Historical Society of Southern California.

Annual publication of the Historical Society of Southern California (Volume yr.1918-1920) online

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just pride in successfully conducting the journey over the
plains, across the backbone of the continent to the settle-
ment at Salt Lake City.

Roseate as the sunset sky as it closes the portals of the
Golden Gate must have been President Young's vision of
the future as he saw the whole Pacific Coast peopled with
Latter Day Saints, the sway of the Faithful extending from
the rolling Oregon to the capital of the ancient Montezumas
and from the inviting portals of the Golden Gate to the cen-
tralization of power at Salt Lake City.

Mormon missionary efforts in Europe, in Asia, in South
America, in Australia and in the islands of the Pacific were
being rewarded with a harvest of hundreds of converts.

In order to realize the fulfillment of this dream of
empire of the First President, what better plan could be
conceived than to establish colonies of emigrants through-
out this vast region, to serve as way stations to succor the
weary traveling saint to and from the Mecca of the Faithful
—Salt Lake City?

President Brigham Young further desired the estab-
lishment of a colony on or near the Pacific coast, not only
as an outpost of the Church, but also as a Pacific gateway
through which these foreign converts could be brought
directly to Salt Lake City instead of disembarking them at
New York harbor and subjecting them to the long, weari-
some journey across the continent. The journey from this
Pacific Colony overland to Salt Lake City was but one-
third the distance from New York to the same destination.

At the End of the Trail 67

This imperial dream was certainly the conception of a
master mind and but for the Mexican War might have be-
come more than a dream — a reality. The vast territory
included v^ithin the bounds of the dream lay at that time
wholly without the United States, was wholly unexplored
and sparsely settled. Morever, it was under the jurisdiction
of a weak power whose seat of government was far away
in the City of Mexico.

Contemporaneous with the plans of the Mormons to
migrate beyond the then western boundary of the United
States, came the trouble between the United States and the
Imperial Government of Mexico which led to the Mexican

While the Mormons were encamped at Council Bluffs,
Iowa, in 1846, completing preparations for the treck to the
west, there appeared before their camp a deputation of
United States Army officers from Fort Leavenworth and
informed the Mormon leaders that General Kearny of that
post had commissioned the deputation to inform them that
the United States Government was unwilling to give its
consent that so large a body of her citizens should leave her
jurisdiction while entertaining the ill feeling the Mormons
seemed to hold against the United States. Permission
would, however, be granted on condition that the Mormons
furnish a battalion for service in the United States Army
against Mexico in the war then going on. If they refused
to comply with this condition the band was to be broken
up and dispersed throughout the States.

After a council of deliberation had been held it was
decided to enlist a battalion for a year's service, with the
proviso that the battalion should be demobolized on the
Pacific Coast and be permitted to retain their arms.

When the lists were opened volunteers readily offered
themselves until a regiment of 500 men was recruited, which
became known as the Mormon Battalion. In the organiza-
tion and career of this battalion we shall find the probable
inception and origin of the Mormon Colony of San Bernar-
dino Valley.

This Mormoon Battalion of Iowa Volunteers was or-
dered to Santa Fe, New Mexico, and from thence to proceed
overland to California and assist in the conquest of that far-
away province of Mexico.

Under Lieutenant-Colonel Philip St. George Cooke the
long overland march was undertaken and completed, but
not without suffering many hardships and losses on the
way. Arriving at San Diego in January, 1847, Colonel
Cooke issued the following order of congratulation to the
battalion :

68 Historical Society of Southern California

Mission of San Diego

January 30, 1847.
Order No. 1 —

The Lieutenant-Colonel commanding congratulates the battalion on
their safe arrival on the shore of the Pacific Ocean and the conclusion of
their march of over 2,000 miles. History may be searched in vain for
and equal march of infantry. Half of it has been through a wilderness
where nothing but savages and wild beasts are found, or deserts where
for want of water there is no living creature. There with almost hope-
less labor we have dug deep wells which the future traveler will enjoy.
Without a guide who had traversed them we have ventured into track-
less table lands where water was not found for several marches. With
crowbar and pick and axe in hand, we have worked our way over moun-
tains which seemed to defy aught save the wild goat, and hewed a
passage through the living rock more narrow than our wagons. To
bring these wagons to the Pacific we have preserved the strength of
our mules by herding them over large tracts, which you have laboriously
guarded without loss. The garrison of four presidios of Sonora, con-
centrated within the walls of Tucson gave us pause. We drove them
out with their artillery, but our intercourse with their citizens was un-
marked by a single act of injustice. Thus marching half-naked and
half fed and living upon wild animals we have discovered and made
a road of great value to our country. Arrived at the first settlement
of California after a single day's rest you cheerfully turned off the route
from this point of promised repose to enter upon a campaign and meet
as we supposed the approach of an enemy, and this too without even

salt to season your sole subsistence of fresh meat Thus, Volunteers,

you have exhibited some high and essential qualities of veterans. But
much remains undone. Soon you will turn your attention to the drill,
to system and order, to forms also which are all necessary to the soldier.

Lieutenant-Colonel P. St. George Cooke.
By order, P. C. Merrill, Adjutant.

Of this battalion General Kearny said: "Napoleon
crossed the mountains, but the Mormon Battalion crossed a

After a rest of but a few days the battalion was as-
signed to garrison duty at several points, being divided up
for this purpose.

From Los Angeles Company C of the Mormon Battalion
was ordered, in April, 1847, to proceed to Cajon Pass, just
north of the present site of San Bernardino, and there take
such a position as to prevent maurading and hostile Indians
from coming into the valley to annoy the settlers.

In obedience to this order this Company effectively
protected the people and at the same time became familiar
with the Climate, beauties and fertility of the valley. More-
over, during the period of their encampment in the pass
many of the members procured furloughs and spent the
time in working in the wheat harvests from the pass to the
Rancho del Chino, for the purpose of getting provisions for
the long trip to Salt Lake City, which they were planning
against the time of the expiration of their enlistment. This

At the End of the Trah. 69

time came on March 14th, 1848, and on the 21st twenty-five
of them set out for Salt Lake City, not tempted by the
alluring news which had undoubtedly reached them of the
gold strike in the north.

With one wagon and many pack mules this band of
twenty-five indomitable men broke another trail across the
desert and up through Nevada and Utah, arriving at Salt
Lake City June 5th, 1848. Others of the battalion, after
demobilizing, went north and worked in the mines a season,
later going on to Utah.

From an unpublished history of San Bernardino in the
archieves at Salt Lake City I take the following: "A num-
ber of the brethren who had served in the Mormon Battalion
and also a number who had visited California on different
occasions were very favorably impressed with the sunny
climate and fine facilities for farming and ranching on the
Pacific Coast, and quite a number of them had expressed
their desire to President Brigham Young to go there and
establish a settlement of the Saints in Southern California.

"President Young seemed at first to be opposed to such
a movement, as he desired all the Saints to gather in the
valleys of the Rocky Mountains; but he finally yielded the
point and to a certain extent waived his objections. At a
meeting held at the President's office in Salt Lake City, Feb-
ruary 23, 1851, a number of brethren were blessed and set
apart by President Brigham Young and his councillors, for
various missionary fields. Elder Amasa M. Lyman was set
apart to take a company (together with Elder Charles C.
Rich) to Southern California, to preside over the affairs of
the Church in that land and to establish a stronghold for
the gathering of the Saints.

"Plans were immediately set on foot to send out a
company of about twenty-five persons under the leadership
of these two men. But so many had heard of Southern Cali-
fornia from those who had returned from the Mormon Bat-
talion that when the lists were opened not twenty-five but
five hundred were anxious to come.

" 'I was sick,' said President Young, *at so many of the
Saints running to California chiefly after the gods of this

"In that moment of surprise and disappointment was
probably formed the determination in some way to bring
back the faithful to the sacred Zion of the Church at Salt
Lake City."

Among the interesting characters who played star roles
in the early drama of Mormon migration from Salt Lake
City to San Bernardino Valley, was Captain Jefferson Hunt.

70 Historical Society of Southern California

He with two sons were among the first to enlist in the Mor-
mon Battalion. He was at once commissioned Captain and
placed in command of Company A.

Captain Hunt, while stationed at Los Angeles, had
taken occasion to cultivate the acquaintance of the promi-
nent men of Southern California of the time, and to make
extended trips to examine thoroughly the nature of the
country throughout the territory surrounding that city.

