Jail

Survey Number:      Owner:      Date of Discovery:
January 27, 1898 – Randsburg Relic – San Francisco Call

CONSTABLES

Claude Bohannon

John Kelly

October 09, 1899: “RANDSBURG, Oct. 8.-Swaln Stevenson was arrested this morning on a telegraphic warrant from Sheriff Borgwardt on a charge of grand larceny. The telegram instructed Constable Kelley, the arresting officer, to hold ‘ him, as he is wanted very badly by Sheriff Parker of Tulare County.” –San Francisco Call

June 16, 1900: “RANDSBURG, ‘ June 15.— Sam: Barnum- shot S.C. Gann three times this morning, none of the wounds being dangerous. The trouble arose over Gann’s intimacy with Barnum’s wife. Barnum took to the hills.” –San Francisco Call

John Arnold

Dave Thompson

Dave Thompson became Constable of Randsburg upon the shooting death of John Arnold in 1907, during his seven years as Constable of Randsburg there were probably a number of these wanted posters sent out but this is the only one with his name on it that the museum has been able to locate.

Tex Lovett–

June 27, 1918: “HONEY AND TWO CLOSED EYES, BUT NO VANADIUM—Randsburg, June 27. – Two prospectors left Randsburg Friday, June 21, for Last Chance Canyon, Kern County, with fond hopes of locating a vanadium prospect.

The(y) returned Monday night with 150 pounds of honey, worth 26 cents per pound, and admit that they were badly “stung,” and three closed optics proved their story.  Looking for vanadium, they found a beehive in the rocks, and located a honey cache, looted the same, and cleaned up $26, after paying the doctor’s bill of $3.  As “Tex Lovett, with both eyes closed, puts it, he made money on the trip.  Kern County is admittedly rich as a mineral belt, and now goes on record as a honey belt of heretofore unsuspected possibilities.” – Bakersfield Californian

June 20, 1918:  “DESERT YEGGS LOOT SAFE OF HI-GRADE ORE –Staging the second robbery in three weeks, a gang of bandits raided the Stringer district camps near Randsburg during the early morning hours, stealing a large quantity of high grade pin tungsten from the safe of Owen Clark and taking $65 in gold and some valuable papers from the mine of Valdamar Schmidt and escaping in the darkness.

A posse was hurriedly formed this morning and a search of the surrounding country was started by the miners and farmers.

It is almost certain that the bandits who operated last night were the same that stole the large safe of the King Solomon mine near Johannesburg a short time ago and escaped with several dollars in gold and valuable papers.

A comparison of footprints near the scene of both robberies showed that they were exactly the same size.

Word of the daring robbery spread around Randsburg and citizens as well as deputy sheriffs joined in the hunt.  It is believed that the bandits are experienced men and of the hardest character.

Report received here this afternoon from the scene of the robbery state that it is believed the bandits have a cache near Randsburg and it is thought that if surrounded, they will all put up a fight to the death. “– Bakersfield Californian

Andy Nixon

JUSTICES OF THE PEACE

January 30, 1900: “Justice of the Peace Davidson, who fired his revolver four times at the moon and missed Thursday night, yielded up $20.” – Los Angeles Herald

ARRESTS:

October 17, 1897:  “PATRICK AND WILLIAM NEELAN were examined before Justice E. B. Maginnis on last Saturday and bound over to the superior court on a charge of grand larceny. On August 4th one of the clerks at W. C. Wilson’s store found the lock on the door of his powder magazine broken and pome of the powder gone.  One day last week the above-named parties, through a third party, sold to W. L. Adams some powder. Upon the delivery of the powder the officers took charge of it and arrested the criminals.” – The Herald.

