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This final statement, purportedly given on the eve of his hanging on March 19, 1875, contrasts sharply with the jailhouse interview Vasquez granted 10 months earlier to L.A.'s foremost journalist, Ben C. Truman, owner of the Los Angeles Star newspaper.
In this statement, as attested by Santa Clara County Sheriff John H. Adams, Vasquez says he diverged from the "instruction and training I received from my own parents"; that he "disobeyed their wishes and commands"; and that his criminality "ruthlessly trampled upon" the laws of God. He further admonishes his accomplices not to exact revenge against his captors.
He was not similarly contrite with Truman the day after his capture in May 1874. Rather, Vasquez, born in 1835 when California was part of Mexico, told Truman how he and his countrymen had been wronged by the American conquerors during the early years of statehood, and that "a spirit of hatred and revenge took possession of me."
Far from disobeying his parents' wishes, Vasquez reportedly told Truman: "I went to my mother and told her I intended to commence a different life" from that of a cattle rancher. "I asked for and obtained her blessing, and at once commenced the career of a robber."
His 1874 account as related by Truman contains none of the stilted prose found here.
About the only thing the two versions have in common is Vasquez's assertion that he never killed anyone.
The Last Hours of Vasquez.
The Morning Oregonian | Thursday, March 25, 1875
The San Francisco papers contain lengthy accounts of the execution of the notorious bandit chief Tiburcio Vasquez, and of the scenes and circumstances connected with his last hours. On the evening before the execution, Sheriff Adams being alone in the cell with the prisoner said to him:
Tiburcio we are now sitting here alone in the deep silence of the night. It is a good time to think. Now if there is anything you desire to say and have it go forth as your last words you can. It shall be taken down tomorrow submitted by you, when, if found correct, you can attach your signature to it.
The prisoner remained silent for several moments, gazing in a thoughtful manner into the fire, then with a snap of his finger, which he darted out in a nervous manner pretty much like a snapping tortoise pokes out his head after a lazy fish, said:
"To the Fathers and Mothers of Children
Standing on the portals of the unknown and unknowable world, and looking back upon the life of this as I have seen it, I would urge upon you to so train, influence, instruct and govern the young to whom you have given life, that they be kept aloof, as far as it is in the nature of things possible, from the degrading companionship of the immoral and vicious. The general welfare of society depends upon the strict performance on your part of this duty; the state of society in the next generation depends upon the manner in which the children of the present are instructed and trained. I wish the young throughout the world, who may read the incidents of my life, to make warning in time by the example before them of me, and to realize the full force of the saying that they way of the transgressor is hard, the truth of which is now being verified to me. Yet the world must not be allowed to think that in anything I have said I reflect upon the instruction and training I received from my own parents. I affirm that they did all that they could to bring me up in a right way. Circumstances which they could not control threw me among vicious associations, and I disobeyed their wishes and commands.
"I humbly ask the pardon of each and every one that I have offended or injured, asking their pardon with all the earnestness that only a dying man can. I ask also the prayers of all good and Christian people, that forgiveness may be extended to me not only by those that I have wronged, but by the great Father, whose laws I have so ruthlessly trampled upon. The forgiveness that I ask of those whom I have wronged I freely and completely give to all those who have injured me. I thank my counsel, each and every one of them, for their attention to me in my hour of distress. I express my gratitude to Sheriff Adams, and Deputies Winchell, Sellman and Curtis, for their great kindness extended to me during the long period I have been in their custody. I thank my brothers for their brotherly love extended to me during all the time of my troubles, and to my darling and beloved sister I render inexpressible thanks. Oh! sister of mine, thy love to me will buoy me up in my last moments. I commend my soul and the hereafter that is before me to the guiding Maker, without whose help I can never expect complete pardon. Farewell brothers, farewell sister dear, farewell all. The end is come. (Signed), TIBURCIO VASQUEZ."
Witness — W.H. Collins, Theo C. Winchell, J.H. Adams, G.A. Beers, H.S. Foote, John A. Ethell, John McGonigle and A. Sellman.
"To My Former Associates.
"I wish you, who will doubtless expect to hear some last word of farewell from me, whose fortunes and adventures you have shared, to ponder well the few words I now deem it proper to say to you. You must well know that I could, had I been so disposed, have disclosed to the authorities and the world the perpetrators of many atrocities and crimes, and thus have saved my own life, so you can see, if the world cannot, that to a certain extent this explanation is on my part voluntary. I wish you to especially understand that, while I know I have not committed the immediate crimes of which I have been convicted, and for which I am about to suffer death, and have not at any time shed human blood or taken the life of my fellow-men, common sense compels me to understand and recognize the justness of the law which holds me responsible for the innocent lives lost in the prosecution of my unlawful calling of robbery. The threats of revenge which I hear have been made by some of my friends — perhaps to retaliate by outrages on the community at large, and by the assassination of my captors, the jury who convicted me, or the officers who prosecuted me or held me a prisoner — are foolish and wrong; for all these people have simply represented the law, and have acted only in the interests of society. By the course threatened you could do me no earthly good, but only bring yourself in the end to my own fate. Take warning of my fate, and change your course of life while you may. I, Tiburciou [sic] Vasquez, now about to pay the penalty of a misdirected life, say this to you, my former companions, with the solemn earnestness of a dying man.
(Signed) TIBURCIO VASQUEZ.
In Jail at San Jose, March 18, 1875.
Witness — John McGonigle, Theo C. Winchell, J.H. Adams, G.A. Beers, H.S. Foote, W.H. Collins, John A. Ethell and A. Sellman.
When the night had nearly waned and the weary hours were dragging their slow length along, the prisoner rose from the chair on which he had been sitting, gazing into the flickering embers, and yawning, said he guessed he would lie down and sleep for a little while. "I have," said the doomed man, "one last request to make of you, Mr. Adams."
"What is that, Tiburcio?" asked the sheriff.
"It is that when I am taken upon the scaffold to meet my doom that you give me a glass of wine and one of the best cigars that can be obtained in San Jose. I want to die with the taste of wine and tobacco on my lips."
News story courtesy of Lauren Parker.