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Ed Pardee: Keeper of Peace, Maker of News.

Ed Pardee
Constable Ed Pardee.

As a primary source of historical information, there is no better resource than newspapers. In an attempt to better define the details of the life of Newhall pioneer Ed Pardee, SCV Historical Society Board Member Ed Marg has spent countless hours combing through the archives of local Los Angeles newspapers and has found a number of tidbits in period articles which shed some additional light on the exciting life and times of Mr. Pardee.

Ed Pardee, Oil Man

William Edwin Pardee was born March 22, 1851, in Meadville, Penn. The birth of the oil industry took place when the first successful oil well was drilled at Titusville, Penn., in 1859. Pardee would take up his first trade as an oil driller in the Pennsylvania oil fields.

The 1880 census thus shows the 29-year-old Pardee working as an oil driller and living in Kendall Borough, county McKean, with his wife, the former Katherine B. Gartiner, whom he married in October 1876.

By the 1870s, the oil industry in Pennsylvania was declining, prompting many skilled oil men such as Alexander Mentry to head for Southern California, where oil had been discovered in the canyons of the Santa Clarita Valley. Mentry is credited with drilling the first commercially successful oil well in the Western United States — dubbed CSO No. 4 for Demetrius Scofield's California Star Oil Co. — in Pico Canyon on Sept. 26, 1876.

Pardee and his brother Daniel were two of the men who followed the oil out to California and took up work in Pico Canyon. As early as May 8, 1883, the Los Angeles Herald lists E. Pardee, a resident of Newhall, as a guest at the United States Hotel in Los Angeles.

Ed Pardee, Partier

Pardee quickly became part of the prominent social circles of Newhall after his arrival from Pennsylvania. According to an article in the Los Angeles Herald of Aug. 23, 1883, Pardee attended a party in San Fernando thrown by "the ladies of the Catholic Church" which was reported to be "one of the most enjoyable parties we ever had here." Other significant attendees included Jeronimo Lopez of San Fernando, Mrs. Romulo Pico, and families whose names are still seen on street signs in the San Fernando Valley such as Miss Katie Maclay and Mr. C.R. Rinaldi, who served as master of ceremonies.

According to the newspaper, Mrs. Knickerbocker of Newhall was voted the best looking and most stylishly dressed at the party, while Newhall's Mr. O.N. Kent was voted "the best looking young man."

The following month, that good-looking young man, Ora N. Kent, gave a party at Newhall "previous to the opening of his splendid new store." Ed Pardee attended the event and served on the floor committee. Kent hosted a dance in his new store room in Newhall which was "a blaze of light from chandeliers."

Also in attendance was B.R. Boynton, lessee of Henry Mayo Newhall's Southern Hotel. Boynton, according to the newspaper, "showed to the satisfaction of all that Mr. Newhall, in leasing his magnificent hotel to Mr. Boynton, displayed admirable judgment."

Pardee's fellow partiers that night included members of the Del Valle family of Camulos, the Lang family of Soledad Canyon, the Maclay family of San Fernando, and Mrs. John T. Gifford, wife of the first station master at Southern Pacific's Newhall depot.

The party was apparently well attended by former Pennsylvania oil men like Pardee. The newspaper reported "Newhall has a boom — great big broad shouldered oil men from the oil regions of Pennsylvania, a hundred or more are here. They are splendid specimens of manhood."

Constable Ed Pardee is in the middle of the back row in this ca. 1891 photograph, probably shot in Pico Canyon. Click the image to see who else is in it.

Ed Pardee, Lawman

Although Pardee came to Newhall as an oil man, he is best known for his years as a lawman and livery stable owner. The Los Angeles Herald reports Pardee's appointment as constable of the Soledad Township on Sept. 30, 1890. (This is earlier than the 1893 date previously noted in our local history literature.)

As might be expected in an Old West town such as Newhall, Pardee would have his hands full keeping the peace. According to the Sacramento Daily Union of Dec. 10, 1891, Constable Pardee and his deputy Charles Jenkins gunned down a "desperado of the worst type" in Castaic Canyon.

The incident centered around Sefrino Acedo, an Indian who reportedly threatened to kill his family after a "prolonged debauch." After his wife locked him out of the house, he laid siege to the residence by building a camp fire in the front. His father stole away to Newhall and swore out a warrant for his arrest. Pardee and Jenkins proceeded to the scene and commanded Acedo to throw up his hands. The angry desperado responded by firing at the officers. They returned fire, "filling him full of buckshot, killing him almost instantly."

Apparently there was no love lost between Acedo and his father. "It is stated that the dead man's father stood by the corpse and thanked God for his death."

As was common among Old West lawmen, Pardee got into his share of trouble, too. On June 8, 1892, the Los Angeles Herald reported that Pardee was arrested and arraigned for assaulting a minister, Rev. L.P. Crawford of Pasadena. The case went to appeal in December 1892, during which the reverend gave his side of the story.

