Samuel Armor.

History of Orange County, California : with biographical sketches of the leading men and women of the county who have been identified with its earliest growth and development from the early days to the present online

. (page 22 of 191)
Online LibrarySamuel ArmorHistory of Orange County, California : with biographical sketches of the leading men and women of the county who have been identified with its earliest growth and development from the early days to the present → online text (page 22 of 191)
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competition with the whole world at the St. Louis World's Fair in 1904, received
twelve gold medals and four silver medals as testimonials of the superiority of its
products exhibited there. Orange County took second prize of $250 for fine
display of products at Riverside in October, 1919. The judges credited San Ber-
nardino County with 92.8 points and Orange County with 90.8 points. Concerning
the exhibit of this county, the Riverside Enterprise says : "The Orange County
display is in a class by itself, both as to the products shown and the manner of
their showing. It is a finished picture in a superb and worthy frame, a magnificent
study in still life almost over-elaborated but saved from that criticism by an auster-
ity of arrangement that suggests sureness of touch and certainty of selection. It
suggests the studio rather than the farmstead, the salon rather than the show
tent; but this is said in no spirit of detraction. When such a display, so arranged,
can be brought to the Southern California fair from the neighboring county, there
is no longer any argument to be made against the claim that this is a sectional
rather than a county fair. The artist who arranged the exhibit, for he has shown
himself an artist — is D. W. AIcDannald. The setting of the display is sumptuous
— redwood, heavy browm burlap, deep green velour hangings, Ijrass fixtures and
jardinieres holding ferns and admirable lighting effects. For the display itself,
it contains picked specimens of the fruits, grains and vegetables, as well as the
mineral products for which Orange County is famous. There are also novelties
like the Feijoa, a new fruit from Uruguay and the Chinese varnish nuts from
which the so-called tong oil is extracted."

Now, as promised at the beginning of this chapter, the foregoing is by no
means an exhaustive list of the fruits, grains and vegetables grown in Orange
County; for instance, there are onion fields near Anaheim, whose rows stretch
away in the distance almost as far as the eye can distinguish the plants from other
vegetation, and there are many other products worthy of mention. Then, too,
many plants, that in the East are grown in small beds in the garden or in the hot
house, are here grown in large fields and in the open air. Enough, however, has
been mentioned to substantiate the claim that Orange County can produce nearly
everything grown in the temperate zones and many things indigenous to the torrid
zone, and that, too, in almost limitless quantities.


By George W. Moore

Less than fifty years ago, the now famous peat lands of the Westminster and
P.olsa country, known as cienegas, w^ere regarded as worthless. These cienegas
were tracts of swampy lands containing usually ponds of water in the middle,
skirted around with a rank growth of willows, tules and nettles. During the rainy
season the entire area of the cienega was overflowed. In the fall and winter
these marshy lands were the resorts of millions of wild geese: they were also the
haunts of wild ducks and other water fowl, and were the favorite hunting grounds
of sportsmen of tliat day. The early settlers counted the cienegas as so much
waste land, or rather as worse than waste, for the drier portions of these swamps
were the lurking places of wild cats, coyotes, coons and other prowlers, which
preyed upon the settlers' pigs and poultry.

Early in the history of the county the supervisors were petitioned to construct
a ditch in this territory under the "Drainage Act of 1881," which authorized the
cost and care of such ditch to be apportioned to the adjacent land according to the


benefits derived therefrom. This work was undertaken in 1890 and was contested
before the board of supervisors and in the courts for about three years by those
for and against the improvement. Finally the Bolsa ditch was completed; and
that, with other drainage systems since established, has turned thousands of acres
of comparatively worthless land into some of the most productive soil in the county
and opened the way for the establishment of the celery industry in Orange County.
This industry has become famous throughout the world and, according to a local
writer, raised the value of the land from $15 to $300 per acre: but without drain-
age no celery could be grown on these lands and they would still be comparatively

The following sketch of the origin and growth of the celery industry of
Orange County is compiled from the Santa Ana Blade's Celery edition of February
7. 1901 : "The first experiment in celery culture on the peat lands was made in
1891, on a tract of land south of Westminster, known locally as the Snow and
Adams place, on which several thousand dollars was expended, but without satis-
factory results. E. A. Curtis, D. E. Smeltzer and others were the prime movers in
making the experiment, the outcome of which was such a flat failure that all but
Mr. Curtis gave up the idea. Mr. Curtis' pet scheme came to fruition sooner than
was anticipated, for about this time he entered the employ of the Earl Fruit Com-
pany, and with the consent of the firm resolved again to give celery culture a trial.

