Well. I’m down here waiting with tens of thousands of the finest stable ponies ever assembled.

Fine then, you late-sleeping latte-slurpers. Time to crawl out of those bunks and wiggle into a decent pair of jeans. And no. No Guess jeans. They’re pretentious. And none of those square-toed Joe Namath biker boots, either. Besides not fitting in the stirrups, they’re embarrassing.

We’ve an interesting trek ahead, which begs the Time/Reality Question. If we’re going back in time, are we really going ahead?

(PHOTO CAPTION: On this date in 1987, the local paper stopped running one of the most popular features ever. Demon Rum was first a weekly list of people arrested for drunk driving. It was the brainchild of Sheriff’s Captain Bill Fairchild and CHP cap Ken Forester along with The Signal family team of Scott and Ruth Newhall and their publisher son, Tony. After some complaints (diabetics, for a few) from folks and threatened lawsuits, the column was amended to include just people convicted of drunk driving. The problem with that was the county computer kept spitting out incorrect names, hence, more threatened lawsuits directed at the paper. So, we dropped Demon Rum. Sidebar to that? Managing editor Ruth Newhall got a call from a woman who lamented the loss of the column. Seems her husband claimed he had gotten arrested the night before for being drunk and she wanted to make sure he had spent the night in the pokey and not in some lady friend’s back room.) 


• On May 3, 1842, California’s first mining district was established by the stroke of the pen of the governor. Our own Ignacio del Valle was chairman of the district and that first official mining claim.

• On this date, in 1903, president Theodore Roosevelt stayed at the Acton Hotel for a rest, which, to Teddy, was a small safari with his friend, Rosey Melrose. Earlier, Rosey had shot and killed the mayor of Acton in a gunfight on the main street of the little mining and vacation town.

There has been some controversy over this. But some history books note that John Powell was the first judge of the Santa Clarita Valley with his appointment by the Board of Supervisors on May 8, 1875. If he wasn’t exactly the first, he was at least second or third. And, he served for 40 years on the bench. When his offices were moved into downtown Newhall, next to his home, Powell would sometimes hold court in the hot summer months outside, under the shade of a great oak tree, which also served as the jail.

• On May 8, 1875, a year before Newhall became a town, John F. Powell was appointed judge of the newly-formed Soledad Judicial District.

In 1900, he’d move into a big yellow house on 8th and Chestnut. The north part of the house started in late 1870s. It was a board and bat number built by the Drew family. Drew was an oil rigger up Pico Canyon. Drew would later rent his home to a Dr. Kutch, an early physician here. The Mayhue family lived there in the late 1890s.

Judge John Powell had been a storekeeper up at Resting Springs when the mines closed. Powell’s very first case was Krazynski vs. Sam Harper. Sam Harper was brother in law to Sanford Lyon. Sam’s cows had broken through a fence and had grazed up Krazynski’s pasture. (Krazynski was manager of the Lyon station.)

The Powells had homestead up Dry Canyon, running cattle and sheep. Used to be a reservoir there and was home to the San Fernando Valley Gun Club. Old Johnny Powell was one of 48 names on a petition to start Newhall School District.

Powell moved his judicial district office to Newhall house property in 1900 and held court until Jan 12, 1923 when he retired. Port C. Miller took over. It wasn’t ever what you’d call a full-time job. His court only held three people.

One hot day, he moved his court outside and a small crowd was stung by a nest of angry bees. D.A. from L.A. was rather miffed about holding court under a big shade tree.

Powell held court at a temporary construction warehouse on the Ridge Route. 40 workers had been arrested for gambling and instead of bringing them into town, Powell drove out at 10 p.m. and held court in the building while other workers pelted the building with rocks. When Powell and the deputies got back to their cars, all the tires were flat.

Mrs. Powell ran a room and board house next to Newhall’s General Merchandise store on Market and Main (SF RD) opposite the Southern Hotel.

Other end of the one block street, Mike Powell ran the Palace Saloon, just south of Campton’s store, across from 8th and Main.

Bad guys were simply chained up to the grand oak until they could be, no pun intended, railroaded into L.A. Powell led troops (for the North) in seven major battles during the Civil War. Prior to the 1860 war between the states, Powell help free 705 Africans in a slave camp in the jungles of the dark continent.

The good justice died in 1925. Fittingly, it was in court, right in the middle of his hearing a case. His old house was torn down in 1960.

Glad you asked?


MAY 3rd, 1927

• The closest thing we had to a theater was the Newhall Elementary Auditorium. On this May day, Jack Hoxie starred in the silent flick, “The Last Frontier.” A rodeo star and performer out here, Jack was half Nez-Perce. His father, a vet, was killed in a horse accident a few days before Jack was born. Jack was as big a star in his day as Harry Carey and “The Last Frontier” may have been his best role. Jack played Buffalo Bill Cody. Poor Jack had trouble with the father thing. His stepdad was convicted of the kidnap-murder of two Los Angeles sisters right around the time this movie was showing.

• Lyle Bass, who lived above the Newhall Pharmacy in the hotel, heard a commotion at four in the morn. Rushing downstairs, he saw three men rifling through his cash register. They made off with $30. Bass set off the alarm and Sheriff’s deputy Ernst sprinted down from the 6th Street substation and opened fire with a double barrel shotgun at the fleeing Ford Roadster. Two of the three burglars were in the car and Ernst and his partner gave chase, overtaking the old Ford in Sylmar. There, the two lawmen opened fire with revolvers, hitting no one. The third bandit was caught back in Newhall, laying in the shrubbery, stinking drunk. Which was good, because the cops didn’t shoot him.

