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University of California Berkeley







The Senora Moreno's house was one of the best specimens to be
found in California of the representative house of the half barbaric,
half elegant. . . . Page 21, Vol. I.

The house was of adobe, low, with a wide veranda on the three
sides of the inner court, and a still broader one across the entire front,
which looked to the south. . . . Page 26, Vol. I.

The room in which Father Salvierderra always slept when at the
Senora Moreno's house was the southeast corner room. . . .

Page 82, Vol. I.





(H. H.)




With Illustrations from Original Photographs

by A. C. Vroman and Decorative Headings

from Drawings by Henry Sandham



Copyright, 1884,

Copyright, 1900, 1913,

Copyright, 1912,

dll rights reserved

8. J. PAKKHILL & Co., BOSTON, U.8.A.


THE story of Ramona has become so well known on
this continent that few who visit this land of sunshine
and flowers but take an interest in the location of the story
and the points and incidents that Mrs. Jackson has so
vividly pictured. As is generally understood, every incident
in the story has fact for its foundation, even down to the
minutest detail of the home of the Morenos. Yet we fre
quently hear the old adobe house at Old Town, San Diego,
called "Ramona's Home," while Guajome Rancho, about
four miles east of San Luis Rey Mission, is called the same ;
then the Camulos Rancho on the Southern Pacific line to
Santa Barbara, sixty miles northwest of Los Angeles, is also
pointed out, until the casual visitor to the coast becomes
bewildered in the numerous " homes," and interest therein
is lessened.

To unravel somewhat the tangle is the aim of this article,
and if possible work out the genesis of the story in such a
manner as seems necessary for the better understanding of
the book. With this thought the writer has made a careful
search for any information on the subject obtainable.

If it shall have helped any interested in explaining some
of the apparent inconsistencies as to the location of the
places, etc., its object will have been accomplished.

One need only go to any of the works of Helen Hunt
Jackson (" H. H." as she is best known) to find the deep


and sincere sympathy she always gave to that greatly
wronged and little understood race, the American Indian.
She had for years used the press to aid and secure a more
fair treatment for them by the United States government.

Her "A Century of Dishonor " should have had as strong
an influence on the people of this land as did "Uncle Tom's
Cabin." Possibly had "A Century of Dishonor" been
flavored with a little of the romance necessary for popular
reading it would have become better known. The work is
a plain, cold statement of facts, with copies of the evidence
to bear her out, of this government's failure to keep its
promises to the Indians, from early times up to the date
of its publication in 1880.

Had it not been for this work, or had it taken a more
popular hold upon the American people, we might never
have had "Ramona" from her pen.

"Ramona" was written with as high an aim and with
as deliberate a purpose as Mrs. Stowe's masterpiece. To
bring the treatment of our Indians to the people in such a
manner that they would stop and consider the unjust and
selfish laws enacted by Congress, was Mrs. Jackson's whole
desire and prayer. That she succeeded in this is shown
by the thousands of copies of the work that have been sold,
and the demand continues as strong as ever.

In "A Century of Dishonor," especially in the appendices,
pages 458 to 514, you will find many incidents that later
she wove into the story of Ramona.

In 1883 Mrs. Jackson, with the Hon. Abbott Kinney of
Los Angeles, was authorized by the Commissioner of Indian
Affairs to " Investigate and report on the condition and
needs of the Mission Indians of California." This report
was filed in July, 1883, and can be found in the Bureau
Reports and also in appendix pages 458-514 of "A Century
of Dishonor" published by Little, Brown, & Co., Boston.


During their investigation and travel among the Mission
Indians in Southern California, Mrs. Jackson became so
deeply interested, and her sensitive nature so wrought upon
at the gross injustice of the laws and their application by
the officers of the government, that she again felt it her
duty to try and awaken public sympathy in their behalf.

Knowing only too well the fate of Bureau Reports, she
decided that the only way was to weave into romance
incidents that had, to her personal knowledge, occurred,
and yet in such a manner that the public would read it and
give it thought; while possibly not all the good resulted
that Mrs. Jackson hoped for, yet there is no question but
what it was the means of bettering some of our Indian

Having filed her report with the Commissioner of Indian
Affairs, she returned to California and went to the Guajome
Ranch about four miles east of San Luis Rey Mission and
nine miles from Oceanside, a station on the San Diego line
of the Santa Fe", seventy miles south of Los Angeles.

Here, twenty-five years ago, was the most typical of all
old California homes, and it is so today, though much of
the beauty of the place has gone the way of nearly all of the
Spanish homes, through neglect and decline of estates.

It was here that Mrs. Jackson wished to locate the story,
and the home of her heroine. Reaching the ranch she was
welcomed by the owner, the late Senora Ysador Coutts, and
by the Senora aided in many ways with bits of information
about the people, the country, and incidents that were in
addition to much already gathered during her previous
researches, to be woven so cleverly into a perfect whole.

A good old soul, who for years managed a small boarding-
house at San Jacinto, gave us "Aunt Ri."

At Temecula, a little store kept by a man named Wolfe,
where Mrs. Jackson had frequently stopped to talk with the


Indians coming to the store to trade, answered her purpose,
and gave us the Hartsel store where Alessandro sold his

The little graveyard close by looks very much as it might
have looked fifteen years ago the night Ramona and
Carmena awaited Alessandro's return from the Hartsel

The killing of a poor half-crazed Indian, who had taken
another man's horse, was followed and killed under almost
the identical circumstances as was Alessandro, by a certain
Sam Temple, who, up to his death, some years ago, was
pointed out as the "Jim Farrer" mentioned in Ramona,
gave her one tragic incident.

The descriptions of the Indian villages Pachanga,
Temecula, San Ysidro, Saboba, etc., were from her own
observations. In this way she gathered up each piece of
a life and worked them into a romance that has reality for
its foundation in nearly every instance ; even the old
Senora and Ramona herself were founded on the lives, or
incidents in the lives, of perhaps a dozen or more people
woven into one.

Who that has talked with the Senora Coutts but has
thought, "Is not this the Senora Moreno herself?"
While the Senora Coutts might not have had such real
sympathy for the Indian as the Senora Moreno (and indeed
she was rather the extreme in this), yet she was as noble
in other ways. Herself a Bandini, belonging to one of the
oldest and most highly respected families of the Californias,
well might she resent the influx of scheming American
settlers with advanced ideas of civilization ; well might she
in late years long for the " old days " when there was less
need of cunningly devised* laws that no honest man pre
tended to understand.

Haughty and proud, years after the story of Ramona


was written, she had many characteristics that we see in
the Senora Moreno.

Returning to Guajome one day, from the Indian villages
close by, and in conversation with the Senora, Mrs. Jackson
said that she had the material for her story in view, but
needed a romance to make it readable ; that people would
not read plain, cold truths ; they must be made attractive
as well. " Did the Senora not have something in mind
that would give a realistic touch to the story, some elope
ment in the neighborhood, or romance that might be
worked in the story?" . . . Just what the trouble was
or how it happened, will probably never be known, but at
last their conversation turned from friendliness to a coldness
on the part of the Senora, and ended in Mrs. Jackson being
forbidden the use of the ranch, and it is understood she
left Guajome under the ban of the Senora's displeasure.

Almost heartbroken, she returned to Los Angeles to the
home of her old friend Don Antonio Coronel (whose death
a few years ago took from our midst one of the most prom
inent and worthy characters of the early California days).
To Don Antonio she opened her heart, full of trouble, say
ing she could not write the story unless she described the
Guajome Ranch, for here was all that she must picture
in words, the most beautiful of all California homes ; and
she was forbidden the use of it as the home of her heroine ;
where else could she find such another?

Don Antonio, who had always been much interested in
Mrs. Jackson, and had aided her many times before in her
literary work and research, could not let the matter end
thus ; and he bethought him of the Camulos Ranch. With
his face beaming with pleasure he said, "Let not the Senora
be dismayed. I will take her to another ranch almost
identical with the Guajome. Tomorrow we will go, and
the Senora will see for herself the Camulos."


