Captain F. Morton

Captain and Mrs. J. S. Garcia

Captain Salisbury Haley

El Palacio, Home of Abel and Arcadia Stearns
From a photograph of the seventies

The Lugo Ranch-house, in the Nineties

And now a word about the old Spanish Missions in this vicinity. It was no new experience for me to see religious edifices that had attained great age, and this feature, therefore, made no special impression. I dare say that I visited the Mission of San Gabriel very soon after I arrived in Los Angeles; but it was then less than a century old, and so was important only because it was the place of worship of many natives. The Protestant denominations were not as numerous then as now, and nearly all of the population was Catholic. With the passing of the years, sentimental reverence for the Spanish Fathers has grown greater and their old Mission homes have acquired more and more the dignity of age. Helen Hunt Jackson's Ramona, John S. McGroarty's Mission Play (in which, by the by, Señorita Lucretia, daughter of R. F. and granddaughter of Don Ygnácio Del Valle, so ably portrays the character of Doña Josefa Yorba) and various other literary efforts have increased the interest in these institutions of the past.

The missions and their chapels recall an old Mexican woman who had her home, when I came to Los Angeles, at what is now the southeast corner of San Pedro and First streets. She dwelt in a typical adobe, and in the rear of her house was a vineyard of attractive aspect. Adjoining one of the rooms of her dwelling was a chapel, large enough, perhaps, to hold ten or twelve people and somewhat like those on the Dominguez and Coronel estates; and this chapel, like all the other rooms, had an earthen floor. In it was a gaudily-decorated altar and crucifix. The old lady was very religious and frequently repaired to her sanctuary. From the sale of grapes, she derived, in part, her income; and many a time have I bought from her the privilege of wandering through her vineyard and eating all I could of this refreshing berry. If the grape-season was not on, neighbors were none the less always welcome there; and it was in this quiet and delightful retreat that, in 1856, I proposed marriage to Miss Sarah Newmark, my future wife, such a mere girl that a few evenings later I found her at home playing jackstones—then a popular game—with Mrs. J. G. Downey, herself a child.

But while Catholics predominated, the Protestant churches had made a beginning. Rev. Adam Bland, Presiding Elder of the Methodists in Los Angeles in 1854, had come here a couple of years before, to begin his work in the good, old-fashioned way; and, having bought the barroom, El Dorado, and torn down Hughes's sign, he had transformed the place into a chapel. But, alas for human foresight, or the lack of it: on at least a part of the new church lot, the Merced Theater later stood!

Two cemeteries were in existence at the time whereof I write: the Roman Catholic—abandoned a few years ago—which occupied a site on Buena Vista Street, and one, now long deserted, for other denominations. This cemetery, which we shall see was sadly neglected, thereby occasioning bitter criticism in the press, was on Fort Hill. Later, another burial-ground was established in the neighborhood of what is now Flower and Figueroa streets, near Ninth, many years before there was any thought of Rosedale or Evergreen.

As for my co-religionists and their provision of a cemetery, when I first came to Los Angeles they were without a definite place for the interment of their dead; but in 1854 the first steps were taken to establish a Jewish cemetery here, and it was not very long before the first Jewish child to die in Los Angeles, named Mahler, was buried there. This cemetery, on land once owned and occupied by José Andrés Sepúlveda's reservoir, was beautifully located in a recess or little pocket, as it were, among the hills in the northwest section of the city, where the environment of nature was in perfect harmony with the Jewish ideal—"Home of Peace."

Mrs. Jacob Rich, by the way, had the distinction of being the first Jewess to settle in Los Angeles; and I am under the impression that Mrs. E. Greenbaum became the mother of the first Jewish child born here.

Sam Prager arrived in 1854, and after clerking a while, associated himself with the Morrises, who were just getting nicely established. For a time, they met with much success and were among the most important merchants of their day. Finally they dissolved, and the Morris Brothers bought the large tract of land which I have elsewhere described as having been refused by Newmark, Kremer & Company in liquidation of Major Henry Hancock's account. Here, for several years, in a fine old adobe lived the Morris family, dispensing a bountiful hospitality quite in keeping with the open-handed manner of the times. In the seventies, the Morris Brothers sold this property—later known as Morris Vineyard—after they had planted it to vines, for the insignificant sum of about twenty thousand dollars.

Following Sam Prager, came his brother Charles. For a short time they were associated, but afterward they operated independently, Charles Prager starting on Commercial Street, on May 19th, 1869. Sam Prager, long known as "Uncle Sam," was a good-natured and benevolent man, taking a deep interest in Masonic matters, becoming Master of 42, and a regular attendant at the annual meetings of the Grand Lodge of California. He was also Chairman of the Masonic Board of Relief until the time of his death. Charles Prager and the Morrises have all gone to that

undiscovered country, from whose bourn

No traveler returns.

