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court of sessions should not order the removal of county offices and records until the citizens of Bidwell had prepared and deeded to the county suitable buildings for a court-house and jail, without any expense to the county, and free from any lienor incumbrance. This was done, and on the third of August, 1853, the court of sessions, issued an order removing the county-seat to Bidwell on the tenth of the same month.
The public buildings left at Hamilton by the removal of the offices were sold at auction. The ancient court-house was somewhat pretentious as to size, but as the bare frame structure had never been completed entirely, only two officials besides the courts had ever occupied it. The clerk, Warren T. Sexton, and the district attorney, Joseph W. McCorkle, had an office together in it. The other officers of the county transacted the public business at their bed-rooms in the hotel or boarding-house. Some years afterward the building was pulled down and the material used for other purposes. The expensive jail building was for many years devoted to various uses and finally became a granary. In the spring of 1878 it took fire and was destroyed, thus obliterating the last vestige of the old town as a county-seat.
The new building put up at the expense of the Bidwellites was located on an elevation called Courthouse hill. It had more room in it than the Hamilton affair and was considered quite a creditable institution. It was also used as a church by the piously-inclined of that neighborhood, and its walls echoed both to the sonorous "Oh, yes! Oh, yes, I" of the court crier, and the devotional anthems of the Sunday choir. The upper floor had an apartment where the somewhat uncertain decrees of justice were promulgated, while on the ground-floor the business of the county was transacted, and beneath all were the gloomy dungeons for the confinement of offenders against the peace and dignity of the state. The structure was entirely of wood. Courthouse hill was found to be a valuable treasure-box. Mining claims were established all around it, and at a subsequent period its very site was invaded for the precious metal.
In the winter of 1855-'56 the Butte-county representatives in the legislature procured the passage of a bill for the holding of an eleetion to fix permanently the county-seat. The Act provided that whatsoever the result of the election, no change should be made unless good and sufficient buildings for courts and offices should be provided and deeded to the county. The election came off on the nineteenth of April, 1856.
COUNTY-SEAT ELECTION, APRIL 19, 1856,
Once again Bidwell was doomed to lose its glory as the seat of justice, and both times, as she claimed, by a fraudulent vote. It is a significant fact that the total vote at the general election the fall before was but 3,162. Of this Judge Sexton once wrote: "The election, as well as whisky, was a free thing, and there was no registry law. I will not write how many votes were polled. The understanding was that the polls should be kept open until the returns from the balance of the county could be heard from, so as to be certain of getting enough votes to make the thing certain. The vote of the county on the railroad question (1860), and on the removal of the county-seat in '74 sink into insignificance when compared with the vote of April 19, 1856."
The court-house and jail at Bidwell being estimated to be worth about six thousand dollars, the citizens of Oroville subscribed that amount for a new building, to which the board added eight thousand dollars, the requirements of the county demanding more commodious and substantial buildings than those formerly occupied.
The first court-house then erected in Oroville cost $14,000. It was seventy feet in length by forty in width, with two stories and a basement, the latter being divided into cells for criminals and a jailer's room. The first floor was occupied by the various officers, and the second by the courts.
On September twenty-fourth the board declared Oroville the county-seat. Ralph Bird and Jacob S. Morris, joint claimants of the ground upon which the court-house and jail stands, had executed 'a deed conveying one-fourth of an acre of ground in the form of a square in the center of block A, and all the remainder of the block adjacent to it. John Parry, J. McKinstry Smith, Seneca Ewer, and other citizens, also gave the county a deed of the same piece of ground. The requisitions of the legislative Act had been fully complied with, and the county buildings at Bidwell were declared incommodious and insecure, being built of wood, and Oroville was announced as the seat of justice. The board first met in Oroville September 30, 1856, and the rooms being assigned, the rest of the officials moved thither in November. It will be noticed that the county acquired, at the time of the removal to Oroville of the county-seat, only one-fourth of an acre, in the center of the plaza. The remainder was owned by Joseph Gluckauf, who had enclosed the plaza with a substantial fence. In 1860, measures were taken to purchase of him the property. The appraising committee, appointed by Thomas Wells, decided that the land was worth $2,500, and a warrant was drawn in favor of Gluckauf for that amount.
