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Murrieta horse ride keeps on going

History continues to disagree on the life and times of Joaquín Murrieta (even his surname is sometimes spelled with an extra ‘t’).

Was he one man or three?

Did he die at the hands of California Rangers led by Captain Harry Love in Arroyo Cantúa in western Fresno County on July 25, 1847?

Was that his head that was preserved in a jar of alcohol as proof of his death so that Love could claim the $1,000 reward?

Did Murrieta avenge his wife’s rape and killing by white miners by robbing from the rich and giving to the poor?

Those answers remain debated to this day. But, one thing is certain: The 39th annual Joaquín Murrieta Horse Pilgrimmage will start as it first did the morning of July 29 at Lienzo Charro on Avenue 17 just northwest of Madera and continue to Three Rocks.

The ride was organized by the late Sigurdur ‘Mexican Sigui’ Christopherson, Julián Orozco and Jesse López to bring attention to the plight of farmworkers in Cantúa Creek.

The pilgrimmage has had more than 200 riders until a few years ago when the group split into two. The new group starts the horse pilgrimmage in Three Rocks on July 29 and concludes July 31 at Lienzo Charro.

The original group, which is led primarily by Orozco’s family, will end its ride at Three Rocks on July 31.

Murrieta has been the subject of several books, including an 1854 book authored by John Rollin Ridge called ‘The Life and Adventures of Joaquín Murieta.’ Other books have painted him as either a Mexican thieve whose gang preyed on American and Chinese miners or a modern-day Robin Hood.

Even Murrieta’s death remains in dispute. Twenty-five years after his supposed death, his sister allegedly told people that the head inside the jar was not that of her brother. Others reported seeing Murrieta in his advanced age. Others said Murietta moved back to his native Hermosillo, Sonora, México where he lived peacefully.

The preserved head was destroyed in the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire.

The Orozco-led horse pilgrimmage will start at 7 a.m. July 29 at Lienzo Charro de Madera and make two stops before ending in Firebaugh. The ride picks up again at 7 a.m. on July 30 and continue to Three Rocks, with two stops in between.

The final ride will start at 9 a.m. from Three Rocks to the Half Way Store.

Details: Raúl González at (559) 260-5240 or Juanita Orozco at (559) 930-8615.

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