Historical Society of Southern California.

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whatever right she might have to the Temescal Rancho for 200
head of cattle. "Don Abel" seems to have had great faith in the
value of this tin deposit. H. M. Willis, of San Bernardino, speak-
ing many years later, declared that in 1858 there was but one mine
of value known in San Bernardino County — the Temescal Tin Mine,
An agreement is on record, dated 1864, in which Steams disposes
of his rights in the Temescal Rancho to J. H. Ray, of San Francisco,
for $100,000.

In 1859 the District Court finally reached a decision, reversing
the ruling of the Land Commissioners, and granting the Temescal
Rancho, to include four leagues of land, to the Serrano heirs. But
they were not to be allowed to remain in undisputed possession of
their heritage. Already, other claimants for the tin mine district
had appeared. In 1842 a grant known as "San Jacinto" had been
made to Jose Antonio Estudillo, its boundaries named as Ranchos
Jurupa and San Bernardino, on the north ; Temecula, on the south ;
Gorgonio on the east, and Huapa on the west. As the boundaries
of all these ranchos were indefinite, and as they were located in
what is now San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, and Orange
counties, it will be seen that the San Jacinto grant covered a very
large territory and contained large possibilities. Later, Rancho
Nueva y Potrero and Rancha Vieja San Jacinto were indefinitely
limited and taken from grant. In 1845, M. Aguirre, on account
of his wife, Rosaria Estudillo, was granted Sobrante San Jacinto,
to include five leagues, more or less, or all the remaining lands of
the original San Jacinto. Here was a situation which led to litiga-
tion extending from the time, 1853, when the Sobrante San Jacinto
was thrown out by the Land Commissioners, until the final decision
of the Supreme Court, in 1888. In 1855 the District Court reversed
the ruling of the Land Commissioners, and granted the Sobrante
San Jacinto, to include five leagues. The grant was purchased
soon after this decision by Edward Conway, an employee of the
Surveyor-General's office. Before 1866 Conway and associates —
mostly men connected with the U. S. Land Office — had filed claims
for some 400 mineral locations in the Temescal Tin District, claim-
ing the filings were on unsurveyed government land.

In the meantime influence had been brought to bear somewhere
— the U. S. Government appealed from the decision of the District
Court, and in 1866, in spite of the protests put up by Stearns and
the Serrano heirs, the Supreme Court decided that the Spanish
administration had no intention of making Serrano a grant, since
it had given him merely a license for grazing, therefore his undis-
puted possession did not give a title to Temescal Rancho. In 1867
the Land Office patented the Sobrante San Jacinto, to include eleven
leagues, and with its boundaries carried over "twenty-six" miles,
according to Steams, in order to include the tin district.

16 Historical Society of Southern California

The history of the Temescal tin mine would fill a volume. I can
only briefly epitomize it here. A tin mine company had already
been formed, its members including Gen. Beale, U. S. Surveyor-
General for California; Messrs. Conway, Hancock, and other
employees of the Land Office, and also some of the Washington
officials, it was claimed by Stearns, who fought every step of the
proceedings. The case was tried by different courts, under various
titles, and the decision was always that no fraud was proved. It
was passed upon by the Secretary of the Interior. After Stearns's
death, his heirs carried on the warfare until the final decision, sus-
taining the lower courts and the Land Office.

In 1869 bars of tin from the Temescal mine were exhibited at
the Mechanics* Fair, San Francisco. Specimens of the tin were sent
to England and were pronounced of the purest quality. It was
declared by many investigators that here was a body of tin, unlim-
ited in quantity and of the finest quality — the richest and, indeed,
the only workable body of tin ore in the U. S. Because of the
litigation little active work was done, until the title was cleared in
1888. After this, experts from England repeatedly examined the
in district, and made extensive reports which were so favorable
that, July 24, 1890, a company with a capital of 3,500,000 pounds
was incorporated in London, known as the California Mining and
Smelting Co. ; also another corporation, the San Jacinto Estate,
Limited, was formed, members of which were Sir James Balfour,
Irish Secretary ; Sir John Stokes, Vice-President of the Suez Canal
Co., and other prominent financiers of London, including some of
the men interested in the Welsh tin mines, then the chief source
of supply for England. The Sobrante San Jacinto Rancho. 45,126
acres, was purchased ; Col. E. N. Robinson was installed as man-
ager; a plant that had been intended for a Black Hills, Dakota,
tin mine, was first installed, and the Temescal tin mine was at last
opened up. It is claimed that nearly two million dollars was
expended here within the next two years. Up to July, 1892, 136
tons of metallic tin were produced — the only tin bars ever made
from ore in this country. On March 30, 1892, the first shipment of
American pig tin reached New York, via Colon. The Redlands
Citrograph stated : "This shipment caused tin dealers in London to
telegraph New York dealers to lower prices on tin plate." This
was the first — and the last — shipment. The Temescal tin mines
were closed down in 1892, the valuable equipment and machinery
were later sold, and no effort has since been made to work the