On the fifth of February, 1873, A. J. Gifford presented to the board a petition signed by a great many citizens, praying for the removal of the county-seat to Chico. No action being taken by the board, the supreme court was appealed to, and a writ of mandamus issued from that tribunal to the board of supervisors, requiring them to show cause why an election to determine the location should not be called. The board called a special meeting for June 14, to determine their future action, but nothing whatever was done. On the fifteenth of April, 1874, the supreme court ordered them to call an election for such purpose, and in accordance with this mandate, they fixed upon June 8, 1874, for the election. As an inducement for removal, the people of Chico offered the county a block worth $10,000 and $26,000 in gold coin, with which to build a court-house. General Bidwell and a few others gave their bonds for $40,000 for the faithful performance of this agreement. The election was the most exciting ever held in the county. In the contest Oroville again came off victorious. The total number of votes cast was 3,678, of which Oroville received 1,904; Chico, 1,693; Biggs, 74; Gridley, 2. Five votes were cast for other places. Much bad blood was created by the vote, both sides accusing each other of doing many dishonest acts to obtain a majority. After all, there never was an honest county-seat election, and probably there never will be. Men who would scorn to do illegal voting at a regular election, will resort to all kinds of fraudulent practices when the interests of their town are jeopardized at the polls. In March, 1876, the first steps were taken towards building an addition to the court-house. The old building had for many years been too small to accommodate all the county officers with rooms, and large amounts had been expended in rents to provide offices for the district attorney and the county judge. On the eleventh of that month the board pf supervisors instructed the clerk to advertise for plans and estimates, and on the thirteenth of May sealed proposals for a fire-proof building were asked for by the board. In June the contract was let to Reinhart, Bryan & Cook for the sum of $12,939, the building to be 34x75 feet and two stories in height. Early in November it was completed, and with the extras put on it, cost $13,585. The two lower rooms of the addition are thoroughly fire-proof. They are commodious and airy, and in these are kept the most important of the records. They are occupied by the recorder and the county clerk. The second floor is divided into a grand jury room, assessor's room, office of the superintendent of schools, and another office used for various purposes.
The court-house is now a commodious structure, sufficiently large for the transaction of the county business, and built so substantially that it will stand for years. It is supplied with both water and gas, and the surrounding yard is ornamented with a fine growth of shade-trees, that add greatly to the pleasing appearance of the structure.
THE COUNTY HOSPITAL AND INFIRMARY.
In January, 1857, the board of supervisors decided to purchase a building for the use of Butte county, to be devoted to the reception of the indigent sick, who were becoming very numerous, and fixed upon the Western Hotel, at Lynchburg, as a suitable building for such purpose. The building fronted on the southwest corner of the plaza, and the lot on which it stood fronted sixty feet on the plaza, running back one hundred and twenty feet. County judge Lewis appointed H. B. Lathrop, D. D. Harris and Thomas Wells to appraise the property. On the tenth of January they reported to the board, fixing the value of the property at twelve hundred dollars; whereupon the board issued an order purchasing the building and lot of J. Q. A. Thurber, and appropriating six hundred dollars to be paid to him in hand, the remainder to be paid in five months.
The rules adopted at a subsequent session provided for the appointment of a resident physician, to be ex-ojicio superintendent of the hospital, holding his office one year; they constituted the board of supervisors an examining committee to grant certificates of admission and manage the affairs of the institution; they allowed the admission of all indigent sick persons who had resided in the county thirty days, and instructed the superintendent to discharge from residence at the hospital each patient whenever he shall have sufficiently recovered to be able to pursue the ordinary avocations of life.
