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The Indiana Messenger / January 28, 1903

PLUCK AND ADVENTURE. (An update on the demise of “California Dan”)

cowskullColonel Kosterlitski, commanding the international Boundary Rifles, of Sonora, Mex., has received from Major Joaquin Fontes, of Potam, Rio Yaqui, a letter giving an account of the tragic death of “California Dan” Ryan, chief of scouts under General Luis Torres, at Torin. According to Mayor Fontes, El Renegado, leader of the Yaquis, shifted his position from Ontejuota to Bacum without the knowledge of the Mexicans. In this way, he was enabled to set the trap into which Ryan fell.

Ryan became chief of scouts under General Torres through the influence of the American General Egan. Egan introduced and recommended Ryan to General Torres, and subsequently the Mexican General made the Arizona cowboy chief of his scouts in the vicinity of Torin, at a salary of $120 a month.

Through Ryan’s efforts the Yaquis were kept away from Torin and confined to the bush between Bacum and Ontejuota. Owing to the success of the chief of scouts the Yaquis desired his death more than that of any other man excepting General Lorenzo Torres.

Since November 1 there have been numerous skirmishes between the troops of General Lorenzo Torres and the Yaquis under Gutmazoleo in the vicinity of Ontejuota, which is the stronghold of Gutmazoleo. It was believed that El Renegado was closely confined at Ontejuota, that there was no danger from the Yaquis in the vicinity of Bacum, where the forces of Lorenzo Torres were quartered. But by making a long or very intricate detour El Renegado succeeded in changing his position from Ontejuota to a point between Bacum and Torin and within four miles of Bacum. In order to accomplish the strategy he could not have had more than a dozen Yaquis with him.

On November 28, General Luis Torres received from his brother Lorenzo a telegram asking for scouts. The dispatch was regarded as urgent, and “California Dan” and George W. Wilson were sent to join Lorenzo at Bacum.

The two scouts left Torin with an escort under command of Captain Yslas, and rode ahead. They were seen no more, and were supposed to have entered Bacum. When the troops reached the town the scouts had not been heard of, and nothing was known of their fate until several days later, when Wilson arrived with a tale of horror.

It appears that when the scouts had made a turn in the road that hid them from the escort they were set upon suddenly by a band of Yaquis that had been concealed by the roadside. So unexpected and fierce was the attack that the scouts were thrown from their horses and fell into the thick growth of cacti and pethava on the roadside.

Before they could utter a single cry they were beaten over their heads by macanas in the hands of the Yaquis until they were unconscious. After being gagged and bound to their horses they were brought by their captors to the Yaqui camp at Ontejuota, where they were tried by the Yaqui Council of War, consisting of El Renegado, Gutmazoleo, Maldonado, Cupo and Fierro Tenebanio. El Renegado acted as president of the council.

(Story continues below)

“California Dan” was condemned to death. Gutmazoleo and Fierro voted to spare him, while Maldonado and Cupo voted death to him. El Renegado, who held the deciding vote, voted with Maldonado and Cupo. Wilson was acquitted, in order that he might tell the Mexicans what had happened to “California Dan.” Wilson was warned to leave Mexico.

“California Dan,” whose hunger was great, was given a splendid meal before being led to execution. This was not the result of generosity on the part of the Yaquis, but was because of their desire to make his death all the more excruciating.

At the execution grounds, in the presence of Wilson, the Yaquis, with dull saws, cut off the feet of “California Dan” just above the ankles. After this they unbound him and told him to go and report to Lorenzo Torres for duty. By goading him they compelled him to walk beyond the intrenchments of Ontejuota. In the bush, about 100 yards beyond the intrenchments, he fell and expired in great agony.

Next morning the Yaquis took the body of “California Dan” and bore it to the roadside. There they suspended it by the neck from a tree. At this spot they released Wilson, and told him to send Mexicans to cut down the body of their friend and give it decent burial.

Wilson, after reaching Bacum, decided that he did not intend to leave Mexico, but would lead a force of troops to recover the body of “California Dan,” for the reason that it is in a position controlled by the Yaquis of Ontejuota. The body is an open sight of the Mexican troops of Cocorit. — New York World.



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