As reported in The Riverside Enterprise, Wednesday morning, December 25, 1907


Horace Magee, Inflamed with Liquor, Shoots Without Provocation – – –  Is Struck Down With Billiard Cue

P.V. Swanguen, a constable at Temecula and Louie Escallier, a Frenchman, were shot and instantly killed last night at 8:45 o’clock at Temecula by Horace Magee, a half breed Indian.  Magee was struck twice over the head with a billiard cue in the hands of John Jackson, a bystander, and is not expected to live until this morning.


Details of the tragedy, which has shocked the whole of Temecula, were received by The Enterprise after considerable difficulty.  The double murder took place in a billiard hall owned by Albert Degonmos, a Frenchman.


A good sized crowd of men of the town was in Degonmos place playing billiards when Magee entered with Albert Golch.  It was plain to all that both Magee and his companion had been drinking.  Both men entered talking Spanish.  Finally Magee turned and made an insulting remark to the proprietor of the place.  Degonmos apparently did not pay much attention in the vile epithet hurled at him and made no reply.  When Degonmos did not pay any attention to him, Magee spied Louie Escallier, a Frenchman, and spoke to him insultingly.

Magee’s language was very obscene.  Escallier came over and in an apparently jokingly way burnt Magee with the lighted end of a cigar which he had been smoking.  This put Magee in a murderous mood.  He went over to the shake hands with Constable Swanguen, who did not at first accept the proffered hand.  Finally he grasped the Indian’s hand and told him that he was all right and to go away and behave himself.


Then, without apparently and provocation, Magee pulled out his revolver and began shooting.  His shots were aimed at Swanguen, the man whom just a moment before he had shaken hands with.  The first two shots went wild, one of the shots going over Swanguen’s shoulder.  By this time the whole pool room was in an uproar.

The third shot plowed through Swanguen’s heart, and he sank to the floor, dying almost instantly.  The murderous glare in the Indian’s eyes indicated that he was bent on killing everyone in the hall.  Nobody seemed willing to interfere but Louie Escallier.  He rushed to take Magee’s gun from him.  The murderer started to run out of the door.  The two men grappled near the door, Magee still discharging his revolver.  Three shots were likewise fired by Magee at Escallier.

On the third shot Escallier fell groaning to the floor, pierced through the heart with a bullet.  He did not live long enough to speak a word.  Still snapping his revolver, Magee staggered out the door into the street.


At an early hour this morning Magee’s condition was serious, and he was not expected to live.  His head is badly lacerated and his skull is fractured.  At this hour the information given out was that Magee would not probably last until daybreak.  The cue used by Jackson was a heavy one and was wielded by a powerful man.

When the tragedy occurred, Deputy Sheriff Hugh McConnville, who is agent at Temecula for the Sunset Telephone Company was attending a Christmas entertainment at the schoolhouse.  As soon as receiving news of the double murder, he hastened to the scene and helped to carry Magee to the jail.


Magee, who is slightly known in Riverside, is a brother of Dan Magee, the famous football player of Sherman Institute.  Word from Temecula announced that fifteen minutes before the shooting he had purchased a revolver from Frank Furneld.  He has always borne a bad reputation and considered a dangerous man when intoxicated.  For the last few weeks he had been hauling rock for the quarry at Temecula.


Sheriff Wilson was the first in Riverside to receive announcement of the double murder.  He was notified by Deputy Sheriff McConville.  The first particulars of the tragedy received here were very vague.  The sheriff assisted The Enterprise in every way to get the correct particulars.  The full news of the tragedy was given The Enterprise by Deputy Sheriff McConville and John Jackson, an eyewitness to the scene.

The sheriff gave instructions to bring Magee to Riverside this morning.  If Magee is alive, Deputy McConville will start from Temecula this morning at 8 o’clock.  Coroner Blackson will go to Temecula this morning and hold an inquest.


According to particulars received here, there was no provocation whatever for ht double murder.  Magee evidently came in the pool room looking for trouble because of the fact that 15 minutes before he had purchased a revolver from Frank Furneld.

When once started Magee seemed determined to kill everyone in the billiard hall.  Both victims of his reckless shooting were sober.  It is said at the time and had no thought of raising trouble with Magee.


Both men who were murdered by Magee are among the best known citizens of Temecula.  They have friends in Riverside, who will be shocked at the news of their untimely death.

Constable Swanguen has been a citizen of Temecula for twelve or more years.  During that time he has always been an officer of the law.  He was about 43 years of age and has borne a good reputation as an officer.  He leaves a large family.  He owned a large bee ranch near Deluz.

Escallier also leaves a large family and is about 35 years old.  He and his brother, Hy Escallier, it is said, have always been law abiding citizens.  Temecula ……….. place, is about 48 miles from Riverside, near the south border of the county.  Sheriff Wilson would have gone over last night, had advices from Deputy McConville assured him that it would be no use as Magee was a captive and in almost a dying condition.

Published in: on January 28, 2012 at 1:12 pm  Comments (1)  

A Ghost in Tuolumne County – 1859

Reported in the Daily Alta California – December 12, 1859

We have been aware for some weeks past that there were rumors of a ghost having been seen at Lyons’ Ranch, situated on the Mountain road, about four miles from town; but have not been able to gather the particulars until this week.  Lyons’ Ranch, it will be remembered, was formerly the property of Jim Lyons, who assassinated one of the Blakely brothers there, after having sold the property to them.  It is now owned and occupied by Mr. Gilkey.  It appears that some five or six miners, with Mr. Gilkey’s permission, were in the habit of sleeping in the barn attached to the ranch, but have now abandoned their lodgings, in consequence of having their slumbers disturbed by the pranks of a ghost.  According to their story, it appeared to them in the shape of a huge man, about sixteen feet high, who arose from amidst the hay piled up in the barn and tossed bales around as if they were light as feathers in his grasp.  The story goes that this unwelcome visitor, on several occasions, chased the lodgers from the barn, making giant strides after the fugitives.  On one occasion, one of the men fired at the ghost, but the ball had no effect.  The upshot of the story is, that his ghostship remains master of the field (or rather the barn).  It is rumored, that some gentlemen of this place, who are deeply interested in the subject of spiritualism, intend paying a visit to the barn some fine night, for the purpose of questioning the ghost, and ascertaining whether it is a “spirit of health, or goblin damn’d.”  The investigation will doubtless be highly interesting and we await the result with most intense anxiety. – Sonora Age.

Published in: on October 31, 2011 at 5:22 am  Leave a Comment  

A Ghost in Vallecito – 1859

As reported in the Daily Alta California – 16 February 1859

Vallecito has been excited for two weeks about the supposed doings of a ghost occupied by a family in that town.  Every night, says the Calaveras Chronicle, loud knockings have been heard in the house, sometimes in the garret, at others against the partitions, and again upon the tables – sometimes upsetting tables, chairs, etc. and raising a general row throughout the house.  The neighbors have watched, night after night, with double-barreled guns, revolvers, etc. without being able to get sight of the midnight intruder.  Latterly they have come to the conclusion that it is a spirit from the other world, who is desirous of communicating with the occupants of the house.  A medium was sent for, but the spirit refuses to communicate with any but the gentleman of the house, and he refuses to communicate with the spirit.  How they will settle matters remains to be seen.  The spirit informs the medium that he will not leave them in peace until he obtains an interview with the person desired.  The editor of the San Andreas Independent, referring to the same ghost, says: “He will rap and stamp upon the floor and weather-boarding, each knock of his invisible mallet increasing the amazement of the watchers.  So far he (or perhaps she) has baffled every effort at detection.  The “critter” is absolutely intangible, invisible, uncomatible (sp.?), and pronounced by judges a ‘genuine ghost!’ – an institution never before dreamed of in the philosophy of this practical age and country.”

Note:  Vallecito is a small former mining town located in the Mother Lode of the Sierra Nevada, southeast of Sacramento.

Published in: on October 30, 2011 at 1:42 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Civil War in Temecula Valley – Arrest of the Showalter Party

As reported in the Sacramento Daily Union, 7 December 1861


 SOUTHERN SECESSIONISTS ARRESTED – The Los Angeles News of 27th November says:

 On the morning of the 23rd instant, a party of men, who have for sometime past been encamped in the [El] Monte, left there on their way to Texas.  There are various estimates as to the number of men in the party, but we have been informed, on what we consider reliable authority, that they numbered, all told, forty-four.  Dickey, one of the party, called en (sic) us last Saturday, and informed us that the party was 175 strong; that they had organized themselves into three companies, by electing a captain to each, as follows:  Captains, Dan. Showalter, H. H. Dickey, and Wilson; that they were bound to Texas, not withstanding all that has been said to the contrary; that they were going home to their families and friends, and as to what they would do when they arrived was their own business.  He informed us that he would not fight unless forced to.  Dan. Showalter was their commander-in-chief.  We have also been informed that these men were regularly enlisted soldiers in the Southern army, and were going with no other purpose than to join forces now in arms in the seceded States.  We understand that Dickey was left behind at the Monte, to ascertain if any movements were to be made to stop the party.  The time will probably arrive, if it has not already, when parties of men on their way from this State to the States in arms against the Government will be detained and the objects for which they are going inquired into.  No person is allowed to go South from the loyal States, without a passport from the Government, but parties are continually leaving here for the seceded States, without any such permission.  However, their leaving this State may be considered a blessing, as they might create a disturbance here, on not being allowed “to go where ‘glory’ awaits them.”

 [Dan Showalter and seventeen others have been arrested by Major Rigg, at Camp Wright, near Warner’s ranch.]

 As reported in the Sacramento Daily Union, 12 December 1861

 San Francisco News – A dispatch to the Bee yesterday has the following:

 The party of rebels arrested by Major Rigg, sixteen in number, headed by Showalter, were armed with rifles and two revolvers each.  Showalter advised resistance, but was overruled and the party surrendered.  They had a complete outfit for crossing the desert.  The names of the party are as follows:

 T. A. Wilson, Tennessee; W. Woods, Missouri; Charles Pendworth, Kentucky; Wm. Sands, Tennessee; T. L. Roberts, South Carolina; R. H. Wood, Mississippi; T. W. Woods, Virginia; J. M. Sampson, Kentucky; S. A. Rogers, Tennessee; J. Laurance, Arkansas; A. M. Edwards, Arkansas; Levi Rogers, Alabama; Henry Crowell, Pennsylvania; William Turner, Georgia; Dan. Showalter, Pennsylvania; A. King, Tennessee; E. B. Summers, F. N. Churn.  The two last named were the advance of the party.

 General James Shields was yesterday afternoon sworn in and received his commission as a general officer in the United States Army.  His rank is that of Brigadier General and Major General by brevet.  He leaves by steamer today for the seat of war, and will at once be assigned a command with his rank.


NOTE:   Shields served as a brigadier general of volunteers from California during the Civil War.  He commanded the 2nd Division of the V Corps, Army of the Potomac (subsequently part of the Army of the Shenandoah), during the Valley Campaign of 1862. He was wounded at the Battle of Kernstown on March 22, 1862, but his troops inflicted the only tactical defeat of General Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson during the campaign (or the war).  The day after Kernstown, he was promoted to major general, but the promotion was withdrawn, reconsidered, and then finally rejected.  His overall performance in the rest of the Valley Campaign was poor enough that he resigned his commission, and his departure was not resisted by the War Department [Source: Wikipedia]

As reported in the Sacramento Daily Union, 19 December 1861

 PARTICULARS OF THE ARREST OF D. SHOWALTER AND PARTY – A correspondent of the UNION, writing from Camp Wright No. 2, San Diego county, December 8th, has the following:

 Showalter, as I suppose you have heard ere this, was captured near a place called Ocampo’s Rancho in the valley of Santa Ysable, by Lieutenant Wellman of the First Cavalry Regiment, by order of Major Rigg, First Infantry, California Volunteers.  On the 28th of November, near one o’clock, P. M., Major Rigg ordered Captain Henry A. Greene, Company G. to have his command on the march for San Ysabel as soon as possible, to intercept Showalter and his party.  In the short space of fifteen minutes the Captain and his company were ready, with knapsacks and haversacks packed.  At 2 o’clock, P. M., they were on the road, and marched the distance of thirty-two miles without halting but once, to detach Lieutenant W. B. Smith, Sergeant C. H. Hyde, Corporal Handy and twenty-three privates to guard a mountain pass, near San Jose, which it was thought Showalter’s party might venture upon.  Upon the arrival of Captain Greene at San Ysabel, he immediately sent out Indian scouts to ascertain the position of the enemy, halting the command at San Ysabel, it being a central point.  In a few hours scouts returned, informing the Captain that the enemy had been captured by Lieutenant Wellman of the Cavalry, who had been following in their rear from Temescal, a point on the road toward Los Angeles from this place.  A message was immediately sent to Major Rigg, at Camp Wright, informing him of the fact, whereupon he ordered Captain Greene to return to quarters, where he arrived on the morning of the 30th November.  The Cavalry came in with the prisoners the evening of the 29th.

