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Vasquez the Bandito

In the early seventies, while the Southern Pacific Railway was building from San Francisco to
San José, some twelve or fifteen bandits, carousing at a country dance in the Mexican settlement, Panamá (about six miles south of Bakersfield) planned to cross the mountains and hold up the pay-car. They were unsuccessful; whereupon, they turned their attention to the village of Tres Pinos, robbed several store-keepers and killed three or four men. They were next heard of at little Kingston, in Tulare County, where they plundered practically the whole town. Then they once more disappeared.

Presently various clues pointed to the identity of the chief bandido as one Tibúrcio Vasquez, born in Monterey in the thirties, who had taken to the life of an outlaw because, as he fantastically said, some Gringos had insolently danced off with the prettiest girls at fandangos, among them being his sweetheart whom an American had wronged. With the exception of his Lieutenant, Chavez, he trusted no one, and when he moved from place to place, Chavez alone accompanied him. In each new field he recruited a new gang, and he never slept in camp with his followers.

Tiburcio_Vasquez

Tiburcio_Vasquez

Although trailed by several sheriffs, Vasquez escaped to Southern California leading off the wife of one of his associates—a bit of gallantry that contributed to his undoing, as the irate husband at once gave the officers much information concerning Vasquez’s life and methods. One day in the spring of 1874, Vasquez and three of his companions appeared at the ranch of Alessandro Repetto, nine miles from town, disguised as sheep-shearers. The following morning, while the inmates of the ranch-house were at breakfast, the highwaymen entered the room and held up the defenseless household. Vasquez informed Repetto that he was organizing a revolution in Lower California and merely desired to borrow the trifling sum of eight hundred dollars. Repetto replied that he had no money in the house; but Vasquez compelled the old man to sign a check for the sum demanded, and immediately dispatched to town a boy working for Repetto, with the strict injunction that if he did not return with the money alone, and soon, his master would be shot.

When the check was presented at the Temple & Workman Bank, Temple, who happened to be there, became suspicious but could elicit from the messenger no satisfactory response to his questions. The bank was but a block from the Courthouse; and when Sheriff Rowland hurriedly came, in answer to a summons, he was inclined to detain the lad. The boy, however, pleaded so hard for Repetto’s life that the Sheriff agreed to the messenger’s returning alone with the money.

Soon after, Rowland and several deputies started out along the same trail; but a lookout sighted
the approaching horsemen and gave the alarm. Vasquez and his associates took to flight and were pursued as far as Tijunga Pass; but as the cut-throats were mounted on fresh horses, they escaped.

Even while being pursued, Vasquez had the audacity to fleece a party of men in the employ of
the Los Angeles Water Company who were doing some work near the Alhambra Tract. The well known Angeleño and engineer in charge, Charles E. Miles, was relieved of an expensive gold
watch.

Camel Corp

Camel Corp

In April, 1874, Sheriff Rowland heard that Vasquez had visited the home of “Greek George”— the Smyrniot camel-driver to whom I have referred—and who was living about ten miles from Los Angeles, near the present location of Hollywood. Rowland took into his confidence D. K. Smith and persuaded him to stroll that way, ostensibly as a farmer’s hand seeking employment; and within two weeks Smith reported to Rowland that the information as to Vasquez’s whereabouts was correct. Rowland then concluded to make up a posse, but inasmuch as a certain clement kept Vasquez posted regarding the Sheriff’s movements, Rowland had to use great precaution.

Anticipating this emergency, City Detective Emil Harris-four years later Chief of Police-had been
quietly transferred to the Sheriff’s office; in addition to whom, Rowland selected Albert Johnson, Under Sheriff; B. F. Hartley, a local policeman; J. S. Bryant, City Constable; Major Henry M. Mitchell, an attorney; D. K. Smith; Walter Rodgers, proprietor of the Palace Saloon; and G. A. Beers, a correspondent of the San Francisco Chronicle. All these were ordered to report, one by one with their horses, shortly after midnight, at Jones’s Corral on Spring Street near Seventh. Arms and ammunition, carefully packed, were likewise smuggled in. Whether true or not that Vasquez would speedily be informed of the Sheriff’s whereabouts, it is certain that, in resolving not to leave his office, Rowland sacrificed, for the public weal, such natural ambition that he cannot be too much applauded; not even the later reward of eight thousand dollars really compensating him for his disappointment.

