Friday, November 5, 2010

Laytonville Middletons and the Arizona Middletons are connected again.

So many of the old family stories keep popping up on this blogsite. When I was a small child, in Laytonville California about 1951, my great Grandmother Laura (Lockhart) Middleton lived on my Grandmother Ruby (Middleton) Branscomb’s ranch in a small house by the highway. Her husband, Lafayette Middleton, had already died. There was a man by the name of Fred Grimes lived in the same house. I often wondered who “Fred Grimes” was. I just assumed that it was one of those questions that little kids weren’t supposed to ask. Now, I began to hear stories about how the Grimes and the Middletons have long history together.

The thing that I remember about Fred grimes, is that he had a cleft pallet and a slightly deformed upper lip. Not so bad as to be a deformation, but enough that it was noticeable. He pronounced his name as “Thread”, which I would repeat, and not be able to understand his frustration. I would pronounce it as carefully as I could, but he would only get more frustrated. My mother had to drag me aside and tell me that, “no matter what he said his name is, just call him Fred, and nothing else.” I thought that must be another one of those things that kids just don’t understand.

I just asked my mother a few minutes ago about Fred, and she told me he had a brother called “Doc” Grimes, he also had a Cleft Pallet. She thinks that one was a “Cicero” and there was another Grimes that didn’t have a cleft pallet. The three brothers lived in Laytonville.

Now, the stories that I am starting to hear about the Middletons and the Grimes are starting to sound like Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid. I also understand that there are many old stories about Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid being around Laytonville and especially the Covelo area. However, I'm not making a connection to that history, but just pointing out the "outlaw" similarities here.

From Robert Flowers:
I too have heard the "Lafayette/crazy" family legend, but it refered to family inlaws (outlaws?) Lafayette and Royal (Cicero) Grimes, who robbed the packtrain carrying the Mack Mine payroll at "the Big Rock" at 14 mile Wash on Sunday, August 20, 1882. Unfortunately, they also killed Andy Hall (who was with Powell at the Grand Canyon Expedition) and the only doctor of medicine in Miami, Dr Vail (who had just donated a foot pumped reed Organ to the local church (--ha, he was an organ donar back in 1882!). Lafayette Grimes and Hawley were lynched at gunpoint by an angry mob and hanged from a Sycamore tree growing in the middle of Main Street in Beautiful downtown Globe (at that time Main Street was mostly in an arroyo, and everything tended to wash away every time it rained). It was Cicero Grimes, nicknamed "Royal" who was sentenced to 21 years in the Yuma Territorial prison, but was sent to a Mental Institution in San Francisco after telling the Warden he "heard voices in his head". From San Francisco, he escaped from an unlocked upper story window by sliding down bed sheets tied together (which he obtained while working in the facility laundry). He is said to have made his way to Oregon and rejoined his Family, using the name Lafayette Middleton for the rest of his life, to the possible discredit of the real person of that name. Read story here
Bob Flowers
My mother tells a story about a Middleton, "who she thinks was "Granville", that might have killed somebody and he hid out in the hills of Laytonville. He also pretended that he was crazy. Connection???

Do you suppose that those "dratted Grimes" all changed into "Middletons". (Just more romantic speculation, and wild assumptions)

I know that my Great Grandfather Layfayette Middleton was a varifiable life-long local resident and worked at running a redwood split-stuff camp his whole life. So he must have been the "real Layfayette Middleton." I had never heard about the "Cicero 'Royal' Grimes Layfayette Middleton", but I think that My mother might know more than I do.

