Captain Isaac Graham

by Michael F. Kinsella

Captain Isaac Graham - Time line biography of his life that was written by Mr. Kinsella. The pages use to be available on the internet at another location and are no longer there. I have created these pages because Isaac was a true California hero worth knowing. I once played Isaac at the Everygreen Cemetery in Santa Cruz on May 1st, 1999. - Floyd D. P. Øydegaard

Part 15 - Feud


Probably the best example of what Isaac Graham's life was like during the period when he first married Tallatha Bennett, is an account written from a fellow trapper, James Clyman, regarding a conversation he had with Dr. John Townsend in the town of Monterey about his recent visit with the Captain above Santa Cruz.

"....the far famed and redoubtable Capt Graham the hero of Farnhams travels in California and in fact the hero of six or seven revolutions in this province and the chivalrous captain has again during the last winter passed through the ordeal of his old Enimy Colonel Castro the Eex governor and has once more returned to his peacable domicil to his heards and his sawmill surrounded by impassable mountains about Eight miles from the landing of Santa Cruz and if report be correct the hardy vetrian is fast softening down and he is about to cast away the deathly rifle and unerring tomahawk for the soft smile of a female companion to nurrish him in his old age."

April 13, 1846

Life would not be happy for Graham during the next few years. The first event that would leave a dramatic impact on his life was the murder of his longtime partner and the man Graham had called son many times, Henry Naile. The Naile - Williams feud arose over ownership of a sawmill located at Zayante Creek.

Thomas O. Larkin wrote about the murder of Naile on April 13, 1846, "For some weeks the Williams and Graham & Naile have had a dispute respecting the mill. On Saturday the 11, Williams & Naile met at St. Cruz with Arbitrators binding themselves under a bond of $2000 each to abide by the decision. During the day (so said) Naile often drew his pistol on James W. and was prevented from firing. On the Ws. leaving the place on horse back, Naile followed, stopt him, pulled off his coat & drew on W. a six Barreled pistol. Mr. Martin prevented him from using it. Naile then and at the mission told Jas. Williams, that if he came that tomorrow he would take his life, calling Witnesses to hear his words, adding that he was not drunk, but cool and sober. Told W. accordingly to bring his rifle. Yesterday all the parties again met at the mission. Williams was there before Naile. When the latter rode up he jump'd off his horse, and under the horse's neck presented his gun, or rifle. Jas. Williams at the moment presented his Rifle and fired. His ball wint thro' Naile breast who immediately fell. Not one word before or afterwards past between them. In 15 minutes W. Gave himself up to me, requesting a trial for murder. I called at the moment on the Alcalde and took W. to the prison, where he is now confined. Should the case prove as he represented it, he will have but little trouble. They say on Saturday the Alcalde at Sta. Cruz tried to curb Naile, and from the bad language on the latter, had to let him alone."

Many leading citizens in the Monterey Bay Region voiced their outrage of the slaying of Henry Naile, Dr. John Marsh wrote on April 15, " the representative of our Country here.....We have just learned of the deepest regret that Mr. Henry Naile, a respectable American citizen was yesterday murdered at Sta Cruz by another American. In consequence of the well known laxity & want of energy in the laws of the county we are apprehensive that the murderer will go unpunished without you intervention in this affair; we therefor respectfully request you to take such steps as you may deem most likely to ensure the due execution of justice..."

On board the USS Portsmouth, an assistant surgeon, Dr. Marius Duvall wrote in his journal on April 30, "We stopped at the prison, to see Mr. Williams(an American) who was confined for killing a Mr. Nail (also an American). self-defense: from that of Mr. Graham, the father by adoption of Mr. Nail, the act was a cold blooded murder, done under the most aggravating circumstances. The case is before the Alcalde who has not yet given his decision upon it."

April 12, 1846

James Williams is released due to the authorities agreeing that the man had fired in self defense, Henry Naile was dead, Graham was devastated, however, it turned out that Naile had signed over his rights to the Zayante property, so there was some consolation for the mourning Graham. During his life, Williams would eventually own 70 acres of Santa Cruz City land, starting at Laurel Street and continuing on to Walnut.

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