Tiburcio Vasquez roamed California as a legendary bandito, rustling everything from horses to gold, and was romanticized by many as a Western “Robin Hood.” After his final arrest in San Jose in 1875, and just before he was hung publicly in the town square, Vasquez announced that the adjacent church, St. Joseph’s would burn to the ground in retribution for his hanging. Vasquez was hung, and a month later, the church did burn to the ground. Vasquez remains a controversial figure today — was he an outlaw or a local hero? A health center in Alameda County bears his name, and an elementary school in Salinas was named after him in 2012 — until 2015, when the school board voted to change the name.
Photos courtesy of History San Jose.