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to general horticulture, which he followed with great success
till his death, which occurred October 3, 1866. It was not,
however, till some years after his arrival, that he finally made up
his mind to settle in the country. He bought and moved onto
his homestead vineyard (now known as the Wolfskill Orchard
Tract), in March, 1838, with his brother John, who came to
California the preceding year. The growth of the city compelled
the dividing up of his extensive orchards, situated as they were
near the heart of the city, some fourteen years since, and the
old house which he built more than sixty years ago, and around
which, to so many persons, both living and dead (for he always
had a large number of people in his family), so many, many
pleasant associations and remembrances have clung, is now be-
ing demolished.

Mr. Wolfskill married Magdalena, daughter of Don Jose
Ygnacio Lugo and Doiia Rafaela Romero Lugo, of Santa Bar-
bara, in January, 1841, by whom he had six children, three of
whom' are still living, namely, Joseph W. Wolfskill, Mrs. Fran-
cisca W. de Shepherd, and Mrs. Magdalena W. de Sabichi.
Of grandchildren there is a goodly number. Mrs. Wolfskill died
in 1862, the eledest daughter, Juana, in 1863, and Luis, the
youngest son, in 1884.

In the year 1841 Mr. Wolfskill planted an orange orchard,
the second in California, the first being planted by the Mission
Friars at San Gabriel.

In the same year (1841) he went to the upper country to
look for a ranch on the then public domain. He selected lands


lying on both sides of Piitah creek (now in Yolo and Solano
counties), and the next year he obtained a grant from Governor
'Alvarado in his own name, of four square leagues. His brother
John took up stock to put on the rancho in 1842. The latter
lived on the rancho thereafter till his death, receiving one-half
of the same. Of the five brothers Wolfskill who as pioneers set-
tled in California, only one. Mr. Milton Wolfskill, is now living
in Los Angeles at an advanced age.

After the old Padres, William Wolfskill and Don Louis
Vignes may be called the pioneer growers of citrus fruits in
California, a business which is now worth many millions of dol-
lars to the people of California, and especially to the people of
Southern California.

William Wolfskill, who was of German-Irish ancestry, had
a strong physical constitution and an immense amount of vital
energy. During his long and useful life he saw a great deal
of the world and picked up not a little of hard, sound sense. He
was an extensive reader, and being possessed of a wonderfully
retentive memory, he gained a store of information on most
subjects of practical human interest that would not have shamed
those who have had a more liberal education, and who may have
passed their Hves with books, instead of on the frontier.

He was a man of no mere professions: What he was, he
was, without any pretense.

In religion he believed in the teachings of the New Testa-
ment, and, at the last, he received the consolations of the Ro-
man Catholic church. But in all things he loved those prime
qualities of human character, simplicity and sincerity. He
was one of that large number, of whom there are some in all
churches, and more in the great church of outsiders, who be-
lieve that a loyal, honest heart and a good life, are the best
preparation for death. He was disposed, to as great an extent
as any man whom I ever knewl, to always place a charitable
construction on the acts and words and motives of others. He
believed (and acted as though he believed) that there is no room
in this world for maHce.

William Wolfskill was one of the very few Americans or
foreigners, who came to California in early times, who never,
as I firmly believe, advised the native Californians to their hurt,
or took advantage of the lack of knowledge of the latter of
American law, or of the English language, to benefit themselves
at the expense of the Californians. As a consequence, the
rames of "Don Guillermo" Wolfskill and a very few other


Americans of the olden time, were almost worshipped by the
former generation of "hijos del pais," who spoke only the Span-
ish language, and who, therefore, in many, many important
matters, needed honest and disinterested advice.

Mr. Wolfskin was one of the most sociable of men. In his
intercourse with others he was direct, and sometimes blunt and
brusque; but in the language of Lamartine, "Bluntness is the
etiquette of sincerity."

In reality he had one of the kindest of hearts. Finally, in
honesty, and in most of the sterling qualities that are accounted
the base of true manhood, he had few superiors.

I should add that most of the above facts of Mr. Wolfskill's
life — and especially the account of the building of the first ves-
sel or schooner, the "Refugio," at San Pedro, about which con-
flicting versions have been promulgated — were derived directly
from his own lips in 1866; and therefore they may be depended
upon as authentic.

