Article image
Article image
Article image
Article image
Article image
Article image
This article displays in one automatically-generated column. View the full page to see article in its original form.

A STRANGE CHARACTER.

Emperor Norton : his Sudden Death in San Francisco. Antecedents of the Dead Emperor s Born in England— Onoe a Wealthy Merchant— His Hallucination. Emperor Norton, whose well-known form has, been an object of curiosity to all strangers landing in San Francisco, died suddenly, at 8,15 o'clock Thursday night, on the southeast corner of Oalifornia and Dupont streets, in that city. At the time mentioned he was walking leisurely along the latter thoroughfare, when he was seen to stop and drop suddenly to the sidewalk. William Proll, who was within a few paces behind him, went to his assistance, and raised him to a sitting posture. Other kind hands lent their assistance, and the stricken Emperor was provided with a seat and given such treatment as the time and place afforded. From the time he was raised from (the ground he remained speechless and unconscious, and in ten minutes afterwards, with a deep moan, he died. The coroner was immediately sent for, and the body Boon after sent to the morgue. Upon his person were foundgs2.so in gold, $3 in Bilver, and a five-franc silver piece of the issue of 1828, and also fictitious telegrams from contemporaneous potentates, all written on genuine telegraphic blanks, and delivered to him probably by persons who meant Norton no harm, and did him none by catering in good humour to his harmless delusion. BIOGRAPHY 01? DECEASED. Joshua A. Norloa was born in London, England, on the 4th day of February, 1817. Ho was of Jewish parentage, and inherited all the shrewd characteristics of his race, He oame to San Francisco in November, 1848, from Valparaiso, Chili, whore he arrived but a short time before from Cape Town, South Africa. But little is known of his early life except what has been gathered from him at different times. He is remembered by the early pioneers as having been a shrewd, safe,, and prosperous man, possessing more than ordinary intelligence, fertile of resource and enterprise. His business pursuits were varied. At one time he was buying partner for three or four mercantile houses in the interior of the State, and in this capacity manifested great business ability. Then he engagedin the real estate business, in whioh he continued, with apparent prosperity, a number of years. While in this business he became possessed of much valuable real estate, and judging by the frequent occurrence of his name on. the city and county records, and the monetary values represented, he was one of the largest land speculators in those' early times. Ifc appeared that his business career culminated in the grand effort to get a " corner " on rice, which staple was, some fourteen or sixteen years ago, a favourite article for speculation. He purchased all that was in the city, and, as rumor has it, all that he could ascertain was in transit, paying large prices, with a view of controlling a future market. Of Macondray and Co. he bought a large cargo, to arrive, agreeing to pay 15 cents per pound, or thereabouts. Othe shipments, however, that he knew net of were reported in the meantime, and upon the arrival of Macondray and Co.'s cargo the market was so "flat " that he could not meet his contract, and a protracted lawsuit followed, during which the mania that he was "Emperor" first became manifest. He said that he proposed to compromise the matter with Messrs Macondray and Co. by marrying Mr Maoondray'a daughter and investing her with the royal title of Empress. HIS HALLUCINATION was that he was Emperor of Oalifornia and Protector of Mexico, In accordance with this belief, his sole purpose in life was to properly administer to his subjects, and do everything possible for the promotion of j prosperity and the advancement of his dominions. His diplomatic relations with other countries were not lost sight of, and he profited by closely observing the progress or downfall of other -nations, using their experience in his home policy. He claimed to have reconciled the French and Prussians, and to have brought about the peace that was established between them at the close of the Franco-Prussian war. He also claimed that the rebellion was terminated through his intercession, and that the success attending the reconstruction of the Union was duo in a great part to his wise counsel. The great resources of California were his pride. San Franoisoo, his favourite city, he called "The Queen of th© Pacific."- By proclamations (whioh, sometimes, to humor his whim, were published in the city press) he communicated to hie subjects his ideas of progress and justice. He never failed to attach his signature, with the imperial seal, " Norton I, Emperor of California and Proteotor of Mexico, Dei graoia." Thus from day to day he busied himjself with the affairs of his empire, Hjs belief thai;

