Sunday, March 26, 2017

Panhandle Wildfire Relief Fund -- Let's Help!

Several counties in the Texas Panhandle have experienced catastrophic wildfires in March. Homes, barns, fences, livestock and, most tragically, several lives have been lost. In an effort to help those who have been affected by this event, we have developed the Panhandle Wildfire Relief Fund.

Click here for details of the relief fund and how to apply for assistance.
This program will collect and distribute monetary contributions only.

If you prefer to pay by check, it should be made out and sent to:

Texas Farm Bureau Agriculture Research and Education Foundation
Panhandle Wildfire Committee
P.O. Box 2689
Waco, TX 76702-2689
Attn: Cyndi Gerik


For general questions about donations or needs, call 806-677-5628.

Livestock Supply Points will be closing soon.

Gray County
Clyde Carruth Pavilion
301 Bull Barn Drive
Pampa, TX

Contact: Mike Jeffcoat, CEA
Office: 806-669-8033

This location will suspend daily operations on March 24. Supplies will be loaded by appointment only by calling 806-669-8033.

Hemphill County
Canadian AH&N Ranch Supply
100 Hackberry Trail
Canadian, TX

Contact: Andy Holloway, CEA
Office: 806-323-9114

This location plans to close in early April. They will stop accepting donations of materials and hay on March 24. Financial donations can still be made.

Lipscomb County
Lipscomb County Show Facility
202 West Main Street
Lipscomb, TX

Contact: J.R. Sprague, CEA
Office: 806-862-4601

This location will stop taking supplies on March 24. Anything further should be scheduled by calling 806-862-4601. Ranchers donating or picking up supplies may have to load and unload it themselves.

For monetary donations, make checks payable to the bold entry and send checks to the address indicated:

Lefors Volunteer Fire and EMS
Lefors Credit Union
Attn: Carole Watson
P.O. Box 425
Lefors, TX 79054 

Canadian Volunteer Fire Department
Happy State Bank
Attn: Scott Brewster
P.O. Box 300
Canadian, TX 79014

Lipscomb County Firefighters Association
FirstBank Southwest-Booker Branch
Attn: Pam Sanders
P.O. Box 636
Booker, TX 79005

Wildfire Relief

• USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) can help landowners with wildfire recovery and restoration. The NRCS can provide land management advice, and in some cases, financial assistance, to install measures that reduce post-fire damage and aid in the rehabilitation process. To learn more, click here.
The USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) offers disaster assistance and low-interest loan programs to assist agricultural producers in their recovery efforts following wildfires or other qualifying natural disasters. To learn more, click here.
• For more details and questions, contact your local FSA office. To find your local FSA county office, visit
For questions you may have, please review the following resources:

Texas A&M AgriLife Extension has a Disaster Education Network with many resources and a checklist of considerations for post-fire management.
Texas Animal Health Commission website has been updated with relief information:

Livestock Indemnity Program
The Livestock Indemnity Program is authorized by the Agricultural Act of 2014 to provide benefits to farmers and ranchers for livestock deaths in excess of normal mortality caused by adverse weather or disasters.
For more details, contact your local FSA office. Find your local FSA county office here. To learn more about FSA disaster assistance programs, visit
Texas Department of Agriculture Hay Hotline

The Texas Department of Agriculture Hay Hotline helps farmers and ranchers locate forage and hay supplies for sale. If you need hay or would like to donate hay, visit or call 877-429-1998.
Texas Hay Import Precautions:

Various types of hay can be carriers of pests and diseases that are harmful to other crops. Some hay shipments containing corn, broomcorn, sorghums and sudan grass may have restrictions on entry into Texas. Also, hay imported from fire ant-infested areas of other states will be limited to distribution in fire ant-infested areas of Texas. For more information about restrictions on hay movement, please contact the TDA Agriculture and Consumer Protection Division at 800-835-5832.
Carcass disposal

For questions about carcass disposal, call the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) at 800-832-8224.
Lost or Found Livestock

If you find cattle or other livestock with official identificationdocument the number, location of the animal(s) and call the Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC) at 512-719-0733 or 806-354-9335. TAHC will contact the owner.
If you find stray cattle that have a brand, call Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association at 817-332-7064 for brand identification.

