Copyright
George Henry Tinkham.

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

. (page 19 of 177)
Online LibraryGeorge Henry TinkhamHistory of Stanislaus County California : with biographical sketches of the leading men and women of the county who have been identified with its growth and development from the early days to the pres → online text (page 19 of 177)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


Holtzer, Ora May Jennings, Dewey E. Wheeler, Connie G. Gunn, Lawrence R.
Kelley, Donald E. Liebendorfer, Wilbur G. Parry, Warren Harris, Velma Green,
Jane and Alma Alway, Lavilla Cox, Francis Gray, Agnes Dowdy; 1921, Carol R.
Cox, Lela Wallis, Ellis Milton, Ian Mensinger, John G. Palstine, Edna Sorem, Harry
G. Nickle, Eleanor Dennett, Mr. and Mrs. C. A. Hansen, Clyde Scott, D. D. Mc-
Queen, Esther Beard, Nellie Mott, Myrtle Marriott, Vera Green, Mabel Sorem.

The Graduating Class of 1921

Since the graduating class of 1886, hundreds have been crowned with the same
scholastic honors and as we have recorded the first class, why not the last class, the
graduates of June 17, 1921, at the Modesto theater? The baccalaureate program
follows :

"Coronation March," from "The Prophet," by Meyerbeer; Selection from "The
Bohemian Girl," by Balfe, High School Orchestra. Prayer by Rev. H. S. Brewster;
Hymn, "Come, Thou Almighty King," congregation and choir. Scripture
reading by Rev. E. H. Gum; "Gloria" from "Mass, in C," Mozart, combined Glee
Clubs. Sermon by Bishop W. R. Lambough ; Hymn, "Now the Day is Over,"
Barnby, Congregation and Choir. Benediction by Rev. C. P. Morgan. Postlude,
selected. High S( hool orchestra.



HISTORY OF STANISLAUS COUNTY 129

Commencement exercises were held at the Modesto theater. Rev. H. K. Pitt-
man of San Francisco delivered the address, and diplomas were awarded by City
Superintendent W. E. Faught.

Graduates of the 1921 class of the Modesto high school follow: Arthur Achor,
Vera Anderson, Beatriz Baker, Charles Barnett, Charles Barton, Faye Barton, George
Bates, Esther Beard, Gladys Beattie, Mary Biesemeier, Ruth Blakesley, Lucile Brad-
bury, Arlette Bradley, Kathleen Bradley, Caryl Bundy, Donald Butler, Thelma Car-
penter, John Caster, Alma Cochran, Pearl Cody, Calvin Conron, Helen Cooper, Ada
Cornwell, Fred Cornwell, Carol Cox, Laura Crocco, Raymond Curtis, Eleanor Den-
nett, Genevieve Drake, Carl Elfing, Ada Elliott, Frances Fletcher, Hazel Flora,
Evert Ford, Eunice Fowler, Lee Garvey, Vera Green, Edward Griswold, Lois Gum,
Florence Harms, Hazel Hatch, Maybelle Harbaugh, Lincoln Higbee, Bernice Hight,
Forest Hosmer, Richard Husband, Marion Hutchings, Marion Irvin, Reginald
Lollich, Myrle Jamison, Marion Jarrett, Lynn Jenkinson, Helen Johnson, Robert
Johnson, Ruth Jones, Elizabeth Kendall, Ralph King, Clara Kriese, Gladys Lankard,
Clifford Larrabee, Esther Little, Grace Loving, Eva Linkhorn, Myrle Marriott,
Donald McQueen, Harry Meade, Bernice Medlin, Merle Mensinger, Ian Mensinger,
Ellic Milton, Nellie Mott, Paul Murphy, Velma Myers, David Newman, Harry
Nickle, Lucy Palmer, Will Park, Cecil Pierce, Charles Plambeck, Fredo Quisenberry,
Alva Ragan, Ben Reavis, Anna Roden, Alfred Ross, Aurelia Sanders, Murl Schrock,
Clyde Scott, Florence Selby, Grace Shotwell, Lenore Sisk, Maybelle Snyder, Edna
Sorem, Mabel Sorem, Spencer Strader, Helen Surryhne, Agnes Thompson, Helen
Ustick, Agatha Van Konynenburg, Elwvn Van Wagner, Nobuko Wakimoto, Lela
Wallis, Harriet Kuykendall, Paul Wright Orr.

