The Herald's History of Los Angeles City - Charles Dwight Willard - ebook

The Herald's History of Los Angeles City ebook

Charles Dwight Willard

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The career of a city contains as much good material, out of which an entertaining history may be constructed, as does the life of an individual, or the development of a nation; but, for some reason, it has come to pass in America that the preparation of city, or "local", history has usually fallen into the hands of schemers who exploit the "prominent" citizen for his biography, and throw in something of a narrative, merely as an apology for the book's existence. The present book is an attempt to supply in convenient and portable shape the material facts in the history of Los Angeles city. It contains nothing in the form of paid or biographical matter (strange that such a statement should be needed!), and it is offered for sale at the bookshops on its merits as a book.

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The Herald's History Of Los Angeles City

 

 

CHARLES DWIGHT WILLARD

JUERGEN BECK

 

The Herald's History of Los Angeles City, C. D. Willard

Jazzybee Verlag Jürgen Beck

86450 Altenmünster, Loschberg 9

Deutschland

 

ISBN:9783849648527

 

www.jazzybee-verlag.de

[email protected]

 

 

 

CONTENTS:

 

 

 

Preface. 1

Chapter 1. Sons Of The Soil1

Chapter 2. The Edge Of The Spanish Empire.1

Chapter 3. Via Crucis.1

Chapter 4. How Governor  Portola Came To Los Angeles.1

Chapter 5. The Banner Of The Virgin.1

Chapter 6. The Pueblo Plan. 1

Chapter 7. Governor De Neve  Comes To Los Angeles.1

Chapter 8. The Roster Of 1781.1

Chapter 9. The Mission System.1

Chapter 10.  Eighteenth-Century Los Angeles.1

Chapter 11. In The Spanish Province.1

Chapter 12. Exit Spain.1

Chapter 13. The Pueblo Begins To Grow.1

Chapter 14. The Epoch Of Revolutions.1

Chapter 15. The Ruin Of The Missions.1

Chapter 16. The Foreigner Arrives.1

Chapter 17. Local Events  Of Mexican Rule.1

Chapter 18.  The Pastoral Age In California.1

Chapter 19. The Stars And Stripes.1

Chapter 20.  The Americans Enter Los Angeles.1

Chapter 21.  The Last Revolution In Los Angeles.1

Chapter 22. Los Angeles Regained.1

Chapter 23. The Pueblo Is Made American. 1

Chapter 24. California Enters The Union. 1

Chapter 25. The City Takes Shape.1

Chapter 26. The Beginning Of Things.1

Chapter 27. Los Angeles At Its Worst.1

Chapter 28. Between Old And New.. 1

Chapter 29. In War Time. 1

Chapter 30. The Coming Of The Railway.1

Chapter 31. The Epoch Of The Boom.1

Chapter 32. The Reorganization.1

Chapter 33. The Modern City.1

 

Preface

The career of a city contains as much good material, out of which an entertaining history may be constructed, as does the life of an individual, or the development of a nation; but, for some reason, it has come to pass in America that the preparation of city, or "local", history has usually fallen into the hands of schemers who exploit the "prominent" citizen for his biography, and throw in something of a narrative, merely as an apology for the book's existence. The volume thus produced is a huge unwieldy affair, that circulates only among the hundred or two victims, and is not read even by them, except as to the pages where each one finds the story of his life set forth in a flamboyant and patronizing style. It not infrequently happens that in the history portion of these monstrosities there will be found evidence of careful, conscientious work on the part of the (usually anonymous) writer, but it is buried under such a mass of rubbish, and the volume itself enjoys such a limited circulation, that the judicious reader grieves to see such good labor wasted.

The experience of Los Angeles in the matter of local history has been no different from that of other American municipalities. Of these biographical albums there has been no lack; they have come in cycles of every seven years. Two of these have been — as far as the history portion is concerned — considerably above the average standard. That of Thompson & West, written by J, Albert Wilson, and appearing in 1880, gave subsequent students cause of gratitude for the amount of valuable material gathered together and preserved. One published by the Chapman Company in 1900 contains a history written by that conscientious and devoted searcher in the local field, J. M. Guinn, Secretary of the Los Angeles Historical Society. Mr. Guinn's portion of the volume is an admirable piece of work, but the 780 pages of biography that accompany it contribute to the document a weight of ten pounds — and very little else.

The present book is an attempt to supply in convenient and portable shape the material facts in the history of Los Angeles city. It contains nothing in the form of paid or biographical matter (strange that such a statement should be needed!), and it is offered for sale at the bookshops on its merits as a book. The writer lays no claim to any great amount of original research, his work being chiefly that of collecting, arranging and presenting in logical order the established facts. As the volume employs only 80,000 words to cover a period of nearly a century and a half, there is not much opportunity for detail work. It is, however, carefully indexed.

