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  1. Swansea Grade 4x4 Trail, Inyo Range, Inyo County, California October 8-9, 2003 INTRODUCTION The so-called Swansea Grade 4x4 Trail [also often referred to as the Swansea to Cerro Gordo 4x4 Trail] is an off road trail on public lands that allows the explorer to examine closely the rugged and historic southern Inyo Range, in eastern California. The route, which is an approved BLM 4x4 trail, is steeped in beauty and history all throughout its path. The route starts at Swansea, a California historical landmark site, and ends at Cerro Gordo, a semi-ghost town with a long and often wild history. Midway along the route, the summit station of the historic Saline Valley salt tramway, running between Saline Valley and Owens Valley, makes a great place to rest and enjoy lunch. The route generally poses no problems for experienced off roaders with trail ready 4x4s. However, due to elevations up to 9,200 feet, snow is a factor during late autumn through mid-spring. Summertime flashfloods often take a toll on the lowest portion of the route and the alluvium fan that runs down to the state highway. The route has its origin in the construction of the Saline Valley salt works tramway. Mules hauled supplies, machinery and building materials to tower sites utilizing this road on the western slopes of the Inyo Range and to reach the summit station. I’ve taken this trail many times over the years. Generally, I could make the trip easily in one day. However, on October 8th and 9th, 2003, railroad historian John McCulloch ( http://www.ttrr.org/ ), and Graham C. and I took two days to complete this trip, camping at the historic salt tramway summit station. John also brought along his standard poodle, named Shadow. At the time, I lived in Big Pine, California, in the northern Owens Valley near Bishop. The entire trip we took totaled only 185 miles round trip from my home and return. Graham lived in the San Francisco Bay Area, John was from Las Vegas. It was the first time that either had been over the trail. My truck was a 2002 Toyota Tacoma extended cab TRD 4x4 pickup, which I had bought new in June, 2002 (I still own and drive daily this truck). The truck is well equipped, has a V6 engine and 5-speed manual transmission. It was equipped with the TRD OFF ROAD package, which added more suspension travel, larger wheels and tires, extensive skid plate coverage and included a switchable locker on the rear differential. At the time, the truck was still shod with its OEM B.F. Rugged Trail T/A tires, which are passenger car rated with single ply sidewalls. The tires suffered some stone sidewall damage on this trip, but never lost air. Shortly after this trip, I spooned on a set of B.F. Goodrich All Terrain T/A tires with light truck rating, 10-ply sidewalls and 3-ply sidewalls. John McCulloch also owned a 2002 Toyota Tacoma TRD OFF ROAD 4x4, his being a double cab model, equipped with an automatic transmission. Graham at the time owned a 1990 Chevrolet ¾ ton pickup with a low profile, collapsible camper. It being a large truck, he elected to leave his truck behind at my home and rode with me on the trip. This video will be in two parts, one part for each day of the trip. A photo slide show will be included at the end of each video.
  2. The town of Amboy was established in 1883 as the first of a series of alphabetical railroad stations and towns that were to stretch across the gigantic Mojave Desert in Southern California. After the construction of Route 66 through the town in 1926, Amboy's glory days commenced. In 1938 Roy's Motel and Cafe opened. It did very well because there was nothing else for MANY miles in any direction. I don't think the population of Amboy ever came anywhere close to 100 people and there appears to be only a few in the area these days. In 1973 a new highway (Interstate 40) was constructed that bypassed the town and started it's demise. The good news is that the place has been purchased and they are pumping gas again! I'm pretty sure the motel and cottages will never be opened again, but it's a start. To read more: http://patricktillett.blogspot.com/2013/04/amboy-ca-ghost-town-roys-motel-and-cafe.html
  3. Reconnoitering Trips Northern Nevada, Southwestern Idaho (and a Blip of Southeastern Oregon Thrown in for Good Measure) June 19 - 28, 2001 This is the trip that I consider to be my favorite trip I have ever undertaken. It had been in the planning stages since the previous December. Originally, quite a number of people were invited and had semi-committed themselves to come along. Over time, however, eventually the number of people whose semi-commitments became firm commitments to this trip narrowed to four. And I was one of them. Between June 19 and 27, 2001, I undertook a trip throughout northern Nevada, southeastern Oregon and southwestern Idaho in search of ghost towns, adventure and to enjoy the wide open spaces that the Great Basin is known for. Beside myself, there was Alan Patera, of Oregon; Graham, of the California Bay Area; and Gil, of southern California. Since we were coming from different points on the map, we elected Midas, Nevada - located in the far western side of Elko County northeast of Winnemucca, as a meeting point. Gil was originally going to drive to my primary home, then at Ridgecrest, California, and ride with me. However, at the last minute, he changed his mind and drove his car the entire trip. Graham and I chose to meet at Hawthorne, Nevada or at Mono Lake, depending on the circumstances of our first morning travels. Alan was to meet Graham and I in the evening at Midas on our first day out. Gil planned to meet us at noon the following day at Midas. My 4x4 rig at the time was my 1996 Chevrolet S-10. It was bone stock, with standard suspension. It was powered by the 4.3 liter V6 with the higher power option; a 5-speed manual transmission; standard, lever activated 4x4 transfer case. The interior sported the LS option package, which included upgraded interior materials; but the truck still had manual crank windows, no tilt steering wheel; and had an aftermarket cruise control installed. Other options were bucket seats and console. The truck had nearly 100,000 miles on it when we started. It turned over the century mark during this trip, on a dirt road in the wide open spaces of north-central Elko County. Graham drove a 1990 Chevrolet ¾-ton 4x4 pickup with a low profile, pop-up camper. The truck is scarcely optioned, running a 350 cubic inch V8 and a 5-speed manual transmission. Graham has equipped the truck over the years for expedition and is well equipped to tackle everything. However, his truck became problematic over the course of the trip. Alan Patera drove his bone stock 1997 Ford Explorer. It's the most stripped Explorer I've seen, virtually no options. It's well used off road and the lack of fluff has suited this rig well. Gill tagged along in his 1990 Pontiac Grand Prix. He slept in it, ate in it and drove it over miles of dirt roads. The car would have escaped unscathed, if not for his hitting a deer on the dirt road between Tuscaurora and Midas after he split from our group on the last day we all were together. He continued to drive his wrecked car for a couple more days, until he stopped to visit friends in Reno. My camera at the time was one of the original Sony Mavica digital cameras, with a resolution of 640x480. For storage of photos, it used standard floppy disks. The Mavica was in its dying stages at the time, I had owned it about three years. It started acting up on the second day of the trip; completely quit, inexplicably began working again, then died completely on the last day of this adventure. I took a 35mm Pentax camera along as a backup, but had taken along a roll of old film. None of the photos I took with the Pentax came out, I had shot one roll. When processing the many disks of digital photos, I found that about ten or eleven disks had been corrupted by issues with the camera, so that I was not able to extract the images from the disks, loosing around 200 images. Many of the lost images were of ghost towns, such as in the case of National, Nevada; so that I have no images whatsoever of that location, others few. My written documentation for each day of the trip will be in a rather paraphrased format, but includes all travel and most experiences. You can gather the rest of the trip from the video and photos. I will break the six plus hours of edited video taken and cut down to videos for each single day, along with a photo slide show at the end. This thread will contain all content from this trip from start to end. In a break from my past custom when presenting video on this forum, and due to the volume and number of ghost towns visited, I will not write up a history for the ghost towns or historic places visited. That is far too time consuming and labor intensive. There are plenty of written and web resources if one wishes to pursue their quest for knowledge of these sites. Below, a list of historic locations we visited – in the order that we visited them: 1. Bodie & Benton Railway, California. 2. Stillwater, Nevada. 3. White Cloud City (Coppereid), Nevada. 4. Unionville, Nevada. 5. Midas, Nevada. 6. Spring City, Nevada. 7. Paradise Valley, Nevada. 8. Buckskin, Nevada. 9. National, Nevada. 10. Delamar, Idaho. 11. Silver City, Idaho. 12. Rio Tinto, Nevada. 13. Pattsville, Nevada. 14. Aura, Nevada. 15. Cornucopia, Nevada. 16. Edgemont, Nevada (from a distance – on private property) 17. White Rock, Nevada (from a distance – on private property) 18. Tuscaurora, Nevada. 19. Dinner Station, Nevada. 20. Metropolis, Nevada. 21. Charleston, Nevada. 22. Jarbidge, Nevada.
  4. It seemed fitting to finish up our road trip by visiting the Ghirardelli Chocolate Outlet store and having a decadent sundae. They are the masters in making the most incredible ice cream delights!
  5. My sister-in-law gave my wife a book years ago called “Weird California”. I thought it was a great title for a book considering how often California marches to the beat of its own drum. Anyway, it’s also inspired me to go out and find some of the strange, unique, creative and “weird” stuff that I have a tendency to be attracted to. The Giant Cement Statues of Auburn, California are definitely one of them.
  6. This 19th century bridge attracted our curiosity because it is reported to be the longest single span wooden covered bridge in the world! The Bridgeport Covered Bridge was built in 1862 by David John Wood and was a vital link to the silver mines in Nevada at the time, with up to 100 wagons a day coming through the area. It was closed to vehicular traffic in 1972 and pedestrian traffic in 2011. But we still wanted to get as close as we could to check it out for ourselves!
  7. California Highway 49 is named after the 49ers who came to this state in their search for gold in 1849. Driving past the little towns along the highway in Sierra County was a pretty amazing experience!
  8. Exploration Field Trips: May 1-3, 2000 Trip with Alan Patera and Alan Hensher into Death Valley What do you do with three authors, two 4x4’s, two two-way radios, three cameras, and camping supplies? Send them to Death Valley, of course. For three days in the first week of May, 2000, fellow authors and historical researchers Alan Patera, Alan Hensher and myself explored Death Valley north and south. Alan Patera writes and publishes the WESTERN PLACES series of monograph books. Alan Hensher has been published in several periodicals as well as authoring several books, centering primarily on the history of Mojave Desert sites. Alan Patera, who hails from Oregon, came south to California and picked up Alan Hensher; then the two came my way. At the time I was living in Ridgecrest, California. After overnighting with my wife and I, the three of us took off for Death Valley. Alan was busy researching and photographing for a future edition of WESTERN PLACES, this time centering on the camps of the Funeral Range, which forms the eastern border of east central Death Valley. Circumstances and changes of our journey lead Alan to plant the seeds of two more future books, this time centering just outside the northernmost section of Death Valley. Below is a thumbnail sketch of the trip, based upon transcripts of my verbal notes on microcassette and photos. There will be a video and narrative for each day of the trip in this thread. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Day 1 - May 1, 2000 The first video in the series covers our travels on May 1, 2000. The video is 37:19 long. The video link to Part I is at: trip-2000_pt-1.wmv This time around, at the end of the video I added a photo slide show of my favorite images taken during the day, along with a little mood music. To maintain context in the video and give details not seen in it, a narrative is given below. I rose early Monday morning, May 1st, the two Alan’s did not. The three of us had stayed up until well past midnight talking history, swapping files, photos and notes. I made last minute checks and additions to my gear and food while they slept in. An hour after we had planned to leave, we still had not yet done so. Our trip started at Denny’s in Ridgecrest, California, six blocks from my home. I had purchased an additional FRS radio for Alan Patera to use to keep us linked while traveling. However, it turned out that Alan Hensher often sat on it much of the first part of the first day; prompting me to jokingly request he not do so because I was tired of anal transmissions from him. A bit after 9:00 AM, we left Denny’s and pointed our grills toward Reilly ghost town site, located at the foot of the Argus Range in west-central Panamint Valley. The weather was clear with thin high clouds, a good day to go exploring. Entering Trona, we passed a number of bicyclists, loaded with camping gear, obviously going to Death Valley. Passing out of Searles Valley and into Panamint, our first stop was to be Reilly. Not knowing where Reilly was but having some idea of where to look and a pair of binoculars, we made a few false starts up some desert roads before finally finding the right one. The two Alan’s and I were impressed with our tour of Reilly. Stone ruins, tin cans, water pipe and other detritus lay everywhere the eye could see. Reilly was a minor mill camp, an outgrowth of the mining activity that centered on several Panamint Range canyons to the northeast, as well as the Darwin boom to the northwest in the 1890s. Mineral was found in 1875, but languished due to its location for another seven years until Charles Anthony interested a New York capitalist by the name of Edward Reilly in buying claims. Reilly formed the Argus Range Silver Mining Company and sold stock. Charles Anthony took care of daily operations at the growing camp. Soon a 10-stamp mill was built as well as a camp to house employees. A post office was opened in January, 1883. The camp had no water of its own, so the company built a pipeline southward and then westward up a nearby canyon. Other hurdles soon created dull times in camp and the post office closed even before the mill began operations. However, late in 1883 and early in 1884, the mill – which took up the name of the Anthony Mill – began crushing ore. Mines on nearby hillsides eventually petered out, but the Anthony Mill was kept running by doing custom work for nearby mines. The three of us enjoyed touring the fairly extensive ruins of Reilly and the Anthony Mill. At the time of our trip, my plans for later in the month was to be part of an archeological dig at the site conducted by the BLM. We left Reilly as it was beginning to warm up, being close to 90º, yet snow still lay on the shady slopes of the Panamint Range. Running up Wildrose Canyon, I noticed that a patch of Panamint daisies were still in bloom. Panamint daisies grow only in this and a couple nearby canyons. Unlike its far more common cousin, the Mojave daisy, the Panamint variety has a far larger flower and blooms very infrequently. On this trip, we would find cactus and wildflowers blooming above about 3,000 feet. Our two vehicle caravan continued to climb Wildrose Canyon, then crossed over the Emigrant Pass and Harrisburg Flat country and then dropped into the head of Emigrant Canyon. There stopped at an unmarked spot to view a set of petroglyphs that are invisible in plain sight, if you know where to look. On a nearby rock face is a faint, chisled inscription of a name and a date that appears to be made by somebody named Haworth or Hayworth in 1855. Weathered and difficult to read, the three of us studied and debated. I had pondered it several times in previous years, this was the first time for both Alan’s. Reaching Death Valley, we stopped at Furnace Creek. There, the official thermometer at the visitor center read an even 100°. Alan Patera had an order of WESTERN PLACES books to drop off. I also wanted to meet with Death Valley National Park ranger, Dave Brenner, an acquaintance of mine; with whom in the past I’ve had the enjoyable experience of riding along with him on his patrol rounds. The Park Service was having service awards and knew he’d be around somewhere. I also wanted to meet Mark H., who was an employee of the park also; Mark being quite prolific on the Internet Death Valley bulletin boards under the handle "Tumbleweed." I found both at the same time and we stood outside the visitor center in the warm afternoon. I spent over a half hour talking with Dave about the recent controversy over the "Death Valley Bunk Trunk," in which an individual claimed to have found a trunk left behind by the Jayhawker part on their ill fated trek of 1849. That made nationwide attention and was ultimately proven to be a hoax. While we were talking, Alan Hensher came out of the visitor center with a bag full of books, among them PROCEEDINGS FOURTH DEATH VALLEY CONFERENCE ON HISTORY AND PREHISTORY - FEBRUARY 2-5, 1995; PROCEEDINGS FIFTH DEATH VALLEY CONFERENCE ON HISTORY AND PREHISTORY - MARCH 4-7, 1999. He made a gift of copies for me and Alan Patera. While at Furnace Creek, we took the opportunity to top off our gas tanks at the Chevron station. We paid a high price of $1.91 per gallon. After visiting with Dave and Mark, the two Alan’s and I found a shady spot on the side of the road near the Furnace Creek Ranch and fixed ourselves a late lunch. Then it was off to our first ghost town to prowl, the Inyo Mine, located in Echo Canyon in the southern Funeral Range. Also part of the Funeral Range mining boom in the early years of the 20th century was the ghost of Schwab, not far from the Inyo Mine. Alan Patera and I had a year previous visited the camps on the eastern side of the range, which is chronicled on this website in my series of videos dealing with Keane Spring, Chloride City, the Capricorn Mine and the townsites of Lee, California and Lee, Nevada; with Lee Annex in between. Echo Canyon winds its way easily up into the Funeral Range. It’s easily passable by any truck based 4x4. On our trip, a two-wheel-drive vehicle could have made it, except for one spot at the mouth of the canyon where the road dropped into a hole with a couple of bedrock boulders in it. Just enough to cause the chassis to flex, lifting up each tire off the ground as our vehicles passed by it. Along the way is the Eye of the Needle, a triangular hole in a large thumb of rock projecting up from the canyon floor. Continuing up the canyon we started driving through swarms of wasps or hornets that flew with their abdomens downward as if they were flying straight up. They came in through my open windows, making driving and swatting at the wasps an interesting exercise in dexterity. Just below the Inyo Mine complex the canyon splits into two forks. Our road took us up to the Inyo Mine, where there is a substantial group of photogenic ruins. The Inyo Mine, as well as most mining activity in this section of Death Valley, was an outgrowth of the fabulous southern Nevada mining phenomena initiated by Tonopah in 1900, Goldfield in 1902 and Rhyolite in 1904. With activity further north at Keane Wonder, prospectors eventually made their way into Echo Canyon by early 1905. In early March, two prolific prospecting partners, Chet Leavitt and Moroni Hicks, staked off 20 claims that became the Inyo Gold Mine. By October, the Echo Mining District was formed, which later merged with the Lee district to the northeast (see also my video taken at Lee elsewhere on this site). By December, the Inyo Gold Mining Company was formed. In 1906, the towns associated with Lee on the other side of the range created so much energy that Echo Canyon also flourished, including the Inyo Mine. A substantial camp formed below the mine, which included a boarding house, store, and other accommodations for its employees. The financial panic of 1907 put a damper on the mining boom. The Inyo sputtered off and on with development and production, but that was far better than other nearby towns and mines. Though quiet and idle during much of the 1910s and first half of the 1920s, by the Depression years work began again with enough vigor to keep a small population at the camp until it was shut down for good in 1941. The two Alan’s and I explored and photographed the Inyo Mine complex. Then we set up our camps. Note, currently, camping is prohibited at the Inyo Mine. At the time of our visit, we were ignorant of any regulations of camping at the site, if indeed there was any prohibition, and our written literature stated that camping was prohibited only along the first four miles of the road. Since we made the Inyo Mine at a relatively early hour with plenty of sunlight left in the afternoon, we explored the site. The temperature was far more moderate than down in the valley floor, my thermometer reading only 82° and a pleasant breeze coming up the canyon. Alan Patera hiked up to the top of the canyon above the mine camp to investigate the main mine complex and structures up there. Alan Hensher, dressed only in shorts, T-shirt and sandals, stayed with me down at the mining camp. We found numerous buildings in various stages of decay and collapse, plus machinery. It was our understanding that one of the larger structures still standing at the mine, one with a cupola on it, had just collapsed in the months previous to our visit. Alan and Alan teamed up to set up Alan’s tent (Alan Hensher’s), I set about setting up my camp in the back of my truck. Our camp was along the road at the edge of the Inyo Mine camp. Alan Patera set up his camp in his Explorer, parked a few dozen yards further up the road. I prepared my meal on the tailgate while the two Alan’s talked history. While doing so, I enjoyed a couple of cold cans of beer. Clouds built up in the west as the sun was setting, but then suddenly parted and the most wonderful glow of the last rays of sunlight created some of the most exciting coloring I’ve laid my eyes on. I was in the middle of eating my dinner when this light show suddenly descended upon us, I was compelled to grab my video and digital cameras to record it. As darkness descended upon our camp, a horrible swarm of gnats then later moths descended with the night. Liberal amounts of Cutters repellent helped, but the gnats were still irritating. We found that lighting my Coleman lantern and Alan Hensher’s florescent lantern and placing it away from us attracted the gnats to it and they left us alone to enjoy conversation about everything from our location to the history of lynching in California. At 9:30 PM, I took a sponge bath and crawled into the back of my truck to read before turning out the light at 10:45 PM and going to sleep at the Inyo Mine Camp, Echo Canyon, Funeral Range, Death Valley National Park.
