Category Archives: True Facts, Legends & Lies

Goodies that may or may not be true facts, somewhat exaggerated, or even wild-eyed stories. You be the judge.

Bathing Daily

Why the Daily Bath?
Because of Advertising!

From the Los Angeles Examiner of June 1, 1921

Chicago, May 31—Why people take a daily
bath was explained today. Charles H. Mackintosh, advertising
expert, said the newspapers were responsible—
and the soap manufacturers.

“Daily bathing is merely the result of newspaper
advertising,” Mr. Mackintosh told the Association of
Commerce of Advertisers in session here. “Only a short
time ago we bathed once a week and that on Saturday—
we even skipped that once in a while. Now the flood of
advertising loosed by soap manufacturers has persuaded
us that we aren’t Christians unless we bathe daily.”
-,-

courtesy: Mojave River Valley Museum

A Bottle Full of Teeth

John Searles

John Searles

John W Searles‘  bottle full of his own teeth was a reminder of one of the most remarkable encounters with the grizzly bear ever related in San Bernardino County.

While hunting deer in March, 1870, Searles, a miner  and hunter,  came to the brink of  a precipice, and saw in the valley that spread out before him two fully grown  bears  and a cub. Although he had only for good cartridges, he had contrived to make a few extra makeshift loads for his gun from a misfit box of ammunition which had  been sent  to him by mistake.

Searles  entered the valley and road for hours over rough, snow-covered country, looking for the bears, before he finally came upon one sleeping under a clump of brush.  He fired a shot  and the bear rolled over from the impact of the bullet.  two more shots finished them. Then, nearby, Searles heard the sound of another bear.

Wet with snow, Searles worked his way cautiously through the brush,  only to be surprised when a second massive bear reared up before him, its nose scarcely 10 feet away.  the thick brush made it impossible to step back   and aim. Searles  jammed another bullet in his rifle and pulled the trigger, but there was no report. It was one of the off size cartridges.
grizzly bear
Before he could try a third time, the grizzly charged, mouth agape. Searles  tried to jam his rifle down the bear’s  throat. The animal flung the weapon aside and threw Searles to the ground.  With one foot on the hunter’s breast, the grizzly bit off a large section of Searles’ lower jaw, then gashed his throat and laid bare his shoulder bone. Searles managed to roll over, his coat doubled up on his back in a  hump. The bear bit the coat once and left.

Despite his mangled condition, Searles recovered his horse and, with the freezing cold sealing his ruptured veins, road 4 miles to a camp, where he received first aid before proceeding on a three-day trip to a Los Angeles hospital.   Doctors  gave him no chance to live, but three weeks after they had patched, sewed and pieced him together, the hunter was up and able to get around.

For years afterward, Searles kept in his desk a 2 ounce bottle containing 21 pieces of broken bone and teeth, torn from his lower jaw  by the grizzly. And, in the corner of his office,  his old Spencer rifle stood, its lock  showing clearly the  dents of the grizzly’s vicious teeth.

from :
Pioneer tales of San Bernardino County
WPA Writers Program – 1940

More about John Searles

Hesperia, years ago …

This is the desert I remember growing up in. Imagine this scene except with newly open purple Lupin growing in many of the open spaces;

“I” Ave. & Lemon – Hesperia, CA. 2015

In the shade under that center bush there is a napping coyote, not easily seen. A 3rd grade girl, brand new to the desert is walking home from Brownies to an old house on Hesperia Rd. She’s ventured off the road to pick Lupin for her mom. She startles the coyote, and he her, but neither of them run away. They each stay still and cock their heads, the coyote on his haunches about fifteen feet from the child with her arms full of Lupin. She stares, awestruck. It is her first coyote, but somehow she knows who he is, and that he will always be in her life, watching her, protecting her. Finally, he lays down and curls back up in the shade under the bush. She backs away then turns to see how to get back to the road. At home she presents her mom with the flowers, and gets both a “thank you” and a gently warning not to pick wild flowers again, but to leave them for others to enjoy and for the seeds from one plant to fall and be carried in the wind for another bloom at another time.

Throughout my life, coyote has appeared to me several times, in unexpected places, always with a message and always to assure me of his presence in my life.

