798. Robert1 Conover (370964); d. March 12, 1896 Pinyon Mining District,, Riverside County, California.
From Bryan Democrat (newspaper in Williams Co, OH) dated 5/21/1896, p. 4
James Roop who was raised at Pulaski (Williams Co) disappeared from his home some ten or twelve years ago, making no sign of his intended departure, and during all these years giving no hint of his whereabouts. His relatives made diligent search and inquiry but could obtain no trace of him. A few days ago letters were received by his relatives here stating that he had gone hence to California where he had married and engaged in gold mining in which he was quite successful, he and his father-in-law owning a two thirds interest in a paying mine.
On March 12th both Roop and his father-in-law were murdered - Roop being shot through the heart, dying instantly and the old gentleman so seriously wounded in the head as to render him unconscious in which condition he remained until death. The motive of the double murder is not known. Several persons were arrested on suspicion but no positive clue has been developed.
Mr. Roop, though somewhat eccentric, was an exemplary young man, and his untimely death is regretted by many acquaintances. His sisters, Mrs. Byron Wyatt of Bryan and Mrs. George Gares of Stryker are almost prostrate with grief.
From: Sandi (Sandrabordelon@msn.com) Date: 5 Nov 2002 5:15
I found this article in the 3/14/1896 Sacramento Bee. Although I am prone to misspelling things, his name is listed in the newspaper as "Roof" instead of "Roop". Also, although the headline implies James is the father-in-law, the article states he is the son-in law.
Sacramento Bee 3/14/1896
TWO MINERS KILLED - A QUARREL OVER A MINE RESULTS IN THE SHOOTING OF JAMES ROOF AND HIS SON -IN- LAW
BEAUMONT (Cal)- March 14- Two brothers named Nicholson, miners from a mine about a hundred miles east of here, called The Lost Horse, came into Banning today and gave themselves up to the Sheriff of Riverside County claiming to have killed their partners named Robert Conover and James Roof, his son-in-law, of Pasadena, in a quarrel over the division of their mine. Self defense is given as the reason for the murder. The Nicholson's claim that Roof shot one of them in the arm and that Conover struck him with a pick. The other Nicholson then shot both Roof and Conover, killing them both instantly. The wife of one of the dead men is bringing in the bodies, and the coroner from Riverside will investigate the matter fully.
From the Los Angeles Evening Express (dated 3/14/1896)
Two Pasdenans Killed Near Banning - They Were Shot by Two Other Men - Who Quarreled With Them Over the Possession of a Mining Claim. Murderers Surrender.
Word was received in this city this afternoon to the effect that a double murder had been committed at a place called Twenty-nine Palms, about twenty miles from Banning, in which two miners named Robert Conover and James Roof were killed by a man named Nicholson.
As near as can be learned, the trouble arose over a mining claim. Roof and Conover were working a claim, when Nicholson and a brother put in an appearance. The brother ordered Roof and Conover to vacate, which they declined to do. Words ensued, when Roof picked up a pick and attempted to hit Nicholson's brother over the head.
At this point, Nicholson, who carried a Winchester, took a hand, and shot both Roof and Conover down. The Nicholsons then fled. Roof and Conover are said to be residents of Pasadena.
San Bernardino, March 14 - Last Thursday about noon, six miles southwest of the Pinto mountain, on Cottonwood road, in the Pinion mining district, Riverside county, P. R. Nicholson shot and killed R. Conover and James Roof. These men, together with J. J. Nicholson, were partners in mining claims, and they had a difficulty in dividing interests in the mines, out of which the fatal quarrel arose.
One of the survivors of the fight, P. R. Nicholson, says that Conover with a gun and Roof with a pick handle attacked J. J. Nicholson, his brother, and shot him in the arm and knocked him in the head with the pick handle. At this juncture P. R. Nicholson attempted to separate the combatants, and he was himself knocked in the head with the pick handle. He then went to his tent and got a Winchester and killed Conver and Roof. J. J. Nicholson was shot in the arm from which he came near bleeding to death. After the killing the two brothers came to Banning, where they surrendered themselves to H. M. Carpenter, Deputy Sheriff of Riverside county. The bodies of the dead men will be in Banning this afternoon and an inquest will then be held. By mistake the Sheriff of San Bernanrdino county was called to Banning, under the erroneous suppositin that the killing took place in this county.
Riverside Daily Press (dated 3/14/1896)
Two More Men Killed - A Shooting Affray on the Desert Over Mining Claims - The Slayer Under Arrest and Claims Self-Defense
Sheriff Johnson received a telegram this morning from Constable Carpenter of Banning stating that two men had been killed on the desert and that he had the man who did the killing under arrest at that place. The Sheriff immediately telegraphed to hold the man and send particulars of the affair. District Attorney Gill also received a telegram from Carpenter to the same effect, and sent a reply to bring the man here.
The San Bernardino Sun of today received some particulars by telegraph, from which it is learned that the two men killed were Robert Conover and James Roof of Pasadena. The killing took place near the Lost Horse mine, 90 miles east of Banning. Conover and his brother-in-law, Roof, were in partnership with two brothers named Nicholson in the mining business. The trouble arose over the division of the property, the men intending to separate. Anticipating trouble, the two brothers decided to leave camp to avoid it, when Roof seized a Winchester and without warning shot the younger Nicholson in the arm, at the same time Conover rushing at Nicholson with a pick-handle with which he struck him. The elder Nicholson, who was armed, fired upon and killed both his brother's assailants. The Nicholson brothers both came to Banning and game themselves up.