In the summer of 1853, a movement was inaugurated, through the combined efforts of Mayors Nichols and Coronel, aided by John T. Jones, to provide public schools; and three citizens, J. Lancaster Brent, Lewis Granger and Stephen C. Foster, were appointed School Commissioners. As early as 1838, Ygnácio Coronel, assisted by his wife and daughter, had accepted some fifteen dollars a month from the authorities—to permit the exercise of official supervision—and opened a school which, as late as 1854, he conducted in his own home; thereby doubtless inspiring his son António to take marked interest in the education of the Indians. From time to time, private schools, partly subsidized from public funds, were commenced. In May, 1854, Mayor Foster pointed out that, while there were fully five hundred children of school age and the pueblo had three thousand dollars surplus, there was still no school building which the City could call its own. New trustees—Manuel Requena, Francis Mellus and W. T. B. Sanford—were elected; and then happened what, perhaps, has not occurred here since, or ever in any other California town: Foster, still Mayor, was also chosen School Superintendent. The new energy put into the movement now led the Board to build, late in 1854 or early in 1855, a two-story brick schoolhouse, known as School No. 1, on the northwest corner of Spring and Second streets, on the lot later occupied, first by the old City Hall and secondly by the Bryson Block. This structure cost six thousand dollars. Strange as it now seems, the location was then rather "out in the country;" and I dare say the selection was made, in part, to get the youngsters away from the residential district around the Plaza. There school was opened on March 19th, 1855; William A. Wallace, a botanist who had been sent here to study the flora, having charge of the boys' department and Miss Louisa Hayes directing the division for girls. Among her pupils were Sarah Newmark and her sisters; Mary Wheeler, who married William Pridham; and Lucinda Macy, afterward Mrs. Foy, who recalls participating in the first public school examination, in June, 1856. Dr. John S. Griffin, on June 7th, 1856, was elected Superintendent. Having thus established a public school, the City Council voted to discontinue all subsidies to private schools.

One of the early school-teachers was the pioneer, James F. Burns. Coming with an emigrant train in 1853, Burns arrived in Los Angeles, after some adventures with the Indians near what was later the scene of the Mountain Meadow Massacre, in November of the same year. Having been trained in Kalamazoo, Michigan, as a teacher, Burns settled, in 1854, in San Gabriel; and there with Cæsar C. Twitchell, he conducted a cross-roads school in a tent. Later, while still living at San Gabriel, Burns was elected County School Superintendent. Before reaching here—that is, at Provo, Utah, on September 25th—the young schoolmaster had married Miss Lucretia Burdick, aunt of Fred Eaton's first wife. Burns, though of small stature, became one of the fighting sheriffs of the County.

Among others who conducted schools in Los Angeles or vicinity, in the early days, were Mrs. Adam Bland, wife of the missionary; H. D. Barrows and the Hoyts. Mrs. Bland taught ten or twelve poor girls, in 1853, for which the Common Council allowed her about thirty-five dollars. Barrows was one of several teachers employed by William Wolfskill at various times, and at Wolfskill's school not merely were his own children instructed but those of the neighboring families of Carpenter, Rowland and Pleasants as well. Mrs. Gertrude Lawrence Hoyt was an Episcopal clergyman's wife from New York who, being made a widow, followed her son, Albert H. Hoyt, to Los Angeles in 1853. Young Hoyt, a graduate of Rutgers College and a teacher excited by the gold fever, joined a hundred and twenty men who chartered the bark Clarissa Perkins to come around the Horn, in 1849; but failing as a miner, he began farming near Sacramento. When Mrs. Hoyt came to Los Angeles, she conducted a private school in a rented building north of the Plaza, beginning in 1854 and continuing until 1856; while her son moved south and took up seventy or eighty acres of land in the San Gabriel Valley, near El Monte. In 1855, young Hoyt came into town to assist his mother in the school; and the following year Mrs. Hoyt's daughter, Mary, journeyed West and also became a teacher here. Later, Miss Hoyt kept a school on Alameda Street near the site of the Los Angeles & San Pedro Railroad depot. Mrs. Hoyt died in Los Angeles in 1863. Other early teachers were William McKee, Mrs. Thomas Foster and Miss Anna McArthur.

As undeveloped as the pueblo was, Los Angeles boasted, in her very infancy, a number of physicians, although there were few, if any, Spanish or Mexican practitioners. In 1850, Drs. William B. Osburn, W. W. Jones, A. W. Hope, A. P. Hodges and a Dr. Overstreet were here; while in 1851, Drs. Thomas Foster, John Brinckerhoff and James P. McFarland followed, to be reënforced, in 1852, by Dr. James B. Winston and, soon after, by Drs. R. T. Hayes, T. J. White and A. B. Hayward. Dr. John Strother Griffin (General Albert Sidney Johnston's brother-in-law and the accepted suitor of Miss Louisa Hayes) came to Los Angeles in 1848, or rather to San Gabriel—where, according to Hugo Reid, no physician had settled, though the population took drugs by the barrel; being the ranking surgeon under Kearney and Stockton when, on January 8th, they drove back the Mexican forces. He was also one of the hosts to young W. T. Sherman. Not until 1854, however, after Griffin had returned to Washington and had resigned his commission, did he actually settle in Los Angeles. Thereafter, his participation in local affairs was such that, very properly, one of our avenues is named after him. Dr. Richard S. Den antedated all of these gentlemen, having resided and practiced medicine in Los Angeles in 1843, 1844 and again in the early fifties, though he did not dwell in this city permanently until January, 1866. Den I knew fairly well, and Griffin was my esteemed physician and friend. Foster and Griffin were practitioners whom I best recall as being here during my first years, one or two others, as Dr. Osburn and Dr. Winston, having already begun to devote their time to other enterprises.

Dr. Richard S. Den, an Irishman of culture and refinement, having been for awhile with his brother, Nicholas Den, in Santa Bárbara, returned to Los Angeles in 1851. I say, "returned," because Den had looked in on the little pueblo before I had even heard its name. While in the former place, in the winter of 1843-44, Den received a call from Los Angeles to perform one or two surgical operations, and here he practiced until drawn to the mines by the gold excitement. He served, in 1846-47, as Chief Physician and Surgeon of the Mexican forces during the Mexican War, and treated, among others, the famous American Consul Larkin, whose surety he became when Larkin was removed to better quarters in the home of Louis Vignes. Den had only indifferent luck as a miner, but was soon in such demand to relieve the sufferers from malaria that it is said he received as much as a thousand dollars in a day for his practice. In 1854, he returned to Santa Bárbara County, remaining there for several years and suffering great loss, on account of the drought and its effects on his cattle. Nicholas Den, who was also known in Los Angeles, and was esteemed for both his integrity and his hospitality, died at Santa Bárbara in 1862.

