Carlyle Channing Davis.

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

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details as was her guest. However that may
be, the patch was an inspiration, and provided
the material for one of the most touching inci-
dents of the story.

The dimensions of the ranch have since been
somewhat curtailed, from forty-five thousand
to nineteen hundred acres; but the ranch-house,
or hacienda, with its picturesque environment
and now historical belongings, survives the
thirty years that have since elapsed, without
essential modification or change. The visitor
of to-day, stepping from a Southern Pacific train
into the precincts of Camulos, will need to go
through the yard where the shearing was done,
past the shed in which the wool was stored and
in the heat by which Felipe was overcome, to



reach the entrance of the house; for the rail-
road track is in the rear of it.

Once within the court every scene will seem
familiar; the arbor and the fountain and the
chapel; the path leading down to the stream
where Ramona washed the stains from the altar
cloth, and where Alessandro first beheld the
wondrous beauty of the maiden; the porch on
which the raw-hide bed stood with its precious
burden, and where the lover drew symphonies
from the violin fetched at such cost of effort
by Jose from Temecula for the delectation of
Felipe, the invalid.

With the physical conditions unchanged in
any material particular, it is not difficult to
fancy the actual scenes being re-enacted. All
of the influences of earth and air, of sheen and
shadow, of restless foliage, and laughing waters
of fountain and stream, combine to produce
a state of consciousness, the disturbance of
which comes necessarily in the nature of a



VARIOUS considerations, now no longer
potent, have prompted the suppression
of the real facts regarding the story of
"Ramona" and the principal characters in it,
and there have been circulated innumerable

Most absurd of the stories with which tour-
ists are regaled is the one that credits the
author with having been bribed to write it by
interested parties for political effect, and that
the $10,000 thus earned were used in setting up
her husband in business. An equally absurd
yarn that has found believers of a certain class,
credited the authorship of the story to an
unfrocked priest, whose nearly completed manu-
script was appropriated by Helen Hunt Jackson.
A brochure that originated in Los Angeles, and
which has reached a large sale, contains a half-
tone from a photograph of an Indian woman



living near San Jacinto, which the author claims
is "the real Ramona." There is scarcely a
settlement south of the Tehachapi that is not
pointed out to the traveler as the " home of
Ramona." She was married at every mission
from San Diego to San Luis Obispo, if one
but credits local legend. The real facts, until
now withheld, are related within these pages.

For the Sefiora Moreno of the story there
was doubtless a hint in the equally strong, but
infinitely more lovely, real character who was
until 1905 the queen of Camulos ranch Dona
Ysabel del Valle, for many years a widow.
The property descended to her husband from
his father, to whom it was granted before
American occupation, for meritorious service in
the Mexican army.

Ex-State Senator Reginald F. del Valle, the
eldest son of the widowed mistress of Camulos
ranch, may have suggested to the novelist the
Felipe of the story. He has long been an
honored citizen of Los Angeles, a prominent
member of the local bar, and influential in the
councils of the Democratic organization in Cali-

Ramona was a creation of Helen Hunt Jack-
son. She is supposed to have been a happy
blending of two characters of the del Valle



As a child at Camulos, now Mrs. James McGuire, Los Angeles.
" The one human document who may in truth be regarded as
' Ramona ' of the story." Page 35-


household Blanca Yndart, a Spanish girl, a
ward of Seriora del Valle, and Guadalupe, an
Indian girl, given to the Sefiora when a child
by a Piru chief. Blanca was the only child of
U. Yndart, a resident of Santa Barbara. Her
mother, dying when the child was five years
of age, committed her to the keeping of Sefiora
del Valle, and she lived at Camulos ranch as
one of the family until she was fourteen. Then
her father took a second wife, and Blanca re-
turned to the parental roof, living there until
her marriage, four years later, to James Ma-
guire. Upon the death of her husband, some
years ago, Blanca, with her two children, re-
moved to Los Angeles, where she now resides.
Blanca is the one human document who may
in truth be regarded as the Ramona of the
story. She is of the purest Spanish blood, both
father and mother having been born in Castile;
and at sixty is still a woman of exceptional
beauty. Her grandfather, Captain Yndart, was
a seafaring man, more or less familiar with all
the navigable waters of the globe. In his world
wanderings, covering a period of forty years, he
accumulated a chest of treasures of surpassing
beauty and worth; and these are the " Ramona
jewels." For years they were held in trust by
Sefiora del Valle for Blanca Yndart, when she



