Category Archives: Historical

Review of The Hunt for Willie Boy: Indian Hating and Popular Culture

by James A. Sandos and Larry E. Burgess
Linda S. Parker – San Diego State University

Willie Boy - Desparado

Willie Boy – Desparado

The authors have written an enlightening historical ethnography of the Willie Boy episode. By illuminating the frontier myth and Indian-hating inherent in the dominant story of Willie Boy, and using Chemehuevi ethnographic literature and oral traditions, Sandos and Burgess have separated myth from fact. This permitted them to develop a new white version based on historical documents. Importantly, they also present a Chemehuevi version of Willie Boy’s tale. Additionally they present Willie Boy’s own story relating to the episode.

In examining the development of the Willie Boy tale, including the stories told in Harry Lawton’s book Willie Boy: A Desert Manhunt and Abraham Polonsky’s film Tell Them Willie Boy Is Here, Sandos and Burgess show how Indian hating “shaped” the talc into a “triumph” of civilization over savagery. The authors persuasively argue that Willie Boy was not drunk when he killed William Mike. The story of alcohol involvement was accepted because it fit the stereotype of Indians who turned to liquor to solve their problems. Sandos and Burgess also suggest that one of the Indian trackers accidently killed Carlota.

After determining that Willie Boy was a mixed blood Chemehuevi and raised in that culture, the authors were able to use Chemehuevi cultural data and oral tradition to explain certain elements of Willie Boy’s story. Knowledge of Chemehuevi culture and its impact on Willie Boy make his ability to outrun the posse understandable. Sandos and Burgess indicate that bride capture, an important component of the standard story, was not practiced by the Chemehuevi. They indicate that this practice and the alleged kidnapping of Carlota was an Anglo creation. Instead she accompanied Willie Boy as a free agent who loved him and was willing to break with her culture and family by violating the tribal kinship taboo prohibiting their marriage. Although both Lawton’s book and Polonsky’ film tell about the taboo and an earlier alleged abduction of Carlota, neither are seen as significant. Sandos and Burgess explain why.

Based on circumstantial evidence, Sandos and Burgess determine that Willie Boy was a Ghost Dancer. If one accepts their conclusion, which this reviewer found somewhat tenuous, then the authors’ reasoning that Willie Boy’s Ghost Dance beliefs influenced his behavior and the actions of William Mike is also plausible. In discussing the murder of William Mike, the authors suggest that one of the reasons Mike opposed the marriage of his daughter to Willie Boy was that Mike, a shaman, rejected the Ghost Dance. Acontest over spiritual power was involved. Sandos and Burgess also maintain that Willie Boy’s suicide is understandable given the influence of the Ghost Dance. Countering the myth surrounding the events occurring at Ruby Mountain, the authors convincingly argue that Willie Boy had no reason to surrender and that he that he could have easily escaped. They speculate that Willie Boy learned of Carlota’s death at Ruby Mountain and that he committed suicide that night in order to be with her. According to Ghost Dance teachings, the best time to join the dead was shortly before dawn.

Although the author’s historical analysis is critical to explaining Willie Boy’s story, the major contribution of The Hunt For Willie Boy is its integration of Chemehuevi culture and oral tradition.

Linda S. Parker, Department of American Indian Studies. San Diego State University.

The Hunt for Willie Boy: Indian Hating and Popular Culture. James A.
Sandos and Larry E. Burgess. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1994.
Maps, photos, figures, and references. xviii + 182 pp. $21.95.

University of Nebraska – Lincoln
DigitalCommons@University of Nebraska – Lincoln
Great Plains Research: A Journal of Natural and Social Sciences Great Plains Studies, Center for

8-1-1994

The American Desert

BY JOHN C. VAN DYKE

John C. Van Dyke

I went alone into the desert with only a fox terrier and a buckskin pony, for company. There was no one on the edge who knew about the interior and those that talked as though they knew did not care to go with me. I was promised plenty of trouble. Predecessors had been “caught up with” again and again. Their bodies, dried like Egyptian mummies, had been found in the sands long after by Indians. The heat and the drought were unbearable, there were sand storms, sulphurcous whirlwinds, poisonous springs, white gypsum wastes, bewildering mirages, desert wolves, rattlesnakes, tarantulas, hydrophobia skunks. I would never come out alive. But I went in, tempted Providence, off and on, for two and a half years, and still live to tell the tale. After all, the dangers were not great. I had had, as a boy, considerable experience in Indian life and was not afraid of the open. And I had no fear of being alone or getting lost. My sense of direction was as keen as that of a homing pigeon, and when I was equipped with food and had located a water hole it really made no difference to me whether I was lost or found. I always knew my general direction, and with the ever-constant sun and stars I could not lose the points of the compass There are two ways of outfitting for a trip into the unknown. The one usually followed is to pack every article of plunder that might be thought desirable. ‘chat generally results in wearing out the most enduring pack train. I preferred the other way, the Indian way, of carrying very little, going light-shod, and retaining ease of movement. So, for myself, I wore nothing but a cotton shirt and trousers, a flat straw hat, and, on my feet, moccasins. I made my own moccasins, Sioux style, with a pointed toe, of strong mule-deer hide. A pair of blankets, a small hatchet, a short-handled shovel, some rawhide picket ropes, several tin cups, a small frying pan, a rifle for large game, and a .22-caliber single-barrel pistol for birds—
The MENTOR Vol. 12 No. 6 Serial #257 JULY, 1924

Victor Valley Volcano

The Wheeler map made in the 1880s shows a volcano between what is Victorville and Barstow.

The questions is; Is the “Volcano” either Stoddard Mountain or Bell Mountain?

Wheeler map 1880s Mojave Desert

Volcano location on 1880s map.

Stoddard Mountain and Bell Mountain (USGS map.

This USGS map shows the location of both Stoddard Mountain (yellow dot) and Bell Mountain (blue dot).

Both maps are superimposed and reconciled to critical match points.

The USGS map layer is replaced with the 1880s map layer and the layer with the location dots is turned on.

