My Historic Grandfather
Victor Hugo Presco
After writing and posting about the Dashiell Hammett archive, and reading how this great writer’s grandchildren looked foreword to the paltry check Lillian Hellman sent them on Christmas, I went in search of more information on my grandfather, Victor Hugo Presco, the Bohemian Gambler. I wanted to find what was Authentic. There is too much Fool’s Gold in the Nation. We are on the verge of another Civil War over who has the right stuff, and who does not. I wanted to own something that was free and clear of the grabby hands of the Claim Jumpers. I struck pay dirt! I found this essay by Bill Mero that records the floating Houses of Ill Repute that bobbed in the water near Martinez and Crocket, where I saw my father’s father, just once.
We worked as Lumpers for my father, Victor William Presco, from the age of seven to twelve. One day our father headed for the water, parked his trunk, and ordered his sons to follow him. And we did. It was hard to keep up with him because the floating dock was tipping side to side. We had no sea legs. We had to walk a narrow plank – or two. Vic was in another rage as he pounded on the door of a old houseboat. The door opened, and there stood my grandfather, Victor Hugo Presco. He had the deepest blue eyes, and was staring at me after Vic declared;
“Here are my sons, your grandsons. Take a good look, because you will never see them again!”
And our father turned his back on his father, as did we, as we tried to keep from falling in the water as he stormed on by. We had seen the source of Victor’s angst. I’m sure Victor Hugo said to his roommate as he shut the door;
“What an asshole. He’s doing a real number on those boys!”
Rosemary told me Hugo lived in a tarpaper shack under the Cauquenes bridge where I read there was a whore house called ‘The Golden Horseshoe’. A floating whore house was called ‘The Artist’s Tea Room’. Eureka! I found it! Here is an article submitted to the Contra Costa History Society. Bill Mero wrote ‘The Pettycoat Navy of Contra Costa County’.
Alas my writing is grounded and validated. Mero wrote an essay about Sheriff Richard Rain Veale who arrested the bad guys, like my father. Mero says John Fremont was a swindler, perhaps he is the model for Hedley Lamarr in Blazing Saddles? Trump is doing Hedley right now, and getting many cheers.
What we are looking at is the last of the Wild West and the beginning of the Bohemian-Hippie era. When I awoke I declared;
“You are reborn, perhaps, born for the first time. You own your roots. Let’s look at the gambling going on in Bret Harte’s books and tie it to Hugo.”
I never read ‘The Luck of Roaring Camp’. I found out what it is about a half hour after I rose from my bed. It’s about a orphan cowboy baby, a foundling! I have described myself as a foundling – and my daughter! I gave Royal Rosamond this title. Hugo was not a aspiring author, or, artist. He was what he was, the subject of legend. And, so is his son. Sam Spade came in contact with men like the Prescos. Where there is prostitution, there is gambling. Consider James Bond in Monte Carlo, and the beautiful women who work the winners. My Bond story begins on a dock in London.
Above is the addition to the home Vic built illegally on his Lafayette property in Contra Costa County. It was built for Vic’s third wife he smuggled from Mexico in a marijuana shipment. The plan was the smuggle her (their) seven children over the border. One day Vic asked me for some ideas on how to make his Bohemian Love Shack look better. He had asked me to teach him how to play the guitar so when he went to see Consuelo, he could play and sing along with the Mexican fisherman on the beach. Studying the balcony, I got the picture.
“How about I make some shutters?”
“That sounds good!”
Add the giant California Oak, and you got a Hacienda, the Presco Pondarosa. Captain Vic had changed his ways. Did he know Rosemary was a prostitute and made porno movies for Big Bones Remmer – the only real Mafia guy in the West? My father carried to his grave the bullet Dee-Dee put in his back after chasing him out the back door, emptying his gun at him.
One day two Mafia guys came to the Pondarosa. They wanted in on Vic’s Default Loan Racket.
“These guys will probably be armed. Here is my pump shotgun that I keep in the closet.”
When I let them in the door, one of them gave me the once over. Was I packing.
“Let’s close this door so we can talk in private.” the dude said. I surmised he was the bodyguard. Then he gave me a hard look. Sure he could read ‘weapon’ all over me. It was his job. Quiet Cowboy Weaponspeak is famous in Hollywood.
“Would I use that shotgun to save my father’s life – after what that bastard did to me and my brother?”
When Vic’s children, friends, and lovers came to visit, Victor Hugo’s son would put them to work on his Default Racket that the D.A. of Conta Costra County was trying to bust. Gloria and I were addressing the postcards Vic made up, we taking names out of the realtor papers. They would call Captain Vic at home, and he would smooth talk them into a very high interest loan – they would default on. I compared this to the movie ‘Paint Your Wagon’ and the gold dust that falls throught the cracks in the floor. My mother told me;
“Stay away from them. These are very bad men. They will kill you!”
Here is my Godfather, Sargent Skip Sutter. He was a famous Oakland cop who got into legendary fights with the Hell’s Angels. Skip was put in the hospital for two weeks. He was an officer of Transamerica Title, along with Vic’s other High School buddy, Tom McKinney, who was President. They were dismissed for massive fraud. I found mention of the biker battles.
So the phone rings. Gloria and I hear the rage building in my father.
“Go fuck yourself!” and Vic slams the phone down.
“Who was that dad?”
“The D.A. of Contra Costa. He demanded the name of my private lender.’
Vic’s private lender was Larry Chazen, a Getty right-hand man who invested in the first Rosamond Gallery, and was the No.1 creditor in Christine’s probate. Before the judge, this high powered attorney petitioned the Court to become the Executor. Consuela and her seven children never moved into the Pondarosa. Vicki Presco never gave this poor Mexican the prints Vic left her. She was our father’s Trustee.
Below is the brand new trailor that Captain Vic took as treasure. He wedged it in the back so the Repo Man couldn’t get to it. My cousin, Bill Broderick leived in that trailer for awhile. He is the grandson of William Broderick who was a executive for The California Barrell Company. In 1994, Vic was convicted of Loan Sharking. Bill lost his license to practice law. Christine and Garth Benton refused to give our father proceeds from the Art Partnership. What a mess! We got Art Fraud here, right here in River City!
Donald Trump had a father like mine. These are Wild West Takers. They see American as a Free For All. Only the mighty deserve to live!
I’m still looking for my other grandfather’s story ‘Desert Vengeance’
Over the roar, Cisco talked about old times.
“Yeah, when we were in our 20s, we’d go toe-to-toe with the police in fistfights and such. It was almost like fun. One time we’d win, one time they’d win. If we’d win, they’d still track us down and arrest us anyway,” he said, chuckling and coughing a wicked cough. “I’m 65 now, and sometimes we’ll run into retired cops from those days, and reminisce about our arrests. I never thought I’d say this when I was younger, but there are actually some cops out there that are decent guys.”
Meet Elmer ‘Big Bones’ Remmer! I did, when I was fifteen. My mother Rosemary brought him over to the house with his wife, who may be in this photo, too.
Rosemary would later ask me if I recalled meeting this couple.
“These people were members of the Mafia who I made porno movies for.”
The greatest kept secret in the world, is, men an women lie to sin. Sinning is big business. Vicki was adopted by Kay Coakley whose father was the District Attorney of Oakland. Frank Coakley allegedly looked the other way when the Mafia moved into the Bay Area. Did he know Rosemary was a one woman crime spree? We called her Ma Barker. We were her boys. She loved the title.
Above are photos of Rosemary at the Rucker Company office party. Rucker had a plant in Emeryville, and helped put men on the moon. Rosemary forever sought the limelight, and was not willing to share it with any of her children – especially her to gifted, artistic children! She attacked, or threatened the life of our lovers. She owned the monopoly on sinning in our house. We were forbidden to be sinners and computer with he in her area of expertise.
After a hard day at the office, Rosemary would stop in at the Key Club in
Emeryville and have herself a drink. It was here she met that nice elderly
Italian couple who were members of a Mafia Family who had long ago founded the city of Emeryville and made it a wide-open town, it famous for its Cat Houses and Gambling Joints. Though several crack-downs had taken place, there were two Card Rooms in Emeryville and the Key Club was once of them.
This gray-haired couple asked the Mighty Momster if she wanted to be a Movie
Star. Already owning a veracious sexual appetite, and laying guys at work for
free, or a shit wage – why not!From that moment on, whenever the movie `East of
Eden’ was on T.V. Rosemary would call her family together for a Family Cuddle
around the warm glowing T.V. and you could hear a pin drop when Cal brought Aaron to meet their mother, the dirty whore. I am often amused by these tales that suggest Jesus married a whore and begat royal folks, like the Habsburgs. I have been banned from many yahoo-groups owned and moderated by woman, who conduct a sacred religious service as they declare Mary Magdalene was a Gnostic Wizard, who knew way more then Jesus, knew, and, indeed taught him everything he know;
During the reign of D.A. J. Frank Coakley, he was wittingly deaf, dumb and blind to organized crime in Alameda County. He was a silent partner to an unholy alliance with the La Costa Nosta, the Mafia.
In East of Eden, Steinbeck’s depiction of the family Scapegoat equals anything
the Bible has to offer, for not only is Cal the cause of everything going wrong,
he is the last person in the world his older brother and father would look to
make things right. In this way he is doubly condemned, he made a goat after
being un-made a man. Like the scene of all that lettuce rotting in those box
cars, my brother and I were witness to my father’s red truck broke down on the
Nimitz freeway with a broken axle because he overloaded it with hundred bags of potatoes his whole family spent the weekend grading in a big warehouse in
Hayward. When my mother had to come to our rescue in her little blue Ford
Anglia, she grabbed the reigns from Vic in front to his sons, his fellow
workers. We cringed at the sight of his humiliation.
Dugan’s Café was built before the turn of the century at the northwest corner of Hollis Street and Park Avenue. The restaurant and bar became a hangout for turfmen and jockeys during the race track era. During the 1940s is featured Gay 90s variety shows, dancing, and hobby horse races. The two-story Victorian wood frame building was destroyed by fire on February 7, 1949.
Alameda and San Francisco County’s resident Lucky Luciano’s La Costa Nosta crime
boss was a man called Elmer “Big Bones” Remmer of Emeryville. Bones Remmer
controlled all the after-hours joints, brothels, gambling houses, extortion,
loan-sharking, bookies and Murder, Inc. in Emeryville, Oakland and San
Francisco. Along with witting politicians, cops, and various shady lawyers and
bagmen, Big Bone’s mob operations remained unmolested by local law enforcement
agencies in Alameda and San Francisco County.
