Carlyle Channing Davis.

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

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beautiful and intelligent girl was to Mrs. Jack-
son the inspiration of her " Ramona."

The Ranch Servants

At the time of Mrs. Jackson's visit to Camu-
los ranch there were such a number of house

and ranch servants, of varied ages, types and








characteristics, that numerous characters could
have been readily selected by the author. Na-
turally she gave to them fictitious names.

There was a head shepherd, Juan Canito, an
upper herdsman of the cattle, Juan Jose, and
Luigo, " the lazy shepherd." And there were
the house servants: Margarita, the "youngest
and prettiest of the maids," her mother, Marda,
the old cook, Anita and Maria, twins, Rosa, and
Anita "the little," and Juanita, oldest of the
house servants, " silly, good for nothing except
to shell beans."

There were a number of shepherd dogs on
the ranch, any one of which could have been
identified as Capitan, Juan Canito's favorite
collie, the same that followed Alessandro and
Ramona in their wanderings.

Mrs. Hartsel

On departing from Camulos ranch Ales-
sandro and Ramona directed their journey to
Temecula, Alessandro's old home. The In-
dians had but recently been ejected from that
village, and Alessandro's father, Chief Pablo
Assis, was dead. There remained only ruin
and devastation to mark the site of the Indian
settlement, save Alessandro's home, and sev-



eral others, too good for the white invaders
to destroy, and Hartsel's store. The rare vio-
lin of Alessandro's father had been placed with
Mrs. Hartsel for safe keeping. Alessandro
planned to see her and secure money from its
sale. He had his own violin with him, through
the thoughtfulness of Ramona, who took it
from Felipe's room the night of her escape
from Sefiora Moreno's. "What would life be
to Alessandro without a violin?" she said.

Mrs. Hartsel was the wife of Jim Hartsel,
the storekeeper at Temecula. " Hartsel's was
one of those mongrel establishments to be seen
nowhere except in Southern California. Half
shop, half farm, half tavern, it gathered up to
itself all the threads of the life of the whole
region. Indians, ranchmen, travelers of all
sorts, traded at Hartsel's, drank at Hartsel's,
slept at Hartsel's." The description of Han-
sel's store and dwelling as given in " Ramona "
is true to life.

Alessandro succeeded in reaching Mrs. Hart-
sel's kitchen early in the night unobserved,
while Ramona awaited him with the horses at
the cemetery. This good woman, a friend of
the Indians, who knew and admired Alessan-
dro, readily responded to the offer to sell his
father's violin. But Jim, her husband, was



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drunk, and no barter could be made with him;
and so Mrs. Hartsel took from her purse four
five-dollar gold pieces and gave them to Ales-
sandro as a loan, saying, " I'll give you
what money you need to-night, and then, if
you say so, Jim'll sell the violin to-morrow,
if that man wants it, and you can pay me

"At Temecula, from Mrs. Hartsel, Felipe
got the first true intelligence of Alessandro's
movements," when he was endeavoring, after
Senora Moreno's death, to locate him. Mrs.
Hartsel had known nothing of Ramona, or that
anyone was accompanying Alessandro when he
visited her on the violin errand.

This kindly woman is one of the striking
characters of " Ramona," and it is interesting
to know who she really was. The question
may be correctly answered: she was Ramona
Wolfe, whose husband kept the "mongrel es-
tablishment," store, inn and saloon at Temecula.
He was a Frenchman. His wife is said to
have been a half-breed; her father French.
Because she bore the name of Ramona she,
too, has been accepted by many as the original
of that character in the romance. Mrs. Jack-
son met Mrs. Wolfe at Temecula and was
deeply impressed by her romantic life and her



sterling worth, and especially because of her
friendship for the Indians.

Father Antonio Peyri

Father Antonio Peyri was a living person.
He was the devoted Franciscan who built the
chapel and campanile at San Luis Rey Mis-
sion. He and Pablo Assis, Alessandro's father,
were close friends. Alessandro is made to say:
" Father Peyri was like a father to all his In-
dians. My father says that they would all of
them lie down in a fire for him, if he had com-
manded it."

Father Peyri introduced the beautiful pepper
tree into California, and with his own hands
planted the first of these trees in the State at
San Luis Rey Mission.