So it looks as if the “Volcano” is nowadays known as Stoddard Mountain.

Maybe next time; Is Stoddard Mountain a real volcano?

Michael White (Miguel Blanco) & Rancho Muscupiabe

The Old Spanish Trail had become increasingly used as a pack mule trail between New Mexico and California, and with this traffic came the opportunity for those to take advantage of the distance and desperate nature of the land.

Map of some of the land grants and ranchos in southern California

The rich ranchos of southern California.

California horses were beautiful creatures, and the mules were taller and stronger than those in New Mexico and they were easy to steal.  The rolling hills and plains presented clear paths to the  Cajon where numerous hidden canyons and washes were available to slip into and prepare for the furious run across the desert. Horses would be stolen in herds from many different ranchos at once. Hundreds of horses, even thousands could be commandeered and driven by just a few experienced thieves.

Chief Walkara, ‘Hawk of the Mountains’ and the greatest horse thief in all of history along with his band of renegade Chaguanosos , and notables such as Jim Beckwourth and Pegleg Smith would work together in this illegal trade. During one raid they were said to have coordinated the theft of 3,000-5,000 horses, driving them to Fort Bridger to trade for more horses to run to New Mexico to trade again. Horses would fall from exhaustion every mile and the local bands of Paiute would feast on the remains.

Devore, ca. at mouth of Cajon Pass

From the piedmont between Devil and Cable canyons, Miguel Blanco could keep an eye out for horse thieves entering the Cajon.

 

In 1843 Michael White was granted one league of land at the mouth of the Cajon Pass called Rancho Muscupiabe. At a point overlooking the trails leading into and away from the canyon he was expected to thwart the raiders and horse thieves that were plaguing the Southern California ranchos. In theory it was a good plan but in practice it did not work so well.

Map of Muscupiabe Rancho, Michael White, Miguel Blanco

Muscupiabe Rancho

 

 

 

Crowder Canyon/Coyote Canyon along Old Spanish Trail/John Brown Toll Road

Hundreds and sometime even thousands of stolen horses from the ranchos would burst through Coyote Canyon beginning their ‘journey of death’ across the Mojave.

He built his home of logs and earth and constructed corrals for his stock. However, the location between Cable and Devil Canyon only served as a closer and more convenient target for the Indian thieves. His family was with him, but after six weeks until it became too dangerous. He left after nine months without any livestock, in debt and bitter.

Crowder Canyon map in Cajon Pass

Crowder (Coyote) Canyon – Initially named ‘Coyote’ canyon for Chief Coyote, a horse thief who was killed by Miguel Blanco within the narrow canyon walls.

As the late 1840s and 1850s rolled by wagon roads were being developed in the canyon minimizing the effectiveness of the maze of box canyons being used to cover the escape of desperadoes on horseback.

The Killer on the Colorado

Indian Queho hated white men.  It has been said he killed up to 35 of them.  I believe there were only about 17 murders he has been tied to. These were all brutal, violent killings.   Queho killed using shovels, clubs, knives, his bare fists.  He killed for revenge, money, and even just to kill in frenzied anger.  He probably could have expressed his bigotry well with maybe half of the number he killed. His deep hatred of white men could have been expressed with half of that; only 4 or 5 murders — or maybe even just 2 or 3 targeted, fatal beatings.

 

The Indian hunters figured they ran him to death, but he just knew how to hide well.  They never took him alive.  Queho’s mummy was discovered in a cave by prospectors searching for gold on the high walls of Black Canyon on the Colorado River. He died painfully by a snake bite to his leg.

The Last Days of Al Williams

by Phillip I. Earl –   Apple Tree correspondent

Death Valley is perhaps the West’s  most aptly named topographical feature and over years it has taken the lives  of countless thousands of travelers, prospectors,  treasure hunters and others who ventured into its tortured arid wilderness.

The circumstances of these deaths  are roughly similar:  horses died,  they ran out of water, got lost, became delirious with the heat etc.,   but at least one of the valley’s victims left behind a more accurate account of his last hours on earth.

Al Williams’ body  was found the morning of August 3, 1911 at Sharpe’s Camp,  a sometime [ng]  a few miles southeast of Darwin, California. A Nevada prospector who had traversed Death Valley many times in the [l,]  Williams apparently lost his horse then lost himself on this trip.  He had set out from [o]  Springs on May 18 and nothing more was heard of him until his body was found,  though his friends had searched for him earlier in the summer, sick and unable to leave his camp, Williams apparently waited day by day for someone to come and rescue him. As he waited, he recorded his condition and his thoughts in the following diary which was found on his body:

Thursday, May 18
Left Coso Springs.

Wednesday, May 24
Nothing to eat since Thursday.

Friday, May 26 —
week in sick, cannot walk 50 feet. Tried to get dove; no go.

Saturday, May 27
Hungry, hungry and so weak.  Headache, sick. Will probably die soon.

Sunday, May 28
Very weak today. Nearly froze last night. Very hungry.

Monday, May 29
Cold:  almost froze. Am much weaker; do not think I have will last two days more. Pain in my side.

Tuesday, May 30
Colder than ever last night. Did not sleep a minute. Very weak. Hello the headache. Very dizzy.

Wednesday, May 31
Am nearly all in;  can scarcely breathe. Water getting low.

Thursday, June 1
Worse today,  Sick; no sleep; too cold. Water is playing out fast it will not be long til the end.

Friday, June 2
Am about the same.  No sleep; cold nights. This is a living hell. Very weak.

Saturday, June 3
No sleep;  cold night. Am worse than ever.  will hold out as long as I can.

Sunday, June 4
Vomit yellow, bitter stuff when I drink water. Second time now. Cold; no sleep; very weak.

Monday, June 5
Vomit when I drink. Very weak; legs sore; cold all night; no sleep. Cannot last much longer.

Tuesday, June 6
Vomited again. Getting weaker.

Wednesday, June 7
Don’t  see how I can live much longer. I stagger like a madman. Feel drunk and dizzy.

Thursday, June 8
Worse;  am nearly blind;  very sick and dizzy. No sleep; gnats are eating me up.