Fed up with crime, corruption and Murder, Inc. in Alameda County during the
1940-50’s, the California State Attorney General had to come to Oakland to try
to shut down the mob’s operations. The Attorney General’s office indicted and
proceeded to prosecute some of Oakland’s mob figures. Under D.A. Coakley, the La
Costa Nosta just didn’t exist in the county. Just imagine of all people that
could have showed up in Oakland to defend the mob, it was the who’s who of Mafia
On the American frontier of 1874, a new railroad will soon be rerouted through Rock Ridge, in order to avoid running through quicksand. Realizing this will make Rock Ridge worth millions, the conniving attorney general Hedley Lamarr (named after Hedy Lamarr) wants to force Rock Ridge’s residents to abandon their town, and sends a gang of thugs, led by his flunky Taggart, to shoot the sheriff and trash the town. The townspeople demand that Governor William J. Le Petomane (named after Le Petomane) appoint a new sheriff to protect them. Lamarr persuades the dim-witted Le Petomane to appoint Bart, a black railroad worker, who was about to be executed for assaulting Taggart earlier. A black sheriff, he reasons, will offend the townspeople, create chaos, and leave the town at his mercy.
1998-11-30 04:00:00 PDT MARTINEZ — Richard Rains Veale, the colorful Contra Costa sheriff who began his career on horseback in 1894, received many honors in his 40 years on the job.
He was a pioneering investigator, tireless county booster and well-connected Republican. He was also a pack rat.
When they were opened, it was like Christmas morning for the history center volunteers.
Veale saved everything from livery stable bills to letters from United States presidents. And his collection was not limited to documents. The boxes yielded Veale’s campaign crepe paper, walking canes, mug shots, even an evidence bag containing the rough rope used in a Knightsen murder.
Tales of Contra Costa County
Our members provide a great source of knowledge related to historical issues. Many of their articles have appeared in the Monthly Bulletins and are reproduced here for your information.
As our list of essays has grown quite large, we have recently grouped them into a number of categories. To browse the list of essays in a particular category, just click on the category name, and a list of the essays in that category will appear.
Superior Court Judge Bray was the co-founder of the Contra Costa Historical Society. During the late 1930’s and early 40’s, Justice Bray gave a series of weekly radio addresses over Station KLX from Oakland, California. Since his essays cover a variety of the categories here, we have kept his addresses in their own category at the bottom of this list.
Bill Mero didn’t start out to write a mini-history book about Contra Costa County, but it turned out he did with his newly published title, “Shadow on the Hills.”
The book tells the story of how places in the county got their names. Some of these places only appear on old maps now. Others have changed their names. Initially, the idea of the book was to help genealogists and researchers looking for a lost settlement, railroad stop, ranch or road. Not every locale in the county is covered; Mero said it would have taken a second or maybe even a third book to do that.
“One of my goals was to stimulate an interest in local history. Almost everything that ever happened in the settlement of California also took place here in our little Contra Costa County. Our historic place names and their stories reflect these events — from range wars, Indian troubles, famous brothels, logging of the redwoods, wheat bonanzas, coal mining to our very own silver and copper rush,” said Mero, a retired geologist for Chevron.
“Shadow on the Hills” isn’t one of those books you have to read starting at the beginning. You can start on any page and find something to tickle your interest.
On Page 82, you find: “Selby (post office, railroad stop, smelter) (Crockett area): Selby was a Southern Pacific railroad stop between Oleum and Crockett on San Pablo Bay. Selby is located two miles west of Crockett. A famous gold and silver processor, the Selby Smelter, was built in 1885 by Thomas Selby. The Selby Smelter was the site of a famous Contra Costa robbery. When the vaults were opened August 6, 1900, in order to prepare a shipment of gold, it was discovered that the smelter had been robbed of $320,000 in bullion. Given the weight of the bullion, at the time it was believed that a well-organized gang stole the gold over a two-day period. The strongest possibility was that the infamous crime was an inside job. Up to then it was the largest theft of gold bullion in the country. John Winters, a former employee, was eventually caught and convicted, serving seven years in prison. Two famous local lawmen, Harry Morse and Sheriff R.R. Veale, played an important role in his arrest.”
On Page 76, you discover that there are two places called “Hangman’s Tree” in the county. One is in the Canyon area just outside of Moraga. It became famous as the site “where cattle thieves were supposedly hung. It is believed that the tree was located near the old Canyon schoolhouse.”
The other “Hangman’s Tree” is in Pleasant Hill.
“At 1985 Pleasant Hill Road next to Murderous (Murderer’s) Creek, there once was a large oak tree reputed to be 200 years old. The story is that an Indian was hung from this tree for horse stealing around 1849.”
You learn that Moraga was once called Willow Springs; Danville was first known as Inmanville and Concord had two names, Todos Santos as well as Drunken Indian.
“Shadow on the Hills” is available at the Contra Costa County History Center, 610 Main St., Martinez, and can be bought online at the History Center website, www.cocohistory.com, for $19.95 plus shipping. It can also be found on eBay.
Days Gone By appears on Sundays. Contact Nilda Rego at
This morning I awoke with the realization that Jackie Jensen and Ken Kesey led paralell lives in regards to their Sports history. They were both Golden Boys. Jensen excelled in sports at the University of California, and Kesey at the University of Oregon. Both men met their wives at college. Jackie met Zoe Olson who swam in the Olympics. Ken would have wrestled in the Olympics if not for an injury. These two athletes look alike. We just had Olympic Trials in Eugene. Jackie played for the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox. Why wasn’t Ken’s sports history promoted? People came from all over the world, many knowing Eugene is the home of the Pranksters, but, did Zane Kesey show up at the stadium in Further? Did visitors stick around to go to the Country Faire?
At the dedication of the Kesey Mural I talked to Chuck Kesey about the trophy sitting atop the bookcase. He ran down some of his brother’s athletic achievements. He had won many trophies. What became of Jackie’s trophies? I captured Springfield Mayor, Christine Lundberg, on video standing under Giant Ken. I told her about the oppression and censorship at the Emerald Art Association that I and other artists experienced. She assured me this had all changed, and Springfield was moving in a more inclusive direction.
What’s going on here? One has to wonder if the Nobody People are jealous of this history, and want to drag it down and pin it to the mat. The Kesey family demonstrated against the UofO abandoning its wrestling program, while Knight promoted Track Town.
Jackie’s brother Bobby, was a well know artist. The EEA was founded by the wives of men who owned logging companies up river, the same men Mim’s refers to who made it a point to not hire blacks. The Mim’s house is located arround the corner from the Cogswell House. Geroge Miller married a Cogswell. His brother, Joaquin Miller, used to accompany my father’s mother on the Frutivale Trolly when she and those famous poet went to San Francisco. This is a literary-newspaper history that needs to be amplified. My grandmother raised the Jensen brothers for a year. I was told their mother had a nervous breakdown, and went into a sanitarium. But, there was the hint she abandoned them.
Normal biographies about creative people include the creative people they came in contact with that had an influence on their creative history. If there are any historic people hovering about, they are included. The Jensen brothers and Zoe Olson did not make it into the two biographies of Christine Rosamond Benton, nor did Joaquin Miller and the artist, Thomas Hart Benton. Jackie and Zoe Jensen are two of the most famous people that came out of Oakland. Both went to Oakland High School where Robert (Bobby) Jensen taught art. Victor was a classmate of the Jensen brothers. They were role models for Mark and I. My brother played on Oakland High School’s only championship team. This fact was missed by the ghost writers, Tom Snyder, and Julie Lynch, who were hired by outsider and self-titled caretaker of my family legacy, Stacey Pierrot.
My friend Bill Arnold was in Jensen’s 9th. grade class, when my father’s mother walked in and began talking about me. Nancy Hamren was in this class, she later becoming well know for her yogurt at the Kesey family creamery. Bill heard my name and moved closer. Melba was telling the artist she raised during hard times, that I was a deeply troubled young man, and, if Bobby should ever have me in his class, could he take me under his wing, guide me in some manner. This famous watercolorist never approached me. He is not a shrink. If he had he would have discovered my watercolor of a sailboat had toured the world in a Red Cross show when I was twelve. I have found artists on the internet who prospered under the tutelage of Jensen who rendered boats in Jack London Square and the Oakland Estuary where I lived on my sailboat, and, on a houseboat like Victor Hugo Presco.
Yesterday I went to the Oregon Country Fair and found peace there, along with some forgiveness for my father due to the two chapters I wrote about him. Vic Presco was mentally ill, psychotic. What he did to his two sons – is against the law! He could have gone to jail. What people have done to me since Christine was killed by a rogue wave, borders on being criminal. Christine, Rena, and myself suffer from mental illness. The people around us tried to prosper from our disability and our creativity by making us out to be insane! My biography is forced to bring their extreme abuse and destructiveness out of the darkness. They will be exposed for the sake of art, and all creative people.
What Melba did was try to embroil Bobby in the never-ending turmoil her son brought into the lives of all around him. Not once did Melba declare her son was mentally ill. I was her son’s Scapegoat. Because I was sensitive, kind, and loving, and because life was very hard for me, my mental illness was employed by people around me as a smokescreen to hide their disturbed minds, and at the same time rip-off my creative genius. Below are articles on creative people and mental illness. Above is a photograph of my watercolor that Rosemary posed her children in front of. Christine was not drawing and painting in the closet. The true drama that whirled around us, was the struggle two very close friends were having with their insane fathers. I have only touched the surface of the creative relationship between Bill Arnold and I.
The Rosamond gallery in Carmel should have been springboard for the surviving family artists, and writers for generations to come. Instead it was sold to a un-gifted outsider who was backed by Vicki and Mark Presco who had no creative gifts. They were cashing in and slandering the creative members of our family. They put obstacles in our path, just like Victor had in his psychotic need to get all the attention.
I just called the Crockett Museum. I am considering donating much of the history I own. Victor Hugo Presco lived in Crockett on a houseboat. He never met the author, Royal Rosamond, who was estranged from his family when he died. Their children married and had four children. I would like to bring these two grandfathers together in this humble little museum – along with Christine – who was born nearby in Vallejo. Vic used to deliver produce here.
‘The Gambler and the Poet’
Mary Ann Tharaldsen and I almost moved to Crockett that I believed would be the next Sausalito. I am glad I was wrong. Perhaps my ex should donate her painting to the Crockett Museum, and, Pynchon could be the curator in disguise? I see him showing of the giant stuffed sturgeon.
