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Annual publication of the Historical Society of Southern California and of the Pioneers of Los Angeles County (Volume yr.1902-1904) online

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receipt for the same.

He shall make a full report at the annual meeting, setting
forth the condition of the society, its imembership, receipts,
disbursements, etc.

He shall receive for his services such compensation as the
Board of Directors may allow.

Section ii. The treasurer shall receive from the secretary
all moneys paid to the society and give his receipt for the same,
and shall pay out the money only upon the order of the society
upon a warrant signed by the secretary and president, and at the
end of his term shall pay over to his successor all moneys
remaining in his hands, and render a true and itemized account
to the society of all moneys received and paid out during his
termi of office.

Section 12. It shall be the duty of the finance committee
to examine the books of the secretary and treasurer and any
other accounts of the society that may be referred to them, and
report the same to the society.


Section 13. The president, vice-presidents, secretary and
treasurer shall constitute a relief committee, whose duty it shall
be to see that sick or destitute members are properly cared for.
In case of emergency, the committee shall be empowered to ex-
pend for immediate relief an amount from the funds of the so-
ciety not to exceed $20, without a vote of the society. Such
expenditure, with a statement of the case and the necessity for
the expenditure shall be made to the society at its next regular

Section 14. 'At the first meeting after the annual meeting
each year, the president shall appoint the following standing
committees: Three on membership; three on finance; five on
program; five on music; five on general good of the society, and
seven on entertainment.



Section 15. Whenever a vacancy in any office of this so-
ciety occurs, it shall be filled by election for the unexpired

Section 16. The stated meetings of this society shall be
held on the first Tuesday of each month, and the annual meet-
ing shall be held the first Tuesday of September. Special meet-
ings may be called by the president or by a majority of the
Board of Directors, but no business shall be transacted at such
special meetings except that specified in the call.

Section 17. These By-Laws and Rules may be temporarily
suspended at any regular meeting of the society by unanimous
vote of the members present.

Section 18. Whenever the Board of Directors shall be
satisfied that any worthy member of this society is unable, for
the time being, to pay the annual dues as hereinbefore pre-
scribed, it shall have power to remit the same.

Section 19. Changes and amendments of these By-Laws
and Rules may be made by submitting the same in writing to
the society at a stated meeting. Said amendment shall be read
at two stated meetings before it is submitted to a vote of the
society. If said amendment shall receive two-thirds of the
votes of all the members present and voting, then it shall be
declared adopted.



Reading minutes of previous meeting.


Reports of committee on membership.

Election of new members.

Reading of applications for membership.


Reminiscences, lectures, addresses, etc.

Music or recitations.

Recess of 10 minutes for payment of dues.

Unfinished business.

New business.

Reports of committees.


Election of officers at the annual meeting or to- fill vacancies.


Is any member in need of assistance?

Good of the society.

Receipts of the evening.



To the Pioneers of Los Angeles County:

I beg leave to submit the following report of the finances
of the Society of Pioneers of Los Angeles County for the year
ending September i, 1903:

Balance on hand Oct. ist, 1902 $119.36

Collections to Sept. ist, 1903 221 . 50

Total balance and receipts $340.86

Disbursements to Sept. ist, 1903 248.80

Balance cash on hand $ 92 . 06

Itemized receipted bills covering all disbursements are here-
with submitted. Respectfully submitted,




To the Society of Pioneers of Los Angeles County :

Gentlemen and Ladies: In accordance with the require-
ments of our By-Laws I herewith present .my annual report for
the year ending August 31, 1903:

The Society of Pioneers of Los Angeles County completes
this evening the sixth year of its existence.

Since its organization 420 members have been enrolled. Of
these 54 have died and 15 have been dropped for non-payment
of dues, leaving at present a membership of 351.

Forty-eight new members have been taken into membership
since the last annual meeting.



Balance on hand October ist, 1902 $119.36

Collections to September ist, 1903 221 . 50

Total balance and collections $340.86

Total disbursements per receipted bills 248 . 80

Balance on hand Sept. ist, 1903 $ 92.06

The receipts and disbursements in this report cover a period
of eleven months, viz., Oct. i, 1902, to Sept. i, 1903. The re-
ceipts for the evening of Sept. 2, 1902, were included in the re-
port of last year. Adding the receipts of that evening, $94, to
$221.50 collected in the subsequent months makes the total col-
lections for 12 months $315.50.

Respectfully submitted, J. M. GUINN,


By J. M. Guinn.

In the life of a nation, as in that of the individual, accident
more often than design shapes career. Scattered through the
histories of nations are the records of unforseen events — acci-
dents that have changed the whole future of empires. In the
history of our own country the discovery of gold in California,
which was purely accidental, marks the beginning of a new
epoch. It marks the turning point in our career as a nation
from agriculturism to commercialism.

Before that event agriculture had been the absorbing indus-
try of the country. We were the bread growers of Europe —
content to grow wheat for a foreign market, and cotton for the
mills of England. Then seven-tenths of our population lived
on farms and tilled the soil — there were no vast combinations
of capital; no trusts; no great railroad systems; no multi-mil-
lionaires; no Pierpont Morgans.

Before 1850, John Jacob Astor, the Indian fur trader and
founder of the Astor family, was the only millionaire in the
United States. He was a veritable curiosity to the people — a
man worth a million dollars! Men craned their necks to see
him as he passed, and women turned to gaze after him in the

The gold mines of California in half a decade after their dis-
covery became known abroad added to the wealth of the United
States $300,000,000, equivalent to an increase of $15 per capita
to every man, woman and child in the country at that time. No
nation ever before grew rich so rapidly. Rome at the height
of her power and in the palmiest days of her plundering, never,
in so short a time, gathered from conquered peoples such heaps
of gold. The golden ransom that Francisco Pizarro, the swine-
herd of Truxillo, exacted from the Incas of Peru for the re-
lease of their captured chieftain, Atahualpa, amounted to a little
over $6,000,000, an amount scarcely equal to the yield of the
California placers for a single month. Such a sudden increase
in wealth prompted great undertakings, stimulated every form
of industry and encouraged immigration. It built up great in-
land cities and hastened by at least two decades the settlement
of the vast unpeopled expanse between the Missouri and the


Sierra Nevadas. The admission of California into the Union
as a free State, which was made possible by the discovery of
gold, struck the first note in the death knell of human slavery
and was the precursor of the Civil War.

The exact date of Marshall's discovery of the golden nug-
gets in the mill race at Coloma is still a matter of dispute. Mar-
shall in his lifetime gave three different dates, the i8th, 19th
and 20th, and today, 55 years after the event, one society of
Pioneers celebrates January the 19th as the true date and an-
other the 24th.

The discovery, at first, was not regarded of great impor-
tance. It took six weeks for the news tO' reach San Fran-
cisco, although that city was only 120 miles away. And it
was nine months before the report of Marshall's find reached
the Eastern States. When the news was confirmed — when there
was no longer doubt or cavil about the enormous wealth of the
California placers — then there was an awakening of the nation
hitherto unparalelled in its history. The spirit of adventure be-
came epidemic and men who never before had ventured a day's
journey from home cut loose from all the ties that bound them
and joined in a pilgrimage to the shrine of Mammon that was
fraught with dangers and beset with difificulties appalling to
the stoutest hearts.

In the year 1849, one hundred thousand people found their
way to California. They came by every known route and many
by routes hitherto unknown. They came by every means of
conveyance known to travel by land or sea. They came from
every civilized land on the globe. All castes and conditions of
men came — the good and the bad, the industrious and the in-
dolent, the virtuous and the vicious. This rapid influx of popu-
lation wrought magical changes in the land of gold. It trans-
formed it from a land of manana — a land of tomorrow — to one
of today. It changed it from a lotus land of ease where life was
a sensuous dream to the arena of the most resistless energy and
the fiercest struggle for existence.

When gold was discovered, San Francisco was a little hamlet
of a few houses clustering close to the shores of Yerba Buena
cove. In a little more than two years after, it had grown to be
a city of 25,000 souls. It had climbed the sand hills and built
out over the bay. The commerce of the world sought its harbor
and, it might be added, much of it remained there. Five hun-
dred ships deserted by their officers and crews, lay rotting on
the Mission flats. Repeatedly swept out of existence by great

IN THE DAYS O? '49. 73

fires, phoenix like it arose from its ashes and grew better and
bigger after each conflagration.

