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A Decadent Town—The Old Mission—A Remarkable Grapevine—Rough Trails—Inspecting a Coal Mine—Holy Week.
In Camp at Santa Barbara.
Sunday, March 10, 1861.
We came on here Thursday, March 7, arriving in the afternoon. The steamer was to leave that night for San Francisco, the only public communication with the outer world. I tried to make a raise and get some money from express agents, merchants, etc.—no go—so wrote on to Professor Whitney that we would wait here until either funds or he arrived. Friday we visited the Mission, examined the foothills, etc. More of the Mission anon.
Saturday, with Averil, I visited a hot spring about five miles from here. First a good road, past some pretty ranches, then up a wild ravine by such a path as you would all put down as entirely impassable to horses, but it was mere fun for our mules. They climbed the stones and logs, now between these bowlders and now over this rock, as if it were their home. We found several copious springs, making together a fine brook, issuing from the rocks at the base of a very steep rocky mountain. This is just near the base of a rugged peak, at perhaps five hundred feet above the sea. The water was sulphury and had temperatures varying from 115° to 118° F. In the States, or near a large city, it would be a fortune to some enterprising man. There is more timber here, as at Carpinteria, than we have seen south, along the streams and in the valleys.
Santa Barbara lies on the seashore, and until lately it was isolated from the rest of the world by high mountains. No wagon road or stage route ran into it from without, only mere trails or paths for horses over the mountains. For a few years they had had a mail once in two weeks by steamer from San Francisco—two mails per month was the only news of the world outside. But the Overland has been working the road—or the county has—and will run this way after the first of April. Here is a village of about 1,200 inhabitants. A wealthy Mission formerly existed here, but like all the rest, is now poor after the robbery by the Mexican Government. I have not seen before in America, except at Panama, such extensive ruins.
The Mission was founded about the time of the American Revolution—the locality was beautiful, water good and abundant. A fine church and ecclesiastical buildings were built and a town sprang up around. The slope beneath was all irrigated and under high cultivation—vineyards, gardens, fields, fountains, once embellished that lovely slope. Now all is changed. The church is in good preservation, with the monastery alongside—all else is ruined.1
It was with a feeling of much sadness that I rode through the old town. Here were whole streets of buildings, built of adobes, their roofs gone, their walls tumbling, squirrels burrowing in them—all now desolate, ruined, deserted. Grass grows in the old streets and cattle feed in the gardens. Extensive yards (corrals) built with stone walls, high and solid, stand without cattle. The old threshing floor is ruined, the weeds growing over its old pavement. The palm trees are dead, and the olive and fig trees are dilapidated and broken.
We went into the church—a fine old building, about 150 feet long (inside), 30 wide, and 40 high, with two towers, and a monastery, sacristy, etc., 250 feet long at one side, with long corridors and stone pillars and small windows and tile roofs. The interior of the church was striking and picturesque. Its walls were painted by the Indians who built it. The cornice and ornaments on the ceiling were picturesque indeed—the colors bright and the designs a sort of cross between arabesques, Greek cornice, and Indian designs, yet the effect was pretty. The light streamed in through the small windows in the thick walls, lighting up the room. The floor was of cement. The sides and ceiling were plastered with the usual accompaniment of old pictures, shrines, images, altar, etc. The pictures were dingy with age, the tinsel and gilt of the images dull and tarnished by time and neglect. Some of the pictures were of considerable merit; such were two, one of the Crucifixion and another of the Conception.
On either side of the door, beneath the choir, were two old Mexican paintings: one of martyrs calm and resigned in fire; the other, the damned in hell. The latter showed a lurid furnace of fire, the victims, held in by iron bars, tormented by devils of every kind. In front was the drunkard with empty glass in his hand, a devil with the head of a hog pouring liquid fire upon him from a bottle. The gambler, ready to clutch the money and the cards, was held back by a demon no less ugly. An old bald-headed man stood with a fighting-cock in his hand, but tormented now. A woman had a serpent twined about her and feeding upon her breast, another was stung by scorpions.
Although the picture attracted the attention and imagination, it had none of the merits of Rubens’ “Descent of the Damned.” The victims had not that expression of remorse and anguish which he could paint so well, nor the demons that fiendish diabolical expression he conceived and expressed.
The same was true of another picture of Judgment Day, the separation of the just from the unjust—an elaborate work of the imagination, but not good as a work of art. Much better was a picture of the Virgin with broken scales of justice in her hand, an angel on each side pointing and directing the penitents at her feet to her look and mercy.
There were old tombs beneath the church, and a churchyard by the side. A few monks still occupy the place and preserve the church and monastery from utter ruin. They were kind to us. I got much information from the old padre, nearly seventy years old, a fine old benevolent-looking man, who had known the Mission in the days of its prosperity and who could tell of wildernesses reclaimed and works of art erected, of savages converted and taught the arts of civilized life, and of heathen embracing the gospel. One of the monks, an Irishman, with the strongest Celtic features, showed us through the building, took us up into the towers, where we had a good view of the Mission and its ruins, the scene of its former greatness and present desolation.2
Up the canyon two or three miles a strong cement dam had been built, whence the water was brought down to the Mission in an aqueduct made of stone and cement, still in good repair. Near the Mission it flows into two large tanks or cisterns, reservoirs I ought to call them, built of masonry and cement, substantial and fine. These fed a mill where grain was ground, and ran in pipes to supply the fountains in front of the church and in the gardens, and thence to irrigate the cultivated slope beneath. But all now is in ruin—the fountains dry, the pipes broken, weeds growing in the cisterns and basins. The bears, from whose mouths the water flowed, are broken, and weeds and squirrels are again striving to obtain mastery as in years long before.
I find it hard to realize that I am in America—in the United States, the young and vigorous republic as we call her—when I see these ruins. They carry me back again to the Old World with its decline and decay, with its histories of war and blood and strife and desolation, with its conflict of religions and races.
Tuesday, March 12.
Still foggy and wet. This weather is abominable—now for nearly two weeks we have had foggy, damp weather, tramping through wet bushes, riding in damp, foggy air, burning wet wood to dry ourselves, no sun to dry our damp blankets. I find that it makes some of my joints squeak with rheumatic twinges. Went out this morning, found it so wet that we had to return to camp. I have been writing labels and packing specimens, and now will write letters, hoping that it will dry off some after dinner.
Yesterday, with two citizens of the place, a lawyer and a surveyor, who were going to survey a ranch, I rode about six miles west along the coast. We rode over grassy hills, with some timber, where many cattle and sheep were grazing. We struck the coast about six miles from here, where asphaltum, a kind of coal-tar, comes out of the rocks and hardens in the sun. It is used for making roofs, by mixing with sand, boiling, and spreading on hot. It occurs in immense quantities and will eventually be the source of some considerable wealth. We found some fossils, stayed there several hours, and then rode back along the beach, it being low tide. It was an interesting ride to us. The strata which come out to the sea have been twisted and torn by volcanic forces, and then worn into fantastic shapes by the waves.
Sunday Evening, March 17.
We have had a clear hot day, after a two weeks’ fog, and have improved the opportunity to dry our blankets and clothes, botanical papers, etc.
Yesterday three of us rode again to the hot springs five miles east, and took a refreshing bath in the hot waters. On the way we passed the most remarkable grapevine I have ever seen. Although not quite so large at the main stalk as a wild one at Ovid, and none of the branches so long, yet it was much more remarkable, as it was pruned and under good cultivation. It was at Montecito, about four miles east, in the garden of José Dominguez. It was planted by his mother about thirty years ago. It stands in the center of a sort of garden, and its branches occupy the whole of it. It is trained up in a single stalk, like a tree, about six feet, then branches off into about twenty branches from six to twenty inches in circumference, running in every direction. The main stalk is from thirty-one to thirty-five inches in circumference in its various parts—the branches extend over a horizontal framework about seventy feet in diameter each way. In summer the foliage is very dense over the whole of this surface, some 3,600 to 4,000 square feet, or about one-tenth of an acre. The vine was well pruned, and the yield of grapes is as extraordinary as its size, being from three to four tons per year—good years the latter quantity is estimated. One year 6,300 bunches were counted and that was hardly more than a third—sixteen thousand bunches was considered a low estimate for that year. Single bunches have weighed as high as seven pounds, as can be attested by many witnesses! I question if the world can produce its equal, especially if we consider its youth. None of the old vines of the Old World are as great, so far as I can remember. The woman who planted it was old at that time—she is now about a hundred years old. She sat watching it like a child, with a stick to keep the fowls away. It is not yet in leaf for this year. A little sancha (artificial stream) runs near it, from which it is irrigated by hand. It is about three miles from the sea, high, steep mountains rise to the north of it to shelter it from the north winds. Men have visited it from all parts of the world, all pronounce it the king of vines.3
In Camp at Santa Barbara.
Monday, March 25.
The foggy weather that had lasted for over two weeks ceased, the sky cleared up on Sunday night, and on Monday morning, March 18, I started to climb and measure the ridge lying north of us. Averill was somewhat under the weather, so I took Peter and Guirado with me. We rode to the hot springs, about five miles, left our mules in charge of Guirado, while Peter and I made the ascent. To the first peak, about 1,500 or 2,000 feet above the hot spring, was very steep, rocky, and hot. The sultry sun poured down floods of heat on the hot, dry rocks. The sun falling on the thermometer for scarcely a single minute ran it up to 120° F., and as it was graduated no higher I could not measure the temperature; it must have been 140°, or more, in the direct rays of the sun.
Reaching the first peak, we struck back over a transverse ridge, down and up, through dense chaparral, in which we toiled for seven hours. This is vastly more fatiguing than merely climbing steep slopes; it tries every muscle in the body. We reached the summit of the ridge at an altitude of 3,800 feet above the sea—over 3,700 above camp. Our lunch was useless, for in our intense thirst we could eat nothing except a little juicy meat. Our only canteen of water gave out long before we reached the top, although we had husbanded it by taking merely sips at a time.
I never before suffered with thirst as I did that day. What must it be on the deserts! I have heard tales of suffering here, on the deserts of California, Utah, Arizona, etc., as touching as those of Africa or Arabia. Peter found relief by chewing a quarter of a dollar for several hours, the means they use on the plains, but I could find no relief that way.
About sundown we reached the hot spring. A small pool of bad water was there. How I wanted cool water; hot sulphur water (118°) for a thirsty man is hardly the thing, yet we found it good. We ate our lunch, sat by the spring for half an hour, drinking small quantities often, then bathed in the hot waters and were more refreshed than one could have believed. But night closed in on us then. Guirado had brought the mules up into the canyon. The moon was bright as we struck down the wild dangerous trail. The wild dark canyon, rugged rocks, the dark shadows under the bushes and behind the rocks, the wild scene on every side, conspired with the hour to produce a most picturesque effect. Refreshed, we were lighthearted. Peter rode ahead, I followed on my sturdy mule with the barometer, Guirado bringing up the rear. Occasionally a snatch of song would awaken the echoes above the clattering of the hoofs of the mules over the rocks.
As we approached the most dangerous place, where the path went down a steep slope, over and among large bowlders, as high as the horses on each side, and piled in the path, we were stiller. Suddenly a crash—Peter’s mule caught his foot between two rocks and fell, Peter pitching headlong over his head on the rocks. How he escaped unhurt, I cannot imagine, yet he was but slightly bruised. The poor mule fared not so well. His forefoot was held between two rocks as in a vise. He had fallen over below, and was hanging much of his weight on that foot. We could budge neither the rocks nor his foot. We thought his leg broken, and saw no way of releasing him. He was a valuable mule, worth $150 or more. We tugged, toiled, pried with levers, dug, all to no purpose. He made a tremendous effort, but only made matters worse, twisting his leg nearly around. After lying so for some time, while we worked frantically, he made another effort, tore off his shoe, and got out—strange to say, uninjured. A horse would have been ruined. We washed his foot and leg in the brook, led him a mile or so, and soon he scarcely limped. Peter then mounted him and rode him home to camp.
It is in such places that the superior sagacity of mules over horses is seen. Much as is said and written about the sagacity of horses—poets sing of it and romance writers harp on it—it is far inferior to the much abused mule. This fellow, as he lay so helpless, instead of struggling frantically, would get all ready and then coolly exert his greatest strength to get his foot loose, but not when we were working with it. Although he groaned pitifully and gnawed the ground and rocks in his intense pain, he did not bite us, but would put his head against us and look up most wistfully.
And while on the subject, a word more about our mules. I have an old white mule, I think the oldest in the lot, but can’t tell her age. She is only thirteen hands high, but is very stout. It would take two whole letters to give the instances of her sagacity. How sure-footed she is on a mountain trail—she
SAN LUIS OBISPO
From a drawing by Ogilby, after Vischer
MISSION OF SAN JUAN BAUTISTA
From a drawing by Edward Vischer
We got back at nine o’clock in the evening, and found that the steamer had arrived, and with it Professor Whitney. He stayed until Saturday morning early, then left again. We expected that he would remain with the party, but I think he was decidedly pleased with our work, and concluded to leave the party in my command in the Coast Range, while he looked up the coal regions of Mount Diablo and the gold regions farther north. We were very busy the four days he was here, packed up eleven boxes of fossils we had collected, and did much work, explored some, he going over the ground we had before visited.
On Wednesday, March 20, we walked along the beach to the asphaltum beds, and over the hills, a long walk of eighteen or twenty miles. Some interesting things turned up during the day. We found a whale stranded on the beach. I had no idea how huge they look when fresh. He was forty-five feet long, and about thirteen to fifteen through from back to belly. Such a pile of flesh I never saw in one mass, it was equal to at least half a dozen large elephants. We also found a crab that was just shedding its shell. We secured it in its soft, velvety, new shell, and the old one alongside. Not the least—a half-naked Indian fishing on the shore had caught two of the remarkable vivaparoa fishes, which instead of laying eggs bring forth their young alive, a thing nowhere known except on the coast of California. We saw the mother fish with a number of little ones.
