Category Archives: California LA history

The California History Collections

The California And Los Angeles

 History Collections

Created By

Dr Iwan Suwandy,MHA



My Sister Elina Widyono,Brother in low John widyono with their children Fam. Kentom widyono  and Fam.Anita and also to my brother son Erwin Utama

They lived now in California Los Angeles area like San Jose,San Diego etc.

I hope after read this history they will know about their homeland now.

the complete info and illustrations look at Driwan E-BOOK IN CD-ROM

california 1800

In April 1850, a harbormaster’s estimate counted 62,000 people from across the globe arriving in San Francisco by ship in the preceding 12 months. Hundreds of ships lay abandoned, their passengers and crews out searching for gold


Priest Doctor from California, from ‘Encyclopedie des Voyages’, engraved by Labrousse, 1810 (coloured engraving)


The Matterhorn and the old city seen from the east, ca. 1820. Situated


by Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, ca. 1830, oil on paper mounted on millboard






Bring me men to match my mountains,
Bring me men to match my plains,
Men with empires in their purpose
And new eras in their brains.

Major Cooper

As announced last week, Major Stephen Cooper died at the residence of his daughter, Mrs. J.R. Wolfskill, near Winters, May 16th, at the advanced age of ninety-three years. Sunday morning last his body was taken to Colusa for interment in the plot where are buried the remains of members of his family who have gone before, the funeral services being conducted at the Christian church by Rev. Mr. Blake. Many relatives and friends from Oakland, Winters, and other parts of the State were in attendance, the church and town bells were all tolled, and a man known and beloved throughout the length and breadth of the whole State was consigned to his last narrow bed. Major Cooper was among the last of the hardy frontiersmen who did so much to mold the destinies of this nation. He was one of the twelve veterans remaining of the War of 1812, as he told us only a few days before his death. He had a remarkably good constitution, and up to within a few days of his death was very active.

Play: The Battle of New Orleans

Stephen Cooper was a son of Sarshel Cooper, who was a native of Virginia, and one of the first settlers of Kentucky. Stephen was born March 10, 1797. In 1807 his father moved to Howard County, Missouri. Major Cooper’s father was a captain in the War of 1812, and he, only fifteen years old, was a private in his father’s company. This company was in command of General Henry Dodge, afterward United States Senator from Wisconsin. Captain Sarshel Cooper was killed by a shot fired at him by Indians while sitting at the fireside. At the close of the war in 1815 Major Cooper was one of the leaders in the first party to open the Santa Fe Trail in 1822 and 1823. The march from Missouri was through a trackless waste, never trod by civilized man, and the country was filled with hostile Indians. He was captain of thirty men. He was in the Black Hawk War in 1833; in 1837 he and Major Bearcroft were commissioned to work on the northern boundaries of Missouri. He was Indian Agent at Council Bluffs during the Administration of Van Buren. In 1844 he was a member of the Missouri legislature. In 1845 he married Miss Tate, who died a few years ago. In 1845 he started across the plains with General Fremont, but accompanied him only as far as the Arkansas River. In 1846 he came to California. In February 1847, he presided over the first meeting ever held by Americans in California, at Yerba Buena, now San Francisco. In the fall of 1847 he moved to Benicia, and was appointed by Governor Mason, Alcalde. He voted three times for General Jackson. During all his life he was true to the Democracy. He carried the vote of California to Washington for Hancock. In 1854 he moved to Colusa. He had five children, twenty-one grandchildren and eight great grandchildren.    

  Saturday, May 24, 1890 Winters Express

Major Stephen Cooper and Captain E.J. Von Pfister, historical pioneers, located in Benicia this year; and I say historical, for Cooper was the first hotel keeper and magistrate, and Von Pfister was the first merchant of the county.  John R. Wolfskill and David D. Dutton antedate all of the California pioneers living in Solano county. Wolfskill reached Los Angeles in 1836 and Dutton, Fort Ross, Sonoma county, in 1840. But few pioneers of the State can claim a longer residence than these two estimable citizens, who are passing into the sear and yellow leaf, and who will soon be gathered to their fathers and be buried within our borders.

Major Stephen Cooper claims to have been the first Californian to acquaint President Polk of.. Marshall’s discovery of gold at Coloma.. by mailing him a letter from Benicia early in 1848, and I have no doubt but this claim is a proper one, for the old Major was politically ambitious, and belonged to one of the most distinguished and numerous families of the pioneers of Missouri, and moreover, at the time, was nigh up in the councils of the Democratic party.

The elder Coles, Coopers, Callaways and Wolfskills are, inseparably and prominently, connected with the early history and settlement of Missouri, and were all contemporaries of the famous Daniel Boone.

George A.Gillespie  January 24, 1891 Winters Express

Stephen Cooper

 “In the spring of 1846 I started with my family for California.  I was at the head of seven wagons, three of these my own.  We soon fell in with a large train of thirty-five wagons bound for Oregon…. We soon rolled out and twenty-one of the Oregon wagons fell in with us, making twenty-eight wagons in my train, which I brought to California.  The first news I received of the American domination of California was while I was riding down through Humboldt County, then an almost unexplored wilderness.  The day was hot and dusty, my oxen were tired and thirsty, and we were a demoralized lot, slowly creeping down the valley.  Suddenly I saw a man galloping up the valley, shouting, swearing and praying, all in one breath.  He would lash his horse and give a shout.  He would hurrah for Fremont, then for California, and then for America.  When he got opposite me, I stopped and got off my wagon and asked him what the matter was.  He was acting like a madman, shouting until I threatened to thrash him unless he spoke sense.  Then he told me that Fremont had captured California.  I tell you I suddenly ceased to feel tired, and the creaking of the ox-yoke was music in my ears; even the oxen felt revived and walked brisker for that news.  California looked twice as handsome under American rule as it did under the Mexicans.  We reached Sacramento Valley the 5th of November, 1846.  In three days fifty wagons arrived.  We met recruiting officers from Fremont’s camp.  I went into the recruiting business, and through my influence some twenty-six joined me.  I told them I wanted every man who could leave, to join Fremont; that we had to hold the country or leave it at short notice

from the Autobiography of Stephen Cooper in “Colusa County” – by Justus H. Rogers

Here is the tale as it was simply told by Mrs. Van Winkle (Frances Cooper) the other afternoon at her present residence in this city, 911 Van Ness avenue, San Francisco:

“We came to California the same year as the ill-fated Donner party. It started about a month ahead of us, but it kept taking imaginary short cuts and hurrying until it met with frightful disaster. My father (Stephen Cooper), who was captain of our train, led his party of about eighty people across trackless plains and mountains for five months, simply with the sun and the stars as guides, and came west almost as straight as the crow flies. He believed in moving every day, if only three miles and the result was that all our oxen were in better condition when they arrived in California than when they started. Several of the survivors of the Donner party, young George Donner and Mrs. Reed, came to our house in Napa after they were rescued. I heard the other day that Mrs. Reed’s daughter, ‘Patty’ Reed, who was then a very little girl, is living on Franklin street in Oakland. She is Mrs. Martha Lewis now.

“Both father and mother were born in Kentucky, but like a good many other Kentuckians of those days, they moved out to Missouri, where we children were born. Then father was appointed Indian Agent at Council Bluffs, Ia., old Colonel Thomas Benton getting him the position. There was no town there then—just the agency buildings. The only white people besides us were the blacksmith and another family. We children grew up there with the Indians as our playmates.

“There were several Indians—Chippewas, Ottawas and Pottawattomies—at the Council Bluffs agency when father was in charge. They were all lazy. They considered it a disgrace to work, and would rather be killed than made to labor. They didn’t know any English, and wouldn’t talk much in their own language, but as a girl I used to speak Indian.

 “So, in May, 1846, we started, I being then 20 years of age. We hadn’t been on the way a month — there were no roads or trails—when we were attacked one day by Indians. Five hundred Cherokees swooped down upon us on horseback and surrounded our wagon train. They rode around and around us. Father knew how to deal with Indians and after the wagons had been drawn together at the first alarm, he stepped out to parley with them, and offered flour and tobacco. The Indians of those days were simply crazy for flour and tobacco. They would take a little flour and mix it with water and make it into tortillas and pat them lovingly for hours like little flapjacks and then cook them on hot stones. Father took out a half barrel of flour and measured it out, a little cupful to each Indian, and he cut plug tobacco up and gave it to them. Then they all smoked the pipe of peace. We knew father simply detested smoking; it made him sick, and we almost laughed to see him puffing away there with all those Indians. We were a little afraid of the Sioux Indians, for they were very wild and fierce, but father smoked with them and gave them flour and tobacco too, when we encountered them a little while later.

“We ran into one herd of about 500 buffalo, and father killed several, but ordinarily he would not permit any delays or turning aside for game. We came steadily along, making about twelve or fourteen miles a day. There was no baggage but bedding and provisions. In one wagon drawn by two big oxen we had the bedding, and we used to ride in that. We rode all the way except up the slopes of the Rocky mountains and the Sierra Nevada. It was awful coming up those mountains. There were great rocks, waist high, that the wheels had to bump over, and it was all the poor oxen could do to drag the lightened loads.

 “We were received at Napa by Mr. Yount, who had lived originally in Howard county, Missouri. He was just as glad to see us as if we had been his own family. He owned seven leagues of land there in the Napa valley, had 600 mares and thousands of horses and cattle. The whole valley was covered with grazing cattle. In those days the only Americans there were the Gregories, the Stewards, the Derbons and a few other families.

“There were so many thousands of long-horned Spanish cattle in the country that anybody that liked went out and killed a beef when he needed meat, and no one said anything. And it was good beef, too, probably because there was so much excellent grass.

“All the Spanish families had Indian slaves. They never permitted them to walk, but made them go about on the trot all the time. Those Indians made good slaves, excellent. The Spanish vaqueros used to go up to what is now Ukiah and ride in among the Indian rancherias and drive out the boys and girls, leaving the mothers behind and killing the bucks if they offered any resistance. Then they would herd the captives down like so many cattle and sell them to the ranchers. About $100 was the standard price. A good girl would bring that, but some sold for as little as $50.

“I bought one Indian girl from a Spaniard for $100, but soon after that another Indian girl and two boys came to my house of their own accord and explained that they had no home and wanted to work. The four of them did all my work, washing, ironing, cooking and housecleaning. One of the girls was a splendid nurse. The shameful treatment of the Indians by the Spanish was never equaled by the whites. As Americans settled up the country the enslaving of young Indians naturally stopped.

“We had a Fourth of July celebration near Napa in 1847. It was given by us at the Yount place. It must have been the first affair of the kind in California. We had about forty guests, most of them Spanish people of some prominence in the country. I made an enormous pound cake for the center of the table. Nobody had brought an American flag to California, so my sister, now Mrs. Wolfskill of Winters, made a little one of some narrow red ribbon and cut some blue silk from her best dress, and sewed on but one star, for material was very scarce, and the whole thing was not bigger than a woman’s handkerchief.  We stuck it in the top of the cake. One of our guests was a Dr. Bailey [Bail], an Englishman of whom we all thought a great deal. He died long ago, but his two daughters are married and are living near St. Helena in Napa county, where they own big wine vineyards.

“Father had written across the little flag, ‘California is ours as long as the stars remain.’ The Spaniards took it all right, but Dr. Bailey became very much excited and snatched at the flag. All through the dinner he insisted upon removing it, declaring that the American flag should never wave over California. After the dinner, as my sister and I were driving to our house, Dr. Bailey rode beside our wagon and we clung to the little silk flag and kept waving it at him from one side and then the other as he urged his horse close and tried to grab it from our hands. About a dozen years ago father lent the flag to the California Pioneers, and they have it in their collection yet.

 “At first we thought California would be a great stock country, a fine place for farming, an elegant climate to live in, but no one had any idea then that there was gold here. But in 1848 and 1849 Dr. Semple was the only man left in Benicia, and mother, my sister and I the only women. All the others had gone to the mines. We lived in Benicia just four years, then we moved to what is now Colusa.

“My husband owned half of Colusa, old Colonel Hagar owning the other half. Dr. Semple had an idea that he could make a fortune out of the land. So we went up there. We were the first white people in that part of the State. There was a big rancheria of Indians right in what is now the heart of the town of Colusa, hundreds and hundreds of them. And five miles up the river was another big rancheria on what is now known as the John Boggs place. John Boggs did not come to Colusa until a good deal later, but he had big droves of cattle, and did well and made money.

“In Colusa, in the early days we raised vegetables to sell to the miners, and we grew grain and shipped it down to San Francisco on steamers. When I first saw Sacramento it was an apparently endless sweep of small tents, not a frame building anywhere in sight. That was in 1850. It was a terrifying place. I was frightened. Men were gambling on all sides. They were shooting and cursing and yelling. The noise and uproar were awful.

Mrs. Susan Cooper Wolfskill of Winters, widow of the late John Wolfskill, who arrived in Los Angeles in 1834, is a sister of Mrs. Van Winkle. She is visiting her younger sister, Mrs. Martha Cooper Roberts.

“I saw the first gold ever discovered in California” said Mrs. Wolfskill. “Marshall came over to our house in Benicia and stayed all night. He was on his way to San Francisco from Sutter’s mill. He said he thought he had gold. He took out a little rag that looked like the bit of a bag that housewives keep aniseed in and opened it. We all looked at it in wonder. Three days after that Sam Brannan, a Mormon, came riding breathless into our place in Benicia and asked John Wolfskill, who was afterward my husband, for a fresh horse. He said that gold had been discovered, and that he was going up there to locate all the land he could and return to Monterey and file on it. Monterey was then the capital of California. But some time before that Brannan had been very unaccommodating to Mr. Wolfskill when he wanted horses to help bring his fruit trees from Los Angeles, so he would not let Brannan have a horse. Brannan rode on, urging his tired beast. He and [John] Bidwell were going to locate the whole gold-bearing country, but Mr. Wolfskill told them it was placer mining, and that they could not hold it all.

“Everybody was guarding the secret of gold in California in hope of monopolizing the product. My father was the first man to write of the discovery. He sent a long letter East to his old friend, Senator Thomas Benton, who had secured him the position of Indian Agent at Council Bluffs years before, and that letter of my father’s was primarily the cause of the gold fever that swept through the Eastern States.

“In 1848 and 1849 we had a school in Benicia. Father started it and got seven pupils to come from a distance and board at our places.  In 1849 and 1850 our only source of social amusement was dancing. And such dances! We used to ride horseback miles to attend them. I rode all the way from Benicia to Sonoma, about thirty miles, and then danced all night. And the only music for these balls was the fiddle. We left Benicia in 1852 and went to Green valley, and lived there three years. Then we moved to Colusa, and I stayed there until 1860, when I was married and went to Winters to live on the old Wolfskill place, where my husband died.”

The Chronicle, San Francisco  September 9, 1900



Edwin, Dwight & George Hemenway

It has been told that the original family member to reach California came by ship around the Horn to San Francisco. It is not known for certain when the original Hemenway first came to California.

“Around 1878, [one] Harvey Hemenway and his family homesteaded 500 acres in the area now known as Canyon Acres, building a two story home on the corner of what is now Arroyo Rd. and Canyon Acres Drive. It is said that he was “shanghaied” in San Francisco, jumped ship off Laguna Beach, and swam ashore. He had the one room school house, which had been built at the Mormon settlement moved to his property across the street from his home, and it stood at the corner of Canyon Acres Drive and Laguna Canyon Rd. where it served as the school for Laguna Beach for a number of years, until about 1905. He also was the head of the school board.”

from a History of Laguna by Belinda Blacketer

Nathaniel Cook, eldest son of Ezra and Permelia Cook, bought land near Kelseyville, Lake County in 1872. It is likely that he was influential in persuading Edwin and Dwight Hemenway to move to California in the early 1880’s. Edwin and Dwight settled there first. Younger brother George and his family followed in 1887, after homesteading in Kansas for several years.

