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The Murder of Richard Cave, 1859


Although violence often followed the miners into the gold fields, murder was less common. One incident happened in 1859 in the Salmon River region of Northern California’s Siskiyou County.  It began when Richard Cave traveled to Sawyers Bar to invite son Alfred to join him in raising cattle.

When Cave, who was a carpenter and millwright, did not return home after his visit, a search party found his body a mile from the summit of Salmon Mountain, just above Etna. He had been shot in the head and his shirt cut away where a poke of gold dust was commonly tied. Cave wasn’t traveling with gold, but did have $30 dollars stuffed in a trouser pocket.

Suspicion fell on a man known as “Mountain” Walker, who had been seen prowling the area for a long time. Very likely he had overheard Cave talking about his new enterprise while stopped at the old Etna Hotel.

Walker was never found or questioned, but he was arrested later for a murder in Los Angeles. Before his execution, he confessed to killing Richard Cave.

Source: Daggett, John. "Interesting Early Day Incidents." Siskiyou County Pioneer 9.2 (2012): 33-37. Print.

Gail Fiorini-Jenner is a writer and teacher. Her first novel "Across the Sweet Grass Hills", won the 2002 WILLA Literary Award. She co-authored four histories with Arcadia Publishing: Western Siskiyou County: Gold & Dreams, Images of the State of Jefferson, The State of Jefferson: Then & Now, which placed in the 2008 Next Generation Awards for Nonfiction and Postcards from the State of Jefferson.