Opening for the season April 1, 2022. Spring hours: Friday-Sunday 11-3
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Museum of the Sierra Folklore Webinar Series: Bad Boys of the Central Sierra
March 31 @ 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Date/Time: Thursday, March 31st at 6:00 pm
Location: Zoom Meeting Room
Speaker: Steve Merrill
- Evans and Sontag: Train robbers of the Old West, right here in the Central Valley. Simmering anger at the all-dominating Southern Pacific railroad erupted into five violent train robberies in between 1889 and 1892. Aften months on the run to Eshom Valley, and other Sierra locations, they encountered a posse. John Sontag died from gunshots at the Stone Corral, northeast of Visalia, in a shootout with the deputies in June,1893. Chris Evans was eventually apprehended. After a jail break in Fresno, resulting in eventual recapture, he received a life sentence to Folsom Prison. He was paroled after 17 years, still significantly disabled from the gunshot wounds received at the Stone Coral gun battle. He died in 1917 in Oregon, having been banished from California.
- Joaquin Murrietta, the Gold Field Bandito: a peaceful mexican landowner, gold-seeker, and family man was, according to disputed historic accounts, transformed by a violent attack upon his family, resulting in the brutal murders of his wife and father-in-law around the 1850s. Many legends and stories about Murrietta came out of the gold fields, many unproven and often doubtful. Allegedly, many unexplained gold field deaths were attributed to him and his gang, the Five Joaquins. Evidently killed in a shoot out near Pacheco Pass with several reward-seeking ‘California Rangers’, a head of one was cut off and presented as proof to collect the $5000 reward, roughly equivalent to $180,000 in today’s money. The head was preserved in a jar of brandy and put on display for one dollar per person for many months up and down the state. Filmmaker John Valdez, in 2016, rediscovered the preserved head, and gave it a proper burial near the site of gunfight. Was it the head of Joaquin Murrietta? Only eternity will tell!
- The Dalton Gang, terrors of Wonder Valley: just a brief distance east of today’s Wonder Valley Ranch towers Dalton Mountain, reaching almost 3,500 feet. A historic marker on the property states, “In 1891, a posse shootout forced the infamous Dalton Brothers gang from this mountain hideout. They made their way back to Kansas where they eventually met their fate in Coffeyville. The outlaws, long since gone, leave Dalton Mountain as their lasting valley legacy.” This marker was placed in 1994 by Jim Savage of the 1850 Chapter of E Clampus Vitus and the Sanger Rotary Club.
- Black Bart, the Gentleman Bandit: Charles E. Boles, a.k.a. Black Bart, is credited with 28 mostly successful stagecoach robberies between 1877 and 1883 up and down the foothills of the Sierra. His robberies netted him handsomely; more than a million dollars when adjusted for inflation. He never fired a shot and claimed his shotgun was never loaded. He left poems at the site of his many robberies. Sentenced to six years in prison, he was released after four. He evidently ‘went straight’, but disappeared from the watchful eyes of Wells Fargo detectives in 1888. Historic evidence points to his death in November 1914, and is most likely buried in the Marysville Cemetery in Yuba County under the name of Charles Wells. It is surmised that he used that name as a final dig at the Wells Fargo company!