Dwight’s old home still stands on Hemenway Street in Winters. Dwight is buried in Napa. George is buried in the Winters Cemetery. The old Hemenway house on Grant Avenue.

The Hemenway and Cooper families were close having intermarried more than once. The Cooper family was also related to the Wolfskills through generations of intermarriage. The Wolfskills were among the few Americans who were able to obtain Mexican Land Grants. Some of the Cooper family would later relocate to San Antonio, Texas.

The Old Wolfskill Home

This photo is of the Cooper/Hemenway family.

In the center are William Braxton (Billy) Cooper and his wife Ella Hemenway Cooper to the right, and next to her is Sarchel Cooper. Chester Hemenway is third from the left on the top row. Eva May Cooper is second from left top row.  Robert Cooper is far left middle row.  Fred C. Hemenway is second from  left in the front row. “Bird” Cooper is second from right front row. She later married John Henry Wolfskill.  Fred and Ella, born in Chicago, were the children of George W. Hemenway and Anna Persis Filer.


From the book by G. W. Thissell

Old Pioneers
Front row L-R  J.R.Wolfskill, W.R.Miller, J.M. Pleasants, W.H.Gibbs, J.R.Collins, G.W.Thissell  Back row L-R  W.J. Pleasants, E.R. Thurber, R. Long, J.O. McLain

Courtesy  SCHS

The following excerpt is taken from a History of Solano and Napa Counties:

“An identification with the material development of the west, that began during the year 1849 and has continued to the present time, furnishes the foundation of the success achieved by two generations of the Cooper family and gives them ample reason for maintaining a high opinion concerning the possibilities of the west. The original representative in California and the honored pioneer of 1849 was Humphrey Jackson Cooper, a man of sterling worth, possessing the dauntless courage and quiet endurance to existence upon the frontier. The trip across the plains tested both his courage and his endurance. It was his task, in the division of the work among the emigrants, to drive a flock of sheep from the east. While engaged in this work the Indians shot at him and he had a very narrow escape. His cousin was less fortunate, for the savages shot him with bow and arrows, inflicting a mortal wound. When the unfortunate victim of their malice had passed away his companions buried him and started on, but the Indians dug up the body for the blankets. Again the emigrants made a grave and interred the remains, but again the Indians brought the body to the surface of the ground and robbed it of the blanket used for a shroud. A third internment was made by the emigrants and on this occasion the body was allowed to lie undisturbed.”

Sutter’s Fort

Humphrey Jackson Cooper

Mary Elizabeth Wilkerson Cooper, center, widow of Humphrey Jackson Cooper with her grandchildren.  At the far right are Dolly and Blake Cooper in the second and third rows.   

Photo Courtesy of Pat Powell

Billy Cooper

Charlie Cooper

Various activities, incident to the development of a new country engaged the attention of Humphrey Jackson Cooper after his arrival in California. For many years he cultivated a farm in Yolo county near Woodland and there occurred the birth of his son, William B., March 10, 1865. There the boy attended the public schools and there he was instructed in the details of ranching.

Upon starting out for himself when about twenty-one years of age, William B. went to Texas and secured work in the cattle country near the southwestern border of the state. For six years he remained there, but deciding the region to be far inferior to California he returned to the west. Since then he has lived either in Yolo or in Solano county.
His marriage at Winters united him with Miss Eunice Luella (Ella) Hemenway. Two children bless the union, William B., Jr.(Blake), and Persis Ardis (Dollie), both of whom are now students in the Olive school near the home ranch.

After having worked as foreman on a fruit ranch and thus gained considerable experience in the fruit industry, eighteen years ago William B. Cooper bought twenty-six acres of land in Solano county near the village of Winters. Under his capable management the property has been brought to a high state of development. A vineyard covers eight acres and the balance of the land is in peaches and apricots, both being young orchards just ready to come into bearing. The first crop of apricots was harvested in 1910 and brought excellent returns. During that same season twenty-five hundred crates of grapes were shipped from the farm. In addition to his vineyard and orchard Mr. Cooper has a small tract of land for his stock, consisting of a few head of horses, cattle and hogs. As the years pass by he is more and more pleased with the outlook in Solano county. His farm is paying large dividends on the original investment. The soil is rich, the climate pleasant, the schools excellent, and in the Presbyterian Church at Winters he and his wife have a congenial church home.”

Ella at 15 years

Dolly Cooper

Cooper Brothers Bob,Billy & Sarchel

Myrtle Cooper
Wife of Frank Wolfskill

Billy Cooper

Ardis (Dolly) in Australia

Dolly’s “Big Game” date

Blake Cooper

Blake Cooper & cousin
Clyde Cooper Hemenway


David Ritchie
future husband of
Jessie Hemenway

Maybell Hemenway

Dwight’s daughter

Maybell and Mr. Moler

Edwin’s daughter



     Joseph Cooper Wolfskill                                Margaret Ann (Peggy) Cooper Wolfskill
     Son  of Mathus Wolfskill                               Wife of Sarchel Cooper Wolfskill 
                                                                                  with grandaughters L-R Lillian Cooper

         Charles Cooper                                           Molly Wolfskill Cooper                             
Susan CooperWolfskill          Ned Wolfskill          Annie Bollinger Wolfskill
                                                                                 Wife of Ned


Frank Wolfskill                        Sarchel Cooper Wolfskill?

                            Son of Ned Wolfskill

Old Wolfskill School

In 1873 Sarchel Wolfskill and William Baker purchased 2 acres from Theodore Winters to build the first Wolfskill School.  In 1892 from L-R  First row are Ida Mae Baker, Miss Annie Baker, Maude Lamme, Nancy Wolfskill, and Atlanta Wolfskill.  Second row L-R Mark Wolfskill, Reed Wolfskill, Reese Wolfskill, Unknown, Frank Wolfskill, Herman Wolfskill, Ernest Northcutt, Irwin Baker, Arthur Northcutt   – Courtesy YCA

John R. Wolfskill

Frances Wolfskill
daughter of John R. Wolfskill
and Susan Cooper

L-R  Blake Cooper and cousins Buel and ‘Paddy’ Cooper

George Whitfield Hemenway was one of the early postmasters of Winters. He was also a printer and proprietor. He died at a relatively young age while his son Fred was attending school at the University of California in Berkeley. It is said that his service in the war damaged his health, precipitating his untimely death.




George’s war wounds

George W. Hemenway, third from left with cane, was the Postmaster of Winters when this photo was taken in 1890. Above the entrance are the words ‘Post Office’.
Walter Hemenway is pictured second from right.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

G.A.R. Meeting

HEADQUARTERS, COL. A.W. PRESTON POST, NO. 114, DEP’T CAL., G.A.R., Winters, Cal., January 24, 1891.

At a regular meeting of this Post, held in Seaman’s Hall, January 24, 1891, the following officers, being duly elected for the ensuing year, were properly installed by Senior Past Post Commander and Special Aid de Camp, J.P. Trumbull: 

Post Commander, G.W. Hemenway, Senior Vice, Joshua Steward, Junior Vice, J.P. Trumbull, Quartermaster, Samuel Cooper, Surgeon, P.J. Aiken, M.D., Chaplain, James Wilson, Officer of the Day, Joseph Connor, Officer of the Guard, J.W. Ball, Sergeant Major, A.N. Babcock, Quartermaster Sergeant, T.E. Boyd 

Representatives to Department Encampment, J.P. Trumbull, Joseph Connor, A.N. Babcock, G.W. Hemenway and P.J. Aiken, M.D. Alternate, James Wilson.

Comrade Samuel Cooper was admitted a member by transfer card.

from the Winters Express,  1891


An Old Soldier and Well Known Citizen Passes to the Great Beyond

Rather suddenly, though not entirely unexpectedly, the people of Winters were called upon Monday last to attend the last sad rites to the memory of a fellow townsman, G.W. Hemenway.


He had long been a sufferer from disease resultant from exposure in the army, but for many years was able to attend to his business until last spring, when his old trouble returned with unusual rigor. On account of his age he had not the vitality to withstand it, and succumbed to the disease at 8:25 o’clock Sunday morning, December 9, at the home of his brother, Dwight Hemenway, where he had been receiving the best of care and undivided attention. A simple and impressive funeral service was held at the house of Dwight Hemenway Monday morning, Rev. H.C. Culton officiating, and the remains were interred in the Masonic cemetery.

George Whitfield Hemenway was born at Wayne, DuPage county, Illinois June 17, 1842. Deceased was third of a family of ten children, six of whom are still living. Mr. Hemenway passed his boyhood days on his father’s farm at Wayne. At the age of nineteen, September 23, 1861, he enlisted for three years as private in Co. K 36th regiment of Illinois volunteer infantry. He served through the Missouri campaign, was at the battle of Stone River, Wilson’s Creek and Pea Ridge. His next battle was at Perryville, and it was during the march from Perryville to Murfreesboro that the disease developed which resulted in his death. It was while in the campaign around Chattanooga and Murfreesboro that he was discharged, October, 20, 1863, as physically unfit for military duty.


He returned home and having to some extent recovered, he and his father went to Atchinson, Ill., as broom makers. When Mr. Hemenway again returned home he was elected tax collector of Wayne township. He then completed a course in the business department of Wheaton College and secured employment in the wholesale stationery establishment of Ezra Cook in Chicago.

He was married November 17, 1869, to Anna Filer, whom he met while they were students at Wheaton College. After the Chicago fire in which Ezra Cook’s establishment was burned, he found employment in printing the Christian Cynosure, a paper edited by President Blanchard of Wheaton College. In 1877 Mr. Hemenway and wife moved to Kansas, bringing three children, Walter, Luella and Fred, born to them in Chicago. He remained in Kansas, near Madison, conducting a farm ten years. Here Harvey and Jessie were born.


The family moved to Winters in the fall of 1887, where deceased served for six years as postmaster, to the entire satisfaction of the community. The deceased was prominent in G.A.R. circles, a well-known and respected citizen of Winters and an enthusiastic supporter of all patriotic movements. Besides the five children, who are all living, he leaves and invalid wife to mourn his loss. The heartfelt sympathy of the whole community reaches out to comfort the bereaved ones in their deepest sorrow.

-from the Winters Express December 1900


The President appoints George Postmaster

Click to enlarge

Walter G. Hemenway owned and operated several studios in Northern and Southern
California, including one in San Diego where he and his wife, the former Cornelia Sweitzer, operated the largest photographic business in that city.  They later moved to Los Angeles and built up the leading gallery in all of Southern California.  Then  Nelia died suddenly, shortly after Wally purchased a gallery in New York City where they were to move.  No one knows what happened to Wally, but he may have remarried.

Walter George (Wally) Hemenway and his studio in San Diego


Walter’s Studio Logo

L.A. Street Scene circa 1905

Early Hemenway Photographs

The earthquake of 1892 damaged Winters heavily. Many downtown buildings and residences required major repair (all were repaired within a month) and the Army was asked to provide tent shelters for the homeless during reconstruction.

from City of Winters: Cultural and Historical Heritage


…Some were so blanched with fear that they kept motionless, their hearts almost ceasing to beat. Others gave vent to their fear by loud and continuous screaming, while others calmly dressed themselves and got out to see what was going on…

Winters 1892

After surveying the damage to their homes, people started for the business district, where crowds began to gather by 3:00 am. At the Hotel DeVilbiss, where forty guests were lodged, it was said that men, women and children could be seen getting out as fast as they could. Miss Clara Jensen was pinned beneath the fallen stones of the Bertholet building, but was quickly rescued. Jeff Darby, a dishwasher residing in the Cradwick building, was less fortunate. He became the only fatality when he died at the county hospital three days after a brick wall fell upon him.


Local photographer Walter G. Hemenway was on hand to record the damage and the initial clean-up efforts. Also, the pages of the Express are full of human interest stories about how individuals dealt with the destruction about them. Within days, the businessmen of the town had either relocated or repaired the damage enough to continue serving their customers.

— Winters: A Heritage of Horticulture, A Harmony of Purpose – J. Larkey

This photo of the Wolfskill’s, who were among the earliest American pioneers in California, was taken by the Hemenway Studio. John R. Wolfskill is seated at
the right. In back of him is his wife Susan Cooper, cousin of Humphrey Jackson Cooper. Milton Wolfskill, on the left with his wife Anna Sweaney, settled in Los Angeles.

Jessie Geraldine (Tid)

Masonic Hall earthquake damage

Ella and Jessie camping out after the 1892 earthquake.

Portrait of Jessie,
youngest daughter of George W. & Anna Persis Filer.
Jessie Ritchie lived her last years in Capitola, CA.



Walter, known as the “Photographer to the Stars”, shot the above portrait during Harvey’s visit to Los Angeles to attend the Olympics in 1932.


            Nelia                                     Charles & Molly Cooper Children
Walter’s wife                                                                                           

Tid & Ella

Wally’s Hunt

Poker Game

L to R,  Robert Lincoln, Edgar Stevenson, Arthur Cooper, Alex Ritchie



Chester’s home in San Francisco


Chester, son of Dwight Hemenway, moved to San Francisco after marrying Eva Mae Cooper in Winters.  At one time Charles Hemenway came to live with him.  Chester returned to San Francisco from Winters after the earthquake to find his home damaged but not destroyed.  His son Clyde later moved south to Burlingame where his family ultimately settled.

San Francisco Days Before The 1906 Earthquake
A Trolley Trip Down Market Street

Fire engulfs the Call Building

City Hall


“It was bedlam, pandemonium, and hell rolled into one.”
– anonymous

The evacuation of San Francisco 1906

Harvey Edwin (Scoot), youngest son of George and Anna, was an avid hunter and logger in Mendocino County. He is pictured at the far right in the hunt photo.  Scoot led a hard life of drinking and smoking and eventually died of tuberculosis.  It is surmised that the task he had as a child of dressing his father’s war wounds had a detrimental effect on him.

Logging site


 California 1849


California gold miners in 1850


California Gold Rush

Sailing to California at the beginning of the Gold Rush

The California Gold Rush (1848–1855) began on January 24, 1848, when gold was found by James W. Marshall at Sutter’s Mill in Coloma, California.[1] The first to hear confirmed information of the gold rush were the people in Oregon, the Sandwich Islands (Hawaii), and Latin America, who were the first to start flocking to the state in late 1848. All told, the news of gold brought some 300,000 people to California from the rest of the United States and abroad.[2] Of the 300,000, approximately half arrived by sea and half came from the east overland on the California Trail and the Gila River trail.

The gold-seekers, called “forty-niners” (as a reference to 1849), often faced substantial hardships on the trip. While most of the newly arrived were Americans, the Gold Rush attracted tens of thousands from Latin America, Europe, Australia, and China. At first, the gold nuggets could be picked up off the ground. Later, gold was recovered from streams and riverbeds using simple techniques, such as panning. More sophisticated methods were developed and later adopted elsewhere. At its peak, technological advances reached a point where significant financing was required, increasing the proportion of gold companies to individual miners. Gold worth tens of billions of today’s dollars was recovered, which led to great wealth for a few. However, many returned home with little more than they had started with.

