Murder and Farming in Paso Robles

by Harold Franklin

The big news of 1915 for our area was the trial of Charlie Reynolds. It seems rough Charlie had left his farm and family on the north side of Creston and South El Pomar Roads. In the fall of 1914 he had spent a month or two fooling around with the wife of William Jardine over on Jardine Road, one of the two farming Jardines living along that road. They had come to that area by 1890. But then Charlie returned to his family and wife and put in his crop.

According to the local newspaper accounts, the two men had had some hard times with each other, including Charlie’s bunkhouse being blown up with him inside. Charlie was out harvesting on his farm in the summer of 1915. Jardine came riding into the farm’s yard on his horse, blood in his eye and his gun loaded. He set out to find the combine with his arch enemy. The header tender yelled to Charlie that Jardine was coming. Reynolds had his gun with him.

Old Paso over riverShots rang out in the field and Jardine lay dead. The jury ruled the shooting was justified and acquitted Charlie Reynolds of the murder. Enough said!  Some time later Reynolds lost the farm in debts. Jim Wilshusen bought the farm and farmed it until the 1980’s. Today the Roots live in Reynold’s house and 40 acres of the original farm of  800 or more acres.

Charlie moved near Paso Robles living several blocks west of the present Centennial Park in the farm’s house and barns on what is called Red Cloud Street. Charlie farmed all the land along the Airport Road, now Creston Road, and Niblick Road, then an un-named dirt track. It was the 1930’s and on the west side Coates had 20 acres or so, Lyell had his house and barn and sheds alongside South River Road with his alfalfa field across the road down to the river, now Albertson’s lot. There was no electrical substation. Capitol Hill Drive was off what is now Creston Road with the deep gully and canyon separating Coates property from the Capital Hill Drive and running up behind the Trinity Lutheran Church with its trails, once a deer route to the river. Tom Cropper had his house and property across the road from Bryans Beef slaughter house west across the road next to the river.

Charlie Reynolds farmed barley until the late 1950’s. Charlie also farmed the 241 acre E.C. Livingstone property on the east side of Spanish Lakes. Livingstone was the Allis Chalmers tractor dealer for many years in the metal building beside the railroad tracks at 13th Street; Cuendett’s blacksmith shop was across the street with the Lundbeck Brothers Blacksmith Shop on the south side, the original site of the first elementary school in Paso Robles in the 1870’s. The Pioneer Museum’s front façade is a copy of Lundbeck Brothers shop. Paso Robles High School vineyard is on part of that Livingston property. Harold and Wesley Franklin bought the property in 1947 and owned it until the 1990’s.

Different folks began buying parts of the farm in the late 1940’s including Paul Borkey along now Niblick Road.  Paul also bought what is now the Golf Club land from Mrs. Sharon about the same time. Mrs. Sharon’s house was back a quarter mile just north across the Shack Creek springs from Creston Village. She gave me a ride in her buggy about 1940. Clarence Wakeman bought the 200 or so acres from Borkey in the late 1950’s and the Schwartz brothers bought it in the early 1960’s and developed the Paso Robles Golf and Country Club. Jeff Nickerson bought the part of the Reynolds farm including the house and buildings about 1960. Trigo Lane was the first part developed about 1961 of the whole tract

With the building of the Golf Course, the dirt road was named Niblick Road and paved. One house on the road was Bill and Anna Cuindette Brown’s house about where  the School’s Administration Parking lot is now built.

Today Charlie Reynolds place is five schools, five churches, Centennial Park and hundreds of houses. The old olive orchard was located at the high school playing fields. Lyell’s house and barn are gone along with Tom Cropper’s house. In 1948 Tom Cropper used his CAT D7 and a carryall to realign Creston Road from South El Pomar all the way to Sherwood Acres and Niblick Road.  The road was renamed Creston Road from the Salinas River bridge to the original Creston Road past the big bend at Charolais Road. Tom was killed when his D7 rolled over on him when clearing land on the Erickson place past Creston a couple years later. Maurice Coates passed away two years ago and now his land is the last being developed into houses. Time marches on.

Harold Franklin


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