Old Dr. Den will be remembered, not only with esteem, but with affection. He was seldom seen except on horseback, in which fashion he visited his patients, and was, all in all, somewhat a man of mystery. He rode a magnificent coal-black charger, and was himself always dressed in black. He wore, too, a black felt hat; and beneath the hat there clustered a mass of wavy hair as white as snow. In addition to all this, his standing collar was so high that he was compelled to hold his head erect; and as if to offset the immaculate linen, he tied around the collar a large black-silk scarf. Thus attired and seated on his richly-caparisoned horse, Dr. Den appeared always dignified, and even imposing. One may therefore easily picture him a friendly rival with Don Juan Bandini at the early Spanish balls, as he was on intimate terms with Don and Doña Abel Stearns, acknowledged social leaders. Dr. Den was fond of horse-racing and had his own favorite racehorses sent here from Santa Bárbara, where they were bred.

Dr. Osburn, the Postmaster of 1853, had two years before installed a small variety of drugs on a few shelves, referred to by the complimentary term of drug store. Dr. Winston also kept a stock of drugs. About the same time, and before Dr. A. W. Hope opened the third drug store in September, 1854, John Gately Downey, an Irishman by birth, who had been apprenticed to the drug trade in Maryland and Ohio, formed a partnership with James P. McFarland, a native of Tennessee, buying some of Winston's stock. Their store was a long, one-story adobe on the northwest corner of Los Angeles and Commercial streets, and was known as McFarland & Downey's. The former had been a gold-miner; and this experience intensified the impression of an already rugged physique as a frontier type. Entering politics, as Osburn and practically every other professional man then did—doubtless as much as anything else for the assurance of some definite income—McFarland secured a seat in the Assembly in 1852, and in the Senate in 1853-54. About 1858, he returned to Tennessee and in December, 1860, revisited California; after which he settled permanently in the East. Downey, in 1859, having been elected Lieutenant-Governor, was later made Governor, through the election of Latham to the United States Senate; but his suddenly-revealed sympathies with the Secessionists, together with his advocacy of a bill for the apprenticing of Indians, contributed toward killing him politically and he retired to private life. Dr. H. R. Myles, destined to meet with a tragic death in a steamboat disaster which I shall narrate, was another druggist, with a partner, Dr. J. C. Welch, a South Carolinian dentist who came here in the early fifties and died in August, 1869. Their drug store on Main Street, nearly opposite the Bella Union, filled the prescriptions of the city's seven or eight doctors. Considerably later, but still among the pioneer druggists, was Dr. V. Gelcich, who came here as Surgeon to the Fourth California Infantry.

Speaking of druggists, it may be interesting to add that medicines were administered in earlier days to a much greater extent than now. For every little ailment there was a pill, a powder or some other nostrum. The early botica, or drug store, kept only drugs and things incidental to the drug business. There was also more of home treatment than now. Every mother did more or less doctoring on her own account, and had her well-stocked medicine-chest. Castor oil, ipecac, black draught and calomel were generally among the domestic supply.

The practice of surgery was also very primitive; and he was unfortunate, indeed, who required such service. Operations had to be performed at home; there were few or none of the modern scientific appliances or devices for either rendering the patient immune or contending with active disease.

Preceded by a brother, Colonel James C. Foy—who visited California in 1850 and was killed in 1864, while in Sherman's army, by the bursting of a shell—Samuel C. Foy started for San Francisco, by way of New Orleans and the Isthmus, when he was but twenty-two years old and, allured by the gold-fever, wasted a year or two in the mines. In January, 1854, he made his way south to Los Angeles; and seeing the prospect for trade in harness, on February 19th of that year opened an American saddlery, in which business he was joined by his brother, John M. Foy. Their store was on Main Street, between Commercial and Requena. The location was one of the best; and the Foy Brothers offering, besides saddlery, such necessities of the times as tents, enjoyed one of the first chances to sell to passing emigrants and neighboring rancheros, as they came into town. Some spurs, exhibited in the County Museum, are a souvenir of Foy's enterprise in those pioneer days. In May, 1856, Sam Foy began operating in cattle and continued in that business until 1865, periodically taking herds north and leaving his brother in charge of the store.

In the course of time, the Foys moved to Los Angeles Street, becoming my neighbors; and while there, in 1882, S. C. Foy, in a quaint advertisement embellished with a blanketed horse, announced his establishment as the "oldest business house in Los Angeles, still at the old stand, 17 Los Angeles Street, next to H. Newmark & Company's." John Foy, who later removed to San Bernardino, died many years ago, and Sam Foy also has long since joined the silent majority; but one of the old signs of the saddlery is still to be seen on Los Angeles Street, where the son, James Calvert Foy, conducts the business. The Foys first lived on Los Angeles Street, and then on Main. Some years later, they moved to the corner of Seventh and Pearl streets, now called Figueroa, and came to control much valuable land there, still in possession of the family. A daughter of Samuel C. Foy is Miss Mary Foy, formerly a teacher and later Public Librarian. Another daughter married Thomas Lee Woolwine, the attorney.

