Old West Lifestyle & Stories

Gambler Charles Cora Lynched

Following the money, in 1851 professional gambler Charles Cora traveled to San Francisco. He brought with him his 22-year-old paramour, Bella.
Gambling being legal, and Charles being a good gambler, he did well. But, San Francisco’s high society looked down upon them because he and Bella weren’t married.
In November of 1855 Charles and Bella went to a play at the American Theater. Their attendance outraged many of the attendees, including Marshall Richardson and his wife. Marshall Richardson asked them to leave. But Charles and Bella refused.
Over the next couple of days Charles and the Marshall exchanged insults, until one evening a drunken Marshall Richardson called Charles out. Shots were fired, and Marshall Richardson was dead.
In the first trial of Charles, the jury failed to come to a decision. So a second trial was scheduled. Charles Cora was confident of an acquittal… That is until May 14 when James Casey joined him in jail.
James Casey had shot James King, a respected newspaper editor. Ten thousand people gathered outside the jail, seeking vengeance for the shooting of King. Finally, the sheriff handed Casey over to the vigilantes. But they weren’t satisfied. They also wanted Charles Cora.
For two days Cora and Casey were held by the vigilantes. When the newspaper editor died, Cora and Casey’s fate was sealed. On May 22, as the editor was buried, Cora and King were hanged.
Had Casey not killed the editor, Cora would have probably gotten off with a second trial. But that’s not the only point of irony. Just before Cora was hanged, he and Bella got married. Had they done this nine months earlier, Cora wouldn’t have even been in jail.

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