The Witchcraft Case

As reported in the Daily Alta California – October 13, 1858

The Vineyard, of the 2nd inst., speaks as follows of the San Luis Rey witchcraft case:

Don Francisco P. de Rodriquez, who came up on the Senator from San Diego, informed us that the Sheriff Lyon had left that place for Temecula, where the Indians were reported to be about sacrificing five of their class on the shrines of fanaticism.  Mr. Eli M. Smith, who has subsequently arrived from San Diego overland, via Temecula, gives the following details:

On his arrival at Temecula, he found about sixty Indians under drill, preparatory to the performance of the tragedy.  They were armed with guns, lances and clubs.  They continued this drilling during the two days which he remained there.  The intended vicitims were two male and two female Indians; two of which were charged with witchcraft, and the others with poisoning, or attempting to poison, some of their fellow creatures.  An investigation of the charges had been held by order of the grand chief, Manuel Cota, which resulted in the condemnation of the accused to be hung at the old Mission of San Luis Rey, on Monday, the 20th ult.  The night previous to the expected execution of the victims, the Sheriff of the county arrived on the ground and rescued the unfortunate subjects, taking them to the town of San Diego.  This interverntion of the Sheriff was so repugnant to the principles of justice as understood by the chief, and so derogatory to the authority held by him, that he immediately resigned his commission, and he retired in disgust from his chieftainship.

Note – In 1858 Temecula was part of San Diego County.  Riverside County was not formed until 1893.

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Published in: on February 6, 2010 at 10:07 am  Leave a Comment  

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