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Mojave Desert History - Pioneer of the Mojave
Lane Versus Andrews

Lane's Neighbor, Joseph Highmoor

Joseph Highmoor was an early resident at the upper crossing, and he must have settled there at about the same time as Lane. In the same May 14, 1859, issue of the Los Angeles Star that described the Indian attack at Lane’s, there is a reference to "Highmore's crossing" by a Major Samuel Heintzelman, who had camped there on May 4, 1859. Highmoor would have been one of the "others" referred to in the Indian raid as having lost "all their worldly goods."

Lane and Highmoor most likely were acquaintances even before they moved to the desert. They both lived in close proximity in east San Bernardino, Highmoor's property being just north of the Timber Settlement near Warm Creek. Also, Highmoor, like Lane, was a Mexican War veteran. Conceivably, the two men made the decision together to move to the upper crossing with the idea of establishing a settlement there.

Victim of Outlaws

In August of 1859, only a few months after the Indian raid on the upper crossing, Highmoor was victimized by three men running stolen horses out through Cajon Pass to the Mojave Desert. The men had been working for rancher Don Fernando Sepulveda. They stole three of his fine horses, one of which was said to be worth $500, and fled towards the pass, with Don Fernando in pursuit:

[Sepulveda], accompanied by Joaquin Valenzuela, followed them into the Cajon Pass, en route for the Mohave river, when [he] met an expressman coming into San Bernardino, who brought information of the robbers having attacked and robbed the house of Mr. Highmore, at the head of the Mohave; and also that they had attacked two Mexicans, connected with a pack train, who were returning from Beale's Crossing. These two Mexicans they robbed and wounded, leaving one of them for dead.

The express rider advised Sepulveda to return to San Bernardino for assistance, as there was another party of several white men camped lower down on the Mohave river, with a band of horses, who were probably connected with, and waiting for the party who stole the horses from Sepulveda, to join them.

Shoots Lane

Life at the upper crossing was not to Highmoor's liking, nor probably his family's, which consisted of a wife and young daughter. The episodes with the Indians and the desperadoes had put him and his family in imminent danger, but it was a confrontation with Aaron Lane that finally caused his departure from the desert. The incident was covered in the May 4, 1861, edition of the Star:
    Fight. -- A fight occurred between Messrs. Lane and Highmore, of the Mojave, concerning hogs which were running at large. Lane was slightly wounded in the right arm.
Several years later, in his September 1865 notice to Woodville Andrews, Highmoor made the statement, "I was necessarily compelled to leave temporarily, for my personal safety...." Although he did not specify where the source of the peril lie, it was shortly following the fight between the two neighbors that the Highmoors returned to San Bernardino.

This incident may help explain some of Highmoor's later actions regarding the land claims at the upper crossing. The animosity between Lane and Highmoor must have been great, so much so that the incident became well known and impressed in the memories of people for years afterwards.

A bastardized version of this tale has passed down through historians over the years, the origins of which can be traced back to Lane's contemporaries. As recently as 1963, L. Burr Belden repeated the story of Lane's supposed attempt to cheat the government out of a pension by claiming as a Mexican War injury the wound he received in a fight with a neighbor over some hogs. This is nonsense; Lane's complete pension file is a matter of record, and it is well documented that he had qualified as early as 1849 for a pension based on health problems.

Belden gave his source for the story as Dix Van Dyke, who, in turn, said he had heard it from San Bernardino attorney Byron Waters. Waters was not an unbiased source, having been the plaintiff's counsel in a bitter 1875 lawsuit in which Lane was the defendant.

Lane did not apply for his pension reinstatement until the late 1870s -- nearly two decades after his fight with Highmoor, and several years after Highmoor's death -- yet Waters, or someone else, remembered the feud over the hogs and pieced the two incidents together.

Encroaches on Lane's Property

Highmoor remained interested in the desert property for some time following his departure. In 1864 he filed another claim at the upper crossing, which was situated only one-quarter mile north and one-quarter mile west of his original site, which meant his claims overlapped. By this maneuver, Highmoor had pushed his boundaries into the southeast corner of what Lane considered his property, and the legality of this action was an issue in Lane v Andrews.

Woodville Andrews had stated in his response to Lane's suit that "at least one fourth of said premises were covered by a prior possessory claim duly surveyed and recorded in favor of said Hymore in the year 1859," but it is the 1864 claim that appears to overlap Lane's property.

Since the acreage in dispute held valuable natural springs, it is quite possible Highmoor filed the second claim to challenge Lane’s rights to this land. Lane had not been diligent in obtaining the necessary legal documents to secure his property, and this fact might have encouraged Highmoor to contest his claim.

Highmoor never returned to the upper crossing following his move to San Bernardino in 1861, despite his statement to Dr. Andrews that he was forced to leave "temporarily" for his personal safety. After he left, Lane's ranch was the only occupied property at the crossing for the years 1862 through 1865, as no one else is listed in the Auditor's Assessment Books at that time.

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