Bridgeport in Mono County, California — The American West (Pacific Coastal)
Inscription. On this site, Bridgeport's most sensational court trial occurred June 9th, 1891. Ah Quong Tai, a local Chinese businessman accused of the cannibalistic murder of Poker Tom, a well known Paiute Indian, appeared in court defended by two attorneys, J.C. Murphy and W.O. Parker. Reportedly, several hundred people gathered around the Bridgeport Justice Court to observe this much anticipated trial. Although Deputy District Attorney Hayes made a strong case, Judge T. Fales ruled there was insufficient evidence to charge Tai with murder due to lack of witnesses, physical evidence and the body could not be identified. As Tai was being released, he met his fate, ironically no charges were filed in the death of Tai due to the lack of witnesses, physical evidence, and the body could not be identified. Although this is only a footnote in California Case Law, it is a noteworthy example of the 1800's frontier justice.
By Lester J Letson, September 10, 2010
1. Frontier Justice Marker
On the front of Ken's Sporting Goods brick building.
Erected 2009 by Bodie Chapter 64, E Clampus Vitus.
Marker series. This marker is included in the E Clampus Vitus marker series.
Location. 38° 15.35′ N, 119° 13.667′ W. Marker is in Bridgeport, California, in Mono County. Marker is at the intersection of Main Street and Sinclair Street, on the
right when traveling west on Main Street. Click for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 258 Main Street, Bridgeport CA 93517, United States of America.
By Unknown, circa about 1966
2. Kens Sporting Goods
A picture of Ken's Sporting Goods from about 1966 based on the Thunderbird in the lower left of the picture. Ken's has been in the same location in Bridgeport since 1931. The plaque was mounted 43 years after this picture and would be located just behind the man crossing the street. The upstairs of the brick building was used as the Justice Court in 1891 when the Tai hearing was held.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. "Bridgeport Inn" (within shouting distance of this marker); "The Irwin" (within shouting distance of this marker); Mono County Court House (within shouting distance of this marker); Bridgeport Chronicle-Union (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Old County Jail (about 400 feet away); Mono County Memorial Hall (about 500 feet away); Bridgeport Elementary School (approx. 0.2 miles away); First Bridgeport Courthouse (approx. ¼ mile away). Click for a list of all markers in Bridgeport.
More about this marker. The marker is mounted on the front of Ken's Sporting Goods,the brick building painted dark red. Ken's Sporting Goods sits between the Bridgeport Courthouse and the Bridgeport General Store on Main Street.
This building was known as The Brick Saloon in 1891.
Regarding Frontier Justice. Several hundred angry and armed Piute Indians threatened to burn down the town if anyone interfered took custody of Tai in front of the saloon. They dragged him away and killed him. Tai was buried in Sinnamon's field, but a month later his long
braided queue was brought to local rancher "By Day" by his dog. The queue of Ah Quong Tai was put on display in the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco by lawyer W. H Metson. It has since disappeared.
By Lester J Letson, September 10, 2010
3. Frontier Justice Marker
Also see . . . The By Day Legacy. A Mono County Historical Society newsletter article detailing the Day Family. It describes the trial and the finding of Ah Quong Tai's queue by Day's dog. (Submitted on November 7, 2010.)
Categories. • Asian Americans • Native Americans •
Mono County Historical Society, circa abt 1890
4. Ah Quong Tai
A picture of local merchant Ah Quong Tai, from the Mono County Historical Society newsletter.
Mono County Historical Society, circa 1890
5. The Brick Saloon
In 1891, hearings were held in this building on the second floor above "The Brick Saloon" in Bridgeport. The hearing for Ah Quong Tai was held in this building, now part of Ken's Sporting Goods. The picture is from a Mono County Historical Society newsletter.
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Lester J Letson of Fresno, California. This page has been viewed 1,099 times since then and 100 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on , by Lester J Letson of Fresno, California. • Syd Whittle was the editor who published this page. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.