The work was undertaken by the writer partly on the suggestion of Mr. R. H. Chapman of the Los Angeles Herald, and it was published during the months from July to December (1901) in the Sunday magazine of that excellent journal. It is for that reason called the Herald's History of Los Angeles.

The writer desires to express his thanks to the following: Miss Anna B. Picher of Pasadena, who read the manuscript, and assisted in collecting the pictures, and whose advice and suggestions were of great value; Homer P. Darle of the Stanford Faculty, who also read the manuscript; Mrs. J. D. Hooker, whose beautiful collection of Mission photographs (never before published) were placed at the author's service; Miss Jones, librarian, and Miss Beckley, her assistant; Harry E. Brook, W. S. Hogaboom, Miss Bertha H. Smith, J. M. Guinn, D. O. Anderson, G. G. Johnson, C. C. Pierce, and Putnam & Valentine.

Chapter 1. Sons Of The Soil

 

The original name of Los Angeles was Yang-na, and its population consisted of about 300 human creatures barely above the animal plane. They were called Indians, a general term bestowed by the discoverers of this continent upon all aborigines, although those in Los Angeles bore no more resemblance to the brave and intellectual Iroquois and Tuscaroras than the Turk does to his fellow-European in London. They were undersized and squat in stature, of a dingy brown color, with small eyes, flat noses, high cheekbones and large mouths. The general cast of their features was Asiatic rather than Indian, and although the trivial character of their institutions, and the meagerness of their language makes it quite impossible to classify them ethnologically, it is evident that they are more nearly related to the Alaskan and Aleutian tribes that crossed from Asia when the northern rim of the continent was yet unbroken by the sea, than to the distinctively American Indian of the eastern coast and the interior valleys.

The center of Yang-na was somewhere about the corner of Commercial and Alameda streets and it straggled south as far as First street, and north to some point near Aliso. California Indian villages had a habit of creeping about, due to a peculiar, but, on the whole, commendable practice of their residents. The huts were small, insubstantial affairs, constructed of light poles, bound together and interlaced with twigs and tules. The dwellings of the more fastidious were sometimes roughly plastered with mud. Now when one of these habitations was completely overrun with parasitical insects of all sorts the householder would order his wife to fill the place with dry leaves and branches, and, having himself secured a torch from the vanquech, or temple, where the embers smoldered continually, but where women were not admitted, he would then set fire to the house and cremate its many-legged inhabitants. A new dwelling was presently erected in the vicinity of the old one; sometimes it was built on the same spot, as soon as the ashes were cooled.

There were from 25 to 30 of these Indian villages scattered about Los Angeles county, the largest being at San Pedro or Wilmington, which was said to contain 500 people. Probably 4000 of the aborigines were to be found in the district bounded by the mountains, the sea, and the San Gabriel river, this being one of the most thickly settled portions of the state. Each village was a tribe in itself, possessing its own chief, its specific manners and customs, and, in many cases, its own individual language. There were not many of the missionaries that took pains to study the Indian tongue, but one who did so declared that there were seventeen absolutely distinct languages in Alta California, besides several hundred different dialects, some of the latter being, in effect, separate languages. A few hundred words comprised the whole of their vocabulary, and their talk seemed to the Spaniards to be made up of gruntings and slobberings.

The people of Yang-na were probably on friendly terms with the people of the neighboring villages — at Pasadena, San Gabriel, Cahuenga and Clearwater. They were too timid and too indolent to fight unless the occasion was urgent. When some foreign tribe or combination of tribes undertook to enter and seize their lands, they would fight like rats in a trap, for to leave their homes meant death. They had bows and arrows that were well made, and their marksmanship seemed to the Spaniards extraordinary, but it was probably no better than that of most savages. There were sometimes bitter feuds between adjoining tribes that lasted for many generations, but actual conflict seems to have been rare, a peculiar ceremonial of cursing and extravagant threats being substituted, as less dangerous and perhaps quite as gratifying. Captured enemies after a real battle were put to death with dreadful tortures.

Chieftainship was hereditary, and carried with it the power to practice polygamy, which, considering the extremely fragile nature of the marriage vow, must have been of little advantage, even from the savage point of view, except that it gave the chief more household drudges, and allowed him to maintain a higher degree of dignity. The older men of the village were the chief's counselors, and met with him in the temple to discuss questions of state, which latter consisted, for the most part, in setting the date for the next general rabbit hunt, and arranging for the initiation of some newly grown-up youth into the tribe. Decision on many of these matters was likely to be left to the sorcerers, who formed a distinct aristocratic class, quite as powerful as the chief himself, and passed down their crude and disgusting rites from one generation to another. These were the spiritual guides and physical guardians of the tribe, and it is difficult to say which was the worse, their religion or their therapeutics. The primeval curse of the savage lies not so much in his poverty as in his superstition — in the unfortunate perversions of his vacant mind.

The head of their scheme of religious belief was a demi-god named Chinigchinich, from whom the order of priests or sorcerers was descended. Most of the legends connected with this being have been transmitted to us through the memoranda left by Padre Geronimo Boscana, who lived at San Juan Capistrano during the first quarter of the nineteenth century, but the later historic criticism has decided that either the good father drew somewhat on his imagination, or else he was imposed upon by the Indians from whom he secured his alleged facts. The close resemblance of the cosmogony which he outlines to that of the ancient Greeks does not occur in any other savage religion, and the delicate strain of transcendentalism that runs through the legends, as the padre presents them, is entirely out of keeping with the known limitations on the Indians' intellect. The practical worship of this divinity consisted of dances and slow rhythmical jumpings about the sacred place or vanquech. The sick were treated with lugubrious incantations, to which were added some simple remedies. Rheumatism was treated with blisters made by nettles. Inflammation was met by blood-letting and the fever patient received a huge bolus of wild tobacco. The sweathouse was applied for lumbago, and also as a general tonic, and to get rid of vermin.

The male inhabitants of Yang-na went entirely naked, when the weather was warm, and even on the coldest days of the year the only garment likely to be worn was a cloak of badly-tanned rabbit skins. The women were partially covered, and were not without some sense of modesty. Paint was liberally used on the bodies of both sexes. As the houses were not built to withstand the wind and rain, these people must have suffered to some extent from inclement weather, although not as severely as the savages in less favored climates. Mortality among them bore a close approximation to the birth rate, and the population of Yang-na varied little in number from year to year, or, for that matter, from century to century. The check on increase lay, however, not so much in death from disease as in prospective famine, which always operates as a natural deterrent on births among savage peoples. It must be remembered that this region is by no means luxuriant in its natural state. It does not teem with animal and vegetable life as the tropics do. Its rainfall is uncertain, and its soil not extraordinarily rich. The California Indian sowed nothing and cultivated nothing. If, through the graciousness of nature, he was nevertheless permitted to reap, he had not even the judgment carefully to bestow what he gathered, but after gorging himself to repletion, he allowed the remainder to go to waste. He found various edible seeds, among them wild barley. He soaked and baked the roots of the flag. Acorns he dried and ground to powder, and filtered out the bitter by allowing water to trickle through. This served him as a kind of flour, but when the Spaniards tried it, in some of their starving times, it made them very ill. The Indians killed deer, coyotes, squirrels and snakes for food, and they caught fish. The flesh was eaten raw, or nearly so. Grasshoppers and even grub worms were devoured in dry years.

The Indian man looked upon himself as a hunter and warrior; any other occupation than these — unless he was a sorcerer and practiced medicine — he regarded as beneath his dignity. At rare intervals he would go with the tribe on a short expedition in search of seeds and acorns, but that was rather in the nature of a civic function, and was preliminary to a special feast. The daily round of food was supposed to be provided by the women, who went on long marches over the fields and through the woods, laboriously hunting where others had already gleaned before them. She ground the acorns in a stone mortar, and rolled the seeds on a metate. She built the fire, cooked the cakes, and then went to summon her husband, who was drowsing in the warm sunshine, or playing "takersia" in the level plain near the village.

The games and amusements were restricted to the men, although women participated in some of the semi-religious dances. The favorite pastime, which is named above, was played in a space about 30 feet square. One man rolled a ring about three inches in diameter across the course, and another, his opponent in the sport, undertook to throw a wand five feet long through it, as it rolled. If he succeeded in doing so, without stopping the ring, he was given one point. Three points constituted the game. Another favorite pursuit was to knock a small, hard, wooden ball several hundred yards with a stick that had a knob at the end, which would seem to provide the modern game of golf with an ancient though none too creditable origin. It is said the players grew so excited at times over this pursuit that they would even stake their wives on the achievement of a good score, which, considering the special utility of the creatures, would indicate a remarkable degree of enthusiasm for the game.

The people of Yang-na had no form of writing nor hieroglyphics. Their artifacts are of limited variety and simple construction, and are all of the stone age. One of the finest collections of these ever gathered may be seen in the west gallery of the Chamber of Commerce in Los Angeles. It is the work of Dr. F. M. Palmer, and was obtained, for the most part, in the Channel islands, where the natives were more energetic and ingenious than on the mainland. A careful examination of these six large cases of artifacts, which were gathered and arranged with the trained judgment of the ethnologist, while it recalls the extreme simplicity of the life led by our predecessors, at the same time impresses us with astonishment at their patience and skill in working so difficult a substance as stone.

Dirty, ignorant and degraded as the California Indian was, there are still some things to be said in his favor. His first behavior toward his white visitor was that of the kindly host, offering him such food and shelter as he had at his command. This seems to have been done not through fear, but in good humor and admiration. Christianized Indians testified afterwards that when they first saw the Spaniards they believed them to be gods. A rude shock to this idea came when they beheld the strangers wantonly killing the birds, for these poor savages argued that no power which could create life would wish thus to destroy it. Only when driven to extremity by repeated outrage did the Indian attack the soldiery, and the padres traveled about among them without fear.

It is interesting to consider to what extent the condition of these people — degraded even below the average of their kind — was due to climatic environment. The California Indian did not build a warm wigwam, because few days in the year were inclement; and he did not cultivate the soil, nor store away grain, because there was no season, like the eastern winter, when nature entirely deserted him. His immediate successor, the Spaniard, followed the same easy and dreamful life, notwithstanding the many centuries of civilization that had been placed to his credit; and it yet remains to be seen what effect the eternal spring softness of this climate will have on the life and character of the Anglo-Saxon, when it comes to the test of successive generations.

Chapter 2. The Edge Of The Spanish Empire.

 

When the fact for which Columbus had contended — that the earth was a globe — became finally established in men's minds, and navigators from all the leading European nations were out on the ocean, discovering and claiming strange lands, his holiness the pope, the senior power of Christendom and the representative of Peace on Earth, endeavored to settle all disputes over the titles to new territory by dividing the world with a great meridian circle drawn one hundred leagues west of the Azores. All the globe west of the line was to belong to Spain, and all the globe east of it was to go to Portugal. This arrangement, which had at least the advantage of extreme simplicity, was somewhat disturbed by the English, Dutch and French, who took possession of the Eastern portion of the North American continent, and of a few islands here and there; but the pious and adventurous Spaniards certainly did their best toward carrying out the pope's program. During the sixteenth century they overran nearly all of South America, and the islands of the Mexican gulf; and on the northern continent they set up a stable government in Mexico, and by exploration and to some extent by actual occupation they secured control of about two-thirds of the present area of the United States. Whatever may have been the mistakes and the misfortunes of that country since those days, Spain is entitled to rank in history as the discoverer and the conqueror of the new western world.

The history of California begins in the history of Mexico, for, of all the explorers that visited the state prior to its colonization, only one, Sir Francis Drake, came from European waters; the others came up from Mexico. And the settlement of the country, which was finally undertaken with the authority of Spain, was accomplished through Mexico, of which country California, upper and lower together, constituted a province.

Hernando Cortes, the conqueror of Mexico, landed at Vera Cruz in 1519, and within a few years had established a government that was felt from the isthmus to the Rio Grande. In 1524, he describes California in a report to the king of Spain, as an island of great wealth, abounding in pearls and precious gems. It is inhabited, he says, by women only. The origin of this strange idea undoubtedly lay in the romance, "Las Sergas de Esplandian," which was published in Spain about 1510, and which seems to have enjoyed a run of popular favor, much as a successful novel might in these days. It is purely a work of fiction, and the writer describes his imaginary island which is called California, as located somewhere to the right of India. This island, the story says, is entirely peopled with black women, having a queen named Califia. They use no metal but gold. Copies of this work undoubtedly found their way across the Atlantic, and formed, at last, the basis of one of those persistent rumors of wealth that floated about the ears of the Spaniards, and led them on into the wilderness. In the case of California, the story of gold happened to be true, but it was not for the Spaniards to profit by it.

Up to the year 1862, the origin of the name California was the basis of a great deal of learned discussion. Many explanations were offered and imaginary etymologies were supplied for the word. It remained for Edward Everett Hale, the author of "The Man Without a Country," to set all doubts at rest, and trace the name to its veritable source in the romance, "Las Sergas."

In 1534, Cortes sent an expedition in search of the gold of this wonderful island. The vessels were skirting the mainland, along the gulf of Lower California, when a mutiny broke out. A part of the company seized one of the ships, and, crossing to the peninsula, landed at a point about ninety miles north of Cape San Lucas, where afterwards a Spanish settlement was located and named La Paz. The leader in this affair was Fortuno Ximenes, who is entitled to be recorded as the discoverer of Lower California. A year later Cortes came up the gulf himself, and, landing at La Paz, formally took possession of the country. Four years later, in 1539, he sent Ulloa with orders to sail around the island, as it was supposed to be, and to discover, if possible, the passage, back to Atlantic waters. Just as the English, French and Dutch navigators, working along our eastern coast, were constantly on the lookout for the fabled "Northwest Passage," which would give them a shorter way across to India, so the Spaniards on the Pacific coast made their way into every bay and river mouth, hoping always to discover the "Straits of Anian," which were recorded on all the charts of the time as crossing this continent somewhere to the north of the limit of exploration.

