Tuesday, June 15, 2021



News Back Then – February 10, 2012

Williams Farmer

There has been trouble brewing in the Bear Valley school district for weeks. The section is sparsely settled and the school attendance is not more than a dozen scholars on an average.  One of the largest scholars is Miss Pearl Cruse who is bordering at the age of “sweet sixteen”.  She and Miss Howard the teacher, had trouble, which resulted in a hand-to-hand encounter, with the scholar and Elmer Hildreth, a lad of fifteen years who was present as a visitor, as spectator.  Elmer found it pleasant to walk down the lane with Miss Pearl, just as all schoolboys and girls do upon arriving at the age of love’s first dream. The teacher appealed to the trustees, and one afternoon the board met and deliberated upon the facts as presented, with result that Miss Cruse was summarily expelled.  The board composed of W. Lang, Wm. Igrim, and P.T. Wallace.

The case did not end here, but was carried up to Miss Lillie L. Laguenour, the County Superintendant of Schools.  She wrote to the trustees to admit Miss Cruse into school, and the young lady resumed her studies. In the meantime, a report had gone abroad in the district to the effect that young Elmer Hildreth had gone to the school on the particular afternoon to assist Miss Peal Cruse in her lesson in calisthenics with the teacher.  During the trouble, young Hildreth is known to have sat perfectly still in his seat and when he learned of the report he was highly indignant.  On Wednesday morning he left home to look after some traps, and was accompanied by a young brother, Theodore. Elmer carried a 32-caliber pistol and Theodore, a rifle.  The two lads walked down to Sulfur Creek and on their return visited their uncle Theodore Wallace, and, it is said, discussed the matter above with him. They next went up on the hill above the Ingrim place, where Wm. Ingram and the boy’s brother-in law- G. Nordyke, were repairing a fence. Here young Elmer accused Wm. Ingrim  of reporting falsely against him.  Hot words followed and finally the lie was passed.  Ingrim made for the boy with a hammer, but was stopped by Nordyke.  He then knocked him down with a club or fist.  The boy got up, bleeding about the face, and began backing up the hill.  Nordyke released Ingrim and the infuriated man grabbed for an axe and again made for the boy, who drew his revolver and fired.  The ball entered Ingrim’s abdomen.  Dr. Kimball was summoned by phone and left immediately for Bear Valley.  The injured man had suffered no shock, was without fever and an examination of the wound satisfied the physician that the ball had not entered the cavity.  Yesterday he was reported to be resting easily and it is expected he will be able to come out of the hills and be x-rayed to locate the bullet.  The boy went home and informed his mother, and the two left immediately for Williams, reaching here about 2 o’clock Thursday morning.  They went directly to the home of Grandma Wallace, where the boy was arrested Thursday by constable Fury.  District Attorney Zumwalt came out Thursday and took a statement of the boy, and with supervisor Rathbun drove to Bear Valley to secure statements from all the witnesses.  We are reliably informed that all tell substantially the same story , and unless something new comes up, the case will be dismissed on the grounds of self defense.

Elmer Hildreth is a native of Colusa county, between the age of 15 and 16 year.  He has not been raised under the most auspicious circumstances, but has developed many good traits of character.

When a mere lad his father and mother separated, and he went to Bear Valley with his mother where they have eked out an existence in a little cabin about one mile north of the scene of the shooting.  He was committed to the County Jail on Thursday evening by Justice Ashby, pending his preliminary examination.


Elmer Hildreth, the youth who shot Trustee Ingrim in Bear Valley on Wednesday of last week is out on bail.  Wm. Hildreth, the young man’s father, came in from Cortina and visited his son in the county jail.

An attorney was employed and it was decided to secure the boy’s release pending the result of Mr. Ingrim’s injuries.  The matter was brought before Justice Ashby who fixed the bond at $3,000, which was promptly filled with the following as sureties:  Henry Husted, T. D. Griffin, John Stanley, W. R. Tulley, and L. N. Zumwalt.


The preliminary examination of Elmer Hildreth was held before Justice Ashby on last Saturday night.  The absence of Court Reporter, Ed de St. Maurice necessitated the sending to Sacramento for a reporter to take down the testimony, and as the train was late, examination did not begin until about  7 PM in the evening.  District Attorney I. G. Zumwalt  represented the people and Attorney D. H. De Long the defendant.

The witnesses examined were: Elmer Hildreth, the defendant; his brother, Theodore Hildreth, and his brother-in-law, Gordon Nordyke.  These were the only eye witnesses to the trouble which resulted in the shooting of Trustee Ingrim of the Bear Valley School District.  The evidence of these witnesses called was substantially the same. Other witnesses called were Tilden Jones of Sulphur Creek, R. M. Cruse and Wm. H. Lang of Bear Valley.  Wm. Ingrim, the injured man was not present at the examination, which resulted in the discharge of the defendant by Justice Ashby. ■

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