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Gang has Ties to the Blackburn Brothers

It is likely that Aaron Lane knew some of the men involved in these thefts, as several were from the east end of town near the Timber Settlement where he had lived. A connection tying some of these culprits together is the Blackburn brothers, with whom Aaron was acquainted.

Thomas and Abner Levi Blackburn were early pioneers who shared a cabin in the fort at San Bernardino during the first part of the 1850s. Convict Peter Sprague is recorded as living with the Thomas Blackburn family in 1860, on their ranch located in the City Creek Settlement. Thomas died in 1863, and his widow, Emily, married convicted horse thief Isaac Hawley the following year.

Abner was a brother-in-law of the Harris brothers, having married their sister, Lucinda. The father of Jacob, Daniel and Lucinda was John Harris, who was also one of San Bernardino's original pioneers. After leaving the fort, John moved his family of seven children to Old San Bernardino, just across the river from the Timber Settlement. Abner was subpoenaed by the grand jury in the Harris and Sprague case tried in October, but he could not be located by Deputy William Levick, who notified the court that he had "ascertained that [Blackburn] is not in the County."

Another tie to the gang of horse thieves was Abner's relationship by marriage to Clark Fabun, who had married another Harris daughter, Susannah. Fabun had provided a bail bond and served as a witness in the case involving Welch and Harris.

There is nothing in the court records to indicate that any Blackburns themselves were ever involved in the thefts in San Bernardino. Abner served as a trial juror both in the September 1861 and February 1862 court sessions, and he would not likely have been called if he were under any kind of suspicion.

It should be mentioned, though, that Abner's past is allegedly not without blemish. There is a family tradition that he stole six mules from Mormon leader Brigham Young himself, and the men sent out to recover them never returned. However, this account could simply be a myth.

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