ARTHUR WALTER KEDDIE, FATHER OF THE WESTERN PACIFIC
Mrs. W. O. Peck, wife of the surveyor for the Roberts Company and
a resident of Beckwith, Plumas County, had filed a location before
Commissioner Pardee, and when she signed a mortgage of the land to
Keddie, he paid her a sum of money, the amount of which she was not
asked to state.
The taking of testimony in the case then came to an abrupt termination when Bert Schlesinger announced that the defense would not offer any testimony and would submit the case without argument. First Assistant United States District Attorney Banning also submitted his case without argument, and an adjournment was taken until 11 o'clock the next morning, when the jury would be charged by Judge de Haven.
In charging the jury Judge de Haven laid down the law of the case as follows: He said that if a person makes application to enter public lands with the intention at the time of the application to acquire the land for his own benefit and not for the benefit of somebody else on speculation he can borrow the money to pay for the land and his expenses in acquiring the property without violating the law. Then if he should find it to be more profitable to sell it than to retain it he may sell it. But if, at the time of making the application, he intends to sell it as soon as he gets a chance, and makes the application because he has an agreement with somebody to sell and merely compiles with the formal requirements of the law for that purpose, he is simply a dummy and commits perjury in taking the oath and the person who has made the suggestion to him to make the false oath is guilty of subornation of perjury.
After three and a half hours of deliberation, a portion of which time was occupied by lunch, the jury in the timber land fraud cases returned to the court room on November 10 at 2:35 p. m. with a verdict of "guilty as charged" against all four defendants. Judge de Haven ordered the defendants to appear the following morning, November 11 at 10 o'clock for sentence. The maximum penalty was imprisonment in the penitentiary for the term of five years and the imposition of a fine not exceeding $1000.
Bert Schlesinger leading counsel for the defense announced that he would appeal the case. Five of the witnesses alleged to have been suborned could not be found by the United States Marshal, but the jury declared by the verdict that the conditions with respect to the missing witnesses were similar to those surrounding the witnesses who testified.
One of the defendants, Arthur W. Keddie, now a gray-haired man, almost collapsed when the verdict was announced and was prevented from sinking to the floor by his daughter, Miss Helen Keddie, who caught him in her arms and whispered words of encouragement into his ear. The counsel for the defense were greatly surprised at the verdict, because the four witnesses called for the prosecution had sworn that they had stated the truth in their applications for the land and had not committed perjury, nor had they been incited thereto by the accused. The jury, however, chose to disbelieve that part of their testimony because of the other circumstances attendant upon their filing on the land.
United States District Judge de Haven on November 12 granted a new trial in the case. The defendants were convicted of having suborned nine persons to swear falsely to applications for Government timber lands in Sierra and Plumas counties. S. C. Denson. Frank R. Wehe and Bert Schlesinger, counsel for the defense, made the motion for a new trial on the grounds that the evidence was wholly insufficient to justify the verdict of conviction; that the court erred in refusing to instruct the jury to render a verdict in favor of the defendants; that the court erred In refusing the instruction asked for by defendants' counsel that prior agreement between the entryman and the defendants must be proved before a conviction could be had; that there was no evidence whatever in ten of the eighteen counts of the indictment charging that the defendants had suborned the five missing witnesses to commit perjury, and that the court erred in denying the defense an opportunity of cross-examining United States Marshal Shine.
Judge de Haven sustained the contention of the defense with regard to the absence of testimony as to the subornation of the five missing witnesses and granted the motion for a new trial on the ground that the court had erred when it neglected to charge the jury that it must be proved that prior to the entryman making application for the land an understanding or agreement had been made by him and someone else for the transfer of the land.
In accordance with recent rulings of United States Circuit Judge Grosscup of Chicago, United States District Judge Hanford of Seattle and of Judge Rodgers of Arkansas, United States District Judge de Haven on February 25, 1904 granted the motion of United States District Attorney Woodworth for a nolle prosequi in the case of the United States against James M. Engle, Richard H. Lewis, William S. Lewis and Arthur W. Keddie, indicted for subornation of perjury in connection with certain timber land entries in Sierra and Plumas counties.
Earlier in the day Bert Schlesinger, counsel for the defendants, appeared in court and asked that February 29 be set as the day for the trial. Shortly thereafter Assistant United States Attorney Ben L. McKinlay moved that a nolle prosequi be entered and the case dismissed. Judge de Haven asked whether this was one of the timber fraud cases in which a conviction had been already secured and Mr. McKinlay replied that he was not familiar with the case, it having been in charge of the late Edward J. Banning when acting as Assistant United States District Attorney, and he would therefore refer the motion to Mr. Woodworth.
Mr. Woodworth then came in and renewed the motion. He said that it would be impossible to obtain a conviction on the three material counts in the indictment, because witnesses who had testified on the previous trial had disappeared and the evidence at the disposal of the prosecution was not sufficient to warrant a verdict. Judge de Haven remarked that there was enough evidence at the former trial because the jury brought in a verdict of conviction. Mr. Woodworth stated further that he had authorities to show that should another verdict of conviction be had in the case it would not stand under the recent decisions in United States courts.
"This is a matter which you do on your own responsibility," said Judge de Haven. "I am only taking care to see that the responsibility is placed where it belongs. I require that the order, which you want entered, be read in court." The order was read and the case was thereupon dismissed.
Although the defendants had been convicted several months prior, Judge de Haven granted them a new trial because he had refused to give to the jury the following instruction in accordance with the decision of the United States Supreme Court in the case of the United States against Budd:
"That before the defendants could be convicted the proof must show that the entrymen, before their application to purchase, had made an agreement with the defendants by which the title they were to acquire from the United States should inure to the benefit of the defendants."
The decision of Judge Rodgers of Arkansas in a similar case is quoted, among others, by United States Attorney Woodworth as a reason for dismissing the case. The following is the vital point:
"The fact that a lumber company lent money without security to persons to enable them to enter and pay for land under the timber and stone act in the expectation that when the entrymen obtained title it would be enabled to buy the timber from such lands by reason of the fact that it had the only mill in the vicinity does not render the entries invalid for fraud where there was no agreement for the sale prior to the entries, but each man was free to keep the timber or to sell it to others; nor are such entries invalid as made on 'speculation’ because the persons making them did so with the intention of selling the timber for their own benefit."
The dream of Walter Keddie became a reality with the construction of the Western Pacific from Salt Lake City to San Francisco, as an extension of the Denver & Rio Grande system.
Arthur Walter Keddie then became known as the “Father of the Western Pacific Railroad” and the town of Keddie, north of Quincy in the Feather River Canyon where the Northern California Extension of the Western Pacific to Bieber begins, was named for this noted Californian.
Keddie died in Quincy, California on October 17, 1924 at the age of 82. He held California Land Surveyor’s License number 14. He was closely associated with the early history of Plumas County, for which he did much of the early surveying. As a surveyor he laid out every township in the county and for many years the Forest Service used his notes which were made in the 1870’s.
There is a historical marker located on the old Bullard Building, now a restaurant known as Sweet Lorraine’s, 384 West Main Street, Quincy. This enormous bronze plaque placed by the Clampers commemorates the life and accomplishments of Arthur W. Keddie, a prominent citizen and professional surveyor who was instrumental in many of the early advancements in Plumas County. When originally placed in 1976, it was affixed to the Plumas County Bank building at the corner of Main Street and Harbison Avenue.