On May 11, 1853, California Governor John Bigler signed a legislative act authorizing the organization of a band of California Rangers under the command of Captain Harry Love. Their purpose? To capture or kill the infamous bandito Joaquin Murieta, ringleader of a gang of men believed to be responsible for much of the cattle rustling, robberies, and murders taking place in the Mother Lode region.
In July of 1853, the Rangers came across the group of bandits near Arroyo Cant�a in San Benito County. After a confrontation, two of the banditos were killed by the Rangers. The Rangers cut off the hand of one and the head of the other. The Rangers claimed that the head belonged to the infamous Joaquin Murieta!