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Updated: Dec 21, 2020

Shannon Wray


In June 1901, the few residents of Mill Creek Canyon and some campers were terrified. Something wild and strange was moving around at night and sometimes glimpsed during the day. No one knew what it was, but Dave Wixom, a San Bernardino firefighter who had a small ranch in the canyon, called in Constable Koehler from Redlands to investigate. Koehler and a posse spent a few days tracking what some people had started calling a wild man, someone more animal than human. Ladies were particularly distressed by this naked apparition.

It was reported that "It appears that Frank Satello's mind has become unbalanced and he has peculiar hallucinations, and as his mind wanders, he visits Heaven and then takes a drop to Hades, where His Satanic Majesty rules. Yesterday while seated in the sheriff's office waiting to be taken to the County Hospital where he is to be held until examined for insanity, he became quite talkative and commenced to tell how Heaven looks. He described the beautiful driveways, the green trees, and the general appearance of the place, and then spoke of the people.

'I saw my mother and father in Heaven,' said Satello. 'All the people up there are small except Jesus Christ, and he is a great big gray whiskered man.'

To change the subject, Sheriff Rouse asked Satello if he had ever been in hell.

'Oh yes,' said Satello, 'I just came from there.'

'Well, did you see anybody you knew?' asked Sheriff Rouse.

And just here comes the interesting part of the story. Satello thought for a moment over the sheriff's question and then said: 'Why, yes, I saw George Brazelton and Charlie Martin there. George pulled me out of a pot of fire,' Satello kept a straight face, but the crowd laughed."

Charlie Martin, who owned the section of land where Angelus Oaks, California is now, ran for a time with the McHaney Gang, (the full story of the McHaney Gang is in Pioneers of Mill Creek Canyon) and was tried for the murder of a miner named Frank James but got off on a self-defense plea. He did time in prison for other crimes, and perhaps not too ironically became Chief of Police in San Bernardino in 1917.

Copyright 2020, Shannon E. Wray. All Rights Reserved. No reprints in whole or part without permission.

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