General Hugh Ewing. The Black List: A Tale of Early California (1893) 288 pp.
This novel documents the sprawling—and episodic—adventures of Peter Hayward, a young man from Florida who is determined to make his fortune in gold rush era California. Forced to delay his arrival in California for several months in Durango, Mexico, while his companion recovers from illness, Hayward falls in love with, and marries, a beautiful young Mexican woman named Catalina. Eventually, leaving his new bride behind, Hayward makes his way to Monterey where he soon gets involved in the case of a man named Wayne, who is on trial for killing a gambler, whom he stopped from attacking a young woman. Hayward is a member of the jury at Wayne’s trial and he refuses to return a verdict of guilty, eventually leading to Wayne’s acquittal. But, the dead gambler was a Mormon, and in order to avenge his death, a secret council of San Francisco-based Mormons place both Wayne’s and Hayward’s names on “the black list” and plot to kill them. As Hayward, who has further adventures in the gold country, establishes himself as a wealthy merchant and banker in San Francisco, the Mormon assassins, led by a man named Corby, make several attempts on his life. Hayward finally succeeds when a fire in San Francisco consumes the headquarters—and lives—of the Mormon leaders. This novel, issued in paper wrappers as part of the publisher’s “Once a week semi-monthly library,” presents a vivid picture of wide-open early San Francisco, where “law enforcement” was chiefly provided by the Committee of Vigilance, a group that the author obviously feels kept order by hanging first and asking questions last. It also presents an interesting—and less-than-flattering, to say the least—portrait of Mormons, who are compared to bloodthirsty “Apaches” in their disregard for human life.
Setting: San Francisco; Monterey; gold country of California, etc.
Baird & Greenwood 769