In conclusion I am permitted to quote the following com-
ments, in verse, on the foregoing paper, by Miss Gertrude Dar-
low, a talented member of the staff of the Los Angeles Public
Library :


"It is from sturdy, stalwart sons like this

Our State has reared its splendid edifice;

Men who explored life's hard and dangerous ways,

Who 'scorned delights and lived laborious days.'

The stirring incidents of such careers.

Their toils and struggles, varying hopes and fears,

Tenacious courage, honesty and pride ; —

By all of these our past is glorified !


"Now, on the ground their rugged virtues won,
'Tis ours to forward what was well begun.
Cities have risen where they planted trees.
Old land-marks vanish. But the names of these
Brave Pioneers, ah let us not forget:
Time cannot cancel, nor we pay the debt
We owe to lives so simple and sincere.
Whose memories we should cherish and revere."



About three thousand years ago, Solomon, King of Israel^
remarked that there is nothing new under the sun. Solomon
had the reputation of being a wise man. No doubt he was.
With 700 wives to keep him posted, he certainly ought to have
been ''up to date." Our inordinate conceit inclines us to be-
lieve Solomon somewhat of a back number and his sayings out
of date, just as the Native Sons are inclined to regard the Pio-
neers as a little slow and their old yarns ancient history.

Self conceit is perhaps the most dominant characteristic o£
the present age. We pride ourselves on our wonderful achieve-
ments and draw invidious comparisons between the progressive
present and the benighted past. And yet it may be possible
that in the progress of the race for the past five or six thousand
years there may have been more arts and inventions lost than
we now possess.

Before the Christian era the Phoenicians made maleable
glass, yet with all our wonderful discoveries in chemistry we
have never yet been able to weld a broken pane. No modern^
artist has ever been able to make such permanent or so bright
colors as the ancient painters used.

It is supposed that the original Argonaut, Jason, came
home from Ithica on a steamboat. His vessel had neither oars
nor sails to propel it. The remains of a railroad have been
found among the ruins of Thebes. The Panama ship canal is.
just now one of the burning issues before Congress. An Isth-
mian canal is regarded as such a wonderful undertaking that it
has taken the progressive nations of the world fifty years to
talk about it before beginning to dig, yet Egypt, 5,000 years
ago, dug a canal deeper, broader and longer than the Panama
ditch will be when Congress gets through talking about it and
some country digs it.

The crime of '73 was perpetrated in Assyria four thousand
years before John Sherman or Wm. J. Bryan were born, and the
question of the demonitization of silver was fought over during
political campaigns in Babylon years before Nebuchadnezer was-
turned out to grass.


The discoveries that explorers are making among the buried
cities of Assyria, Egypt and Greece reveal to us that many of
our inventions are only the discovery of lost arts, and that Solo-
mon was about correct when he remarked that there was noth-
ing new under the sun.

It would not surprise me if some delver in Egyptian ruins
discovered that that wonderful invention, the telephone, was
known and used in the time of the Shepherd kings and that the
children of Israel got the start of Pharaoh because the wires
wiere crossed. It may be possible that some antiquarian may
find hidden away in an Egyptian sarcophagus the mummy of a
hallo girl, and when the mummy cloth has been lifted from her
face she will sweetly lisp, "Line's busy; hang up, please."

Now all this may seem a little foreign to my subject, but I
have introduced it here to vindicate Solomon. A man who
could keep peace in a family as large as his was long enough to
write a book of proverbs deserves our respect.

My subject, "Pioneer Ads and Advertisers," relates to the
advertisers and advertisements in Los Angeles more than half
a century ago. Recently in looking over some copies of the
Los Angeles Star of fifty years ago I was amused and inter-
ested by the quaint ways the advertisers of that day advertised
their wares and other things. Department stores are great ad-
vertisers and the pioneer department store of Los Angeles was
no exception. Its ad actually filled a half column of the old
Star, which was an astonishing display in type for those days.
It was not called a department store then, but I doubt whether
any of the great stores of Chicago or New York carry on so
many lines of business as did that general merchandise store that
was kept in the adobe house on the corner of Arcadia and North
Main street fifty years ago. The proprietors of that store were
our old pioneer friends, Wheeler & Johnson. The announce-
ment of what they had to sell was prefaced by the following
philosophical deductions which are as true and as applicable to
terrestrial affairs to day as they were half a century ago.

