Gun-slinging gal immortalized at golf course

Remains of cabin preserved at second tee at Serrano
By: Art Garcia Telegraph Correspondent
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The foothills of the western slope of the Sierra are filled with history, much of it involving badlands and bad men who robbed banks, stole horses and ended arguments with guns — except for one local lady. Christine “Crissy” Cobb is a legend who made her mark from a small 1860s ranch complex that served as her headquarters. The foundation remains of the main cabin have been preserved at what’s now the second tee at Serrano Country Club in El Dorado Hills. “She was a real interesting character,” said Melinda Peak, president of Peak & Associates, an El Dorado Hills firm that does culture research management. She said Ms. Cobb lived with four men in the small stone cabin. A plaque marks the spot that was the home of “Clarksville area business woman Christiana Cobb.” It says she lived there “from at least 1859 until her death from a gunshot wound in November 1886. A person of low repute, she was under indictment for assault to commit murder at the time of her death,” the memorial states. A good story but not entirely true, according to Peak, who provided information on Cobb but says someone at Parker Development, developer of Serrano, stretched the truth to fetch a more colorful fiction. Cobb indeed died near Clarksville three weeks after being shot in the stomach. She had been indicted on June 30, 1866, on two counts of grand larceny and robbery. In July, she pleaded not guilty to both charges and was released on one and found not guilty on the other. Two weeks before she was shot, Cobb’s brother, John, and her associate, Charles Upton, were indicted for assault with intent to commit murder. The Folsom Telegraph reported on Oct. 27, 1866, that “a woman named Cobb was shot in the abdomen with coarse shot by a man named O’Neil ... and fatally injured. It is said that a man who was with Mrs. Cobb fired at O’Neil several times. The parties bear a very bad reputation in the neighborhood. O’Neil has not been apprehended. We could gather no further particulars.” On the day after the shooting, Upton changed his plea to guilty and was sentenced to three years in the state penitentiary. John Cobb pled not guilty to the murder charge and the case ended in a hung jury. A new jury found him guilty of assault and he was fined $200. He was unable to pay so was confined to the county jail, with $2 credited for each day served. Peak, whose firm does archeology and history research, wrote about “Crissy” Cobb in the 1980s when she was preparing the overview of the Serrano project before the first shovel of dirt was turned. She recorded her findings about the Cobb cabin and wrote an excavation report. Her digging led Peak to suspect Cobb “ran with a gang of horse thieves. I found reference to them being arrested in Colusa County for stealing horses.” Peak reviewed Cobb’s probate records and found there was a well at Cobb’s cabin and perhaps another cabin. The stone cabin remains are small, rectangular in shape and measure 1.55 meters by 2.5 meters. To pay her debts and settle her estate, Cobb’s real estate was sold at public auction in Clarksville, including the 320-acre Cobb Ranch. All of Cobb’s personal possessions were appraised and auctioned. She had more than $400 in personal property, including farm equipment, tools and hardware, plus finer things, such as silk dresses, ivory fans, a mirror, rouge, jewelry, fur cuffs and a lady’s sidesaddle. Cobb was buried in the New Halvitia cemetery in Sacramento, with its occupants later moved to the city cemetery to make room for construction of a junior high school in the 1950s. Court records don’t exist detailing the victims of various crimes committed by the Cobbs and their associates. “The shooting of ‘Crissy’ Cobb may have been the result of a long-standing feud or because of some financial misdealings,” Peak wrote. “The shooting might have been a payback for the assault that John Cobb committed. In any event, the incidents leading up to Crissy’s murder reflect the decline of the Clarksville region.”