Showdown in Blackwell Stable

Showdown in Blackwell Stable
By Ruben Ruhkala

A gunfight occurred in Rocklin, California on February 18, 1914, between
town Marshall Sam Renauldi and a saloonkeeper by the name of U.S.
Holmes, his place of business being on Railroad Avenue.Ernest Willard
related details of this to me while he was the cities only employee,
which included being Chief of Police. This was about fifty years ago.

Ernest’s father George Willard had been the town Marshall but resigned
on June 30, 1913. He continued to assist Renauldi as a deputy. During
this period of time, there were many Saloons doing business in town but
Renauldi’s business was getting most of the complaints. Holmes was not
complying with midnight curfew law, and citizens were complaining about
the noise at that late hour. This condition had been going on for some
time. On February 9th Renauldi found Holmes open after the 12:00 p.m.
curfew, but U.S.Holmes told Renauldi he was complying with the curfew,
it was only the lunch counter that was open till 12:25 and he was not
going to close for anybody even the city trustees, as he had every right
to stay open. Marshall Renauldi had been authorized to enforce the
ordinance and could close Holmes down. This irked Holmes as this was his
livelihood. He was unable to cope with this threat.

Renauldi and Holmes were known to have a very unfriendly relationship
and could not get along together. Holmes started drinking heavily and
had been around town brandishing a pistol saying there were certain
people he was going to get. On the afternoon of the 18th of February
Ella Hovey, who worked for Holmes in the restaurant he ran in
conjunction with his saloon quit her job and said she would not ever
return. This enraged Holmes. He went to her home and threatened to kill
her and her father if she did not return to work. Later that evening,
Holmes went back to her house. Marshall Renauldi, Deputy Willard and
Willard�s son Alfred followed. They heard the threats and pleading of
Ella Hovey. Alfred pushed open the door. Holmes told Ella to see who was
there. When she went came to the door Alfred grabbed her and pulled her
outside and got her away in the dark. Holmes quieted down. Marshall
Renauldi, Deputy Willard and an unidentified man went to Blackwell�s
Stable on the South West corner of Pacific Street and Rocklin Road to
discuss the problem, hoping Holmes would cool down and be peaceful. This
discussion was taking place several hours after Ella had been freed from
Holmes. Holmes sent word to Renauldi to meet him at Blackwell�s Stable
for a showdown. This presented an even more serious problem because he
carried a gun, was seething with anger and blamed Marshall Renauldi for
all his troubles. The discussion was still going on, about what to do
about Holmes threats against Ella Hovey and Marshall Renauldi. About
11:00 p.m. Holmes entered into the stable in a surly mood and told
Willard and the unidentified man to be quiet. Holmes did not see
Renauldi because renauldi had just left momentarily. Deputy Willard was
talking to Holmes trying to soothe and calm him down and maybe get close
enough to over power him before he got his gun and could use it. About
this time, Marshall Renauldi returned and was told that Holmes was
inside. Renauldi called for Holmes to come out and be arrested. Holmes
replied, �If you want me, come and get me.� Deputy Willard was
continuing to talk to Holmes, but then Renauldi appeared in the doorway
in back of Willard. When he emerged a little to the side of Willard, and
could see Holmes he again ordered Holmes to surrender for arrest, but
instead Holmes went for his gun.

Renauldi, seeing this, drew his gun and fired at about the same time as
Holmes. As many as five shots were fired, one hitting Renauldi, three
hitting Holmes, and one shot going wild. Both Renauldi and Holmes were
seen by Dr. Fletcher of Rocklin, and then taken to Sacramento Hospital
where they died. Holmes died the next day, and Renauldi the day after.

The details of this shoot-out were derived from several newspaper
articles and an account by Ernest Willard, whose father was the deputy
talking to Holmes when the shoot-out took place.

It was known by a few people that a shoot out might occur between
Marshall Renauldi and U.S. Holmes and were gathered about the stable
when it did happen including two teenage boys who were hiding behind
bales of hay and a blacksmith anvil. They were there during the shoot
out or a few moments after and said they were scared to death bullets
might hit them. Their sister Helen Halonen Plamondon a native of Rocklin
related this to me.

Rocklin Historical Society Historian, Ruben Ruhkala