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 19 - Divorce Court

May, 1851
Isaac Graham locates Catherine, and loudly demanded from outside her temporary residence, telling her that if she failed to open the door and allow him to enter, he would simply break the door in. Catherine, knowing that her husband was indeed serious about his promise, allowed him to enter the home.

Isaac entered, and gathered his children about him and demanded of Catherine to hand over the stolen gold. Catherine refused, however, his daughter Matilda Jane came to her father's defense and told him that the gold was hidden in the stove, so it was that Isaac Graham recovered his children and $3000 worth of gold and headed back to Santa Cruz. It is unclear here if he was ecstatic about the recovery, or not? If indeed he was, Isaac would receive just another, in many shocks he received during his 51-years.

On April 22, 1851
While Isaac Graham was getting very close to his objective, Catherine in Oregon, Jesse Graham had his own way of taking care of the matter regarding the feud between the Graham's and the Bennett's. He shot and killed her brother Dennis Bennett, as well as wounding her mother. Jesse Graham fled the county with a $3000 price tag on his head and would not be apprehended until another thirty-eight-years, when he would face his accusers as an aged man, in a very public Santa Cruz murder trial. (See last page Part 21)

July 22, 1851
Before Judge Craven P. Hester, Isaac Graham petitions, a writ of habeas corpus, that his wife Catherine was, "living in a state of adultery with one B. B. Rodgers in the state of Oregon." Isaac Graham went on to accuse Catherine of leaving him on June 17, to live with another man, Daniel Stewart. Isaac then explained to the judge that his sole purpose in retrieving his children, was so that he could insure their education and raise them to become outstanding citizens, pointing out to the magistrate that he was rescuing them from, "the pernicious example of an abandoned mother."

Catherine even wrote to a San Francisco newspaper regarding the death of their child and Isaac Graham, "I say he murdered it, because it was abuse I received from him. His hands was its death," clearly written with the intention of trying to convince some of those in the public siding with Isaac to her side of the story.

July 23, 1851
Judge Hester ruled temporarily in favor of Catherine receiving temporary custody of the children. However, Isaac was granted visitation rights with the children, and Catherine was ordered to put up a $5000 bond with the court to ensure her compliance in its order for her not to leave the court's jurisdiction with the children. Isaac had successfully argued to the Judge that he needed more time in order to gather evidence of Catherine's adultery while residing in Oregon. The Judge informed Catherine and Isaac, that the case would be continued during the fall session of court.

October 9, 1851
Catherine files another suit against him, charging that her ex-husband, Isaac Graham, assaulted, and ruined her good name. Catherine was asking for $20.000 in damages. Isaac chose attorney Durrel S. Gregory to represent him. Then ten days later, Isaac Graham legally denied the charge put forth by his former wife.

It is pertinent to point out that the three cases filed regarding Catherine Bennett and Isaac Graham has, over the years, been often combined, since a lot of the subject matter regarding the suits and other actions, mostly regarded the same facts. In fact, often lost in the recording of these curious events, is the fact that Isaac himself, also filed a counter suit against Catherine, after she filed the assault and damage suit against him. His suit was filed to gain custody of their children to Judge Theron R. Lee, a probate Judge.

Catherine, a month after gaining custody of the children, traveled to San Francisco on a business trip, leaving the care of the children in the hands of mother Bennett. Mother Bennett in turn, decided to join her daughter there, and planned to leave the children in Thomas W. Wrights care.

Isaac, having heard about this plan, and realizing that this could be a plan to take the children out of Santa Cruz County jurisdiction, got a court order and with the sheriff beside him, gathered the children and headed back to the Natividad ranch. And then again, more complaints were filled between the Graham's and the Bennett's with the Third District Court.

November 13, 1851
Through his attorney, Isaac provided a second petition regarding Catherine's character to the Clerk of the Santa Cruz County Probate Court, Peter Tracy, on November 13, 1851.

". . . Isaac Graham represents and vows that the said Tallatha C. Bennett is a woman of bad reputation entirely wanting in moral character and destitute of every quality of a mother, with bad associations, loose and abandoned in her mode & habits of life, unfit and injurious in every way as a guardian or example and especially so to female minors. And your petitioner in support of this declaration alleges & vows that the said Tallatha C. Bennett has by her own confession to your deponent boastingly acknowledged that she committed willfully a great crime, to wit the crime of grand larceny by purloining from the trunk of your deponent many thousands of dollars: and this to your petitioner avers that he has been credibly informed and verily believes, she has often acknowledged to others and exhibited the grossest abandonment and recklessness of character.

"And your petitioner avers that the said Tallatha C. Bennett did on the 31st day of March A.D. 1850 clandestinely leave this country for Oregon Territory taking with her the said minor children and also a large amount of money, the property of your petitioner, and lived in said Territory of Oregon under assumed names, to wit, the name of Mrs. Rodgers and Mrs. Stewart and did also in said Oregon live in open adultery to her own great scandal and to the injury of the said children; Minors: That having spent, lost or been defrauded by some of her paramours of the money purloined from deponent & taken by her to Oregon he feeling a natural interest and deep solitude in their welfare and desiring as he now does support, educate and provide for all their physical and moral wants. ."

Graham's lawyer then again stated in the document that he was afraid that Catherine had, "designs and is now contemplating another removal from the county to said territory of Oregon for the sole purpose of taking said children out of the jurisdiction of the court."

Catherine did not sit back and take these accusations Isaac made lightly. She to hired an attorney. And in turn replied with a brief which she emphatically denied that she led an immoral life while in Oregon, she also explained to the judge that she felt she was entitled the money she took, then explained to the Judge her account of her leaving Santa Cruz.

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