Here is a partial biography of Robert Jensen. I will have to pay $15 dollars to read the rest of it. I am looking for Terry to talk to him in person. I suspect the Jensen brother suffered from mental illness due to the hard life they had. Do you think Robert wants to be posthumously associated with these writers and artists? Do you see how this works?
The following biography, submitted April 2004, is from Terry Jack Jensen, son of the artist.
My father was born on December 15, 1922 in San Francisco, California. His parents were Wilfred Jensen and Alice I. Jensen. My father had two brothers; Jack E. Jensen and an older brother Wilfred (Bill) Jensen. Jack became a gifted athlete, All American College football and baseball player. Jackie played for the Yankees and Red Sox (MVP 1958). Bill was a business man. The family moved to Oakland when my father was in elementary school.
The Depression came along, and the family business (butcher shop) went out of business. Wilfred senior left the family and did not return until after WWII. Hard times hit the family hunger and malnutriti………………
Jackie Jensen, the blond rugged Californian who attained great heights on both the football gridiron and baseball diamond, also waged a complex struggle with anxiety that he seemed to have conquered only at the very end of his life, a life that ended too early. A member of the College Football Hall of Fame and an American League Most Valuable Player, Jensen is today most famous for his midcareer decision to leave baseball because he could not bear to fly in an airplane.
Jack Eugene Jensen was born on March 9, 1927, in San Francisco to Wilfred and Alice (Delany) Jensen. Wilfred owned a meat-cutting business and worked briefly as a patrolman, but he and Alice divorced when Jackie was 5 years old. Alice, an Arkansas native, worked at various jobs in San Francisco to support Jackie and his two older brothers. Alice and the boys moved several times during Jackie’s childhood, mainly in Oakland. Wilfred was the second of Alice’s four husbands.
Jack entered Oakland High School in 1941 and became an immediate sensation. Besides starring in baseball and football, he also wrote for the school paper, became class president, and was the idol of all the other kids in the school. In the spring of 1942 guidance counselor Ralph Kerchum, taken by the possibility of greatness in his student, recorded an interview with Jack and made a 78-rpm record for posterity. The questions were not probing (“What’s your favorite sport?” “Baseball.” “What’s your next favorite?” “Football”) but indicate the effect Jensen had on adults as a teenager. Kerchum became something of a surrogate father to Jensen, and remained a close friend for the rest of Jensen’s life.
Jack graduated from high school in January 1945, and enlisted in the Navy, as both his brothers had done. He enrolled in radio school hoping to work on a communications ship, but he was still in school when the war ended in August. He was then stationed at a base in Idaho, mostly playing football and working as a lifeguard. He stayed in the Navy until his discharge in the summer of 1946. That fall he entered the University of California on the GI Bill.
The well-built (5-feet-11, 190 pounds) Jensen’s athletic reputation, built in high school in neighboring Oakland as well as in the service, made his college football debut much anticipated. The first time he touched the ball, a punt return against Wisconsin, he ran 56 yards for a touchdown. By the end of his freshman year he was considered the finest back in the Pacific Coast Conference (today called the Pac-10), and was selected to play in the East-West Shrine game. In his sophomore season, the Golden Bears finished 9-1, with Jensen the fullback and best defensive back. The following season, 1948, Jensen was a consensus All-American, rushing for more than 1,000 yards and leading the team to an undefeated season. Jensen was injured early in the second half of the Rose Bowl game, and his Bears were defeated by Northwestern.
Jensen also starred on the baseball team at Cal. In 1947 he was the team’s ace pitcher, hit .385, and helped his team win the inaugural College World Series. In the regional final he outpitched future football Hall of Famer Bobby Layne of Texas, then helped his team win the final series against a Yale team that included future President George H.W. Bush. Jensen was academically ineligible in his sophomore year, but came back to help the team to a 31-17 record in 1949, earning All-American honors as he had in football.
By this time Jensen was one of the more famous athletes on the West Coast, both for his sporting exploits—he was universally called The Golden Boy—and his relationship with diving champion Zoe Ann Olsen. Jensen and Olsen both attended Oakland High School, though she was three years behind him. When they began dating in 1946, Jensen was a freshman at Cal and Olsen was 15 years old and still in high school. Olsen was a Golden Girl in her own right, and won the silver medal in springboard diving in the 1948 Summer Olympics in London. The two were blond, attractive athletic heroes, and the press could not get enough of their story.
After his junior year at Cal, in the spring of 1949, Jensen disappointed many Cal loyalists by forgoing his senior year, instead signing a contract to play for the Oakland Oaks baseball club of the Pacific Coast League. Jensen had been scouted by several major-league teams, including the New York Yankees, who reportedly offered him a $75,000 bonus. The Oaks matched the bid, and Jack decided that the Oaks offered a higher level of competition than the lower minor-league berth the Yankees had suggested he would get. Jensen hit .261 in his first professional season, after which he was sold (along with Billy Martin and others) to the Yankees.
I will be going out to Coburg today to plant another flower at the grave of George Miller, the brother of Joaquin Miller, a honorary member of the Bohemian Club that was a place for Bay Area Journalists to gather and compare notes. If Miller lived in the Bay Area, then he too would be a honorary member.
