Case Family Legends,
Interview with Paul C. Trimble,
conducted by Scott Trimble on 11 Feb 1994.


Gasham Case was one of Brigham Young's lieutenants, but there was also a James Case too. The two Cases were apparently Brigham's right-hand boys; but, whatever their title was in the LDS church I don't know exactly. After Salt Lake City, Gasham Case and his wife took a contingent of Mormons into San Bernardino County, California. At that time the town was known as Mormon Station.

The plan of Brigham Young had been to establish an overland trail east to Salt Lake City for Mormons wishing to settle in Utah. Mormons coming into California would land their ships at Los Angeles and then have their wagons and horses outfitted. They would get supplies at San Bernardino and then go eastward into Utah.

Now, this was well before the Civil War. Utah, at that time, was rather murky territory, if you will. The United States had not yet entered the war with Mexico and this was still nominally Mexican territory. It was after the first Mexican Revolution; so, it was Mexican territory, but the Mexican government had no way of enforcing anything or having anything to do with Utah — it was just this teritory stuck out of the way. So, Utah was, more or less, just there for the taking. The only opposition would have been from the Piute Indians or any of the others of the Shashawnee Nation which inhabited that region.

According to the LDS tradition, Brigham Young was to receive some kind of a sign from the Lord where he would establish the promised land. It would be free from interference from the United States government and the rabblerousers who just didn't like Mormons. The big argument was about the polygamy issue. If they got out of the United States territory, they would be free to practice polygamy. Now, anyone who has ever read the history of the Mormon migration westward knows the story of the seagulls, and how they settled in Salt Lake City with Brigham Young laying out the town, and all that. He was also very aware of the fact that many Mormons would be wanting to settle in Utah where they could practice polygamy freely; they would be in a community of their own kind and not discriminated against. The reason they left Nauvoo, Illinois, was because the rabblerousers simply burned them out of town, torched their barns and houses.

So, Salt Lake City was to be a safe haven for those who wished to freely practice the Mormon religion. Young reasoned quite well there would be people coming in from the Pacific, either around Cape Horn or, perhaps, across the isthmus of Panama. Well, the Case boys, James and Gasham, took this party to San Bernardino and established the first American colony there.

California, you must remember, was then Mexican territory. Mexican law provided for land grants to colonizers who wished to come into California, provided they did two things. First, you had to become a Mexican citizen; second, you had to change your religion. At the time you could not be a citizen of Mexico unless you were also a Roman Catholic. So, consequently, the Mormons in San Bernardino could never consider themselves any more than sojourners in a foreign land. They were down, not only outside of the United States, but they were in Mexican territory. Now, the fact is Mexico City had no power to enforce anything in California. The governors would not grant any land grants, but they did settle there. I believe Gasham and his family settled in San Bernardino in 1843.

Now, the story of his family becomes quite unclear. If he were a practicing Mormon of the time, it could be presumed quite easily that the man had more than one wife. This would also lead to potential confusion if he had children by more than one wife. I do have a bunch of old photos of people who appear to relate to the San Bernardino Cases but they are typically unidentified and I really don't know who any of them are. Art is of the belief that the old man had more than one wife. Otherwise, why would he have to leave the United States? On the other hand, it's possible that he only had one wife, or only took one wife with him, because it's doubtful the Mexicans would allow him to practice polygamy on Roman Catholic land. Susan Fitchett would be the only wife we know about. My theory is that it is unlikely Gasham had more than one wife in San Bernardino.

Nonetheless, they settled in San Bernardino and carried out the mission of outfitting eastwardbound wagons. I believe that Gasham was one of the guys in charge. I don't think he was a "soldier", but a "captain" or "lieutenant", if you will. One reason being that the Case family has for many years been a prominent name in San Bernardino. I understand they have Case family reunions down there. Gasham Case was certainly a man of prominence and a faithful Mormon. Except for the fact that his son, Marion, was what one would call a jack-Mormon.

Marion Case was a lover of games of chance and apparently quite skilled at them, particularly when it came to that game called poker. The family story has it that when he was eighteen or nineteen years old, he walked out of one poker game as the new owner of a stagecoach line which ran from San Bernardino to somewhere in Arizona. He always knew what to do with a deck of cards! He knew when to hold them; he knew when to fold them!

Apparently he knew when to hold them and fold them when it came to religion too. He took to raising some pretty fine horses and was said to have had a pair of matched gray Arabians that Brigham Young wanted to appropriate for his own stable. The way Mom gave me the story: Brigham Young told Case, "You deliver those grays to my place tomorrow." The answer was, "Like Hell I will!" He packed his belongings and his family and with five or six other families got out of town, quickly!

You have to remember that communities were sparsely populated in California and few and far between. If you were an outcast in a town which was all one religion, it would be pretty hard to make a living or find any social companionship. So, Case and the other families left and settled up in Shasta County, which I suppose is about as far away from Mormon Station, San Bernardino County, as you can get and still stay in California. I do not know in what year he moved to Shasta County but there are a lot of letters at my mother's place I've been trying to organize.

There was a Mary Case who was born in San Bernardino. My mother referred to her as Aunt Mary, which would have fit because she would have been a sister of her Grandfather Marion. According to the legend, she was the first American child born in San Bernardino, California. Not the first White child, but the first American child.

What else is there? I said Marion Case was a gambler and raised fine horses — but he also raised prized racing horses which he used to race. His champion racer beat some of the better horses of the day. I have no doubt in my mind that these horses made quite a bit of side-money for him! Also, Gasham, I believe, used to own a bunch of land in Los Angeles where he grazed his cows. Mom told me that it is now Downtown L.A. and Tom says that it was at Wilshire and Figueroa, the priciest part of L.A. My great-grandfather Marion also used to needle his old lady and call her Simonds, as if she were Jewish. She always said it was Simmonds, but I don't know a thing about her family. I presume that she probably had a mother and a father! Harold McGuire is a distant cousin, a fourth cousin of Mom, but I don't know where he descends from, whether it be Case or Simmonds, or anywhere else.



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