History So Interesting
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The McGlincy Killings in Campbell, California: An Interview with Author Tobin Gilman
On the morning of May 27, 1896, the peaceful township of Campbell awoke to shocking news. Six people were brutally murdered at the home of Colonel Richard P. McGlincy, one of the town's most respected citizens. The suspect, James Dunham—the colonel's son-in-law—fled the scene and disappeared into the hills of Mount Hamilton overlooking Santa Clara County. This heinous crime triggered a massive, nationwide manhunt while investigators pieced together the details. Author Tobin Gilman examines the mind and motives of the killer, the sensational media coverage and the colorful personalities associated with the protracted and unresolved pursuit of justice.
As a teenager, Tobin Gilman spent weekends working at a building located at the corner of McGlincy Avenue and Union in Campbell, California. At the time, he was unaware of the grisly crime that occurred in the vicinity more than a century earlier. Tobin has spent over thirty years as a marketing professional in the information technology industry, and his hobbies include antique bottle collecting, motorcycling and shooting sporting clays. He is the author of 19th Century San Jose in a Bottle.
Purchase the book HERE.
[00:00:01.930] - Benjamin
Tobin, thank you so much for joining us on Crime Capsule. It is such a pleasure to have you.
[00:00:07.310] - Tobin
Thank you, Ben. I appreciate you inviting me to participate. Today.
[00:00:12.530] - Benjamin
You are taking us to from Campbell, California, which is very close to the Bay Area to San Jose. You are actually from this area, born and raised. But something interesting about this book is that you had never heard of the murder that you were writing about until you were actually an adult. How did you come to this story?
[00:00:39.650] - Tobin
Yeah, it's kind of interesting, Ben. As you mentioned, I grew up mostly in San Jose. And when I was a teenager in the my dad owned an industrial building in Campbell, California. And from time to time I would go down there to do some maintenance on the building or landscape work and what have you. And the building was located on a street called Laglinsee Avenue in Campbell. That was just another street name to me. It meant absolutely nothing. Fast forward many years later. It was probably around 2015, I guess. I attended a lecture that was hosted by an organization called the Pioneers of Santa Clara County. And the guest speaker that day was San Jose's official historian and also a Superior Court judge, gentleman by the name of Judge Bernell. And he told a story of what he referred to as the McGlincy Massacre. And I was absolutely fascinated by that story. And that was what inspired me to do more digging on my own and ultimately write this book.
[00:01:53.810] - Benjamin
How did the research first get started? Where did you start digging into archives and sources and newspapers and so forth?
[00:02:03.290] - Tobin
Well, I began the research just starting the way most people do. I started Googling. And when I realized that there really wasn't a lot out there, there were some fairly recent newspaper articles that sort of recapped the story. But I knew I would have to dig deeper. And I've had experience in doing historical research. I'm an antique bottle collector, meaning I collect bottles from the I've gotten quite adept at researching the history of these various proprietors of medicines and beers and sodas and whiskies and what have you. And there's so much information now on the Internet that you can get to through University archives, newspaper archives and the like. And that's kind of how I began the search. And most of the information that I needed was in these old newspaper articles from the 1800 and beyond.
[00:03:03.050] - Benjamin
So how long did it take? You say from the moment that you really got neck deep in the work, you really started making progress on how long soup to nuts was the research and writing process?
[00:03:16.790] - Tobin
Yes, I think I started writing the book around 2016, and it was published, I believe, in January of 2018. So about a year and a half to two years start to finish. Obviously, I didn't get up every morning and work eight or 9 hours on the book, but most of the work was on the research end. And the process of actually searching for newspaper articles can be really tedious and time consuming. Names are spelled differently in different newspapers. There are different sources of newspaper articles from different papers, from different parts of the country. And I eventually probably downloaded somewhere between 305 hundred news articles. And then I realized I needed a way of sorting and organizing these things so that I could begin to construct a narrative and an overarching story. That's what took most of the work. And when I finally got to putting pen to paper, there were a couple of false starts where I would get started and realize I was heading in a not so interesting direction. But ultimately, once I got on the path, the writing went pretty smoothly and pretty quickly.
[00:04:34.840] - Benjamin
Yeah, it's funny research is like that, isn't it? I mean, you have the kind of the daily grind, the showing up for work, the butt in the chair style of kind of, okay, I'm going to look at this. I'm going to get through these 50 or 100 articles today and make sense out of them. And then every now and then you get that lightning strike, don't you? You find the thing, the one clue or the name of the point of connection that just propels the story forward. And suddenly it's like you've been running a marathon and somebody gives you just a gallon of pickle juice and you've got two or three more miles in you right then and there. You got gas in the tank, you can go, yeah, that's so totally true.
[00:05:14.010] - Tobin
And I'll give you an example of that. The first draft I did of the book, I think I felt compelled to encompass everything I was able to find. And so that first draft was probably 250 to 300 pages long. And I did not feel really good about it. And I actually hired a professional editor to critique it. And without going into the full story, she basically just came back and said, Boy, it's really boring. You put me to sleep.
[00:05:48.670] - Benjamin
Oh, no, that's terrible.
[00:05:51.830] - Tobin
I paid her $500 to tell me that, but it was actually $500 well spent. And by the way, what I was trying to do originally was model the style after drawing a blank. Now the author of Devil in the White City.
[00:06:09.420] - Benjamin
Oh, yeah. Eric Larson.
[00:06:10.800] - Tobin
Eric Larson, thank you. I love his writing style. Devil in the White City, the book about the Lusitania, the gardener beasts, about post, about early Germany during the rise of Hitler. He uses a very nice style where he tells a true story, but it reads like a novel. One of the things I really struggled with was telling the story about the murder itself. And I must have written that section ten times before it finally hit me that I was trying to reinvent the wheel. The story had been told so well by the reporter that wrote the San Francisco Call article that I ultimately just reprinted in the book. I said, why try to build upon perfection? And so ultimately I decided that I was just going to use his rendition of that story, and I think it works really well.
[00:07:09.950] - Benjamin
It's a very harrowing account, and we will come to it shortly. Readers who may not know your book, they will have something to look forward to. It's an account which sort of mixes purple prose with a pretty good account of what actually transpired on the night. And it's difficult to read, but it is worth the journey. Tobin set the stage for us, though. Take us back to Campbell. In the late 1800, Campbell is what you call an Orchard town. And for folks who don't know Central California very well, they may not realize that much of the produce that they buy in the supermarket comes from communities and settlements just like Campbell. They are major production centers for the nation's fruit and vegetables and other exported goods. So what was it like at the turn of the century back then?
[00:08:04.940] - Tobin
Sure. And I will just clarify for listeners, Campbell is actually not in the Central Valley. The Central Valley is sort of the breadbasket of the west in terms of agriculture. But we're in the Santa Clara Valley, which is part of the San Francisco Bay Area. And at that time, the Santa Clara Valley, including San Jose, the city of Santa Clara and the Township of Campbell, were very agricultural by the turn of the century. The Santa Clara Valley as a whole became known as the Valley of Harts Delight because of its rich soil and beautiful climate that's just ideal for growing fruit, vegetables and other types of produce. That moniker Valley of Hearts Delight. It stuck right up until text took over, and it's now known as Silicon Valley.
[00:09:06.110] - Benjamin
It's a really lovely term. I wish that we could continue to call it that. That's so nice.
[00:09:11.340] - Tobin
Yeah, it is. And I will say that this entire area that was once orchards with prunes and cherries and apricots and other trees, figs, it's now houses, suburbs, office buildings, et cetera. But I will tell you, the soil and the weather is still here. And so our backyards are just bustling with citrus trees and fruit trees that put out amazing fruit. But back then, that was back in the 18 hundreds and early part of the 20th century, this was farm town. It was a farm community.
[00:09:52.850] - Benjamin
And you didn't have big AG the way that you have now. What you had were small holdings, right? You had family farms, family ranches, like the McGlincy Ranch.
[00:10:03.910] - Tobin
That is correct.