Ulloa did not find the desired passage, but he came to the head of the gulf, and explored the pearl fisheries, which, for over two hundred years afterwards, enriched the Spanish court favorites to whom they were granted as monopolies. He came back to Cape San Lucas, and worked north on the western coast to the middle of the peninsula.

In the year that Cortes returned to Spain, 1540, the viceroy, Mendoza, sent two vessels under Alarcon to the head of the gulf, and they managed to sail some distance up the Colorado river. It is not improbable that Alarcon came near enough to California to catch a glimpse of the country, and he is regarded by some writers as the discoverer of the state.

A great expedition had been planned by Mendoza and Alvarado to go up the Colorado in search of the treasure which was supposed to exist somewhere in the interior, but the return of some of the people who had explored this region dissipated the viceroy's hopes in that direction. He had the fleet that had been prepared for this scheme still on his hands, and more to keep it busy than for any definite purpose, he sent Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, a navigator whose bravery had been tested in many shipwrecks and battles on the Spanish Main, with instructions to sail up the California coast as far north as practicable, keeping always a sharp lookout for the "Straits of Anian." He had two boats, the San Salvador and the Victoria, short, top-heavy affairs, on which no modern sailor would risk his life. With these he set sail from Navidad, on the western coast of Mexico, June 27, 1542, just fifty years after the discovery of America.

Cabrillo is the Christopher Columbus of California. When he passed Cedros island, which is about the middle of the peninsula, he entered upon a stretch of waters as full of strange and terrible possibilities as those that lay before the intrepid Genoese when he went forth into the broad Atlantic with his three little boats. For all that Cabrillo knew the sea on which he sailed might presently terminate in a huge sink or maelstrom, and the shores where he was expected to land and make explorations might be peopled with hideous monsters. The utter commonplaceness of the events of his voyage makes it seem a small achievement now, but we may be permitted, nevertheless, to pause and admire his courage, as he ventures out into the unknown.

In the month of September he entered the bay of San Diego, and the soil of California bore for the first time the impress of a European foot. The record does not inform us who led the way ashore, but it requires no great strain on the imagination to suppose that it was Cabrillo himself.

The Indians at San Diego were friendly, except that their suspicions seem to have been excited by the attempt to land a hunting party at night, when they fired on the boat and wounded two sailors. At no place in his many landings along the coast does Cabrillo seem to have had much trouble with the natives. After a short stay at San Diego, he sailed north to San Pedro bay, which he named the Bay of Smokes, from the great clouds of smoke that hovered over the mainland; the Indians of Wilmington were evidently engaged in one of their great rabbit hunts, in which they burned off the dry grass, to drive in the game. Here he landed to obtain water, and he probably climbed the hills back of where San Pedro now stands, that he might obtain a view of the country inland. If he did so, he was able on a clear day to see the site of Los Angeles. This was over 350 years ago, and more than two centuries were destined to pass before the white men should come down into this valley.

Winter was now at hand, and with it came storms and head winds. He visited the islands of the channel, and on one of them met with a fall that broke his arm. The trip further north was made under hard conditions; and after working up the coast as far as San Francisco, though he did not enter the bay, he returned to the island of San Miguel, opposite Santa Barbara, where the explorer finally died from the unsuccessful surgery practiced on his broken arm. He was buried m the shifting sand of the harbor afterwards called Cuyler's, in San Miguel, and if any sign was left to mark his grave it has long since disappeared.

With his latest breath Cabrillo urged his chief lieutenant, the pilot Ferrelo, to continue the exploration to the north. His wish was respected, and the San Salvador and Victoria under their new commander went up the coast a second time, but as they passed Cape Mendocino they were driven back by storms. Ferrelo then returned to Mexico and made his report to the viceroy. This was in 1543.

In 1579 Francis Drake sailed along the coast of California in the famous Golden Hind, then two years out from Plymouth, England.

He had been overhauling the Spanish galleons in the West Indies and on the Mexican coast, and had taken so much treasure — so his chaplain says — that he used the silver to ballast his ship. His fleet of five having been reduced to one, he had no desire to meet with any of the Spanish men-of-war that might be prowling about in Atlantic waters, so he was making his way westward around the globe.

He anchored in the bay north of San Francisco, now called by his name, evidently failing to recognize in the Golden Gate the entrance to a great harbor. As his ship drew only 13 feet, the upper bay would answer to his description of "a fit and convenient harborough." Here he remained 36 days, finding the Indians friendly and the climate pleasant. He named the country New Albion, and claimed it for his queen. Several of the "gentlemen adventurers" of England visited Lower California, following in the wake of the Golden Hind, but they accomplished nothing beyond a few successful robberies, and the claims set up by Drake were allowed to lapse.

It is not impossible that the visit of Drake and the other Englishmen to this coast may have stimulated Philip H of Spain to plan to tighten his hold on the Californias. In 1596, the viceroy, acting under direct instructions from the monarch, sent Sebastian Viscaino with three ships to go on with the work that Cabrillo had so bravely begun, more than fifty years before. He sailed from Acapulco to La Paz, where he became involved in difficulties with the Indians that caused him to abandon the expedition. The nature and cause of these difficulties is indicated by the fact that when he started again, this time with two vessels in the year 1602, he ordered the death penalty for any soldier that should cause a disturbance among the Indians.

His journey was in a considerable degree a replica of that of Cabrillo. Like the former explorer, he met with stormy weather, and was finally turned back when he had worked his way a little north of Cape Mendocino. He explored the port of Monterey, but placed it on his chart too far north by two degrees. He changed the names of the islands of the channel, from those bestowed by Cabrillo to the ones they now bear, even robbing his predecessor of the poor honor that lay in the title Rodriguez (Cabrillo's middle name) on his island grave.

Viscaino transmitted to the king an account of his visit to California, in which he declared that the country was rich and fertile and admirably adapted to colonization, and he urged that he be allowed to undertake an expedition for its permanent settlement. The king hesitated to grant the required powers, but finally did so, in 1606. Before the plan could be carried out, however, Viscaino died, and it was abandoned.

Now follows a period of one hundred and sixty years, during which no more white men came to California. In that time the thirteen colonies were planted on the Atlantic coast, waxed strong and were preparing to revolt from the mother country. England passed through the revolutions that cost Charles his head and James his throne. Germany endured the horrid struggle of the thirty-years' war, and witnessed the rise to power of Frederick the Great. France was sinking lower and lower under the rapacious and imbecile line of Bourbon, and Spain, once the ruler of the seas, was priest-governed and impoverished. There was no more wealth to be wrung from the new world — therefore it was neglected and almost forgotten.

Chapter 3. Via Crucis.

 

Philip II of Spain, whose rule extended through 40 years of the period of most active exploration and acquisition in the western hemisphere, received from the pope the significant title of "His Most Catholic Majesty"; and all his successors on the throne down to the present have cherished this phrase as part of their official name. It must be admitted that the title has not been misplaced, for no country on the globe has been more rigidly faithful to the church of Rome than Spain. It was the originator of the inquisition; in Spain the church was the largest owner of property, and the priesthood outnumbered all other professions and intelligent occupations combined. It was natural, therefore, that the colonial system of this country should be permeated with the religious idea, and that a large part of the work of organizing the new territory should be turned over to the hierarchy.

This work possessed lively attraction for the young and ardent members of the priesthood, because the new country was peopled with heathen, whose souls seemed to be crying out for salvation. The order of the Jesuits, founded by Ignatius Loyola in 1540, threw itself with boundless enthusiasm into the new missionary fields, and no corner of the earth was too remote, and no tribe of savages too fierce for the Jesuit to enter, bearing the standard of the cross. The conquering soldier came first, it is true, but his act of "taking possession" was little more than a formality. The real work of colonization, of controlling and organizing the Indians and of producing at least a semblance of civilized order, fell to the priest.

The Californias, upper and lower, were at the extreme northwestern edge of the great Spanish empire, and the tide of colonization, which flowed slowly across the new world, reached them last of all. In the first period of conquest great quantities of wealth were drawn from the western continents, and poured into the lap of Spain, and with this increase of fortune came an undermining of the moral, and finally of the material, forces of the country. The energetic and progressive artisan class, from which colonists for a new country would naturally come, had died out in Spain.

One viceroy after another was sent out from the mother country to govern the province of Mexico, and at times a "visitador general" was delegated to make a tour of the territory, and transmit a special report to the king. A long line of mediocre monarchs were occupying the throne. Efforts at colonization by the government were fitful. The Spanish soldiers intermarried with the native women of Mexico, and the half-breeds, or mestizos, increased in number. Gradually paganism died out, and the spiritual rule of the church was accepted.

A few colonies had been established by the government in Lower California, but they were too far from the base of supply to continue successfully. Only those established by the church, where the natives were controlled by religious awe, as well as physical force, managed to survive. It was discovered that the Jesuits were most successful in establishing permanent locations among the Indians, and in the last years of the seventeenth century the whole of the territory of Lower California was turned over to them to manage as they saw fit. It was not a very promising piece of country — dry and sterile, and peopled with a race of savages quite as degraded as those further north on the Pacific coast. By this time the Spanish government had become impoverished, and could afford no funds for the undertaking. In the decree of February 5, 1697, whereby the plan of the Jesuits for colonization was adopted, it was agreed that the royal treasury was not to be called upon to meet any of the expense. This led to the establishment of the famous "Pious Fund," which, within the memory of the present generation, formed the basis of some remarkable international litigation.

The leaders in the movement were two priests named Kino and Salvatierra. They went about Spain enthusiastically describing this beautiful land, where thousands of heathen waited to be led into the church. Contributions to the fund began to flow in, the first one being $10,000 from the congregation of a church where Salvatierra had preached, and the second, $20,000, from an individual Spaniard. A wealthy nobleman and his wife made wills, leaving their entire fortune to the fund, and others followed their example. The money was well invested, and only the income was used — after the expense of establishment was defrayed. It was not long before some of the missions began to be self-supporting.

Salvatierra and Kino confined their work to Lower California, where they founded a complete system of missions, numbering finally sixteen in all. One of their fellow-laborers, the Padre Ugarte, seems to have possessed a veritable genius for what might be called the worldly portion of the work, teaching the Indians all the trades — even to that of ship-building — and accomplishing marvelous results with pitifully poor material. By the middle of the eighteenth century the scheme of organization had run its course to practical completion; that is, the Indians of the peninsula were largely under the control of the missions; a full complement of buildings, both for religious and temporal purposes had been erected at each location, and the church was pre-eminent over the whole system of government. There were a few rebellions, but on the whole the Indians were tractable, and were a few steps nearer civilization.

These matters have a direct bearing on the history of Alta California in two ways: First, in the fact that the "Pious Fund" raised by the Jesuits was used to defray the expenses of the work in Alta California, and, second, in the fact that the Franciscans, when they came to found missions in this state, had immediately before them, as a model, the institutions already existing in the lower peninsula.

About this time the feeling against the Jesuits, which had been slowly spreading throughout Christendom, culminated in their expulsion from several Catholic countries, as they had already been driven out of Protestant states. In 1759 Carlos III, the ablest of all the kings of Spain, came to the throne. During his reign of twenty-nine years that country made the first genuine progress it had accomplished since the days of Ferdinand and Isabella. He gathered about him wise advisers, and among these were several that believed the government to be too much under the influence of the priests. The Jesuit played the same part in the religious system that the party boss does in our politics, and the wave of reform reached him first of all. In 1767 an order was promulgated expelling the Jesuits from Spain and all her colonies. All temporalities held in their name were ordered to be seized for the crown. However justifiable this decree may have been with reference to the Jesuits of the mother country, it was certainly a harsh and cruel act as applied to the padres who had labored faithfully for over half a century on the arid soil of Lower California, and who, as they left the missions, where they had grown old in the service, were followed by crowds of weeping Indians.

The American religious outposts were to be placed in the hands of the two orders that were, next to the Jesuits, most active in missionary work — the Franciscans and Dominicans. It was at first proposed that the Lower California missions should be divided equally between the two orders, but later — at the suggestion of Father Junipero Serra — it was decided that, to avoid all possibility of friction, the Dominicans should be placed in charge of the Lower California institutions, while the Franciscans should be allowed the honor of beginning the work in the new territory.

The order of St. Francis was one of the oldest and most popular of the many priestly fraternities. It was founded in 1209 by an Italian monk, a preacher of extraordinary fervency and persuasiveness, who was subsequently canonized as St. Francis of Assisi. Its adherents were sworn to poverty and extreme simplicity of life. The dress was originally a coarse gray serge robe, tied with a hempen rope. Later on some portions of the order changed from gray to brown. The foundation principles were humility, voluntary mendicancy and abhorrence of controversy. The members desired to be known as peacemakers, and their influence was generally for harmony and for the existing order in temporal affairs. In this respect they differed materially from the Jesuits, who, as we have seen, had achieved an unenviable reputation in Europe for intrigue and mischief-making.

The Franciscan order grew with great rapidity from its founding, and by the end of the thirteenth century had over 200,000 members. At the time the order was placed in charge of Alta California it had over 8000 colleges and convents scattered about the world. Their headquarters on this continent lay at the college of San Fernando, in the City of Mexico. Here a great majority of the padres that were sent to California for service in the missions received their education, and to this institution were referred all difficulties and all matters of serious importance regarding the missions.

Junipero Serra has appropriately been called the "Eighteenth Century St. Francis." There is little doubt that had his career fallen five hundred years earlier his supreme devotion of purpose and his heroic efforts to advance the cause of the church which have been rewarded by canonization. He was born in the island of Majorca in 1713. His parents were laboring people, but he was given an education that fitted him for the priesthood; and because of his exceptional abilities a professorship of theology was bestowed upon him. From his early boyhood he had yearned to undertake the career of a missionary; and when, in 1749, word came from the College of San Fernando that recruits were wanted to work among the savages and half-breeds of Mexico he enthusiastically volunteered for the service. His friend Palou accompanied him, and the two were fellow-workers and intimates through all the California campaign.

