021. Monterey Jail Part 2: Notorious Inmates

The Monterey Jail, Part Two: Notorious Inmates During the Gold Rush, the jail saw many desperadoes enter its iron doors, including combatants in the notorious Roach-Belcher Feud, an ongoing series of vendetta murders in the 1850's. The feud had been sparked when two local hotheads, Bill Roach and Lew Belcher - aka the "Big Eagle" - quarreled over money inherited by a widow. One of Belcher's henchman, a dangerous outlaw named Anastacio Garcia, was mysteriously hanged in his jail cell by parties unknown - vigilantes who took justice into their own hands. In the twentieth century, a free-spirited habitual offender named Eddie Romero was known to spend a few nights in the old jail. He became the model for the character of Pilon in John Steinbeck's novel Tortilla Flat. Many stories are recorded about various jail inmates serving time in Monterey but this one about a pair of Californians confined for a robbery stands out. The men applied to Monterey's Alcalde, Walter Colton, to have their guitars delivered to them to help while away the time. Colton writes, "Last evening when the streets were still, and the soft moonlight melted through the gates of their prison, their music streamed out upon the quiet air with wonderful sweetness and power. Their voices were in rich harmony with their instruments, and their melodies had a wild and melancholy tone. They were singing, for aught they knew, their own requiem."