History Days will be on May 14 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in San Miguel

by Michelle Hido 

SAN MIGUEL — Think mid-May 1858, San Luis Obispo County, California. It’s not so far away when you join us at San Miguel’s Rios-Caledonia Living History Days as we re-visit the banditry and vigilantism of the Central Coast’s wild west.

Back in the 1850s, the ‘Wild West’ was being equally romanticized and vilified by the nation, but its people lived in it with the purpose of prosperity. In the 1850s, for nearly a decade, our county was plagued by the violent acts of the Jack Powers and Pio Linares Gang. Referred to as the Powers-Linares Gang, these men went by the motto, “Dead men tell no tales.” The gang’s every action left behind bodies. Failed by the law, the people of San Luis County resorted to mob justice and lynching of caught gang members in the streets of San Luis Obispo. Walter Murray (an attorney and later founder of the San Luis Obispo Tribune in 1869) wrote of the violence and murders in his letters to the San Francisco Bulletin. In them, he describes why the ‘Committee of Vigilance’ was formed by himself and a Californios Senator José Antonio Romualdo Pacheco, who later became the first Hispanic Governor of California.

Getting through this together, Paso Robles

The San Luis Obispo Vigilance Committee of 1858 disbanded once its mission was completed, “but every member of it will hereafter continue vigilant in the support and execution of the laws. The laws are good. No one but skeptics in American progress doubt this. They only want administering by trustworthy men, and sustaining by a healthy population… Then San Luis Obispo may be looked upon, as she really is, one of the most desirable counties of the State. Her soil and climate are almost unrivaled. What she lacks in is population.” (Hon. Walter Murray). The Committee of Vigilance was over 100 people, a third of which were Californios and all of which wanted a safer San Luis Obispo County.

Here, in the time after the violence and bloodshed, is where the Historic Rios-Caledonia in San Miguel would like to bring to you. Through their Living History Days, re-enactors will present to the public how the locals lived, experienced, and felt about the lawlessness in San Luis County. After the presentations, you can ask questions and learn about the area and time period.

This event is brought to you by the Friends of the Adobes; a fundraising lunch will be available, as well as tours of the Rios-Caledonia Adobe and the SLO County D.E.E.R. program. Come learn about San Luis Obispo County through Living History.