In 1863, brothers Felipe and Vivian Espinosa, and later their young nephew José Espinosa, terrorized residents of the Colorado Territory. The trio promised to kill Anglos—threatening 600 dead gringos—in retaliation for injustices their family had suffered after the Mexican-American War. They allegedly murdered as many as thirty-two people between March and October 1863, when they suffered the same fate, killed by a man who had been deputized to hunt them down.
In most historical accounts of the events, the terror experienced by white settlers is centered without much attention to the long history of displacement and violence that the Espinosa family itself experienced at the hands of Americans. In this episode, we will present the story of the Espinosa brothers as not simply a case of crazed murderers, but also consider their crimes through the lens of vengeance that, for them, was justified as redress for a history of violence and injustice.
As folklore producers for History Colorado's beloved Podcast Lost Highways, ALT perfomed extensive fieldwork in the San Luis Valley - including multiple rounds of interviewing, site visits, documentary reviews, environmental recordings and adjusting details with interview guests.
This trip resulted in a series of interviews with History Colorado Staff, Lost Highways Hosts and numerous curators and luminaries connected to the story of the Espinosa Brothers and their background in the San Luis Valley of Southern Colorado.
Beyond this, ALT became responsible in part for the audio editing of the episode, spending effort and energy in making sure this audio story was told as clearly and entertainingly as possible.
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