San Francisco History

Mark Twain in San Francisco

The following news articles by Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens) were printed in the San Francisco Daily Morning Call between June and October 1864.

The following excerpts are used by gracious permission of Barbara Schmidt of Take a look at her site for more material from Mark Twain from all over the world.

Damages Awarded

The case of Wm. Galloway against C. F. Richards et al., in the Fourth District Court, was brought to a close yesterday evening, the jury, after two hours' absence, returning a verdict for four hundred dollars in favor of the plaintiff. The action was brought to recover damages laid at two thousand five hundred dollars, from defendants, who are druggists, for putting up a prescription in a wrongful manner, thereby causing a temporary injury to plaintiff's health. The verdict took some, who had heard the evidence throughout, by surprise; and a motion will be made on behalf of defendants for a new trial. The truth of the matter is, that in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred of these mistakes in putting up prescriptions, the whole blame lies with the prescribing physicians, who, like a majority of lawyers, and many preachers, write a most abominable scrawl, which might be deciphered by a dozen experts as many different ways, and each one sustain his version by the manuscript. When a physician writes the abbreviation of "pulverized cinchona" in such a manner that nine out of ten among experienced pharmacists would, without hesitancy, read it "pulverized cantharides," and damage results from it, if the apothecary is culpable at all, the physician certainly ought to come in for a share of blame. It would be a good thing for the world at large, however unprofessional it might be, if medical men were required by law to write out in full the ingredients named in their prescriptions. Let them adhere to the Latin, or Fejee, if they choose, but discard abbreviations, and form their letters as if they had been to school one day in their lives, so as to avoid the possibility of mistakes on that account.

The San Francisco Daily Morning Call. 1 October 1864.

Everybody Wants To Help

California is a noble old State. The echoes of the cry of distress jingle with the ring of dollars. Dr. Bellows says we're poor but don't know it, but generous, and can't help it, and Dr. Bellows knows. Almost every few minutes we receive a little note like this: "Mr. H. Behre, proprietor of the Pavilion Restaurant, will give all the profits from the receipts on Monday, day and evening, to the Santa Barbara sufferers." All the hand connected with the restaurant will also volunteer their services. Mr. Perkins drops in to say that the proceeds of his sale of fruits will be devoted to the same noble object; also the receipts of the Sanitary Cheese Exhibition.

The San Francisco Daily Morning Call. 2 October 1864.

The Last Hitch At The Mint

All of the officials in the Mint have, for the last six months, had a hard time of it, and some of them a very hard one. For six months they had received nothing until yesterday, although there has been money enough here to pay a portion of their demands. Some technical objection on the part of the Treasurer, Mr. Cheesman, is said to have been the cause. Latterly, Mr. Swain, the Superintendent, after long effort, succeeded in getting a positive order to use any money to the credit of the Mint in the payment of the officials. As Treasury Notes have fallen very much since a portion of their pay was due, Mr. Swain, having authority, allowed the pay-rolls to be made out in such amounts as would make up to the recipients an amount in gold at present prices of green-backs equal to what their pay would have been if received when due. This is strictly just. Most of the officials were thus paid three months' salaries of the six due. But two of the unfortunate clerks chance to be the appointees of the Treasurer, who objected to pay their salaries unless the additions mentioned were abated. Mr. Swain declined to thus make out their pay-rolls, knowing that if thus paid they would resign. They are faithful, honest, competent, and he cannot at once, if at all, supply their places. If they resign, the operations of the Mint must stop for a while, at least, and they cannot afford to remain for the pay insisted upon by Mr. Cheesman. The result yesterday was, that after waiting six months for their pay, they left the Mint, not having received a dollar. They are poor men, we hear, and greatly need their pay. If the operations of the Mint should cease tomorrow, we presume it will be because Mr. Cheesman desired to make capital with the Secretary at the expense of Mr. Swain, by showing that his appointees can be forced to submit to any loss which his own pertinacious technicalities have caused. The treatment of these men is not only unjust but cruel, and the effect upon the public will probably be great inconvenience and loss to all who have dealings with the Mint.

The San Francisco Daily Morning Call. 2 October 1864.

An Interesting Correspondence

A case was brought before Judge Shepheard yesterday afternoon, on preliminary examination, which involved some nice points, and also enriched the polite literature of the country with what Mr. Cook, counsel for one of the parties, termed "foreign correspondence" - a number of epistolary communications, equal to the productions of Madame de Sevigne or the Countess of Blessington. One of the questions presented was, whether a Chinaman's wife is his'n or your'n if you want her. Ah Chung had a friend who had a wife; friend was in the mountains, wife in this city, and Ah Chung in Shasta. Ah Chung visited the city, and delivered to his friend's wife what purported to be a letter from her husband, directing her to pack up her trunks and go to him, the messenger to be her escort. She packed up, and Ah Chung took her to Shasta for his own use. She found herself betrayed, and indurance. A female friend of her own nation sympathized with her, and wrote a letter, informing a friend of the distressed captive in this city of Ah Chung's infamy - Bulwer Lytton couldn't have done it more eloquently - stating that the perfidious Ah Chung claimed the woman as his property, and asked two hundred dollars to redeem her. A correspondence on the subject followed, resulting in the liberation of the abducted victim; though without her baggage, which had been confiscated by the avaricious Ah Chung. The denouement was Ah Chung's being held yesterday, by Judge Shepheard, in the sum of twenty-five hundred dollars, to answer in the County Court to a charge of grand larceny. The letters, which were written, of course, in Chinese characters, were translated by Mr. Charles Carvalto, and afforded an interesting specimen of sentiment and condolence as expressed by they of the Flowery Kingdom.