He it was who gave President Young definite informa-
tion concerning San Bernardino Valley.

After receiving their discharges from the army, he and
his sons went north into the mines where they were very
successful. Later returning to Salt Lake he found not only
his family but others in want for food. He at once organ-
ized an expedition and led it over a southern route and
through the Cajon Pass into the San Bernardino Valley,
thereby becoming the first white man to enter California by
that now famous gateway.

Securing 300 cattle and 150 horses of the Lugos, he
loaded them with supplies, and with a force of hired vaque-
ros returned to Salt Lake City. He next piloted a company
of miners by this southern route into California. Some of
this company, becoming impatient, left his guidance and
became the victims of the Death Valley tragedy. Those
who remained with him were brought safely through. Cap-
tain Hunt again hastened back to Salt Lake City and urged
the sending out of an expedition to establish a colony in
San Bernardino Valley.

Hunt was at once chosen as guide and organized the
emigrants into three divisions, the better to insure water
and forage through the desert.

With cattle and horses and tools and machinery and
families the 500 people were ready to start in March of
1851. Without mishap of consequence the vanguard under
Hunt came through the Cajon Pass and camped at Syca-
more Grove, June 24, 1851. Within a few days the other
divisions arrived, one under command of Captain Lytle en-
camped upon the stream that now bears that name, and
gathers its crystal waters from the snowy slopes of "Old
Baldy." Captain Hunt and others were so impressed with
the possibilities of the Rancho del Chino that they planned
to purchase that tract, but when negotiations were opened
with this in view, Colonel Isaac Williams, the owner, con-
sidered it too good an investment to dispose of and refused
to sell.

Before their encampments lay the stretching leagues
of the Rancho de San Bernardino, the property of Jose

At the End of the Trail 71

Maria Lugo, Jose Del Carmen Lugo, Vicente Lugo and a
brother-in-law, Diego Sepulveda. The three brothers and
Seiiora Sepulveda were the children of the proud, courtly
old Spanish Don Antonio Maria Lugo, who owned one of
the finest ranches of California, near Los Angeles.

From **E1 Faldo de Sierras" (brow of the mountains)
above Arrowhead on the north to the "Lomeras" on the
south and from Arroyo de Cajon on the west to the "Sierras
de Yucaipe" on the east and probably beyond that crest
into the beautiful valley of that name, stretched the broad
acres of the Rancho de San Bernardino. To the owners of
this rancho came Messrs. Lyman, Rich, Hanks and Robbins,
with an offer to purchase.

"On September 22, 1851," says a Manuscript History
of San Bernardino, "Apostles Amasa M. Lyman and Charles
C. Rich and leading brethren of the intended California
Colony concluded the purchase of a tract known as the
Rancho de San Bernardino, containing between 80,000 and
100,000 acres of land. The soil on this purchase was very
rich and water and timber abundant. The site for a settle-
ment was selected with a view to forward the emigration
from abroad to the valley of the Great Salt Lake and from
Europe, in particular, agreeable to the instructions of the
First Presidency in one of their general epistles."

The price was $77,000. Without ready cash for the
first payment a committee was sent to San Francisco, where
the money was secured. On the return trip the parties with
the money were met at San Pedro by Sheldon Stoddard,
with a mule team for the journey overland to San Bernar-
dino Valley.

In connection with this journey occurred one of the
episodes of the Mormon period, interesting but not yet
published, known as the "Robbery incident" and told by
Sheldon Stoddard, who passed away early in May, of 1919,
at San Bernardino. As the party approached Cucamonga
with the treasure and the ever faithful mule team, instinc-
tively — at least fortunately — one of these faithful animals
was taken sick, and thus the party delayed for several
hours. After proper treatment the animal recovered, and
the party proceeding on their way arrived safely at Syca-
more Grove. Upon heresay and confirmed by investiga-
tion, they found that robbers had lain in wait for them
along the route. "Unmistakable signs," says Mr. Stoddard,
"were found near Lytle Creek wash, where the robbers
had been concealed, and their horses had been tied. Grow-
ing weary at the delayed coming of their intended victims,
the robbers had abandoned their intention and made off."

