February 8, 1924
By Elsie Lenton Corwin

In the year 1924, eleven years after Captain Loomis and his family had homesteaded in the Alder Creek Canyon, there came a sinister disaster to mar their peaceful life.

The hills and valley had always been a home for numerous wild animals, birds and reptires. Some were good and some were harmful, as is the way with nature. Some were even dangerous. Many varieties of mice and rats, squirrels and chipmunks were constant prey for the larger coyotes, foxes, skunks and bobcats. But even these animals as well as the friendly deer had to protect themselves from their bigger enemies such as bear, link and mountain lions.

Now as the Loomis family lived here, they had added many useful domestic animals through the years. In addition to the burros and mules that I told you about in another story, there were six horses - King, a big beautiful white horse that the Captain rode, and Kit, Poly, Molly, Alder and Old Joe, that mother often rode. They also raised chickens, pigs and calves for meat and eggs, and three cows for milk. The very first cow they had, named Jane, had been led about twenty miles over the Mt. Roundtop Trail from Aliso Canyon, over near Acton. She was purchased from the Blum family, who were also homesteaders of early days. This cow Jane was the mother of Emma, the heroine of this story. Of course, they also had numerous generations of cats and dogs as family pets.

As sometimes happens the wild animals and the tame animals just didn't always get along together in a friendly fashion. In fact, one day in January, Queen, one of the burros, just turned up missing and later was found up the canyon - dead. The poor little burro, Queen, had been killed by a mountain lion!

The Loomis people knew it was a mountain lion that killed Queen because all that winter they had heard the lion's voice calling in the night. Our mountain lions are like huge cats, but not at all like the African lions you see in the zoo. These are big, grey-brown cats and they are very much afraid of people, running and hiding from them. But they are killers of animals, especially burros, cows and sometimes horses. And when they cry at night their voices can be heard for many miles. Once you have heard one, you will always recognize it, for the lion's voice sounds just like a woman's scream. In fact, these lions are so mean that government trappers and hunters regularly try to catch them to protect other animals. And that is what the Captain did. All that winter he set traps for that mean old fellow, but he just couldn't snare the clever lion.

And then one day, on the 8th of February, Captain and Mrs. Loomis were working in the garden when Emma, one of the cows, came running home bawling wildly, eyes rolling, panting for breath and when a cow gets excited and runs and bawls, something is very wrong! The Loomis family quickly got out their guns and Emma, the cow, started right back up the canyon with them following at her heels up the north fork of Alder Creek, about three miles. Emma had run all that way for help! And far up the trail in the brush they saw that her companion, Maudy, another cow, had fallen prey to the lion. Poor Maudy was lying there, with her unborn calf, all torn to pieces by that sinister killer, the mirauding mountain lion!

This was just too much! So Captain Loomis tied a big lion trap to each of the dead cow's legs, for they knew Mr. Lion would come back in the night to finish his feast. And sure enough, when they came back early next morning, there was, the mean old lion caught in the trap! And was he huge! Eight feet, four inches long from nose to tail. Well, they couldn't just leave the angry lion in the traps to die, even though he was such a terrible menace, so the Captain said "You shoot him, Grace - you have the glory of ending this bad old lion that killed our Queen and Maudy". So she did. She lifted her gun to her shoulder and shot him dead so he could do no more harm in the peaceful valley. She was afraid to get too close to him for they weren't sure just how well he was fastened in the traps and he would be very angry and dangerous if he got free - but she got him, for she was a fine shot.

And do you know when they tried to get Johnny, one of the pack burros, to carry the dead lion home, he just wouldn't go near for a long, long time. Finally after both persuasion and threats, they got him close, when all of a sudden Johnny reared up and stomped on the lion, over and over again, with his small sharp front hoofs, for that's the way burros protect themselves from their enemies. They are able to kill almost any enemy by jumping on it with those sharp forefeet.

Well, finally when the morning was almost gone, they persuaded Johnny to carry the lion body home. Every few feet, however, Johnny would stop, turn and try to get at the lion. Captain Loomis thought the burro must surely have seen the lion and been frightened by him at some earlier time so he just wouldn't believe the lion was dead. At any rate, they had quite a time getting Johnny home with that lion!

When they finally did arrive at the house, the Captain unloaded the lion carcass on an old' table in the yard, while the family went in the house for lunch. All of a sudden there was a terrific racket outside! Everyone ran out and you can't imagine what they saw! There was Johnny burro' with the dead lion in his teeth just sharking and shaking the very daylights out of him! Johnny was really getting even at last. “He had the lion just where he wanted him", said Captain Loomis.

And this is a true story, just the way Mother Loomis told it to me. Oh, yes - they had to lock Johnny burro in the barn to make him stop killing the lion all over again.

[Source: The True Loomis Stories by Elsie Lenton Corwin, Wandalee Thompson Collection (2006.38.1)]