In her story of " Father Junipero and His
Work," to be found in " Glimpses of California
and the Missions," Mrs. Jackson thus wrote of
Father Peyri:

" Under the new regime the friars suffered
hardly less than the Indians. Some fled the
country, unable to bear the humiliations and
hardships of their positions under the control
of the administrators or majors-domo, and de-
pendent on their caprice for shelter and even







Father Gaspara of " Ramona." San Diego Mission, who married
Alessandro and Ramona: Photographed while reading service
over victims of the Bennington disaster, San Diego, June, 1906.
" When fresh outrages (against the Indians) were brought to
his notice, he paced his room, plucked fiercely at his black beard,
with ejaculations, it is to be feared, savoring more of the camp
than the altar." " Ramona."


for food. Among this number was Father An-
tonio Peyri, who had been for over thirty years
in charge of the splendid Mission of San Luis
Rey. In 1800, two years after its founding,
this Mission had 369 Indians. In 1827 it had
2,685; it owned over twenty thousand head of
cattle, and nearly twenty thousand sheep. It
controlled over two hundred thousand acres
of land, and there were raised in its fields in
one year three thousand bushels of wheat, six
thousand of barley and ten thousand of corn.
No other Mission had so fine a church. It was
one hundred and sixty feet long, fifty wide and
sixty high, with walls four feet thick. A
tower at one side held a belfry for eight bells.
The corridor on the opposite side had two
hundred and fifty-six arches. Its gold and
silver ornaments are said to have been superb.
"When Father Peyri made up his mind to
leave the country, he slipped off by night to
San Diego, hoping to escape without the In-
dians' knowledge. But, missing him in the
morning, and knowing only too well what it
meant, five hundred of them mounted their
ponies in hot haste, and galloped all the way
to San Diego, forty-five miles, to bring him
back by force. They arrived just as the ship,
with Father Peyri on board, was weighing



anchor. Standing on the deck, with out-
stretched arms, he blessed them, amid their
tears and loud cries. Some flung themselves
into the water and swam after the ship. Four
reached it, and clinging to its side, so implored
to be taken that the father consented, and car-
ried them with him to Rome, where one of
them became a priest."

Father Gaspara

Father Gaspara is named in the romance
as the priest at San Diego Mission who mar-
ried Alessandro and Ramona. The original of
this character was Father Anthony Ubach, in
charge of the San Diego Mission at the time
of Mrs. Jackson's visit there. He was a sin-
cere friend to the Mission Indians, and en-
deared himself to Mrs. Jackson accordingly.

This good Father was born in Barcelona.
He came to California in 1860, and was sta-
tioned first at San Luis Obispo. In 1868 he
moved to San Diego, and located in what is
now known as " Old Town." He undertook
the erection of a church there, but failed, his
effort being thus related by Mrs. Jackson in
" Ramona " : "A few paces off from his door
stood the just begun walls of a fine brick



church, which it had been the dream and pride
of his heart to see builded and full of worship-
ers. This, too, had failed. ... To build a
church on the ground where Father Junipero
first trod and labored would be a work to which
no Catholic could be indifferent. . . . The
sight of these silent walls, only a few feet
high, was a sore one to Father Gaspara a
daily cross, which he did not find grow lighter
as he paced up and down his veranda, year in
and year out, in the balmy winter and cool
summer of that magic climate."

These same brick walls, about five feet
high, stand to-day just as Mrs. Jackson saw
and described them.

In a letter to the Coronels, written Novem-
ber 8, 1883, which gave an outline of her pro-
posed novel, " Ramona," Mrs. Jackson said : " I
have written to Father Ubach and to Mr.
Morse of San Diego for their reminiscences."

In " Glimpses of California and the Mis-
sions " is this incident described by Mrs. Jack-
son, the priest mentioned being Father Ubach:
" In the winter of 1882 I visited the San Pas-
quale valley. I drove over from San Diego
with the Catholic priest, who goes there three
or four Sundays in a year to hold service in a
little adobe chapel built by the Indians in the



days of their prosperity. . . . The Catholic
priest of San Diego is much beloved by them.
He has been their friend for many years.
When he goes to hold service, they gather
from their various hiding-places and refuges;
sometimes, on a special fete day, over two
hundred come. But on the day I was there,
the priest being a young man who was a
stranger to them, only a few were present.
... In front of the chapel, on a rough cross-
beam supported by two forked posts, set awry
in the ground, swung a bell bearing the date
of 1770. It was one of the bells of the old
San Diego Mission. Standing bareheaded, the
priest rang it long and loud: he rang it sev-
eral times before the leisurely groups that were
plainly to be seen in doorways or on roadsides
bestirred themselves to make any haste to


Father Ubach wore a full beard, having re-
ceived papal permission for, the privilege, be-
cause of throat trouble.

Aunt Ri

The dear, sweet soul, with the Tennessee
vernacular, Aunt Ri, who, with Jeff Hyer, her
husband, rescued Alessandro, Ramona and



" Shaw, Jos ! You tell her I ain't any lady. Tell her every-
body around here where I live calls me ' Aunt Ri.' " " Ramona."


Who killed Juan Diego, and whose tragic death Mrs. Jackson
gave to the end of her hero, Alessandro. " Then with a volley
of oaths. * * * leaping into his saddle * * *. as he rode away,
he shook his fist at Ramona, who was kneeling * * * striving
to lift Alessandro's head, and to staunch the blood flowing from
the ghastly wounds." " Ramona."


their child from the snow storm, was Mrs.
Jordan. She was thoroughly familiar with the
killing of Juan Diego by Sam Temple, which
furnished Mrs. Jackson the information used in
telling of the tragic death of Alessandro by
Jim Farrar.

She knew Juan Diego, his wife, now known
as Ramona Lubo, and Sam Temple. It was
she who persuaded Juan Diego to remain at
her place over night, because of the long jour-
ney to his home in the mountain. In the
morning Sam Temple told her someone had
stolen his horse, and when she saw Juan's
little pony in the corral she said she'd " bet
anything that Juan took it when he had a
spell on."

Juan Diego and his wife had a sick child.
The latter was taken to Mrs. Jordan's home,
and she gave medicine to it. When it died
Mrs. Jordan tore boards from her barn to make
a coffin for the dead infant.

These facts were related to Mrs. Jackson
by Mrs. Jordan, as well as by Miss Sheriff, the
Indian school teacher, now Mrs. Fowler, and
are made a striking part of the " Ramona "



Jim Farrar

In a former chapter has been related the
facts attending the brutal murder of a " locoed "
Indian, named Juan Diego, by Sam Temple,
whose horse the Indian had taken from a cor-
ral at San Jacinto. This tragedy was first
given to the public by Mrs. Jackson in her
" Century of Dishonor," and constituted a part
of her report upon the Mission Indians to the
Interior Department.

The death of Alessandro, as portrayed in
" Ramona," was under the identical circum-
stances attending the murder of Juan Diego.
It was this tragedy that gave to Mrs. Jack-
son the facts which she used in describing the
death of her hero, Alessandro.

Sam Temple, the murderer, was the Jim
Farrar of " Ramona." He never denied killing
the Indian but asserted that he did it in self-
defense. The story as substantially told by
him was, that when he missed one of his finest
horses, a beautiful black, from the corral at
Hewett's, in San Jacinto, he concluded that
it had been taken by an Indian; that he bor-
rowed a shotgun, loaded both barrels with
buckshot, and in addition took with him a six-
shooter; that he followed the tracks of the



missing horse up the mountains, riding nearly
all day, when he arrived at the home of Juan
Diego, and there found his horse tied to a
tree; that he alighted from his horse, when
Juan's wife appeared and asked what he
wanted; that he told her he had come for his
horse, when Juan appeared at the door; that he
inquired of the Indian where he had gotten
the horse, and the answer was, " at Sefior
Hewett's corral"; that he asked the Indian if
he did not know that the horse was not his,
to which the Indian replied, " yes " ; that dur-
ing the conversation he and the Indian were
approaching each other, when suddenly the In-
dian drew a long-bladed knife; that he told
the Indian to stop, when the latter made a
lunge at him, and thereupon he pulled both
triggers of his gun as it rested on his arm;
that he afterwards found that he had put sixty-
seven buckshot clear through the Indian, but
it did not stop him at the moment, as the In-
dian still struck at him; that he used his gun as
a club, breaking the stock on the Indian's head,
who fell to the ground, but that such was the
Indian's determination that even then he struck
at Temple several times with the knife; that
then, he, Temple, shot at the Indian three times
with his revolver.



