Bella Union as it Appeared in 1858
From a lithograph

John Goller's Blacksmith Shop
From a lithograph of 1858

My friend, Sam Meyer (now deceased, but for fifty years or more treasurer of Forty-two, the oldest Masonic lodge in Los Angeles), who had come here a few months in advance of me, awaited the arrival of the stage and at once recognized me by my costume, which was anything but in harmony with Southern California fashions of that time. My brother, J. P. Newmark, not having seen me for several years, thought that our meeting ought to be private, and so requested Sam to show me to his store. I was immediately taken to my brother's place of business where he received me with great affection; and there and then we renewed that sympathetic association which continued many years, until his death in 1895.


Once fairly well settled here, I began to clerk for my brother, who in 1852 had bought out a merchant named Howard. For this service I received my lodging, the cost of my board, and thirty dollars each month. The charges for board at the Bella Union—then enjoying a certain prestige, through having been the official residence of Pio Pico when Stockton took the city—were too heavy, and arrangements were made with a Frenchman named John La Rue, who had a restaurant on the east side of Los Angeles Street, about two hundred feet south of Bell's Row. I paid him nine dollars a week for three more or less hearty meals a day, not including eggs, unless I provided them; in this case he agreed to prepare them for me. Eggs were by no means scarce; but steaks and mutton and pork chops were the popular choice, and potatoes and vegetables a customary accompaniment.

This La Rue, or Leroux, as he was sometimes called, was an interesting personality with an interesting history. Born in France, he sailed for the United States about the time of the discovery of gold in California, and made his way to San Francisco and the mines, where luck encouraged him to venture farther and migrate to Mazatlán, Mexico. While prospecting there, however, he was twice set upon and robbed; and barely escaping with his life, he once more turned northward, this time stopping at San Pedro and Los Angeles. Here, meeting Miss Bridget Johnson, a native of Ireland, who had just come from New York by way of San Diego, La Rue married her, notwithstanding their inability to speak each other's language, and then opened a restaurant, which he continued to conduct until 1858 when he died, as the result of exposure at a fire on Main Street. Although La Rue was in no sense an eminent citizen, it is certain that he was esteemed and mourned. Prior to his death, he had bought thirty or thirty-five acres of land, on which he planted a vineyard and an orange-orchard; and these his wife inherited. In 1862, Madame La Rue married John Wilson, also a native of Ireland, who had come to Los Angeles during the year that the restaurateur died. He was a blacksmith and worked for John Goller, continuing in business for over twenty years, and adding greatly, by industry and wise management, to the dowry brought him by the thrifty widow.

I distinctly recall La Rue's restaurant, and quite as clearly do I remember one or two humorous experiences there. Nothing in Los Angeles, perhaps, has ever been cruder than this popular eating-place. The room, which faced the street, had a mud-floor and led to the kitchen through a narrow opening. Half a dozen cheap wooden tables, each provided with two chairs, stood against the walls. The tablecloths were generally dirty, and the knives and forks, as well as the furniture, were of the homeliest kind. The food made up in portions what it lacked in quality, and the diner rarely had occasion to leave the place hungry. What went most against my grain was the slovenliness of the proprietor himself. Flies were very thick in the summer months; and one day I found a big fellow splurging in my bowl of soup. This did not, however, faze John La Rue. Seeing the struggling insect, he calmly dipped his coffee-colored fingers into the hot liquid and, quite as serenely, drew out the fly; and although one could not then be as fastidious as nowadays, I nevertheless found it impossible to eat the soup.

On another occasion, however, mine host's equanimity was disturbed. I had given him two eggs one morning, to prepare for me, when Councilman A. Jacobi, a merchant and also a customer of La Rue's, came in for breakfast, bringing one more egg than mine. Presently my meal, unusually generous, was served, and without loss of time I disposed of it and was about to leave; when just then Jacobi discovered that the small portion set before him could not possibly contain the three eggs he had supplied. Now, Jacobi was not only possessed of a considerable appetite, but had as well a definite unwillingness to accept less than his due, while La Rue, on the other hand, was very easily aroused to a high pitch of Gallic excitement; so that in less time than is required to relate the story, the two men were embroiled in a genuine Franco-Prussian dispute, all on account of poor La Rue's unintentional interchange of the two breakfasts. Soon after this encounter, Jacobi, who was an amateur violinist of no mean order, and had fiddled himself into the affections of his neighbors, left for Berlin with a snug fortune, and there after some years he died.

Having arranged for my meals, my brother's next provision was for a sleeping-place. A small, unventilated room adjoining the store was selected; and there I rested on an ordinary cot furnished with a mattress, a pillow, and a pair of frazadas, or blankets. According to custom, whatever of these covers I required were taken each evening from stock, and the next morning they were returned to the shelves. Stores as well as houses were then almost without stoves or fireplaces; and as it grew colder, I found that the blankets gave little or no warmth. Indeed they were nothing more or less, notwithstanding their slight mixture of wool, than ordinary horse-blankets, on which account in winter I had to use five or six of them to enjoy any comfort whatever; and since I experienced difficulty in keeping them on the cot, I resorted at last to the device of tacking them down on one side.

