The 1846-48 War with Mexico transferred sovereignty of California from Mexico to the US. It was the border, however, and not the people themselves who moved, and the original “Californios,” primarily of Mexican and native ethnicity, found themselves in a new nation and State with entirely different laws. Economic pressures and ethnic tensions disrupted life for the Californios.
In 1858, the Committee of Vigilance hanged seven Californio men in Mission Plaza. A posse pursued Pio Linares, the alleged ringleader, to the Los Osos Valley and killed him in an extended shootout. Were all these men murderers, as alleged? Was the Vigilance Committee pursuing law and order? Or was the whole situation more complex than previously thought?
Pete Kelley, noted local author and historian, has studied the record intensively in his latest book, The Quick and the Dead. Pete was the recipient of the History Center’s 2020 Award for Local Historic Scholarship. He has served for many years on the History Center’s Exhibits Committee, as well as several terms on our Board of Directors, most recently ending in June 2020. He is currently the President of the Avila Beach Community Services District.