Historic outlaw Cliff Ragan featured at HSUMD meeting June 18

Historic outlaw Cliff Ragan featured at HSUMD meeting June 18The June meeting of the Historical Society of the Upper Mojave Desert will feature Rob Pearce, PhD, speaking on “Cliff Ragan, Outlaw.”

The meeting will be held at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, June 18, at the Historic USO Building, 230 W. Ridgecrest Blvd.

Pearce will talk about his current book, “Bad Man or Good Friend: the Life Story of Cliff Ragan, Outlaw,” which chronicles the life of a horse thief who operated throughout the west in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

Pearce’s grandfather, A.A. Brierly, was Inyo County undersheriff when Ragan was arrested in 1914 in Inyo County for horse stealing.

Pearce’s interest was whetted at a young age listening to stories his grandfather told about Ragan. For more than 35 years Rob searched for information about Cliff.

The research journey for his book took Pearce through prison records, county court records, Sheriff’s Department arrest records, newspaper articles, books, the Internet and personal communications. The compilation of that journey provides an amazing history of the outlaw.

Ragan served three terms in San Quentin, two terms in the Nevada State Penitentiary, one term in the Idaho State Penitentiary and countless time in local jails.

One mystery of Ragan’s life that looked for many years to be unsolvable was what happened to him after his release from Idaho State Prison in 1940, when he was about 70 years old.

During Pearce’s’s presentation he will provide the details of Ragan’s life, including his later years. Pearce will also solve the mystery of Ragan’s life after Idaho.

Pearce works for the Natural Resource Conservation Service in Bishop. He has degrees in range science from Texas A&M Univer-sity and Colorado State University and a degree in agricultural management from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.

During his versatile life, he has worked as a ranch manager, feedlot manager, mule packer, Caltrans equipment operator, Los Angeles Department of Water and Power maintenance worker, bus driver, colt breaker, horse trainer, natural resource consultant and a variety of other jobs. He loves history and enjoys sharing what he has learned about western characters like Cliff Ragan.

Pearce is a fifth-generation Inyo County resident. The first of his family, Enoch Enloe, came through Inyo County in 1859 with a herd of cattle bound for Nevada. Enoch was 12 at the time.

Pearce is the author of two other books, “The Owens Valley Contro-versy and A. A. Brierly: The Untold Story,” and “A Brother Lost: A Tribute to Hugh B. Pearce.”

Pearce spoke to HSUMD several years ago about the Owens Valley book.

This will be the society’s last meeting until September, when HSUMD will resume meeting on the third Tuesday of the month. Meetings are free, and all are welcome to attend.

For more information on this or future meetings, call HSUMD at 760-375-8456.

Story First Published: 2013-06-12