Santa Clarita Valley History In Pictures

William C. Chormicle and the
Castaic Range War.

Los Angeles Times.
June 8, 1890.

The Inside Facts Coming Out.
The Old, Old Story — A Land Fight And Its Bloody Consequences.

The Chormicle and Gardner murder case dragged its weary length yesterday, passing into the second week of the trial. The courtroom was exceedingly warm, and all hands suffered from the heat. An adjournment was taken at noon until Monday morning, and the jury was allowed to separate until that time.

The defense is beginning to make its line of testimony felt, and the true inwardness of the troubles in the Castac Canon are beginning to be shown. The first impression that the killing of Dolores Cook and George Walton was a cold-blooded and brutal murder is beginning to be revised by those who have been in close attendance upon the trial, and the opinion is frequently heard expressed by spectators that they had no idea of the true facts of the case until the evidence began to come in. Little by little the connection of W.W. Jenkins with the troubles in the valley has been made more apparent, and the defense now openly say that before the close they will show a conspiracy on the part of the men who lost their lives and Jenkins to kill W.C. Chormicle and W.A. Gardner, the defendants, and that Dolores Cook, deceased, was the first one to fire a shot in the tragedy. It is also understood that they have other eye-witnesses to the shooting who will substantiate this claim, and who have never yet been examined.

The courtroom yesterday, in spite of the heat, was well filled with spectators, and they remained close auditors of the trial until court adjourned.


Mrs. W.W. Jenkins was called by the defense, unexpectedly to her, and testified that she went to the cabin after Olme came down and reported the shooting. She said she went to the place where Walton's body was lying, and, with the assistance of Wade, a hired man who worked for Mr. Jenkins, placed it in the wagon. She found a bull-dog revolver in Walton's pocket which she recognized as belonging to her husband. She took it to the house and gave it to Mr. Jenkins. The revolver was loaded. She said her husband asked her to go to the cabin, saying that if "they were cowardly enough to shoot a man, they will not be cowardly enough to shoot a woman."


P. McAnany testified as follows: "George Walton worked for me at one time. I engaged him through an employment agency, of which Mr. Pooler was the agent. One day Walton told me he was going to take up land in Castac Canon. I advised him not to go, but he said he was able to take care of himself. On another occasion he told me he had put some lumber on the land and it had been removed by other claimants. He said he was going to put it back. In the last conversation Walton said W.W. Jenkins was helping him get the land, and had previously taken up land for others."

A.K. Spears testified that he knew Walton. He told him about the land in Castac Canon, and that he was going to jump a claim there.

Michael McGrill, a contractor and grader living in the city, testified that he was in Castac Canon last September or October, and was upon section 23. He went at the request of W.W. Jenkins.

The defense attempted to show by the witness that Jenkins requested him to jump the land and divide the spoils with him, but the Court sustained an objection to the questions.

He was allowed to say that he rode over the land with Jenkins, but when Mr. Murphy asked what Jenkins afterward said about having procured Walton to jump the land, an objection was sustained and the witness was excused.


William Walters, living near San Fernando, testified that he knows Juan Burola, the old Mexican; that he has known him for ten years. He lived at the house of witness's father-in-law, Mr. Martinez. The witness had been in the habit of seeing the old man once or twice a year. This was not considered sufficient to allow the witness to give evidence as to the mental condition of the old man, and he was withdrawn.


William B. Rose, sworn: I reside on section 25 in the Castac. I have known the land in the valley for some time; and particularly section 23. The land is enclosed. There is a fence on the east side of section 23, a wire fence, about four feet high. It runs from the southeast corner north about half a mile up over the top of the hill. There is a fence on the north side running across the valley, connecting it with Miss Martinez's land. There is a fence on the south between sections 26 and 23; a barbed wire fence, about four feet high. On the west line are the mountains, with abrupt declivityís. Mr. Chormicle built a part of the fence and Mr. Gardner a part. Mr. Chormicle has been cultivating the land on section 23 during the past two years. I know that he plowed the ground, sowed barley, harvested it, and had a volunteer crop of barley this year. He had a part of the northeast quarter cleared up and plowed. It was cultivated in the vicinity of the cabin. There was between eighty and ninety acres of barley last year. Mr. Chormicle built a cabin, and developed water on the southeast quarter of the section. He dug into the hills and piped water to the cabin, doing considerable work. I have seen the deceased, George W. Walton. He was hauling lumber close to this developed water, thirty or forty yards below the end of the pipe which Mr. Chormicle laid, between the water and Mr. Chormicle's cabin. I was at the gate when the quarrel about the cattle came up. Mr. Chormicle had driven the cattle out of the section just before; there were twenty or thirty head. The grain was looking very well at that time; it was about six or eight inches high and well set. I thought it would make a very fair crop.


Jenkins asked Mr. Chormicle what he was driving his cattle off the section for, and called him hard names, saying he was going to drive his stock on there; that he had a claim to it, and would not be kept out by Chormicle. Walton said the same things. Jenkins offered to fight Chormicle; the latter said that he had not come to fight, but to warn them off, to protect his rights. Walton said he was going to have the land, if he had to fight for it. The manner of both Jenkins and Walton was very rough. Olme was there on a horse, and got off of it. I don't remember all the conversation. Mr. Brockwell sat down near me and began taking notes. Olme speaks English very well. They were boisterous and abusive, and seemed to be determined to have the land. Mr. Jenkins said he was going to drive the cattle on again, and he did so. Mr. Chormicle said it was evident they would drive the cattle on after he left, and it would no good for them to stay. Therefor, we left, and as we were going away we saw Jenkins driving the cattle through the gate again. Jenkins is a man who seems to consider everybody's business his business. He lives on section 24, and claims to have some mining or mineral claims. At the time he was at the gate saying these things he was a Justice of the Peace. An old Indian came up at the time, and Mr. Chormicle said that Jenkins had hired him to kill him. Jenkins said he said so because he knew he ought to be killed. I did not here what the Indian said. The Indian understands English.

Being questioned as to experiments by him at the cabin, the witness said that, sitting on the chicken-coop where the old man sat, he could have seen Mr. Cook fall, and that would have been all. He could not have seen any one in front of the cabin.

On cross-examination the witness said, in reply to questions by Mr. Appel, that Mr. Chormicle had asked him the night before to come up to the gate the next day. But the witness explained that Mr. Chormicle had not said that he expected trouble. What he did say was that he was going to drive the cattle off his land, and wanted witnesses. He said Jenkins and Walton might come up there, and he wanted to warn them to keep the cattle off, and wanted witnesses to that fact.

After some further unimportant cross-examination, court adjourned until Monday morning.

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