|If his legend wasn’t enough during his short life time, it would soon grow larger when in 1854, the first “fictionalized” account of his life appeared in a San Francisco newspaper and a book by John Rollin Ridge. In The Life and Adventures of Joaquin Murrieta.
Ridge portrayed Murrieta as a folk hero who had only turned to a life of crime after a mob of American miners had beaten him severely and left him for dead, hanged his brother, and raped and killed his wife. According to Ridge’s account, Joaquin was a dashing, romantic figure that swearing to avenge the atrocities committed upon his family, committed his many crimes only in an effort to “right” the many injustices against the Mexicans.
According to the tale, Murrieta fled from his claim only to set up a saloon in nearby Hangtown, where miners began to go missing. One by one, the dead bodies of the miners, all who were said to have been part of the killings at the Murrieta claim, turned up with their ears cut off.
After Joaquin’s supposed death, advertising posters were displayed where the head could be viewed, 1853.
|After fourteen miners had been found dead or missing, a Hangtown settler identified Murrieta who fled once again. Before long, he had gathered up his outlaw gang and began to take out his vendetta against the white settlers through robbery and mayhem. However, to his Mexican compatriots he was generous and kind, giving much of his ill gotten gains to the poor, who in turn helped to shelter him from the law.
There is no evidence that Ridge’s version of the tale is accurate; however, similar atrocities were committed on both Mexicans and Chinese who were living in California at the time.
Over the years, the telling of the tale continued to grow until the dead Mexican outlaw began to be called the Robin Hood of El Dorado and take on a symbolized resistance of the Mexicans to the Anglo-American domination of California. And all throughout Gold Country, tales were told of how the outlaw had stayed at this or that hotel, drank in various saloons, and those who claimed to have actually met or was robbed by the man.
As to what happened to Joaquin’s head, it was finally placed behind the bar of the Golden Nugget Saloon in San Francisco, until the building was destroyed by the 1906 earthquake.
|The head itself would become yet a part of another legend – the ghost of Joaquin. Even today, the tales continue of Joaquin’s headless ghost riding through the old gold fields, crying like a banshee – “Give me back my head.”|
In 1936, Dr. Thornwell Jacobs described his plan to create a permanent record – a time capsule – of what life was like on Earth for any future inhabitants, an article featured in the the November 1936 issue of Scientific American magazine. To assist him in this tremendous task, Dr. Jacobs sought the help of Thomas K. Peters, a scientist of versatile experience. Work on the Crypt commenced in August, 1937, and continued until June, 1940. During this period of thirty-three months, an astounding amount of knowledge was condensed: the accumulated knowledge acquired during the 72,000 months of the last 6000 years.
Jacob’s idea in 1936 created tremendous interest. Soon afterward the Westinghouse Company, which was building a pavilion for the 1938-39 New York World’s Fair, buried a project, which was not to be opened until 6938 A.D. It was called a “Time Capsule” and our language gained a new term almost overnight.
The encyclopedic inventory of items in the Crypt includes, in a swimming pool size chamber, over 640,000 pages of micro-filmed material, hundreds of newsreels and recordings, a set of Lincoln logs, a Donald Duck doll and thousands of other items, many from ordinary daily life. There also is a device designed to teach the English language to the Crypt’s finders. No gold, silver, or jewels are included to tempt vandals.