The effects of the Gold Rush were substantial. San Francisco grew from a small settlement of about 200 residents in 1846 to a boomtown of about 36,000 by 1852. Roads, churches, schools and other towns were built throughout California. In 1849 a state constitution was written, a governor and legislature chosen and California became a state in 1850 as part of the Compromise of 1850.

New methods of transportation developed as steamships came into regular service. By 1869 railroads were built across the country from California to the eastern United States. Agriculture and ranching expanded throughout the state to meet the needs of the settlers. At the beginning of the Gold Rush, there was no law regarding property rights in the goldfields and a system of “staking claims” was developed. The Gold Rush also had negative effects: Native Americans were attacked and pushed off their lands and the mining caused environmental harm. An estimated 100,000 California Indians died between 1848 and 1868, and some 4,500 of them were killed.[3][edit] History

California goldfields (yellow) in the Sierra Nevada and northern California

The California Gold Rush began at Sutter’s Mill, near Coloma.[4] On January 24, 1848 James W. Marshall, a foreman working for Sacramento pioneer John Sutter, found shiny metal in the tailrace of a lumber mill Marshall was building for Sutter on the American River.[5] Marshall brought what he found to John Sutter, and the two privately tested the metal. After the tests showed that it was gold, Sutter expressed dismay: he wanted to keep the news quiet because he feared what would happen to his plans for an agricultural empire if there were a mass search for gold.[6] However, rumors soon started to spread and were confirmed in March 1848 by San Francisco newspaper publisher and merchant Samuel Brannan. The most famous quote of the California Gold Rush was by Brannan; after he had hurriedly set up a store to sell gold prospecting supplies,[7] Brannan strode through the streets of San Francisco, holding aloft a vial of gold, shouting “Gold! Gold! Gold from the American River!”[8]

Gold rush newspaper articles

First newspaper announcement, San Francisco, March 15, 1848
^ First announcement, San Francisco, 1848
Routes to California via Mexico, Panama and Cape Horn, 1849
Gold fields and sailing routes to California, 1849

At the time gold was discovered, California was part of the Mexican territory of Alta California, which was ceded to the U.S. after the end of the Mexican-American War with the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo on February 2, 1848.

On August 19, 1848, the New York Herald was the first major newspaper on the East Coast to report the discovery of gold. On December 5, 1848, President James Polk confirmed the discovery of gold in an address to Congress.[9] Soon, waves of immigrants from around the world, later called the “forty-niners”, invaded the Gold Country of California or “Mother Lode”. As Sutter had feared, he was ruined; his workers left in search of gold, and squatters took over his land and stole his crops and cattle.[10]

San Francisco had been a tiny settlement before the rush began. When residents learned about the discovery, it at first became a ghost town of abandoned ships and businesses,[11] but then boomed as merchants and new people arrived. The population of San Francisco exploded from perhaps 1,000[12] in 1848 to 25,000 full-time residents by 1850.[13] Miners lived in tents, wood shanties, or deck cabins removed from abandoned ships.[14] Wherever gold was discovered, hundreds of miners would collaborate to put up a camp and stake their claims. With names like Rough and Ready and Hangtown (Placerville, California), each camp often had its own saloon and gambling house.[15]

In what has been referred to as the “first world-class gold rush”,[16] there was no easy way to get to California; forty-niners faced hardship and often death on the way. At first, most Argonauts, as they were also known, traveled by sea. From the East Coast, a sailing voyage around the tip of South America would take five to eight months,[17] and cover some 18,000 nautical miles (33,000 km). An alternative was to sail to the Atlantic side of the Isthmus of Panama, take canoes and mules for a week through the jungle, and then on the Pacific side, wait for a ship sailing for San Francisco.[18] There was also a route across Mexico starting at Veracruz. Many gold-seekers took the overland route across the continental United States, particularly along the California Trail.[19] Each of these routes had its own deadly hazards, from shipwreck to typhoid fever and cholera.[20]

To meet the demands of the arrivals, ships bearing goods from around the world came to San Francisco as well. Ships’ captains found that their crews deserted to go to the gold fields. The wharves and docks of San Francisco became a forest of masts, as hundreds of ships were abandoned. Enterprising San Franciscans turned the abandoned ships into warehouses, stores, taverns, hotels, and one into a jail.[21] Many of these ships were later destroyed and used for landfill to create more buildable land in the boomtown.

Merchant ships fill San Francisco harbor, 1850-51

Within a few years, there was an important but lesser-known surge of prospectors into far Northern California, specifically into present-day Siskiyou, Shasta and Trinity Counties.[22] Discovery of gold nuggets at the site of present-day Yreka in 1851 brought thousands of gold-seekers up the Siskiyou Trail[23] and throughout California’s northern counties.[24] Settlements of the Gold Rush era, such as Portuguese Flat on the Sacramento River, sprang into existence and then faded. The Gold Rush town of Weaverville on the Trinity River today retains the oldest continuously used Taoist temple in California, a legacy of Chinese miners who came. While there are not many Gold Rush era ghost towns still in existence, the remains of the once-bustling town of Shasta have been preserved in a California State Historic Park in Northern California.[25]

Gold was also discovered in Southern California but on a much smaller scale. The first discovery of gold, at Rancho San Francisco in the mountains north of present-day Los Angeles, had been in 1842, six years before Marshall’s discovery, while California was still part of Mexico.[26] However, these first deposits, and later discoveries in Southern California mountains, attracted little notice and were of limited consequence economically.[26]

By 1850, most of the easily accessible gold had been collected, and attention turned to extracting gold from more difficult locations. Faced with gold increasingly difficult to retrieve, Americans began to drive out foreigners to get at the most accessible gold that remained. The new California State Legislature passed a foreign miners tax of twenty dollars per month ($560 per month as of 2012), and American prospectors began organized attacks on foreign miners, particularly Latin Americans and Chinese.[27] In addition, the huge numbers of newcomers were driving Native Americans out of their traditional hunting, fishing and food-gathering areas. To protect their homes and livelihood, some Native Americans responded by attacking the miners. This provoked counter-attacks on native villages. The Native Americans, out-gunned, were often slaughtered.[28] Those who escaped massacres were many times unable to survive without access to their food-gathering areas, and they starved to death. Novelist and poet Joaquin Miller vividly captured one such attack in his semi-autobiographical work, Life Amongst the Modocs.[29]

[edit] Forty-niners

Panning for gold on the Mokelumne River

The first people to rush to the gold fields, beginning in the spring of 1848, were the residents of California themselves—primarily agriculturally oriented Americans and Europeans living in Northern California, along with Native Americans and some Californios (Spanish-speaking Californians).[30] These first miners tended to be families in which everyone helped in the effort. Women and children of all ethnicities were often found panning next to the men. Some enterprising families set up boarding houses to accommodate the influx of men; in such cases, the women often brought in steady income while their husbands searched for gold.[31]

Word of the Gold Rush spread slowly at first. The earliest gold-seekers were people who lived near California or people who heard the news from ships on the fastest sailing routes from California. The first large group of Americans to arrive were several thousand Oregonians who came down the Siskiyou Trail.[32] Next came people from the Sandwich Islands, and several thousand Latin Americans, including people from Mexico, from Peru and from as far away as Chile,[33] both by ship and overland.[34] By the end of 1848, some 6,000 Argonauts had come to California.[34] Only a small number (probably fewer than 500) traveled overland from the United States that year.[34] Some of these “forty-eighters”,[35] as the earliest gold-seekers were sometimes called, were able to collect large amounts of easily accessible gold—in some cases, thousands of dollars worth each day.[36][37] Even ordinary prospectors averaged daily gold finds worth 10 to 15 times the daily wage of a laborer on the East Coast. A person could work for six months in the goldfields and find the equivalent of six years’ wages back home.[38] Some hoped to get rich quick and return home, and others wished to start businesses in California.

By the beginning of 1849, word of the Gold Rush had spread around the world, and an overwhelming number of gold-seekers and merchants began to arrive from virtually every continent. The largest group of forty-niners in 1849 were Americans, arriving by the tens of thousands overland across the continent and along various sailing routes[39] (the name “forty-niner” was derived from the year 1849). Many from the East Coast negotiated a crossing of the Appalachian Mountains, taking to riverboats in Pennsylvania, polling the keelboats to Missouri River wagon train assembly ports, and then travelling in a wagon train along the California Trail. Many others came by way of the Isthmus of Panama and the steamships of the Pacific Mail Steamship Company. Australians[40] and New Zealanders picked up the news from ships carrying Hawaiian newspapers, and thousands, infected with “gold fever”, boarded ships for California.[41] Forty-niners came from Latin America, particularly from the Mexican mining districts near Sonora.[41] Gold-seekers and merchants from Asia, primarily from China,[42] began arriving in 1849, at first in modest numbers to Gum San (“Gold Mountain“), the name given to California in Chinese.[43] The first immigrants from Europe, reeling from the effects of the Revolutions of 1848 and with a longer distance to travel, began arriving in late 1849, mostly from France,[44] with some Germans, Italians, and Britons.[39] Most of these national groups arrived from seafaring, coastal regions.

Chinese gold miners in California

It is estimated that approximately 90,000 people arrived in California in 1849—about half by land and half by sea.[45] Of these, perhaps 50,000 to 60,000 were Americans, and the rest were from other countries.[39] By 1855, it is estimated at least 300,000 gold-seekers, merchants, and other immigrants had arrived in California from around the world.[46] The largest group continued to be Americans, but there were tens of thousands each of Mexicans, Chinese, Britons, Australians[47] French, and Latin Americans,[48] together with many smaller groups of miners, such as Filipinos, Basques[49] and Turks.[50] People from small villages in the hills near Genova, Italy were among the first to settle permanently in the Sierra foothills; they brought with them traditional agricultural skills, developed to survive cold winters.[51] A modest number of miners of African ancestry (probably less than 4,000)[52] had come from the Southern States,[53] the Caribbean and Brazil.[54]

A notable number of immigrants were from China. Several hundred Chinese arrived in California in 1849 and 1850, and in 1852 more than 20,000 landed in San Francisco.[55] Their distinctive dress and appearance was highly recognizable in the gold fields, and created a degree of animosity towards the Chinese.[55]

There were also women in the Gold Rush. They held various roles including prostitutes, single entrepreneurs, married women, poor and wealthy women. They were of various ethnicities including Anglo-American, Hispanic, Native, European, Chinese, and Jewish. The reasons they came varied: some came with their husbands, refusing to be left behind to fend for themselves, some came because their husbands sent for them, and others came (singles and widows) for the adventure and economic opportunities.[56] On the trail many people died from accidents, cholera, fever, and myriad other causes, and many women became widows before even setting eyes on California. While in California, women became widows quite frequently due to mining accidents, disease, or mining disputes of their husbands. Life in the gold fields offered opportunities for women to break from their traditional work.[57][58]

[edit] Legal rights

When the Gold Rush began, California was a peculiarly lawless place. On the day when gold was discovered at Sutter’s Mill, California was still technically part of Mexico, under American military occupation as the result of the Mexican–American War. With the signing of the treaty ending the war on February 2, 1848, California became a possession of the United States, but it was not a formal “territory” and did not become a state until September 9, 1850. California existed in the unusual condition of a region under military control. There was no civil legislature, executive or judicial body for the entire region.[59] Local residents operated under a confusing and changing mixture of Mexican rules, American principles, and personal dictates.

While the treaty ending the Mexican-American War obliged the United States to honor Mexican land grants,[60] almost all the goldfields were outside those grants. Instead, the goldfields were primarily on “public land“, meaning land formally owned by the United States government.[61] However, there were no legal rules yet in place, and no practical enforcement mechanisms.[62]

Gold miners excavate a river bed after the water has been diverted into a sluice alongside the river

The benefit to the forty-niners was that the gold was simply “free for the taking” at first. In the goldfields at the beginning, there was no private property, no licensing fees, and no taxes.[63][64] The miners informally adapted Mexican mining law which had existed in California.[65] For example, the rules attempted to balance the rights of early arrivers at a site with later arrivers; a “claim” could be “staked” by a prospector, but that claim was valid only as long as it was being actively worked.[66][67] Miners worked at a claim only long enough to determine its potential. If a claim was deemed as low-value—as most were—miners would abandon the site in search for a better one. In the case where a claim was abandoned or not worked upon, other miners would “claim-jump” the land. “Claim-jumping” meant that a miner began work on a previously claimed site.[66][67] Disputes were sometimes handled personally and violently, and were sometimes addressed by groups of prospectors acting as arbitrators.[61][66][67] This often led to heightened ethnic tensions.[68] In some areas the influx of many prospectors could lead to a reduction of the existing claim size by simple pressure.[69]

[edit] Development of gold-recovery techniques

Because the gold in the California gravel beds was so richly concentrated, the early forty-niners simply panned for gold in California’s rivers and streams, a form of placer mining.[70] However, panning cannot take place on a large scale, and industrious miners and groups of miners graduated to placer mining “cradles” and “rockers” or “long-toms”[71] to process larger volumes of gravel.[72] In the most complex placer mining, groups of prospectors would divert the water from an entire river into a sluice alongside the river, and then dig for gold in the newly exposed river bottom.[73] Modern estimates by the U.S. Geological Survey are that some 12 million ounces[74] (370 t) of gold were removed in the first five years of the Gold Rush (worth over US$16 billion at December 2010 prices).[75]

Gold miners excavate a gold-bearing bluff with jets of water at a placer mine in Dutch Flat, California sometime between 1857 and 1870

In the next stage, by 1853, hydraulic mining was used on ancient gold-bearing gravel beds on hillsides and bluffs in the gold fields.[76] In a modern style of hydraulic mining first developed in California, a high-pressure hose directed a powerful stream or jet of water at gold-bearing gravel beds.[77] The loosened gravel and gold would then pass over sluices, with the gold settling to the bottom where it was collected. By the mid-1880s, it is estimated that 11 million ounces (340 t) of gold (worth approximately US$15 billion at December 2010 prices) had been recovered by “hydraulicking”.[75] This style of hydraulic mining later spread around the world. An alternative to “hydraulicking” was “coyoteing”.[78] This method involved digging a shaft 6 to 13 meters (20 to 40 feet) deep into bedrock along the shore of a stream. Tunnels were then dug in all directions to reach the richest veins of pay dirt.