"As minister of the gospel he deemed it necessary to console all the women in his charge," the Herald reported. "On the day in question he was consoling Mrs. Pardee. He left and had gone about 100 yards when he met Pardee. Pardee used vulgar language and said: I allow no old mossback of a minister to fool around my wife; they've raised enough trouble in the community already, and I don't propose to have my wife and family mixed up with them.' Defendant said he was sorry he didn't hit the minister harder. Pardee was fined $20."

Pardee also had to deal with hoboes and tramps. In December 1903 a wave of hoboes was illegally riding the rails of the Southern Pacific into Los Angeles, supposedly in search of employment. Pardee reported to the newspaper that Newhall was the jumping-off place for the fraternity of tramps coming into the county. They would gather in bands of six to 20 and raided hen roosts and pig pens, including those belonging to Pardee. In order to keep warm on the chilly winter nights, they destroyed fences throughout the area to use as fuel for camp fires. Lawmen such as Pardee were arresting so many masses of hoboes that all of the jails between Fresno and Los Angeles were reported to be crowded to capacity. One engineer said he'd seen 16 camp fires being kept alive by the tramps between Ravenna and Saugus.

Ed Pardee built this livery stable in Newhall in 1887. Click image for more info.

Ed Pardee, Multitasker

Among his other occupations, Pardee could list saloon keeper, hotelier and politician. The newspaper reported that Pardee obtained a saloon license and bond approval in September 1896.

A February 1903, article on the ease of jailbreaks from the Newhall Jail makes reference to the "Pardee Hotel." Of note, the jailhouse is described as "nothing but a frail wooden building with formidable looking iron bars lending a penitentiary effect to the windows."

As to the security of the prison, the report states: "Judging from the descriptions of the prison it would not require a man with the nerve of a Tracy to escape from Newhall's calaboose."

A grand jury investigation of Los Angeles-area prisons in June 1910 found the Newhall jail to be the worst of all those inspected. The grand jury recommended that Constable Pardee be disciplined for the filthy conditions and general inadequacy of the prison.

The old Newhall jail can still be seen today in its original location, which is now next to the Old Town Newhall Public Library.

As a politician, Pardee is found to have been an official delegate for the Miners political Representation in 1889, an inspector at the school house polling place, and an elected delegate to the Democratic Party.

Ed Pardee, Lousy Witness

One of the more sensational crimes to occur during Pardee's reign as constable in Newhall was the murder of Deputy Constable Charles de Moranville by John H. Allen, better known as "Arizona Jack," on Jan. 4, 1909.

The 35-year-old Arizona Jack was captured two days after the killing, which occurred at the old Kellogg ranch near Newhall (now the K-Mart shopping center in Valencia).

Ed Pardee
Conditions of the Newhall Jail were deplorable on Ed Pardee's watch. Click image for more info.

Jack was taken to Los Angeles and charged with murder. The suspect claimed he had been drinking at a saloon in Newhall on the night of the shootout. He went to the local opera house to see a show, returned to the saloon for another drink, and then walked home to the Kellogg ranch, where he was employed. When he got to the edge of Newhall, he was jumped by five men who had earlier ridden into town on a freight train, and they attempted to rob him of his money. Arizona Jack was able to break free from the thugs, draw his revolver, and fire off several shots at them. The crooks fled off toward the town, and several minutes later, Deputy Constable De Moranville arrived at the scene and ordered Jack to throw up his hands.

Sadly, Jack mistook De Moranville for one of the robbers and drew his revolver. De Moranville responded by firing three shots at Jack. At the third shot, Arizona Jack fired back and shot the deputy in the heart, killing him instantly.

Jack spent the night in a barn at the Kellogg ranch. The next morning he notified his employer, Charles Kellogg, of the killing. Jack headed for the hills while Kellogg sent an urgent message to Constable Pardee. That night, Arizona Jack returned to the Kellogg barn to get something to eat, but officers were waiting for him there and arrested him.

In June 1909, Arizona Jack went on trial for manslaughter and ended up with a hung jury after 22 hours of deliberation. Lucky for him, all charges were dropped the next month by "District Attorney Fredericks, who expressed the belief that the facts surrounding the killing were such that no conviction could be had."

Ed Pardee was called as a witness in the trial. The newspaper reported: "A witness, whose lack of memory would make him a valuable assistant to Archbold, Rockefeller or others whose chief asset is their forgetfulness, testified in Justice Summerfield's court yesterday. The first witness was Constable Pardee, whose seeming forgetfulness hampered the defense considerably. It was necessary to question him from many sides in order to get anything from him. De Moranville was deputy constable under Pardee."

Ironically, Arizona Jack was quoted in the Los Angeles Herald of Feb. 18, 1909, as stating to a deputy sheriff: "They say I shot the constable. Why, that man was one of my best friends and I would never hurt him intentionally."

Ed Pardee died Jan. 21, 1914. His home, originally built as a Good Templars Hall, sat on the corner of Market and Walnut streets (now the Veteran's Memorial Plaza). In 1992 it was moved to Heritage Junction Historic Park where it is being transformed into the Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society's future History Center.

Alan Pollack, M.D., is president of the Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society.
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