Digital-Desert : Mojave Desert
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Mojave Desert History - Pioneer of the Mojave
Lane Versus Andrews

Lane Stays at Crossing for Awhile After Sale

Dr. Andrews bought Lane's claim in April of 1865, and then worked an arrangement with Lane to share the property for a while, which is shown in an interesting incident that had its beginnings just about the time of Andrews' purchase. The May 23, 1865, issue of the Wilmington Journal ran a story about a Mr. Johnson at Lane's Crossing, who, around the first of the month, had found a flock of 1,040 sheep some four miles from Point of Rocks. Since a large flock of sheep had passed through San Bernardino on the way to Salt Lake the previous month, it was supposed that this was the source of the stray flock.


Picture of flock of sheep

Public Administrator Dudley R. Dickey had heard a very similar story. Informants had told him that two men (whose names were then unknown, but who were later identified as Messrs. Wordwell and Thomas) were killed by Indians while herding four to five thousand sheep on the desert. A large number of the flock, nearly 1100 it was thought, had found their way back to the Mojave River.

According to Dickey's information, the sheep were in the custody of Dr. Andrews and James H. Johnson. Dickey wrote a letter, dated May 11, 1865, to Probate Judge A. D. Boren asking that an order be granted directing Andrews and Johnson, or anybody else in possession of the sheep, to deliver the property to the Public Administrator at once.

Judge Boren immediately issued an order to Andrews and Johnson, and stated in the document, "You are therefore required and commanded to deliver over said sheep to [the Public Administrator]...and to appear before the Probate Court on the 22nd day of May 1865 & show cause why you refuse and to give answer under oath touching said matter." When Deputy Sheriff Richard Mathews arrived at the upper crossing he found not Andrews, but Aaron Lane and Johnson, and so he amended the order to include Lane and issued the summons for them to appear in court.

As it so happened, Dickey's information regarding the deaths of the sheepherders was incorrect, as the June 17th issue of the Wilmington Journal showed them as still being among the living:

FOUND -- Mr. A. B. Wordwell and his party, who were reported as having been killed while driving sheep from San Bernardino to Salt Lake, have been seen near the Muddy on the Salt Lake Road.

This would explain why the only documents contained in Case No. 145 of the Probate Court were Dickey's letter to Boren, Boren's order to Andrews and Johnson, and the summons delivered by the sheriff. Whatever the final disposition of the case, this episode indicates that James H. Johnson was running the ranch at the crossing, and shows that Lane was still in residence there.

Andrews kept his town home and continued his medical practice in San Bernardino, so it is very likely that during the time Lane was at the ranch he helped with the operation of the station and assisted Johnson with the transition. It was common during the pioneer years for Mojave ranchers to have business or professional interests elsewhere.

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