A byproduct of these extraction methods was that large amounts of gravel, silt, heavy metals, and other pollutants went into streams and rivers.[79] As of 2012[update] many areas still bear the scars of hydraulic mining, since the resulting exposed earth and downstream gravel deposits do not support plant life.[80]

Quartz Stamp Mill in Grass Valley crushes the quartz prior to the washing out of the gold

After the Gold Rush had concluded, gold recovery operations continued. The final stage to recover loose gold was to prospect for gold that had slowly washed down into the flat river bottoms and sandbars of California’s Central Valley and other gold-bearing areas of California (such as Scott Valley in Siskiyou County). By the late 1890s, dredging technology (also invented in California) had become economical,[81] and it is estimated that more than 20 million ounces (620 t) were recovered by dredging (worth approximately US$28 billion at December 2010 prices).[75]

Both during the Gold Rush and in the decades that followed, gold-seekers also engaged in “hard-rock” mining, that is, extracting the gold directly from the rock that contained it (typically quartz), usually by digging and blasting to follow and remove veins of the gold-bearing quartz.[82] By 1851, quartz mining had become the major industry of Coloma.[83] Once the gold-bearing rocks were brought to the surface, the rocks were crushed, and the gold was separated out (using moving water), or leached out, typically by using arsenic or mercury (another source of environmental contamination).[84] Eventually, hard-rock mining wound up becoming the single largest source of gold produced in the Gold Country.[75][85]

[edit] Profits

A man leans over a wooden sluice. Rocks line the outside of the wood boards that create the sluice

Recent scholarship confirms that merchants made far more money than miners during the Gold Rush.[86][87] The wealthiest man in California during the early years of the Gold Rush was Samuel Brannan, the tireless self-promoter, shopkeeper and newspaper publisher.[88] Brannan opened the first supply stores in Sacramento, Coloma, and other spots in the gold fields. Just as the Gold Rush began, he purchased all the prospecting supplies available in San Francisco and re-sold them at a substantial profit.[88] However, substantial money was made by some gold-seekers as well. For example, within a few months, one small group of prospectors, working on the Feather River in 1848, retrieved a sum of gold worth more than $3 million by 2010 prices.[89]

On average, half the gold-seekers made a modest profit, after all expenses were taken into account. Most, however, especially those arriving later, made little or wound up losing money.[90] Similarly, many unlucky merchants set up in settlements that disappeared, or were wiped out in one of the calamitous fires that swept the towns springing up. By contrast, a businessman who went on to great success was Levi Strauss, who first began selling denim overalls in San Francisco in 1853.[91] Other businessmen, through good fortune and hard work, reaped great rewards in retail, shipping, entertainment, lodging,[92] or transportation.[93] Boardinghouses, food preparation, sewing, and laundry were highly profitable businesses often run by women (married, single, or widowed) who realized men would pay well for a service done by a woman. Brothels also brought in large profits, especially when combined with saloons and gaming houses.[94]

By 1855, the economic climate had changed dramatically. Gold could be retrieved profitably from the goldfields only by medium to large groups of workers, either in partnerships or as employees. By the mid-1850s, it was the owners of these gold-mining companies who made the money. Also, the population and economy of California had become large and diverse enough that money could be made in a wide variety of conventional businesses.[95]

[edit] Path of the gold

Portsmouth Square, San Francisco, 1851

Once extracted, the gold itself took many paths. First, much of the gold was used locally to purchase food, supplies and lodging for the miners. It also went towards entertainment, which consisted of anything from a traveling theater to alcohol, gambling, and prostitutes. These transactions often took place using the recently recovered gold, carefully weighed out.[96] These merchants and vendors, in turn, used the gold to purchase supplies from ship captains or packers bringing goods to California.[97] The gold then left California aboard ships or mules to go to the makers of the goods from around the world. A second path was the Argonauts themselves who, having personally acquired a sufficient amount, sent the gold home, or returned home taking with them their hard-earned “diggings”. For example, one estimate is that some US$80 million worth of California gold was sent to France by French prospectors and merchants.[98] As the Gold Rush progressed, local banks and gold dealers issued “banknotes” or “drafts”—locally accepted paper currency—in exchange for gold,[99] and private mints created private gold coins.[100] With the building of the San Francisco Mint in 1854, gold bullion was turned into official United States gold coins for circulation.[101] The gold was also later sent by California banks to U.S. national banks in exchange for national paper currency to be used in the booming California economy.[102]

[edit] Near-term effects

A forty-niner peers into his gold pan on the banks of the American River

The arrival of hundreds of thousands of new people within a few years, compared to a population of some 15,000 Europeans and Californios beforehand,[103] had many dramatic effects.[104]

[edit] Development of government and commerce

The Gold Rush propelled California from a sleepy, little-known backwater to a center of the global imagination and the destination of hundreds of thousands of people. The new immigrants often showed remarkable inventiveness and civic-mindedness. For example, in the midst of the Gold Rush, towns and cities were chartered, a state constitutional convention was convened, a state constitution written, elections held, and representatives sent to Washington, D.C. to negotiate the admission of California as a state.[105] Large-scale agriculture (California’s second “Gold Rush”[106]) began during this time.[107] Roads, schools, churches,[108] and civic organizations quickly came into existence.[105] The vast majority of the immigrants were Americans.[109] Pressure grew for better communications and political connections to the rest of the United States, leading to statehood for California on September 9, 1850, in the Compromise of 1850 as the 31st state of the United States.

Between 1847 and 1870, the population of San Francisco increased from 500 to 150,000.[110] The Gold Rush wealth and population increase led to significantly improved transportation between California and the East Coast. The Panama Railway, spanning the Isthmus of Panama, was finished in 1855.[111] Steamships, including those owned by the Pacific Mail Steamship Company, began regular service from San Francisco to Panama, where passengers, goods and mail would take the train across the Isthmus and board steamships headed to the East Coast. One ill-fated journey, that of the S.S. Central America,[112] ended in disaster as the ship sank in a hurricane off the coast of the Carolinas in 1857, with approximately three tons of California gold aboard.[113][114]

Within California, the first steamship, the SS California (1848), showed up on February 28, 1849. Soon steamships were carrying miners the 125 miles (201 km) up the Sacramento River to Sacramento, California.

 Negative impact

Attack by Native Americans on miners’ settlement

The human and environmental costs of the Gold Rush were substantial. Native Americans, dependent on traditional hunting, gathering and agriculture, became the victims of starvation, as gravel, silt and toxic chemicals from prospecting operations killed fish and destroyed habitats.[79][80] The surge in the mining population also resulted in the disappearance of game and food gathering locales as gold camps and other settlements were built amidst them. Later farming spread to supply the camps, taking more land from the use of Native Americans. Starvation often provoked the Native tribes to steal or take by force food and livestock from the miners, increasing miner hostility and provoking retaliation against them.

Native Americans also succumbed in large numbers to introduced diseases such as smallpox, influenza and measles. Some estimates indicate case fatality rates of 80–90% in Native American populations during smallpox epidemics.[115]

By far the most destructive element of the Gold Rush on California Indians was the violence practiced on them by miners and settlers. Miners often saw Native Americans as competition for finding gold or as impediments to their mining activities. Far from women of their own and free from their own justice system, sexual assaults on Native women were quite common. Retribution attacks on solitary miners would result in large scale massacres of Indian populations without regard for age or sex by fearful or outraged miners such as the Bloody Island Massacre. As seen in events like the Bridge Gulch Massacre these “attacks of reprisal” often targeted tribes or villages completely innocent of the original act.

The Act for the Government and Protection of Indians,[116] passed on April 22, 1850 by the California Legislature, allowed settlers to continue the Californio practice of capturing and using Native people as bonded workers. It also provided the basis for the enslavement and trafficking in Native American labor, particularly that of young women and children, which was carried on as a legal business enterprise. Native American villages were regularly raided to supply the demand, and young women and children were carried off to be sold, the men and remaining people often being killed in genocidal attacks.[117] According to the government of California, some 4,500 Native Americans suffered violent deaths between 1849 and 1870.[3]

The Gold Rush thus turned into a virtual “reign of terror” against tribespeople in or near mining districts.[118] Despite resistance in various conflicts, the Native American population in California, estimated at 150,000 in 1845, had dropped to less than 30,000 by 1870.[119] (The pre-European population of Native Americans, estimated at 300,000, had already been decimated, almost exclusively due to diseases carried by the Spanish settlers.)[120]

The factors of disease, however do not minimize the tone of racial violence directed towards California Indians. Peter Burnett, California’s first governor declared that California was a battleground between the races and that there were only two options towards California Indians, extinction or removal. California, apart from legalizing slavery for Native Americans also directly paid out $25,000 in bounties for Indian scalps with varying prices for adult male, adult female and child sizes. California with a consortium of other new Western states stood in opposition of ratifying the eighteen treaties signed between tribal leaders and federal agents in 1851.[121][page needed]

This lithograph dated between 1849-1852 depicts whites, Native Americans and blacks all engaged in gold prospecting.

After the initial boom had ended, explicitly anti-foreign and racist attacks, laws, and confiscatory taxes sought to drive out foreigners from the mines, especially the Chinese and Latin American immigrants mostly from Sonora, Mexico and Chile.[55][122]

The toll on the American immigrants could be severe as well: one in twelve forty-niners perished, as the death and crime rates during the Gold Rush were extraordinarily high, and the resulting vigilantism also took its toll.[123]

[edit] World-wide economic stimulation

Further information: Chilean wheat cycle

The Gold Rush stimulated economies around the world as well. Farmers in Chile, Australia, and Hawaii found a huge new market for their food; British manufactured goods were in high demand; clothing and even prefabricated houses arrived from China.[124] The return of large amounts of California gold to pay for these goods raised prices and stimulated investment and the creation of jobs around the world.[125] Australian prospector Edward Hargraves, noting similarities between the geography of California and his house, returned to Australia to discover gold and spark the Australian gold rushes.[126]

Within a few years after the end of the Gold Rush, in 1863, the groundbreaking ceremony for the western leg of the First Transcontinental Railroad was held in Sacramento. The line’s completion, some six years later, financed in part with Gold Rush money,[127] united California with the central and eastern United States. Travel that had taken weeks or even months could now be accomplished in days.[128]

 Longer-term effects

California’s name became indelibly connected with the Gold Rush, and fast success in a new world became known as the “California Dream.”[129] California was perceived as a place of new beginnings, where great wealth could reward hard work and good luck. Historian H. W. Brands noted that in the years after the Gold Rush, the California Dream spread across the nation:

“The old American Dream . . . was the dream of the Puritans, of Benjamin Franklin’s “Poor Richard” . . . of men and women content to accumulate their modest fortunes a little at a time, year by year by year. The new dream was the dream of instant wealth, won in a twinkling by audacity and good luck. [This] golden dream . . . became a prominent part of the American psyche only after Sutter’s Mill.”[130]

Overnight California gained the international reputation as the “golden state”.[131] Generations of immigrants have been attracted by the California Dream. California farmers,[132] oil drillers,[133] movie makers,[134] airplane builders,[135] and “dot-com” entrepreneurs have each had their boom times in the decades after the Gold Rush.[136]

The literary history of the Gold Rush is reflected in the works of Mark Twain (The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County), Bret Harte (A Millionaire of Rough-and-Ready), Joaquin Miller (Life Amongst the Modocs), and many others.[29][137]

Included among the modern legacies of the California Gold Rush are the California state motto, “Eureka” (“I have found it”), Gold Rush images on the California State Seal,[138] and the state nickname, “The Golden State”, as well as place names, such as Placer County, Rough and Ready, Placerville (formerly named “Dry Diggings” and then “Hangtown” during rush time), Whiskeytown, Drytown, Angels Camp, Happy Camp, and Sawyers Bar. The San Francisco 49ers National Football League team, and the similarly named athletic teams of California State University, Long Beach, are named for the prospectors of the California Gold Rush.

Today, aptly named State Route 49 travels through the Sierra Nevada foothills, connecting many Gold Rush-era towns such as Placerville, Auburn, Grass Valley, Nevada City, Coloma, Jackson, and Sonora.[139] This state highway also passes very near Columbia State Historic Park, a protected area encompassing the historic business district of the town of Columbia; the park has preserved many Gold Rush-era buildings, which are presently occupied by tourist-oriented businesses.


Gold-bearing magma rising after being subducted under the continental crust

Main article: Gold in California

Geological forces operating over hundreds of millions of years resulted in the large concentration of gold in California. Only concentration makes gold economically recoverable.

Some 400 million years ago, California lay at the bottom of a large sea; underwater volcanoes deposited lava and minerals (including gold) onto the sea floor. Beginning about 200 million years ago, tectonic pressure forced the sea floor beneath the American continental mass.[140] As it sank, or subducted, below today’s California, the sea floor melted into very large molten masses (magma). This hot magma forced its way upward under the future California, cooling as it rose,[141] and as it solidified, veins of gold formed within fields of quartz.[141][142] These minerals and rocks came to the surface of the Sierra Nevada,[143] and eroded. Water carried the exposed gold downstream and deposited it in quiet gravel beds along the sides of old rivers and streams.[144] The forty-niners first focused their efforts on these deposits of gold, which had been gathered in the gravel beds by hundreds of millions of years of geologic action.[145][146]

the Civil War broke out  in 1861


 and the soldiers left their frontier posts to fight the Confederates back east.  

The Indians concluded that their intensified raids during the 1850s had finally won them a victory, causing the white men to withdraw.  

The Apache, Yavapai and Mohave took heart and became more ferocious than ever.


While the US Civil War raged in 1862,


The Battle rage around Shiloh in 1862

 a well-seasoned gold prospector appeared in Arizona.


 Joseph Reddeford Walker

was over 6 feet tall and strong, 200 pounds of bone and sinew to help him break trail along the rivers of the Southwest.  Now 63, he had been a beaver trapper since his early twenties.

 For many years, he had explored the western mountains with his friend,


 Kit Carson,

 honing his gifts of good judgment, strong will, nimble footing and physical strength. 

They both became guides on a famous


 John C. Fremont mapping expedition.

John C. Fremont

Born and raised in the south, John C. Fremont joined the army as a second lieutenant of topographical engineers in 1838.


For three years

John C.Fremont helped map the area between the upper Mississippi and Missouri Rivers.

 Fremont spent the early 1840s exploring and mapping much of the area between the Mississippi River and the Pacific Ocean. With Kit Carson as his guide in 1843, he went to Oregon and California, publishing a detailed report that gave him a national reputation and provided valuable information for settlers eager to move west.


Putting Las Vegas on the Map

While other scouts and adventurers may have come through the valley first, a son of scandal is noted for pointing travelers toward the future Sin City.


John C. Fremont, seated, recognized Kit Carson, standing, for the unlettered genius he must have been after their first chance meeting on a steamer. Both men played key roles in the exploring accident that put Las Vegas on the map.
UNLV Special Collections


A 12-pounder brass howitzer, like the one shown in this drawing from the mountain artillery manual for the piece, was issued to John C. Fremont. The gun and carriage weighed 515 pounds and special halters and shafts for drawing them, and a full chest of ammunition, would have brought total weight to more than 700 pounds. He abandoned the gun somewhere west of Walker River.

U.S. Army

John C. Fremont put Las Vegas on the map,

but it was almost a footnote to his accomplishments which included provoking a war, running for president, and freeing slaves before Abraham Lincoln did.
UNLV Special Collections

homas Hart Benton, Jessie’s father, was the nation’s foremost exponent of Manifest Destiny. Initially opposed to his daughter’s marriage to Fremont, he became his mentor, as Fremont strove to carry out Benton’s ambitions for a United States stretching from sea to sea.
UNLV Special Collections

Jessie Fremont was a gifted writer and most think her pen vastly improved writings attributed to John Fremont.
UNLV Special Collections

In the spring of 1845,


Fremont led sixty-two well armed men on a “scientific” expedition to California, where he helped promote


the “Bear Flag” revolt of dissident U. S. citizens against Mexico and



Commodore Robert Stockton’s

 naval force in conquering the area.

Captain Robert F. Stockton, USN (1795-1866)

Robert Field Stockton was born in Princeton, New Jersey, on 20 August 1795. He was appointed a Midshipman in the U.S. Navy at the age of sixteen, serving at sea and ashore during the War of 1812.

After that conflict, Lieutenant Stockton was assigned to ships operating in the Mediterranean, in the Caribbean and off the coast of West Africa.

While on the latter station, he helped negotiate a treaty that led to the founding of the state of Liberia. During the later 1820s and into the 1830s, he primarily devoted his attention to business affairs in New Jersey.

In 1838,

Stockton resumed active Naval service as a Captain. He served in the European area, but took leave in 1840 to undertake political work. Offered the post of Secretary of the Navy by


 President John Tyler in 1841,

he declined the offer, but worked successfully to gain support for the construction of

 an advanced steam warship with a battery of very heavy guns.



This ship became USS Princeton (1843-1849),

 the Navy’s first screw-propelled steamer, whose construction he oversaw and which he commanded when she was completed in 1843. Captain Stockton was absolved of responsibility for the February 1844 explosion of a gun on board the ship that killed two cabinet officers and several others. With the temporary title of Commodore, Stockton commanded Naval forces in the Eastern Pacific, and was instrumental in taking California from Mexico in 1846-47.

Captain Stockton resigned from the Navy in May 1850 and returned to business and political pursuits. He served as

a U.S. Senator from New Jersey in 1851-53,


Samuel l sout secretaryof the Navy

 during which time he sponsored a bill to abolish flogging as a Navy punishment. After leaving the Senate, Stockton remained active in business and politics.

In 1861 he was a delegate to the unsuccessful conference that attempted to settle the secession crisis. In 1863, he was appointed to command the New Jersey militia when


 the Confederate Army invaded Pennsylvania.


 Captain Robert F. Stockton died at Princeton on 7 October 1866.

 Appointed governor,

he refused to surrender the office to


General Stephen Kearny,

who arrived with official orders to establish a government. He was court-martialed and resigned from the army. Staying in California, he struck gold and became a millionaire, only to lose it all because of a faulty title. Fremont was elected senator in 1849, but his reelection was defeated by the pro-slavery party in 1851.



The territory of California was under Spanish rule until 1821 when, after two years of political in-fighting,






 a Spanish military officer in Mexico City declared himself emperor of an independent Mexico


Dates: 1821:

 Mexico wins independence from Spain 1835:


Emperor Joshua

Most Californians reacted negatively to this news as Spain had treated Californians benignly but were skeptical of Mexican control. Some Californians were even thinking about independence for California, or at least some form of local rule.


The Franciscan missionaries in mexico in 1821

were openly hostile to the new, anti-cleric Mexican government because it intended to secularize the missions that dotted the landscape of the territory.

 This policy involved taking the mission lands from the church and giving them to the local inhabitants, Indians and Californios, and army veterans. Although this had been Spain’s plan from the beginning of its New World colonialization, the government and the church had abandoned this plan when it became apparent that the Indians had no desire to Europeanize themselves and that the mission system was self-perpetuating.


Mexican rule over California proved chaotic. Political upheavals were routine in Mexico City and a dozen Mexican governors ruled California over the next 26 years. Some of these appointed governors were democratically minded and able servants, while others were tyrranical and incompetent. Some were Californian but most were Mexican.


Several rebellions were organized against the worst governors. Twice there was political unrest that resulted in military skirmishes in the Cahuenga Pass north of Los Angeles.


In 1831, Manual Victoria,

 the cruelest and most arbitrary of the Mexican governors, banished from California several opponents who demanded democratic reforms. Jose Carrillo and an American, Abel Stearns, were the most active, and they were exiled to Baja California.

From there, they led a small army against Victoria who marched his army south from the capital at Monterey. As the two sides clashed in the Cahuenga Pass, Gov. Victoria’s face was severely slashed. Victoria resigned and the previous governor, Jose Maria de Echeandia, who remained in San Diego after he had been relieved of duty by Victoria, assumed control from his home. Further clouding the political climate, Captain Agustin Juan Vicente Zamorano almost immediately established a rival government in Monterey. The Cahuenga Pass became a sort of border between the two regimes.


Pio Pico in 1860. Courtesy of the Title Insurance and Trust / C.C. Pierce Photography Collection, USC Libraries.


On June 30,


Governor Jerry Brown


 signed into law a budget cutting $22 million from the state’s Department of Parks and Recreation. The cuts have resulted in the planned closure of seventy state parks, including one in Whittier that honors the memory of one of Brown’s predecessors:


 the last governor of Mexican Alta California, Pío de Jesus Pico.



 above the east bank of the San Gabriel River in Whittier,

L.A.’s Pio Pico State Historic Park On List To Be Possibly Shuttered

Visitors walk through the gardens and orchards that surround the adobe ranch house at Pio Pico State Historic Park, one of many state parks under consideration for closure to save money for the state on August 13, 2009 in Whittier, California. Up to 100 state parks are expected to be closed after Labor Day, the first time ever that California has closed a state park. Large fee increases have been approved for the parks that survive to meet harsh cutbacks imposed on the state park system by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and law makers trying balance the budget. Pio Pico State Historic Park is visited each year by thousands of school children and other visitors who come to see the 19th century adobe ranch buildings and learn about the history and culture of California during the time of Pio de Jesus Pico IV, the last governor of “Mexican” California. Camping fees at popular parks could reportedly rise as high as $21 to $44 per night.


Pío Pico State Historic Park

includes the historic adobe where the former governor and land baron once held court. It is scheduled to close on July 1, 2012.

The son of a Spanish artillery sergeant, Pico was born on May 5, 1801 at


Mission San Gabriel.

 His 93 year life spanned several distinct periods of Southern California history, from Spanish colonialism to Mexican rule and from American conquest to L.A.’s late-nineteenth-century growth spurt.

Over the course of his life, Pico accumulated great wealth and land-holdings. For many years he and his brother Andres, another leading figure of





Mexican California,


Mexico California Texas Map 1850’s Gold Districts




 Rancho Santa Margarita y Las Flores,





an immense tract in


northern San Diego County

that today is


Camp Pendleton. Pico

also individually owned large estates


 near Whittier



in the San Fernando Valley.


Map of Rancho Santa Margarita y Las Flores. Courtesy of the The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley.

Pico served twice as governor of California; great upheaval marked both of his terms, and in each case Pico succeeded an ousted governor.

In 1831,

 a dispute over California’s mission lands escalated into

 an open revolt against the rule of


 Governor Manuel Victoria,

 who refused to secularize the missions. Victoria and the rebels, led by wealthy landowners, met on


a plain near



Cahuenga Pass on December 5, 1831.


Paseo de Cahuenga

This park commemorates the Battle of Cahuenga Pass in 1831, in which Pio Pico defeated Governor Manuel Vitoria, and a second battle in 1845 in which Alvarado and Castro overthrew Governor Micheltorena

The ensuing Battle of Cahuenga Pass was mostly bloodless, but in a bizarre sequence of events Victoria was seriously injured. He fled, leaving his office vacant. As the senior member of the territorial legislature, Pico became governor by default. Victoria’s hand-picked successor disputed Pico’s claim to the office, however, and his tenure lasted only twenty days. But Pico had established himself as a leading political figure in California and, within a year and a half, the process of secularizing the missions had begun.

Thirteen years later, Pico succeeded another deposed governor. Appointed by


the authorities in Mexico City, Governor Manuel Micheltorena

found himself facing open rebellion by Californios who wanted a native-born resident to hold the office. Again, the governor’s forces met the rebels in battle near Cahuenga Pass, and again a relatively bloodless battle,


the Battle of La Providencia, forced the governor’s ouster in 1845. Pico became acting governor and was duly appointed as Micheltorena’s permanent successor in April 1846.

Read more info


In spring, 1973 I went on a field trip with Mrs. Darlington’s biology class; on the way there and back I sat with my new friend Mike McDaniel. (We had met at the beginning of the school year.) As we traveled back into Burbank through the Cahuenga Pass down Barham Blvd., past the famous Smoke House restaurant and the Warner Brothers Studios, Mike mentioned that a battlefield was situated somewhere nearby, and said that cannonballs were frequently dug up in the area. Being infatuated with the American Civil War at the time, and surprised that a real battle had actually been fought in my home town, I wondered about the details. It wasn’t for another 28 years that I did some research and discovered that this battle was fought in 1845, and was known as the Second Battle of Cahuenga Pass, or the Battle of La Providencia. The first battle had been fought in the same place in 1831.

The Second Battle of Cahuenga Pass! The second of two battles! The very name resonates with military glory!

Well, maybe not. What follows are four accounts of the battle.

Excerpt from the 1976 Burbank City Calendar (with illustration!)


“An 1845 struggle for power between Mexican Governor Manuel Micheltorena and Pio Pico was resolved by a long range artillery duel that began at Cahuenga Pass and continued the next day at Rancho La Providencia. When the smoke cleared away, not a solider had been hurt, but Governor Micheltorena nontheless surrendered his command to Pio Pico’s troops. Many years later, Burbnank residents occasionally unearthed old cannon balls in the area of Warner Brothers studios.”

Excerpt from Burbank – An Illustrated History by E. Caswell Perry.

“In 1842 an unpopular governor, Manuel Micheltorena, was appointed by Mexico City. Supported by his army of 300 cholos, or convict soldiers, he was bitterly resented by the Californios. In November 1844 an active revolt against him was initiated by both Northern and Southern Californians, themselves rivals but united in their desire to oust Micheltorena. Micheltorena defeated the northern faction, led by Jose Castro, near San Jose. But coming south to Los Angeles, even after building up his army to about 400, he was met by about the same number of Californios led by Juan Bautista Alvarado. The two small armies met between February 19-20, 1845, in the so-called Battle of Cahuenga. This was just west of Cahuenga Pass, on the San Fernando Valley side, at Alamos near present-day Studio City. One side had two small cannon, the other had three, and they limited their combat to a long-range artillery duel. The casualties totaled one horse and one mule, and both sides soon ran out of ammunition. The action could only be continued by each side’s recovering the cannon balls of the other. Even today, an occasional cannon ball turns up when excavations are made in the battlefield area.

Micheltorena withdrew, stopping the desultory conflict. Finally, on February 22, Micheltorena agreed to leave California, taking his army with him. For all practical purposes, Mexico’s control of Alta California was a thing of the past. Pio Pico was made the civil governor at Los Angeles and Jose Castro set up a rival regime at Monterey.”

NOTE: I think Perry is mistaken in locating this “battle” in Studio City, which is a few miles west of Burbank. Or perhaps he is referring to the Warner Brothers Studio complex as Studio City.

Excerpt from A History of Burbank, Burbank Unified School District, 1967.

“In 1845, the Battle of Providencia unseated the tyrannical Mexican governor, Manuel Micheltorena, and replaced him with Pio Pico. Micheltorena’s Mexican forces had three cannons and the Californians under Pico had two. The two forces came within long cannon range of each other near Cahuenga Pass, February 20, 1845. They kept their cannons far enough apart to make sure no one would be injured. Heavy cannonading from these batteries continued throughout the afternoon, but as both armies kept in close shelter under the banks of the Los Angeles River, little damage was done. According to one account of the battle, “a Mexican horse’s head was shot off and a California mule was injured by flying debris.” The next day the battle resumed on the La Providencia Rancho. But still both armies were reluctant to fight. After two hours of cannonading from both sides without visible results, Governor Micheltorena raised the flag of surrender. Most of his men had deserted in favor of Pio Pico. For many years, Burbank residents in the vicinity of Warner Brothers Studio dug up cannon balls from time to time. La Providencia was a proud, slightly battle-scarred old rancho.”

NOTE: In this account, mention is made of the Los Angeles River. It flows perpendicularly to the entrance to Cahuenga Pass – Barham Blvd. intersects it – near the Smoke House Restaurant. As a river, it is a distinct disappointment. In the series pilot of The Beverly Hillbillies, there is a memorable scene of Jed Clampett being shown the L.A. River. He shakes his head side to side and mutters, “Pitiful, just pitiful.”

Excerpt from The Story of Burbank, The Publicity Department, Burbank Branch of Security Trust and Savings Bank, 1927.

“Directly south of Scott’s portion of Rancho San Rafael was Rancho La Providencia, a Mexican land grant of some 4600 acres, which, when the Mexicans’ enjoyment of independence from Spain was at its flood-tide, had been given to Commmandante J. Castro, Luis Arenas and Vincente de la Ossa. Upon its broad acres was fought the historic battle of La Providencia that was to end in the death of a horse and a mule but which nevertheless unseated Governor Emmanuel Micheltorena and placed Pio Pico in his place. As can well be imagined, the battle was fought at long range. Associated with Pico in the rebellion were Manuel Castro, Juan Batista Alvarado and Benjamin D. (Don Belino) Wilson heading a company of 22 Yankees. As Henry K. Norton says, Micheltorena managed to gather a force of nearly four hundred men and started south to crush the rebels. But the rebels did not wait to be crushed. They immediately retreated. In the pursuit, the governor was careful not to come within a hundred miles of them until the rebels picked up courage and returned from Los Angeles to meet him. The two forces mustered about an equal number of men. They came within long cannon range of each other at Cahuenga, the scene of a previous civil conflict. The Mexicans had three cannons and Californians two. Heavy cannonading from these batteries continued throughout the afternoon, but as both armies kept in close shelter under the banks of the Los Angeles River, little damage was done. A Mexican horse’s head was shot off and a California mule was injured by the flying debris. During the night some flanking was attempted which brought the armies together again the next morning at La Providencia. For almost two hours the cannonading was again indulged in without visible result, when Micheltorena raised the white flag and proposed a capitulation. This was accepted by rebels and the erstwhile governor was unceremonially shipped out of the country. The real reason for his surrender was the desertion of a company of Yankees with him to the Yankees headed by Wilson on the other side.

To this day Burbank people dig up cannon balls from time to time in their gardens. One of them is pictured in this booklet. It was unearthed by Thomas Story, Burbank’s first mayor.”

NOTE: In this account, the publicity department invokes Civil War imagery of Yankees and Rebels, which doesn’t seem to fit, given the piddling nature of the Second Battle of Cahuenga Pass.

I think you get the idea of what this “battle” involved, but if you wish to do further reading, two more accounts of this battle are here. I got a kick out of Keffer’s text: “The display of daring horsemanship and the noise from the cannon and rifle fire must have been very impressive, for on the hillside, women and children with crosses in their hands were weeping and wailing, invoking the saints for the safety of their loved ones who were engaged in the battle. Most of the foreigners in both contingents, who had enlisted merely in the hope of securing grants of lands, early decided to get out of danger and, deserting their commands, fraternized among the spectators on the hillside.”


Fast forward nearly a hundred years later, to the 1930s and 1940s. The terrible cannon fire in Burbank has ceased, and horses and mules may safely graze without concern of beheading or injury. But perhaps a racial memory of strife and war is retained by Burbank developers and builders, for a new type of structure is being built in the valley: the defensible stucco home. And therein are a class of residents I call The War Lords of Burbank.

I am referring to typical two-bedroom, one-bath homes built in the then-fashionable Spanish rancho style. Most of these had tiled roofs, and they frequently came with martial architectural details, such as crenellated rooflines. My father called these homes “old Spanish dogs,” and when I was a kid there seemed to be a lot of them around Burbank. At the time I began to notice them, when I was about 15, I was deeply interested in Arthurian stories of knights and tournaments. Consequently, I thought these places were really cool and wanted in live in one some day. (Part of my interest was fueled by the 1965 Charleton Heston film The War Lord, which was occasionally shown on TV. The fact that the stone tower used in the film was still standing atop the Universal Studios lot for their early Seventies European Faire made the film all the more interesting to me.)

Stucco, for those of you unfamiliar with this material, is a rough, sandpapery sort of covering applied to the outside surfaces of Southern California homes. It is especially memorable to any kid who ever got into a tussle with some other kid, and had his back or arm scraped against the stuff. When I moved to Virginia I never again expected to see a stucco home. Imagine my astonishment when I first paid a visit to Mount Vernon, George Washington’s estate: the building is covered in a coat of paint that has sand poured into it, a fashionable 18th century process the docents will tell you is called “rustification.” By any other name it’s stucco to me, and looking at it, the skin on my back and arms ached.


The ideal example is above, a house just north of Glenoaks Blvd., not far from Burbank High School. In August 1998, on a visit back to my hometown, I described the defensible stucco homes of my youth to Mike McDaniel, a Burbank historian and lifelong resident. He knew right away what I was looking for and drove me to this place. Note the crenellated turret above the front door, with the vents arranged in a diagonal, step-up fashion. Just the place to mount archers in case Pio Pico or a belligerent newsboy pays a visit.


The only other defensible home Mike could recall at the time was this place, clearly inspired by the Walt Disney Studios. You will note that there is a turret. However, I did not see any places where archers could be mounted, and so this property, while grand, must be relegated to the wanna-be defensible home category.


On another trip to Burbank in August 2000, Mike and I dedicated a few lunchtime hours to driving around, looking for suburban castles. Here’s a defensible stucco home that may or may not have been renovated or redesigned to remove a crenellated roofline. You can see from the insert on the right, that crenellation exists above a side window, which I guess is a kitchen. It makes sense if you want to guard the garrison’s vital food supply from marauders.


Now we’re talking! Mike could barely contain his glee when he remembered this place. This lofty stronghold is so isolated and secure that we had a difficult time finding the street to drive up to it, so we settled for this distant shot. One can imagine the difficulty that invaders would encounter, making the exhausting march up the Verdugo hills only to be faced with swarms of arrows from defenders. That patio to the right looks like a good artillery platform, as well. The Burbank War Lord living here sleeps securely at night!


Here’s a lordly place with two circular turrets, a weathervane and a two car garage. (Motor transport for cholos, perhaps.) Once again, note the stepped-up windows in the turrets; these have wrought iron bars, to impede access from wall-scaling attackers. I suspect that when this place was built, the circular rooflines were crenellated. Well, at least I’d like to think so. A staff with a banner flapping defiantly in the breeze would be a handsome feature, too.


Not all War Lord stucco homes are defensible, and not all of them are in beige or sand tones. Here’s the pink residence of a Burbank resident who proudly displays the royal heraldric crest of Castile and Leon (seen just above the round shrub, and shown in inset). Perhaps he is known as El Cid, unaware of the fact that Manuel Micheltorena was overthrown by the cataclysmic events of the 20th of February, 1845, and pines for the old days when Spanish majesty controlled the San Fernando Valley with a firm, yet Catholic, rule.

Viva Micheltorena!


Here’s a War Lord home that is not really defensible, but could perhaps serve as the residence of a military governor, chief of staff or military attache. Note the bold iron galleon atop the low turret. No political correctness at this address! Once again, it could be that a crenellated roofline was originally a feature of the turret; this manor appears to have benefited from a freshening up sometime in its history, and it certainly appears well-maintained.


Mike and I gave out a whoop when we stumbled upon this place! Normally a War Lord home has only stylistic hints at defensibility – but this place goes whole hog. Note the drawbridge, which can be raised in time of strife, forcing attackers to, uh… scale that low wall on the front of the porch. (Not exactly an awful prospect.) Yes, this place does have a heraldric banner flying, shown in the inset photo. The same crest appears on the front door. Unfortunately, this property is in the flatlands of Burbank, and not up on the hill. Were it located high up on a crest it might seem a little more impressive than it is. Then again, maybe not.


The cannons are stilled and the face of war is not seen in the San Fernando Valley. Even the once great Soviet Union has disintegrated, leaving splinter republics in its wake, one of which is the Republic of Armenia. Sometime in the 1980s, Armenian immigrants began to arrive in neighboring Glendale, and took up residence there and in Burbank. As can be seen from this photo, they know or care not about the Battle of Cahuenga Pass, and began to buy the old Spanish Dogs to greatly enlarge and remodel. This home is representative of the emerging new look of Burbank. It certainly doesn’t have the martial look of the homes of the War Lords; to me it seems suggestive of the Beverly Hillbillies mansion. Whatever it is you call this style, it certainly seems to be influenced more by ancient Greece and Rome than by the days of the Spanish ranchos.

…and so we leave the War Lords of Burbank. When I first thought of writing this article I looked forward to getting many photographs of the old Spanish Dogs to accompany it. It seems, however, that in Burbank they are now an endangered species – perhaps even nearly extinct. With prosperity and expectations for a higher standard of living becoming a feature of the 1980s, homes were remodeled and enlarged, oftentime removing the martial look of the original design. This, to me, is unfortunate. Living in Northern Virginia, where nearly every house looks like a variation of a Colonial center hall style, I appreciated the uniqueness of the defensible stucco homes found so often in my youth. Cramped and poky they may have been for the residents, but at least there was a place to put the trained archers.

In fairness to the City of Burbank I must also point out that there are middle-class castles in other states, too – perhaps in all of them. Where I currently live in Springfield, Virginia, there are a couple of castles and a Tudor mansion or two. Even amid the brush and scrub of arid Sandy, Utah, I stumbled upon a place that had medieval overtones, with the inscription, “This is the home of the knight” lettered on the front wall in marble in what looked like a medieval Icelandic text! (Once, when I drove by, Sir Utah was shirtlessly mowing his lawn.)

I guess the phrase “A man’s home is his castle” is deeply embedded in the American psyche.



Mike McDaniel, Burbank’s roaming photo-essayist, has sent me some additional photos.







I suppose it was inevitable that the Burbank corporate world would embrace the militant style. Shown above is the corporate headquarters of Electrosonic, which specializes in light, sound and images (one of the many media businesses located in Burbank). This building reminds me not of the Spanish days, but of that famous Babylonian citadel alongside I-5 on the way to Disneyland. It is strongly defensible, and invokes medieval images for the business term “hostile takeover” (perhaps to include siege engines and catapults).


UPDATE: Mike McDaniel, ever on the alert for Burbank castles, sent me this photo of a home fully typifying the style. While there are some differences between this consumer castle and the first one I describe on this page, it appears that the floorplans are similar, if not identical. I suppose that little circular enclosed space around the front door is where one would surrender his arms prior to entering the property. For me, however, the one thing that ruins the overall look is that crooked white mailbox, which is just not lordly enough for the rest of the property. The owner ought to replace it with something made out of dark wood and iron straps.


Manuel Micheltorena, whose ouster in 1845 made Pico the last governor of Mexican California. Courtesy of the Title Insurance and Trust / C.C. Pierce Photography Collection, USC Libraries.

By then the dark clouds of war hung over California. With designs on California and other northern territories of Mexico, the United States declared war on May 13. When news of the war reached California, the fall of Mexican California was swift. The American captured Monterey on July 15, prompting Pico to issue this proclamation:

Pío Pico, Constitutional Governor of the Department of California, hereby makes known to its inhabitants that the country is threatened by the United States by land and by sea, that it now occupies Monterey, Sonoma, San Francisco, and other frontier points to the north of this department, where the Stars and Stripes now wave with further threatenings to occupy more ports and towns and to subdue them to its laws; therefore, this government, having stood firmly resolved to do its utmost to oppose the most unjust aggression committed during late centuries, caused by a nation possessed with extraordinary ambitions, purposely authorizing a cleverly disguised robbery, exercising power over us during a period of political weakness.

It was one of his last acts as governor. As American forces advanced on Southern California, Pico fled to Baja California in a futile attempt to raise a resistance force. In the end, Los Angeles fell to the invading troops, and the American capture of Mexico City in September 1847 sealed California’s fate: it became a permanent American possession.

Reluctantly accepting the outcome of the war, Pico returned to Southern California after the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo established peace between the United States and Mexico. Although Pico would never learn English, relying instead on an interpreter, he remained one of Southern California’s leading citizens through much of the nineteenth century.


Exterior of the Pico Adobe in Whittier. 1904 watercolor by Eva Scott Fenyes courtesy of the Braun Research Library Collection, Autry National Center. FEN.173.


Interior of the Pico Adobe in Whittier. 1904 watercolor by Eva Scott Fenyes courtesy of the Braun Research Library Collection, Autry National Center. FEN_174.

In 1850, Pico bought Rancho Paso de Barolo, an 8,991-acre tract situated some twelve miles southeast of Los Angeles. Pico added a chapel, saloon, and other improvements and called his new home “El Ranchito,” but to Yankees the ranch was “Picoville.”

Whatever its name, for decades the rancho preserved the old Californio way of life. A gracious host, Pico welcomed many visitors and hosted dances, cockfights, and horse races. The land was also a working ranch; demand for beef surged with the Gold Rush, and vaqueros tended to Pico’s large herds of cattle and horses. Most of the ranch has since been subdivided into the cities of Whittier, Montebello, and Pico Rivera, but Pico’s homestead on the San Gabriel River survives as Pío Pico State Historic Park.

In the late 1860s, Yankees continued to trickle in to the former capital of Mexican California. Pico saw a profit to be made, and in 1870 he sold his land holdings in the San Fernando Valley to finance construction of the Pico House, a three-story hotel on L.A.’s central plaza that would cater to wealthy out-of-town visitors. The Pico House stands to this day, now part of the Los Angeles Plaza Historic District.


The Pico House and the Los Angeles Plaza circa 1870. Courtesy of the El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument Photo Collection.


A streetcar and buggies in front of the Pico House in 1870. Courtesy of the Watson Family Photo Archive.


1940 drawing of the Pico House by Bacilio Olivarez. Courtesy of the Watson Family Photo Archive.

Pico’s later years saw Don Pío, as he was fondly called, fall into penury. Bad investments and unscrupulous companions forced him to sell the Pico House. He lost the future Camp Pendleton to his brother in law, and El Ranchito to a real estate scam–Pico mortgaged the property, but when he tried to repay the loan his creditor refused and seized the land instead. In both cases, the former governor sought relief from the courts–in the latter case, appealing all the way to the California Supreme Court–but lost.

Pico died on September 11, 1894, just as newcomers from the Midwest and East Coast were transforming Los Angeles into a thoroughly Yankee city. Although Pio Pico Historic State Park’s future is uncertain, the legacy of Mexican California’s final governor is permanently enshrined in place names across Southern California: drivers cross Los Angeles every day along Pico Boulevard, and a portion of the don’s former ranchito honors his memory today as the City of Pico Rivera.


Portrait of Pico and a copy of his book, ‘Manual de la Conversación.’ Courtesy of the Autry National Center, Griffith Park. 94.121.1.


Many of the archives who contributed the above images are members of L.A. as Subject, an association of more than 230 libraries, museums, official archives, personal collections, and other institutions. Hosted by the USC Libraries, L.A. as Subject is dedicated to preserving and telling the sometimes-hidden stories and histories of the Los Angeles region. Our posts here will provide a view into the archives of individuals and cultural institutions whose collections inform the great narrative—in all its complex facets—of Southern California.


Following the separation of Texas from Mexico in 1835, Mexico sought to discourage any independence movement in California. However, as American mountainmen blazed new trails over the Rocky Mountains, and more ships visited the coast, more and more settlers established homesteads. Like Texas, Mexico was losing its grip on California.


Newly installed Governor Manuel Micheltorena had enraged many Californians by bringing with him about 400 brigands who reportedly were present to bolster law and order. Making Gov. Micheltorena even more unpopular was his favoring the return of the missions and their lands to the church and evicting whoever happened to be there.

A cabal of Californians, led by


 Juan Bautista Alvarado



Jose Castro,

 brought 284 men over the Cahuenga Pass where they met Micheltorena’s force. On February 19 and 20, 1845, the Mexicans and Californians exchanged long-range artillery fire on the banks of the Los Angeles River while concerned citizens watched the cannonballs fly from nearby hillsides.

After a truce was called and both sides met in Los Angeles, Gov. Micheltorena resigned. His successor, the last of the Mexican governors, was California-born Pio Pico, an anti-cleric.

Shortly thereafter, Gov. Pico leased the San Fernando Mission, effectively the entire San Fernando Valley, to his brother,


 Andreas Pico,



Juan Manso.


Gov. Pio Pico

By 1845 many Californians had had enough political instability and had begun to look toward the United States. The boundary dispute between the United States and Mexico at Texas became a flashpoint.


 President James K. Polk

 embraced the theory that it was “Manifest Destiny” for the United States to stretch from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Many Californians hoped it was only a matter of time before they, too, were governed by the United States.


Upon Texas becoming a state in 1845, Mexico dropped diplomatic relations with the United States. In early 1846, the Mexican government authorized Governor Pio Pico to take whatever steps he deemed necessary to protect Alta California from a foreign takeover. One of Pio Pico’s largest assets was the former San Fernando Mission. On June 17, 1846, he sold 120,000 acres, not including the mission itself,




Los Angeles resident Eugenio de Celis.

The timing for de Celis could not have been better. Three weeks later U. S. forces captured


the provincial capital at Monterey, an event viewed in Washington as the end of Mexican jurisdiction over California.

Read more info

Historic California Posts:

Posts at Monterey

(El Real Presidio de San Carlos de Monterey, El Castillio, Fort Hill, Fort Jones, Fort Stockton; Fort Mervine; Fort Savannah; Fort Halleck; Fort Cape of Pines; Fort Fremont, Monterey Redoubt; Monterey Ordnance Depot, Monterey Barracks, Ord Barracks; Monterey Military Reservation, and The Presidio of Monterey, Camp John P. Pryor, and Camp Murray)




The original Presidio de San Carlos de Monterey, 1793

No other military installation in the United States had as many changes in nomenclature as the two-century-old Presidio of Monterey. The military has played a role in the history of the Monterey Peninsula since 1770 when a small expedition led by Governor Gaspar de Portola officially took possession for Spain of what is now central California. In compliance with instructions “to erect a fort to occupy and defend the port from the atrocities of the Russians, who were about to invade us,” his men constructed a presidio, or fort, at the southern end of the bay.. Portolas actions were influenced by the Spanish fear that other nations, particularly Russia, had designs upon her New World empire. Spain moved to occupy that portion of the western American coast which she had previously neglected. Ripe for colonization and military fortification was the port of Monterey. which had been visited and charted a century and a half before by the Spanish explorer Sebastian Vizcaino


Five-page report that a Spanish settlement between mission and presidio had just been established at Monterey, California, by Don Gaspar de Portola and Miguel Costanso, 1770 To view all pages of this document, CLICK HERE

Monterey became one of five Presidios, or forts built by Spain. Others were founded in San Diego, (1769), San Francisco (1776), Santa Barbara (1782) and Tubac, Arizona (1784). The fortunes of the Presidio at Monterey rose and fell with the times. It has been moved, abondoned and reactivated time and time again. At least three times it has been submerged by the tide of history, only to reappear years later with new face, a new master, and a new mission, first under the Spanish, then the Mexicans, ultimately the Americans.


Presidio Chapel of San Carlos Borromeo was founded in 1770 by Father Junipero Serra. First chapel was behind palisades next to Presidio, but Father Serra moved to present location to be away from military influence. Six soldiers guarded and helped build church. Serra died here in 1784 and is buried in church. Chapel was presented with barrel organ by English explorer Vancouver in 1793. Address: Church Street near Figueroa.

