The Murder at Highland Springs Resort

A terrible murder was perpetrated on the persons of Warren Hall and Wilkinson, at or near Dr. Smith’s rancho, on the road to the mines, thirty miles from San Bernardino (this would be what is now the Highland Spring Resort in Banning Ca.). Mr. Warren Hall was agent for a stage line that had been put on the route to the mines from Los Angeles, and as it was proving a bad speculation to the proprietors. He was sent out to withdraw the stock, etc., belonging to the route, and as that would be his last trip, of course the most that could be had to be made out of it. When he started for the mines (which means he was headed east from San Bernardino on the Bradshaw Trail), he had five passengers, and some twelve thousand dollars in gold dust for different persons in Los Angeles and San Francisco, he was also accompanied by one of his drivers. The night that they stayed at the place above mentioned, through some hocus pocus or another, the money was missing.

In the morning, after making due search, it could not be found, and finally Hall, who was very violent man, suspected a driver that had been in his employ, named Gordon, who formerly came to this State from Texas. Hall and Wilkinson accused Gordon of stealing the money, and threatened to hang him, etc.. While Gordon stoutly denied the theft. At this juncture of affairs, they procured a rope, and did actually hang poor Gordon three times, telling him to confess that he stole the money, but as be knew nothing of it or its whereabouts, he had nothing to confess respecting it. Finding they could not wring a falsehood out of him in this manner, they gave him a pick and shovel and told him to go up the gulch and dig his grave. Not being able to resist them, he started off with the tools, followed by Wilkinson, who had a revolver in his hand, prepared to shoot him. As they passed out of sight of the station, Gordon told Wilkinson that the money was under a large rock near them, and that he had hid it there. Wilkinson went to look for it, and as he stooped over, Gordon rushed on him with a drawn knife and killed him.

Hall heard the rumpus, and went to see what was the matter, and as he approached, Gordon seeing that he was armed with a drawn revolver, picked up a stone, and when he was near enough threw it and knocked Hall down, and when Hall fell he attacked him with the knife, and cut him so severely that he soon died. Gordon was so enraged at the time that it is said he stabbed Hall some thirty times. Gordon, after dispatching his persecutors, went back to the station, where the passengers have been left, and gave himself up. As their driver had been killed they desired him to drive them into San Bernardino. This he did and when they arrived he (Gordon) gave himself up to tho sheriff. The same officer who took charge of Hall’s and Wilkinson’s trunks and other effects. On examining the trunks one half of the money was found hid away carefully in Hall’s trunk, and the other was in Wilkinson’s. This convinced the officers of justice, and all others present that, it was their intention to steal it themselves and put the blame on an innocent man. Gordon was at once acquitted, and released by the proper officer.

There is scarcely a more heinous outrage recorded in the dark annals of crime, than was attempted to be thus perpetrated. Hall was a married man, and leaves a wife and two children in Los Angeles, He came to California from Utica, NY, Wilkinson was a young man and formerly lived in Illinois.

This article first appeared in the Daily Alta newspaper on Nov. 26th, 1862.

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