Friday, June 9
Don’t  believe I can get another canteen of water.  Sick and dizzy: cannot see much. Think it will be all off soon.

In the back of the diary under the date of June 9, 1911, Williams wrote the following: “Have stood it 23 days without anything to eat. If I can get one more canteen of water I am satisfied it will be the last one. This is surely hell on earth.  And so sick and dizzy I can scarcely see this in the gnats are eating me up.”  Too weak to write and almost blind for the last three days of his life,  Williams merely made his cross in the diary to show that he was still alive.

The men who found the body at first considered bringing it out to a nearby ranch and notifying the Inyo County coroner, but its condition was such that they decided against such a course. A shallow grave was dug on a high bench about 50 feet from the dry spring and Williams was laid away.

One of the men wrote a short account of his death from the diary and placed it in a tobacco can which was then stuffed into a crude monument built over the grave.

Williams diary itself was brought back to Darwin and given to the editor of the Inyo County Independent  who subsequently might venture out  unprepared or who might go out on a rescue mission and give up too soon, thus condemning another of their fellows to the awful sacrifice which the desert seems to periodically demand.

The Story of John Brown

John Brown (1817 – 1899)

One of the more unusual pioneers of the early nineteenth century was John Brown, born in Worcester, Massachusetts on December 22, 1817. He started west as a teenager making his way to St. Louis and getting a job rafting down the Mississippi River to New Orleans. He took a job sailing along the Gulf Coast and was shipwrecked off the coast of Galveston. We can not follow him too clearly during this period but he fought with Sam Houston in the Battle of San Jacinto in 1836. He spent two years at Fort Leavenworth and then became a trapper for some fourteen years in the Rocky Mountains. He was able to tell of his encounters with bears and with Indians in a most exciting way.

In 1842 it is believed that he helped physically to build Fort Pueblo. It is here that he made the acquaintance of such frontiersmen as James Waters, Tim Goodale, Dick Owens, Calvin Briggs, John Burroughs and Old Bill Williams. He trapped from Colorado to the Yellowstone and met Kit Carson, James Bridger, the Bents and the Sublettes.

James Beckwourth: 1809 – 1868

Jim Beckworth, a former slave from Virginia whose father had freed him, was a noted trapper who spent several years as a member of the Crow Indian tribe, found himself a Mexican bride, Louisa Sandoval, in Taos and brought her and their small daughter, Matilda, to Fort Pueblo in October 1842. He set up as a trader with only limited success and when spring came, he set out for California, leaving his wife and daughter at the Fort. It was here that Louisa met John Brown and they decided to live together as a family. There were no clergy nearer than Taos. The marriage was certainly successful since they remained together for the rest of their long lives and had several children. Before John Brown settled down to a more quiet married life, he had had an experience with Nicolasa, apparently a fascinating young Mexican girl, and killed a Frenchman in a duel which took place in the early 1840s on a ranch of Jose Weis on the Greenhorn. It was the same Nicolasa, who incited Rube Herring to kill Henry Beer at Fort Lupton on July 4, 1843. Herring took Nicolasa to Fort Pueblo and lived with her there until James Waters stole her away from him. Not long after Waters killed Edward Tharp in a fight over the same girl. (When most of these men went to California a few years later, Nicolasa was left behind.)

From 1843 to 1845 John Brown made Fort Pueblo his headquarters. Can we speculate that he had a few successful trapping expeditions? At any rate he moved to the Greenhorn in 1845 and opened a store. He must have found some money in order to invest in a store. It was his policy to trade chiefly with whites and not with Indians although there were times when he sold whiskey to the Indians under the counter, since it was illegal to sell alcohol to Indians. The record of his accounts has been preserved in the Huntington library in California. He noted the sales made and the names of the buyers. His first accounts appeared in April 1845. Brown
stocked only what he called essentials, but did not at first include such items as coffee, sugar and flour. He did carry whiskey and tobacco. Brown bought his goods mostly in Pueblo. With demand he soon added flour, sugar, coffee, pants, shoes, etc. Among his customers was William Bent who sent E. Garry (Edmund Guerrier) to sell goods and to buy a steer from Brown in November 1846. William’s brother, George Bent, bought 1½ fanegas of corn. Other customers whose names appeared in his account book were Cosper (who worked for Alexander Barclay), James Grieves, William Adamson, one of Barclay’s foremen, Joseph Bridger and Rube
Herring. No Indian names appear except those Indian wives of whites.

It is revealing to note that the specie which Brown handled included doubloons, sovereigns, gelders, and Mexican pesos and gold pieces as well as American dollars.

Louisa was active in the store. Entries often appear in her handwriting. She also made candles and soap when a pig was slaughtered. The store was prosperous and Brown expanded his business into other projects such as farming. He built irrigation ditches and grew corn,
watermelons, wheat and hired Mexicans to herd cattle and horses. The Mexicans he hired became his customers. He built for them adobe houses and then added a grist mill between December 1846 and February 1847. The Mexicans were well treated. They were free employees, not like the peons on a Mexican hacienda who were paid only in supplies which kept them constantly in debt to the ranchero. Brown hired 3 men in 1845, 24 men in 1846, 8 men in 1847, and 2 men in 1848. Most stayed only a few months.

Not only did Brown mill his own flour, he accepted grain from others to be milled. He sold flour for 5 cents a pound or $8 per fanega. (One fanega was equal to 1.6 bushels.) Farmers from Hardscrabble and from Pueblo brought their wheat and corn to be ground at $1 per fanega. Barclay and Doyle rented yokes and harnesses from Brown.

Although it was illegal to sell whiskey to Indians, Brown did sell them whiskey, much watered down by four to nine times, and he even added drugs to keep the Indians quiet when they were drunk. We should not criticize Brown too severely for this practice since all traders did
sell to the Indians illegally in spite of the attempts of such men as Fitzpatrick to put a stop to it. The Indians would get into brawls with one another. It has been estimated that in 1841 there were 120 Indians killed in drunken brawls and in 1842 up to 500.

