What exists of the Sept. 3, 1853, issue of the Los Angeles Star, in the collection at the Huntington, is online at USC (although it can only be viewed after it is downloaded due to some malfunction in the interface) and the California Digital Newspaper Collection.
Sept. 3, 1853: I recently had lunch with Paul Bryan Gray, author of “A Clamor for Equality, whom I wrote about in a column. Although our research periods are nearly a century apart, we still find much to discuss. He encouraged me to look at the Los Angeles Star before it was acquired by Henry Hamilton and had such a virulent pro-Southern outlook.
So here’s a glimpse of Los Angeles as it was 160 years ago:
“Two cholos had a dispute about a woman last Sunday. One of them drew a sword and run the other through the body — killing him almost instantly. The name of the murdered man was Nestor Herrera.”
“N.J. writes us that on Tuesday night a party of rowdies attacked the house of Don Jose St. Onge with hideous yells and pistol balls, to the great danger of the inmates. A little boy sleeping upon a bed was shot in the arm. The writer thinks that if taxpayers are not better protected they will have to protect themselves.”
“A white man and a colored man run a race of 200 yards, on a bet of $100. The white man lost.”
“There was a bullfight in the evening at which several quadrupeds were sadly teased, several hombres rolled in the dirt, and a large brilliant and intellectual audience were highly delighted.”
“Joaquin’s head is in San Francisco and is exciting much attention. It has been recognized by many persons, among them Don Andres Pico and Hon. J.J. Warner, as the head of Joaquin Murieta [which is how the Star spelled it].” If you ever wanted a long description of Murrieta’s head, this is the place for you.
And because newspapers love to write about politics, and the Star has ample coverage of the upcoming state election, in which it supported the Democratic ticket.
As late as 1960, when I left Chicago for good, the then four major dailies would have small stories headlined like the following: “Two Negros Found Dead on the South Side”. Their names were rarely given.