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Mojave Desert History - Pioneer of the Mojave
An Esteemed and Confoundedly Combatitive Pioneer

Captain Lane Passes Away

The Captain's term as postmaster was disappointingly short-lived, but he kept himself active with his mining and ranching interests, as well as with his various election offices. In 1883 he suffered a bout of ill health that was so severe it was necessary for his niece, Eldora Richmond, to give him nursing care. "Dora" was the daughter of Aaron's brother, Moses, who died in 1852 en route to California, probably on his way to join Aaron in Ione. She and her husband, George, along with their two daughters, Clara and Maude, lived in a house just south of Aaron's.

Dora originally served as Aaron's housekeeper from June of 1882 until March 1883, at which time her duties changed to that of nurse and housekeeper, a result of Aaron's failing health. During this period her husband worked as superintendent of the ranch and also provided nursing care when it became necessary. Aaron was unable to rebound from his illness. This was one time his indomitable spirit and the wondrous desert air failed him, and he died on September 14, 1883.

The probate records do not specify what his final illness was, but he must have been seriously incapacitated, for he died intestate. Public Administrator Hyland W. Rice handled the estate, and Robert Turner, F. M. Johnson and A. H. Pearl were appointed as appraisers. Their appraisal showed the value of the estate to be $9,391.45.

On December 17, 1883, auctioneer Ed Hall submitted a statement to the court that he had disposed of almost all Lane’s personal property -- stock, farm equipment, and other items -- and a total of $4,402.85 was realized. The biggest item was 167 head of cattle sold to W. R. Porter, which went for $3,882.75. Lane’s house at Oro Grande was the only real property to be offered, and it sold for $80.

The inventory also listed 50 horses worth $1,851, an average of $37 each. Seven were sold at the auction and brought $223.50. The other horses were put up for auction at the same time, but did not sell. Rice reported to the court that the value of the animals was depreciating from lack of care, plus the horses were liable to be lost or stolen, so he recommended selling them as a lot at a private sale.

The court gave permission to do so, and shortly thereafter Rice sold to his father-in-law Robert W. Waterman, the future governor of California, "all the horses, mares and colts which the administrator may deliver" for the sum of $12 per head. Given the initial appraisal, this was a disappointing figure for the estate, amounting to only $372 based on Rice’s final accounting of 31 horses, down twelve from the original 43.

No record has been found on the disposition of Aaron's remaining real property, which, according to the probate, consisted of the 240-acre ranch in Section 36, worth about $2,500, and the possessory claim to the adjacent 400 acres, which appraised at $750. The land was still in possession of the Lane family as late as 1886, as the property belonging to the "heirs of A. G. Lane, deceased" appeared on the Delinquent Tax List published in the paper that year.

Public Administrator Rice became sick before completing the probate, and died in July 1884 without giving an account of Lane's estate to the court. His wife, Mary P. Rice, was named executrix in August. The next month, on September 2, 1884, the court awarded "letters of administration" to W. B. Garner.

Garner sued Mrs. Rice in mid-September in order to get the estate settled. He showed that the Rices had collected $5,664.25 and paid out in expenses $1,553.91, a difference of $4,110.34, but the court ruled that Mrs. Rice only owed the estate $3,310.34. In addition to the $1,553.91 already disbursed, another $1,967.49 was allowed by the court, leaving the 30 or so relatives listed as heirs on the probate the sum of $1,342.85 to divide amongst themselves -- a paltry fraction of the appraised value of almost $9,400.

So ended the life and affairs of Captain A. G. Lane. The Captain lived to be almost 65 years old, which, considering the illness he had to overcome, is a tribute to his courage and determination.

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