Wallace Melvin Morgan.

History of Kern County, California, with biographical sketches of the leading men and women of the county who have been identified with its growth and development from the early days to the present; online

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Online LibraryWallace Melvin MorganHistory of Kern County, California, with biographical sketches of the leading men and women of the county who have been identified with its growth and development from the early days to the present; → online text (page 4 of 177)
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named for W'illiam Lynn, but spelled with an "i" in later years. Cedar creek
and a number of other little streams water the country hereabout
and while stock-raising is the chief industry all down the western slope of
the range, not a little general farming and some fruit raising is carried on
in the little valleys and fertile meadows about Glennville. To the south
of Glennville are Granite station and Poso Flat, both small centers of stock-

Over the Greenhorn mountains from Glennville and Linn's valley is
Kern river flowing at times through narrow caiions, and elsewhere through
wider valleys where the stream is bordered by fertile bottom lands. It
was along Kern river, at Keysville, about eleven miles south of the north
county line, that the first important mining camp in the county was estab-
lished. Keysville was about three miles below the junction of the north and
south forks of Kern river. Whiskey Flat (now Kernville) is about the
same distance above the junction, on the north or main branch.

Above the junction the South Fork flows through the South Fork valley,
a fertile strip of bottom land that forms the most important of the mountain
farming districts. All this valley, about twenty miles in length, is irrigated
and farmed to alfalfa. Weldon and Onyx on the South Fork, Isabella at
the junction. Palmer and Vaughn a httle to the south from Isabella, form
the centers of the sparse population of the northern mountain section. Havi-
lah, lying in a little valley, hardly more than a gulch, a little farther still,
was once the metropolis and county seat of Kern, but its glory and greatness
long since have faded.

The mountains over which we have sailed so far are rugged and beautiful,
stretching away in purple vistas, clad on their summits with pines and cedars
and on their lower slopes with oaks, madrones and chaparral. To the south
of Havilah, forming the water-shed between Kern river on the north and
Caliente creek on the south, is Mount Breckenridge, a handsome, broad-
topped mountain, rich in lumber pine that in earlier days was sawed and
hauled to Bakersfield. The mill is still there but it has not been operated
for some years.

At the southern foot of Mount Breckenridge is Walker's basin, another


of the cradles of Kern county's early civilized life, and farther on is Piute
mountain, the scene of some of the earlier placer mining; Amalie and Paris
on Caliente creek, centers of a later and more permanent mining development ;
Tehachapi creek, up which the Southern Pacific winds' its difficult and tortuous
passage : Bear mountain, rising to the west some seven thousand feet, one
of the most conspicuous of the landmarks to be seen from the valley about
Bakersfield ; the pleasant and fertile mountain valleys that bear the names
of Bear, Brites, Cummings and Tehachapi ; then the saddle at the crest,
the crow's nest, in which the town of Tehachapi sits.

On the western slope of Bear mountain is the Rancho El Tejon, one of
the early Spanish grants, woven closely with the history of the Indians in
this part of the state, and forming now, with the Alamos, Castac and La
Liebre grants a magnificent mountain and valley stock range — the third large
land holding in the county — soon, it is hoped, to be subdivided for more
intensive use.

Beyond Tehachapi and the Tejon ranch is a great procession of broken,
tumbled and unappreciated hills which lead the traveler at last to the wonder-
ful southland where even a sand dune with a cactus growing on it is a para-
dise of health and beauty and greatly to be desired at so much per square

The Desert Triangle Again

Before we bring our airship down let us sail again over the great tri-
angle of desert with which this description of the county began. Skirting
the base of the hills at its western edge is the Los Angeles aqueduct, a great
tube of concrete through which the people of the southern city hope to lead
the waters of Owens river to fill their faucets, sprinkle their lawns and irrigate
some thousands of acres of garden land in what are now the suburbs, but
which undoubtedly the city will soon annex. The Southern Pacific, the
Santa Fe and the Nevada and California railroads all cross this triangle of
desert in different directions, all meeting at Alojave, which is both a mining
and a railroad town. To 'the northeast are Randsburg, Oarlock, Goler and
Johannesburg, all of which figure in the history of the desert mines, and still
farther north, Indian Wells and Salt Wells valley, where venturesome pros-
pectors would find still another oil field, and Inyokern, a new settlement of
farmers in the northeast corner of the county.

Bakersfield, the Commercial Center

The center of all Kern county's commercial activity and the point around
which the greater part of the county's history revolves, is Bakersfield. Lo-
cated where Kern river enters its delta ; the spot whence the irrigating canals
diverge ; the place where the railroads add the helper engines for the heavy
haul up the mountain ; the place whence the branch railroads lead to the
west side oil fields ; at the door of the great Kern river field, where the citrus
mesa meets the lower valley land. Bakersfield is in close and constant touch
with all the greater resources and activities of the county. Even the roads
from the mountain mines converge here. Only the mines of the desert are
far removed by distance and association, from the count}^ seat.

The federal census of 1910 gave Bakersfield a population of \2,727, as
against 4836 ten years before. The county census for 1910 was 37,715, and
for 1900, 16,480. The great gain was mainly due to the development of the
oil fields, although a slow but steady gain in the valley farming sections was
evident, and this gain also assisted the growth of Bakersfield. The five banks



of Bakersfield on December 31, 1910, sliowed a total uf tleposits aiiKiuiUiiij^
to $5,679,000, a gain of more than two million dollars in the twentj' months
just previous to that date. The postal receipts for the city in 1910 were over
sixty thousand dollars. Close to a million and a half dollars was spent in
building in Bakersfield in 1910, and the cost of the new residences constructed
in that period ranged up to seventeen thousand dollars each. The assessed
valuation of Kern county in 1910 was over fifty-three million, making a per
capita wealth according to the very low estimates of the assessor of $1350
for every man, woman and child within the county's borders.

These figures give some fair idea of the prosperity and financial stal)ility
of the city and county at the present time. The prospects for the future were
never brighter.

Indians and the Tejon Ranch

On the top of Black mountain, northwest of Garlock, among the ranges
of dead, forgotten hills that stand sentinel over the dead and forgotten wastes
of desert in the far eastern part of the county, were found in the '80s the
remains of a prehistoric village which may have lieen nccupied many centuries
ago by the same race of men that built the extinct and buried cities (if Arizona
and Mexico.

In a hollow between two ridges uf the nmuntain are the ruins of two
parallel walls, two hundred feet in length, with shorter walls extending from
them at right angles. From the size and form of the building to which the
walls seem to have belonged it is doubtless permissible to assume that it
may have been a temple, a fort or some other public building. Down a little
way on the northern slope of the mountain stand the ruins of what appears
to have been a dwelling. What is left of the walls, standing two or three
feet in height, form almost a perfect circle. On the east was a door, and carved
on the inside of the walls are hieroglyphics identical with those found on
the famous Poston butte near Florence, Arizona. The rocks, also, are very
similar to those of the Poston carvings. One of the characters is described
as not unlike the astronomical sign for the planet Mars. The evident size
of the work and the character of the carving indicate that the ruins are
not those of a building erected by any of the more recent Indian tribes, and
the decay and discoloration of the mck slmw that the carving was done
centuries ago.

A circumstance that gives these ruins still greater interest to the visitor
is the old, dead aspect of all the country around. Tlie dead. l)arren liills,
the gray reaches of desert, the dry wind, the solemn, cloudless sky, the
blazing, unobscured sun, the ineffable silence brooding everywhere, all remind
one, the travellers say, of the Holy Land, and of the old cradles of dead
races in Asia and Egvpt.

There is not a little in Kern county for the archeologist to unearth, but
even of our immediate predecessors, the Indians who possessed the land
before the white men came, we know comparatively little. There is reason
to suppose that at somewhat earlier dates California was peopled by a more
heroic race of redmen than was found here when the first gold seekers began


to explore the Sierras for placer mines. The descriptions of the Indians left
by the first historians disagree widely as to the size, appearance and general
character of the tribes that inhabited the state and there seems to be an
equal discrepancy in the measurements of the bones exhumed from the Indian
burying places. When Kit Carson first visited California in 1829 he found
the valleys swarming with large and prosperous tribes. About that date it
was roughly estimated that the number of Indians in the state was upward
of 100,000. In 1859 Carson again visited the valley and found that the tribes
he had known on his former tour had wholly disappeared and that the people
living here at that time had never heard of them. In 1863 the Department
of the Interior counted 29,300 Indians in the state.

Between Goose lake in Kern county and Tulare lake was found, years
ago, the remains of an old Indian village with the ground about it strewn
with skulls and bleaching bones as though some pestilence had descended
upon the tribe and mowed it down so swiftly and relentlessly that none
were left with strength to bury the dead. Early records tell also of epidemics
of smallpox and other diseases that decimated the Indian tribes.

In his researches into the history and habits of the Indians, E. L. McLeod,
who gathered one of the finest collections of Indian baskets in the state,
fell upon an interesting clue to the origin of the Kern county tribes who were
known quite generally by the name Yokut. Spending a day in Hanford,
Mr. McLeod saw a number of Indians squatting along the curb of one of
the streets, and as was his custom when the opportunity served, he went
to talk with them. Presently down the street came a runaway team, and
thereafter the usual crowd of people gathered.

"Yokut! Yokut!" exclaimed one of the Indian women, pointing toward
the sudden assemblage.

Mr. McLeod scented the clue and at once inquired what the women
meant by the exclamation.

"They come everywhere," was the explanation forthcoming, and com-
bining this new knowledge with what he had formerly known of the Yokut
Indians, Mr. McLeod reached the conclusion that the name did not indicate
an homogenous tribe but that the Yokuts came from everywhere.

The average Indian found here by the earliest settlers was not a par-
ticularly noble specimen of manhood. He reared no temples and built no
monuments. For a dwelling he hollowed out a little circle in the earth,
raised above it a cone-shaped framework of poles or brush and thatched it
with bark, grass or rushes. As late as 1874 many of the old men wore no
clothes save a breech clout, summer or winter. In cold weather they huddled
in their huts, scurrying out into the wet or snow, stark naked, when need
required, to gather a little wood for the fire that smouldered in the center
of their dingy, smoky homes. Meat formed but a very small part of the
diet of the Kern county Indians of the earlier times. Those who lived
by the valley lakes caught clams, and squirrels and smaller game fell victims
to their arrows. But the main staples of their larder were acorns, juniper
berries, piiions, the few wild fruits and nuts, the edible roots and seeds of
wild grasses that grew along the foothills before the foxtail usurped their

Through the mountains everywhere are found in broad, flat rocks the
clusters of hollowed holes where the village women gathered to pound the
acorns and grass seeds into the dough from which they baked their bread.


In the vallej-s are found the portable stone mortars and pestles, which the
squaws had to carry about with them because no native stones were to be
found by the valley villages. These mortars and pestles, sinkers which were
cleverly fashioned from granite for the fishermen, the spear and arrow heads
which were chipped out by touching the heated stones with a piece of wet
wood, and the handsome and artistically woven baskets which served a
multitude of purposes, are practically the only specimens of the handicraft
of the Indians that remain.

Anthropologists, particularly Dr. C. Hart Merriam of Washington, D. C,
have been fairly successful in gathering information concerning the customs,
religion and language of the Indians of this part of the state, and Prof.
George H. Taylor, now of Fresno, but for many years a resident of Bakers-
field, after months of effort got one of the remaining tribal singers to sing into
a phonograph one of the more elaborate ceremonials of her race. Into the
very striking music of the ceremonial is woven dll the pathos, all the mystery,
all the fear and all the struggling hopefulness that this childlike people
gained from the great ^Mother Nature of whom they understood so little
and with whom they lived in such daily, intimate contact. The music of
the ceremonial has not yet been transcribed. It will be a pity, indeed, if
it is not reduced to some enduring form, for it is one of the few legacies
of a fast-dying people that later races may profitably preserve.

In some of the Indian mounds in the valley between Buena Vista and
Tulare lakes the bodies of the dead seem to have been buried in a sitting
posture, but inquiry does not develop that this was always the case. Many
of the burying grounds in the lower lands have been disturbed by floods,
however, and the bones and whatever articles may have been buried with
the bodies have been scattered and recovered with deeper or shallower
washings of mud and sand. Some of the remains in the valley mounds had
been wrapped in blankets or cloth of some coarse texture, and quite recently
J. W. Stockton dug up and forwarded to the Smithsonian Institution the
bones of an Indian that had been buried in a sitting posture in the bank
of Kern river not far from the Kern river oil field. This body had been
covered with reeds in the form of a coarse basket.

Tribal Names and Characteristics

From C. Hart Merriam's "Distribution of Indian Tribes in the Southern
Sierra and Adjacent Parts of the San Joaquin Valley, California," the fol-
lowing is condensed:

"South of the Muwa, and ranging from Fresno creek to Kern lake and
Tehachapi basin, are tribes of two widely different linguistic families — the
Yokut and Paiute. These tribes are arranged, in the main, in parallel belts,
the Yokuts occupying the lower and more westerly country, the Paiutes the
higher and more easterly. But there is this important difference: The Yokut
tribes are more numerous, and until the confiscation of their lands by the
whites their distribution was continuous, while the Paiute tribes are few
and their distribution is, and always was, interrupted by broad intervals.
Powers recognized the general facts that the Indians of this part of Cali-
fornia belonged in the main to the Yokut and Paiute stocks ; that the Yokut
tribes were a peaceful people and were the earlier occupants of the region;
and that the Paiute tribes were more powerful and warlike and entered at a
later period. He states that bands of Paiutes, leaving their desert homes


east of the mountains, had pushed through the passes of the Sierras, invaded
certain valleys of the western slope, and driven out the Yokut people.

"Tribes of other linguistic families inhabited the hot Tulare-Kern basin
and the region to the west and southwest, but they do not come within
the scope of the present paper. In the area south of Fresno creek I have
obtained vocabularies of eighteen tribes, of which nine are of Yokut origin
and nine of supposed Paiute of Shoshonian origin."

Of the nine Yokut tribes which Dr. Merriam enumerates, the Taches
lived around Tulare lake in the lower Sonoran zone, and the Yowelmannes
inhabited the Bakersfield plain and thence to Kern lake. But a few of either
tribe remain. Of the Paiute tribes the Pakanepul are found on the South
Fork of Kern river, and the Newooah center about Paiute mountain. Dr.
Merriam states that the languages of the two tribes last mentioned differ so
greatly from each other and from the supposed common Paiute stock as
represented by the Owens Valley Paiutes that if they really are of Paiute
origin they must have crossed the mountains at a very remote date. The
chief and almost onh^ resemblance in the languages is in the numerals, and
Dr. Merriam says that this may have arisen through contact rather than
through common heredity.

The word Yokut, Dr. Merriam says, means "the people,"' as also does
the tribal name Newooah, and a number of other famil}^ and tribal names
b)' which the Indians referred to themselves.

The Paiute tribes inhabited the cooler Ponderosa pine belt of the moun-
tains, while the Yokuts lived in the hot San Joaquin valley and rarely- pushed
their way so high as the Digger pine belt.

Civilizing the Indian

While no Spanish missions were established in the territory now com-
prised in Kern county, the Indians found here had been to some extent in-
fluenced by the civilization of the padres through the fact that many of the
young braves from the different tribes were taken to the missions and kept
there under the teaching of the fathers for longer or shorter periods, and
also because tribes that had been driven from the older parts of the state
by the encroachments of the whites migrated to this end of the San Joaquin
valley or to the mountains round about.

There were no Indian wars worth)' the name in the history of the
state, but in 1850 the Indians from ^^'hite river to Kern lake made an appar-
ently concerted attack on the white miners and settlers, and the fear of danger
more than the actual harm the Indians inflicted prompted che President
in 1850 to appoint a peace commission consisting of Redick McKee, G. \\'.
Barbour and O. M. Wozencraft, Indian agents, to make peace with the
tribes. These emissaries decided that the Indians had been forced to
steal from the white men and had been justly angered into attacking them
by having been driven from their ancient hunting and fishing grounds to
the less hospitable mountains and desert plains. The peace commission
recommended that the Indians be made allowances of food and given reserva-
tions on the plains. On June 10, 1851, it is recorded, treaties were made with
eleven tribes around Kern lake.

But after the apparent habit of Indian agencies, jealousies interferred
with the smooth working of the plans of the peace commission, and the
three commissioners soon divided the territory into three jurisdictions, Bar-
bour taking charge of the San Joaquin valley. About the same time charges


of graft and mismanagement reached Washington, and in the spring oi 1852
Lieut. E. F. Beale was made superintendent of Indian affairs in California.

Beale had very well formed ideas concerning Indian management and
he proceeded to put them into effect, concentrating his main energies at
Tejon. In brief his scheme was a mixture and adaptation df the methods of
the army and the missions. He adopted the plan of communal farming, pro-
vided instruction under the supervision of resident agents, and established
forts with garrisons of soldiers both to protect the Indians and to keej) them
I within bounds and under proper discipline. The plan was working admir-
ably, but the government authorities thought that the expenditures were out
of proportion to the number of the wards of the nation provided for, and
Beale was replaced by Col. T. J. Henley.

Henley established three other reservations at once, and later increased
that number, the reservation on Tule river being one. In addition many
farms and branch reservations were equipped. Soldiers from the forts and
visitors to the reservations carried word to Washington that too much graft
was going on under cover of aid to the California Indians, and G. Bailey
was sent to make an investigation. Further changes followed, the allowance
for Indian agencies was reduced, the Fresno and Kings river farms were
abandoned, and in 1863 Tejon was given up and the Indians in this part of
the state were concentrated on the Tule river farm. In 1873 the Tule
farm was abandoned, and the Indians were moved to the reservation on the
south fork of Tule river, back in the mountains.

Such is a bare outline of a very interesting chapter in the liist(jry of the
nation's dealings with the aboriginal tribes. J. J. Lopez, for many years
in charge of sheep and cattle at the Tejon ranch, supplies from memory and
tradition something of the local color and interest. Many years ago, Lopez
relates, the mountains around Tejon were a harbor for renegade Indians from
the coast and southern missions. An Indian that had been taken to the mis-
sions, baptized, taught the taste of meat and the pains of hard labor and
who had gone wild again was a worse Indian than one who had remained
in his savage and ignorant state, and when the original Spanish grantors of
the land now included in the Tejon ranch came to take possession they found
the Indians so troublesome and the bears so numerous and aggressive that
they relinquished their plans.

Next to the renegade Indians, who were specially adept at stealing, the
most troublesome of the savages were the Serranos. who in the '505 had
their hunting grounds in Inyo county and the Monache meadows and drove
off cattle wherever they could find them through the mountains from Tulare
to Los Angeles county, and the Tecuyas. a tribe of warlike Indians that
migrated from the coast and took up their abode a little to the west of the
mouth of Tejon canon. It happened that the hills between Tejon canon
and San Emidio had long been the hunting grounds of the Pescaderos, who
had their village on the border of Kern lake, and the result was perennial
warfare between the new comers and the old.

The Serranos, the Pescaderos and the Tecuyas together with the peace-
able Tehachapis and other tribes from the mountain valleys, all were gathered
at Tejon, and they seem to have gotten along fairly well under the restraint
of the soldiers and the influence of Lieutenant Beale's patriarchal govern-
ment. But when the tribes were moved north the Tecuyas and Castacs elected
to return to the coast, not caring to associate with the other clans. A large


number remained at Tejon, and after Beale had bought the grants and estab-
lished his farming and stock-raising industries there he gave such of the
Indians as cared to stay tracts of four or five acres each to farm for them-
selves and employed them as herders, shearers and farm laborers. About
one hundred and fifty Indians, mostly Serranos, now live on the Tejon
ranch, and their presence there links the Tejon of the present with the primi-
tive days before the white man came, as no other part of the county is linked.
The Tejon Ranch
What is generally known by the name of the Tejon ranch includes the
rancho el Tejon (the ranch of the badger), rancho Castac (the lake ranch),
rancho Los Alamos y Augua Caliente (the ranch of the cottonwoods and
the warm water), and rancho la Liebre (the ranch of the jack-rabbit), com-
prising in all upward of 150,000 acres of mountain, valley and mesa land
along the western slope of the Sierras reaching from the middle of the county
to its southern border.

General Beale bought the old Spanish grants which the different ranches
represent from the original owners, who were unable or indisposed to do
anything with them, and following the removal of the Indians he made the

Online LibraryWallace Melvin MorganHistory of Kern County, California, with biographical sketches of the leading men and women of the county who have been identified with its growth and development from the early days to the present; → online text (page 4 of 177)