Dr. T. J. Jenkins received the first appointment of resident physician and superintendent of the hospital. By the terms of agreement, he furnished all the food, bedding and necessary medical attendance, in consideration of one dollar and fifty cents per day for each patient. In February, 1858, Dr. Jenkins was re-appointed superintendent of the hospital, with Dr. H. M. Phipps as examining and discharging physician.
Dr. James O'Brien received the appointment of superintendent August 12, 1858. In something more than a year the hospital had doubled its number of patients, and henceforth became a very important and expensive institution of the county. Numerous repairs and improvements had been made. On the eighteenth of August, Drs. Jenkins and Phipps resigned their positions in the hospital, having previously given notice of their intention.
At this time the duties of furnishing the hospital with provisions, and of supplying medical attendance, were very properly delegated to different persons, and Owen Murphy became the first general provider, with a monthly salary of fifty dollars. In 1859, Dr. William Wilson became superintendent and physician. He was followed, in 1862, by Dr. T. J. Edwards, and he, in 1863, by Dr. H. V. Mott.
The following order issued from the board on the nineteenth of November, 1864: "It is hereby ordered by the board, that the institution known as the county hospital of Butte county be, and the same is hereby abolished, and that said institution, from and after the first day of January, 1865, be known as the Butte county infirmary, in conformity with an Act entitled 'An Act to Authorize the Establishment of County Infirmaries,' etc., approved April 18, 1860." Dr. Mott was appointed infirmary physician. The board, in February, 1865, constituted itself a board of directors of the county infirmary. Dr. Mott resigned on the first of July of that year.
It is unnecessary to form a chronological statement of the physicians and superintendents who have served at the hospital. Among the former occur the names of Dr. Jenkins, Dr. Smeades, Dr. Green, Dr. Mansfield, Dr. Achuff, and Dr. Miller. Dr. Miller has had the position of visiting physician since 1875, having filled it creditably both to himself and to the county. Under his management the institution has become one of the finest in the state.
In August, 1877, the board began to cast around for another site for a new infirmary building. Oroville being desirous of keeping the institution at that place, the citizens filed a bond to the following effect: "The conditions of the above obligation are such that, if the board of supervisors of the county of Butte select, for a location to build the new infirmary or hospital, the southerly portion of the southwest quarter of section 6, town 19, range 4 east, containing forty acres, then, and in that event, the obligors will give to the said county of Butte, free of all expense, for and in consideration of the said location, the southerly portion of the south-west quarter section 6, town 19, range 4 east, containing forty acres; also the waters of a spring situated on the south-west quarter of section 31, town 20, range 4 east, and the right of way to lay pipes to conduct the water from the said spring to the said forty acres. It is understood that the said obligors will give a good and sufficient title to the said tract of forty acres and the water and the right of way, provided the said county, through the board of supervisors, make the location and commence the building of a hospital or infirmary on said land."
The bond was signed by J. M. Brock, B. Marks & Co., N. Goldstein, E. A. Kusel, Max Brooks, Jas. C. Gray, M. Reyman, A. Goldstein, Fred. Hecker, A. Howard, D. N. Friesleben, E.W. Fogg, Sam Ostroski, A. Maurice, Jr., L. W. Hoops, Jacob Rebscher and Perkins, Logan & Co. The proposition was accepted by the board, and Supervisor Ward was appointed to superintend the digging of a trench from the spring to the hospital site. J. M. Brock was awarded the contract of furnishing two-inch pipe to carry the water. The board advertised for plans and specifications in December, and in January, 1878, accepted the plan submitted by Sparks and Sovereign, for a brick building to cost not more than $18,000. On the eighth of April the contract to erect a two-story building of brick, one hundred and twenty feet long and thirty feet high, was awarded to McDonald ,fc Lawrence for $13,008. Abram Conant was appointed by the board superintendent of construction. On the sixteenth of August the contractors pronounced the work completed. With the extra work put on it, the cost was brought up to $16,000. The hospital is built in the form of a right angle. The wing is 33x36 feet, and the main building 128x33 feet. On the ground floor are the dispensary, consulting-room, superintendent's apartments, dining-room, kitchen and eleven bed-rooms for women. This floor is also abundantly supplied with water for all uses. On the second floor are the infirm ward, the medical ward and the surgical ward, with a capacity of fifty-six beds. There are also a nurse's room and a surgery with the necessary appurtenances. The building is very pleasantly situated, nearly a mile west from Oroville. The grounds are tastefully ornamented, while the lands belonging to the institution are utilized for pasture, garden and orchard.
