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Carlyle Channing Davis.

The true story of Ramona, its facts and fictions, inspiration and purpose online

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saw Ramona. He halted, as wild creatures of
the forest halt at a sound, gazed, walked
abruptly away from his men, who kept on, not
noticing his disappearance. Cautiously he
moved a few steps nearer, into the shelter of
the gnarled old willow, from behind which he
could gaze unperceived on the beautiful vision
for so it seemed to him."

I could see Alessandro and Ramona in the
darkness of the night in which they went out
into a homeless world, with love as their only
hope and courage, " under the willows the
same copse where he first halted at his first
sight of Ramona"; could hear his soft Indian
voice telling her he thought of her as " Majel,"
and saying to her, " it is the name of the bird
you are like the wood-dove in the Luiseno
tongue. . . . It is by that name I have often
thought of you since the night I watched all
night for you, after you kissed me, and two
wood-doves were calling and answering each

[209]



Jft STORY OF RAMONA &

other in the dark; . . . and the wood-dove is
true to its mate always."

There was Marda, the old cook, again offi-
ciating in the kitchen ; Margarita, " the young-
est and prettiest of the housemaids," agitated
and sobbing because, through her negligence,
the altar cloth had blown into the artichoke
patch and been torn by Capitan, the shepherd
dog; Juanita, the eldest of the house serv-
ants, silly, " good for nothing except to shell
beans."

And there again was the Senora Moreno,
" so quiet, so reserved, so gentle an exterior
never was known to veil such an imperious and
passionate nature, brimful of storm, always
passing through stress; never thwarted, except
at peril of those who did it; adored and hated
by turn, and each at the hottest. A tremendous
force wherever she appeared."

It was not difficult to picture the Senora
bending over Felipe as he lay ill with fever in
the raw-hide bed made by Alessandro, on the
raised part of the south veranda, from which
stairs lead to the lower portion. I sat on these
steps, and fancied I could see Alessandro as
he played his violin to soothe the suffering
Felipe, his music at all times sad and plaintive
because of his love for Ramona.

[210]



* THE TRUE STORY OF RAMONA *

In the valley in which Camulos ranch is lo-
cated I have seen the wild mustard growing
just as described in " Ramona " " in the
branches of which the birds of the air may
rest. . . . With a clear blue sky behind it
... it looks like a golden snow storm." It
is a beautiful picture drawn by Mrs. Jackson
of the meeting of Father Salvierderra and
Ramona in the mustard.

Father Salvierderra! His is the strong,
towering, grand character of "Ramona"! I
stood in the room in the southeast corner of
the ranch dwelling always reserved for this
saintly man. I felt I was on a hallowed spot.
" It had a window to the south and one to the
east. When the first glow of dawn came in
the sky, this eastern window was lit up as by
a fire. The Father was always on watch for
it, having usually been at prayer for hours. As
the first ray reached the window he would
throw the casement wide open, and standing
there with bared head, strike up the melody of
the sunrise hymn sung in all devout Mexican
families."

From this room I went to the little chapel,
with its white walls, set in the orange grove.
The night of the angered scene between Senora
Moreno and Ramona, when the Senora discov-

[aix]



> STORY OF RAMONA >

ercd Ramona in Alessandro's arms at the wil-
lows which shade the washing stones at the
brook, Alessandro " hid behind the geranium
clump at the chapel door . . . watching Ra-
mona's window, . . . racked by his emotions;
. . . Ramona loved him; she had told him so."

Passing through the arched approach, the
door of the chapel was opened. Silently I
entered. A taper was burning. There was the
altar, still " surrounded by a really imposing
row of holy and apostolic figures." There was
the same torn altar cloth, so deftly repaired
by Ramona that the rent in it might
not be noticed; but it did not escape the
keen and observing eyes of Helen Hunt
Jackson.

What thoughts seized me! How vividly real
seemed all that is in the " Ramona " story con-
cerning this sacred place! I could see "the
chapel full of kneeling men and women; those
who could not find room inside kneeling on
the garden walks; Father Salvierderra, in gor-
geous vestments, coming, at close of the serv-
ices, slowly down the aisle, the close-packed
rows of worshipers parting to right and left to
let him through, all looking up eagerly for his
blessing, women giving him offerings of fruit

[313]



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VERANDA OF INNER COURT AND WALNUT TREE

(i) Part of the veranda on inner court, Camulos, 1913. (2)
Under the largest English walnut tree known, Camulos, 1913.



y, STORY OF RAMONA &

or flowers, and holding up their babies, that he
might lay his hands on their heads."

Father Salvierderra ! Consecrated to the
tenets and purposes of the Catholic Church;
trudging over mountain and through valley
from his home, the Santa Barbara Mission, to
cheer and bless the humble and the high alike.
" To wear a shoe in place of a sandal, to take
money in a purse for a journey, above all to lay
aside the gray gown and cowl for any sort of
secular garment, seemed to him wicked. To
own comfortable clothes while there were others
suffering for want of them and there were
always such seemed to him a sin for which
one might not undeservedly be smitten with
sudden and terrible punishment. In vain the
Brothers again and again supplied him with a
warm cloak; he gave it away to the first beg-
gar he met." " What can I do to help you? "
was the ever-ready question that revealed his
unselfish and sympathetic nature.

And there in this chapel, a holy spot in the
wilderness, I stood with bowed head and solemn
thought, touched by the memory and spirit of
this grand, this noble Franciscan ; " so revered
and loved by all who had come under his in-
fluence, that they would wait long months with-
out the offices of the church, rather than con-



> STORY OF RAMONA *

fcss their sins or confide their perplexities to
anyone else." I was impelled to cry out, as
though in his living presence, as did Agrippa to
Paul, "Almost thou persuadest me to be a
Christian."



CHAPTER XVII

ABBOT KINNEY, CO-COMMISSIONER WITH MRS.
JACKSON N. H. MITCHELL

NOW known as " The Doge of Venice,"
his present abode, the beautiful and
popular seaside resort near Los Angeles
which he founded, Mr. Abbot Kinney is en-
joying the fruits of a long and successful life.

He came to California in 1873, and was a
guest at the famous old Kimball Mansion on
New High Street, Los Angeles, when Mrs.
Jackson stopped there on her first visit to the
State.

The vivacity, wit, culture and genius of the
woman attracted Mr. Kinney. He was a friend
to the Mission Indians, was in deep sympathy
with the purpose of Mrs. Jackson's trip to Cali-
fornia, and soon a close friendship was created
between them, which resulted in Mr. Kinney
being selected by Mrs. Jackson as co-commis-
sioner to aid in her struggling effort to protect
the various Indian tribes in Southern California.

Mrs. Jackson's selection of Mr. Kinney to
accompany and aid her was little less than an

tad



> STORY OF RAMONA >

inspiration. He was familiar with the ground
to be covered, had some knowledge of the sub-
ject to be considered, and was not wholly a
stranger to the Spanish language or the mixed
dialects of the various tribes of Indians whose
villages were to be visited. Moreover, he had
come to share in the earnestness and enthusiasm
with which the noble woman entered upon her
mission. He recognized her as the leading
spirit in the humanitarian movement, and ad-
dressed her as " General." She, in turn, re-
garded him as her " Comrade," and so addressed
him, later, in her correspondence, shortening
the appellation to " Co."

In their wanderings over the San Jacinto
Mountains it became necessary to visit locali-
ties that could not be reached in any sort of
vehicle. Mr. Kinney naturally relieved Mrs.
Jackson in so far as he could from these arduous
tasks. In doing so he met with some incidents
not witnessed by his chief. Some of these
were related by Mr. Kinney to the authors of
this volume. One instance is of peculiar hu-
man interest. A man named Fayne had
wrongfully dispossessed an Indian of his home,
and was holding possession when Mr. Kinney
was in the neighborhood. It was a singularly
aggravating outrage, and Commissioner Kin-

[216]




MR. ABBOT KIXXEY,

Co-commissioner and intimate friend of Helen Hunt Jackson,
who journeyed with her through Southern California, and aided
in her work for the Mission Indians.




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> THE TRUE STORY OF RAMONA ^

ney determined to dispossess him while on the
ground, if possible, and to that extent right the
wrong.

As he approached the house on horseback he
observed a man leaning over the front gate
with a rifle in his hand and a set look of wicked
determination in his eyes. Mr. Kinney affected
not to observe the bellicose attitude of the vil-
lain, and although the weapon was pointed at
him, rode directly up to the fence.

" Well," said Fayne, in a brutal tone of voice,
" what do you want here? "

"I am an agent of the Government," an-
swered Mr. Kinney, "and I've come to in-
vestigate your title to this property. I've heard
the Indian's story, and now I've come to hear
what you have to say."

" Oh, well, that's different. If you want to
be decent about the matter and do the right
thing, I don't mind telling you what my
claim is."

With this Fayne lowered his rifle and in-
vited Mr. Kinney into the house. His story
was long and rambling, but wholly without
merit, and Mr. Kinney and Mrs. Jackson, be-
fore leaving the locality, had the satisfaction of
restoring the little ranch to its rightful owner,



> THE TRUE STORY OF RAMONA >

the Indian who had lived on it all his life, as
had his father before him.