Elizabeth Maude “Lischen” or “Lizzie” Cogswell married George Miller. Lizzie was the foremost literary woman in Oregon. On Feb. 6, 1897, Idaho Cogswell, married Feb. 6, 1897, Ira L. Campbell, who was editor, publisher and co-owner (with his brother John) of the Daily Eugene Guard newspaper. The Campbell Center is named after Ira.
The Wedding of John Cogswell to Mary Frances Gay, was the first recorded in Lane County where I registered my newspaper, Royal Rosamond Press. Idaho Campbell was a charter member of the Fortnightly Club that raised funds for the first Eugene Library.
George Melvin Miller was a frequent visitor to ‘The Hights’ his brothers visionary utopia where gathered famous artists and writers in the hills above my great grandfather’s farm. The Miller brothers promoted Arts and Literature, as well as Civic Celebrations. Joaquin’s contact with the Pre-Raphaelites in England, lent credence to the notion that George and Joaquin were Oregon’s Cultural Shamans, verses, he-men with big saw cutting down trees.
A year ago I received in the mail a book I ordered on E-Bay. I quickly scanned it to see if their were any illustrations or photographs. Then, I found it, what amounts to my personal Holy Grail. Joaquin Miller dedicated his book of poems ‘Songs of The Sun-Land’ to the Rossetti family that includes Gabriel, Michael, and, Christine. Gabriel was a artist and poet, Michael, a publisher, and Christine, a poet.
Joaquin Miller papers, 1868-1960 PDF
- Miller, Joaquin, 1837-1913Miller, Pherne
- Joaquin Miller papers
- 1868-1960 (inclusive)
- 5.0 linear feet, (5 containers)
- Collection Number
- Ax 864
- Joaquin Miller (1837-1913) was the pen name of Cincinnatus Hiner Miller, a Northwest writer, newspaper publisher, and poet. The collection (1868-1960) contains correspondence and published works by Miller, and also material collected by Pherne Miller regarding her Uncle Joaquin, including photographs, as well as her personal papers.
- University of Oregon Libraries, Special Collections and University Archives.
UO Libraries–SPC, 1299
University of Oregon
- Access Restrictions
- Collection is open to the public.
Collection must be used in Special Collections & University Archives Reading Room.
- Additional Reference Guides
- Paper finding aid with additional information is available in Special Collections & University Archives.
- Funding for production of this finding aid was provided through a grant awarded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC).
Historical NoteReturn to Top
Joaquin Miller (1837-1913) was the pen name of writer Cincinnatus Hiner Miller, born on September 8, 1837, to Quaker parents. In 1852, the family moved to Oregon, traveling overland on a three thousand mile trip that took over seven months. They settled near Eugene, Oregon where they established a home and farm. Miller later married the Oregon poet Therese Dyer.
“Miller attended Columbia College in (what was then) Eugene City from 1857 to 1858. He taught school, studied law, and was admitted to the bar in 1861. From 1861 to 1862 Miller rode pony express from Walla Walla to Idaho mines but he soon returned to Eugene City to become a newspaper editor. In his newspaper, The Eugene City Democratic Register, he pleaded for an end to the Civil War. The editorials were suppressed as pro-Southern in sympathy and Miller sold out, moving briefly to Port Orford on Oregon’s southern coast.”
“In 1864 he drove a herd of cattle across the Cascade Mountains to Canyon City where he planted the region’s first orchard and served as Grant County Judge until 1870.”
“Miller’s work Songs of the Sierras was published in Great Britain during a visit in 1870-1871. Among his other works of poetry and prose were My Life Among the Modocs, Unwritten History, In Classic Shades, and A Royal Highway of the World.”
[Source: Oregon Blue Book online]
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The collection contains material collected by Pherne Miller on her uncle, Joaquin Miller, including clippings and tear sheets, scrapbooks, photographs, and other memorabilia. The collection also includes outgoing correspondence by Joaquin Miller, and published works by him. Also available are the Pherne Miller personal papers that include correspondence, notebooks, and clippings of lectures.
Material by Joaquin Miller:
Outgoing correspondence written by Joaquin Miller (1868-1909) consists of letters to family and friends, including his sister Ella Luckey, brothers James H. Miller and George Miller, and Pherne Miller, his niece.
There are also copies of Joaquin Miller’s published works, and some titles include multiple copies with different bindings. Works include Speciments; Pacific Poems; Songs of the Sierras; Songs of the Sun-Lands; Life amongst the Modocs: Unwritten History, among many others
Pherne Miller Material:
Pherne Miller correspondence is separated into outgoing (1935; 1960) and incoming letters, which are arranged alphabetically.
Other Pherne Miller material includes newsclippings, mementos, notebooks, broadside, and clippings regarding lectures by Pherne Miller on Joaquin Miller.
Material about Joaquin Miller and the Miller Family:
Material concerning Joaquin Miller that was collected by Pherne Miller includes newsclippings about his life and family, obituaries, tearsheets and clippings of articles by and about Joaquin Miller, a card index bibliography to works by and about Miller, and also a scrapbook containing sheet music and newsclippings about Miller and his daughter Juanita.
There are also published works about Joaquin Miller by athors Merritt Parmelle Allen; O. W. Forst; Hamlin Garland; Elbert Hubbard; Frank Klinge; Alfred Kreymborg; M.M. Marberry; Martin Severin Peterson; and Harr Wagner.
The collection also contains photographs of Pherne Miller, Joaquin Miller, and his parents and brothers including framed portraits, an ambrotype photograph in a gutta-perche case, tintype in velvet and leather case, and loose photographs. Photographs have been separated from the rest of the collection for preservation reasons and are stored under the call number PH030.
The winter of 1851 will long be remembered in the foothills. The snow lay deep on the Sierras, and every mountain creek became a river, and every river a lake. Each gorge and gulch was transformed into a tumultuous watercourse that descended the hillsides, tearing down giant trees and scattering its drift and debris along the plain. Red Dog had been twice under water, and Roaring Camp had been forewarned. “Water put the gold into them gulches,” said Stumpy. “It’s been here once and will be here again!” And that night the North Fork suddenly leaped over its banks and swept up the triangular valley of Roaring Camp.
In the confusion of rushing water, crashing trees, and crackling timber, and the darkness which seemed to flow with the water and blot out the fair valley, but little could be done to collect the scattered camp. When the morning broke, the cabin of Stumpy, nearest the river-bank, was gone. Higher up the gulch they found the body of its unlucky owner; but the pride, the hope, the joy, The Luck, of Roaring Camp had disappeared. They were returning with sad hearts when a shout from the bank recalled them.
It was a relief-boat from down the river. They had picked up, they said, a man and an infant, nearly exhausted, about two miles below. Did anybody know them, and did they belong here?
It needed but a glance to show them Kentuck lying there, cruelly crushed and bruised, but still holding The Luck of Roaring Camp in his arms. As they bent over the strangely assorted pair, they saw that the child was cold and pulseless. “He is dead,” said one. Kentuck opened his eyes. “Dead?” he repeated feebly. “Yes, my man, and you are dying too.” A smile lit the eyes of the expiring Kentuck. “Dying!” he repeated; “he’s a-taking me with him. Tell the boys I’ve got The Luck with me now;” and the strong man, clinging to the frail babe as a drowning man is said to cling to a straw, drifted away into the shadowy river that flows forever to the unknown sea.
THE OUTCASTS OF POKER FLAT
As Mr. John Oakhurst, gambler, stepped into the main street of Poker Flat on the morning of the 23d of November, 1850, he was conscious of a change in its moral atmosphere since the preceding night. Two or three men, conversing earnestly together, ceased as he approached, and exchanged significant glances. There was a Sabbath lull in the air, which, in a settlement unused to Sabbath influences, looked ominous.
Mr. Oakhurst’s calm, handsome face betrayed small concern in these indications. Whether he was conscious of any predisposing cause was another question. “I reckon they’re after somebody,” he reflected; “likely it’s me.” He returned to his pocket the handkerchief with which he had been whipping away the red dust of Poker Flat from his neat boots, and quietly discharged his mind of any further conjecture.
In point of fact, Poker Flat was “after somebody.” It had lately suffered the loss of several thousand dollars, two valuable horses, and a prominent citizen. It was experiencing a spasm of virtuous reaction, quite as lawless and ungovernable as any of the acts that had provoked it. A secret committee had determined to rid the town of all improper persons. This was done permanently in regard of two men who were then hanging from the boughs of a sycamore in the gulch, and temporarily in the banishment of certain other objectionable characters. I regret to say that some of these were ladies. It is but due to the sex, however, to state that their impropriety was professional, and it was only in such easily established standards of evil that Poker Flat ventured to sit in judgment.
Mr. Oakhurst was right in supposing that he was included in this category. A few of the committee had urged hanging him as a possible example and a sure method of reimbursing themselves from his pockets of the sums he had won from them. “It’s agin justice,” said Jim Wheeler, “to let this yer young man from Roaring Camp—an entire stranger—carry away our money.” But a crude sentiment of equity residing in the breasts of those who had been fortunate enough to win from Mr. Oakhurst overruled this narrower local prejudice.
Mr. Oakhurst received his sentence with philosophic calmness, none the less coolly that he was aware of the hesitation of his judges. He was too much of a gambler not to accept fate. With him life was at best an uncertain game, and he recognized the usual percentage in favor of the dealer.
A body of armed men accompanied the deported wickedness of Poker Flat to the outskirts of the settlement. Besides Mr. Oakhurst, who was known to be a coolly desperate man, and for whose intimidation the armed escort was intended, the expatriated party consisted of a young woman familiarly known as “The Duchess;” another who had won the title of “Mother Shipton;” and “Uncle Billy,” a suspected, sluice-robber and confirmed drunkard. The cavalcade provoked no comments from the spectators, nor was any word uttered by the escort. Only when the gulch which marked the uttermost limit of Poker Flat was reached, the leader spoke briefly and to the point. The exiles were forbidden to return at the peril of their lives.
As the escort disappeared, their pent-up feelings found vent in a few hysterical tears from the Duchess, some bad language from Mother Shipton, and a Parthian volley of expletives from Uncle Billy. The philosophic Oakhurst alone remained silent. He listened calmly to Mother Shipton’s desire to cut somebody’s heart out, to the repeated statements of the Duchess that she would die in the road, and to the alarming oaths that seemed to be bumped out of Uncle Billy as he rode forward. With the easy good humor characteristic of his class, he insisted upon exchanging his own riding-horse, “Five-Spot,” for the sorry mule which the Duchess rode. But even this act did not draw the party into any closer sympathy. The young woman readjusted her somewhat draggled plumes with a feeble, faded coquetry; Mother Shipton eyed the possessor of “Five-Spot” with malevolence, and Uncle Billy included the whole party in one sweeping anathema.
