In November 1855, Sheriff Broder arrested four men, two American and two Mexicans, for stealing cattle from Mr. L. Gates.
The two Mexicans are unnamed, but the two Americans were John Hill and William Harris.
The four men were brought before Judge Millard of Alvarado, who, after some deliberation, convicted them of theft. Since there was no jail, the convicted men were locked in a hotel. Somehow during the night the two Mexicans escaped from the hotel. The men were under a special guard and the Sheriff and Under Sheriff were sleeping, as they had been up a long time pursuing the cattle thieves. Upon hearing of the escape, the Sheriff and Under Sheriff started in pursuit of the escaped Mexicans.
The local citizens heard about the escape were worried about the two remaining convicts also escaping. Feed up with local lawlessness, they formed a vigilante group. The Sacramento Daily Union details the rest of the story:
A Vigilance Committee was instantly organized; the prisoners, Hill and Harris, were quickly wrested from the guard and placed in a wagon, which was guarded by the committee, who proceeded to the ranch of Alviso, about four miles from Union City, on the San Jose Road, at which place, on the branch of a tree, at about 5 o’clock in the morning of 29th, both Harris and Hill were executed.
A Coroner’s inquest was held the same day over the dead bodies, and a verdict rendered in accordance with foregoing facts. The bodies were then cut down and buried on the same spot where they were executed.
There is no written account mentioning of the two escaped Mexicans were ever caught.
In those days, Union City was the western part of Alvarado. The San Jose Road is Alvarado Boulevard. Alviso Ranch (and the Alviso School District) is about where Alvarado Boulevard crosses Interstate 880.