Carlyle Channing Davis.

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

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She was fortified with reports of officials and
civilians, with statements of influential people
of all stations, the material facts verified under
oath, and was in every way equipped for an
effective campaign. She successfully appealed
to some of the most prominent men in public





life at the time, including Senator Henry M.
Teller of Colorado, and finally prevailed upon
the Administration to send out a commission
to see what could be done.

Reforms in the policy of the Indian bureau
soon followed, and within a twelvemonth she
had the satisfaction of securing the passage of
a law granting land in severalty, together with
implements for its cultivation, to such Indians
as would give up their tribal relations. The
Indian Rights Association seconded her every
effort, also sending a commission to Southern
California and doing effective work at Wash-

Before leaving Los Angeles, Mrs. Jackson,
in conjunction with the Coronels, devised a
somewhat ambitious plan for the institution at
some place in Southern California of an in-
dustrial school for the Indians, with the idea
that many of those who had lost their homes
might, with proper instruction, become self-
sustaining. It was hoped that the Govern-
ment would provide a suitable home for
such an institution, vesting the title in the
Indians, and this achieved, it was her pur-
pose to raise the necessary funds for equip-
ping it by private subscription and otherwise.
Personally she contemplated devoting the



royalties received from her books to this

Her mission to Washington accomplished,
she went to New York, finished " Ramona,"
and arranged for its publication. She then be-
gan the preparation of five additional books,
which she seems to have carried forward simul-
taneously; but, on account of the fatal illness
that attacked her, never completed any of

In the midst of this labor of love she was
forced to lay down her pen and return to Cali-
fornia, her physician hoping but scarcely be-
lieving that the change would prolong her
life. She survived but a few months, passing
away peacefully at San Francisco on the i2th
of August, 1885.

The details of her burial on the slopes of
Cheyenne Mountain, under the shadow of
Pike's Peak, and amidst scenes she loved so
much, are familiar topics.

In "California of the South" it is related
that in June, 1887, an agent from Washington
and several members of the Indian Rights
Association from Los Angeles and Pasadena,
had a conference with the Indian chiefs, or
captains, as they were then called, at Pala
Mission, to explain the provisions of the bill,


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which became a law through the efforts of
Mrs. Jackson, providing for a division of the
reservation lands among the Indians, giving
to each one in his individual right one hundred
and sixty acres. Pala Mission is twelve miles
from Temecula, where the agent and others
went on the California Central Railroad.

The meeting is thus described : " At the date
of this conference, the apricots and peaches
were just ripe, and the orchards were radiant
with luscious fruit, that bent many of the
boughs almost to the ground. Early on the
morning of the conference the Indian chiefs
began coming in from the various reservations,
the majority on horseback, others in spring-
wagons, but all well dressed in the American
style. There were captains and generals, quite
a number of whom spoke English, Spanish and
three or four Indian dialects fluently.

" There were among them several who might
have been Alessandros, but no Ramonas. The
agent mounted a step of the old Mission, and
the Indians gathered anxiously around. Each
one had hat in hand, and they all stood there
in the hot sun, with bared heads, watching the
agent closely as he spoke, and then listening
attentively to the Hon. A. F. Coronel, of Los
Angeles, as he interpreted the agent's remarks.



There were in this audience some noble faces,
to whom the term ' noble red man ' could be
fittingly applied.

" One noticeable feature was their serious
earnestness. They all remembered Mrs. Jack-
son, who made prolonged visits among them;
and when the agent told them that he had
promised Mrs. Jackson on her death-bed that
he would go on with her work, they were vis-
ibly affected.

" Mrs. Jackson's name is familiar to almost
every human being in Southern California,
from the little three-year-old tot, who has her
choice juvenile stories read to him, to the aged
grandmother who sheds tears of sympathy for



AIOTHER generation has come on the
stage since Don Antonio de Coronel, the
close and helpful friend to Mrs. Jack-
son, gave up, at the behest of commerce, the
picturesque home in the orange grove which
had sheltered him and his since 1834. The
troubled Mission Indian can no more find it or
him. After the partition of the rancho he
built a handsome modern residence at the cor-
ner of Central Avenue and Seventh Street, Los
Angeles, overlooking the old tract, and there,
in the companionship of his noble wife, he
spent the remainder of his days, dying in 1894.
Helen Hunt Jackson visited the Don and
Dona Mariana in 1884, a few months before
her death, and there a delegation of Mission
Indian women brought to their benefactress, as
a token of their love, a beautiful white linen
morning robe, marvelously wrought by their
own hands, with the drawn work, for which
they are famous, accentuating the entire front.
Sefiora de Coronel describes the garment as the



most elaborate and exquisite she had ever seen,
and calculates that in the production of it
months of patient and artistic labor of many
persons must have been expended.

To the new home was removed the collec-
tion of California antiquities which Don An-
tonio had been fifty years in gathering, and
which has been pronounced unique and the
most interesting of any on the coast. Califor-
nia had repeatedly sought to acquire this col-
lection for the exhibit of the State Historical
Society, and $30,000 had been offered for it;
but this and all other offers were declined,
since it had been Dona Mariana's purpose, ever
since the death of her husband, to give the
precious relics to the city. They were deliv-
ered into the care and custody of the Chamber
of Commerce of Los Angeles, where they are
now displayed, filling entirely one large apart-

Photographs, sketches and paintings of the
old hacienda survive in the Coronel section of
the Chamber of Commerce exhibit, and will be
viewed with interest and delight by genera-
tions yet to come. They give strong hints of
the gentle life beneath its expansive eaves in
the long ago, when Don Antonio was the
Indians' padre and every man's friend, the



gates of his castle ever opening inward to all
comers, his hospitality known from San Diego
to Siskiyou.

The figures depicted in some of these views,
those of the old Don and his wholesome, hand-
some wife, and their native dependents, all
drawn from life and perpetuated in oil, will
serve to recall not only their charming per-
sonalities, but, as well, the gorgeous costuming
of that early era on this coast, the chief events
of which are rapidly mingling with tradition.

Don Antonio de Coronel was ever the true
and faithful friend of the Indians. They
trusted him implicitly, and sought him for ad-
vice and assistance in all their troubles.
Among his last words to his faithful wife was
this request: "Mariana, when I am dead and
gone, be kind to the Indians. Never turn one
away without food."

Chosen as the bearer of captured American
flags to the Mexican capital, Don Antonio was
chased all over this country by the soldiers of
General Kearney, who was determined that the
flags should not be sent. Dead or alive, he
must be captured, and every inducement was
offered the Indians to assist in taking him.

General Kearney promised the Indians that
every foot of land taken from them should be



restored if only they would deliver up Don
Antonio to him. But he had been shrewd
enough to dispatch the flags to Mexico by
another person, one who would never be sus-
pected of being the bearer. Naturally, how-
ever, he did not want to fall into the hands of
the Americans. He had other things to do.
Upon one occasion a troop of horsemen, under
the immediate command of General Kearney,
chased him directly to an Indian village; but
none of the chiefs knew anything about him,
of course. They told him of the offer of Gen-
eral Kearney, but assured him they never would
give him up.

Little time was to be lost, and while Kearney
was parleying with some of the captains, an-
other rushed Don Antonio out into the cactus
patch near by, and beating down the bushes as
best he could, pushed Don Antonio beneath
them, that he might not be seen, so long as he
remained in a crouching position. It was a
painful experience he endured, lasting nearly
the night through; and when the troopers left,
about daylight, he came out a most pitiful sight,
his clothing almost stripped from his body,
and bleeding at every pore. He was in such
a position during all those painful hours that
he could not move without encountering the


thorns of the cactus. But the Don's life was
saved, Indian fidelity was vindicated, and the
American flags reached Chapultepec, where
they can be seen to-day by the curious.