The first Presidio of Monterey, El Presidio Royal de Monte Rey, Spain’s initial military reservation in Alta California was situated about a mile east of the present day U.S. Army’s Presidio of Monterey. The mission and chapel of the Royal Presidio still stands and appears as it did upon its completion in 1795. The old presidio’s foil, surviving for 50 years, was located on Presidio Hill, a site now listed in the National Register of Historic Places. In 1771 Father Junipero Serra moved his principal religious activities from Monterey to his new mission in Carmel. Soldiers were stationed both there and at Serra’s newer mission, San Antonio de Padua, at Jolon, now Fort Hunter Liggett’s reservation. El Castillo (1792-1846), the fort of the first presidio at Monterey, began as an open V shaped parapet of logs and adobe revetments enclosing a small wooden barracks. Adobe structures were added later. From 1792 to 1822, this fort was the castillio, or fortification, for the Spanish presidio. In 1793, Captain George Vancouver of the Royal Navy found guns of El Castillo mounted on “sorry kind of barbet battery, consisting of a few logs of wood … cannon, about 11 in number … work cost $450 … was entirely useless.”From 1822 to 1846 (the Mexican era) this was the principal fort protecting the city and harbor of Monterey. Other redoubts included small fortifications at Point Pinos and above El Castillo on Presidio Hill, the site of Fort Mervine’s ruins.


Conjectural View of the Presidio of Monterey,circa 1800, by Jack S. Williams from “The Presidio of San Carlos de Monterey: The Evolution of the Fortress – Capital of Alta California.” The Center for Spanish Colonial Archaeology, Technical Publication Series Number 1, Tubac, 1993. Fig. 44, p.145.

Monterey remained the capital of California during the Mexican era. Twice El Castillo fell from Spanish and Mexican control. On November 20, 1819, the French privateer Hippolyte Bouchard sailed into Monterey Bay with two vessels flying the flag of Argentina, then the United Provinces of the Rio de la Plata. Bouchard easily took El Castillo the next day while half of his forces launched an attack by land. They sacked the town and dispersed the Spainards. Crewmen included Hawaiians who were naked upon landing but soon were clothed in best clothing empty houses could offer. Bouchard’s privateers sailed away on December 1. On October 20, 1842, the fort was taken by U.S. Navy Commodore Thomas Catesby Jones, commander of the Pacific Squadron, who mistakenly believed the United States and Mexico were then at war. El Castillo was renamed Fort Catesby (popularly called Jones’ Fort in many journals of the day) and remained such for one day, until Jones learned of his error, apologized, and reinstated the Mexican standard.

For for information concerning El Real Presidio de San Carlos de Monterey, CLICK HERE

On July 7, 1846, the naval forces of Cornmodore John Drake Sloat, commander of the Pacific Squadron, sailed into Monterey Bay. This time a state of war did exist. Perhaps remembering. Jones’ blunder four years earlier. Sloat chose to send his second in command it to claim Monterey for the United States. Thus, Captain William Mervine landed and ordered the American flag raised over the old Custom House. Instead of occupying El Castillo, the Americans built a new fortification on Presidio Hill above El Castillo. This Fort, later named for Captain Mervine, was the first U.S military reservation in Monterey. In 1902, this post was greatly enlarged into the Presidio of Monterey and the old fort fell into ruins. Today only one ravelin remains, which mounts five guns on Presidio Hill behind the Army’s museum.

In the early American period Monterey was still the capital of California; later, the capital was shifted to Benecia, and ultimately to Sacramento


Fort Mervine was built by Americans in 1846, was first known as Fort Stockton. It included blockhouse, earthen redoubt, a 100 by 17-foot barracks, six-room double-story log officers quarters, and 75- by 25-foot stone magazine. By mid-1850’s, inspectors said it was worthless, guns were too small to cover Monterey Bay, and its only commendable attribute was that barracks had been turned over to library society. (Redrawn from Mansfield Report, 1853.)


Fort Mervine is remembered by these original earthworks and cannon 145 feet above Monterey. Battery F, Third Artillery manned it, called it “Monterey Redoubt” at first, though other names later included Fort Hill, Fort Halleck, Jones’ Fort, and Fort Fremont. Initially it had 20 mounted 24-pound guns and four 8-inch guns on platforms. It is now part of U.S. Army’s Presidio of Monterey, founded in 1902, overlooking Lighthouse avenue. The Army also was at Monterey for short time in 1865, mainly to see if government buildings were still there.

Construction on Fort Mervine had been begun by an ensign from Sloat’s command. On July 15, 1846, it was named Fort (Robert F.) Stockton in honor of the Pacific Squardron commander who succeeded Sloat. On January 28, 1847, Company F, 3rd Artillery, arrived with orders to complete the permanent fort, which was designed by Corps of Engineer Lieutenant (later Major General) Henry W. Halleck, and the post was renamed Fort Halleck. The fort’s construction was superintended by Lieutenant Edward Ortho Cresap Ord and his second in command Lieutenant William Tecumseh Sherman, both men becoming distinguished generals during the Civil War. For a brief period during its early construction, the post was also known as Fort Savannah for Sloat’s flagship. From August 1852 to February 1865, Fun Halleck was inactive, although for the first four years of this period the post had been designated the Monterey Ordnance Depot in title and function

On February 17, 1865, the post was renamed Ord Barracks and reactivated for the last month of the Civil War. Two log barracks were constructed to accommodate Company B, 2nd Artillery, Company G, 6th Infantry, and Company B, 1st California Volunteer Infantry. On October 18, 1865, Ord Barracks was deactivated and left in a caretaking status. On September 9, 1902, the 15th Infantry was ordered to take post at the Monterey Military Reservation and begin building a post to house an infantry regiment and a squadron of cavalry. The end of the Spanish American War in 1898 saw a significantly sized force stationed here. The 15th Infantry Regiment as well as a squadron of the 9th Cavalry Regimert, returning from the Philippines, was headquartered here and developed the fort further. On July 13, 1903, General Orders No. 102, Headquarters of the Army officially designated the post Ord Barracks in honor of Major General Edward O. C. Ord. On August 30, 1904, by Presidential direction, War Department General Orders No. 142 designated that in perpetuation of the name of the first Spanish military installation in Alta California, the post would he renamed the Presidio of Monterey.

From 1907 to 1913 the School of Musketry was operated on the post, forerunner of today’s Infantry Center at Fort Benning, Georgia. Several units rotated through between 1902 and 1919. Between the two world wars the post was the home of the 11th Cavalry Regiment and the 2nd Battalion, 76th Field Artillery Regiment.

These units remained at the Presidio until 1940. In 1941, the Presidio of Monterey became a reception center for selectees, and for a while it housed III Corps headquarters. Declared inactive in 1944, the post was reactivated in 1945. For a few months the post was a staging area for civil affairs personnel preparing for the occupation of Japan.

On June 19, 1946 the installation became home to the Military Intelligence Service Language School. It was redesignated the Army Language School in 1947. In 1963, the Department of Defense established a joint service Defense Language Institute (DLI), headquartered in Washington, D.C. The Presidio of Monterey became the Defense Language Institute, West Coast Branch – the Presidio of Monterey, however, kept its name. In 1974 the DLI headquarters moved to the Presidio of Monterey. In 1976 the Defense Language Institute, West Coast Branch became the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center (DLIFLC), the Defense Department’s primary center for foreign language instruction.


For much of its recent history, DLIFLC was a tenant activity on the Presidio of Monterey. The Presidio itself was a subinstallation of the nearby Fort Ord. On October 1, 1994 this situation changed when Fort Ord closed and the Presidio of Monterey became a separate installation again.




The American Capture of Monterey, 1842 and 1846



A day out of Lima, Peru, on September 8, 1842, the American ships Cyane, Dale and United States hove to and two captains’ gigs made for the flagship. Captains Armstrong, Scribbling and Dornan gathered in the cabin of Commodore Thomas Ap Catesby Jones.


Jones recounted the reports he had heard while in Lima: not only did a state of war exist between the United States and Mexico, but English and French fleets were competing to occupy Northern California. From his nearer location, Jones’ fleet had the advantage. Disregarding the rumor that Great Britain had bought California for $7 million, Jones proposed to make full sail for Monterey and take California for the United States.


Jones said it was their “bounden duty” to prevent violation of the Monroe Doctrine by any European power “but more particularly by our great commercial rival England.”


Dale returned to Panama to report the plan to Washington. The other ships set full sail for Monterey.


“During the battle and strife,” Jones said to his crews, “every man must do his utmost to take and destroy; but when the flag is struck, all hostility must cease, and you must even become the protectors of all, and not the oppressors of any.”


At 4:00 p.m. on October 19, Captain Armstrong was sent ashore under a flag of truce to demand the surrender of Monterey’s defenses “to avoid the sacrifice of human life and the horrors of war.”


With time to consider until 9:00 a.m. the next day, Juan Bautista Alvarado asked his military commander about the possibility of defending the place. This same Alvarado had led a revolt against the Monterey redoubt in 1835, taking it easily with a mixed force of 125 Californians and Americans. His one cannon had been handled by a lawyer who consulted the instruction book for the firing procedures, but its single shot was sufficient to frighten and force out the governor. The attackers had taken an additional precaution: sending a gift of whiskey ahead to the presidio to “pacify” its garrison.


Seven years later after he seized power, Alvarado knew that little bad been done to improve the defenses. His captain’s opinion was expected: the fortifications “were of no consequence, as everybody knows.” He had 29 soldiers, 29 militia, 150 muskets, and 11 rusted cannon with little ammunition.


“The next morning at half-past ten o’clock about 100 sailors and 50 Marines disembarked,” a pioneer wrote in his diary. “The sailors marched up from the shore and took possession of the port. The American colors were hoisted. The United States fired a salute of 13 guns; it was returned by the fort, which fired 26 guns.”

“The Marines in the meantime bad marched up to the government-house. The officers and soldiers of the California government were discharged and their guns and other arms taken possession of and carried to the fort. The stars and stripes now wave over us. Long may they wave here in California!”


Thirty hours later, the Mexican flag was back on the flagpole. Newspapers and other papers located in Monterey convinced Jones that there was no war with Mexico at the time. The garrison was quickly withdrawn to the ships and a salute was fired in honor of the Mexican flag. Relief was mutual that the erroneous invasion had cost neither lives nor anger.


Jones noted that even though “we had 150 seamen and Marines on shore 30 hours, not one private house was entered, or the slightest disrespect shown to any individual; nor was any species of property, public or private, spoiled, if I may except the powder burnt in the salutes, which I have returned twofold.”


Later the Mexicans tried to get Jones to reimburse them for the expenses incurred by the Los Angeles garrison that had left to reinforce Monterey. A formal demand for 1,500 infantry uniforms, $15,000, and a set of musical instruments were ignored by Jones and not repeated by the Mexicans. Washington relieved Jones of his command of the Pacific Squadron, but a few years later found him back at the same helm.


Monterey learned no lesson by the easy capture of its defenses. Four years later, Commodore John D. Sloat anchored in Monterey Bay and was not bothered in the least by the supposed challenging artillery on the hill. Sloat had learned a lesson, however, and delayed landing until he was told that John C. Fremont and the Bear Flag Revolt had started. Assuming that Fremont was acting as an American agent, Sloat sent a landing party ashore on July 7, 1846, and hoisted the United States flag on the government buildings.




The United States flag is raised over Monterey’s Customs House as sailors and Marines land. Depicted is the Old Custom House, left, with a Mexican redoubt on the point. Commodore Sloat’s forces are seen arriving in small water craft. On the right is the U. S. Sloop-of-War Cyane, U. S. Frigate Savannah (Sloat’s Flagship), and U. S. Sloop-of-War Levant.



The shift of authority was greeted mildly by the citizens of Monterey. Troops poured in-some of them being dropped at Monterey rather than other ports in order to keep them from the distant gold fields. Lieutenant William Tecumseh Sherman arrived at this time aboard USS Lexington.


Sherman’s men expected to do battle as soon as they landed. In his Memoirs, he expresses pride that each man had been sufficiently exercised on the 200-day voyage so that upon arrival at Monterey “every man was able to leave the ship and march up the hill to the fort carrying his own knapsack and equipments.” The rumors of an impending attack on Monterey may have spurred on the troops, as it did the officers. Not knowing how far away the fighting was, Sherman said, “Swords were brought out, guns oiled and made ready, and everything was in a bustle.”


Records indicate that less than decisive battles were fought at Monterey. In 1847 Sherman incurred the undying enmity of some townspeople by destroying two barrels of contraband whiskey on the pier. A year later he led the chase to recapture a mass desertion of 28 soldiers for the gold fields; be had to include only officers in his eight man “posse” because he was afraid that bringing enlisted men would only invite more desertions.



Monterey is pictured in Bartlett’s Personal Narrative as it appeared when boundary commission visited in 1852. Bartlett admired “large and well built adobe buildings” and noted that troops were occupying “the old presidia or garrison on an elevation back of the town.” He especially admired the “fair daughters” of Monterey, many of whom were marrying American military.





Two early actors in Monterey drama are memorialized here. Commodore Sloat Monument (left) is part of Fort Mervine ruins. Sherman’s house (right) shows ravages of time that revealed adobe under plaster. Sherman lived here after officers’ mess had to be abolished because cooks deserted for gold fields.





When Lieutenant Sherman arrived in Monterey, he first lived in Customs House (above) while serving as quartermaster. This double-story end dated from 1814; center single-story was built in 1833; double-story at opposite end was added by American consul at Monterey, Thomas Larkin. From 1847 to 1849, Sherman lived in plastered adobe house (below) also built by Larkin. Custom House is at Alvarado and Scott streets; Sherman house on Main street near Jefferson.


President James K. Polk sent Captain John C. Fremont, a military explorer and surveying engineer, to the Oregon Territory and California on a scientific and surveying expedition.

If a war broke out in California, he was to attempt to negotiate a peace with honor.

 (Polk had already declared war on Mexico over a boundary dispute along the Rio Grande River on May 13, 1846.)


John C. Fremont

Great Britain played an important role at this time.

 President Polk and Lt. Col. Fremont were aware that England and Mexico were allies due to a very large debt that Mexico owed England.

 As Fremont was in Monterey a British frigate brought 3,000 settlers to be relocated in


the San Joaquin Valley


 and thereby establish a foothold in California. But, the settlers left when they found the political situation in so much turmoil.




Read more info about San Joaquin



Charles David Maria Weber

Charles M. Weber was a German-born businessman in San Jose who obtained a 50,000-acre land grant on which he raised cattle, mined gold, and founded the city of Stockton as a business center for the southern mines.  He led the defense of San Jose during the uprising against Micheltorena in 1845 and led a cavalry company in the same region during the Mexican War to aid the United States



At this time England and Canada were claiming additional Oregon territory.


By mid-summer of 1846,

 Americans forces were in control of the entire province.

Mexican forces in Los Angeles, under Captain Jose Maria Flores, mounted a revolt. The U. S. forces in Los Angeles, under Captain Archibald Gillespie, were under siege at Government House, their headquarters. To strengthen Flores’ effort, General Andreas Pico raised a California army in the San Fernando Valley.


Drawing titled ‘Charge of the Caballeros,’ depicting the 1846 Battle of San Pasqual between Californian cavalry and U.S. Army troops. Courtesy of the Title Insurance and Trust / C.C. Pierce Photography Collection, USC Libraries.




U.S. troops battled Californio forces loyal to Mexico on January 8, 1847 on the banks of the San Gabriel River. Drawing by John Southwick of the U.S. Navy, courtesy of the Robert B. Honeyman, Jr. Collection of Early Californian and Western American Pictorial Material, Bancroft Library, UC Berkeley.

It was nearly seventy years ago that a Japanese submarine shelled the Santa Barbara coast—the last recorded attack on a Southern California land target. In 1955, the U.S. Army installed a ring of Nike anti-aircraft missiles to defend the Los Angeles area, but by the 1974 the system had been dismantled.

In earlier times, however, Southern California was a geopolitically dynamic region at the edge of the Spanish empire and—later—the Mexican republic. While not common, warfare did occasionally mar the region’s landscape.