 To-day, the 4th of December, a man was brought into camp, prisoner, by Lieutenant Wellman (cavalry), who was found about sixty miles from here, toward Los Angeles, having papers on his person that would in a “Court of justice” crush by evidence of bad behavior, according to what I can learn, Showalter and some of his party.  It seems that Showalter had, some two or three days ago, taken the “oath of allegiance,” and had orders to “take up his bed and walk” whenever he might wish, after “taps” this morning.  But, upon the arrival of Lieutenant Wellman with a new prisoner who had abundant papers that appear against the Showalter arrangement, the orders were countermanded, much to the discomfiture of Senor Showalter, who has since made divers threats, for all the oath went down so slippery.

Published in: on September 1, 2011 at 12:44 am  Leave a Comment  


As reported in the Sacramento Daily Union, 11 July 1861

EVACUATION OF SECESSIONISTS. – According to a correspondent of the Alta, writing from Los Angeles, the following parties recently left for Texas:

 Alonzo Ridley, George W. Gift, David McKenzie, Thomas Stonehouse, Hugh May, William Skinner, William Bowers, Camran Frazer, William Jones, Dillon Jordan, J. J Dillard, James D. Darden, Dr. F. Sorrel, and some others – who are accompanied by ex-army officers General A. S. Johnston, Major L. Armistead, Lieutenant R. H. Brewer, A. Shaaff, E. B. Dudley, Riley, Mallory, Hardcastle and Wickliffe.  Some of these persons expressed their intention of seeking service in the rebel army.  Gift, according to report, will go into the navy.  Crittenden, ex-member of the Legislature from El Dorado, who had conditionally offered his services to South Carolina, started with the party, but turned back on reaching Temecula.

 Note: Major L. Armistead is General Armistead of Gettysburg fame (Pickett’s Charge) and the ‘High Water Mark of the Confederacy’.


Lewis Addison Armistead (February 18, 1817 – July 5, 1863)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

When the Civil War began, Captain Armistead was in command of the small garrison at the New San Diego Depot in San Diego, which was occupied in 1860. Armistead was friends with Winfield Scott Hancock, serving with him as a quartermaster in Los Angeles, California, before the Civil War. Accounts say that in a farewell party before leaving to join the Confederate army, Armistead told Hancock, “Goodby; you can never know what this has cost me.”

When the war started, Armistead departed from California to Texas with the Los Angeles Mounted Rifles, then traveled east and received a commission as a major, but was quickly promoted to colonel of the 57th Virginia Infantry regiment. He served in the western part of Virginia, but soon returned to the east and General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia. He fought as a brigade commander at Seven Pines, and under Lee in the Seven Days Battles (where he was chosen to spearhead the bloody, senseless assault on Malvern Hill), and Second Bull Run. At Antietam, he served as Lee’s provost marshal, a frustrating job due to the high levels of desertion that plagued the army in that campaign. Then he was under command in the division of Maj. Gen. George Pickett at Fredericksburg. Because he was with Lt. Gen. James Longstreet’s First Corps near Norfolk, Virginia, in the spring of 1863, he missed the Battle of Chancellorsville.

In the Battle of Gettysburg, Armistead’s brigade arrived the evening of July 2, 1863. Armistead was mortally wounded the next day while leading his brigade towards the center of the Union line in Pickett’s Charge. Armistead led his brigade from the front, waving his hat from the tip of his saber, and reached the stone wall at the “Angle”, which served as the charge’s objective. The brigade got farther in the charge than any other, an event sometimes known as the High Water Mark of the Confederacy, but it was quickly overwhelmed by a Union counterattack. Armistead was shot three times just after crossing the wall. His wounds were not believed to be mortal, being shot in the fleshy part of the arm and below the knee, and according to the surgeon that tended him, none of the wounds caused bone, artery, or nerve damage. When he went down he gave a Masonic sign asking for assistance. A fellow Mason, Captain Henry H. Bingham, a Union officer and later a higher officer and then a very influential Congressman, came to Armistead’s assistance and offered to help. Bingham informed Armistead that Hancock, Armistead’s old friend, had been commanding this part of the defensive line, but that Hancock, too, had just been wounded. This scene is featured in Michael Shaara’s novel, The Killer Angels, in which Armistead is a principal character. He was then taken to a Union field hospital at the George Spangler Farm where he died two days later. Dr. Daniel Brinton, the chief surgeon at the Union hospital there, had expected Armistead to survive because he characterized the two bullet wounds as not of a “serious character.” He wrote that the death “was not from his wounds directly, but from secondary fever and prostration.”

Published in: on August 30, 2011 at 2:10 am  Leave a Comment  

Temecula Breaks Ground for 20-Ton Historical Monument

As reported in the Rancho California News – September 1969

Temecula, the oldest community in California still known by its original name, has a unique new monument honoring its first visitors and inhabitants which sets the town apart as one of the state’s most historic spots.

Ground breaking ceremonies for the monument took place at 1 p.m., Aug. 14, on the grounds of Temecula’s old school house just west of Front St. near the entrance to Rancho California.

The monument, when completed, will have a base 20 ft. square and approximatley three ft. high constructed of granite blocks taken from historic Temecula quarries.

On the base will stand a 20-ton boulder towering more than nine feet in the air. On the face of the boulder will be carved names of early explorers who passed through Temecula, Indian chiefs’ names, and name of pioneers who settled in the valley.

Guest speaker at the ceremony was Tom Patterson who is with the Riverside County Historical Society and a reporter for the Riverside Press Enterprise. He talked about Temecula and her glamorous past.

The project is sponsored by the Temecula Chamber of Commerce with Howard Raish as president and Sam Hicks as chairman of the Historical Committee.

Published in: on August 24, 2011 at 7:05 pm  Leave a Comment  

Jet Crashes on Vail Ranch

As reported in the Lake Elsinore Valley Sun

Thurday, 19 July 1962

(courtesy of Jeffrey Harmon, Temecula Valley Historical Society Field Researcher)

(Click on image for full view)

Monday morning at 9:30 just south of the Vail Ranch in Temecula, a F9F-8T Marine jet fighter trainer from El Toro, piloted by Capt. John C. Coffin of 2814 W. Castor in Santa Ana crashed.  The plane was from the Marine Training Squadron Two at El Toro. 

The crash resulted in three separate brush fires and wreckage was strewn over a wide area.  Seventeen units of the State Division of Forestry were called to the scene and with the aid of three Hemet based borate bombers, the fires were quickly extinguished. 

The main section of the plane made a crater in the ground approximately 10 feet deep.  The largest part of the plane, a section of wing about 3 ft. long and 1 ft. in width was found.  A picture of the plane part and the crater may be seen elsewhere in the Sun.

The pilot radioed to his base that he was bailing out.  He landed in Vail Lake.  According to an Elsinore Sheriff’s deputy, Mrs. Anna Dagle, who is an employee at the ranch, heard the jet pass over and saw the pilot bail out.  She then took a row boat and rowed out to the pilot who was apparently unharmed except for a wrenched back.  By the time they reached shore a military helicopter was on hand to return the pilot to his base.  

Published in: on May 27, 2011 at 11:23 pm  Leave a Comment  

Temecula Blacksmith Escapes Mob Lynching

As reported in the San Francisco Call – Thursday, 15 November 1900

RIVERSIDE, Nov. 14. – Thomas P. Jones, a blacksmith of Temecula, a town forty miles south of this city, is under arrest, after having narrowly escaped lynching, charged by his own daughter with the paternity of her new-born babe.

Three months ago, Jones’ daughter, who is 22 years old, was married to D.J. Tripp, a Temecula butcher.  At the time of the marriage, it is said, the girl confessed all to him.  When the child was born the husband made known its real paternity and Mrs. Tripp swore to a complaint against her father.

Jones, hearing of this action, attempted to escape into Mexico and had a good start when he was apprehended at Murrieta, fourteen miles away, by Deputy Sheriff Zimmerman.  He returned to Temecula pending a preliminary hearing but when the citizens of the town heard of it, a mob soon formed and threats of lynching were openly made.  Fearing that vengeance might be wreaked upon the prisoner, the officers quietly secured a buggy and spirited him away.

As reported in the San Francisco Call – Tuesday, 20 November 1900


Light Punishment for Thomas P. Jones’ Crime

RIVERSIDE, Nov. 19.—Ten years in San Quentin was the sentence imposed upon Thomas P. Jones, the Temecula blacksmith, by Superior Judge Noyes this morning, after Jones had entered a plea of guilty to the charge of intimacy with his own daughter, who was recently married.

Jones had confessed since his arrest that this relation had existed for over four years and as a result two children had been born- Jones has been on the verge of nervous prostration ever since his arrest, fearing the infuriated citizens of Temecula would yet carry out their threats to take the law into their own hands. The prisoner will be taken north to-morrow in charge of Deputy Sheriff Hugh McConnville.

Published in: on May 4, 2011 at 8:27 am  Leave a Comment  

Butterfield Overland Mail Stage Correspondence

As reported in the Daily Alta California, 6 November 1958


[We commence the publication of the first letters received from our Special Overland Correspondent,  Mr. J. M. Farwell. It will be seen that he refers to a former letter, written from Los Angeles but which has failed to come to hand.—Eds. Alta.]

 Fort Yuma, Oct. 21st, 1858.


From Los Angeles, on the same morning my last was dated, we came to Thompson’s rancho, (or Monte, 14 miles,) the next station. This rancho is situated in a beautiful valley, extending to the south and eastward, carpeted with its spring verdure. We were dragged along at almost railroad speed, and although the road was a perfectly level one, I was sometimes a little apprehensive of serious consequences.  This unbroken plain, or valley, continued until we had passed the San Jose rancho, 11miles farther, and on to the Rancho del Chino, 18 miles, all of which are way stations. Here is a very fine vineyard, containing several kinds of fruit, with abundance of grapes. We were soon on the road again,’ and at about 3 o’clock changed horses at Temascal, 21miles, and on to La Laguna, 16 miles, the latter over a rolling and somewhat hilly country, but fair road.  Here is a very beautiful little lake, some two miles long, and one in breadth. The road runs along by the lake beach, after leaving the station by which we came, about two miles. We arrived at Temecula, 21 miles, soon after dark.  At this place we procured a good supper, and were soon on the road again. The road, after leaving Temecula, is in many places very bad, and in this instance, the difficulty of traveling was somewhat aggravated by the misfortune that the driver who took us over it, had never been on this portion of it before. This was owing to the non-arrival of the eastern mail, which was overdue, and in consequence, the mail had to be earned on to meet it. The driver was very careful, and brought us through safely, though we were obliged several times during the night to get out of the coach to avoid the bad places. These places might soon be remedied, and I presume will be, as soon as they can be attended to. At about 12 o’clock, AM., we came to the next station, called Awander, (an Indian name) and from this place were until about 4 o’clock, A.M., in going 9 miles further, to Oak Grove, the road being still very rough. We then started for the Buena Vista, or Warner Rancho, 12 miles over a hilly country, one of which was very high and long, but having now met the regular driver over this portion of the route, he took us over it at good speed, and in safety. At about 8 o’clock A.M., we arrived at San Felipe. Here another driver took us, and here may be said commence.


The road which had for some time past gradually been rising, after some distance again commences descending, when we entered a narrow gorge, just wide enough for one wagon to pass the rock or ledge, on either side rising to a height of from 50 to 100 feet. It would seem as though nature had intended this for a highway, as it is the only place through this range of hills where a carriage could pass, or even a single animal. This pass is called the Devil’s Canon, is some four miles in length, and on opening into the valley intersected by the San Diego trail, over which the mail is carried to and from that place. 

Vallecita, 18 miles distant from the last station, is situated in the midst of a barren plain and mountains. It is a perfect oasis, containing plenty of grass and water, the latter being strongly impregnated with sulphur. This place we left about 3 o’clock, and arrived at Palm Springs about P. M., 9 miles. The road very sandy and heavy. This place takes its name from a species of palm trees which formerly grew here, and which within a few years were standing, as I saw the trunks as they lay upon the ground, and the stumps from which they were cut. The hills are within a short distance, and have the appearance of being suddenly broken off, leaving a square but furrowed front. It was bright moonlight while we remained here, and the beauty and singularity of the scene will not soon fade from my memory. I was not long permitted to enjoy this, for the coach was ready and we were off again. About 9 miles further we came to Carisa or Cane Creek. Here we found the water still more sulphurous in its taste. We were, however, obliged to fill some bottles with it for our own use, though the driver carries a supply, and so long as it lasts passengers are allowed free use of it. As the trip we now had to make was 32 miles in extent, we thought our course the proper one.


We left about half-past ten o’clock, P. M., and arrived at the Indian wells about five o’clock, A. M., 32 miles. There were formerly two wells here containing pretty good water, at least better than that last procured. Some few weeks since, a drove of cattle which had been driven over the plains, and which had become furious for the want of water, on approaching these wells, and smelling the water, rushed desperately to the brink, and though the leaders stopped, they were pushed in by those hindmost, and some twenty had been drowned. There being no means at hand to raise them out, this one was rendered useless, and subsequently, in a violent tempest, it was entirely tilled up. The other is fortunately sufficient for all purposes.


This storm referred to occurred some few days since, and in it two of the drivers, who had started from the station with the mails, on horseback, were so blinded by the effects of the sand, which was blown in their eyes, that they became separated and lost. They were not heard of for two days, when one came into the station in an exhausted state. The other succeeded in killing a bullock, which had been left on the desert, and drank his blood, which sustained him until the third day when he was found. It is said that his eyes glared wildly, and he bore the appearance of a maniac. He is now well again, and at his business. These tempests are said to be very rare.


At St. Alamo, the next station, we arrived at 11-2 o’clock, and were detained an hour or more. Here I learned from an Indian Chief of the Jocomba tribe, and an intelligent white man who has traversed these sands and mountains for many years, some curious facts, as they allege, in relation to the former condition of this desert.


The Chief says, that not many years since, and during his lifetime, the now barren plains were rich and fertile valleys. That he himself has planted and raised between this and the last station fine crops of vegetables, grapes and other fruits. This statement is corroborated by the white man above referred to, who says that he himself has seen the spot of ground spoken of, which has the appearance of having been tilled. He also says, that at present, near the foot of the mountains in the distance, the Indians of the Jocomba and Gaginga tribes still have fine gardens and vineyards, which they cultivate in luxuriant valleys, but the latter is small.  The Indians say that violent earthquakes have produced the present desert. This is again corroborated by the white, who says about five years since an alarming earthquake occurred, which it will be remembered by some was spoken of by the papers – when smoke was seen issuing from crevices in the earth, and the effects of which are visible at this day. The rains fall here at intervals very heavily, and fill the stream beds; these within two hours will be entirely dry, every vestige of water having entirely disappeared.


From Alamo we came to Cooksville, 26 miles, and thence to Pilot Knob, on the right bank of the Colorado, 9 miles from the last station and the same distance below Fort Yuma, where we now are, and waiting for the ferry to take us across the river. The road agent here has given me much information relative to the mines 17 miles from this place, in Arizona, on the other side of the river. Parties come in here frequently with small amounts of gold to sell.  As high as $40 to the hand per day has been taken out. We shall pass immediately through the diggings, and I shall endeavor to write further concerning them at some other point. At this place I have procured the first “square” meal since leaving Temecula.  Mr. J. L. Jaeger keeps a very good establishment here for the accommodation of travelers, and I recommend him to thus who may to en mutt for this place. One may obtain all supplies needed between here and the settlements at the east; but the less said about the price to be paid the better.

The boat is ready, and I must leave for the other bank of the river.

J, M.F.

Published in: on May 1, 2011 at 2:21 pm  Leave a Comment  

Two Horse Thieves Killed

 As reported in the Daily Alta California, Volume 3, Number 285, 15 October 1852

Later from the South – The Land Commissioners -Two Horse Thieves Killed – Political Nominations.

 Two Horse Thieves Killed. — Some ten or twelve days ago a large number of horses were stolen from Ignacio Reyes and Ricardo Veja, and these gentlemen with their servants immediately started in pursuit. On Friday, the 1st inst., they came upon two of the thieves at Aguanga, near Temecula, having still a portion of the stolen property in their possession. As the pursuers approached one of the thieves raised a rifle against them, which movement was met by a discharge of fire arms from Reyes and his party, and the two thieves were killed. It is unknown who they were, but Mr. Reyes thinks one was a native Californian, and the other a Sonoran. They had with them a woman and a boy which she called her son, and who were brought to this city by Reyes and his party. The woman made, a statement to a magistrate, and gave her name as Maria Josefa Higuera. She expressed ignorance of the names of the thieves, and said that she was with them against her will; that when she was washing near the Mission San Rafael, these men came up and compelled her and her son to go with them. When overtaken they were making for Sonora. Mr. Reyes recovered only eight of his horses, and five or six belonging to other persons.

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