Wells Fargo & Company—formerly always styled Wells, Fargo & Company—were early in the field here. On March 28th, 1854, they were advertising, through H. R. Myles, their agent, that they were a joint stock company with a capital of five hundred thousand dollars!


Many of the houses, as I have related, were clustered around and north of the Plaza Church, while the hills surrounding the pueblo to the West were almost bare. These same hills have since been subdivided and graded to accommodate the Westlake, the Wilshire, the West Temple and other sections. Main and Spring streets were laid out beyond First, but they were very sparsely settled; while to the East of Main and extending up to that street, there were many large vineyards without a single break as far south as the Ninth Street of to-day, unless we except a narrow and short lane there. To enable the reader to form an accurate impression of the time spent in getting to a nearby point, I will add that, to reach William Wolfskin's home, which was in the neighborhood of the present Arcade Depot, one was obliged to travel down to Aliso Street, thence to Alameda, and then south on Alameda to Wolfskin's orchard. From Spring Street, west and as far as the coast, there was one huge field, practically unimproved and undeveloped, the swamp lands of which were covered with tules. All of this land, from the heart of the present retail district to the city limits, belonged to the municipality. I incline to the opinion that both Ord and Hancock had already surveyed in this southwestern district; but through there, nevertheless, no single street had as yet been cut.

J. P. Newmark
From a vignette of the sixties

O. W. Childs

Jacob Rich

John O. Wheeler

Benjamin D. Wilson

Dr. Obed Macy

George Hansen

Samuel C. Foy

Not merely at the Plaza, but throughout Los Angeles, most of the houses were built of adobe, or mud mixed with straw and dried for months in the sun; and several fine dwellings of this kind were constructed after I came. The composition was of such a nature that, unless protected by roofs and verandas,[8] the mud would slowly wash away. The walls, however, also requiring months in which to dry, were generally three or four feet thick; and to this as well as to the nature of the material may be attributed the fact that the houses in the summer season were cool and comfortable, while in winter they were warm and cheerful. They were usually rectangular in shape, and were invariably provided with patios and corridors. There was no such thing as a basement under a house, and floors were frequently earthen. Conventionality prescribed no limit as to the number of rooms, an adobe frequently having a sitting-room, a dining-room, a kitchen and as many bedrooms as were required; but there were few, if any, "frills" for the mere sake of style. Most adobes were but one story in height, although there were a few two-story houses; and it is my recollection that, in such cases, the second story was reached from the outside. Everything about an adobe was emblematic of hospitality: the doors, heavy and often apparently home-made, were wide, and the windows were deep. In private houses, the doors were locked with a key; but in some of the stores, they were fastened with a bolt fitted into iron receptacles on either side. The windows, swinging on hinges, opened inward and were locked in the center. There were few curtains or blinds; wooden shutters, an inch thick, also fastening in the center, being generally used instead. If there were such conveniences as hearths and fireplaces, I cannot recollect them, although I think that here and there the brasero, or pan and hot coals, was still employed. There were no chimneys, and the smoke, as from the kitchen stove, escaped through the regular stacks leading out through a pane in the window or a hole in the wall. The porches, also spoken of as verandas and rather wide, were supported by equidistant perpendicular posts; and when an adobe had two stories, the veranda was also double-storied. Few if any vines grew around these verandas in early days, largely because of the high cost of water. For the same reason, there were almost no gardens.

The roofs which, as I have intimated, proved as necessary to preserve the adobe as to afford protection from the semi-tropical sun, were generally covered with asphalt and were usually flat in order to keep the tar from running off. As well as I can recollect, Vicente Salsido—or Salcito, as his name was also written—who lived in or somewhere near Nigger Alley, was the only man then engaged in the business of mending pitch-roofs. When winter approached and the first rainfall produced leaks, there was a general demand for Salsido's services and a great scramble among owners of buildings to obtain them. Such was the need, in fact, that more than one family, drowned out while waiting, was compelled to move to the drier quarters of relatives or friends, there to stay until the roofer could attend to their own houses. Under a huge kettle, put up in the public street, Salsido set fire to some wood, threw in his pitch and melted it. Then, after he or a helper had climbed onto the roof, the molten pitch was hauled up in buckets and poured over the troublesome leaks. Much of this tar was imported from the North, but some was obtained in this locality, particularly from so-called springs on the Hancock ranch, which for a long time have furnished great quantities of the useful, if unattractive, substance. This asphalt was later used for sidewalks, and even into the eighties was employed as fuel. To return to Salsido, I might add that in summer the pitch-roofer had no work at all.

Besides the adobes with their asphalt roofs, some houses, erected within the first quarter of the Nineteenth Century, were covered with tiles. The most notable tiled building was the old Church, whose roof was unfortunately removed when the edifice was so extensively renovated. The Carrillo home was topped with these ancient tiles, as were also José María Ábila's residence; Vicente Sanchez's two-story adobe south of the Plaza, and the Alvarado house on First Street, between Main and Los Angeles streets.

It was my impression that there were no bricks in Los Angeles when I first came, although about 1854 or 1855 Jacob Weixel had the first regular brickyard. In conversation with old-timers, however, many years ago, I was assured that Captain Jesse Hunter, whom I recall, had built a kiln not far from the later site of the Potomac Block, on Fort Street, between Second and Third; and that, as early as 1853, he had put up a brick building on the west side of Main Street, about one hundred and fifty feet south of the present site of the Bullard Block. This was for Mayor Nichols, who paid Hunter thirty dollars a thousand for the new and more attractive kind of building material. This pioneer brick building has long since disappeared. Hunter seems to have come to Los Angeles alone, and to have been followed across the plains by his wife, two sons and three daughters, taking up his permanent residence here in 1856. One of the daughters married a man named Burke, who conducted a blacksmith and wagon shop in Hunter's Building on Main Street. Hunter died in 1874. Dr. William A. Hammel, father of Sheriff William Hammel, who came to California during the gold excitement of '49, had one of the first red brick houses in Los Angeles, on San Pedro Street, between Second and Third.