School Day Memories
It seems regretful, ofttimes, that these ancient buildings may not be preserved.
The many pleasant days in the old school will ever remain in the minds of the pupils
who there attended school during those thirty odd years. These memories cannot be
destroyed. From that building graduated the first high school class of ten, three boys
and seven girls. Proud, exceedingly proud were they of their scholarship. Prof.
R. R. Holway, Mr. Wyman, David S. Braddock, Thomas Downey and many others
sent out their graduates to begin life's battle. There for many years the Teachers'
Institute was held and there many delightful entertainments were given. Many
socials were given in the homes of the scholars' parents. One of the graduates of the
first class says, in writing of Professor Holway: "He was a firm believer in a sane
and active social life for the school folks. He and his estimable wife, formerly Miss
May Gordon and one of the teachers in the grammar school, promoted a number of
pleasant gatherings among the younger folks that are yet remembered by the pupils
of that day. These parties extended all through the high school year and were the
rule throughout Mr. Holway's principalship in the Modesto school. These functions
were held at the homes of the pupils and were simple affairs consisting of pleasant
games and other amusements. They served to create a desirable intimacy between the
school and the home, between the parents and the teachers, a condition that prevailed
in Modesto thirty-five years ago."

Teachers' Institute

The first institute in Modesto was held March 21, 1871. "The town was then
only six months old and the accommodations were not of the best." Prof. Ezra S.
Carr of the State University and Prof. Charles Allen of the State Normal School
were present and delivered some able addresses. There were twenty-eight teachers
from the county in attendance. The state superintendent, O. P. Fitzgerald, also pres-
ent, in reporting the institute said: "It was a great success, all things considered."

At this institute there were over forty teachers, among them Mary Aull, Clara
C. Pendergast, Louise S. Crow, Mrs. A. C. Walden, Viva Lane, Mrs. A. G. Brad-
bury, Abba Hurley, Emma Donnels, Anna Pulsifer, Fanny Jones, Ella Lewis, Lizzie
W. Swan, Eva Aull, Mary McAlpine, Helen Pettit, Priscilla Edwards, Lucy Bruton,



130 HISTORY OF STANISLAUS COUNTY

Ella Gage, Lucy Childs, Emma Edwards, Scilla Root, Maggie Hammond, Sarah
McLaughlin, John R. Kelso, George T. Hanscom, M. D. Gage, Thomas Blake, D. J.
Buddock, David W. Braddock, Ira G. Leek, Elmar S. Anderson, Charles Spurrier,
Vital E. Bangs, F. A. Wood, I. L. Granger, W. H. Hatton, S. L. Hanscom and
J. Walter Smith.

Teachers' Associations

The first association assembled at Langworth, January 3, 1868. It was organized
under the direction of the county superintendent, Thomas T. Hamlin. He was
elected chairman and Thomas Blake, secretary. The historian gives us no further
information regarding this meeting. It seems, however, that they again assembled
April 14th in the "little brick" schoolhouse, with Hamlin again acting as chairman.
They gave a short program comprising an essay, "Education" by W. R. Also; essay,
"Schools," E. R. Crawford ; reading, "The Old Log House," L. W. Crawford ; essay,
"Knowledge is Power," Thomas Blake; essay, "A Mother's Love," Carrie Moore.
The association soon after this meeting disorganized because of a lack of attendance
and indifference to its objects. Eleven years later, however, they quickly reorganized,
meeting November 14, 1879, in Modesto. They assembled and were somewhat
worried over a proposed legislative act to revoke all teachers' certificates. This being
a county history we cannot go into the detail of the act. They were, however, quite
alarmed and declaring the association formed for "mutual improvement and protection"
they strongly protested against the passage of such an act. The association organized
by electing W. H. Hatton, now a Modesto lawyer, as president; Vital E. Bangs,
vice-president; N. C. Hanscom, secretary, and Mary Aull, treasurer. J. D. Spencei
was present. The Senator addressed the association and asserted that he was opposed
to any annullment of teachers' certificates. Unanimously the teachers adopted the
resolution that a committee of three be appointed to draft a memorial to the Legislature
against any legislation tending to revoke the teachers' certificates. W. H. Robinson,
Vital E. Bangs and John R. Kelso were appointed on that committee.