A Nike anti-aircraft missile site in the San Fernando Valley. The last L.A.-area Nike missile site was closed in 1974. Courtesy of the Los Angeles Public Library Photograph Collection.

One bizarre and nearly bloodless battle took place in present-day Hollywood, next to the Cahuenga Pass–not far from where summer concertgoers picnic under the stars.

From the 1820s until the American conquest in 1846, Mexican California was riven with political tension. Since colonization began in 1769, the Spanish empire had governed California as a military territory. Missions and pueblos operated somewhat autonomously, but ultimately each civilian or religious official reported to a military officer in matters of governance; Los Angeles’ civilian alcalde (mayor) and town council, for example, could be overruled by a designated sergeant at the Santa Barbara presidio. Mexican independence had ushered in a liberal, reformist spirit across the new republic, and many Californios–newly conscious of the concept of political rights–chafed under military rule.

Another point of contention was the secularization of the missions. Inspired by the new spirit of egalitarianism across Mexico, secularization promised to convert the mission fathers to parish priests and empower their Indian charges as free citizens. It also promised to free up California’s choicest agricultural land, which would then be granted to Mexican citizens as private ranches, making governance of California–and its attendant control over the former mission lands–a prized commodity.

In 1831, tensions boiled over when the military governor of California, Manuel Victoria, attempted to reverse what modest reforms already had been enacted. Victoria refused to call the territorial disputacion (legislature) into session, exiled two leading citizens of Los Angeles and jailed at least 100 others, and vowed to resist attempts to secularize the missions. Outraged Californios charged tyranny. Would-be rancheros Juan Bandini, Juan Antonio Carillo, and Pío Pico raised a small rebel force of Angelenos. They were joined by troops from the San Diego presidio, and the combined army marched on Los Angeles, freed the town’s political prisoners, and proclaimed the pueblo liberated.


Early drawing of Cahuenga Pass, showing the possible site of the first Battle of Cahuenga Pass. Courtesy of the Los Angeles Public Library Photograph Collection.

Victoria, meanwhile marched south to suppress the insurrection. His roughly 30 troops met a rebel force of 150 at a site west of Los Angeles, near the mouth of the Cahuenga Pass.

The battle was short, according to the account of early California historian Hubert Howe Bancroft. When Victoria saw the San Diego troops arrayed across from him, he ordered their commander, Pablo de la Portillà, to join his ranks. Portillà rode out to parley, but when Victoria realized that Portillà’s troops would not join him, he ordered his men to fire.

Their volley missed, and while most of the rebel troops retreated to their high ground, passion overcame a few. Led by Jose Maria Avila, whom Victoria had imprisoned in the Los Angeles jail, they charged the governor on horseback. Avila first shot one of Victoria’s subordinates in the back, and then turned his sights on the governor. His lance tore through Victoria and knocked the governor off his horse.

Fearing that his wounds were fatal, Victoria resigned his office and fled to Mission San Gabriel. He would survive, but his policies would not. On August 9, 1834, Victoria’s eventual successor, José Figueroa, secularized the mission lands, and many of the rebellion’s leaders became California’s richest landowners.

As the most direct route between Los Angeles and points north, Cahuenga Pass represented one of the region’s most strategically significant sites in a Southern California still vulnerable to war. It is not surprising, then, that in the 1840s the pass would become the site of two more major military events.

In 1845, another skirmish near the pass deposed yet another unpopular governor appointed by Mexico’s central government. Manuel Micheltorena had arrived in 1842,

an appointee of Mexico’s president,


Antonio López de Santa Anna.

With hundreds of Americans ambivalent or hostile to Mexican rule living within Alta California, Santa Anna had dispatched Micheltorena and a ragtag army of 300 convicts to secure the province for Mexico.


The governor, and especially his rapacious army, soon wore out their welcome


A revolt against Micheltorena’s rule broke out in November 1844 near Santa Clara.

The governor conspired with several prominent foreigners, including


 the Swiss settler John Sutter

 and several Americans, and marched south to quell the rebellion.

On February 20, 1845,

Micheltorena’s army and a rebel force–equally matched at about 200 troops each–met


on the plains of Rancho La Providencia,



north of the Cahuenga Pass


near present-day Burbank.


The two armies exchanged several artillery rounds, and later accounts list the only casualty as a single equine, either a mule or a mustang.

 But the battle–known today as


the Second Battle of Cahuenga Pass or, alternately, as the Battle of La Providencia–also claimed Micheltorena’s reign. Burbank construction crews were unearthing cannonballs well into the twentieth century.


Manuel Micheltorena, who was ousted by the 1845 Battle of La Providencia. Courtesy of the Title Insurance and Trust / C.C. Pierce Photography Collection, USC Libraries.

Little more than a year passed before war erupted between the United States and Mexico, once again transforming the plains around Los Angeles into a battlefield and making Cahuenga Pass the site of a decisive military event.

American forces under Commodore Robert Stockton first entered Los Angeles on August 11, 1846, only to find the city abandoned by Californio authorities. California’s governor, Pío Pico, and military commander, José Castro, had fled to Sonora to beg the Mexican government for reinforcements. Confident in his control of the city, Stockton withdrew most of his men and sailed north, leaving a small contingent of U.S. Marines under the command of Captain Archibald Hamilton Gillespie.

Stockton and Gillepsie could not have anticipated the ferocity of Californio resistance to the American occupation. Across the state, Californios loyal to Mexico met privately on ranchos, out of sight of the Americans, to raise a resistance force. Within a month, a contingent of lancers under the command of José María Flores closed in on Los Angeles and expelled Gillespie’s marines from the city’s government house. Gillespie’s men fled to


 Fort Moore Hill,in 1845

just west of the plaza. The ensuing Siege of Los Angeles lasted until September 29, when Gillespie signed articles of capitulation that allowed him and his men to escape untouched to their ship


in San Pedro.



Drawing titled ‘Charge of the Caballeros,’ depicting the 1846 Battle of San Pasqual between Californian cavalry and U.S. Army troops. Courtesy of the Title Insurance and Trust / C.C. Pierce Photography Collection, USC Libraries.

American troops returned en masse to Southern California in December 1846. Two hundred army troops commanded by


 General Stephen W. Kearney

marched toward


San Diego from


New Mexico,

 while Stockton sailed toward south with 750 men and John C. Frémont led his roughly 400 irregular troops toward Los Angeles.

Kearney’s tired troops clashed first with the Californio forces east of San Diego in the inconclusive Battle of San Pasqual. A more decisive conflict came on January 8-9, when Kearney’s and Stockton’s combined forces met the Californios for two days of battle along the banks of the San Gabriel River. The successive battles of San Gabriel and La Mesa, known collectively as

the Battle of Los Angeles,

 as well as the Americans’ overwhelming numerical advantage, convinced the Californios to lay down their arms.

On January 13, 1847,


Andrés Pico, commander of the Californio forces,

 met with Frémont at Campo de Cahuenga to discuss terms of surrender. Receiving guarantees that the Californios’ rights would be protected, Pico signed the Capitulation of Cahuenga, bringing the Mexican War in California to a close and marking the end of land-based warfare in the Los Angeles area.


Beginning of the articles of capitulation signed by Frémont and Pico at Cahunega Pass on January 13, 1847. Courtesy of the Title Insurance and Trust / C.C. Pierce Photography Collection, USC Libraries.


‘The Capitulation of the Mexican Army at Cahuenga,’ painted by Carl Oscar Borg circa 1931. Courtesy of the Title Insurance and Trust / C.C. Pierce Photography Collection, USC Libraries.


A re-enactment of the signing of the Capitulation of Cahuenga on a parade float. Courtesy of the Los Angeles Public Library Photograph Collection.


As commander of the Californio forces, Andrés Pico signed the Capitulation of Cahuenga, ending the Mexican War in California. Courtesy of the Title Insurance and Trust / C.C. Pierce Photography Collection, USC Libraries


After the Bear Flag Revolt in May, 1846, in which Fremont took part in the uprising of American settlers against the Mexican government in California, he accepted from Commodore Robert F. Stockton, America’s Military Governor, the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. Fremont formed the California Battalion, composed of settlers and sharpshooters from the Monterey area. They headed south to the City of the Angels (Los Angeles) to confront Mexican Governor Pio Pico’s forces led by General Andreas Pico.


Gen. Andreas Pico

Fremont moved south to San Luis Obispo where he captured Mexican General Jesus Pico, a cousin of Pio and Andreas Pico. He readied his forces in the hills above the Santa Barbara Mission on a cold and rainy Christmas morning n 1846. By January 6, 1847, forces under American Gen. Stephen Watts Kearny and Commodore Robert Field Stockton were on their way to Los Angeles from San Diego.


After fighting two bloody battles a few miles south of Los Angeles, on January 11, 1847 Kearny and Stockton marched to the main square. Pico’s Californian force was all that remained. Fremont and his men were camped at the San Fernando Mission. In a last effort to rout the American force, Pico attempted a daring maneuveur. His Californios marched north over the Cahuenga Pass in full view of Fremont. Then, in an effort to fool the Americans into believing his force was far larger than it the small band he really had, Pico’s men next passed unseen through a ravine, where Universal City now sits, and came back over the hill thus giving the impression that Pico commanded a large army.


“. . .We entered the pass . . .on the morning of the 12th of January. In the afternoon, we encamped at the mission of San Fernando, the residence of Don Andreas Pico, who was at present in chief command of the Californian troops. Their encampment was within two miles of the mission, and in the evening, [my envoy] Don Jesus [Pico], with a message from me, made a visit to Don Andreas. The next morning , accompanied by only Don Jesus, I rode over to the camp of the Californians, and, in a conference with Don Andreas, the important features of a treaty of capitulation were agreed upon.


A truce was ordered; commissioners on each side appointed; and the same day a capitulation agreed upon. This was approved my myself as military commandant representing the United States, and Don Andreas Pico, commander-in-chief of the Californians. With the treaty of Couenga [sic] hostilities ended, and California left peaceably in our possession; to be finally secured to us by the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848.”


The signing of the Capitualtion of Cahuenga occurred on January 13, 1847 on the kitchen table of the abandoned six-room adobe formerly occupied by Tomas Feliz and his family. Copies were signed in English and Spanish. Much to the chagrin of Gen. Kearny, his superior, Fremont gave Pico generous terms. Kearny lost an arm in battle against Pico’s forces at San Pasqual, had fought hard to reach Los Angeles and no doubt had retribution on his mind. Among the seven terms of the agreement were stipulations that the laws of the United States would take effect immediately and that all members of Pico’s brigade, unseen and unnumbered, would never again bear arms against the United States.


Gen. Stephen Kearny

Fremont later wrote:

Because their agreement had been so amicable, Pico at once organized a fiesta for Fremont and his men in California that, after decades of turmoil, was finally at peace. A few weeks later, at Kearny’s instigation, Fremont was court-martialed for his actions at the time of the capitulation and convicted of insubordination. However, Commodore Stockton, Military Governor of California, negated any punishment and President Polk later pardoned him. Fremont later had a distinguished political career and in 1856 was the Repubican Party’s first nominee for President of the United States.


Commo. Robert Field Stockton

When the Civil War began, Lincoln appointed Fremont as major general in command of the Western Department, based in St. Louis. Recruiting, organizing, arming, and effectively commanding a large, untrained and ill-equipped army surrounded by Confederate sympathizers was beyond Fremont’s experience and ability. He was blamed for inaction that lead to the Union defeat at Wilson’s Creek and the death of General Nathaniel Lyon. Fremont answered the criticisms by ordering the emancipation of the slaves and confiscation of the property of all pro-slavery supporters in Missouri. President Lincoln asked Fremont to rescind the order, but Fremont refused and insisted he would comply with Lincoln’s request only if publicly order to do so. Fremont was reassigned to command another army in Virginia where he performed without distinction against Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson. When his army was merged with another under the command of his long-time enemy, John Pope, Fremont resigned.

He was nominated for president in 1864 by Radical Republicans, but was persuaded to withdraw. For the next several years he was involved in several western railroad projects without success and was ultimately bankrupted by a railroad swindle. He served without controversy as governor of the Arizona Territory from 1878 to 1883 and died in New York City in 1890.


Walker was now leading a group of gold prospectors from California into New Mexico, exploring the headwaters of the Gila River in what is now southwestern New Mexico.  At the time of their trek following the Gila westward, President Abraham Lincoln signed an act separating the Territory of Arizona from New Mexico (February 24, 1863) in a vertical split rather than the original horizontal proposal.  But, politics was not of interest for the Walker Party; their sites were set on the mountains north of the Gila where they hoped to find gold.  They passed through Tucson in April and soon reached the Pima and Maricopa Indian villages where they were provided with supplies and native guides.

The Walker party continued west until they came to a tributary to the north leading to the mountains.  The Indians called the tributary “Haviamp” meaning ‘place of big rocks and water.’  The men molded that sound into Hassayampa.

Suddenly a band of Yavapai Indians appeared “within ten paces,” looking ferocious with painted bodies.  One of the prospectors, Daniel Conner, kept a diary and later published their travel adventures.  He wrote, “These naked, barbarous wretches sneak out of their holes as insidiously as so many rats, and are not entitled to a consideration more dignified than that which is accorded to the rats and mice about the city livery stable.”

Such ugly attitudes set the tone for most white settlers and revealed the void in their understanding of the native culture.  The Yavapai made threats regarding any further advance of the white men into their lands.  The Walker party’s Indian guide, Irataba, tried to talk them into turning back.  When they insisted on proceeding, the guide and his warriors left in the night.  With great caution the party continued up the Hassayampa and established a camp about five miles from what would later become Prescott.  They proclaimed the area a mining district and made a compact as to how each member of the party would be assigned mining claims.

In May 1863, they returned to the Pima villages for supplies.  On the way, they joined a group of prospectors from California led by Abraham Peeples with mountain man, Pauline Weaver, their guide.  A Gila River rancher, King S. Woolsey, also joined them.  Woolsey had recently settled the Agua Caliente ranch and was known for his bravery in fighting off Indian raiders.  Woolsey was one of the first to make a gold claim in the Walker district and the gold rush was on.  The Peeples and Walker parties shared the mining districts around Prescott, becoming the first Whites to settle in the newly established Yavapai County.  Miners and ranchers now came from far and wide and began staking out substantial claims, building log houses and laying in food from hunting expeditions while at the same time prospecting for gold.

While hunting, there were encounters with lone Indians, and this sometimes resulted in trade but usually it called for careful avoidance.  An open war between the miners and the Yavapai and Apache had not yet been declared and the white men were wise enough not to assert their belief that “the only good Indian is a dead Indian.”

Companies of the California Infantry and Cavalry had set up a military post in Val de Chino (Chino Valley) to offer protection for the new territorial government, the settlers and miners.  It was named Whipple Barracks to honor Maj. General Amiel W. Whipple who had surveyed the route across northern Arizona and, who had since been killed in the Civil War at the battle of Chancellorsville, VA.  In May 1864, the temporary territorial capital was moved to a permanent location on Granite Creek.  In the meantime, the new government officials and citizens met to establish a town which they named Prescott to honor an eastern historian, William Hickling Prescott, well known for his books about the Aztecs.  It was erroneously believed the Aztecs had been the first settlers in the region.

This growing intrusion of miners and ranchers into Yavapai lands and bordering on Tonto Apache territories brought an immediate response from the Indians.  All of this ‘invasion’ had taken place in only one year and was rapidly escalating!  An all-out war with the Apache and Yavapai Indians was imminent.

Next week, the war erupts with devastating results.

The end @ copyright 2012