should be married; and they are still in the
possession of Mrs. Maguire. They consist, in
the main, of a large cross of pearls of rare purity
and unusual size, a rosary of pearls, and a single
pearl, pear-shaped, of extraordinary dimensions,
and valued at several thousand dollars; "tray
after tray of jewels," an East Indian shawl of
texture so delicate that it can be drawn through
an ordinary finger-ring; a number of dainty ker-
chiefs, and other rich and costly fabrics from
the Orient " shawls and ribosos of damask,
laces, gowns of satin, of velvet."

A daughter of Captain Yndart, who subse-
quently married a cousin of the same name,
was living at Santa Barbara when the old sea
captain paid his last visit to the Pacific coast.
Having a presentiment that he would not sur-
vive another voyage, he left the chest of treas-
ures with his daughter, with instructions as to
their disposition at his death. They were to be
divided between his two grandchildren, Blanca
and Pancho Yndart, the latter a cousin of the
former. Blanca's mother was delicate, and real-
izing that she would not live to see her daugh-
ter married, she provided that, at her death,
Blanca should be taken into the del Valle family
at Camulos; Dofia Ysabel del Valle being her
nearest and dearest friend.



Mrs. Yndart, unwilling to trust others with
the jewels, herself took them to the ranch, and
it is said that not even her own husband knew
of their existence. This was before the era
of railroads at Santa Barbara, and the route
chosen along the beach was safe enough when
the tide was out, but a miscalculation was made,
and in rounding a promontory between Ventura
and the Malibu ranch, in water reaching almost
to the seat of the vehicle, Mrs. Yndart and
the treasures narrowly escaped being washed
into the sea.

Upon the death of her mother Blanca went
to Camulos and remained there for nine years,
wholly unconscious of the existence of the
jewels, or that such a rich marriage dot awaited
her. This was strictly in accord with the
wishes of her mother, which were sacredly re-
spected by Sefiora del Valle. For thirteen
years, and until Blanca's wedding, the jewels
remained in a stout chest beneath the bed of
the Sefiora, unseen by others.

Helen Hunt Jackson never saw Blanca or
the jewels, but received the story from the lips
of Dona Mariana de Coronel. The little Indian
girl, Guadalupe, ward of Sefiora del Valle, was
at Camulos when Mrs. Jackson visited there.
She learned from members of the household of



the relations of the child to Blanca, correspond-
ing with those of Margarita to Ramona in the
romance. The story of the girl had also been
told to Helen Hunt Jackson by Dona Mariana
de Coronel. There is a sequel to it which Mrs.
Jackson never heard. It is an interesting bit
of the tragedy of life, and is here related.

Notwithstanding their lineage and the tradi-
tions connecting them with Mexican rule, the
del Valles have never, since American occupa-
tion, been wanting in loyalty to the United
States Government. There have been numer-
ous occasions for the visit of regular army
officers to various points in Southern California,
and in passing up and down the coast it was
the good fortune of many of them to enjoy the
hospitality of Camulos ranch. They were al-
ways sure of a cordial welcome there, especially
at the hands of the elder del Valle, who, in his
declining years, took special delight in recount-
ing with those military gentlemen the thrilling
events that had transpired in this borderland.

Upon the occasion of a visit of Captain Rid-
ley, of the 4th U. S. Cavalry, to the ranch, he
was struck by the singular beauty of the little
Indian girl, whom he saw flitting in and out
of the court. Turning to a companion, a citi-
zen of Los Angeles who had accompanied him



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on this journey, he inquired with some agita-
tion: "Who is that girl? She is the exact
image of my sister ! " His friend could only
say that she was an Indian, given to the family
by a Piru chief, but adding that the hostess
would doubtless tell him all that was known of

... An interview with Dona Ysabel del Valle
was immediately sought, followed by a talk
with the girl and a brief explanation; and when
the officer left Camulos he took with him to
his post, in Arizona, the child who bore such
a striking family resemblance. She was his
daughter! The child had known no mother
save the kind Sefiora del Valle, and the parting
with her was of course painful. Her own
mother, an Indian woman, had been lost sight
of in the wanderings of her tribe.

