Santa Clarita Valley History In Pictures

William C. Chormicle and the
Castaic Range War.

Los Angeles Times.
June 7, 1890.

Photographs And Diagrams.

[Note: This story contained two small drawings of the cabin.]

The prosecution in the Chormicle and Gardner murder trial, yesterday morning when Judge Cheney took his seat, asked that the jury be taken to Castac Canon to view the scene of the tragedy. The Court declined to entertain the request unless both sides agreed to it, and then only because it might be necessary to avoid any possible error. The defense objected until all the evidence should be in.


John Hall, the architect, was recalled, and drew a diagram on the blackboard, showing the different section lines in the Castac Canon. He drew a very good map on the board, showing the fences between the sections and the point where Miss Martinez stood when she saw the shooting. He was questioned at length in regard to the distances between the points described, and particularly the nature of the ground between the cabin where the tragedy occurred and the places where Miss Martinez and Thomas Riley viewed the shooting.


E.W. Fortune, a photographer, testified to the taking of photographs in Castac Canon, and identified the photographs. He was examined at considerable length upon the different views, and where he stood when he took them. In regard to the picture showing the point where Riley said he stood, the witness said the cabin could not be seen from that point on account of the bushes. Mr. Fortune was examined about the photographs, which are very well taken and give a complete idea of the Castac Valley and the scene of the tragedy, until everybody grew weary. The jurors tried to make themselves as comfortable as possible for so warm a day by taking off their coats.


John Hall was recalled and questioned further about the photographs. A graphoscope was produced through which the jury looked at the different photographs, this operation consuming the better part of an hour.


I.H. Polk, Receiver of the United States Land Office, testified that there is an entry in his books where Walton made an application for section 23.

The prosecution objected to the testimony, Mr. Campbell stated that the defense wished to show by the witness that Walton made application for the land which was refused, and that he went to the land in spite of it, determined to obtain possession by violence. That they went on the land armed with an armed posse, and were the aggressors in this trouble. After some discussion the Court allowed the testimony to go in. The witness then read the entry, showing Walton's application, January 21, 1890, for the south half of the section, and its rejection by the Land Office. The witness produced a letter from the General Land Office showing why the rejection of the application was made, it being under the act of Congress allowing withdrawal of the land as railroad land for the Southern Pacific Company. The letter was read to the jury. On cross-examination the witness was asked if Secretary Vilas had not recently made a decision in the matter, and replied that he knew of no such decision by Mr. Vilas. The witness also stated that Walton took an appeal from the rejection of his application, which appeal is still pending in the United States Land Office.

An attempt by the prosecution to go into the question of the title of the land was not allowed by the Court.


Miss Hilda Martinez was recalled by the defense, and pointed out on the photographs where her residence is located and the points where she saw the man at the arroyo during the shooting. The witness then testified that she went to the cabin after the shooting, and saw a chicken coop on one side of it.

The witness heard a conversation one Sunday after the shooting, between Juan Burola and others, but was not allowed to state the conversation.

Miss Martinez also stated, on cross-examination, that her mother was standing near by the post on the hill at the time of the shooting, and they talked about it together. Her brother was at work a little lower down. She denied having stated to Florenzo Navarro ten days after the shooting that she knew nothing of the shooting until Cook was buried, adding that she did not see Navarro at all. She also denied that her mother stated the same thing to Navarro in her presence.

The witness was not diverted from the main points of her story of the shooting as given on her direct examination. Her cross-examination occupied the remainder of the afternoon. While the day was principally spent in examining witnesses about the photographs of the valley, the defense claim that the value of this to their side of the case will become apparent further on in the trial. The case will be resumed this morning.

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