Chapter Eight: The Coburn Mystery [Original Draft]

From the “San Mateo County Gazette,” May 1, 1875

“Last Sunday afternoon at half past 5, Augustus Haskins, a youth 22 years of age, shot and killed Charles Johnson in the main street of Pescadero. Johnson had the reputation of being a quiet, orderly man. He was about 23 years old, and had worked for a long time about the ranches in the vicinity.

“The men had been together during the day, and some question had arisen between them as to the ability of Johnson to break horses. At the time of the killing they were about mounting their horses to return home, when Haskins said to Johnson, ‘I’ll bet you $100 I can bring you a horse from my father’s ranch that you can’t break.’  Johnson made some laughing answer and Haskins drawing out some coin retorted, ‘I’ll put up this now and I’ll make the hundred good when I see you again. And if you want anything else, d–n you, take that!’ As he spoke he drew a pistol and fired at Johnson. Then he leaped on his horse and started from the town.

“After the shooting Johnson staggered toward his assailant about fifteen yards. Then he turned back. One of his friends said to him, ‘Charlie, I guess you’re pretty badly hurt, ain’t you?’ ‘Oh, no,’ he answered, ‘I’m not hurt,’ and as the word passed his lips he fell heavily to the ground dead. Meantime Haskins had galloped out of the town. Sheriff Knowles started in pursuit and captured him at Hayward’s Mills, about three miles from Pesadero. He acknowledged killing Johnson, but says that the latter attacked him first. In this story he is contradicted by two witnesses, who confirm the account given above. He was taken to Redwood City, San Mateo County, yesterday morning, and safely lodged in jail. He takes the matter very cooly…”

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