Home Port ° Ongoing Updates

News & Tall Tales. 1800s.


San Francisco Gold Rush 1849.

Suicide in a House of Ill-Fame

July 2, 1855, Sacramento Daily Union, Sacramento, California

Suicide in a House of Ill-Fame.

One of the most distressing suicides which have occurred in New York for many months was committed in the house of the notorious Cinderella Marshall, No. 54 Leonard street, on Saturday evening. The victim was Thomas Baily Russum, formerly of San Francisco, California, where he was a prominent man, held the office of Register, and where he left a wife and two children.

Buying Laudanum and Arsenic
in a chemists shop.
Artist: John Leech

Deceased had been in this city about a year, and was said to have lost money by gambling. His manner of living was said to be extravagant, he lived for a while at the Prescott House, but latterly at the Carlton House.

About two months since deceased became desperately enamored with a girl living at No. 54 Leonard street, and wanted her to marry him, but this she firmly refused, and his mind, which did not appear right before, got quite deranged. On the 21st of April, it will be remembered, he attempted suicide at Miss Marshall's by taking laudanum, but on being conveyed to his lodgings and receiving medical attendance he recovered.

His physician then discovered that Russum was partially insane, and had him properly cared for.

It was thought he had quite recovered, but on Saturday evening it appears that, still deranged and enamored with the girl in question, he went to Miss Marshall's with two loaded pistols in his pockets. He wanted immediately to see the girl alone in the parlor, and wanted her to marry him, declaring that if she refused he would blow his brains out. The girl refused to marry him, and also to see him on this occasion. Miss Marshall seeing that Russum's manner was alarming, sent for Capt. Carpenter, of the Fifth Ward Police.

When the Captain entered the house Russum was sitting in a parlor on the second story with a pistol in his hand. The Captain in a consolatory tone requested Russum to give him the pistol and to accompany him to the Station House and talk his trouble over. The pistol was accordingly given and Russum followed the Captain down stairs until he got within three or four steps of the floor, when he-drew another pistol, which the Captain did not know he had, and with it blew his brains out. The unfortunate man fell at the bottom of the stairway and instantly expired.

Coroner O'Donnell held an inquest upon the body yesterday, and a large amount of testimony was taken, but in substance as given above. Mary Jane Smith, the young woman to whom the deceased was attached, was put on the stand. (She is a handsome girl twenty-five years of age.) Her testimony went to show that the deceased had paid marked attention to her, and offered his hand in marriage on several occasions, which she refused. He told her be had been divorced from his wife. On meeting refusals he manifested anger, and said that unless he was married to her he never could by happy. On one occasion he got angry and handled her roughly, hurting one of her fingers. She did not know whether he was insane before he became acquainted with her. The Coroner's Jury rendered a verdict of "Suicide by a pistol-shot while partially deranged."

The deceased was a native of Baltimore, about 40 years of age. It was understood that deceased would be buried by some friends in Greenwood Cemetery.

By a dispatch from Philadelphia we learn that Russum formerly kept a tailor's shop in that city, and was appointed by Gen. Taylor Collector of the Port of San Francisco, which office he filled until removed by Gen. Pierce.

His wife is a Philadelphian, and was deserted by him about a year ago, when he returned to San Francisco with his eldest daughter, leaving three younger children dependant upon their grandmother. It is reported that he left San Francisco worth $30,000.


Early California: Rulers and Rebels, Chronicles (1535-1846), Destiny's Children, Killing for Land, The Forty-niners. . .San Francisco 1849.

Gold Rush San Francisco Murders.Gold Rush San Francisco.
Black Fire: The True Story of the Original Tom Sawyer--and of the Mysterious Fires That Baptized Gold Rush-Era San FranciscoSan Francisco 1849.
Robert Graysmith
The first biography of the little-known real-life Tom Sawyer (a friend of Mark Twain during his brief tenure as a California newspaper reporter), told through a harrowing account of Sawyer's involvement in the hunt for a serial arsonist who terrorized mid-nineteenth century San Francisco. hen 28-year-old San Francisco Daily Morning Call reporter Mark Twain met Tom Sawyer at a local bathhouse in 1863, he was seeking a subject for his first novel. As Twain steamed, played cards, and drank beer with Sawyer (a volunteer firefighter, customs inspector, and local hero responsible for having saved ninety lives at sea), he had second thoughts about Shirley Tempest, his proposed book about a local girl firefighter, and began to envision a novel of wider scope. Author Robert Graysmith worked as an artist at The San Francisco Chronicle during the years of the Zodiac Killer; he wrote "Zodiac" and "Zodiac Unmasked" about those murders.

Isthmus of Panama Then and Now: Ship Canal, Cruising Panama, Panama Fever, A Year in Panama, History of the Railroad, Trees of Panama and Costa RicaIsthmus of Panama.
David McCullough

History of Gold Discovers, 1848-1875, Lewis Swindle. Gold Discoveries of Northern California Mines by Lewis J. Swindle.
The History of the Gold Discoveries of the Northern Mines of California's Mother Lode Gold Belt As Told By The Newspapers and Miners 1848-1875San Franciscio 1849.
Lewis J. Swindle
While in the U.S. Military stationed in Turkey in the eary 1970s, Swindle became interested in minerals and geology. In returning to the U.S. and during the 26 years he lived in Colorado, he spent countless hours in the mountainous terrain looking for, digging and collecting the minerals known to exist in the Pikes Peak Region. In moving to the California and the Gold Belt Region, he searched out the history of the gold in the region.

Rooted in Barbarous Soil. Gold Rush California by Kevin Starr.
Rooted in Barbarous Soil:
People, Culture, and Community in Gold Rush California

(California History Series)
Rooted in Barbarous Soil.
Kevin Starr
A mercurial economy swung from boom to bust, and back again, rendering everyone's fortunes ephemeral. Competition, jealousy, and racism fueled individual and mass violence. Yet, in the very midst of this turbulence, social and cultural forms emerged, gained strength, spread, and took hold. Rooted in Barbarous Soil examines gold rush society and culture.

The Age of Gold:
The California Gold Rush and the New American Dream
Ships, Shipping, Migration, World Seaports.
H. W. Brands
California Gold Rush.Ships, Shipping, Migration, World Seaports.“I have found it.” These words, uttered by the man who first discovered gold on the American River in 1848, triggered the most astonishing mass movement of peoples since the Crusades. California’s gold drew fortune-seekers from around the world. That discovery accelerated America’s imperial expansion and exacerbated the tensions that exploded in the Civil War. The Gold Rush inspired a new American dream — the “dream of instant wealth, won by audacity and good luck.” Brands tells his epic story from multiple perspectives: of adventurers John and Jessie Fremont, entrepreneur Leland Stanford, and Samuel Clemens — alongside prospectors, soldiers, and scoundrels. He imparts a sense of the distances they traveled, the suffering they endured, and the fortunes they made and lost.

San Francisco Memoirs: 1835-1851: Eyewitness Accounts of the Birth of a CityShips, Shipping, Migration, World Seaports.
Malcolm E. Barker
In July 1846 San Francisco was a tranquil settlement of about 150 inhabitants. Three years later it was an international metropolis with more than 30,000 people thronging its streets. Recalled in this intriguing collection of personal anecdotes from those tumultuous times are the days when San Francisco Bay extended inland to Montgomery Street. Bears, wolves, and coyotes roamed the shore. The arrival of 238 Mormons more than doubled the town's population.

Skull in the Ashes.
Skull in the Ashes: Murder, a Gold Rush Manhunt, and the Birth of Circumstantial Evidence in AmericaSkull in the Ashes.
Peter Kaufman

More San Francisco Memoirs 1852-1899: The Ripening YearsSan Francisco Memoirs.
Malcolm E. Barker

Gold Dust and Gunsmoke
Tales of Gold Rush Outlaws, Gunfighters, Lawmen, and Vigilantes
Gold rush Outlaws.
John Boessenecker
A collection of true tales of villainy and violence during the California Gold Rush. How gold fever ignited a rush of families, but also prostitutes, feuds, lynchings, duels, bare-knuckle prizefights, and vigilantes.

The Trials of Laura Fair: Sex, Murder, and Insanity in the Victorian West
Carole Haber
Trials of Laura Fair.On November 3, 1870, on a San Francisco ferry, Laura Fair shot a bullet into the heart of her married lover, A. P. Crittenden. Throughout her two murder trials, Fair's lawyers, supported by expert testimony from physicians, claimed that the shooting was the result of temporary insanity caused by a severely painful menstrual cycle. The first jury disregarded such testimony, choosing instead to focus on Fair's disreputable character. In the second trial, however, an effective defense built on contemporary medical beliefs and gendered stereotypes led to a verdict that shocked Americans across the country. Carole Haber probes changing ideas about morality and immorality, masculinity and femininity, love and marriage, health and disease, and mental illness to show that all these concepts were reinvented in the Victorian West.

Embarcadero: Sea Adventures from 1849 to 1906Embarcadero. Sea Adventure from 1849 to 1906.
Richard Dillon
Tales of the colorful characters who went down to the sea in ships to and from the port of San Francisco.

Mud, Blood, and GoldMud, Blood, Gold.
Rand Richards
A year in the life of San Francisco: 1849. Based on eyewitness accounts and previously overlooked official records, Richards chronicles the explosive growth of a wide-open town rife with violence, gambling, and prostitution, all of it fueled by unbridled greed.

 

The Project

Maritime Nations, Ships, Sea Captains, Merchants, Merchandise, Ship Passengers and VIPs sailing into San Francisco during the 1800s.

SITE SEARCH

HOME PORT

Kindly Kindly Donate.

Inquiries

DALevy @
MaritimeHeritage.org
164 Robles Way
Suite 237
Vallejo, CA 94591
U.S.A.



MaritimeHeritage.org
MaritimeHeritageProject.com
MaritimeHeritageProject.org
MaritimeHeritage.co
MaritimeNations.com
MaritimeHeritage.info
MaritimeHeritage.us
MaritimeHeritage.education
MaritimeHeritage.world

    ShipPassengers.com
    PassengerLists.org
    SeaportsOfTheWorld.com
    WikiMaritime.com
    WikiSeaports.com
    ThePassengerLists.com
    InternationalHarbors.com

Sources: As noted on entries and through research centers including National Archives, San Bruno, California; San Francisco Main Library History Collection; Maritime Library, San Francisco, California, various Maritime Museums around the world.

Please inform us if you link from your site. Please do NOT link from your site unless your site specifically relates to immigration in the 1800s, family history, maritime history, international seaports, and/or California history.