The circumstances under which this Indian
girl, Guadalupe, came into the possession of
Sefiora del Valle have been related to the au-
thors by Senator R. F. del Valle and are these.
Sefiora del Valle and others of her household
were crossing the Santa Clara River, which
runs through Camulos ranch; the Senator, then
a mere youth, riding on a pony ahead of the
others. He came upon a little Indian girl, al-
most naked, who was hiding in the bushes.



But when the Senora came up, the child bright-
ened and ran to her, crying and pleading to go
with her. The child had previously been at
Camulos ranch and had been so tenderly and
considerately treated by the Senora that she
wanted to go to her, and had slipped away
from her squalid Indian quarters, not far
from the del Valle abode, and was on her way
there. The Sefiora took the child to her home,
and afterward the Piru chief, to whose tribe the
child belonged, consented that she might be-
come the ward of Senora del Valle.

The sagacity of the advice of the Coronels
to Helen Hunt Jackson to visit Camulos is thus
shown to have been happily vindicated. When
she undertook to write " Ramona " it was only
necessary to gather the tangled threads of fact
into her loom as warp, and, with the aid of her
fancy as woof, to weave the beautiful and sym-
metrical narrative that has done so much to
enrich and elevate American literature.

There was no Ramona, and there was no
Alessandro, in the relation in which they are
portrayed by Mrs. Jackson. And yet there was
a strong suggestion of both the incidents and
the persons in events transpiring at the time.
It is an historical fact that in October, 1877,
Juan Diego, a Cahuilla Indian, was shot and



killed by Sam Temple for alleged horse steal-
ing, in the Cahuilla Range, a spur of the San
Jacinto Mountains. The tragedy was not only
known to Mrs. Jackson, but she made it a
special feature of one of her reports to the De-
partment of the Interior, and it is related in
the appendix to " A Century of Dishonor." It
is here given as written by Mrs. Jackson:

" An incident that had occurred on the
boundaries of the Cahuilla Reservation, a few
weeks before our arrival there, is of importance
as illustrative of the need of some legal pro-
tection for the Indians in Southern California.
A Cahuilla Indian named Juan Diego had built
for himself a house and cultivated a small patch
of ground on a high mountain ledge a few
miles north of the village. Here he lived alone
with wife and baby. He had for some years
been what Indians called ' locoed ' ; at times
crazy, never dangerous, but yet certainly in-
sane for longer or shorter periods. His con-
dition was known to the agent, who told us he
feared he would be obliged to shut Juan up
unless he got better. It was also well known
throughout the neighboring country, as we
found on repeated inquiry.

" Everybody knew Juan was locoed (a crazy
condition affecting animals from eating a cer-



tain loco weed.) He came home at night rid-
ing a strange horse. His wife exclaimed:
'Why, whose horse is that?' Juan looked at
the horse and replied confusedly, ' Where is
my horse, then?' The woman, much fright-
ened, then said : ' You must take that horse
right back. They will say you stole it ! ' Juan
said he would as soon as he had rested; then
threw himself down and fell asleep.

" From this sleep he was awakened by the
barking of the dogs, and ran out of the house
to see what it meant. The woman followed,
and was the only witness of what then oc-
curred. A white man named Temple, the
owner of the horse which Juan had ridden
home, rode up, and on seeing Juan poured out
a volley of oaths, leveled his gun and shot him
dead. After Juan had fallen on the ground,
Temple rode near and fired three more shots
into the body, one in the forehead, one in the
cheek and one in the wrist; the woman looking
on. He then took his horse, which was stand-
ing in front of the house, and rode away.

" The woman, with the baby on her back,
ran to the Cahuilla village and told what had
happened. This was in the night. At dawn
the Indians went over to the place, brought the
murdered man's body to the village and buried








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it. The excitement was intense. The teacher,
in giving an account of the affair, said that
for a few days she feared she would have to
close the school and leave the village.

