The 1857 massacre of Sheriff James Barton and his posse in Irvine by a gang of bandidos ushered in a period of fear, revenge and racial tension unusual even for crime-ridden 1850s Southern California. Historian Paul R. Spitzzeri will discuss this important episode of our Old West history at the Orange County Historical Society’s next meeting: Thurs., Feb. 11, 2015, at 7:30 p.m., Trinity Episcopal Church, 2400 N. Canal St., Orange. The public is welcome to attend.
After escaping from San Quentin, horse thief Juan Flores assembled a ruthless gang and began a crime spree. When the gang raided San Juan Capistrano and killed a shopkeeper, Los Angeles County’s new sheriff, James Barton, assembled a posse to track and arrest the miscreants. Barton and his men finally came face to face with the Flores gang on the spot where the 405 Freeway and the 133 (Laguna Canyon Road) now meet, in Irvine. The ensuing violence, and the turmoil that followed, remain the stuff of legend and debate almost 160 years later.
Paul Spitzzeri is Assistant Director at The Workman and Temple Family Homestead Museum, a historic site in the City of Industry, where he has worked since 1988. A graduate with a B.A. and M.A. in History from California State University, Fullerton, Spitzzeri has published on Californio citizenship in the 19th century, railroad development and regulation, and women and crime, in journals such as “Journal of the West” and “Southern California Quarterly” and the anthology “Law in the Western United States.”
Paul will share primary source material related to each case to help inform the discussion.