he ruled most royally was, strengthened by the homage that all showed him. HIS STYLE OF DRESS. He could readily be recognised by hia dress, as he paid no j attention whatever to the varying fashion. His coat was navy blue, out in military style, and lavishly trimmed with brass buttons. On the shoulders were heavy epaulets, usually tarnished with exposure to the weather. In hia hat there always waved a plume ef feathers. He alwayß wore a button-hole flower. He usually carried a cane, whidh represented a snake wound round a limb, of which he was very proud, as he had frequently created a sensation in the houses of the Legislature, by setting the rattle in motion. He was a good conversationalist, and having free access to all the libraries and reading-rooms, kept well posted on current topics. He talked readily upon any subject. He was more familiar with history than the ordinary citizen. His scientific knowledge, though sometimes mixed, was considerable. He attended any of the theatres where he pleased. He journeyed by rail and other public conveyances without expense. He was on familiar terms with all officials, high and low, feeling that they were merely his favoured subjects. , He waa perfectly harmless, and at times jocular and humorous. His living was very inexpensive. He occupied a cheap room and lived at cheap restaurants. He was temperate in habits. When he wished money he would sign one of the Imperial drafts, and presenting it to an acquaintance who humoured his delusion, get it cashed. He kept a large quantity of theße drafts on hand. The following i* a copy of what has long been known in San Eranoisco as the Emperor's porip : — No. 3043— United States.— The Imperial Govern, ment of Norton I promises to pay the holder hereof the sum of Fifty Cents in tho year 1889, with interest at 4 per cent, per annum from date, the principal and interest to be convertible, at the option of the holder, at maturity, into twenty-years & per cent. Bonds, or payable in Gold Coin. Given under our Royal hand and seal, this Bth day of January, 1880. NORTON I, Emperor. Norton's home. The Emperor had occupied a room In the Enreka Lodging-house, on Commercial street, San Francisco, for the past 17 years. He paid his room rent— so cents— every night before retiring. He has never failed in this slnoe he first began to frequent the house. When a reporter on Thursday night) visited the apartment occupied by the de< oeased Emperor for so many years, the. room was in the same condition in which it, had been left by him a few hours before. It is about nine by five feet in size, and has one small- window fronting on Commercial street. On the walls were a number of lithographs and photographic representations of some of his royal equals, including Queen Emma, of the Sandwioh Islands, and one of the Empress Eugenic when she was young and fair. Suspended from a nail on one side was hia sabre with his silk sash and its rich tassel pendants ; opposite to these were a number of military caps, hats, and chapeaux, with vari-oolouied feather adornments; in one corner was a group of walking-atickß, the handles oarved in fantastic shapes, and several of them adorned with silver plates, on which were engraved his name and title ; in another oor« ncr was the Chinese umbrella which he occasionally carried on rainy days. This was the instrument with which he broke a large pane of glass in a Kearny street store. Theoauso of this display of Imperial wrath was that a local caricaturist had a short time before piotured a lunch table, on one side of whioh stood Emperor Norton, and on the other, perched upon his hind legs, with one eye cast upon his Imperial neighbour, and the other resting upon Mb fore paws, in which he held a beef sandwioh, was a notorious dog known as Bnmmer, the companion of Lazarus, whioh had been placed in the window. This tatire on his free lunoh habits so excited the Emperor that he raised his umbrella and demolished the glass. Norton was a member of the Masonio Order, belonging to Occidental lodge, F. and A. M., San Francisco. As he' wa,s In good standing up to the time of the appearanoe of his malady, his brethren have since then oontrlbuted a regular stipend to his support. He is dead, and no oitizen of San Francisco could have been taken away who would be more generally missed than Joshua A. Norton, alias Norton I, Emperor, — San Francisco Record- Union.

This article text was automatically generated and may include errors. View the full page to see article in its original form.
Permanent link to this item

https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/OW18800410.2.105

Bibliographic details

A STRANGE CHARACTER., Otago Witness, Issue 1482, 10 April 1880

Word Count
1,581

A STRANGE CHARACTER. Otago Witness, Issue 1482, 10 April 1880

Working