Now, onto more Arizona Middleton History,
From Robert A. Flowers:
Enjoyed the Middleton history website, especially since William and Miriam are my GGGgrandparents also.  I own a few acres of horse pasture in Young, Az about 7.5 miles West as the crow flys over Gentry Mesa from the old family cabin at Middleton Mesa on Wilson Creek, a tributary of Canyon Creek & literally bordering the White Mountain Apache Reservation within several hundred feet.  The Middleton cabin site is still accessible today, but exists only as a ruin, having burned in the 1920's.  Its visible ground layout nonetheless conforms to the stories exactly.  The stone fireplace is a work of art, having used no mortar, and the deep hand-dug stone-lined well on the flat by the creek says much about the profitability of the family butter business, as it was paid for by the proceeds of Miriam's butter, dug by miners at full wages.  There is a road to within a quarter mile of the ruins,  which are about 2 miles from the Nail Ranch and 1-1/2 miles from the Flying V (formerly Vosberg).  I have taken photos (film) of the area, which is quite green for Arizona, and I have stood where Uncle Henry (William Henry Middleton) was standing when he was shot by the Apaches. I wish to add that he was later killed during the Pleasant Valley Range War, while he was riding for the Grahams, though the rest of the family indeed did not take sides or talk about it much.  He is buried in the Young community Cemetery between 2 Grahams shot within 30 days of himself, during the most violent month of the feud.  The decayed wood marker was replaced in the 1920's with the present stone tablet paid for by a ladies historical society in Globe, which gives his name as "Harry Midleton", but with correct dates, and he is locally honored every year during "Pioneer days" events.  The Henry in the "middletonfrank" obituary attachment is presumably Frank's brother-in-law, Henry Price, although it probably helped calm the water during the feud by placing "Henry Middleton" out of Arizona Territory altogether.
Despite it never being mentioned in the Range War History, I have always pondered whether the Middleton cattle were at the heart of the Pleasant Valley Range War.  When Stinson's ranch boss John Gilleland drew on the Tewksbury's at the Middleton ranch a year after they sold to Mr. Vosberg (who by then was partnered with Edwin Tewksbury), it is generally agreed Gilleland had just come past the corral, and what he saw was what set him off.  Cowboys are apt to do most anything, seldom have cool heads, and the ranch boss got to be boss by beating every man at the ranch in a fist fight!  Plus he had been drinking from a flask all morning.  The Middletons had driven 50 head of Scottish highland red cows (Devons, the premier milk cow of their day) from San Francisco to Arizona, selling one troublesome young bull to a rancher in San Bernardino, California and arriving with the rest.  They bred reliably, and when the family sold the ranch, the Stinson's, the Grahams, and the Tewksbury's all maintained they owned Scottish reds along with their other cattle.  They probably did, but all Scottish highland reds look pretty much alike, especially when they are all branded with a Middleton brand...  As they say, the rest is history, and tales of over-branding.  For good reason the Middleton's certainly wouldn't be the ones to bring it up..  For a fact, every cow brand in Arizona Territory registered up to the feud could be overbranded on a Stinson, including the "tumbled" Hashknife, newly arrived from Texas!, and for years the opposing factions shot first and asked questions later (and it was a very small valley!)  The postmistress changed that years later, telling everyone that if they expected their mail, they had better wave instead of shoot. (To this day, every car passing by in the opposite direction on the road in Young, Arizona will wave at you as you go by, and we could all learn from that.)
Respectfully Yours
Bob Flowers
Photos By Robert A. Flowers

The Obituary of Frank Middleton:
Frank Middleton
Arizona Silver Belt
May 14, 1896

The distressing news was received by telegram last Saturday
that Frank Middleton had been killed that day, May 9, by a
saw at the saw mill owned and operated by the deceased and
his brohter Henry, at Chiwankum Kittitas County, Wash. 
Particulars of the dreadful accident are expected by letter
written a few days.  The announcement was a severe shock to the
relatives in Globe and Mrs. Miram Middleton, mother of the
deceased, is prostrated with grief.

Frank Middleton was the eldest of nine children, all of whom,
except Henry, reside here. He was 43 years of age.  Frank was
for many years a resident of Globe and was married here to the
eldest daughter of Mr. and Mrs. N.H. Price, who, with four
children, survives him.  The family left Globe in 1883 and
went to Flagstaff where they remained four or five years,
going thence to Washington where they have since resided.

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olmanriver said...

How fun!
As a sidenote, that Tewksberry name in your narrative was also found in our county. Tewksberry was a scout and Indian fighter, and I was told in a brief conversation at the Humboldt Historical society, that he left here for Arizona.

Robin Shelley said...

I think the "hills of Laytonville" would be a great place to hide, even today.

Ernie Branscomb said...

The north coast and especially the South Fork of the Eel have been a hiding place since the beginning of history. If you look at the Indian Languages here, you will discover that they are from all over North America. That’s a clue that they were running from something.

When people ask me why my ancestors moved to California, I jokingly tell them “they were running from bankers, lawyers and the law.” (Half jokingly)

The back-to-the-land movement was nothing but people looking for escape. They sure as hell weren’t moving here for the prosperity. The prosperity came when they found “the law” wasn’t going to do anything about growing marijuana. The cops-and-robber game that the law and the grower played served to keep weed prices high, and the fact that the cops never arrested most people, but only took their plants and assets, insured that the cops would continue to have a job. If they really wanted to get rid of the weed, they needed to stop the planting. It was easy to see from the outside looking in.

The Cops would campaign the locals, and the people that didn’t want marijuana to be grown here to give them more money, then they could control it. Well, the cops got more money and they got the Campaign Against Marijuana Planting. They got their helicopters and tactical weapons. They still selectively harvested the plants for news services to keep the funding coming, but they did nothing to stem the tide of growing. It became more, and more apparent, even to the grower, that the cops weren’t really going to kill the golden Goose. After a while the taxpayers get to feeling a little stupid paying for the game.

