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Aftershocks, for the next month, had become normal to Bakersfield residents until, on August 22 at pm, a 5.8 earthquake struck directly under the town's center in the most densely populated area of the southern San Joaquin Valley.

The area was subject to periodic flooding from the Kern River, which occupied what is now the downtown area, and experienced outbreaks of malaria.

Alexander Mills was hired as the city marshal, a man one historian would describe as "...

Migration from Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Southern California brought new residents, who were mostly employed by the oil industry.

The First Baptist Church building, which survived the 1952 earthquake and is now a commercial-use structure, is one of several buildings in Bakersfield listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

an old man by the time he became Marshal of Bakersfield, and he walked with a cane.

But he was a Kentuckian, a handy man with a gun, and not lacking in initiative and resource when the mood moved him." Businessmen and others began to resent Mills, who was cantankerous and high-handed in his treatment of them.

Wanting to fire him but fearing reprisals, they came up with a scheme to disincorporate, effectively leaving him without an employer.