Upon another occasion it became necessary
for Mr. Kinney to go on foot to a little ranch
on the edge of the desert, where he found the
owner, an aged Indian, in great distress over
the complete destruction of his crop sole re-
liance for the sustenance of himself and family
until another could be grown by a white man
named Lugo, who had driven a herd of cattle
and a band of sheep over it, breaking down the
fences on either side, and leaving not a vestige
of vegetation upon the place. The act was one
of pure malevolence, since there was an abun-
dance of room on either side of the ranch to
have driven his stock without damage to any-
one.

Mr. Kinney burned with indignation when
he viewed the wreck and heard the pitiful
story from the lips of the sufferer. Seeking
out the perpetrator he introduced himself as an
agent of the Government, told him he had ap-
praised the damage, and warned him that, un-
less he should appear at a certain place in San
Diego within ten days and deposit the sum
named for the benefit of the outraged Indian,
he would send an officer after him. There was
no parleying, nor was there any subsequent



>. THE TRUE STORY OF RAMONA >

default. Mr. Kinney and Mrs. Jackson were
able to hand the money over to the grateful
Indian a few weeks later.

Particularly interesting was Mr. Kinney's
relation of the visit of Mrs. Jackson to Temec-
ula. He was with her on that momentous
occasion. The scenes of desolation, mute but
irrefutable evidence of the outrage of the whites
upon the Indians, seemed to wrack the heart
and mind of Mrs. Jackson. The interview be-
tween her and Mrs. Wolfe, Mrs. Hartsel of
" Ramona," was fervent and dramatic. Mrs.
Wolfe had witnessed the ejectment of the
Indians from Temecula. Her sympathies were
with the maltreated red men, and naturally she
elicited the confidence and admiration of Mrs.
Jackson.

At the Temecula graveyard Mrs. Jackson ob-
served an Indian woman weeping over the
grave of her husband. The incident gave birth
to the character of Carmena in " Ramona."
"As they entered the enclosure a dark figure
arose from one of the graves. ... It was
Carmena. The poor creature, nearly crazed
with grief, was spending her days by her baby's
grave in Pachanga, and her nights by her hus-
band's in Temecula. She dared not come to

[219]



> STORY OF RAMONA *

Tcmccula by day, for the Americans were
there, and she feared them."

When in a reminiscent mood Mr. Kinney
relates many interesting incidents associated
with the historical journey over the San Jacinto
Mountains, originally suggested to Mrs. Jack-
son by the Coronels, and which gave birth to
the great American romance, " Ramona." He
asserts that nearly if not quite all of the char-
acters and incidents in " Ramona " were sug-
gested by persons seen and episodes encoun-
tered during the journey and Mrs. Jackson's
visit to Camulos ranch, and that the author's
description of places, relation of incidents and
portrayal of characters are astonishingly cor-
rect and faithful.

While Mr. Kinney, with his accustomed
courtesy, talked willingly and at length with
the authors concerning Mrs. Jackson and " Ra-
mona," to the request that he contribute some-
thing to this volume over his own signature
he answered : " I could not write anything on
the subject that would not be either dull or
colorless, or violate my views on the sacred
character of the relations of personal friend-
ship."

The close and intimate friendship existing
between Mrs. Jackson and Mr. Kinney is evi-

[230]




INTERIOR OF SAN GABRIEL MISSION



y, STORY OF RAMONA >

denced by the correspondence between them.
Portions of some of the letters of the author
of "Ramona" to Mr. Kinney are here given:

New York, January 17, 1884.
Dear Co.:



When I arrived here on Nov. 20 and found
that you had left on November 19, " a madder
man than Mr. Mears you would not wish to
see." You surely could not have got my note
saying I would start on the i6th I took cold
on the journey. . . .

Feby. 2. Whether from the horrible weather
or from overwork I don't know, I collapsed
for a week, and had an ugly sore throat and
did no work. Now I am all right again and
back at my table, but shall go slower. I am
leading a life as quiet as if I were at Mrs.
Kimball's I go nowhere am never out after
5 P.M. I am resolved to run no risks what-
ever till after I get this story done. I hope it
is good. It is over one-third done. Am pretty
sure the ist of March will see it done. Then
I will play.

The weather has been horrible snow after
snow; raw and cloudy days, I have sighed
for Southern California.

