I intend going home in the spring and I want something to show how the thing was settled.   Yours etc. John Frye

If he went home in the spring of 1854, he must have returned at some point. John Adolphus Frye is listed on the California Great Register (voter registration) for the years 1871 to 1888. For some of those years (1871-73) he is at French Camp, now a suburb of Stockton. He was born, probably in 1828, in Alabama, which ties him nicely to his uncle’s place of birth.

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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