The first edition of the Los Angeles Times is published.
The Boundary Treaty of 1881 between Chile and Argentina is signed in Buenos Aires.
Billy the Kid escapes from the Lincoln County jail in Mesilla, New Mexico.
First Boer War: The Battle of Majuba Hill takes place.
In Alabama, the Tuskegee Institute opens.
The Los Angeles Times is first published.
The Los Angeles Times is a daily newspaper which has been published in Los Angeles, California, since 1881. It has the fourth-largest circulation among United States newspapers, and is the largest U.S. newspaper not headquartered on the east coast. The paper is known for its coverage of issues particularly salient to the U.S. west coast, such as immigration trends and natural disasters. It has won more than 40 Pulitzer Prizes for its coverage of these and other issues. As of June 18, 2018, ownership of the paper is controlled by Patrick Soon-Shiong, and the executive editor is Norman Pearlstine.
In the nineteenth century, the paper was known for its civic boosterism and opposition to unions, the latter of which led to the bombing of its headquarters in 1910. The paper’s profile grew substantially in the 1960s under publisher Otis Chandler, who adopted a more national focus. In recent decades, the paper’s readership has declined and it has been beset by a series of ownership changes, staff reductions, and other controversies. In January 2018, the paper’s staff voted to unionize, and in July 2018 the paper moved out of its historic downtown headquarters to a facility near Los Angeles International Airport.
The Times was first published on December 4, 1881, as the Los Angeles Daily Times under the direction of Nathan Cole Jr. and Thomas Gardiner. It was first printed at the Mirror printing plant, owned by Jesse Yarnell and T.J. Caystile. Unable to pay the printing bill, Cole and Gardiner turned the paper over to the Mirror Company. In the meantime, S. J. Mathes had joined the firm, and it was at his insistence that the Times continued publication. In July 1882, Harrison Gray Otis moved from Santa Barbara to become the paper’s editor. Otis made the Times a financial success.
Historian Kevin Starr wrote that Otis was a businessman “capable of manipulating the entire apparatus of politics and public opinion for his own enrichment”. Otis’s editorial policy was based on civic boosterism, extolling the virtues of Los Angeles and promoting its growth. Toward those ends, the paper supported efforts to expand the city’s water supply by acquiring the rights to the water supply of the distant Owens Valley.
The efforts of the Times to fight local unions led to the October 1, 1910 bombing of its headquarters, killing twenty-one people. Two union leaders, James and Joseph McNamara, were charged. The American Federation of Labor hired noted trial attorney Clarence Darrow to represent the brothers, who eventually pleaded guilty.
Otis fastened a bronze eagle on top of a high frieze of the new Times headquarters building designed by Gordon Kaufmann, proclaiming anew the credo written by his wife, Eliza: “Stand Fast, Stand Firm, Stand Sure, Stand True.
Billy the Kid is shot and killed by Pat Garrett outside Fort Sumner.
Billy The Kid was born in the slums of New York City in 1859. After the death of his father, he traveled west with his mother ending up in Silver City, New Mexico Territory in 1873. Little of substance is known about Billy’s life during this period, and myth has replaced fact to shroud the early years of Billy the Kid in folklore. What is known for sure is that he arrived in Lincoln County, New Mexico in 1877 using the name William Bonney. His life would last only four more years, but in that short period he became embroiled in the events that made him a legend.
Lincoln County was in a state of near-anarchy in 1877. The native Apache had recently been subdued and the local cattlemen divided themselves into two camps in a fight for local power. Unfortunately for Billy the Kid, he allied himself with the losing side in this “Lincoln County War.” Billy worked as a ranch hand for John Tunstall a leader of one faction seeking control of the county. Tunstall befriended the Kid acting in many ways as a surrogate father. Tunstall’s ambush and murder in 1878 by a sheriff’s posse set the Kid off on a path of revenge. His first victims were the sheriff and his deputy, killed from ambush on the streets of Lincoln. On the run for two years, the Kid was eventually captured, tried, convicted and returned to Lincoln to hang for the murders. However, Lincoln’s makeshift jail was no match for Billy the Kid.
