Edmund Frederick Erk.

A merry crusade to the Golden Gate : under the banners of Allegheny Commandery, No. 35, Knights Templar, Allegheny, Pa. : a complete story of the Twenty-ninth Triennial Conclave, Grand Encampment, Knights Templar, U.S.A. ... and a tour of ten thousand miles through the wonderland of the West online

. (page 26 of 38)
Online LibraryEdmund Frederick ErkA merry crusade to the Golden Gate : under the banners of Allegheny Commandery, No. 35, Knights Templar, Allegheny, Pa. : a complete story of the Twenty-ninth Triennial Conclave, Grand Encampment, Knights Templar, U.S.A. ... and a tour of ten thousand miles through the wonderland of the West → online text (page 26 of 38)
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had lain fallow. Within two months Serra had founded a mission near
the month of the San Diego River, which five years after was removed
some six miles up the valley to a point about three miles distant from the pres-
ent city of San Diego. From that time one mission after another was founded,
21 in all, from San Diego along the coast as far north as San Francisco. The
more important of these were built of stone and a hard burnt brick that even


1-13 Mission Santa Barbara, founded lj85. 2-6-7-9-11 Gardens of Santa Barbara Mission. 3 Plaza del Mar and
Hotel Potter from Los Banos del Mar. 4 Los Banos del Mar. 5 Arlington Hotel and Annex. 8 The Old Mission Bells,
ip Mission Dolores, San Francisco. 12 Mission San Buena Ventura, in the city of Ventura. 14 The Santa Cruz Mis-
sion, as it appeared when it was in the days of its prime. 15 Carmel Mission, near Monterey. 16 Scene from the Belfry,
Santa Barbara Mission. 17 Mission San Carlos Borromeo, erected at Monterey in 1804. 18 San Fernando Mission. 19
San Gabriel Mission, seven miles from Los Angeles. 20 Ruins of the Mission at San Juan Capistrano ( has recently been
partially restored). 21 Mission San Juan Capistrano. 22 Home of Ramona, Camulos. 23 At Santa Barbara. 24
The esplanade at Santa Barbara. 2S Potter Hotel, from the Plaza. 26 Santa Clara Mission and College, Santa Clara,
Cal. 27 Among the oil wells, on the beach at Summerland.


now will turn the edge of the finest trowel. The labor of their construction
was appalling. Brick had to be burnt, stone quarried and dressed, and huge
timbers for rafters brought on men's shoulders from the mountain forests, some-
times 30 miles distant, through rocky canyons and over trackless hills.

The Indians performed most of this labor, under the direction of the monks.
These Indians were tractable, as a rule. Once, or twice at most, they rose
against their masters, but the policy of the padres was kindness and forgive-
ness, although it must be inferred that the condition of the Indians over whom
they claimed spiritual and temporal authority was a form of slavery, without all
the cruelties that usually pertain to enforced servitude.

They were the bondsmen of the padres, whose aim was to convert them
to Christianity and civilization, and many thousands of them were persuaded to
cluster around the missions, their daughters becoming neophytes in the con-
vents, and the others contributing their labor to the erection of the enormous
structures that occupied many acres of ground and to the industries of agricul-
ture, cattle raising, and a variety of manufactures. There were, after the prim-
itive fashion of the time, woolen mills, wood- working and blacksmith shops,
and such other manufactories as were practicable in the existing state of the
arts, which could be made profitable.

The mission properties soon became enormously valuable, their yearly
revenues sometimes amounting to $2,000,000. The exportation of hides was
one of the most important items, and merchant vessels from our own Atlantic sea-
board, from England and from Spain, sailed to the California coast for cargoes
of that commodity. Dana's romantic and universally read "Two Years Be-
fore the Mast," is the record of such a voyage. He visited California more
than a half century ago, and found its quaint Spanish-Indian life full of the
picturesque and romantic.

The padres invariably selected a site favorable for defense, commanding
views of entrancing scenery, on the slopes of the most fertile valleys, and con-
venient to the running water which was the safeguard of agriculture in a
country of sparse and uncertain rainfall. The Indians, less warlike in nature
than the roving tribes east of the Rockies, were almost universally submissive.
If there was ever an Arcadia it was surely there and then. Against the blue
of the sky, unspotted by a single cloud through many months of the year,
snow-crowned mountains rose in dazzling relief, while oranges, olives, figs,
dates, bananas, and every other variety of temperate and sub-tropical fruit which
i had been introduced by the Spaniards, ripened in a sun whose ardency was
tempered by the dryness of the air into an equability like that of June, while
the regularly alternating breeze that daily swept to and from the ocean and
mountain made summer and winter almost indistinguishable seasons, then as
now, save for the welcome rains that characterize the latter.

