Santa Clarita Valley History In Pictures

William C. Chormicle and the
Castaic Range War.

Los Angeles Times.
June 12, 1890.

The Cook-Jenkins Combine.
Cook's Gun And Reputation Dilated Upon — Viewing The Battlefield.

Another large crowd was in attendance in Judge Cheney's courtroom yesterday during the Chormicle and Gardner murder trial. There were no events of a sensational character in the proceedings during the day. The defense was mainly occupied in picking the threads of the story which has been told by the principle witnesses, and in proving a bad character for Dolores Cook, for whose killing the defendants are on trial in the present case.


Thomas Marple, who had been partially examined Tuesday afternoon, was recalled as the first witness of the day by the defense, and was examined further in regard to the relations existing between Mr. Chormicle and W.W. Jenkins.

He said that Jenkins and Dolores Cook, the deceased, had been intimate friends for the past five or six years, and they were even what might be called partners.

Whenever Jenkins had any business in the courts Olme and Cook were always witnesses for him. Jenkins caused the arrest of Chormicle and his wife several times, and when they were on the witness stand would attempt to bulldoze and intimidate them. The witness had heard him threaten to punish them for contempt, and Jenkins had also threatened him when he was on the stand. Jenkins would get the witness to draw a diagram on a blackboard, and if it did not suit him he would erase it and draw one himself.

On cross-examination Mr. Marple again stated that he had contributed $100 toward the defense, because he wanted to see justice done. He also stated that other residents of that section had done likewise.


The witness on redirect examination said that he had made an examination of the cabin and the places where Walton and Cook fell, and that it would be an utter impossibility for a person to be seen inside the cabin from the points where they were shot, providing a person stood back from the window a distance sufficient to allow his holding a rifle against his shoulder, the barrel of which only protruded six inches from the window.


James B. Rhodes, a brother-in-law of W.W. Jenkins, testified that he knew Dolores Cook and that he always went armed. He said Jenkins had a conversation with him (the witness) a short time before the shooting, but was not allowed to tell the conversation.

The defense stated that they expected to show by the witness that Jenkins told him that Cook was so under his control that he would run his neck into a halter if he ordered him to do so. The Court would not allow the conversation to be given.

John Powell of Newhall testified at the afternoon session that he once had a conversation with Dolores Cook, in which he asked Cook why he did not allow the Chormicles and Jerkiness to fight out their own land troubles. Cook replied that he was a friend of Jenkins, and that he was going to have the land if he had to kill the Chormicles and the Gardners. He also testified that Cook's reputation for peace and quiet was bad.

George M. Gardner was recalled by the prosecution for purposes of impeachment. He was asked if he had not told a number of people that he knew nothing about the shooting. He replied that he had denied all knowledge of the shooting to every one whom he thought connected with the Jenkins crowd, but had talked about it with his own side.

Michael A. Powell of Los Angeles testified that the reputation of Dolores Cook was bad. He had been in the Castac country for about nine years, and had known Cook fourteen or fifteen years. He generally carried a revolver.

Doroteo Lopez, sworn: I live at Gorman Station, and was at Newhall at the house of Miguel Duran when Cook was there on one occasion. Miguel asked Cook why he carried a pistol. He replied that he carried it for a certain person. Afterward, when Mr. Chormicle was passing, he said, "There goes that-----, and on his account I carry the pistol." It was said in Spanish.

John T. Wilson of San Fernando, Justice of the Peace and superintendent of the Porter Land and Water Company's ranch, testified that he has lived in the valley since 1874. He saw Cook at his office. He told Cook he thought they had got their land matters settled. he replied: "H--ll, no; I will fight as long as I live." Cook lived at San Fernando for three or four years. his reputation there was not good.

James A. Kerns of San Fernando, Constable of that township, testified that he knew Dolores Cook. His reputation was bad for peace and quiet. The witness testified that he went to the Castac Canon four or five days after the shooting. He was taken to the spots where the men fell by Juan Burola. Sheriff Riley stood at the spots and the witness went in and looked through the windows to see if he could see Sheriff Riley. He could not see him, on account of the angle.

P.H. Gavan of Newhall testified that he knew Cook. He generally went armed. His reputation for peace and quiet was very bad.

Jesus Tapia, sworn: I live in the Castac. I have lived there five and one-half years. I lived about four miles from Dolores Cook. He usually carried a six-shooter. His reputation for peace and quiet was bad.


Coroner J.M. Meredith testified that he held an inquest upon the bodies of Dolores Cook and George W. Walton. He was asked about the testimony of Olme before him as to the number of pistols taken on the battlefield, but no foundation having been laid with Olme, the questions were ruled out.

Juan Tapia, who lived in the Castac three years ago, testified that he knew Cook and Jenkins. Cook's reputation was bad.


Joaquin Martinez of the Castac testified that he knew Dolores Cook. He saw Cook on section 23 when Juan Leiva was driving Jenkin's cattle out. Cook was at the gate with Jose Olme and Jenkins. They were preventing Juan from driving out the cattle. He saw Walton on the section when Mrs. Chormicle and her son George were trying to remove some lumber from the land. When George took up the first board Walton took him by the shoulder and threw him against the wheel of the wagon. He spoke in English, and the witness did not understand what he said.

On cross-examination the witness was asked about going to Verdugo with Mrs. Chormicle and finding old Juan Burola there, and was examined about the various difficulties which had occurred between Mr. Chormicle and the Jenkins crowd, going over the same ground as that by previous witnesses.

A short examination of Mr. Gardner, father of the defendant, concluded the testimony for the day. He was questioned about some of the difficulties Mr. Chormicle had with Mr. Jenkins, Cook and Walton, and nothing particularly new was elicited in his examination. The trial will resume this morning.

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