On the evening of April 28, 1881 as he was climbing the steps returning him to his cell, the Kid made a mad dash, grabbed a six-shooter and shot his guard. Hearing the shots, a second guard ran from across the street only to be gunned down by the Kid standing on the balcony above him. Mounting a horse, William Bonney galloped out of town and into history.
Pat Garrett was elected Sheriff of Lincoln County in 1880 on a reform ticket with the expectation that he would reinstate justice in the area. One of his first acts was to capture Billy the Kid, sending him to trial for the murder of the Lincoln sheriff and his deputy. Garrett was away from Lincoln on county business when the Kid made his escape. Rather than chase after the fugitive, Garrett kept to his ranch mending fences and attending to his cattle. In July, the Sheriff received word that the Kid was hiding out at the abandoned Fort Sumner about 140 miles west of Lincoln. Rounding up two of his deputies, John Poe and Thomas McKinney, Garrett set off in pursuit of the Kid.
On the night of July 14, the Sheriff and his two deputies approached the dusty old Fort now converted to living quarters. The residents were sympathetic to the Kid and the lawmen could extract little information. Garrett decided to seek out an old friend, Peter Maxwell, who might tell him the Kid’s whereabouts. As chance would have it, the Kid stumbled right into the Sheriff’s hands. Garrett published his account of the incident a year after it happened:
“I then concluded to go and have a talk with Peter Maxwell, Esq., in whom I felt sure I could rely. We had ridden to within a short distance of Maxwell’s grounds when we found a man in camp and stopped. To Poe’s great surprise, he recognized in the camper an old friend and former
Pat Garettpartner, in Texas, named Jacobs. We unsaddled here, got some coffee, and, on foot, entered an orchard which runs from this point down to a row of old buildings, some of them occupied by Mexicans, not more than sixty yards from Maxwell’s house. We approached these houses cautiously, and when within earshot, heard the sound of voices conversing in Spanish. We concealed ourselves quickly and listened; but the distance was too great to hear words, or even distinguish voices. Soon a man arose from the ground, in full view, but too far away to recognize. He wore a broad-brimmed hat, a dark vest and pants, and was in his shirtsleeves. With a few words, which fell like a murmur on our ears, he went to the fence, jumped it, and walked down towards Maxwell’s house.
Little as we then suspected it, this man was the Kid. We learned, subsequently, that, when he left his companions that night, he went to the house of a Mexican friend, pulled off his hat and boots, threw himself on a bed, and commenced reading a newspaper. He soon, however, hailed his friend, who was sleeping in the room, told him to get up and make some coffee, adding: ‘Give me a butcher knife and I will go over to Pete’s and get some beef; I’m hungry.’ The Mexican arose, handed him the knife, and the Kid, hatless and in his stocking-feet, started to Maxwell’s, which was but a few steps distant.
When the Kid, by me unrecognized, left the orchard, I motioned to my companions, and we cautiously retreated a short distance, and, to avoid the persons whom we had heard at the houses, took another route, approaching Maxwell’s house from the opposite direction. When we reached the porch in front of the building, I left Poe and McKinney at the end of the porch, about twenty feet from the door of Pete’s room, and went in. It was near midnight and Pete was in bed. I walked to the head of the bed and sat down on it, beside him, near the pillow. I asked him as to the whereabouts of the Kid. He said that the Kid had certainly been about, but he did not know whether he had left or not. At that moment a man sprang quickly into the door, looking back, and called twice in Spanish, ‘Who comes there?’ No one replied and he came on in. He was bareheaded. From his step I could perceive he was either barefooted or in his stocking-feet, and held a revolver in his right hand and a butcher knife in his left.
