Tuesday, January 20, 2015



There was a saying applied to the Chamorro men who left the Marianas to serve on the whaling ships, most of them not returning back to the islands. Mina'lak i chalan, hinemhom i gima'. These men often did so well wherever they went, they were the mina'lak i chalan (the brightness of the street). But one sometimes wondered why they weren't so stellar when they had been on the island. Here, in our islands, they were sometimes the hinemhom i gima' (the darkness of the home).

The Chamorro seamen had the reputation of being good workers. Docile, obedient, dedicated. Settling in various parts of the world, some of them became managers, farmers, clerks, property owners.

But a few stayed in the dark (hinemhom).

Antonio Luján was sadly one of them.

Born around 1864 or 1866, he is said to have arrived in the U.S. in 1881 at age 17 or so. It seems he basically lived around the San Francisco Bay Area. He is described as a laborer and a wood chopper.


Antonio's first brush with the law occurred in 1890.

On Sunday, August 24 of that year, Vicente Pangelinan and Antonio Luján were drinking with a woman at the Mailliard Ranch in San Gerónimo, California, about 8 miles distant from Novato. A newpaper account of the time says that both men had an interest in the lady.

Well, apparently, the drink got to at least Luján, who struck the woman. Pangelinan rose to her defense, and Luján stabbed Pangelinan in the abdomen with his pocket knife. Six inches deep. Pangelinan died as a result of this stabbing two days later, on Tuesday.

Realizing what he did, Luján fled. Inebriated and panicking, Luján didn't know what to do.  He went first to his cabin and changed clothes (perhaps there was blood on his clothes?). Then he wandered all over the rural areas in Marin County for weeks, sleeping in the woods. Several times he came upon people, but he avoided detection. It was hunger that finally brought him out of the woods. He had only been eating wild berries and whatever fruit he could steal whenever he found a chance. For three days he didn't eat much at all. Not knowing he had actually killed Pangelinan, he decided to turn himself in for stabbing the man.

He wandered into San Rafael and asked where the sheriff's office was. He went to the second floor and sat down. The District Attorney's office was on the second floor, and when District Attorney Angelotti saw Luján just hanging around, he asked Luján what his business was. Luján said he had been involved in a stabbing incident. Angelotti asked Luján his name, and when Luján gave it, Angelotti called the sheriff and had Luján arrested. It was then that Luján found out that Pangelinan died from his stabbing wounds. Luján said he remembered very little of the incident, and that he was very drunk at the time. Luján was so hungry in jail that guards had to feed him more than the usual fare. The police, who had been searching for Luján all this time, were told to call off the search.

In February of 1891, Luján was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to imprisonment for eight years. Here is his intake document at Folsom State Prison, just north of Sacramento. His last name is misspelled "Lujar," which would continue to be made in some documents and newspaper articles.

Luján appears in the 1900 US Census as an inmate at San Quentin State Prison


In 1898, Luján was charged a second time, this time for assault with a deadly weapon. He was sentenced to seven years.

If, in 1891, he was sentenced to eight years, he would have still been in prison in 1898 when he was charged again, unless he was released early. It wouldn't be a surprise at all had he assaulted someone with a deadly weapon while inside the prison. Inmates often have fights with each other, and who knows who started what? Perhaps Luján was provoked. But I have no other details yet about this second charge. I am not sure what the "San Mateo" seen in his photo above refers to. Was that Luján's official county of residence (what happened to Marin County?)? Or was that where the assault in 1898 took place (how did he get out of prison early?)?

In any case, Luján was released from San Quentin in 1903, earlier than the seven years he was sentenced to the second time around.

What became of Luján, I do not know. May he rest in peace. Let us pray for his troubled soul. Perhaps, before his death, he remembered to say the Act of Contrition his nåna taaught him to say.


The records about Antonio Luján are full of inconsistencies and errors.

But, we must keep in mind that, in the 1890s, few Americans ever heard of Guam, or the Marianas, or the Ladrones as they were still called by some. American clerks and reporters spelled names as it sounded to them, not having any background in names foreign to them. Many Chamorros went along with their misspelled names, or changed their names anyway to fit in more with their new surroundings. I wouldn't be surprised if Antonio called himself Anton just like everybody else was calling him.

Luján and Pangelinan are misidentified as Portuguese, in the first newspaper accounts of the stabbing in 1891.

The victim is first called Vicente, but then in subsequent reports he is called by numerous variations : Anselta, Enneseto among them. The last one, Enneseto, suggests Aniceto. So, "Vicente" could have been something else, but I'll stick with Vicente as the first name reported.

Vicente's last name was spelled in many ways. Pankalina. Pangalini, Pangalian. All of which suggest Pangelinan, which I am confident was his surname.

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