"The proposition had many drawbacks, not least of which was the scarcity of
help to cultivate the crop and the entire lack of experience in the laborers avail-
able. In this extremity Air. Curtis bethought himself of the Los Angeles Chinese
market gardeners and their knowledge of celery growing, and at once entered into
negotiations with a leading Chinaman to undertake the work of growing eighty
acres of celery on contract, the Earl Fruit Company to furnish everything, includ-
ing implements needed in the cultivation of the crop, also money advanced for
rental of the land and the supplying of water where needed by digging wells : so
that $5,000 was advanced before a stock of celery was ready for shipment. The re-
sult was fairly successful, notwithstanding the untoward experience of the Chinese
laborers at the hands of white men. who worried and harassed the Celestials, both
in season and out of season, carrying their unreasonable resentment to the extent
of burning the buildings erected by the Earl Fruit Company, carrying off the im-
plements used in the cultivation, and terrorizing the Cliinamen employed to the
imminent risk of driving them away entirely and thus sacrificing the crop for want
of help to attend it.

"All this risk and expense fell directly on the Earl Fruit Company, for returns
for their investment could only come when the crop was ready for market, and it
may easily be imagined that E. A. Curtis, as a prime mover in the venture, occu-
pied a most unenviable position. But-Mr. Curtis kept right on, and overcame every
obstacle that presented itself, and to him is due the credit for demonstrating the
superior advantages of Orange County for the successful growing of celery and
the introduction and establishment of an industry that has permanently added
hundreds of thousands of dollars to the resources of the county.

"The crop from the land thus experimented with was shipped to New York
and Kansas City and consisted of about fifty cars, a considerable shipment at that
time, as prior to then a carload of California celery was an unheard of quantity.
There was. of course, not much profit made for that season after everything was
paid, for the items of expense were many and included all the loss and damage
suffered while the crop was maturing and a bill of $1,100 paid an officer of the
law for protection aff'orded the Chinese laborers while at work during the season.
But it paid a margin of profit and proved beyond dispute that under favorable
conditions celery culture might be undertaken with prospects of success, and this
fact once established, the rest was easy."

Celery growing developed into one of the leading industries of Orange Coun-
ty. The area of celery culture exceeded 275,000 acres and extended from the
peat lands where it was begun, over a considerable portion of the "Willows," a


tract of land lying between the old and the new beds of the Santa Ana River,
the scene of the squatter contest of over thirty-five years ago.

Quoting from the April (1919) Bulletin of the State Commission of Horticul-
ture: "The total movement of celery from California for the season of 1917-18
was 2,775 cars. Florida had the second heaviest shipments with 2,458 cars. New
York ranked third with 1,739 cars. * -k * The falling of¥ of shipments from
October to the first of January was due primarily to a short acreage. Discour-
aged by slow transportation, unsatisfactory returns, and high labor costs, growers
cut their acreage in two for the season 1918-19. Very heavy rains in September
injured many fields in the Delta district of central California, which resulted in
about twenty per cent damage. Stock in Southern California made slow^ growth
and much of it was shipped while still small." Orange County's acreage was
reduced by planting sugar beets or other crops instead of celery. The Santa Ana
Chamber of Commerce estimated the value of this county's celery crop for 1919
at $100,000: but the California \'egetable Union gave 100 cars at $800 per car,
or a total of $80,000, as its estimate.




The aborigines anil their successors, the Mexicans and Spaniards, paid little
attention to domestic animals. Their nomadic mode of life was not conducive
to the acquisition of flocks and herds. There was, however, one exception and that
was the horse. This animal was such a help in traveling and hunting and so little
expense to keep that nearly every person provided himself with a pony. In fact,
in many places the cost of keeping was nothing, the animals running wild, getting
their own living and propagating their kind. Whenever one or more was needed,
the natives would round up a band of wild horses and lasso the requisite number.
It is not strange that animals thus reared and treated should be hard to tame and
never become entirely trustworthy.

In later years the Alexicans, Spaniards and Americans, who succeeded the
Indians, established an ownership over the different bands of horses, which owner-
ship they maintained by branding and herding the animals. More or less friction
arose between the owners of the dififerent bands and also between them and the
other settlers who were growing crops instead of raising stock. Various stories are
told of the clashes between the farmers and the stockmen, which at this late day
sound rather apocryphal. It is said that in one instance a ]\Ir. Sepulveda, who
owned hundreds of horses and cattle, came to take them away: but he was
afraid to go near them, because some settler was picking them off with his rifle
from a hiding place. In order to save their crops the settlers banded together and
ran three hundred animals over a high blufif near Newport, killing them all, and
chased a thousand head into ^lexico.

\\'ith the incoming of better breeds these ]\rexican ponies were largely dis-
placed or were improved b\- crossing with the other strains of horses. Of course
there are still some Mexican horses in the county, handed down from generation
to generation with little or no improvement : but such animals are the exception to
the rule that Orange County is well supplied now with good horses. The improve-
ment, which would have come about gradually through the immigrants bringing in
better horses, was greatlv accelerated by the importation of thoroughbreds for
breeding purposes. The late Don Marco Forster of Capistrano is credited with
being the first, in the territory now included in this county, to attempt to improve
his stock by the introduction of blooded stallions. He kept thousands of horses
and sold them for all purposes wherever he could find a market. A number of
other breeders were active in improving the horses of this .section, among whom


the most prominent were E. W. Squires. George B. Bixby, Walter K. Robinson,
Jacob Willitts, R. J. Blee, J. H. Garner and George W. Ford.

The Orange County Fair Association was organized in 1890 with a race track
located southwest of Santa Ana. This track was considered one of the best in
the West. Some of the records reported as being made on it were Silkwood,
2:07; Klamath, 2:0/3-^; Ethel Downs, fastest five-heat race ever trotted on the
Coast. These records, and others not readily obtained now. gave the track and the
county great praise abroad and stimuJated the raising of blooded stock at home.
As a result of this increased interest, some of the finest strains of thoroughbreds
and fastest race horses have been produced in this county. Horses for other pur-
poses have been improved in like proportion until Orange County can justly take
pride in all its horses.

The county statistician in his report for 1910 gave the following figures on
the horses of the county and other kindred animals, viz. : Horses, thoroughbreds,
39, value $7,800; conunon, 7,649. value $780,000; colts. 1.257, value $63,850;
jacks and jennies, 2, value $1,000: mules, 2,035, value $407,000. The county
assessor in his report for 1919 gives all kinds of horses. 6.787. value $848.500 :
mules, 2.440, value $549,000.

Although the work and activities of the people in the county, demanding
horse power, have greatly increased since 1910, the number of horses in the
county is now about 1,000 less than at that time. The reason is not far to seek.
The gasoline engine has displaced the horse as a motive power. With 9.794
registered motor vehicles and over 750 tractors in the county, each motor vehicle
being propelled by an engine rated at from eighteen horsepower to si>rty horse-
power and each tractor by an engine rated at from ten horsepower to forty-five
horsepower, it is easy to see why horses have decreased in the county instead of
increasing in proportion to the increase of the work. Then, horses are too slow
for this fast age ; even the best of them make a poor show at "keeping up with


The cattle of Orange County passed through a very similar process of devel-
opment to that described of the horses of said county. In the early days, when
hunting for a living was being displaced by the pastoral life, some cattle were
brought into this region from other states or countries. These animals may have
been of poor quality or their oft"spring may have degenerated through a long period
of abuse and neglect. At all events they were better fitted for perpetuating their
existence under adverse conditions than they were for dairy purposes. Ownership
of cattle was maintained in the same way as that of the horses, by branding and
herding. The flocks and herds of the Spanish dons roamed over the hills and
valleys which are now dotted with orchards and farms. Dependent almost wholly
upon the variable rainfall and native grasses, the cattle industry of early times
was subject to great fluctuations between affluence and poverty. It is related that,
in periods of bountiful rains, the children of the cattle barons cut a swell in the
educational institutions of New York and Paris ; but that, in periods of extreme
drouth, hundreds of animals were driven into the sea to prevent their carcasses
from breeding pestilence on the land.

With the American occupation of the country came diversified farming and
some precautions against the capriciousness of Nature. The diversified farming
necessitated smaller holdings of land and permitted a denser population. Such a
change, however, might not decrease the number of live stock, for, while the size
of the herds would be decreased, the number of owners would be increased and the
subsistence of the animals would be more certain.

The Fletchers near Olive were credited with having made the first importation
of blooded stock in the territory now included in Orange County. Later Henry
West of AlcPherson shipped in a number of registered Jerseys, as did G. Y. Coutts
of Orange still later, and there were doubtless other importers in different parts


of the county. Whenever animals of high grade were brouglu into one part of
the county, stockraisers in the other parts would breed from them and thereby
improve their own herds ; thus has the stock of the entire county been brought
to a high standard of excellence. As corroborative proof of this claim, the stock
sale of the Santa Ana Jersey Farm in December, 1909, may be mentioned. In
order to reduce stock the owner, J. T. Raitt, sold 122 fine cows at prices ranging
from $30 to $150 apiece, the average being $74 apiece. The total amount of the
sales was $9,028; nevertheless the owner had a sufficient number of cows left to
continue to supply his customers, over a large range of territory, with milk.

The 1910 countv statistics on this subject are as follows: Cattle, beef, 347,
value $13,880: stock, 850, value $25,500: dairy cows, 5,141, value $257,050:
heifers, 189, value $3,780: calves, 1,565, value $9,390. The assessment for 1019
gives all kinds of cattle, 17,676, value $1,237,320.

Cattle for beef and dairy purposes have no gasoline competitor : hence they
have more nearly kept pace with the increase of population in the county. The
number of all kinds in 1910 was 8,092; that of all kinds in 1919 is 17,676, or an
increase in number of more than 118 per cent. The value of all kinds in 1910 was
$309,600: that of all kinds in 1919 is $1,237,320, or an increase in value of more
than 299 per cent. Instead of the promiscuous herds of early years that continued
to propagate their kind without let or hindrance, the cattle of late years are widely
distributed in dairies and among families ; hence they are better bred and better
cared for, thereby increasing their quality and value, as noted by the assessor in
the foregoing statistics. In order to encourage the dairymen of the county to
still further improve their stock, the supervisors bought five head of fine Holstein
stock at a sale in Phoenix. Ariz., in February, 1919. These animals consist of a
bull, three cows and a calf, all registered in the records of the Holstein-Friesian
Association of America, giving the pedigree and achievements of their ancestors
and their own names and stock numbers. They are kept at the county farm in
West Orange.


About thirty-five or forty years ago the sheep industry was one of the
important industries of this section. Large flocks were located at dififerent points
of what is now Orange County and were herded over the intervening territory
during the day and returned to the camp at night. Jonathan Watson, in the
Santa Ana Canyon above Olive, had 25.000 head of sheep along about 1876 and
there were other flocks nearly as large within the present confines of the county at
that time. The industry declined, however, as the range was occupied for other

The statistician's report for 1910 gives the following figures upon the sheep
industry: Sheep, 18,030, value $63,105 ; lambs, 7,330, value $18,325 ; wool, 216,360
pounds, value $25,963. The assessment roll for 1919 gives only 739 sheep worth

The sheep industry of this county has been annihilated. It is true there
were 739 assessed in 1919 ; but this small band was temporarily in the county
w'hen it was listed by the assessor for taxation. The reason for the decline of the
industry given in 1910, viz. : "The range was occupied for other purposes."' did
not tell the whole story, for, at the time that reason was given, there were 18,030
sheep and 7,330 lambs being pastured in the hills of the county. Now those sheep
have all disappeared and that range is not being occupied for other purposes.
The other part of the story is that the low tariff gave the death blow to the sheep
industry in this country. One of the elder Eyraud brothers, who pastured sheep
in the hills east of El Modena for many years, told the writer that they lost
$30,000 under the low Wilson tariff act during President Cleveland's last term,
and one of the sons told him in 1913 that, if the new administration adopted
another low tariff act. they would get out of the sheep business. This they did


when the Underwood tariff act was adopted. (Jthers did the same until there
are no sheep left in Orange County.

