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Expulsion of Chinese on heels of murder

Rocks, Rails and Ranches
By: Daniel DeFoe, Special to the Placer Herald
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Editor’s Note: This is the second of a three-part series focusing on the expulsion of the Chinese residents of Rocklin in 1877. On Sept. 16, 1877, lawmen from Rocklin and Roseville arrested 10 Chinese miners on suspicion of the grisly murders the previous day of three ranchers — two men and a woman — at a ranch in Secret Ravine. Word of the sensational crime had passed through Rocklin like a bolt of lightening and crowds gathered outside the jail demanding the prisoners be given up for lynching. The next day all remaining Chinese were driven out of Rocklin. Meanwhile, police investigators were finding no conclusive evidence against any of the Chinese they were holding — a fact that the court of public opinion could not tolerate. New mobs swarmed around the jail demanding they be given the Chinese for vigilante justice. Realizing they could not protect their prisoners, the authorities in Rocklin opted to move them to Auburn. A cordon of police was able to get the Chinese to the railroad depot, but before the eastbound train could pull out an angry crowd attacked it screaming, “Have them out!” “Hang them!” Police and railroad employees were finally able to fight off the vigilantes throwing them off the train as it pulled out of Rocklin. Once the prisoners were in the Placer County Jail, a coroner’s jury convened and, based on evidence obtained by Rocklin and Roseville investigators, announced charges against only two of the 10 men. The region’s Chinese and their few supporters argued the ranch teamster, who inexplicably disappeared the day of the murders, might be the guilty person. ________ The Rocklin Historical Society will present the first in a series of lectures on Rocklin’s history at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 16 at Old St. Mary’s Chapel, 5251 Front St. Don Perera will share the story of the Nisenan, Rocklin’s first inhabitants.