Santa Clarita Valley History In Pictures

"Three-fingered Bob" (or Jack?) Slays Unarmed Rival in Drunken Brawl.

San Quentin photo file for "Three-fingered Bob," file date Jan. 5, 1890. Indicates a release date of May 5, 1892. Click to enlarge. (Courtesy of Lauren Parker.)

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Murder at Acton.

Coroner Meredith was notified early this morning by a telegraphic message, wired from Acton, a small town on the line of the Southern Pacific Railway Company, about midway between Newhall and Lancaster, to the effect that a man named Hugh Boyd had been murdered by Jack Campbell, alias "three-fingered Jack," during a drunken altercation last night. The message requested the Coroner to bring up a coffin with him. Owing to the lateness of the hour at which the news was received in this city, it was impossible to learn the full particulars; and beyond the fact that Campbell was arrested immediately after the committal of the murder, nothing can be stated definitely. The Coroner will leave for Acton on the afternoon train to-day, and an inquest will probably be held as soon as possible after his arrival upon the scene.

All news stories courtesy of Jason Brice.

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Three-Fingered Bob Brought to the City.

Deputy Sheriff Wray returned last night from Acton with Bob Campbell, alias Three-fingered Jack, who shot and killed Hugh Boyd, a brick maker and wood chopper at that place, on Saturday night. A reporter of the Herald visited the County Jail at midnight, shortly after Wray arrived with his prisoner and learned that the affair had taken place as described in a special dispatch given in another column. Campbell, who is a quiet-appearing man, said that he is a miner, and that there had been ill feeling on the part of Boyd, for him, for some time past. About a week before the shooting Campbell had taken a trip over the mountains, and returned to Saturday afternoon to the New York mine [later renamed the Governor — Ed.], in Esperanza gulch. He had not yet alighted from his horse when boyd approached him in a hostile manner. Believing there would be trouble Campbell said he moved his horse away. Boyd followed, using threatening language, and Campbell says that to scare Boyd away and to make him desist, he swung around his shotgun and fired one shot in the air. Boyd, however, did not frighten and advanced to closer quarters, threatening to take away the shotgun and use it on Campbell. By this time, Campbell says, he was badly frightened, and believing that he would either have to kill Boyd or be killed himself, he fired again, this time at Boyd. The full charge of the gun took effect in the right side of Boyd, who fell and expired immediately. There were three witnesses to the shooting, T.W. Lyons, John Foley and L. capers, and they, at that time, made no attempt to capture Campbell, who started off over the hills. Lyons, however, shortly afterwards went after Campbell, who made no resistance, and took him to a shanty near by. Campbell was still in the shanty, under guard, when Deputy Sheriff Wray reached the spot yesterday. Coroner Meredith was holding the inquest, the result of which had not been learned when Wray started for this city with Campbell. Dr. MacDowan held the autopsy, and found nine shot wounds in Boyd's right side. At the County Jail, last night, Campbell seemed to take the affair very quietly, and was confident that he would be acquitted, as it was purely in self-defense that he had shot Boyd. He said that he tried to get out of Boyd's reach, but when Boyd ran at him savagely the only thing he could do was to shoot him.

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The Acton Shooting.

The verdict of the jury of inquest, which was convened at Hebrewville, near Acton, upon the body of Hugh Boyd, brought in a verdict Sunday evening to the effect that "Boyd came to his death by reason of a gun-shot wound, inflicted with a gun in the hands of Bob Campbell, alias Three-Fingered Bob, with intent to commit murder." Three-Fingered Bob is now in the County Jail, whither he was brought Sunday evening by Deputy Sheriff Wray.

The testimony taken by the Coroner would go to prove that there was drunken fight, in the midst of which both parties frequently threatened to shoot each other, and that Boyd was finally shot while going unarmed to attack Campbell, who was armed with a gun.

L. Capers, a Hebrewville laborer, testified that on the evening of Saturday, the 8th inst., he was going down the road from the New York mine toward Hebrewville with Jack Foley, when they came upon Boyd and Campbell in the middle of the road, both under the influence of liquor, and each using very unpleasant language to the other. Threats to kill were very common, and at one time Campbell raised his gun as if to carry out the threat. Capers succeeded in getting the weapon away, whereupon Boyd declared that he would get a gun also, and he started off to Tim Lyon's house to see whether he could find one there. In a few minutes he returned, but he was still unarmed, as Lyons refused to give him a gun. Nothing daunted, however, Boyd still went forward as if to attack Campbell. The latter lifted his gun and warned him off, saying: "If you come any nearer I will shoot you." Boyd came on, and Campbell fired two shots; one made the dust fly about Boyd, and at the second he fell into the road.

John Foley told about the same story, and Tim Lyons, who was somewhat further away, corroborated several of the details.

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The Killing of Hugh Boyd.

Los Angeles, June 10. — "John, give me a chew of tobacco," asked three-fingered Bob Campbell of Hugh Boyd at Acton last Saturday.

