Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Last of the Old West

The forgotten tale of the 1907 shooting of Los Alamitos Deputy Constable Juan Orosco will be told by historian Phil Brigandi at the Orange County Historical Society’s general meeting, Oct. 10, 7:30 pm, at Trinity Episcopal Church, 2400 N. Canal St., in Orange. The program is entitled, "Last of the Old West: Los Alamitos Lawman Gunned Down and Forgotten." Over the course of two years, Brigandi has uncovered the details of this intriguing story from the waning days of Orange County’s wild and woolly pioneer era.

Surrounded by freeways, condos and strip malls, it’s easy to forget that Orange County was once part of the Wild West, complete with bandits and horse thieves, tough lawmen, Indians, cathouses, rough-and-tumble saloons, false-front stores, blacksmiths, shoot-outs, cattle round-ups, prospectors, and nearly any other “Old West” cliché you’d care to conjure up. Los Alamitos was such a stereotypically tough and rugged Western town that movie directors would later use it as a location set for their “oaters.” (The movie still above is not actually from Los Alamitos, but you get the idea.)
Rustic downtown Los Alamitos, 1910. Note the sugar factory in the background.
“Orosco seems to have been the first Orange County law enforcement officer killed in the line of duty,” says Brigandi. “The story has been forgotten mostly because we don’t have constables anymore -- or any successor agency to keep a list of their own fallen officers. This is a story I ran across a couple years ago, and there are still some questions to unravel. But the basic facts are clear.”

Brigandi, a longtime local historian, has written more than 20 books, thousands of articles, and a website: So Cal Historyland. His resume of historical bona fides is too long to list here, but I'll point out that I was lucky enough to work with him and learn from him for five years while he was Orange County's Archivist. His new book, Orange County Chronicles should be available later this autumn.

This will be the first time Brigandi has spoken about the story of Deputy Constable Orosco. An article about his research on this subject appeared in the May 28, 2013 issue of the Orange County Register. The OCHS program is free to the public.

1 comment:

Papa said...

Can a transcript be had?