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

Pioneer of the Mojave

Captain Lane was a rugged scrapper -- he had to be to survive on the desert -- and he took guff from no man. He himself wrote "Cap neither loves nor fears his enemies, and no mistake." If he thought someone was trying to take advantage of him, he got his dander up. On one occasion, the details of which have not come to light, he was so mad about some ill treatment he received at the hands of a Mr. Frank Hoffman, that he offered a $100 reward for the man -- dead or alive.

In another instance a customer failed to meet his obligation to Lane, and the result was a mortifying notice in the newspaper:

    John Perceival, as he calls himself, an admiral's son of Portsmouth, N.H., in company with a man by the name of Jackson, and a Pi-Ute Indian, had one of their horses taken sick almost eight days ago. Being in a hurry to go inside, they hired a horse from me to be back in one week. My horse was left here on the 10th, about 11 o'clock in the night, and their horse taken away. If they will settle for 60 pounds of corn, keeping and doctoring their horse, it will be all right.
    Capt. A. G. Lane
The advertisement bore fruit. Either the gentleman paid up, or one of his traveling companions had made the switch without his knowledge, for in a subsequent issue of the paper Lane exonerated him from all blame.

Captain Lane was not without compassion. He believed in helping those who were in trouble. One newspaper story tells of his kindness to a total stranger passing through the area. On this occasion he opened his home to a man from Visalia who was suffering from consumption, and had come to the desert seeking relief in the dry air.

He spent his last weeks at Lane's "surrounded by strangers who proved themselves friends." He received every possible care and attention, and following his death, he was interred temporarily on the Mojave until arrangements were made to send his remains to relatives.

There were many who came to the Captain's door in need of assistance, and he helped them even if they were destitute. Cap "has always clothed the naked and fed the hungry," he wrote for the paper; "The poor devils you always will have after I leave you." This last is a paraphrase of Bible verse, John 12:8, probably as Lane remembered it from his childhood lessons.

It is owing to the profusion of such snippets of information from newspaper items that a history of Captain Lane's life on the Mojave is possible. There are over 60 articles in contemporary newspapers in which he or his way station is the subject -- and that is exclusive of any items that appear in the great number of issues that are no longer available, a void which applies especially to the 1880s. This is a rather remarkable amount of press and compares favorably with men who were much more financially prominent in the community.

Furthermore, Lane was never cast in a negative light, despite the fact that perhaps a dozen editors for six different newspapers wrote about him over a period of 25 years. Some of these editors counted him as a friend, as did so many other people in the Southland.

When his name appeared in print it was not unusual to see it accompanied by terms of the utmost respect, such as "our old and esteemed friend," "our venerable friend," and "the venerable veteran." However, from what is known of Captain Lane, with his years of hard work and his love of the desert and its settlements, he was pleased the most when the paper honored him with the distinction of being "The Pioneer of the Mojave."

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