A Story of Tiburcio Vasquez the Bandit


The following story is from the unpublished diary of Daniel Martin, in the collection of the Monterey County Historical Society.


This incident happened in Monterey during Thos. Watson's administration as sheriff. Watson was about to depart for Hollister (then a part of Monterey County) on urgent business, when he received word that Vasquez [the famous bandit] was at the Union Saloon in Monterey. Watson called his chief deputy Jacob R, Leese, and ordered him to go at once to the Union Saloon and arrest Vasquez.

There was some discussion between them as to what cell Vasquez should be confined in, so they decided on the first cell near the doorway.

Watson departed for Hollister, and Leese, at once, to the Union Saloon.

This was in the early evening just after dark. The lighting facilities in those days were very poor, although coal oil had been recently introduced. There was a coal oil lamp with a reflector behind it. So it shone directly in the doorway, and anyone in entering was for a moment temporarily blinded. It may have been for advertising and it may have been for the satisfaction of its patrons. However, when Leese entered the doorway, Vasquez was standing at the bar. When he saw and recognized Leese he called to him: "Como estamos Jacobe benga atomar un trago con nosotros: ("How are you, Jake, come and have a drink with us!").

So Leese proceeded to the bar, and after a friendly greeting--as they had known each other since boyhood, proceeded to take a drink, another, and then another, when it occurred to Leese that it was his turn to treat and at his suggestion Vasquez said: "No. No, Jake, I get my money easier than you. You save your money. Remember, you are an official and frequently thrown in contact with criminals and may be shot all to pieces and necessitate all the money you can scrape together to patch you up." Meanwhile eyeing him closely to determine what effect the remark, along with the liquor he had been drinking had, and he, Vasquez, observed at once that instead of stimulating valor they had switched, taken the opposite and softening down to the yielding substance of a pancake.

So Vasquez says: "Jake, let's go down to old Simoneau's restaurant and get some supper." It was agreed and as they emerged into the street Vasquez suggested they take a back street and avoid detection, if possible, thus avoiding any embarrassment to either.

So they arrived at the restaurant and order two porterhouse steaks, with all their trimmings, also wine, black coffee, and a brandy called Cognac. No doubt they enjoyed the meal. Vasquez paid the bill, and after bidding each other good morning they retired to their respective homes.

In the early afternoon of the following day, Watson arrived from Hollister with a prisoner, observed that the front cell door was open. He called Leese and asked him, "Where did you put Vasquez?" His reply was: "If you expect me to commit suicide by attempting to arrest that man, you are disappointed--here is the warrant. Vasquez will be back in town in a few days and you can arrest him yourself."


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