THE LITTLE LADY OF LAGUNITAS
THE LITTLE LADY OF LAGUNITAS
RICHARD HENRY SAVAGE
Forty-two years have passed since California's golden star first
glittered in the flag of the United States of America.
Its chequered history virtually begins with the rush for gold in
Acquired for the evident purpose of extending slave-holding
territory it was occupied for years by a multitude of cosmopolitan
"free lances" who swept away the defenceless Indians and brutally
robbed the great native families the old "Dons."
Society slowly made headway against these motley adventurers. Mad
riot wildest excess marked these earlier days.
High above the meaner knights of the "revolver and bowie knife"
greater than card sharper fugitive bravo or sly wanton giant
schemers appeared who throw yet dark shadows over the records
of this State.
These daring conspirators dominated legislature and forum public
office and society.
They spoiled the Mexican robbed the Indian and paved the way for
a "Lone Star Republic" or the delivering of the great treasure
fields of the West to the leaders of Secession.
How their designs on this grand domain failed; what might have been
had the South been more active in its hour of primary victory and
seized the Golden West these pages may show.
The golden days of the "stars and bars" were lost by the activity
of the Unionists and the mistaken policy at Richmond.
The utter demoralization of California by the "bonanza era" of
silver discovery the rise of an invincible plutocracy and the
second reign of loose luxury are herein set forth.
Scenes never equalled in shamelessness have disgraced the Halls of State the Courts and the mansions of the suddenly enriched.
The poor have been trampled by these tyrants for twenty years.
Characters unknown in the social history of any other land have
been evolved from this golden eddy of crime and adventure.
Not till all these men and women of incredibly romantic fortunes
have passed away will a firm social structure rise over their
Throttled by usurers torn by gigantic bank wars its resources
drained by colossal swindles crouching yet under the iron rule
of upstart land-barons "dashing journalism" and stern railroad
autocrats the Californian community has gloomily struggled along.
Newer States have made a relative progress which shames California.
Its future is yet uncertain.
The native sons and daughters of the golden West are the hope of
The homemakers may yet win the victory.
Some of the remarkable scenes of the past are herein portrayed by
one who has seen this game of life played in earnest the shadowed
drama of California.
There is no attempt to refer to individuals save as members of
well-defined classes in these pages. This book has absolutely no
NEW YORK CITY May 15 1892.
THE LAST OF THE DONS BY THE BLUE PACIFIC.
CHAPTER I.--Under the Mexican Eagle.--Exit the Foreigner.--Monterey
CHAPTER II.--At the Presidio of San Francisco. Wedding Chimes from
the Mission Dolores.--Lagunitas Rancho
CHAPTER III.--A Missing Sentinel.--Fremont's Camp
CHAPTER IV.--Held by the Enemy.--The Bear Flag
GOLD FOR ALL.--A NEW STAR IN THE FLAG.
CHAPTER V.--The Golden Magnet.--Free or Slave?
CHAPTER VI.--Lighting Freedom's Western Lamp
CHAPTER VII.--The Queen of the El Dorado.--Guilty Bonds
CHAPTER VIII.--Joaquin the Mountain Robber.--The Don's Peril
CHAPTER IX.--The Stranger's Foot at Lagunitas. Valois' Spanish
GOING HOME TO DIXIE.--STARS AND STRIPES OR STARS AND BARS?
CHAPTER X.--A Little Dinner at Judge Hardin's. The Knights of the
CHAPTER XI.--"I'se gwine back to Dixie."--The Fortunes of War.--Val
CHAPTER XII.--Hood's Day.--Peachtree Creek. Valois' Last Trust.--De
Gress' Battery.--Dead on the Field of Honor
A LOST HEIRESS.--MILLIONS AT STAKE.
CHAPTER XIII.--Mount Davidson's Magic Millions. A California
Plutocracy.--The Price of a Crime
CHAPTER XIV.--A Mariposa Bonanza.--Natalie de Santos born in
Paris.--The Queen of the El Dorado joins the Gallic "Four Hundred"
CHAPTER XV.--An Old Priest and a Young Artist. The Changelings
CHAPTER XVI.-Hearing Each Other.--The Valois Heirs
CHAPTER XVII.--Weaving Spiders.--A Coward Blow.--Marie Berard's
REAPING THE WHIRLWIND.
