LAKE COUNTY HISTORY CHAPTER 21: THE TEMESCAL MASSACRE

Unsuccessful in recruiting Indians from the other tribes along Clear Lake’s shore, Mariano Vallejo returned to Rattlesnake Island. This time, using his interpreter, Chief Camacho, he tried again to persuade the Chief to come to the shore. The Chief was willing to talk, but his people refused.

Camacho was ordered to try again. This time thirty rafts came to the shore. Vallejo proposed, instead of returning with the Chief to the Island for talks, instead, he wished to take them to Sonoma to see the place. He offered them blankets and whatever he had to give them to persuade them to go. They refused. However, they were willing to parley inside the Sweathouse. *

*NOTE: All villages had a Sweat House, or Temescal and always on the bank of a body of water; a stream, pond, or lake. They were circular, nearly as large as a circus ring and two to four feet deep. The floor was prepared and made smooth. Four long, stout poles, with their butts planted in a circle, were placed in the outer edge of the cleared space. Their tops were brought together in the center, not touching, but close enough to allow for an opening for smoke. Twigs, Tule reeds, branches, grass, and leaves filled the open spaces. Once secured, the roof was covered with earth, to make a dome-like structure.

To enter, a tunnel was made. The passage was just wide enough for two persons to pass. It ran ten or twenty feet from the water to the interior. A fire, built in the center of the Temescal, would, within minutes, make the interior hot enough to melt lead. The Indians stooped or crawled into the structure nude. They squatted and allowed the sweat from the heat and the fire to run from their bodies in streams. Baked long enough, they left the Temescal and plunged into the water. Then they squatted on the bank to cool off. This they would do in the coldest weather. The Temescal also served as a council chamber or, in bad weather, as a place of shelter.

Vallejo’s Brother-in-Law suggested to Vallejo that they shut the Indians in the Temescal.

Vallejo agreed. The Chief was satisfied with the arrangement for discussions and a little more than half the Indians entered the Temescal. The Chief of the Rancheria asked that the others might also enter. At this point the die was cast; Vallejo had decided on more brutal measures to force the issue.

Juan Bourges continues his eye-witness account.

‘Once inside, the Indian auxiliaries shut the door of the Temescal. Before the Native Chief could react to seeing the door of the Temescal closed shut, Carrillo lanced the Chief in the stomach and killed him. The other Indians took to the water and tried to escape by swimming. The auxiliaries followed them in two rafts, killing the defenseless ones with blows. Then the expedition fired at them, killing some and wounding others.’

‘At this time the auxiliaries, who guarded the entrance of the Temescal, made four or five breaks in the roof and walls. They threw burning torches inside to set fire to the grass that was on the floor. We wanted the Indians inside for labor. The interpreter told them, ‘If you come out nothing will be done to you.’ Those inside said, ‘I would rather die by burning than be taken by the soldiers.’ Their bodies were heard crackling from outside as they burned.’

After the Temescal Massacre, Salvador Vallejo took his tough Longhorns into Lake County. He led a band of soldiers into Scotts Valley, Bachelor Valley and the Upper Lake region and Augustine, Chief of the Hoolanapo, tells us of that expedition.

“Vallejo took many cattle into Lake County. These were long-horns that could survive the attacks of the Grizzly and the mountain lion.”

Ultimately, Vallejo drove his cattle out for market to the American Army in San Francisco. The few that remained were sold to Americans: Kelsey and Stone. When Kelsey and Stone were assassinated by the Indians (Bloody Island Massacre), two other men, Moore and Broom, seeking a fortune, took the cattle that remained and sold them at market in San Francisco. In 1854, the remains of the corrals still stood in Big Valley near Kelseyville… but fell to ruin years ago.

Next Week: The Indian Wars.

Lake County History. $32. (includes. Tax & Shipping)

Pal Publishing, PO Box 6, Upper Lake, Ca 95485

e-mail: genepaleno@gmail.com

Website: genepaleno.com

Gene Paleno

Gene runs his life at a full sprint. In his ninety-three years he's dug ditches, painted signs, played semi-pro football, worked as a taxicab driver, an insurance agent, and a school teacher. He's been a technical artist, a marketing director, and a business owner. He served in World War II, raised four children, and was married to the love of his life for fifty years. He's an accomplished oil painter and skilled in ceramics. He's written fifteen books, including the definitive Lake County History, and doesn't show any signs of slowing down.

w

Your Cart

Cart is empty.

Subtotal
$0.00
Shipping
Free!
Tax
$0.00
Total
$0.00
0
X
X