CASCLARA-L ArchivesArchiver > CASCLARA > 2005-04 > 1112364414
From: carolyn <>
Subject: MASS MURDER-------SANTA CLARA 1896- DUNHAM
Date: Fri, 01 Apr 2005 06:06:54 -0800
The query below has just been added to the Santa Clara Website............
Seek information from the murder of the DUNHAM family in Santa Clara County in 1896. Wish to correspond with any
knowledgable researcher. Have particular interest in one
William HATFIELD who was extradited from Texas in 1908
by Santa Clara Sheriff Langford. HATFIELD was thought to be Jim DUNHAM the murderer of his family. Allen Bristow,
Gleneden Beach, OR.
The San Jose Merc does not mention the name of Mr. Hatfield in its 1996 article...........If anyone has any information on Mr. HATFIELD, please let us know... Carolyn
Saturday, 23 May 1896
Santa Clara Valley, California, USA
Published on 28 May 1996, SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS
GRIM ANNIVERSARY OF EARLY MASS MURDER
EVERYBODY IN THE VALLEY KNEW WHO DID IT, BUT THE SUSPECT ESCAPED
AND WAS NEVER FOUND
INCREDULOUS residents of the peaceful Santa Clara Valley woke to the
horror of their first mass murder 100 years ago, May 26, 1896.
The ax and gun slaughter of six came more than 90 years before the next
mass murder here: the 1988 killings of seven men and women at ESL in
Sunnyvale. In that one, the accused, Richard Wade Farley, was convicted.
In the 1896 massacre, the suspect got away.
Although James C. Dunham was never apprehended and tried, local
residents convicted him of first-degree murder in the court of public
opinion. And the coroner's jury investigating the deaths declared just
two days after the killings that they were committed by ''one James C.
Dunham, with malice aforethought.''
Dunham killed his wife, Hattie, 25, her mother, Ada McGlincy, 53, her
stepfather, Richard P. McGlincy, 56, her brother, James K. Wells, 22,
and two of the hired help, Robert Briscoe, 50, and Minnie Shesler, 28.
The slayings occurred at the McGlincy home in what is now Campbell.
There were witnesses to at least part of the carnage.
Dunham spared his infant son, then just 3 weeks old. The baby was
adopted by relatives in San Francisco and given the name Percy Osborne
Brewer. Dunham never tried to contact his son. The child did inherit his
There was intense speculation over why Dunham wielded the ax and the
guns, a .38-caliber revolver and a .45-caliber pistol. One man, George
Whipple, who was a neighbor of the McGlincys, was interviewed in 1947 at
the age of 87. He had a theory about why it happened based on his
knowledge of the household and the accumulation of neighborhood gossip
that never reached the authorities.
The killings, according to Whipple, were due to mother-in-law trouble.
Ada McGlincy, aided by her son and her husband, was bent on breaking up
the couple. ''The way they treated Dunham was something terrible,''
Whipple said in the interview.
It was known that Ada McGlincy was keeping notes, apparently as evidence
for a divorce suit. Whipple, who saw them, said the complaints against
Dunham were ''trifling.''
Another note was found after the killings. It was signed Hattie and
read, ''Please say goodbye for me to my dear mother, brother and
She might have been going off with Dunham. Possibly, Dunham killed her
accidentally, perhaps seizing her during a quarrel. That is part of
After that, the young man, a student at Santa Clara University,
apparently went berserk and killed the others. The idea that Dunham was
crazed when he was killing was popular. Even his brother, who had once
been engaged to marry Hattie, thought him insane.
Posse found horse
When he'd killed the six, Dunham took his brother-in-law's horse and
rode off. He was next seen asking for food at Smiths Creek Hotel on
Mount Hamilton. A huge posse was mounted and it found the horse Dunham
used, but no Dunham.
Many believed he'd either committed suicide or starved to death on the
mountain. Others thought he might have taken off on his bike. He was
considered an excellent cyclist and had recently bought a used bike and
outfitted it with wide tires and other equipment to make it suitable for
traveling in the mountains.
Over the years, there were many reported sightings of Dunham or possibly
his bones. He could have been the ''wild man'' roaming the hills near
Dulzura, a tiny town near the Mexican border, southeast of San Diego. He
might have been part of a Yankee guerrilla gang in Mexico; at least such
a gang reportedly had a member named James Dunham who had murdered his
There were many investigations of bones, mostly on Mount Hamilton.
Authorities had a detailed description of Dunham and his teeth, figuring
they could identify the man if the right skeleton ever turned up.
The last reported possibility were some bones discovered on Mount
Hamilton in 1953. Investigators thought they looked more like cattle
bones than human ones.
While Dunham never was found, the McGlincy house survived well into this
century at the end of a long driveway that is now McGlincey Lane.
Kids who went there reported it was haunted.
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