Four years later the institute assembled October 21, 1875, called together by the
county superintendent, Maj. James Burney. The opening address was made by
O. P. Fitzgerald, state superintendent, a minister of the Methodist Episcopal Church,
South, and author and the editor of the Methodist denominational publication. Other
speakers and essayists on the program included the following teachers: Fanny Lewis
of Crows Landing; J. Walter Smith, B. C. Haislip, J. E. Marks, Mary Aull, Man-
Madden, Miss Owens of Modesto; Miss Belknap and Jennie Hogan, later of the
Stockton schools, and William H. Howard, county superintendent-elect.

In December, 1880, the teachers again assembled at the call of the county
superintendent, William H. Robinson. There was then better accommodations for
public gatherings. The institute assembled the first day in Rodgers' hall and that
afternoon adjourned to the public schoolhouse. The institute continued in session four
days. It was organized by the election of the following officers: W. H. Robinson,
ex-officio president; Vital E. Bangs, vice-president; John R. Kelso, secretary, and
Fanny Jones and Mary Edwards, assistant secretaries. The program comprised lec-
tures by State Superintendent Fred W. Campbell and Professor Allen, essays by the
teachers and a general discussion on the best methods of teaching.



CHAPTER ELEVEN
CRIMES AND TRAGEDIES OF STANISLAUS

The pioneer days of every country are marked with a riot of vice and crime,
including drunken carousals, gambling, sensuality, robbery and murder. In the sparsely
settled territory the criminals seem to outnumber the law abiding class, and they have
but little fear of arrest or punishment, for the committing of crime is easy and
detection and punishment difficult. In Stanislaus County there was no speedy means of
communication, no mail service, telegraph or telephone lines and no organized police
service. A man could easily commit a crime, jump upon a horse and speed away to



HISTORY OF STANISLAUS COUNTY 131

the mountains or hide in the river bottom and work his way out of the county. The
officers of the law, few in number, were ofttimes not over zealous in the performance
of their duty. Sometimes, if a friend or influential citizen were the guilty party,
they would make but little, if any, effort to arrest him and his trial in court would be
a farce. But now, with our quick means of sending out information by wire, the press,
the automobile and aeroplane, and our well-organized police force in every county, it is
almost impossible for almost any criminal to escape arrest. But he goes unpunished
just the same. By the manipulations of shrewd attorneys, bribed jurors and perjured
witnesses the same results are accomplished and the guilty escape punishments just
as they did in the earlier days, when the sheriff furiously rode in the wrong direction.
In this chapter we have compiled a few of the hundreds of crimes committed in
Stanislaus County. We will read of a few convictions and many acquittals.

STEALING BY THE WHOLESALE

The great crime of the county numerically was the stealing of horses and cattle.
There were regular, organized bands of men controlled by a leader who stole thou-
sands of head of cattle. They were driven into the "pocket," a point of land lying
between the Stanislaus and Tuolumne rivers, their marks and brands changed and in
the thick brushwood it was impossible for their owners to ever find them. The leader
was known far and wide as the "boss" cattle thief. He had his counterpart in an
organized band who stole horses all over the state, many of them blooded and valuable
animals. A Stockton attorney, then a young man living in the county informs me that
at one time there were over 500 stolen animals in the county. One of the leaders'
hired men complained that he was given, to work in the harvest field, a new team of
horses almost even' day. The horses would be brought in and taken out at night.
To write of an event in general terms is not very interesting or conclusive, but to give
names would be unjust to their families now living, who are in no manner to blame
for the deeds of the relatives.