• Hmm. Wonder if these were the same three perps. E.E. Allen of Ravenna was knocked cold by a trio of chicken thieves. They made off with a goodly number of his future fryers. That’d be chickens. Not the little bald-head Catholic order.

• P.C. Calloway, 60, was crushed to death while improving the road at Mint Canyon. A boulder fell on top of him.


MAY 3rd, 1937

• Domestic and financial problems were blamed for Sheriff’s deputy Art Maraden taking his own life. The lawmen committed suicide in sub-station #6 in Newhall with one bullet to the head. He had just bought his dream home in Placerita when his wife left him. Two other deputies were on duty at the time and rushed in to find the likable deputy slumped over in his chair, dead.

• Patriarch Charles Kingsburry was nearly killed when he made a left hand turn in front of a speed milk truck. The Newhallian broke several ribs.

• Across the valley, same day, John Mitchell committed suicide. He was the John Mitchell of San Francisco and ended his life, with a bullet to the brain, ironically less than a mile from John Mitchell’s Canyon Country home.

• A strange sight up Mint Canyon: a caravan of camels were tromping through that region. They were used in a movie with the “Sahara Desert” as a background.


MAY 3rd, 1947

• Here’s a great headline: “Two Injured In Hobo Battle on Freight Train”? Box car surfers Tom Welsh and Bill Grady were hospitalized after serious injuries in a 5-bum brawl aboard an empty freight car passing through Saugus.

• A husband’s illness cut a wide swath. Judge Arthur Miller had given the Newhall man several chances, but he was arrested yet again for drunk driving. His wife sobbed in court and begged Miller not to send him away. Miller was visibly moved, but ruled that the man had nearly killed people several times before and would probably drive drunk again if something wasn’t done. He sentenced him to 90 days in jail. The wife sobbed that she would have to sell their car to pay for rent and food for their children.


MAY 3rd, 1957

• A miracle it was Richard Watts wasn’t killed. A southbound motorist watched in awe and horror as he watched Watts big double-rig carrying timber miss the escape ramp and sail airborne, 20 feet through the blue sky. He had been going so fast that when he landed, his truck splintered and a rear axle was found a half-mile away.

• On May 8th, 1957, the CHP held their grand opening for their new digs on the Golden State Highway (99).


MAY 3rd, 1967

• Two security guards were arrested on arson charges. The pair were charged with setting fire to the big Kopper Plastic Age Factory in Agua Dulce. The men were arrested while at the private security headquarters in Newhall. One was charged with being an alien with an illegal firearm. The guy was from Belgium. The plastic factory was just a nightmare, with many other employees having been arrested for everything from burglary to attempted murder.

• Sheriff’s deputies and the county nipped an outlaw motorcycle rally in the bud. A group of bikers had rented an Agua Dulce ranch and were going to use it to host a “booze run” and barbecue. The main course? Donkey.


MAY 3rd, 1977

• Lance Stevens of Saugus was better known by his Indian name: Tutue Akita. The Sioux spoke at Mint Canyon elementary. Pretty much everyone was ovaled mouthed when they learned his grandfather was the Native American whose likeness was on the buffalo head nickel. Akita also produced a feather, which his grandfather wore when he posed for the five-cent coin.

• One of the biggest and best equipped drug labs found to date in the county was discovered in Acton — along with the dead body of the man who used to operate it. More than a week after the rent was due, the landlord of the ranch moseyed by to collect. He saw a body sprawled on the floor and called police. They found hundreds of pounds of drugs, paraphernalia, lab equipment — $63,700 in cold, hard cash laying on a table. Guess the perp should have opened a window.


MAY 3rd, 1987

• Byron Nelson was a good son and was mowing his parents’ lawn in Hasley Canyon. The old lawnmower ignited dry grass, started a brush fire and torched his mom and dad’s home to the foundation. Byron’s mom was 83 and his dad, 80.

• Tom Gibson, all 6-7 and 265 pounds of him, was drafted by the New England Patriots on this date on the fifth round. Tommy’s dad and my pal, Tom Sr., threw the first-ever touchdown pass in local high school history back in the 1940s for Hart. Tom Jr. was a Saugus High grad.

• Blame it on global warming? On this date, Nick Lamprakes nearly made the SCV trivia books in becoming the first ever local to be swept away by a cyclone. On a calm, clear and mild day, a freak twister appeared, shredding Nan Tyson’s barn in Sand Canyon. Sitting in his pick-up with the window open when the freak wind hit, Lamprake and his truck were nearly picked up and the rancher sucked out the window. He had to hold on to his steering wheel for dear life.


Come back and visit next week here under the warming glow of your SCV Beacon. I’ll be waiting with another thrilling trailride into the yesteryears and history of this wonderful Santa Clarita. Until then — vayan con Dios, amigos!


(SCV Historian John Boston also writes The John Boston Report blog for your SCV Beacon. Don’t forget to check out his national humor, entertainment & swashbuckling commentary website — http://www.johnbostonchronicles.com/ —you’ll be smiling for a week…) — © 2017 by John Boston. All rights reserved.

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