  9. Pictures from yesterday's trip to Mentryville, an oil boom town in Los Angeles County. In 1875, Charles Alexander Mentry was hired by the California Star Oil Works Company to supervise drilling in Pico Canyon. In 1875 and 1876, three promising wells were drilled but the fourth, which was started in July, struck oil on September 26, 1876 at a depth of 370 feet. That well immediately began producing 25 barrels per day. In 1877, Mentry drilled the well to 560 feet, and 150 barrels were produced each day. After this success, California's first oil pipeline was constructed to connect Well No. 4 to a refinery in Newhall. Around this time, a town called Mentryville was established down the canyon from the wells. Here Charles Mentry built a 13-room mansion and lived until his death in 1900. Mentry apparently treated employees with incredible dignity, and upon his passing the entire town of 200 traveled to Los Angeles for his funeral, carrying with them a floral arrangement shaped like an oil derrick. Eventually, due to a change in oil production and the industry, Mentryville was abandoned. During the 1930s, most of the remaining residents left and took their homes with them - board by board. In 1962, only a caretaker remained, living in Mentry's old mansion. Today, historic Mentryville is a part of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy and the Friends of Mentryville group works to restore and preserve what remains. Up higher in the canyon is old Well No. 4, which was finally capped in 1990 after 114 years of production - the longest continually operating oil well in the world. Well No. 4 was also declared a National Historic Landmark in 1966, one of the first in Los Angeles County. Just above Mentry's house, the Felton School remains next to scattered equipment. Remnants of another wooden building stood to the right until less than a year ago.
  10. Winrod Cabin, Sierra County, California A little known piece of gold mining history, known as the Winrod Cabin, sits in a lonely and remote area of the western Sierras, just outside of Downieville, CA. I came across this gem while looking for lost and forgotten ghost towns, where it was mentioned on a newer website called Ghost Town Explorers, where photos of this quaint old miner’s cabin can be viewed at: http://www.ghosttownexplorers.org/california/winrod/winrod.htm#bmark A search of the internet brings up little to nothing about this unique cabin and it’s history, but a visit to some of my favorite resources has provided the missing answers. The San Francisco Call, Volume 107, Number 166, dated 15 May 1910 provides us with the origins of the cabin… “COYOTE RAVINE STRIKE Downieville is much encouraged over the mining strikes that have been made in that vicinity during the last few months and a lively summer is anticipated. Recently T.E. Winrod of Downieville made a find in Coyote ravine, about a mile from the Standard mine, that promises to develop into something good. Winrod bonded some claims from William Watson and Henry Morse and has been doing some surface prospecting, running cuts and sinking shafts. He uncovered an entirely new vein that is on the contact and free gold ore has been found. The vein is a true fissure lead and gold can be easily seen in the rock with the naked eye. It is Winrod’s intention to go right ahead and develop his new discovery. He was formerly interested with Jason Frye in the Standard property, which continues to yield rich ore.” T.E. Winrod was Thomas Eli Winrod, who was born in Mahaska County, Iowa in 1867, a son of George Winrod and Lydia Perkins. During the 1870 census the family were living at Oskaloosa Township, Mahaska County, Iowa, but by 1880 had moved south to Cunningham, Chariton County, Missouri. Since the 1890 census does not exist, we are unable to pinpoint when it was exactly that Thomas arrived in California, but we do know from California County Marriage records that he was in the state by 25 November 1894, when he married Kate E. Finance at Sierra County, California. Two years later the Great Register shows that by 8 July 1896 he is recorded as living at or near Gibsonville, Sierra County, California. The 1900 census informs us that Thomas and Kate, along with their young daughter Margery, were living at Gibson, Sears, and Table Rock Townships, Sierra, California. The San Francisco Call, Volume 104, Number 175, dated 22 November 1908, tells us… “A bond has been taken by Jason Frye, Thomas Winrod and R.E Blevins on the Crittendon quartz claim in Sailor ravine.” The 1910 census, at the time of Thomas’ strike at Coyote Ravine, the family are listed as living at Butte, Sierra County, California, and now have a son, named Carrol. In 1913 Thomas was working the Monte Cristo mine. Thomas must have been a very determined man, for we read in The Washington Times, dated September 30, 1920… “TAKES 92-MILE WALK TO CAST HIS BALLOT Downieville, Cal., Sept. 30 – One Sierra County miner values his vote. Thomas Winrod, former justice of the peace for Sierra County, is operating the Black Diamond mine. The mine is forty-six miles from the nearest ballot box. Winrod walked the forty-six miles over rough mountain trails and roads, marked his ballot, and then walked home again.” In the 1930 census for Downieville, Sierra County, California, we find Thomas living alone as a divorced man. Sometime after the 1930 census Thomas moved to Alameda County, California, where he died in Oakland in 1938, and was buried in the Mountain View Cemetery. It is possible that he moved to the area to help or be near his former wife, Kathryn “Kate” Finance, who died at Hayward, Alameda County in 1935. She lies buried in the Holy Sepulchre Cemetery at Hayward. @ 2013 Cindy Nunn. All Rights Reserved.
