Tag Archives: California

The Five Joaquins Gang

5 Sep

My girlfriend was doing research for her history class and reminded me about the Five Joaquins Gang.

These guys are California legends: A group of Mexican banditos who plundered their way through Gold Rush-era California.  There are several variations of the story.  In the most famous one, Joaquin Murrieta (the first and most important Joaquin) was a successful gold miner who attracted the attention of white gold miners jealous of his success.  They raped and killed his wife and then beat him senseless, leaving him for dead.

He survived and rounded up four other Joaquins and Manuel “Three Fingered Jack” Garcia and proceeded to rob like they had never robbed before.  Eventually the state legislature passed a law in 1853 creating the California Rangers, for the express purpose of dealing with the Five Joaquins Gang.  How many criminals get a law and a law enforcement agency created just to take them down?  They must have been pretty scary.

ImageOh god, those eyes!  Kill it with bullets!

The Rangers tracked down the Five Joaquins, killing Murrieta and two others and capturing two more.  They even cut off Murrieta’s head and put in a jar of alcohol so members of the public could see it.

ImageCause, y’know TV was at least 100 years away and that daylight wasn’t gonna burn itself.

Of course, there’s some question as to whether Joaquin Murrieta the legend existed, much less if it was it his head in the jar.  I’m not confident 1850s law enforcement would have been too picky about getting the right Joaquin.

Speaking of which, how did there end up being five guys with the same name?  Was it an entrance requirement?  Did any change their name to fit in or for a Spartacus-type deal?  Was that ever confusing during a robbery?   It’d be like Reservoir Dogs except everyone is named Mr. Blue.

Legends are always fun, but it’d be nice to have some answers.  Oh well, Nelson Muntz said it best: