by Richard Senate
For decades the Great Robbery at the Olivas Adobe was an enigma. Everyone knew something big had happened but the fact of the event were obscured over the centuries. No one knew who robbed the house, what year and date it happened or even how much was taken.
Storytellers had added much—the outlaw could only have been Joaquin Murrieta, the celebrated bandit who terrorized all California, and the amount taken must have been staggering. With one suggestion it was $75,000 in gold. The riddle was cracked by the hard-working research skills of Olivas Docent Lisa McGuirk who searching old newspaper clipping discovered a brief article in the Santa Barbara Gazette from the 1856 issue, dated September 18th. This find put all the stories to rest (at long Last).
To quote the article:
“We learn that a robbery was committed on the Olivas Rancho, below San Buenaventura, on Sunday evening last, by a large party of men (one report says thirty), who broke into the house and succeeded in carrying off $4,500. Two men have been arrested, and are in the custody of authorities at San Buenaventura.” $4,500 dollars in 1856 would be worth $157,307.07 in today’s purchasing power. Family legends say that the two captured men were taken to a tree in Ventura and hanged. The money was never recovered. Thanks to the hard work and eagle eye of Ms. Lisa McGuirk fact can now replace folklore at the Olivas Adobe.