April 12, 1916:  “The Randsburg jail was set on fire from the outside a few nights ago and two prisoners inside were only saved by prompt action.  The jail is a fire-trap and needs improvement, especially on account of the large increase in population recently.”  –Bakersfield Californian

February 8, 1917:  “SEPTIC TANK PLANNED FOR RANDSBURG JAIL—A septic tank will be installed at the jail in Randsburg , according to action taken yesterday afternoon by the board of supervisors.  The contract has been awarded to Ferguson & Rogers, and the job will not more than $175.  The work will be under the supervision of Supervisor Paxton.”  – Bakersfield Californian

November 22, 1919:  “RANDSBURG IS IN A CLASS BY ITSELF.  It has no saloons, no churches, no ministers, no show and no doctor.  There is a one room jail here, which has not been used for more than two years.” Bakersfield Californian

April 7, 1920:  “THE COUNTY JAIL IS DOING A RUSHING BUSINESS and no steps have been taken to sell it for a storehouse as is the case of the Randsburg jug.” – Bakersfield Californian

Advertisement For Sale of Randsburg Jail. Could the Constable not be doing his Job?

April 9, 1920: “JAIL FOR SALE ADVERTISED BY MINING TOWN – Bakersfield, April 9  — Want to buy a nice jail?  Randsburg, the mining camp 100 miles east of here, has no further use for its prison and has advertised it for sale.  Randsburg, now a settlement of several hundred persons, was once one of the livest gold mining camps in the state.  Discovery of silver mines near Randsburg recently, it is believed will bring the camp back into some of the prominence it enjoyed years ago, but the passing of the saloons, it is said, eliminates need of a jail.” – Bakersfield Californian

PROHIBITION (BOOTLEGGERS AND BLIND PIGS)

September 19, 1919:  “JIM SIERRAS WAS APPREHENDED at Randsburg yesterday by W. E. Snell, captain of the county’s traffic squad.  He pleaded not to a charge of selling liquor in violation to Kern County’s “Little Volstead Act” in Justice Bunnell’s court.  Judge Bunnel set September 22 as the date to set the trial.  He fixed Sierras’ bail at $1000.

The namesake of the great mountains to the east and north was forced to go back to jail, being unable to furnish sufficient collateral for his release.  Deputy District Attorney R. H. Lambert represented the state at the arraignment.  Federal Prohibition Agent Thomas J. Nicely assisted Snell.” – Bakersfield Californian

October 18, 1923: “WELL SECLUDED STILL IS FOUND BY UNDER-SHERIFF SMITH NEAR MOJAVE       — Early Wednesday morning C. H. Storey had completed one of the most promising and, he thought, well secluded mountain moonshine stills in the history of mountain manufacturing of inebriating spirits, bar none, according to Undersheriff Smith.  “The long line of Tennessee and Kentucky moonshining familes had nothing on Storey’s booze factory, not did highly imaginative movie scenario writers and directors ever conceive a more melodramatic setting for a screen still than this latest contribution to the troubles of prohibition enforcement officers,” Stated Smith, this morning.

“Storey had chosen a location in an old deserted mine in a ravine near Jawbone Canyon, at the deserted camp of Alpha mill, in the wild mountainous regions about 23 miles north of Mojave, he tunneled into the ravine and in his secret cave set up a very promising moonshine still, using a coal oil stove that caused Storey’s downfall, incidentally the destruction of his monument to illicit distilling enterprise and genius,” the officer stated.

Undersheriff Charley Smith had business in Randsburg early in the week, and returning homeward, nearing the old Alpha mining camp his nasal organs refused to register normal.  Whether it was an embryonic oil field, a burned over pine forest or a deserted mining town bar room he whiffed, Smith did not know.  But he was determined to satiate his curiosity, and he did.  Following the path suggested by his olfactory nerve, the officer was led into a nearby ravine, where he suddenly halted.  The language he heard apparently floating from a greasewood bush on the side of the ravine, was more than even a hardened officer could stand without blushing.

Curiosity finally overcoming his native modesty, Undersheriff Smith peered behind the swearing bush—and into a well-equipped still in the cave beyond.  Storey was standing over the impromptu oil furnace emphatically and convincingly informing that oil stove just where such a “darn useless critter” should be consigned and how hot the flames when he arrived there.

