I was busy running for office at the time but circled around to the request again recently.
June 7, 1865, was a memorable day in Placerville. That was the day of four deaths, one accident, and three murders. It’s the murders that are remembered, including that of Fredrick Charles Cursons.
Cursons, an Englishman, was employed as a fiddler at Magnolia Hall in Idaho City. He had left his wife in Victoria, BC, to find his fortune in Idaho. It is unclear whether he hoped to find gold or make it with his music.
His musical endeavors ended when the Magnolia burned that June, taking much of Idaho City with it. Like many who found their beds turned to ashes, Cursons trekked to Placerville, looking for a place to live. He found a man named Larry Moulton there who had some skill with a banjo.
On Saturday evening, June 3, the pair set out for Centerville on foot, hoping to make a little coin there with their instruments. On their way, Cursons and Moulton stopped to chat and enjoy a drink of water with the gatekeeper at the toll gate.
Not long after they left, the two apparently encountered a robbery either in progress or just completed. George Wilson, a young miner, had been shot in the head at close range. The fiddler and the banjo player turned to run, only to feel bullets in their back.
So, three murders with robbery apparently the original motive—Wilson’s pockets were turned inside out, and his watch had been cut from its fob.
Deputy Sheriff Maloney gathered men by the dozens for a manhunt. Anger turned to rage, and there was talk of a lynching. Nearly a week later, three men, Charles Kimball, Ned Elwood, and one called Wiliams, who had an alias of Welch and another of Buck, were arrested. The guy with aliases was the prime suspect in the murder. He was wanted in California for a stage robbery and escape.
The men of the manhunt turned into a mob ready to string up Williams/Welch/Buck, but deputies escorted the prisoners out of town to the territorial jail in Idaho City.
The mob cooled down as the weeks passed while those in jail waited for the next sitting of the grand jury. When the jury finally convened, they found scant evidence against the three incarcerated men and set them free.
Musicians Cursons and Moulton were buried in the Placerville Cemetery without markers. Their killers, and the killers of George Wilson, were never brought to justice.