Arriving at the Camulos Ranch they found the family
absent, the servants only being about the house ; in haste
to return to Los Angeles, they spent but two hours on the
ranch, and never before or afterward did Mrs. Jackson see
Camulos Ranch, made famous on two continents by the
pen of this gifted writer as the " Home of Ramona."

That Mrs. Jackson could in two short hours impress on
her memory that which she later pictured so accurately, de
scribing the entire surroundings so minutely, is marvelous,
and illustrative of her great descriptive power. She had
her story ready for the setting, and this she found in this
beautiful old Spanish home, in one of California's most
beautiful (the Santa Clara) valleys, The. Camulos Ranch.

So accurately has Camulos been described that in but
one instance can we locate any great discrepancy. On
page 27 (Vol. I) she says, "The two westernmost rooms
had been added on, and made four steps higher than the
others." . . . There are eight steps on the south veranda
(Plate IV), and five on the north side (Plate VIII), evi
dently a confusion in this instance.

One might question if Guajome was not in mind when
describing the sheep sheds (Page 95, Vol. I) ; there is
nothing of the kind at Camulos at the present time that
answers the description so well as the old sheds at Guajome
(Plate XXII). Likewise the washing place. At neither
place is there anything at the present time that answers the
description on page 29 (Vol. I). At Guajome the watering
place (Plate XXI) is pointed out, and, as a convenience to
satisfy imaginative minds, is called the " Washing Place." It
is in reality a small reservoir or lake, about three hundred
feet in circumference, but about ten rods beyond the lake
can still be traced the water ditches where the washing
place was. It must have been very similar to the descrip
tion, although now it is so overgrown with rushes and


willows it can scarcely be traced. " The Willows " at
Camulos hardly answer the description so well, yet years
would change them also. But there can scarcely be a ques
tion as to the house. Among the illustrations will be found
several of Guajome as well as Camulos. One can readily
see the general similarity of the two places "The Inner
Courts" (Plates VI and XX) and of the south verauci^,
except as to the raised platforms or loggia (Plates IV and

At Guajome the inner court is all surrounded ; a quad
rangle and verandas on the four sides, not as on page 26,
(Vol. I) "with a wide veranda on the three sides of the
inner court."

The little chapel at either place might answer the
description, except that at Camulos it stands in the garden
directly in front of the south veranda, while at Guajome
it stood on the east side of the house (but now, entirely
gone) and the surroundings do not in any manner coincide
with the descriptions.

The servants' quarters, the window of old Marda, the
cook, the white crosses on the hills, as seen today, all are
at Camulos.

We meet with little inconsistencies in reading "Ramona";
for instance, it was always the Saints and Mission belong
ings from San Luis Rey Mission the Seiiora was caring for :
"... a carved bench, also of oak, which had been brought
to the Senora for safe keeping by the faithful old sacristan
of San Luis Rey." (Page 30, Vol. I ) Why San Luis Rey,
more than one hundred miles away, with Ventura, Santa
Barbara, San Fernando, and San Gabriel, all less than
half the distance and all going the same road to ruin?
Evidently Guajome, which is but five miles from San Luis
Rey, was still remembered ; or possibly portions of the
story were already written.


Again, on page 123 (Vol. I ), Alessandro sends the messen
ger all the way to Temecula, one hundred and thirty miles
or more, and back the same night, for his violin. From
Guajome it is but twenty miles to Temecula, a journey
easily made in that length of time.

After Alessandro and Ramona leave the ranch, there is
nothing more descriptive of the Home place, and the
description of the route traversed is identical with the
country between Guajome and San Diego by way of
the Temecula Canon ; they make the journey in three
nights, hiding in the canon during the day time. If we
take Camulos as the starting place, this would give upward
of two hundred miles, but from Guajome about fifty. These
and like instances are explained on the theory that the
story was planned to be located at the Guajome Ranch, and
possibly portions of the book were already written when the
difference arose which necessitated the use of another
place for the home of the heroine. There was no need of
remodeling the other portions of the work ; they answered
just as well for the purpose, but it brought some confusion
to the readers of the story to make the descriptions fit in

