HISTORY OF CALIFORNIA
HISTORY OF CALIFORNIA
HELEN ELLIOTT BANDINI
For her information the writer has depended almost entirely upon source
material seldom making use of a secondary work. Her connection with the
old Spanish families has opened to her unusual advantages for the study
of old manuscripts and for the gathering of recollections of historical
events which she has taken from the lips of aged Spanish residents
always verifying a statement before using it. She has also from long
familiarity with the Spanish-speaking people been able to interpret
truly the life of the Spanish and Mission period.
The illustrator of the history Mr. Roy J. Warren has made a careful
study of the manuscript chapter by chapter. He has also been a faithful
student of California and her conditions; his illustrations are
therefore in perfect touch with the text and are as true to facts as
the history itself.
The thanks of the author are due not only to a host of writers from whom
she has gained valuable assistance and some of whose names are among
those in the references at the end of the book but to others to whom
further acknowledgment is due. First of these is Professor H. Morse
Stephens whose suggestions from the inception of the work until its
completion have been of incalculable advantage and whose generous offer
to read the proof sheets crowns long months of friendly interest.
Secondly the author is indebted to the faithful and constant
supervision of her sister Miss Agnes Elliott of the Los Angeles State
Normal School without whose wide experience as a teacher of history and
economics the work could never have reached its present plane. The
author also offers her thanks to Mr. Charles F. Lummis to whom not only
she but all students of California history must ever be indebted; to
Mrs. Mary M. Coman Miss Isabel Frazee to the officers of the various
state departments especially Mr. Lewis E. Aubrey State Mineralogist
and Mr. Thomas J. Kirk and his assistant Mr. Job Wood of the educational
department; to Miss Nellie Rust Librarian of the Pasadena City Library
and her corps of accommodating and intelligent assistants and to the
librarians of the Los Angeles City Library and State Normal School.
The passages from the Century Magazine quoted in Chapters V-IX are
inserted by express permission of the publishers the Century Company.
Acknowledgment is due also to the publishers of the Overland Monthly
for courtesy in permitting the use of copyright material; and to D.
Appleton & Co. for permission to insert selections from Sherman's
I. The Land and the Name
II. The Story of the Indians
III. "The Secret of the Strait"
IV. The Cross of Santa Fe
V. Pastoral Days
VI. The Footsteps of the Stranger
VII. At the Touch of King Midas
VIII. The Great Stampede
IX. The Birth of the Golden Baby
X. The Signal Gun and the Steel Trail
XI. That Which Followed After
XII. "The Groves Were God's First Temples"
XIII. To All that Sow the Time of Harvest Should be Given
XIV. The Golden Apples of the Hesperides
XV. California's Other Contributions to the World's Bill of Fare
XVI. The Hidden Treasures of Mother Earth
XVII. From La Escuela of Spanish California to the Schools of the
History of California
The Land and the Name
Once upon a time about four hundred years ago there was published in
old Spain a novel which soon became unusually popular. The successful
story of those days was one which caught the fancy of the men was read
by them discussed at their gatherings and often carried with them when
they went to the wars or in search of adventures. This particular story
would not interest readers of to-day save for this passage: "Know that
on the right hand of the Indies there is an island called California
very near the Terrestrial Paradise and it is peopled by black women who
live after the fashion of Amazons. This island is the strongest in the
world with its steep rocks and great cliffs and there is no metal in
the island but gold."
There is no doubt that some bold explorer crossing over from Spain to
Mexico and enlisting under the leadership of the gallant Cortez sailed
the unknown South Sea (the Pacific) and gave to the new land discovered
by one of Cortez's pilots the name of the golden island in this favorite
This land thought to be an island is now known to us as the peninsula
of Lower California. The name first appeared in 1542 on the map of
Domingo Castillo and was soon applied to all the land claimed by Spain
from Cape San Lucas up the coast as far north as 441 which was probably
a little higher than any Spanish explorer had ever sailed.
"Sir Francis Drake" says the old chronicle "was the first Englishman
to sail on the back side of America" and from that time until now
California has been considered the back door of the country. This was
natural because the first settlements in the United States were along
the Atlantic seacoast. The people who came from England kept their faces
turned eastward looking to the Mother Country for help and watching
Europe and later England herself as a quarter from which danger might
come as indeed it did in the war of the Revolution and that of 1812.