One of the intriguing facts of the life of John Brown was his experience as a psychic. He had a Spirit Guide who came to him in his waking moments and gave him significant messages. On one occasion the Spirit Guide appeared to Brown and saved him and his friends Estes and Stone from a grizzly. Once when Brown was camped at the foot of Pikes Peak the Guide showed
Brown an emigrant family named Washburn arriving at Pueblo along with a Mr. Waters who had a grey mare brought from the East for Tim Goodale. His friends made fun of Brown, but took him seriously enough to send Goodale to Pueblo to learn whether the vision was accurate. Goodale returned with the report that every fact was correct.

On another occasion while living in an Indian lodge with Briggs and Burroughs, the Guide told Brown that he would throw a stone and break his mule’s leg. In spite of his serious attempts to control himself, he threw a stone which broke the leg of the mule. Brown was literate and wrote a book about his spiritualist experiences called the “Mediumistic experience of John Brown, the
medium of the Rockies.” The book was published in San Francisco and is very rare today.[1]
In Pueblo on February 2, 1848 in an argument over Candelaria, the wife of James Waters, Edward Tharp was killed by Waters. Waters hid out on the Fountain while his friends brought him food. He soon went to Greenhorn, where he stayed and hired a team to go to Pueblo to get his things and bring them to Greenhorn, where he stayed, grinding corn and herding cattle for
John Brown. With no lawmen in the area at that time, the only crime which was recognized for punishment was that of murder. The accepted punishment was banishment.

On June 6, 1848 John Brown had a sale of all his goods and closed his store. California called! Brown started south with his wife Louisa and their son John, Jr., who had been born the previous October in Greenhorn. Those who went with them included Archibald Metcalf, James Waters and Blackhawk leading 60 horses and mules packed with deerskins which they had traded from the Utes. They were joined by Lucien Maxwell, his servant Indian George, and Charles Town. Some Apaches attacked them and they raced to escape. Some friends (?) urged Louisa to throw down the child and escape. She clutched him tightly around the neck and
jumped her horse over a ravine and escaped back to Greenhorn. She held the boy’s neck so firmly that ever afterwards he could not hold his head upright. All the horses and mules with the deerskins were lost to the Apaches. After this loss some of the travelers were determined to get to Taos. Lucien Maxwell and his party decided to avoid the popular Raton Pass and take
the next pass to the east of Raton, Manco Burro Pass. At the top they were resting when the Apaches attacked. In quite a lengthy battle Indian George and Charles Town were killed. But Lucien Maxwell was one of those who managed to struggle down the south side of the pass
where they were rescued by Dick Wootton who had come to look for them. Fortunately for the Browns, they did not travel with the group at that time.

Greenhorn was not completely abandoned. Kit Carson and Jesse Nelson and ten others left Taos on June 25, 1848 and went through Greenhorn where they found only Bill New, Calvin Jones and some Mexicans. But when they crossed the St. Charles they found a few farmers including John Brown and his family, Charles White, James Waters, and Rube Herring cultivating the lowlands and living in some old houses that had been abandoned.

In June 1849 a large procession left the Arkansas for California. John Brown and his family, now including three children, joined John Burroughs and Calvin Briggs and their Shoshoni wives, Lancaster Lupton with his Cheyenne wife and four children, Rube Herring without Nicolasa, Charles White, Alexis Godey, James Waters with Candelaria. They reached Salt Lake City on July
4 and arrived at Sutter’s Fort on September 1, 1849. Almost all of them decided to move south. Actually, John Brown was not comfortable in the climate of the Bay area and they all went to San Bernardino where they spent the rest of their lives as friends and became very wealthy. It was in 1851 that they boarded a schooner at San Francisco and sailed south to San Pedro where they landed in April 1852. Brown hired Sheldon Stoddard to take his goods to San Bernardino where he arrived on May 1.[2]

Brown bought a cabin from Marshall Hunt on the west side of the Mormon stockade. San Bernardino County was created on April 26, 1853. John Brown, Col. Isaac Williams, David Seeley and H. G. Sherwood were named county commissioners to supervise the first election. In 1854 Brown rented the vast Yucaipa Valley which was part of the San Bernardino Rancho of the
Mormons. Brown occupied a large two-story house built of adobe in 1842 by Diego Sepulveda. He raised cattle and grain. In 1857 James Waters bought the Yucaipa Ranch lands and also Brown’s cattle. Brown moved to town in San Bernardino and built a two-story house at Sixth and D Streets. He became the Justice of Peace and Rube Herring became the first County Assessor and School Superintendent.

In 1857 when there was unrest in Utah and President Buchanan sent the army against the Mormons, Brigham Young recalled all the settlers from San Bernardino. Brown and the non-Church faction now took over. With the Civil War coming on, Brown supported the Union.
In 1861 the army established a string of five outposts along the Mojave Desert trails. Brown and Henry M. Willis and George L. Tucker obtained a 20-year charter from the California legislature to build and operate a toll road through Cajon Pass. Brown also built a ferry
across the Colorado River at Fort Navajo and put Chief Sic-a-hoot in charge. The chief had trouble with money and the ferry was soon abandoned.

Brown had a contract for delivering mail to the mining camps at Holcomb and Bear Valley during 1873-74. In the 1880s Brown spent much of his time writing the treatise about his psychic experiences. His Spirit Guide had appeared to him often when he was in Colorado but
failed to come to him in the later part of his life. Nevertheless he wished to preserve the memories of those times in the mountains. His book, which was published in San Francisco during his lifetime was entitled, “The Mediumistic Experiences of John Brown, the Medium of the Rockies.”

As one of the older residents of his area Brown became one of the founders of the San Bernardino Society of California Pioneers. He and James Waters were among the first vice presidents of the organization and John Brown, Jr. was the first secretary. Brown died on April
20, 1899. His funeral was held by the Spiritualist Society. His body was in a huge white casket with young women in flowing white robes surrounding it as an honor guard.