Thirty-five or forty years ago there were a few goats raised in some of the
small canyons tributary to the Santiago Creek ; but with the removal of the regular
residents from the canyons, the raising of goats in the mountains ceased. Within
the past five years goat raising has taken a fresh start in Orange County, but this
time the industry has broken out in spots over the valley section of the county.
Recently the Department of Agriculture issued a bulletin urging the American
people to turn their attention to goat farming as a means of reducing the high
cost of living. One of the results of the awakened interest in the industry has
been the increase in the price of goats. Where formerly goats sold from two
dollars to five dollars now they bring from $50 to $200 a piece, because the demand
has outrun the supply. The Huntington Beach Nezvs mentioned the following
persons as being interested in goat raising in that community: L. T. Young, F.
L. Snyder, George W. Wardwell, H. H. Campbell, Al. Clark and others. A. B.
Collins of \'illa Park is raising goats as a side line in connection with fruit grow-
ing. He has a flock of thirteen goats of different ages, one of the bucks regis-
tered and the other animals of good grade.


^'ery few people, if any, in Orange County raise hogs for the market. Most
of the stockmen and general farmers raise a small number each year for home con-
sumption, and may occasionally market a few when they have a surplus. These
few animals can be raised on the waste of the farm ; but the fruit growers can
utilize their ground more profitably than in raising feed for hogs.

The statistical report of the number and value of the hogs in the county in
1910 was as follows: Swine. 1,037, value $12,444. The 1919 assessment roll
shows 1,356, worth $27,120.

Evidently the citizens of Orange County would rather buy their ham and
bacon already grown and cured, than to buy high-priced feed for hogs or produce
it on high-priced land, for the 1,356 hogs in the county in 1919 would make but a
small part of the pork consumed annually in the county, to say nothing of the
stock animals carried over from year to year. Only enough hogs are being raised
to consume the waste from the canneries, the kitchens and the packing houses.


In the early days this state abounded in nearly every kind of wild game.
The swamps and lagoons near the coast afforded food and shelter to myriads of
wild ducks and geese. These birds, in passing from one place to another, would
frequently alight in the grain fields and destroy more or less of the growing crops.
In order to protect such crops and to provide meat for the table, a systematic
war was made on these birds for many years. In some parts of the state pot-
hunters were hired by the farmers to slaughter the wild game that was devastating
their fields. Now this game is protected by game laws, which require a license
for hunting, regulate the open seasons and fix the bag-limit for the various kinds,
in order to prevent such game from becoming extinct. Hence what could be
obtained for the table by a few hours' hunting in the early days must now be pro-
vided through the rearing of domestic fowls.

From quite an early date chicken raising, as it is commonly called, has been
followed in the territory now included in Orange County. It oft'ered the quickest
returns on the investment and the most ready support for families that could not
wait for fruit trees to come into bearing or even for annual crops to mature. In
fact, eggs were legal tender through the seventies, and helped to tide many a
family over the dry spell of 1875 to 1877, before the irrigation facilities were well
developed. Followed as a separate enterprise, poultry raising has proved profit-
able or otherwise, according to the careful attention and capable management of


those engaged in the hnsiiiess. It is a business, however, that can be sandwiched
in with fruit growing, general farming and stock-raising without material loss or
inconvenience to those industries. The fowls do better when they have consider-
able freedom, including the range of the barnyards and alfalfa fields. Thus they
pick up much of their living from the waste of the farm. The mild climate and

Online LibrarySamuel ArmorHistory of Orange County, California : with biographical sketches of the leading men and women of the county who have been identified with its earliest growth and development from the early days to the present → online text (page 22 of 191)