Mrs. Conover was expected to arrive in Banning today with the bodies of her husband and brother, on the way to Pasadena, and Coroner Sherman telephoned to Constable Carpenter to hold the bodies there. He will go up on the afternoon train to hold an inquest.
LATER - Sheriff Johnson this afternoon received another telegram from Carpenter, stating: "Will hold prisoner her until inquest. Will give you particulars when I come down." The Sheriff expects Carpenter to arrive in Riverside with the prisoner tomorrow.
Riverside Daily Press (dated Monday, March 16, 1896)
The Nicholsons - They Were Brought to Riverside Yesterday
The two men, James J. and Thos. R. Nicholson, engaged in the trouble on the desert Thursday at a mining camp, near the "Lost Horse" Mine, 90 miles east of Banning, were brought to Riverside Sunday on the 11:30 motor, and were placed in jail. The inquest over the dead bodies of the two men killed, Conover and Roof, was held by Coroner Sherman at Banning Saturday night, the verdict of the jury being that they came to their death from gunshot wounds from a gun in the hands of the younger of the Nicholson brothers. It was previously reported that the older of the Nicholson's did the killing. Mrs. Conover, the wife of one of the murdered men, took the remains of the two men on to Pasadena Sunday for burial.
The version of the affair as given by the Nicholsons at the inquest, the four men mentioned being the only ones present when the quarrel began and ended, is to the effect that the difficulty occurred over the younger of the Nicholson brothers having located a claim with other parties, leaving out Conover and Roof. Up to this time the four men were partners, and Conover and Roof were incensed over the action of young Nicholson "locating them out" in the new discovery. Hot words ensued, and, as the Nicholsons tell it, they started to their work to avoid trouble when Conover seized a Winchester and shot the elder Nicholson through the right forearm. The wounded man grappled with Conover and was in the act of attempting to take the gun from him when the brother called to Roof to help him part the men, but he answered, "Let them fight!" But young Nicholson rushed in to separate the men and Roof picked up a pick-handle and struck James Nicholson over the head, knocking him down, and then hit the younger Nicholson on the head. Young Nicholson ran to a tent of some other miners and secured a Winchester left by them in the tent, and commenced shooting at Conover and Roof, firing three shots, two of them taking effect, one each in the left breast of the two men. The shooting occurred about 11 o'clock Thursday. Roof lived for about a half hour, and Conover until 8 o'clock in the evening.
The Nicholson's, after carrying Conover into a tent and furnishing him with water, started for Banning to give themselves up, stopping at another camp a half mile from the place of the shooting, and informed the men what had occurred and asking them to go down and take care of Conover. These men refused to go, not caring, probably, to mix in the affair. Later some other miners came to the camp and found Roof dead, and Conover died within a half hour after. Conover recognized the men but was unable to speak.
The younger Nicholson testified that before he left Conover the latter told him to write a letter to his (Conover's) wife, taking all the blame upon himself and Roof, but that when he had gotten it written, Conover could not hold the pencil to sign it when he made the attempt to do so.
The eldest of the men had his arm in a sling, and his head tied up. Constable Carpenter of Banning, who came in with the men, said that when the Nicholsons got into Banning Friday evening the wounded arm was in a bad condition and the the cut on the head was a frightful one.
The Nicholsons are to taken back to Banning this afternoon for the preliminary examination. District Attorney Gill will go to Banning to represent the State.
It is thought that after hearing the testimony the justice may, if he hold the prisoners for trial in the Superior Court, allow them to give bail for their appearance. Geo. Beam was in Riverside yesterday ready to go on the bond for the men.
Thomas Nicholson, the one who did the shooting, is a young man of only 26 years of age, and J. J. Nicholson is 44 years old. Neither one of the men looks like a dangerous character.
From: Jeff Ohlfs (Desert Traveler) January 31, 2003
I checked the Riverside County mines index from 1893-1896. There were no claims by any Roof/Root or Conover, anywhere. It would help to know the Nicholson brothers names.
I found four claims who's claimant was a Nicholson, which I ordered from the County. Two came with the incorrect document, one I need to recheck and the other was a claim for the Blackhawk Quartz Mining Claim. It puts it 18 miles SE of 29 Palms. It's a good bet this might be the one. It was located Dec. 11, 1895 by Jim and T.R. Nicholson and J.C. Christy in the Pinon Mining District. No mention of the others.
From: Jeff Ohlfs July 14, 2003 9:22 PM
Found a reference to Roof (spelling) in the card file: "with wife and two or three small children lived at 29 Oasis. They were the daughter and son-in-law of Conovers who also lived there."
From: Jeff & Deb Ohlfs July 27, 2003
Here's the remaining info. from the 1886-1890 San Bernardino Great Register of Voters for "Root"
1) Frank, Sr., 45, birthplace New Jersey, living in San Bernardino, Blacksmith
2) Frank, Jr., 23, New Jersey, Redlands, Blacksmith
2) J. Charles, 32, Canada (naturalized by father), Ontario, Clerk
3) James Prindle, 36, Pennsylvania, Riverside, Mechanic
4) Saxton C., 34, Michigan, Riverside, Laborer
5) William Henry, Canada (naturalized by father), Ontario, Farmer.
Children of Robert1 Conover (370964) include: