Peg O'Los Angeles
Rancho Los Cerritos
A Southern California Legacy Preserved
By Iris H.W. Engstrand
Historical Society of Southern California (Los Angeles, 2000)
September 16 is celebrated as Mexican Independence Day although in 1810 it was just the beginning of the war with Spain, marked by Hidalgo’s El Grito de Dolores. Independence came eleven years later in September 1821, but residents of Los Angeles didn’t get the news until the following April. The years under Mexican rule have been variously described as a “pastoral interlude” or “halcyon days” and long romanticized as the “Days of the Dons.” During that time the missions were secularized, more land grants approved than had been awarded by Spain, and more trading with hide ships from Boston (as described by Richard Henry Dana in Two Years Before the Mast) occurred.  More American traders and trappers began to settle in Los Angeles, becoming naturalized Mexican citizens, and marrying the daughters of local families.
The story of Rancho Los Cerritos is representative of that time. The rancho was part of the enormous grant awarded to Manual Perez Nieto by the Spanish Governor Pedro Fages in 1786. It was one of three grants at the time; together they covered almost all of the counties of Los Angeles and Orange. Nieto’s heirs divided their land into six ranchos, one of which was Rancho Los Cerritos deeded to Nieto’s daughter, Manuela Nieto de Cota. In turn, her heirs sold the property to an American, Jonathan Temple, who had been in Los Angeles since 1827 and had become a naturalized Mexican citizen. He was married to Maria Rafaela Benedicta Cota, a cousin of Manuela’s husband, Guillermo. Temple built a two-story Monterey-style adobe, which served as headquarters for his ranch operation and a summer home for the family. Their main residence was in Los Angeles where Temple owned a prosperous general store.  He also owned other properties and by 1852, Temple was listed as the wealthiest man in Los Angeles County.
Like all property owners during the Mexican period, he had to prove the title to his land when California became part of the United States. But unlike some landowners, Temple could afford the trip to San Francisco with the necessary documents translated into English to prove his claim. The commissioners approved it but Pacificus Ord, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of California, twice contested the ruling. Sadly, final approval came after Temple had died in 1866. The book points out an interesting irony: Temple lent the city of Los Angeles $3,000 to pay Ord’s younger brother, Lt. E.O.C. Ord for the first survey and map of the town in 1849.
The forty-two-page booklet details the history of subsequent owners up to the present day and includes a list of important dates from 1200 to 2000. Temple’s adobe, now 170 years old and a National Historic Landmark, has been remodeled and restored over the years. It survives today as a public museum operated by the City of Long Beach. Located at 4600 Virginia Road in Long Beach, it is open for tours from 1-5 p.m., Wednesday to Sunday.
Engstrand, University of San Diego history professor, has authored twenty-one books and received many academic honors for her contributions to the history of California and the West and Spain in the Americas.

Rancho Los Cerritos

A Southern California Legacy Preserved

By Iris H.W. Engstrand

Historical Society of Southern California (Los Angeles, 2000)

September 16 is celebrated as Mexican Independence Day although in 1810 it was just the beginning of the war with Spain, marked by Hidalgo’s El Grito de Dolores. Independence came eleven years later in September 1821, but residents of Los Angeles didn’t get the news until the following April. The years under Mexican rule have been variously described as a “pastoral interlude” or “halcyon days” and long romanticized as the “Days of the Dons.” During that time the missions were secularized, more land grants approved than had been awarded by Spain, and more trading with hide ships from Boston (as described by Richard Henry Dana in Two Years Before the Mast) occurred.  More American traders and trappers began to settle in Los Angeles, becoming naturalized Mexican citizens, and marrying the daughters of local families.

The story of Rancho Los Cerritos is representative of that time. The rancho was part of the enormous grant awarded to Manual Perez Nieto by the Spanish Governor Pedro Fages in 1786. It was one of three grants at the time; together they covered almost all of the counties of Los Angeles and Orange. Nieto’s heirs divided their land into six ranchos, one of which was Rancho Los Cerritos deeded to Nieto’s daughter, Manuela Nieto de Cota. In turn, her heirs sold the property to an American, Jonathan Temple, who had been in Los Angeles since 1827 and had become a naturalized Mexican citizen. He was married to Maria Rafaela Benedicta Cota, a cousin of Manuela’s husband, Guillermo. Temple built a two-story Monterey-style adobe, which served as headquarters for his ranch operation and a summer home for the family. Their main residence was in Los Angeles where Temple owned a prosperous general store.  He also owned other properties and by 1852, Temple was listed as the wealthiest man in Los Angeles County.

Like all property owners during the Mexican period, he had to prove the title to his land when California became part of the United States. But unlike some landowners, Temple could afford the trip to San Francisco with the necessary documents translated into English to prove his claim. The commissioners approved it but Pacificus Ord, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of California, twice contested the ruling. Sadly, final approval came after Temple had died in 1866. The book points out an interesting irony: Temple lent the city of Los Angeles $3,000 to pay Ord’s younger brother, Lt. E.O.C. Ord for the first survey and map of the town in 1849.

The forty-two-page booklet details the history of subsequent owners up to the present day and includes a list of important dates from 1200 to 2000. Temple’s adobe, now 170 years old and a National Historic Landmark, has been remodeled and restored over the years. It survives today as a public museum operated by the City of Long Beach. Located at 4600 Virginia Road in Long Beach, it is open for tours from 1-5 p.m., Wednesday to Sunday.

Engstrand, University of San Diego history professor, has authored twenty-one books and received many academic honors for her contributions to the history of California and the West and Spain in the Americas.

Los Angeles from the Days of the Pueblo
by W. W. Robinson
California Historical Society (San Francisco, 1959)
Last week Los Angeles celebrated its 233rd birthday but so far no one has found any documents describing what happened that day. Chroniclers accompanied most of the early explorers of Southern California but apparently none accompanied the pioneer families of Los Angeles. Over the years researchers have scoured the archives of Los Angeles and Mexico City hoping to find a description of the day’s events. Lacking one, both scholars and mythmakers have imagined what might have happened. Robinson says the founding “did not consist of processions, speeches, fanfare or music.  Mostly it consisted of tired, dusty, and sweaty people unpacking their mules and getting temporarily settled. For the men this meant making shelters of branches and tule. For the women it meant segregating and washing clothes and bringing water for cooking and drinking. For the children it may have meant splashing in the river.” But most importantly, the eleven heads of families were given their assigned house lot and planting field. So we can assume that a week later they were still settling in and getting their fields ready for planting.

According to Robinson, just six months later, the pueblo had an overnight guest, probably its first, Father Junipero Serra, founder of the California missions. He arrived in the evening and “hurried to San Gabriel” in the morning. The most important date for the settlers was the town’s fifth anniversary, September 4, 1786, when they were given official possession of their property during a ceremony that apparently was recorded.  But by this time, according to Robinson, only eight of the original eleven heads of family participated in the event.  This 96-page book continues to chronicle the life of the pueblo from its years as a Spanish colony, then a Mexican village, and finally as an American city that came into the Union with the state of California on September 9, 1850. Along with the myriad details of Los Angeles history, the book includes an historical guide to the pueblo (based on Ord’s survey), a calendar of events from 1769 to 1953, and many illustrations.

    
A prodigious historian and writer, Robinson produced many pamphlets, articles, and books on Southern California history. His writings were often the result of what he learned as a researcher for Title Insurance and Trust Company. Among his subjects were histories of communities from Alhambra to Whittier, land titles, the ranchos, and such landmarks as the Southwest Museum, and the Angeles National Forest. For more on Robinson, see W.W. Robinson: A Biography and a Bibliography by Jimmie Hicks (Ward Ritchie Press, Los Angeles, 1970).

Los Angeles from the Days of the Pueblo

by W. W. Robinson

California Historical Society (San Francisco, 1959)

Last week Los Angeles celebrated its 233rd birthday but so far no one has found any documents describing what happened that day. Chroniclers accompanied most of the early explorers of Southern California but apparently none accompanied the pioneer families of Los Angeles. Over the years researchers have scoured the archives of Los Angeles and Mexico City hoping to find a description of the day’s events. Lacking one, both scholars and mythmakers have imagined what might have happened. Robinson says the founding “did not consist of processions, speeches, fanfare or music.  Mostly it consisted of tired, dusty, and sweaty people unpacking their mules and getting temporarily settled. For the men this meant making shelters of branches and tule. For the women it meant segregating and washing clothes and bringing water for cooking and drinking. For the children it may have meant splashing in the river.” But most importantly, the eleven heads of families were given their assigned house lot and planting field. So we can assume that a week later they were still settling in and getting their fields ready for planting.

According to Robinson, just six months later, the pueblo had an overnight guest, probably its first, Father Junipero Serra, founder of the California missions. He arrived in the evening and “hurried to San Gabriel” in the morning. The most important date for the settlers was the town’s fifth anniversary, September 4, 1786, when they were given official possession of their property during a ceremony that apparently was recorded.  But by this time, according to Robinson, only eight of the original eleven heads of family participated in the event.  This 96-page book continues to chronicle the life of the pueblo from its years as a Spanish colony, then a Mexican village, and finally as an American city that came into the Union with the state of California on September 9, 1850. Along with the myriad details of Los Angeles history, the book includes an historical guide to the pueblo (based on Ord’s survey), a calendar of events from 1769 to 1953, and many illustrations.

A prodigious historian and writer, Robinson produced many pamphlets, articles, and books on Southern California history. His writings were often the result of what he learned as a researcher for Title Insurance and Trust Company. Among his subjects were histories of communities from Alhambra to Whittier, land titles, the ranchos, and such landmarks as the Southwest Museum, and the Angeles National Forest. For more on Robinson, see W.W. Robinson: A Biography and a Bibliography by Jimmie Hicks (Ward Ritchie Press, Los Angeles, 1970).

The Earliest Documents of El Pueblo de Nuestra Senora La Reina de Los Angeles
By Henry Raup Wagner
Privately printed by Bruce McCallister (Los Angeles, 1931)
Today’s Tumblr is in honor of the 233rd birthday of the City of Los Angeles. Henry Raup Wagner was a new member of the Zamorano Club of book collectors when he had this keepsake printed for his fellow members (and they were all fellows at that time). He notes that the city had just celebrated its 150th birthday, a ten-day fête that featured four parades, an opera festival in Griffith Park, and an air fiesta at the municipal airport, among the plethora of activities. He also notes that the records of the 1781 founding had disappeared. We don’t know if, 83 years later, these are still considered the earliest documents but if not, they are certainly among the earliest.
The documents are the financial accounts prepared for the settlers who signed up to journey from Sinaloa to Alta California to establish the pueblo of Los Angeles. The documents were prepared in Mexico and carried north by the expedition’s leader, Captain Rivera y Moncada. Unfortunately, the captain was killed at the Colorado River and the documents destroyed. They were reconstructed at the San Gabriel Mission and Wagner points out that “The accounts are rather formidable and evince the fact that there must have been some memorandums of the previous accounts or else the recollections of the parties were extraordinarily vivid.”
The account of Antonio Villavicencio, reproduced in the pamphlet, is a three-page listing of all the money and supplies advanced to him to enable him to make the trip. Once the town was founded, the advances stopped and the settlers were to begin repaying the loans.
This image is a proof sheet for the pamphlet, photographed at the Claremont Colleges Library on the print collection and press tour sponsored by the Southern California chapter of the American Printing History Association. The proof sheet was signed and donated to the library by Wagner and is part of the William Smith Mason Collection of Western Americana.
Wagner was a prolific writer, consummate historian, meticulous bibliographer, and notable book collector. His method of collecting books was somewhat unusual. He would collect all the books he could find on a subject, prepare a bibliography or write a history, then sell or donate the books, and move on to the next project. His first such collection—on mining and metallurgy—was donated to Yale. He retired in 1917 from the Guggenheims’ American Smelting and Refining Company and moved to Berkeley to concentrate on historical research. In 1928 he moved to San Marino to be close to the Huntington Library.

Coincidentally the Zamorano Club was founded in 1928 by men interested in fine books and encouraging the arts of the book. Wagner joined in 1931 and printed this keepsake for members, following one of the club’s original traditions—the presentation of keepsakes to the membership. Only sixty-five copies were printed and some are now in the special collections of Southern California’s academic libraries.

The Earliest Documents of El Pueblo de Nuestra Senora La Reina de Los Angeles

By Henry Raup Wagner

Privately printed by Bruce McCallister (Los Angeles, 1931)

Today’s Tumblr is in honor of the 233rd birthday of the City of Los Angeles. Henry Raup Wagner was a new member of the Zamorano Club of book collectors when he had this keepsake printed for his fellow members (and they were all fellows at that time). He notes that the city had just celebrated its 150th birthday, a ten-day fête that featured four parades, an opera festival in Griffith Park, and an air fiesta at the municipal airport, among the plethora of activities. He also notes that the records of the 1781 founding had disappeared. We don’t know if, 83 years later, these are still considered the earliest documents but if not, they are certainly among the earliest.

The documents are the financial accounts prepared for the settlers who signed up to journey from Sinaloa to Alta California to establish the pueblo of Los Angeles. The documents were prepared in Mexico and carried north by the expedition’s leader, Captain Rivera y Moncada. Unfortunately, the captain was killed at the Colorado River and the documents destroyed. They were reconstructed at the San Gabriel Mission and Wagner points out that “The accounts are rather formidable and evince the fact that there must have been some memorandums of the previous accounts or else the recollections of the parties were extraordinarily vivid.”

The account of Antonio Villavicencio, reproduced in the pamphlet, is a three-page listing of all the money and supplies advanced to him to enable him to make the trip. Once the town was founded, the advances stopped and the settlers were to begin repaying the loans.

This image is a proof sheet for the pamphlet, photographed at the Claremont Colleges Library on the print collection and press tour sponsored by the Southern California chapter of the American Printing History Association. The proof sheet was signed and donated to the library by Wagner and is part of the William Smith Mason Collection of Western Americana.

Wagner was a prolific writer, consummate historian, meticulous bibliographer, and notable book collector. His method of collecting books was somewhat unusual. He would collect all the books he could find on a subject, prepare a bibliography or write a history, then sell or donate the books, and move on to the next project. His first such collection—on mining and metallurgy—was donated to Yale. He retired in 1917 from the Guggenheims’ American Smelting and Refining Company and moved to Berkeley to concentrate on historical research. In 1928 he moved to San Marino to be close to the Huntington Library.

Coincidentally the Zamorano Club was founded in 1928 by men interested in fine books and encouraging the arts of the book. Wagner joined in 1931 and printed this keepsake for members, following one of the club’s original traditions—the presentation of keepsakes to the membership. Only sixty-five copies were printed and some are now in the special collections of Southern California’s academic libraries.

Different images
Portraits of Remembered People
by Hildegarde Flanner
John Daniel, Publisher (Santa Barbara, 1987)
Poet, playwright, and essayist Hildegarde Flanner and her mother arrived in Los Angeles in 1923, refugees from the devastating Berkeley fire where both lost all their possessions. Only 24, Flanner had already won a prize for her poetry while a UC Berkeley student. Her prize-winning poem, “A Young Girl,” was later printed in a limited edition by the H.S. Crocker Company in San Francisco with an introduction and decorations by Porter Garnett. Hathi Trust offers an online edition.
            Flanner’s portraits in this book include two Los Angeles personalities: Olive Percival, whom we have written about before, and Danish artist Kay Nielsen. The best thing about both essays is that Flanner knew the subjects personally.
 Olive Percival
While others have documented aspects of Olive Percival’s life, Flanner’s descriptions are much more personal. The multitalented Percival was a writer, artist, collector, gardener, and hostess who lived in the Arroyo in the first half of the twentieth century. She documented her life and the city around her in her diary, which, transcribed, fills 2,000 pages. Flanner’s images of Percival are as delightful as they are insightful:
In my diaries Miss Percival stands clear and strong, a little stout perhaps, but a good shape, even queenly. Her head was always poised, and her features composed. She could laugh without loss of dignity. Her brown eyes were round and expressive. I never saw her swept-back hair out of order in its combs.
While her hair may never have been out of order, she did let it down on occasion, especially with Flanner:
Outwardly Olive Percival complied with the ideas and social customs of her friends, such as the women who belonged to the Friday Morning Club and the Ebell. But she had a capricious, rebellious and daring streak in her soul. The quotation that follows is from one of my letters to her, the only one I noted down after we had enjoyed a little mutual rebel-rousing in sedate places. “Tues. morning Nov. 7, 1933. I have missed our jaunts and other hilarious visits. We do put zest into our conversation—and I recall how we have laughed as we rolled from subject to subject—leaving no club-lady unturned.  I fear you are wicked, and I hope that I am.”
Kay Nielsen
Flanner’s relationship with Nielsen began as a school girl:
 … on an afternoon, done with arithmetic and Latin, free at least to lie on the library couch …wide open on my hiked-up knees the most beautiful book in our house. To me, the most beautiful book on earth, East of the Sun and West of the Moon: Old Tales from the North, illustrated by the Danish artist Kay Nielsen.  
           Many years later Flanner is stunned when the artist of the golden age of book illustration and his wife Ulla rent the cottage next door to her in Altadena!  Nielsen came to Los Angeles in 1936 to do the scenic production for Max Reinhardt’s “Everyman” at the Hollywood Bowl.  He then worked for Disney and is best known for designing the “Bald Mountain” sequence in Fantasia. Nielsen was never able to find steady work and providing for the necessities of life was always a struggle, alleviated somewhat by the generous support of the couple’s many friends.
Saved by a librarian
One savior was a Los Angeles school district librarian, Jasmine Britton, who arranged for the support of the Filippa Pollia Foundation to commission Nielsen to paint a mural in the library of Central Junior High School. The presentation of the mural was a major event attended by the educational and social elite, including Arthur Millier, Los Angeles Times art critic, who praised the mural as “one of the most beautiful wall paintings in America.”
            This and other mural commissions provided temporary relief, but Nielsen was never able to earn enough money for the couple to maintain  a decent lifestyle permanently.
 More about Flanner
Although not so well known today, Flanner is included in Modernist Women Poets, An Anthology (Counterpoint, Berkeley, 2014) along with Gertrude Stein, Amy Lowell, Marianne Moore, and others.
            She married the architect and printmaker, Frederick Monhoff in 1926. He is remembered with a printing lab named for him at the Otis College of Art and Design where he taught design and printmaking. The couple produced a number of fine press books together, featuring his images and her poetry. See especially In Native Light (Calistoga, CA, 1970). For examples of Monhoff’s architectural work, see www.la.curbed.com.
Cover image from The Unknown Paintings of Kay Nielsen.

Different images

Portraits of Remembered People

by Hildegarde Flanner

John Daniel, Publisher (Santa Barbara, 1987)

Poet, playwright, and essayist Hildegarde Flanner and her mother arrived in Los Angeles in 1923, refugees from the devastating Berkeley fire where both lost all their possessions. Only 24, Flanner had already won a prize for her poetry while a UC Berkeley student. Her prize-winning poem, “A Young Girl,” was later printed in a limited edition by the H.S. Crocker Company in San Francisco with an introduction and decorations by Porter Garnett. Hathi Trust offers an online edition.

            Flanner’s portraits in this book include two Los Angeles personalities: Olive Percival, whom we have written about before, and Danish artist Kay Nielsen. The best thing about both essays is that Flanner knew the subjects personally.

 Olive Percival

While others have documented aspects of Olive Percival’s life, Flanner’s descriptions are much more personal. The multitalented Percival was a writer, artist, collector, gardener, and hostess who lived in the Arroyo in the first half of the twentieth century. She documented her life and the city around her in her diary, which, transcribed, fills 2,000 pages. Flanner’s images of Percival are as delightful as they are insightful:

In my diaries Miss Percival stands clear and strong, a little stout perhaps, but a good shape, even queenly. Her head was always poised, and her features composed. She could laugh without loss of dignity. Her brown eyes were round and expressive. I never saw her swept-back hair out of order in its combs.

While her hair may never have been out of order, she did let it down on occasion, especially with Flanner:

Outwardly Olive Percival complied with the ideas and social customs of her friends, such as the women who belonged to the Friday Morning Club and the Ebell. But she had a capricious, rebellious and daring streak in her soul. The quotation that follows is from one of my letters to her, the only one I noted down after we had enjoyed a little mutual rebel-rousing in sedate places. “Tues. morning Nov. 7, 1933. I have missed our jaunts and other hilarious visits. We do put zest into our conversation—and I recall how we have laughed as we rolled from subject to subject—leaving no club-lady unturned.  I fear you are wicked, and I hope that I am.”

Kay Nielsen

Flanner’s relationship with Nielsen began as a school girl:

 on an afternoon, done with arithmetic and Latin, free at least to lie on the library couch …wide open on my hiked-up knees the most beautiful book in our house. To me, the most beautiful book on earth, East of the Sun and West of the Moon: Old Tales from the North, illustrated by the Danish artist Kay Nielsen. 

           Many years later Flanner is stunned when the artist of the golden age of book illustration and his wife Ulla rent the cottage next door to her in Altadena!  Nielsen came to Los Angeles in 1936 to do the scenic production for Max Reinhardt’s “Everyman” at the Hollywood Bowl.  He then worked for Disney and is best known for designing the “Bald Mountain” sequence in Fantasia. Nielsen was never able to find steady work and providing for the necessities of life was always a struggle, alleviated somewhat by the generous support of the couple’s many friends.

Saved by a librarian

One savior was a Los Angeles school district librarian, Jasmine Britton, who arranged for the support of the Filippa Pollia Foundation to commission Nielsen to paint a mural in the library of Central Junior High School. The presentation of the mural was a major event attended by the educational and social elite, including Arthur Millier, Los Angeles Times art critic, who praised the mural as “one of the most beautiful wall paintings in America.”

            This and other mural commissions provided temporary relief, but Nielsen was never able to earn enough money for the couple to maintain  a decent lifestyle permanently.

 More about Flanner

Although not so well known today, Flanner is included in Modernist Women Poets, An Anthology (Counterpoint, Berkeley, 2014) along with Gertrude Stein, Amy Lowell, Marianne Moore, and others.

            She married the architect and printmaker, Frederick Monhoff in 1926. He is remembered with a printing lab named for him at the Otis College of Art and Design where he taught design and printmaking. The couple produced a number of fine press books together, featuring his images and her poetry. See especially In Native Light (Calistoga, CA, 1970). For examples of Monhoff’s architectural work, see www.la.curbed.com.

Cover image from The Unknown Paintings of Kay Nielsen.

Within the Vale of Annandale
A Picture History of South Western Pasadena and Vicinity
by Donald W. Crocker
A Fund Raising Project of Cub Pack 40 and Scout Troop 35
Sponsored by the San Rafael Elementary School PTA  (Pasadena, 1968)
This detailed history of the San Rafael area that borders northeast Los Angeles (think Eagle Rock) includes a preface by Edwin H. Carpenter (1915-1995), meticulous editor, historian, and bibliographer for the Huntington Library. Dr. Carpenter points out, “Good local history is the sub-stratum which underlies more general studies of the American heritage. All who are interested in southern California history, as well as those who are pleased to see any segment of the American background preserved, will delight in this book and be grateful to those who have put so much effort into producing it.”
The book is indeed a delight, illustrated with many previously unpublished historic photos documenting such now-gone landmarks as the Beaudry tunnel, the toll road to Pasadena (20 cents for a horse and buggy, “more for an empty hayrack and even more for a loaded hayrack” but no charge for passengers), and the Scoville Bridge across the Arroyo Seco.
The story begins with the first occupants of the land, the Gabrielino Indians followed by the Spanish (Ranchos San Pasqual and San Rafael), and later Alexander Campbell-Johnston, an Englishman, who bought 2,000 acres on a visit to Southern California in 1883. He named his property San Rafael Ranch but referred to it as Annandale, after his ancestral home in Scotland.  The Campbell-Johnsons operated the toll road, which ran across their land between Pasadena and Eagle Rock. After Mr. Campbell-Johnson’s death, his wife had the Church of the Angels built in 1889 as a memorial to him.
Some nearby points of interest are also covered: Busch Gardens (gone), the Eagle Rock (with a picture of maneuvers by Chinese troops preparing for the revolution in 1911), Poppy Peak, and the Annandale Golf Club. A handy map on the last page locates 52 sites of historic interest in the area.
The 72-page paperback was a popular fundraiser. We don’t know how long it took Mr. Crocker to research, write, and publish it but very likely much longer than it took to sell out the first edition—2000 copies in six weeks. It has since gone through four editions, the latest in 1990.

 

 

 

 

 

Within the Vale of Annandale

A Picture History of South Western Pasadena and Vicinity

by Donald W. Crocker

A Fund Raising Project of Cub Pack 40 and Scout Troop 35

Sponsored by the San Rafael Elementary School PTA  (Pasadena, 1968)

This detailed history of the San Rafael area that borders northeast Los Angeles (think Eagle Rock) includes a preface by Edwin H. Carpenter (1915-1995), meticulous editor, historian, and bibliographer for the Huntington Library. Dr. Carpenter points out, “Good local history is the sub-stratum which underlies more general studies of the American heritage. All who are interested in southern California history, as well as those who are pleased to see any segment of the American background preserved, will delight in this book and be grateful to those who have put so much effort into producing it.”

The book is indeed a delight, illustrated with many previously unpublished historic photos documenting such now-gone landmarks as the Beaudry tunnel, the toll road to Pasadena (20 cents for a horse and buggy, “more for an empty hayrack and even more for a loaded hayrack” but no charge for passengers), and the Scoville Bridge across the Arroyo Seco.

The story begins with the first occupants of the land, the Gabrielino Indians followed by the Spanish (Ranchos San Pasqual and San Rafael), and later Alexander Campbell-Johnston, an Englishman, who bought 2,000 acres on a visit to Southern California in 1883. He named his property San Rafael Ranch but referred to it as Annandale, after his ancestral home in Scotland.  The Campbell-Johnsons operated the toll road, which ran across their land between Pasadena and Eagle Rock. After Mr. Campbell-Johnson’s death, his wife had the Church of the Angels built in 1889 as a memorial to him.

Some nearby points of interest are also covered: Busch Gardens (gone), the Eagle Rock (with a picture of maneuvers by Chinese troops preparing for the revolution in 1911), Poppy Peak, and the Annandale Golf Club. A handy map on the last page locates 52 sites of historic interest in the area.

The 72-page paperback was a popular fundraiser. We don’t know how long it took Mr. Crocker to research, write, and publish it but very likely much longer than it took to sell out the first edition—2000 copies in six weeks. It has since gone through four editions, the latest in 1990.

 

 

 

 

 

 Receipts from Katharine’s Kitchen

Personal Recipes of Katharine Stewart Banning

The General Phineas Banning Residence Museum (Wilmington, 1978)


This is just one of many cookbooks featuring the recipes of pioneer cooks in Los Angeles (see previous post on the Landmarks Club cookbook, for example). This one sprinkles vintage photos, correspondence, and family stories among the recipes. Tested by the cookbook committee (but not this writer), the recipes are a mix from Minnesota (where Katharine grew up), Delaware (Banning ancestors), and other sources, with occasional suggestions for modern kitchens added by the committee.

            Phineas Banning arrived in Los Angeles from Delaware in 1853 and soon began his very successful stagecoach/freight business from San Pedro. He died in 1885 and Joseph Brent Banning’s brothers gave him the mansion when he married Katharine in 1888. The couple lived there until 1894 when they moved to Los Angeles.

            Both Phineas and Katherine loved to entertain. He would invite “the whole population of the country for …patriotic activities on the grounds …” via announcements in the Los Angeles Star, the town’s first newspaper. No doubt both would have enjoyed the party planned to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the vintage showplace on August 16. Guests are encouraged to wear boots and cowboy hats for the concert, cake, and dancing. In the book, Joseph Brent Banning describes a similar celebration for the visit of Katharine’s parents from Minnesota in 1891. However, that one was to include cooking and eating one or two big steers!

            The book’s cover is an adaptation of the design on a nineteenth-century Imari soup tureen. Perhaps Katharine served her lettuce soup from such a tureen.

 Receipts from Katharine’s Kitchen

Personal Recipes of Katharine Stewart Banning

The General Phineas Banning Residence Museum (Wilmington, 1978)

This is just one of many cookbooks featuring the recipes of pioneer cooks in Los Angeles (see previous post on the Landmarks Club cookbook, for example). This one sprinkles vintage photos, correspondence, and family stories among the recipes. Tested by the cookbook committee (but not this writer), the recipes are a mix from Minnesota (where Katharine grew up), Delaware (Banning ancestors), and other sources, with occasional suggestions for modern kitchens added by the committee.

            Phineas Banning arrived in Los Angeles from Delaware in 1853 and soon began his very successful stagecoach/freight business from San Pedro. He died in 1885 and Joseph Brent Banning’s brothers gave him the mansion when he married Katharine in 1888. The couple lived there until 1894 when they moved to Los Angeles.

            Both Phineas and Katherine loved to entertain. He would invite “the whole population of the country for …patriotic activities on the grounds …” via announcements in the Los Angeles Star, the town’s first newspaper. No doubt both would have enjoyed the party planned to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the vintage showplace on August 16. Guests are encouraged to wear boots and cowboy hats for the concert, cake, and dancing. In the book, Joseph Brent Banning describes a similar celebration for the visit of Katharine’s parents from Minnesota in 1891. However, that one was to include cooking and eating one or two big steers!

            The book’s cover is an adaptation of the design on a nineteenth-century Imari soup tureen. Perhaps Katharine served her lettuce soup from such a tureen.

 Leaf-Shadows and Rose Drift

Being Little Songs from a Los Angeles Garden

By Olive Percival

(Cambridge: Printed at the Riverside Press, 1911)


Sometime in August we expect Mayor Garcetti to announce a new poet laureate for Los Angeles, and Eloise Klein Healy, the city’s first laureate, will step down. With this book we are remembering one of the city’s early poets, Olive Percival, who might have competed for poet laureate if there had been one in those days. Percival was a multitalented bibliophile, diarist, collector, writer, artist, photographer, and working woman who gardened and entertained at her home—which she called The Down-hyl Claim—in the Arroyo. See KCET Departures for a three-part series on Percival
http://bit.ly/1nivmKh

            She was pleased by the response to the publication of her poetry in The Graphic in 1909, writing in her diary “I am very thankful for the good things friends and acquaintances and strangers are saying about my verses… Some are compared alas! with Emily Dickinson, Arthur Symons, Browning!” In addition to The Graphic, her poems were published in The Butterfly, The Lotus, Smart Set, and Sunset. Her poem Paganism was included in volume one number one of Silhouette, a quarterly magazine of stories in profile, that also included a poem by Ina Coolbrith, California’s first poet laureate (1915).

            The poems in this book are indeed “little songs.” But among her unpublished manuscripts is a book-length narrative poem called “Aunt Abby and Others,” which she described as a memoir in free verse. Hoping to win the $5,000 prize, she submitted it to an Atlantic Press competition but alas she did not win. The typescript resides with her diaries and other writings in the Huntington Library.

            In this book she organized her poems by season. Here are some of her summer songs:


August Nights

The garden’s parched and dusty flow’rs

Grow sweet, grow cool with dew;

The country silence sings and brings

Serenity anew!


Forest Fires

A sommer of white dust-smother! Meads

All silence; the foothills bleaching weeds!

Garden and bee are dead and pools are dry!

Pray! Pray! For devil-fires enflame the sky!


Disloyalty

With gay nasturtiums embroidered o’er, 

Is Summer’s dusty, dusty gown;

Lobelia-blue is her jeweled belt;

An oleander-wreath her crown!

All sweetness, brightness; yet we tire of her perfection

And dream of winter verdure, with unfair affection!

Note: This image is of the back cover of the book; it was in better condition than the front cover

 Leaf-Shadows and Rose Drift

Being Little Songs from a Los Angeles Garden

By Olive Percival

(Cambridge: Printed at the Riverside Press, 1911)

Sometime in August we expect Mayor Garcetti to announce a new poet laureate for Los Angeles, and Eloise Klein Healy, the city’s first laureate, will step down. With this book we are remembering one of the city’s early poets, Olive Percival, who might have competed for poet laureate if there had been one in those days. Percival was a multitalented bibliophile, diarist, collector, writer, artist, photographer, and working woman who gardened and entertained at her home—which she called The Down-hyl Claim—in the Arroyo. See KCET Departures for a three-part series on Percival

http://bit.ly/1nivmKh

            She was pleased by the response to the publication of her poetry in The Graphic in 1909, writing in her diary “I am very thankful for the good things friends and acquaintances and strangers are saying about my verses… Some are compared alas! with Emily Dickinson, Arthur Symons, Browning!” In addition to The Graphic, her poems were published in The Butterfly, The Lotus, Smart Set, and Sunset. Her poem Paganism was included in volume one number one of Silhouette, a quarterly magazine of stories in profile, that also included a poem by Ina Coolbrith, California’s first poet laureate (1915).

            The poems in this book are indeed “little songs.” But among her unpublished manuscripts is a book-length narrative poem called “Aunt Abby and Others,” which she described as a memoir in free verse. Hoping to win the $5,000 prize, she submitted it to an Atlantic Press competition but alas she did not win. The typescript resides with her diaries and other writings in the Huntington Library.

            In this book she organized her poems by season. Here are some of her summer songs:

August Nights

The garden’s parched and dusty flow’rs

Grow sweet, grow cool with dew;

The country silence sings and brings

Serenity anew!

Forest Fires

A sommer of white dust-smother! Meads

All silence; the foothills bleaching weeds!

Garden and bee are dead and pools are dry!

Pray! Pray! For devil-fires enflame the sky!

Disloyalty

With gay nasturtiums embroidered o’er,

Is Summer’s dusty, dusty gown;

Lobelia-blue is her jeweled belt;

An oleander-wreath her crown!

All sweetness, brightness; yet we tire of her perfection

And dream of winter verdure, with unfair affection!

Note: This image is of the back cover of the book; it was in better condition than the front cover

Jack Smith’s L.A. 

by Jack Smith

McGraw-Hill Book Company (New York, 1980)


Jack Smith, Los Angeles Times columnist from 1958 to 1996, unabashedly loved Los Angeles and Los Angeles loved him back. This is one of several books of his columns and it is filled with the minutiae of city history.

            Smith sometimes takes issue with out-of-town writers and journalists: “No other city on earth attracts as many critical journalists as Los Angeles…[but] the real Los Angeles is invisible. It cannot be seen by visitors who hole up in the Polo Lounge or the Bistro or the steam room at the Beverly Hilton.” The book is not meant to be definitive but is “simply a glimpse into that invisible Los Angeles which is real.”

            Los Angeles historians noted the birthday of Elizabeth Short (the Black Dahlia) on July 29 and Smith shares his account as a reporter on the Daily News at the time. He once thought he was the first reporter to get the term “the Black Dahlia” in print but others credit Bevo Means, a police reporter for the Herald Express. 

            On a lighter note, only in a Jack Smith column or a Caltech history are you likely to find the story of the Caltech musicals created and produced by Professor Kent Clark and friends. In his column, Smith announced that one of Clark’s musicals, “Let’s Advance on Science,” was now available on a phonograph record (possibly a collector’s item today). Smith noted that some of the songs are inside jokes (understood by scientists) but anyone who has lived in Los Angeles long can enjoy the one about Charley Richter in the chapter Men of Science. Here’s the verse about the Long Beach quake:
Nineteen hundred thirty-three and Long Beach rocked and rumbled 
Schoolhouse walls and crockery and oil derricks tumbled 
Hollywood got hit but good, it even shook the stars

Shattered glass and spilled martinis on a hundred bars, 

it measured

Six three on the Richter scale…

            In The Capital of Kitsch, Smith worries that “the city might lose its gift for doing the preposterous and become as sensible as, say, Toledo.” But he is reassured when he reads that the county will be planting $76,000 worth of plastic trees and flowers along a mile or two of parkway on Jefferson Boulevard. One day he drove to City of Commerce to make sure the Assyrian rubber factory building was still there because, “Our landmarks have a way of vanishing overnight, like baby teeth.”                    
When we are taking ourselves or the city too seriously, a dose of Jack Smith is a good antidote.

 



 

Jack Smith’s L.A.

by Jack Smith

McGraw-Hill Book Company (New York, 1980)

Jack Smith, Los Angeles Times columnist from 1958 to 1996, unabashedly loved Los Angeles and Los Angeles loved him back. This is one of several books of his columns and it is filled with the minutiae of city history.

            Smith sometimes takes issue with out-of-town writers and journalists: “No other city on earth attracts as many critical journalists as Los Angeles…[but] the real Los Angeles is invisible. It cannot be seen by visitors who hole up in the Polo Lounge or the Bistro or the steam room at the Beverly Hilton.” The book is not meant to be definitive but is “simply a glimpse into that invisible Los Angeles which is real.”

            Los Angeles historians noted the birthday of Elizabeth Short (the Black Dahlia) on July 29 and Smith shares his account as a reporter on the Daily News at the time. He once thought he was the first reporter to get the term “the Black Dahlia” in print but others credit Bevo Means, a police reporter for the Herald Express.

            On a lighter note, only in a Jack Smith column or a Caltech history are you likely to find the story of the Caltech musicals created and produced by Professor Kent Clark and friends. In his column, Smith announced that one of Clark’s musicals, “Let’s Advance on Science,” was now available on a phonograph record (possibly a collector’s item today). Smith noted that some of the songs are inside jokes (understood by scientists) but anyone who has lived in Los Angeles long can enjoy the one about Charley Richter in the chapter Men of Science. Here’s the verse about the Long Beach quake:

Nineteen hundred thirty-three and Long Beach rocked and rumbled

Schoolhouse walls and crockery and oil derricks tumbled

Hollywood got hit but good, it even shook the stars

Shattered glass and spilled martinis on a hundred bars,

it measured

Six three on the Richter scale…

            In The Capital of Kitsch, Smith worries that “the city might lose its gift for doing the preposterous and become as sensible as, say, Toledo.” But he is reassured when he reads that the county will be planting $76,000 worth of plastic trees and flowers along a mile or two of parkway on Jefferson Boulevard. One day he drove to City of Commerce to make sure the Assyrian rubber factory building was still there because, “Our landmarks have a way of vanishing overnight, like baby teeth.”                   

When we are taking ourselves or the city too seriously, a dose of Jack Smith is a good antidote.

 

 

 The American Italy: Southern California

By J.W. Hanson, A.M., D.D.

W.B. Conkey Company (Chicago, 1896)

The Boom of the 1880s, fueled by the railroads competing for passengers, promotional efforts by the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, and books and magazine articles waxing poetic about the Land of Sunshine, drew hordes of visitors and new residents. One book, Helen Hunt Jackson’s Ramona, even created a tourist industry all its own.
            While his book fits the genre of booster literature, Hanson assures readers that “Not a word has been written in the interest of any locality or from any local prejudice.”  He has written for “the average stranger, whether tourist, invalid, pleasure seeker, or intending settler” providing them with all the information they might need.
           Hanson was certainly not in the same category as the colorful Benjamin C. Truman who wrote a similar book twenty years earlier, titled Semi-Tropical California. Among Truman’s many endeavors was chief of the literary bureau of the Southern Pacific Company where he was responsible for producing the company’s promotional brochures. Both men served in the Civil War, Hanson as a chaplain and Truman as a war correspondent. Hanson was a Universalist minister based in Chicago known for his writings on history and religion, including his own edited version of the New Testament. Truman is remembered as a journalist and too much more to cover in this essay.
           Modern readers might find the prose of both books a bit florid, but they yield nuggets of history (often not in textbooks) that help us visualize what this heavily populated area of today was like just over one hundred years ago.
            Hanson’s book evolved from notes on photographs he had collected. In late nineteenth century Los Angeles, photographic images sold from photographers’ studios or curio shops were popular with residents and tourists alike and also with magazine publishers, property owners, and merchants. Hanson was especially drawn to views attesting to the area’s superlative climate and fertility like one of a rose bush that covered an entire house or tomato plants so huge one needed to climb a ladder to pick all the ripe fruit.            
           Not surprisingly, his prose often lapses into religious allusions like this description of the route to Los Angeles:  “ … at all approaches, except by sea, the paradise is guarded, as by an angel with a drawn sword. The horrors of the desert interpose to ward off intruders. Heat, thirst, desolation assail those who would enter the modern Eden.” He follows that with a 40-page chapter on the climate and 30 pages on soil products (the soil may look like a gravel bed, but “its fertility is astonishing”), to confirm Southern California’s status as Eden. Other chapters discuss the flora, the mountains, and the seaside. In the section on Los Angeles County, we are told the correct pronunciation is “Lows Ahnheles—popularly corrupted into Laws Angelis.”
            As perfect as Southern California might sound, Hansen acknowledges that it has shortcomings which he discusses in a chapter called “Outs.” The most prominent “out” is “the difference in temperature between noon and night, and sunshine and shade. The invalid and the delicate must guard against this change.” But he concludes “this lowering of the temperature more than compensates for its inconvenience, for it gives a night that no land can surpass for sleep.” Other “outs” include earthquakes, of course, but the “tornadoes, cyclones and blizzards in all the states east of the Rockies, work more mischief in one season than all the earthquakes of Southern California have ever wrought.” Another out is the absence of lakes and rivers: “an acknowledged defect in the scenery here … the rivers during a large part of the year are upside down—-that is, sunk in the sand.” And in those days the California flea was “ famous—away from California … After four years I have never encountered the ‘wicked flea.’”
           Hanson was based in Chicago where he would have connected with his publisher, W.B. Conkey Co. He and his wife purchased a home in Pasadena and spent many winters here, which is how he became so knowledgeable about the area. Sadly, he was on his way to Pasadena in 1901 for his yearly visit when he died of a heart attack on the train in Flagstaff.
            American Italy is one of the sobriquets writers and promoters used to describe Southern California. According to the author, others were “The Land of Sunshine,” The Land of the Sundown Sea” “Poppy Land,” “The New Italy,” “The Better Italy,” “our Italy….” But “In fact, no name has yet been suggested that fully describes the fascinating realm that weaves a spell of enchantment around all comers from all lands and climes.” The sobriquets for Los Angeles have changed over the years, but the city still weaves its own spell of enchantment for some, if not all, comers.