In 1853, free-and-easy customs were in vogue in Los Angeles, permitting people in the ordinary affairs of life to do practically as they pleased. There were few if any restrictions; and if circumscribing City ordinances existed—except, perhaps, those of 1850 which, while licensing gaming places, forbade the playing of cards on the street—I do not remember what they were. As was the case in San Francisco, neither saloons nor gambling places were limited by law, and there were no regulations for their management. As many persons as could make a living in this manner kept such establishments, which were conspicuous amid the sights of the town. Indeed, chief among the surprises greeting me during my first few weeks upon the Coast, the many and flourishing gambling dens caused me the greatest astonishment.

Through the most popular of these districts, a newly-found friend escorted me on the evening of my arrival in Los Angeles. The quarter was known by the euphonious title of Calle de los Negros—Nigger Alley; and this alley was a thoroughfare not over forty feet wide which led from Aliso Street to the Plaza, an extent of just one unbroken block. At this period, there was a long adobe facing Los Angeles Street, having a covered platform or kind of veranda, about four feet from the ground, running its entire length. The building commenced at what was later Sanchez Street, and reached, in an easterly direction, to within forty feet, more or less, of the east side of Nigger Alley, then continuing north to the Plaza. This formed the westerly boundary, while a line of adobes on the other side of the street formed the easterly line. The structure first described, and which was demolished many years ago, later became the scene of the beginning of an awful massacre to which I shall refer in due season.

Each side of the alley was occupied by saloons and gambling houses. Men and women alike were to be found there, and both sexes looked after the gaming tables, dealing monte and faro, and managing other contrivances that parted the good-natured and easy-going people from their money. Those in charge of the banks were always provided with pistols, and were ready, if an emergency arose, to settle disputes on the spot; and only rarely did a case come up for adjustment before the properly-constituted authorities, such as that in 1848, which remained a subject of discussion for some time, when counterfeiters, charged with playing at monte with false money, were tried before a special court made up of Abel Stearns and Stephen C. Foster. Time was considered a very important element during the play; and sanguinary verdicts in financial disputes were generally rendered at once.

Human life at this period was about the cheapest thing in Los Angeles, and killings were frequent. Nigger Alley was as tough a neighborhood, in fact, as could be found anywhere, and a large proportion of the twenty or thirty murders a month was committed there. About as plentiful a thing, also, as there was in the pueblo was liquor. This was served generously in these resorts, not only with respect to quantity, but as well regarding variety. In addition to the prodigality of feasting, there was no lack of music of the native sort—the harp and the guitar predominating. These scenes were picturesque and highly interesting. Nigger Alley, for a while the headquarters for gamblers, enjoyed through that circumstance a certain questionable status; but in the course of years it came to be more and more occupied by the Chinese, and given over to their opium-dens, shops and laundries. There, also, their peculiar religious rites were celebrated in just as peculiar a joss house, the hideously-painted gods not in the least becoming a deterrent factor. Juan Apablasa was among those who owned considerable property in Chinatown, and a street in that quarter perpetuates his name.

Having crossed the Plaza, we entered Sonora Town, where my friend told me that every evening there was much indulgence in drinking, smoking and gambling, and quite as much participation in dancing. Some of this life, which continued in full swing until the late seventies, I witnessed on my first evening in Los Angeles.

Returning to Main Street, formerly Calle Principal, we entered the Montgomery, one of the well-known gambling houses—a one-story adobe about a hundred feet in width, in front of which was a shaded veranda—situated nearly opposite the Stearns home, and rather aristocratic, not only in its furnishings but also in its management. This resort was managed by the fearless William C., or Billy Getman, afterward Sheriff of Los Angeles County, whom I saw killed while trying to arrest a lunatic. The Montgomery was conducted in an orderly manner, and catered to the most fastidious people of Los Angeles, supplying liquors of a correspondingly high grade; the charge for a drink there being invariably twenty-five cents. It was provided with a billiard parlor, where matches were often arranged for a stake of hundreds of dollars. Games of chance there were for every requirement, the long and the short purse being equally well accommodated. The ranch owner could bet his hundreds, while he of lowlier estate might tempt the fickle goddess according to his narrower means.

A fraternity of gamblers almost indigenous to California, and which has been celebrated and even, to an extent, glorified by such writers as Mark Twain, Bret Harte and others, was everywhere then in evidence in Los Angeles; and while it is true that their vocation was illegitimate, many of them represented nevertheless a splendid type of man: generous, honest in methods, courageous in operations and respected by everybody. It would be impossible, perhaps, to describe this class as I knew them and at the same time to satisfy the modern ideal; but pioneers will confirm my tribute to these early gamesters (among whom they may recall Brand Phillips) and their redeeming characteristics.

