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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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Constitution and By-Laws 136

Order of Business 140

Reports of the Secretary and Treasurer 141

Report of the Finance Committee 142

Los Angeles — The Old and the New L. T. Fisher. . 143

Some Historic Fads and Fakes J. M. Guinn. . 148

Some of My Indian Experiiences J. W. Gillette. . 158

Portrait of Wm. H. Workman 165

Pioneers Crossing the Plains Cut . . 165

Banquet Given to the Pioneers by Wm. H. Workman 165

Rain and Rainmakers j . M. Guinn . . 171


Mathew Teed Compiled . . 177

Nathaniel Coburn Carter Committee Report. . 178

Omri J. Bullis Committee Report . . 179

George Edwin Card Committee Report. . 180

Jonathan Dickey Dunlap Committee Report . . 181

Mrs. Cornelia R. Shaffer Committee Report. . 182

Thomas D. Mott L. A. Times. . 184

Kilian Messer Committee Report . . 186

Col. Isaac Rothermel Dunkelberger Committee Report . . 186

Pascal Ballade Committee Report . . 187

John Crimmins Committee Report . . 188

In Memoriam io9

Roll of Members 191

Officers of the, Historical Society

Walter R. Bacon President

Mrs. M. Burton Williamson First Vice-President

Dr. J. E. CowLES Second Vice-President

Edwin Baxter Treasurer

J. M. GuiNN Secretary and Curator

board of directors.

Walter R. Bacon,
H. D. Barrows,
Dr. J. E. CowLES,
Edwin Baxter,
A. C. Vroman,
J. M. Guinn,
Mrs. I\I. Burton Williamson.



Walter R. Bacon President

Mrs. M. Burton Williamson First Vice-President

Hon. Henry E. Carter Second Vice-President

Edwin Baxter Treasurer

J. M. Guinn Secretary and Curator

board of directors.

Walter R. Bacon,
Hon. Henry E. Carter,
J. M. Guinn,
A. C. Vroman,
H. D. Barrows,
Edwin Baxter,
Mrs. M. Burton Williamson.


One of the Founders of the Historical Society of
Southern California

Historical Society


Southern California


By Robert E. C. Stearns.

Em'erson tells us that "all virtue lies in minorities." This
dictum of the great philosopher appears to be essentially true
when we investigate the genesis of public institutions, and find
as we do, that the initiative which led to their estabHshment and
subsequent development into an organized force, was made by
a few enlightened and public-spirited persons.

If we inquire into the birth and progress of such organiza-
tions as are universally admitted to be beneficial to mankind,
we find here on the West Coast as well as elsewhere, the sub-
stantial truth of the axiom above quoted. We can point to a
few conspicuous examples like the California Academy of
Sciences founded fifty years ago, in the very height of the "gold
fever," by a "a little coterie" of eight men^ of whom none are
left to see the tree that has grown from the seed they planted.
The "College of California," developed logically into the pres-
ent "University of California," with its staff of 175 professors
and instructors,* and we are not without proof of the per-
tinency of Emerson's words when we consider the beginning
of the "Historical Society of Southern California."

The worthy and honored secretary of our society has pub-

*Th€se figures apply to the number at Berkeley ; to these we may add
the 150 professors and teachers connected with affiliated colleges in San
Francisco, exclusive of demonstrators and other assistants. The number of
students at Berkeley, March, 1904, is given in the official statement as 2700;
in San Francisco, 575.


lished the story of its birth. He has told us how some twenty
years ago when Los Angeles was a city more in name than in
fact, with a scattered population of 14,000, "a little coterie of
representative men" gathered "to organize a historical society."*
"Some of these were comparatively new comers, others were
pioneers, whose residence in the city covered periods of thirty,
forty and fifty years. They had watched its growth from a
Mexican pueblo to an American city, had witnessed its transi-
tion from the inchoate and revolutionary domination of Mexico
to the stable rule of the United States."

Of the fifteen men who assembled on that occasion, a truly
small minority of the population of that day, nine have passed
into the realm of silence; the membership of four, terminated
in various ways; two, only two* remain, to whom be all honor
and praise for having kept the lamp burning, which they and
their companions lighted two decades ago.

Of that little band of fifteen, it has been my privilege to know
the late General Jjohn Mansfield, soldier of the Civil War, Lieu-
tenant Governor (1880- 1883) ex-ofiicio president of the State
Senate and regent of the University of California, "a gentle-
man of the old school," with whom I have passed many pleasant
hour, also our mutual friend, Marcus Baker. It is of the latter
more particularly, whose recent death is a most painful be-
reavement to all who had the good fortune of his acquaintance,
that these remarks especially apply.

Some men are born of the spirit or with the spirit, under a
lucky star whose serene influence generates that greatness of
heart which finds expression in good will and generous service,
flowing naturally as a summer stream, the same yesterday, to-
day and tomorrow, inspiring confidence and inviting intimacy,
while free from those changing moods that cloud the sky of
friendship or chill with doubt. Such a man was Marcus Baker,
as known to me during an acquaintance and friendship of thirty
years. After this tribute of personal feeling his public carder and
the various activities of his too short life may be briefly stated,

Mr. Baker was born in Kalamazoo, Michigan, September 28,
1849. He was the son of John Bak'er, a farmer well-known in
the region wehre he lived as is seen by the fact that he was twice

♦Annual Publication of Historical Society of Southern California, Vol.
VI, Part I, for 1903. (1904). Two Decades of Local History, by J. M.
Guinn, 00. 41-47.

*H. D. Barrows and J. M. Guinn.


elected sheriff of his county. Marcus, one of nine children, had
first such a common school education as the neighborhood of-
fered and afterwards entered the preparatory department of
Kalamazoo Coll'ege. While in the sophomore class he entered
the University of Michigan, graduating A.B. in 1870. He was
one of the speakers at the Commencement exercises.

During the summer vacation of that year, he worked with
the eminent astronomer, Professor James C. Watson, in com-
puting data for reconstructing lunar tables. In September he
applied for the position and was appointed professor of mathe-
matics in Albion College, Michigan, where he remained one
year. In 1871, he was offered and accepted a tutorship in the
University of Michigan. In January, 1873, Prof. J. E. Hilgard,
superintendent of the United States Coast and Geodetic Sur-
vey, wrote to Professor Watson, requesting him to recom-
mend some one in the University of Michigan, quaHfied for
astronomical field work, in an Alaskan expedition party, and
Mr. Baker, then 24 years of age, was named for the position.
In March, 1873, he went to Washington and entered, as he said,
"upon what proved to be his life work."

In the same year he came to California when his career as
a geographer commenced through his connection with the geo-
graphical reconnoissance of the Aleutian region of Alaska, for
the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey in charge of Dr.
W. H. Dall. Of the various difficulties and impediments en-
countered in the pursuance of this work, and the importance of
Mr. Baker's services, the leader has given his testimony in a
recent address before the National Geographic Society in

The Alaska work, "being interrupted, Mr. Baker was placed
in charge of one of the Coast Survey primary magnetic stations,
* * * (that) at Los Angeles, * * * a work the re-
sults of which experts in magnetism pronounced admirable."
It was while Mr. Baker was in charge of this station that he be-
came one of the fifteen founders of our Historical Society.

Soon after his return to Washington his connection with
the Coast Survey terminated, and he was appointed to a posi-
tion in the United States Geological Survey, where his labors
were chiefly geographic and related to the topographic and
other charts issued by the Survey. He was secretary and one

*See the National Geographic Magazine, Vol. XV, No. i, Washington,
D. C, January, 1904.


of the most efficient members of the Board of Geographic Names
formed by President Harrison to regulate the nomenclature of
official publications. He was cartographer of the Venezuela
Boundary Commission and compiled the fine Historical Atlas
that was used during the deliberations in Paris. This Atlas and
the volumes he saw through the press while in the service of
the Commission would alone, it has been publicly stated, form
a worthy monument to any geographer. Upon the conclusion
of the above he returned to his work in the Survey, his labors
being given to the preparation of a work on the Synonymy and
History of the Geographic Names of Alaska.* "The immense
labor involved in preparation, and its usefulness to the cartog-
rapher and geographer make it of exceptional importance."
Aside from his scientific pursuits he had studied law and was
a gradute (LL.B) of the Law School of Columbian University
(1896), though he never followed the profession, as a business.
Mr. Baker was perhaps more widely known in the scientific
circles in the City of Washington than any other man, being
actively identified with the management of several of the scientific
societies; the Historical Society of the District of Columbia,
the Philosophical Society, the Washington Academy of Sciences
and the National Geographic Society. Of the latter he was one of
fifteen original signers of the Certificate of Incorporation, Jan-
uary 27, 1888. He was also a Fellow of the American Asso-
ciation for the Advancement of Science, and was at the time of
his death, December 12, 1903, assistant secretary of the Carne-
gie Institution. He was a man of great industry with extraor-
dinary capacity for accomplishment in many ways, and doing
whatever he undertook thoroughly and well. He kept steadily
at work practically to the end, attending to his duties with char-
acteristic spirit. So closed his honorable and useful career, be-
loved by many and highly esteemed by all.

*"A Geographic Dictionary of Alaska," U. S. Geo!. Survey, Bulletin No.
187, 1902.

"Like driftwood spars which meet and pass

Upon the boundless ocean plain.
So on the sea of life, alas !

Man meets man — meets and parts again."

By J. M. Guinn.

The isthmus of Panama, or Darien, as it was formerly called,
is a tie that binds together two continents and a barrier that
separates two oceans. To break the barrier and unite two
oceans is a problem that has engaged the attention of commer-
cial nations for centuries. Whether the United States, the
youngest among the great maritime countries will successfully
solve that problem remains to be seen.

It is not of the Panama canal, which is a thing of the future
with a history unmade, that I write, but of the Panama Rail-
road, which, in event of the canal being dug, will become a
thing of the past, and of Panama itself as the old-time Califor-
nians saw it.

For nearly four hundred years, Panama has figured in the
world's history. In but little more than a decade after the dis-
covery of the main land of America, Balboa had scaled the
mountain rampart of the isthmus which divides two mighty
oceans and discovered the placid waters of the broad Pacific.

A century before the Pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock
the Spaniards had founded the old city of Panama on the shores
of the Pacific Ocean. From the old City of Panama, Pizzaro
and Almargo fitted out their expeditions for the conquest of
Peru. For a century and a half that city was the entrepot for
the treasure wrung from the land of the Incas. Convoys car-
ried it over the isthmus to Porto Bello and great, lumbering gal-
leons bore it across the Atlantic to enrich the kings and nobles
of Spain. The old City of Panama prospered and grew rich
from the mines of Peru and the commerce of the south seas.
Its chivalrous dons and proud dames reveled in luxury nor
dreamed of the doom impending over their city. The buc-
caneers of the Spanish Main had long coveted the riches and
wealth garnered within it, but the tropical jungles of the isthmus
presented an almost insurmountable barrier to these robbers of the
high seas.

In 1670, Henry Morgan, the bravest and most brutal of the
buccaneers, with a force of one thousand men, aften enduring


almost incredible hardships, crossed the isthmus, captured the
proud old city, plundered it and burned it. It was never re-
built. Tropical verdure covers its ruins and its tragic fate is
forgotten. The present City of Panama is located some five
or six miles south of the site of the old city.

The Panama Railroad was not an outgrowth of the dis-
covery of gold in California. Its inception antedated the re-
port of the discovery in the east, but not the actual date of the
event itself. It took nine months for the report of the discov-
ery of gold in California to reach the eastern states.

The acquisition of California and the settlement of the
northwest boundary question which gave us undisputed pos-
session of Oregon, turned the attention of our government to
the necessity of some shorter route to our western possessions
than via Cape Horn. Congress in the winter of 1847-48 author-
ized the subsidizing of two mail steamship lines — one from New
York and New Orleans to Chagres and the other from Panama
to California and Oregon. William H. Aspinwall secured the
contract for the line on the Pacific side and George Law that
on the Atlantic side. The establishment of the steamship lines
necessitated the building of a railroad across the isthmus. Wil-
liam H. Aspinwall, Henry Chauncy and John L. Stephens were
the principal promoters of the enterprise. The New Granadian
Government granted these men the exclusive right to build a
railroad across the isthmus. The contract was to continue in
force 49 years and the road was to be completed in eight years.
The discovery of gold in California and the wild rush to the new
El Dorado hastened the completion of the road several years
and made it from the beginning a profitable enterprise. In
1849 ^ contract was let to build the road and early in 1850 work
was begun on it at Gautum, on the Chagres River.

The Atlantic terminus was located on the island of Man-
zanilla, near old Navy Bay. The site of the prospective sea-
port town was one of the most inhospitable spots on God's foot-
stool. No white man had ever set foot on it. Nor had the
Indians ever disturbed the red monkeys and reptiles that held
possession of it.

In the month of May, 1850, the work of clearing a space
to land supplies was begun. The site was a mangrove swamp.
The fantastic roots of that queer shrub were interlaced with
vines and thorny bushes, so as to form an almost solid mass of
jungle. In the black and slimy mud of its surface alligators
and other reptiles abounded, while the air was laden with pesti-


lential vapors and swarming with sand flies and mosquitoes. It
was at first attempted to build the road by native labor, but
the natives found it more profitable to pole the gold seekers up
the Chagres River in their bungoes, or to pack the immigrants'
baggage over the Cruces Road. So they would not work on a
road that, if built, would deprive them of a job.

Then the contractors tried to procure laborers from the
United States. Placards were posted up in the cities offering
a free passage to California for one hundred days labor on the
road. The bait took and thousands availed themselves of the
chance to obtain a cheap passage to the land of gold. Most
of them remained in Panama. The hot sun, the malarious cli-
mate, bad supplies, cholera, Chagres fevers and home-sickness
killed them off before their hundred days were up. A ship
would land a force of laborers and turn back for another supply:
by the time of her return the first were dead or in the hos-
pitals. When the reports of the state of affairs on the road
became known in the States no more laborers could be obtained.

Then European laborers were induced to come to the isth-
mus. English, Irish, French, German and 'Austrian; and besides
these coolies from Hindostan and Chinamen from China were
imported to build this highway of the nations. At one time
there were 7,000 men of all colors, creeds and races employed.
The Chinamen became melancholic. An epidemic of suicide
broke out among them and fevers carried them off until there
was scarce 200 of the 1000 left. Nor did the Caucasians fare
much better than the MongoHans. The remnant of these were
shipped back to their homes.

The white man, the brown man and the yellow man had
failed and the only recourse left was the black man and he
proved a success. Jiamaican and Cartagenan negroes were ern-
ployed. They could stand the climate — grow fat on malaria
and bask in the tropical sunshine without fear of being sun-
struck. They were a mutinous lot, and it was difficult for the
few white bosses to control them. Then some genius hit upon
the idea of utilizing the feud that has existed from time imme-
morial between the Jamaicans and Cartagenans. These antag-
onistic elements were employed in about equal numbers. When
the Cartagenans rebeled the Jamaicans were turned loose upon
them and vice versa. Those who survived the fight were willing
to go to work and obey orders. Such was the story they told
me at Colon forty years ago.

The road was pushed out from the Pacific side and at mid-


night on January 2-], 1855, amid darkness and rain the last rail
was laid and next day a locomotive passed over the road from
the Atlantic to the Pacific. No ceremony had been observed
when ground was first broken and no golden spike was driven
when the mighty enterprise was completed.

There is a saying in Panama, and it has been published over
and over again as a fact by the people who have heard it in
crossing the isthmus, that the building of the road cost a human
life for every tie in its 49 miles. If this were true then about
130,000 lives were sacrified. But it is not true. A great
many of the people down in Panama seem to be descendants
of Ananias, although they are not engaged in the real estate
business as that worthy was.

The fare over the road from Aspinwall (or Colon, as it
is now called) to Panama was $25, or 50 cents a mile, including
switches. I believe it is less now. To many an old Californian
who came to the Coast via Panama in the early 50s, his ex-
perience on the isthmus rises up before him like a horrible
nightmare. When the wild excitement that followed the re-
ports of the wonderful gold discoveries in California spread
throughout the eastern states prospective gold seekers studied
lines of travel to ascertain which would land them quickest in
the new El Dorado. The Panama route appeared to be the
shortest and the fact the Pacific Mail Steamship Company
had been established on that route induced thousands to take it.