During the last few years however various events have happened to
change this attitude. Through its success in the late Spanish war the
United States gained confidence in its own powers while the people of
the old world began to realize that the young republic of the western
hemisphere since it did not hesitate to make war in the interests of
humanity would not be apt to allow its own rights to be imposed upon.
The coming of the Philippine and Hawaiian Islands under the protection
of the United States the Russo-Japanese war which opened the eyes of
the world to the strength of Japan and the wisdom of securing its trade
and the action of the United States in undertaking the building of the
Panama Canal are indications that the Pacific will in the future
support a commerce the greatness of which we of to-day cannot estimate.
With danger from European interference no longer pressing closely upon
the nation President Roosevelt in 1907 took a decided step in
recognizing the importance of the Pacific when he sent to that coast so
large a number of the most modern vessels of the navy. In fact the
nation may now be said to have faced about California becoming the
front door of our country.
It is well then to ask ourselves what we know about the state which is
to form part of the reception room of one of the leading nations of the
It is a long strip of territory bounded on one side by the ocean so
well named Pacific which gives freshness and moisture to the
ever-blowing westerly winds.
On the other side is a mountain range one thousand miles long with
many of its peaks covered with perpetual snow holding in its lofty arms
hundreds of ice-cold lakes its sides timbered with the most wonderful
forests of the world.
Few regions of the same size have so great a range of altitude as
California some portions of its desert lands being below sea level
while several of its mountains are over ten thousand feet in height. In
its climate too there are wide differences as regards heat and cold
although its coast lands whether north or south are much more
temperate than the corresponding latitudes on the Atlantic coast. The
difference in the climate of the northern and southern portions of the
state is more marked in the matter of moisture. Most of the storms of
California have their beginning out in the North Pacific Ocean. They
travel in a southeasterly direction striking the coast far to the north
in summer but in winter extending hundreds of miles farther south.
During November December January and February they often reach as far
south as the Mexican line. Then only does southern California have
rain. The water necessary for use in the summer time is gained by
irrigation from the mountain streams which are supplied largely from
the melting snows on the Sierras.
The home lands of the state may be divided into two portions: the
beautiful border country rising from the Pacific in alternate valleys
and low rolling foothills to the edge of the Coast Range; and the great
central valley or basin which lies like a vast pocket almost entirely
encircled by mountains the high Sierras on the east on the west the low
Coast Range. Two large rivers with their tributaries drain this valley:
the San Joaquin flowing from the south; and the Sacramento flowing
from the north. Joining near the center of the state they cut their way
through the narrow passage the Strait of Carquinez and casting their
waters into the beautiful Bay of San Francisco finally reach the ocean
through the Golden Gate.
Down from the Sierras mighty glaciers carried the soil for this central
valley grinding and pulverizing it as it was rolled slowly along. Many
years this process continued. The rain washing the mountain sides
brought its tribute in the rich soil and decayed vegetation of the
higher region until a natural seed bed was formed where there can be
raised in abundance a wonderful variety of plants and trees. In the
coast valleys the soil is alluvial the fine washing of mountain rocks;
this is mixed in some places with a warmer firmer loam and in others
with a gravelly soil which is the best known for orange raising.
The state owes much to her mountains for not only have they contributed
to her fertile soil but they hold in their rocky slopes the gold and
silver mines which have transformed the whole region from an unknown
wilderness to a land renowned for its riches and beauty. They lift their
lofty peaks high in the air like mighty strongholds and shutting out
the desert winds catch the clouds as they sail in from the ocean
making them pay heavy tribute in fertilizing rain to the favored land
The climate which of all the precious possessions of California is the
most valuable is best described by Bret Harte in the lines "Half a
year of clouds and flowers; half a year of dust and sky." Either half is
enjoyable for in the summer or dry season fogs or delightful westerly
winds soon moderate a heated spell and in nearly all parts of the state
the nights are cool; while the rainy or winter season changes to balmy
springtime as soon as the storm is over.
In a large portion of the state the climate is such that the inhabitants
may spend much of their time out of doors. As a rule few duties are
attended to in the house which can possibly be performed in the open
air. It is growing to be more and more the custom to have in connection
with a Californian home a tent bedroom where the year round one or more
of the members of the family sleep with only a wall of canvas between
them and nature.
The vacation time is spent largely in summer camps at either mountain
or seashore or quite often a pleasant party of one or two families
live together very simply under the greenwood tree beside some spring
or stream spending a few weeks in gypsy fashion. While the young folk
grow sturdy and beautiful the older members of the party become filled
with strength and a joy of living which helps them through the cares and
struggles of the rest of the year. This joy in outdoor life is not
however a discovery of to-day. The old Spanish families spent as much
time as possible in the courtyard the house being deserted save at
night. When upon journeys men women and children slept in the open
air. Even the clothes-washing period was turned into a kind of
merrymaking. Whole families joined together to spend days in the
vicinity of some stream where they picnicked while the linen was being
cleansed in the running water and dried on the bushes near by.
Once before when the world was younger there was a land similar to
this--sea-kissed mountain-guarded with such gentle climate and soft
skies. Its people who also lived much out of doors at peace with
nature became almost perfect in health and figure with mental
qualities which enabled them to give to the world the best it has known
in literature and art. What the ancient Greeks were the people of
California may become; but with an advancement in knowledge and
loving-kindness of man toward man which heathen Athens never knew.
What will be the result of this outdoor life cannot yet be told; climate
has always had an active influence in shaping the character and type of
a people. With a climate mild and healthful yet bracing; with a soil so
rich that the touch of irrigation makes even the sandiest places bloom
with the highest beauty of plant tree and vine; with an ocean warm and
gentle and skies the kindliest in the world--there is if we judge by
the lesson history teaches a promise of a future for California greater
and more noble than the world has yet known.
The Story of the Indians
"Run Cleeta run the waves will catch you." Cleeta scudded away her
naked little body shining like polished mahogany. She was fleet of foot
but the incoming breakers from the bosom of the great Pacific ran faster
still; and the little Indian girl was caught in its foaming water
rolled over and over and cast upon the sandy beach half choked yet
laughing with the fun of it.
"Foolish Cleeta you might have been drowned; that was a big wave. What
made you go out so far?" said Gesnip the elder sister.
"I found such a lot of mussels great big ones I wish I could go back
and get them" said the little one looking anxiously at the water.
"The waves are coming in higher and higher and it is growing late" said
Gesnip; "besides I have more mussels already than you and I can well
carry. The boys have gone toward the river mouth for clams. They will be
sure to go home the other way."
Cleeta ran to the basket and looked in.
"I should think there were too many for us to carry" she said as she
tried with all her strength to lift it by the carry straps. "What will
you do with them; throw some back into the water?"
"No I don't like to do that" answered her sister frowning "for it
has been so long since we have had any. The wind and the waves have been
too high for us to gather any. Look Cleeta look; what are those out on
the water? I do believe they are boats."
"No" said the little girl; "I see what you mean but boats never go out
so far as that."
"Not tule boats" said Gesnip "but big thick one made out of trees;
that is the kind they have at Santa Catalina the island where uncle
lives. It has been a long time since he came to see us not since you
were four years old but mother is always looking for him."
The children gazed earnestly seaward at a fleet of canoes which were
making for the shore. "Do you think it is uncle?" asked Cleeta.
"Yes" replied her sister uncertainly "I think it may be." Then as
the sunlight struck full on the boats "Yes yes I am sure of it for
one is red and no on else has a boat of that color; all others are
"Mother said he would bring abalone when he came" cried Cleeta dancing
from one foot to the other; "and she said they are better than mussels
or anything else for soup."
"He will bring fish" said Gesnip "big shining fish with yellow tails."
"Mother said he would bring big blue ones with hard little seams down
their sides" said Cleeta.
Meantime the boats drew nearer. They were of logs hollowed out until
they were fairly light but still seeming too clumsy for safe seagoing
craft. In each were several men. One sat in the stern and steered the
others knelt in pairs each man helping propel the boat by means of a
stick some four feet long more like a pole than a paddle which he
worked with great energy over the gunwale.
"I am afraid of them" said Cleeta drawing close to her sister. "They
do not look like the people I have seen. Their faces are the color of
the kah-hoom mother weaves in her baskets. There are only three like us
and they all have such strange clothes."
"Do not be afraid" said Gesnip. "I see uncle; he is one of the dark
ones like ourselves. The island people have yellow skins."
The time was the year 1540 and the people the Californians of that
day. The men in the boat were mostly from the island of Santa Catalina
and were fairer with more regular features than the inhabitants of the
mainland who in southern California were a short thick-set race with
thick lips dark brown skin coarse black hair and eyes small and
shining like jet-black beads. They were poorly clothed in winter; in
summer a loin cloth was often all that the men wore while the children
went naked a large part of the year.
With wonderful skill the badly shaped boats were guided safely over the
breakers until their bows touched the sand. Then the men leaped out and
half wading half swimming pulled them from the water and ran them up
on the beach.
The little girls drew near and stood quietly by waiting to be spoken
to. Presently the leading man who was short dark and handsomely
dressed in a suit of sealskin ornamented with abalone shell turned to
"Who are these little people?" he asked in a kind voice.
"We are the children of Cuchuma and Macana" replied Gesnip working her
toes in and out of the soft sand too shy to look her uncle in the face.
"Children of my sister Sholoc is glad to see you" said the chief
laying his hand gently on Cleeta's head. "Your mother is she well?"
"She is well and looking for you these many moons" said Gesnip.
The men at once began unloading the boats. The children watched the
process with great interest Abalone in their shells a dainty prized
then as well as now fish yellowtail and bonito filled to the brim the
large baskets which the men slung to their backs carrying them by means
of a strap over the forehead. On their heads they placed ollas or water
jars of serpentine from quarries which may be seen in Santa Catalina
to-day the marks of the tools of workmen of that time still in the
There were also strings of bits of abalone shell which had been
punctured and then polished and these Sholoc hung around his neck.
"Uncle" exclaimed Gesnip touching one of these strings "how much
money! You have grown rich at Santa Catalina. What will you buy?"
"Buy me a wife perhaps" was the reply. "I will give two strings for a
good wife. Do you know any worth so much?"
"No" said the girl stoutly. "I don't know any worth two whole strings
of abalone. You can get a good wife for much less."
The men who had succeeded in loading the contents of the boats on their
heads and backs now marched away in single file crossing the heavy
sand dunes slowly then mounting the range of foothills beyond. The
children followed. Gesnip had her basket bound to her head by a strap
round her forehead; but though her uncle had taken out part of the
contents it was a heavy load for the child.
As they neared the top of the hill Sholoc who was ahead lifted his
hand and motioned them to stop.
"Hush" he said softly "elk." Swiftly the men slipped off their loads
and with bows in hand each one crept flat on his belly over the hill
crest. Gesnip and Cleeta peeped through the high grass. Below them was a
wide plain dotted with clumps of bushes and scattered over it they
could see a great herd of elk whose broad shining antlers waved above
the grass and bushes upon which they were feeding.
"Are those elk too?" asked Cleeta presently pointing toward the
foothills at their left.
"No" replied her sister "I think those are antelope. I like to see
them run. How funny their tails shake. But watch the men; they are going
As she spoke four of the hunters who had crept well up toward the
game rose to their feet holding their bows horizontally not
perpendicularly. These weapons which were made of cedar wood were
about four feet in length painted at the ends black or dark blue the
middle which was almost two inches broad being wrapped with elk sinew.
The strings also were of sinew. The quiver which each man carried at his
side was made from the skin of a wild cat or of a coyote. A great hunter
like Sholoc might make his quiver from the tails of lions he had killed.
Projecting from the quiver were the bright-feathered ends of the arrows
which were of reed and were two or three feet long with points of bone
flint or obsidian.
The hunters knowing how hard it was to kill large game had chosen
their arrows carefully taking those that had obsidian points. Almost at
the same moment they let fly their shafts. Three elk leaped into the
air. One tumbled over in a somersault which broke one of its antlers
and then lay dead shot through the heart by Sholoc. Another took a few
leaps but a second arrow brought it to its knees. Then it sank slowly
over upon its side; but it struck so fiercely at the hunter who ran up