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Constable Fred M. Bristol, Chino Ca. USA




Constable Fred M. Bristol, Chino Ca. USA





Fred M. Bristol was the first officer to be killed in the Line of Duty in the West End area of SB County.......

Community shocked by death of a lawman
Joe Blackstock, Columnist


The word spread rapidly in downtown Chino more than a century ago.
The constable and his deputy were breaking up a knife fight among drunken men in front of a saloon when tragedy struck.

Special Section: Our Past

As the lawmen tried to quell the row, one of the bad guys ran off. The constable gave chase into the darkness - moments later, shots rang out and he was dead.
It happened the night of May 5, 1904, during the annual Cinco de Mayo festival in town.
The death of Constable Frederick M. Bristol - the first police officer to be killed in the line of duty in the Inland Valley - shocked the little community of Chino.
The "festival with its music, dance and song, its speech-making and merry-doing, bespangled processions and gala attired revelers came to an abrupt end in the neighborhood of midnight, (with) black tragedy stepping in and calling off the dance and festival," reported the Pomona Daily Review the next day.
Bristol and his deputy, John W. Turner, had taken their wives to some of the evening's events and had just returned to Turner's home when they learned of trouble brewing at Hammer's saloon at Sixth and D street, according to newspaper accounts.
They rushed over and managed to break up the fight, but when one of the men involved ran off down Sixth, the 32-year-old Bristol gave chase.
Moments later, the lawman's body was found lying on Sixth, just north of the railroad tracks, with multiple stab wounds. On the ground was the pistol he had fired during the pursuit and a pair of handcuffs.
Not knowing that Bristol was dead, Turner ran for medical help and was passed, according to reports, by a man running through downtown. Turner later identified the man as Francisco Ortiz, one of those involved in the fight outside the saloon.
Early the next morning, the sheriff and district attorney arrived from San Bernardino and Constable Frank Slanker came from Pomona to help with the investigation.
A group of lawmen went to the sugar-beet labor camp outside of Chino and arrested Ortiz at 11 a.m. They also found remains of a partially burned pile of clothes with blood stains.
Ortiz was rushed by train to San Bernardino for his own protection.
"If he had been left in Chino very long there would have been great danger of lynching, as Constable Bristol was esteemed so highly and the murder was so brutal," noted the Pomona Progress on May 6.
In addition to being constable for six years, Bristol had a successful livery business. He had lived in Chino for 18 years and left a wife and two small children.
His services drew a huge crowd in Chino followed by burial at Pomona Cemetery.
Bristol was highly respected in the Hispanic community of Chino, and many made the long walk to the cemetery in Pomona.
"Horror was on the faces of the Mexicans as well as the Americans," wrote the Progress on May 14. "They received permission to drape a Mexican flag in mourning and place it at half-mast under the American flag."
Salvador Medrano, speaking for Chino's Hispanic community, offered further condolences to Bristol's family.
"We feel with all our heart this unexpected tragedy, and give to the American people our sympathy and our hearts."
Ortiz was tried for murder in October in San Bernardino. All of the evidence was circumstantial - no witness saw the killing - but Turner's identification of him running through the town and the bloody clothes proved enough for the jury.
He was sentenced to a life sentence at Folsom Prison where he died of tuberculosis at the age of 30 in 1913.
Sometimes I'm asked how I get ideas for history columns, and often they aren't very scientific, like this one, for instance.
It grew out of inquiries from former Chino resident Richard Ortiz of Valley Center, Kan., who believed that Francisco Ortiz, whom I had briefly written about several years ago, was his family's long-lost relative.
After inquiries of me, Lola Lowe of Upland's Cooper Museum, and Allen McCombs of the Chino Champion, he determined the convicted murderer of Frederick Bristol was no relation - which for the family's history is probably just as well.
Joe Blackstock writes on Inland Valley history every other Saturday. He can be reached by e-mail at j_blackstock@dailybulletin.com or by calling (909) 483-9382.











Teapot Dome (279/365)




Teapot Dome (279/365)





The geological formation known as "Teapot Dome" is in Wyoming. It also refers to an infamous corporate scandal, not unlike those of today, which brought down Warren Harding's presidency in 1922. Teapot Dome was one of three Naval strategic oil reserves. The other two were Elk Hills and Buena Vista in California.

Harding's Secretary of the Interior, Albert Fall, was appointed with the support of oil companies, including that of L.A. oil baron Edward Doheny. That's as in Doheny Drive, Doheny State Beach, Doheny Library at USC, and the Greystone oil mansion used as a location for character Plainview's final psychological disintegration in There Will Be Blood. Like oilman Dick Cheney, oilman Doheny was considered for vice president at one point.

Fall, Doheny, and Sinclair (as in Sinclair Oil) faced criminal charges relating to back room deals made for oil leases in the reserves. Doheny was found innocent of wrongdoing. Sinclair was too, but later went to jail for hiring detectives to tail his jury.

Fall took the fall, doing a year in the pokey for accepting bribes. Harding died in office before Congress could impeach him. One of Harding's assistant Attorney Generals committed suicide. Doheny's son, who took over the family business, was murdered at Greystone, probably as part of the suicide of a mentally ill associate. Lurid conspiracy theories persist to this day.

Fall also contributed the line about drinking the milk shake. As the story goes, he liked to say that the oil reserves were useless anyway, due to slant drilling. He asked people to imagine that he had a very long straw, with which he could drink your milk shake from clear across the room.

Interesting stuff, oil.










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