When I was ‘weeding’ or going through the local history section at the Dublin library, I came across a very interesting book. Its title is Sheriff Harry Morse and Murray Township Desperadoes (1850 – 1870)  by John S. Sandoval.  Here’s the following excerpt that gives a glimpse into a wild and woolly bygone era:

Murieta Legend

The outburst of lawlessness in Alameda County in the 1860’s paralleled the wave of banditry and terror in the 1850 – 1856 period which created the folk-lore legend of Joaquin Murieta.  During the placer-mining days in the Sierra dozens of bands of outlaws preyed on the gold-camps and stage coaches carrying gold-dust to San Francisco and Sacramento.

As Joseph Henry Jackson points out in his “Bad Company,” since most of these outlaws were Mexican or Chilean they were given the name in the newspaper accounts as being led by a “Joaquin.”  There was Joaquin Botilleras, Joaquin Ocomorenia, and of course, Joaquin Murieta.

In 1853 the State Legislature approved an act which empowered California Ranger Harry Love to raise a company of 20 mounted men for three months to capture the “party or gang of robbers commanded by the five Joaquins.”

Ranger Love rode up and down the mountain ranges of the Coast Range from Diablo to El Tejon and finally captured a band of Mexicans in camp west of Tulare Lake.  The rangers killed most of the leaders of the band—among them Manuel Garcia, called “Three-Fingered Jack.”  Also the rangers cut the head of one of the leaders and pickled it in alcohol and brought it to Sacramento and claimed his reward of $1,000 posted by Governor Biglar.

The hand of “Three-Fingered Jack” and the head of “Joaquin” were exhibited for a fee all through the northern part of the state.”

Will the real “Joaquin” please stand up!  Here’s another intriguing passage in Mr. Sandoval’s book:

“Illusive Facts

From these illusive facts in 1854 a San Francisco journalist by the name of John Rollin Ridge, also known as “Yellow Bird’ from his Cherokee blood heritage, wrote a paper-back sensational best seller called the “Life and Adventures of Joaquin Murieta.”  Thus the legend on Joaquin Murieta was created. 

The sheriff of Alameda County ran into one of these “Joaquins” in the early sixties in the Livermore Valley.  Halley says:  “The individual arrested was one Joaquin, charged with grand larceny in stealing cattle from the ranch of S.B. Martin in Murray Township.”

“The Sheriff was accompanied by Officer Richardson, of Oakland, and Deputy Sheriff Hall of Santa Clara.  They found the object of their search in a small cabin near the mines (Almaden).  Joaquin was in bed, fighting sickness.

“Richardson covered the man with a double-barrelled shot-gun, while the Sheriff tumbled him out of bed. It was found that the ruffian, although nabbed, was vigilant, and concealed beneath the bed-clothes a navy revolver, full cocked and ready for use.

“The dangerous appearance of the host-gun, however, prevented any attempted on the part of the prisoner to use his arms.”

 Here are some other local history books available @ the Alameda County library that one might enjoy:

Lawman : the life and times of Harry Morse, 1835-1912 by John Boessenecker

The grizzly bear in the land of the Ohlone Indians  by Ray Chapin

The rancho of Don Guillermo : history of San Lorenzo, Hayward, and Castro Valley ; Alameda County, California by John S. Sandoval

California, 1850 : a snapshot in time by Janice Marschner

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