The obituary appeared in the San Bernardino Daily Sun in April 1899. He was survived by six daughters and four sons: Mrs. Sylvia Davenport, Mrs. Mary Denber, Mrs. Matilda White, Mrs. Laura Wozencraft, Mrs. Louisa Waters and Mrs. Emma Royalty. The sons were John Jr., Joseph, James and Newton.

John Brown was a man of at least three careers. As a teenager he went west and joined the fur trappers at the height of the fur trade era. As this trade shrank he turned to the management of his store to sell goods chiefly to settlers and traders, branching out to agriculture and milling. At a time when the Indians were still a menace, he decided to move to California. Here he became a wealthy rancher and was a civil servant helping to organize the County of San Bernardino, still the largest county in the United States. He was a good business man and well liked by his fellows. It is interesting to note that several of the settlers in the Pueblo area became prominent and wealthy in California.

References
1. Editor’s note: A search for the book, published in 1897 by the Office of the philosophical
Journal, found only 20 copies listed in library or university holdings. The nearest repository
for a copy is the Denver Public Library, which will not release the book for inter-library loan
because of its fragile condition. The book is available for examination by request at the
library.
2. Editor’s note: Brown recorded in his book that when he arrived at San Bernardino he
found his old friend Isaac Slover already living there. Slover’s story can be read in The
Pueblo Lore, November 2001, pp. 6-10.

Bibliography
Belden, L. Burr. “John Brown.” In Hafe, LeRoy R., ed. The Mountain Men and the Fur Trade of the Far West. Glendale, Calif., Arthur Clarke Co., 1965-1972.
Hafen, LeRoy R. “Colorado mountain men.” In Colorado Magazine, 30:26.
Hammond, George P. The Adventures of Alexander Barclay, Mountain Man. Denver, Old West
Publishing Co., ca1976.
Lecompte, Janet. “The Hardscrabble settlement.” In Colorado Magazine, 31:94.
Lecompte, Janet. Pueblo, Hardscrabble, Greenhorn, the upper Arkansas, 1832-1856.
Norman, University of Oklahoma Press, ca1978.
Shaw, Dorothy Price. “The Cragin collection.” In Colorado Magazine, 25:176.

The Story of John Brown
(1817 – 1899)
By Edward Broadhead
(Reprinted from The Pueblo Lore, January 1985)

Wrightwood Historical Society
Wrightwood Roots Friday,March 4, 2005 A.D.
Edited by George Tilitson

Mojave War Club

 

Mojave bows, arrows and war club

The Mojave Indians were known as “the clubbers”, and their attacks were feared  as exceptionally brutal and violent.  Their war clubs were ball-shaped with a handle that could be held on to with both hands.  The warriors would run in close and thrust the club up and under their victim’s chin breaking their jaw then grabbing the club with both hands to bash the enemy in the head on the downswing.

Charles Vincent Dougherty

– A.K.A. Charles Tom Vincent –

This story was derived from Chapter 5 of Pearl Comfort  Fisher’s “The Mountaineers,” written by Dorothy Evans Noble and edited by George F. Tillitson

Dorothy Evans Noble, former postmistress at Valyermo and wife of geologist Dr. Lee Noble, wrote this memoir of the Serrano Old Man Vincent whose name was given to Vincent Gap and Vincent Saddle. Mrs. Noble wrote that the memory of the man might not be lost. She gave it to the United States Forestry Service (USFS) who graciously accorded Pearl Fisher to include it in her book, “The Mountaineers.”

Restored cabin

Old Man Vincent’s daily newspaper came to our small post office at Valyermo, California, but he never did.   Our nearest neighbor,  Bob Pallett, who had a  cattle ranch adjoining our fruit orchards took his mail to Vincent once a month when he took supplies by horseback to the cabin twelve miles up Big Rock Creek on the slope of North Baldy Mountain (now Mount Baden-Powell).  It was a steep trail from our thirty seven hundred fifty foot altitude to Vincent’s sixty six hundred foot. Bob said he was a sort of hermit who hated all women and most men, chasing visitors off his land with a  rifle and spending all his time mining gold and shooting game. He liked Bob and depended on him, and Bob enjoyed sessions with the old man. We heard stories about Vincent for three years before we ever saw him.

Original cabin – 1999

The first week of April 1914,  brought such frightful news of war in Europe that ranch work seemed futile and we decided on a sudden walking  trip into the mountains to think things over. A geologist, Greg, was visiting us and we three set out on foot to climb Mount Baldy. We took Vincent’s mail with us. It was a long climb up to Vincent  Saddle at the head of Big Rock Creek where we followed a trail high on the slope of the mountain for a mile and looked down on a neat clearing with a small gray cabin shaded by two tremendous spruce trees. We skidded down the hill, slippery with pine needles, and zoomed right to the cabin door which opened with a bang, and Old Man Vincent faced us rifle in hand.

“Who in hell are you?” was his greeting.

He was a sight to remember, a thin old man in blue jeans and a faded blue shirt that barely covered his barrel chest, with piercing blue eyes  that glared from under tufted white eyebrows and a little white beard under an aggressive chin.

Before we could explain he spotted the bundle of mail my husband held out, made a grab for them, yelling “Papers? Good.”

He dashed back into the cabin, slammed the door and slid the bolt inside. We sat down for a while on his woodpile, glad for time to take in the good lines of the cabin with its steep roof and chimney, all in the shade of its sides weathered to a soft gray that blended into the bushes and pine needles around it.  There was water in a moat,  a small ditch that circled the cabin, fed out of a pipe at the back where icy cold water dripped into a barrel. Two small tents nearby and a big meat safe hanging  from a limb of the largest spruce aroused our hope of a friendlier reception later.

Suddenly the door burst open and Vincent charged out, waving  a newspaper and screaming with excitement.

“Say, is it really true, is it war?”

And when we confirmed the awful truth he was wild with joy, not distressed at all.

“Fine, fine, I ain’t died too soon. War’s the stuff I like. Maybe we still got some real men in the world after all. Let ’em fly at it, rip things up, git a little action to stir things up. Shoot, kill, that’s the life.”

