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First on the scene was Adolph “Frenchy” Jioux, a Stingaree pimp. He stumbled outside babbling incoherently. At first, Wilkinson and others thought Jioux did the shooting, since he was waving the still-smoking revolver like a war club.

Then they went inside. Tracy lay sprawled on the floor, her face a bloody hole. Next to her, Daley breathed his last. After firing four rounds at his lover, Daley stopped for a few seconds, then pointed the revolver under his own chin and pulled the trigger.

For the next several days, the murder became a sensation. Daley was a “remarkably cheerful man,” wrote the San Diego Sun. And Tracy was always kind and considerate. Neither had been in trouble before. Daley fired the shots, but the Stingaree itself was to blame. Something must be done. Nothing was.

Wilkinson had heard that cry before. He worked at the Tub of Blood when another of the Stingaree’s most infamous tragedies occurred.

In 1891, the Chilean steamer Itata violated American neutrality laws and fled from San Diego. On May 8, the Navy cruiser Charleston went off in pursuit. The Itata surrendered, and the Charleston returned to San Diego on July 7. Brass bands boomed from the docks. White handkerchiefs waved around the bay. Hundreds of townspeople rowed to the anchorage, midway between the Santa Fe Wharf and Coronado Island, and took guided tours of the Charleston. While visitors attended church services on board, 115 sailors came ashore for a well-earned liberty.

The Charleston was scheduled to sail on the 15th. At noon on the 14th, Captain G. Remey sent the names of 11 AWOL sailors to the San Diego police station. They missed the 8:00 a.m. deadline. Remey offered a $10 reward for each.

It’s unclear who deputized them (San Diego papers say U.S. Marshal George Gard; the L.A. Herald says police chief Crawford), but at around 12:30, seven men, led by Charles Breedlove, were sworn in at the police station.

“Is this all right?” A.F. Coates asked the chief.

“Yes,” Crawford replied. “You’re now a Deputy U.S. Marshal.”

Breedlove had rounded up most of his posse at the Court Exchange Saloon on Fifth. He promised them “$2.50 apiece for an hour’s work,” plus $2 for each sailor they returned to the Charleston. He never said in what condition.

Breedlove and the others pocketed handcuffs and revolvers and marched down Fifth pounding their palms with billy clubs. They’d all been drinking, testified J. Kennedy, bartender at the Court Exchange. Breedlove, he said, “had a pretty good load on.”

Nine of the 11 AWOL sailors were “drinking hard,” said one, at the Silver Moon, a two-story dive across from the Tub of Blood. Earlier that morning they hired J.B. O’Connell to row them back to the ship. Around 12:45, wondering what was up, O’Connell went to the Silver Moon to “get the boys together.” They said they were waiting for Jerry Flynn and Edward Jose, hoisting a few at Pete Cassidy’s bar at 452 Fifth, to join them.

The sailors at the Silver Moon heard war whoops coming down I street. Jose, a slender black man, burst into the saloon, shouting, “They’re beating up Jerry Flynn!”

The sailors raced outside and up I Street. They saw thugs wielding clubs near Fourth. Two “deputies” stood over Jerry Flynn, handcuffed, on his knees. Breedlove had tried to arrest him at Cassidy’s. Flynn had escaped, but he tripped on Fourth Street’s deep cart-tracks. The deputies began beating him.

As he and the sailors ran toward Flynn, James O’Leary saw civilians clubbing his mates “and knocking them down for keeps, too. We did not know they were officers.” The deputies dressed as civilians, several in straw hats, and showed no badges. The sailors thought they were notorious Stingaree “hoodlums,” who would maul “a tenderfoot for a two-bit piece.”

Before O’Leary could reach Flynn, a stout man in a long black leather coat bashed him from behind. It was Breedlove, who only attacked from the rear, many testified at the trial, and shouted “Uncle Sam’s come to help!”

Deputy Coates pounced on O’Leary and cuffed him.

“By God, I’ve fixed my man,” Coates proclaimed.

“You’re the one should be fixed,” yelled a bystander.

A mob formed around the melee. They turned the air blue with threats and curses. “Intimates of the dives in ‘Stingaree Town’ poured into the street,” wrote the San Diego Sun, “some of them seemingly for the first time.”

Bystander George Merritt saw four men, with fat clubs behind their backs, sneak up on four sailors. Without a word of warning, the deputies clobbered the blue-jackets to the dirt and flailed away until bystanders pulled them off.

A cry went up from the crowd: “Kill the deputies!”

A coal-oil wagon made a hard left at the corner of Third and I. The driver, named Gillespie, zigzagged down I. He struck Owen Givens with the butt-end of a whip. Blinded by a gash near his right eye, the sailor made it back to the Silver Moon “some way.”

Gillespie aimed his two-horse team at sailors. The wagon ran over “Paddy” Burns, a hoof grazing Burns’s skull. As battered shipmates dragged him back to the Silver Moon, the semi-conscious Burns feared he was dying.

Joseph “Brownie” Brown, a second-class fireman on the Charleston, reached Jerry Flynn first. Coates and Charles Wilson held Flynn down. Brown dove-slid between them and tried to lift Flynn up. Coates and Wilson clubbed Brown at the same time.

Flynn staggered away to the Russ Lumber Yard.

Township constable C.M. Stetson, who watched the fray from a buggy, ordered one of his deputies to unlock Flynn’s cuffs.

“I did not pay particular attention to the trouble,” Stetson said at the trial. “I was busy that day and, having other things on my mind, do not remember the affair sufficiently to give a clear account.”

Police chief Crawford also witnessed the havoc from his buggy. “My orders were not to have anything to do with the matter,” he testified, not mentioning who gave the orders.

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Prosperina July 16, 2009 @ 10:35 p.m.

I loved this particular series in the 'Unforgettable' tome -- the subject matter was sort of frightening considering what all is going on with crime, gangs, and drug wars today -- but at the same time -- fascinating -- and the history of the diversity of this town comes out in such a casual way -- you'd never have guessed that San Diego was made up this way from the beginning of Time, it would seem -- sort of gives me hope for humanity as well as San Diego -- Mr. Smith continues to entertain, teach and give us a sense of our own history with each of his Unforgettable series -- it's a great column and I'm so glad that the Reader gives us a chance to see this side of his writing -- just great --


danwhitehead1 July 18, 2009 @ 9:23 a.m.

These are fascinating articles. I'll say one thing, the old Stingaree sounds like a really exciting place filled with really interesting people rather than hordes of soft, pampered/self-pampered, over privileged, boring types wearing false senses of entitlement.


PistolPete July 18, 2009 @ 8:11 p.m.

Sandy Eggo before it became a whale's vagina :-D


johnegger23 Aug. 4, 2009 @ 8:31 p.m.

Old stingaree was a million times better than that crappy bar called stingaree they have now.


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