Ruffians of San Bernardino County, California

Among the notorious characters who contributed to the disorder in this section in the early, days, were Bill Marshall and Juan Verdugo. It is said that Bill Marshall was from Providence, Rhode Island, and that he came to this country in 1844, in a whale-ship, from which he deserted. He married a daughter of an Indian chieftain, and was instrumental in binding the tribes together for hostilities against the whites. The trial of these men took place by court-martial, at “Old town,” San Diego, in December 1851. They were convicted of inciting the Indians to an outbreak, to burning the town of Agua Caliente, and to destroying the rancho of Hon. J. J. Warner, and committing murders and outrages upon the whites. These men were executed at 2 o’clock p. m., December 11, 1851, on a scaffold erected near the Catholic burying-ground. Verdugo acknowledged his guilt, but Marshall protested his innocence.

In the latter part of December, 1851, Major Heintzleman ordered a ” council of war,” for the trial of Francisco Mocate, chief of the Ysidro; Luis, Alcalde of Caliente; Jacobo or Onisil, and Juan Bautista. The council, after a patient hearing, adjudged them guilty, and sentenced them to be shot on the morning of Christmas day, and the sentence was duly carried into effect.On January 11, 1852, was executed by sentence of military court-martial, Antonia Garra, an educated and talented Indian chieftain, convicted of theft and murder at the insurrection of Agua Caliente. These executions did much to reduce the lawlessness and disordered conditions proceeding from Indian depredations in San Bernardino County.

Source: An Illustrated History of Southern California: embracing the counties of San Diego, San Bernardino, Los Angeles and Orange, and the peninsula of lower California.

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