If cattle have strayed onto your property, you must report them to the sheriff’s office in the county you are located in within five days of discovery to be eligible for reasonable payment for maintenance of or damages caused by the estray livestock.

For more information regarding Texas’ estray laws, visit Texas Agriculture Code, Chapter 142.
Texas Department of Agriculture STAR Fund

If you are interested in giving to the TDA STAR Fund (State of Texas Agriculture Relief Fund), visit the STAR Fund home page.
Reporting Losses: Affected Ranchers

Affected ranchers are being asked to call their AgriLife extension offices with any reports of dead or injured cattle. Office numbers of affected counties are:
  • Gray County (Pampa), 806-669-8033 
  • Hemphill County (Canadian), 806-323-9114 
  • Lipscomb County (Lipscomb), 806-862-4601 
  • Ochiltree County (Perryton), 806-435-4501 
  • Roberts County (Miami), 806-868-3191 
  • Wheeler County (Wheeler), 806-826-5243
Resources for other states affected by wildfires


Checks can be made payable to Colorado Farm Bureau FoundationCash and credit card payments are being accepted at this time. Please note “Disaster Fund-CO Wildfire” in the memo line on the check.

Cash and checks can be sent to:

Colorado Farm Bureau Foundation
Attn: Disaster Fund
9177 E. Mineral Circle
Centennial, CO 80112

For those wanting to donate hay or money, Kansas Farm Bureau encourages people to contact the Kansas Livestock Association at 785-273-5115. Checks can be mailed to the Kansas Livestock Foundation at 6031 SW 37th St., Topeka, KS 66614. “Fire relief fund” should be written in the memo line.
Kansas Farm Bureau is working with the Kansas Livestock Association (KLA) as they organize hay and fencing material donations for delivery to affected areas in Kansas.

To make in-kind donations, call KLA at 785-273-5115. Cash donations will be made through the Kansas Livestock Foundation (KLF), KLA’s charitable arm. Funds generated through donations to the Kansas Livestock Foundation will be used to support ranchers impacted by the fires. A donation form can be found here.
Ashland Veterinary Center is coordinating livestock needs, tanks, portable corrals, fencing materials and personnel. Their support is much appreciated. Contact them at 620-635-2641 or feel free to call the KLA office at 785-273-5115.


Oklahoma Farm Bureau has partnered with Love’s Travel Stops and Farm Credit Associations of Oklahoma to fund relief for fire victims.

The three organizations have furnished gift cards for fuel to those transporting donated hay to the affected area.

Farm Credit Associations of Oklahoma also will provide 0 percent interest agricultural operating loans for those directly impacted by the fires.

If interested in donating additional funds, please contact the Oklahoma Farm Bureau office at 405-530-2681.
OKC Cattlemen

If you would like to donate to this relief effort, you can do so by mail or online. Make checks payable to Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Foundation and put “Fire Relief” in the memo line and send to P.O. Box 82395, Oklahoma City, OK 73148. To donate online, visit
If you would like to donate hay or trucking services for hay, you can do so by contacting either the Harper County Extension office at 580-735-2252 or Buffalo Feeders at 580-727-5530 to make arrangements or provide trucking services.


If anything, please share this information.

Friends, I cut and pasted the information above in an effort to get the links right so that we can go to where they're supposed to lead us. I hope they all work as they're supposed to.

While I haven't heard about this on the news, any media, I know we can get the word out. We need to help those who have lost everything. So please, share this, forward this information, tell a friend that there are American ranch and farm families in need as a result of this horrible fire.

While I thank God that my wife and only came close to losing everything in a wildfire in 2015 but didn't, I know first hand how people in this situation need help, need information, need to put their lives back in order as well as can be expected. 

So please, let's help.

Thank you, and God Bless you.

Tom Correa
The American Cowboy Chronicles

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Extraordinary Case of a Shipwreck 1850

Dear Friends,

I was once told that ship wrecks along our coasts, especially those that we can see for ourselves, are actually no different than ghost towns of the sea. While ghost towns slowly deteriorate while enduring the elements with each passing year, ship wrecks on our coasts endure the same with each new tide or wave.

Some folks have a naive notion of sea travel back in the 1800s. But fact is, those were treacherous times to be a seaman. The perils they experienced were many. On any given day or night, as unpredictable weather can be, the sea would rise up and claim those who worked aboard ships.

The picture above is that of a mid 1800s schooner about the same size as the General Thornton which is mentioned in the 1850 news article below. The picture is just a way to give my readers an idea of what that schooner may have looked like at the time of her wreck. And yes, below is one example of how bad things were. At it was printed in newspapers in 1850:


We are indebted to Capt. William H. Hopper, of the central road, for the following particulars, which we relate.

Captain Hopkins, of the steamer J.D. Morton, while on her passage from Chicago to New Buffalo, on Friday last, discovered what he supposed to be a raft with some one upon it, some five miles in the lake. He immediately turned his boat and went for the object. 

He found the raft made of spars, with Capt. Davidson, of the schooner Thornton, upon it. It appears he was wrecked on the 31st ult., having been seven days and nights without food. 

Two of the crew, whose names he did not learn, with the captain, made the raft of the mainmast, main boom and main gaft. The two men dropped off on the third night after, having become exhausted for want of food. 

Captain Hopkins describes the scene as most pitiful. Captain Davison had commenced eating his left hand the last night! 

Several steamers and vessels have been in sight, and one vessel hailed him, but made no attempt to get him off. Of course the captain is exceedingly weak, but in a fair way for recovery.

Capt. Hopkins, of the J.D. Morton, has shown himself a humane man and the public should recollect it.

A collection was taken up for the unfortunate man, on the Morton, and some $10 was raised, mostly by the crew, headed by the captain.

-- end of article as published in The Daily Sanduskian on September 10th, 1850

The story was said to have been published by The Detroit Tribune, and then reprinted in the The Daily Sanduskian on September 10th, 1850. A few days later two other newspapers published this article below which explained more about what took place:


The Chicago Tribune of the 16th, announces the arrival there of George Davis, Captain of the schooner Thornton, taken up by the steamer Julius Morton, four miles out from Michigan City, floating upon a spar. His vessel was capsized six miles east of Chicago, and two of the hands were lost. The Tribune says:

At the time of the disaster, the schooner Thornton, in charge of Capt. Davis, assisted by two hands, was on her passage from Muskegon, freighted with lumber, belonging to Mr. Parks, of the former place. 

The vessel was driven out of her course by the violence of the storm, and on Friday afternoon, when about six miles northeast of this port, she became unmanageable and capsized, precipitating the captain and crew into the angry flood. 

Fortunately, a spar, which had been lying loose upon the deck, floated near them, and all three grasped it, supposing the vessel had sunk, though she afterwards floated ashore.

For the next twenty-four hours, the three shipwrecked men were driven about at the mercy of the wind and waves, they knew not whither; at the end of which time, (Saturday afternoon), the two companions of Capt. Davis, exhausted by cold, hunger and fatigue, relinquished their hold upon the spar, nearly at the same time, and sunk to rise no more. Capt. D. supposes that at this time, they were some where near the middle of the Lake.

After the loss of his companions, Capt. Davis was driven about, he knew not whither; the only incidents occurring to break the dreary monotony being the sight of two or three vessels. Only one of them came within hailing distance; and this he thinks was on Monday or Tuesday, he is not certain which. 

The vessel was near enough for him to read her name (which we think not best to give at present,) and a man whom he supposes was the captain, seemed to see him in the distance, and afterwards several of the crew joined him and looked in the same direction. Capt. D. thinks they must have seen him, but the vessel held on her course, and the hope of rescue, which he had indulged a moment before, gave place to black despair. He cannot tell where he was at the time. 

From that time till he was picked up by the crew of the steamer Morton, between 9 and 10 o’clock A.M. on Friday, there was nothing to relieve the horrible monotony of this lone, aimless, voyage, except that at one time he drifted within about a mile of the eastern shore of the Lake; but he was then too much exhausted — too weakened and benumbed in body, and paralyzed in mind, to make the attempt to swim ashore.