No entirely satisfactory explanation of the fact has developed.
The tariff on tin was made a political issue of the campaign of
1892 — this may have had a bearing. It was claimed that the Com-

HisTOKY OF Temescal Valley 17

wall tin interests obtained a controlling hold and closed down the
Temescal mine to prevent competition ; it is also claimed that the
English tin experts were mistaken in their estimates and tin was not
present in paying quantities. The property has now passed into the
hands of an American company, although English stockholders still
have an interest.

To return to the history of the Valley proper. In 1858, the quiet
which still prevailed was disturbed by big, three-seated coaches,
drawn by dashing horses — the Butterfield stages, which provided
transportation and carried mail between San Francisco and St.
Louis. In this connection, the following extract may be of interest,
taken from the report of Special Agent G. Bailey to Postmaster-
General Brown, dated October 18, 1858, after making the first over-
land trip:

"Left San Francisco Plaza at precisely ten minutes past midnight
on the 14th of Sept., 1858, and arrived at Tipton, terminus of the
Pacific railway, at five minutes past nine, in the morning, Oct. 9th.
The mails reached St. Louis the same day at forty-five minutes past
eight p. m. Time actually consumed between San Francisco and
St. Louis, 24 days, 18 hours and 26 minutes.

"The second division of the trip, with time and distance between
points: Los Angeles to El Monte, 13 miles; San Jose, 12; Chino
Rancho, 12; Temescal, 20; Laguna Grande, 10; Temecula, 21;
Tejunga, 14; Oak Grove, 12; Warner's Rancho, 10; San Felipe, 16;
Vallecito, 18; Palm Springs, 9; Carrisso Creek, 9; Indian Wells,
32; Alamo Mocho, 24; Cook's Wells, 22; Pilot Knob, 18; Fort
Yuma, 10; Total, 282 miles. Time, seventy-one hours and forty-
five minutes. Note : There is no water on this route between Car-
risso Springs and the Colorado, except at stations."

In the eighties the ruins of what was known as the "old stage
station" were pointed out in the Temescal valley, and a fitting story
of a peddler who was said to have reached this station and was
never seen again, was current. However, the Serrano sisters, who
vividly recall the big stages, state that the station used was further
down the valley, and was never at the building named.

In 1866 the Temescal School District was organized, the fifth
in San Bernardino County. Its boundaries were defined, according
to Book A, of the Supervisors' Minutes, as: "Commencing at the
N. E. point of the Jurupa Dist. and running S. E. to the boundary
of San Diego County, and containing all that portion of the county
not included in other districts." As San Bernardino was, at this
time, the largest county in the U. S., and this district extended from
the Santa Ana River to the Colorado and included all but a small
comer of the area of the county, Temescal may be fairly supposed
to have been the largest school district in the U. S. A California

18 Historical Society of Southern California

school house was planted under a huge sycamore tree, and here
the children of the settlers — all speaking Spanish, though Enghsh
was taught — were gathered. This building, with some repairs,
served until 1889, when a fine modem building took its place and
still serves.

The oldest resident of the Temescal valley, now, is Mr. C. J.
Compton, who, with his brother, Ambrose, arrived here from Eng-
land in 1879, and purchased squatter's rights, which had already
passed through two or three hands, the first owner having been one
Myers. Mr. Compton says the Serranos still claimed the land,
which had not yet been surveyed, although the Supreme Court had
denied their rights in 1866. Early in the seventies Mrs. Thomdyke
took up a homestead upon the bench of land near Cold water Can-
yon, including the hot springs, and filed a claim on all the water of
Coldwater, although a previous settler, Binkley, had made a filing
before hers, but had not utilized the water. Mrs. Thomdyke built
a two-story frame house, probably the first in that section, hauling
the lumber for it from Los Angeles. This was called a hotel. The
springs were widely known and greatly valued by the early resi-
dents. Many visitors came to the valley to camp under its trees,
drink and bathe in the healing waters. The Califomians and pioneer
settlers came here, too, for their wash-day fiestas — the warm waters
were cleansing as well as healing.