As I have said, my brother, J. P. Newmark, was in partnership with Jacob Rich, the gentleman who met me when I reached San Francisco; their business being dry-goods and clothing. They were established in J. N. Padilla's adobe on the southeast corner of Main and Requena streets, a site so far "out of town" that success was possible only because of their catering to a wholesale clientele rather than to the retail trade; and almost opposite them, ex-Mayor John G. Nichols conducted a small grocery in a store that he built on the Main Street side of the property now occupied by Temple Block. There was an old adobe wall running north and south along the east line of the lot, out of which Nichols cut about fifteen feet, using this property to a depth of some thirty feet, thus forming a rectangular space which he enclosed. Here he carried on a modest trade which, even in addition to his other cares, scarcely demanded his whole time; so that he would frequently visit his neighbors, among whom Newmark & Rich were his nearest friends. Often have I seen him therefore, long and lank, seated in my brother's store tilted back in a chair against the wall or merchandise, a cigar, which he never lighted, in his mouth, exhorting his hearers to be patriotic and to purchase City land at a dollar an acre, thereby furnishing some of the taxes necessary to lubricate the municipal machinery. Little did any of us realize, as we listened to this man, that in the course of another generation or so there would spring into life a prosperous metropolis whose very heart would be situated near where old Mayor Nichols was vainly endeavoring to dispose of thirty-five-acre bargains at thirty-five dollars each—a feature of municipal coöperation with prospective settlers which was inaugurated August 13th, 1852, and repealed through dissatisfaction in 1854. Nichols, who, with J. S. Mallard and Lewis Granger, brought one of the first three American families to settle here permanently, and who married a sister of Mrs. Mallard, was the father of John Gregg Nichols, always claimed to be the first boy born (April 24th, 1851), of American parents, in Los Angeles. Nichols when Mayor was never neglectful of his official duties, as may be seen from his record in providing Hancock's survey, his construction of the Bath Street School, his encouragement of better irrigation facilities, his introduction of the first fruit grafts—brought, by the way, from far-off New York—and his reëlection as Mayor in 1856, 1857, and 1858. In 1869, another son, Daniel B. Nichols, of whom I shall speak, was a participant in a fatal shooting affray here.

A still earlier survey than that of Hancock was made by Lieutenant Edward O. C. Ord—later distinguished in the Union Army where, singularly enough, he was fighting with Rosecrans, in time a resident of Los Angeles—who, in an effort to bring order out of the pueblo chaos, left still greater confusion. To clear up the difficulty of adobes isolated or stranded in the middle of the streets, the Common Council in 1854 permitted owners to claim a right of way to the thoroughfares nearest their houses. This brings to mind the fact that the vara, a Spanish unit equal to about thirty-three inches, was a standard in real estate measurements even after the advent of Ord, Hancock and Hansen, who were followed by such surveyors as P. J. Virgen (recalled by Virgen Street) and his partner Hardy; and also that the reata was often used as a yardstick—its uncertain length having contributed, without doubt, to the chaotic condition confronting Ord.

Graded streets and sidewalks were unknown; hence, after heavy winter rains mud was from six inches to two feet deep, while during the summer dust piled up to about the same extent. Few City ordinances were obeyed; for notwithstanding that a regulation of the City Council called on every citizen to sweep in front of his house to a certain point on Saturday evenings, not the slightest attention was paid to it. Into the roadway was thrown all the rubbish: if a man bought a new suit of clothes, a pair of boots, a hat or a shirt, to replace a corresponding part of his apparel that had outlived its usefulness, he would think nothing, on attiring himself in the new purchase, of tossing the discarded article into the street where it would remain until some passing Indian, or other vagabond, took possession of it. So wretched indeed were the conditions, that I have seen dead animals left on the highways for days at a time, and can recall one instance of a horse dying on Alameda Street and lying there until a party of Indians cut up the carcass for food. What made these street conditions more trying was the fact that on hot days roads and sidewalks were devoid of shade, except for that furnished by a few scattered trees or an occasional projecting veranda; while at night (if I except the illumination from the few lanterns suspended in front of barrooms and stores) thoroughfares were altogether unlighted. In those nights of dark streets and still darker tragedies, people rarely went out unless equipped with candle-burning lanterns, at least until camphine was imported by my brother, after which this was brought into general use. Stores were lighted in the same manner: first with candles, then with camphine and finally with coal-oil, during which period of advancement lamps replaced the cruder contrivances.

Southern California from the first took an active part in State affairs. Edward Hunter and Charles E. Carr were the Assemblymen from this district in 1853; and the following year they were succeeded by Francis Mellus and Dr. Wilson W. Jones. Carr was a lawyer who had come in 1852; Hunter afterward succeeded Pablo de la Guerra as Marshal. Jones was the doctor who just about the time I came, while returning from a professional call at the Lugos at about sunset, nearly rode over the bleeding and still warm body of a cattle-buyer named Porter, on Alameda Street. The latter had been out to the Dominguez rancho, to purchase stock, and had taken along with him a Mexican named Manuel Vergara who introduced himself as an experienced interpreter and guide, but who was, in reality, a cutthroat with a record of one or two assassinations. Vergara observed that Porter possessed considerable money; and on their way back to Los Angeles shot the American from behind. Jones quickly gave the alarm; and Banning, Stanley and others of the volunteer mounted police pursued the murderer for eighty-five or ninety miles when, the ammunition of all parties being exhausted, Vergara turned on the one Vigilante who had caught up with him and, with an adroit thrust of his knife, cut the latter's bridle and escaped. In the end, however, some of Major Heintzelman's cavalry at Yuma (who had been informed by a fleet Indian hired to carry the news of the fugitive's flight) overtook Vergara and shot him dead. These volunteer police or Rangers, as they were called, were a company of one hundred or more men under command of Dr. A. W. Hope, and included such well-known early settlers as Nichols, J. G. Downey, S. C. Foster, Agustin Olvera, Juan Sepúlveda, Horace Bell, M. Keller, Banning, Benjamin Hayes, F. L. Guirado, David Alexander, J. L. Brent and I. S. K. Ogier.

Under the new order of things, too, following the adoption in 1849 of a State constitution, County organization in Los Angeles was effected; and by the time I declared myself for American citizenship, several elections had been held. Benjamin Hayes was District Judge in 1853; Agustin Olvera was finishing his term as County Judge; Dr. Wilson W. Jones was County Clerk and Recorder—two offices not separated for twenty years or until 1873; Lewis Granger was County Attorney; Henry Hancock was Surveyor; Francis Mellus (who succeeded Don Manuel Garfias, once the princely owner but bad manager of the San Pasqual rancho), was Treasurer; A. F. Coronel was Assessor; James R. Barton was Sheriff and also Collector of Taxes; and J. S. Mallard, whose name was given to Mallard Street, was Coroner. Russell Sackett was a Justice of the Peace here when I arrived; and after a while Mallard had a court as Justice, near my store on Commercial Street. All in all, a group of rather strong men!

The administrative officials of both the City and the County had their headquarters in the one-story adobe building at the northwest corner of Franklin Alley (later called Jail Street[1]) and Spring Street. In addition to those mentioned, there was a Justice of the Peace, a Zanjero, and a Jailer. António Franco Coronel had but recently succeeded Nichols as Mayor; A. S. Beard was Marshal and Tax Collector; Judge William G. Dryden was Clerk; C. E. Carr was Attorney; Ygnácio Coronel was Assessor; and S. Arbuckle was Treasurer.

António Franco Coronel, after whom Coronel Street is named, had just entered upon the duties of Mayor, and was busy enough with the disposal of donation lots when I first commenced to observe Los Angeles' government. He came from Mexico to California with his father, Don Ygnácio F. Coronel; and by 1850 he was the first County Assessor. He lived at what is now Alameda and Seventh streets, and had a brother, Manuel, who was City Assessor in 1858.

Major Henry Hancock, a New Hampshire lawyer and surveyor, came to Los Angeles in 1852, and at the time of my arrival had just made the second survey of the city, defining the boundaries of the thirty-five-acre City lots. I met him frequently, and by 1859 I was well acquainted with him. He then owed Newmark, Kremer & Company some money and offered, toward liquidation of the debt, one hundred and ten acres of land lying along Washington and extending as far as the present Pico Street. It also reached from Main Street to what is now Grand Avenue. Newmark, Kremer & Company did not wish the land, and so arranged with Hancock to take firewood instead. From time to time, therefore, he brought great logs into town, to be cut up; he also bought a circular saw, which he installed, with horse-power and tread-mill, in a vacant lot on Spring Street, back of Joseph Newmark's second residence. The latter was on Main Street, between First and the northern junction of Main and Spring; and between this junction and First Street, it may be interesting to note, there was in 1853 no thoroughfare from Main to Spring. As I was living there, I acted as his agent for the sale of the wood that was left after our settlement. The fact is that Hancock was always land poor, and never out of debt; and when he was particularly hard up, he parted with his possessions at whatever price they would bring. The Major (earlier known as Captain Hancock, who enjoyed his titles through his association with the militia) retained, however, the celebrated La Brea rancho—bought at a very early date from A. J. Rocha, and lying between the city and the sea—which he long thought would furnish oil, but little dreamt would also contain some of the most important prehistoric finds; and this ranch, once managed by his wife, a daughter of Colonel Augustin Haraszthy, the San Francisco pioneer, is now owned by his son, George Allan Hancock.

George Hansen, to whose far-reaching foresight we owe the Elysian Park of to-day, was another professional man who was here before I reached Los Angeles, having come to California in 1850, by way of Cape Horn and Peru. When he arrived at Los Angeles, in 1853, as he was fond of recounting, he was too poor to possess even surveying instruments; but he found a friend in John Temple, who let him have one hundred dollars at two per cent interest per month, then a very low rate. Thereupon Hansen sent to San Francisco for the outfit that enabled him to establish himself. I met Hansen for the first time in the last few weeks of 1853, when he came to my brother's store to buy a suit of clothes, his own being in rags. He had been out, very probably, on an expedition such as subjected a surveyor, particularly in the early days, to much hard work and fatigue. Hansen, a good student and fine linguist, was prominent for many years and made more land measurements hereabouts than did any one else; he had the real management, in fact, of Hancock's second survey.

Among others who were here, I might mention the Wheeler brothers. Colonel John Ozias Wheeler, at various times an office-holder, came to California from Florida, and having endured many hardships on the trip along the Mississippi, Arkansas and Gila rivers, arrived at the Chino rancho on August 12th, 1849, afterward assisting Isaac Williams in conveying a train of supplies back to the Colorado River. The next year he was joined by his brother, Horace Z. Wheeler, who came by way of the Isthmus, and later rose to be Appraiser-General of the Imperial Customs at Yokohama; and the two young men were soon conducting a general merchandise business in Los Angeles—if I recollect aright, in a one-story adobe at the northeast corner of Main and Commercial streets. Extravagant stories have been printed as to Wheeler's mercantile operations, one narrative crediting him with sales to the extent of five thousand dollars or more a day. In those times, however, no store was large enough to contain such a stock; and two successive days of heavy sales would have been impossible. In 1851 Colonel Wheeler, who had been on General Andrés Pico's staff, served as a Ranger; and in 1853 he organized the first military company in Los Angeles.

Manuel Requena, from Yucatan, was another man of influence. He lived on the east side of Los Angeles Street, north of the thoroughfare opened through his vineyard and named after him—later extended east of Los Angeles Street. As early as June, 1836, Requena, then Alcalde, made a census of this district. He was a member of the first, as well as the second, third, fifth and seventh Common Councils, and with David W. Alexander was the only member of the first body to serve out the entire term. In 1852, Requena was elected a Supervisor. Mrs. Requena was a sister of Mrs. Alexander Bell and Mrs. James, or Santiago Johnson, and an aunt of Henry and Francis Mellus and Mrs. J. H. Lander. Requena died on June 27th, 1876, aged seventy-four years.

Henry N. Alexander appeared in Los Angeles at about the same time that I did—possibly afterward—and was very active as a Ranger. He too occupied positions of trust, in business as well as public life, being both City and County Treasurer—in the latter case, preceding Maurice Kremer. It is not surprising, therefore, that he became Wells Fargo & Company's agent when much uphill work had to be done to establish their interests here. He married a daughter of Don Pedro Dominguez. Alexander moved to Arizona, after which I lost track of him.

John W. Shore, who was here in 1853, was County Clerk from 1854 to 1857, and again from 1860 to 1863. He always canvassed for votes on horseback until, one day, he fell off and broke his leg, necessitating amputation. This terminated his active campaigns; but through sympathy he was reëlected, and by a larger majority. Shore was a Democrat.

Mention of public officials leads me to speak of an interesting personality long associated with them. On the west side of Spring Street near First, where the Schumacher Building now stands, John Schumacher conducted, in a single room, as was then common, a grocery store and bar. A good-hearted, honest German of the old school, and a first-class citizen, he had come from Würtemberg to America, and then, with Stevenson's Regiment, to California, arriving in Los Angeles in 1847 or 1848. From here he went to Sutter's Creek, where he found a nugget of gold worth eight hundred dollars, for which he was offered land in San Francisco later worth millions—a tender which the Würtemberger declined; and the same year that I arrived, he returned to Los Angeles, whose activity had increased considerably since he had last seen it. In 1855, Schumacher married Fräulein Mary Uhrie, from which union six children including two sons, John and Frank G. Schumacher, were born. The eldest daughter became Mrs. Edward A. Preuss. Schumacher established his store, having bought nearly the whole block bounded by Spring and First streets and Franklin Alley for the value of his famous gold nugget; and there he remained until the early seventies, the Schumacher Block being built, as I have said, on a part of the property. Mrs. Schumacher in 1880 met with a tragic death: while at the railway station in Merced, she was jolted from the platform of a car and was instantly killed.

For something else, however, Schumacher was especially known. When he returned in 1853, he put on sale the first lager beer introduced into Los Angeles, importing the same from San Francisco, of which enterprise the genial German was proud; but Schumacher acquired even more fame for a drink that he may be said to have invented, and which was known to the early settlers as Peach and Honey. It contained a good mixture with peach brandy, and was a great favorite, especially with politicians and frequenters of the neighboring Courthouse, including well-known members of the Bar, all of whom crowded John's place, "between times," to enjoy his much-praised concoction. Whenever in fact anyone had a cold, or fancied that he was going to be so afflicted, he hastened to John for his reputedly-certain cure. Schumacher, who served as Councilman in 1855, 1856 and 1857, was proficient in languages and, as an interpreter, often gave his time and services freely in assisting his less-gifted neighbors, particularly the poor and unfortunate, to straighten out their affairs. In the fall of 1860, he had a narrow escape through the carelessness of a customer who threw a lighted match into a can of powder. Schumacher owned some acreage in what was known as the Green Meadows, a section located near what is now South Figueroa Street; and this land he held with Jacob Bell, who was assassinated, as I shall relate, by a Frenchman named Lachenais—hanged, in turn, by an exasperated mob.

Most political meetings of that period took place at the Plaza home of Don Ygnácio Del Valle, first County Recorder. From 1841, Don Ygnácio lived for some time on the San Francisco rancho granted by the King of Spain to his father and confirmed by patent in 1875. He also owned the more famous Camulos rancho on the Santa Clara River, consisting of several thousand acres north and west of Newhall, afterward selected by Helen Hunt Jackson as the setting for some of the scenes in her novel, Ramona; and these possessions made him a man of great importance. During his later life, when he had abandoned his town residence, Del Valle dwelt in genteel leisure at the rancho, dying there in 1880; and I will not miss this opportunity to attest his patrician bearing and genial qualities.

At the time of my arrival, there was but one voting precinct and the polling place was located at the old municipal and County adobe already spoken of; although later a second polls was established at the Round House. Inside the room sat the election judges and clerks; outside a window stood the jam of voters. The window-sill corresponded to the thickness of the adobe wall, and was therefore about three feet deep. This sill served as a table, upon it being placed a soap- or candle-box, into which a hole had been cut for the deposit of the votes.

There was also no register, either great or small, and anyone could vote. Each party printed its own tickets; and so could any candidate. This resulted in great confusion, since there were always many tickets in the field—as many, in fact, as there were candidates; yet the entire proceeding had become legalized by custom. The candidate of one party could thus use the ticket of the other, substituting his own name for his opponent's, and leaving all of the remainder of the ticket unchanged; in addition to which there was such a lack of uniformity in the size and color of the ballots as greatly to add to the confusion in counting.

To make matters worse, the ballot-box was not easily reached because of the crowd which was made up largely of the candidates and their friends. Challenging was the order of the day; yet, after crimination and recrimination, the votes were generally permitted to be cast. Although it is true, of course, that many votes were legitimate, yet aliens such as Mexicans, who had not even considered the question of taking out citizenship papers, were permitted to vote while Indians and half-breeds, who were not eligible to citizenship at all, were irregularly given the franchise. The story is told of an election not far from Los Angeles at which a whole tribe of Indians was voted; while on another occasion the names on a steamer's passenger-list were utilized by persons who had already voted, that very day, once or twice! Cutting off the hair, shaving one's beard or mustache, reclothing or otherwise transforming the appearance of the voter—these were some of the tricks then practiced, which the new registry law of 1866 only partially did away with.

Sonorans, who had recently arrived from Mexico, as well as the aliens I have mentioned, were easy subjects for the political manipulator. The various candidates, for example, would round-up these prospective voters like so many cattle, confine them in corrals (usually in the neighborhood of Boyle Heights), keep them in a truly magnificent state of intoxication until the eventful morning, and then put them in stages hired from either Banning or Tomlinson for the purpose; and from the time the temporary prisoners left the corral until their votes had been securely deposited, they were closely watched by guards. On reaching the voting place, the captives were unloaded from the stage like so much inanimate baggage, and turned over to friends of the candidate to whom, so to speak, for the time being they belonged. One at a time, these creatures were led to vote; and as each staggered to the ballot-box, a ticket was held up and he was made to deposit it. Once having served the purpose, he was turned loose and remained free until another election unless, as I have intimated, he and his fellows were again corralled and made to vote a second or even a third time the same day.

Nearly all influential Mexicans were Democrats, so that this party easily controlled the political situation; from which circumstance a certain brief campaign ended in a most amusing manner. It happened that Thomas H. Workman, brother of William H., once ran for County Clerk, although he was not a Democrat. Billy was naturally much interested in his brother's candidacy, and did what he could to help him. On the evening before election, he rented a corral—located near what is now Macy Street and Mission Road, on property later used by Charles F., father of Alfred Stern, and for years in partnership with L. J. Rose; and there, with the assistance of some friends, he herded together about one hundred docile though illegal voters, most of whom were Indians, kept them all night and, by supplying fire-water liberally, at length led them into the state of bewilderment necessary for such an occasion. The Democratic leaders, however, having learned of this magnificent coup, put their heads together and soon resolved to thwart Billy's plan. In company with some prominent Mexican politicians led by Tomás Sanchez, they loaded themselves into a stage and visited the corral; and once arrived there, those that could made such flowery stump speeches in the native language of the horde that, in fifteen or twenty minutes, they had stampeded the whole band! Billy entered a vigorous protest, saying that the votes were his and that it was a questionable and even a damnable trick; but all his protests were of no avail: the bunch of corralled voters had been captured in a body by the opposition, deciding the contest. These were the methods then in vogue in accordance with which it was considered a perfectly legitimate transaction to buy votes, and there was no secret made of the modus operandi by either party.