72 Historical Society of Southern California

Thus the timely — one might almost say the providential —
illness of a mule, an unusually healthy animal, frustrated
the evil designs of these highwaymen, saved $20,000 to its
rightful owners and probably the lives of the protectors
of the money.

According to the understanding of these Mormon
Pioneers they were to receive 27 leagues of land by their
contract with the Lugos, but it seems that the laws of Cali-
fornia were so construed as to cut this down to eight

Rather than take the dispute into court where the
chances would have been against them, they accepted the
interpretation and were accorded their choice in selecting
the eight leagues. As they put it, they selected "the very
cream of the cocoanut."

Pressed by the necessity of providing food, the colonists
were so eager to get to work that they began to put in crops
even before the deed to the rancho had finally passed to the
new owners. All the tract north of San Bernardino reach-
ing to the mountains, 1300 acres, was planted to wheat.

That was an amazing first crop, too. All the stored-up
fertility of the ages seemed waiting to smile bountifully
upon those who first released this pent-up energy. This
first crop was raised in common, and 1/10 of all the pro-
duce whether of grain or stock was turned over to the
Church authorities and was, no doubt, in this case applied
on the purchase price of the rancho. The surplus wheat
both of the tenth and that which remained after providing
for each family and for seed, was sold at $4.00 per bushel
or ground into flour and sold in Los Angeles at $32.00 per

That the venture was a financial success is shown by the
fact that during the six years of their sojourn in the valley,
the debt incurred in the purchase of the Rancho was prac-
tically discharged.

The land was sold to individuals at from 11.00 to 16.00
dollars per acre, each buyer turning over his surplus pro-
duce to Elders Lyman and Rich to apply on the individual
purchase and in turn converted into money paid for the
rancho; this annual surplus together with the perfect
tithing system of the organization, as stated above soon
paid off the debt.

Building of the Fort — the Indian Scare

On the south side of the valley, just northwest of the
present site of the Loma Linda Sanitorium, was the Ranch-
eria of the Homoa Indians and up the San Timeteo Canyon
beyond dwelt about 600 Coahuilla Indians under their able

At the End of the Trail 7Z

and honest chief Juan Antonio. The latter were Mission
taught Indians who wove the wool raised by the ranchers
into blankets and other fabrics as they had been taught by
the Padres. These tribes were seemingly on friendly
terms with the white settlers of the valley, and Chief An-
tonio often smoked with them the Pipe of Peace. But
through the passes of the mountains the warlike Utes and
other desert tribes made raids into the valleys to drive off
stock and commit other depredations.

Concerning the Indian scare and the building of the
fort I quote from the unpublished history noted above:

"On November 23, 1851, John Lewis arrived from Los Angeles with
alarming news to the effect that the Indians at the Colorado river had
risen and killed all the Americans in that neighborhood and also Mr.
Warner who lived about 75 miles this side of the river, as well as all
the whites in the neighborhood of Temecula (60 miles south of San
Bernardino). The report further stated that a confederacy had been
formed between the Coahuilla Indians in the neighborhood of San Bernar-
dino and all the mountain Indians as far up as Santa Barbara, and the
Indians intended to attack all points between Santa Barbara and San
Bernardino simultaneously. Brother Lyman, in consequence of this news
deferred his departure for San Francisco. A strict guard was placed
around the settlement for the night and a call made for a meeting of the
whole camp on the morrow. A general drive was made the next day at
San Bernardino and all the horses and cattle were coralled and a guard
placed over them. Captains Hunt, Hunter and others were ordered out
to reconnoitre and endeavor to ascertain the truth of the statements of
the previous day. An order was also dispatched to the garrison at Rancho
del Chino for arms and ammunition, the Mormon settlers being short of
both. In the evening the camp came together to devise means for the
safety and protection of the settlement. Captain Hunt, Hunter and others
had returned and reported that according to what they could learn the
statements of the previous day were correct, and a general feeling of
alarm pervaded the country, though the animosity of the Indians appeared
to be against the Americans particularly. Capt. Jefferson Hunt was ap-
pointed commander in chief of the forces of San Bernardino with John D.
Hunter and Andrew Lytle as captains. The military strength of the settle-
ment was composed of two divisions under the captains named. The
question of building a fort was agitated and a strict guard ordered for
the night and a meeting appointed for the morrow. On November 25,
the weather was warm and pleasant in San Bernardino. The people
turned out en masse to the meeting appointed, at which it was agreed
that the building of a fort should commence immediately and that all
the families comprising the settlement would move into the contem-
plated fort which should enclose eight acres of ground. This was sup-
posed to be sufficient to include all the settlers. The brethren who
were dispatched the day before for arms and ammunition returned this
evening with arms and ammunition but not as much as was wanted;
they brought only six muskets and 500 rounds of cartridges. Capt.
Lovell, the commandant of the garrison at Chino, replying to the note
of Bros. Lyman and Rich, suggested that the settlers of San Bernardino
should fortify themselves and keep a vigilant guard. Before evening
nearly all the families of the camp had moved in and the building of
the fort had been commneced in earnest and this work so divided that
each individual had a certain portion of the fort to finish. (For a full
description of this fort, see IngersoU's "Century Annals of San Bernar-
dino County," 133-135.)

