Medium Rare: Miramontes & Vasquez,HMB rancheros

Story from John Vonderlin
Email John [email protected])

Mission Dolores/:Pomponio Storu

[Image: Vasquez and Miramontes can tell you of the struggles of the fathers with the Indians and the last days of Dolores, under the Spanish rule, for they were a part of the generation that passed from the mission then and of the generation that lies dead and unknown to us now. Would that you might have heard the e of the Pablo Vasquez as he told the story in the little hotel in Half Moon Bay  while the other, the Don Pablo Vasquez, son of Jose Tiburcio Vasquez, was majordomo of the mission, is 20 years younger.


This is the excerpt from the Jan. 2nd 1910 issue
of the “San Francisco Call,” that refers to Pomponio.
It is in a lengthy article about the two survivors who
had trod the ground of the Mission Dolores, before
it was secularized in 1843 . The two survivors, Mira-
montes and Vasquez, have a lot of interesting
things to relate, though some of their memories
seem to differ from historical accounts. There are a
few other references to the HMB area I’ll dig out and
send soon. Enjoy. John

One name remains to us in history to
tell of an instance when the fathers
made the mistake of capturing a savage
who was in years beyond the age for
peaceful subjection. Then Pablo Vas –
quez shook his head when he mentioned
the great Pomponio, and indicating
with his thumb the location of a valley
in the hills back of Half Moon, he re –
marked in his gentle English.
“Pomponio, my father knew him;
they say he killed many and there is a
canyon yonder that bears his name.”
Pomponio was the cause of many wild
nights in the settlement, for every so
often, he broke from the watchful fath –
ers and returned to his
comrades, mustering them into maraud –
ing bands that would swoop down in
the dark upon the cluster of adobes that
sought shelter in the shadow of Do –
lores, where, amid havoc and massacre,
they would ransack the dwellings and
flee to the safety of their lairs in the
hills. More often they would creep
stealthily into the settlement in the
early hours of the morning, and make
away with the corraled horses while
the padres slept. This practice became
so prevalent that the wily fathers con –
ceived the idea of tying a bell to the
neck of the mare in each corral that
they might be alarmed when the thiev –
ery was in progress. This custom was
generally adopted in later years and
even today the: Spaniards of the penin –
sula refer to the “bell mare.”
Even after this precaution, the padres were
frequently crestfallen, to awaken, and
discover, their corrals empty. The In-
dians, quick to adapt themselves to
new conditions, employed every caution
in approaching the inclosures. One of
their number would quietly capture the
“bell mare,” deftly remove the bell and
tinkle it occasionally to reassure the
padres, while the remainder of the
party filed out of the rear of the corral
with the horses.