Greek George

Greek George

By half-past one o’clock in the morning, the eight members of the posse were all in the saddle and silently following a circuitous route. At about daybreak, in dense fog, they camped at the mouth of Nichols’s Canyon-two miles away from the house of Greek George-where Charles Knowles, an American, was living. When the fog lifted, Johnston, Mitchell, Smith and Bryant worked their way to a point whence they could observe Greek George’s farm; and Bryant, returning to camp, reported that a couple of gray horses had been seen tied near the ranch-house. Shortly thereafter, a four horse empty wagon, driven by two Mexicans, went by the cañon and was immediately stopped and brought in. The Mexicans were put in charge of an officer, and about the same time Johnston came tearing down the ravine with the startling statement that Vasquez was undoubtedly at Greek George’s!

A quick consultation ensued and it was decided by the posse to approach their goal in the captured vehicle, leaving their own horses in charge of Knowles; and having warned the Mexicans that they would be shot if they proved treacherous, the deputies climbed into the wagon and lay down out of sight. When a hundred yards from the house, the officers stealthily scattered in various directions.

Harris, Rodgers and Johnston ran to the north side, and Hartley and Beers to the west. Through
an open door, Vasquez was seen at the breakfast table, and Harris, followed by the others, made a quick dash for the house. A woman waiting on Vasquez attempted to shut the officers out; but Harris injected his rifle through the half-open door and prevented her. During the excitement, Vasquez climbed through a little window, and Harris, yelling, “There he goes!” raised his Henry rifle and shot at him. By the time Harris had reached the other side of the house, Vasquez was a hundred feet away and running like a deer toward his horse. In the meantime, first Hartley and then the other officers used their shotguns and slightly wounded him again. Vasquez then threw up his hands, saying: “Boys, you’ve done well! but I’ve been a damned fool, and it’s my own fault!”

The identity of the bandit thus far had not been established; and when Harris asked his name, he answered, “Alessandro Martinez.” In the meantime, captors and prisoner entered the house; and Vasquez, who was weakened from his wounds, sat down, while the young woman implored the officers not to kill him. At closer range, a good view was obtained of the man who had so long terrorized the State. He was about five feet six or seven inches in height, sparely built, with small feet and hands-in that respect by no means suggesting the desperado-with a low forehead, black, coarse hair and mustache, and furtive, cunning eyes.

Not the Spanish Alejandro; a variation doubtless suggested by the Italian Repetto’s forename.
By this time, the entire posse, excepting Mitchell and Smith (who had followed a man seen to leave Greek George’s), proceeded to search the house. The first door opened revealed a young fellow holding a baby in his arms. He, the most youthful member of the organization, had been placed on guard. There were no other men in the house, although four rifles and six pistols, all loaded and ready for use, were found. Fearing no such raid, the other outlaws were afield in the neighborhood; and being warned by the firing, they escaped. One of Vasquez’s guns, by the way, has been long preserved by the family of Francisco Ybarra and now rests secure in the County Museum.

Underneath one of the beds was found Vasquez’s vest containing Charley Miles’s gold watch, which Harris at once recognized. The prisoner was asked whether he was seriously hurt and he said that he expected to die, at the same time admitting that he was Vasquez and asking Harris to write down some of his bequests. He said that he was a single man, although he had two children living at Elizabeth Lake; and he exhibited portraits of them. He protested that he had never killed a human being, and said that the murders at Tres Pinos were due to Chavez’s disobedience of orders.

Vasquez and his captors

Vasquez and his captors

The officers borrowed a wagon from Judge Thompson—who lived in the neighborhood—into which they loaded Vasquez, the boy and the weapons, and so proceeded on their way. When they arrived near town, Smith and Mitchell caught up with them. Mitchell was then sent to give advance notice of Vasquez’s capture and to have medical help on hand; and by the time the party arrived, the excitement was intense. The City Fathers, then in session, rushed out pellmell and crowds surrounded the Jail. Dr. K. D. Wise, Health Officer, and Dr. J. P. Widney, County Physician,administered treatment to the captive. Vasquez, in irons, pleaded that he was dying; but Dr.  Widney, as soon as he had examined the captive, warned the Sheriff that the prisoner, if he escaped, would still be game for a long day’s ride. Everybody who could, visited him and I was no exception. I was disgusted, however, when I found Vasquez’s cell filled with flowers, sent by some white women of Los Angeles who had been carried away by the picturesque career of the bandido; but Sheriff Rowland soon stopped all such foolish exuberance.

Vasquez admitted that he had frequently visited Mexicans in Los Angeles, doing this against the
advice of his lieutenant, Chavez, who had warned him that Sheriff Rowland also had good friends among the Mexicans.

Among those said to have been in confidential touch with Vasquez was Mariano G. Santa Cruz, a prominent figure, in his way, in Sonora Town. He kept a grocery about three hundred feet from the old Plaza Church, on the east side of Upper Main Street, and had a curiously-assorted household. There on many occasions, it is declared, Vasquez found a safe refuge.