At present there are thirty-four patients in the infirmary. The monthly average is thirty-five. The average number of deaths per year is seventeen. About two hundred and fifty patients are cared for in the asylum every year, and when is taken into consideration the advanced stage of disease of most patients before they are willing to be taken to the hospital, the mortality is exceedingly low. In the course of the past few years, several very difficult surgical operations have been successfully performed by Dr. Miller. Before patients are discharged, they are required to do a certain amount of work, by which means the garden is kept in perfect order, and such improvements are made as necessity demands or taste suggests. As the amount of work required is established with strict regard to the sanitary condition of the individual, this, while it saves expense to the tax-payer, is to the patient a gradual step to a resume of his daily avocations. The superintendent of the hospital at present is Mr. Davis.
The old infirmary building at Lynchburg was sold at auction and torn down in the spring of 1879.
THE COURTS AND JUDICIARY.
Law, in its simplest form, was introduced into Alta California by the Caucasian race in 1769, when the mission of San Diego was founded by the Franciscan friars under the leadership of Father Junipero Serro. At this and other missions soon after established, the padres had full control, administering justice in the manner best calculated to further the interests of their religion and cement and perpetuate the feeble government they had set up among the simple natives they soon gathered about them. The military sent into the wilderness to uphold and protect the missions was entirely subservient to the authority of the padres. As the Caucasians increased and pueblos (towns) were established, justice was administered therein by an alcalde (judge), the padres still reigning supreme at the missions. The pueblos increased in size, and the authority of the alcalde and other civil officers gradually encroached upon that of the padres, until when the missions were secularized by the Mexican government, the Padres lost all temporal authority, and the civil power obtained supreme control. This authority was exercised along the whole coast, and as far inland as the military arm had strength and energy enough to sustain it.
At the time of the American conquest, the courts existed under the Mexican laws of 1837, and were composed as follows in the territory of California: The highest court, having an appellate jurisdiction and corresponding in character to our present supreme court, was the superior court of California, consisting of four judges and an attorney-general. It was divided into the first and second benches, the three senior judges composing the first, and the junior the second. The first bench was called the court of the third instance, and its decisions were final. Appeals lay to this court from the second bench, or court of the second instance. The latter court had first jurisdiction of appeals from the court of the first instance, the highest local tribunal then existing, and corresponding very closely to our present superior court. The lesser magistrates were the first alcalde and second alcalde, having authority similar to that exercised by justices of the peace. In some districts the duties of judge of the court of the first instance were discharged by the first alcalde. The Mexican laws remained in force, and justice was administered through the tribunals established by them, until the courts were organized under the state constitution in 1850.
After the American conquest, and especially after the discovery of gold had led to the wild rush of men from all over the world and peopled a country before almost unknown save to the naked and barbarous natives, the courts became seriously disorganized, or rather failed to become organized at all. In the many commercial towns and mining camps that sprang up like Aladdin's palace, there was no law save that administered by the restless and excitable gold-hunter and no court but the bar of public opinion. To remedy this defect, Gen. Bennett Riley, then military governor, issued a proclamation, June 3, 1849, in which among other things he called upon the people to elect alcaldes and judges, under the Mexican laws then in force, who should administer justice until the courts to be established by the constitution should become clothed with the powers to be given them by that instrument.
The courts established by the constitution of 1849 were as follows :—