"Old things are passing away," says the ad; "behold all
things have become new. Passing events impress us with the
mutability of human affairs. The earth and its appurtenances
are constantly passing from one phase to another. Change and
consequent progress is the manifest law of destiny. The forms
and customs of the past are become obsolete and new and en-
larged ideas are silently but swiftly moulding terrestrial matters
on a scale of enhanced magnificence and utility.


"Perhaps no greater proof of these propositions can be
adduced than the evident fact that the old mercantile system
heretofore pursued in this community with its 7x9 stores, its
exhorbitant prices, its immense profits, its miserable assortments
of shop-rotten goods that have descended from one defunct es-
tablishment to another through a series of years, greeting the
beholder at his every turn as if craving his pity by a display of
their forlorn, mouldy and dusty appearance. These rendered
venerable by age are now considered reHcs and types of the

"The ever expanding mind of the public demands a new state
of things. It demands new goods, lower prices, better assort-
ments, and more accommodations. The people ask for a suit-
able consideration for their money and they shall have the same
at the new and magnificent establishment of


"in the House of Don Abel Stearns on Main street, where they
have just received $50,000 worth of the best and most desirable
merchandise ever brought to the country."

When the customer had been sufifiiciently impressed by the
foregoing propositions and deductions they proceed to enu-
merate, and here are a few) of the articles :

"Groceries, soap, oil, candles, tobacco, cigars, salt, pipes,
powder, shot, lead. Provisions, flour, bread, pork, hams, bacon,
sugar, cofifee. Dry Goods, broadcloths, cassimeres, blankets,
alpacas, cambrics, lawns, ginghams, twist, silks, satins, colored
velvet, nets, crepe, scarlet bandas, bonnets, lace, collars, needles,

"Boots, shoes, hats, coats, pants, vests, suits, cravats, gloves,

"Furniture, crockery, glassware, mirrors, lamps, chandaliers,
agricultural implements, hardware, tools, cutlery, house-fur-
nishing goods, liquors, wines, cigars, wood and willow ware,
brushes, trunks, paints, oils, tinware and cooking stoves.

"Our object is to break down monopoly."

Evidently their method of breaking down monopoly was to
monopolize the whole business of the town.

When we recall the fact that all of this vast assortment was
stored in one room and sold over the same counter we must ad-
mire the dexterity of the salesman who could keep bacon and
lard from mixing with the silks and satins, or the paints and oils
from leaving their impress on the broadcloths and velvets.


Ladies' bonnets were kept in stock. The sales-lady had not
yet made her appearance in Los Angeles and the sales gentle-
man sold bonnets. Imagine him fresh from supplying a pur-
chaser with a side of bacon, fitting a bonnet on the head of a
lady customer — giving it the proper tilt and sticking the hat
pin into the coil of her hair and not into her cranium. Fortun-
ately for the salesman the bonnets of that day were capacious
affairs, modeled after the prairie schooner, and did not need
hat pins to hold them on.

The old time department store sales gentleman was a genius
in the mercantile line ; he could dispose of anything from a lady's
lace collar to a caballada of broncos.

Here is the quaint advertisement of our Pioneer barber.
The Pioneer barber of Los Angeles was Peter Biggs — a gentle-
man of color who came to the state as a slave with his master,
but attained his freedom shortly after his arrival. He set up a
hair cutting and shaving saloon. The price for hair cutting was
a dollar — shaving 50 cents. In the Star of 1853 he advertises
a reduction of 50 per cent. Hair cutting 50 cents, shampooing
50 cents, shaving 25 cents. In addition to his tonsorial services
he advertises that he blacks boots, waits on and tends parties,
runs errands, takes in clothes to wash, iron and mend; cuts,
splits and carries in wood; and in short performs any work,
honest and respectable, to earn a genteel living and accommo-
date his fellow creatures. For character he refers to all the
gentlemen in Los Angeles. Think of what a character he must
have had.

Among the quaint advertisements in the old Star of the
early 50s is this one, signed by Stephen C. Foster :

"The undersigned ofifers himself as a candidate for the office
of Mayor in the election that will take place on the 25th inst.