The San Francisco Daily Morning Call. 6 October 1864.

A Rough Customer

Benjamin Roderick has been arrested on charges of malicious mischief, carrying a concealed weapon, and assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill. Yesterday morning, shortly after midnight, he went to the house of Mary Roberts and got into a quarrel with her, and drawing a Bowie-knife, threatened to take her life; he went away, and afterwards returned, renewed his threats, and proceeded to smash up all the furniture in her house; he created havoc and destruction on all sides, and ended by breaking the windows with large stones. At last the cries of the woman attracted the attention of Special Officer Forner, and he was about to arrest Roderick when the latter broke away and ran. Forner fired his pistol in the air, which frightened the fugitive, and he stopped and gave himself up. Besides his Bowie-knife, he carried on his person a murderous weapon in the shape of a short-handled hatchet - an equipment calculated to make him rather formidable at short range. Roderick had been marching with the Broom Rangers, and the woman says he was drunk when he entered her house.

The San Francisco Daily Morning Call. 8 October 1864.

The Roderick Case

The would-be desperado, Roderick, who threatened the life of Mary Roberts, in a house in Broadway, on Thursday night, was tried and convicted in the Police Court, yesterday morning, on three Separate charges. The first charge was carrying a concealed deadly weapon; he had a pocket full of them - a Bowie-knife, a short-handled hatchet, and a hat full of bed-rock, with a trace of quartz in it. The second charge, of assault with a deadly weapon, was sustained by the testimony of the complaining witness, Mary Roberts, who swore that Roderick seized her and aimed a blow at her with his Bowie-knife, when Providence provided her with invisible wings. She said she knew she had wings at that moment of her utmost need, although they were not palpable to her imperfect mortal vision, and she flew away - she gently soared down stairs. Judging by the woman's general appearance, and her known character and antecedents, this interference of Providence in her behalf was remarkable, to say the least, and must have been quite a surprise to her. The third charge was of malicious mischief. It was shown in evidence that he wantonly destroyed furniture belonging to the woman, worth one hundred dollars. The prisoner was ordered to appear for sentence on all three of the charges, to-morrow morning. Roderick killed a man once. He is rather a bad looking man, but probably not nearly so dangerous as one might suppose from his lawless conduct. He has bad habits, similar to those of many a professedly better man, and he carries an armament better suited to a fortress than a well meaning private citizen. All these things are against him, and he deserves to be punished for having them against him, and for breaking furniture that did not belong to him. He was not anxious to kill the woman, though, or even do her a bodily injury, as his opportunities for doing so were ample, and he threw them away. He might have made a good sensation item for the newspapers, and he carelessly threw that opportunity away also. Roderick is a useless incumbrance, anyway you take him.

The San Francisco Daily Morning Call. 9 October 1864.


A case of the most infernal description of miscegenation has come to light in this city - a mixture of white and Chinese. A Chinaman married a white woman in New York ten years ago, has had children by her, and has been living with her here in Sacramento street. Latterly, for some cause or other, he has become abusive toward her, and has several times beaten her. Finally, influenced by white friends, and by another beating at the hands of her pagan husband, on Thursday evening she left him, and applied to Chief Burke for protection, bringing two mixed children with her. A Special Officer tried to rescue her from this last assault, and succeeded in diverting the bulk of it to himself, receiving several powerful blows to his share, and giving several in return; the main Chinaman escaped from him, but he captured an accessory and brought him to the station-house. Officer Evatt accompanied the woman back to the place to protect her while she got possession of her clothing, and she is now living with some friends in Hinckley street. She is quite handsome, and of prepossessing appearance and address; one of her children is a very pretty little girl; she has had four children by her Chinaman. Late last evening, news came that the husband had been captured and confined by the mate of the ship Smyrniote, for stealing, and Officer Evatt went down to take charge of him.

The San Francisco Daily Morning Call. 9 October 1864.

The Camanche

The monitor Camanche is rapidly approaching completion. The side armor of wood is all on but about twenty feet at the stern, making nearly three and a half feet of solid wood on the sides of the monster, from stem to stern. The work of putting on the five inches of iron plating, outside of the wood, is being pushed rapidly forward, and already about seventy feet from the prow is completed. For the last two or three days, the workmen have been putting the iron plates on the deck, and about one thousand feet of the deck has been covered with the two plates of iron designed for it. Those who wish to see the monitor again before she is launched, and while they can witness the manner of securing the enormous weight of wood and iron with which the sides are covered, will do well to do so to-morrow, or within a few days, as she will soon be wholly encased with her impenetrable coat of mail.

The San Francisco Daily Morning Call. 9 October 1864.

Had A Fit

A lad of some twelve years was seized with convulsions, while sitting in a buggy at the corner of Sacramento and Montgomery streets, yesterday afternoon. Restoratives were speedily brought in play, and in a short time the youth went on his way, viewing with astonishment the multitude that had collected, which was variously estimated at from one thousand to four thousand eight hundred and eighty. One kind hearted person, whose condition, unfortunately, bordered on the "salubrious," had his place close to the convulsed boy, and puffed smoke from a villanous cigar into his eyes with seeming industry, until gently remonstrated with by a Policeman, on whom he turned furiously, insisting upon tobacco smoke as an infallible remedy for fits, and that he would give the offlcer fits if he interfered further. However, during this sanitary dispute, the subject had come to and gone off; and the opportunity for determining fully the efficacy of burnt tobacco and whisky fumes in cases of fits, was unfortunately lost for the present.

The San Francisco Daily Morning Call. 11 October 1864.


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