During these times of agitated politics, newspapers (such as they were) played an important part. In them were published letters written by ambitious candidates to themselves and signed, "The People," "A Disinterested Citizen," or some equally anonymous phrase. As an exception to the usual maneuver, however, the following witty announcement was once printed by an office-seeker:

George N. Whitman, not having been requested by "Many Friends," or solicited by "Many Voters," to become a candidate for the office of Township Constable, at the end of the ensuing September election, offers himself.

Here I am reminded of an anecdote at the expense of John Quincy Adams Stanley, who in 1856 ran for Sheriff against David W. Alexander, and was County Assessor in the middle seventies. Stanley was a very decent but somewhat over-trusting individual; and ignoring suggestions as to expenditures for votes, too readily believed promises of support by the voters of the county, almost every one of whom gave him a favorable pledge in the course of the campaign. When the ballots were counted, however, and Stanley learned that he had received just about fifty votes, he remarked, rather dryly: "I didn't know that there were so many damned liars in the county!"

Another interesting factor in early elections was the vote of Teháchepi, then in Los Angeles County. About thirty votes were cast there; but as communication with Los Angeles was irregular, it was sometimes necessary to wait a week or more to know what bearing the decision of Teháchepi had on the general result.


In the primitive fifties there were but comparatively few reputable lawyers in this neighborhood; nor was there, perhaps, sufficient call for their services to insure much of a living to many more. To a greater extent even than now, attorneys were called "Judge;" and at the time whereof I write, the most important among them were Jonathan R. Scott, Benjamin Hayes, J. Lancaster Brent, Myron Norton, General Ezra Drown, Benjamin S. Eaton, Cameron E. Thom, James H. Lander, Lewis Granger, Isaac Stockton, Keith Ogier, Edward J. C. Kewen and Joseph R. Gitchell. In addition to these, there was a lawyer named William G. Dryden, of whom I shall presently speak, and one Kimball H. Dimmick, who was largely devoted to criminal practice.

Scott, who had been a prominent lawyer in Missouri, stood very high, both as to physique and reputation. In addition to his great stature, he had a splendid constitution and wonderful vitality and was identified with nearly every important case. About March, 1850, he came here an overland emigrant, and was made one of the two justices of the peace who formed, with the county judge, on June 24th, the first Court of Sessions. He then entered into partnership with Benjamin Hayes, continuing in joint practice with him until April, 1852, after which he was a member successively of the law firms of Scott & Granger, Scott & Lander, and Scott, Drown & Lander. Practicing law in those days was not without its difficulties, partly because of the lack of law-books; and Scott used to tell in his own vehement style how, on one occasion, when he was defending a French sea captain against charges preferred by a rich Peruvian passenger, he was unable to make much headway because there was but one volume (Kent's Commentaries) in the whole pueblo that threw any light, so to speak, on the question; which lack of information induced Alcalde Stearns to decide against Scott's client. Although the Captain lost, he nevertheless counted out to Scott, in shining gold-pieces, the full sum of one thousand dollars as a fee. In 1859, a daughter of Scott married Alfred Beck Chapman, a graduate of West Point, who came to Los Angeles and Fort Tejón, as an officer, about 1854. Chapman later studied law with Scott, and for twenty years practiced with Andrew Glassell. In 1863, Chapman succeeded M. J. Newmark as City Attorney; and in 1868, he was elected District Attorney. If I recollect rightly, Scott died in the sixties, survived by Mrs. Scott—a sister of both Mrs. J. S. Mallard and Mrs. J. G. Nichols—and a son, J. R. Scott, admitted in 1880 to practice in the Supreme Court.

Hayes was District Judge when I came, and continued as such for ten or twelve years. His jurisdiction embraced Los Angeles, San Diego, San Luis Obispo and Santa Bárbara counties; and the latter section then included Ventura County. The Judge had regular terms in these districts and was compelled to hold court at all of the County seats. A native of Baltimore, Hayes came to Los Angeles on February 3d, 1850—followed on St. Valentine's Day, 1852, by his wife whose journey from St. Louis, via New Orleans, Havana and Panamá, consumed forty-three days on the steamers. He was at once elected the first County Attorney, and tried the famous case against the Irving party. About the same time Hayes formed his partnership with Scott. In January, 1855, and while District Judge, Hayes sentenced the murderer Brown; and in 1858 he presided at Pancho Daniel's trial. Hayes continued to practice for many years, and was known as a jurist of high standing, though on account of his love for strong drink, court on more than one occasion had to be adjourned. During his residence here, he was known as an assiduous collector of historical data. He was a brother of both Miss Louisa Hayes, the first woman public-school teacher in Los Angeles, later the wife of Dr. J. S. Griffin, and Miss Helena Hayes, who married Benjamin S. Eaton. Judge Hayes died on August 4th, 1877.