In the beginning it was a make-shift city, built on an emer-
gency. No one expected to remain in it longer than to make
his fortune. Its first inhabitants had no municipal pride in its
appearance. The strip of level land that skirted the cove was
soon built over, then the city had either to climb the hills like
Rome, or wade out into the bay like Venice. It did both, but
first it tilted the tops of the hills into the bay and sat down on
dry land. Its principal streets are successions of cuts and fills.
Market street, its grandest avenue, is in places 60 feet below its
old level and in others 30 above. Rome was built on seven
hills, but the city of Saint Francis has climbed over seventy.
Its municipal infancy was beset with many discouragements.
Flood as well as fire conspired against it.

Eighteen hundred and forty-nine was one of the great flood
years of Cahfornia. As in Noah's days, the windows of the
heavens were opened, the rains descended and the floods came.
Fifty inches of rain are said to have fallen in San Francisco,
and the Pluvial downpour was even greater in the mining re-
gions. The newly arrived Argonauts had been told before their
departure from the States that California was a hot, dry coun-
try where little rain fell. As a consequence they made but
scanty provision against winter storms .

The rainy season of 1849 began early in November and was
heralded in the mountains by a downpour of nine inches in a
single night. The miners were driven from their camps by the
floods, and as they shivered in the pitiless storm they ironically
discussed the question whether it was pleasanter to die of thirst
on a waterless desert or be drowned by inches in a country where
it seldom rains.

In San Francisco the wash from the hills flooded the un-
paved streets. The continued rains and traffic soon reduced the
detritus into the consistency of pea soup. Men and animals
floundered through the liquid mud. Drunken loafers roister-
ing around the streets at night fell into the Serbonian bogs mis-
named streets, and if no friendly hand was near to extricate
them they sank deeper and deeper into ready-made graves, un-
cofBned, unwept, and unsung. A story is told that one day a
hat was seen floating down the muddy tide of Montgomery
street. A spectator lassoed it and as it was lifted a man's head
appeared. He was rescued and brought ashore, when he begged
the spectators to save his horse, which was still below. The


Story, however, does not rest on any more substantial founda-
tion than did the submerged rider and his mythical steed.

It was during this winter that the famous sidewalk of flour
bags, cooking stoves, tobacco boxes and pianos was con-
structed. The only sidewalks then were made of pieces of
boards, dry goods boxes, crockery crates and other refuse of the
stores. These were continually disappearing in the ooze. Lum-
ber was $600 per thousand and retailed at a dollar a square foot.
A sidewalk of plank would have bankrupted the municipality.
The walks, such as they were, were built by the merchants to
help their trade.

This famous sidewalk was on the west side of Montgomery
street, between Clay and Jackson. It extended from the Sim-
mons, Henderson & Co. building to the Adams Express Com-
pany's ofifice. It began with 100-pound sacks of Chilean flour.
Then followed a long row of cooking stoves, over which it was
necessary to carefully pick your way, as some of the covers were
gone. A damaged piano bridged a chasm and beyond this a
double row of large tobacco boxes completed the walk. This
sidewalk has been held up as an example of the extravagance of
the days of '49. And yet the material in it was the cheapest
sidewalking in the market. A few months before flour was sell-
ing at $400 a barrel. Everybody in trade ordered flour. The
nearest place to secure it was Chile, and ship load after ship
load was thrown on the San Francisco market until it was not
worth the storage.

Some merchants in New York, witnessing the great rush to
CaHfornia, conceived the idea of shipping consignments of cook-
ing stoves to California. The miners would need them in their
housekeeping and it would be a fine stroke of business to fore-
stall the demand. The shippers did not know that the miners'
kitchen outfit consisted of a frying pan and a coffee pot. The
freight on a cooking stove up into the mountain mining camps
would have bankrupted a miner's claim. So the consignment
of cooking stoves was left to rust and rot until utilized for side-
walks. As to pianos, nobody had time to play on them, and
the scarcity of houses made their room more valuable than their

In the East, ignorance of the needs of the miners and the
customs of the country were responsible for some ludicrous
mistakes. A merchant of New York bound for California, who
had dealt in millinery goods, conceived the idea that it would be
a fine stroke of business to ship a consignment of ladies' bon-

IN mt DAYS 01^ 49. 75

nets to San Francisco. The Leghorn bonnet of '49 was a ca-
pacious affair — modeled after the prairie schooner, or the
schooner was modeled after the bonnet, I am not certain which.
The bonnet had a dip in the .middle and sharp peaks fore and
aft; so had the schooner.