When Serra's ship arrived at Vera Cruz there were no pack animals to convey the recruits to the City of Mexico, so he set out on foot, unwilling, in his fiery zeal, to wait for proper means of conveyance. During this trip overland he contracted an ulcer in his leg that tormented him through the remainder of his life, but which he endured with the fortitude of a martyr. During the first nine years after his advent to Mexico he served at the lonely mission of Sierra Gordo, where he gathered a large congregation, and where he built a splendid church structure. Without doubt, his experience with the Indians at this place, both in spiritual and in worldly affairs, was of great service to him in his subsequent labors in California.

The priests of the college of San Fernando noted the success that Brother Junipero had achieved at Sierra Gordo, and determined to try him in a new field. He was summoned to the City of Mexico and put over a congregation which was made up not of untutored Indians, but of the wealthiest and most refined people of the district. Crowds flocked to hear him, and his zealous preaching is said to have brought many to repentance.

In 1768, when the order to expel the Jesuits from the missions of Mexico was carried into effect, Junipero Serra was appointed president of the California district. This included Upper and Lower California, although as yet no establishment had been located north of the peninsula.

Whether it was the report on the expulsion of the Jesuits from this region, or the news that the Russians were working down the Pacific coast from the north that aroused the king, or whether it was merely the outgrowth of his natural energy and desire to promote the welfare of his country, is not known, but about this time Carlos III issued instructions to Marquez de Croix, the viceroy of Mexico, and to Jose de Galvez, the visitador general, or inspector, to undertake the colonization of Upper California, the government to act in conjunction with the priestly orders. Galvez, who was entrusted with powers second only to those of the king himself, went over to Loreto in Lower California, to direct the expeditions to the new country, and Father Junipero Serra repaired to the same spot. They were both men of tireless energy, and both possessed the same consistency of purpose; therefore they worked well together. They had at their disposal three vessels, the San Carlos, the San Antonio and the San Jose, all appropriately named for the pious work they were about to undertake. There were available, besides the ships, a couple of hundred soldiers, a score of artisans and a few priests. Supplies were to be obtained from the missions in Lower California. It was decided that there should be four expeditions — two by land and two by sea — each independent of the others, and that all should meet at the port described by Cabrillo and Viscaino, which we know now as San Diego. These preparations were made near the close of the year 1768.

Chapter 4. How Governor Portola Came To Los Angeles.

 

The unpleasant task of expelling the Jesuits from the chain of missions they had established in Lower California was committed to Capt. Caspar de Portola, who landed at Cape San Lucas with a small detachment of soldiers in October of 1767, to begin the work. He was made governor of both the Californias, and in the expedition that was presently begun for the occupation of the northern territory, he represented both the military and the civil features of the government, subject, of course, to the orders of the visitador general, Jose de Galvez.

Portola was a good-hearted and popular man, not without considerable natural shrewdness, and he performed his duty toward the Jesuits with gentleness and sympathy. There was no resistance on their part, and no outbreaks among the Indians. The treasure, which it was supposed the padres had laid away, failed to come to light, and Portola reported to Galvez that it was quite impossible that the simple agricultural pursuits of the missions should have yielded any great wealth. Nevertheless, he assured Serra that these establishments were fairly well stocked with cattle and provisions, and that enough could easily be spared to supply the expedition to the north. Serra himself, in the year 1768, made a tour through the missions of the peninsula, of which he was now president, and inspected their stock of ecclesiastical paraphernalia, on which he proceeded to levy for the new institutions that he was planning to found.

Captain Rivera y Moncada, who subsequently filled an important function in the founding of the pueblo of Los Angeles, was appointed chief of the commissary department of the expedition, and was sent out to make a round of the missions, for the purpose of collecting cattle and stores, and was ordered to work toward the north, that he might be ready early in 1769 for the general movement into new territory. He had been the local commander for several years at Loreto, and was well posted on the geography and the climatic conditions of the country. He was therefore a most valuable man in the work, all the other leaders being strange to the region.

The headquarters of the undertaking were at La Paz and Loreto. Here through the last six months of 1768, Galvez, Serra and Portola toiled and planned, until by the first of the following year everything was ready. In January of 1769 — the year in which the history of California begins — the San Carlos put to sea, loaded with stores and carrying sixty-two people. Of these twenty-five were soldiers in command of Lieutenant Pedro Fages, who later held the office of governor of California, and the remainder were, for the most part, sailors and artisans.