About Jose Rodriguez
In the fall of 1873, when Jose Rodriguez emerged from prison, he found two of his brothers dead and the people of Santa Cruz energized against him and his family. So he moved the center of his operations over to the Santa Clara Valley.
He quickly grained a reputation as a desperate character doing several jolts in the county jail. During one such period he threatened the life of John Fitzgerald, the jailer. He was involved in several shooting and knifing scrapes over the next six years. He was able to support himself by stealing horses and rustling cattle. He also worked as a pimp and gambler. Even going so far as to extort money from several citizens of Mayfield while living on his Uncle’s Don Secundino Robles rancho. However, his luck came to an end on the day of November 10, 1879, when he attempted to extort money from a peaceful teamster named Jose Felez.
Felez was passing through Mayfield on his way home from a day’s work in Palo Alto when he stopped at a saloon for a drink. Rodriguez was loudly holding forth at the bar when Felez walked in. While he sat quietly enjoy his whiskey Rodriguez approached him demanding money. Felez, who was unarmed, was well aware of Jose’s reputation for trouble. Hoping to avoid any problems with the desperado, he got up and walked out to his wagon. However Rodriguez followed him out while cursing and continuing to demand money. When he started to climb into his wagon, Felez looked back as saw Rodriguez reach under his coat to withdraw pistol.
Quickly the frightened man reached into the boot of the wagon and pulled out a shotgun he kept therein. He whirled about emptying the contents of the weapon into Rodriguez’s stomach. The big man staggered back into saloon where he fell to the floor dead. He was 32 years of age. Felez immediately rode to the Sheriff’s where he turned himself in for the killing. He was later charged with murder and found innocent by reason of self defense.
Thus ended the careers of the wild Rodriguez boys, but the events that played out on Vine Hill in the spring of 1871 only stirred up strong feeling of alienation in the young Lorenzana boys who would lead the next generation of Los Banditos de Branciforte.
LOS BANDITOS DE BRANCIFORTE