Returning home to Myrtle Point from an agricultural field trip to Astoria I
was informed that the local state police office in Coquille had been trying to
get in touch with me. Calling Officer Paul Williams, I was told of information
being left at their office by William White, rancher and brand inspector from
Port Orford, Curry Co., in regard to a truck load of big Hereford steers having
been seen by another party (Seifert Iverson) coming out of the Sixes river area
toward Highway 101. Iverson, having logged in the territory for two years or so
and being more or less familiar with the character of the livestock in the
area, was curious as to where such cattle might be from.
I met Officer Williams the following morning and we decided to drive to Port
Orford to talk with White and Iverson. We met White first and he informed us of
his conversation with Iverson. He, also, was reasonably sure that no cattle of
that kind were being raised and fattened on the lower Sixes. It was also his
opinion that the good cattle on the headwaters of the Sixes would not be coming
down river to be marketed. Leaving White, Williams and I headed up river to see
Iverson. He was out on a logging job and we didn't get to see him but we drove
on to the end of the county road, 12 miles up from Highway 101, to a place
called Plum Trees. There we discovered a fairly new road coming down the
mountain from the north. For many years I had been familiar with an old trail
coming in from that direction. It had led on up 4 miles to what was known as
the Wilson ranch. With this in mind, we decided to explore the new road.
Driving two miles we found a gate hung between two fir trees with chain and
padlock, but not locked. Driving on a few miles thru heavy timber we came into
an opening which held a rather makeshift corral. By this time it was noon and
quite warm. Watching our car we drove up were eight big Hereford steers. I told
Williams before he stopped the car that those were my cattle. They were three
and four year old steers which, along with 55 others of like ages had been on
the back part of our range for over a year, cattle that I had expected to send
to the Portland market in about three weeks.
Sitting on a very warm pony with his eyes on the steers to prevent their
escape thru an opening in the rear of the corral was a boy I had never seen.
After sizing up the situation a little longer we decided to question the boy.
He told us that they had just brought the cattle into the corral and that one
steer had broken away from them and that other riders were out in the timber
I had observed a strong pen, recently constructed, adjacent to the larger
pen. Rather than have the cattle "spooked" and risk having them break
out of the weaker pen in which they were being held, I asked the boy to help
drive them into the close pen. As I was fastening the gate, three other riders
rode in. These were also men I had never seen before. Questioning the older man
who later proved to be the brother of Myrtle Garner, principle defendant of the
case to follow, he informed me that he was working for Mrs. Garner and there
was still another cow boy out after the steer that had gotten away. The
brother's name was Ralph Stevens. The absent cowboy was Burdette Young,
employed, as Stevens explained, by a Loren Kerr. When asked the whereabouts of
Loren Kerr we were told that he was at the house. Not knowing the location of
the house in relation to the corrals, we decided to put under arrest the 5 horsemen
immediately present and take a chance on the possibility of finding any others
involved in the situation later. These five without being asked unsaddled their
overheated horses, put up the saddles in an old shed and turned the horses out.