By Harold Fuller
G.R.A. Brown, an enterprising citizen if Canderlaria, was simply called “GRAB” by his friends. No one seemed to know what his initials stood for and no one cared. He was just always known as Grab Brown.
Well, in 1887 Grab enclosed about an acre of ground below town, near the old Columbus Road and started a chicken ranch.
Before he enclosed the area, with an eight foot fence, he had a great deal of trouble with his chickens scratching in the neighbors gardens.
The fence solved that problem so Grab decided to expand his flock a little. He purchased a couple of incubators from San Francisco and had them operating full blast during the summer, raising about a thousand chickens. Coyotes were always a bit troublesome around Canderlaria, and at night when they began singing, and the necessary responses made by the dogs in town, it made sufficient cause for the Deacon of the Church to indulge in profanity.
Grab Brown poisoned most of the coyotes and received a vote of thanks from local citizens, but there was an old coyote who managed to evade all the poison, snares, traps and buckshot that was intended for him. This troubled the chicken ranch owner very much, because he had a pet poodle, a present from Hawthorne’s legendary Barkeep, Charley “Thereby Hangs a Tale” Kimball and he worried about the coyote getting him. One evening Brown missed his dog and became so concerned looking for him that he neglected to close a small opening in the fence. The old coyote took advantage of Brown’s carelessness and got inside the fence. The coyote had gorged himself during the night and when he had finished his respite he was too large to crawl out the way he got in. The next morning Brown saw the coyote running around inside the one acre enclosure, with feathers scattered about and went up town to get a gun. The boys in town objected to just shooting that old coyote. Instead they rounded up all the ball bats in town so that every man had one and they went out to encounter their adversary.
Grab Brown quickly realized he had an opportunity to make a buck so before they could enter the enclosure each man had to fork over fifty cent admittance fee. This small army then proceeded to advance on the enemy. The coyote, seeing they meant business, skipped around lively. Half an hour passed without the coyote getting a scratch but some of the participants didn’t fare so well. While bats were flying in an effort to slay the culprit, Charley Fog received a very serious scalp wound and Ned Reed had an arm broken. Almost all of them had some blood flowing from somewhere. More men arrived from town and wanted to take the place of those who had become exhausted. Brown collected more fifty cent pieces while the coyote got a little rest and they started again. Times were lively, the coyote was very slippery and more knots and bruises were suffered by the men, but at length he was laid out with a well directed blow from Billy Thomas, who claimed the skin as a trophy.
When the boys opened the body they found the remains of the chickens and Brown’s pet poodle.
In reading this story in the 1885 edition of the Walker Lake Bulletin. I found myself pulling for the old coyote and hoped somehow escape, but alas, he didn’t, and I have liked to tell how it happened.
Grab Brown was later involved in a killing in Canderlaria, but that’s a story for another time.