Samuel Armor.

History of Orange County, California : with biographical sketches of the leading men and women of the county who have been identified with its earliest growth and development from the early days to the present online

. (page 18 of 191)
Online LibrarySamuel ArmorHistory of Orange County, California : with biographical sketches of the leading men and women of the county who have been identified with its earliest growth and development from the early days to the present → online text (page 18 of 191)
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In Los Angeles excitement ran high, and it was some time before a party could
be organized. In the American settlement at El Monte, not far from Los Angeles,
were several settlers who were used to the hard life of the frontier and were
none too law-abiding ; they wanted blood and were ever ready for a fight. These
joined the posse from Los Angeles and soon, under the wise guidance of General
Pico, a brother of Governor Pico, who was very cool in the face of danger, had
an understanding that Pico's orders would be obeyed by all. The general decided
to catch the men who had committed this wanton murder and he counseled caution
among the men.

After killing the sheriff and his men the bandits headed for San Juan Capis-
trano, raided the store for supplies, as they were headed for the Mexican border,
and possibly looking for Hardy and his team, who had in the meantime gone into
the mountains and taken a roundabout way back to Los Angeles, which he reached
a week later. When the pursuing party reached the town they found the bandits
had fled, and then began one of the notable man-hunts in Southern California.

The bandits made for the mountains by way of Santiago Canyon, were
followed by Pico and his men, who tracked them to the top of a ridge where
they could not get away, as it was found to be too steep. They had let down
one of their horses with ropes, but it was killed in falling, and they then gave
up all hope of escape. Flores abandoned his horse and, with two others, took to
the brush on foot and made good their escape. One young man who was known
by Pico, was called upon to give himself up and for the information he would
give, was told he would not be prosecute(J. He followed this advice, and after
some parley the rest of the band were taken prisoners, bound hand and foot
and turned over to the Americans in the party, who took them to a settlement
on the present site of Olive. They were placed in an adobe house and kept
securely bound and placed under guard. Pico went after Flores and the two
others, and by his knowledge of the country, and being an expert trailer, soon
captured the former, who was sent back to be kept under guard with the others.
He, too, was securely bound and placed on the floor with the rest, and, as usual,
the guard was posted over them. During the night Flores rolled over to one
of the other prisoners, and with his teeth loosed the thongs that bound him and,
this done, his own were taken off, and soon all of the men were free and made


a break to escape ; they were all captured, with the exception of Flores, who made
good his escape and headed for the mountains.

A runner was sent to inform Pico of the escape and he was met coming
in with the other two men. whom he had captured alone. Upon hearing the news
he was angry, for he had thought the Americans would surely be watchful and
not let the prisoners get away. He was determined that these last two prisoners
should not escape and, taking them to a large sycamore tree in the canyon, hung
them. To show that he had done his duty and partly avenged the death of the
sheriff, he cut off the ears of the bandits and sent them to Los Angeles, and then
took up the trail of the chief conspirator. These bodies w^ere left hanging, and
it was some time the next year that the bones were buried. The writer buried
some of them himself. The tree from which these men were hung is still stand-
ing on what is known as the Alodjeska ranch.

Pico followed the trail of Flores for some days, seeming to know about
where he would eventually be found. The news had spread to Los Angeles of
the bandit's escape, and the citizens were thoroughly aroused, for Barton had
teen very popular. Flores thought to steal a horse at Los Nietos, knowing that
Mr. Carpenter kept many good animals. He approached the place at night, and
the dogs alarmed the owner, who was asleep on a stack of hay ; as he with
a gun in his hands Flores could see by the bright moonlight that it would be
useless to try to secure a horse there and so passed on. Arriving in Los Angeles
he tried to obtain food and shelter, but such was the feeling that had it become
known such aid had been given him the persons so doing would have been lynched.
He then skirted the town and made for the Cahuenga Mountains. Pico followed
him, and at a point about the present site of Hollywood, came upon his man
almost exhausted, made him prisoner and brought him to Los Angeles and turned
him over to the people, who erected two poles with a bar across, at the present
site of the county court house, and hung him. The other bandits were taken to
Los Angeles and shared the same fate. The last one of the band was captured
in San Jose two years later and was returned for trial. After a year in the courts
with the lawyers wrangling over the case, his attorneys had the case transferred
to Santa P.arbara County.

The good citizens of Los Angeles had patiently stootl the delay and thought
that justice would be done by the court, but when the case was ordered trans-
ferred, took the law in their own hands and, taking him from the officers, made
another "example" of him. There was no doubt of his identity, for when he
was captured he was wearing the silver mounted belt that had belonged to the
sherifif he had helped to kill. There are comparatively few men now living who
■can recall the incidents noted here. The writer, who is one of the oldest living
.American settlers of Orange County, was an eyewitness of the hanging of

A Breach of the Law
By Linn L. Shaw

The only case of mob violence in Santa Ana history occurred August 20,
18')2. when Francisco Torres was hanged to a telephone pole at the northeast
■corner of Fourth and Sycamore streets. William McKelvey, foreman of ^ladame
Modjeska's famous ranch home in Santiago Canyon, was brutally murdered July
31. 1892, by this Mexican, who was employed as a laborer under him. Torres
fled, was captured at Mesa Grande a couple of weeks after the crime and brought
to this city, where he was held for the murder, without bail, and was con-
fined in the old jail on Sycamore Street, between Second and Third. McKelvey
had many friends in this city and the officers, fearing trouble, placed Robert Cog-
burn on guard at the jail. About one o'clock on the morning of August 20 there
Avas an alarm at the jail door and a muffled demand to open it. which order Mr.
Coghurn refused to obey. Immediately the door was battered in with a sledge
.and about thirty men, armed and masked, filed inside. Upon being refused the


keys to the cell they forcibly took them from the guard, secured Torres and de-
parted. Mr. Cogburn attempted to follow them, but, upon being invited to return
to the jail at the point of what appeared to him a "horizontal telegraph pole,"
returned to his duties without any further desire to associate with his determined
and systematic visitors. There was evidently no time wasted with the captive,
and he was strung up to the pole, where the body remained as a gruesome sur-
prise to early risers the next morning. An attempt was made to locate the per-
petrators of the lynching through the grand jury, but no indictments were issued
and the affair was quietly dropped in official circles.

A Political Episode

Perhaps the most notable political event in Santa Ana's history was the
physical undoing of Dennis Kearney, in the fall of 1879. This man was cam-
paigning the state in the interest of the workingman's party and the anti-Chinese
movement, which at that time was a formidable issue in California politics. He
was popularly known as the "sand lot agitator," and, starting from his home in
San Francisco, he deluged the state with a ceaseless flow of vituperation and plat-
form blackguardism. Up to the time of his arrival in Santa Ana he had been
allowed to pursue his bullying style of oratory without molestation, as his own
personality and the many followers who flocked to his support all over the state
presented an aspect of brute force which no one seemed disposed to investigate.

In his speech here, in addition to the usual program of abuse, he also in-
cluded a number of false accusations against the McFadden brothers, who had
operated a steamer from Newport to San Francisco, but had been compelled
to sell it at a considerable loss to their stronger competitors, the Old Line Steam-
ship Company, and it was this transaction to which Ivearney devoted his slander-
ous tongue.

' Among the employes of the McFaddens was "Tom" Rule, a man of large
stature, supreme courage and prodigious strength. The morning following the
speech, as Kearney was about to take the stage for San Diego at the old Layman
Hotel, he was confronted by ]\Ir. Rule who demanded the name of the man who
tiad given him the lying information concerning his employers. Kearney recog-
nized the nature of the trouble in store for him at once, and immediately lost
the nerve which had been so proudly exploited by his followers. He timidly
explained that he "would not give away his friends," and upon a second and
more imperious demand for the name, commenced backing away from his unwel-
come opponent, at the same time endeavoring to draw his revolver. Rule, who
was unarmed, hesitated no longer, but struck the ])ride of the sand lots a heav\
blow which landed him against the side of the hotel, from whence the once
feared Kearney ran with great vigor and utter lack of dignity to the barroom,
out through the dining room and across the street into a drug store, where he
was overtaken by the now thoroughly aroused Rule, who pinned him to the floor
and pummeled him (|uite severely. By a strange coincidence Kearney was rescued
from his very mortifying position by one of the INIcFadden brothers, neither of
whom had known of Mr. Rule's contemplated raid on their slanderer. None of
his adherents had oft'ered him the slightest assistance, and his departure was in
marked contrast to his triumphant entry into the town the day before. In his
speeches he had advocated hemp and mob law for the hated plutocrats and
capitalists, but certainly did not relish an application of his own medicine. He
had announced on his home sand lot platform, before departing on this campaign :
"I hope I will be assassinated, for the success of this movement depends on
• that" ; but the sacrifice palled upon his appetite when the opportunity for which
he had .so eagerly petitioned presented itself in apparent good working order.
This incident, which was at once luraMed over the state, had the effect of imme
diately diminishing Kearney'- powrr and influence to an alarming extent, and he
soon passed into history as a incrc blatherskite.


Mr. Rule, who was the regular pilot at Newport Bay, was drowned a few/
years later while attempting to cross the bar at the entrance of the bay in a row*
boat, which capsized in the breakers. The hero of the Kearney episode was
struck upon the head by the boat as it overturned and his body immediately sank,
being recovered several days afterward just inside the bar. ♦



By William Loftus .

Some development work had been done in this county previous to 1896, and
in the Dan ]\IcFarland well, located in the N. W. yi of section 8 twp. 3 S. Rang(^
9 W. S. B. B. M.. about ten barrels of oil per day was struck at a depth of less
than a thousand feet. But the formations were so difficult and expensive (o
drill with the machinery then employed that the well was abandoned, and the'
field temporarily condemned.

In 1896, E. L. Doheny — a name that will ever be prominent in the history'
of the development of the California oil fields as well as those of Mexico — was'
favorably impressed with the indications of oil. He obtained a lease with art-
option to purchase the lands now owned and operated by the Petroleum Develop-
ment Company, which company is now owned by the Santa Fe Railroad Com-'
pany. Mr. Doheny entered into a contract with the Santa Fe Company to operate
the territory in partnership. He moved onto the property in February, 1897.
and the first well, which was drilled to a depth of about 700 feet, was completed'
and ]3ut on the pump in a few months. It was started off with a production of
about fifty barrels per day. This agreeably surprised Mr. Doheny as he, when
making the contract with the Santa Fe, only predicted wells of a capacity of
from ten to twenty-five barrels per day at such a shallow depth, but it was his:
opinion that the quantity would increase with depth and that the formations
would carry oil very deep. Up to October, 1898, the Santa Fe and Mr. Doheny.
had drilled ten wells, all less than 900 feet deep, which was about as deep ;ls
could be drilled in this formation with the methods then employed. Their- best
well produced about 100 barrels per day.

The Graham-Loftus Oil Company commenced operations in this field in
October. 1898. They drilled the first well 650 feet deep, and could get no further.
The well started off with a production of forty barrels per day. They encoun-
tered the same difficulties in No. 2. Four strings of casings were struck within,
the first 450 feet. The hole was then filled with water and drilled to 1,465 feet,
with two strings of casings. This was the first well drilled full of water for the
inirpose of holding up the walls, as far as I have been able to ascertain, though:
if may have been used before. The idea was not mine, but suggested to nie by
Frank Garbut in 1894, at which time I turned it down as impracticable. It is:
now used generally throughout the state of California, and I consider it the'
greatest of the three chief factors that have made the large production of petro-.
leimi oil in California possible. The other two are the double undcr-reamer and
ihe steel drilling cable.

The Graham-Loftus well No. 2 started with a production of 700 barrels per
day and blazed the way for deeper and more productive wells. The depth has
gradually been increased to over 4,000 feet, and the initial production to approxi-
mately 20,000 barrels per day for a few days.

In the fall of 1898 the Columbia Oil Company was organized and started
operations on a lease from the Olinda Ranch in Section 9, upon which they
developed oil of about 32 gravity Baume. The oil appears to be the sarrie as
that in the fild Puentc wells about five miles northwest, and it is the opinion of


well-informed oil men that the light oil belt is continuous between these two
points. There has been very little development made in this strike, but wherever
wells have been drilled they have proven productive.

In 1899, Charles V. Hall, George Owens, Martin Barbour and James Lynch
leased fifty-eight acres of land from the Olinda Ranch in section 8. After
drilling a hole about 400 feet deep, Owens, Barbour and Lynch, who were experi-
enced oil men, sold out their interests to C. V. Hall, whose experience consisted
of a few shallow wells drilled in the city of Los Angeles, and who was conse-
quently "not supposed to know a bad thing when he saw it." At about 1,500 feet
he had a flowing well, and opened up what has proven to be the richest portion
of the field. One well on this lease is credited with a production of about
20,000 barrels per day for a few days.

In January, 1894, the Union Oil Company of California purchased about
1,200 acres from the Stearns Ranch Company in sections 5, 6, 7 and 8, Twp.
3, S. range 9 W. sections 1 and 12 twp. 3 S. range 10, \\'., 100 acres of the east
ertd of which they leased to the Columbia Oil Producing Company. This lease
has proven very prolific producing property. To compromise a legal claim on
the 1,200 acres, the Union Oil Company gave 200 acres from the west end, which
has proven very productive also. It was purchased by the Brea Canon Oil Com-
pany. E. L. Doheny was the promoter of this company, which proved very

The value of the oil deposit is not determined, however, by the product of
a few large wells, but is estimated by men familiar with the business by the
amount of oil sand and the per cent of saturation, which means the amount of
oil per acre. In this respect the Olinda-Fullerton field is considered the best
in the state, which means the best in the United States.

The proven area of this field is about 2,000 acres. Judging from my own
experience and the information I have obtained from others, I estimate the
average thickness of the oil and sand at two hundred feet. Geologists estimate
the saturation at ten per cent, which would give about 155,000 barrels per acre,
or an aggregate of 310,353,000 barrels. Divide this by two for safety, and
we will have the very considerable sum of 155.176,500 barrels. Throw off the
odd figures and in round numbers say 155,000,000 barrels.

When we take into consideration the fact that the probable oil area is double
the proven, and the possible very much greater, we begin to appreciate the value
of the oil deposits in Orange County. To date (1910) there has been produced
approximately 20,431,481 barrels. The average price has been about sixty-five
cents per barrel, aggregating $12,550,922. The equivalent in coal, at six dollars
per ton, would cost $33,102,665, a saving to the consumer of $20,551,743.

In 1910, the writer of the foregoing article said: "The evolution of the oil
business has been very rapid, and in my judgment, will so continue. Machinery
and facilities for drilling deeper will be employed and quantities of oil will be
produced from greater depths than is now generally considered practicable."
This prediction has been literally fulfilled in the intervening years since it was
made, as can be shown by the increase in the assessed valuation of the county
and by mentioning some of the important developments of the industry.

Following are the county assessments for the past six years ; it will be noted
that the greatest gains are in the years when there was the largest development
in the oil industry.

1914-1915 $54,546,951

1915-1916 55,266,628

1916-1917 57,532,662

1Q17-1918 69,680,472

1918-1919 73,910,565

1919-1920 96,906,815


The county assessor, in listing the oil wells for taxation, follows the law
where it says, "All property in the state, . . . shall he taxed in proportion to its
value." Some of the large producers have protested against his valuations ; but
the courts have sustained the assessor. The Standard Oil Company paid taxes
on the production of its wells for the year 1919-1920, to the county assessor,
$443,670.36, and to the county tax collector, $15,050.84, making a total of
$458,721.20. For further proof of the development of the oil industry and
of its great value to the county, note the following reports gleaned from the
Santa Ana Register:

The Union Oil Company opened up the Placentia-Richfield district in
March, 1919, by bringing in an 8,000 barrel gusher on the Chapman property,
which has been a regtdar producer ever since.

March 21, 1919. Oil wells located in Orange County are producing 1.475,000
barrels of oil a month. That, at the present price, means a value of $1,843,750
a month, and $22,125,000 a year, which is $1,625,000 more than the estimate
of the Santa Ana Chamber of Commerce.

April 14, 1919. The Union Oil Company's Chapman well is now regarded
as the finest well in the state and the pride of the southern field. This great
well has been throttled down to 2,500 barrels, the product coming through a Js
dip nipple. The oil is testing 23 gravity and the cut is less than .6 of one per
cent. The gas pressure continues and is now up to 300 pounds. The well is
making close to a million feet of gas daily. Gas from the well is furnished

August 18. 1919. A later account. At Richfield the Union's Chapman
gusher has become the wonder of all Southern California. This great producer
continues to increase daily until now the output has reached 5,200 barrels.
Accompanying this tremendous volume of oil that is coming easily and quietly
from a depth of 3,000 feet, is some 3.000,000 feet of gas. The oil is coming
through a V/^. inch opening, and if opened up the well would produce 10,000
barrels as easily as it is now producing 5,200.

August 14, 1919. Barney Hartfield of Anaheim, one of the owners of the
Heffern well, said oil and gas at 2,385 feet indicated a good well then, but it
was cemented up and bigger stakes are being sought. The Heffern Company
has over 500 acres under lease. It has refused $100,000 for the release of a 70-
acre tract.

September 10. 1919. Throwing oil and sand a distance of seventy-five feet
above the derrick Kraemer well No. 1, of the Standard Oil Company, came in,
adding a new gusher to the Fullerton field. It is estimated that this well is pro-
ducing 5,000 barrels of oil daily.

September 22, 1919. An experienced Pennsylvania oil man, reported to be
very wealthy and with strong eastern connections, has leased for oil the prop-
erties of Mary J. Bond. M. J. Monette, W. K. Mead, H. D. Lyman and others,
comprising more than 1,000 acres. These lands are located just east of El Mo-
dena. four miles east of Orange and six miles southeast of the Richfield district.

October 3. 1919. The Standard's Kraemer 2-1 well blew a charge of gas
and oil oui of the hole and covered about twenty acres of C. C. Chapman's
choicest orange trees with oil. It also discharged large quantities of sand.

October 13, 1919. The Chapman gusher is again referred to as the best pro-
ducer in the state, having poured forth a million and a half barrels of 27 gravity
oil since it came in the latter part of March.

October 15, 1919. What promised to be another gusher was brought in on
the O. M. Thompson property, one-quarter of a mile east and one mile south of
the Chapman well. The oil forced its way up through the sand and mud to the
top of the pipe ; but the men clamped on a cap and prevented its flowing for the
time being.


October 20, 1919. The Standard Oil Company and others have leased con-
siderable acreage on the Huntington Beach mesa, though no derricks have been
erected as yet. Some of the leases carry a cash bonus and a monthly rental as
well as a share in the oil developed. Joe Simas of Seal Beach, in boring for
water, opened up a small gas well, which he utilizes for light and fuel supply
for his house and barn.

October 24, 1919. A 3,500-barrel oil well was brought in by the Standard
Oil Company on the JMurphy lease on Monday. The well, Xo. 66, completed at
2,833 feet, is the second largest well brought in during the yeat, and maintains
the supremacy of the Murphy property as the greatest oil producing lease in
the state.

October 30, 1919. The well, reported fifteen days ago on the O. j\I. Thomp-
son place as having been capped without letting it display itself, proves to be a
5,000-barrel gusher, rivaling the famous Chapman well.

November 18, 1919. The Hefifern Oil Company, which heretofore has been
an association, decided to incorporate with a capital stock of $5,000,000. The
cost of the test well to date is $214,000, including $30,000 value of the Heffern
leases. There are three drilling crews at work in the vicinity of Newport Bay.
The Liberty Oil Company is cleaning out its well No. 1 at the head of the bay.
Some oil was found at a depth of 2,100 feet when work was stopped. Now the
company will go several hundred feet deeper.

As proof that Orange County's oil production has not reached its limits, but
is on the increase, note the following recent developments :

The Petroleum Oil Company brought in Thompson well No. 2 on ^March 12,
1920, with a reported flow of 3000 barrels and increasing. The company was
expecting a gusher and prepared to care for the oil so that none of it would be
wasted. Thompson well No. 3 came in June 1. 1920, with a flow of 650 barrels,
which many believe too low an estimate.

The Kraemer well No. 2-S. which was brought in recently, is producing
150 barrels of 26 gravit}- oil. The Thompson-Goodwin well of the Union Oil
Company came in with a roar June 14, spouting oil over the top of the derrick
and then sanded up. However, it started flowing again a steady stream which
experts estimate at 1,800 barrels per day of 27 gravity oil.

Spouting over the tops of the derricks, two wells on the Standard Oil Com-
pany's Sam Kraemer lease, in the Placentia-Richfield district, came in with a
roar June 23. 1920. They are numbered 6 and 7. The yield of No. 6 has been
estimated all the way from 1,000 to 3,000 barrels per day. No estimate was

Online LibrarySamuel ArmorHistory of Orange County, California : with biographical sketches of the leading men and women of the county who have been identified with its earliest growth and development from the early days to the present → online text (page 18 of 191)