“Never mind, just let it go; I’ll have to tear down your playhouse anyway.” Smith informed the swearing Storey as he looked up in surprise.  “The H__l you will; well I guess I’ll let her go then,” he replied.  And he did.  Storey had just cooked the first batch of mash in his new distillery, according to the officer and had not had time to actually fill an order when Undersheriff Smith ran upon him in his mountain fastness, so Storey and the still were all that the Undersheriff brought back with him.  Storey was locked up and his still stored away in the jail basement.”—Bakersfield Californian

November 8, 1924: “OFFICERS IN SENSATIONAL COUP STRIKE SUPPLY ROAD—Five Arrested, Three Autos Seized, and $1300 Fines Are Collected—Two Counties Join In Desert Attack.  Booze Route to Randsburg and Johannesburg Is Scene of Ambush.

District Attorneys Henry E. Schmidt and George Johnson of Kern and San Bernardino counties made a bold slash at the booze artery which supplies Randsburg and Johannesburg, when they laid a cunning trap last night eight miles south of Mojave on the desert.  Five Rum runners were captured; three cars were seized temporarily and $1300 in fines was collected in the dawn hours of this morning.

The district attorneys of Kern and San Bernardino counties united forces and worked under the assumption that virtually the whole supply of illicit liquor trade of Johannesburg and Randsburg was organized in the southern counties and the booze shipped into the northern towns over this Mojave highway.

Owing to the fact that “Number Six” the operator who had planned the trap under the direction of District Attorney Schmidt, was recognized, and that the trap was “tipped off” the arrests were less in number than anticipated and the “big runners” escaped, according to the officers.

FIVE ARRESTED – The runners who came one after another at set intervals early in the morning to deliver their cargoes were:

I. E. Boss, wine manufacturer, who lives outside of Mojave; C. J. Womack, of San Fernando; Charles Brownell, of Soledad canyon; H. C. Bruize, runner from Los Angeles and O. A. Finne also of Los Angeles.

The operator leased a forlorn dwelling south of Mojave on the desert.  The place was equipped as a gasoline and service station.  The operator gave out that he was opening up a “regular joint” and cursed the Volstead Act.  After a week or so, the “sample runners” of the southern booze traffic rings tentatively sounded out the new man and later provided samples of “wet goods” and quoted prices, delivered at the station.

On the evening of Friday, the following men assembled at the home of District Attorney H. E. Schmidt; Assistant District Attorney Edward West, Deputy District Attorney Paul Garber, John Dowds investigator, and Officer Wiles, Webster, Rees, and Seibert.

The assembled men left for Mojave in two big cars.  A few miles south of Mojave, the machines were run off the highway into the high Joshuas whose spectral shadows were outlined in the cold, clear moonlight.

FORCES JOINED—After a wait of an hour, a signal was flashed from an electric torch.  The machines moved on and were concealed in the sagebrush behind the small, dark station.  Later the forces of District Attorney Johnson were moved on in the scene of action with the same caution.

Throughout the night and the following day the officers remained secreted in the dwelling.  Early Friday morning Finne made his delivery of wine, ten gallons of it. Then throughout the following evening four others appeared, made their deliveries and were arrested by the waiting officers.

Early Saturday morning the three seized cars were driven into Mojave.  The prisoners were conveyed in the district attorney’s cars.  Before Justice C. W. Townsend the men were summarily arraigned.  Without exception and with good nature the men pled guilty, to two charges each, namely transportation and possession.  The total fines amounted to $1300.

Distich Attorney H. E. Schmidt stated that he was disappointed, though not through the fault of any of his officers or those participating in the seizures and arrests. Operator “Number six” it was subsequently learned had been recognized by a man whose name is known to the district attorney.  This man, known to the  ——– councils, of the booze ring, had tipped off the organized trade with the result that “the big buys” according to the officers, failed to appear as arranged.  Orders amounting to as much as 59 gallons of liquor in single lots were scheduled.” – Bakersfield Californian



Comments Off

Comments are closed.