Los Angeles Times
The following articles have been transcribed from the Los Angeles Times by Wes Chormicle, gr-gr-grandson
of William C. Chormicle. Obvious spelling errors have been corrected; otherwise copied verbatim.
In 1890, Castaic was spelled Castac, and canyon was spelled canon (cañon).
- Double Murder Over A Land Quarrel
In Castac Canon, March 1, 1890
- The Castac Tragedy: It Is Investigated
By The Coroner, March 2, 1890
- Blood-Soaked Land: The Castac Canyon Railroad
Land Feud, March 6, 1890
- Castac Murderers: They Surrender
To Ventura County's Sheriff, March 11, 1890
- Brought In: Chormicle And Gardner Lodged
In Jail, March 12, 1890
- The Castac Murder: Chormicle
And Gardner Under Examination, March 23, 1890
- The Castac Murder: A Minister
Appears As An Important Witness, March 26, 1890
- Chormicle And Gardner
Held Without Bail For The Castac Murders, March 27, 1890
- The Chormicle And Gardner Murder Trial:
Over One Hundred Witnesses, March 29, 1890
- W.C. Chormicle And W.A. Gardner On Trial
For the Castac Canon Murder, May 30, 1890
- Jose Olme Goes Over His Story
In Detail With No Material Variation, June 1, 1890
- Progress In The Chormicle And Gardner
Case: Mr. Riley's Straight Story, June 3, 1890
- Fifth Day Of Prosecution:
Corroborative Testimony On Main Points, June 4, 1890
- Defense In The Chormicle And Gardner
Case: Testimony As To Character, June 5, 1890
- Murder Trial Of Chormicle And Gardner:
The Story Of The Shooting, June 6, 1890
- Continuation Of The Castac Murder Trials:
Photographs And Diagrams, June 7, 1890
- The Chormicle-Gardner Murder Case Still
On: The Inside Facts Coming Out, June 8, 1890
- Justice In Her Temple: The Crime
In The Castac Disclosing Itself, June 10, 1890
- That Tragic Day Of Blood In The
Castac Canyon: How Cook And Walton Died, June 11, 1890
- The Cook-Jenkins Combine: Cook's Gun
And Reputation Dilated Upon, June 12, 1890
- How Defendant Chormicle Shielded Gardner
In The Castac Murder Case, June 13, 1890
- Gardner's Story Of The Castac
Shooting, June 14, 1890
- Evidence In The Castac
Murder Case All In, June 15, 1890
- The Castac Canon Case, June 17, 1890
- Not Guilty: William C. Chormicle
And W.A. Gardner Go Free, June 18, 1890
- End Of The Castac Canyon Tragedy:
Second Charge Dismissed, June 19, 1890
Castaic rancher William C. Chormicle and ally Will A. Gardener shot Mr. Dolores Cook and settler George Walton to death on Friday, Feb. 28, 1890.
Cook and Walton were allied with Chormicle's bitter enemy, Castaic landowner William Wirt Jenkins, a onetime member of L.A.'s vigilante police force (the Rangers) during the rough-and-tumble 1850s.
Walton was a newcomer to the area, but Cook was a Fernandeño Indian of Tataviam, Kitanemuk and Tongva descent, and Castaic was his ancestral territory. Upon his death, Cook left a widow and four children. Cook is the late Charlie Cooke's great-grandfather. Charlie Cooke (1935-2013) was chief of the Southern Chumash and a respected elder within the Fernandeno-Tataviam Band of Mission Indians. (The "e" was added to the surname by Charlie's grandparents.) Dolores Cook is also gr-gr-grandfather to the current (2014) chief, Ted Garcia, who was passed the title from Charlie in December 2008.
An initial inquest into the killings by the local judge — none other than Judge W.W. Jenkins — pointed to murder. During the coroner's inquest, all eyewitnesses said the victims never fired their weapons. Nonetheless, the tables turned to self-defense when the case went to trial in Los Angeles. There were more than 100 persons on the witness list, but none dared testify against Chormicle, who had a reputation for being armed and irascible. The defendants were acquitted.
There are members of the Cooke-Garcia family today who believe justice was denied.
The blood feud boiled over several more times and claimed as many as 21 lives. It all related to a property dispute among the Atlantic & Pacific Railroad, the Southern Pacific and the U.S. Government. Chormicle claimed to have purchased 1,600 acres of land in Castaic from the railroad, while Jenkins and his friends believed they had rights under the Homestead Act to settle much of the same land. The dispute among the railroads and the govenrment was still working its way through the court system when Cook and Walton were killed.
The Chormicle-Jenkins rivalry came to a head after 1913 when a forest ranger who'd been sent by the government to keep the peace departed. Chormicle shot then-Old Man Jenkins in the chest. He survived. Not long after, Chormicle was shot and killed. Locals blamed Jenkins. Then in 1916, Jenkins was shot off of his horse by Billy Rose, a Chormicle ally. Again Jenkins survived. Three years later Jenkins died of an illness while visiting friends in Los Angeles. He was 84.
Epitaph: It is likely that some of the Jenkins people who were killed in the long-running feud were buried here.