Charles McKiernan
see also the Patchen webste

In the Santa Cruz Mountains, above Lexington, an old stage station, boasts of a postoffice and few residences.  It is on the old Mountain Charley road, about two miles from the Mountain Charley ranch. In the early days grizzly bears abounded in the Santa Cruz hills and Mountain Charley (Charles McKiernan) was a great bear hunter.  For a while he killed deer for the San Francisco market, making over $7,000 by the work.  He kept a flock of sheep, but one night a California lion (cougar) got among them and killed seventy.  After this misfortune McKiernan sold his sheep and became one of the noted bear and lion hunters of the state.

Not along after he had parted with his sheep he was hunting about three miles from his home, when he discovered a large grizzly bear lying on her haunches with her head turned towards him.  McKiernan approached to within ten steps of the bear, dismounted  from his mule and shot the bear in the back of the head.  Supposing he had killed her, he commenced reloading his gun.,  After he had put in  the powder and was about to ram down the ball, the bear made a rush at him.  McKiernan grabbed the pommel on his saddle and was about to mount when the mule jumped, jerked away from him, leaving him sprawling on the ground, and ran home.  The bear in the meantime had returned to her nest where she had left her two cubs.  But she did not stay there long.  McKiernan had just got to his feet and was in the act of picking up his gun when the bear made for him  As there was no chance to shoot, McKiernan took to his heels.  Next day he returned to the place to find the bear dead.  The cubs were in the nest and he took them home and kept them for four months  At the end of that time their penchant for killing hogs cost them their lives.

But Mountain Charley's great battle with a grizzly came later on the afternoon of the eight of May , 1854.   He ahd been out hunting all day with a friend named Taylor.  They had killed five deer and were engaged in dragging two of them out of the gulch when they saw a male bear, about 400 yards below them.  While in the act of getting around the bear- a very large one- the animal unbeknown to them, executed a similar maneuver,  and they were climbing to the top of a little mound, the bear suddenly met them.  The surprise was mutual.  The bear gave a snort and plunged at them  Taylor fired the first shot and missed, then made for a tree.  Mountain Charley, armed with a riffle, fired quickly.  THe ball struck the bear over the eye and then Charley, now at close quarters  struck the bear on the head with the rifle, breaking off the barrel.  The blow felled the bear, but he immediately arose, and with his tremendous jaws wide open made a murderous snap at Charley catching him over the left eye and forehead, crushing the skull and tearing out a large section of it.  The old mountaineer then threw up his arms, in a locked position , in front of his face, when the bear grappled at them, crusting down with his grinders upon arm and terribly lacerating the flesh of the others.  Evidently satisfied with what he had done, the bear left his enemy and was seen no more.

Taylor, who had left his tree and taken to his heels when the bear attacked his friend, returned some time after the battle with Shulties, a mountain rancher who lived a short distance away.  Mountain Charley was found in an unconscious state and carried to his home.  One eye had been torn out, the nose and one side of his face were disfigured and there was a gaping wound in the skull.  Drs. A. W. Bell and T. J. Ingersoll attended the sufferer, removed pieces of bone from the skull and put in a silver place sufficiently large to cover the brain.  About a year afterward Mountain Charley came to San Jose and consulted Drs. Ingersoll and Spencer in regard to his condition.  The wound in the head had not properly healed and an operation was performed.  After this time the patient wore no plate and he lived in very good health of forty six years, dying in San Jose in 1902.  For many years prior to his death Mountain Charley was engaged in the lumber business in San Jose.  He was highly respected and his death was a loss to the community.

In May, 1875, McKiernan, or Mountain Charley, as he was best known, was the leading figure in another adventure.  On April 1, the state between his mountain ranch and Lexington was robbed and a moth later the crime was repeated.  Shortly after the last robbery Mountain Charley, who had killed a steer, was in the act of packing it when he saw two men near the road.  Thinking they were neighbors, he hailed them , but as they came towards him he realized his mistake and also come to the conclusion that the men were the much-wanted stage robbers.   Soon after this the sheriff of Santa Cruz county rode up and with Mountain Charley as guide went to find the two men.  They were located at an old house about six miles off.  As the house was being surrounded the two men showed fight and fired several shots at the sheriff and his posse.  During the firing Mountain Charley entered the house and saw the men standing by the chimney in the main room. ONe of them was raising his gun to shoot when Charley fired twice with the intention of crippling them.  One shot passed through the arm of the man with the gun; the other grazed the eyebrow of the other man.  Then they surrendered, were taken to San Jose, and each received a ten years' sentence.

Transcribed by Carolyn Feroben, from Eugene T. Sawyers' History of Santa Clara County,California,  published by Historic Record Co. , 1922. pages 304-305

Read another fascinatng account of Mountain Charley from Ghost Towns of the Santa Cruz Mountains, by John V. Young