History and Hiking During John Marsh Historic Trust’s 5th Annual Heritage Day

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Claudio Feliz’s raid on Rancho Los Meganos, sketch by Bill Mero

Descendants from both sides of a deadly raid 168 years ago will come together peacefully Oct. 20 on the site the bloody incident took place.

The occasion is the John Marsh Historic Trust’s 5th Annual Heritage Day, a free community event being held in the Marsh Creek State Historic Park. Co-hosted by California State Parks, it will include a pair of hikes in and around the usually closed park, presentations on Native American culture, children’s’ activities, live music, a petting zoo and more.

Local filmmaker Todd Myers of Dragonfly Films, who is currently producing a feature film about the notorious bandit Joaquin Murrieta, will be a guest speaker at the event. Heritage Day will be held on the grounds of pioneer Dr. John Marsh’s 7,000 sandstone mansion, built in 1856.

A number of the Murrieta family will be on hand, as will members of Marsh’s family.

In 1850, Claudio Feliz, Murrieta’s brother-in-law, raided Marsh’s Rancho Los Meganos home in 1850. He robbed Marsh and killed a man staying with him. Murrieta soon joined the gang, and when Feliz was killed by vigilantes two years later, Murrieta became the gang’s leader, embarking on a bloody, three-year spree of robbery, murder and revenge.

Historians Bill and Kathleen Mero, who retraced Marsh’s journey from the East Coast to what was then Alta California, will also speak. They’ll discuss common misconceptions about the man who was the first to practice Western medicine in California and who became the first Anglo settler in Contra Costa County in 1838.

“A lot of important, yet largely forgotten events took place on Marsh’s rancho, and we’re excited to help bring that history to life,” said , executive director of the Trust. “Rancho Los Meganos was the first terminus of the historic California Trail when the Bidwell-Bartleson party crossed the Sierras in 1841 on its way to Marsh’s rancho, and he played an important role in California becoming a state.”

Visitors will also get a rare look inside Marsh’s mansion, which is currently being stabilized in preparation for restoration. They will also be able to view a 7,000-year-old archaeological site located next to it. State Park interpreters and Trust representatives will be on hand to talk about the plans for park, the Stone House, and the on-going effort to build an interpretive center to host 4th-grade field trips and other activities.

Heritage Day will run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 20. The address of the park is 21789 Marsh Creek Rd. in Brentwood.

The hikes will step off at 9 a.m. with a suggested donation of $10. Tickets are available at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/4th-annual-heritage-hike-tickets-44347219728.

Guests are reminded to wear long pants and closed-toe shoes, as the site is still a working cattle ranch, just as it was in Marsh’s time.

For more information, visit www.johnmarshhouse.com, or follow John Marsh Historic Trust on Facebook.


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