The death of Billy the Kid
From a contemporary illustrationHe came directly towards me. Before he reached the bed, I whispered: ‘Who is it, Pete?’ but received no reply for a moment. It struck me that it might be Pete’s brother-in-law, Manuel Abreu, who had seen Poe and McKinney, and wanted to know their business. The intruder came close to me, leaned both hands on the bed, his right hand almost touching my knee, and asked, in a low tone: -‘Who are they Pete?’ -at the same instant Maxwell whispered to me. ‘That’s him!’ Simultaneously the Kid must have seen, or felt, the presence of a third person at the head of the bed. He raised quickly his pistol, a self-cocker, within a foot of my breast. Retreating rapidly across the room he cried: ‘Quien es? Quien es?’ ‘Who’s that? Who’s that?’ All this occurred in a moment. Quickly as possible I drew my revolver and fired, threw my body aside, and fired again. The second shot was useless; the Kid fell dead. He never spoke. A struggle or two, a little strangling sound as he gasped for breath, and the Kid was with his many victims.”
The Four Dead in Five Seconds Gunfight is fought in El Paso, Texas.
On April 14, 1881, a group of about 75 heavily armed Mexicans moved into El Paso, Texas looking for two missing vaqueros named Sanchez and Juarique, who had been searching for 30 head of cattle stolen from Mexico. Solomon Schutz, mayor of El Paso, made an exception for the Mexicans, allowing them to enter the city limits with their firearms. Gus Krempkau, an El Paso County constable, accompanied the posse to the ranch of Johnny Hale, a local ranch owner and suspected cattle rustler, who lived some 13 miles northwest of El Paso in the Upper Valley. The corpses of the two missing men were located near Hale’s ranch and were carried back to El Paso.
A court in El Paso held an inquest into the deaths, with Constable Krempkau, who was fluent in Spanish, acting as an interpreter. The verdict was that Sanchez and Juarique had been in the vicinity of Hale’s ranch looking for the stolen cattle. The court determined that the American cattle rustlers, among them Hale, had feared the men would discover the cattle and return with a larger, armed Mexican force. Two American cattle rustlers, Pervey and Fredericks, were accused of the murders of Sanchez and Juarique after they were overheard bragging about killing two cowboys when they found them trailing the herd to Hale’s ranch during the night of April 13 or in the early morning of the 14th.
Meanwhile, a large crowd had gathered in El Paso, including John Hale and his friend, former town Marshal George Campbell. There was tension among some of the Americans, who were concerned that the Mexicans, with a combination of anger, restlessness, and being heavily armed, would become violent while demanding justice for their two murdered comrades. At the inquest, Pervey and Fredericks were formally charged with the murders and immediately arrested. Court was adjourned and the crowd dispersed. The arrestees were scheduled for trial at a later date. With the formerly tense situation defused, the Mexicans returned to Mexico with the two corpses for proper burial.
The Gun Fight
Marshal Dallas Stoudenmire, a noted gunfighter who had only started as town marshal on April 11, was present in the court room. After the court adjourned, he walked across the street for dinner. Constable Krempkau went to a saloon next door to retrieve his rifle and pistol. There, a confrontation took place with George Campbell over remarks he allegedly made about Krempkau’s translations, and his apparent friendship with the Mexicans. John Hale, who was reportedly unarmed, was heavily intoxicated and was also upset with Krempkau’s involvement in the matter. Hale grabbed one of Campbell’s two pistols and yelled, “George, I’ve got you covered!” He then shot Krempkau, who reeled backward. Slumping against a saloon door, Krempkau drew his own pistol.
Marshal Stoudenmire heard the shot, jumped up from his dining chair at the Globe Restaurant, pulled out his pistols, and ran out into the street. While running, Stoudenmire fired wildly, killing Ochoa, an innocent Mexican bystander who was running for cover. As the first shot was heard, John Hale sobered up quickly and jumped behind a thick adobe pillar. When he peered out from behind the pillar, Stoudenmire fired and struck Hale between the eyes, killing him instantly.