[00:10:05.990] - Benjamin
So this crime takes place in May of 1896, and the case and your book both open in this incredibly dramatic fashion. The Sheriff of Santa Clara County, James Linden, receives word of the discovery of six bodies on a Ranch not far from Campbell. Before we get into the events in particular of that night, will you just introduce us to the main characters here?
[00:10:45.290] - Tobin
Sure. I guess I'll start with the main character, which was James Dunham. He was the killer, and James Dunham was kind of a drifter, strange guy, and we'll get more into that later. But he was in his early thirty s and he was married to a girl named Hattie Wells. And Hattie was the stepdaughter of Colonel Mclinsey, who owned the Ranch. Colonel Mclinsey was a Civil War veteran. He actually fought for the Confederacy under Stonewall Jackson. Colonel McGlincy had moved to California from the east and married a woman named Ada Wells, who became Ada Wells mclinthe and the couple lived on the Colonel's estate on the Ranch with Ada Wells son from her previous marriage, Jimmy Wells, and her daughter Hattie, who married James. And James had moved into the house when he married hadty. So that was the family. And then there were Ranch hands that also lived on the property as well. Two who were featured in the book were Robert Brisco, one of the victims, and a gentleman by the name of George Shavel, who actually escaped death that night but was on the scene when it happened. I forgot mini scheduler.
Minnie was kind of a nanny to the young baby that hadty and James had so I had forgotten to mention initially the baby, who was less than a year old, and the baby's nanny, who was also on the scene.
[00:12:45.850] - Benjamin
And as I understand it, Colonel Mclinnsy, he threw many decades of experience working in farming both back east and then in the Midwest and then now in California. I mean, he had done fairly well for himself, hadn't he was a prosperous rancher farmer by that point in his life?
[00:13:08.590] - Tobin
Yeah, that is true. He had been successful. He originated in Illinois. He had been a farmer, also worked a little bit in journalism. And when he came out west, like so many people did in the latter part of the 1800s, became quite prosperous with his property in Campbell. And at the time this crime occurred in 1896, he was a very respected individual, not just in the Township of Campbell, but the entire county of Santa Clara County. He was well known and widely respected.
[00:13:45.670] - Benjamin
It's one thing that comes up over and over again in your book as you get into the aftermath of the crime and the search for the killer is that these are such known individuals in this community that there's a sort of sense of how could happen to them. But also people are identifying the killer's trail by virtue of which horse they've seen, because everybody knows who's riding which horse.
[00:14:10.070] - Tobin
[00:14:10.310] - Benjamin
I mean, it's really kind of interesting granularity to I'm going to mix my metaphors, but granularity to the fabric of the community here, isn't there?
[00:14:20.190] - Tobin
Absolutely. And just to put it in context, San Jose, which was and still is the center of Santa Clara Valley. Campbell was just a tiny little Township, but at the time of this crime, the population of San Jose was about 20,000 people. Campbell itself probably had maybe 1000 or 2000 people at most. Today, just by way of comparison, the population of San Jose is a million. So we don't know each other quite as intimately today.
[00:14:56.990] - Benjamin
You might know what car your neighbor drives, but you probably don't know past a few houses down or whose horse that is running down the street at this point.
[00:15:06.870] - Tobin
[00:15:08.010] - Benjamin
So the night of the murder, what did Sheriff Linden find when he arrived on the property of the Mclinsey Ranch?
[00:15:20.510] - Tobin
Bodies, blood and mayhem. What he discovered on the scene was a body in front of the residents, bodies in the house, and blood literally dripping from the second floor through the ceiling down to the first floor. He saw furniture that was smashed. He saw a guitar that was smashed from an altercation that took place during the crime itself. And it had to have just been revolting to him, certainly shocking to him.
[00:16:06.010] - Benjamin
Well, let me ask you a different question. How did he receive word to begin with? This is, of course, in the age in which the fastest communication that we have is Telegram. But then, of course, you need Telegram, offices and runners. So who first alerted his attention to the scene of his crime?
[00:16:27.490] - Tobin
Yeah, they might have had telephones. I'm trying to remember if a call had come into the Sheriff's office or if it had been a Telegram or a Telegraph, but it went into the County Sheriff's office and someone went to Linden's house and gave him the news.
[00:16:49.090] - Benjamin
And he did discover it fairly quickly after the events of the night. Forgive me for saying this, but the bodies were still mostly warm. Right. Which meant that they were able to organize an investigation into the sequencing of the murders fairly swiftly after they had taken place.
[00:17:10.030] - Tobin
Yeah, that's true. The murders themselves, I believe, took place around midnight, a little bit before midnight. The geographic proximity of where Linden lived, where the Sheriff's office was, where the murder scene was, it's within a ten mile radius. So to get news of the crime, to get over to the scene of the crime probably took all of maybe 30 minutes. And the murders itself had probably taken place within the hour.
[00:17:45.650] - Benjamin
The choreography of this particular crime is actually very important. It's because there are so many bodies. There was a specific order in which Dunham had planned to kill everybody, and some things kind of went according to his machinations, shall we say, and then other things did not. So we're going to treat this kind of like an episode of Columbo. And for our younger listeners out there who may not know the Great 70s Detective Show, you always start by learning who done it. Right, and then the Detective has to figure out how they done it right over the course of the episode. Well worth your time if you've never seen an episode. But anyway, let's treat this like Colombo and help us to see the order in which these things took place and where things went wrong for Dunham.
[00:18:41.930] - Tobin
Had been living at the Ranch with the McGlincy family and his wife and their infant son, and things were not going well. He was not getting along with the rest of the family or his wife. The night of the crime. He was not home initially. Sometime in the early part of the evening, Colonel Mclinsey and Mclinsey's son, the killer's step brother, Jimmy Wells, and the Ranch hand, George Shabble, had left the house to go to a meeting in town and leaving at home wife Ada Wells, Mclincy Hattie, Dunham mini, Schestler, the nanny and Ranch hands that were on the property. Sometime around, I think about 10:00 or so, Dunham returned to the Ranch. He went up to his wife's room on the second story of the house, calmly walked in there and snapped her neck with his bare hands. The baby, by the way, was in that room, laying there while all this happened. The house, the nanny mini.
Shessler was in the next room. She heard the commotion and came to see what was going on, and he bludgeoned her with an axe. Then he went downstairs and essentially did the same thing to Mrs. Mclinsey. He bludgeoned her with an axe and killed her. And then he waited in the house for his brother in law and his father in law to get home. So later that evening, Mclincy, Jimmy Wells, and George Shabel, the Ranch hand, all returned to the Ranch. The Colonel had asked Shabelle to put the horses in the barn, and McGlincy and Jimmy Wells proceeded to walk into the house. When McGlincy stepped in the house, waiting in the shadows, waiting in the darkness for him, was Dunham, and Dunham bludgeoned him over the head with the blunt end of an axe and knocked him down. And then Jimmy Wells broke into the room and a big fight started. Now Dunham had a gun in his hand, and eventually, after a very violent fight that took place in several rooms, there was furniture broken and a guitar broken. Dunham was finally able to shoot Jimmy Wells and kill him in the house.
In the meantime, McGlincy recovered from the blow to the head and was able to slip out of the back window of the house. And he made his way into one of the sleeping quarters where the Ranch hand slept, and Dunham followed him out there. And Mcglinsey had tried to lock himself into this building. And Dunham shot through the building, McLinn see them, staggered out, and as I recall properly, he died there on the ground. In the Meanwhile, there was another Ranch hand that had been sleeping in a bunk. He heard the commotion, tried to slip out the back window of the bunk house, and Dunham tracked him down and shot him in cold blood. So now Dunham is wondering Where's George Shabel, because he knew that there was one more person on the scene. Well, Shabble, by this time, had heard the gunshots, had heard the commotion and was hiding in the loft of the barn. Dunham goes into the barn, he looks around for Shabble, and he can't find him. He walks up, he climbs up the ladder to the loft of the barn, I believe struck a match, didn't see Shapel, went downstairs, and Shabble must have let out a huge sigh of relief.
And Dunham then fled on horseback, looking for Shabel, hoping to kill him and also making his escape. So Shapel survived that night, and ultimately, Dunham ran off into the night. And as he fled the Ranch, by this time, neighbors had heard the gunfire and Dunham was actually spotted along the road and actually had a confrontation conversation, I should say, with a neighbor. So people began to realize that this man had just left the Mclincy Ranch and in the aftermath, realized that he had been the killer.
[00:23:40.090] - Benjamin
I have to be completely honest here, which is that after reading your account and after trying to picture this in my mind, it sort of comes like a combination of something out, a fistful of dollars, like the Great Western standoff, and one body hits the dirt and the other is left standing. And then you also have this sort of scene in which the killer is climbing the ladder in the barn to find the last remaining survivor straight out of Freddie Krueger or something like that. Honestly, Tobin, I don't know if I'm ever going to have a sound night's sleep ever again.
[00:24:17.470] - Tobin
Well, I'm sorry my book did that for you then, but hopefully you'll be able to win the day.
[00:24:23.760] - Benjamin
I'm going to try. I might up the dose of melatonin this evening, if you know what I mean. There's this one interesting wrinkle, though, and it's a really important wrinkle, which is that amid all of the carnage and the blood bath and the slaughter, it's just this grisliest of personal, intimate violence of this man against his entire living family. There is one other survivor, and that is his infant son. He doesn't kill the baby. Help us to understand that.
[00:25:07.010] - Tobin
In the aftermath of the crimes, one of the relatives of one of the victims, and I actually don't remember the exact relationship, but he had a theory that he put forth that makes perfect sense. And there's a lot of circumstances that lead to the validation of this theory, and it goes like this. Dunham was not getting along with the family. He wasn't getting along with his wife. The Colonel tolerated him. It's probably a generous way of putting it. He wasn't getting along with the brotherinlaw. And so he had an easy out, and the easy out was to kill the whole family. And I know that sounds horrible, but keep in mind that this was a very calculating psychopath that was coming up with this scheme. And what he, I believe, intended to happen was that he would have killed the Colonel and Mrs. Mclinnsy. He would have killed his wife, his brother in law, and the nanny, and he would have made it look like it was done by someone else. He would have subsequently appeared at the crime scene when all of the police and the neighbors had realized what had happened. And he would have pretended that he was just as shocked as everyone else.
[00:26:28.550] - Tobin
It would have solved his marital problems and his family problems, but it also would have given him control of the entire Mclincy estate because the way the will was structured, in the absence of any other surviving relatives, everything would go to the baby. The baby's name was Percy. And so little Percy would have been the beneficiary of all this. But of course, he would not have had control over it. So Dunham, as his custodian, would have had control over the estate.
[00:27:05.150] - Benjamin
That is the exact definition of premeditation, isn't it? I mean, he had it all worked out in his mind ahead of time.
[00:27:13.070] - Tobin
[00:27:17.130] - Benjamin
You do write that in his early marriage to hadty, there was this kind of interesting tension to where he seemed very much to be enamored of his newborn son. But he, over time, began to sort of shun her or neglect her in a way that became very visible to the rest of the family and to people who knew them. So how do you account for his sort of transference of his devotion there? Do you think that this plan was in mind from the very, very beginning, that he would sort of use the baby as a legal trap, or do you think that there was just maybe some sort of psychotic break that occurred in some way that we don't fully understand?
[00:28:09.090] - Tobin
Definitely. He didn't enter the marriage. I don't believe he entered the marriage with the intent of ultimately gaining control of this estate. I think it was something that evolved. There is an interesting twist to this. Before he married Hattie, his brother dated her. So that was kind of an odd dynamic. But for whatever reason, his younger brother Charles and Hattie ended their relationship, and James entered the picture. James was prior up to this point, something of a drifter. He hadn't really made much of his life. He drifted from Ranch to Ranch as a Ranch hand. He had some failed businesses, but it appeared that in the early days of the marriage. He was really trying to make something of himself. He enrolled at Santa Clara College, which is today known as Santa Clara University, a very highly regarded Catholic school. And he enrolled there and was pursuing a degree with the goal of becoming a lawyer. And he worked hard, but he was also under tremendous pressure, the pressure of being a father, a new husband, tension in the house and the academic workload. So certainly all of those things had a role to play in the deterioration of his relationship with his wife and his extended family and the events that led up to the calculation he made to kill his family.
[00:29:42.510] - Benjamin
Here on Crime Capsule. And we don't glorify killers. We try very hard not even to sensationalize them in any kind of way. We try to understand them. And to come to an act so horrific as this requires just a really deep investigation into what could lead someone down this particular path. It is so gruesome and the consequences are so incredibly severe. You raise the term psychopath at one point in your book, and you offer some definitions and some framings for how we are to think about psychopathic behavior. Where do you stand on labeling him? Do you come down firmly on the notion that this is the exact model for it, or do you feel like there's room for some more interpretation that needs to take place?
[00:30:50.250] - Tobin
Well, having earned a PhD in psychology from the University of Google, there you go. I believe my understanding of a psychopath is someone who has no real capacity for human feeling or relationships or emotion. And their relationships with other human beings are transactional in nature and in learning as much as I was able to about his background growing up, there was a lot of behavior that kind of pointed to an individual that was likable enough. He had friends, acquaintances, but no deep friendships, no best friend. Nobody that said, hey, I was his best friend since childhood. There was really none of that. And there were some really disturbing instances in his childhood that might not have stood out at the time they happened. But in the wake of the murders themselves, you begin to realize that some of those prior incidences were indicative of the kind of person that would do what he ultimately did.
[00:32:06.650] - Benjamin
Right. There's often a pattern. It just takes seeing the pattern before you can come to the conclusion. So we are in the very beginning of a summer series on great escapes. We are taking a look at the fugitives, the flights from justice, the going on, the lamb, and this guy, James Dunham. After committing this horrific crime, he initiates one of the greatest great escapes in American criminal history that I am aware of. Let's get him started. Okay, let's take a look at what happens immediately after the murders. When he gets a horse from the barn and takes off. Where does he go well before he.
[00:33:05.780] - Tobin
Did that, in fact, probably before he killed Mclinsey and Shabble. Excuse me, Glency Brisco and Jimmy Wells. He went through the house and he removed or tried to remove every photograph of himself that was in the home. He overlooked one small little Tim print photograph. But he would have done that because back in those days, they didn't have surveillance cameras on the streets and on around every building. They didn't have people walking around with cell phones that can take videos, that can be pasted the Internet. So he knew that absent a picture or a photograph, that it would be very difficult for authorities to even launch a search. So he takes off on the horse.
[00:33:56.330] - Benjamin
It's genius. It's really genius. If you think about it like he knows exactly what he would be up against. You would have any depictions of him being sent out over the wire. And if at best, anyone can only offer a partial verbal description, then he's already several steps ahead of anybody trying to track him into any cities that he might go to. I don't want to give him any credit, but you got to give him credit for that. As far as just figuring out the technological limitations of his day and age and exploiting them, yeah, he was a strange bird.
[00:34:34.590] - Tobin
He was a psychopath. He was a drifter. But he definitely was not intellectually challenged. He had intelligence. He was a decent student, according to the professors at the College and people that have known him. So, yeah, he was smart enough to do that. The challenge he had. He hadn't planned on having to make an escape. He had planned on making these murders and quietly sneaking off into the darkness and reappearing as a shocked observer. Like everyone else, his escape routes were pretty limited. Campbell and Santa Clara Valley. You can go west and you're going to run out of room because you're going to hit the coast. You have to go over the Santa Cruz mountains, and you're at the coastline. You could go east and you have this huge mountain range to go over. Or you could try going north or south. And each of those presented challenges in terms of escape routes. He opted to head east for the Hills. And along the journey there, as he was escaping town, he was seen on his horse. He actually engaged in a dialogue with a passerby he was looking for Shavel initially because he wanted to kill Shabel before he continued on with his escape.
And he stopped the passerby asking if that passerby had seen shadow. The passerby had not. And so Dunham continued on and off he went up into the Hills that border the Eastern part of Santa Clara Valley.
[00:36:11.160] - Benjamin
This is kind of interesting moment on. If I remember correctly, the murder takes place overnight on a Tuesday night, and it's sort of Wednesday that things Wednesday early morning where the investigation really kicks off and so forth. And you say that he is seen in town early that morning having breakfast, that he withdraws all his money from the bank. Some people who know him see him in town. They don't really engage all that much. But there's a sort of a passing recognition. And I think my favorite part of this account was not that I love any part of this account, as you know, but one of the most interesting details is that he stashes his getaway car. Right. Like every great escape needs a getaway car. And his getaway car is a bicycle. He is a wheel man in the lexicon of the day. I mean, it is just such I stood up in my chair when I read this, and I said, no, he did not do this. But he did.
[00:37:20.730] - Tobin
Yeah. I mean, by the morning of the event, of course, by that point, the whole thing had been planned. In fact, in the weeks leading up to this, he had actually inquired with a local lawyer that he had engaged in casual conversation with and asked him a few questions about Wills and estates, just to be sure that, in fact, if his plot were successful, that he would gain control of it. So he would gain control of the estate. So he had done his homework beforehand. And as you noted, he had stashed his bike nearby, apparently with the intent of doing the killings, riding the bike back into town unnoticed, and then later reappearing as a shocked observer like everyone else.
[00:38:13.300] - Benjamin
What was his alibi going to be? Do we have a sense of what tale he would tell in order to sort of try to cement his innocence in all of this?
[00:38:26.070] - Tobin
He may have to be honest, I don't recall off the top of my head if he had a pre planned out.
[00:38:33.690] - Benjamin
Well, let me ask you this. I want to take one very brief aggression here, because I think it is interesting and you do devote a portion of your account to this part of California history or sort of transportation history. I mean, I have been a cyclist in various forms over the years in my bike shop back home in Mississippi, has this great quote. I believe it's from Orson Wells. And he says every time I see Wells, he says every time I see an adult on a bicycle, I no longer fear for the human race. It's something like that, right. It's a wonderful, wonderful sort of sanguine statement. And what did you learn about the culture of bicycle transportation in California at this time? There was a dedicated bicycle shop in Campbell. And obviously, California's terrain is very up and down. So cycling there is a little more challenging than perhaps in Nebraska. But what did you learn about sort of early cycling traditions as the technology is really kind of coming into its own in those decades.
[00:39:46.870] - Tobin
Cycling was very popular certainly here in the Santa Clara Valley in San Jose and Campbell. And as you noted, there were actually multiple bike shops in San Jose and the surrounding area at the time. There were bicycle clubs, both women's bicycle clubs, as well as men's bicycle clubs. Dunham himself was a well known and highly respected cyclist. He raced bicycles. There was even a bicycle racing track here in San Jose that was really popular back in the early part of the 20th century.
[00:40:26.330] - Benjamin
I have to ask, is that Velodrome still in existence?
[00:40:32.290] - Tobin
No, it's not. Unfortunately, it's past. Its memory still lives, but it's long gone.
[00:40:43.060] - Benjamin
Well, maybe you can use your leverage one day to revive the tradition, to bring it back to its former glory. Let's take a look at the other side of the escape here. What were Dunham is on his way. He starts to head down into the Valley. He gasses up. He's got breakfast. He gets his money, he starts his flight. What were the authorities doing at this particular time? You have Sheriff Linden, who is still sort of on and around the property investigating the murders themselves, but you also have his deputies, and then you also have the courts, the Magistrate judges, who have to authorize, bounties and organize search teams and so forth. So give us a sense of what the law was doing in these very tender, important first few hours.
[00:41:46.990] - Tobin
They always say that to solve a crime, you need to do it within the first 48 hours. Right. And that was definitely the case here. A few things happened very quickly. First, because witnesses had seen him flee and they knew the direction he was headed, they quickly began to focus their search in the east foothills of the city. And something that your listeners who are not familiar with Santa Clara Valley should know because I think it helps kind of frame this scene is that these foothills quickly become a mountain range. It's known as the Diablo Mountain Range. And at one of the highest peaks in this particular area is the Lake Observatory, which was built in the 1880s. And that mountain range and the road to Lick Observatory created a path to escape from the Santa Clara Valley, go over the mountains and into the central Valley of California, which would have provided done them a lot of options for getting lost, if you will. So the search very quickly mobilized in the foothills of the Diablo Mountain Range, which is kind of known as the foothills of Mount Hamilton. And so that was one thing.
The other thing that happened was that reward money quickly started flowing in. In very short order, a number of prominent citizens in Santa Clara County offered their own pool of money. I think it was like $5,000. And then the governor Gauge of California at the time pledged, I believe, $11,000 in state money. So that doesn't sound like a lot of money in today's dollars. But if you adjust for inflation and everything. We're talking probably in the neighborhood of over $100,000. So it was a lot of money and it was enough money and there was enough outrage to get people mobilized and motivated to go and try and find this killer. So very quickly, volunteers started enlisting themselves in this search effort.
[00:44:03.040] - Benjamin
You even have the account. I mean, people are just kind of coming out of the woodwork almost saying we'll get involved, we'll do what we can. And it really is remarkable to see the community rally around the slain family in this regard. I was really struck open by the fact that you had an account of an old Union soldier, soldier for the Union Army who was sort of an expert tracker and knew the terrain and so forth. And there he was working on behalf of the former Confederate soldier, someone who 30 years ago, they would have been on opposite sides of the battlefield against one another. That is a fascinating twist for that generation, which I think is lost to us today to some degree.
[00:44:52.450] - Tobin
Yeah, for sure.
[00:44:55.510] - Benjamin
So Wednesday, May 27, 1896, is when the search lights off. You have the bounties are organized. You have the warrants are issued. You have the team's gathering in downtown Campbell. You have the very first lead. You have the bloodhounds. Let me not forget the bloodhounds. We have to have the dogs in this story. Right. The dogs are too important not to.
[00:45:25.680] - Tobin
Include one of my favorite parts of the story, I might add.
[00:45:29.760] - Benjamin
I mean, I only wish that we had had more pictures of those dogs because they are clutch. Right. They're just absolutely essential. But we're going to leave it if.
[00:45:41.520] - Tobin
I can, just to quickly kind of double a little antidote. This is covered in the book about the dogs, but as you mentioned, the search party had been mobilized. The base of operations was actually not in Campbell, but in the foothills where Dunham had been seen. It was a Ranch in the foothills of Mount Hamilton known as the Smith Ranch. But what they had done was the Sheriff had enlisted the help of one of his colleagues, a Sheriff from San Luis Obispo County, which is on the central coast of California, about 225 miles away. So the early morning paper edition noted that Sheriff balloon from San Luis Obispo would be coming to town with his famous pack of bloodhounds. And that generated a lot of buzz in the Valley, the Santa Clara Valley. Apparently, people were not that familiar with bloodhounds, and perhaps because of the name of the breed, there were very high expectations, enough so that a large crowd gathered at the train station for the arrival of the Sheriff and these killer bloodhounds. And the later news release that came out later that day or perhaps the next day discussed the disappointment of the crowd they've been expecting.
[00:47:05.920] - Tobin
I don't know, maybe fangs and blood.
[00:47:08.950] - Benjamin
Dripping off the fangs no way.
[00:47:13.030] - Tobin
Instead, what they saw were some rather smallish, nervous looking hounds that were sniffing and not particularly fearsome as the name might have been.
[00:47:21.120] - Benjamin
Oh, but we know today that they were very good boys. They were extremely good boys, weren't they?
[00:47:27.550] - Tobin
[00:47:29.230] - Benjamin
So we have the first sighting. We have the bloodhounds. We have the first sighting. The first lead of Dunham's escape is he word comes that he is glimpsed at the Smiths Creek Hotel on the east side of the Valley. We're going to leave it right here for this episode. But the chase is on.
[00:47:59.030] - Tobin
The chase is on. And what a chase it was.
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