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On my own history videos, high temps and lack of civility
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People kind of forget that journalists have their own lives.

In my off time I've been known to do outdoorsy things like hike Half Dome, work in the yard, hang glide once in a while - more once than a while - but lately I've been indoors. I'm on a video making kick. You might say that I've watched enough reality shows to take my own stab at it. So I have - with limited equipment.

I've melded my love of local history with video production to create my "History Hunters" show on YouTube. It's purely for entertainment and education. It's just a hobby and I'm not making a dime off of them. So far there's just one episode, based on the Black Bart robberies of Calaveras County. If you'd like to see my work, just search for "Black Bart's rock." My video will be the first hit. It's 27 minutes long and done in a reality show type format. It's high definition so you can watch it your big screen TV through your Apple TV or similar devices.

Another episode centers on the search for Bill Dalton's grave. I imagine if you search for "Bill Dalton's grave" you'll find it. Or visit

During my project I learned some intriguing things: The legendary Bill Dalton was arrested for the Sept. 8, 1891 robbery of a train one mile south of Ceres, approximately where the Mitchell Road exit is today. It was a violent robbery. The robbers used a stick of dynamite in an attempt to blow open the express car (which is where gold and money was contained). An exchange of gunfire ensued and railroad detective Len Harris was struck in the neck, but survived.

Earlier that year Bill Dalton had been arrested and wrongly accused of robbing a train near Earlimart. At that time he was living and working near Cholame. He was acquitted while brother Grat was found guilty. So when the Ceres train was robbed, the Daltons were prime suspects.

A key piece of evidence at the Ceres train robbery was found near the Vilas Mansion where the bandits had tied up getaway horses. A coat left at the scene contained a tailor label linking one of the bad guys to Visalia. (Coincidentally a launderer's mark was also the way authorities tracked down Black Bart). The Daltons were in the Visalia environs but so were John Sontag and Chris Evans who were ultimately nailed in the robbery. Ultimately it was Sontag and Evans who were nailed with the robbery. Sontag died from wounds suffered in a shootout. Evans lost an eye during the shootout at Stone Corral near Visalia.

Bill Dalton was arrested by Tulare County Sheriff Eugene "Gene" Kay near Traver with suspect Wiley Dean and jailed in Visalia until the Stanislaus County sheriff could haul him to the Modesto jail. Back then the jail was located in the same block as the downtown Modesto jail. Testimony of railroad detectives seemed flimsy and contradictory and Judge Loren Fulkerth threw out the case.

If you love history and want some entertainment, schedule a half-hour and be entertained by my show.

* * * * *

We go from the upper 60s to 111? It's almost depressing to think about.

That got me doing some research. According to the Weather Channel, Spearfish, S.D. experienced the widest fluctuation in temperature. Get this: A change of 49 degrees in two minutes! What happened that day? It was minus 4 degrees at 7:30 a.m. At 7:32 a.m. it was 45 degrees. At 9 a.m. it was 54 degrees. At 9:27 a.m. it was minus 4 degrees again.

But Oklahoma City experienced an odd fluctuation on Nov. 11, 1911. It went from 83 to 17 degrees that day.

I imagine the climate change folks would have had a field day had they been around that day. Just goes to show you the only thing you can depend on is the weather not being dependable, in a sense.

* * * * *

I've often said civility has fallen by the wayside.

My column last week about ICE raids in Merced County quickly degenerated to name calling, personality assaults and going places nobody should ever go. It's just a continuation of the unhinging of the left.

Look no farther than the comments of Alisa Herrmann-McLelland who commented on my column through Facebook. She wrote: "Dear Jeff. F you. Go back to where YOUR people came from."

Well, my people came to the US legally from Switzerland in 1870.

Mark Ramirez had some intriguing things to say regarding my comments about deporting illegal aliens in Merced County as well. Well, I'll just print it the way he wrote it: "i think Mr. Benzinger thru thr luxury of hiding behind a computer fails to realize that just maybe one of those alleged illegals are the very hand that might put the fruits or vegetables on his very table. Yet he will one of those first alleged americans that will be complaining about the increase in cost of the grapes that make up his wine or the increase of the price on apples that his alleged american family will eat this thanksgiving. But we must remember that his minute voice is nothing but a racist that uses the voice of others in authority positions to say what he hasnt the spine to...."

Wow, all this in answer to a simple call to enforce immigration law.

Hiding behind a computer? You mean, writing and putting my comments out there behind my name for thousands to read? That kind of hiding?

Back up to his last sentence: "his minute voice is nothing but a racist that uses the voice of others in authority positions to say what he hasnt the spine to...." Apparently Mr. Ramirez hasn't been around long. He forgets I've been writing about illegal immigration since the days of Bill Clinton. Remember him? Clinton was rather Trump like back in 1995 when he said: "We are a nation of immigrants ... but we are a nation of laws. ... Our nation is rightly disturbed by the large numbers of illegal aliens entering our country. ... Illegal immigrants take jobs from citizens or legal immigrants, they impose burdens on our taxpayers. ... That is why we are doubling the number of border guards, deporting more illegal immigrants than ever before, cracking down on illegal hiring, barring benefits to illegal aliens, and we will do more to speed the deportation of illegal immigrants arrest for crimes. ... It is wrong and ultimately self-defeating for a nation of immigrants to permit the kind of abuse of our immigration laws that has occurred in the last few years ... and we must do more to stop it."

Norma Thurman thinks she knows me personally when she suggests: "You know Jeff always wants the valley WHITE again!!"

Norma must think she knows me to make that kind of bold statement. She would be wrong, of course, as she is in her statement of the valley being white. California, with its vaqueros and Chinese laborers, has never been white. What Norma doesn't know is I have an ethnically diverse family. I grew up with Latino and Japanese cousins. My own grandsons are part Mexican.

You see, the left automatically defaults to confusing talk of immigration with race. They always want to make it a race war when it's all about immigration law. Hence, I now present to you Mark Ramirez's comment: "Do you think that these so called illegals don't contribute to our economy? do they not pay the same taxes ad you and i. i have never seen an alleged immigrant tweaked out on the streets of Ceres have you? they take a chance on selling fruits on the corner to make ends meet because they can't access public assistance out if fear of the narrow minded behind the door christians like you. i don't know if you even live in our community bit five around the streets and take notice how many hispanics compared to Caucasians you see on the corner asking for money."


Shawn Robinson suggested that "under Trump, the deportations are targeted towards Latino and Hispanic persons." Well Shawn, deportations can occur for anyone who is here illegally. But yeah, since the vast majority of illegals in the USA are slipping over the southern border, I'd say odds are that the illegals caught here are Mexico nationals. And the point is?

If you believe in dealing strongly with illegal immigrants on the basis that it robs citizens and legal immigrants of jobs and wage earning power, you're anti-immigrant to the left. Of course, the logic of calling someone who supports legal immigration as anti-immigrant when they don't support illegal immigration is illogical, but it's never been about logic with liberals, only feelings.

Speaking of libs, Katy Perry said we should have no borders and no walls. She might want to take down the 15-foot security wall around her mansion.

Do you have any feedback about this column? Let Jeff know by emailing him at He will read it, promise.