Micheal White

Miguel Blanco

Villains with the Blackest Hearts

An experience of Michael White (Miguel Blanco) on the Old Spanish Trail to San Bernardino, California.

We stopped a day or two on a lake called the San José (now known as the Beggars’), and I told my partner to take care of the horses, as I wanted to ride around and take a look at the country. Riding round I heard firing a little ahead of me. Hurrying on, I discovered that our New Mexicans had surrounded a rancheria of Piutes. I saw one little Indian boy, about 12 years old, with his arm nearly shot off, just hanging by the skin a little below the shoulder. I began to scold the New Mexicans and called them a pack of damned brutes and cowards, and they were so.

There was one old Indian, standing with his bow and arrow. They wanted to take and kill him, but were afraid to approach near enough to come within reach of his arrow. I went up to the Indian and asked him for his bow and arrows—they had solemnly promised me not to hurt him if I succeeded in disarming him. The Indian handed them to me and I shall never forgive myself for having taken the word of those villains, for villains they were, of the blackest kind. As soon as they saw the Indian without arms they came near and riddled him with bullets.

I parted with them and went by myself. This was a considerable distance from our camp. I found another rancheria in a thicket of willows. An Indian came out and by sign asked me if I had come to fight. I said no; then he asked me if I was hungry, and answering in the affirmative, he invited me to alight, and partake of what he had, which was atole [a drink], made of the seed of hogweed, and barbecued trout of the most delicious—as you may suppose, considering I had had nothing to eat in nearly 24 hours. Whilst I was eating up came the confounded New Mexicans, and the Indians ran to conceal themselves in the brush. All but two succeeded in escaping—those two unfortunate Piutes were taken by the Mexicans, tied, and shot in cold blood. I begged, entreated, threatened, and did all I could to have their lives spared but all my efforts were unavailing. When they were about to shoot the Indians, I was so indignant that I raised my gun, aimed at one of the gang, and pulled the trigger, and it wouldn’t fall, though I pulled it with all my force. 10 or 12 guns were pointed at me, but they didn’t fire, as my gun had not gone off—they said this was what saved me. The rascal’s name was Tomás Salazar. I assured them that I would never again travel with such a set of brutes. They answered, “ Que! no es pecado matar esos indios gentiles.” [Oh, well. It’s no sin to kill those pagan Indians.]

My partner in the camp wanted me to keep quiet, because the New Mexicans were exasperated against me and would put me to death if I said more. From that time I had no rest at night. I was apprehensive of being murdered.

California all the way back to 1828. By Michael C.
White. Written by Thomas Savage for the Bancroft
Library, 1877