Saturday, November 12, 2011

Ramona Epic #31: The Murder of Juan "Alessandro" Diego (Part 2)

(N33 35.655 W116 48.145)

In the previous blog I showed a road that continued to the final destination. In reality, it was less than five minutes to go down the road and take a left to this:

At this point, far enough away from civilization, just to the left of the above picture is this.You can click the picture (or, right click and open in a new window) to see that it says:

In this valley a conflict between the culture of the Indian and the White Man resulted in the death of Juan Diego (Alessandro in the play Romona [Sic]) by the hands of Sam Temple.
Billy Holcomb Chapter
E. Clampus Vitus
May 1979

The above is just looking into the open field near the monument.

What happened here is Juan Diego returned home from San Jacinto with the wrong horse. Apparently, having one of his mental spells, left his pony at a stable in San Jacinto, and then took a gray work horse back home. Unfortunately, this horse belonged to Sam Temple. Temple was a rough man that had been in fights before, and had a temper, especially when drunk. So, the very next morning, March 24, 1883, Temple went the 16 miles up into Juan Diego Flats. He got his horse back, but then killed Juan Diego with his guns.

Sam Temple claimed that it was self-defense and that Juan Diego confronted him with a knife. Juan's wife was not allowed to testify against Temple. As pointed out in the article I will link below, while technically an Indian could testify in court against whites, in practice for that time it was not allowed. So, Temple was able to get away with murder.

Helen Hunt Jackson did know of this event and wrote an article about it called, "Justifiable Homicide in Southern California". Eventually, the outrage of this historical event is what led her to use it in her fictional setting with the names of the people changed to the characters in her book that was published the very next year.

As I began the last blog, I really enjoy going into backcountry areas to find these types of tributes to the past. The area has probably not changed very much since the time of Juan Diego and his wife living there. The day I went the clouds were out to make it overcast. Due to the way schedules work out I had already committed myself to come here on the day I did it. So, I was sort of disappointed I did not have a sunny day. Then after thinking about it and looking back at what I was trying to do for this series, maybe having a gloomy day was for the best in how this worked out.

The Murder of Juan "Alessandro" Diego (Youtube Version)

The Murder of Juan "Alessandro" Diego (Vimeo Version)

The background music for this one is called Wounded by

The Killing of Juan Diego: From Murder to Mythology by Phil Brigandi and John W. Robinson (The best article about the history of this event from The Journal of San Diego History)