Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Whiskey-soaked policemen go on drunken rampage

During Prohibition, lawmen across the country were tasked with tracking down and confiscating alcohol, but the illegal booze wasn’t always destroyed after it was seized. In July of 1926, in the midst of Prohibition, two Oklahoma officers went on a drunken rampage after partaking of whiskey taken in a raid and busted up three rooming houses before being brought down by fellow officers.

The trouble started in the early morning hours of July 20 in Muskogee, Oklahoma, when deputy sheriff Paul Davis and city detective Ves Cormack broke into the Maple Leaf rooming house at 1 a.m., brandishing revolvers and threatening the guests. Sleeping men were shot and clubbed and the fixtures of the house were wrecked before the drunken officers moved next door to the Antlers hotel, where the guests were brutalized in a similar manner.

A “riot call” went out and a squad of detectives caught up with their drunken brethren in the Tulsa hotel. Davis and Cormack had by this time run out of ammunition and were wielding clubs against anyone they encountered. The squad found Davis holding a dozen officers at bay in one end of the hall while Cormack was cornered in another section of the hotel. Cormack was taken into custody without incident, but as the officers were leading Davis away he grasped a club from Officer Conway, a merchant policeman, and beat him over the head with it while at the same time pinning another officer’s gun hand. Conway was able to get free and shot Davis, mortally wounding him.

In all, thirteen men were shot or clubbed during the reign of terror, and five were taken to the hospital, including Davis.

When officers searched the auto used by the rampaging duo, they found a quart bottle full of whiskey and a half dozen empties.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Pendleton drone industry began with local hobbyist

Pendleton is home to one of Oregon state’s new UAV test sites, and the drone industry here is gearing up in a big way. But Pendleton’s involvement in military drone technology started 13 years ago, thanks to a local resident. A Pendleton hobbyist who started building remote-controlled planes in 1992 was recruited by the U.S. Navy following the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks to research and develop UAVs — unmanned aerial vehicles — to attack and spy on enemies of the U.S.

Jim Conachen was building remote-controlled planes for a living out of his garage when the September 11 attacks nudged him to approach the armed forces with an offer to build a remote-controlled attack plane. He was contracted to develop three UAVs: a target plane, a surveillance unit and a strike unit. The military in 2002 didn’t have experience with robotic or remote-controlled vehicles, and turned to hobbyists like Conachen for help. Conachen joked that the military didn’t even know there were jet-powered remote-control planes that could travel as fast as 300 miles per hour. “They were playing catch up ... they were so far behind us it wasn’t funny,” Conachen added.

The target plane, made of fiberglass, was designed to travel 150 miles per hour — at least, until shot down by Navy stinger missiles. He was reluctant to discuss the other two planes he was developing for fear a competitor would steal his ideas, but he said both would have stealth capabilities. He added that his surveillance planes would be used for border control. His contract with the Navy was about 300 drones per year, but there was a chance he would be making up to 1,000 strike planes annually. He was planning a move from his garage to a larger space, and hiring more help.

Conachen, a veteran who served in the Army with anti-terror units in the Middle East from 1978 to 1984, also was a licensed pilot and would fly “anything.”

Conachen Aviation is still in business, building custom UAVs for private and corporate customers. The main office is located in Spokane, Wash., with a hangar is located outside Sandpoint, Idaho.

Escaped monkeys foiled by banana bait

Three escaped Rhesus monkeys who wreaked havoc in Pendleton in June 1951 were finally captured by a crafty housewife and a handful of bananas. The monkeys were part of a carload of animals from a disbanded circus in the Midwest that were en route to a zoo in Everett, Wash., and were involved in an accident on Emigrant Hill that also briefly set an elephant loose on Umatilla Indian Reservation land.

The monkeys escaped from a cage at the Round-Up caretaker’s house June 10, 1951, when he opened the cage to feed them. Two of the monkeys took up residence in the trees near the E.O. Stratton and Forrest Zirkle homes on Northwest Eighth Street. A third monkey was discovered at the Dean Oliver home on Southwest 18th Street on June 13.

Mrs. Oliver saw the monkey in her yard and, after a little thought, lured the monkey into the garage with a trail of breakfast cereal. Police caged the relatively tame animal and took the “two-apartment” cage to Northwest Eighth in an attempt to round up the other two, who were eventually lured into the cage with bits of broken banana. All three monkeys were put on display in their cage on the lawn of the police station.

One of the monkeys, which had been given to the police by the driver of the truck as repayment for taking care of the animals after the crash, escaped again June 26 after a grass fire near the Vern Hollinsworth home on Southwest Seventh Street endangered him. Mrs. Hollinsworth opened the cage door and he followed her to the porch, where she chained him.

The monkey broke loose from the chain on the arrival of Officer Clifford Murray and escaped into the trees, and for several hours policemen tried everything they could think of to lure him back to the cage. Tear gas backfired, as the monkey avoided it and it blew back onto the officers, driving them away. Oranges doped with knockout drops only gave the monkey “a cheap drunk.” Finally, officers Bryan Branstetter and Orville Simmons gave up when their shift ended at 8 a.m., leaving youngsters Jerry Lane and Diana Johnson to man the trap.

