Santa Clarita Valley History In Pictures

Execution Of Vasquez!
The Daily Bee (newspaper),
Sacramento, Cal.

Friday, March 19, 1875.

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Story Story


Vasquez on the Scaffold!


"May God Have Mercy on My Soul!"



    Tiburcio Vasquez has looked his last upon earth. At half-past one o'clock to-day this notorious bandit was launched into eternity. His last moments previous to his execution were passed with calmness worthy of a stoic. At 12:15 P.M., the officers and members of the press were received by Vasquez in one of the cor­ridors of the jail, shaking hands with all, irrespective of previous ac­quaintance, bowing to such as they passed him in the most obsequious manner, nearly one hundred officers, including Sheriffs, Deputy Sheriffs, police officials and others. The ex­citement was intense. Hundreds sur­rounded the jail, and at one o'clock admission to the yard was almost im­possible. The scaffold was the same one used in Sacramento to effect the execution of Mortimer, Cotta and Es­trada. At one o'clock the rope was adjusted to the beam by A. H. Fulton, late mate of the ship Sontag. Just be­fore he emerged from the cell the death warrant was read to him, and at 12:55 o'clock he left the jail, and preceded by Father Serda, he ascended the steps of his gibbet, being followed by Sheriff Adams and two deputies. The gangway from the cell door was densely crowded. As they passed to the drop Father Serda asked that all would say the Lord's Prayer after him. The coat was taken from the prisoner by Deputy Sheriffs Win­chell and Sellman, who also strapped him. The priest administered the last rites, a white gown was placed around his form and the rope tied by the Deputy Sheriffs, the condemned man repeating prayers for the dead and asking forgiveness of the Almighty. The drop fell at 1:35 and the neck must have been broken instantly as the pulse in the right wrist ceased im­mediately for several minutes, then commenced beating at the regular rate. The left wrist beat feebly at first but increased rapidly until it reached 120 per minute, gradually decreasing for 74 minutes when he was pro­nounced dead. The body hung 20 minutes and was then cut down and placed in a room in a house in the yard where the neck was pronounced broken by the physicians. Thus has another legal tragedy been completed, and Vasquez, the most notorious ban­dit since the times of Joaquin Murietta, Tom Bell and “Rattlesnake Dick," passed into eternity. All agree that he died instantly, and all could per­ceive that no struggle or tremor passed through his frame. He died without confessing a single murder, simply saying when the death warrant was read to him: "I am destined to die; may God have mercy on my soul."

Permit of Burial.

SAN JOSE, March 19.

    Rev. Father Serda this morning is­sued the following permit of the bur­ial of Vasquez: "San Jose, March 19, 10:40 A. M.—To the Rev. Father Luis Basio, Santa Clara, I hereby certify that there is every hope possible that the body of Turburcio Vasquez, who is to die this afternoon, shall be enti­tled to Christian burial. He has been already comforted with the sacraments of the Holy Catholic Church, and he is very resigned and willing to accept death. [signed] Lawrence Serda, Catholic Priest."
    About 300 tickets to the jail yard have been issued.

Newspaper images: 9600 dpi jpeg of 300 dpi jpg of original newspaper from the collection of Alan Pollack

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