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the good of the public, but for the pleasure of its individual mem-
bers; but that does not invalidate the claim that such organiza-
tions are of ethical value.

In answer to a letter of inquiry regarding the Sunset Club,
which meets once a month, Mr. Charles Dwight Willard says :

"Usually about forty attend. The papers are on all classes of
subjects; and there is usually one principal paper, about twenty
minutes' long, and two short ones of five minutes each, after
which, in the discussion, five to twelve men usually participate.
Literary topics are infrequent, and economics occur most often.
I have generally found that sociological subjects are most satis-
factory to the general club membership."

A club like the Sunset Club, composed of a number of rep-
resentative men of the city, men who are identified with various
lines of activity as doctors, lawyers, ministers, bankers, archi-
tects, authors, merchants and men in other special fields of in-
dustry, must tend towards the ethical growth of the individual
members, and consequently influence society at large. If the
tendency is to "broaden those who are participants in the discus-
sions," then certainly the community is benefited. Public opin-
ion is something that changes; it never remains the same. Every
lecture, every public discussion, has some share in the growth
of ideas. The masses are led by the few. The discussion of so-
ciological subjects, questions that deal with the phenomena of
society, of the right relations of man to man, which include ques-
tions of "rightness" and "oughtness," might not seem to the sixty
members of any great benefit to persons outside of the club, but


no body of intellectual men could meet monthly to think and talk
over topics that are bound up in society at large without, in some
way, affecting the general public.

No life stands all alone, and it is the problem of social psy-
chology to ascertain to what extent the development of the indi-
vidual mind applies to the evolution of society and how far so-
ciety influences the individual.

No thought is useful to society while it remains merely in
the mind of the individual. Social organizations are excellent
mediums for the expression of ideas. Thoughts must have pub-
licity ; they cannot have any general value until they find expres-
sion and are available ; then they become alive, a part of the gen-
eral mind. If social organizations, composed of men or women
of intellectual abilities and culture, did nothing more than require
that all members should be persons who are known for their
moral character, persons whose influence is in an ethical direc-
tion, who would say that such a club was not of ethical value.
In chemistry we know by analysis the character of any substance,
and in the same way we judge of a society by its units, or indi-
viduals composing its membership. Moral growth must be
greater when societies are composed of individuals who aim to
act ethically, and who are indulging in ideal thinking. The
moral nature develops when the individual aspires to reach, in
himself, an ideal status. A combination of such individuals is
the ideal social organization.



Three or four days succeeding the first rains of the season
there comes over the face of nature in Southern California a
marked and magical change — from a dry and apparently bar-
ren landscape, the sweet-scented "Pelio" with its musky odor
covers the earth with a mantle of vivid green. The early in-
habitants of this country, living very near to nature and believ-
ing that the spicy perfume of the fresh and tender grass was in^
vigorating and rejuvenating to the old and infirm, brought
them into the sunlight on their respective rawhide beds and left
them to doze and dream the day long. From the first rains and
through all the seasons of the year until the last dry days of
fall and early winter can be gathered herbs and plants, of va-
rieties too numerous to mention in this brief paper, for edible
and medicinal purposes. Their range is from the mountain tops
to the seashore. I say from the mountain tops, because the
melting snows of winter and the cloudbursts of spring and sum-
mer wash the seeds down the canons' sides into the valleys

Seventy years or more ago, when physicians were like an-
gels' visits, "few and far between," each mother of a family con-
stituted herself the adviser of her family and friends, and in
every small village or "pueblo" there was the "Vieja," whom
every one respected and consulted, and who dispensed with a
lavish hand her various herbs, which she had gathered, dried
and put into safe-keeping for future use. A call from a fev^
patient hastened her with a package of "sauco," which she made
into tea and administered at stated intervals, until relief came in
the shape of a profuse perspiration. If her patient became too
weak or debilitated she administered "Paleo" as a tonic. For
cancer she made a poultice of the pounded leaves of "Totoache,"
which removed cancerous growths if applied in time. For in-
ducing an appetite a decoction of "Concha L'agua" was given
until the patient was able to eat his accustomed allowance of
broiled beef and "Atole." If in the annual "rodeo" a vaquero


was thrown from his horse or otherwise bruised, he was removed
to his home and "Yerba del Golpe" appHed to his contusions.
Then a bath of "Ramero" to rejuvenate his discolored flesh
was used and soon the rider was at work again among his cattle.
Week and inflamed eyes were cured by a wash made of "Rosa
de Castilla." A pomade of the same was used for tenderness
or chafing of the skin. "Yerba del Manso" and "Yerba del
Pasmo" were favorite remedies and used for almost every form
of disease.

There is a sweet smelling little flower of pure white called
"Selama," whose root of crimson furnished the young Indian
girls a paint to improve their complexions, which, unlike the
cosmetics of latter days, left no bad effects, remaining the same
day after day.

In the early morning when the dew was on the grass, the
old women gathered "Lanten" for boils and inflamed swellings.
The large leaves bruised and soaked in olive oil served to con-
centrate the inflammation. The leaves of the "Tunra" were used
for the same purpose. We all know how deliciously refreshing
the fruit of the Tuna is on a hot summer day, and it formed one
of the principal items of an Indian's winter store — ^Tunas, ground
acorns, "Pifiones," roasted "Mescal" and "Chia" made the Indian
wax fat and happy.

When a washerwoman wished her black clothes to look
bright and new, she sought the "Campo" for "Yerba" or
"Amole," which, pounded and soaked over night in water, made
a beautiful and cleansing suds. "Cichiquelite," a small seed for
edible purposes, was also beneficial as a gargle for sore throats.
"Petata" is a root eaten by the Indians before the introduction of
the potato — in fact, served the same purpose. In the "zanjas"
and pools along the rivers grows a plant which makes a salad
highly prized by the native Calif ornians, called "Flor del Aqua."
It possesses a slightly bitter flavor, which is very appetizing.
There is another with the small name "Beno" also relished for
salads by "Paisanos."

Hair tonics and hair washes grow everywhere in both spring
and summer, "Caria" being one of the many. And every Cali-
fornian knows of the medicinal virtues of the different "Malvas."
both black and white being used for congestions, and as a wash
for "Yedra" (or poison oak) it is healing and soothing. "Cardo"
and "Yuelite" are spring greens and may be eaten also as salads,
and hundreds of persons can speak of the "Mostassa," the best
spring vegetable of all.


Then there is the San Lucas plant for rheumatism and many
others, whose names are difficult to pronounce on account of
their Indian origin. Some of these medicinal herbs may be
found in various pharmacies under botanical names — these are
the native Californian and Indian, names given here. But in the
surrounding country, where live Indians and natives, the old
women still administer their herbs under the well-known,
homely and suggestive names given in this paper. The early
pnysicians of Los Angeles could vouch for the efficacy of nu-
merous herbs used by them in their practice among the residents
if they were here to tell.

This has been writen to show that the lazniess of the Cali-
fornian is in a measure excusable. For what use had he for
work when everything grew at his hand — his food, his medicine,
his shelter. If his "adobe" house or "Ramada" required sweep-
ing, he had but to gather his "Escobita" or "Tules," tie them in
broom shape and sweep when necessary. Disinfectants in the
form of lovely flowers grew on the hills and on the plains. A
hundred pages could be writen of the herbs, edible and medicinal,
that are "born to bloom and blush unseen and waste their sweet-
ness on the desert air."

In continuation, I should say that there were many plants
used by the Indians in wicked incantations, herbs used in con-
juring decoctions so powerful, that a small quantity adminis-
tered, crippled or blinded a subject for life. It could not have
been that his mind was wrought upon, for these herbs were given
unbeknown to the sufferer, and therefore affected him through
their poisonous influences. Except the few plants which the
native Californian has discovered for himself, the knowledge
of the medicinal and edible plants of Southern California has
l)een handed down to him through his Indian ancestors, who
subsisted on the roots and seeds of this country, gathering some
in the mountains and others in the valleys below, but always
busy in the different seasons of their growth and ripening.

After the founding of the missions the Indians had their
corn, beans and different edibles for consumption which were
introduced by the "padres," and under their subjection ceased
to gather seeds and herbs, but now and then there would be an
eld woman who still clung to tradition and believed that there
was nothing better than the old way of living, and consequently
lived and suffered under the "sobriquet" of "Chisera," or witch,
who was only visited in secret by the jealous husband, or sought
for love potions by the Indian maiden in the "'dark of the moon."


These old women crept about with packs upon their backs filled
with dried fruit, seeds and countless small and mysterious pack-
ages, which were the awe of the uninitiated. They lived in
small jacales or huts made of "tules" on the outskirts of the
mission and died of old age, true to their convictions.

There are also plants deleterious to animals, one in particular
— "Ramaloco" — which when eaten by horses causes them to be-
come dangerously mad, and while under its influence to endan-
ger the lives of human beings as well as other animals. There
is also "BledO' Cimaron," which when dry seems to have an
affinity for others, thus forming into immense rolling mounds
and skipping before the winds, terrorized and stampeded the
countless herds of cattle and horses that roamed the plains.
There is a weed which is deadly poison to sheep. In a little
wayside plant not unlike a tiny apple in looks and odor, called
"Mansanilla," we have a strong purgative, used to reduce the
temperature in fever. If you walk or ride with an old native
woman she will pick flowers and plants by the wayside and ex-
pound their virtues to you until you are convinced that you are
walking over untold treasures. Indeed, every creeping plant in
California has a meaning and a history.



In learning the life-story of many of the early English-
speaking settlers of Los Angeles, as recounted to me by them-
selves, I have been struck with the infinite variety of adven-
tures and dangers which they went through.

Many of the older members of this society, or those who
lived here in the sixties or fifties, or before (of these latter, how-
ever, very few remain), well remember Andrew A. Boyle, that
early Pioneer, after whom "Boyle Heights" was named. But
not all of you, I presume, are aware of the fact that Mr. Boyle
was one of the three or four men of Col. Fanning's unfortunate
band of more than 400 Texas soldiers who escaped slaughter in
the terrible tragedy at Goliad, Texas, in 1836.

Mr. Boyle was born in Ireland, county of Mayo, in 18 18,
eighty-two years ago. At the age of 14 years he came to New
York. Two years later, he with his brothers and sisters went
to Texas with a colony, which settled at San Patricio, on the
Nueces river.

On the breaking out of the revolution, Texas then being a
province of Mexico, Mr. Boyle enlisted January 7, 1836, in West-
over's artillery of the Texan army, and his command was or-
dered to Goliad, where it was incorporated with the forces of
Col. Fanning, and after sundry engagements with greatly su-
perior numbers, the Texans were compelled to surrender, Mr.
Boyle, who had been wounded, expected to be shot, as nearly all
his comrades were, to the number of almost 400 men, notwith-
standing the fact that by the terms of their capitulation they
were guaranteed their lives, Mr. Boyle, who understood Span-
ish, learned that this was to be their fate, but before their exe-
cution an officer asked in English if there was any one among
their number named Boyle, to which he answered at once that
that was his name. He was immediately taken to the officers'
hospital to have his wound attended to, where he was kindly
treated by the officers.

A Mr. Brooks, aid to Col. Fanning, who was there at the
time with his thigh badly shattered, knew nothing of what had


happened, or what was to be their fate, and upon being in-
formed, he remarked, "I suppose it will be our turn next." In
less than five minutes, four Mexican soldiers carried him out,
cot and all, placed him in the street, not fifteen feet from the
door, where Mr. Boyle could not help seeing him, and there
shot him. His body was instantly rifled of a gold watch,
stripped and thrown into a pit at the side of the street.

A few hours after the murder of Mr. Brooks, the ofScer who
had previously inquired for Mr. Boyle, came into the hospital,
and, addressing him in English, said : "Make your mind easy,
sir; your life is spared."

Mr. Boyle responded, "May I inquire the name of the person
to whom I am indebted for my life?"

"Certainly ; my name is General Francisco Garay, second in
command of General Urrea's division."

It seems that when Gen. Garay's forces had occupied San
Patricio that officer had been quartered at the house of the Boyle
family, and had been hospitably entertained. Mr. Boyle's
brother and sister had refused all remuneration from him, only
asking that if their younger brother, then in the Texan army,
should ever fall into his hands he would treat him kindly. Af-
terward, by order of Gen. Garay, Mr. Boyle obtained a pass-
port, and went to San Patricio, where he remained.