"Confident that the motives which caused my resignation
are good, as also my conduct afterwards and approved by my
fellow citizens, I appeal to their judgment and let them manifest
it by their votes."

On its face this advertisement has an innocent and inoffen-
sive look, but between the lines old timers can read the story
of a deep tragedy.

The motives which caused Mayor Foster to resign were to
take part in a lynching. Two murderers, Brown, a native
American, and Alvitre, a native Californian, had been convicted
and sentenced to be hanged. Just before the day set for their
execution a reprieve came for Brown, but the poor Mexican


was left to his fate. The people were indignant. A mob gath-
ered for the purpose of seeing that either both were reprieved
or both hanged. The sheriff proceeded with the execution of
Alvitre. The mob threatened to prevent it. The military was
called out and a bloody riot was imminent. At this point Mayor
Foster harranged the people, advising that they allow the
sheriff to proceed with the execution of Alvitre according to
the forms of law. And when that was done he would resign
the office of Mayor, head the vigilantes and execute Brown.
He was as good as his word. The miHtary was dismissed, their
arms stacked in the jail, the sheriff's posse discharged. Then
it was the vigilantes' chance. The Mayor resigned and joined
the lynchers. The jail door was broken down, the arms of the
military guards seized, Brown was taken out and hanged from
a beam over the gate of a corral on Spring street, opposite
where now stands the People's store, within two hours after the
legal execution of Alvitre. A special election was called to fill
the vacancy in the office of Mayor. So thoroughly and com-
pletely did his fellow citizens approve of Foster's course that
he had no opposition and was the unanimous choice of the

There is often both tragedy and comedy, as well as business,
mixed up in advertisements. In the Star of forty-eight years
ago appears the ad of a great prize lottery or gift enterprise.
It was called the Great Southern Distribution of Real Estate
and Personal Property, by Henry Dalton. The first prize was
an elegant modern-built dwelling house on the Plaza valued
at $11,000. There were 84,000 shares shares in the lottery,
valued at $1.00 each, and 432 first-class prizes to be drawn.
Among the prizes were 240 elegant lots in the town of Benton.
Who among you Pioneers can locate thai; lost and long since
forgotten metropoHs of the Azusa? The City of Benton. For
some cause unknown to me the drawing never came off. A
distinguished Pioneer whom many of you know sued Dalton
for the value of one share that he (the Pioneer) held. The case
was carried from one court to another and fought out before
one legal tribunal after another with a vigor and a viciousness
unwarranted by the trivial amount involved. How it ended I
cannot say. I never traced it through the records to a finish.

Old ads are like old tombstones. They recall to us the
memory of the "has beens;" they recall to our minds actors who
have acted their little part in the comedy or tragedy of Hfe and
passed behind the scenes, never again to tread the boards.



Daniel Desmond, an honored member of this Society of
Pioneers, died on the 23rd of January, 1903, in the 70th year
of his age.

Mr. Desmond was born in County Cork, Ireland, October
9, 1833. Having begun the trade of a hatter, at the age of 18
he came to Boston, completed his trade, and went into business
at Lawrence, Mass., as manager of the firm of Desmond Bros.,
in the manufacture of hats. The destruction of the factory by
fire compelled him to start new, and it was at that period in his
life he came to Los Angeles.

Mr. Desmond came to this city October 14, 1868, and has
resided here continuously ever since. Immediately upon his
arrival he opened an exclusive hat and gentlemen's furnishing
store, the first of the kind in the city. He continued in its active
management until a few years ago, after it had grown into a
large and flourishing estabHshment, when ill health compelled
him to relinquish in favor of his son, C. C. Desmond.

His widow and eight children survive him, all residents of
this city, except two married daughters. The children are C.
C. Desmond, D. J. Desmond; Misses Nellie, Nora, Kate and
Anna Desmond; Mrs. A. M. Shields of San Francisco, and Mrs.
C, D. Baker of Arizona.

Mr. Desmond was a man of probity and good repute and a
good citizen in all the relations of life. As a quiet. Christian
gentleman he commanded the sincere respect of all who knew
him. This society extends its heartfelt sympathy to his family
in their great bereavement.