At the foot of the valley, between the mountain slopes, and never more
than a few miles away, the waters of the Pacific rocked placidly in the brilliant
sunlight or broke in foam upon a broad beach of sand. In such a scene Span-
iard and Indian plied their peaceful vocations, the one in picturesque national
garb, the other almost innocent of clothing, while over and around them lay an
atmosphere of sacredness which even to this day clings to the broken arches
and crumbling walls. Over the peaceful valleys a veritable angelus rang. The
mellow bells of the mission churches summoned dusky hordes to ceremonial
devotion. Want and strife were unknown.

It is true they had their trials. Earthquakes which have been almost un-
known in California for a quarter of a century, were then not uncommon, and
were at times disastrous. Rio de los Temblores was the name of a stream de-
rived from the frequency of earth rockings in the region through which it flowed;
and in the second decade of our century the dreaded temblor upset the 120-foot
tower of the Mission San Juan Capistrano and sent it crashing down through
the roof upon a congregation, of whom nearly 40 perished. Those, too, were
lawless times upon the main. Pirates, cruising the South Seas in quest of
booty, hovered about the California coast, and then the mission men stood to
their arms, while the women and children fled to the interior canyons with
their portable treasures. One buccaneer, Bouchard, repulsed in his attempt
upon Dolores and Santa Barbara, descended successfully upon another mission
and dwelt there riotously for a time, carousing and destroying such valuables as
he could not carry away, while the entire population quaked in the forest along
the Rio Trabuco. This was the same luckless San Juan Capistrano, six years
after the earthquake visitation. Then, too there were bickerings of a political
nature, and struggles for place, after the rule of Mexico had succeeded to that
of Spain, but the common people troubled themselves little with such matters.


The end of the Franciscan dynasty came suddenly with the secularization
of the mission property by the Mexican government to replete the exhausted
treasuries of Santa Ana. Sadly the monks forsook the scene of their long la-
bors, and silently the Indians melted away into the wilderness and the darkness
of their natural ways, save such as had intermarried with the families of Spanish
soldiers and colonists. The churches are now, for the most part, only decayed
legacies and fragmentary reminders of a time whose like the world will never
know again. Save only three or four, preserved by reverent hands, where
modern worshippers, denationalized and clad in American dress, still kneel and
recite their orisons, the venerable ruins are forsaken by all except the tourist
and the antiquarian, and their bells are silent forever. There is hardly a more
noteworthy name in the annals of California than that of Junipero Serra, and in
heroic endeavor there is no more signal instance of absolute failure than his
who founded the California missions, aside from the perpetuation of his saintly
name. They accomplished nothing so far as can now be seen.

The descendants of their converts, what few have survived contact with the
Anglo-Saxon, have no discoverable worth, and, together with the greater part
of the original Spanish population, have faded away, as if a blight had fallen
upon them.

But so long as one stone remains upon another, and a single arch of the
missions still stands, an atmosphere will abide there, something that does not
come from mountain, or vale, or sea, or sky; the spirit of consecration, it may
be; but if it is only the aroma of ancient and romantic associations, the sugges-
tion of a peculiar phase of earnest and simple human life and quaint environ-
ment that is forever past, the mission-ruins must remain among the most inter-
esting monuments in all our varied land, and will amply repay the inconsiderable
effort and outlay required to enable the tourist to view them. San Diego, the
oldest; San Duis Rey, the most poetically environed; San Juan Capistrano, of
most tragic memory; San Gabriel, the most imposing and Santa Barbara, the
most perfectly preserved, will suffice the casual sightseer. These also lie com-
paratively near together, and are all easily accessible; the first three being lo-
cated on or adjacent to the railway line between Los Angeles and San Diego,
the fourth standing but a few miles from the first named city, and the fifth be-
ing almost in the heart of the famous resort that bears its name.

Reluctantly will the visitor tear himself from the encompassing charm of
their roofless arches and reminiscent shadows. They are a dream of the Old
World, indifferent to the sordidness and turbulence of the New; one of the few
things that have been spared by a relentless past, whose habit is to sweep the
things of yesterday into oblivion. Almost can one hear the echoes of their bells
ringing out to heathen thousands the sunset and the dawn.