CHAPTER XVIII.--Joe Woods Surprises a Lady. Love's Golden Nets
CHAPTER XIX.--Lovers Once Strangers Now. Face to Face
CHAPTER XX.--Judge Hardin Meets his Match. A Senatorial Election.--In
a Mariposa Court Room.--The Trust fulfilled at Lagunitas
THE LAST OF THE DONS BY THE BLUE PACIFIC.
UNDER THE MEXICAN EAGLE.--EXIT THE FOREIGNER.--MONTEREY 1840.
"Caramba! Adios Seflores!" cried Captain Miguel Peralta sitting
on his roan charger on the Monterey bluffs. A white-sailed bark
is heading southward for Acapulco. His vaqueros tossed up their
sombreros shouting "Vive Alvarado! Muerte los estrangeros!"
The Pacific binds the hills of California in a sapphire zone
unflecked by a single sail in sight save the retreating trader
which is flitting around "Punta de los Pinos."
It is July 1840. The Mexican ensign flutters in the plaza of
Monterey the capital of Alta California.
Miguel Peralta dismounts and crosses himself murmuring "Sea por
Dios y la Santissima Virgen."
His duty is done. He has verified the departure of the Yankee ship.
It is crowded with a hundred aliens. They are now exiles.
Gathered in by General Vallejo the "pernicious foreigners" have
been held at Monterey until a "hide drogher" comes into the port.
Alvarado permits her to anchor under the guns of the hill battery.
He then seizes the ship for his use.
Captain Peralta is given the honor of casting out these Ishmaels
of fortune. He views calmly their exit. It is a land which welcomes
not the "Gringo." The ship-master receives a draft on Acapulco
for his impressed service. These pioneer argonauts are warned (on
pain of death) not to return. It is a day of "fiesta" in Monterey.
"Vive Alvarado!" is the toast.
So when Captain Miguel dashes into the Plaza surrounded with his
dare-devil retainers reporting that the vessel is off shore the
rejoicing is unbounded.
Cannons roar: the yells of the green jacket and yellow scrape brigade
rise on the silent reaches of the Punta de los Pinos. A procession
winds up to the Carmel Mission. Governor Alvarado his staff the
leading citizens the highest families and the sefioritas attend
a mass of thanksgiving. Attired in light muslins with here and there
a bright-colored shawl giving a fleck of color and silk kerchiefs
--fleecy--the ladies' only other ornaments are the native flowers
which glitter on the slopes of Monterey Bay. Bevies of dark-eyed
girls steal glances at Andres Ramon or Jose while music lends a
hallowing charm to the holy father's voice as he bends before the
decorated altar. Crowds of mission Indians fill the picturesque
church. Every heart is proud. Below their feet sleeps serenely
good Fray "Junipero Serra." He blessed this spot in 1770;--a man of
peace he hung the bells on the green oaks in a peaceful wilderness.
High in air to-day they joyously peal out a "Laus Deo." When the
mystery of the mass rehearses the awful sacrifice of Him who died
for us all a silence broods over the worshippers. The notes of
the choristers' voices slowly die away. The population leaves the
church in gay disorder.
The Bells of the Past throw their spells over the mossy church--at
once triumph tomb and monument of Padre Junipero. Scattered
over the coast of California the padres now sleep in the Lethe of
death. Fathers Kino Salvatierra Ugarte and sainted Serra left
their beautiful works of mercy from San Diego to Sonoma. With
their companions neither unknown tribes lonely coasts dangers
by land and sea the burning deserts of the Colorado nor Indian
menaces prevented the linking together of these outposts of
peaceful Christianity. The chain of missions across New Mexico and
Texas and the Mexican religious houses stretches through bloody
Arizona. A golden circlet!
Happy California! The cross here preceded the sword. No blood stains
the Easter lilies of the sacrifice. The Dons and Donnas greet each
other in stately fashion as the gathering disperses. Governor
Alvarado gives a feast to the notables. The old families are
all represented at the board. Picos Peraltas Sanchez Pachecos
Guerreros Estudillos Vallejos Alvarados De la Guerras Castros
Micheltorrenas the descendants of "Conquistadores" drink to
Mexico. High rises the jovial chatter. Good aguadiente and mission
wine warm the hearts of the fiery Californian orators. A proud day
for Monterey the capital of a future Empire of Gold. The stranger
is cast out. Gay caballeros are wending to the bear-baiting the
bull-fights the "baile" and the rural feasts. Splendid riders
prance along artfully forcing their wild steeds into bounds and
curvets with the rowels of their huge silver-mounted spurs.
Dark lissome girls raise their velvety eyes and applaud this daring
horsemanship. Senioritas Luisa Isabel and Panchita lose no point
of the display. In a land without carriages or roads the appearance
of the cavalier his mount his trappings most do make the man
shine before these fair slips of Mexican blue blood.
Down on the beach the boys race their half-broken broncos. These
lads are as lithe and lean as the ponies they bestride. Across the
bay the Sierras of Santa Cruz lift their virgin crests (plumed with
giant redwoods) to the brightest skies on earth. Flashing brooks
wander to the sea unvexed by mill unbridged in Nature's unviolated
freedom. Far to north and south the foot-hills stand shining with
their golden coats of wild oats a memorial of the seeds cast over
these fruitful mesas by Governor Caspar de Portala. He left San
Diego Mission in July 1769 with sixty-five retainers and first
reached the Golden Gate.
Beyond the Coast Range lies a "terra incognita." A few soldiers
only have traversed the Sacramento and San Joaquin. They wandered
into the vales of Napa and Sonoma fancying them a fairyland.
The sparkling waters of the American the Sacramento the Yuba
Feather and Bear rivers are dancing silently over rift and ripple.
There precious nuggets await the frenzied seekers for wealth. There
are no gold-hunters yet in the gorges of these crystal streams.
Down in Nature's laboratory radiated golden veins creep along
between feathery rifts of virgin quartz. They are the treasures
of the careless gnomes.
Not till years later will Marshall pick up the first nugget of
gleaming gold in Sutter's mill-race at Coloma. The "auri sacra
fames" will bring thousands from the four quarters of the earth to
sweep away "the last of the Dons."
A lovely land to-day. No axe rings in its forests. No steamboat
threads the rivers. Not an engine is harnessed to man's use in this
silent lazy realm. The heart of the Sierras is inviolate. The word
"Gold" must be whispered to break the charm.
The sun climbs to noon then slowly sinks to the west. It dips into
the silent sea mirroring sparkling evening stars.
Stretching to Japan the Pacific is the mysterious World's End.
Along the brown coast the sea otter clad in kingly robes sports
shyly in the kelp fields. The fur seals stream by unchased to their
misty home in the Pribyloffs. Barking sea-lions clamber around the
jutting rocks. Lazy whales roll on the quiet waters of the bay
their track an oily wake.
It is the land of siesta of undreamed dreams of brooding slumber.
The barbaric diversions of the day are done. The firing squad
leave the guns. The twang of guitar and screech of violin open the
The young cavaliers desert the streets. Bibulous dignitaries sit
in council around Governor Alvarado's table. Mexican cigars wine
in old silver flagons (fashioned by the deft workers of Chihuahua
and Durango) and carafes of aguadiente garnish the board.
The mahogany table (a mark of official grandeur) transported
from Acapulco is occupied (below the salt) by the young officers.
Horse-racing cock-fighting and gambling on the combat of bear
and bull have not exhausted their passions. Public monte and faro
leave them a few "doubloons" yet. Seated with piles of Mexican
dollars before them the young heroes enjoy a "lay-out." All their
coin comes from Mexico. Hundreds of millions in unminted gold and
silver lie under their careless feet yet their "pieces of eight"
date back to Robinson Crusoe! This is the land of "manana!" Had
Hernando Cortez not found the treasures of Mexico he might have
fought his way north over the Gila Desert to the golden hoards
of the sprites of the Sierras.
At the banquet fiery Alvarado counselled with General Vallejo.
Flushed with victory Captain Miguel was the lion of this feast.
He chatted with his compadres.
The seniors talked over the expulsion of the strangers.
Cool advisers feared trouble from France England or the United
States. Alvarado's instinct told him that foreigners would gain
a mastery over the Dons if permitted to enter in numbers. Texas
was an irresistible warning. "Senores" said Alvarado "the Russians
came in 1812. Only a few with their Kodiak Indians settled at
Bodega. Look at them now! They control beautiful Bodega! They
are 800 souls! True they say they are going but only our posts at
San Rafael and Sonoma checked them. A fear of your sword General!"
Alvarado drank to Vallejo.
Vallejo bowed to his Governor. "Senor" said he "you are right.
I have seen Mexico. I have been a scholar as well as a soldier. I
knew Von Resanoff's Russian slyness. My father was at the Presidio
in 1807 when he obtained rights for a few fur hunters. Poor fellow!
he never lived to claim his bride but he was a diplomat."
"Foreigners will finally outroot us. Here is Sutter building his
fort on the Sacramento! He's a good fellow yet I'll have to burn
New Helvetia about his ears some day. Russian or Swiss French or
Yankee it's all the same. The 'Gringo' is the worst of all. Poor
Conception de Arguello. She waited long for her dead Russian lover."
"General do you think the Yankees can ever attack us by land?"
"Madre de Dios! No!" cried Vallejo "we will drag them at our
"Then I have no fear of them" said Alvarado. "We occupy San
Diego Santa Barbara Monterey and San Francisco the missions of
San Juan Capistrano Los Angeles San Luis Obispo and Santa Clara
and help to control the Indians but these home troubles have
stopped their useful growth."
Governor Alvarado sighed. Governor Hijar in 1834 had desecularized
the Catholic missions. Their cattle were stolen their harvests
and vineyards destroyed. The converts were driven off to seek new
homes among the Utes Yubas Feather River Napa and Mohave tribes.
Pious Alvarado crossed himself. He glanced uneasily at Padre
Castillo--at the board. Only one or two priests were left at the
beautiful settlements clustering around the old mission churches.
To-day these are the only architectural ornaments of Alta California.
"I doubt the wisdom of breaking up the missions" said Alvarado
with gloomy brow. A skeleton was at this feast. The troubled Governor
could not see the handwriting on the wall. He felt California was
a priceless jewel to Mexico. He feared imprudent measures. Lying
dormant California slept since Cabrillo saw Cape Mendocino in
1542. After he turned his shattered prows back to Acapulco on June
27 1543 it was only on November 10 1602 that ambitious Viscaino
raised the Spanish ensign at San Diego. He boldly claimed this
golden land for Spain. Since that furtive visit the lonely coast
lay unsettled. It was only used as a haunt by wild pirates lurking
to attack the precious Philippine galleons sailing to Acapulco. For
one hundred and sixty-eight years the land was unvisited. Spanish
greed and iron rule satisfied itself with grinding the Mexicans
and turning southward in the steps of Balboa and Pizarro.
Viscaino's neglected maps rotted in Madrid for two centuries.
Fifty-five years of Spanish rule left California undeveloped save
by the gentle padres who aided by their escort brought in the
domestic animals. They planted fruit-trees grains and the grape.
They taught the peaceful Indians agriculture. Flax hemp and
cotton supplanted the skins of animals.
Alvarado and Vallejo remembered the Spanish war in 1822. At this
banquet of victory neither thought that a few years later the
rule of the Dons would be over; that their familiar places would
know them no more. Just retribution of fate! The Dons drove out
the friars and recked not their own day was close at hand.
As the exultant victors stood drinking the toast of the day
"Muerte los estrangeros" neither crafty statesman sly priest
fiery general wise old Don nor reckless caballero could predict
that the foreigners would return in two years. That they would come
under protection of the conquering British flag.
Alvarado was excited by his feuds with Micheltorrena. The people
were divided into clericals and anti-clericals. A time of "storm
and stress" hung over all.
Wise in victory was Captain Miguel Peralta. His campaign against
the foreigners marked the close of his service. Born in 1798 his
family were lords of broad lands on the Alamedas of San Francisco
Bay. He was sent to the city of Mexico and educated serving in
the army of the young republic. Returning to Alta California he
became a soldier.
Often had he sallied out to drive the warlike Indian toward the
Sacramento. In watching his mustangs and cattle he rode far to
the slopes of the Sierra Nevadas. Their summits glittered under the
blue skies crowned with silvery snows unprofaned by the foot of
A sturdy caballero courtly and sagacious. His forty-two years
admonished him now to settle in life. When Alvarado was in cheeriest
mood at the feast the Captain reminded him of his promise to release