The pangs of hunger became so pressing, towards the last, that the poor sufferer attempted to reach a dead body that floated near him, with the dreadful thought of satisfying it by eating a portion of a fellow-creature, but it eluded his grasp. After this, he does not know when, he gnawed one of his hands to relieve the pain of famine, and afterwards he gnawed the other in the same manner.

It is impossible for the imagination to conceive of the horrible realities of such a voyage — during which, for seven days, the poor wayfarer upon the deep, without a morsel of food, benumbed with cold, and with the prospect of death every moment — where day brought no relief and hardly hope, and the long dreary night added to the horror of his situation — was drifted at the mercy of the elements. 

Happily, however, by the operations of a beautiful law, by which the intensity of human suffering after a time deadens the capacity to feel it, Capt. Davis has but an indistinct remembrance of the trial through which he has passed. For most of the time he was in a state of semi-consciousness, and at times he must have slept, though the strong instinct of self-preservation enabled him, through all, to maintain a firm grip upon the spar.

On being picked up by the Morton, every attention was paid to his wants which humanity could suggest, and a physician (whose name we were not able to learn) was taken on board at Michigan city, who bound up his wounded hands and otherwise ministered to his relief. — This morning he was quite cheerful, though much emaciated from his long famine, and the prospect is that he will shortly recover. 

It will be some time, however, before he will have the use of his hands, as they are very much cramped and benumbed by his long continued grasp upon the spar, and the gnawing to which they were subjected. His whole body, with the exception of his head and hands, being immersed in the water, he did not suffer much with cold until the last night of the exposure. He is of the opinion that he could not have survived another night.

Capt. Davis is naturally a strong athletic man, as might be expected from the sufferings which he lived through, and we should judge, between 36 and 40 years of age. He is a Scotchman by birth, but has resided here for several years, where he has a wife and two young children, to whom he is happily restored. He has always borne the character of an industrious, honest man.

-- end of article as appearing in the newspapers the Alton Telegraph and Democratic Review on September 27th, 1850.

According the the Great Lakes ships database, the 49 ton 2-mast schooner General Thornton was built in 1837 in St Joseph’s Michigan. She was 56 feet in length, her beam was 15 feet, and was 7 feet deep. She was lost on August 31st, 1850, off Calumet, Illinois, on Lake Michigan. She was wrecked on her route which was Chicago to New Buffalo. And all in all, she met her fate in fairly close proximity to land since it's believed she was only 5 to 6 miles out when claimed by the sea.

All toll, the storm that put her under took the lives of 4 men. She is said to have went ashore bottom up and wrecked, a total loss. 

The steamer J. D. MORTON found the Thornton's skipper floating on a makeshift raft five miles offshore. The raft was found on September 7th, and yes the lone occupant clinging to the raft had reportedly begun to eat his own hand to avoid starvation.

As usual, I did not edit or correct the spelling of anything in those old news articles. I reprinted them here, just as I found them. 

Tom Correa

Monday, March 20, 2017

The USDA's Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program

Dear Friends,

A couple of years ago, I wrote an article America Needs Veterans To Take Up FarmingWell it seems someone has read that article and understands my interest in the future of agriculture in America. So now I've been asked to help spread the word on a program that is available for getting beginners started in agriculture. 

The USDA's Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program provides grants to organizations for education, mentoring, and technical assistance initiatives for beginning farmers or ranchers. While I don't know how individuals can apply for these grants, folks should see if this can fit their needs.

According to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service’s most recent Ag Census data, the number of young people entering farming continues to decline, but the number of new farmers and ranchers over the age of 35 as well as the number of smaller farms and ranches nationwide continue to rise. 

The USDA website for individuals can also be found at Programs & Services for Individuals

Trying to ensure that there will be a "new generation" of beginning farmers and ranchers, regardless of age or production choice, is especially important to the continuation of agricultural production in the United States. That is why the USDA created The Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program:

General Information

Opportunities exist within farming and ranching, but beginning farmers and ranchers have unique educational, training, technical assistance, and outreach needs. Capital access, land access, and access to knowledge and information to assist in ensuring profitability and sustainability are vital to those just entering agriculture and in their first ten years of operation.

Funding Priorities

In accordance with the authorizing legislation, priority will be given to partnerships and collaborations led by or including nongovernmental, community-based organizations and school-based agricultural, educational organizations with expertise in new agricultural producer training and outreach. At least 5 percent of the funds will support programs and services that address the needs of beginning farmers or ranchers with limited resources; socially disadvantaged beginning farmers or ranchers; and farm workers desiring to become farmers or ranchers. At least 5 percent of the funds will support programs and services that address the needs of veteran farmers and ranchers. The term “farmer” is used in the broadest sense and should be interpreted to include traditional agricultural farmers, ranchers, and tree farmers. As far as possible, geographical diversity will also be ensured.

Topics for programs and services, as listed in the Agricultural Act of 2014, include:
  • Basic livestock, forest management, and crop farming practices
  • Innovative farm, ranch, and private, nonindustrial forest land transfer strategies
  • Entrepreneurship and business training
  • Financial and risk management training (including the acquisition and management of agricultural credit)
  • Natural resource management and planning
  • Diversification and marketing strategies
  • Curriculum development
  • Mentoring, apprenticeships, and internships
  • Resources and referral
  • Farm financial benchmarking
  • Assisting beginning farmers or ranchers in acquiring land from retiring farmers and ranchers
  • Agricultural rehabilitation and vocational training for veterans
  • Farm safety and awareness
  • Other similar subject areas of use to beginning farmers or ranchers

The Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program program recipients must be a collaborative state, tribal, local, or regionally-based network or partnership of public or private entities, which may include: 
  • a State Cooperative Extension Service; 
  • a federal, state or tribal agency; 
  • a community-based and nongovernmental organization; 
  • college or university (including an institution awarding an associate’s degree) or foundation maintained by a college or university; 
  • or any other appropriate partner, as determined by the Secretary.
Types of Projects

The Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program funds three types of projects:
  • Standard Projects: to new and established local and regional training, education, outreach and technical assistance initiatives that address the needs of beginning farmers and ranchers in selected areas
  • Educational Enhancement Projects: to help develop seamless beginning farmer and rancher education programs by conducting evaluation, coordination, and enhancement activities for Standard Projects and other non-funded beginning farmer programs
  • Curriculum and Training Clearinghouse: to make educational curricula and training materials available to beginning farmers and ranchers and organizations who serve them.
The Award Process

Awards will be made through a competitive grants process, administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA).

The RFA will be posted online as soon as it's available. All applications for funding must be submitted electronically through is external). 

This process requires pre-registration which can take up to one month. We encourage all potential applicants to begin the registration process as soon as possible.

Reviewers from universities, government, community-based organizations, for-profit and non-profit organizations, and from the farming community will provide peer assessment and recommend applications for funding.
Post Award Monitoring

Projects are required to acknowledge USDA-NIFA funding in all presentations, publications, news releases, etc. Projects are required to collect and submit outcome-based data to USDA-NIFA through annual reports. The annual Project Directors meeting provides opportunities for networking and sharing of best practices.
Program Type: Grant Program

CONTACT: Jill Auburn






Friends, being frank, I was sent the information. And frankly, after looking it over, I decided that there isn't a whole lot that I can add to what is there. 

Basically, since starting up a farm or a ranch is considered an expensive venture, today funding is available from the USDA's Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program  (BFRDP). 

This program is designed to support beginners wanting to get started. Yes, that the bottom line. So please, pass the word if you someone who qualifies. As we, all know, any help getting started is a good thing.

Tom Correa 

Saturday, March 18, 2017

The Yreka Necktie Party of 1895

On August 26th, 1895, a vigilante group of about 250 men gathered for the purpose of issuing justice to four men who were in the county jail. All four were accused of murder. The evidence pointing to their guilt was said to be overwhelming in each case.

