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 22 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 22 of 177)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

Baker, found young Garrison by the side of the house sobbing and crying as if his
heart would break. Mr. Crossmore inquired: "What is the matter?" The boy ex-
claimed between his sobs: "The boys are drowned in the river." Mr. Crossmore gave
the alarm and hurried to the river, accompanied by the father. A few minutes later
R. B. Drew arrived. Solicitous for the condition of Mr. Baker, who had heart dis-
ease, he persuaded the father to return to his home. He was accompanied by his
employee. Mr. Drew then entering the water with a long stick, for the river was
low, began poking around. He soon came across the body of the eldest boy. He was
in a deep hole made by the eddying of the current when the river was swiftly flowing.
In a short time other persons engaged ; n the search and about sundown Ben Ducker
found the body of George Baker. About nine o'clock that night he discovered Oliver's
body. They were buried from the Christian Church and the Stanislaus Pioneer Society
attended the funeral in a body, Mr. Baker being one of their members. The funeral
was one of the largest ever held in the county. There was a strong and heartfelt
sympathy for the grief-stricken parents and Mrs. Ben Ducker composed a very sj'm-
pathetic poem on the occasion. The following are the first eight and last four lines.

"They are sleeping, sweetly sleeping
Your precious loved ones dear,
They have gone to live with Jesus,
And their voices no more you'll hear.
They are sleeping, sweetly sleeping,
Can you wish to wake them now ?
Where not one trace of sadness
Can cross their precious brow.

Oh, we think not, though 'tis lonely,
Bow and kiss the chastening rod,
Saying not as we would have it,
But as thou hast wilt, Oh Lord."

In the sudden disappearance of Thomas Owens we see in a nutshell the faithful
devotion of a wife through eight long years, the strong faith of a newspaper man in his
honesty and integrity and the perfidy of a man unworthy of the love of a good woman
or true friend. In 1889, Thomas Owens was appointed collector of the Modesto Irri-
gation District. He made good, was highly respected, believed to be honest and had in
his possession at one time as high as $3,000 of the money of the company. In 1892
he suddenly disappeared. In looking over his account with the district there was a
shortage of $695. Then he was denounced as an embezzler and a scoundrel for taking
the district money and deserting a wife and two small children. The Herald defended
the man and publicly declared there was no justification for the "foul slander." Owens'
bondsmen were compelled to make good the deficit and the faithful wife, by selling the
little home and other means, succeeded in paying the bondsmen their loss within two
years. Mrs. Owens with her children, in 1895, moved to Stockton and succeeded in
supporting the family by dressmaking. In May, 1900, Mr. Owens returned to his
family and his own confession, as given to a press reporter, tells the tale. He said the
cause of his departure was the fact that he had spent a part of the Modesto Irrigation
money in aiding a friend in his campaign for the office of district attorney. When an


accounting was called for he did not have the money and did not feel like asking his
friends to help him out. He left ostensibly for Visalia without informing anyone of his
intention. He went direct to Los Angeles and from there by steamer to San Francisco.
Remaining a few days he then went to Napa and under the name of Thomas Oliver
engaged in the carpenter trade. He remained there three years and sent not a word to
his family. Then going to Oregon he assumed his right name and there remained until
1897. He then went to Dawson City and saw three or four fellows who knew him
in Modesto, but they could tell him nothing about his wife. He remained in Dawson
until the winter of 1899 and about eight months ago joined the Salvation Army and
took a prominent part. Mrs. Owens had heard that he was in Dawson and wrote him
a letter. He did not get it, as it probably was on the steamer Stratton, which sunk.
She again wrote and he received it about December. He answered it and, receiving a
second letter in February (1900) began making preparations to return to California
and his family. The home coming, says the reporter, was a joyous one, though the
daughters, then thirteen and fifteen years of age, had only a dim recollection of their
father. The first of the article says, "The charge of embezzlement against Thomas H.
Owens for absconding with funds "of the Modesto Irrigation District was dismissed
today (May 7, 1900) by Judge Minor on motion of District Attorney Walthall. A
lengthy petition signed by many property holders and respected citizens, asking that
the action be dismissed, probably influenced Judge Minor's action."

