Samuel T. Black.

San Diego county, California; a record of settlement, organization, progress and achievement (Volume 1) online

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— 1



A Record of Settlement, Organization, Progress
and Achievement








This work is a compilation of data gathered by others, much of which appears
in Smythe's carefully prepared and authentic History of San Diego. Other
sources of information were the San Diego Union, reference books obtained from
the public library, and "The Story of the First Decade, Imperial Valley Cali-
fornia," by Edgar F. Howe and Wilbur Jay Hall. Professor Samuel T. Black,
whose name appears on the title page, was unable to completely fulfil his contract
with the publishers so that a substitute became necessary and was supplied accord-
ing to prearrangement. This explanation is given in justice to Dr. Black and the

The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company.


California i

Physical Geography of Lower California ii

Indians of Lower California 17

Lower California in 1768 25

St. Francis and His Order 31

The Pioneers of 1769 41

Settlement of San Diego 47

The End of Franciscan Rule 53

Amusements of the Californian of Early Days 59

Habits and Customs of the Californian 69

The Original San Diego 79

Alonzo E. Horton, Builder of Cities 89

Sketch of Alonzo E. Horton 103-


A Lucrative Industry 107

Looking Backward 1 19

Early Days in San Diego 125

San Diego County Created and Organized in 1850 131

Removal of County Seat 143

San Diego Receives a Charter 145

San Diego Grows Apace 147

Railroad Building 161

Street Railways 171

The Arizona & San Diego Railroad 177

The Press 185

Bench and Bar 211

The Medical Profession 217

Religious Organizations 221

Schools of San Diego 229

State Normal School 239


San Diego Public Library 243



San Diego Custom House 249

Financial 257

Progress 265

Chamber of Commerce 275

Clubs of San Diego 285

Young Men's Christian Association 291

Fraternal Bodies 295

City Government and Public Utilities 305

Population, Parks and Property of San Diego 317

Hotels, Theaters and Industrial Fair 321

San Diego's Harbor 329

Climate and Roads of San Diego 341

San Diego — Panama Exposition 351

National City and Suburbs of San Diego 365


The Little Landers 39"

Local Historic Spanish Families 401

Local Historic American Families 415

Pala Indian Agency — Mines 427

A Juggernaut of the Sea 435

The Mexican War 439

History of San Diego County


The physical geography of Alta California was very imperfectly known until
after American explorers and scientists began to investigate it. None of the old
residents or sojourners of Spanish blood, with the exception of here and there an
engineer, like Alberto de Cordoba, or a navigator like Bodega y Quadra, was
qualified for such a study, and no one paid any great attention to the subject
further than to understand something about the general features and character
of the country and particularly that portion lying on the immediate ocean coast
between San Diego on the south and the latitude of Fort Ross on the north.
This, a comparatively narrow strip, not more than forty or fifty miles wide,
comprised all the white settlements and was substantially all that was known with
anything like accuracy and particularity.

The extent of Alta California in ancient times was altogether indefinite. It
cannot be said to have had boundaries either on the north or on the east. Spain
originally claimed the entire northwest coast, and, in one sense, the whole coun-
try, as far north at least as Nootka was supposed to be comprised in the prov-
ince. Vancouver, who represented the English possessions in 1792, was aware
of this claim, but considered the Spanish settlements at Nootka and at the
entrance of the Straits of Juan de Fuca as merely temporary in their character
and regarded San Francisco as the most northerly limit of what the Spaniards
could claim by occupation. But on the other hand the English were quite as wild
and extravagant as the Spaniards. They also claimed the entire coast as the
New Albion, discovered and named by Francis Drake, and while they seized and
held Nootka and other places in the far north under their claim, they asserted
their same claim as far south as the mission of San Domingo in Lower Califor-
nia. Vancouver insisted that it was at New Albion and belonged to England,
though he admitted that the Spaniards frequently called the same country New

After the Nootka controversy, Spain made no serious attempt to assert her
claims to what the English had seized, but there was no settlement of boundaries
between the two nations, and it was not until the Americans, by the seizure of
Oregon, came in like a wedge and spread them apart, that their respective over-
lapping claims may be said to have come to an end. It was consequently not
with the English but with the Americans that the long disputed question of the
northern boundary of Alta California had to be settled, and as has already been
fully explained, it was at last finally and amicably fixed at the forty-second



parallel of north latitude by the so-called treaty of Florida between the United
States and Spain in 1819. But while the northern boundary was thus definitely
established, the eastern boundary continued vague and undetermined. There
was no telling exactly where it ran or where it ought to run, but there can be no
doubt that the Spanish province politically known as California or the Californias,
was understood to extend as far east at least as the Rocky mountains. Even down
to the American conquest, although the Calif ornians did not in fact occupy but a
very inconsiderable part of the great Sacramento and San Joaquin valleys and
knew nothing except by report of the country east of the Sierra Nevada, they
still claimed the Salt Lake regions and took it in high dudgeon that a few hardy
American trappers and hunters presumed to tread its almost boundless wastes
and pursue its wild beasts and equally savage human denizens to their desert
fastnesses. Thus the eastern boundary of Alta California was never fixed until
the entire country came into the possession and ownership of the United States,
and it was then settled among the Americans themselves by the segregation of
what is now the state of California from the vast area and its admission as such
into the Union in 1850.

By the boundaries thus adopted and established California became restricted
to a territory between the Oregon line on the forty-second parallel of latitude on
the north, the southern boundary of the United States on the latitude of about thir-
ty-two and a half on the south, the Pacific Ocean on the west and two lines diver-
ging from a point near the center of Lake Tahoe in the Sierra Nevada mountains
on the east, one line running due north to the northern boundary and the other
running due southeast to the Colorado river and thence following that river to
the southern boundary. In general form it is a long parallelogram, about eight
hundred miles in length northwest and southeast by one hundred and ninety in
width east and west. More accurately speaking it may be said to resemble a
wide felloe of a wagon wheel, with its convex side towards the ocean. It has a
coast line of one thousand and ninety-seven miles and contains, according to
official measurements, one hundred and fifty-seven thousand se|uare miles, or over
one hundred million acres of surface.

There are two main chains of mountains, the Sierra Nevada on the east and
the Coast Range on the west. The Sierra Nevada chain which runs nearly
parallel with the coast from the northern boundary to the latitude of Point Con-
cepcion, is about four hundred and fifty miles long and seventy wide. With the
exception of a small section east of Lake Tahoe, the entire chain is in the state
of California. Its highest crest is near the eastern side and varies from five thou-
sand to eight thousand feet above the level of the sea, though there are occasional
ridges that mount to over ten thousand and peaks to over fourteen thousand feet.
Nearly the entire width is occupied by its western slope, which descends to a
level of some three hundred feet above tide water, while the eastern slope, which
is only five or six miles wide, terminates in the Great Basin, which itself has an
elevation of from four to five thousand feet. Almost all the rain or snow, pre-
cipitated upon the Sierra Nevada, falls upon the western slope. It consists gen-
erally of water evaporated from the South Pacific Ocean, brought hither by
regular currents of the winds and is condensed in sweeping up from the warmer
into the cooler regions of the slope. When these winds have passed the summit,
they arc dry and drop no fatness on the other side. But on the western side the


rain and snows are so abundant as to form numerous streams, which run west-
ward at right angles to the course of the chain and cut the dechvities into
immense ravines, cafions and gorges.

A few peaks of the Sierra Nevada, notably Mount Shasta near the northern
end, where the chain joins the Cascade Range of Oregon, and Mount Whitney
near the southern end, rise into the region of perpetual snow and have small
glaciers ; but as a rule all the snow melts where it falls and does not accumulate.
While, therefore, in the winter and spring months the higher ridges and summits
are covered with a deep mantle of frost, impassable to ordinary travel, they are
in the summer and autumn months bare and clear and the temperature mild and
pleasant, inviting excursionists. The greater portion of the foothills and lower
mountains up to the height of about twenty-five hundred feet are covered with
oaks, nut pines, manzanita bushes and various other trees and bushes, some ever-
green and some deciduous, above which succeed great forests of coniferae to a
height of six thousand feet, and out of this belt, here and there, rise bare ridges
or jagged peaks. There are a few mountain lakes, the largest of which is Tahoe,
a magnificent body of fresh water derived from melted snows, locked between
nearly parallel ridges of the summit in latitude thirty-nine. It is about twent)-
miles long by ten wide and its surface six thousand feet above tide water. A
few small valleys and flats are found at various points among the spurs, but as
a rule the entire chain consists of immense ridges, heaped upon one another, and
enormous chasms.

