Thursday, December 12, 2013

Pueblo de Las Juntas and Firebaugh, a bit more info...

In my post "Las Juntas Cemetery and The Pueblo de Las Juntas - Part Two" I wrote this:
Various pieces of local property began changing ownership beginning with a ferry by a man named McIntyre. He sold it to Andrew Firebaugh (who called it Firebaugh's Ferry)
... who later sold to a man named Hoffman. 
Mr Hoffman and a man named Turner also owned the store, the hotel business, well, actually, the entire town site of Firebaugh!

Recently a news article was shared on the Firebaugh Memories group pages on by Debbie Rebecchi Hoover. This article, regarding the capture of Andrew Firebaugh and his wife Susan by Tiburcio Vasquez, written by Samuel Edgecomb, caught my attention for one of the most outlandish comments I've read in a long time 
... so I had to share it with you!

Edgecomb wrote "Vasquez and his gang roared out of the hills one day and captured Andrew Firebaugh and his wife, Susan. They took her gold watch and made preparations to string up Andrew.  However, a group of Spaniards from Las Juntas, a village between Mendota and Firebaugh, intervened and told Vasquez if he killed Firebaugh the ferry and the trading post would no longer exist. Vasquez was obviously a good businessman. No trading post, no stores to rob; no ferry, no stage coaches to hold up. So he turned Firebaugh loose and returned Susan's watch." 

History tells us that Vasquez was responsible for only one death in his career as a the notorious gang leader, he made it a point to never kill in his raids.

So I know what you're asking ... where'e the outlandish comment?? Hang on... 
In that same news article is this:
From the Westside Progress Review, published by Moton Holt in 1941, an article by Louise Williams
... a writer who should have done his homework before making such a ridiculous statement wrote:

"The Valley (San Joaquin) was never occupied by Spaniards. It was unpopulated when California became a state. The San Joaquin Valley was the back country to the Spanish Californians." 

... phooey! 
Did Mr Williams never pick up any history book or read anything about California??!! 
... Ever?????

We do have another version of the story, and this one matches with the historical records of the time and area ... this story is by Westside historian Ralph Milliken who claims it was Mr Hoffman and his wife who were threatened by Tiburcio Vasquez.

Mr Milliken identified Hoffman as a former Atlantic Steamboat purser who succeeded Andrew Firebaugh as the owner-operator of the Ferry. According to Milliken "It was while Hoffman was the storekeeper in Firebaugh that Vasquez and his gang of outlaws captured the town and robbed right and left. They even took the gold watch belonging to Mrs. Hoffman, but she put up such a determined plea for its return - 'You wouldn't rob a woman, would you?' - that Vasquez very chivalrously returned the keepsake to her."

I'm guessing that Vasquez probably robbed the Hoffmans, but I'm also guessing that the townsfolk of Las Juntas, OUR families, also helped out in the rescue! 

That's what families do, right??