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Mojave Desert History: Pioneer of the Mojave
Lane's Crossing


Jackman's death followed on the heels of another tragedy that had occurred at Lane's Station only a couple of weeks earlier, except on this occasion there were no Indians involved. Several recently discharged Army soldiers from Camp Floyd, Utah, together with some teamsters, had come into California across the Mojave, and on their way through they stopped at the way station for some refreshment.

The group was later joined by a man named Joel H. Brooks, a civilian employee of Army Quartermaster Captain Winfield Scott Hancock and a frequent traveler on the desert. Brooks was a troublemaker who had been adjudged to be a person of "poor" character several years earlier in a government report.

It appears that all the men had refreshed themselves with a good deal of liquor that day, and a drunken argument broke out between Brooks and the others. Brooks stepped outside and said that he would shoot anyone who followed. Unfortunately, one man staggered out after him and was shot in the arm. The victim, a discharged soldier from the 7th Infantry Regiment by the name of Charles O'Donnell, died on March 31, 1860, from "mortification," or gangrene, which apparently resulted from improper medical care by the doctor who was treating him.

Lane took care of O'Donnell for two days before his death, and then saw to his burial. For these services, and others specified in a bill submitted to the Probate Court, Lane asked for a reimbursement of $38. For the kindness shown, O'Donnell gave Lane his pistol before he died.

Brooks had fled the area following the shooting, but in July he surrendered himself to San Bernardino authorities. He was acquitted on the grounds of self-defense, and it was also found that the wound was not necessarily fatal, and that O'Donnell had died of malpractice.

It was Dr. Ainsworth who had attended to O'Donnell, and he subsequently became involved in a dispute with the court over his refusal to return $140 in cash that O'Donnell had on him when he died. Despite repeated requests from Probate Judge A. D. Boren, Ainsworth would not part with the money and was eventually thrown in jail for contempt. The probate records do not state why Dr. Ainsworth refused to return the money, nor do they give the outcome of the dispute.

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