[aax]



> STORY OF RAMONA *

But in the house I have been comfortable
have not once seen the mercury below 60 in
my rooms. The apartment is sunny and light
6th floor east windows all my "traps,"
as Mr. Jackson calls them, came in well, and the
room looks as if I had lived in it all my life.

Now, for yourself What have you done?
How are you running your home? Who is at
the Villa? Is Mrs. Carr well? My regards to
her. Don't you wish you had carried home a
wife? I am exceedingly disappointed that you
didn't.

Miss Sheriff writes me that a suit is brought
for the ejectment of the Saboba Indians. Let
me know if you have heard of it what Brun-
son & Wells say. I wrote to Wells a long
time ago asking for information about the suit
by which the Temecula Indians were ejected
but he has not replied.

What do you hear of the new agent?

I got Miss Sheriff's salary restored to old
figure.

I have just sent a list of 200 names to Com.
Price to mail our report to. Of course you
had copies. I feel well satisfied with it. Do
not you? I wish they'd send us again some-
where. They never will. I've had my last
trip as a " Junketing Female Commissioner."



^ STORY OF RAMONA *

Do write soon; and answer all my ques-
tions and don't wait for me to reply, but
write again. I am writing from 1,000 to 2,000
words a day on the story and letters are im-
possible, except to Mr. Jackson. Whether I
write or not you know I am always the same
affectionate old General.

Yours ever,

H. J.

The " story " to which reference is made was
" Ramona," which was being written at the
date of the letter.

New York, February 2oth, 1884.
Dear Co.:

Your first letter made me wretched. If we
had "been and gone" and got a rascally firm
set over those Indian matters I thought we
might better never have been born.

But your second reassures me.

I sent you one of the reports. You can get
all you want, I think, by writing to Commis-
sioner Price. I sent him a long list of names
to mail it to. They said I could have all I
wanted. Of course you can too. There is a
bill of some sort, prepared and before Congress.
I have written to Teller asking for it, or sum
and substance. He does not reply. None of

[333]



> THE TRUE STORY OF RAMONA *t

them care for anything now, except the elec-
tion. . . .

I am working away at the story (Ramona)
twenty chapters done. I'd like to consult
you. Do you think it will do any harm to de-
part from the chronological sequence of events
in my story?

For dramatic purposes I have put the Temec-
ula ejectment before the first troubles in San
Pasquale.

Will anybody be idiot enough to make a point
of that? I am not writing history. I hope the
story is good.

I wish you could see my rooms. What with
Indian baskets, the things from Marsh's, and
antique rugs, they are really quite charming,
luckily for me who have been shut up in them
by the solid week.

Such weather was never seen. There are
no words proper ones suitable to describe it.
I sigh for San Gabriel sunshine.

I hope you are well and jolly. I'm awfully
sorry you are not married. Good night. Al-
ways, Affectionately yours,

General.

Regards to Mrs. Crank, Mrs. C , etc. I

don't wonder the latter does not succeed as

landlady. I'd as soon board with a cyclone.

[aa 4 ]




PAGE OF OLD RECORD AND BELL, SAN GABRIEL

(i) Fage of old record at San Gabriel Mission, written by
Father Junipero Serra and containing his signature. (2) One
of the missing bells from San Gabriel Mission, taken by the
late E. J. (" Lucky ") Baldwin, as hung on his Santa Anita ranch.



> THE TRUE STORY OF RAMONA &

The following letter was written after the
completion of " Ramona," and Mrs. Jackson
had fallen down the stairs in her home at Colo-
rado Springs and fractured her leg.

Colorado Springs,

September 28th, 1884.
Dear Co.:

. ( '! '

I am thinking of coming to So. California
as soon as I can hobble. I must fly from here
before November, but I do not feel quite up
to shutting myself in for the winter as I must
in New York. So I propose to run across to
your snug seashore for two or three months
of sunshine and outdoors before going to New
York. Do you not think that wise?

I wrote to Mrs. W in San Diego the

only place I know in all California where there
was real comfort. Also I like the San Diego
climate best. But I learned to my great dis-
appointment that she had gone to Los Angeles.
The N's urge my coming to a new hotel in
San Diego but I have a mortal dread of Cali-
fornia hotels. Do you know anything of it?
And do you know where Mrs. W's house in
Los Angeles is? If it is on high ground? . . .

... I shall bring my Effie with me too



*. STORY OF RAMONA *

helpless yet to travel alone. Goodness! What
martyrdom crutches are! While I was station-
ary in bed it was fun in comparison with this.
But I am a sinner to grumble. I shall walk
with one crutch and one cane, next week, the
doctor thinks, and that is great luck for such
a bad compound fracture as mine; and at my
age. My weight also is a sad hindrance. If
I weighed only 125 or so they say I could
walk with a cane now. Ultimately they insist
my leg will be as good as ever, and no lame-
ness. I shall believe it when I see it! . . .

