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Something True 3: Malpaso

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Something True 3:

Something True 3

In 1852, one of the wealthiest landowners in California drowned crossing a river. The ensuing scramble for his fortune spilled blood and broke hearts. Note: The area in which this story takes place is now Gilroy, California, home of the annual Gilroy Garlic Festival. Adult general admission is $20, parking $10 per day. Wear comfortable shoes.

Read a full transcript of this episode on the Something True website.

Follow Something true on Twitter @atruepodcast. (Or just follow Duncan and Alex.)

Music on this week’s episode:
Tate Peterson – Theme in G
Cory Gray – Low Rollers
Josh Woodward – I’m not Dreaming
Krackatoa – Long White Cloud
Blue Dot Sessions – Stillness
Josh Woodward – Invisible Light*

*modified for the podcast.


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So I don't mean to "um, actually..." this episode, but since I live just outside of Gilroy and this whole story is bonkers, I'm going to embellish it a little. The real story is the Roach-Belcher feud. Lewis Belcher, not mentioned in the episode, was initially a friend of Roach's and helped him become guardian of the estate. Belcher acted as Roach's bondsman, but after a few months accused Roach of stealing and resigned. Henry Sanford, Maria's third husband, was actually a close friend Belcher's. Much of the legal maneuvering was orchestrated by Belcher, including the hiring of Terry as Sanford's lawyer. In their suit in Stockton, the Sanfords accused Roach of stealing $84,654 worth of gold dust which Sánchez had dug up during the gold rush.


Belcher never stopped pursuing this money. He and his posse turned to going after the bondsmen that succeeded him, getting in several gunfights along the way. He managed to get $9,000, but he was eventually assassinated at the very same bar where Sanford and Roach's brother-in-law killed each other. It didn't stop there. New parties kept getting involved and all in all 13 people were murdered within about 4 years of Sánchez' passing, including a state Senator!


I highly recommend reading this article from the California Historical Society Quarterly that was written by someone who combed through all the legal records relevant to the story, as well as drawing on the work of two historians that interviewed survivors from the events. I started looking around for more info because I'm inherently skeptical of any buried treasure claims. But I think that article may hold the key to understanding where the idea of $72,000 came from. Apparently, $13,555 was found in the walls of the Sánchez home in 1853. Play the game of historical telephone enough and ~85,000 minus ~13,000 becomes an Old West legend about a missing $72,000. This is just speculation on my part however. I'd love to know what source Duncan used for writing this episode. Thanks for teaching me something about the area! I didn't grow up here, so I have no idea if it's like a common story that there's gold buried somewhere. It kind of makes me want to ask around though.





Also, the Garlic Festival has broken 100,000 attendees these last few years ^___^ (though to me that weekend is the: "stay at home cause it will be a pain to drive anywhere" festival)

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This whole story with the additions from @newgameplus should be made into a movie, I'd watch that! This episode was a wonderful tale.

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