After the battle of San Jacinto and the capture of Gen. Santa
Ana and the retreat of the Mexican forces. Gen. Garay, in pass-
ing through San Patricio, called to see Mr. Boyle, who, at the
General's request, accompanied the latter to Matamoras. The
General also invited Mr. Boyle to accompany him to the city
of Mexico, but this invitation he was compelled to decline; and
so he set out on foot for Brazos, Santiago, where he took passage
on a brig for New Orleans. Being out of money and in rags
on arriving at New Orleans, he engaged at $2.50 a day in paint-
ing St. Mary's market. Working long enough to buy some
clothes, he availed himself of the Texan Consul's offer of a free
passage to the mouth of the Brazos river, where Gen. Burnett,
the first President of the Republic of Texas, gave him a letter to
Gen. Rusk, at that time in command of the army on the river

Mr. Boyle walked to Gen. Rusk's camp, a distance of 150
miles. Gen. Rusk gave Mr. Boyle his discharge on account of
impaired health. After recovering from a severe sickness, he
went to Columbia, the seat of government of Texas, where he
obtained a passport for New Orleans.


After his return to the latter city and the re-establishment
of his health, he engaged in merchandizing on the Red river
till about the year 1842,

In 1846 Mr. Boyle was married to Miss Elizabeth A. Christie
at New Orleans. Miss Christie was a native of British Guiana;
from whence, in 1838, her father brought his family to New
Orleans. One daughter was born to this marriage, who is now
the wife of Ex-Mayor William H. Workman. Mrs. Boyle died
in New Orleans, October 20, 1849. This daughter (Mrs. Work-
man) was cared for and brought up by her great aunt, Char-
lotte Christie, who, at the age of over 80 years, died recently in
this city, at the home of her foster-daughter.

Returning from the Red river, Mr. Boyle went to Mexico,
where he engaged successfully in business till 1849, when he
set out for the United Staes with about $20,000 in Mexican sil-
ver dollars, which he had packed in a claret box. At the mouth
of the Rio Grande, in passing a sidewheel steamer in a small
skifT, his frail boat was upset, and his treasure sank to the
bottom, and was a total loss, and he himself came near losing
his life.

Mr. Boyle finally returned to his home in New Orleans, to
find that his wife, who was in delicate health, had died two
weeks before, from nervous shock and brain fever, caused by
hearing that he had been lost at the mouth of the Rio Grande.
From that time on, all his interest centered in his infant daugh-
ter, then a year and a half old.

The next year the family started for California via the isth-
mus, arriving in San Francisco in the early part of 1851. Here
Mr. Boyle engaged in the boot and shoe business, but he was
burned out by both of the fires that occurred that year.

In company with a Mr. Hobart, he then went into the whole-
sale boot and shoe business, and they built up a very large trade,
which extended to Los Angeles and other coast towns. Among
their customers in those years (1851-58) were Mr. Kremer, the
late Mr. Polaski and others.

Mr. Boyle made the acquaintance of Don Mateo Keller in
Texas and at Vera Cruz, Mexico, whither both went on trading
expeditions in the early 40''s. It was through the influence of
Mr. Keller that Mr. Boyle was induced to sell out his intrests
in San Francisco and come to Los Angeles, which he did in
1858. Here he bought a vineyard (planted in 1835 by Jose
Rubio) on the east side of the river, under the bluffs. Here
he made his home, and in 1862 or '63 he commenced making


wine, and dug a cellar in which to store it, just under the edge
of the bluff. Prior to 1862 he shipped his grapes to San Fran-
cisco, as did many other vineyardists here at that period, grapes
then bringing high prices in that market. In the '50's and
earlier, and before vineyards had been generally planted in the
upper country, and during the flush mining era, grapes and other
fruit commanded, at times, fabulous prices. Those who had
bearing vineyards in Los Angeles at that period had a better
thing than a gold mine or than oil wells.

Mr. Boyle was a valuable member of the City Council sev-
eral years during the '6o's. Mr. Boyle and Mr. George Dalton
were the only members who, on the final vote, cast their ballots
against the thirty years lease of the city's domestic water system
to a private company. Mr. Boyle made a strong minority
committee report against said lease, which we can now see, as we
look back, was a prophetic document. If the city had followed
Mr. Boyle's advice it would have saved millions of dollars and
no end of vexatious and costly litigation.

Mr. Boyle was of a very genial, social nature, and all who
visited his hospitable home were cordially received and enter-
tained. I have only pleasant memories of my visits to the Boyle
mansion during the lifetime of its former owner — ^as so many
others in later years have of their visits to the present hospitable

Down to the time of the death of Mr. Boyle, there were but
few houses on the east side of the river, either in that beautiful
suburb now known as "Boyle Heights" or in "East Los An-
geles." Mr. Clemente lived on the flat near the river; the old
John Behn place was south of Mr. Boyle, and the Bors mill and
the Julian Chaves and Elijah Moulton places were further up the
river, on the east side.

Perhaps I should add that General Garay, the savior of Mr.
Boyle's life at Goliad, had been educated in the United States
and that he spoke English perfectly, and that he keenly regretted
the barbarous butchery of the disarmed Texans at GoHad, which,
as he afterward told Mr. Boyle, would ever be looked upon as a
blot and a disgrace on the Mexican name.



The Stranger strolling through the city of Santa Barbara
will be forcibly impressed by the Spanish nomenclature of its
streets. The famous men of the Spanish and Mexican eras of
California's history have been remembered in the naming of
the highways and byways of the channel city. Sola, Victoria,
Figueroa, Ortega, Carrillo, de La Guerra and many others have
their streets. Nor alone have the famous men, but also famous
and infamous deeds, too, have been immortalized in choice Cas-
tilian on the guide boards. Sandwiched in among the calles
named for bygone heroes the stroller will find one street name
that, if he is not up in his Spanish, will impress him with the
unpleasant sensation as he reads its name, — Cafion Perdido," —
that he has entered upon the broad road that leads down to
perdition canon; and he will be on the qui vive for some tra-
dition of the days of the padres or the story of uncanny orgies
held in some lonely cafion by the Indian worshipper of Chupu,
the channel god. If he should ask some Barbarefio what the
street's name means, he will be informed that its name in Eng-
lish is "Lost Cannon street" — for canon is California Spanish
for a gun or a gulch, and perdido may mean in Castilian simply
"'lost" or intensified — doomed to eternal perdition. Of the
deed, the legend or the tradition that gave the calle its queer
appelation, unless your informant is an old-timer, you will learn
but little and that little perhaps may be incorrect.

The episode that the street name commemorates occurred
away back in the closing years of the first half of the nineteenth
century. In the winter of 1847-48, the American brig Eliza-
beth was wrecked on the Santa Barbara coast. Among the
flotsam of the wreck was a brass cannon of uncertain caliber —
it might have been a six, a nine or a twelve-pounder. The ca-
pacity of its bore is unknown. Nor is it pertinent to my story
for the gun unloaded made more commotion in Santa Barbara
than it ever did when it belched forth shot and shell in battle.

The gun, after its rescue from a watery grave, lay for some
time on the beach devoid of a carriage and useless apparently
for offense or defense.


One dark night in the ides of March a little squad of native
Californians. possessed of a caretta and armed with riatas, stole
down to the beach and loaded the gun on the cart, and dragging
it to the estero, hid it in the sands. What their purpose was in
stealing the gun no one knows. Perhaps they did not know
themselves. It might come handy in a revolution. Or maybe
they only intended to play a joke on the gringos. Whatever
their object, the outcome of their prank must have astonished
them. The flag of our country had been bobbing around in
California for a year or more, but the constitution had not yet
arrived. The laws of the land were military regulations, Mexi-
can bandos and the Recopilacion de Indias. This conglomerate
jurisprudence was administered by American martinets. Mexican
alcaldes and native California ayuntamientos.

There was a company of Stevenson's regiment of New York
volunteers stationed at Santa Barbara under the command of a
Captain Lippitt. Lippitt was a fussy, meddling martinet. He
belonged to that class of men who always lose their heads in
an emergency and make trouble for themselves and others. In
the theft of the cannon he thought he had discovered a California

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 3 of 29)