" The murderer went to the nearest justice
of the peace and gave himself up, saying he had
in self-defense killed an Indian. He swore that
the Indian ran toward him with a knife. A
jury of twelve men was summoned, who visited
the spot, listened to Temple's story, pro-
nounced him guiltless, and the justice so de-
cided. The woman's testimony was not taken.
It would have been worthless if it had been, so
far as influencing that jury's minds was con-
cerned. Her statement was positive that Juan
had no knife, nor weapon of any kind; that he
sprang up from his sleep and ran out hastily
to see what had happened, and was shot almost
as soon as he had crossed the threshold of the

" The Agent in San Diego, on being informed
by us of the facts in the case, reluctantly ad-
mitted that there would be no use whatever in
bringing a white man to trial for the murder
of an Indian under such circumstances, with
only Indian testimony to convict him. This
was corroborated, and the general animus of
public feeling was vividly illustrated to us by a



conversation we had later with one of the
jurors in the case, a fine, open-hearted, manly
young fellow, far superior in education and
social standing to the average Southern
California ranchman. He not only justified
Temple's killing of the Indian, but said he
would have done the same thing himself. ' I
don't care whether the Indian had a knife or
not,' he said; 'that didn't cut any figure in the
case at all, the way I looked at it. Any man
that would take a horse of mine and ride him
up that mountain trail, I'd shoot him whenever
I found him. Stockmen have just got to pro-
tect themselves in this country.'

" The fact that the Indian had left his own
horse, a well known one, in the corral from
which he had taken Temple's, that he had rid-
den the straight trail to his own door and
left the horse in front of it, thus tracked and
caught, as he would have been, weighed noth-
ing in this young man's mind. He was finally
forced to say, however: 'Well, I'll agree that
Temple was to blame for firing into him
after he was dead. That was mean, I'll
allow.' "

This is the real tragedy that gave to Mrs.
Jackson the pictured killing of Alessandro in
the Cahuilla range of the San Jacinto Moun-



tains, where he, with Ramona, sought refuge
from the trespassing white man.

The slayer of Juan Diego was Sam Temple,
the brutal Jim Farrar of " Ramona." He con-
tinued to live at the foot of the mountain, more
or less shunned by his neighbors because of
the still popular belief that his victim was in
the deplorable mental condition described by
Helen Hunt Jackson, when, as Alessandro, he
was found in possession of the white man's

There was also current at the time a legend
connecting one Ramon Corralez with a roman-
tic elopement with a half-breed Indian girl
named Lugarda Sandoval. The young couple
in their flight are supposed to have experienced
many of the painful episodes credited to Ra-
mona and Alessandro in the night journeys
over the mountains to San Diego.

At the same time Los Angeles was ringing
with the sensational infatuation of a beautiful
American girl of the city with a Saboba Indian,
whom she met during an outing with her
parents in the San Jacinto Mountains. They
were not permitted to marry and did not elope;
but it is likely the incident, in connection with
the Corralez-Sandoval affair, furnished the in-
spiration for the Ramona-Alessandro romance.




MRS. JACKSON returned to Colorado
from California in the early summer
of 1883. From her home on November
8th of that year she wrote to the Coronels, a
part of the letter reading : " I am going to write
a novel, in which will be set forth some Indian
experiences in a way to move people's hearts.
. . . The thing I want most in the way of
help from you is this: I would like an account,
written in as much detail as you remember of
the time when you, dear Mr. Coronel, went to
Temecula and marked off the boundaries of the
Indians' land there . . . and I have written
to Father Ubach and to Mr. Morse of San
Diego for other reminiscences. You and they
are the only persons to whom I have spoken of
my purpose of writing the novel, and I do not
wish anything said about it. I shall keep it a
secret until the book is done. . . . I wish I



had had this plan in my mind last year when I
was in Los Angeles. I would have taken notes
of many interesting things you told me. But
it is only recently, since writing out for our
report the full accounts of the different bands
of Indians there, that I have felt that I dared
undertake the writing of a long story."

This epistolary statement is used by many,
and with evident justification, on which to base
the assertion that Mrs. Jackson did not even
conceive the story of " Ramona " while in Cali-

It is to be conceded that the novel was com-
pleted in New York. Sefiora de Coronel de-
clares positively that Mrs. Jackson talked to
her about the story, expressed a desire to lo-
cate the scene at the Coronel hacienda and told
her she would name the novel "Ramona," all
before her departure for the East in 1883.

Mr. Henry Sandham, the " Century's " artist,
has declared: "At the time of the California
sojourn I knew neither the name nor the exact
details of the proposed book; but I did know
that the general plan was a defense of the Mis-
sion Indians, together with a plea for the
preservation of the Mission buildings, and so
on; the whole to be enveloped in the mys-
tery and poetry of romance. I had thus suffi-



cicnt knowledge of the spirit of the text to
work with keener zest upon the sketches for
the illustrations; sketches, which, it may be of
interest to know, were always made on the
spot with Mrs. Jackson close at hand, suggest-
ing emphasis to this object or prominence to
that, as it was to have special mention in the

To the authors Seriora de Coronel has de-
clared that at her home Mrs. Jackson even
selected the name " Ramona " for her intended
romance, and relates this incident: " On a visit
of Mrs. Jackson to the home of Dr. J. De
Barth Shorb, near Pasadena, a child of the
family was addressed as * Ramona/ The liquid
sound caught Mrs. Jackson's ear, and she re-
marked: 'That is a pretty name. Please say
it again.' On her way home she continually
repeated the name, evidencing she was im-
pressed by its rhythmic sound. At my first
meeting with Mrs. Jackson thereafter she ex-
claimed: 'Oh, I have heard such a beautiful
name, Ramona, and I am going to use it as
the title of my book.' "

Seriora de Coronel says that Mrs. Jackson
imposed secrecy on her and her husband con-
cerning her intended romance.

It is not impossible to reconcile the quota-




Wife of Juan Diego, killed by Jim Farrar of " Ramona," at her
husband's grave. Because Mrs. Jackson pictured the tragic death
of Alessandro with the same conditions attending the killing of
Juan Diego, this Indian woman has been erroneously proclaimed
and commercialized as the " Real Ramona."


tion from Mrs. Jackson's letter of November
8, 1883, with the assertions of Sefiora de Coro-
nel and Mr. Sandham. Mrs. Jackson came to
California primarily as the special representa-
tive of the " Century Magazine," to secure in-
formation concerning the California Mission
Indians and contribute articles upon the sub-
ject to that magazine. She was also commis-
sioned by the Interior Department "to visit
the Mission Indians of California, and ascertain
the location and condition of the various

She learned of the unrighteous treatment of
the Temecula Indians by the white man and of
the brutal murder of Juan Diego by Sam
Temple. Her very soul was aflame. She was
writing magazine articles and recording facts
for the joint report rendered by her and Mr.
Abbot Kinney to the Department of the In-
terior. All the pitiful story she was to give
to the public. She so asserted repeatedly. It
may have been that while in California she did
not wish her plan to write a novel to be known,
but before her departure she did announce and
discuss giving the Mission Indian situation to
the public. At one time she intended to tell
the story in an appendix to a new edition of
her "A Century of Dishonor."



The statements of Senora de Coronel, Mrs.
Jackson's most intimate friend in California,
and of Mr. Sandham, her artist companion,
must be accepted as conclusive proof that Mrs.
Jackson did, before departing from California
in 1883, conceive and announce the writing of
a book which would contain the facts of the
inhuman treatment of the Mission Indians by
the white man, and to clothe the story with

Mrs. Jackson desired to write the story of
the Mission Indians while in Southern Califor-
nia, in the atmosphere of the Coronel home,
and within easy reach of reinforcing material;
but fate forbade it. The work was scarcely
begun when events dictated a different plan,
and a temporary suspension of the writing.
She realized that unless the Government could
be prevailed upon to extend speedy relief to
the Indians great suffering would ensue, and
she hastened to Washington to lay the whole
matter before the President and Congress.

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Online LibraryCarlyle Channing DavisThe true story of Ramona, its facts and fictions, inspiration and purpose → online text (page 3 of 14)