Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Murrieta's Head For Western Wednesday...!

In the west, we often hear about hanging and shoot-outs between the law and outlaws...not very uncommon. However, one story that is brutally different is when the outlaw Joaquin Murrieta was beheaded by California Rangers in order to collect a reward.

1853
California Rangers kill Joaquin Murrieta

In a macabre instance of rough frontier justice, California Rangers claim a $6,000 award by bringing in the severed head—preserved in whiskey—of outlaw Joaquin Murrieta.

In the early months of 1853, a wild band of desperadoes began terrorizing Calaveras County in central California. Law officers believed a shadowy character named Joaquin Murrieta led the outlaws, although confusion abounded since there were at least four other desperadoes named “Joaquin” in the territory.

Whatever the identity of the leader, the California legislature resolved to stop the outlaws. In the spring of 1853, the government created a special force of California Rangers led by a Los Angeles Deputy Sheriff named Harry Love. The state also offered a $6,000 award to anyone who brought in Murrieta—dead or alive. For several weeks, Love and his team of 20 rangers scoured the Calaveras countryside without success. The rangers got a lucky break, however, when they captured Murrieta’s brother-in-law and forced him to lead them to the outlaw’s camp on Cantua Creek.

Early on the morning of this day in 1853, Love and his rangers attacked the outlaw camp. Caught by surprise and badly outnumbered, eight of the bandits were killed, including Murrieta and his right hand man, Tres Dedos (also known as Three Fingered Jack). To prove they had indeed killed Murrieta and deserved their award, the rangers cut off the head of the outlaw. They also took the distinctive hand that gave Three Fingered Jack his nickname. The rangers preserved the gory body parts in whiskey-filled vats until they could exhibit them to the authorities in Stockton.

Later, some claimed that the severed head was not Murrieta’s. Love, however, gathered 17 affidavits from people who had known the outlaw and were willing to swear it was Murrieta’s head. The state agreed and gave the $6,000 award to Love and his rangers. Love further profited from the deal by taking Murrieta’s head on a tour of California mining camps, charging $1 to see it. Eventually, the head ended up in San Francisco Museum, where it was destroyed in the great earthquake of 1906.

This seems a little over the top to me, but I guess that the Rangers figured this was the best way to handle things.

Coffee in the kitchen again this morning, if that's suitable to you.

12 comments:

HermitJim said...


Gorges Smythe said...

Quite a story.

Mamahen said...

I guess there wasn't to many ways to prove identity in those days, but once the reward was mine, I wouldn't be carrying that head around for any reason. But then , you would have to be pretty heartless to behead him in the first place. Kitchen is fine. Anyone care for some fresh fruit salad this morning?

linda m said...

It was bad enough that they had to prove he was dead by presenting his severed head. But to take it out on tour was overboard for me. That was just gruesome. Coffee inside is fine. The heat and humidity are getting to me. Thanks Mamahen for the fresh fruit salad.

Momlady said...

At least he was dead when they cut off his head. Another hot one today.

JO said...

Sounds like the days of Old England cutting off heads to prove a point. And then taking the thing to charge to see it. I think that Love was a little evil.

Kitchen is fine with me we topped out at 113 yesterday and it will be just as nasty today.

HermitJim said...

Hey Gorges...
Glad you found it interesting.
Thanks for stopping by today!


Hey Mamahen...
I think that some chilled fruit salad would hit the spot this morning!
Thanks for coming over this morning!


Hey Linda...
Gruesome is a good way to describe it, I reckon. I feel the same way about the heat...getting to me.
Thanks for the visit this morning!


Hey Momlady...
I surely hope that is correct.
Thanks for coming by today!

HermitJim said...

Hey Jo...
Could be that he was just greedy and wanted to make a lot of money.
Thanks for dropping by today!

Bob said...

And the song ... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=baP9HGrSlOA

HermitJim said...

Hey Bob...
I had not heard the song before. I appreciate the link.
Thanks for stopping by this morning!

Dizzy-Dick said...

What a waste of good whisky (grin). I haven't had a drink in years but back in the good old days, I had more than my share.

HermitJim said...

Hey Dizzy...
Maybe it gave the whisky a little extra kick?
Thanks, buddy, for coming over today!