 

 

 The American Italy: Southern California

By J.W. Hanson, A.M., D.D.

W.B. Conkey Company (Chicago, 1896)

The Boom of the 1880s, fueled by the railroads competing for passengers, promotional efforts by the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, and books and magazine articles waxing poetic about the Land of Sunshine, drew hordes of visitors and new residents. One book, Helen Hunt Jackson’s Ramona, even created a tourist industry all its own.

            While his book fits the genre of booster literature, Hanson assures readers that “Not a word has been written in the interest of any locality or from any local prejudice.”  He has written for “the average stranger, whether tourist, invalid, pleasure seeker, or intending settler” providing them with all the information they might need.

           Hanson was certainly not in the same category as the colorful Benjamin C. Truman who wrote a similar book twenty years earlier, titled Semi-Tropical California. Among Truman’s many endeavors was chief of the literary bureau of the Southern Pacific Company where he was responsible for producing the company’s promotional brochures. Both men served in the Civil War, Hanson as a chaplain and Truman as a war correspondent. Hanson was a Universalist minister based in Chicago known for his writings on history and religion, including his own edited version of the New Testament. Truman is remembered as a journalist and too much more to cover in this essay.

           Modern readers might find the prose of both books a bit florid, but they yield nuggets of history (often not in textbooks) that help us visualize what this heavily populated area of today was like just over one hundred years ago.

            Hanson’s book evolved from notes on photographs he had collected. In late nineteenth century Los Angeles, photographic images sold from photographers’ studios or curio shops were popular with residents and tourists alike and also with magazine publishers, property owners, and merchants. Hanson was especially drawn to views attesting to the area’s superlative climate and fertility like one of a rose bush that covered an entire house or tomato plants so huge one needed to climb a ladder to pick all the ripe fruit.           

           Not surprisingly, his prose often lapses into religious allusions like this description of the route to Los Angeles:  “ … at all approaches, except by sea, the paradise is guarded, as by an angel with a drawn sword. The horrors of the desert interpose to ward off intruders. Heat, thirst, desolation assail those who would enter the modern Eden.” He follows that with a 40-page chapter on the climate and 30 pages on soil products (the soil may look like a gravel bed, but “its fertility is astonishing”), to confirm Southern California’s status as Eden. Other chapters discuss the flora, the mountains, and the seaside. In the section on Los Angeles County, we are told the correct pronunciation is “Lows Ahnheles—popularly corrupted into Laws Angelis.”

            As perfect as Southern California might sound, Hansen acknowledges that it has shortcomings which he discusses in a chapter called “Outs.” The most prominent “out” is “the difference in temperature between noon and night, and sunshine and shade. The invalid and the delicate must guard against this change.” But he concludes “this lowering of the temperature more than compensates for its inconvenience, for it gives a night that no land can surpass for sleep.” Other “outs” include earthquakes, of course, but the “tornadoes, cyclones and blizzards in all the states east of the Rockies, work more mischief in one season than all the earthquakes of Southern California have ever wrought.” Another out is the absence of lakes and rivers: “an acknowledged defect in the scenery here … the rivers during a large part of the year are upside down—-that is, sunk in the sand.” And in those days the California flea was “ famous—away from California … After four years I have never encountered the ‘wicked flea.’”

           Hanson was based in Chicago where he would have connected with his publisher, W.B. Conkey Co. He and his wife purchased a home in Pasadena and spent many winters here, which is how he became so knowledgeable about the area. Sadly, he was on his way to Pasadena in 1901 for his yearly visit when he died of a heart attack on the train in Flagstaff.

            American Italy is one of the sobriquets writers and promoters used to describe Southern California. According to the author, others were “The Land of Sunshine,” The Land of the Sundown Sea” “Poppy Land,” “The New Italy,” “The Better Italy,” “our Italy….” But “In fact, no name has yet been suggested that fully describes the fascinating realm that weaves a spell of enchantment around all comers from all lands and climes.” The sobriquets for Los Angeles have changed over the years, but the city still weaves its own spell of enchantment for some, if not all, comers.