By Mark Gutglueck
To the present day, San Bernardino County has been plagued with lawlessness, including that engaged in by officials in positions of authority and power, those ensconced in positions within the government who have abused and exploited the trust vested in them. It was no different in San Bernardino County’s distant past, such that it could be reasonably said the county was built upon a foundation of disorder and misrule, a bedrock or criminality.
What might be called the first civil authority in San Bernardino consisted of the order imposed by the Mormon settlers who established the town in 1851. Among the community’s initial public improvements was the San Bernardino’s Council House, erected by the Mormon Colony’s leaders, Amasa Lyman and Charles Rich, which served as San Bernardino’s original seat of ecclesiastical and government operations, as well as the town’s original courthouse.
In the winter of 1857-58, the Mormon leader Brigham Young summoned the Church’s faithful to return to Salt Lake City, fearing that his entire sect was on the verge of war with the United States, which seemed intent on leveraging the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and its adherents out of the Utah Territory, Thus, some two-thirds of those who had built San Bernardino simply up and left, leaving a population of more than 1,000 behind. The Mormon exodus created a vacuum in terms of organization and control, as well as the substance of certain civil institutions. A skeleton of a justice system survived, but it was inadequate to the task of imposing comprehensive order on much of the social chaos that was flourishing in the area at that time.
A factor in the overall situation was that the lawgivers of the era, the highest practitioners of the law – the judges themselves – were not particularly well-steeped in the law. Luther Ingersoll, in his Century Annals of San Bernardino County, 1769-1904, which was published in 1904, states, “The first county judge of San Bernardino County was Daniel M. Thomas, who was elected with the first officers of the county at a special election held under the act creating the county in June 1853. At the regular election in the following fall he was re-elected for the full term – four years. Judge Thomas was a man of fair education. but without any training as a lawyer. In 1857, he resigned to return to Salt Lake with his people and A. D. Boren was appointed to fill the vacancy, and later elected for the full term. He also, while a man of some education, had no special legal preparation. He was engaged in farming when elected. Through some mistake in the election proclamation for 1861. no mention was made of the county judge. M. H. Crafts was brought forward by his friends and received a considerable vote but he did not follow up the election with a contest and Judge Boren continued in office until he was regularly reelected in 1862. He was again elected in 1866. He retired from office in January 1871, having held the judgeship fourteen years. He was succeeded by Henry Willis, who held the office for eight years, or until the new state constitution abolished the office of county judge.”
Indeed, for nearly a decade-and-a-half shortly after the inception of San Bernardino County, the judge who reigned as the arbiter of all things legal was Allie Dennis Boran, who was a farmer, merchant, real estate agent, postmaster, and owner of a boarding house, but had never been a lawyer nor ever studied the law.
By 1856, there was considerable friction between the Mormon and non-Mormon population of San Bernardino, indeed to a degree that mayhem and death would have been a likely consequence, the actuality of which was averted, in great likelihood, by the departure of the lion’s share of the Mormon population of San Bernardino back to Utah by early 1858.
The departure of the Mormons, however, did not quell the discord that boiled over into violence from time to time. The tome An Illustrated History of Southern California: Embracing the Counties of San Diego, San Bernardino, Los Angeles and Orange, and the Peninsula of Lower California, published by the Lewis Publishing Company in 1890, offers a glimpse of the way in which disorder ruled in the early days of San Bernardino and its eponymous county.
“In the fall of 1859 there took place in the town of San Bernardino a difficulty of local origin, that had somewhat the aspect of a civil war on a small scale,” according to An Illustrated History of Southern California: Embracing the Counties of San Diego, San Bernardino, Los Angeles and Orange, and the Peninsula of Lower California. “There were in the place two rival physicians. Dr. Ainsworth and Dr. Thomas Gentry. They met one day at a livery stable, and Aisworth returned fire on Gentry, who fled and sent word to his friends at EI Monte that he was ‘corralled by Mormons.’ Impartial testimony on either side goes to show that the affair was purely personal and that no faction or party question was concerned. But Gentry’s friends at EI Monte rallied to his summons, and. led by a rough named Frank Green, they set forth, 100 strong, prepared to capture the town if necessary. On arriving at San Bernardino, and learning the circumstances as they actually existed, the more rational of the invaders, comprising about one-half of the party, returned home. But the rest remained, being in a frame of mind disposed toward disorder.”
The account continues, “Ainsworth and his friends had intrenched themselves in an old adobe house on the corner west of the South Methodist Church. As night came on, with no indications of the approach of the hostile party, the to-be-besieged, who were well armed with rifles and revolvers, went forth and dispersed themselves over the cornfield surrounding the house. It was not until a late hour that Green’s gang was seen approaching the house, upon which all the party of defense lay down, leveling their guns upon the enemy. The party from EI Monte formed in line of battle on the opposite side of the road as quietly as possible. but they retreated in confusion and disorder on perceiving that they were under the eyes and the guns of the foe. As a body they were demoralized, but certain individuals remained and caused some disorder and bloodshed. Jim Greenwade, Frank Green and the Sea brothers were thus persistent, Green shooting David Coopwood in the thigh. The ruffian Green was bravely attacked in his turn by Taney Woodward, and the two men emptied their pistols at each other at short range.”
According to An Illustrated History of Southern California: Embracing the Counties of San Diego, San Bernardino, Los Angeles and Orange, and the Peninsula of Lower California, “This fracas took place September 21, 1859. For days thereafter San Bernardino was a scene of lawless disorder. There were United States troops encamped on the banks of the Santa Ana River, three miles from town, but they did not interfere, probably because they were not called upon by the civil authorities. The sheriff was powerless to quell the mob, until at last he made a general call for all citizens to unite and drive out the intruders. This being done, peace and quiet, law and order, prevailed for a long time after. Green subsequently met a violent death at EI Monte, slain by a man whose father he had killed.”
The quality of the county’s judges in its formative years was uneven, at best. As of 1890, according to An Illustrated History of Southern California: Embracing the Counties of San Diego, San Bernardino, Los Angeles and Orange, and the Peninsula of Lower California, “The present superior judges are: John L. Campbell and C. W. C. Rowell. Prior to their incumbency this office was variously filled; Hon. H. C. Rolfe, who grew up to the legal profession in San Bernardino, as an industrious and studious practitioner, held the office; so too, Henry M. Willis, who came, a young lawyer, from San Francisco in 1858, arrived at the position of county judge and superior judge. Hewitt Clark was a bright professional, but drink caused his decadence and death. Samuel G. Campbell, a lawyer from Missouri, was in the early days district attorney. He was an able man, but a dissipated one, and he died in a sad way. J. S. Sparks was par excellence the criminal lawyer at the bar of San Bernardino, able, eloquent, and almost always successful. Judge Benjamin Hayes, well known in Southern California history, was the first district judge, presiding over all the southern counties, including Santa Barbara. Judge A. D. Boren, born in Illinois, still a prominent citizen of San Bernardino, whither he came in 1854, was on the bench for fourteen years continuous. He was four times elected county judge, and presided during the most lawless period of San Bernardino’s history.”
An Illustrated History of Southern California: Embracing the Counties of San Diego, San Bernardino, Los Angeles and Orange, and the Peninsula of Lower California further relates, “The position of San .Bernardino as a frontier county, and the heterogeneous elements attracted by the mines, contributed greatly to local lawlessness and disorder. Not a few of the county offices having been captured by representatives of a desperado class attracted thither by the opportunity for crime and spoil, it became necessary to take protectionary measures; and therefore the best citizens united into a party pledged to support the law and maintain order. The county was almost bankrupted during the season of misrule, which lasted about four years. In those days, and indeed for about twelve years, no attention was paid to Whig, Democratic or Republican proclivities in politics, men being nominated for office by their friends, irrespective of party. As an instance of the little respect shown to the ‘majesty of the law’ by the community at large, the following episode might be related : A man belonging to one clan or clique, stabbed to death a member of another clan, near Holcomb Valley, and he was indicted and placed on trial at San Bernardino. Soon after the case opened fifteen men entered the courtroom, heavily armed. and without removing their hats, they seated themselves near the jury. Judge Boren recognized them as friends of the accused, and read their purpose in their demeanor, their hard, determined faces, and their resolution in having marched forty miles for the occasion. Not a word spoke the intruders, paying the closest attention to the proceedings. After a time, these somber visitors adjourn to a source of liquid refreshment, and the magistrate also adjourned court until the afternoon. During the recess, the authorities had time for deliberation, and the jury, understanding that conviction of the prisoner would entail an outbreak and bloodshed, decided to acquit him, and did so.”
The narrative in An Illustrated History of Southern California: Embracing the Counties of San Diego, San Bernardino, Los Angeles and Orange, and the Peninsula of Lower California continues, “About this time it was that J. M. Greenwade, who held the combined offices of county clerk, recorder and auditor, became dissatisfied with the mode of procedure of the board of supervisors in the transaction of county business, drew his six-shooter and cleared the room of all those functionaries. Shortly alter this, the same man, while intoxicated, met Judge Boren unarmed on the street, and, putting a pistol to the judge’s breast with one hand, with the other struck the judge with a stick. Judge Boren retreated to where he could procure a gun, but was then restrained by the outsiders from shooting his county clerk, for which, as he has often expressed himself, he since feels profoundly content.”
An Illustrated History of Southern California: Embracing the Counties of San Diego, San Bernardino, Los Angeles and Orange, and the Peninsula of Lower California gives examples of how the law was as often miscarried as followed in the courts in the late 1850s and well into the 1860s and even into the 1870s, For many, there was little in the way of justice or fairness in San Bernardino and its surrounding area.
“During this period, the functions of a county officer were often attended with considerable danger, unless the official were allied with or subservient to the gang of roughs in possession,” according to An Illustrated History of Southern California: Embracing the Counties of San Diego, San Bernardino, Los Angeles and Orange, and the Peninsula of Lower California. “The era of good feeling and peace that had prevailed between the Mormons and their Los Angeles neighbors continued about until the exodus or return to Salt Lake in 1857-’58 of some three-fourths of the Mormon element. At this time there came to the county and the town a very undesirable class of citizens, and disorder and lawlessness became the rule, after these people organized to the extent of possessing themselves, partly by fraud and partly by force, of the offices of sheriff, county clerk, county recorder, etc. To illustrate these conditions, the following narratives will serve as types: One McFeely, who was, by the way, deputy clerk of San Bernardino, went one day to the house of an inoffensive old Negro, being intoxicated, and there made such threatening demonstrations that the old black man filed a complaint against him. McFeely was arrested, and taken before Justice J. W. Wilson. Taking the complaint into his hands, apparently for inspection, he rolled it into compact form, and then, pistol in hand, in the presence of the court, he forced the old darkey to eat the document! Judge Boren had this matter brought before the next grand jury, and an indictment was found against McFeely. At the trial the deputy sheriff packed the jury box largely with the friends of McFeely, to defend whom were retained all the lawyers in San Bernardino. Judge Russel, the district attorney, did his whole duty, but he was one against many. In the midst of the trial, the county clerk, coming drunk into the courtroom, heard the judge make a law-ruling unfavorable to McFeely, and, drawing his gun, he cried out to his deputy, ‘Buzz Tarleton, don’t you dare to set down any such ruling as that!’ The associate judges in great alarm sprang away from the side of the judge, lest a ball designed for him might go wide of the mark and strike them, and there was general confusion in the courtroom. The judge ordered court adjourned, and the clerk, finding comfortable quarters in a saloon, was not present at the afternoon session. The honest men on the jury were so impressed by this occurrence, and by the evident determination of the McFeely faction to release him at all hazards, that they actually agreed to a verdict of ‘not guilty,’ some of them telling Judge Boren later that he had perjured himself in his duty as a juror to prevent bloodshed and violence in court against the magistrate.”
A grim footnote attends any account of James Monroe Greenwade, his life and his actions, which might shed further light on not only his personality but the character of a community in which he functioned as an authority. He would take his own life and that of his six-year-old daughter on New Years Day in 1869. He did not succeed in killing three others living in his household, including his wife and son.
The January 9, 1869 edition of the San Bernardino Guardian relates, “Died, at his residence on the 1st of January, 1869, James Greenwade and his little daughter Elizabeth, aged six years, from the effects of poison by strychnine. This drug was mixed in whisky and water, by Mr. Greenwade, with the intention, it is supposed to poison the whole family. After drinking some of it himself, he gave some to his little daughter, and requested her to to give it to her mother, brother and Mr. Devers. The child on presenting it to her mother remarked that it was a ‘bitter toddy.’ This led Mrs. Greenwade to examine it, and found it to be strychnine, as she supposed. Oil and other medicines were given, but to no effect. The little girl died in about two hours after taking it, and the father lived but a short time longer.”
An article from the Sacramento Daily Union dated January 28, 1869 states, “From all the facts bearing upon the case, it seems that Greenwade had been drinking to excess for the last two months, and impaired his brain to such an extent that he became insane and destroyed himself and child. He endeavored to poison his wife, his little son and a gentleman who was living in the family by the name of Dever. They refused to share the ‘toddy’ in which he had placed the poison and consequently but two instead of five died.”
On May 13, 1857, Robert Carlisle, who had been born in Kentucky around 1830 and later made his way to Southern California in 1856, wedded Francesca Williams, the daughter of Colonel Isaac Williams. Carlisle was twenty-seven and his bride was sixteen. Colonel Williams was the owner of the Rancho Santa Ana Del Chino, a 22,193-acre portion of a Mexican land grant on what had been part of the San Gabriel Mission and what today is part of Chino and Chino Hills. Colonel Williams had fought on the American side during the 1846-1848 Mexican-American War and distinguished himself at the Battle of Chino. After California was annexed to the United States, Williams had been rewarded with the sum of $80,000 for his contribution to the war effort, a vast amount of money in those days. In 1856, Williams had died, leaving the bulk of his estate to his two daughters, Maria Merced and Francesca. Their mother was a daughter of Don Antonio Maria Lugo and sister of Jose Maria Lugo, Jose Del Carmen Lugo and Vicente Lugo, who, among them, owned the large San Bernardino Grant. Maria Merced married sheep farmer John Rains.
Following a year or so of residence in Los Angeles after their marriage, Robert and Francesca Carlisle returned to Santa Ana Rancho Del Chino. Robert Carlisle managed that holding with considerable efficiency, as he oversaw the work of about one hundred Indians who had comfortable adobe quarters near the main ranch adobe.
By virtue of his popularity and business acumen, Robert Carlisle in 1862 was elected supervisor for the First Supervisorial District in San Bernardino County. He assumed office on November 17, 1862, succeeding Richard Varley, and four days later, on November 21, 1862 he was selected by his colleagues to serve as chairman of the board. He held the position of board chairman for the remainder of the time he was on the board. He served until November 1864.
It was on the very day that he took office, November 17, 1862, that his sister-in-law’s husband, John Rains, disappeared.
John Rains had used the dowry he had received from the estate of Isaac Williams to purchase Rancho Cucamonga, a spread of ground that covers a substantial amount of present day Rancho Cucamonga. Rains built a fired brick home that is still extant on Vineyard Avenue just north of Foothill Boulevard. Rains built the Rancho into a successful business, entailing vineyards and a winery, as well as a stage station. Rains’ abode became “the social center of the community,” and he enjoyed political prominence of his own, as in 1860 when he traveled to Charleston, South Carolina to serve as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention.
His success with the Rancho allowed him to make investments elsewhere, including securing part ownership of the Bella Union Hotel in Los Angeles.
By 1862, just as Robert Carlisle’s already bright prospects were brightening, those of John Rains were taking a turn for the worse. Rains had overextended himself with some of his business ventures and to hold everything together, he borrowed against his rancho. On that fateful day, November 17, 1862, John Rains departed for Los Angeles – a town which then boasted a population of some 4,500 – and an overnight stay at the Bella Union Hotel that evening before finalizing some further financing arrangements, including the signing of some loan and collateral documents the next day. He departed for the town of the Angels in a wagon pulled by a team of his best horses.
Rains never arrived at his intended destination.
On November 19, 1862 the team of horses found its way back to the rancho. They were no longer hitched up to the wagon. Curiously, this did not trigger any immediate action. On November 21, the same day that Robert Carlisle attended his first board of supervisors meeting in San Bernardino as a member of that august panel and was named chairman of the board, a group of travelers arrived at the rancho, intending to see Rains. When they were told that he was missing and of the return of his unhitched wagon team, a search was initiated.
The two-day delay in starting the search was a remarkable one and has been problematic for historians. Rains commonly sojourned to Los Angeles, where he had a substantial investment and business to attend to.
On November 28, 1864 his body was found near Azusa, amid cacti some 400 feet off the road. There were obvious signs that violence had attended his last minutes of earthly existence. According to the Los Angeles Star, it appeared as if he had been lassoed and yanked from his wagon perch. His right arm was mangled from the elbow down and its upper portion had been pulled out of its shoulder socket. He was shot twice in the back, once in the side and on the left side of his chest.
It was a violent era in a violence-prone place. At that point, there had been 50 murders in and around Los Angeles over a period of about a year. Rains was known to have been assertive and to have something of a temper but did not seem to have any lasting enemies. It appeared he had been a victim of a random act of violence or larceny, perhaps by a highwayman on a remote span of the road to Los Angeles.
As Maria Merced’s brother-in-law as well as a leading local official, Robert Carlisle led the effort to find Rains’ killer and bring him to justice. Early on, his suspicion settled upon one of Rains’ ranch hands, Ramon Carrillo. But Carrillo had an ironclad alibi, having been in Los Angeles and seen by multiple witnesses at the time Rains was thought to have met his grim end. Carlisle twice brought Carrillo before a court, but both times those charges were dismissed. Carlisle made accusations against a few others, using what even for that time were heavy-handed tactics to obtain two confessions, both of which fell apart under further examination by others. Ultimately, every case Carlisle sought to put together against those he said he suspected of having committed the murder failed to pan out. The only conviction growing out of Rains’ death and its investigation was that obtained against Manuel Cerradel, one of Carrillo’s compadres. When deputies who came to arrest him as a suspect in Rains’ death at Carlisle’s urging, Cerradel flew into a rage and attacked the deputies. He was exonerated of anything related to Rains’ death, but drew a ten-year sentence in San Quentin for his violence against the deputies. Before he could pay his debt to society, Cerradel was set upon by a band of vigilantes who apparently were convinced he did have something to do with Rains’ demise. After Cerradel had been escorted to a ship in San Pedro Harbor that was to take him to San Quentin, a vigilante group boarded the steamer, overpowered the small party of attendant guards and hung Cerradel from the ship’s mast. Cerredel was bound up, weighted down with bricks that were tied to his legs and then unceremoniously thrown into the harbor.
Cerredel’s death may have sated some of the bloodlust that had been kindled in the citizenry of Southern California by Rains’ murder, but less primitive minds knew that his murderer remained on the loose.
Indeed, not a few locals held abiding suspicions that Rains’ murderer was none other than Robert Carlisle. In utilizing the classic criteria detectives apply in ferreting out the perpetrators of crime – motive, means and opportunity – Carlisle comes across as a prime suspect.
On November 17, 1862, the day Rains disappeared, Carlisle was scheduled to be on hand in San Bernardino for his swearing in as one of San Bernardino County’s newly elected supervisors. He departed from Rancho Santa Ana Del Chino, ostensibly to keep his appointment at that honorific but never showed up. He was never able to adequately explain his whereabouts on that day.
During the weeklong search for the missing Rains toward the end of November 1862, Carlisle was in charge of the effort. Instead of staying in the wild along the road to Los Angeles to maintain a thorough scouring of the places Rains might have been, Carlisle returned to his home where one evening he held a festive party.
Then there was the matter of his comportment toward his sister-in-law after her husband’s death. Carlisle hectored, bamboozled and bullied Maria Merced into granting him power of attorney over the Rains estate.
Added to the obvious misdirection toward ultimately false suspects during the murder investigation that followed the discovery of Rains’ body, Carlisle’s behavior is at best extremely curious.
In time, the theory that Rains had been killed because of his secessionist sympathies and affiliations took hold. Carlisle, in looking after his sister-in-law’s affairs, became deeply involved in the settlement of John Rains’ estate. This led to a bitter dispute with the King Brothers of El Monte and Los Angeles, with whom Rains had business dealings, including shared ownership of the Bella Union Hotel.
On November 21, 1864, Carlisle was replaced on the board of supervisors by Henry Suverkrup. By that point, Carlisle’s land holdings had grown from the 22,193 acres of Rancho Santa Ana Del Chino to some 46,000 acres, which included much of the land he had managed to swindle from Maria Merced Rains.
On July 5, 1865, more than seven months after he had left the board of supervisors, Carlisle had come to Los Angeles to attend the wedding of merchant Solomon Lazard and his bride, Caroline Newmark, the daughter of Joseph Newmark, who established the Los Angeles Hebrew Benevolent Society and the city’s first Jewish cemetery. The wedding party was held at the Bella Union Hotel. In attendance at the party was Los Angeles County Undersheriff Andrew King, one of the King Brothers. Though Andrew King was at that time a Los Angeles County official, he previously had been San Bernardino County’s constable. In addition to the bad blood between Carlisle and the King Brothers over Rains’ business holdings with them and their interference in his management of his sister-in-law’s estate, Carlisle had accused Andrew King of indolence in the investigation of Rains’ murder. That night in the crowded saloon on the ground floor of the hotel, there was a heated exchange between the two men, and Carlisle, who perhaps was drunk, slashed the lawman across his right hand and opened up a gash on his chest with a Bowie knife. Friends separated the two men, but Carlisle threatened, according to later testimony, to kill “any and all” of the King Brothers.
Carlisle did not have the good sense to leave Los Angeles after this contretemps, and instead spent the night at the Bella Union. The next day, two of the King Brothers, Houston and Frank, came into the hotel to confront Carlisle. A gunfight ensued. Carlisle was fatally wounded, but not before he had himself shot and killed Frank King. Carlisle’s funeral was held in the Bella Union. Houston King was charged with the murder of Carlisle. At Houston King’s murder trial in 1866, he was acquitted.
The quality of the bar in San Bernardino County just after the time of its inception is an indicator of the area’s legal integrity. Two of that era’s “legal titans” were A. M. Jackson and Quartus Strong Sparks.
In a different age, Jackson might have found himself disbarred. Even more colorful than Jackson was Sparks, described as “a tall good -looking man with a brilliant mind and a gift to gab.”
According to contemporaneous accounts, Sparks “seemed to have the world by the tail” but at one point “allowed his life to be governed by unruly emotions and an occasional bout with the bottle.”
Sparks had been a newspaperman in New York City, converted to Mormonism, and sailed to San Francisco with his wife Mary and son on the ship Brooklyn.
In June 1853, Sparks was present in San Bernardino County and practicing law, two months after the county’s formation. Not too much later, Sparks was excommunicated by the church when a church elder publicly accused him of drunkenness and abuse of his family. After her husband’s expulsion, Mary Sparks moved to Salt Lake City where she remarried and died in 1898.
In retaliation, Sparks joined an anti-Mormon political party crusading against church-imposed regulations. Whereas formerly he had been one of the church’s most passionate advocates, he grew into one of its most severe and vociferous critics. He stood with John Brown after he was evicted from his Yucaipa ranch. In March 1857, when an effort to expel Jerome Benson from Benson’s ranch near what today is Hunts Lane and Redlands Boulevard was initiated, Benson fought back, with Sparks’ assistance. The eviction of Benson ultimately failed.
According to Ingersoll, “The first person who made any pretense of establishing in this county the business of a lawyer was A.M. Jackson who came here from San Francisco in 1854. By courtesy he was called ‘Colonel’ Jackson. but like the campaign names given to some of Col. Roosevelt’s Rough Riders, the title must have been given to him under the rule of contrariness – for he had never had the slightest military experience nor was he in any way combative. He had previously had some experience as a court clerk and probably had been a notary public. In opening his career as a lawyer in San Bernardino, he posted up notices, written – as there was no printing press here then – to the effect that he would draw up and prepare in proper and legal form, deeds, mortgages, notes or any kind of agreements or other legal documents, or attend to any kind of legal business for a reasonable consideration. His law library consisted of a book of forms and business directions called ‘The New Clerk’s Assistant.’ By it’s aid and some tact in the use of antiquated legal phrases he made quite a reputation among the citizens of San Bernardino for legal ability. He was quite an adept in effecting compromises and settling differences out of court. He did a lively business for a time in divorcing people who came to him with their domestic troubles. He would write for them an agreement of separation in the usual form and endorse on it. ‘Article of Separation and Bill of Divorce’ and have the parties sign and acknowledge it with much formality, under the belief that they were regularly divorced with all the due and binding force of law. Several parties whom he had thus ‘divorced,’ married again. And some of them found themselves in trouble when the legality of the new marriages was questioned. For many years he carried on his law business without going much into court. On one occasion he appeared for a young fellow by the name of Tom Morgan, to defend him on a charge of assault and battery in the justice’s court. After the defense was in, the Colonel weakened on the case and began to address the jury by admitting, tacitly at least, that his client had violated the law but that he was an industrious young man and had had some provocation and on account of the hard times ought to be let off easy. When Tom himself caught the drift of the remarks, he interrupted and proceeded to make a speech to the jury himself, claiming that he had acted in self defense. The jury took the same view of the case and acquitted him.”
According to Ingersoll, “Q. S. Sparks, who was one of the Brannan party which arrived in San Francisco in 1847, came to San Bernardino in 1853. He brought with him several thousand dollars but he met with financial troubles and was soon ‘broke.’ Of gentle manners and a ready flow of language, he gained quite a reputation for oratory and occasionally appeared in court for clients, although not then admitted to the bar as an attorney. At the time of the exodus of the Mormons and the filling of their places by other population, Sparks had a very good standing as a practitioner, especially in the defense of criminal cases. About 1858 he was admitted to the bar of the district court. He had only a very ordinary common school education and no learning as a lawyer, nor was he naturally studious; yet with his tact and his natural gift of oratory, he for several years stood among the leaders in the bar of the county. He was also in high repute as a speaker on public occasions and acquitted himself in such addresses with much ability.”
Ingersoll’s narrative regarding Sparks continues, “As illustrative of his traits. an anecdote of one of the last cases in which he appeared in this county is told. His client was charged with grand larceny in stealing a horse. His associate counsel in the case tried to have a consultation with him in order to agree upon a line of defense and prepare some instructions for the jury. But Sparks could not be got down to such business. His associate finally asked him what he expected to rely upon, to which he answered: ‘I rely on God Almighty, Q. S. Sparks and the jury.’ He probably knew that the law and the facts were against his client but by tact and his address, he so worked upon the jury as to secure an acquittal, notwithstanding that the accused was seen stealing the horse from the pasture at night and was caught riding the horse the next day.”
By Mark Gutglueck