THE MURDER OF SHERIFF WORKS
The first murder recorded in Stanislaus County is that of George Works, a
former sheriff of Tuolumne County. The murder took place August 7, 1854, at
Adamsville, then the county seat. It seems that a well-known desperado named Eli
Lyons, who boasted that he had killed sixteen men, was quarreling with another man
over the election contest. Works, who was a man fearless of danger, stepped up to
Lyons and endeavored to quiet him. The desperado then deliberately drew his
revolver and fired two shots at Wo'rks, both shots entering the ex-sheriff's left breast.
Works, who was quick on the trigger, drew his revolver and fired four shots at Lyons
before he fell. None of the shots hit Lyons. Works died the following day. Imme-
diately after the shooting Lyons went to the blacksmith shop about fifty yards distant
and there procured a shotgun, fled into the bushes on the river bank and was lost from
sight. Lyons was a man about thirty-two years of age; he was well known, as in
Stockton the year previous, 1853, he killed a man named Fredonia.
THE MURDER OF FRANK LANE
About April 10, 1858, four fine mules and a horse were stolen near San Leandro,
Alameda County. The owner advertised a description of the animals, offering a
reward, and a description of three suspicious looking men who had been seen traveling
along the road with the animals. A few days later a stockraiser named George Wil-
son, who was living near the Arroyo la Puerta, was looking for some lost cattle, and
suddenly came upon three men in camp. Wilson immediately recognized them as the
horse thieves described in the circulars posted over the country. The men did not
see Wilson and immediately he rapidly rode to the ranch of Samuel Clarke, where a
rodeo was taking place. He informed the men of his discovery and Frank Lane of



132 HISTORY OF STANISLAUS COUNTY

Knights Ferry, George Wilson, Samuel Baldwin, Alfred Ward immediately started
in pursuit of the robbers, followed a few minutes later by Samuel Clarke, William
Patterson and R. D. W. Hitchcock. As the advance party came on to the thieves,
who were just riding from camp, Wilson called out to them to halt.

Two of the men obeyed the command, but the third man drew up his shotgun
and firing at Wilson, missed him. The Lane party returned the fire and as the three
robbers were heavil}' armed the bullets flew thick and fast. Wilson fired and one of
the robbers fell but was only slightly wounded. The Lane party was completely
defeated. Lane was shot in the breast, neck and arms with buckshot and died in
twenty minutes. Ward received a charge of shot in his right shoulder and Baldwin
was badly wounded in the back by buckshot. By this time the rear guard came up
and the robbers retreated to the dense chapparal, dragging their wounded companion
with them. The dead and the wounded were taken to the ranch of John McMullen
and Wilson rode with all speed to Stockton for a physician and surgeon. Dr. Wm.
Kendall responded, reaching the ranch about midnight. The two wounded men, Ward
and Baldwin, recovered in a short time.

Hunting for the Criminals
Frank Lane was a very popular young man, and his father, Maj. Thomas Lane,
was equally popular in Stanislaus and San Joaquin counties. When the murder
became known, a number of his warm friends advertised the following: "$1,000 re-
ward will be paid for the delivery of the robbers, dead or alive, who killed Frank
Lane." This reward was offered bv R. B. Smith, Davis Porter, Wm. Lane, John
White, W. H. Lyons, Ross C. Sargent, Jeremiah Sarles, John R. Bradley, W. C.
Bradford and Captain Sweeney. Several different parties began scouring the country
in search of the thieves and murderers. We will follow the trail of one man only,
the brave colonel, Edward Potter. He followed the trail for over two weeks, some-
times losing it and then again finding it, and May 5 he tracked them to a point near
Mariposa. The robbers were located in an almost impenetrable fort among huge
rocks and dense underbrush. With a party of seven men, including Sheriff Crippen
of Mariposa, Potter advanced to the robbers' retreat. Dismounting from his horse,
he bravely advanced upon the trail and the only two men in the stronghold, Anderson
and Monroe, began shooting at him. He called to his men and there was a lively
hail of bullets. It finally became too hot for the robbers and, running in different
directions, they endeavored to escape. Monroe, reaching Potter's horse, jumped on
his back and hurried away. He was closely pursued and shot with a double-barreled
shotgun, dying in about five minutes. Anderson, who was wounded in the shoulder
by a rifle bullet, succeeded in escaping. Running down the gulch he hid in the crevice
of a rock. He was found two hours later as, burning with fever from his wound, he
crawled out to get a drink of water. He was drinking from his shoe when discovered.

Execution by Mob Law

The Mariposa Gazette said. May 8, 1858: "The robber who was wounded and
captured is now in jail, and will be taken to Stockton for trial. His name is Anderson,
and he is from Ohio. Monroe, the man killed, was from Michigan, and Swan, who
escaped, is from New York." He was not taken to Stockton but, unfortunately, was
taken to the jail at La Grange, that place as we remember being the county seat of
Stanislaus County. A few days later, on May 22, R. W. L. Hitchcock visited the
jail and immediately recognized Anderson as one of the party who killed Frank Lane.

Major Bradley also recognized the robber from a description given of him by
Hitchcock previous to the time Hitchcock saw Anderson in Jail. Then what hap-
pened? As there are no living witnesses and as the perpetrators of mob law were
sworn to secrecy, we must depend on the San Joaquin Republican, which said, May 30:
"Notwithstanding the fact that the strongest efforts were made to keep the affair a
secret, we have learned beyond a doubt that the party which went from Knights Ferry
to La Grange, with the intention of hanging the murderer of Frank Lane, succeeded
in their object. The party comprised about sixty-one men armed to the teeth, and



HISTORY OF STANISLAUS COUNTY 133

the capture of the prisoner was made so quietly that most of the citizens of the town
were not aware of what was going on. The culprit was hung on a tree immediately
opposite the jail. The party then returned to their homes. The reason assigned for
the hanging was that some of the witnesses whose evidence was all important for the
conviction of the prisoner, were about to leave for Fraser River, and their absence
would have assured the acquittal of the prisoner."

THE MURDER OF A SPANIARD

A deliberate and premeditated murder took place September 25, 1858 at Islip's
Ferry, on the Stanislaus River. The two men were vaqueros. The Spaniard, Phillip
Swearis, was in the employ of Francis Latois, who lived on the south side of the
Stanislaus. He and Antonio Ferreas, working for Burton Hope, being together and
drinking quite freely, engaged in a fight. The two Spaniards were separated and
Swearis went home. That night, Swearis, swimming the river in his clothing, carried
with him, holding them above his head, a pair of dry trousers. On reaching the north
side of the river, he cast off his wet pants and drew on the dry ones. Then quietly
walking to where Antonio was soundly sleeping, he struck him a heavy blow on the
head, crushing his skull and instantly killing the sleeping Spaniard. The murderer
then awoke another Spaniard and, telling him of the deed, fled to the river bank. It
was as the correspondent said, "a horrible murder." The murdered man left a wife
and five children in Sonora, having been engaged in herding and driving cattle for
Burton Hope.

A MYSTERIOUS MURDER

In the long list of murders in California, many desperadoes have suddenly de-
parted without any clue to their executioner. In fact, but little if any effort was ever
made to find who it was that killed them. The public in general declared, "That
saves the county the expense of hanging them and perhaps the life of some good man."
Mysterious was the death of a desperate character named Thomas Murray. He was
not only a desperado, but a man without any regard for law and order, especially when
drunk, which was most of the time. He was a terror to the neighborhood and one of
his pranks was whenever he wanted anything in a store or saloon to go and demand
it without paying for the article. The storekeeper who dared to question his right
would find a cocked revolver pointed at his head. On Friday evening, October 16,
1868, Tom was on a "high old spree," and he became so boisterous that the constable
put him in irons. The next morning Tom was comparatively sober and was at supper
that evening. Sunday morning he did not appear, and in searching for him a party
found him dead, lying in a straw stack about three miles from Tuolumne City.

FRANK BOLLINGER KILLED MYSTERIOUSLY
Another unknown murder was that of Frank Bollinger the following year, Janu-
ary 26, 1869, in the street of Tuolumne City. He also was a terror to the neighbor-
hood, and there was not a tear shed at his funeral. "It is no wonder that he was
killed, the only wonder is that he was not killed sooner." On the evening previous
to his death, Bollinger and two companions began drinking heavily and the desperado,
carrying a double shotgun and a pistol, declared that he had four or five men "spotted,"
that is, marked for death at his hands. Who those men were he did not state. About
eleven o'clock that night, however, Bollinger walked out to the home of H. K. Covert,
who lived on the edge of the town. Covert was in bed soundly sleeping. He was
suddenly awakened, however, by hearing some one shouting, "Ralph! Ralph!" Look-
ing out, he saw Bollinger standing by the window with a shotgun in his hand. Covert
went back to bed, but a minute later, hearing the cocking of a gun, he speedily rolled
onto the floor. Then again came a cry, "Henry! Henry!" which was Covert's correct
name. The cry was immediately followed by a charge of buckshot and "it literally tore
the mattress to pieces." A few minutes after the gun report was heard, Bollinger,
gun in hand, entered the City Hotel saloon. Mr. Dudley, the proprietor, endeavored
to get Bollinger to give up his gun. But the man was sober enough to keep possession
of a hot rifle. After a time Dudley succeeded in getting him to bed. The following



134 HISTORY OF STANISLAUS COUNTY

morning Bollinger arose and after taking a couple of drinks at the bar, he started
down the street. When opposite Covert's he turned as if to walk into the saloon.
That moment a shot was fired from the saloon and Bollinger fell, wounded by a shot-
gun, seventeen shot entering his body. He died three hours later. Two men were
in the saloon. The coroner's jury brought in a verdict that Frank Bollinger "came to
his death from violence from some person or persons unknown."

THE ROONEY-COCKERY HOMICIDE
In that same year, same month, December 20, another murder took place less
than six miles from Tuolumne City. This was at Paradise, another case of whisky.
A man named Michael Rooney, "a very industrious blacksmith of Paradise City,"
and Thomas Cockery, the butcher, were in a saloon having the social drinks together.
In a short time they were both under the influence of liquor and they began fighting.
Friends separated them and it was believed that ended the affair. The next day,
Cockery, who it appears got the worst of the fight, was around looking for the party
who whipped him. In his search he entered Wilson's saloon and while taking a
drink with another party suddenly started for the door. Just then the door opened
and Rooney entered. They immediately commenced fighting, Cockery with a pistol
in his hand and Rooney with a knife. After 'striking at each other two or three times
Cockery fired and Rooney fell into the corner crying out, "Murder! Murder!" He
died the following day. At the inquest held by Justice Walthall, acting for Coroner
Covert, the jury brought in this verdict: "We find that Michael Rooney, age twenty-
six years, came to his death in a saloon in the basement of the Wilson building by a
pistol ball fired by Thomas Cockery. We, the jurors, William B. Johnson, Robert
Rutledge, Thomas van Dusen, Alexander Pease, A. M. Hunter, Thomas S. Bentley,
E. W. Chapman, Peter Rudge."

THE KNIGHTS FERRY MURDER

At I. D. Morley's ranch near Knights Ferry a murder occurred November 12,
1869, over a piece of land, which was claimed by both parties. During the difficulty
Frank Mulligan shot Jacob Keller with a shotgun, three balls entering his breast.
There were no witnesses to the shooting and Mulligan claims that he fired in self-
defense. An examination was held before Justice Reedy of La Grange and the facts
were brought out that although Keller had a revolver he made no attempt to use it.



Online LibraryGeorge Henry TinkhamHistory of Stanislaus County California : with biographical sketches of the leading men and women of the county who have been identified with its growth and development from the early days to the pres → online text (page 19 of 177)