"Go to —, you — — —, wasx the latter's reply. They kept swearing at each other for fifteen or twenty minutes until Campbell, exasperated beyond endurance, raised a double-barreled shot gun which lay across his saddle, and started to fire, when a man named Foley seized the gun and removed the caps. The row seemed then to be settled and Campbell got his gun back and started hom.

Boyd then said: "I will get a gun," and ran to the kitchen of his house, but failed to find one.

As Campbell saw him return he turned towards him and sang out: "Turn her loose and shoot, — you."

Boyd replied: "You shoot," which Campbell obligingly did, placing eleven buck shot in his victim's body. The coroner's jury brought in a verdict charging Campbell with murder. "Three-fingered Bob," while having the reputation of being quick with a gun and quarrelsome, has been quite a hard-working man while at Acton. Campbell is in jail at this place.

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A Double-Barrel Shotgun.

Judge Shaw's court was taken up yesterday with the trial of Robert Campbell, familiarly known as "Three-Fingered Bob" for the killing of Hugh Boyd, near Acton, at the head of the great Soledad cañon where the pass is into the Antelope valley. The killing took place on the 8th day of June last.

Two men, named Capers and Foley, of the neighborhood, were eye-witnesses of the affair, and told the story yesterday under oath.

Capers and Foley were going along the road late in the evening after their work was done. They saw two men on horseback a short distance ahead of them, who seemed by their loud tones to be quarreling. Capers said to Foley, "there is 'Three-Fingered Bob' quarreling with some one. They are drunk." The other man proved to be Hugh Boyd. Boyd's horse was ranged along the road, and Campbell's was ranged across it, with his head towards Boyd as the latter sat in the saddle. As the two pedestrians approached the cavaliers, Campbell said to Boyd that if he did not do something he would shoot him, at the same time leveling his gun at his opponent. Boyd replied, "shoot, you — — —, you have not the nerve to do it." Boyd was not armed. Capers and Foley ran up and seized Campbell and took away his gun. Foley removed the caps from the cap tubes and then handed the weapon back to Campbell, telling him to go on home. Campbell rode away, and as he did so Boyd called after him that he would get a gun and they would "shoot it out the next time they met." Then they walked along, Boyd riding just in front of them. At a turn in the road Campbell came riding back, and when Boyd saw him he spurred up his horse and rode towards his adversary. Campbell began to rein in his horse, and called to Boyd, "Do not come near me or I will shoot you." Boyd called back the very same defiance he had used shortly before as reported above, and rode right on. As the two came in sight of each other they were nearly 100 feet apart. Just after the above warning and defiance were exchanged they were within ten feet of each other. As Boyd finished, the two pedestrians saw Campbell level his gun, bringing it up to his shoulder and taking deliberate aim. Then he discharged it, and the load stirred up the dust in the bank to the right of Boyd. By this time Campbell's horse had come to a standstill. He had been checking his pace from the time he first got sight of his antagonist as he came around the corner in the road. Campbel, after firing the first shot, called to Boyd to keep off, but the latter kept on, making a circle around Campbell in the road, and as he got on the other side of him and close up Campbell faced around in the saddle, brought the muzzle of his gun to that side, and without taking aim discharged the second barrel. Boyd fell, and Campbell rode rapidly away in the direction he had returned from. Foley started to go away, but Capers said to him that they had better remain. They went up to Boyd and found him badly maimed, the whole charge of shot having taken effect about the diaphragm, cutting the liver to pieces and severing the aorta, or great artery just above the heart. In a few minutes the man was dead. As Capers said, "He was dead, dead, very dead!"

The weapon, a large, double-barrel shotgun, was shown and identified by the witness; also the vest of Boyd, with the perforations of the large shot all through its face. Capers testified that so far as he could see, Boyd was totally unarmed.

The case is still on trial.

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The Trial of Campbell.

Robert Campbell is on trial for the murder of Hugh Boyd, the killing having been done last spring, near Acton in this county, during a quarrel between the men. Campbell was tried some weeks ago and the jury disagreed.

Before Judge Cheney yesterday a new jury listened to substantially the same narration of the facts and circumstances as those presented in the former trial. The State got all evidence in about 3 o'clock and rested, and the defense put in most of its evidence before the court adjourned. The case is likely to be completed today, or tomorrow at the latest.

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Recommended to Mercy.

Los Angeles, December 21st. — The jury in the case of Robert Campbell, a second trial for killing Boyd at Acton, returned a verdict of manslaughter, with a recommendation to mercy.

Webmaster's note.

Campbell's photo file at San Quentin (see top right) indicates he got three years for manslaughter.


3-Fingered Bob Slays Acton Rival 1889

Death in Newhall Pass 1906

Unruly Acton Boys 1909

Aqueduct Worker Beaten, Robbed by Cohort 1910

Trouble With Wobblies 1916

$20 Fine for CCW 1921

Manhunt 1924

Rancher Wade Albert Horton Slain 1930

Frances Walker Slaying 1935

More: Frances Walker Slaying 1935

German Enemy Aliens Arrested in Castaic, 12-8-1941

Hart 'Aces' Gang Busted 1950

Alpha Beta 1983

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