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Did you ever hear about the shooting in Raymond way back in 1902? Do you know how the whole thing all turned out? Let us know if you do!

History Mystery #91: The Case of the Cold-Blooded Cavalry

Article submitted by Lynn Northrop, Raymond Museum

This letter (see below) was sent to me by ex-Raymondites Bob and Trina Quinn via a friend of theirs. We are hoping someone knows this Ducker name in our area and may have a family history or story about what happened to the cavalry soldiers that perpetrated this crime.

In Raymond’s history we have many tales of soldiers from several different regiments heading to and from Yosemite and running into trouble while they were in Raymond. This story is particularly interesting but we cannot find any further details about it.

We were also curious about the officer that witnessed the shooting but was too afraid to make any arrests. We thought it would be so informative to find out if anyone was ever brought to court over this killing.

Image of a letter sent to History Mystery.


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  1. The following posts were made on SierraNewsOnline Facebook:

    Gary Gragnani
    Madera Mercury, Volume XIX, Number 34, 25 October 1902 — | THE RAYMOND SHOOTING. i facts Brought Out at the Coromer’s inquest* [
    THE RAYMOND SHOOTING. Facts Brought Out at the Coroner’s Inquest.
    From Saturday’s Daily. Coroner Jay held an inquiry last night into the cause of death of Ben Ducker, who was shot by a member of Troop “E,” Third U. S. Cavalry. The following jury was impaneled: W. Downey, T. F. Potter, A. H. Foster, R. R Cleek, W. B. Taylor, E. H. Foster, J. F. Daulton, J. D. Westfall. J. Dennis, M. Hand, J. Danniway, J. Aiken, B. Atkins and other witnesses testified. Nearly all of them agreed as to the trouble in the saloon which led up to the quarrel. Two of the witnesses swore that Ducker discharged his shotgun before the soldiers fired; the others could not distinguish who fired first. The story of the trouble as gleaned from the testimony is as follows: A dozen troopers from Troop E, went into Ducker’s saloon and began drinking heavily. They became noisy and quarrelsome and began to abase the barkeeper. They took a pistol and knife from behind the bar where Ducker kept it. They then flourished the pistol with which they hammered on the bar and pointed the muzzle at Ducker, telling him to set up the drinks or they would harm him. Duniway, the barkeeper, went from behind the bar and the soldiers grabbed him. He managed to get away and one of them followed him. Another soldier picked up a lighted lantern and threw it through the big mirror behind the bar. Mr. Ducker asked Duniway to get his shotgun, but the barkeeper refused. He thought it was better to get the crowd out without more trouble. Ducker started upstairs for his gun, and while he was gone Mrs. Ducker and Duniway got the men outside and locked the door. When the men got across the street, one of them saw Ducker on the porch and called out that if he hadn’t enough they would go and burn the building. Ducker then shot and several shots were fired by the soldiers, one of which struck the deceased in the left arm, passed through his liver and struck the ninth rib. Ducker said “I’m gone” and died in three minutes. Dr. Topp held the autopsy. The body will be embalmed and shipped to Santa Rosa for interment.

    Gary Gragnani
    Madera Mercury, Volume XIX, Number 34, 25 October 1902 — STILL AT LANE. Officers Refuse to Surrender Man Ac/ cased of Raymond Shooting,
    STILL AT LARGE. Officers Refuse to Surrender Man Accused of Raymond Shooting,
    From Monday’s Daily. Constable Tom Leonard, who went to the Columbia ranch with two witnesses to identify the soldiers who, it is believed, were responsible for the death of Ben Ducker, of Raymond, has returned. He came empty handed, as the officers refused to let him take any of the detachment on the identification made by Messrs. Dennis and Skelton. The officer did not think that the identification was complete enough to warrant the constable in taking his men. He stated, however, if a complete identification was made, that he would let the accused soldier be taken at any time. The Captain telegraphed to the Major, who came and gave his opinion. The witnesses came home but Mr. Leonard waited until the Major got there. After consultation the officers decided that the identification was not positive enough, and the constable was obliged to return without his men. It seems strange that the identification was not satisfactory to the officers, for one of the witnesses, Dennis, saw the soldier just after the shooting. He had a pistol in his hand snapping it. Two other soldiers were attempting to take the weapon away from the trooper, who was very much under the influence of liquor. In the struggle for the possession of the weapon, the piece was broken at the breech throwing the empty shells out. In pulling the pistol out of the trooper’s hand, the pistol made a gash across the palm of the soldier’s hand. Mr. Dennis helped to wash the blood off the soldier, and had plenty of time to to get a good look at him. In view of this fact it seems strange that the officers should refuse to let the man go. The matter will not drop here, as sons of the murdered man will take the matter up to headquarters and have it thoroughly investigated. One of the sons of the deceased is the District Attorney of one of the counties in Nevada and will push the matter.

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