If the cops had been serious about getting rid of dope they could have. China doesn’t have a drug problem. Admittedly China drug laws are harsh… but effective.

Just as the white-eye displaced the Indians, the back-to-landers displaced the loggers. I wonder who the next band of outlaws to run the north coast will be?

Ernie Branscomb said...

You are beginning to sound like a local. Whenever a group of people got together, we would make the name connections, just like you did about the “Tewksberry name”.

As a matter of fact, I noticed that there were all kinds of old Laytonville family names that popped up in the Arizona narrative. The “Halls”, the “Prices”, the “Middletons”, the “Grimes” are all old Laytonville family names. I quietly thought to myself that I no longer have many people that I can ask about the possible connections.

spyrock said...

Spyrock, I thought I had your Constable Kauble death notice located because I found his wife's notice: 'Long Valley, Dec. 21, 1872, Mrs. Elizabeth, wife of the late John S. KAUBLE, aged 43y, native of Ky.' at this Russian River Flag
site. So I went back through the rest of the year here to no avail. Damn. There were two deaths in August in Long Valley.. "At Long Valley, Aug. 6, 1872, I.C. GRIME.
At Long Valley, Aug. 19, 1872, Clement BEATTIE, aged 52y."

In Healdsburg, June 20, 1872, Wm. H. MIDDLETON, aged 56y. Is this death one of yourn Ernie?

this is from river in 2009.
the following is from in the shadow.
kate mayo didn't give the middletons a title page but the story is stll there.

John and Suzanne Middletown left Illinois in 1853 in a covered wagon. They were Quakers and with their peacefull, quite ways, made friends with the Indians and never had any trouble. In fact, they were said to have Indian guides part of the way.
a daughter mary was born in salt lake city was was the first non morman person ever born there. they came over donner pass and settled in timbuctoo near grass valley where layfayette or lafe was born. he was two years old when they came to long valley and settled on a ranch between the sizemore ranch and cahto in the middle 60's.
lafe married laura lockhart in 1894. ruby was born in 1900 and married roy edmond branscomb in 1917. everett was born in 1920 and married elizabeth rathjens in 1940. they had two children one named ernest leroy after grandpa roy.
so you see here that ernest leroy whom we all know as ernie ancestors were quakers who were friends with indians and even had indian guides. quaker ancestry is something they share with joaquin miller who was an outspoken friend of the indian back in the day when being an indian lover could mean your life.
to the american indian written in 1916 by lucy thompson was the first book written my a northern california indian woman. her husband was white and the book was dedicated to him. if he hadn't have written down her dictation the history of the yurok people would have been forgotten.
so people have to see the forest for the trees here. people who were nice to indians were killed back in the day. and as these obits are in 1872 the same year my ancestor john kauble was killed, i get tired of people coming here and saying that the pioneers weren't good people. they were not only good, they died for standing up for being good.

spyrock said...

i recently read a book about black bart. it seems that he walked everywhere and never robbed the passengers just wells fargo. frank asbill claims that he would stop by for dinner at their mountain ranch near covelo. after reading the book, this seemed to be his usual routine. so its very likely that my relatives sarah and milo patton who boarded frank asbill when he was going to school and who ran one of george white's big ranches north of covelo might have had black bart as a dinner guest. in san francisco he was considered a friend by leland stanford.
anyways ernie, thanks for relating another great story about your relatives. i've got some of those old pictures of my male relatives, like jim patton and fred simmerely. some people have that old buckaroo look.

Anonymous said...

One of our local Indians saw the picture of Lafayette Middleton in #1 elder book and claimed that he is related to a Lafayette Middleton. Now, that's my great grandfather, and I know he's not related to him. But, if Grimes went by "Lafayette Middleton", what the heck!! Maybe that's Curtis' missing link.

I can't remember mater-a-factly, but was told that Grimes was hiding from the law after an incident in Arizona, in the hills out Branscomb way someplace. I think my mother told me he was a shirt tale relative (like a cousin) to the Middletons but don't quote me here. Maybe Aunt Elsie will know. There is a picture of Cicero in the Middleton photo album.

My mother had headstones made for some Grimes when she worked at the cemetery a couple of years ago and Cicero's name came up.

I have a copy, hand typed, of the Globe Arizona Middletons and the Indian fights on the reservation property. It may be from Glen Yows relatives. I believe Glen's grandfather was our great uncle Charles Branscomb.

Ernie check your story from Dennis Yows. He also sent you and me the family tree that shows all of the Middletons. Large family, lots of branches.


Robin Shelley said...

I don't know how you folks keep all this straight! Glad you do, though. Interesting reading.