The merchant sent his consignment around Cape Horn and
came to California himself via the Isthmus. Arriving here he
found to his dismay that the Spanish women did not wear bon-
nets, but covered their heads with rebosas, and the Spanish
ladies were about all the women in California then. The poor
fellow was in despair; all his money was invested in bonnets.
The bonnets were down at Cape Horn or thereabouts, and there
was no way of intercepting the shipment and returning it before
it completed its voyage of 18,000 miles.

In due time the vessel arrived . In those days there were no
warehouses and ship's cargoes were auctioned off on their ar-
rival. Almost in despair, the merchant put up his bonnets at
auction. The city happened to be full of miners well supplied
with gold dust. The sight of a woman's bonnet recalled memo-
ries of home, of mothers, wives, sisters and sweethearts. In a
spirit of freakishness they bid off the bonnets at an ounce ($16)
apiece. Red shirted miners paraded the streets with heads en-
sconced in fashionable bonnets of the vintage of '49 — and were
happy. So was the merchant, whose venture paid him well.
"" " Merchandising in the fall of '49 and spring of '50 was a make-
or-break business. If a consignment of goods reached San
Francisco when the market was bare of needed articles which
the consignment contained the merchant's fortune was made
who secured it. If it reached there when the market was over-
stocked he was in danger of bankruptcy.

At one time 5-cent papers of carpet tacks sold at $5 each.
A pound of salaratus retailed at $16, and a drop of laudanum
at a dollar. A hogshead of New England rum arrived when
the market was empty of that beverage. The rum retailed at
$20 a quart, and one man offered $10 for the privilege of suck-
ing a straw through the bung hole. His offer was refused, as
his capacity was known to exceed a pint.

The yield of the mines in early days was enormous, and
rich strikes numerous. No occupation is more exciting than
placer mining. The stroke of a pick may open one of nature's
treasure vaults and make you independently rich. Hope buoys
you up to brave hardships and fatigues that would crush you in
other occupations. Think of taking out ten thousand dollars in
a day or picking up a nugget that was worth a prince's ran-

y6 pione;ers OB' LOS angei.e:s county.

som. Such things were possible in the days of '49. The extent
and richness of the mines then were problematic. There were
no diggings so rich that there might not be richer beyond. Men
would abandon claims paying twenty, thirty or even fifty dollars
a day on the rumor that at some other camp men were making
$100 a day. When the news first spread abroad throughout
the states of the wonderful gold discoveries in California the
crudest ideas prevailed in regard tO' the way gold was mined.
Not one man then in 50,000 had ever seen a grain of virgin
gold, and not one in 100,000 had ever seen a gold mine. The
only gold mines in the United States before the acquisition of
California were in the mountains of North Carolina and Georgia,
and these were so situated that many intelligent persons had
never heard of their existence. It was known that gold was
found in the sand and gravel and to separate it from these
Yankee ingenuity set to work to invent labor-saving machines.
Patented machines with cranks and treadles to be propelled by
hand or foot power; overshot wheels to work inventions by
water power; and powerful engines constructed so^ as to be
placed on scows and driven by steam were designed to dredge
the bottoms of rivers, which were believed to be covered with
gold. Then there were buckets with augur and valve attach-
ment at the bottom, and long iron handles — these were intended
to bore down into the subaqueous deposits and bring up the
gold, that the augur loosened, and deposited in the buckets.
Even diving bells were constructed for deeper water, and the
diver was expected to pick the golden nuggets off the bottom
of the river.

