The Bloody Eighteen-Fifties: Law and Order in Early San Luis Obispo County
Local History from Historian Manny Silva, Morro Bay, Los Osos, CA
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Manny Silva The Bloody Eighteen-Fifties: Law and Order in Early San Luis Obispo County was the title of a presentation given by Manny Silva on February 20, 2006 10:15AM - Noon.
View a slide show of photos taken at the Feb. 20, 2006 presentation
Description:  We all know San Luis Obispo as a peaceful place to live, but such wasn’t always the case!  The first decade of the county’s existence was quite lawless, and violence was commonplace.  Come hear the history of early county lawmen, the infamous Jack Powers Gang, and the San Luis Obispo Vigilance Committee. Firearms and other implements of the period will be displayed and explained.
Manny Silva was the Historical Preservation Committee Chairman, of Native Sons of the Golden West Parlor Number 290, San Luis Obispo.  A native of San Luis Obispo, he became interested in local Outlaw-Lawman folklore at a young age.

Manny has graciously volunteered to let us publish his supporting materials in the following sections.
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San Luis Obispo County 19th Century Outlaw-Lawman History Timetable
Word Version  (
HTML Version) (.pdf version)
9 pages -- Prepared by Manny Silva 2006.  All rights reserved.
San Luis Obispo County History  
Word Version (
HTML Version)  (.pdf version)
2 pages -- Sources: “”1883 history of San Luis Obispo” by Myron Angel and “Journey of Justice” by Gary Hoving

The Mission San Miguel Murders 
Word Version (HTML Version
)  (.pdf version)
2 pages -- Sources: "1883 History of San Luis Obispo County" by Myron Angel;  "1917 History of San Luis Obispo County" by Mrs. Annie L. Morrison and John H. Haydon; "Our Violent Past", New Times magazine, Sept. 9, 2004 issue. Written by Manny Silva, 2004.  All rights reserved.

Submitted 15 Dec. 2008 by Russ Taylor rwtjmt [at} sbcglobal d o t net.
Russ Taylor said "Pretty Interesting about the Reed murders but inaccurate as well. Even Myron Angel had it wrong. "Old mountain man Jim Beckworth discovered the eleven murders at san miguel mission December 1848 while he was working for lieutenant William T. Sherman at Monterey on the first regular California US mail route. Jim's portion of the mail route was Monterey to Dana's (Nipomo). Jim notified Price and Branch and anybody else he found on his route. General William T Sherman (yes, that Sherman) later retold the exact circumstances in his written history. It was the US Army lead by Lieutenant Ord (as in Fort Ord) who tracked down the murderers and turned them over to the Santa Barbara Alcalde. They were shot. Ref. Jim Beckworth by Elinor Wilson. isbn0-8061-1555-6. Chapter X. pg 115-121."   For a complete history of this fascinating story, acquire the book The Lands of Mission San Miguel by Wallace V. Ohles, Copyright © 1997 The Friends of the Adobes, Inc. All rights Reserved. A copy of this book may be obtained from the Mission Gift Shop (805) 467-3256. Or, you can read much more online at to to which says, In his history of San Miguel, “The Lands of Mission San Miguel“ author Wally Ohles lays out the historical facts of the brutal Reed Family murders at The Old Mission... As you might expect, the murders and stories of buried gold at the Old Mission have given rise to some colorful local legends, one of which is recounted at the end of this history... read it if you dare! The Murders in the Old Mission by Wally Ohles, Author and Historian. On the afternoon of December 4, 1848,...

16 Dec. 2008. Author Manny Silva replies " Yes, there are two versions of this story.  One is that Jim Beckworth made the discovery and went north to Monterey and reported the incident to Sherman.  The other is that Price and Branch discovered it, went south and sent word on to Santa Barbara officials.  I think it is entirely possible both versions are accurate.  But I also think that some people want Jim Beckworth to receive sole credit for the discovery and subsequent apprehension.  As to my re-telling of the tale, I have tried to present an abbreviated version to whet readers appetites and encourage them to research on their own if they find this topic of interest. For my brief narrative I interpreted the facts in this way: The murderers were traveling south, so I went with the Price/Branch connection.  It seemed more likely to me that they [the murderers] could be overtaken more switfly by a posse from Santa Barbara on fresh mounts than by Dragoons mustered from Monterey."

The 1892 Cayucos Bank Hold-up  
Word Version (
HTML Version)  (.pdf version)
2 pages -- Adapted from an article in "History of San Luis Obispo and Environs"  [1917] by Mrs. Annie L. Morrison and John H. Haydon.  Written by Manny Silva, 2004.  All rights reserved.
Dana Adobe (flyer) 
Word Version (
HTML Version)  (.pdf version)
2 pages -- Sources:  "Blonde Ranchero”, by Don Juan Dana and "1883 History of San Luis Obispo County", by Myron Angel.  Written by Manny Silva, 2004.  All rights reserved
History of the Bowie Knife 
Word Version (HTML Version)  (.pdf version)
6 pages -- Manny Silva  2003.  All Rights Reserved.
California Rangers 
Word Version (HTML Version)  (.pdf version)
2 pages -- Manny Silva, August 2004.  All Rights Reserved.
Colt's Paterson and Walker Revolvers 
Word Version (
HTML Version)  (.pdf version)
2 pages -- Manny Silva. All Rights Reserved.
The Ranger Pistol  
Word Version (HTML Version)  (.pdf version)
2 pages --  Prepared by Manny Silva, 2006.  All rights reserved.
The Springfield Rifle 
Word Version (HTML Version)  (.pdf version)
3 pages -- Prepared by Manny Silva, 2006.  All rights reserved.

List of Recommended Books and Websites
Word Version (.rtf version) (HTML Version)  (.pdf version)
A good source for Old West Clip Art is
Check out the Santa Lucia Sportsmen's website in Atascadero They held a black powder rendezvous in April 2006.  Manny said "This is a good opportunity to see the old charcoal burners in action... There should be some mortars and cannon's there too."
7th Annual Rancho Nipomo Heritage Day -- May 20, 2006
(description and related photos)
Native Indians & The Gold Rush:  A California Holocaust
WordPerfect Version  Word Version  HTML Version .pdf Version 

 rev: 02/18/2008 05:09:28 PM
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