Returning from our interesting drive, we visited the beach ; some
donned bathing suits and entered the surf while others sought a swim-
ming pool nearby. Among the latter were Sirs Reese Tannehill, Wil-
liam G. Lee and Robert J. Graham.

The three pilgrims were equipped with bathing suits at the pool
and sought their respective dressing rooms. Shortly after, Sirs Reese
and Robert emerged and splashed gracefully about in the pool. Evi-
dently Sir Lee's appearance had been delayed. After a patient wait Sirs
Reese and Robert became anxious and urgently called: "Hurry up,
Bill!" for the hour of our departure was near at hand and the bath
had to be a hurried one. But "Bill" never answered.

Meanwhile, Sir Lee was experiencing a most trying ordeal. The
young lady who doled out the bathing suits, had made a grievous error.
She had given him a boy's size! With one leg and one arm in the
suit, and a portion of it tightly drawrt over his face, Sir Lee was
vigorously, but unsuccessfully struggling in his dressing room, while
Sirs Tannehill and Graham were urging him to appear. In vain he


tried to extricate himself, realizing that train time was approaching and
fearing that he would be left behind in the toils of one half of a bath-
i:ig suit.

Meanwhile, Sirs Tannehill and Graham had leisurely finished their
bath, believing Sir Lee had withdrawn. The former made in-
quiry at the door of Sir Lee's room, and hearing a noise within, entered
and rescued their brother Sir Knight from the meshes of the "youth's
companion." After completing his dry bath, Sir Lee returned his suit
to the lady and inquired if he looked like an infant. "Why I gave you
a boy's suit didn't I," she admitted with a smile, "do you want your
money back?" "Never mind! I had a turkish bath that was worth the
money," replied Sir Lee as he hurried off.

While the tragedy of Sir Lee's bath was being enacted at the swim-
ming pool, a drama of a reverse nature took place on the beach. Sir
Biddle, who is very fond of shells, was enjoying himself along the
water's edge, gathering all sorts of pretty specimens. He had ac-
cumulated a sufficient number to test his carrying ability, when he
spied an exceptionally fine one lying a few feet out, where the surf
was scarcely a half inch deep. Walking out boldly, Sir Biddle did not
observe the playful wave which was stealthily approaching and roll-
ing shoreward in a deceptive manner. Eventually he did observe it,
but not until it came upon him with such a vigor as to completely en-
velop him, and leave standing upon the shore a drenched looking
individual. He wrung out his clothes as best he could, and lay in the
sun to dry.

Following luncheon at Hotel Potter, the signal to board the train
was given. As the engineer was ready to pull open the throttle, a call
to halt was heard, coming from an approaching passenger train. Before
we could give our visions play, we heard a laugh then the identity was
complete! It was Sir Oscar Schulze and his party. They had heard
the call while still at luncheon, immediately ordered a carriage and gave
instructions to be driven to the station. There were two stations, and
they were hurried to the wrong one, and found another train ready to
pull out. Fortunately it was compelled to make a stop at the station
where our "Special" had lain in waiting and they realized their mistake
in time to hail us and get safely within the fold before we started. There
was a general jollification upon finding the "lost" members of our "big,
happy family" in which the missing shared with equal enthusiasm as
those who had been temporarily bereft.

The trip from Santa Barbara to Los Angeles was replete with inter-
est and offered such scenic diversions as to make the four and one-half
hour ride a pleasant one.

For many miles the train hugged the ocean shore, and for a stretch

of 30 miles we were at the very edge of the water, affording an inter-
esting view of sail boats, bathers and the breakers. Passing through
Summerland, while skirting the ocean, we were afforded one of the most
curious sights the country can produce that of oil wells in the ocean.
Marine oil wells, they are called. Derricks are erected out in the water,
and stand defiantly as the breakers dash against them. From a distance
and to the unacquainted, they give the appearance of being piers for some
structure to be erected out over the water. It is said that the oil is of
high grade and that little drilling is necessary, because it lies close to
the surface. From Summerland station 400,000,000 pounds of crude oil
were shipped during the year 1903.

Sir W. G. Reel, (who is an oil operator) in whose honor we had
designated oil as "the Reel thing," was much interested in the marine
oil wells. The feat of procuring oil out of water appealed to him as
a profitable undertaking, and he declared his intentions of trying it when
he arrived home.

San Buenaventura, or Ventura as it is more commonly called, is an
interesting town of 5,000 inhabitants, which we passed before sighting
Montalvo, where is located one of the largest beet sugar factories in the
world. Nearby is Santa Paula, whose fame lies in its orange, lemon and
English walnut groves, while Sespe, a few miles distant, is an oil town.

Camulos is "the home of Ramona," for it was in the old Del Valle
home in this place, that Mrs. Helen Hunt Jackson wrote her famous
Indian novel of that name.

After viewing "the home of Ramona" Johnston gave expression
to his feelings and declared that he felt more reconciled to his own birth-
place. "Comparin' de house where I wuz born," he said, "I ain't got no
reason fur to complain. Ramoney wuz not born in a house as big as I
wuz and fur de high tone of front yard and chicken, I'se got 'em faded.
De day am not far away dat I'se be more a shinin' light to de literary
world as Ramoney ever dreamed What you think Mas'er Herbert?"

"That's right, Johnston give me a ham sandwich."

With but rare exception, the entire length of track from Santa Bar-
bara to Los Angeles was lined with wild and cultivated flowers, while
immense palms kept company with the track most of the way. The
effect was delightful, with the restless ocean on one side, and the many-
colored flowers and shrubs on the other.

Reaching Saugus, which is but 25 miles from Los Angeles, we
caught sight of the immense olive groves, which comprise several thou-
sand acres with more than 100,000 full bearing trees. Entering the San
Fernando Valley, not far from the old mission of that name, we pass
through many pretty horticultural communities, the way leading quickly
to the much-lauded city of fruit, flower and sunny clime; of mountain


and shore; land of paradoxes, where winter is the season of bloom and
fruitage, and summer is Nature's time for slumber.

The metropolis of this land of sunshine and productiveness is La
Puebla de la Nuestra Senora la Reine de Los Angeles, or "the City of
Our Lady, the Queen of the Angels," a lengthy title which was con-
ferred during Spanish sovereignty, and which the matter-of-fact Ameri-
can very wisely shortened into Los Angeles. It was this city that our
"happy family" entered, shortly after 8 o'clock, with a vivid preconcep-
tion of the splendors and interest it had to offer.

Upon our arrival we sought the principal streets, to stroll, to look
and to admire. The city was well lighted, not only by electricity pro-
vided for that purpose, but also with special illuminations, designed in
honor of the visiting Sir Knights, who came from all sections of the
country before and after the Conclave. Los Angeles was the first city
in the United States to entirely abandon gas for street lighting and re-
place it with electricity. Many of the lights are on high masts, and can
be seen for miles around, while a distant view of the city at night is

There are not many cities in the United States that have had such
a remarkable and varied history as Los Angeles, the chief city of South-
ern California, and the commercial metropolis of the southwestern cor-
ner of the United States. Few cities of this size, moreover, are so well
known throughout the length and breadth of this country and abroad.
The rapid growth of Los Angeles from an insignificant semi-Mexican
town to a metropolitan city has been told and retold, until it is familiar
to millions of Americans, the attractions afforded by the city to health
seekers, pleasure seekers and tourists have been spread abroad by hun-
dreds and thousands of visitors, who, after one trip to this section, are
in most cases anxious to return, and frequently become permanent resi-

During the last 20 years Los Angeles has grown from a population
of 11,000 in 1880 to 102,479 by the census of 1900. The present popu-
lation is estimated at 150,000. There are three leading features that
have contributed to such growth. These are climate, soil and location.
Any one of these advantages would be sufficient to build up a large city,
but taken together they insure the future of Los Angeles as the metrop-
olis of the southwestern portion of the United States.

Los Angeles was founded on September 4, 1781, by a small band of
pobladores, or colonists, who had been recruited in the Mexican States
of Simaloa and Sonora, and brought here under command of a govern-
ment officer to found an agricultural colony for the purpose of raising
produce for the soldiers at the presidios. The first census of the little
city taken in 1790 gave the total population as 141. As recently as 1831,


fifty years after founding the pueblo, the population was only 770. In
January, 1847, tne population was 1,500. In 1880 business was dull
and there was no sign that the city was on the eve of a marvelous growth.
Five years later, on November 9, 1885, the last spike was driven in the
Atlantic and Pacific Railway at the Cajon Pass, thus completing a new
overland route from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and providing Los An-
geles with competition in overland railroad transportation. From that
time the growth of the city was wonderfully rapid. The great real estate
boom of 1886-7 is a matter of history, as is also the wonderful manner
in which Los Angeles held up under the reaction that inevitably followed
the collapse of the over speculation of that period.