Haskins in his "Argonauts of '49" describes one of these
.machines, which was on board the ship he came on, "One ma-
chine," says he, "requires special mention. It was in the shape
of a huge fanning mill with selves properly arranged for assort-
ing the gold ready for bottling. All chunks too large for the
bottles would be consigned to the pork barrels. This immense
machine, which during our passage excited the envy of all who
had not the means and opportunity of securing a similar one,
required the services of a hired man to turn the crank whilst
the proprietor would be busily engaged in shoveling in pay dirt
and pumping water, the greater portion of his time, however,
being required, as was firmly believed, in corking of bottles and
fitting the heads to the pork barrels as they were filled with
gold. This machine was owned by Mr. Allen of Cambridge,
Mass., who had brought with him a colored servant to turn
the crank of this invaluable invention. Upon landing we found


lying upon the sands and half buried in the mud hundreds of sim-
ilar machines bearing silent witness at once to the value of our
gold-saving machinery without the necessity of a trial."

Nor was it those who came by sea alone that brought these
curious but worthless inventions. Men hauled gold machines
across the plains, over waterless deserts, over precipitous moun-
tains, often sacrificing the necessaries of Hfe to save the prized
instruments that were to make their fortunes; and when they
reached the mines haggard, half starved, but bringing in
triumph their labor-saving machines — only to find (.hemse!ves
the butt of ridicule and their machines the laughing stock of
the mining camp. Haskins says: "Animated and often acri-
monious discussions were carried on while on the voyage to
California in regard to the better means of getting their gold
down from the mines. Some were in favor of bottles, others
favored pork barrels. The pork barrel advocates won by show-
ing that the barrels could be rolled down to the Coast, thus
saving freight." John S. Hittell says when he and some others
discovered a wonderfully rich pocket of gold at the foot of
Mount Shasta in the fall of '49, supposing the whole gulch un-
derlaid with gold, they seriously discussed the question whether
they should send for a train of pack mules or a number of ox
teams to bring out the gold. They were relieved of the neces-
sity of sending for either.

The rush and greed for gold and the ways of getting it is
not all there is to the story of the Argonauts. There were deeds
of charity the most noble and acts of self-sacrifice the most un-
selfish. There were friendships formed stronger than that of
Damon and Pythias. There were romances in their lives most
thrilling and adventures most daring. There was enough in
their search for the golden fleece to have formed material for
an epic grander than the Illiad and more fascinating than the
Odessy. The California immigrants of the early fifties who
came from the older states were a superior class. They were
drawn from the most intelligent, the most progressive and the
most venturesome of the population of the different localities
from whence they came. All honor to the noble men and
women who braved perils by sea and land to lay strong and
deep the foundations of a new commonwealth. They did their
work well. They left the impress of their characters on the
State they founded. To them it owes much of its renown for
progress, intelligence and enterprise. All honor to the Pioneers
living and respect for the memory of those who have passed over
the divide that separates time from eternity.



The picturesque mountain valley known as Santiago can-
yon, in Orange county, is located within the range of moun-
tains between the Santa Ana and San Juan valleys on the south
and El Chino ranch and Jurupa on the north. It is several miles
wide and perhaps twenty miles long, and is drained by Santiago
creek, which finds its outlet in the Santa Ana river, not very
far from the old Yorba homestead. The Yorba and Peralta
famihes, whose forebears originally came from Spain, were the
former owners of both the Santiago; and Santa Ana ranches.

Teodosio Yorba was the ancient owner of the Santiago
ranch, who sold it to William Wolfskill, and he sold, I, believe,
to Flint, Bixby & Co. It is now owned by the James Irvine es-
tate. Of course the Yorba grant includes only a limited portion
of the extensive Santiago canyon. Years ago, mining was ca^'
ried on, in what is known as the "Silverado" branch of Santiago
Not very far above the mouth of the canyon there is one of the
most beautiful natural parks to be found anywhere. It is as
level as a house floor, and is densely shaded by evergreen live-
oaks that must be five hundred years old, more or less, with
plenty of living springs of pure mountain water near by. It is
an ideal place for picnicking parties, and was resorted to by

Online LibraryHistorical Society of Southern CaliforniaAnnual publication of the Historical Society of Southern California and of the Pioneers of Los Angeles County (Volume yr.1902-1904) → online text (page 17 of 29)