Nelson Appleton Miles.

Personal recollections and observations of General Nelson A. Miles embracing a brief view of the Civil War, or, From New England to the Golden Gate : and the story of his Indian campaigns, with comments on the exploration, development and progress of our great western empire online

. (page 50 of 51)
Online LibraryNelson Appleton MilesPersonal recollections and observations of General Nelson A. Miles embracing a brief view of the Civil War, or, From New England to the Golden Gate : and the story of his Indian campaigns, with comments on the exploration, development and progress of our great western empire → online text (page 50 of 51)
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Roble Hall. The Museum. Encina Hall.


generosity of James Lick, is built on the summit of Mount Hamilton, near
San Jose. It is over four thousand feet above the level of the sea, and it
was necessary to remove seven thousand tons of rock from the summit of
the mountain in order to get a level platform. This most powerful tele-
scope is a refractor of thirty-six inches clear aperture.

The State University is one of the finest institutions of the kind in the
country. The instruction in all the colleges is open to all persons without
distinction of sex. Besides the university proper at Berkeley there is the Lick
Astronomical Department at Mount Hamilton, and in San Francisco
departments of Art, Law, Medicine, Dentistry and Pharmacy. The uni-
versity was instituted by a law approved in 1868 and instruction was
begun in 1869; and in 1873 it was formally transferred to its present site.*

In 1781, when the Franciscans established a mission in Los Angeles, it
was already a thriving pueblo. On account of the beauty of its location,
its charming climate and fertile soil, the Spaniards gave it a name which
being translated means, "the town of the queen of the angels," which was
afterward shortened to Los Angeles. It was not until Monroe was serving
his second term that the first American entered the precincts of the
beautiful town, and he was brought there by the Mexicans as a prisoner.
However, he liked the place so much that he had no wish to leave, but
married into a Spanish family and settled down as a citizen.

Two years later, in 1824, a Scotchman came to the town and opened a
store on the American plan, and in 1831 the Santa Fe trail was opened,
and by creating a new outlet to the East greatly developed trade. Four
years later the town achieved the importance of being made the capital of
California, and in 1846, when war had been declared with Mexico, Fremont
marched into Los Angeles and raised the stars and stripes. Don Pio Pico,
who was then the Mexican governor of California, escaped from the town
at the time, but afterward returned and, though he would never acknowl-
edge that the Americans had any right to California, became a registered
voter, and at the time I had my headquarters there, though a very old man,
he was still casting his ballot with all the regularity of a native of the
United States. When Fremont was appointed Governor of California he

*In tills connection I may add that by an act of Congress approved July 17, 1884, two townships of land were
granted to the Territory of Washington for the purpose of establishing a university, but owing to the vacillation
of the Territorial legislature, nothing was actually done towards erecting a building until 1861. In March of that
year the stone of the university building was placed in position at Seattle. In September, 1895, the university was
transferred to new quarters in a remarkably beautiful situation some distance from the center of the city. The
University of Washington is maintained by the commonwealth and has also been richly endowed with lands by
the government. With the exception of the department of music and law, tuition is free to all residents of the
State of Washington, and is open to both sexes. The University of Oregon, established in 1872, is situated in
Eugene and was endowed at the start with $60,000.



established his headquarters in the finest house in Los Angeles, for, as an
old settler once remarked, " Fremont always would have the best of every-
thing." His widow, the gifted Jessie Benton, resides there now.

The soil in this section is generally very rich, even the so-called
" deserts " needing only irrigation to make them exceedingly prolific. The
annual rainfall is quite sufficient to mature many of the crops, though
there were 5,500,000 acres under irrigation in 1894. The agricultural fame
of southern California is now world wide, yet twenty-five years ago its
inhabitants imported all their vegetables, their flour, and everything else
in the way of food except their meat, which they obtained from their
flocks and herds. Now great train loads of these very products are shipped
from there every day.

Upon many lands, after the winter-sown crop has been harvested with-
out the aid of irrigation, another crop is produced with the aid of that
important auxiliary,
thus making the same
land do double duty.
The water used for this
purpose is obtained
from the rivers, small
streams, and from arte-
sian wells. The first
oranges produced in
that region were from
trees planted at Los
Angeles, and now the
annual shipment aggre-
gates many thousands
of tons. Fruit culture
of all kinds is exceed-
ingly profitable, and the
crops are simply enormous. Wheat, rye, barley and hops are largely

Los Angeles, the chief city of southern California, and the headquarters
of the Department of Arizona, is situated midway between the mountains
and the ocean, the Sierra Madras towering up fourteen miles to the
east, while the broad and peaceful Pacific lies the same distance to the
west. It is the center of one of the finest agricultural regions in the



" Where the grape is most luscious, where laden,

Long branches bend double with gold;
Los Angeles leans like a maiden,

Red, blushing, half shy and half bold."

The first Protestant preacher arrived in 1850, with his entire earthly
possessions contained in the ox-cart of which he himself was the chariot-
eer. The first American child who could claim Los Angeles as his native
town was born in April, 1851, and the birth of the town's first newspaper
was chronicled a month later. By 1854 the population had increased to
four thousand, though only five hundred were Americans.

Since the completion of the Southern Pacific Railroad, Los Angeles has
made great progress, and now presents an odd picture of the combination
of a sleepy old Spanish pueblo with a thriving, progressive American city.
The Los Angeles River, which according to an old Spanish grant belongs to
the city from its mountain source downward, runs through the town, and
a large irrigating system is included in the municipality.

Los Angeles is an extremely cosmopolitan city, almost every nation
under the sun being represented among her inhabitants. The city can
boast many fine educational institutions, and numerous churches and
philanthropic societies. Among the most unique of its charities is the
Flower Festival Society, which each year gives a grand floral carnival the
proceeds of which are used for the benefit of young working women.

Although not usually regarded as a manufacturing city, nevertheless
Los Angeles contains a large number of extensive factories. Prominent
among these are a number of iron foundries, several flouring and feed
mills, a dozen planing mills, etc. The city is lighted by electricity, and
there are cable and electric street cars which take one to every part
of it. The chief exports to the East are dried and green fruits, wool, wine
and vegetables. During the season the exportation of oranges is enor-
mous. The climate of Los Angeles is delightful in both summer and winter,
there seldom being a year in which there are half a dozen cloudy days
from the middle of May to the middle of November.

Santa Barbara is another important and beautiful city of southern Cali-
fornia, and is widely known as a health resort. Monterey is undoubtedly
the most beautiful watering place on this continent, if not in the world.
Nature and art have been lavish in its adornment. The great live oaks,
the forests of pine, cedar and spruce, the remarkable groves of the cedars
of Lebanon, the abundance of wild flowers, joined to what the skilled florists
and architects have added, make it a most interesting and attractive place.



In northern California among the chief cities are Oakland, Sacramento, the
capital, and most important of all, not only to that part of California but
to the whole Pacific Coast, San Francisco.

When in the latter part of the seventeenth century the Franciscan
fathers were making their little exploring expeditions throughout the
southern portion of California, they christened the lakes, rivers and moun-
tains they discovered in honor of their missions and various saints and


angels. One of these priests was extremely solicitous that the patron of
his order should not be neglected in this distribution, and to this end be-
sought both God and the Virgin, but without avail. He then urged the
matter upon the Visitador-General Galvez who bluntly replied : "If our
seraphic father, St. Francis of Assisi, would have his name to signalize some
station on these shores let him show us a good haven." This being the
condition of affairs, when the little band of explorers after a weary journey
along the rough sea coast suddenly found themselves on a high point


overlooking a broad, peaceful, nearly land-locked sheet of water, dotted
with green isles inhabited only by the seals and sea lions, with one voice
they exclaimed : "Surely this must be the bay of San Francisco."

Here, during the very year which witnessed the signing of the Declara-
tion of Independence on the eastern border of our continent, was planted
the presidio of San Francisco, and near the Golden Gate a fort was erected.
The present city began its growth at a little indentation of the coast three
miles from this point, and the first name it received was the significant
one of Yerba Buena good herbs or grass. At the time when Mexico was
throwing off the yoke of Spain, the soldiers of the presidio were faithful to
their country even though, owing to the sad state of the finances of the
home government, they received no wages.

In 1839 Yerba Buena was laid out as a city; a public plaza being first
measured off, the remainder of the level ground was utilized as building
lots and was divided by streets. In July, 1846, when the American flag
was first given to the breeze on the plaza, there were probably two hundred
inhabitants in the picturesque little village; but before the month ended
the population was increased by a colony of Mormons from New York,
who were a most diligent, progressive set of men, and among other bene-
fits bestowed upon the little town its first newspaper. In January, 1847,
Yerba Buena was transformed into San Francisco by order of the Ameri-
can alcalde, and the discovery of gold the next year wrought a complete
transformation in San Francisco as well as in almost every other part of Cali-
fornia. Thither flocked men of every race and clime on their way to the
gold fields, and thither they returned on their way to their homes, some
jubilant with their quota of the precious golden ore, and others bearing
only disappointed hopes. But enough remained in the city to give it a
population of twenty-five thousand by the end of 1849. Prices in the little
town went up with a bound; one two-story house fronting on the plaza
rented for $120,000 a year, while another of extremely small dimensions
was hired for the exorbitant sum of $3000 a month. Carpenters who were
getting twelve dollars a day struck for sixteen; forty dollars was the price
of either a barrel of flour or a pair of boots; a small loaf of bread cost fifty
cents and a hard boiled egg a dollar. The only currency was gold dust,
which was rated at $16 per ounce, and was weighed out in scales which
were to be found at every place of business.

At this period in San Francisco the arrival of the mail steamer, which
occurred two or three times a month, was among the most important and
exciting of events. The voluntary exiles who made up the principal part


of the population could only hear from home and friends and all they held
most dear through the medium of the mail. Thus the coming of each
steamer was eagerly looked for, and became an important event in their
toilsome, turbulent lives. The line before the postoffice window would
begin to form from twelve to twenty hours before the mail was ready for
delivery, and gradually lengthen until it numbered five hundred men with
anxious hearts waiting for the letter, which, if it came, might either fill
their hearts with joy or burden them with an additional load of sorrow.
Sometimes a ragamuffin, who had early secured a place in the line, as he
neared the window would be able to sell it for five, ten, or even twenty
dollars. It is said that one young man whose friends proved neglectful
correspondents, hit upon a plan of writing to three or four of the gossips
of his town, asking the price of land and stock and what advantageous
investments could be secured. This expedient was so successful that there-
after never a mail arrived without an epistle for him.

The streets of San Francisco, ungraded, unpaved, cut up by heavy
teams, and used as a dumping ground for all the filth and rubbish of the
town, made transit at all times difficult and disagreeable; but when they
were transformed by the winter rains into a perfect swamp, they became
almost impassable. Loads of brushwood and branches of trees were thrown
into these quagmires, and boards and boxes were utilized as crossings; but in
spite of all precautions, lives were sometimes lost by suffocation in the
mud. Saloons were plentiful, and gambling was the occupation of many
and the recreation of all, with almost no exceptions. Those were the days
when "might made right," depredations and assaults were common offenses,
and there was absolutely no one to enforce law and order. Murders were
committed by the hundred, but never a murderer was hanged. A gang of
young men calling themselves "regulators," but more commonly known
as "hounds," paraded the town by day, and by night raided the stores and
saloons and taverns. At last patience was exhausted and in July, 1849, a
meeting of "all good citizens" was called to devise some means to put a
stop to this state of affairs, and this was the forerunner of the celebrated
Vigilance Committee of 1851.

Still affairs did not improve. Fire after fire desolated the unfortunate
city, the last one, which occurred in May, 1851, so far exceeding the rest
that it was known as the "great fire." The whole business portion of the
town was a mass of flames, the reflection of which is said to have been
visible a hundred miles away, and nearly everything was destroyed. It
was the firm belief of many that the fire was due to incendiarism. Another



conflagration occurred in June, and those who were suspected of being the
cause of it were arrested, but it was impossible to secure their conviction,
and robberies and murders became more and more common, until at last
it was the general feeling that forbearance had ceased to be a virtue.
Then the famous Vigilance Committee was formally organized "to watch,
pursue and bring to justice the outlaws infesting the city, through the sys-
tem of the courts if possible, through more summary processes if neces-
sary." The committee did such extremely effective work that at the end
of thirty days it was able to quietly disband. It was afterward reorgan-
ized, and was equally efficacious in 1856, when the city was threatened
with similar dangers. And once more in 1877 this unique force came to
the front in the interests of order and justice, but this time under very
different auspices.

Although San Francisco was almost entirely destroyed by the terrible

fire of 1851, the enter-

y i _^t_ prising citizens were by

no means discouraged,
but straightway went to
work to rebuild their
city, and by 1852 there
were few characteristics
of a Spanish town re-
maining in San Fran-
cisco. It had now as-
sumed a more regular
aspect, and substantial
houses took the place of
the huts of former years,
though most of the
structures were of wood,
as brick and stone were so hard to obtain, and there was a general dread
of earthquakes.

The modern city is a strangely foreign-looking place, especially when
viewed from the harbor. The business portion of the town lies at the foot
of several hills on which most of the residences are built. These dwellings
are even now more commonly built of wood, but, fear of earthquakes hav-
ing somewhat abated, brick and stone structures have commenced to go
up. The cable cars were first invented and used at San Francisco, and
when the hills on which the city is built are considered, a better mode of



transportation could not be devised. Market Street, a stately thorough-
fare of which the residents are very proud, runs southwest from the bay
and divides the older from the newer portion of the city. It finds an
almost level way through the city, despite the hills, and on either side rise
great buildings like the Palace Hotel, one of the most perfect buildings of
its kind in the world, the Chronicle Building and many others. Here the
crowds gather in the greatest numbers, and remind one somewhat of Broad-
way, New York. Among the new public buildings may be mentioned the
City Hall, a fine structure that cost $4,000,000. There is also a branch of
the United States Mint here. As natural in so progressive a city, San Fran-
cisco has many fine educational institutions, as well as numerous churches;
the church buildings recently erected have shown a marked improvement
in architectural design, and the same may be said of many of the new resi-
dences. Few cities are more delightfully or more healthfully located than
San Francisco, facing as it does the beautiful harbor and the Golden Gate,
and being built upon high dry ground. The scenery around it is most
picturesque and inspiring. From homes overlooking the harbor, you can
drive out through the Golden Gate Park, which is one of the most beauti-
ful parks in the United States, and combines the picturesque splendors of
tropical climes with the fragrance of the live-oak, fern, pine and cedar of
the temperate zone; and thence through fields adorned with trees and
flowers, shaded avenues and glens, lakes and fountains, you come directly
to the bold surf where the waters of the Pacific are dashed against the
rocks of the great cliffs, and where the seals are seen sporting in the foam-
ing billows or basking in the sun upon the rocks, the whole giving one a
picture vividly contrasting the wildness and grandeur of natural scenery
with the art and culture of an enlightened community.

It was Andrew Jackson who said, "upon the success of our manufac-
tures as a hand-maid of agriculture and commerce depends in great meas-
ure the prosperity of our country," and San Francisco has not been
unmindful of this wise axiom, for its manufactures are yearly increasing in
importance and variety. It has great foundries and immense flouring
mills, and boasts the oldest cordage factory on the Pacific Coast. This
factory was established in 1859, and now covers sixteen acres. The Union
Iron Works have built several ships of war, including the "Charleston,"
"San Francisco "and "Monterey."

The great Midwinter Fair, opened on the first of January, 1894, was
held in the Golden Gate Park a most beautiful spot. There were
three hundred buildings, said to have cost $1,500,000, in the grounds.


The fair was a decided success financially, and was of great benefit
to the city in tiding it over the period of extreme dullness in trade
and stimulating many branches of trade. Its benefits were not
merely local, for it had a good influence that was felt along the entire

It is as a commercial center that San Francisco is best known. Through
the Golden Gate, or Chrysopylse, come vessels from all parts of the world
to anchor on the broad bosom of the harbor of San Francisco. This beau-
tiful bay is seventy miles long, from ten to fifteen in width, and narrows
to a channel only one mile wide at the entrance. In this harbor may be
seen vessels from China, Hawaii, Japan, Australia and Panama. Huge
Chinese junks, the queer feluccas of the Maltese and Greeks, and the great
war ships of the United States, Great Britain, France, Russia and other
powers, all help to lend variety to the beautiful scene.

At the upper end of the bay is located, on Mare Island, the United States
Navy Yard, a most important and valuable national establishment, land-
locked and well protected. Here we see floating on its waters the "Co-
manche," the " Swatara," the " Omaha " and the " Pensacola ; also the
wooden battle ship " Hartford," once the flag ship of the greatest Admiral
of his time, Farragut, the sight of which almost prompts one to raise his
hat in reverence for the heroic deeds of this ship of war and the skill of its
indomitable commander who defied not only the destructive engines
beneath the surface, but also the batteries on land and sea which sank
part of his fleet and crashed through the rigging where he was lashed.
There also is the "Miantonomah," one of the famous ships of the Monitor

At Hunter's Point is a great dry dock four hundred and fifty feet in
length hewn out of the solid rock. San Francisco will naturally become
the center of a great ship-building industry, not only because of its posi-
tion, but because there is scarcely another place on the continent whose
climate is so suitable for the purpose at all seasons of the year, and be-
cause in some respects the ship timber of that region is the finest in the

San Francisco is still ahead of any competitors on the Pacific Coast,
though there are large towns of importance fast growing up which force
her to look well to her laurels. It was the opinion of William H. Seward,
that in the future the Pacific Ocean with its eighty millions of square
miles, "will be the scene of man's greatest achievements." And if that be
so, there are scarcely any limits to the great possibilities of San Francisco's



as it is on a harbor unequaled in that quarter of

future, situated
the world.

" Serene, indifferent of Fate
Thou sittest at the Western gate;
Upon thy heights so lately won
Still slant the banners of the sun;
Thou seest the white seas strike their tents
O, Warder of two continents !"

The people of the Pacific Coast, are as a rule most enterprising, intelligent
and ambitious, and they are exceedingly generous and hospitable. It is a
mistake to suppose that the West is crude or uncultivated. The strongest,
most resolute, enterprising and ambitious of our men have gone West!
They have either car-
ried with them or have
returned for those
cheerful companions
who are prompted by
love and devotion to
accompany the pioneers
. to their Western homes.
While their material in-
terests have been in the
Western country, their
fond memories and at-
tachments have re-
mained in the East, and
in the frequent journeys
they have made back to
.the old homesteads and the Eastern centers of business and civilization,
they have brought their children with them. In this way the youth have
become familiar with our entire country, as well as with the section to
which all are naturally most attached as being the place of their birth.
As these children have grown up, and after passing through the primary
and high schools, they have been sent East to complete their education
at the great colleges of Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Bowdoin, Wellesley,
Smith, Vassar, and many other important educational institutions. Then,
returning to their Western homes, they have in many cases made a tour of
travel and observation, often passing out at the Golden Gate, or the Straits
of Juan de Fuca, and making the round of the world. So we find the
native population that has grown up on the Pacific slope as refined,



intelligent, and quite as well informed, especially concerning their own
country, as those of the Eastern States.

The long and interesting journey across the continent has been com-
pleted; a journey fraught with many vicissitudes and many interesting in-
cidents. It has witnessed many historic scenes. It has had many dark
hours of great anxiety and uncertainty, mingled with forebodings of evil
for the future condition of our country. It has witnessed the terrible
ordeals and sacrifices of war, as well as the fascination and exhilaration of

Online LibraryNelson Appleton MilesPersonal recollections and observations of General Nelson A. Miles embracing a brief view of the Civil War, or, From New England to the Golden Gate : and the story of his Indian campaigns, with comments on the exploration, development and progress of our great western empire → online text (page 50 of 51)