74 Historical Society of Southern California

The fort was in the form of a parallelogram, 300 feet
wide and 720 feet long. On the north and south ends and
along the east side it was made by splitting cottonwood
and willow tree trunks, fitting the edges tightly together
and setting them three feet in the ground and leaving them
twelve feet above ground. On the west side the wall was
made by moving the log houses from their various locations
about the settlement, and placing them with their outer
walls joining to form a tight wall. When the supply of
houses gave out they completed the side by laying up logs
in block house fashion. Bastions at the corners and in-
dentured gateways permitted a cross fire on any foe who
might attempt to come near to burn the fort. Loopholes
for defense were made all along the outer walls. A stream
of water was brought in from Lytle creek and widened into
basins on the interior. Except on the west and within the
inclosure rows of houses were built about 18 feet from the
wall. Eighty-eight of these houses provided homes for the
settlers. Additional sleeping quarters were provided in
the covered wagon beds used in the overland trip from
Salt Lake. Meeting and school house, store-house, wagon
shop and central oflflce provided ample facilities for the
community life. Within this fortification at least 100 fam-
ilies and many unmarried adults lived for more than a year.
There were not fewer than 150 able-bodied men acquainted
with the use of fire arms and capable of defending the fort.
Vigilant guard was kept night and day under the command
of Captain Jefferson Hunt. No attack was made upon the
fort. Perhaps the Indians, noting the splendid prepara-
tions made for defense, were deterred from raiding the

However, as late as 1866, while some of the settlers
were collecting their cattle from the mountains, maurad-
ing Indians fired from ambush and killed a Mr. Bemis, Mr.
Parish and Mr. Whiteside. As the Indian scare died down
the people began moving from the fort and again building
homes on their own land.

Enterprise and Prosperity

That these pioneers were pleased with the country and
enterprising in its development is shown by a letter written
by Amasa M. Lyman, President, to Elder Franklin D.
Richards from v^^hich I wish to quote in e.vtenso:

1852. "As for ourselves, we have a great deal of labor attending
new settlements in hand. In December, 1851, we had finished the sur-
vey of our big field of nearly two thousand acres; plowing and planting
immendiately followed; after which brother Rich, with a small party,
started to look out a road from this place to San Diego. He succeeded
in finding a good wagon road, with good feed and water all the way.

At the End of the Trail 75

"In April, 1852, we reared our Bowery, which is an adobie building,
sixty feet by thirty; in which we held our Conference on April 6th,
which was a happy day with the Saints here. Eighty-one persons came
forward and partoolt of the ordinance of baptism. The Bowery is
occupied during the week by our Day School of one hundred and twenty-
five scholars, under the direction of two well qualified teachers; and on
the Sabbath, after the morning service, by our Sabbath School and
Bible class, which are largely attended by old and young. We have
in rapid progress a grist-mill of two run of stones, which, when com-
pleted, will be second to none in the States. For the present we shall
use but one run of stone, and in place of the other, substitute a circular

Online LibraryHistorical Society of Southern CaliforniaAnnual publication of the Historical Society of Southern California (Volume yr.1918-1920) → online text (page 19 of 29)