AH YOU (d. 1884), Chinese cook on Santa Rosa Island killed on June 30, 1884 by island owner, A. P. More. According to various accounts, when the schooner Santa Rosa was about to leave the wharf at Santa Rosa Island, an altercation took place between A. P. More and Ah You who had been employed on the island as a cook for about 17 months. The Chinaman complained of being sick and wanted to come to the mainland, but Mr. More refused to let him go aboard the schooner. The Chinaman persisted in attempting to force his way on the boat, when a dispute arose which ended in the drawing of weapons and resulted in Mr. More’s shooting the Chinaman through the head with a pistol, inflicting a fatal wound. Following an 18-month long trial, socially prominent More was acquitted of all charges due to the fact that the murder had taken place over water where legal jurisdiction was in question. More owned Santa Rosa Island from 1861 to 1893.
» Allen, K. B. The Murder of Ah You (pp. 53-57) in Santa Cruz Island Foundation Occasional Paper #7, 1996; More, Alexander P.
In the News~
June 30, 1884 [SBDI]: “Saturday about 11 o’clock A.M. as the schooner was leaving Santa Rosa Island for this place, a Chinaman assaulted A. P. More with a butcher knife in his hand, and Mr. More shot him. The Chinaman died this morning. Mr. More came over to this place and gave himself up to the Sheriff. His examination will take place tomorrow at 10 A.M.”
July 1, 1884 [SBDI]: “The Coroner’s inquest. The inquest was held before Justice Haverly, acting as Coroner... The following testimony was elicited: Dr. S. B. P. Knox…; Dr. H. N. Bradshaw…; Harry Stoddard…; A. H. Emigh…; Ah Lin…; Dr. Winchester…; Captain Samuel Burtis…; Ira A. Thompson…; Abram Ayala…; J. J. Calderon…; J. J. Calderon, Sr….; Clemente Espinosa… More was then brought before Judge Ord, who admitted him to bail in the sum of $15,000, to await examination…”
July 1, 1884 [SBWP]: “Yesterday, Sunday morning as the schooner Santa Rosa was about to leave the wharf at Santa Rosa Island, an altercation took place between Mr. A. P. More and a Chinaman by the name of Ah You, who had been employed on the island as a cook for about 16 months... Mr. More refused to let him go aboard the schooner. The Chinaman persisted in attempting to force his way on the boat, when a dispute arose which ended in the drawing of weapons and resulted in Mr. More’s shooting the Chinaman through the head with a pistol, inflicting a fatal wound...”
July 2, 1884 [SDRU]: “Santa Barbara, July 1. At the coroner’s inquest over the body of the Chinaman, Gee [Ah] You, both Dr. Winchester and Dr. Bradshaw, who made the post mortem examination, agree that the Chinaman came to his death from the effects of a pistol shot fired by Alex More. All of the witnesses agree that at the time More fired the shot the Chinaman was advancing upon More in a threatening manner, with a butcher knife in his hand. The jury returned a verdict that the Chinaman had come to his death by the hands of Alexander P. More. There is intense excitement. More was then brought before Judge Ord, who admitted him to bail in the sum of $15,000, to await examination, with Thomas B. Dibblee and Russell Heath as bondsmen. The examination, on the motion of the prosecuting attorney, and by consent, will take place on Monday at 9 o’clock.”
July 4, 1884 [SDRU]: “San Buenaventura, July 3. Santa Rosa Island Homicide. A. P. more, of Oakland, shot and killed a Chinaman at Santa Rosa Island Sunday. The Chinaman had been in his employ on the island for nearly a year and a half and wanted to come home. More refused, and struck the Chinaman twice, when the latter drew a knife to defend himself. More then shot him, the ball entering his brain. In the preliminary examination at Santa Barbara, More was held in $15,000 bail. Much indignation is expressed against More, who is greatly disliked for his overbearing disposition, and who is believed to have been in the fault. The Six Companies have signified their intention to prosecute More to the full extent of the law.”
July 7, 1884 [SBDI]: “Preliminary examination… Dr. H. N. Bradshaw testified… Dr. R. F. Winchester was next sworn… The next witness was a Chinaman, who testified as follows: My name is Ah Lynn [Lin]; am a cook. Knew the dead Chinaman, his name was Ah You. I knew him 13 years… He went to Santa Rosa seventeen months ago… Ah You was about 20 years old… I am a cousin of Ah You… Harry Higgins’ testimony. The admission of this witness’ testimony was objected to by the defense, on account of irrelevancy. Objection overruled. Witness testified as follows: I am a sailor; know More and Ah You. I took the Chinaman over to the island, and remained on the island two weeks; took the Chinaman as cook. After taking him over there, he cooked while sheep shearing was going on; he cooked at More’s residence. He wanted to come back to Santa Barbara. More told me not to take him. I have seen More and the Chinaman having words together; once when I came back from the house saw More’s thumbs bleeding. I worked for More until December last, as Captain of the schooner Santa Rosa. The Chinaman applied for passage every time the schooner was ready to sail. More said the schooner wasn’t in the passenger business; that the Chinaman should go over when he (More) chose to let him. This state of affairs existed up to the time I was discharged from More’s employ, December 1st, 1883. I have never heard anything of the Chinaman since. There are no means of reaching the mainland from Santa Rosa except in More’s schooner.”
July 8, 1884 [SBDP ]: “The trial. Preliminary examination of A. P. More for the killing of Ah You. Yesterday’s session. Justice Ord’s courtroom has been densely crowded from opening to close both yesterday and today, the present trial having attracted general attention… Ah Min sworn and testified through several different interpreters. Had worked on the island for More 17 or 18 years; saw the Chinaman Ah You the morning of the shooting; did not see him have a knife; knew that he carried a sheep knife; recognized the knife produced in court as the one he had seen Ah You have; was at the wharf before the shooting; saw More strike Ah You with a pistol; Ah You was standing at the time… saw no knife; went away before the shooting; did not see Ah You have a knife… W. J. Haverly testified… Clemente Espinosa testified… José Calderon testified… Samuel H. Burtis testified… The court took a recess until 1 o’clock P.M.”
July 9, 1884 [SBDP]: “The trial. Preliminary examination of A. P. More for the killing of Ah You:
Ah Min being recalled testified: I saw Ah You on the wharf after he was shot; got water and helped to wash his face; talked to Ah You but he answered nothing; never heard Ah You say he would kill More if he did not let him come to Santa Barbara; Ah You no more talk after he was shot; did not say anything to any Californians on wharf; all feel bad, no talk. James Gaffney testified that he worked for More 1-1/2 months on the island; went there on December 2, 1883 and knew Ah You; never saw him work with his left hand; thought he would have noticed if he had; while on the island was kicked by a horse; remained there five weeks; came over on first schooner; arriving on the wharf More wanted to pay me; he said he didn’t owe me anything; More sent me to Cook’s to board; left there to go to hospital; gave Cook order on More which he paid; always been treated well enough by More; never wanted to return to island; never had any ill will toward More.
Captain Ellis testified that he was owner of a small vessel, was at Santa Rosa Island last March; stopped there on his way to get a wrecked schooner; talked about it while there; saw Ah You there; saw him also after he was dead; was at the island again in May; More was there both times; did not see Ah You there second time.
Phillip Curran testified that he was a seaman employed on schooner Santa Rosa; knew Ah You; was on the island week ago Sunday; saw More and the Chinaman there; took Thompson aboard the schooner who was ordered by More to bring Chinaman’s things from schooner; the fence prevented me from seeing clearly what was going on the wharf; saw More who was standing near the steps bring his hand down twice in rapid succession as if striking; Ah You was about three feet from More; Chinaman was standing with his hands hanging down by his sides; went about my business and did not pay much attention to what was going on at the wharf; recognize the things brought into court as the ones belonging to Ah You…
José Calderon, through an interpreter testified that he was on the wharf of Santa Rosa Island week ago Sunday; saw More and Ah You there; More was standing near the steps; he told the Chinaman to go away; More went up to the Chinaman, who had his arms folded, and asked him what he had in his hand; Chinaman put his hand on his hip; More took hold of his arm; then Chinaman drew out a knife (identified the one in Court as the same one; Chinaman raised the knife when More hit him with a pistol; Chinaman spoke two or three words and advanced on More, who retreated 7 or 8 feet; and then fired. I did not interfere because it was none of my business; thought from their movements one or the other would be killed; Chinaman had the knife in left hand when I turned him over; More told me to take the knife away from him; Chinaman refused to give it up; I put my foot on the Chinaman’s hand and tried to take away the knife; could not do so, he held it too tight, Ah You did not speak a word while I was trying to take away the knife; Chinaman tried to stick me in the foot with the knife and said: “Me killee you;” Ah Min talked to Ah You and took the knife away from him; he has been in the habit of carrying another knife; did not know of any use he had to carry such a knife; he was employed to do general work; I asked Ah Min what Ah You said to him while he was talking to him; Ah Min said that Ah You said that if More had not killed him he would have killed More; I never heard Ah You say this. Here the court adjourned until 8 o’clock this morning…”
July 9, 1884 [SDRU]: “Santa Barbara. July 8. The Santa Rosa Island tragedy. In the case of the shooting of Ah You, a Chinaman, by A. P. More on Santa Rosa Island, the preliminary examination before Judge Ord was held in the City Hall yesterday and today. After the taking of considerable testimony the prosecution rested, and the court adjourned until tomorrow.”
July 10, 1884 [SBDP]: “In the trial of A. P. More. José Calderon’s testimony continued: After the shooting I was alone with Chinaman, till Ah Min and Santiago returned with water; More was gone two or three minutes; don’t know who helped me to roll Chinaman over; the night before the shooting the Chinaman came to where I was sleeping, lit the candle and said in Spanish that he would go to Santa Barbara the next day if More would let him or not. A. P. More was sworn and testified as follows: On the morning of the occurrence got on my horse and went down to the wharf about 7 o’clock; I saw the Chinaman there hid in a box, but did not say anything to him; went back to the house, attended to some matters, and then went to the wharf again with An Min; Ah You was there standing near the crane with arms folded; ordered the men to bring the Chinaman’s things from the boat; Chinaman was standing back of me; told him to go to the house, that he could not go over this trip; he said he would go; I thought he had a knife in his hand; took hold of his arm and told him to give up the knife; he then drew his knife and I drew my revolver and hit him on the head; he drew his knife and came towards me; I retreated backwards about 15 steps; told the Chinaman to stop, he said “Me no care, me stick you.” He was advancing on me when I fired; he looked like an assassin; I believe he would have killed me if I had not shot him; I did not want the Chinaman to go over on that schooner as I had missed some things I suspected him of taking; and wanted first to make out the accounts between us; never heard of his making any threats against me; had ordered him not to carry a knife; he did not have any use for one; after the shooting, my first impression was to leave him there; but thought he might die and ordered him put aboard; the Captain did as I directed; after we arrived here I ordered a surgeon to go to the schooner and attend to him; directed the men on the boat to take care of him, and did so myself; told Long Hop to go and get a wagon and bring him up which he did. Cross examined. Ah You came to the island in May 1883; I owed him something at the time of the shooting; don’t know how much. Adjourned until 8 o’clock this morning. Mr. More was called and produced the pistol he used in shooting Ah You and testified that there was a boathouse on the island full of boats—sailing boats—a letter was produced by the defendant, but was not admitted as testimony. A motion was made by the defendant’s counsel to dismiss the charges on the following grounds: lst that the killing did not occur in this county, therefore the Court has no jurisdiction; 2nd that the killing was done in self defense. After conclusion of the testimony, the Court was addressed by Mr. Chittenden, counsel for the defense, in an able and eloquent plea. District attorney J. J. Boyce followed with a brilliant and most forcible argument. Mr. McNulta made the closing speech, an exhaustive and logical effort lasting a couple of hours. After the arguments closed, the Court overruled the motion and held the defendant to answer in the Superior Court to the charge of manslaughter, and released him on a bond in the sum of $50,000.”
July 10, 1884 [SBDI]: “Preliminary examination… My name is Alex P. More. I reside in San Francisco; am a ranchero and defendant in this case. On the morning of June 30, Sunday, I went down to the wharf 9 (on Santa Rosa Island) about 7:30. I saw this Chinaman hid in a dry goods box on the end of the wharf. I did not say anything to him, but went back to the house. I attended to some things there; then when the people brought the baggage down I came down and saw this Chinaman again, outside, about 30 feet from the end of the wharf, toward the crane, that is, the place where they lower goods down into the boat or vessel. The Chinaman stood there with his arms folded across his breast in a sulky sort of way. I did not say anything to him at that time, but gave some directions about things about the crane… I turned around and did not like his movements nor actions, and told him to stand back and I looked to see where the others were and saw the way was clear. I told him to stop as he was coming very rapidly. He did not stop and I fired and he fell with his face down…”
July 10, 1884 [SDU]: “Santa Barbara. July 9. The session of the Police Court was entirely taken up today with the testimony of Alexander P. More, who is charged with the killing of Ah You, a Chinaman on Santa Rosa Island. His evidence was completely in the line of self-defense. The case will close tomorrow.”
December 24, 1884 [SBDI]: “Judge Hatch today filed his opinion in the case of the People vs. A. P. More, setting aside the information filed by the District Attorney; wherein he holds that the water surrounding the islands belonging to Santa are not within the territorial jurisdiction of the county.”
December 26, 1884 [SBDI]: “In the Superior Court, Santa Barbara… The People vs. A. P. More: The information in this case charges the defendant, A. P. More, with the crime of manslaughter, in the killing of one Ah You. The defendant moves the court to set aside the information upon two grounds: First, the evidence shows no reasonable or probable cause for holding the defendant to answer. Second, the Police Judge had no jurisdiction of the alleged offense for which the defendant was held to answer, and that this court has no jurisdiction to try such a cause. The killing of the deceased Ah You by the defendant, was admitted on the preliminary examination. The point is therefore disposed of by the Supreme Court… The reason assigned is that the offense was committed without the County of Santa Barbara. The facts are admitted to be these. The place where the fatal shot was fired, from which Ah You died, was on the wharf running out seaward from Santa Rosa Island three hundred feet below low water mark, and therefore not within this County, as constituted, bounded and described by sec. 3946 of the Political Code of this State… It therefore follows that Police Judge had no jurisdiction of the offense, neither has this court. The motion is granted. Dated December 24, 1884. D. P. Hatch, Judge.”
January 13, 1887 [SBDP]: “The Supreme Court has taken under advisement the appeal in the case of the People versus Alexander P. More, after arguments made by District Attorney J. J. Boyce for the People and R. B. Canfield for the defendant. More killed a Chinaman on Santa Rosa Island on the 29th of June 1884. In June of last year Judge Hatch of Santa Barbara dismissed the case. The arguments today were upon the motion to set aside the order of Judge Hatch.”
December 26, 1901 [SBWP]: “