  11. The Randsburg Inn & Hostel, formerly the Commercial Hotel, and at one time the My Place Dance Hall. The Randsburg Inn sits on a location which has seen a lot of interesting and rowdy history and has to be one of the most fascinating buildings in the town. This is truly one of those places where you think to yourself…”If only walls could talk!” Or, in this case, if only the very plot of land could talk! The first building located on this site was the “Orpheus Theater,” opened on March 15th, 1897 by Joe Petrich and by 1899 the name had been changed to “The Orpheum,” operated by John Louis Woodward and his wife Minnie. In 1903 the establishment was taken over by “French” Marguerite Roberts and renamed the “My Place Dance Hall” and sometimes referred to as “The Oasis.” No matter what its original name this entertainment venue saw its share of activity, both legal and illegal. One can understand why this would have been a popular place of entertainment to lonely miners, men long on the trail and those who were far away from their families and loved ones. It is easy for us in our modern world to sit back and pass judgment on the women who worked here and the men who paid for their company, but the hard cold reality is that a valuable service was rendered and these “soiled doves” are an indelible and important part of the history of the west. Many of these men were miners without wives or sweethearts and “marriageable” women were few and far between, and a miner’s life was not a very attractive one to many women. Quite a few men did have wives who were left behind, from Los Angeles to the East Coast, and many never saw their husbands again, either due to abandonment or a lack of desire to pick up and join their men in a desert town, far from the amenities of civilization. The “actresses/artists/waiters” employed by John Louis Woodward provided these men with a source of female companionship to add some femininity to their otherwise bleak and hard existence. I cannot resist sharing some of the fascinating history behind this location and the people who lived it. So, without further ado, read on and immerse yourself in the rowdy, raucous and rambunctious life of a boom town theater/brothel/dance hall. Oh, if only these walls could speak! In February 1898 the Orpheum Theater, under the management of Joe Petrich, faced its first threat of closure when an ordinance had been passed by the board of supervisors of Kern County which prohibited the sale of liquor in dance halls and no bar could be operated where dances were held. The people of Randsburg were not happy with the thought of their only place of amusement having to shut its doors. The town folk rallied around Joe and managed to get the board of supervisors to drop the ordinance. The Orpheum was saved, the dancers continued to kick up their heels, the amber liquid flowed and the prize fighters went toe-to-toe again. The Orpheum, under the management of John L. Woodward, also known as Woodward’s Dance Hall, and also nicknamed the “Floozy Barn,” at one time caused divisions among the townfolk. Most were in favor of the draw this popular venue brought to the town, while some proclaimed it to be a den of iniquity and wanted it closed down. An article in the San Francisco Call newspaper, printed June 29th, 1899, provides us with this little tidbit… “Louis Woodward, proprietor of the local Orpheum, will be arrested tonight on a complaint drawn under section 303, Penal Code. Seven female artists were arrested under section 306 of the same code. Heretofore many attempts have been made to close up this theater. Nearly two years ago the camp was well divided on the subject.” Also from the Los Angeles Times on the same date: “Randsburg was wildly excited tonight. Gus Tower, a deputy constable, acting under instructions from Chief Kelly, who is away, arrested Louie Woodward, proprietor of the Orpheum, and took him before Judge Davidson, who bound him over to appear tomorrow at 2 o’clock, under section 303 of the Penal Code. Immediately after this, six of the women who were working in the theater were arrested and taken before the court on a charge of misdemeanor under section 306 of the Penal Code. The girls were permitted to go on their own recognizance to appear tomorrow at 2 o’clock.” Just for your edification, here are the cited Penal Codes as they were written and followed at that time. A bit long winded for sure, but if you are the curious type like I am your inquiring mind will want to know what the charges are. Section code 303 is still on the records, but 306 is not. California Penal Code 303: Every person who sells or furnishes any malt, vinous, or spirituous liquors to any person in the auditorium or lobbies of any theater, melodeon, museum, circus, or caravan, or place where any farce, comedy, tragedy, ballet, opera or play is being performed, or any exhibition of dancing, juggling, wax work figures and the like is being given for public amusement, and every person who employs or procures, or caused to be employed or procured, any female to sell or furnish any malt, vinous, or spirituous liquors at such a place, is guilty of a misdemeanor. California Penal Code 306: Every person who causes, procures or employs any female for hire, drink, or gain, to play upon any musical instrument, or to dance, promenade, or to otherwise exhibit herself, in any drinking saloon, dance-cellar, ballroom, public garden, public highway, common, park, or street, or in any ship, steamboat, or railroad car, or in any place whatsoever, if in such place there is connected therewith the sale or use, as a beverage, of any intoxicating, spirituous, vinous or malt liquors; or who shall allow the same in any premises under his control, where intoxicating, spirituous, vinous or malt liquors are sold or used, when two or more persons are present, is punishable by a fine not less than fifty nor more than five hundred dollars, or by imprisonment in the county jail not exceeding three months, or by both; and every female so playing upon any musical instrument, or dancing, promenading, or exhibiting herself, as herein aforesaid is punishable by a fine not exceeding one hundred dollars, or by imprisonment in the county jail, not exceeding one month, or by both. Now, we know that the arrested proprietor was named Louis Woodward, whose full name was actually John Louis Woodward, but who were the “girls” also arrested? Although we cannot say positively who they were without a copy of the original arrest record, we can make a good supposition based on the 1900 census which, lo and behold, shows exactly seven “actresses” living with J.L. Woodward and his wife Minnie. Those enumerated in his household were Stella Rae, Kitty Kola, Violet Foy, Annie Parker, Laura Hirst, Lulu Beckner and Hazel Alisky. It’s a knocking bet that these were the same women who were arrested, and I would guess that these were not the names they were born with. Marcia Rittenhouse Wynn mentions in her book, Desert Bonanza, a woman named Vi who came down from the Alaskan gold fields to perform at the Orpheum. Possibly this was the woman named Violet Foy. Two men were also listed in the Woodward household as boarders, William B. Boone and Jesse E. Woolley. Jesse was a prize fighter, but is only listed as a boarder and not by occupation. . Whether or not J.L. and Minnie were actually married is questionable and so far no record of marriage has turned up in my research. What we do know is that sometime after 1902 John moved to Goldfield, Nevada, where he was operating as a liquor merchant in 1910, and now listed with a wife named Lorine. It is possible that John met both Wyatt and Virgil Earp, who lived in Goldfield from 1904 until the death of Virgil in 1905. By 1920 we see John working as a miner and still married to Lorine, who was about 21 years younger than John. Poor John did not live much longer after the enumeration of the 1920 census. On 21 December 1920, while working in the Seibert shaft, which had been part of the Original Klondyke Mining Company claim in Esmeralda County, Nevada, John fell down the shaft and fractured his skull. Now, here is where things get interesting, giving me a tentative personal connection to the Orpheum in Randsburg. John’s widow Lorine remarried a year or so later to a man named Clinton Norcross, who, funny enough, turns out to be my 5th cousin, 3 times removed! Small world, isn’t it? Clinton and Lorine moved to Pasadena, California, where, in 1932, they divorced due to Lorine’s propensity to bring home up to a dozen cats. Apparently she gave more attention to the cats than to Clinton. Now, here is another piece of strange coincidence. Remember Jesse E. Woolley, the prize fighter mentioned above? Well, it turns out that in 1940 he was living in my hometown of Simi Valley, where I currently reside! Anyway, back in Randsburg, John Woodward left town and we find the rather colorful “French” Marguerite Roberts as the next owner, who operated her establishment under the name of “My Place Dance Hall,” sometimes known as “The Oasis,” and right next door was her saloon. I’m sure it is fairly easy for you to figure out that Marguerite was a madam who ran this as a “bawdy house,” which caused much consternation among the more “decent” town folk. There wasn’t much known about Marguerite and what was known and printed during her life and at the time of her death was only what Marguerite wanted people to believe. We know from her tombstone in the Rand District Cemetery that she was a mother. A death notice for her appeared in the Bakersfield Californian newspaper on April 20, 1907, stating she had a son named August who was attending school in Bakersfield. However, it does not mention whether or not he was using the same surname. We know she was age about forty years when she died. She was not listed in the Randsburg census in 1900. She had to be somewhere. In any case, it is doubtful that she used her real surname. Using the clues available, and after extensive research, I believe I know what her real name was and why she changed it. If my research is true and correct, which I will present after her death notice, it is no wonder that Marguerite supported herself in the manner that she did. Her life was a very sad and tragic one, and it is my hope that by telling her story we can all view her life with compassion. From the Bakersfield Californian newspaper, April 20th, 1907… Marguerite Roberts Dead – (Randsburg Miner) “On Tuesday of this week Mrs. Marguerite Roberts, an old time resident of Randsburg, died of lung trouble and was buried this afternoon in our little burying ground here. Mrs. Roberts was born in France about 40, or more, years ago, was married there and had one child, a son, August, who is now a young man and has been attending school in Bakersfield. He came up to attend his mother’s funeral. Mrs. Roberts’ husband died in France and soon afterward she and her child came to America. This was shortly before the discovery of gold in Randsburg. She came here in the fall of 1896 and has lived here ever since. She had accumulated considerable money, owning the theatre and some other buildings here, besides money in the bank. A short time ago her father died in France, leaving a small fortune to Marguerite and one sister. She had been ill for some time with no hope of recovery and we fervently ….