Santa Clarita Valley History In Pictures

Tiburcio Vasquez
Biography While In Custody

Entered according to act of Congress, in the year 1874, by V. WOLFENSTEIN, of Los Angeles, in the office of the Clerk of the Southern District of California.


A Brief Sketch of the Notorious Bandit.

Vasquez is now busily engaged in chronicling his own history, by giving it in detail to all who visit him. He was born in Monterey County, in this State, August 11th, 1835 [sic: April 7*], and is therefore 39 years of age. He has three brothers and two sisters living. He has never married, but has one child in this county. He attended school in Monterey County, and can read and write.

He became first incensed against Americans, and was led into fights, which placed him under the ban of the law, through jealousy at fandangos, in early days, when the Americans would be more successful with the señoritas than his own class. After an arrest for one of these fights, he gathered a gang of cattle and went to Mendocino County, where the officers sought him out and tried to arrest him. But he resisted, and escaped. He then went home, and asked his mother for her blessing, for he was going out into the world to suffer and take the chances — that is live off the world and take his chances of suffering at his hands.

His first exploit was the robbing of some peddlers in Monterey County; the next, the capture and robbery of a stage. He had confederates from the start, and was always recognized as a leader. He continued robbing until 1857, when he was sent to San Quentin from this city to five years for grand larceny. On his liberation, he made a faint unsuccessful effort at reform; but soon fell in with Procopio and Soto, and marauded with those notorious highwaymen, the latter of whom was killed by Morse in his celebrated fight with the gang in Alameda County.

From this time until the affair of the Tres Pinos nothing of note transpired. His version of this affair is as follows:

He sent three of his party, Chavez, Leiva and another into the hamlet to take a few drinks, reconnoitre [sic] the situation and report. When he arrived at the place, he found that his subordinates had engaged in a carnival of blood, contrary to his orders; that they had killed three men, two by the hands of Leiva, as he was informed. Finding it a bad business, and not having secured as much money as he wanted, he went to a woman whose husband was tied, and told her she must get him a certain sum of money or her husband would be dispatched. The money was procured, and they packed up the goods they wanted and started for the Elizabeth Lake country.

Here he seduced Leiva's wife, and their liaison being discovered by the husband, the latter determined on revenge. Leiva left the band, and shortly after allowed himself to be arrested by Sheriff Rowland, of this county, so as to turn State's evidence, and help to deliver the seducer of his wife into the hands of the law. Vasquez, finding that his love affair was about to get him into trouble, made a raid on Firebaugh's Ferry to raise money to send the woman to her parents. The raid was successful, and Madame Leiva was sent home.

The next notable affair of Vasquez was at King's river, where, with a party of eight men, he tied up thirty-five, and robbed them. But the people of the place began to show fight, and he retired with eight hundred dollars and considerable jewelry. His next exploit was the robbery of the stage and teams at Coyote Holes station, on the Owens river road. Chavez and himself were alone engaged in this affair, and they captured sixteen men, got two hundred dollars in money, and pistols, watches, jewelry, etc. A quantity of mining stock taken from James Craig was thrown away.

This affair was followed, at quite an interval, by the robbery of Repetto at the Mission of San Gabriel, the story of which is fresh in the minds of our readers. After his escape up the Arroyo Seco, he wandered for some time in the mountains, and was at times hid in the dense brush near enough to his pursuers to have killed them in detail, if he had been so disposed. For the past few weeks he has camped in the neighborhood of the Cahuenga, and went frequently to meals at Greek George's house. He says he was fairly surprised when Johnston and his party came to the house, and if he had had the slightest warning, he would have made it hot for them.

Before Leiva's defection, he and Chavez were his counselors in arranging plans; but since that time Chavez alone has been consulted. But, usually, he had no confidants, and never had any difficulty in raising a party when he wanted one. When the job was finished, his volunteers would return into the bosom of society until again wanted. In this way he had men engaged in ordinary occupations all over the country. He does not believe he would have had much trouble in "revolutionizing" Southern California, if he had had fifty or sixty thousand dollars to procure the necessary arms, and he was doubtless "laying" for a chance to make a "strike" to carry out this revolutionary project. In the meantime he was gathering arms all the while, and four hundred rounds of ammunition were seized at the house where he was captured.

Following is his prison record: Tiburcio Vasquez at State Prison August 29th, 1857, from Los Angeles County. Crime, grand larceny; sentence, five years. He escaped June 25th, 1859. Returned August 16th, 1859, on new charge, from Amador County. Crime, grand larceny; sentence, one year. Term expired and discharged August 13th, 1863. Arrived at State Prison January 18th, 1867, from Sonoma County. Crime, grand larceny; sentence, four years. Discharged June 14th, 1870.

Los Angeles May 19th, 1874.

* Vasquez was born April 7, baptized April 10, and celebrated his birthday on his Catholic saint's day, August 11.

Webmaster's Note: The original narrative (up to the prison record) is entirely one long paragraph. Words that are italicized were italicized in the original. Greek George's home was in present-day West Hollywood.

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