Bullet of Mystery – Part 5

July 11, 1901, Lionel Comport lionel_comport_nd_crop

In case you just tuned in, I’m posting a small case study of research I did with Caroline Comport on her grandfather Lionel Comport for her master’s thesis. Researching Los Angeles is a treasure hunt, and every time I dig into the resources I find something new.

Bullet of Mystery – Part 1
Bullet of Mystery – Part 2
Bullet of Mystery – Part 3
Bullet of Mystery – Part 4
In Part 1, I summarized the case of Lionel Comport, a milkman who was shot in the back while making his rounds in 1901. In Part 2, we looked at some of the resources for online newspapers, and in Part 3, we examined sites that have property records on the corner where the shooting occurred. In Part 4, we delved into the Sanborn maps of the neighborhood. In my final post in the series, I’ll talk about one of the happy discoveries of research. There are, of course, many more places to look. This is a merely a sample.

  Southern California Practitioner, 1901  

Several years ago, while researching the life of Dr. Walter Bayley in the Black Dahlia case, I came across a series of journals titled the Southern California Practitioner, published by the Los Angeles County Medical Assn. Lionel Comport, who was shot in the back while delivering milk from a wagon on July 10, 1901, survived because of a new treatment, so it was possible that the operation was written up in this journal. 

Southern California Practitioner is an excellent resource on early Los Angeles, particularly in health matters. If you want to know about typhoid fever, smallpox, cholera , tuberculosis  or abortions in the early 20th century, this is the place to look. Until the journals were scanned by Google, they were extremely rare items. NOTICE: Although the journals are online at the moment, Google has a nasty habit of withdrawing access to its scanned books, so if you find something useful, download it while you can.

  Southern California Practitioner, 1901, P. 439.  

Sure enough, here’s the article by Police Surgeon Clarence W. Pierce on how he did it. Notice that Pierce says they concluded the operation when the anesthetist reported that Comport was dying. When it comes to medical care, the past was not a kinder, simpler time.

    Southern California Practitioner, Lionel Comport    

  Southern California Practitioner, Lionel Comport  

  Southern California Practitioner, Lionel Comport  

About lmharnisch

I am retired from the Los Angeles Times
This entry was posted in #courts, 1901, Crime and Courts, Film, From the Stacks, health, Hollywood, Pages of History, Zombie Reading List. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Bullet of Mystery – Part 5

  1. Ronald Emmis says:

    As soon as I saw this I said to myself, “Self…does a police report exist?”
    Well, does it?


  2. lrh says:

    @Ronald: Even if the police report still exists, which is unlikely given the early date, I wouldn’t be given access to it under current LAPD policy. Chances are good, in this era, that one can compile a relatively complete narrative using the daily papers and the Southern California Practitioner account.


  3. hockeykevin says:

    Great series Mr. Harnisch! Enjoyed reading it and appreciate the research.


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