It was easy enough, by sailing vessels or steamship to reach
the isthmus from New York or any other Atlantic seaport, but
after landing there — then came the rub. The passengers were
put ashore on the mud flats at the mouth of the Chagres River.
The next stages of the journey were up the river to Gorgona
or Cruces in canoes, bungoes or sampans. Then from these
river points by mules, donkeys, on foot or on the backs of the
natives to Panama. In perils from a treacherous river and still
more treacherous native boatmen; in perils from false brethren;
in perils from Chagres fever, cholera, yellow jack, mud, mules and
miasma: if the prospective Argonaut escaped all these and
landed safely in Panama he congratulated himself that the worst
was overcome, but frequently he found that his miseries were
only begun.

At the beginning of the gold excitement there were but few
ship on the Pacific side. Men who had bought through tick-
ets to California found on their arrival at Panama that the con-
necting vessel on the Pacific side had to make a voyage around


Cape Horn before it was due at Panama; and that they must
wait three months before its arrival.

Provisions were high, accommodations poor, the climate
vile, all manner of diseases prevalent, thieves, thugs and gam-
blers abundant, the natives deceitful and to the extent of their
ability desperately wicked. In the long wait the money of
many of the voyagers gave out, sickness overtook them and
death ended their miseries. In 1856, occurred what are known
as the Panama riots. While the passengers who had been landed
from the railroad were awaiting the arrival of the Californian
steamer an altercation occurred between a native orange vendor
and a blustering drunken American. In the melee that fol-
lowed blows were struck, a pistol discharged and a native killed.
The sight of blood aroused the wolf in the natures of the natives
who had congregated in great numbers, and they massacred
some forty or fifty of the California passengers, men, women
and children. The fellow who provoked the riot unfortunately
escaped unharmed. After that, the steamship company required
the west-bound passenger to remain at Aspinwall and the east-
bound on the steamer until everything was ready to take them
directly across the isthmus. Thus the old city was deprived of
the California trade (its chief resource) and it deserved to be.

Panama is a land of revolutions. Most of them farcical, but
some of them sanguinary enough. It was my fortune, or good
luck, to witness one of the former. It was on a return voyage
to the States over thirty-six years ago. The Bay of Panama
is so shallow that the California steamers anchor about four
miles out. The freight and passengers are taken ashore on
lighters. Learning that it would take nine or ten hours to
land the freight and baggage, the passengers in the meantime re-
maining on the steamer, four of us decided to do the old city.
Chartering a native and his boat we were rowed to within two
or three rods of the shore. Here we found our boat connected
with a transportation company, said company consisting of
half-a-dozen half-naked natives who ofifered to carry us ashore
for "dos reales" each. The natives were short and I am long,
so I selected the tallest member of the company and mounting
his shoulders was safely landed outside the city wall. Passmg
through a hole in the wall probably made by the buccaneers
two hundred years ago and not closed up since, we found our-
selves in the old city. Proceeding up street we saw that the
natives were greatly excited about something. The bells were
ringing out merry peals. We were not quite conceited enough


to think it was all on account of our arrival. We made the
acquaintance of a French merchant, an old resident, and from
him we learned that there was a revolution going on, or rather
it had gone on, and we were just in time for the ringing out of
the old and the ringing in of a new government. And that
was what the bells were doing. It seems that the governor of
the sovereign state of Panama had insulted a chivalrous hidalgo,
who had a string of titles as long as a ship's cable and a pedigree
that ran back to one of Pizzaro's freebooters. The hidalgo fired
off at the governor a pronunciamiento a yard long. The gov-
ernor gave him back two yards of vituperation. Then followed
volleys of Castillian billingsgate. The military induced by the
offer of a square meal and a bottle of wine each rallied to the
support of the hidalgo and the governor and his staff rallied to
a fish boat and rowed out to meet the incoming California
steamer. The new government was in the process of incubation.
The military were much in evidence. The wasp-waisted of-
ficers in their tight-fitting coats, their brass and tinsel trap-
pings, were quite pretty, but the common soldiers were a sight
to behold. In complexion they ran the gamut of colors from
semi-bleached white to ebony black. The only thing uniform
about them was their uniform poverty of clothing. They were

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 21 of 29)