When the law-abiding citizen takes the law in his own hands and breaks it, can
he expect to have the criminal class respect and obey the laws? The Regulators in
1879 had threatened the lives of citizens and unmolested, destroyed the property of the
Chinese. Following their work there was no change for the better in the criminal class.
There were the usual shooting affairs, the same drunken carousals and the wide-open
gambling, robbery and prostitution. Nor were the police authorities willing to or
enabled to enforce the law. A series of events took place in May, 1883, which brought
things to a crisis. One of these events was the so-called bridge riot. Near the Bridge
House a party of five toughs led by the notorious Joe Buckner, familiarly known as
Joe Long, robbed and brutally beat up two Frenchmen. Two months later a gambler
named Muram shot to death a youth of sixteen years near Turlock. Then came the
charges against Doane and Robbins by the MacCrellish girls. While the excitement was
high and threats repeatedly made by the mob that they would hang the two men re-
gardless of judge or jury, word was sent out by the Vigilantes of 1879 to reorganize.
The Vigilantes committee reassembled at their old headquarters early in 1884 and very
considerately awaited the action of the court in the Robbins trial. Doane had been
discharged in the preliminary trial by Justice Eastin, there being considerable doubt
regarding his guilt. Robbins was given a fair and impartial trial in February, 1884,
as we have already noted, and a jury, some of Modesto's highly respected citizens,
declared him not guilty. If the verdict of the jury was satisfactory to the Regulators,
well and good, but if not satisfactory then "the death of Doane and Robbins had been
decreed by them." Neither the decision of Justice Eastin in the Doane case nor the
verdict of the jury in the Robbins trial was satisfactory to them, and they again pro-
posed to usurp the authority of state. March 1, 1884, they sent out three anonymous
notices to Doane, Robbins and John MacCrellish, "Leave this county within ten days,
fail not on pain of death." Doane, unwisely, and yet within his rights as an American
citizen, refused to obey the command of some unknown persons who simply made them-
selves known as "San Joaquin Valley Regulators." It is said, no doubt true, that
he assumed a defiant air and defied this unknown party and that he became violent in
his language and conduct. Doane was no coward, he was brave and reckless, and the
threat of death hanging over his head made a fearless and desperate character. Then
exhibiting the silly bravado of that class 6f men, especially under the influence of liquor,
he came from his little place on the Waterford road into Modesto and showed the
letter to his companions. They, just as unwise as he, plied Doane with more liquor
and urged him to go and fight the gang that were trying to run him out of town.


Some politician once said: "God save me from my friends," and Doane may well
have said, "Lord save me from my companions," for they were urging him on to his
death. Thus intoxicated, he wandered up and down streets of the town, maudlin
drunk, asserting that he was no coward, that he would not leave and that if the Regu-
lators came for him, they would find him prepared to defend himself. In one of his
drunken tirades he met on the street March 10 a highly respected farmer named W. C.
Clark. Doane accused Clark of being a Regulator and would have shot him, but Mr.
Clark with a heavy cane soon put Doane "hors de combat." A few days after Doane's
unprovoked assault on Clark, the Vigilantes assembled at headquarters. It was the
evening of March 19, 1884, a day which will ever be memorable in the days of
Modesto. They had assembled, not for the purpose of arresting and confining Doane
nor of banishing him from the county, but for the purpose of taking his life. Their
intention was to take Doane alive, convey him to the bridge, hang him there and leave
the body dangling from it, so reads the record. Twenty-five men were left at the
bridge to guard it. Others were stationed along the road to Doane's house, which we
remember was six miles out on the Waterford road. Another twenty-five, led by the
captain, all on horseback, started for Doane's home to capture him and fulfill the
design of the Regulators. Halting close to the place, they dismounted, these twenty-
five men, seeking the life of an ignorant man then fifty-seven years old. What crime
had he committed that he should suffer death? True, he had led a violent life in
early days and had shot a man in Tuolumne County. But he had been punished for
this crime by serving time in the penitentiary. Was he now to be hung for the same
offense? No, he was to suffer death, says the printed account, because of the brazen
conduct on his part and not so much the crime that he had committed against Dora
MacCrellish. After dismounting, seven or eight of the Regulators, heavily masked,
entered the door of the saloon. Four men were in the saloon — J. R. Briggs, Steve
Girard and Doane, who were sitting at a table playing cards, and the barkeeper. The
Vigilantes, with their weapons pointed at the heads of the frightened men, ordered
them to throw up their hands. They quickly obeyed the command, all but Doane.
He, realizing the situation, jumped from his chair and started for the back room,
presumably for a weapon to defend himself. One of the Regulators fired a charge of
buckshot into the body of the retreating man. The charge took effect in his back
between his shoulders, and Doane fell dead. The Regulators then rode back to their
companions at the bridge and in the darkness of the night reported their deed.


J. J. Robbins, against whom there was no evidence of crime, only a suspicion of
crime, March 1, 1884, received the following letter signed "San Joaquin Valley Regu-
lators": "From date you are notified to leave this county within ten days. Fail not,
on pain of death." Robbins, standing on his rights as an American citizen, resented
this threat, and on the bulletin board in front of his office he published the following
notice: "One hundred dollars will be paid for information leading to the detection of
the cowardly scoundrel who addressed me an anonymous letter on March 1, signed
'San Joaquin Valley Regulators'." And he feared not to sign his name, J. J. Robbins.
His friends persuaded him that the anonymous letter was a joke, and he removed the
notice from the board. He soon afterward left Modesto.

The same command was given to John MacCrellish to immediately leave with
his family. MacCrellish replied in the Evening News that he had not enough money
to get food for his family, to say nothing of getting out of the county. He was per-
fectly willing to leave town if he could raise the funds. He also hoped that if there
were such a thing as Vigilantes they would not hang him on an empty stomach. Suffi-
cient funds were raised and he and his family left Modesto the day following the
killing of Doane. ~-

Having got rid of the principal characters in the drama, the Regulators next turned
their attention to the gamblers and their consorts. About thirty persons received the
following notice: "You are hereby notified to leave Modesto within twenty-four
hours and never return, under peril of your lives. Remember Doane's fate. — San


Joaquin Valley Regulators, March 21, 10:30 p. m." That allusion to Doane had its
effect and many of the disreputables, leaving as soon as possible, remained housed for
several days in a warehouse at Salida. On April 7, Saturday evening, the Regulators
made another raid on Chinatown. They were followed by Constable Clark, who,
approaching the captain within thirty feet, inquired: "How are you getting along?"
"All right," the captain replied. Clark then went into the different houses and told
the Chinese if the Regulators came in to be quiet and permit search. He then pleaded
with the captain not to destroy the Chinese stores as the Chinese did not allow the
whites to smoke opium. For his defense of the Chinese the captain hurled a beef bone
at Clark, which struck him on the head, making a gash over his right eye. Blood
freely flowed from the wound.

Another edict was published by the Vigilantes April 17, which said that certain
persons ordered to leave are "lurking in the vicinity of Modesto. Now, therefore, all
such persons are ordered to leave Stanislaus County immediately and never return,
under penalty of death, and all persons are forbidden to harbor anyone under the same,
penalty. All gamblers, pimps and prostitutes are forbidden to come into Stanislaus
County. Remember Doane's fate." There was naturally much opposition to the
work of the Regulators. Some of those who came under their ban were young men
of the first families, who were the victims of the wide open town, more than toughs
at heart. Most of the men, however, were the friends of Barney Garner and patrons
of his saloon. Garner was freely outspoken in his denunciation of the Regulators.
This called forth from them another letter addressed personally to Barney Garner
April 23, 9 o'clock p. m. "This is to notify you if any disturbance is made, property
destroyed or persons injured by the gang ordered out of the county, or any grain burned
on the supposition that the owner is a Regulator, you will be held personally respon-
sible with your life." Garner, as we have noted, was a prominent Democratic leader,
and he took the letter to the Democratic paper, the News. The proprietor, J. D.
Spencer, not only published the letter, but he deplored the attitude the Regulators had
taken in seeking to threaten citizens who publicly expressed their opinion. He also
deplored the bad name that the Regulators had given the town as a city of lawlessness
and disorder. No threat was made against the News so far as known, but on the 21st
of March the Farmer's Journal had been warned to modify its tone or take the con-
sequences. The next morning following the death of Doane, although giving no report
of the affair, it said: "If the people don't start in and pat the Regulators on the back
then we are much mistaken. Every man, woman and ten-year-old boy in town feels
that something must be done to purify the town." In another column it remarked:
"It is about time that the Regulators were getting after the alley stock. After this,
get rid of the MacCrellish family. It is to be hoped that they will put a stop to
opium smoking." In still another column was this declaration: "The Journal is not
in favor of violence, but in the language of David Crockett, 'Be sure you're right,
then go ahead'." There was one saloonkeeper intimidated, if none other, and in the
Modesto Strawbuck, May 6, 1884, he said: "To the San Joaquin Valley Regulators:
Gentlemen: Since your notice was received my place of business had been closed. I
had rented it, but the parties were compelled to give it up. I have endeavored to sell
. it, but can find no purchasers. I have a stock of goods that are perishable and must
do something with them, as I cannot lie idle and support my family. I find, therefore,
that I must open my place, and at the same time I promise you that I will keep a
quiet and respectable house, and at the same time grant you the privilege if you see fit,
should I not stand by my agreement, to again serve a notice on me to close. Should
you not answer this letter I will take it for granted that I have your permission and
will proceed to open at once. — Respectfully, Moses Morris."


Dr. Thomas Tynan, pioneer and one of Stanislaus County's wealthiest citizens, in

1892 became involved in a very sensational law suit, his stepdaughters, Mrs. T. F.

(Emeline) Woodside and Mrs. F. A. (Lucinda) Fuquay, being the plaintiffs. In

1862 Dr. Tynan married Mrs. Eli S. Marvin of Empire City, a wealthy widow. It


was alleged in the stepdaughters' petition that at the time of Dr. Tynan's marriage to
their mother he owned unprofitable land on the Tuolumne river opposite Empire; had
a small, unprofitable practice as a physician, and lived in a wagon on wheels. The
land and the wagon comprised his entire property. Mrs. Tynan, their mother, died
in 1881, leaving all of her property to her children in a will dated September 8, 1881.
Up to this time Dr. Tynan had acted as the agent of his wife, and since her death he
had acted as his stepdaughters' trustee. He acted wisely and honestly and gradually
extended his operations. Among other transactions he purchased stock in the Modesto
Grange Company and in the Grangers' Bank, San Francisco. In 1890 he erected the
finest hotel in Modesto. It was a three-story brick building on the former site of the
St. John house, and cost about $20,000. About that time the doctor's troubles began,
for he again married and began selling his property and putting it into cash. The
two stepdaughters, suspecting this, commenced suit for a settlement. In their petition
they claimed that there had been no accounting during their mother's life, and as the
property had belonged to them since that date they petitioned the court that the doc-
tor be compelled to make an accounting and deed to them all of his lands and sur-
render to them his personal property. In his declining years, then over seventy years
of age, the physician was greatly worried, for he was obliged to provide for a young
wife. The suit came before Judge William Minor in April, 1892, with L. W. Mad-
dux and James H. Budd of Stockton representing the stepdaughters. It seems that
before the suit was settled Dr. Tynan disappeared. After waiting nearly a year the
stepdaughters assumed that their stepfather was dead, and they petitioned for a pro-
bation of the property. They were opposed by the executor, Judge Hewel, who was
represented in court by D. M. Delmas and P. H. Hazen of San Francisco and L. W.
Fulkerth of Modesto. The daughters had the same counsel as in the previous suit.
The case again came up before Judge Minor and was entitled "Woodside vs. Hewel,"
as found in the Supreme Court reports. The jury selected to try the case comprised
S. W. Coffee, D. W. Bury, J. McDonough, J. W.'Earson, A. N.Standiford, S. Garl-
inghouse, Moses Sheakley, E. B. Stafford, George Wood, W. S. Spaulding and Jonas
Bancy. The executor's attorne_vs endeavored to prove that Dr. Thomas E. Tynan
was not dead, although his wife positively insisted that he had been murdered. "The
plaintiffs," said the dispatch, "proved by an overwhelming evidence that Tynan was
dead, and as the case stands there is no doubt of it." The case was on trial for twenty-
three days, including the three days of argument by the counsel. The jury retiring at
5 o'clock October 21, returned into the court the following morning. They disagreed
as to the death of Dr. Tynan, but they unanimously agreed giving the stepdaughters
three-fifths of the property, its cash value being about $150,000. It was alleged that
Tynan was worth $250,000. Judge Minor, after carefully reviewing the evidence,
declared Dr. T. E. Tynan legally dead. Regarding the distribution of the property,
however, an unexpected event occurred — Dr. Tynan's return; and Judge Hewel taking
the case to the Supreme Court, they declared October 10, 1895, that the property
was community property between the husband and wife, and hence it could not be

The disappearance of Dr. Tynan was one of the sensational events of that day,
an event which for a time rivalled the train holdup by Evans and Sontag. He left
Modesto October 13, 1892, for the purpose of going to San Francisco and transacting
some business connected with the suit. On Saturday, the 15th, just before the closing
of the bank, he drew out $5000, telling the clerk that he intended to make some
improvements on his property in Modesto. A little later he wrote to his wife that
he would be home on Monday. On the following day (Sunday) he left the Baldwin
House, where he had lodged, and told the clerk that he was going home. From that
time on, according to the belief of his wife, he had not been seen. She declared that
Dr. Tynan had enemies and they had murdered him. About that time a headless body
somewhat resembling Tynan had been found in the Stockton channel, but it was not
the missing man. His photograph and a description of Tynan were circulated by the
thousands throughout the United States. The description stated that he was of Irish
birth, short, thick set, rather portly and weighed in his prime about 200 pounds. The


most striking peculiarity of his personal appearance was his arm. It had been frac-
tured and improperly set. As a result it dangled by his side when he walked. De-
tectives from San Francisco traced a man resembling Tynan in every respect from
that city to Sacramento. He there purchased a ticket for New York and signed the
name of E. S. Stanley. The detectives were positive it was Tynan. A man named
Wilson telegraphed that he saw Tj'nan in Utah. The railroad ticket was produced
in court and those familiar with Tynan's handwriting swore it was not his signature,
yet strangely enough Stanley was the maiden name of Tynan's mother. The telegram
from Utah was also discredited. By a singular incident Tynan was found. He was
a Spiritualist, and while Slade, the famous Spiritualist, was in San Francisco, he visited
Slade's seances. Tynan, again visiting the medium in Boston, was recognized as the
long-sought Modestoan. The fact was telegraphed to Mrs. Tynan. After two years
Tynan returned to California and said he had been living in seclusion in Boston to
get rid of his family troubles. Then it was that Hewel carried the property suit to
the Supreme Court and they reversed the decision of the lower court. Thomas E.
Tynan died in San Francisco April 14, 1898.

A sad tragedy was that of the death of Mrs. Guy Kilburn, the wife of the wealthy
rancher, at her home about two miles above Crow T s Landing. She had had in her
employ for about twenty years a Chinese cook. Suddenly becoming insane, he attacked
her January 29, 1910, with a knife, and stabbing her in the abdomen he inflicted
wounds from which she died in half an hour. Mrs. Kilburn's son and his wife en-
deavored to prevent the murder, but the terrible deed was accomplished before they
succeeded in overpowering the crazed heathen. Ah Sam was securely bound and taken
to the Modesto jail. In the struggle with the knife the Chinaman in some manner
cut himself severely, and he died in the county hospital the following day from the
effects of the wound.

One of the oldest pioneers of the county was Dr. B. D. Horr, who located a
ranch on the Tuolumne River in 1849. Of Southern birth, he was well educated,
social, benevolent, and always cheerful and happy. A politician, he was most of his
time in office or pulling the wires for his friends. Unfortunately, he was an inveterate
gambler and a heavy drinker, and frequently he would gamble and drain the social
glass until the early morning hours. Early in February, 1869, he was on a continuous
spree and on the evening of the 3rd he again sat down to the gambling table. Playing
cards throughout the night, luck was against him and he bet his last dollar and lost.
About four o'clock he left the gambling table and going outside took an overdose of
morphine and when found a short time later he was dead.

One of the mysteries of Modesto's history was the disappearance of George
French a prominent Mason and a bookkeeper in the employ of Tucker & Perley,

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 22 of 177)