Patterns on the Land, an exhibit of faithful reproductions of rare maps from the museum’s Research Library and Archives collection, was first on display at Ventura City Hall in May 2019, followed by the Agriculture Museum in Santa Paula in February 2020. Over the next few weeks we will be sharing many of the maps featured in Patterns on the Land and the stories they tell.

This week we will explore the “Jesse Jefferson Howard Murder Trial in 1877” and “Automobile Club of Southern California Strip Map of 1915).

Map 1: Jesse Jefferson Howard Murder Trial, 1877. Paper on linen, 24″ x 22″. Map No. M4108.

In June 1877, cattle rancher Jesse Jefferson Howard shot and killed Basque sheepherder Ydelfonson Urtasun, whom he felt was trespassing on his Rose Valley homestead. Howard was convicted of second-degree murder and housed in the Ventura County Jail. Much to the chagrin of local law enforcement and politicians, Howard escaped and fled to Arizona. He was re-arrested in May 1879, again jailed in Ventura, only to once again mysteriously escape. Howard returned to Arizona where he lived out his days under the assumed name Charles Smith “Bear” Howard. 

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