(unreadable) in peace.” Before presenting my findings I would first like to set the stage with a bit of history regarding the era “French Marguerite Roberts lived in, helping you to better understand how I came to my conclusions. First and foremost keep in the forefront of your mind that the majority of “soiled doves” lied, fabricated and twisted the truth about who they were and where they came from. They rarely used their real names and often were just known by nicknames. Second, during this era the crème de la crème of the dance halls, bawdy & parlour houses and brothels were French women, most likely due to the popularity of erotic French Postcards. French “sporting women” commanded a higher price for their services, so, as a consequence, many a home-grown American floozy moved to new pastures, recreated themselves and became a ‘French’ courtesan. It was also common for these women to have children who were sent away for schooling or to live with relatives, often never even knowing what their mothers did to support them. Another issue we will be dealing with in Marguerite’s story is how so-called mental health issues were dealt with and what the repercussions were for women. During this era it became popular and acceptable for a husband to have his wife committed to an asylum in order to break away from the marriage without actually filing for divorce. I’m sure quite a few parents also did this in order to hide away a child who they perceived to be a shameful embarrassment because of what today we know to be a medical, and not a mental issue. The main clues I used to track down the elusive origins of Marguerite were very few, but enough to lead me in the right direction. The main clue was the name of her son, August, who actually attended her funeral, and the mention of Bakersfield. The son was referred to as a “young man” attending school, which helped to narrow down an age range to between 13 and 17 years of age. Had he been older it would have stated that he was attending a college or university, and not just a school. The next clue was mention of a sister, which told me that her sister may have been known in Randsburg. Of course, Marguerite’s age was also a guiding factor. With these clues at hand I began the in depth and time consuming search, which included census records, ship’s passenger lists, birth, marriage and death records, city directories and scouring through many different old newspapers from the era. The death notice from the newspaper stated that Marguerite had been in Randsburg since 1896, but I found absolutely no mention of her prior to 1902, and with the type of establishment she ran, combined with her known temper, she most certainly would have been mentioned earlier had she been in the town conducting business. So, I searched through every State census for the year 1900 and nowhere did I find her listed under the name ‘Marguerite Roberts.’ I checked vital and baptismal records for France, for both her and her son, and again came up with nothing. Ship’s passenger lists from the east to west coasts and other coasts in-between also yielded nothing. City directories, again, zilch. For those who are familiar with old newspapers anything and everything was printed. Our ancestors were a nosy bunch and back then you couldn’t sneeze without someone making mention of it in the news. Yet Marguerite shows up nowhere in any accounts until the early 1900’s in Randsburg. Phase two of the research consists of shifting my focus to all males named ‘August’ born between the years 1890 to 1895. Then I narrowed it down to those who were not listed as living with their mother, but were either at a school or with other relatives. I narrowed it down to four possible candidates and then, in the 1900 census for Los Angeles, one of them suddenly stuck out like a sore thumb! We have one August Jarick, age 6, born in 1893 in California, living in the household of his maternal grandparents, Charles and Marguerite Brickett. Charles was born in New Hampshire and Marguerite in France. Also living in the household are Allen R. Pinyan and wife Nettie (Henrietta), who is a daughter of Charles and Marguerite, and we also see another daughter listed, Birdie (Bertha) Wager, and her daughter Viola. Obviously Nettie and Birdie are the aunts of August Jarick. I next began to do a little research on the grandparents and aunts of August and found that there were two other daughters not listed, as well as a son, Emily (Millie, Nellie), Charlotte (Lottie) and Charles Brickett, Jr. What was interesting at this point in my research is that daughter Birdie and granddaughter Viola were enumerated in the census again seven days later, this time in Randsburg! Birdie and daughter are listed with Birdie’s husband, Nelson Wager. Even stranger is that in the census the week previous Birdie lists herself as divorced. So, we have a boy named August with an aunt living in Randsburg in the year 1900. Two pieces of the puzzle come together. Am I making sense so far? I hope so because even I am starting to feel my head spin! But stay with me, the rest of the tale is unfolding and it leads to some interesting little twists and turns. During my search the son of Charles and Marguerite Brickett holds no real interest for me right now as it is a fair assumption that August Jarick is not his child, which leaves me to focus on locating daughters Charlotte and Emily. Charlotte married a man named David Packwood in 1895, and they either divorced, he passed away, or one of them abandoned the marriage. In any case, in 1901 we see Charlotte has now married a man named Frank Burke. This rules her out to be the mother of August Jarick. Finally, we come to Emily. Bingo! We’ve struck pay dirt! In August of 1892 Emily Brickett married August H. Jarick in San Bernardino County, California. A July 1893 issue of the Los Angeles Times, in the San Bernardino section, informs us of the birth of a son to August Jarick and wife. Why the wife was never mentioned by her name is beyond me, considering she was the one who actually went through the process of giving birth, but that is another good example of the times Marguerite was living in. Then, one year and two months later this notice appeared in the September 22nd, 1894 edition of the Los Angeles Times newspaper, San Bernardino section… “Today Mrs. Emily E. Jarrick was taken before Judge Campbell and after a thorough examination by Drs. Thompson and Campbell, was committed to the asylum as an epileptic. She is the daughter of George Brickett and has been an epileptic since she was 4 years old. A few years ago she was married to Mr. Jarrick, and leaves a thirteen-months-old son, who is bright and shows no signs of epilepsy.” Yes, I know that Emily’s father was named Charles and not George, but these types of mistakes were quite common, as were misspellings of surnames, like Jarrick instead of Jarick. Very minor stuff. Records of marriage and son August’s death record in 1961 confirm the connection. So, continuing on our journey of discovery, we now know a few more facts. First, Emily was committed to an asylum using epilepsy as the committable offense under the insanity laws of the time. It would be easy to assume that Emily’s husband August was responsible for having her committed, but in this case I believe that to be untrue, and suspect that it was actually her parents who initiated the evaluation for insanity, and here is why. The newspaper article above states that “a few years ago she WAS married to Mr. Jarrick.” Notice the past tense? If her husband had still been in the picture it would have stated that she IS the wife of August Jarrick. Like her younger sisters who had been married, divorced and re-married, Emily married a much older man and the relationship probably fell apart, leading to at the very least a separation, and possibly divorce or abandonment. Census records for the years 1900 and 1910 show son August living in the household of his grandparents in Los Angeles County. In 1920 he is living in Bakersfield with his grandmother, Marguerite/Margaret Brickett. No sign of the father, who shows up in news accounts in various areas of San Bernardino and San Diego counties, and a few times in the Yuma and Prescott, Arizona areas. Matter of fact, in 1899 August Jarick, Sr. was tried for murder in Hedges, California, when he shot and killed a man while working as a town constable. He was acquitted, turned in his badge, and headed for the area of Yuma, Arizona. We know from this information that young August was not being raised by his father, and now his mother was being sent away to an asylum, for epilepsy of all things! I cannot begin to imagine how Emily must have felt at this point in her life when she was trying to raise an infant without the father around to help, and then she is locked away in an asylum for the mentality insane, most likely due to her parents involvement. Of course, I suspect there was more to this story and feel that there may have been an arrest first, and then evaluation by doctors. So, maybe, just maybe, her parents had valid reasons for having her locked away from her child. At that time the Southern California State Insane Asylum was located in San Bernardino and is where Emily would have been sent for treatment, to live among those who were truly insane and not just epileptic. Below is a postcard image of the asylum at the time she was admitted as a patient. (The Southern California State Insane Asylum, now known as Patton, which houses the criminally insane.) From further research I found that Emily was still in the asylum in 1900, as she was enumerated there in the census, and of course, her sister Birdie (Bertha) was living in Randsburg. A search of the 1910 census shows that Emily is no longer enumerated at the asylum, nor does she show up anywhere else in that census year under the name of Emily Jarick. A search through the index of deaths also comes up negative with a listing for Emily, so she left the asylum alive and not through death. I took into consideration that Emily may have joined up again with husband August, but again, this came out as a dead end. Strangely enough, at this time there was an Emily Jarick living in Australia, with a husband named August. Just on the off-chance that they had left the country after Emily’s release from the asylum I researched this couple as well. Again, it proved to not be a match, just a very interesting coincidence. So, here are my conclusions. I am not saying that there isn’t a possibility that I am wrong, and if anyone has proof of another possibility for Marguerite Roberts’ true identity, please drop me a line and let me know, but what I have come up with makes good sense and falls within the realms of high probability. If Emily and Marguerite are one and the same person then my assertions that she lied about her place of birth are correct, as Emily was born in Wyoming, with a father who was a native of New Hampshire and a mother who was born in France. After leaving Wyoming the family had a brief stay in Arizona, where daughter Charlotte was born. By 1876 the Brickett family are in San Bernardino County, where children Bertha, Henrietta and Charles were born. At sometime while living in San Bernardino Emily met August Jarick, a man ten years her senior who was a native of Germany. They married in August 1892 in San Bernardino. In July of 1893 a son, August, Jr., is born to the couple. Sometime between then and 1894 Emily and August were no longer living together as man and wife, due to whatever circumstances. In September 1894 Emily is committed to the asylum and her son falls under the custodianship