Soon after Mrs. Thomdyke had established herself, an old sea-
captain, Sayward by name, homesteaded the land at the mouth of
Coldwater Canyon, erected a two-story adobe — now a part of the
Glen Ivy Hotel — and also filed a claim upon water from the stream.
Naturally a lawsuit followed — a lawsuit in this case backed by an
ancient feud between the families, and a long and interesting his-
tory. The suit over the water rights and the ditches of these two
claimants went merrily on, through various owners of the Sayward
side, with Mrs. Thomdyke upon the other, until both properties
came into the hands of the Temescal Water Company, which sup-
plied water for the settlement of South Riverside, now Corona.

During the seventies stock and sheep men began to give place
to orchards and bees. The latter were first brought into the valley,
Mr. Compton states, by a negro, in the early seventies. Later, the
Compton brothers became apiarists upon a large scale and bees
are still an important source of income in the valley.

The rapid developments of the eighties brought a new and more
enterprising class of settlers. Mines and "prospects" were devel-
oped; there was much talk of a railroad — still unbuilt. The Santa
Fe took the San Jacinto route to Elsinore and Temescal remains a
stage station. In May, 1886, the South Riverside Land and Water
Company was incorporated, its members including ex-Govemor

History of Temescal Valley 19

Merrill, of Iowa; Messrs, Joy, Hudson, W. H. Jameson, R. B. Tay-
lor, and others. This company purchased a tract of land lying on
the mesa between the Temescal Wash and Arlington and secured
water rights to Temescal Creek, Lee Lake, and tributaries of the
creek — 150 acres of water-bearing lands. Work was at once begun
on water development and in building dams and pipe-lines. In 1889
the Temescal Water Company was incorporated, to supply water
for the new colony. This company purchased all the water-bearing
lands to be obtained in the valley and soon began putting down
artesian wells. The first wells flowed, at a depth of 300 feet. Soon,
however, pumping plants had to be installed. In time all the w^ater
of both Temescal and Coldwater creeks was turned into pipe lines.
Cienagas and springs w^ere drained, and, gradually, the beautiful
spots of the valley became dry and desolate. Farms and orchards
in the central part of the valley were abandoned; the old adobes
along the stage route crumbled until now most of them are gone,
and recently the old road, traveled for so many years, is abandoned

Along the foothills, and in small cafions, some flourishing ranches
and orchards are found. Several country places have been devel-
oped. The Glen Ivy Hotel, with its hot baths and plunge, remains
a popular resort. But the chief industry now is the taking out of
clay and building material. Here is a zone, according to State
Mining Bureau reports, of "plastic clay of superior quality, resem-
bling important white, grey, black, and red cretaceous clays of the
New Jersey plains." At Alberhill, near Lake Elsinore, is located
an extensive terra cotta plant ; also clay to supply a large number of
plants in Southern California, is taken out here. Other clay pits
are located in the lower end of the valley; while a large rock crush-
ing plant ships out quantities of material.

As we have seen, the Temescal valley has passed through many
stages and been occupied by a shifting series of settlers. Since the
undisputed possession of the Serranos ended, it has seemed to know
but little of permanence; it has been the stopping place of many a
stranded soul ; a source of supply for more fortunate districts. One
wonders what the future may reveal. When its water supply and
clay beds are exhausted, will some new treasure be uncovered.'*
Attempts are now under way to locate oil. Perhaps, sometime, it
may again become the "tin district" of the United States, and the
great industry once so proudly boasted of may materialize.

The story of the Serrano family is, perhaps, not strictly history
— only a human interest story. When the decision came that their
heritage to a rich valley was a mere dream — that they had no right
to an acre of the land they had so long called their own — it was
a heavy blow to the surviving members of the family. One of the

20 Historical Society of Southern California

sons who had been educated as a priest became insane, and for more
than forty years was incarcerated in Napa State Asylum. Other
members left the valley until only the mother and two youngest
daughters remained. When the land was finally opened to settle-
ment, a homestead was secured to 160 acres surrounding the home,
A Mexican servant remained with them and raised the barley and
cultivated the old orchard. But the living of the three women was
scant in these days; they were aliens to their squatter neighbors,
and hated because of the claims they cherished in their hearts. The
chest of rich silks, Chinese shawls and other finery, left by Seiiora
Presentacion and cherished as a family treasure through the years,
was despoiled at last to keep them alive. When the mother died
there was no money for the funeral, and the daughters could not
consent that she should be laid in unconsecrated ground. So they
mortgaged their home to the South Riverside Land and Water
Company, and carried Seiiora Serrano to the little graveyard at
Agua Mansa, near Riverside — the first Catholic burying ground in
San Bernardino valley.