It was a lynching as no one there had ever seen before. The vigilantes gathered were said to be from various parts of Siskiyou County. And so secret were the plans, that the 250 men organized under the nose of the city and county law in Yreka. In fact, it is said that the law there received absolutely no warning whatsoever before it took place. 

It started just before midnight when the vigilantes carried an old rail from the Yreka depot to the northwest corner of the courthouse square. Once there, they placed it in the forks of two trees. About the same time that was happening, a fight was staged as a diversion to get the city marshal away from the jail. The ruse worked. 

Once they were able to send the city marshal on a wild goose chase, the vigilantes entered the jail. They then broke the padlocks off the cells, and rushed the prisoners. They then hauled the screaming prisoners to the square where they strung them up in no time at all. It was actually all very quick.

The Des Moines Register of Des Moines, Iowa, reported the lynching on August 27th, 1895:


Californians Have an Old-Time Necktie Party and Four Criminals Wear the Neckties.

The '49ers Did the Work Deliberately and With Precision on a 19-Year-Old Boy.


Murderers Taken from Cells and Hanged High by a Tax Paying Mob.

Yreka, Cal., Aug. 26.—Four murderers were taken from the county jail by a mob of 250 men at 1 o'clock this morning and lynched.

A band of citizens, fearing that the law would not be carried out, and angered by the atrocity of recent crimes, determined to take the matter into their own hands. The lynching was the ghastly climax to the reign of lawlessness which has prevailed in Siskiyou county for some months past.

One of the victims was Lawrence Johnson, who, on the evening of July 28, stabbed his wife to death in the town of Etna. Another was William Null, who shot Henry Hayter in the back with a rifle near Callahan's on April 21. Louis Moreno and Garland Seemler, who are supposed to have killed George Sears and Casper Meierhans at Bailey Hill on August 5, were also hanged.

At 11 o'clock farmers from all surrounding country began to drive into town, and by midnight the mob was ready to march to the county jail. Before taking a step, however, every precaution was taken to prevent the plans of the lynchers from being frustrated by the officers of the law. The sheriff and one of his deputies were decoyed to another part of town by two members of the mob, who were engaged in a sham fight, and the fire bell was muffled to prevent an alarm being given in that way.

When the jail was reached a number of the men, all of whom were masked, awakened Under Sheriff Radford and demanded the keys from him. He positively refused to open the door or give the keys up, telling them that if the[y] broke open the doors he would blow their brains out. Finding that Radford was determined not to give them the keys, they went across to the jail and got on top of a stone wall which surrounded the jail.

Deputy Sheriff Henry Brahtlacht, who had been sleeping in the jail, fired two shots out of the window to alarm City Marshal Parks and Deputy Sheriff Radford. He then opened the doors and was immediately held up by the mob, who took the keys from him and entered the jail.

Having no keys to the different cells, they were compelled to burst the locks with a sledge hammer, which they proceeded to do at once.

Lawrence Johnson, who brutally stabbed his wife to death at Etna on Sunday of July 28, was the first to receive the attention of the mob. They broke the lock from the door of his cell and placing a rope around his neck, led him out of the jail and across the street to where an iron rail was laid between the forks of two locust trees. Johnson pleaded for mercy, but the silent gathering gave no heed to his appeals, and he was quickly strung up, dying from strangulation in a few minutes.

The mob returned to the jail and then broke into the cell of William Null, who shot Henry Hayter at Callahan's on April 21, in a dispute over a mining property. Null desired to make a statement, but time was too valuable to allow of such preliminaries, and he was soon hanging alongside of Johnson.

Louis Moreno, who is charged with having killed George Sears on the 5th of this month, was taken from his cell and soon swinging with Johnson and Null.

The last and youngest of the four murderers to pay the penalty of his crime was Garland Seemler, aged about 19, who, in company with Moreno, was charged with having killed Casper M[e]ierhans at Bailey Hill, on the 5th of this month.

A rope was placed around Seemler's neck and he was led from the jail in his bare feet. He begged for mercy and his last words were: "Tell my dear old mother I am innocent of the crime."