Nothing was too good for us from then on. He took us into the cabin  cross-questioning  us as to the number of men killed so far and insisting  on our spending the night with him after we climbed the mountain.  He even went with us part way.

Tired by the long climb we were delighted to find Vincent busy with a pot of savory stew made of jerky (dried venison), onions, potatoes; and one of beans.  He had fixed beds of boughs in the tents for us and set places in the rickety little homemade table by the stove. He let me make the green tea and wash the dishes later while the men talked war. Vincent stretched out on the bunk, Lee and Greg perched on the other and by bedtime  we were  all old buddies,  beginning  a friendship  that lasted as long as the old man lived.

A  loud bellowing of song woke us  the next morning.

Vincent was fixing breakfast to the tune of “If you get there before I do, Tell Old Jack I’m comin’, too,” followed by “Fifteen  men on a dead man’s chest, Yo-ho-ho  and a bottle of rum.” He described the battle of Gettysburg while we ate, claiming that no losses  in Germany  could equal those bloody days.  He was wounded  there and sent back to Conneut,  Ohio, his birthplace.  He was a  member   of Company F, 8th Ohio Infantry and proud of it.  As we left him that day he barked at me,

“Don’t you ever come back here again.” And when I gasped, he added, laughing. “Unless you stay a week here.”

I had heard of his remark to a silly Los Angeles woman who had come to thank him for letting  her use water from his ditch when she camped nearby.  She had minced in and grabbed his hand, saying,

“I do hope I’ll see you in the city sometime.”

His retort was, “I hope I never see you again, Madam.”

So we realized that the ice was broken for us. From then on until his death in l926 Vincent was our close friend and real companion.  We often spent a week or two with him and when we found his birthday was on Christmas Day we formed the habit of having him with us for the day. The first time he came he told us that it was the first Christmas dinner he had not eaten alone in fifty years.

The last Christmas dinner he ate with us when he was feeble, but he polished off two big slabs of his favorite dessert, mince pie liberally  laced with strong, homemade applejack. Bob Pallett asked  him the next day how the pie “set.” Vince’s reply was,

“Swell, you bet. Course all night I thought sixteen jack rabbits was loose in my stomach but it was worth it.”

I had pulled  a boner that day by saying I wished he had brought his glasses along  so he could write in our guest book. He was outraged, said he never needed glasses, that no one ever would who lived outdoors and followed deer tracks instead  of ruining his sight poring over books. Vincent’s  sight was really remarkable for he could  spot a moving object miles away, and also read close up even in his eighties. Stretched out on his bunk of an evening he put a lighted candle on his barrel chest, between the “Los Angeles Times” and his eyes pored over every item. He kept his books under his bed, a few old favorites that he read over and over. A copy of “Life of Napoleon”  and one of “Treasure Island” were read most. A bottle of whiskey flanked them but he drank from it seldom.

Vincent loved to talk and he had a gift of understatement and a pungent way of expressing himself that was masterly. He wasted no words and omitted unnecessary details. His pet subject was the Civil War, particularly the Battle of Gettysburg where he was wounded in July of l863. He and a pal named Lockwood had enlisted as lads and after the war they went home, planning  to set up in business together with their families’ help. This was refused so they set off for good on horseback, heading west. They left in a fury and never communicated with their kin.

The story of that trek was fascinating. They decided to prospect for gold and in Arizona they found rich claims, filed on them, built a shack and set to work. Vincent never would explain why they moved on, just said they had trouble and shoved on for California on horseback. He told of crossing  a river and stopping  to swim in it, leaving their clothes on a bank. They spied an Injun sneak up and make off with their clothes. He waited for us to ask how they got them back, then just said,

“That Injun never stole nothin’ more. I took off after him. I got the clothes.”

They finally reached Los Angeles, a nice little town in l868 but too citified for Vincent. Lockwood settled there, but Vince prospected the mountains for months all over the region, even going to Death Valley and the Sierra Nevada country.  Nothing suited him until he happened on Big Rock Creek on our edge of the Mojave  Desert and rode up its source on the slope of North Baldy Peak, camping on what is now known  as Vincent  Saddle, the divide between Big Rock Creek and the beginning of the San Gabriel  River. His first claim was located away from the slope beyond steep, rocky Mine Gulch,  and he named it Big Horn because he killed a mountain sheep there.  This claim he later sold and it was developed by a mining company into a rich, high grade mine which ultimately  produced many thousands of dollars.

Bighorn Mine

The location at Big Horn did not suit Vincent so  he continued prospecting until he found one that did, a flat wooded place with fine big timber and a spring near enough to provide water after he had dug half a mile of ditches. He had adapted a kitten by that time, a Maltese gray, and he named the new claim he had found Blue Cat. It was near Mine Gulch, about half a mile from the flat place which meant more ditches and trails. Then he tackled building his cabin which stands intact to this day. (By the thirties it had collapsed into ruins but not until after Nancy Templeton did an oil painting of it.  Maxine Taylor did an oil painting of Vincent’s Cabin in the mid l980s. Her painting is reproduced herein.)

He hand-hewed shakes (shingles)  from the trees, built a stone fireplace  in one end, put up the one-room, steep- roofed cabin with just one small window  and a door. He made two bunks, one on each side of the fireplace, two arm chairs and a small table. He said he worked too hard to be lonely for when the cabin was finished he had the mine to timber and later made  a small stamp-mill with a Pelton wheel run by water from his spring.

He had help after a few years when he sold Big Horn and that company built a good trail on the slope above the cabin so a heavy stove was moved up and cement to mix with the rocks for a cabin floor.  Another prospector built a shack away from Vincent’s but “The Nigger” as Vince called him, although his name was Delancey and he wasn’t colored, and Vince fought like cat and dog. But Vincent lived on solitude by choice for forty years, working on his tunnels and ditches, hauling ore back by wheelbarrow to the stamp mill, to refine by running crushed ore over a mercury chute, then sacking the gold to take to the city once a year.