Jerry attached a cord to the door of a cage baited with cookies. The monkey entered once and, when the door stayed open, returned again for more food. Jerry slammed the door shut on the second foray and the monkey was back in custody. The monkey was moved to a bigger, permanent cage and Jerry and Diane each earned a dollar for their help.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Pendleton lawmen capture Los Angeles killer near Echo

A nationwide manhunt was brought to a close near Echo in December 1927 when two Pendleton lawmen captured William Edward “The Fox” Hickman. Hickman was wanted for the kidnapping and murder of 12-year-old Marian Parker of Los Angeles, and was on the run when state police officer C.L. “Buck” Lieuallen and Pendleton police chief Tom Gurdane stopped his stolen car just outside of Echo on December 22.

Marian Parker disappeared from her school in Los Angeles December 15, 1927, after she was released with a note saying she was needed at home. Hickman allegedly picked her up outside the school and then delivered a ransom note to the girl’s father, signed “The Fox.” The father agreed to the ransom and paid it, and the kidnapper said he would drive down the street and let Marian out of the car. Marian’s father was following the kidnapper’s vehicle and saw a bundle tossed out of the car. He found his daughter’s dismembered body inside the bundle. The kidnapper was quickly identified as William Hickman, a Los Angeles resident originally from Kansas City.

Early investigation of the kidnapping and murder was slow until a $20 bill known to be part of the ransom turned up in Seattle. A green Hudson sedan also was stolen in the area at about the same time. A service station attendant in Portland identified Hickman as someone who had bought gas there on December 22, and he told police the car was headed east. A short time later the East Oregonian received a report from the Associated Press about the sighting of Hickman, and editor E.B. Aldrich phoned local and county police with the news.

Sheriff R.T. Cookingham set up in Umatilla in case Hickman decided to head north. Chief Gurdane and Officer Lieuallen pulled up near Echo and were just lighting their pipes when the green Hudson drove by, heading east. Lieuallen took up the chase and soon pulled up next to Hickman at 40 mph with Gurdane on the running board, pointing a pistol at the other driver. Hickman pulled over and when Gurdane pulled open the Hudson’s door a pistol dropped to the floorboard from where Hickman was holding it between his knees. He surrendered without a struggle and was taken to Pendleton, where he was lodged in the jail.

Newspaper reporters from around the country descended on Pendleton for the story, and hundreds of people crowded into the jail to get a look at the prisoner. Hickman was taken back to Los Angeles where he was tried, convicted and hanged.

Gurdane and Lieuallen also traveled to Los Angeles, where they were feted by officials, motion picture celebrities and others. They took the stage at the Pantages theater in LA and later San Francisco, where they described the arrest and lectured on law enforcement in front of hundreds of people. They also split a $5,000 reward for Hickman’s capture.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Famous Cayuse twins overcome ‘bad medicine’ superstition

Some of the most well-known photographs taken by Major Lee Moorhouse were those of the famous Cayuse Twins, Tox-e-lox and A-lom-pum, daughters of Cayuse chief Ha-hots-mox-mox (Yellow Grizzly Bear). The photos, presented as a set, show the girls as infants in cradleboards: somberly studying the photographer in the first, and crying in the second. The photos became a financial windfall for Moorehouse in the early 1900s and brought worldwide attention to the Cayuse people. But the chief had to do some fast talking when they were born because of a superstition brought about by another set of twins that almost caused the decimation of the tribe before the arrival of white men to their land.

More than a century before the birth of Tox-e-lox and A-lom-pum, another set of twin girls was born to the Cayuse chief Qui-a-min-som-keen and his wife. As they grew up they became the loveliest maidens in the country, and not only the men of the Cayuse tribe but Walla Walla, Yakama and Nez Perce warriors sought to win the girls as brides. Their fame spread across the Blue Mountains to the Bannock tribe of the Grande Ronde Valley, the hereditary enemies of the Cayuse, and two Bannock chieftains crossed the mountains to assess these beauties for themselves. Seeing the rumors of the girls’ beauty were true, the chieftains managed to kidnap the twins, carry them back to their home country and marry them.

The Cayuse declared war on the Bannocks, and attempted to enlist the Umatilla and Walla Walla tribes to their cause. But the Bannocks heard of the declaration and moved swiftly, meeting 700 Cayuse warriors with 1,000 of their own at the site of present-day Umatilla. A desperate fight followed and many were killed on both sides, but the Bannocks had superior numbers and only a fierce wind storm brought the battle to a halt. After the wind abated and the air cleared of dust and sand, both sides attempted to return to the battle but were again stopped by a heavy rain and hail storm.

The superstitious tribes retreated and consulted their medicine men. A Bannock approached the Cayuse camp and said the Great Spirit had advised his tribe to compensate the Cayuse for the twins with a large gift of ponies. The peace offering was accepted, more for fear of the wrath of the Great Spirit than a desire for material gain. The opposing sides buried their dead in a common grave and departed for their homes.

But the trials of the Cayuse were not over. Their journey home was overshadowed by an intense thunder and lightning storm, and on returning to their encampment the medicine men were told to learn the cause of the Great Spirit’s wrath. After a time they reported the Great Spirit was displeased because the Cayuse had permitted the twins to live, and ordered all future twin girls must be killed at birth, or misfortune would overtake the tribe again.

Ha-hots-mox-mox was an enlightened man, and desperate to save his daughters. He told the tribe that he had been shown a vision while on a hunt on the Little Minam. He said the Great Spirit had promised him twins that would bring good fortune to the whole tribe. Visions being important to the Indian people, the girls were allowed to live.

The girls were joined by twin brothers when they were 15 years old. Major Moorhouse lost no time in adding a photo of the new twins to his collection, but he was unable to make them cry; the mother was present and it is said Moorhouse feared to resort to poking them with a stick, as he was rumored to have done with the girls (but vehemently denied).