Sometime in 1853, or perhaps in 1854, the first building erected by the public in Los Angeles County was put together here of brick baked in the second kiln ever fired in the city. It was the Town Jail on the site of the present Phillips Block,[9] at the northwest corner of Spring and Franklin streets. This building took the place of the first County Jail, a rude adobe that stood on the hill back of the present National Government Building. In that jail, I have understood, there were no cells, and prisoners were fastened by chains to logs outside.

Zanja water was being used for irrigation when I arrived. A system of seven or eight zanjas, or open ditches—originated, I have no doubt, by the Catholic Fathers—was then in operation, although it was not placed under the supervision of a Zanjero, or Water Commissioner, until 1854. These small surface canals connected at the source with the zanja madre, or mother ditch, on the north side of the town, from which they received their supply; the zanja madre itself being fed from the river, at a point a long way from town. The Zanjero issued permits, for which application had to be made some days in advance, authorizing the use of the water for irrigation purposes. A certain amount was paid for the use of this water during a period of twelve hours, without any limit as to the quantity consumed, and the purchaser was permitted to draw his supply both day and night.

Water for domestic uses was a still more expensive luxury. Inhabitants living in the immediate neighborhood of zanjas, or near the river, helped themselves; but their less-fortunate brethren were served by a carrier, who charged fifty cents a week for one bucket a day, while he did not deliver on Sunday at all. Extra requirements were met on the same basis; and in order to avoid an interruption in the supply, prompt settlement of the charge had to be made every Saturday evening. This character was known as Bill the Waterman. He was a tall American, about thirty or thirty-five years old; he had a mustache, wore long, rubber boots coming nearly to his waist, and presented the general appearance of a laboring man; and his somewhat rickety vehicle, drawn by two superannuated horses, slowly conveyed the man and his barrel of about sixty gallons capacity from house to house. He was a wise dispenser, and quite alert to each household's needs.

Bill obtained his supply from the Los Angeles River, where at best it was none too clean, in part owing to the frequent passage of the river by man and beast. Animals of all kinds, including cattle, horses, sheep, pigs, mules and donkeys, crossed and recrossed the stream continually, so that the mud was incessantly stirred up, and the polluted product proved unpalatable and even, undoubtedly, unhealthful. To make matters worse, the river and the zanjas were the favorite bathing-places, all the urchins of the hamlet disporting themselves there daily, while most of the adults, also, frequently immersed themselves. Both the yet unbridged stream and the zanjas, therefore, were repeatedly contaminated, although common sense should have protected the former to a greater or less extent; while as to the latter there were ordinances drawn up by the Common Council of 1850 which prohibited the throwing of filth into fresh water designed for common use, and also forbade the washing of clothes on the zanja banks. This latter regulation was disobeyed by the native women, who continued to gather there, dip their soiled garments in the water, place them on stones and beat them with sticks, a method then popular for the extraction of dirt.

Besides Bill the Waterman, Dan Schieck was a water-vender, but at a somewhat later date. Proceeding to the zanja in a curious old cart, he would draw the water he needed, fresh every morning, and make daily deliveries at customers' houses for a couple of dollars a month. Schieck forsook this business, however, and went into draying, making a specialty of meeting Banning's coaches and transferring the passengers to their several destinations. He was a frugal man, and accumulated enough to buy the southwest corner of Franklin and Spring streets. As a result, he left property of considerable value. He died about twenty-five years ago; Mrs. Schieck, who was a sister of John Fröhling, died in 1874.

Just one more reference to the drinking-water of that period. When delivered to the customer, it was emptied into ollas, or urn-shaped vessels, made from burned clay or terra cotta. Every family and every store was provided with at least one of these containers which, being slightly porous, possessed the virtue (of particular value at a time when there was no ice) of keeping the water cool and refreshing. The olla commonly in use had a capacity of four or five gallons, and was usually suspended from the ceiling of a porch or other convenient place; while attached to this domestic reservoir, as a rule, was a long-handled dipper generally made from a gourd. Filters were not in use, in consequence of which fastidious people washed out their ollas very frequently. These wide-mouthed pots recall to me an appetizing Spanish dish, known as olla-podrida, a stew consisting of various spiced meats, chopped fine, and an equally varied assortment of vegetables, partaken of separately; all bringing to mind, perhaps, Thackeray's sentimental Ballad of Bouillabaisse. Considering these inconveniences, how surprising it is that the Common Council, in 1853, should have frowned upon Judge William G. Dryden's proposition to distribute, in pipes, all the water needed for domestic use.

On May 16th, 1854, the first Masonic lodge—then and now known as 42—received its charter, having worked under special dispensation since the preceding December. The first officers chosen were: H. P. Dorsey, Master; J. Elias, Senior Warden; Thomas Foster, Junior Warden; James R. Barton, Treasurer; Timothy Foster, Secretary; Jacob Rich, Senior Deacon; and W. A. Smith, Tyler.

For about three decades after my arrival, smallpox epidemics visited us somewhat regularly every other year, and the effect on the town was exceedingly bad. The whole population was on such a friendly footing that every death made a very great impression. The native element was always averse to vaccination and other sanitary measures; everybody objected to isolation, and disinfecting was unknown. In more than one familiar case, the surviving members of a stricken family went into the homes of their kinsmen, notwithstanding the danger of contagion. Is it any wonder, therefore, when such ignorance was universal, that the pest spread alarmingly and that the death-rate was high?

The smallpox wagon, dubbed the Black Maria, was a frequent sight on the streets of Los Angeles during these sieges. There was an isolated pesthouse near the Chavez Ravine, but the patients of the better class were always treated at home, where the sanitation was never good; and at best the community was seriously exposed. Consternation seized the public mind, communication with the outside world was disturbed, and these epidemics were the invariable signal for business disorder and crises.

This matter of primitive sanitation reminds me of an experience. To accommodate an old iron bath-tub that I wished to set up in my Main Street home in the late sixties, I was obliged to select one of the bedrooms; since, when my adobe was built, the idea of having a separate bathroom in a house had never occurred to any owner. I connected it with the zanja at the rear of my lot by means of a wooden conduit; which, although it did not join very closely, answered all purposes for the discharge of waste water. One of my children for several years slept in this combination bath- and bedroom; and although the plumbing was as old-fashioned as it well could be, yet during all that time there was no sickness in our family.

It was fortunate indeed that the adobe construction of the fifties rendered houses practically fireproof since, in the absence of a water-system, a bucket-brigade was all there was to fight a fire with, and this rendered but poor service. I remember such a brigade at work, some years after I came, in the vicinity of the Bell Block, when a chain of helpers formed a relay from the nearest zanja to the blazing structure. Buckets were passed briskly along, from person to person, as in the animated scene described by Schiller in the well-known lines of Das Lied von der Glocke:

Durch der Hände lange Kette

Um die Wette

Fliegt der Eimer;[10]

a process which was continued until the fire had exhausted itself. Francis Mellus had a little hand-cart, but for lack of water it was generally useless. Instead of fire-bells announcing to the people that a conflagration was in progress, the discharging of pistols in rapid succession gave the alarm and was the signal for a general fusillade throughout the neighboring streets. Indeed, this method of sounding a fire-alarm was used as late as the eighties. On the breaking out of fires, neighbors and friends rushed to assist the victim in saving what they could of his property.

On account of the inadequate facilities for extinguishing anything like a conflagration, it transpired that insurance companies would not for some time accept risks in Los Angeles. If I am not mistaken, S. Lazard obtained the first protection late in the fifties and paid a premium of four per cent. The policy was issued by the Hamburg-Bremen Company, through Adelsdorfer Brothers of San Francisco, who also imported foreign merchandise; and Lazard, thereafter, as the Los Angeles agent for the Hamburg-Bremen Company, was the first insurance underwriter here of whom I have any knowledge. Adelsdorfer Brothers, it is also interesting to note, imported the first Swedish matches brought into California, perhaps having in mind cause and effect with profit at both ends; they put them on the retail market in Los Angeles at twenty-five cents a package.

This matter of fires calls to mind an interesting feature of the city when I first saw it. When Henry, or Enrique Dalton sailed from England, he shipped a couple of corrugated iron buildings, taking them to South America where he used them for several years. On coming to Los Angeles, he brought the buildings with him, and they were set up at the site of the present corner of Spring and Court streets. In a sense, therefore, these much-transported iron structures (one of which, in 1858, I rented as a storeroom for wool) came to be among the earliest "fire-proof" buildings here.

As early as 1854, the need of better communication between Los Angeles and the outside world was beginning to be felt; and in the summer of that year the Supervisors—D. W. Alexander, S. C. Foster, J. Sepúlveda, C. Aguilar and S. S. Thompson—voted to spend one thousand dollars to open a wagon road over the mountains between the San Fernando Mission and the San Francisco rancho. A rather broad trail already existed there; but such was its grade that many a pioneer, compelled to use a windlass or other contrivance to let down his wagon in safety, will never forget the real perils of the descent. For years it was a familiar experience with stages, on which I sometimes traveled, to attach chains or boards to retard their downward movement; nor were passengers even then without anxiety until the hill- or mountain-side had been passed.

During 1854, Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Newmark and family, whom I had met, the year before, for a few hours in San Francisco, arrived here and located in the one-story adobe owned by John Goller and adjoining his blacksmith shop. There were six children—Matilda, Myer J., Sarah, Edward, Caroline and Harriet—all of whom had been born in New York City. With their advent, my personal environment immediately changed: they provided me with a congenial home; and as they at once began to take part in local social activities, I soon became well acquainted. My aunt took charge of my English education, and taught me to spell, read and write in that language; and I have always held her efforts in my behalf in grateful appreciation. As a matter of fact, having so early been thrown into contact with Spanish-speaking neighbors and patrons, I learned Spanish before I acquired English.

The Newmarks had left New York on December 15th, 1852, on the ship Carrington, T. B. French commanding, to make the trip around the Horn, San Francisco being their destination. After a voyage for the most part pleasant, although not altogether free from disagreeable features and marked by much rough weather, they reached the Golden Gate, having been four months and five days on the ocean. One of the enjoyable incidents en route was an old-fashioned celebration in which Neptune took part when they crossed the equator. In a diary of that voyage kept by Myer J. Newmark, mention is made that "our Democratic President, Franklin Pierce, and Vice-President, William R. King, were inaugurated March 4th, 1853;" which reminds me that some forty years later Judge H. A. Pierce, the President's cousin, and his wife who was of literary proclivities, came to be my neighbors in Los Angeles. Mr. and Mrs. Newmark and their family remained in San Francisco until 1854.