Their old servitor was now too crippled to carry on the rancho.
In 1898 the two sisters left Temescal to live in Los Angeles. Major
Horace Bell, long their friend and attorney, made arrangements
which gave them a home on East Sixteenth Street. Here they live
almost as secluded a life as though they were in the old adobe under*
the pepper tree at Temescal. They are of a past generation and a
past age — a bit of Old California left over.


(From unpublished MSS. by Benjamin Hayes [Em. Notes, 448-
452] in Bancroft Collection.)

The region in the annexed diagram (*) which, for convenience,
is marked San Jacinto Plain, is one of the most desirable portions
of San Diego County for stock and general agriculture, and is espe-
cially adapted for sheep raising. It is so connected, in the legal
title, with the adjoining low mountain tract of Temescal (as well as
from other circumstances), that both may be considered together.
Temescal, however, belongs to San Bernardino County.

Before 1866 Mr. Abel Stearns had bought some interest in
Temescal from the widow and heirs of Don Leandro Serrano,
deceased. About the end of June of that year he employed me
to file exceptions for him in the office of the U. S. Surveyor-General,
at San Francisco, to a survey which had been made of the "So-
brante" (balance) of San Jacinto, making it fall upon and include
the whole of the tin mines of Temescal, and in all eleven square
leagues of land. I was at the same time attorney for the widow,
Dona Josefa Montalba de Serrano, who was also prosecuting the
claim held by her deceased husband to five league of Temescal,
before the Supreme Court of the United States.

Starting from San Diego July, 1866, with Don Jose Antonio
Estudillo, and failing at Temecula to find the surveyor promised
by Mr. Stearns, we crossed the San Jacinto Plain to San Bernardino,
obtained the services of Henry Wilkes, Esq., Co. Surveyor. Mr.
G. E. Hubbell joined us there. He had lived about three years at
those mines, in charge of them. A pleasant short day's drive up
the San Timoteo Pass (which conducts to San Gorgonio) and over
the hills from Weaver's, brought us at night to the residence of
Don Salvador Estudillo, one of the owners of San Jacinto Viego
(Old San Jacinto). Next morning we called at Guachapa, two
miles further, to see the venerable Dona Victoria Dominguez de
Estudillo, and went on across San Jacinto Nueva (New San Ja-
cinto) to La Laguna, and the next day on to Temescal. Our obser-
vations were completed on July 21st and we returned the next day
to Los Angeles City.

In summer, I confess, this plain is not inviting on account of its
heat and the scarcity of water. It is known that water can be got
almost everywhere on New San Jacinto by digging wells to the
depth of a few feet, and the face of the country promises artesian
water through this whole basin. About two miles from the residence

22 Historical Society of Southern California

of Dona Victoria is a hot spring and another near the residence
of Don Salvador. On old San Jacinto is a place called "Casa de la
Loma," a low hill with an old house upon it that belonged to the
Mission of San Luis Rey. It is surrounded by little springs. This
is about four miles from Dona Victoria's. In this neighborhood,
or about the center of the two ranches, is best for stock, whether
for grass or for water. The San Jacinto River rises in the moun-
tain of San Jacinto and Coahuilla Mountain (or Taquia, as the
Indians call it), and runs perennially as far as the Indian village of
Sobora, in summer. There is little timber on New San Jacinto, a
good deal in the vicinity and direction of Dona Victoria's and

These two San Jacinto ranches, comprehending nineteen square
leagues, are almost a perfect plain, broken a little by isolated hills.
It extends southwardly to Temecula and northward to near San
Bernardino; is bounded on the west by Temescal Mountain and
hilly ranges of the Santa Ana River. The entire plain contains
perhaps 150,000 acres of land.

San Jacinto Viejo was granted Dec. 21st, 1842, by Manuel
Jimento to Don Jose Antonio Estudillo : San Jacinto NuevoyPotrero
Jan. 14th, 1846, by Pio Pico to Miguel de Pedrodena (11 leagues),
and the Sobrante of San Jacinto Viejo and Nueva, or surplus over
the two first named ranchos (five leagues) May 9th, 1846, by Pio
Pico to Maria del Rosaria Estudillo de Aguirre. Their relative
positions at the date of the last grant appears by the annexed dia-
gram (A), of the whole tract, made by actual survey by Jasper
O'Farrell, in 1845, and which was submitted to the Mexican gov-
ernment by each petitioner. The tract designated by this diagram
on the earth's surface runs N. W. and S. E. across the San Jacinto
Plain, between it and the Temescal tract, extending in length toward
San Bernardino.

Buying the Sobrante and locating the other two ranches to suit
their purpose — and without the knowledge of the heirs of Estu-
dillo and Pedrodena, certain parties located the Sobrante, stretching
it to eleven leagues at the same time, so as to take in the mines
of Temescal — which had then come to be considered a store of incal-
culable wealth. This led to the proceedings first referred to of Mr.
Stearns. The case was finally lost by him both in the Land Depart-
ment, and in the case of Temescal, in the Supreme Court of the
U. S.

Leandro Serrano's father was one of the soldiers who came
with Father Junipero Serra to establish San Diego. Don Leandro
was long mayor-domo of Pala for the Mission of San Luis Rey. As
early as 1818 he commenced the settlement of Temescal, had a
corral and some few cows, oxen, and horses, and had begun a

Document; San Jacinto and Temescal 23

garden. In 1826 he had a good adobe house, a garden with fruit
trees, considerable cattle and horse stock. His family lived there
then. His wife, Dona Presentacion de Yorba, dying, he married
Dona Josefa de Montalba, and continued to reside there until his
death, in 1852. He left numerous children.* To this day to many
of the native Califomians it is inconceivable how it is that this
ancient possession, with boundaries well defined to the extent of five
leagues, and always respected in their other grants by the Mexican
authorities, could avail nothing under our system.

The land went into the hands of a company of speculators with
a capital of $3,000,000, except a few little garden spots which this
family and some settlers have retained, it is to be supposed, only by
a degree of corporate magnanimity in executing this remarkable
survey. — ( Diagram. )

♦ Don Jose Antonio Serrano is his [Leandro Serrano's] son by
his first wife and was born at the Presidio of San Diego, but was
reared principally at Pala and Temescal. He is now sixty years of
age, April, 1875.



The formation of the Henry E. Huntington Library is, without
doubt, the greatest bibliothecal achievement of the twentieth cen-
tury. The success of the undertaking is due to three important
factors, any one of which, if lacking, would have prevented its
accomplishment. These factors are, (1) the discriminating taste
and ability of Mr. Huntington and his wonderful executive capacity
for handling great affairs; (2) the means he possessed of gratifying
his taste as a book collector, and (3) the opportunity, such as has
never fallen to the lot of any other collector, of acquiring thousands
of books of the utmost rarity. Since 1910 many libraries, a number
of them of world-wide reputation, have been thrown upon the mar-
ket. Some of these Mr. Huntington bought en bloc, and from others
made large and important selections as they were dispersed at

Previous to that time he had collected in a small way, but it
was not generally known that he was a book collector. In April,
1907, there appeared in the Sunday edition of the New York Times
a full-page article on "Private Libraries in New York That Have
Cost Large Fortunes." In it Mr. Huntington's name was not even
mentioned. Among the libraries named therein were three, each of
which has since been purchased by Mr. Huntington, and incorpo-
rated in his collection : those of the late E. Dwight Church, Frederic
R. Halsey, and Mr. Beverly Chew. Of three others named in that
article, those of Robert Hoe, Thomas J. McKee, and Henry M.
Poor, Mr. Huntington was a prominent purchaser at the sales at
which they were dispersed ; and he has, ever since, continued to be
a considerable buyer at every important sale, not only in this country
but also in Europe. While the books he has bought relate to a
variety of subjects, his library is especially distinguish for the
rarity and importance of its works of English literature and Ameri-
can history.

This is not the proper occasion on which to speak of its rarities
of English Uterature, so only a brief description of those it contains
in American history will here be undertaken. The nucleus of Mr.

Online LibraryHistorical Society of Southern CaliforniaAnnual publication of the Historical Society of Southern California (Volume yr.1918-1920) → online text (page 23 of 29)