The road to Sandy Bar—a camp that, not having as yet experienced the regenerating influences of Poker Flat, consequently seemed to offer some invitation to the emigrants—lay over a steep mountain range. It was distant a day’s severe travel. In that advanced season the party soon passed out of the moist, temperate regions of the foothills into the dry, cold, bracing air of the Sierras. The trail was narrow and difficult. At noon the Duchess, rolling out of her saddle upon the ground, declared her intention of going no farther, and the party halted.
The spot was singularly wild and impressive. A wooded amphitheatre, surrounded on three sides by precipitous cliffs of naked granite, sloped gently toward the crest of another precipice that overlooked the valley. It was, undoubtedly, the most suitable spot for a camp, had camping been advisable. But Mr. Oakhurst knew that scarcely half the journey to Sandy Bar was accomplished, and the party were not equipped or provisioned for delay. This fact he pointed out to his companions curtly, with a philosophic commentary on the folly of “throwing up their hand before the game was played out.” But they were furnished with liquor, which in this emergency stood them in place of food, fuel, rest, and prescience. In spite of his remonstrances, it was not long before they were more or less under its influence. Uncle Billy passed rapidly from a bellicose state into one of stupor, the Duchess became maudlin, and Mother Shipton snored. Mr. Oakhurst alone remained erect, leaning against a rock, calmly surveying them.
Mr. Oakhurst did not drink. It interfered with a profession which required coolness, impassiveness, and presence of mind, and, in his own language, he “couldn’t afford it.” As he gazed at his recumbent fellow exiles, the loneliness begotten of his pariah trade, his habits of life, his very vices, for the first time seriously oppressed him. He bestirred himself in dusting his black clothes, washing his hands and face, and other acts characteristic of his studiously neat habits, and for a moment forgot his annoyance. The thought of deserting his weaker and more pitiable companions never perhaps occurred to him. Yet he could not help feeling the want of that excitement which, singularly enough, was most conducive to that calm equanimity for which he was notorious. He looked at the gloomy walls that rose a thousand feet sheer above the circling pines around him, at the sky ominously clouded, at the valley below, already deepening into shadow; and, doing so, suddenly he heard his own name called.
A horseman slowly ascended the trail. In the fresh, open face of the newcomer Mr. Oakhurst recognized Tom Simson, otherwise known as “The Innocent,” of Sandy Bar. He had met him some months before over a “little game,” and had, with perfect equanimity, won the entire fortune—amounting to some forty dollars—of that guileless youth. After the game was finished, Mr. Oakhurst drew the youthful speculator behind the door and thus addressed him: “Tommy, you’re a good little man, but you can’t gamble worth a cent. Don’t try it over again.” He then handed him his money hack, pushed him gently from the room, and so made a devoted slave of Tom Simson.
There was a remembrance of this in his boyish and enthusiastic greeting of Mr. Oakhurst. He had started, he said, to go to Poker Flat to seek his fortune. “Alone?” No, not exactly alone; in fact (a giggle), he had run away with Piney Woods. Didn’t Mr. Oakhurst remember Piney? She that used to wait on the table at the Temperance House? They had been engaged a long time, but old Jake Woods had objected, and so they had run away, and were going to Poker Flat to be married, and here they were. And they were tired out, and how lucky it was they had found a place to camp, and company. All this the Innocent delivered rapidly, while Piney, a stout, comely damsel of fifteen, emerged from behind the pine-tree, where she had been blushing unseen, and rode to the side of her lover.
Mr. Oakhurst seldom troubled himself with sentiment, still less with propriety; but he had a vague idea that the situation was not fortunate. He retained, however, his presence of mind sufficiently to kick Uncle Billy, who was about to say something, and Uncle Billy was sober enough to recognize in Mr. Oakhurst’s kick a superior power that would not bear trifling. He then endeavored to dissuade Tom Simson from delaying further, but in vain. He even pointed out the fact that there was no provision, nor means of making a camp. But, unluckily, the Innocent met this objection by assuring the party that he was provided with an extra mule loaded with provisions, and by the discovery of a rude attempt at a log house near the trail. “Piney can stay with Mrs. Oakhurst,” said the Innocent, pointing to the Duchess, “and I can shift for myself.”
Nothing but Mr. Oakhurst’s admonishing foot saved Uncle Billy from bursting into a roar of laughter. As it was, he felt compelled to retire up the canon until he could recover his gravity. There he confided the joke to the tall pine-trees, with many slaps of his leg, contortions of his face, and the usual profanity. But when he returned to the party, he found them seated by a fire—for the air had grown strangely chill and the sky overcast—in apparently amicable conversation. Piney was actually talking in an impulsive girlish fashion to the Duchess, who was listening with an interest and animation she had not shown for many days. The Innocent was holding forth, apparently with equal effect, to Mr. Oakhurst and Mother Shipton, who was actually relaxing into amiability. “Is this yer a d—d picnic?” said Uncle Billy, with inward scorn, as he surveyed the sylvan group, the glancing firelight, and the tethered animals in the foreground. Suddenly an idea mingled with the alcoholic fumes that disturbed his brain. It was apparently of a jocular nature, for he felt impelled to slap his leg again and cram his fist into his mouth.