In " Glimpses of California and the Mis-
sions" Mrs. Jackson gives this sketch of Don
Antonio de Coronel:

" Don Antonio speaks little English; but the
Senora knows just enough of the language
to make her use of it delicious, as she trans-
lates for her husband. It is an entrancing
sight to watch his dark, weather-beaten face,
full of lightning changes as he pours out tor-
rents of his nervous, eloquent Spanish speech;
watching his wife intently, hearkening to each
word she uses, sometimes interrupting her
urgently with, ' No, no; that is not it/ for he
well understands the tongue he cannot or will
not use for himself. He is sixty-five years of
age, but he is young; the best waltzer in Los
Angeles to-day; his eye keen, his blood fiery
quick; his memory like a burning-glass bring-
ing into sharp light and focus a half-century
as if it were a yesterday. Full of sentiment, of
an intense and poetic nature, he looks back to
the lost empire of his race and people on the
California shores with a sorrow far too proud
for any antagonisms or complaints. He recog-



nizcs the incxorableness of the laws under
whose workings his nation is slowly, surely
giving place to one more representative of the
age. Intellectually he is in sympathy with
progress, with reform, with civilization at its
utmost; he would not have had them stayed or
changed, because his people could not keep up
and were not ready. But his heart is none the
less saddened and lonely.

" This is probably the position and point
of view of most cultivated Mexican men of his
age. The suffering involved in it is inevitable.
It is part of the great, unreckoned price which
must always be paid for the gain the world
gets when the young and strong supersede the
old and weak.

"A sunny little southeast corner room in
Don Antonio's house is full of the relics of the
time when he and his father were foremost
representatives of ideas and progress in the
City of the Angels, and taught the first school
that was kept in the place. This was nearly
a half-century ago. On the walls of the room
still hang maps and charts which they used;
and carefully preserved, with the tender rever-
ence of which only poetic natures are capable,
are still to be seen there the old atlases, primers,
catechisms, grammars, reading-books, which









MARIANA. (Permission of Miss Annie B. Picker, Pasadena.)

" Don Antonio would take up his guitar, and, in a voice still
sympathetic and full of melody, sing an old Spanish love-song.
Never * * * in his most ardent youth could his eyes have gazed
on his fair sweetheart's face with a look of greater devotion
than that with which they now rest on the noble, expressive
countenance of his wife." (Mrs. Jackson in "Glimpses of Cali-
fornia and the Missions.")


meant toil and trouble to the merry, ignorant
people of that time."

Mrs. Jackson then proceeds to relate several
stories of the experiences of Don Antonio,
after which she continues:

" Sitting in the little corner room, looking
out through the open door on the gay garden
and breathing its spring air, gay even in mid-
winter, and as spicy then as the gardens of
other lands are in June, I spent many an after-
noon listening to such tales as this. Sunset al-
ways came long before its time, it seemed, on
these days.

" Occasionally, at the last moment, Don An-
tonio would take up his guitar, and, in a voice
still sympathetic and full of melody, sing an
old Spanish love-song, brought to his mind by
thus living over the events of his youth.
Never, however, in his most ardent youth,
could his eyes have gazed on his fairest sweet-
heart's face with a look of greater devotion than
that with which they now rest on the noble,
expressive countenance of his wife, as he sings
the ancient and tender strains. Of one of them
I once won from her, amid laughs and blushes,
a few words of translation:

" ' Let us hear the sweet echo

Of your sweet voice that charms me.



The one that truly loves you,
He says he wishes to love;
That the one who with ardent love adores you,
Will sacrifice himself for you.

Do not deprive me,

Owner of me,
Of that sweet echo
Of your sweet voice that charms me/

" Near the western end of Don Antonio's
porch is an orange tree, on which were hang-
ing at this time twenty-five hundred oranges,
ripe and golden among the glossy leaves. Un-
der this tree my carriage always waited for
me. The Senora never allowed me to depart
without bringing to me, in the carriage, fare-
well gifts of flowers and fruit; clusters of
grapes, dried and fresh; great boughs full of
oranges, more than I could lift. As I drove
away thus, my lap filled with bloom and golden
fruit, canopies of golden fruit over my head, I
said to myself often : ' Fables are prophecies.
The Hesperides have come true.' "