Reaching Old Town they found the chapel lighted
(Page 88, Vol. II ) ; the ceremony is performed in the
chapel, and they then go to the father's house and he enters
their names in the book of marriage records, "kept in
Father Gaspara's own rooms." . . . (Page 90, Vol. II )

Thus the old adobe house at Old Town is the Father
Gaspara's house, and not, as some call it, a " Ramona

It was a delightful time that a small party spent at
Camulos one August day now eighteen years ago, but the
dear old Camulos has changed but little in all these years.
From Los Angeles on the Santa Barbara line of the Southern


Pacific railway, to the little station of Camulos, is sixty miles,
a two hours' ride through the beautiful San Fernando, and
over the Newhall Pass and Tunnel, and into the still more
beautiful Santa Clara Valley. It is but a stone's throw from
the station to the ranch house so hidden in a mass of
orange, almond trees and shrubbery that you do not see
the building until close upon it. Passing the servants*
quarters we think of the Senora's "unspeakable satisfaction,
when the commissioners, laying out a road down the valley,
ran it at the back of her house, instead of past the front."
. . . " It is well," she said. " Let their travel be where it
belongs, behind our kitchens." . . . (Page 24, Vol. I)

Back high on the hill, across the railroad track, stands the
cross ..." that the heretics may know, when they go by,
that they are on the estate of a good Catholic," she said.
(Page 25, Vol. I)

A few steps past the end of the servants' quarters, and
we are at the inner court. How true the description !
"The house was of adobe, low, with a wide veranda on the
three sides of the inner court." . . . (Page 26, Vol. I)
There it is, the servants' quarters making the third side of
the court, with flowers everywhere, and hedges at the fourth
or eastern side of the court, virtually making a quadrangle.

Yet a little farther, past the hedges and the eastern end
of the main building, after turning to the left, we are directly
at the south veranda, "a delightsome place, . . . eighty
feet long, at least. . . . Here the Senora kept her flowers ;
. . . great red water-jars, hand-made by the Indians of
San Luis Obispo Mission (Page 27, Vol. I), ... some
coming from the ground, and twining around the pillars of
the veranda; some growing in great bowls. . . . These
bowls were of gray stone, hollowed and polished, shining
smooth inside and out." Ah ! there they are, sitting
around the fountain's wall, four of them, and beauties they


are ; nothing so fine as these old bowls could be passed by,
in even her two short hours, without notice. " They also
had been made by the Indians, nobody knew how many
ages ago, scooped and polished by the patient creatures,
with only stones for tools." (Page 28, Vol. I.)

We turn again to the veranda. Could anything be better
described? The raised platform or loggia, made four
(eight it should read) steps higher than the others, leading
to the Sefiora's room, then Felipe's and Ramona's at the
foot of the steps ; and at the southeast corner, the father's
room ; we almost expect to see the good old father throw
open the shutters and break the stillness with his sunrise
hymn :

"O Beautiful Queen, Princess of Heaven ! " (Page 86,
Vol. I.)

We have not yet taken the time to make our presence
known to the household, so interested in the surroundings
have we been. We step on the veranda ; how real it all is
almost the stillness, the solemness of a shrine it seems
as we gently tap on the open door. The sound has scarcely
died away ere our summons is answered. We present our
letter from the son in Los Angeles to the mother and sister,
requesting their hospitality to his good friend, Mr. L. and
his party. We are welcomed in -words that assure us that
the son and brother's request is all that is needed to give us
the freedom of the ranch. Even the father's own room at
the southeast corner of the veranda is designated as ours,
and here we once more feel the air of a sainted place, for
was not this the very window with the bolted shutters that
the father would open at break of day ; this the very table
where he sat?

But we cannot remain indoors, so anxious are we to see.
As we step out on the veranda one of the household proffers
her services as guide. The garden : " Between the veranda


and the river meadows, out on which it looked, all was
garden, orange grove, and almond orchard; . . . Nothing
was to be seen but verdure or bloom or fruit, at whatever
time of year you sat on the Senora's south veranda "
(Pages 28 and 29, Vol. I) ; in the center of the garden
the fine old fountain, with the " bowls," that were hung
from the veranda roof by cords, filled with flowers.

