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Mojave Desert History - Pioneer of the Mojave
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Captain Lane Appointed Judge of the Plains

This partnership with Rubottom points up the fact that the Captain had some sort of connection with those living in the community of Spadra. Besides Uncle Billy, there was William Blake and his son, George. Lane and the Blakes bought and sold Mojave property to each other at different times during the 1870s. This connection probably came about through one of Uncle Billy's companions from his Cucamonga days, Elijah K. Dunlap.

Dunlap had married Rebecca Parrish in 1858, and he and Rebecca's brothers later ran a cattle ranch located on the west branch of the Mojave River in what is now Summit Valley. When Aaron Lane was appointed "Judge of the Plains" in the mid-1860s, Dunlap would have had to work with him on a regular basis, a relationship that undoubtedly continued when Dunlap himself was assigned to the same position in 1866.

Aaron received his appointment as Judge of the Plains on August 15, 1864. He was one of three chosen for the Mojave District, the other two being Joe Anderson and Sam Bemis. This office was a carryover from the Spanish period when the "Juez del Campo" was responsible for overseeing rodeos where the stock was sorted and branded, and for settling disputes, largely over ownership, that arose between stock raisers. The judges primarily dealt with cattlemen, in an era when ranching was a major industry in the county. Their authority included holding trials, and their decisions could not be appealed.

The responsibility of this office was great. Several major Los Angeles stockmen used the Mojave Desert to graze their herds. John Rowland, Robert Carlisle, William Wolfskill and Ygnacio Palomares are some of the figures that the Judges of the Plains would have worked with, men who were known throughout Southern California. Aaron's appointment was at a particularly difficult time, during the terrible drought that brought thousands of head of cattle to the desert. It was a mark of the high regard in which these men were held that such a prominent figure as Judge Benjamin Hayes showed his respect for the office, and no doubt for the man, when he addressed his letters to "Judge" John Brown, another of the Judges of the Plains.

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