11 March 2013

A legal genius at work

Tough swearing - 'Gentlemen of the jury,' said a Tuscarora lawyer, 'what kind of swearing has been done in this case? Here we have a physician - a man who, from his high and noble calling, should be regarded as one who would scorn to stain his name with perjury, or be guilty of giving utterance to an untruth; but what did he testify, gentlemen? I put the question to him plainly, as all you heard, "Where was this man stabbed?" And what was his reply? Unblushingly, his features as cool as though out from marble, he replied that the man was stabbed about an inch and a half to the left of the medial line, and about an inch below the diaphragm, and yet we have proved by three witnesses that he was stabbed just below the Young America Hoisting Works'.
- Evening Post, 7 December 1878 (via Papers Past)

This tale from Tuscarora, Nevada, a mining boom town that later became a virtual ghost town, would have originated in one of the new town's two recently-established newspapers, the Tuscarora Times and the Mining Review. The Young America was one of the many mines in the area, alongside the Warsaw, Susan Jane, Occidental, May-be-so, and Revenue Mines, and itself was later was renamed the Independence.  A useful blog records a great deal of the history of Tuscarora, which doesn't mention the homicide above, but does mention this charming case from a year later:

An incident in 1879 brought about great interest because of its bizarre nature. A local woman was married but shortly afterward left her husband because she found that he was actually female. The husband, known as Sam Pollard, was believed to be male by his fellow miners. He, or she, took advantage and gave lectures, half dressed as a man and the other as a woman. Pollard, whose real name turned out to be Sarah, had devised the scheme to protect her from her father. The residents, while troubled by the disguise, generally accepted her.   
The local woman, Marancy Hughes, wrote outlining her complaint to the Tuscarora Times, which story was picked up and presumably printed all over the world. On the West Coast of New Zealand's South Island the Grey River Argus of 27 August 1878 reported that Hughes claimed she was motivated by 'no feeling of revenge in this matter, but by a desire to be set right before the public'. The paper also records her affidavit:

State of Nevada - County of Elko - ss - Marancy Hughes, being duly sworn, deposes and says that the person between whom and deponent a marriage ceremony was performed in Tuscarora on the 29th day of September, 1877, and who went by the name of Samuel M. Pollard, is a woman, and that her true name is Sarah Maud Pollard - MARANCY HUGHES. Subscribed and sworn to before me, this 17th day of May, 1878 - CHARLES E. ABBOT, Justice of the Peace in and for the County of Elko.
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