Temple was released on his preliminary hear-
ing before a justice of the peace, and there his
prosecution for the brutal crime ended.

Temple never evinced the least regret be-
cause of his dastardly act, but boasted that he
had rid the country of a dangerous horse thief.
He was so elated over his crime and its pub-
lication in " Ramona " that he endeavored to
secure financial assistance, that he might place
himself on public exhibition, as " the man who
killed Alessandro."

Temple was also a wife-beater. His wife
had complained to the city marshal of San
Jacinto as to her husband's brutal treatment of
her, and the marshal warned him not to re-
peat the offense; but Sam again abused his
wife shamefully, her cries arousing the neigh-
bors, who sent for the marshal. The marshal
sent a deputy, a Kentuckian, who for many
years had been a Pinkerton detective, with in-
structions to arrest Temple. It was at night
when the constable approached Temple's house,
and Sam called out to know who was there.
He had already sent word to the marshal that
he would not be taken alive and would shoot
anyone who attempted to arrest him. McKim,
the constable, said, " It is me, Sam. I have got
to arrest you and I am going to take you dead



or alive." Instantly there was a shot from
Temple's revolver, which was without effect.
Quick as a flash the constable returned the
shot, striking Sam's arm and badly injuring it.
Immediately Sam yelled out that he had had
enough. The constable ordered him to throw
out his gun and to stand clear in the light, and
throw up his hands. The order was obeyed.
McKim took Sam to the jail, had his arm ban-
daged and locked him up.

Temple last lived at Yuma, Arizona, where
he died in 1909.

Judge Wells

Judge Tripp, the justice of the peace at San
Jacinto, before whom Sam Temple had his pre-
liminary hearing under the charge of killing
Juan Diego, is the Judge Wells of " Ramona."
Mrs. Jackson thus wrote of him: "Judge Wells
was a frontiersman, and by no means sentimen-
tally inclined; but the tears stood in his eyes
as he looked at the unconscious Ramona."

Judge Wells is another of the characters of
" Ramona " drawn from life.




IN 1 900 Dona Mariana de Coronel, the inti-
mate friend of Mrs. Jackson, bade farewell
to Los Angeles, intending to spend her de-
clining years in Old Mexico, which, in the days
of peace and prosperity and contentment, she
often had visited with Don Antonio, her hus-

As a maiden she had spent many happy years
in the old pueblo that clustered about the Los
Angeles Plaza, knowing everybody, known to
all, beloved by everybody. Years of unalloyed
bliss followed as the mistress of " El Recreo,"
the ideal Spanish abode that Don Antonio had
builded amidst the orange trees in the broad
grant made by the Mexican Government to his
father and descended to him, not far from the
sloping banks of the Los Angeles River, and
what now would be near the corner of Seventh
Street and Central Avenue; although it is


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Part of the Coroncl Collection, Chamber of Com-
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doubtful if even Dona Mariana herself could
indicate the precise location of the historical
hacienda, so confusing are the lines of what
has by common consent come to be called
" civilization."

Mixed must have been the memories that
crowded in upon Dona Mariana as she with-
drew from the scenes of her childhood and set
her face to the southward. It had been her
purpose to locate at or near Guadalajara, and
there duplicate the hacienda that, as her hos-
pitable home for so many years, had come to be
so prominent a landmark in Los Angeles, a
home that had sheltered every prominent per-
son of every nationality who had visited the
pueblo during Spanish, Mexican and American

Were this a history, which it is not intended
to be, many chapters would need to be devoted
to accounts of what Dona Mariana and her
distinguished husband had done for Los An-
geles. It must suffice to make reference to one
of the latest generous acts of Dona Mariana,
the gift to the Los Angeles Chamber of Com-
merce of the wonderful Coronel Collection, com-
prehending relics and curios she and her hus-
band had been fifty years in assembling, and
which constitute the chief attraction of the



Chamber of Commerce. Days and weeks could
be profitably spent in examining this collec-
tion, the ensemble in itself constituting a very
comprehensive history of the State of Cali-
fornia, from the days of Junipero Serra down
to the present era, and including articles asso-
ciated with Helen Hunt Jackson and " Ra-


Interest in the collection is greatly enhanced
by the knowledge of the fact that many of the
more interesting articles were the product of
the genius and skill of Don Antonio and Dona
Mariana themselves. Conspicuous among the
latter are the figures of a Spanish woman and
man, mounted upon gorgeously caparisoned
steeds for which the State was at the time
famous, both figures attired in full Spanish cos-
tumes, faithful to history, with not an item
omitted. Near by is a miniature of San Luis
Rey Mission building, walls and grounds, as
seen before the days of secularization.

