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Exhibit item: JAMES WALKER, Roping the Bear at Santa Margarita Rancho, oil on canvas, ca. 1876. Collection of the California Historical Society. Gift of Mr. and  Mrs. Reginald Walker

Exhibit item:
Roping the Bear at Santa Margarita Rancho
Oil on canvas, ca. 1876
Collection of the California Historical Society
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Reginald Walker

Three Years in California, 1850

"Tuesday, Aug. 10, 1847 ... two or three miles brought us to a spot where the rocky barriers retreated on either hand, shaping out a bowl, in the centre of which stood a cluster of oaks ...

'A bear, a bear!' shouted our leader, and dashed up to the tree, which was instantly surrounded by the whole troop, 'Give us pistols,' exclaimed the señoritas. Click, crack! And a storm of balls went through the tree-top.

Down came old bruin with one bound into the midst, full of wrath and revenge. The horses instinctively wheeled into a circle, and as bruin sprung for a death-grapple, the lasso of our baccaros, thrown with unerring aim, brought him up all standing.

He now turned upon the horse of his new assailant; but that sagacious animal evaded each plunge, and seemed to play in transport about his antagonist. The pistols were out again, and a fresh volley fell thick as hail around the bear.

In the smoke and confusion no one could tell where his next spring might be; but the horse of the baccaro knew his duty and kept the lasso taut. Bruin was wounded, but resolute and undaunted; the fire rolled from his red eyes like a flash of lightning out of a forked cloud.

Foiled in his plunges at the horse, he seized the lasso in his paws, and in a moment more would have been at his side, but the horse sprung and tripped him, rolling him over and over til he lost his desperate hold on the lasso. The pistols were reloaded, and señoritas and caballeros all dashed up for another shower of fire and lead. As the smoke cleared, bruin was found with the lasso slack, a sure evidence that the horse who managed it knew his antagonist was dead."

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