The Witchcraft Case – Part 2

As Reported in Alta, California – Wed. morning, October 13, 1858

(taken from the San Diego Hearld, September 25, 1858)

Witchcraft in San Diego County – On Sunday, 19th instant, an affidavit was made before Justice Noyes, that three persons were about to be hung at the Rancho de Pala, the residence of Manuelito, the great Chief of the San Luis Indians, for the crime of being Hechiceras, or witches, and a writ of habeas corpus was issued by Judge Kurtz, and Sheriff Lyons dispatched to rescue them.  Upon the arrival of the Sheriff at Pala, he found a large number of Indians collected to witness the execution, but Manuelito had left, having received information of the intended visit of the officer of the law, and feeling very indignant at the interference of the civil authorities.  He left orders with a subordinate chief to deliver up the three witches or to hang them, as he might feel inclined; he chose to do the latter, and but for the timely arrival of the Sheriff, they would have been executed.

Sheriff Lyons found the Hechiceras in prison, where they had been confined for several weeks.  All three are Indians, the male being about 30 years old, and a helpless cripple, having lost the use of his legs, below the knees.  One of the females is a young woman, not over twenty-five years of age, of prepossessing appearance, and remarkably neat and tidy for an Indian.  She spoke Spanish well, and had letters of recommendation from families whom she had served.  The other female was a decrepit old woman, bent over and wrinkled, and was the mother of the two first mentioned.  They all are emaciated, having had nothing to eat, as they informed the Sheriff, for several days.  They were released and probably cared for by Mr. Lyons. – S.D. Hearld, Sept. 25

Published in: on March 15, 2010 at 11:32 am  Leave a Comment