Friday, July 29, 2011

Judge Pleasants and wolves

The photo above shows Judge J. E. Pleasants in about 1900. I briefly discussed him in my last entry and said that "Much, much more can be said about Pleasants, but that's a whole 'nuther post."

Some wiseguy soon responded, "...Get with it and follow-up with articles on 'the judge.'"

That was already my intention. But the more I dug into the story, the more I realized that to do any kind of justice at all to the man's story, one would need to write a book. So I've started a Pleasants file, and maybe the book will happen someday.

Short of that, I offer you this link to a biographical thumbnail sketch and timeline, from the finding aid for the Pleasants Family Collection in UCI's Special Collections.

For a small sample of the kind of colorful stories omitted by such summaries, I offer the following tale, told by Pleasants and quoted in Terry Stephenson's Shadows of Old Saddleback. The story took place in the 1860s, when Pleasants was foreman of the Rancho Lomas de Santiago.


"In the upper Canada de Las Ranas [a.k.a. Peters Canyon], the Precitas [Canyon] and the Limestone [Canyon], a pack of seven big timber wolves pestered our stock. ... Among the vaqueros was one of Spanish descent named Aramente who had a 7-year-old son named Stanislaus. One evening the boy was sent afoot by his father to bring in a horse. ... The boy found him feeding on the plains out where the golf grounds were afterward located. Stanislaus caught the animal, but was unable to mount him, so with his little dog trotting along beside him, he was leading the horse toward home... when the pack of wolves swooped down off the hills and rushed at him. By waving his arms and by his cries, the little fellow kept the wolves off. They ran round and round, jumping at him, snapping their jaws. They would have killed the boy, I am sure, if the dog had not intervened. That plucky little dog got his teeth in a wolf, and the whole pack turned on him. While the wolves were killing the brave dog, the boy ran toward home.
"Becoming anxious over the failure of Stanislaus to return... Aramante and I rode out to look for him and had just reached the crest... when we saw the boy running toward us nearly exhausted and in a terrible fright. The wolves, sensing our approach, had turned and we glimpsed them fleeing over the hills."


Who knew Orange County had wolves?

Of course it doesn't anymore. After this harrowing experience, the pack of wolves was made "enemy number one" on the rancho and didn't survive long. And we've heard of no local wolf sitings since.

I tell you this to ease the concerns of those readers who may have built their condominiums out of straw or sticks.

2 comments:

Connie Moreno said...

Hmmmm....interesting! Wolves, who knew!

B. von Traven said...

Great story, but you misspelled "sighting."