Close by, the chapel, "dearer to the Sefiora than her
house" (Page 31, Vol. I); just back of the chapel, the
bells brought from Spain, and across the garden "A wide
straight walk shaded by a trellis so knotted and twisted
with grapevines that little was to be seen of the trellis
wood- work, led straight down ... to a little brook . . in
the shade of a dozen gnarled old willow-trees, were set the
broad flat stone washboards on which was done all the
family washing " (Page 29, Vol. I).

The little chapel attracts us once more on our return
from the "willows." We step inside, for the door has been
unlocked that we may have free access to everything ; for
has not the beloved son's letter vouched for us ? No need
to hide the family silver and keep the chapel door locked.
So many people, they tell us, come unannounced and roam
about without so much as a gracious acknowledgment of
their presence on the premises ; some are even so rude and
contemptible as to slip a spoon from the table into their
pocket when hospitality is shown them and they are asked
to join the family at meal time.

We marvel at the patience of these good people when
we are told that within nine months, by actual count, more
than eight hundred meals were served to strangers, much
against their desires; but hospitality must never find an
ending in the old Spanish homes. No doubt it would be
a great relief to them if some other place could take the
honor of the " Home of Ramona."


What most hurts these good people is the insistence with
which some of the thoughtless, or ignorant, almost demand
to see Ramona and Felipe. " Which one of the servants
is Margarita," and " Is the Senora as cross as she used to
be to Ramona?" Such ridiculous questions wound their
sensitive feelings, and one marvels at their patience with
the numbers who come and go. Many are a delight to
meet, they say. Many have come away expressing them
selves as charmed with their visit at Camulos and the
friendship extended. But we must remember that we are
on private, not public, property; that we owe it to the
many yet to follow us that we do our part well.

Inside the little chapel, always fragrant with flowers, one
must think of Mrs. Jackson's pleasure to find such to inspire
her descriptions nothing could be more to her needs.

Crossing the south veranda and passing through a hall
way the full width of the main building, some thirty feet,
we come out on the inner court with its wide verandas.
Close by the door is fhe old bench where Juan Can sat,
"his head leaning back against the whitewashed wall, his
long legs stretched out nearly across the whole width of
the veranda. ... He was the picture of placid content."
(Page n, Vol. I) Across the court are the servants' quar
ters, and we imagine old Marda's copper saucepan shining
through the open window still uplifted as she flung it " full
of not over-clean water so deftly past Juan's head, that not
a drop touched him." . . . And "at which bit of sleight-of-
hand the whole court-yard, young and old, babies, cocks,
hens, and turkeys, all set up a shout and a cackle." . . .
(Page 12, Vol. 1) And we wonder if Mrs. Jackson did
really see a similar performance somewhere, sometime.
Everything else is there.

We visit the stables, stock sheds, the old olive mill, the
orange and peach orchards, the vineyard, and at the tap


of the dinner bell we are graciously asked to join at the
family table, and later sit and take much pleasure in
the conversation with the family on the south veranda.
They give us innumerable incidents of those who have
visited the ranch : how Mrs. Jackson came during the
absence of the family and remained but two hours, and
how if they had known they might also have forbidden the
use of the ranch, and yet with all the annoyance much
pleasure has come with it.

We go to the music room, and the guitar and piano,
songs and merry conversation drive time so fast that only
too soon does the time for our leave-taking come, which is
not over with until the train moves away. But it is not the
hospitality alone that has given us such pleasure, but the
knowing that we have spent a delightful day at The Home
of Ramona.

Of Guajome what more can we say than

" Of all sad words of tongue or pen,
The saddest are these, // might have been. 11

What Ramona would have been with Guajome Ranch as
the home of the heroine we cannot say, though surely it
would have had a setting worthy of its stateliness in its
prosperous days, but it is fast going the way of all our
landmarks ; already in a neglected state, it will soon be left
out of the list of possible homes of Ramona.

It is too bad to see it, but unless some "Landmarks
Club " takes hold, it is doomed. Undoubtedly the finest
specimen of the old Spanish times of California, it would

Online LibraryHelen Hunt JacksonRamona : a story → online text (page 1 of 37)