There are sketches in black and white and in
oil, all of rare merit, and parchments of price-
less value. Conspicuous among the curios is
the little mahogany table, ordered made by Don
Antonio for the special convenience and com-
fort of Helen Hunt Jackson in her literary
work, after the unfortunate mishap that crip-



pled her for life and made it difficult for her
to write except in a reclining position.

In this collection is the first cannon brought
to California, of which Mrs. Jackson thus
wrote in " Glimpses of California and the Mis-
sions": "The place of honor in the room is
given, as well it might be, to a small cannon,
the first cannon brought into California. It
was made in 1717, and was brought by Father
Junipero Serra to San Diego in 1769. After-
ward it was given to the San Gabriel Mission;
but it still bears its old name, * San Diego.' It
is an odd little arm, only about two feet long,
and requiring but six ounces of powder. Its
swivel is made with a rest to set firm in the
ground. It has taken many long journeys on
the backs of mules, having been in great
requisition in the early Mission days for the
firing of salutes at festivals and feasts."

The future historian, let us hope, will do at
least partial justice to the far-sighted wisdom
and the broad generosity of Don Antonio and
Dona Mariana in patiently assembling this
unique collection, from all quarters of the globe,
and at such sacrifice as no one ever will know,
and presenting it as a free gift to Los Angeles,
when a king's ransom would have been paid for
it, had she been content with its removal hence.



Appearances are deceptive. Things are not
always what they seem. Guadalajara may have
been as beautiful as Dona Mariana in her mind's
eye had pictured it. But travel farther into
the interior satisfied her that other places, and
for a variety of reasons, were more desirable
as a place of ultimate residence, and when the
City of Oaxaca was reached Guadalajara lost
the opportunity of securing a rare acquisition.

Although remote from the capital and from
centers of so-called civilization, easily one
hundred and fifty miles from railway connec-
tions, Oaxaca, in the judgment of Dona Mari-
ana, is the garden spot of the earth, to which
she will joyfully return when the strife in the
Republic shall have ceased.

Senora Coronel came north in August of
1912, and has been dividing her time between
relatives in Los Angeles and its environs.

The land holdings of Dona Mariana in the
State of Oaxaca are not measured by varas
or by acres. Their hacienda is so many leagues
in one direction by so many leagues in an-
other. Poor indeed would be the landlord the
limits of whose hacienda could be measured
by the eye. " Oh, we know nothing about
acres," said Dona Mariana. " If a man has
land for sale it is so much for 4 the piece/ and


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

" A beautiful young Mexican woman. * * * Her clear, olive
skin, soft brown eyes, delicate, sensitive nostrils, and broad,
smiling mouth, are all of the Spanish Madonna type; and when
her low brow is bound * * * by turban folds * * * her face
becomes a picture indeed. She is the young wife of a gray-
headed Mexican, Senor Don Antonio." (Mrs. Jackson in
" Glimpses of California and the Missions.")


Don Antonio de Coronet and the first cannon in California,
brought by Father Junipero Serra in 1769.


' the piece ' may contain five, ten, or twenty
thousand acres, as you measure land up here.
The vendor is quite indifferent; he doesn't seem
to care a rap whether you buy or not, unless
he happens to take a fancy to the would-be
purchaser. In that event the price cuts little
figure; it is usually quite normal, and coupled
with the condition that the buyer build near to
him, his companionship appearing to be more
valued than his dollars. It is a life of ease and
of contentment. Human labor there is so cheap
that one becomes accustomed to constant and
perfect service. Where help can be obtained
in abundance for ten cents a day there is not

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Online LibraryCarlyle Channing DavisThe true story of Ramona, its facts and fictions, inspiration and purpose → online text (page 9 of 14)