of her parents, who take the child to Los Angeles to live. Sometime between late 1900 and 1903 Emily is released from the asylum. She can’t go home to her parents for whatever reason so heads to Randsburg where sister Bertha is living, or at least was the last known address Emily had for her. Emily takes up the only profession she can in order to make a living, that of a “soiled dove” and later as a brothel madam, and in the process changes her entire identity. Maybe there is a lot of anger or resentment towards her mother who not only allowed her to be committed to the asylum, but who now is raising her son, so she chooses the name of “French Marguerite” as a way of getting back at dear old mom, who, after all, was born in France and named Marguerite. I am also going to go out on a limb and make a guess that once Emily, aka “French Marguerite,” began to make some good money as a madam she arranged for her son to attend school in Bakersfield, enabling her to see him and renew their relationship. We know that in 1900 and 1910 young August lived in Los Angeles, but it is possible that between the years of 1901 to 1907 he was in Bakersfield, a place where he returned to in later years, and where both he and his grandmother died and are buried. I full heartedly believe that Emily E. Brickett Jarick and Marguerite Roberts were indeed one and the same person. Whether you, dear reader, also believe it or not, it does make for an interesting story. Now that we have wandered through the twists and turns of what may have been the origins of French Marguerite, lets have a look at some of the shenanigans that occurred at her fine establishments. I’m sure there were far more than I am recounting, but suffice it say these few are entertaining and adequate enough to give you a good idea of what life and business was like at The Oasis / My Place Dance Hall. Just a note, newspaper accounts from 1903 state that Marguerite actually owned two saloons along with the dance hall. On January 12th, 1903, an incident occurred at the establishment of Marguerite Roberts which left one man dead, another fighting for his freedom and a young woman who, although the catalyst, seemed rather unmoved by the whole mess. This is a story which has been retold on various websites and in books, but the main details were incorrect and had the re-tellers of this story dug a little deeper they would have found further information which shows that the young woman involved was not the innocent, deceived girl she was made out to be. It also needs to be noted here that her rescuer was not her brother, but was variously called her friend or lover, and it has also been alluded to that he may have been her pimp in San Francisco. From the Los Angeles Times, January 12th, 1903... Love, Shame, then Blood; Shooting Over Pretty Erring Girl at Randsburg “In an attempt to rescue pretty, erring Kitty Palmer from a life of shame, a young man named Louis Edwards shot and probably fatally wounded “Big Mike” Suzzallo in Marguerite Roberts’s “parlor house” here tonight. Suzzallo is in a critical condition with two bullets in his body and Edwards is in jail. Back of the shooting there is evidence of a remarkable love story, the devotion of a man following a fallen girl to the very depths. Edwards’s home is in San Francisco; he is 34 years old and of prepossessing appearance. Kitty Palmer is young, vivacious and comely; she came from San Francisco and has gone under the name of Ollie Blake here. “Big Mike” Suzzallo is a notorious habitué of local saloons and bawdy houses. Young Edwards arrived on this evening’s train from San Francisco. He went at once to the Roberts woman’s resort, which is called “The Oasis,” and inquired for the girl. The madame showed him to her room, and the pair were soon heard to be in earnest argument. Edwards was pleading with her to forsake the primrose path and to return with him to her friends in San Francisco. Finally the girl consented to leave the house, and was engaged in packing up her belongings when there was vociferous cursing in the hall and someone demanded to be admitted. Edwards refused to open the door, when with oaths and vile epithets the fellow yelled: “I’ll get the _____ out!” With that the door was burst open and in rushed Suzzallo. Edwards had drawn his revolver, and when “Big Mike” rushed toward him began shooting. Four shots were fired in quick succession, and two took effect. One struck Suzzallo in the side of the neck, and the other in the left leg. Suzzallo turned when shot, and retreated to the street, running a block before being stopped by loss of blood. He was taken into the Jones house and his wounds dressed, afterward being conveyed to his bed in the Roberts woman’s place. Dr. Renshaw, who is attending him, says Suzzallo is in a critical condition. The bullet in the neck passed right through the windpipe and ranged downward. The one in the leg lodged against the bone. Neither has been extracted. After the shooting Edwards took the girl and started up Butte avenue, but they were followed and both arrested by Constable Arnold. Edwards tells a straightforward story of the shooting, claiming he believed his life in danger and fired in self-defense. He makes no open profession of love for her, merely saying that they are “old friends,” and that he came here solely to persuade her to abandon shame and go home. The man said he sent letters and telegrams, and even went so far as to send her a ticket. All these efforts had failed to bring her to San Francisco, so he decided to try a personal visit as a final effort. In the jail the two were granted an interview, and the man renewed his pleadings that she leave. The girl was silent and indifferent, and gave him little satisfaction. It is believed the Roberts woman and Suzzallo overheard the conversation of Edwards and Kitty, and the proprietress ordered her “bouncer” to eject the visitor, who threatened to lure away one of her girls. Ollie Blake, through her beauty and cleverness, has been one of the most popular “women of the town.”” But the saga continues with this follow-up article over a week later, where we see that Louis Edwards is now called Lewis Handi (maybe Handl), and is charged with the murder of Mike Suzzallo… The Los Angeles Times, January 25th, 1903: Man Who Sought to Rescue Girl From Bagnio Must Stand Trial For Life “Michael M. Suzzallo, who was shot by Lewis Handi on the evening of January 11, while Handl was trying to rescue and remove a young girl from the “Oasis,” a Randsburg bagnio kept by Marguerite Roberts, died yesterday in the Pacific Hospital, Los Angeles, as a result of his wounds. Pneumonia, superinduced by septicaemia, is the cause of death assigned by the attending physician. Upon being informed by Coroner Trout of the demise of Suzzallo, the District Attorney of Kern County caused the arrest of Handi on the charge of murder, and the accused man now occupies a cell in Bakersfield. Previously he had been released, pending results, on the charge of assault with intent to commit murder.” On January 27th, 1903, the Los Angeles Times reports further on this case… Witnesses Didn’t Come – Coroner’s Jury Couldn’t Bring Out the Whole Story “Death from septic pneumonia caused by gunshot wounds, was the verdict that the Coroner’s jury returned yesterday at the inquest held over the body of Michael M. Suzzallo, the bouncer in a Randsburg bagnio, who was shot on the 14th inst. by Lewis Handi, and died at the Pacific, this city, on Saturday. Handi, a young man from San Francisco, was trying to rescue Kitty Palmer, an inmate of the house, from the life of shame she was leading, and Suzzallo burst in the door of the room where they were talking. Handi shot Suzzallo twice, one bullet lodging deep in the neck and the other in the knee. The poison from the latter seeped through the blood vessels to the lungs and caused pneumonia. The bullet which entered the neck was not located. Marguerite Roberts, keeper of the Randsburg house, was the only witness examined. She said that Handi fired a shot through the door when Suzzallo was forcing his way into the room. Afterward Handi sent the two bullets into the bouncer’s body. Then, Mrs. Roberts said, he turned the gun on her and discharged it twice, but she was not struck. Other witnesses who were expected failed to appear. Coroner Trout sent a message to the District Attorney of Kern County yesterday, requesting him to gather all the evidence available in the case.” Finally, three months later, we read in the April 2nd, 1903 edition of the Los Angeles Times: Handi Turned Loose “Louis Edward Handi, arrested for the murder of “Mitch” Suzzallo, while trying to take a girl out of a joint in Randsburg, was released from jail today. Justice J.R. Mansing, who held the preliminary hearing, made the order, there being no evidence on which to hold Handi. Ollie Blake, a leading witness for the prosecution, disappeared.” So, man travels a long distance to rescue girl, kills a man in the process, and in the end girl disappears into the sunset to leave her rescuer on his own. Like I stated earlier, the “fair maiden” was not as innocent as first made out to be, and Louis was not rescuing her out of love. I am not surprised that they do not show up in census records under any of the names they were known by. Obviously Marguerite’s place was one of much activity and excitement, giving the good people of the town plenty to gossip about. But, like everyone else, she paid her taxes and paid for her licenses to operate, which in turn generated revenue for the town. However, some did not see it that way and would have preferred to shut her down. In the Bakersfield edition of The Daily Californian for the date of May 22nd, 1905, we find this tidbit… Marguerite To Pay A Fine “In the Justice Court, Justice M.G. Reddy, of Mojave, presiding, the case of the People vs. Marguerite Roberts, charged with willingly and knowingly admitting a woman, a minor, to her house of ill fame, was tried before the Justice and she was adjudged guilty and fined twenty-five dollars. The fine was paid. The character of the house was established by two witnesses, Juanita Grant and Flora Williams. The girl, Marguerite Fredericks, whose real name is Mrs. Marguerite Widman, testified that she was only fifteen years of age and would not be sixteen until the 21st day of June.” Also from The Daily Californian, dated June 6th, 1905… Marguerite Roberts’ License is Revoked “Acting on the report of Supervisor Peterson, who went to Randsburg for the purpose of making an investigation in the Marguerite Roberts case. The Board today revoked the license as prayed for in the petition to that effect. Mr. Peterson said that the dance hall run by the Roberts woman was no worse than others there but that on account of its location, being in the center of the business section of the mining town, he did not believe it should be allowed to run.” Just seven months later Marguerite is again fighting to retain her business, this time with the backing of a few well-respected towns people, as we see in another edition of The Daily Californian, dated January 6th, 1906… Protests to Supervisor “Marguerite Roberts’ petition to conduct a saloon in Randsburg was rejected yesterday afternoon by the Board of Supervisors on the ground that the sureties on the bond are insufficient. The sureties were William. M. Atkinson, Jack Harrison, Charles A. Koehn, and Pat Byrne, $2500 each. Following are the names of those who signed the application for a license: W.H. Hevren, A.A. Nixon, Mrs. Lena Skillings, Pat Burge, W.A. Ruffhead, John Tomonich, R.N. Osborn, H. Rott, D.J. McCormick, D.C. Kuffel, D.A. Blue. The following protest against the issuance of a license to the Roberts woman was telegraphed to the Supervisors: “We, the undersigned residents of the city or town of Randsburg, County of Kern, hereby petition the honorable Board of Supervisors in the matter of the liquor license of Marguerite Roberts or John Doe, not to grant same on the grounds that the said Marguerite Roberts has heretofore kept and run a disorderly house. We furthermore ask and petition the honorable Board of Supervisors not to grant to any one a liquor license which will be located in or about the business section of said city or town of Randsburg, which will be in any way connected with or adjacent to a dance hall or place of resort for women.” The petition is signed by C.A. Burcham, Thomas McCarthy, Dr. R.L. McDonald, J.T. Curry, William M. Houser, George S. Young and E.B. Maginnis.” These next newspaper clips make one wonder if Marguerite knew she was dying, and so began to deed over her properties. Her death notice did state that she had been suffering from lung problems for some time, so it’s a good guess that she was aware that her end was approaching. From the Bakersfield Daily Californian, dated Dec. 11th, 1906… “Marguerite Roberts to Edward Killeen, $300 and o. v. c. beginning northeast corner lot 2, block 5, Brown survey, Randsburg, east 22.5 feet, south 150 feet, west 23.5 feet, north 150 feet.” For those unfamiliar with real estate transfer terms o. v. p. means ‘other valuable consideration.’ This is also referred to as ‘love and consideration.’ This was most likely a quitclaim deed and could lead us to the conclusion that Edward Killeen was either related in some way or this was deeded over as a gift. From the 1900 census we know that Edward was a miner and living in the lodging house of Sarah Burton. This property, according to the J.D. Browne Survey, on record with the Engineering, Surveying and Permit Services Dept. of Kern County, is located between the General Store and Tom O’Donnell’s Photography Studio and currently is occupied by two buildings. And this clip, from the same newspaper, dated February 25th, 1907, and the only mention of her son as being called August Roberts. However, I do not find him anywhere else at any time under this name… “Marguerite Roberts to August Roberts, $10, lots 16 and 17, Block E, New York add. Randsburg, retains life interest.” These properties, according to the New York Addition Survey, on record with the Engineering, Surveying and Permit Services Dept. of Kern County, are located on Lexington Avenue, which would mean that the cribs belonged to Marguerite and were used by her “girls.” Here are four photos of the still existing cribs... http://www.exploreforums.com/uploads/monthly_08_2013/post-120-0-97059800-1377531718.jpghttp://www.exploreforums.com/uploads/monthly_08_2013/post-120-0-62942900-1377531723.jpghttp://www.exploreforums.com/uploads/monthly_08_2013/post-120-0-74152800-1377531728.jpghttp://www.exploreforums.com/uploads/monthly_08_2013/post-120-0-03287800-1377531734.jpg Burns_Town_Cigarette.pdf Mike Suzzallo murder - Marguerite Roberts.pdf Olllie_Blake_Marguerites_House.pdf The Oasis.pdf
  12. The first woman to be buried in the little Randsburg cemetery was Mrs. Emily A. Davidson, and under the most tragic of circumstances. On May 19th, 1897, David Davidson, husband of Emily, arrived in Randsburg on the stage from Los Angeles. Davidson was attempting to convince his wife to return to Los Angeles. Upon her refusal Davidson pulled out a gun and shot Emily dead in front of the restaurant she operated on Butte Avenue. David I. Davidson had owned a restaurant in Minneapolis, MN from 1885 to 1890, located at 209 Hennepin Ave. and 208 Nicolette Ave., which was called Davidson’s European Restaurant and Hotel. At Denver, CO in 1892, he operated another restaurant, located at 1727 Larimer, with his residence being listed at 1720 Larimer. Sometime around 1896 David and Emily arrived in Los Angeles where he operated another restaurant. As a sideline he engaged in criminal activity, of which he supposedly forced Emily to take part in. Both had bad reputations in Colorado, and continued their disreputable behavior in Los Angeles, with a tragic ending at Randsburg. This story was reported in the May 20th, 1897 edition of the Sacramento Daily Union newspaper. SENSATIONAL TRAGEDY AT RANDSBURG David Davidson Commits a Brutal and Cowardly Murder. Kills His Divorced Wife Because She Would Not Live With Him. The Murderer Taken to Mojave to Prevent His Being Lynched by the Enraged Citizens of the Southern Mining Camp. RANDSBURG (Cal.). May 10. “The most sensational tragedy ever enacted at Randsburg took place this morning when David Davidson arrived on the Kramer stage. Davidson met his divorced wife on Butte avenue at about twenty minutes past 11 o'clock. The two walked to a restaurant that had been kept by the Woman and became involved in a quarrel. Davidson grabbed the woman by the arm with his left hand, drew his revolver with his right hand and shot her. The ball from the pistol entered Mrs. Davidson's left side just below the ribs. As she fell he held her firmly by the arm and shot her twice more in the back as she was falling. Davidson was immediately arrested and put in jail, but shortly thereafter he was taken out by the officers and started for Mojave as a lynching was feared. Excitement is running high here, as the woman was highly respected. If Davidson is overtaken by a mob, as appears to be very likely, he will be summarily dealt with. Both parties to the horrible affair were originally from St. Louis, and recently kept a restaurant in Los Angeles. Davidson sent a number of telegrams to his divorced wife during the last few days imploring and commanding her to return to him, to which she did not reply. When he arrived here on the morning stage from Kramer he said he had come to kill her, and she asked protection of the officers, but little attention was given the threat until the deed was committed. Davidson and his wife have been divorced twice. They formerly lived in Minneapolis, Minn., and Denver, Col. It is reported that she left him because of his criminal inclinations, he having at one time knocked out her front teeth and broke her nose because she would not consent to be used as a cats-paw in his blackmailing schemes. Another story is that she refused to divide about $2,500 which the pair had succeeded in swindling from an Easterner. Both have relatives in Minneapolis, who are said to be wealthy and respected people.” The May 20th, 1897 edition of the Los Angeles Times fills us in with more details about the character of both the victim and her killer: “David I. Davidson, well known in Los Angeles, yesterday murdered his wife in cold blood at Randsburg.” “Later advices from Randsburg state that Davidson went there with the avowed intention of killing his wife, who, it is represented, left him some time ago rather than submit longer to his brutal and criminal conduct in not only beating her, but forcing her to take part in blackmailing schemes.” “Davidson told the officers that the killing had grown out of his wife’s refusal to divide $2500 which they had together secured from some easterner on a swindling scheme.” “The Davidsons, man and wife – if, indeed, they were actually so – are better known in Los Angeles than in any other part of the West. They were a disreputable pair, though there is reason to believe that the woman had long sought to escape the domineering influence exercised over her by Davidson. There is the very best of evidence – the evidence of the truth-telling camera itself – to show that she was, not so very long ago, a creature of utter depravity.” “Davidson, too, has shown himself to be a wretch ready to stoop to the lowest depths” “There was little to attract public attention to the Davidsons until in October of last year when a damage suit for $20,000 was brought by Davidson against Henry Wormington, an old capitalist from Denver whom he has formerly known. It may be added in passing that the Davidsons left bad records in Denver.” In a nutshell, David and Emily Davidson set the old guy up so that he would be caught in a compromising position with Emily, when she had entered his room uninvited, locked the door, stripped off her clothes, and when he husband came looking for her and knocked on the door she let him and two detectives in. A photo was snapped of the scene as “evidence.” This set in motion a fraudulent suit against Wormington in which he was accused of alienating Emily’s affections from Davidson. In other words, blackmail, pure and simple. Davidson divorced Emily as part of the scam, which meant little as they were never legally married any way. A few more quotes from the newspaper state: “After the settlement of these legal matters, Davidson went back to his First-street restaurant and his “wife” acted as his cashier. They got along swimmingly except at such times as the woman was caught running around with other men. Then he became furiously jealous, and, it is said, abused and beat her.” “Among certain women of the town she was known as Cora, and, at one time, it is said, was mistress of a disgraceful “crib” at No. 12, Bauer’s Alley. This is supposed to have been without the knowledge of Davidson.” From the December 3rd, 1897 edition of the Los Angeles Times, a deposition is read from the defendant’s father: “The killing was not denied by the defendant’s attorneys. The defense opened by reading the deposition of the defendant’s father, a physician of St. Louis. He said the defendant’s mother was insane at the time of his birth and had been so for times for some months before, and was so subsequently. He also said the defendant, when 10 years of age, fell and injured his head and frequently thereafter complained of pains in the head.” From the December 12th, 1897 edition of the Los Angeles Times: “After being out seven hours the jury in the case of David Davidson the Randsburg wife-murderer, brought in a verdict of murder in the first degree, and fixed the penalty at life imprisonment. All the jurymen were for murder from the first, and until the last ballot ten were for the penalty of death. The defense rested wholly upon the insanity of the defendant, and all through the trial the defendant sat in court apparently oblivious to all that was going on. Experts said, however, that he was shamming. Defendant’s counsel waived time and today Judge Malone passed sentence. It is not believed that an appeal will be taken. The defendant is the son of a wealthy St. Louis physician.” The San Francisco Call states that Davidson’s father was a millionaire living in Santa Cruz County and that he also had family in San Francisco. Davidson was sent to San Quentin prison, where he is listed in the 1900 census as being born in March 1858 in Missouri, and states that his father was from Ireland and his mother from Virginia. Other records state mother was from Missouri. Census records show him as being born between 1854 and 1858. In 1902 it was mentioned in the news that Davidson was seeking a pardon. Davidson was paroled or pardoned at some point and died in Los Angeles, the article of which follows later in this story. It can be safely assumed that Emily was not a legitimate wife of Davidson, and was herself of a questionable nature. Her