Today in Texas History: French Expedition Fizzles in El Paso
Today in Texas History
September 18th, 1850: French Expedition Fizzles in El Paso
On this day in 1850, the French Expedition to California fell apart at El Paso. The expedition was organized by fraudulent promoter Parker H. French in New York. French promised “fast and safe” passage to the California gold fields for $250 a passenger. A total of 180 passengers and workers signed up; the workers got a discounted fare. The group sailed from New York on May 13, 1850, stopped for a week in New Orleans, and landed at Port Lavaca, Texas. After a difficult overland journey, they arrived at Franklin (El Paso) on September 18. Suspecting fraud, the men mutinied and opened French’s safe, only to find it empty. French escaped across the Rio Grande into Mexico. During the Civil War he was arrested in Connecticut. No record exists of his death.
Hello, my name is Joe Goodbody, author of the historical biography “KENTUCKY BARRACUDA: Parker Hardin French (1826-1878) the subtitle is: The Notorious Scoundrel and Delightful rogue of Antebellum and Civil War America. My book is the definitive biography of Parker French’s entire life to include multiple scams, adventures and capers. He tormented everyone from Presidents on down, to include tycoons, politicians, military officers and common citizens alike. He died in his bed on June 18,1878 from complications of rheumatism, malaria, and probable alcoholism. He had been reported killed 5 times before…twice executed in Mexico, once by hanging once by firing squad; twice in gunfights; and, once in Nicaragua. If your members are interested, the book is available on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle. The biography was nominated by the Virginia Library Association as the non-fiction book of the year and will soon be featured on the Podcast Civil War Talk Radio hosted by East Carolina University. My Great Grandfather was one of those swindled on French’s ill fated gold rush expedition through Texas.