The winters must have been grim at the altitude of sixty six hundred feet, but he had a huge woodpile  at hand, lots of dried venison stored up, beans and canned tomatoes, potatoes and onions laid away by late fall. Summers are lovely and cool there, and nine months of the year hunting  was fine sport; deer and mountain  sheep, quail, rabbits and doves all made good food and he could catch fish in Vincent Creek.

By the time we knew Vincent the cabin had every comfort heart could wish, and Bob Pallett to haul freight from Palmdale once a month he could relax and live the life of Reilly. The big screened meat safe that hung from a spruce tree, out of reach of bears, was full of venison for there was no closed season then and Vince  would  have disregarded if there had been. A picture of McKinley hung over the old man’s bunk and a goldpan  and rifle were fastened to the chimney. Every afternoon when he came in from work he stripped to the buff and threw a potfull of hot water over his strong, rugged body, regardless of company; so we learned to vamoose.  He was strong as an ox, the picture of health, thin and wiry with pink cheeks and snowy white hair. He could and did, walk for miles tracking  a deer and he never fired an unnecessary shot. He loathed the city fellers that banged away regardless, when after game. Once we asked him what sort of winter’s  hunting he had had, and he said,

“Only fair. I missed one shot clean. Took me six shots to get my five deer.”

When he killed he dressed the deer on the spot, packed as much on his back as he could carry home, then made trips back to get the rest. Hunting meant a food supply, not sport, to him.

He was a crank about coffee which must be strong and coal black. When I made the coffee one morning  and asked him if he wanted a second cup, his answer was,

“Well, yes I do, but God it’s weak I don’t see how it gets up the spout.”

His pet comment was “Strong coffee never hurt no one, but weak coffee is pizen.”

He called Postum “Potassium” and was scornful of it, and he always pronounced boulevard “bovelard”  and brooked no correction. He drank what little whiskey he imbibed straight, scorning fancy drinks. Once we took some rare old sherry up for his pleasure and sat  by the fire with cups of it, expecting a nice session of talk. Vincent took one sip out of his cupful, swore, spat it angrily into the flames and threw the whole cupful into the fire.

“God, what truck,” he said. “What’s wrong with whiskey that anyone bothers with this hogwash?”

Even with the Palletts the old man was secretive,  so we sensed some mystery  in his past. The way he kept his cabin window boarded up unless he was inside, his fury when anyone tried to take his picture, his refusal to let anyone else go to his Los Angeles post office for his pension checks, all added up to some secret. We never dared to refer to a penciled name we once found in one of his old books, for it said “Mrs. Charles Vincent” so we supposed it concerned a wife he’d had sometime.  Only once did any relative show up, a cousin from Conneaut brought to him by Lockwood, who insisted on Vincent’s  attending a dinner at her home in Glendale.

Later we wormed the story out of him to our lasting amusement.  He went, they had a swell meal, and then

“Durned if she didn’t get out a big book of postcards, pasted in, and she begun on ‘my trip to Europe’  page by page. I had come by trolley and I happened to see one startin’ down the street, so I said ‘Goodbye, Ma’am, here’s my car’ and I run out and hopped on it.  She won’t see any more of me.”

Socialist colony ruins, Llano, Ca.

He had great scorn  for the developments  in southern California. He referred to the Socialist colony (Llano) that settled on the desert below us as a “nest of vermin” and he fulminated against Pasadena and other fancy  towns.

“This country’s the next to git its lickin'” he once said. “I’ll bet I live to see the Japs amarchin’  up Broadway. I sure would like to see a troop bivouacked on them Pasadena lawns.”

Vincent was hipped on cleanliness and order, kept everything in its appointed place and did his washing regularly. He told me once about some campers who had stayed nearby, and his comment on the woman who cooked was

“Say, that there woman was a caution. You could plant a potato patch on the back of her neck. I often seen dough on her elbow from last week’s bakin’. Water didn’t bother her none.”

Before he dug a moat around the cabin and ran water in it he was bothered by ants, for he bought sugar by the sack, and he told us,

“Ants got all through the sack and I couldn’t sift them out. So I jes hauled it down to the M—– family, it was all right for them, they didn’t notice.”

He stayed at the cabin winters until, when he was eighty three, he carried  a quarter of deer back to the cabin from away up the slope of Mount Baldy and collapsed from the effort, so we had to take him to Los Angeles to our doctor, a heart specialist. He was taken to the hospital and kept there for several months as he had a torn ligament  of one of the arteries to his heart.  We feared he was done for, but he came back in good style and lived for years after that, though he could no longer spend winters at the cabin and moved into a tent house by Big Rock Creek on the Pallett Ranch.

I remember his first Christmas holiday there when he came to the post office to cross question me about a geologist who had spent the holidays working  on our geology.

“Say, Noble,”  said he, “What kind of a dam fool was that feller anyway? I was settin’ by my tent, watching the creek in big flood with the bridge washed out and all, and I heard a big splashin’  and seen this guy wadin’ across in water up to his waist.  Up he came and durn if he didn’t tip his hat and say,

“‘Excuse me, sir, but could I trouble you for a drink of water?'”

At intervals Bob Pallett would call us up to say Vincent had collapsed and we would hurry him to the city to install him in the hospital, expecting each trip to be the last. Not so, he came to time after time, and he would chortle over his fooling the doctors.

“They hung around my bed like crows around a dead horse,” he would say, “Waiting to see me die.”

The nurses took a great shine to the game old man and he was a favorite  there.

“I like that place,” he said. “Best coffee in Los Angeles there.”

Once I visited him there and he introduced me to his pet nurse.  I asked him her name and he said it was “Scenery.” When I looked puzzled, he explained.

“Seems as though  the head nurse complained  because so many  nurses came in to talk, so one day they heard her comin’ down the hall and this nurse, she got excited and run. She tripped over the rug on her way out and, say, some scenery I seen.  That’s  been her name ever since.”

Vincent was a baseball  fan and made yearly  trips to Los Angeles to see the games. He would take with him the small sack of gold he had refined from the “Blue Cat” and “Little Nell”, another mine he had developed and named for his pal Lockwood’s daughter Nell;  would  cash it in and put in a safe deposit box. He had a post office box in the city where his Civil War pension checks came, and he would  cash them, too, and put them in the box. When Bob Pallett fell on hard times and was about to lose his ranch he was astonished to have Vincent produce five thousand dollars in cold cash and present it to him.