This society of Los Angeles Pioneers, in common with all
Californians and all Americans, has sincere cause for mourning
on the occasion of the death, at the age of 78 years, of Mrs.


General Fremont, which occurred at her home in this city De-
cember 2y, 1902.

The names of both General and Mrs. Fremont, so intimately
and SO' romantically associated with early California history,
will always possess peculiar interest for us and for our children
and for our children's children.

Senator Thomas H. Benton, Mrs. Fremont's father. Gen.
John C. Fremont, her husband, and Jessie Benton Fremont her-
self, probably had more to do with the acquisition of Alta Cali-
fornia in 1846 by the United States, than any other three per-
sons who took part in the stirring events of that dramatic

Jessie Benton Fremont was a noble woman of high intel-
lectuality and culture, and of amiable disposition, who, because
of the possession of these admirable qualities, and because of
her prominence in our early national and State history, may well
be classed, as doubtlessly she will be by the future historian,
alongside of Martha Washington and DolHe Madison, as one of
the grand dames of the repubHc.

Inasmuch as the Fremont family made their home in Los
Angeles since December, 1887, they, and each of them, seem
especially dear to our people; and the warm affection we all
ff el for the father and mother will be continued with unabated
strength to the devoted daughter, whose loving solicitude and
care solaced the last years of both her parents, as the infirmities
of age undermined their health and strength; wherefore, it is

Resolved, by the Society of Pioneers of Los Angeles County,
that the heartfelt sympathies of the members of the Society are
respectfully tendered to the children and grandchildren of the
deceased in this, their great afifliction.


Committee. ,


Caleb E. White, a California Pioneer of 1849, was born at
Holbrook, Mass., February 15, 1830. His father, Jonathan
White, was the son of a Revolutionary soldier. His mother,
Abigail Holbrook, was a descendant of the man after wlhom
the town of Holbrook was named. Caleb received his education
in the grammar and high school of his native town. When


nineteen years of age he started to California, being- one of a
party of fifteen who purchased the brig Arcadia which sailed
from Boston January 1849 ^o^ San Francisco via the Straits of
Magellan. After a tedious voyage of two hundred and sixty-
three days the vessel passed through the Golden Gate, October
29, 1849.

In 1850 Mr. White embarked in the general mercantile busi-
ness in Sacramento as a member of the firm of Haskell, White
& Co. This firm dissolved in a short time. Subsequently he
engaged in farming on a ranch on the American river. For
seventeen years he was a member of the firm of White & Hol-
lister in the nursery business. December 24, 1868, he came to
Los Angeles and engaged with a partner in the sheep industry.
The firm was White & Denman, and the ranch was near Flor-
ence. In 1874 he became a member of the Los Angeles Immi-
gration and Land Co-operative Association. This association
was incorporated December 10, 1874, with a capital stock of
$250,000. Its first board of directors consisted of the following
named Pioneers: Thomas A. Garey, president; Caleb E. White,
vice-president; L. M. Holt, secretary; Milton Thomas, man-
ager; R. M. Town, assistant manager; H. G. Crow, treasurer.
Only two of these, Garey and Holt, are living. The principal
object of the association was the purchase and subdivision of
large land holdings and the placing of these on the market in
small tracts. The association in 1874 purchased 2,500 acres of
the San Jose Rancho, subdivided it and founded the City of

In 1880 Mr. White took up his residence at Pomona and
•engaged in fruit growing. He owned an orchard of sixty acres
just east of the city. He was active in advancing the growth
of the young city. He served on the board of town trustees
several terms. He was one of the organizers and for many years
vice-president of the People's Bank of Pomona, and was always
active in furtliering any measure that would benefit the city and
.aid in developing the resources of the district in which he lived.

In 1854 Mr. White was married to Miss Rebecca Holship
of St. Louis, Mo. Three children were born of this union —
Helen M., the wife of Hon. R. F. Del Valle of Los Angeles;
Annie C, wife of Charles L. Northcraft, also of Los Angeles,
and Harry R. of Pomona.

Mr. White died at his residence in Pomona September 2,
1902, at the age of 72 years. In the language of one of his old


time friends and associates, "Peace be to his ashes and honor to

his memory."

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 8 of 29)