The Coast Range, consisting like the Sierra Nevada of various ridges, hav-
ing a general northwest and southeast direction, wider in some parts and nar-
rower in others, runs from one end of the country to the other. Its general
height is from two thousand to six thousand feet. Its main or eastern ridge,
which skirts the Sacramento and San Joaquin valleys, may be said to join the
Sierra Nevada at or near Mount Shasta in the north, and thence to run in an
almost unbroken line to the Tejon, southwest of Mount Whitney, where it again
joins the Sierra Nevada, and from there the chain or the two chains combined
run southeastwardly to the Colorado river. West of the main ridge and usually
branches from it are various other ridges with valleys between, until the imme-
diate coast is reached, and this consists mostly of a ridge or ridges making a
number of prominent points and presenting throughout most of the distance a
bold and precipitous shore line to the ocean, except where broken by rivers,
creeks or bays. The eastern or main ridge of the Coast Range is the longest and
most regular, having a nearly uniform elevation with only occasional peaks and
passes, and being substantially unbroken, except near its middle, where the
superfluous waters of the Sierra Nevada are drained off into the ocean.

Between the Sierra Nevada on the east and the main ridge of the Coast Range
on the west lies the great interior valley of California. This consists of an
immense plain, some four hundred miles long by fifty or sixty wide and nearly
unbroken throughout its length and breadth, except by an irregular mass
of steep and isolated heights near the middle of the northern half, called the
Marysville Buttes. The northern half is drained by the Sacramento river, which
runs southwardly, and the southern half by the San Joaquin, which runs north-
wardly. Both these rivers rise in, and are fed almost exclusively by, numerous
tributaries from the Sierra Nevada. They are, so to speak, the great veins which


collect the waters of the interior basin and carry them back to the ocean. Their
courses, after fairly reaching the plain, are in nearly straight lines through its
center north and south, with a fall of less than a foot to the mile, till they empty
nearly together, among great marshes of tules or bullrushes, with many connect-
ing sloughs, into the salt water of Suisun bay. From this bay the surplus waters
are carried westward through the Straits of Carquinez into San Pablo bay. thence
southward by the Narrows into San Francisco bay proper, and thence westward
through the Golden Gate into the Pacific.

The bay of San Francisco in general shape resembles a crescent, with one horn
extending some forty miles southeastwardly and the other horn, including San
Pablo and Suisun bays, extending some fifty miles, with a great curve, northeast-
wardly. It is surrounded with mountain ridges, all of them having a general north-
westerly and southeasterly direction. The southeasterly arm lies between two of
these ridges, while the northeasterly arm on the contrary, instead of lying between
ridges, cuts through all the ridges of the Coast Range and has a number of sepa-
rate valleys between the ridges opening upon it, from each of which it receives
a small river or creek. The extent of country thus drained through the Golden
Gate includes all of the great interior Sacramento and San Joaquin valleys and,
besides these, the magnificent Coast Range valleys of Napa, Sonoma and Peta-
luma on the north and that of Santa Clara on the south.

