Wild West

Most of the people who lived in Tulare County were honest. They worked hard to grow food and earn money to live. But there were a few bad people in Tulare County. Some became famous for their bad deeds.

Thomas “Peg-leg” Smith was an early explorer who led the largest horse stealing raid in history. In 1830 he and some of his Indian friends raided the missions on the coast and stole over 3,000 horses! He took the horses inland and sold them to other explorers and Indians.

In the 1880s railroad trains carried money from one town to the next. Chris Evans and John Sontag would force the trains to stop, then take the safe where the money was kept. They also robbed passengers on the trains, and they shot anyone who tried to stop them. In 1893 they were caught at Stone Corral in Tulare County. In a shootout, Sontag was killed by police bullets. Evans was caught and put in jail. He escaped, but was caught again.

John Sontag after he was shot at Stone Corral