Anonymous said...

The old timers, Bud Bowman for one a couple of weeks ago, said that if one last family had married into at that time, everyone in Laytonville would have been related either by marriage or blood..!!!! LOL

Robin Shelley said...

I've heard Sully Pinches say that same thing. Of course, he & Bud are related... LOL!

olmanriver said...

I believe Glen's grandfather was our great uncle Charles Branscomb.
Hey cousin, in my research I ran across a mention of a Charles Branscomb who moved to Ukiah, changed his name to Charles Ward, and was a blacksmith.
Same guy?

Anonymous said...

omr, why in the world would a Branscomb change their name?
I read one time that if you are put into a room with 50 complete strangers you will be related to at least one of them.


olmanriver said...

That's the question I want to know, Oregon.

Earl Requa remembered the Middleton boys, Lafe and Granville, attending Farley school (Shadow of the Cahto, pg 122)way back.
I thought it was interesting that the Arizona Lafayette had shortened his name to Fate.

Ernie, when your father and uncle Ben first started their sawmill north of Laytonville, old Fred Grimes had a home, described as a 'lean-to', and served as the night watchmen.

Who knows Ernie, the way extended families stayed connected in the past, maybe the Grimes and Middletons were connected via Arizona.

Anonymous said...


These people are Benjamin Franklin Branscomb and Jane Taylors children, founders of Branscomb, CA. One of their sons, Joseph Edmond was our great grandfather.

Great Uncle Charles William Branscomb b 20 May 1860 Sonoma Co. married Melvina Uarka Middleton b 1862 Laytonville CA. (Blacksmith) photo in #1 Elder book. (Yows connection cwb)

Great Aunt Mary Elizabeth Branscomb b 1863 in Sonoma Co., married Charles M. Ward b. 1855 Graton, Sonoma Co., m 1886. Daughter Edna Ward m. to James Agustus Vassar 1913 then to Fred Redemeyer.

Charles A. Branscomb b. 1857 DeKalb Co MO was GGBF Branscomb's brother.

Charles married to a Branscomb. It was a misprint of his name. But, he probably was a blacksmith too.

Also, I think Fate was Lafayette Grimes who was shot and killed in AZ... not sure but think that's what I read in the link.

Anonymous said...

By Charles, I meant Charles W. Branscomb.

olmanriver said...

Thanks for explaining/correcting Ernie and cousin!

Ross Sherburn said...

There is an outlaw equipment operator over in the Corning area that i know.
His name is "Ernie" Middleton,i'll have to ask him about his ancestory sometime.........

olmanriver said...

Here is a direct family connection from that post that spyrock referenced for the family tree students: The marriage "At Little Lake, Jan. 7, 1872, T. C. GRIME to Silvia L. MIDDLETON."

Anonymous said...

I'm sure I won't see it but, there might be a Middleton on the English Throne this generation.


Robin Shelley said...

I saw that Prince William is marrying a Middleton girl & I wondered if she is any relation to you B-scombs but, WTH DO YOU MEAN YOU WON'T SEE IT, OREGON?!!

Anonymous said...

In Laytonville, when I was growing up I knew some people by the name of Grimes.---There was Royal, who I beleive was the oldest, who always lived in Oregon or Washington or somewhere in that area, I only saw him one time, when he came to visit his Brohers Cicero (always called Dock) and Frederick (Fred), who both always lived in Laytonville. Dock lived in a small cabin that was at The Rancho El Primero where I was born in 1923 and lived until I was around 8 years 0ld. He later lived in town (Laytonville),I don't know what his work or means of making a living was as he was almost totally blind, but took care of himself and his house and could see good enough to get around walking where he needed to go, to the grocery store etc.--He had a cleft palate, that was slightly noticable on his lip, he talked well enough and could be under stood, he also had a double set of teeth, his baby teeth didn't loosen, but the second teeth came in anyway so he had the double set of teeth, another disability he had, his eyelashes grew inward toward his eye instead of away from his eye and someone would have to pull them with tweezers every two weeks or so to keep them from scratching his eyes. So like I said I don't know how he supported himself etc. Fred, I don't know where he lived wken he was growing up but worked for Grandpa Lafe at his spli stuff camp and would build a little lean-to shack and live there while it was working weather and board and room with Grandpa Lafe and Grandma Laura In the winter. He also had a cleft palate, that was slightly noticable on his lip, but he didnt have all the other problems that Dock had. I think there was one girl in the family, but if there was I never knew her.
I think maybe these were the children of the Cicero Grmes, married to Sylvia Middleton, if so, they would have been the nephews and niece? of Lafe and Laura Middleton..... Elsie

olmanriver said...

Thanks Elsie.