Five days after the capture, Signor Repetto called upon the prisoner, who was in chains, and
remarked: “I have come to say that, so far as I am concerned, you can settle that little account with God Almighty!” Vasquez, with characteristic flourishes, thanked the Italian and began to speak of repayment, when Repetto replied: “I do not expect that. But I beg of you, if ever you resume operations, never to visit me again.” Whereupon Vasquez, placing his hand dramatically upon his breast, exclaimed: “Ah, Señor, I am a cavalier, with a cavalier’s heart!”—¡Señor Repetto, yo soy un caballero, con el corazón de un caballero!

Sheriff Rowland

Sheriff Rowland

As soon as Vasquez’s wounds were healed, he was taken by Sheriff Rowland to Tres Pinos and there indicted for murder. Miller & Lux, the great cattle owners, furnished the money, it was understood, for his defense—supposedly as a matter of policy. His attorneys asked for, and obtained, a change of venue, and Vasquez was removed to San José. There he was promptly tried, found guilty and, in March, 1875, hanged.

Many good anecdotes were long told of Vasquez; one of which was that he could size up a man quickly, as to whether he was a native son or not, by the direction in which he would roll a cigarette—toward or away from himself! As soon as the long-feared bandit was in captivity, local wits began to joke at his expense. A burlesque on Vasquez was staged late in May at the Merced Theater; and the day the outlaw was captured, a merchant began his advertisement: VASQUEZ says that MENDEL MEYER has the Finest and Most Complete Stock of Dry Goods and Clothing, etc.”

from: Sixty years in Southern California, 1853-1913, containing the reminiscences of Harris Newmark. Edited by Maurice H. Newmark; Marco R. Newmark

also see:

Vasquez Rocks

Tibercio Vasquez

Antelope Valley

Mojave River – Journal of Jedediah Smith

Map showing Smith’s routes across the Victor Valley in 1826 and 1827

The next day W S W 8 or 10 miles across a plain and entered the dry Bed of a River on each side high hills. Pursuing my course along the valley of this river 8 or 9 miles I encamped. In the channel of the river I occasionally found water. It runs from west to east alternately running on the surface and disappearing entirely in the sands of its bed leaving them for miles entirely dry. Near the place where I entered its Bed it seemed to finally lose itself in the plain.* (* It is perhaps reasonable to suppose that the Salt Plain has been formed by the waters of this river overflowing the level country in its freshets and in the dry season sinking in the sand and Leaving a deposit of salt on the surface. The waters of the River at this place are sufficiently salt to justify this conclusion.) At this time my provision was nearly exhausted although I thought I had provided enough to last me 10 or 12 days. But men accustomed to living on meat and at the same time traveling hard will eat a surprising quantity of corn and beans which at this time constituted our principal subsistence. One of my guides said he knew where his people had a cache of some provision and the next day as I traveled on he went with one of the men to procure some at night they returned bringing something that resembled in appearance loaves of bread weighing each 8 or 10 pounds. It was so hard that an ax was required to break it and in taste resembled sugar candy. It was no doubt sugar but in that imperfect form in which it is found among nations to which the art of granulation is unknown. On inquiry I found it was made from the cane grass which I have before spoken of on Adams River and the same of which the Amuchabas make their arrows. For three days nothing material occurred Our course was up the river which sometimes run in sight and then for miles disappeared in the sands. In places I found grass and the sugar cane and in some places small cottonwood. I also saw the tracks of horses that had been here during the summer. My guides Belonged to a tribe of Indians residing in the vicinity called the Wanyumas.  Not numerous for this barren country could not support them. At this place was some sign of antelope and mountain sheep Mr. Rogers killed an antelope which tasted quite strong of wormwood. On the 4th night from the salt plain an Amuchaba Indian that had come this far with me disappeared. I suppose he had become tired of the journey and returned. My guides had expected to find their families here but were disappointed. The next day still following the course of the River which had a strong current in places 20 yds in width and in others entirely disappeared in the sands. After a long days travel I arrived late at a Wanyuma lodge. Close by were 2 or three families of the same tribe. Here I remained the following day and in the mean time was well treated by these Indians. They gave us such food as they had consisting of a kind of mush made of acorns and pine nut bread made of a small berry. This bread in appearance was like corn bread but in taste much sweeter. As there were in the neighborhood a plenty of hares the Indians said they must give us a feast. Several went out for this purpose with a net 80 or 100 yards long.  Arriving at a place where they knew them to be plenty the net was extended among the wormwood. then divided on each wing they moved in such direction as to force the frightened game to the net where they were taken while entangled in its meshes. Being out but a short time they brought in 2 or three dozen a part of which they gave me.  Seeing some tracks of antelope Mr. Rogers and myself went out and killed two. In this vicinity there are some groves of cottonwood and in places sugar cane and grass. On the following day after making the Indians some presents I moved on keeping a right hand fork my course nearly S W passing out at the head of this creek and over a ridge I entered a ravine running S W I proceeded down it nearly to where it entered some high hills which were apparently covered with pine. At this place I encamped. In the course of the days I passed hills covered with a scattering growth of bastard cedar and bushy oak. Some antelopes were seen in the course of the day and the tracks of bear and black-tailed deer.

Source: Mojave River – Journal of Jedediah Smith

Indian Queho Part III

The sheriff and his posse of miscreants figured Queho to be as stupid as he was lame.  It wouldn’t take them long to drag this whelp to justice and have him hanged. Something they didn’t count on though, was that Queho was an Indian, and the Indians all seemed to know each other.

I think Queho gave the stolen horse to a friend that led the posse all over the countryside.   First one way, then the other.  The law had no luck in tracking him down.

There were some more murders; brutal ones, death by pickaxe, by beating, by knife.  Another posse was sent out.  After a few days it was discovered that the Indians in the crew would slip away in the mornings and send smoke signals to reveal their location to Queho.

Queho remained at large.

More killings, more Queho sightings.  Kids were scared to death by the stories their parents would tell of the boogie-man, Queho. He would get them if they weren’t careful.

It seemed though, Queho didn’t hate all white men entirely.  One gentleman offered to share a sandwich with Queho when they ran across each other at a small, shady spring. In turn, Queho offered him a dead rat, a perfectly acceptable portion in a well-balanced Indian meal.  The man refused, but Queho was grateful for the offering and didn’t kill him.

continued

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MWA

Division 1

Cottonwoods near Mojave River at Bryman (Helendale Bluffs)

1) Cottonwoods near Mojave River at Bryman (Helendale Bluffs)

Helendale Bluffs #1

2) Helendale Bluffs Sunrise #1

Helendale Bluffs #2

3) Helendale Bluffs Dawn #2

 Rainbow off 395 - Adelanto

4) Rainbow off 395 – near Shadow Mountain Road

Division 2

Sunset & Candy - Joshua Tree*

1) Sunset & Candy –
Joshua Tree*

2) Cougar Buttes – Lucerne Valley

Every Moment - Rainbow Basin near Barstow

3) Rainbow Basin near Barstow

Division 3

West Fork, Mojave River Bluffs

1) West Fork, Mojave River Bluffs #1 – Summit Valley

West Fork Mojave River Bluffs #2 - Summit Valley

2) West Fork Mojave River Bluffs #2 – Summit Valley

Sunrise, Juniper Woodland - Summit Valley

3) Sunrise, Juniper Woodland – Summit Valley

Summit Valley from Highway 173 Viewpoint

4) Summit Valley from Highway 173 Viewpoint

Las Flores Ranch

5) Las Flores Ranch

Division – 4

Upper Mojave River Narrows - Victorville

1) Upper Mojave River Narrows – Victorville

Verde/Kemper Campbell Ranch view toward Spring Valley Lake - Victorville

2) Verde/Kemper-Campbell Ranch view toward Spring Valley Lake – Victorville

Division 5

View of easterly Apple Valley from Bass Hill

1) Misty March Morning – View of easterly Apple Valley from Bass Hill at Sunrise

Bell Mountain from southeast

2) Bell Mountain from southeast

View from southern Apple Valley toward northeast

3) View from southern Apple Valley toward northeast

Division 6

Lower Mojave River Narrows - Victorville

1) Lower Mojave River Narrows – Victorville

Cottonwood Forest - Mojave River at Oro Grande

2) Cottonwood Forest – Mojave River at Oro Grande

Stoddard Mountain as viewed from near I-15

3) Stoddard Mountain as viewed from near I-15

Division 7

View from I Ave/Lemon - Hesperia

1) View from I Ave/Lemon – Hesperia

Predawn, Escondido, Hesperia

2) Predawn, Escondido, Hesperia

Antelope Valley Wash/Ranchero - Hesperia

3) Antelope Valley Wash/Ranchero – Hesperia

Local History — A 30 Second Story — Silverwood

Silverwood LakeThis is Silverwood Lake. It is named after some guy named Silverwood rather than the silver wood that grows around the lake and Summit Valley. Before they could have the lake there had to be the dam. The dam in this picture is Cedar Springs Dam. Before the dam there was Cedar Springs. It was a small town. It was flooded to make the lake. Everyone moved out first. Some other stuff happened here before that.

The end.

A Photo Tip

Power lines, not being all that aesthetic, can really mess up a pretty, scenic shot. Not much can be done about them, but if you are under them, they more or less cease to be an issue, and the maintenance roads in the right-of-way can lead to many other opportunities.

599-j2384