~ Sue Strohman Bronson – 2017

Death Valley Scotty Special

Death Valley Scotty Special

In 1905, in an attempt to break the speed record from Los Angeles to Chicago, Walter “Death Valley Scotty” Scott paid the Santa Fe Railroad a purported $5500 to rent a three car train pulled by 19 different steam locomotives. The trip began in Los Angeles on 9 July and arrived in Chicago 44 hours 54 minutes later, a record that stood until 1936  when it was broken by the Super Chief.  The  Barstow to Needles segment of the run took just three hours and 15 minutes. Also known as the Coyote Special.

from:
Mojave Desert Dictionary – Patricia A. Schoffstall
Mojave River Valley Museum
 Barstow, California

The Origin of People

One day, Coyote went out to hunt rabbits. While he was hunting, he saw a large naked woman in the distance. This excited him. He said to himself, “Whew, I have never seen a woman like that. I will follow her.” He followed her for a long time, but could not quite overtake her. He followed her over many mountains. When he came to White Mountain [Fish Lake Valley], he was very thirsty. He saw that the woman was carrying a tiny basketry water jug, and he asked her for a drink. She gave him the little jug, and he drank and drank, but still there was water left in it. Then she walked on, and he followed her.

photo of coyote
Finally, they came to a large lake of water. The woman said, “My home is over there.” She crossed the lake on top of the water. Coyote said, “I cannot do that. I will walk around.” The woman turned and gave Coyote the legs of a water bug [skate?] that runs on the top of the water. Coyote followed her over to her house.

The woman lived in a house with her mother, who was called tsutsipü, “ocean,” maa’puts, “old woman.” She was like Eva, the first Woman. Eva had never seen a man before. In the morning, Eva got up very early and began to weave a fine, big water jug. Coyote stayed with the women for several days.

One day Coyote went hunting for deer. He wondered what was the matter [with the women] . . . He asked his stomach, his ears, his nose, and his foot what was the matter. None of them could tell him. Then a white hair on the end of his tail said, “You are just like a little boy. Take a neck bone . . . and use that.”

Coyote did this . . .

Coyote went out to hunt. The old woman had nearly finished her big water jug. The two women told each other that they were pregnant. When the jug was finished, they gave birth to many tiny babies, all like little dolls, and put them in the jug.

When Coyote returned, they said to him, “Maybe your brother, Wolf, is lonesome for you. We want you to go back home.” Coyote said, “All right, I will go.” Eva then said to the children, “You have no home here. You must go with Coyote.” She put the basket of children on Coyote’s back, and told him to carry it with him. It was very heavy, but Coyote said that he had carried deer down from the mountains on his back, so that he was strong and did not object.

The women instructed Coyote about the jug. They said, “When you come to Saline Valley, open the stopper just a little way, then replace it quickly. When you come to Death Valley, open it a little more. At Tin Mountain (Charleston Peak) open it half way. When you are in Moapa, take the stopper out all the way.” Coyote said he would do this.

Coyote carried the jug along, but soon became very tired and could scarcely hold it. When he arrived in Saline Valley, he opened the stopper a little way. Tall, dark, handsome men and girls jumped out and ran away. These were the best looking people in the jug. This frightened Coyote, but he put the stopper back, and picked up the jug. In Death Valley, he opened it again. Here, more handsome people jumped out and ran away. The girls all had long, beautiful hair. When he came to Ash Meadows, he opened it. The Paiute and Shoshoni came out. These people were fine looking, too. At Tin Mountain, Coyote let some fairly good people out of the jug. When he opened it in Moapa, very poor, short, ugly people came out. The girls here had short hair with lice in it. All the people had sore eyes. That is the way they are now.

This is the way Eva had her first children. Coyote was the father.

from:
Western Shoshoni Myths
By Julian H. Steward

Ghost Train: Tall Tale

Bill Sanger was known to have ridden the rods all over the map. In his time he had seen all there was to see. One day he was talking with Jim Craig about  mirages. Mirages are common sites. You see a lot of them, millions of them, in the dry lake bed out there at Amboy.

Bristol Lake - Amboy, CA.

Bristol Lake – Amboy, CA.

“Bill,”  said Jim, “did you ever see the city that  gleams out there on  the lake in hot weather?”
“Yeah,”  Bill replied.
“What you make of it?”  said Jim.
Nothing,”  Bill answered.  “I do not hold with those dude scientists, that try to explain goes by saying the light rays pick up the picture hundreds of miles away and then bend it back and drop that same picture out there on the lake.  It do not make sense. They’re ghosts, that is what they are. Just plain ghosts.
“One time,” Bill went on, “I nearly killed myself trying to hop a ghost train pulling out across Bristol Lake. I was walking out toward the salt works when  along came a freight, not going very fast. I forgot where I was, and made a run for it.  it started to pick up speed, so I gave a leap and grabbed on– nothing!
“I sprawled out flat on that dry lake bed. I looked up and saw the ghost train running in long as nice as you please– 42 cars and one caboose I counted.  they road right smack over me and never even must my shirt. They are ghosts I tell you. Ghosts!”

from :
Pioneer tales of San Bernardino County
WPA Writers Program – 1940

A Running Battle: Death at Soda Lake Station

Death and disaster  stalked  the trade routes to the Mojave Desert during the 1860s. Roving bands of plunder-bent Indians lay in wait among rocky canyon walls and in undergrowth near waterholes, eager to kill, rob or drive away any who dared to invade the desert home of the red man.

During this turbulent period, The United States Army afforded the sole means of protection to the lives and property of early settlers. That this protection was far from adequate is apparent from the following account.

