Museum logo Joseph Grant Almaden Quicksilver Martial Cottle SCCP

Archive Record

  • Email This Page
  • Send Feedback
Catalog number 1997.2.1591
Object Name Clipping, Newspaper
Date 1928
Description TITLE: Spanish Banditti Rendezvous Was at Famous Mine AUTHOR: Charles Sayler PUBLISHER: December 13th, 1928
The Ghost Towns of Northern California, especially of the Mother Lode country, are well known, but a more interesting Ghost Town, that of the hill colony of New Almaden, vastly more romantic, is comparatively unknown. Here are to be found more than fifty shells of former miners' dwellings. Long ago they were stript of their furnishings and today they stand like tombstones to a civilization of 82 years ago.
Doors and windows have fallen in, and the oilcloth used for wallpaper hangs in ghostly whiteness. Panther, skunk, bobcat and other wild animals have made the yards their habitation. A couple of palms, some eucalypti and a cedar tree or two bear mute evidence of man's former habitation. There are the ruins of a schoolhouse with books strewn about, a church, and blacksmith shops. The powder house, built of thick brick walls and roof, is best preserved and on the floor is a foot of sawdust. The hills are cut with shafts and above one, I dropped a rock which fell for several seconds without touching bottom.
INDIANS DISCOVERED IT
As early as 1822 the location of cinnabar was made known to the Robles family and Luis Chabolla. Years before that the Indians used the red pigment for facial adornment. They were of course ignorant of its nature, but they had early learned that by mixing the red sulphuret of the mercury with grease, a very pretty vermilion face paint could be made. Some of the native belles used it so persistently that they became salivated without suspecting the cause.
A Mexican officer, Andres Castillero, tried to work the mine in 1845. He hired William Chad, who first accomplished the reduction of the ore with a gun barrel distill. The mine changed hands several times and in 1846 it was visited by Captain Fremont, who established its value at $30,000. Later it became the second richest quicksilver mine in the world, being surpassed only by the Almaden mine in Spain. The Hacienda was located at the present site of New Almaden, 14 miles east of Los Gatos. A mile above the hill colony consisted of a. population of 1,400.
CRIME WAS RIFE
Joe Varotti, of Los Gatos, who was employed at the mine, recalled that there were two churches on the hill, a Methodist church and a Catholic church, a main school employing three teachers, a Spanish school with one teacher and a kindergarten school at the Hacienda. There was a saloon and general store where goods were rather dear, he said. But the miners were paid $2.50, which was good was good wages in those days. There was much lawlessness in the colony and before the telephone and automobile officers were afraid to molest the miners, Varotti said. It was not unusual for a man to be murdered after pay?day. This was a rendezvous for Mexican banditti. In 1885 [this year seems to b a misprint in the original] there were four outlaws with headquarters on the hill who terrorized Santa Clara County. The leader was Francisco Garcia, and the other three, Indian Juan, Blas Angelino and Sebastiano Flores. On December 15, 1855 Garcia killed Indian Juan because he feared Juan would expose the band to the county officers.
(Continued on Page Twelve) [Remainder of article is not available]
Pub Place New Almaden