There stands between the two arms of the bay of San Francisco, about thirty-
five miles from the ocean and constituting a part of the main ridge of the Coast
Range, a prominent mountain called ]\[ount Diablo, or more properly, Monte del
Diablo. Its peak, though only about four thousand feet high, is so isolated and
occupies such an advantageous position with respect to the surrounding country,
that the view from its summit embraces the entire drainage system thus described
and commands one of the widest and most interesting prospects in the world. To
the northeastward, eastward and southeastward, spread out like a map, with water
courses flashing like silver ribbons or marked by lines of timber, and with cities,
towns and villages dotting the plains as far as the eye can reach, lie the great inte-
rior valleys of the Sacramento and San Joaquin, and beyond them the dark, forest-
covered, snow-capped line of the Sierra Nevada from Mount Lassen in the north
to Mount Whitney in the south, a distance of two hundred and fifty miles. To the
northward and northwestward, between intervening ridges and all opening, as it
were, towards the spectator, lie the valleys of Napa, Sonoma and Petaluma, each
with its stream and its towns, and beyond them ridge after ridge and peak after
peak of distant northern coast mountains. Sweeping around one's feel, so to
speak, is the bay or series of bays, surrounded by heights and beautiful as the
lakes of Scotland or Switzerland. To the westward, leading out between jirecipi-
tous cliffs from the bay to the ocean which bounds the horizon, glances the Golden
Gate, fianked on the north by the inirjile peak of Tamalpais and on the south by
the building-covered hills of San I'^-ancisco. To the southward and southwest-
ward are the Santa Clara valley and the inclosing mountains, growing gradually
fainter as they recede, until they are finally lost in the distant southern haze.

No other spot on the globe ])rcsents at the same time so extensive and complete
a view of a great drainage .system, combining so many various and distinct ele-
ments of interest and importance. I'.ut when one has cast his eyes over the
immense landscape of nearly forty thousand square miles and taken in the entire


amphitlieater converging towards the bay at his feet, he has seen nearly all of Cali-
fornia that is valuable, with the exception of the narrow but exceedingly rich west-
ern slope of the combined Sierra Nevada and Coast Range from Santa Barbara
to San Diego and several long but narrow valleys, drained by rivers emptying
directly into the ocean, in the northwestern corner. There are two remarkably
large and rich valleys, each with its correspondent river, near to and nearly paral-
lel with the coast, the one coming from the northwest and the other from the
southeast, and both running in nearly direct lines towards the bay but turning
suddenly off before reaching it and emptying into the ocean with mouths nearly
equidistant from the Golden Gate. The northern of these is Russian river, the
southern the Salinas. Each is about one hundred and fifty miles long. Though
the drainage in each case is independent, it may be considered as a part of the great
San Francisco system as seen from Monte Diablo, the Russian river valley being,
so to speak, a continuation of the Petaluma valley, of which it possibly once
formed a part, and the Salinas valley, a continuation of the Santa Clara valley,
though the two were evidently never connected.

The various ridges of the Coast Range have received different names. The
main one is usually called that of Monte Diablo. West of it, north of Suisun and
San Pablo bays, are those of Napa and Sonoma, and west of these, along the
ocean, the Coast ridge. Those of Napa and Sonoma join, so to speak, with that
of Monte Diablo at Mount St. Helena, and then the combined ridges, after widen-
ing out to inclose a large, elevated body of pure, fresh water, twenty miles long
by from two to ten wide, called Clear lake, run off with numerous spurs into the
north and northwest, some towards Mount Shasta and some towards the coast.
The Coast ridge also widens as it goes northward, with numerous spurs, one
forming Cape Mendocino and others joining and interlacing with spurs from
the main ridge to form the Trinity and Klamath mountains. The entire north-
western portion of California is very rough, with long, rapid rivers, running
through deep cuts, and very small valleys. Opposite the Golden Gate and con-
tinuous with the Napa mountains, separated from them only by the Straits of
Carquinez, are the Contra Costa mountains, forming the eastern shores of San
Pablo and San Francisco bays. This ridge runs southeasterly to join that of
Monte Diablo east of San Jose. The San Francisco peninsula is a continuation
in like manner of the Coast ridge, separated from it only by the Golden Gate.
It runs southeasterly and joins the main or Monte Diablo ridge at the head of
the Santa Clara valley. A portion or rather a spur of it, just south of San Fran-
cisco, is called the San Bruno. At its lower end, between the headwaters of
the Santa Clara valley and the Salinas river, this ridge is called the Gabilan.
West of the Salinas river and between it and the ocean are the Santa Lucia
mountains. They run from the Point of Pines southeasterly to join the main
ridge near the Tejon. South of Santa Lucia are the San Rafael mountains
north of the Santa Inez river and the Santa Inez mountains between that river
and the Santa Barbara Channel. From the Tejon, where the Sierra Nevada and
the Coast Range meet, the combined ridges extend southeastward to Mount San
Bernardino, a peak some sixty miles directly east of Los Angeles and nearly
twelve thousand feet high. Thence one series of ridges run, in the same gen-
eral southeasterly direction, to the Colorado river and another series to the
west shore of the Gulf of California. West of this main ridge or series of ridges


are several intermediate ones or spurs until the coast is reached, along which,
as along the entire coast of California, with only occasional breaks, is a coast
ridge extending all the way from the Santa Inez ridge at Santa Barbara to
San Diego and thence into and along the whole length of lower California.
The main chain from the Tejon to the Colorado river is called the San Ber-
nardino range, the ridge running from San Bernardino towards lower California,
the San Jacinto. Northwest of Los Angeles are the Santa Susanna, Santa
Monica and San Fernando mountains, northeast the San Gabriel, and southeast
the Santa Ana and Temescal. The southwestern corner of California about
San Diego, like the northwestern corner about Klamath river is very moun-
tainous. It has numerous rich though small valleys, but unlike the Klamath
country, it has no rivers large enough to be constant.

The northeastern corner of California, northeast of the Sierra Nevada, con-
sists of a high, dry, volcanic country, with a few lakes, more or less salty, and
long stretches of treeless, herbless deserts, the whole generally known, from
the scoriae, obsidian and ashes scattered over its surface, as the Lava Beds.
But the real, genuine deserts of the country, the land of absolute aridity, is the
southeastern portion, comprised between the combined Sierra Nevada and Coast
Range on one side and the Colorado river on the other. In the upper or northern
part of this vast desolation between the Sierra Nevada and an outlying desert
ridge, and nearly directly east of San Francisco, is JVIono lake, the "Dead Sea of
California." It is eight miles long by six wide, a sheet of thick, heavy, alkaline
and lishless water. About a hundred miles further south is Owen's lake, fifteen
miles long by nine wide, of much the same character. East of Owen's lake, be-
tween two desert ridges and near the boundary line, is a depression some thirty
miles long by ten wide and several hundred feet below ocean level, called by
the significant and appropriate name, of Death's Valley. It is the sink of the
waterless Amargosa or River of Bitterness. South and southeast of Death's
Valley and Owen's lake and the Sierra Nevada are the wide stretches of the
Mohave desert, with here and there a sink or a mud lake, and southeast of that,
reaching to the Colorado river, the Colorado desert. These deserts are hot,
sandy barrens, without vegetation except a few yuccas, cacti and thorn bushes,
with occasional shifting sandhills or treeless and herbless ridges of rock. A
portion of the southerly part of the Colorado desert, like Death's \'alley, is lower
than the level of the sea or the Colorado river, and sometimes, on occasions of
great floods, the river breaks over its banks and sends a large stream called New
river, a distance of a hundred miles and more northwestwardly to be drunk up
by the thirsty sands.

Of the rivers of California the only ones that are navigable for any con-
siderable distance for schooners and steamboats are the Sacramento and the
San Joaquin. Their larger tributaries that come from the Sierra Nevada are
constant streams but are torrents, with an average fall of a hundred feet per
mile until they emerge into the plain, where they are usually still swift and full
of shifting and shallow sandbars. The Sacramento river runs the whole length
of the Sacramento valley, but the San Joaquin emerges from the mountains
about half way up the San Joaquin valley and above that point there is no con-
stant drainage. Some thirty or forty miles above the great bend of. the river
is Tulare lake, a body of water ordinarily called fresh but in reality more or less

Online LibrarySamuel T. BlackSan Diego county, California; a record of settlement, organization, progress and achievement (Volume 1) → online text (page 1 of 55)