Sam button, driver from the Cluggage Line, drove the stage coach along the old road between Caves Canyon and Soda Lake. The Army escort, one man on a mule, wrote alongside the leisurely traveling stage.  Dr. M. E. Shaw, Army post surgeon, stuck his head out the coach window and carried on an idle conversation with the escort.

Hancock’s Redoubt – Soda Lake

This peaceful scene was disturbed without warning when the brush at the side of the road parted in a dozen spots and screaming, brandishing Pah-Utes  burst forth. Shots crashed out. The Army escorts mule quivered with the Bali and dropped to the sand, dead. Lead splattered against the walls of the stage as the Army man jumped inside.

Sam Button  poured shots into the savages as fast as he could reload his weapon. The horses, maddened by the excitement, broke into a run, Dr. Shaw and the soldier, guns leveled through this stage window, picked off as many Indians as the lurching vehicle would permit.

In full pursuit, the Indians, about 15 in number, concentrated on shooting the huddled driver out of his box. They aim high, anxious to spare the horses if possible. Dr. Shaw lifted his face from the hot barrel of his gun and a half-turned to his army companion.

“We are in luck, those Indians are damned poor shots,”  he said, and slumped forward, a bullet through his chest.

Bighorn sheep at Soda Lake in Mojave Preserve

Bighorn sheep at Soda Lake in Mojave Preserve

“Dr. Shaw’s been hit!”  The soldier shouted at Button.
“Dead?”
“No, but he needs attention in a hurry.”

The frightened horses began to tire. The Indians maintained their hot pursuit. Button leaned back across the baggage that shielded him from the Pah-Utes fire.   With one quick stroke of his knife, he cut free the luggage that burdened the stage. For an hour the running battle continued before the stage outran the Indians.

Dr. Shaw died at Soda Lake Station.

from :
Pioneer tales of San Bernardino County
WPA Writers Program – 1940

$150,000 Summit Road Route Being Considered

Summit Valley Road

Summit Valley Road

State Highway Commissioner Darlington has under advisement the matter of which route to choose for the 15-mile state highway to be built from Summit to Victorville at a cost of $150,000.  A delegation headed by Louis Evans of Hesperia asked Darlington to choose the route that would include Hesperia on the highway.

Los Angeles Herald, Number 58, 8 January 1919

Mining Partners in a Deadly Quarrel

William Farley Kills Matt Price on the Desert Near Dale City, San Bernardino.

San Francisco Call - February 24, 1898

San Francisco Call – February 24, 1898

SANTA FE DEPOT, San Bernardino, Feb. 23. — The second murder on the desert within two weeks was committed yesterday morning about ten miles north of Dale City, this county, by William Farley. His victim was Matt Price, who is said to have been a partner of Farley in some mining property.

Only meager reports have been received and as the scene of the murder is in such a remote and almost inaccessible spot, being seventy miles from the railroad, it will be some time before the full particulars of the affair will be known. Parties who knew the men are inclined to believe that the murder was the result of a quarrel over a mining claim.

Farley has been placed under arrest and Coroner Keating, Deputy Sheriff McElvan. Assistant District Attorney Rolfe and I Benjamin, a stenographer, left for Dale City tin’s morning to hold an inquest. A. E. Reitz, who came in from Dale City yesterday, leaving there early in the morning, says that when he left the camp all was peaceable and that the principals in the affair seemed to be on good terms.

 

A Petticoat Mining Camp

Joe Joiner, the Calico dude, paid with his whiskers for the name he fastened on the town.

In 1881, when the miners of Calico petitioned Uncle Sam to establish a post office, a local committee was appointed to decide upon the name for the bustling camp. Joyner, the dude, wrangled an appointment and became a member of the christening committee. Attired in a swallowtail coat, he paraded at the meetings  and preened his knee length whiskers. On windy days he wore the whiskers in braids.

“Take a look at them hills,”  Joiner shouted to the committee. The hills surrounding the mining camp were streaked with many -hued  clays and iron oxides, tinged with green and old rose, yellow and turquoise. “They look like a calico quilt,”  Joiner exclaimed. ” Why not call the camp ‘Calico’?”

Calico ghost town

Calico – Desert Magazine photo

” Sounds like a woman’s petticoat,”  the miners muttered.

Joiner  succeeded in shouting down the opposing factions, and the name of Calico prevailed. The committee disbanded, mumbling threats of reprisal.

 

Calico ghost town post office

Calico post office

Later, in the glow of success  and liquor, Joiner fell fast asleep on the main street of Calico.  And while he slept the disgruntled  Silver Gulch and Buena Vista schools of miners huddled about him with a pair of shears.  When Joiner  awoke he was no longer the dude of Calico. The miners  had snipped off one tale of his coat– and all his whiskers.

from :
Pioneer tales of San Bernardino County
WPA Writers Program – 1940