On September  8, l926,  our doctor phoned  to say that Vincent  was dead and was to be buried on the thirteenth at Sawtelle, the Veterans Home. He had died in the hospital and had told the doctor his life secret in order to assure his burial in the soldiers’ graveyard.  So the Palletts joined us in the drive to Sawtelle where we went to the chapel, asking for the Vincent funeral.

The Veteran’s Chapel for funerals is divided by a crosswall so that two services can be conducted at the same time, one for Catholics  and one for Protestants; so we made for the Protestant part only to learn that no Vincent funeral was slated for that day but a Dougherty funeral was. We were baffled. A Catholic soldier was slated for the other side.

Then a car raced up and our doctor’s secretary rushed up to tell us  that Vincent’s real name was Dougherty,  so the service went through as scheduled, and we all followed the body which was placed on a double gun carriage with that of the Catholic  soldier and taken to Section 9, Row G, Grave 22, in the lovely green cemetery where hundreds of veterans’ graves lie in neat rows.

Bob Pallett whispered, “You’d sure have to hold Vince down if  he knew he was  on that gun carriage  with a Catholic!”

Then our doctor told us the amazing story Vincent had told him a few days before.  He had used his real name, Charles Vincent Dougherty, until a stay in Arizona in 1866 where he and his partner had found gold and staked out prospects. they planned to stay there as the claims were rich and had built a shack and worked away happily in that wild, deserted country. One evening they found three strange men in the shack.

One said he was the sheriff and was checking up on claims. Vincent and Lockwood didn’t like the looks of these men and decided to spy on them. They left the men talking in the shack and went out pretending to work outdoors, crept up at dusk to overhear them talk.  The three men were laying plans to jump the claims, do away with the partners and take over. Vincent and Lockwood  beat them to it, shot all three in a surprise attack and buried them there and then.

Then they lit out as fast as they could on their horses and fled to the wilder west.  They expected to be followed, not realizing that no law force existed then, so they changed their names and hid out the rest of their lives though no one came after them. Vince chose his middle name, Vincent. Of course they had to abandon their rich claims, but Vince knew he could find others as he did later. That is why he never allowed anyone to take his picture, why he barred the one window in his cabin at night, why he suspected strangers, why he had a mail box in Los Angeles to have Dougherty pension checks come to.

The doctor said he would never forget that talk, the fiery old man blurting out the old, old secret, not one bit repentant; proud of his past.

Mt. Baden-Powell

He was  a  fighter, from his boyhood  days on through Gettysburg and his trip west, and his one desire was to be buried with other fighters  as he is. He was taught to kill in the Civil War; he considered the Arizona killings a matter of self-defense; he loved to show his skill in shooting but never killed an animal except for food. His unending labor made him a veritable  Robinson Crusoe on a mountainside, slaving away day after day to make a comfortable  life for himself. He loved the life he led. His magnificent physique kept him from illness, he was full of high spirits and was entertaining  a companion  as we have ever known. Always kind and generous to the few he liked, all his friends agree Charles Vincent  was a Man.

Courtesy Wrightwood Historical Society
-.-

September 1883 – the Cajon Pass

September 1883 to California Southern Railroad, with Santa Fe backing, completed its line northward from National City ( just south of San Diego)  to San Bernardino. The next step was to build a line to connect with the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad’s line  from Albuquerque, New Mexico, to Needles, and the California Southern Extension Railroad was formed for this purpose. The A&P was known as the  35th Parallel Route and was a joint venture  by  the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad (the AT&SF  railroad became the AT&SF  railway in December 1895)   and the St. Louis in San Francisco Railway (Frisco).

Cajon Canyon

A railroad line across the Mojave desert from Mojave to needles, at the Colorado River,  had been built by the Southern Pacific in 1882- 1883 to thwart the A&P’s  westward advance,  but was later acquired by the A&P  in a trade wherein SP  obtained Santa Fe’s line to Guaymas, Mexico. Prior to this swap,  the A&P  least the  Needles-Mojave  line from the SP beginning October 1, 1884, and its trains make connection with SP trains at Mojave.

The SP plan to build a line overcome would pass to connect its San Joaquin Valley line with its line from Los Angeles to El Paso, and kept a watchful eye for any activity that might indicate that another railroad was intending to build through the Pass.  Thus, when CSRR’s  chief engineer, Fred T Perris, and his survey party settled up their horses and headed eastward from San Bernardino through San Gorgonio Pass  at Beaumont indents to Morongo Valley,   some 40 miles (64km)  east of Cajon Pass,  SP observers were confident that this CSRR  had a different route in mind and would not attempt to build through Cajon.

Then Perris, one certainly was not being followed, headed westward through Lucerne Valley in approach cone pass from the east by a more southerly route,  where the Pass  could be entered at a much lower elevation than the LA&I’s  abandoned, several miles to the northwest. No tunnel would be needed along this route, but extensive cutting and filling would be required in the first few miles below the canyon rim.

by the time the SP realized what Paris was up to, his party had staked a line through the Pass, and the California Southern Extension Railroad was soon being constructed between San Bernardino and Waterman Junction (shortly to be renamed Barstow after William Barstow Strong, president of the Santa Fe)  on the A&P The last spike was driven November 9, 1885, and the city of San Diego now had a rail connection to the east.

More than eight decades would pass before SP rails entered the Cajon Pass.

A network of railroads grew rapidly throughout Southern California, and in 1889  the California Southern Railroad  and two other short lines were merged into Southern California Railway Company.  in 1897, the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway Company took over the A&P  and reorganized it under the name Santa Fe Pacific. In 1902 the  Santa Fe Pacific became just another part of the AT&SF, and in 1906 the Southern California Railway lost its name to the Santa Fe system.

from:
Cajon,  Rail Passage to the Pacific by Chard  L. Walker
Trans-Anglo BooksGlendale, California