Almanac: August » Almanac: August 13

Almanac: August
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1891

According to an account by Gustano Arellano in Orange County: A Personal History, Francisco Torres, an employee of Helena Modjeska at her property in what is now named Modjeska Canyon, was lynched on this date for the killing of Captain William McKelvey, his supervisor, in a dispute over $2.50 in taxes withheld from his wages.

Paul Brennan’s article “Strange Fruta” at OC Weekly provides an extended narrative, but says that the lynching occurred on Saturday, August 20. The title of Brennan’s article alludes to a Billie Holiday song, “Strange Fruit,” about the lynchings of blacks in the American South.

An August 31, 1992, article in the Los Angeles Times by Gebe Martinez adds the detail that Torres had McKelvey’s purse when he was arrested near San Diego.

The Orange County Sheriff’s history page claims the year was 1892.

[Sources: Orange County: A Personal History by Gustavo Arrellano, “Strange Fruta” by Paul Brennan at OC Weekly, Gebe Martinez in the Los Angeles Times, and the history web page of the Orange County Sheriff’s Department.]