WRITERS without number have time
and again sought for the inspiration
of " Ramona " in a score or more of
historical facts, incidents and circumstances,
from the pitiful story of the eviction of the Pon-
cas to the tearful episode at Temecula, stretch-
ing across the continent and covering half a cen-
tury of time. But Helen Hunt Jackson needed
none of these. She knew the whole sorrowful
story by heart, and from her own windows in
her modernized tepee at the corner of Kiowa
and Comanche streets, in Colorado Springs, she
could have drawn sufficient inspiration for a
dozen stories. And it is not a little significant
that her own home site should have been on
a street corner named for two tribes that re-
garded Manitou as a shrine, and annually
visited it to purify their sin-sick souls and
cleanse their bodies.

From the spacious corner apartment, fur-


nished and beautified with articles from her
New England home, transplanted to the banks
of the Fountaine, every vestige of modern fur-
nishings had been removed. Floor and wall
coverings, originally soft rugs from Turkey
and Arabia, and tapestries from the banks of
the Seine, had given place to bright colored
Navajo blankets and flaming Arapahoe and
Cheyenne scrapes from Arizona and New
Mexico. Dainty specimens of the plastic art
from the Sevres works at Paris or the royal
plant at Dresden had yielded to the ruder, but
perhaps not less spiritual and intellectual crea-
tions of the Hopi Indians of Santa Fe. Arab
curiosities from the kiosks of Cairo, and French
curios from the shops of the Palais Royal had
been taken away, that room might be found
for Apache bows and arrows and Sioux war-
clubs, for samples of those exquisitely wrought
baskets of the Mission Indians of California,
and unique bits of pottery from the Yaquis of

Place had been found, space abundantly con-
spicuous too, for specimens of drawn work, for
which the tribal women of Saboba were and
yet are particularly noted. The entire apart-
ment bore an aspect of unmistakable, if un-
intended, barbaric splendor.


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The crucifix was his mother's and he died with it in his hands.
The penitential bracelet, cilicio, was on the arm of Father Zal-
videa, San Gabriel Mission, when the latter died.


There were in the large collection no baskets
made by Ramona; because there never was a
Ramona, save in the mind of the gifted author,
nor did she ever pretend that there was.

Every article, however, had for its owner
a particular language, and each to her told a
story peculiarly its own. There was not an
item visible that to her lacked deep significance.
Few, if any, of the stories they told were bright
or cheerful. Most of them were written in
blood, and told of the anguish of a race run
to earth. Each was treasured for the message
it bore of gratitude, simple yet deeply sincere,
for acts instinct with love and sympathy.

Long before the ice-mantled crest of Pike's
Peak became a landmark for the argonaut in his
cross-continent trek to the gold-lined shores of
Cherry Creek it served another and broader
purpose. To the native Indian tribes of all
the vast stretches of mountain and plain radi-
ating from it in all directions it indicated the
location of both sanitarium and sanctuary, at
the base of those titanic elevations since known
to the white man as Pike's Peak, Cameron's
Cone and Cheyenne Mountain.

The great Ute Iron Spring and its near
neighbor, the Cheyenne Soda Spring, com-
panioned by numerous other bubbling springs



without hint of mineral content, had been
sought by the afflicted of all the tribes for ages,
and had come to be regarded as possessing
supernatural curative powers.

These really marvelous springs nestle here
and there amidst the rocks and crags and scrub
oaks in the sylvan nook at the base of Pike's
Peak. They once constituted the red man's
sanitarium, belonging to all alike, with no at-
tempt to monopolize their virtues for this tribe
or that the gift of the gods to all who sought
relief from physical ills by drinking of or bath-
ing in their wondrous waters.

Scarce a mile away to the eastward was the
red man's sanctuary, the Garden of the Gods,
where they annually gathered to perform their
peculiarly weird religious ceremonies. This
interesting bit of nature, in its most freakish
mood, embraces four square miles in the charm-
ing valley of the Fountaine Que Bouille. Its
attractions are most unique, consisting of an
immense and varied collection of eroded sand-
stone rocks, supposedly formed by the winds,
into strange figures and grotesque shapes,
resembling ruined temples, forts and castles,
forms of birds, insects, animals and even of
human beings. Conspicuous among these is a
particular rock of gigantic proportions and



peculiar formation, pointed out to visitors as the
one formerly worshiped by the Indians as the
Great Manitou God giving appropriate name
to the locality.

Stretching for miles to the southward along
the Front Range is the sweeping slope of Chey-
enne Mountain, its face beautified here and
there by numerous waterfalls, ever dancing in
the golden sunlight from grassy summit to
carpeted feet. These mingle in a common out-
let, which winds its way through the broad
valley and loses itself in the arroyos below.
This wondrously beautiful stream of purest
mountain water, eternally refreshed from the
spotless snow deposits of the upper altitudes,
and more or less of a cataract in the rainy sea-
son, rejoices in the poetic title of Fountaine
Que Bouille.

Beginning at the Garden of the Gods, and
extending a distance of forty miles to the west-
ward, is a typical mountain trail, known far
and wide as Ute Pass. Winding its tortuous
way over the Front Range, its greatest eleva-
tion exceeding 12,000 feet, it leads into the
South Park, one of the three great natural
mountain depressions into which the State of
Colorado is divided, sixty miles from north to
south, perhaps thirty to forty from east to



west, and formerly a great rendezvous for buf-
falo, elk, deer and antelope the Indians' hunt-
ing ground.

Quite as interesting and remarkable as the
natural features already mentioned may be
added Monument Park, Glen Eyrie, Cave of
the Winds and a hundred others, not less cap-
tivating to the eye or rendered less interesting
by reason of Indian legend that yet retains hold
upon the imagination, although the sway of
the pale face has been complete for well nigh
half a century.

Necessarily these are here dismissed with a
passing word, the main object of their brief
mention being achieved in picturing the en-
vironment selected by Helen Hunt Jackson
for her home, an environment distinctively ab-
original. True, the last Indian had long been
driven from his sanitarium and his sanctuary
when Mrs. Jackson located at Colorado
Springs and took up her life's work there; but
natural objects, names, history and legends
remained, as ever they will. Every influence
suggested the past and its saddening story of
broken treaties, of forcible evictions, of wan-
tonly cruel, unchristian, unmerciful treatment
of the red man, primary owner of it all.

From this environment Mrs. Jackson looked


out of windows and across bits of landscape,
not so long before the sole possession of the
Indian, now Indian in name only. Far back
had the original possessor been driven, leaving
only legendary title upon particular landmarks.
In the distance was Cheyenne Mountain, but
the Indian tepee was upon its wooded slopes
no longer. Winding up over the giant moun-
tain in narrow, tortuous course, was Ute Pass,
marking the weary way taken by sad-faced
Utes when finally driven from the great spring
where they and their forefathers for genera-
tions past had gathered to seek surcease from
pain in its curative waters. In the foreground
was the Garden of the Gods, each sculptured
monument full of the deepest significance to
Indian mind and heart, surcharged, as the pale
face may not begin to realize, with spiritual
thoughts and inspirations.

Glen Eyrie would ever remain dear to them
as the home of the eagle, perched as it was
almost beyond rifle range in the rocky clefts
above, and yet undisturbed. There also was
the singular " Gateway " to the Garden of the
Gods, also full of significance to the aborigines
two lofty spires pointing heavenward; one
of the brightest red sandstone, the other of the
purest white limestone. There were the Seven



Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, the pearly Fountaine
Que Bouille, all differently named by the red
man before white occupation, but losing noth-
ing of significance by change in nomenclature.
These and a hundred other as unique monu-
ments have been left to mark the " happy
hunting grounds " of the long ago.

The Indians themselves had first been forced
back of the Front Range into the great South
Park, and would have been content to remain
there; but the white man quickly followed,

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Online LibraryCarlyle Channing DavisThe true story of Ramona, its facts and fictions, inspiration and purpose → online text (page 4 of 14)