Brent, a native of the South, was also a man of attainment, arriving here in 1850 with a fairly representative, though inadequate library, and becoming in 1855 and 1856 a member of the State Assembly. He had such wonderful influence, as one of the Democratic leaders, that he could nominate at will any candidate; and being especially popular with the Mexican element, could also tell a good story or two about fees. When trouble arose in 1851 between several members of the Lugo family and the Indians, resulting finally in an attempted assassination and the narrow escape from death of Judge Hayes (who was associated with the prosecution of the case), several of the Lugos were tried for murder; and Brent, whose defense led to their acquittal, received something like twenty thousand dollars for his services. He was of a studious turn of mind and acquired most of Hugo Reid's Indian library. When the Civil War broke out, Brent went South again and became a Confederate brigadier-general. Brent Street bears his name.

Norton, a Vermonter, who had first practiced law in New York, then migrated west, and had later been a prime mover for, and a member of, the first California Constitutional Convention, and who was afterward Superior Court Judge at San Francisco, was an excellent lawyer, when sober, and a good fellow. He came to the Coast in the summer of 1848, was made First Lieutenant and Chief-of-Staff of the California Volunteers, and drifted in 1852 from Monterey to Los Angeles. He joined Bean's Volunteers, and in 1857 delivered here a flowery Fourth of July oration. Norton was the second County Judge, succeeding Agustin Olvera and living with the latter's family at the Plaza; and it was from Norton's Court of Sessions, in May, 1855, that the dark-skinned Juan Flores was sent to the State prison, although few persons suspected him to be guilty of such criminal tendencies as he later developed. Norton died in Los Angeles in 1887; and Norton Avenue recalls his life and work.

Judge Hayes' successor, Don Pablo de la Guerra, was born in the presidio of Santa Bárbara in 1819, a member of one of the most popular families of that locality. Although a Spaniard of the Spaniards, he had been educated in an Eastern college, and spoke English fluently. Four times he was elected State Senator from Santa Bárbara and San Luis Obispo, and was besides a member of the Constitutional Convention of 1849. Late in 1863, he was a candidate for District Judge when a singular opposition developed that might easily have led, in later years at least, to his defeat. A large part of the population of Santa Bárbara was related to him by blood or marriage; and it was argued that, if elected, De la Guerra in many cases would be disqualified from sitting as judge. On January 1st, 1864, however, Don Pablo took up the work as District Judge where Hayes surrendered it. Just as De la Guerra in 1854 had resigned in favor of Hunter, before completing his term as United States Marshal, so now toward the end of 1873, De la Guerra withdrew on account of ill-health from the district judgeship, and on February 5th, 1874, he died.

Drown was a lawyer who came here a few months before I did, having just passed through one of those trying ordeals which might easily prove sufficient to destroy the courage and ambition of any man. He hailed from Iowa, where he had served as Brigadier-General of Militia, and was bound up the Coast from the Isthmus on the steamer Independence when it took fire, off Lower California, and burned to the water's edge. General Drown, being a good swimmer and a plucky fellow, set his wife adrift on a hencoop and then put off for shore with his two children on his back. Having deposited them safely on the beach, he swam back to get his wife; but a brutal fellow-passenger pushed the fainting woman off when her agonized husband was within a few feet of her; she sank beneath the waves, and he saw his companion go to her doom at the moment she was about to be rescued. Though broken in spirit, Drown on landing at San Pedro came to Los Angeles with his two boys, and put his best foot forward. He established himself as a lawyer and in 1858 became District Attorney, succeeding Cameron E. Thom; and it was during his term that Pancho Daniel was lynched. In 1855, too, Drown instituted the first Los Angeles lodge of Odd Fellows. Drown was an able lawyer, eloquent and humorous, and fairly popular; but his generosity affected his material prosperity, and he died, at San Juan Capistrano, on August 17th, 1863, none too blessed with this world's goods.

Dimmick, who at one time occupied an office in the old Temple Block on Main Street, had rather an eventful career. Born in Connecticut, he learned the printer's trade; then he studied law and was soon admitted to practice in New York; and in 1846 he sailed with Colonel J. D. Stevenson, in command of Company K, landing, six months later, at the picturesquely-named Yerba Buena, on whose slopes the bustling town of San Francisco was so soon to be founded. When peace with Mexico was established, Dimmick moved to San José; after which with Foster he went to the convention whose mission was to frame a State constitution, and was later chosen Judge of the Supreme Court. In 1852, after having revisited the East and been defrauded of practically all he possessed by those to whom he had entrusted his California affairs, Dimmick came to Los Angeles and served as Justice of the Peace, Notary Public and County Judge. He was also elected District Attorney, and at another time was appointed by the Court to defend the outlaw, Pancho Daniel. Dimmick's practice was really largely criminal, which frequently made him a defender of horse-thieves, gamblers and desperadoes; and in such cases one could always anticipate his stereotyped plea: