Tiburcio Vasquez, c. 1874
Reproduction, California Historical Society
In the mid-1800s the legendary, controversial Tiburcio Vásquez—son of a prominent Californio family—traversed the passes and foothills of the state, robbing and terrorizing inhabitants and romancing others. Remembered for his womanizing and crimes purportedly committed in the name of justice for his people, the bandido/outlaw—and folk hero to some—traveled with this trunk packed with his personal effects. The knife is all that remains of its contents.
Active in the Antelope Valley, left the trunk with the first settler in the region, Timothy Nava of Barrel Springs, near Pear Blossom. He never returned for his possessions. He was captured (a woman was reputedly his downfall) at an adobe in the San Fernando Plains (present day Melrose Place in West Hollywood), and hanged for murder on March 19, 1875, at age 39, at the Santa Clara County jail in San Jose. Rocks in the Antelope Valley, one of the hideouts, and other landmarks bear his name today.
Benjamin Truman Cummings, Map of the Scene of Vasquez’ Capture, 1874
“Tiburcio Vasquez, The Life, Adventures, and Capture of the Great Californian Bandit and Murderer”; http://www.lamag.com/
Noose used at Vasquez' Execution and the Cravat He Wore, which was removed to accommodate the Noose, 1875
California State Library. Tiburcio Vasquez Collection
Timothy Nava’s granddaughter, Mrs. Tapia Weatherwax of San Fernando, an artist with early California roots, preserved the trunk and the stories passed down by her grandfather. She donated the trunk (with portraits of President and Mrs. McKinley on the inside lid) to the San Fernando Valley Historical Society.
History Keeper: San Fernando Valley Historical Society
The San Fernando Valley Historical Society serves as caretaker of the historic Andrés Pico Adobe in Mission Hills and the Pioneer Cemetery in Sylmar. The society’s mission is to share and make known the organization’s significant archive and collections of San Fernando Valley history.
Publications and Strategic Projects Manager
John , “: The Countless Love Affairs of Vasquez,” California State Library Foundation Bulletin, no. 102, 2012; http://www.cslfdn.org/pdf/Bulletin102.pdf
Vasquez, Agua Dulce/Vasquez Rocks; http://www.scvhistory.com/scvhistory/aguadulce.htm
An exhibition by the California Historical Society and LA as Subject
Presented in partnership with El Pueblo Historical Monument and the El Pueblo Park Association
El Gallery & Visitor Center
634 N. Main Street (entrance on Olvera Street, W-19)
El Pueblo de Los Historical Monument, Los Angeles, California
Tuesday–Friday, 10:00 am–3:00 pm
Saturday and Sunday, 9:00 am–4:00 pm
Opening reception: Friday, August 5, 2016, 6:00–8:00 pm