William H Phoenix

  • Birth 1823 New York, USA
  • Death 12 Aug 1855 California, USA
  • Burial Sonora, Tuolumne County, California, USA
  • Memorial ID 116783551

U.S. Census records of 1850 show that Sheriff William H. Phoenix was born in 1823, in New York. I am unsure as to when he came to California, or why, but it is recorded that he became Amador County's very first Sheriff in 1854. Sadly, Phoenix was only in office about a year before he died.

Sheriff Phoenix died on August 12th, 1855 in the line of duty while attempting to apprehend the bandits responsible for the Rancheria Massacre in Amador County in August of 1855. The History of Amador County states that he was buried by the Masonic Order at Sonora. He was only 32 years old at the time of his death. He was said to be "open-hearted, holding malice to no one, and was universally esteemed."

It was also mentioned that he was in poor health at the time of the hunt for the bandits and that he was told to rest upon reaching Jackson earlier in the trip. Phoenix refused to rest, stating that his presence was needed due to the "disturbed condition of the County" and that if he declined going after the criminals that he knew his courage would have been called into question.

Out of all the men who took part in hunting down the criminals responsible for the Rancheria Massacre, Sheriff Phoenix is one we should never forget, and always pay our respect to. He gave the ultimate sacrifice, his life in the pursuit of Justice. To date, he is the only Sheriff of Amador County to die in the line of duty.
He was a true hero, if ever there was one.

-from "The Rancheria Massacre", by J'aime Rubio, author (Copyright 2013, Dreaming Casually)


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  • Created by: J. Rubio
  • Added: 8 Sep 2013
  • Find A Grave Memorial 116783551
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for William H Phoenix (1823–12 Aug 1855), Find A Grave Memorial no. 116783551, citing Sonora Masonic Cemetery, Sonora, Tuolumne County, California, USA ; Maintained by J. Rubio (contributor 47507413) .