About this time Sheriff Hobbs, having been notified, arrived on the scene, and commanded the mob to halt and the command being emphacized [sic] by a display of revolvers. He was told that the "job had been done." By this time the greater part of the mob had dispersed, leaving only about thirty or forty men on guard, who soon left after the sheriff arrived.

The bodies were taken down by Coroner Shofield and Marshal Parks, who removed them in a wagon to an engine house where they were laid side by side. The coroner has summoned a jury to hold an inquest.

Yreka is a little mining town, and years ago was frequently the scene of mob violence. The summary manner in which justice was meeted [sic] out to the four murderers this morning reminded the pioneers of similar scenes during the gold excitement forty years ago, when it was not an uncommon spectacle to awaken in the morning and see the body of a notorious criminal dangling from a tree.

-- end of The Des Moines Register report dated August 27th, 1895.

Now for the rest of the story. On December 1st, 1895, The San Francisco Call printed a letter which they say came someone who knew who was one of the "real" murderers. 

The article made the unsubstantiated claim that a cellmate of one of the accused knew about who really did one of the murders. Of course the problem with that was that the letter which The San Francisco Call cited was written by a "John Doe". And to make things appear even shakier, the individual interview by the paper was a burglar who said that he was told the story second-hand. 

Knowing the whole thing was false didn't stop The San Francisco Call from still printing an article without any basis of truth. The San Francisco Call labeled the article:

Facts Tend to Prove That Innocent Men Were Lynched.


A Cellmate of Moreno Bears Out the Confession of "John Doe."


The Mexican Had a Companion Who Probably Committed the Murders.

In their article, The San Francisco Call claimed:

"The recent publication of a letter from Arizona, signed John Doe, in which the writer confesses to the murders for which Moreno and Semlar were lynched in Yreka last August, has created a ripple of excitement here because of a corroborative statement made by a young burglar, Andrew A. Crawford, in a newspaper interview on the 27th of last September."

The San Francisco Call goes on to say that the letter by some fictitious "John Doe" was corroborated by the "young burglar" who was in jail at the time. So how does a criminal give a "corroborative statement" for another criminal using hearsay? In our system, they can't. But that didn't stop The San Francisco Call from quoting the "young burglar" throughout the whole article. Of course, the "young burglar" did also relate the reasons why he believed Moreno and Semlar were innocence.

The San Francisco Call ended that article with the "young burglar" stating his theory of what took place, saying:

"My theory is that the writer of the letters accompanied Moreno to Yreka, and that he alone was guilty of the double murder for which Moreno and Semler were hanged."

Friends, when someone says they have a theory, that means that they really don't know but are only speculating. But frankly, that was all that The San Francisco Call needed to sensationalize the story.

So now, you're probably asking yourself, why would a newspaper, even back then, print what amounts to hearsay? Why would they state that they have the "facts" when they didn't? And no, they didn't have facts to substantiate their claim that the murderers were hanged in error?

Well it was not unusual for newspapers at the time to sensationalize stories.
They did it to sell papers and make money. It was called "Yellow Journalism" and it was widespread in the 1800s. Some say it is still around today, but we call it "Fake News."

The term "Yellow Journalism" was coined in the mid-1890s to characterize the sensational journalism technique of actually using yellow ink in their papers. It was a very common practise in the circulation war between Joseph Pulitzer's newspaper the New York World and William Randolph Hearst's New York Journal. Both papers were accused by critics of sensationalizing the news in order to drive up circulation. And no, "Yellow Journalism" of sensationalizing stories was not limited to just those two papers. It was very common. 

As for the hanging that night in Yreka, California, by a group of vigilantes?

Well, justice was swift and the vigilantes saw it as their duty to do what they believed the justice system would not. It is said that no man there wanted to see any of them walk the streets as free man due to clemency, a reduced sentence, or parole. 

No, the vigilantes paid no heed to the cries for mercy from murderers Lawrence Johnson, William Null, Louis Moreno, and Garland Semler as they lynched them that night. The vigilantes were there on a mission to do justice where the system was seen as failing.

It was said later that after the quadruple lynching not a single murder occurred in Siskiyou County for decades to follow. Imagine that.

Tom Correa