Joseph Newmark, formerly Neumark, born June 15th, 1799, was, I assume, the first to adopt the English form of the name. He was genuinely religious and exalted in character. His wife, Rosa, whom he married in New York in 1835, was born in London on March 17th, 1808. He came to America in 1824, spent a few years in New York, and resided for a while in Somerset, Connecticut, where, on January 21st, 1831, he joined the Masonic fraternity. During his first residence in New York, he started the Elm Street Synagogue, one of the earliest in America. In 1840, we find him in St. Louis, a pioneer indeed. Five years later he was in Dubuque, Iowa, then a frontier village. In 1846, he once more pitched his tent in New York; and during this sojourn he organized the Wooster Street Congregation. Immediately after reaching Los Angeles, he brought into existence the Los Angeles Hebrew Benevolent Society, which met for some time at his home on Sunday evenings, and which, I think, was the first charitable institution in this city. Its principal objects were to care for the sick, to pay proper respect, according to Jewish ritual, to the dead, and to look after the Jewish Cemetery which was laid out about that time; so that the Society at once became a real spiritual force and continued so for several years. The first President was Jacob Elias. Although Mr. Newmark had never served as a salaried Rabbi, he had been ordained and was permitted to officiate; and one of the immediate results of his influence was the establishment of worship on Jewish holidays, under the auspices of the Society named. The first service was held in the rear room of an adobe owned by John Temple. Joseph Newmark also inspired the purchase of land for the Jewish Cemetery. After Rabbi Edelman came, my uncle continued on various occasions to assist him. When, in course of time, the population of Los Angeles increased, the responsibilities of the Hebrew Benevolent Society were extended. Although a Jewish organization, and none but Jews could become members of it or receive burial in the Jewish Cemetery, its aim was to give relief, as long as its financial condition would permit, to every worthy person that appeared, whoever he was or whatever his creed. Recalling this efficient organization, I may say that I believe myself to be one of but two survivors among the charter members—S. Lazard being the other.

Kiln Messer was another pioneer who came around the Horn about that time, although he arrived here from Germany a year later than I did; and during his voyage, he had a trying experience in a shipwreck off Cape Verde where, with his comrades, he had to wait a couple of months before another vessel could be signaled. Even then he could get no farther toward his destination—the Golden Gate—than Rio de Janeiro, where he was delayed five or six months more. Finally reaching San Francisco, he took to mining; but, weakened by fever (an experience common among the gold-seekers), he made his way to Los Angeles. After brewing beer for a while at the corner of Third and Main streets, Messer bought a twenty-acre vineyard which, in 1857, he increased by another purchase to forty-five or fifty acres; and it was his good fortune that this property was so located as to be needed by the Santa Fé Railroad, in 1888, as a terminal. Toward the end of the seventies, Messer, moderately well-to-do, was a grocer at the corner of Rose and First streets; and about 1885, he retired.

Joseph Newmark brought with him to Los Angeles a Chinese servant, to whom he paid one hundred dollars a month; and, as far as I know, this Mongolian was the first to come to our city. This domestic item has additional interest, perhaps, because it was but five or six years before that the first Chinese to emigrate from the Celestial Kingdom to California—two men and a lone woman—had come to San Francisco in the ship Eagle from Hong Kong. A year later, there were half a hundred Chinamen in the territory, while at the end of still another year, during the gold excitement, nearly a thousand Chinese entered the Golden Gate.

The housekeeping experiences of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Newmark remind me that it was not easy in the early days to get satisfactory domestic service. Indians, negroes and sometimes Mexicans were employed, until the arrival of more Chinese and the coming of white girls. Joseph Newmark, when I lived with his family, employed, in addition to the Chinaman, an Indian named Pedro who had come with his wife from Temécula and whose remuneration was fifty cents a day; and these servants attended to most of the household duties. The annual fiesta at Temécula used to attract Pedro and his better-half; and while they were absent, the Newmark girls did the work.

My new home was very congenial, not the least of its attractions being the family associations at meal-time. The opportunities for obtaining a variety of food were not as good perhaps as they are to-day, and yet some delicacies were more in evidence. Among these I might mention wild game and chickens. Turkeys, of all poultry, were the scarcest and most-prized. All in all, our ordinary fare has not changed so much except in the use of mutton, certain vegetables, ice and a few dainties.

There was no extravagance in the furnishing of pioneer homes. Few people coming to Los Angeles expected to locate permanently; they usually planned to accumulate a small competency and then return to their native heaths. In consequence, little attention was paid to quality or styles, and it is hard to convey a comprehensive idea of the prevailing lack of ordinary comforts. For many years the inner walls of adobes were whitewashed—a method of mural finish not the most agreeable, since the coating so easily "came off;" and only in the later periods of frame houses, did we have kalsomined and hard-finished wall surfaces. Just when papered and tinted walls came in, I do not remember; but they were long delayed. Furniture was plain and none too plentiful; and glassware and tableware were of an inferior grade.

Certain vegetables were abundant, truck-gardening having been introduced here in the early fifties by Andrew Briswalter, an Alsatian by birth and an original character. He first operated on San Pedro Street, where he rented a tract of land and peddled his vegetables in a wheelbarrow, charging big prices. So quickly did he prosper that he was soon able to buy a piece of land, as well as a horse and wagon. When he died, in the eighties, he bequeathed a large estate, consisting of City and County acreage and lots, in the disposition of which he unrighteously cut off his only niece. Playa del Rey was later built on some of this land. Acres of fruit trees, fronting on Main, in the neighborhood of the present Ninth and Tenth streets, and extending far in an easterly direction, formed another part of his holding. It was on this land that Briswalter lived until his last illness. He bought this tract from O. W. Childs, it having originally belonged to H. C. Cardwell, a son-in-law of William Wolfskill—the same Cardwell who introduced here, on January 7th, 1856, the heretofore unknown seedling strawberries.

One Mumus was in the field nearly as soon as Briswalter. A few years later, Chinese vegetable men came to monopolize this trade. Most of their gardens neighbored on what is now Figueroa Street, north of Pico; and then, as now, they peddled their wares from wagons. Wild celery grew in quantities around the zanjas, but was not much liked. Cultivated celery, on the other hand, was in demand and was brought from the North, whence we also imported most of our cabbage, cauliflower and asparagus. But after a while, the Chinese also cultivated celery; and when, in the nineties, E. A. Curtis, D. E. Smeltzer and others failed in an effort to grow celery, Curtis fell back on the Chinese gardeners. The Orientals, though pestered by envious workmen, finally made a success of the industry, helping to establish what is now a most important local agricultural activity.

These Chinese vegetable gardeners, by the way, came to practice a trick[11] designed to reduce their expenses, and at which they were sometimes caught. Having bargained with the authorities for a small quantity of water, they would cut the zanjas, while the Zanjero or his assistants slept, steal the additional water needed, and, before the arrival of the Zanjero at daybreak, close the openings!

J. Wesley Potts was an early arrival, having tramped across the Plains all the way from Texas, in 1852, reaching Los Angeles in September. At first, he could obtain nothing to do but haul dirt in a hand-cart for the spasmodic patching-up of the streets; but when he had earned five or six dollars in that way, he took to peddling fruit, first carrying it around in a basket. Then he had a fruit stand. Getting the gold-fever, however, Potts went to the mines; but despairing at last of realizing anything there, he returned to Los Angeles and raised vegetables, introducing, among other things, the first locally-grown sweet potatoes put on the market—a stroke of enterprise recalling J. E. Pleasants's early venture in cultivating garden pease. Later he was widely known as a "weather prophet"—with predictions quite as likely to be worthless as to come true.

The prickly pear, the fruit of the cactus, was common in early Los Angeles. It grew in profusion all over this Southern country, but particularly so around San Gabriel at which place it was found in almost obstructing quantities; and prickly pears bordered the gardens of the Round House where they were plucked by visitors. Ugly enough things to handle, they were, nevertheless, full of juice, and proved refreshing and palatable when properly peeled. Pomegranates and quinces were also numerous, but they were not cultivated for the trade. Sycamore and oak trees were seen here and there, while the willow was evident in almost jungle profuseness, especially around river banks and along the borders of lanes. Wild mustard charmingly variegated the landscape and chaparral obscured many of the hills and rising ground. In winter, the ground was thickly covered with burr-clover and the poetically-named alfilaria.

Writing of vegetables and fruit, I naturally think of one of California's most popular products, the sandía or watermelon, and of its plenteousness in those more monotonous days when many and many a carreta load was brought to the indulging town. The melons were sold direct from the vehicles, as well as in stores, and the street seemed to be the principal place for the consumption of the luscious fruit. It was a very common sight to see Indians and others sitting along the roads, their faces buried in the green-pink depths. Some old-timers troubled with diseases of the kidney, believing that there was virtue in watermelon seeds, boiled them and used the tea medicinally.

Fish, caught at San Pedro and peddled around town, was a favorite item of food during the cooler months of the year. The pescadero, or vender, used a loud fish horn, whose deep but not melodious tones announced to the expectant housewife that he was at hand with a load of sea-food. Owing to the poorer facilities for catching them, only a few varieties of deep-water fish, such as barracuda, yellowtail and rockfish were sold.

Somewhere I have seen it stated that, in 1854, O. W. Childs brought the first hive of bees from San Francisco at a cost of one hundred and fifty dollars; but as nearly as I can recollect, a man named Logan owned the first beehives and was, therefore, the pioneer honey-producer. I remember paying him three dollars for a three-pound box of comb-honey, but I have forgotten the date of the transaction. In 1860, Cyrus Burdick purchased several swarms of bees and had no difficulty in selling the honey at one dollar a pound. By the fall of 1861, the bee industry had so expanded that Perry & Woodworth, as I have stated, devoted part of their time to the making of beehives. J. E. Pleasants, of Santiago Cañon, known also for his Cashmere goats, was another pioneer bee-man and received a gold medal for his exhibit at the New Orleans Exposition.


In June, 1854, my brother sold out, and I determined to establish myself in business and thus become my own master. My lack of knowledge of English was somewhat of a handicap; but youth and energy were in my favor, and an eager desire to succeed overcame all obstacles. Upon computing my worldly possessions, I found that I had saved nearly two hundred and forty dollars, the sum total of my eight months' wages; and this sum I invested in my first venture. My brother, J. P. Newmark, opened a credit for me, which contributed materially to my success; and I rented the store on the north side of Commercial Street, about one hundred feet west of Los Angeles, owned by Mateo Keller and just vacated by Prudent Beaudry. Little did I think, in so doing, that, twelve years later, some Nemesis would cause Beaudry to sell out to me. I fully realized the importance of succeeding in my initial effort, and this requited me for seven months of sacrifices, until January 1st, 1855, when I took an inventory and found a net profit of fifteen hundred dollars. To give some idea of what was then required to attain such success, I may say that, having no assistance at all, I was absolutely a prisoner from early morning until late in the evening—the usual hour of closing, as I have elsewhere explained, being eight o'clock. From sweeping out to keeping books, I attended to all my own work; and since I neither wished to go out and lock up nor leave my stock long unprotected, I remained on guard all day, giving the closest possible attention to my little store.