Considering that fifteen years ago there was not a single paved street
in the city, Los Angeles has made a remarkable progress in street im-
provements. There are now about 250 miles of graded and graveled
streets, over 20 miles of paved streets, nearly 400 miles of cement and
asphalt sidewalk and 175 miles of sewer. Los Angeles has a complete
sewer system, including an outfall to the ocean.

The city possesses the great natural advantage of being situated on
the shortest route by the easiest grades, between the Pacific and Atlantic
Oceans. The merchants of Los Angeles do a large business with a sec-
tion of country extending from the eastern limits of Arizona to Fresno
on the north. The principal articles of export are fruits, fresh and
dried, potatoes and vegetables, beans, wine and brandy, wool, honey,
canned goods, sugar, wheat, corn and barley.

For a dozen years past Los Angeles has been the scene of great
activity in building operations. Scores of fine business blocks and hun-
dreds of handsome residences have been built. The value of the build-
ings erected in Los Angeles during the year 1903 amounted to over $13,-
000,000. The city lies about midway between the Sierra Madre range
of mountains and the ocean, and about 300 feet above sea level. The
Los Angeles River, which is almost devoid of water during the summer
but is sometimes transformed into a torrent for a few days in winter,
runs through the city from north to south. In the northern and western
portion of the city limits are hills of considerable altitude, from which
a magnificent view may be obtained of the surrounding valleys, with the
ocean in the distance, the picture being framed on the north by a succes-
sion of grand old mountains.

The southern and southwestern portions of the city are level, with
a gentle slope to the southwest. Across the river is the section known
as Boyle Heights, a high gravelly table of mesa land.

There are a dozen public parks within the city limits, aggregating
over 600 acres, of which six are of considerable size. Westlake Park,
35 acres in area, is one of the most popular open air resorts. It has a


9 The


lake with boats, fine drives and extensive views from the adjacent hills.
Eastlake Park in Los Angeles covers 50 acres and has been made quite
attractive. Here also is a lake. The park nurseries are located here
and also a menagerie. Prospect Park, on Boyle Heights, is a small but
beautiful place, with many choice trees and shrubs. The oldest and
best improved of the city parks on Sixth street, not far from the busi-
ness center, is known as Central Park. The trees have attained a large
growth. Hollenbeck Park is a tract of about 20 acres, on the east side
of the river on Boyle Heights. It has been improved with shade trees
and a small lake. Echo Park, a beautifully improved tract in the north-
western part of the city, contains the largest body of water in Los An-
geles. Elysian Park, 500 acres in area, is a remnant of thousands of
acres of such land that the city formerly owned. Much of the land is
within the frostless belt. The views of mountains, valleys and ocean,
city and plain are grand in the extreme. Griffith Park, a tract of 3,000
acres, was donated to the city. It is located about a mile north of the
city, and embraces a varied assortment of mountain, foothill and valley
scenery. A boulevard to connect the parks of Los Angeles has been

The excellent electric street car system of Los Angeles, which is
said to be unexcelled in this country, has done much to encourage the
growth of the city. In addition to the lines within the city limits the sys-
tem connects with Pasadena, Santa Monica, San Pedro, Redonda, Long
Beach and Ocean Park, while plans have been adopted which promise
450 miles of suburban electric roads radiating around Los Angeles in all

After all is said the chief attraction of Los Angeles to new arrivals,
lies in its beautiful homes. The rare beauty of the grounds surround-
ing the attractive homes of Los Angeles, Pasadena and other Los An-
geles county cities is a constant theme of admiration on the part of east-
ern visitors. A majority of the residences stand in spacious grounds, a
lot of 50x150 feet being the smallest occupied by a house of any preten-
sion, even within a stone's throw of the business streets. Many have from
one to five acres of ground, all in a high state of cultivation, with well
kept verdant lawns, upon which the fig, orange and palm cast a grateful
shade. Along the sides of the streets shade trees are also the rule, the

Online LibraryEdmund Frederick ErkA merry crusade to the Golden Gate : under the banners of Allegheny Commandery, No. 35, Knights Templar, Allegheny, Pa. : a complete story of the Twenty-ninth Triennial Conclave, Grand Encampment, Knights Templar, U.S.A. ... and a tour of ten thousand miles through the wonderland of the West → online text (page 26 of 38)