Campbell stepped from cover with his pistol drawn, saw Hale lying dead, and yelled to Stoudenmire that this was not his fight. However, Constable Krempkau, mistakenly believing that Campbell had shot him, then fired his pistol twice at Campbell before losing consciousness from loss of blood. Krempkau’s first bullet struck Campbell’s gun and broke his right wrist, while the second hit him in the foot. Campbell screamed in pain and scooped up his gun from the ground with his left hand. Stoudenmire whirled away from Hale and instantly fired at Campbell, who dropped his gun again, grabbed his stomach and collapsed onto the ground. Stoudenmire walked slowly toward Campbell and glared at him. In agony, Campbell yelled, “You big son of a bitch! You murdered me!” Stoudenmire said nothing. Both Campbell and Krempkau died within minutes.
After just a few seconds, four men lay dead or dying. Three Texas Rangers were standing nearby, but did not take part, saying later that they felt Stoudenmire had the situation well in hand.
Three days after the gunfight, on April 17, 1881, James Manning, a friend of Hale and Campbell, convinced former deputy Bill Johnson to assassinate Stoudenmire. Stoudenmire had publicly humiliated Johnson days before. Late at night of April 17, an intoxicated Johnson was hiding behind a pillar of bricks, but his wobbly legs gave in and he fell backward, squeezing the double triggers of his double barreled shotgun into the air and narrowly missing Stoudenmire. Stoudenmire immediately fired his pistols and sent a volley of eight bullets at Johnson, shooting off his testicles. Johnson bled to death quickly.
This began a feud between Stoudenmire and Manning and his brothers. Eventually, Stoudenmire’s brother-in-law Stanley “Doc” Cummings and later Stoudenmire himself died at the hands of the Mannings, who were acquitted in two trials where the juries were packed with their friends.
The Los Angeles Times was first published on December 4, 1881, under the name of the Los Angeles Daily Times. When the original founders ran into financial problems the following year, the fledgling paper was inherited by its printer, the Mirror Printing Office and Book Bindery. The company hired as editor former military officer Harrison Gray Otis, who quickly turned the paper into a financial success.
Otis and a partner purchased the entire Times and Mirror properties in 1884 and incorporated them as the Times-Mirror Company. Two years later, Otis purchased his partner’s interest in the company.
In October 1886, the word “Daily” was removed from the title and the newspaper became the Los Angeles Times.
As the city grew, so did The Times. However, competition among local newspapers was fierce, and it was not until the mid-1940s that The Times became the leading newspaper in Los Angeles. Today, The Times is the largest metropolitan newspaper in the country.
In June 2000, The Times became a Tribune Publishing newspaper when Tribune Company acquired Times Mirror, former parent of the Los Angeles Times.
After Billy The Kid’s capture at Stinking Springs he was jailed at Santa Fe for nearly three months. Then he was taken south to Mesilla to stand trial. On April 13, 1881 Judge Warren Bristol sentenced Billy to be hung on the 13th of May for the murder of sheriff William Brady. He was then taken to Lincoln to be held under guard awaiting his execution. However, history shows us that Billy had other plans. He was held prisoner on the top floor of the building formerly known as the House. He was guarded in the east wing in a room that was formerly L.G. Murphy’s bedroom. His guards were James Bell and Robert Ollinger. It has been said that Ollinger bullied Billy around the whole time he was being held prisoner.
How Billy escaped for sure will probably never be known. What is known however is that when Billy The Kid rode out of Lincoln on April 28, 1881 he was a free man and he left both of his guards lying dead where they fell. Pat Garrett had been out of town during the escape. He was supposedly collecting taxes in White Oaks. The biggest mystery about the escape is where did Billy get the gun? One of the most popular versions is that when Bob Ollinger escorted the other prisoners across the street to the Wortley Hotel to eat dinner Billy ask James Bell to take him out back to the privy. While in the privy Billy finds a pistol that was hidden in there by a friend or a Regulator sympathizer. On the way back up the stairs Billy is in front, but turns around when he reaches the top landing and pulls the gun and shoots Bell.