family were probably not overly shocked over the end she met. Earlier background information sheds some light on the brutal nature of David Davidson, as well as his propensity for being involved in dysfunctional relationships. Davidson did indeed have a legitimate wife back in Minneapolis, Caroline Miller Davidson as evidenced by this news clip from the Saint Paul Daily Globe, May 18th, 1889: “David I. Davidson is the plaintiff in divorce proceedings against Caroline, his wife. He charges her with having committed adultery with one Edward Gore, in the boarding house at 208 Nicollet avenue last March. He also claims cruelty, alleging that she attacked him with a butcher knife at one time and at another with a lamp. He asks for the custody of the five children.” From the Saint Paul Daily Globe, June 2nd, 1889: “Mrs. Caroline Davidson has filed an answer to the complaint of her husband, asking for divorce on the ground of adultery, and so the case was stricken from the special term calendar.” Also from the Saint Paul Daily Globe, August 22nd, 1889: “Carrie E. Davidson, wife of David I. Davidson, the restaurant man, had her husband arrested yesterday on a charge of threatening to kill her. She told a pitiful story to the clerk of the court, and exhibited a black eye and a swollen face, which she said were due to the chastisement she had received at the hands of her husband. Davidson was arraigned and pleaded not guilty. He gave $200 bonds for his appearance today. Mrs. Davidson says her spouse destroyed her clothing, failed to provide for her and her children, spent his money and time with another woman, and threatened to kill her.” Could the other woman have been the infamous Emily? From the Saint Paul Daily Globe, August 22nd, 1889: “Minneapolis Woman Seeks A Divorce In Denver Caroline Davidson began suit against her husband, David L. Davidson, for divorce and alimony. The complaint of Mrs. Davidson says that she and her husband were married in 1878, and shortly afterward secured a home in Minneapolis. The husband sued the wife for a divorce in the district court of Minneapolis, alleging that she was too friendly with Henry Hurd. Davidson failed to secure a divorce from his wife, and the court made an order directing him to pay alimony. Afterward, his wife says, he fled and arrived in Denver sometime between Jan. 24 and Feb. 7, 1892. In March of the same year he began suit against her in the county court, and alleged that he did not know her whereabouts. Mrs. Davidson was surprised long afterward to learn that her husband had obtained a divorce from her by default. She hastened to Denver and filed her present suit. She accuses her husband of ill treatment, and besides asking for a divorce, she wants alimony and the custody of her five living children.” It is quite obvious from Davidson’s earlier history with his wife, and then later with Emily, that he had a violent temper and was not a very pleasant man. The following account of his death makes one wonder why he refused service to this customer and what caused such an angry reaction that he died from a heart attack. From the Los Angeles Times, dated April 7th, 1935: “EXCITEMENT OF ARGUMENT FATAL FOR CAFÉ OWNER Excitement caused by an argument with a would-be customer yesterday proved fatal for David I. Davidson, 77 year old restaurant proprietor, according to police. He died of a heart attack a few minutes after the debate. The argument took place in Davidson’s restaurant at 232 East Seventh Street when a man entered and asked for service. Davidson refused to serve him, witnesses said, and ordered him out. No blows were struck but a few minutes later Davidson collapsed and was dead when an ambulance arrived. According to Detective Lieutenants Sanderson and Glese, Davidson had been a chef many years on Mississippi River floating palaces. When the river traffic was absorbed by the railroads, he entered the restaurant business and owned and operated fifty-three different restaurants during his career.” Since he does not appear in the census for 1870 he may well have been working as a chef / cook on a river boat. He was born in St. Louis, MO and later lived in Minneapolis, MN, with the Mississippi River flowing through both locations. This all fits in with our David Davidson, who, in 1880, was working as a chef in Minneapolis before opening his own restaurants. By 1920 he has pardoned or paroled and was found living at 1013 Third Street, Sacramento, working in a restaurant. In 1930 he was living in San Diego, and from there made his way back to his familiar stomping grounds of Los Angeles. I wonder if that unwelcome customer who caused so much anger was his son, David, Jr.? Or maybe someone from his past who remembered his crimes? Murdered Davidson Woman - First buried in Cemetery.pdf
  13. I have recently published a book about Randsburg, California, a living ghost town. Below is the description of the book from my Amazon page... http://www.amazon.com/Randsburg-Mojave-Deserts-Liveliest-Ghost/dp/1479102032/ref=tmm_pap_title_0 "A combination history, photographic journey and travel guide to the historic living ghost town of Randsburg, California, located in the Mojave Desert. See where Billy Bob Thornton made his supporting role debut, learn the real identity of Randsburg's most famous red-light madam, and read about the woman vampire seeking new virgin blood! Read the stories of some of those buried in the Rand District cemetery, who, until now, have been forgotten to history. Learn all the details behind the murder of Emily Davidson, shot dead on Butte Avenue in broad daylight by her husband. Full of photographs, both color and black & white. If you have purchased this item, or plan to, please leave your review here: https://www.createspace.com/Preview/1114892 For some reason my buyers have been unable to leave reviews at the Amazon listing page. Remember, your reviews help to further promote my book to others. Thanks!" I have been a genealogist and researcher for 30 years. I spent many, many hours researching some of the subjects in this book, including the real identity of the brothel madam, "French" Marguerite Roberts. The digital edition of the book normally sells for between $4.99 to $7.99, and the hard copy for $22.00. However, for those willing to read it and then leave me feedback I am offering a limited time introductory price of .99 cents Here is the page on my website where you can get this special offer, since the publisher will not allow me to price it at less than $4.99 on their site... http://www.cindynunn.com/rand_pdf/rand_pdf.htm To leave feedback please go to this page, where you can also read a small preview of the book... https://www.createspace.com/Preview/1114892
  14. Life and work in the Ryan District, Death Valley, California, 1914-1930: a historic context for a borax mining community By Mary Ringhoff Life_and_Work_in_the_Ryan_District.pdf
  15. More info here... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wingo,_California
  16. The site of the once thriving town of Brandy City is located six miles northeast of Indian Valley and sits on a ridge at an elevation of 4000 feet. Hydraulic placer mining began in 1851 and the growth of the town was extremely fast. By the middle of the 1850’s it was the center of the mining and business activity for the area from Eureka to Morristown. In 1854 there were about one hundred and fifty miners at work in the diggings and the town had a population of several hundred citizens. Through the 1850’s the town continued to grow and by 1860 the town had a population of five hundred permanent residents. All matter of businesses was located in the town and outlying camps supplied their needs at Brandy City. One could buy a pair of boots, walk across the street to purchase mining supplies and finish off your trip to town with an oyster supper and a shot or two of San Francisco’s finest whiskey. To read more... http://www.westernbitters.com/2012/09/brandy-city-sierra-county-california.html
  17. From Wikipedia: Drawbridge (formerly, Saline City)[2] is a ghost town[3] with an abandoned railroad station located at the southern end of the San Francisco Bayon Station Island, now a part of the city of Fremont, California, United States. It is located on the Union Pacific Railroad 6 miles (10 km) south of downtown Fremont,[2] at an elevation of 7 feet (2 m). Formerly used as a hunting village, it has been a ghost town since 1979 and is slowly sinking into the marshlands.[3] Aerial image of Drawbridge, on the San Francisco Bay Drawbridge was created by the narrow-gauge South Pacific Coast Railroad on Station Island in 1876 and consisted of one small cabin for the operator of the railroad's two drawbridgescrossing Mud Creek Slough and Coyote Creek Slough to connect Newark with Alviso and San Jose. At one time 10 passenger trains stopped there per day, five going north and five going south. The drawbridges were removed long ago. The only path leading into Drawbridge is the Union Pacific Railroad track. In the 1880s, on weekends nearly 1,000 visitors flocked to the town. By the 1920s, although the town had no roads, it did have 90 buildings, and was divided into two neighborhoods: the predominantly Roman Catholic South Drawbridge, and the predominantly Protestant North Drawbridge.[3] After the turn bridge drawbridges were removed and most of the residents had left, the San Jose Mercury News for years incorrectly reported that the town was a ghost town and that the residents left valuables behind. As a result, the people still living there had their homes vandalized.[4] The town's last resident is said to have left in 1979, and Drawbridge is considered to be the San Francisco Bay Area's only ghost town.[3] Drawbridge is now part of the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge[5][6] and is no longer open to the public due to restoration efforts, though it can still briefly be viewed from Altamont Commuter Express,Capitol Corridor, and Coast Starlight trains. There is also an interesting website about this location... http://www.sanjose.com/underbelly/unbelly/Draw/draw1.html
  18. For anyone who cares to take a look, I have completed a new gallery. This is the area where we will be looking for mountain lions http://fineartamerica.com/profiles/1-cindy-nunn.html?tab=artworkgalleries&artworkgalleryid=283540
  19. My book is now being advertised at the Western Mining History site http://www.westernmininghistory.com/blog-details/37793/
  20. Why buy a house when you can buy a town? And not just any town, either: a Wild West town that looks like it's been lifted right off the set of "Django Unchained" or "High Noon." That's right, this80-acre swath of land for sale in the desert town of Caliente, Calif., has its very own Western ghost town complete with a saloon, jail, barbershop, general store and stage coach. Granted, it's a fake Wild West town (meaning it was built for fun). Its structures are inhabited by mannequins, and no actual cowboys lived there. But still, there's something so cool about strutting around your own Wild West town and throwing parties in that saloon! It even has slot machines! Wild West town aside, the property also boasts a 3,000-square-foot main house and a 1,000-square-foot guest pad. And the whole thing can be all yours for $1.175 million! To see other towns up for sale go to article site at : http://realestate.aol.com/blog/2013/03/05/fake-wild-west-town-caliente-calif/
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