Saturday, August 26, 2006
Save Those Redwoods
Aug. 27, 1907
Santa Rosa, Calif.
Elected officials addressed a large rally devoted to saving the 800-acre Armstrong Grove, named after lumber baron J.B. Armstrong, who decided to save the stand of soaring redwoods rather than clearing it.
“Armstrong Grove contains the finest and largest redwood timber in California,” The Times said. “For years it has been a great attraction to tourists and is one of the features of the Russian River section.
“When the late Capt. Armstrong owned all the timber in that vicinity and was milling it and putting the lumber on the market, he was so impressed with the beauty of this tract that he refused to allow the woodman’s ax to despoil any portion of it and decided that it should go to the state.”
Although Armstrong’s will donated the land to the state of California, the Legislature rejected the bequest over some of the will’s stipulations. Sonoma County bought the land from Armstrong’s daughter in 1916, and it wasn’t until 1934 that the state of California took over the park. To further protect the redwoods, the area was designated as a reserve in 1964.
Friday, August 25, 2006
Death at the Lummis House
Aug. 25, 1907
A 20-year-old Pueblo Indian from New Mexico was shot to death at the home of City Librarian Charles F. Lummis in a fight with a houseguest that began over a garden hose.
The gunman, Francisco Amante, 51, described as a Spanish minstrel who has been Lummis’ houseguest for two years, surrendered to police, but no charges were filed.
Lummis told police that he had known Procopio Montoya since the victim was a 2-year-old growing up in Isleta, N.M., and that he brought Montoya to Los Angeles about a year ago to work as a gardener and servant. Although Montoya was extremely devoted to his employer, he refused to obey orders from anyone else, Lummis said.
According to Lummis, Amante had planted a garden and on the morning of the killing, went out to water it with a hose. Montoya, who had already done the day’s watering, yelled: “What are you doing with that hose?” and hit Amante with a large rock.
Amante ran to his room, chased by Montoya, who was carrying another large rock. Amante got a pistol and shot Montoya in the groin.
Lummis called a doctor after unloading Amante’s pistol, saying that Montoya did not appear to be badly wounded.
“Amante went to see him and the lad asked the Spaniard’s pardon for having struck him with the stone. Then he embraced the old man. Just about 6 o’clock, he died,” The Times said.
The coroner’s jury returned a verdict of self-defense.
Wednesday, August 23, 2006
A Jaunt Across Country Goes Awry
Aug. 23, 1907
William Renwick, recent graduate of Pomona College, was to attend Yale in the fall, and rather than more mundane modes of travel decided to head East by auto in what he hoped would be the first transcontinental motor tour to begin in Los Angeles. To ensure that he arrived on time, he left in his Olds machine July 23, accompanied by professor E.E. Chandler.
“The couple were well-equipped for the long and tedious journey,” The Times said. “Renwick, as on one of his former appearances in public, looked like a walking arsenal, prepared for bears or Indians, but the only game encountered were jack rabbits.”
Unfortunately, the trip did not proceed well. On Aug.17, Renwick became ill and left the Olds in Ogden, Utah, for repairs while he visited friends in South Dakota to recuperate. Note: 727 miles in 25 days = 29 Miles Per Day or 1.211 MPH.
In the meantime, Chandler abandoned plans to accompany Renwick the rest of the way to Yale because his vacation was nearly over.
Chandler “reports that the trip was uneventful except for several hard-luck mishaps which befell them en route. Several breaks occurred, one when they were stuck in the sand and another when they struck a large rock and bent the axle. On another occasion they took the wrong road and went 50 miles out of their course before they saw anyone to direct them.”
Unfortunately, if Renwick and his Olds arrived at Yale, it was never recorded in The Times.
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
The Rich Owens Saga
Feb. 27, 1948
Ray Parr’s story about Rich Owens, the longtime executioner at McAlester State Penitentiary, has been knocking around my home office for ages, passed along by a former co-worker many years ago. Writing for the Daily Oklahoman, Parr painted a long, vivid portrait of the man who killed 75 human beings: 65 by electrocution, one by the gallows, two with a knife, six with a gun and one with a shovel. And there could have been more: “I never count peckerwoods,” he said.
By 1948, Owens was bedridden and dying of cancer. Parr paid a final visit to the old executioner to see how he was facing his own death. The headline (incomplete in my copy) says:
Now Rich Owens
Has the Answer."
Sunday, August 20, 2006
Unrest in Morocco
Casa Blanca, Morocco
Aug. 20, 1907
The Times carries a vivid description of a battle between Moorish tribesmen, French sharpshooters and spahis (Arabs in the French service), and though the story is extremely detailed about the fighting, there isn’t a word of background as to the cause.
The unrest dates to March 1907, when a mob in Marrakesh killed Dr. Emile Mauchamp, a member of the geodetic survey. Further inquiry shows that there was a general attack on Europeans in which a British official killed two people.
The French officials and newspapers demanded reprisals for the killing of the scientist, and French troops crossed from Algeria into Morocco. The Moors, however, become “more and more insolent,” with the sultan refusing to respect French rights. The French eventually occupied Casablanca.
In August, there was further fighting between Moroccan troops and the French. Later that month, The Times editorialized: “The Moslems evidently do not intend to lie down until they are shot down. The discontent and resentment against foreigners in Morocco are becoming more and more intense.”
In September, The Times reports: “About 6,000 Moors participated in Monday’s fight. The Moors, who were repulsed on all sides, made a most impressive picture as, garbed fantastically mounted on wild horses and carrying their banners in the front line, they swept down from the hills in splendid formation and charged thunderously to within about 400 yards of the French, who, for a moment, seemed in danger of being overridden.
“As they advanced, the Moors chanted verses from the Koran.”
On Sept. 23, 1907, peace is declared in Morocco. For now, anyway.
Read more about the Mauchamp affair.
The 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica article is here.