Copyright
Wallace Melvin Morgan.

History of Kern 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 present; online

. (page 13 of 177)
Online LibraryWallace Melvin MorganHistory of Kern 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 present; → online text (page 13 of 177)
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Woody, and all the other mountain districts were developing under the hands
of stockmen and farmers into permanent and prosperous communities, able
to weather droughts and other periods of adversity with less relative loss,
perhaps, than any other portion of the county.



HISTORY OF KERN COUNTY 91

The Last of Old Clubfoot

In 1879 Uld Clubfoot made his last trip north past Tejon and back to
his principal haunts in the San Bernardino mountains. Since the days of
the earliest settlements, Old Clubfoot was the hero of the principal bear
stories of the pioneers. Big as an ox, and easily identified by sight or by
his tracks from the fact that his right fore paw had been chewed off — prob-
ably by a trap in his infancy — the great beast used to make his pilgrimage
into the mountains of Kern county every summer, always coming by one
trail and returning by another. A party of twelve men met Old Clubfoot one
day on the Alamos trail as they were going to Los Angeles from the Kern
River mines. The bear did not offer to fight, noi did he exhibit the slightest
disposition to retreat. He simply stood there, calm and statuesque, his big
body filling the road from cliff to precipice — or at least leaving no clear
space on either side down which the miners cared to venture. Clubfoot got
the right of way. What became of him at last neither history nor tradition
records. After 1879 the Tejon herders saw him no more, and no more is
known of him.

The Lynching of an Outlaw Gang

It was while the long and ineffectual battle to save the life of the out-
law, Tiburcio Vasquez, was dragging in the courts and before the governor
that a number of vaqueros and amateur horsethieves started out to emulate
Tiburcio's notorious career. They stole a number of horses and saddles from
livery stables in Bakersfield, went to Caliente, robbed the depot, shot up
the town and were preparing a dastardly assault on a woman when the con-
struction train with a gang of workmen came along and frightened them
away.

Determined to nip this new outburst of lawlessness in the tender bud,
cattlemen, ranchers and residents of Bakersfield took instantly to arms. Jim
Young, a cattleman, saw the gang on its way to the Utah trail and gathered
a small posse composed of himself, Sam Young, Bull Williams and perhaps
one or two others. "Bull" Williams got his name from the fact (veraciously
reported by his friends) that when he started in the cattle business as a
tenderfoot the old timers sold him a hundred head of bull calves as a nucleus
for his herd. A very few years later Williams sold twelve hundred cattle
as the increase of his band, which indicates that he did not remain a tender-
foot all the rest of his life.

The Youngs and Bull Williams found the outlaws in a house near the
Alamos ranch beyond Gorman station, and got between them and their guns.
Five Mexicans and a young man named Elias were brought to the jail in
Bakersfield, and then a meeting of the men who had been hunting them was
held at the office of Justice of the Peace W. S. Adams. Adams was requested
to retire, and an agreement was drafted and signed in which the men present
pledged their support and loyalty to each other.

Then they went to the jail, where the jailor was easily overpowered,
took the outlaws to the courtroom and organized a court by appointing a
judge, jury and prosecuting attorney and attorney for the defense. Mean-
time, that there might be no delay in the workings of the wheels of justice,
another man was appointed to put ropes to soak and lay a heavy timber
between the crotches of two willow trees at the rear of the court house
yard. He also placed a plank across two barrels underneath the heavy timber.

In the morning, very early, a great crowd gathered in the court house



92 HISTORY OF KERN COUNTY

yard to see six bodies hanging stiffly by their necks. They were cut down
and laid out side by side on the floor of the hall in the courthouse, and a
coroner's jury promptly summoned promptly found that the deceased per-
sons came to their death from being hanged by a person or persons to this
jury unknown. At least the jury swore truly so far as its official cognizance
was concerned, for no testimony touching the identity of the executioners
was introduced at the inquest.

Not a few people condemned the hanging of the boy Elias, and a large
number of Mexican citizens considered the affair an affront to their race.
There was some talk of asking the Mexican consul to interfere, and a small
fire starting in the alley back of the Arlington hotel gave rise to a report
that an attempt had been made to burn the town in resentment of the lynch-
ing. Guards were sworn in and stationed about the streets for a night or
two, but the excitement died out as the Mexicans were convinced that no
discrimination between races had been intended or had been made.

This was the last organized gang of thieves and outlaws to ply their
profession in Kern county.

The Tehachapi Train Wreck

On January 20, 1883, occurred the train wreck on the Tehachapi grade,
still remembered with horror. The Southern Pacific passenger train reached
Tehachapi at 2:30 a. m. with seven cars, a postal car, baggage car, express
car, two sleepers, smoking car and day coach in the order named. The con-
ductor, B. F. Reid, got off to register and get the train orders, the head brake-
man, C. Maltby, went to turn the switch when the engines were discon-
nected and the helper engine was being detached, and the rear brakeman,
John Patten, left his post to show a lady passenger the way to the depot.
The night was very dark, and a strong and bitterly cold wind was blowing
over the mountain from the south. The last man of the train crew had hardly
left the cars before they began moving backward. The grade at the station
was twenty feet to the mile, and rapidly grew steeper, and besides there was
the wind to help give the runaway train velocity. The train was making
furious headway before anyone inside noticed that anything was wrong. Then
Eli Nabro, a passenger, set the hand brakes on the sleepers. This checked
the forward part of the train so that the smoker and day coach broke loose
and dashed on ahead. The hand brakes however, were insufficient to hold
the cars on the steep grade, and new velocity was gained. Two miles and
a half below the station, the sleepers left the track just after they had passed
over a deep fill. The first was thrown against the wall of a cut and crushed
to splinters, the second turned completely over in the air and landed on the
bank. Both caught fire, and the first was completely consumed with every-
one in it. From the other sleeper and from the postal, express and baggage
cars, all of which rolled over the fill to the bottom of the gulch, eighteen or
twenty persons escaped, all more or less seriously hurt. A Miss Squires,
caught in the wreck unhurt, was burned to death before the eyes of other
passengers who were powerless to help her. The smoker and day coach
raced on a mile and a half farther, where the efforts of the passengers served
to stop them. Just how many people were killed in the wreck was never
accurately established. The testimony at the inquest tended to show that
the brakes never were set at the station, though railroad officials maintained
that the brakes were set, but that tramps released them with the intention
of robbing the passengers. The body of one tramp was found in the wreck.



HISTORY OF KERN COUNTY 93

Importation of the Negroes

Haggin & Carr inherited from Livermore & Chester and the Cotton
Growers' Association the idea that cotton growing should be one of the most
profitable purposes to which the delta lands could be put, and as a means
of securing suitable labor in the cotton fields Carr undertook the importation
of negroes from the southern states. The St. Louis Chronicle of November
13, 1884, records that F. M. Ownbey was there on that date arranging to
bring to Kern county 1100 negroes to work on the Haggin lands, and states
that the immigrants were ofifered wages at the rate of $12 per month for
men, $8 for women, and $6 for boys and girls.

Ownbey never brought so many negroes to the county as he planned,
but three or four parties came at different times under contract to work for
a year at the wages stated. In the last party were 130 families. Among
them were M. Stevens and his wife, Will, Belton and Gideon Vessel; John,
Henry and Joe Pinkney; A. W. Vessel, Mrs. Susie Hall, Francis Campbell,
Henry Caldwell, Anderson Bowen, Mary Bowen, Pleasant Martin and Will
Walker and his family, all members of the colored colony of Bakersfield today.

But from Carr's standpoint the bringing of the negroes was not a suc-
cess. No sooner had they landed than the missionaries of discontent were
among them, pursuading them to disregard their contracts and showing them
how much better wages they could secure elsewhere. The result was that
the greater number of them never did enough work for Carr to pay their
transportation. Some never did a stroke of work for him. Stevens and per-
haps a dozen others stayed on the ranches about eleven months, and Tom
Ferryman, who was given a patch of ground to work for himself, stayed three
years. The others found work in Bakersfield or scattered over the state.
The importation of the negroes helped to increase the breech that was widen-
mg between Carr and a considerable portion of the people around Bakers-
field, particularly working men and homesteaders who depended on their
wages to finance them and who considered Carr's action an effort to cheapen
the price of labor.

The non-success of the cheap labor scheme, on the other hand, put an
end to the plan for raising cotton and hops, and helped, in all probability,
to confirm the decision of Haggin and Tevis to dispose uf their lands.

News Notes of 1886 to 1893

August, 1886 — Billy Carr is undertaking to manage buth the Democratic
and Republican parties in Kern county. At the last general election 394 votes
were cast — 198 Republican and 196 Democratic. W. W. Drury ships his
first crop of ramie — about 500 pounds — to Pittsburg, and the proceeds net
him about 5 cents per pound.

September 11, 1886—The adjournment of the legislature without having
passed the irrigation bills is heralded as a defeat for Haggin & Carr and a
victory for Miller & Lux and their attorney-in-chief, R. E. Houghton.

October, 1886 — Clashes are frequent between Carr and settlers on desert
lands under the Calloway canal. Carr is accused of trying to prevent settlers
from remaining on their claims by fencing the roads and otherwise, and set-
tlers make trouble by cutting Carr's fences. Miss Conway, a school teacher
who has filed on a desert homestead, chops down a Idcked gate while Carr's
men look on. It is alleged that dead hogs were thrown in Miss Conway's
well.

December 9, 1886— Haggin & Carr are making 400 to 1000 25-pound



94 HISTORY OF KERN COUNTY

cheeses per month on the Mountain View and Kern Island ranches. From
January 1st to September 26th 201,886 pounds of cheese were shipped to Los
Angeles and San Francisco.

December 30, 1886 — The people of Sumner are discussing the subject
of a water supply for fire purposes. The Kern County Immigration Society
is organized with H. Hirshfeld, president; A. C. Maude, secretary, and P.
Galtes, W. H. Scribner, E. M. Roberts, W. E. Houghton and B. Ardizzi,
directors. It is planned to keep a permanent exhibit in Los Angeles.

February 3, 1887 — The Bakersfield water works has two eight-inch wells,
seventy-five feet deep, and pumps about 133,000 gallons of water per day.

February 5, 1887 — A big sandstorm from the east almost stops business
in Bakersfield. Complaints are made concerning the large bills presented
by the constables and justices.

March, 1887 — The Wright irrigation bill becomes a law.

June 2, 1887 — A news letter from Delano to the Echo describes that
town as having four stores, two hotels, one lodging house, one restaurant,
two livery stables, two meat markets, two blacksmith shops, one barber shop,
three real estate offices, and a right smart sprinkling of saloons and dance
houses — no church, no doctor, no drug store, no lawyer. The spring's ship-
ments of wool amounted to 4600 bales.

June, 1887 — Mr. Collins, agent of the general land office, concludes an
investigation of the Haggin & Carr desert land claims.

June 23, 1887 — The Tehachapi Lime Company has recently begun opera-
tions.

June 30, 1887 — R. M. Pogson buys the old town hall and moves it to
Tejon. The agitation begins for a $100,000 bond issue for building roads
throughout the county and for the purchase of fair grounds.

July, 1887 — In the election of a chief of the Bakersfield fire department,
the Alerts and the Neptunes combine on L. F. Burr and defeat W. H. Ream,
the candidate of the Eurekas, by a few votes. Other officers elected are:
E. R. Jameson, assistant chief; J. W. Ahern, secretary; H. A. Blodget, treas-
urer.

Charles A. Maul's peach orchard is celebrated in the local press.

September, 1887 — The Crocker ranch south of town, largely in alfalfa
and with a good house on it sells for $32,000 — $100 per acre.

September, 1887 — The Southern Hotel Association incorporates.

September, 1887— L. P. St. Clair buys for $2400 a block of land southwest
of the courthouse, afterward the site of the first St. Francis hospital at G
and Fourteenth streets.

September, 1887 — Articles of incorporation are filed in San Francisco by
the San Francisco & San Joaquin Valley Railroad Company. A camp of
workmen in Tejon canon is doing work preliminary to grading^supposed
to be for the Santa Fe. The Tejon lemon and orange trees are in bearing.

September 29, 1887 — General Beale has given a right of way across his
Tejon lands for a railroad from Mojave to Bakersfield. The road is to be
completed to Bakersfield within three years.

November 1, 1887 — Cornerstone of Masonic temple is laid.

December 26, 1887 — Superintendent J. S. Hambleton, drilling on land
owned by the Union Oil & Land Company, reports a strike at 720 feet on
section 19, 30-22. The drill went through oil standstone into a bed of gravel,
and gas forced oil, sand, and gravel the size of walnuts thirty or forty feet



HISTORY OF KERN COUNTY 95

in the air. The well flowed for some little time, and the gas was so suffo-
cating that the workmen were driven back from the well. The Sunset Oil
Company is daily expecting machinery from the east, when it will begin
drilHng. Hirshfeld Brothers and R. T. Norris will soon begin prospecting
for oil eight or nine miles from Bakersfield in the direction of Kern river
caiion at a point where gas is detected coming from the ground.

December 25, 1887 — Fire Chief Burr brings to town the new Silsby fire
engine, and the day being Sunday and Christmas, a great crowd gathers on
the street to inspect the new acquisition. Alex Heyman is foreman of the
Eureka engine company.

January 10, 1888 — An immigrant car at the rear of a Southern Pacific
passenger train, while coming down the grade from Tehachapi, breaks a
wheel, is wrenched loose from the train, leaves the track, rolls over and over
down a seventy-five-foot embankment, and is burned up by a fire which
starts from the heating stove. All the passengers escape by crawling through
the car windows, Charles Ankrum and his wife (colored) being the worst
injured. Ankrum's shoulder was dislocated, and the fire burned a hole in
the back of his coat just as he was getting through the window.

January 26, 1888 — Clerks begin agitation for Sunday closing of stores in
Bakersfield. Rabbit drives are frequent in the county. About 40,000 jack
rabbits were killed in drives during January, Februar}^ and March, 1888.

February 16, 1888 — The Kern River Caiion Irrigation Company, which
owns 25,000 acres of land east and north of Sumner, and which plans to take
water out of the river near the caiion to irrigate lands east of Sumner and
as far south as the Weed Patch, has bonded its lands and franchise to San
Francisco people for thirty days. (Plans never materialized.)

March, 1888 — Bakersfield Drum Corps organized at R. A. Edmonds' store.

May 10. 1888 — The Porterville branch of the Southern Pacific is graded
from Fresno to Porterville.

June 14, 1888 — W^ork has been started on the Southern hotel.

July 12, 1888 — The Woman's Relief Corps is organized.

July 19, 1888 — Work begins on the new railroad shops at Sumner.

July 26, 1888 — The details of the Miller-Haggin agreement are pub-
lished. The only opposition appears to come from the owners of the McCord
ditch. The immediate effect of the agreement is to advance the price of land
around Bakersfield. Large land owners subscribe to a fund totaling between
$3000 and $4000 for the purpose of advertising Kern county. Carr contri-
buted $1500.

September. 1888 — County supervisors give L. P. St. Clair a franchise
for a gas and electric light system for Bakersfield. Work on the plant is to
be commenced in six months and be completed within a year. Briggs, Fergu-
son & Co. announce a great auction sale of Haggin lands beginning Monday,
December 17, 1888. In two hours ninety-two towns lots were sold. On Tues-
day thirty purchasers bought nineteen colony lots of five acres each and 145
town lots. The grand jury recommends that the saloon licenses be raised
from $25 to $75 per quarter.

January 24, 1889 — J. S. Hanibleton, superintendent of the Sunset Oil
Company (Jewett & Blodget), has brought in on section 16, 11-23, at a
depth of 110 feet, an oil well that flows five barrels per day. The county
officials are suing the county for fees which they claim they needlessly paid
into the county treasury.



96 HISTORY OF KERN COUNTY

March 14, 1889— H. A. Blodget, H. H. Fish and Jeff Packard get a
franchise for a street railway down Chester avenue, past the site of the "new
Southern Pacific depot" (which was never built) and out to the river bridge.

Same date — Another Haggin land sale is announced. The sales will be:
First day, at the Cotton ranch ; second day, in Bakersfield ; third day, at the
hop ranch. Barbecues first and third days. Baldwin and McAfee conduct
the sale. Town lots sell at $142 to $640. Colony lots at $57 to $135 per acre.

April 4, 1889 — Hirshfeld brothers, who have been in the mercantile busi-
ness in the county continuously for twenty-five years, sell to Dinkelspiel
brothers.

May 13, 1889 — The county, by a vote of 852 to 281, elects to issue bonds
in the sum of $250,000 to build a new jail, a county hospital, an addition to
the court house and to improve highways.

Same date — Second sale of Haggin's irrigated lands begins under the
direction of L. C. McAfee, who is now the manager, with C. Brower, of the
land department of J. B. Haggin. McAfee announces that it is Haggin's
policy to dispose of all his Kern county lands. McAfee and Brower have
their first office where the Odd Fellows hall is now.

Same date — Plans of the Poso irrigation district are submitted.

July 7, 1889 — The entire business section of Bakersfield is destroyed by
fire. Soon after the great fire property owners in the business section began
laying asphalt sidewalks.

August 31, 1890 — Carr & Haggin are working 300 head of horses ex-
tending canals to the lands which they will colonize next winter. J. J. Mack
is here from San Francisco to organize the Bank of Bakersfield.

September, 1890 — The Kern County Land Company is incorporated in
San Francisco. Report says that S. W. Ferguson is to be the resident mana-
ger. Lloyd Tevis is anxious to dispose of the Kern county lands, as he pre-
fers other investments.

October 1, 1890 — James Herrington is tarred and feathered by citizens
who disapprove of his activity in jumping lands and filing contests against
homesteaders.

October 27, 1890 — Work begins on the Poso irrigation district canal.
Engineers are here surveying for the valley railroad.

A bi-partisan committee is named by Republicans and Democrats to pre-
vent "ward heelers and toughs" from dominating the coming election.

November 1, 1890 — Milo McKee has both arms blown off while firing
a salute with the old brass cannon in honor of Senator Stanford, who had
just arrived in Bakersfield on a speaking tour. On the same day at Tulare,
W. Baker had one arm blown off in almost the same manner, also while
firing a salute to Senator Stanford, and the engine that hauled Senator Stan-
ford's special train to Bakersfield, while returning light to Tulare ran over
and killed Wallace and Ed Ray, two Delano boys who were riding a railroad
bicycle to Alila to attend a dance. The headlight of the engine was broken
and it was running dark.

January 1, 1891 — Ten tons of asphalt in boxes are shipped east.

January, 1891 — Judge Arick dies, and Governor Waterman appoints
A. R. Conklin of Inyo county to succeed him on the superior bench.

Stores in Bakersfield agree to close on Sunday after March 1, 1891.

February, 1891 — The ruling of the interior department of September



HISTORY OF KERX COUNTY 97

12, 1877, suspending desert land entries Xos. 1 to 3i7, inclusive, is revoked,
and old applications to contest are recognized.

An amendment to the desert land act of 1877, just passed, validates as-
signments of desert entries, and permits Haggin to complete and present
proof of reclamation of his hundreds of desert claims under the Calloway.

February, 1891 — Tlie bonds of the Kern and Tulare irrigation district
are sold.

April 2, 1891 — John Barker has developed a gas well on his ranch be-
tween Bakersfield and the Kern canon and has piped it to his house for
cooking and lighting.

April 30, 1891 — President Harrison speaks from rear of train.

April, 1891 — Colonization Agent Knewing of the Kern County Land
Company arrives from England with thirty young English colonists.

July 17, 1891 — At a meeting in Sumner, George C. Doherty and John
Barker explain their plan for the Doherty canal, which would take over water
rights to 30,000 miner's inches of water located by John Barker in 1878,
build a canal down the river to a point opposite Sumner, run a tunnel under
the hill to the mesa north and east of Sumner. The company was to be
incorporated for $1,000,000, the promoters proposed to sell perpetual water
rights for $11.25 per acre, and planned to irrigate 80,000 acres. (This plan
was never carried out, of course, but it was believed at the time to have been
partly responsible for the building of the East Side canal, which covers part
of the territory which the Doherty canal was to water.)

The state legislature has placed a bounty on coyote scalps.

August 25, 1892 — E. M. Roberts is given a contract to construct the
East Side canal, which is to take a portion of the water allowed to the Kern
Island canal under the JMiller-Haggin agreement, and which is planned to
irrigate 30,000 acres of land.

August, 1892 — Construction trains are working on both ends of the Mc-
Kittrick branch railroad.

November, 1892 — A hot campaign and an election contest results in
the election of H. A. Jastro as supervisor from the Fifth district, defeating
H. F. Condict by three votes.

February 10, 1893 — Kern river breaks its levee and floods the northern
and western part of town. The water was a foot deep at I and Nineteenth
street on Thursday, but by Friday noon it had disappeared everywhere in
town except in very low places.

February 23, 1893 — Celsus Brower is chosen to go to the world's fair
at Chicago in charge of the Kern county exhibit.

March 6, 1893 — Rosedale colonists meet to discuss water rates and re-
solve that "no individual or corporation should have the right to fix the
rates at which a necessity of life shall be sold." (The Land Company was
offering the colonists for signature an agreement fixing the rate for irriga-
tion water at $1.50 per acre per year, the contract to be perpetual and the
charge for water to become a Hen on the land if not paid.)

February 4, 1893 — President Cleveland signs the proclamation creating
the Sierra forest reserve, including a great territory in the mountains of
Kern county.

The people of Delano are discussing the possibility of getting water from
the Calloway and Beardsley canals.



98 HISTORY OF KERN COUNTY

May 25, 1893 — Company G, National Guard, is mustered in with Captain,
W. H. Cook; first lieutenant, H. A. Blodget; second lieutenant, H. P. Bender.

August, 1893 — At an anti-Chinese meeting in Kern City, is drafted a



Online LibraryWallace Melvin MorganHistory of Kern 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 present; → online text (page 13 of 177)