I had a letter from Mrs. C the other day.

Strange, that disorderly chaotic woman writes
a precise, methodical hand, clear as type, char-
acterless in its precision; and I, who am a
martinet of ardent system, write well as you
see! What nonsense to say handwriting shows
character.

I have ordered a copy of " The Hunter Cats
of Connorloa" sent to you. You will laugh
to see yourself saddled with an orphan niece
and nephew. I hope you won't dislike the
story. I propose in the next to make you
travel all through Southern California with
" Susy and Rea " and tell the Indian story

over again. I only hope that scalawag C ,

of Los Angeles, will come across the story,

[226]



* THE TRUE STORY OF RAMONA &

and see himself set forth in it. He will recog-
nize the story of Fernando, the old Indian he
turned out at San Gabriel.

As you recollect the situation of lands at
Saboba was there good land enough in that
neighborhood for those Indians to get homes?
The Indian appropriation bill passed in July
has a clause enabling Indians to take land under
homestead laws, with no fees.

What are Brunson and Wells doing? Any-
thing? What is the state of the Saboba mat-
ter? But I suppose you can think of nothing
save politics till next Dec.

Write soon. I want to know about Mrs.
W's house if it is high, sunny, airy, etc.

Yours always,

General.

Having passed several months in Los An-
geles, Mrs. Jackson went to San Francisco
early in 1885, where she died a few months
later.

San Francisco, April ist, 1885.
Dear Co.:

I don't wonder you thought so. Anybody
well enough to journey to S. F. wouldn't seem

to be in such bad case. But it was true I

[227]



* STORY OF RAMONA *

came up here on my last shred of nerve force,
and collapsed at once. I have had a terrible
poisoning. It will be seven weeks next Satur-
day since there has been any proper action
of either stomach or bowels, simply six weeks
of starvation, that is all, and the flesh has
rained off me. I must have lost at least forty
pounds, and I am wan and yellow in the face.
Nothing ever before so utterly upset me.
Everybody cried that bade me good-by, I looked
so ill. Even Miller, my driver, stood speech-
less, before me in the cars with his eyes full
of tears! Dear old Mr. Coronel put his arms
round me sighing: "Excuse me, I must!"
Embraced me in Spanish fashion with a half
sob. I know they none of them expected me
to live which did not cheer me up much. I
seemed to be better at first after getting here,
but had a relapse last week diarrhoea as bad
as ever and stomach worse. I am in bed
take only heated milk and gr and sit up long
enough to have my bed made. It is a bad job,
old fellow, and I doubt very much if I ever pull
out of it. It's all right, only if I had been
asked to choose the one city of all I know in
which I would have most disliked to be slain,
it would have been San Francisco.

Thursday, A.M. Your note is just here.

[228]



y, STORY OF RAMONA *

Sorry you have to change cooks. Changing
stomachs is worse, however. Don't grumble,
lest a worse thing befall you. Give as much
of my love as your wife will accept, to her.
I liked your calling her the "Young H. H."
There is no doubt she looks as I did at twenty.
... I shall never be well again, Co. I know
it with a certain knowledge. Nobody at my
age with my organization ever really got over
a severe blood poisoning. My doctor is a good
one, a young man Dr. Boericke, 834 Sutter
St. I like him heartily. He is clever, enthusi-
astic, European taught. All that homeopathy
can do for me I shall have, and you know the
absoluteness of my faith in homeopathy.
Good-by. I'll let you know how it goes. Don't
give yourself a moment's worry.

Yours always,

General.

P. S. Can't you do something to get Rust
appointed Indian agent? I have heard quite
directly that Lamar is full of warm sympathy
for the Indians. Do try, Co., and accomplish
something for them. You might, if you would
determine to.

Although approaching the sere and yellow-
leaf period of his useful sojourn here below,



Jt STORY OF RAMONA +

Mr. Kinney is still a very active man, daily to
be seen at his desk in " Venice of Amer-



ica."



The carriage in which Mrs. Jackson com-
menced her journey through Southern Cali-
fornia was owned and driven by Mr. N. H.
Mitchell, who now resides in Los Angeles.
The start was made from Anaheim, twenty-six
miles from Los Angeles. The occupants of the
carriage were Mrs. Jackson, Mr. Abbot Kin-


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Online LibraryCarlyle Channing DavisThe true story of Ramona, its facts and fictions, inspiration and purpose → online text (page 12 of 14)