Monday Night, March 25.
This is so notorious a place for horse stealing and robbery that we have kept guard since we have been here. We divide the night into three watches, the first until twelve, the second until three, the next until morning. I have the midnight watch, and it is so clear and light by the bright moon that I will add a word. These clear nights it is rather pleasant than otherwise. The clear sky above, the twinkling stars—to watch them rise over the mountains in the northeast and sink out of sight in the west, to watch the moon rise from the waves as it does in its wane—all this is pleasant. And the roar of the surf, coming up like that of some mighty waterfall, is continual music. But not so the foggy nights. For near two weeks the air was very foggy and wet—unpleasant wet days followed by wetter nights. Then the watches were anything but pleasant—sky black, nothing visible at any distance, beard and clothes dripping with wet, the camp fire light scarcely penetrating the gloom for a few feet, the roar of the ocean coming up dull and sullen on the thick air. Watching such nights is by no means poetical, and it awoke musings and memories of a very different fireside but a short year ago.
Sunday Evening, March 31 (Easter).
Well, I have another week’s experience to detail—rich enough in events to make two letters, but I cannot write all. A trip in the mountains of three days; Holy Week among the Catholics; men getting drunk, fighting, and in jail, etc. I have spent half of today getting one of my men out of jail where he got put yesterday for fighting. But to take things in order.
A coal mine is reputed to exist a short distance from here in the mountains; a company has been formed, some hundreds of dollars expended, and many look ahead to speedy wealth. It was desirable that we visit it. “Rich indications,” “Not more than fifteen miles distant,” “Possibly farther by the trail,” “Good trail over the mountains for a horse,” “Railroad practicable,” etc., were a few of the statements of anxious stockholders. We decided to visit it. Rains and bad weather prevented for some time—the good weather we had the week that Professor Whitney was with us left the day that he did—but it looked better, so Tuesday, March 26, Averill and I started. We had an experienced mountaineer guide, the original discoverer and, as consequence, owner of several “shares.” He rode a good horse for such a tramp; I rode my trusty mule; Averill took “Old Sleepy,” quite a noted mule in our flock, one supposed to be peculiarly adapted to such a trip. We were up at dawn and off with the sun—saddlebags on the saddle, our blanket, three days’ provisions, coffeepot, etc., strapped behind, knives, pistols, and hammers swung to our belts—all equipped in good style.
We rode directly east about six miles, past some fine ranches and across two or three small streams that issued from the mountains, with some timber—almost a forest in places in the wetter soil—then struck up a canyon into the heart of the ridge. Such a trail as we found that day! The worst I had traveled before was a turnpike compared with that. Now following along a narrow ledge, now in the brook over bowlders, now dismounting and jumping our mules over logs, or urging them to mount rocks I would have believed inaccessible—yet this was “pretty good yet,” our guide told us. Arrived near the head of the canyon, high, steep slopes hemmed us in. I saw no means of getting farther, but the “trail” ran up that slope. I saw the rocks rising near or quite a thousand feet above us, at an angle of forty-five to sixty degrees in many places, and up this the trail wound. I dismounted, but our guide said, “Oh no, ride up, man, it’s not bad!” Averill drew the girth tighter on Old Sleepy and started. I preferred leading my mule. Up a few hundred feet, going up over a steep rock, down went Old Sleepy. For a moment I expected to see him and Averill roll into the canyon two or three hundred feet beneath, but he caught against a bush. We helped him, but after that Averill took it afoot. The trail ran up by zigzags, at an actual angle of thirty degrees average, and in places over forty degrees! We measured one slope of several hundred feet where the trail was at an angle of thirty-seven degrees, the slope itself much steeper. You will appreciate this better when you remember that the roof of a house with “quarter pitch,” the usual slant, has an angle of but about twenty-four degrees.
We crossed the summit at an elevation of 3,500 to 3,700 feet, but clouds had enveloped us for the last thousand feet—damp, drizzly, and thick, decidedly unpleasant—and shut out the fine view we had when we returned. The north slope of the ridge was less steep. It was covered with a very dense chaparral, about twelve feet high, so dense that no animal could get through it in many places, but a good trail had been cut through. We descended about two thousand feet into a deep canyon, then struck into another, finally crossed the Santa Inez River and struck up another canyon in this wild labyrinth of mountains. We found deer and wolf tracks in abundance, and a few grizzly tracks. We rested an hour and lunched on a little grassy spot, then pushed on. Near night we came up to a deserted cabin, an old Indian “ranch” called Nahalawaya (Nah-hah-lah-way-yah). As it looked like rain and no other shelter could be expected, we concluded to stop until the next morning. We soon had a fire in its old fireplace, a good lunch, and a sound sleep that night under its hospitable shelter; our animals found some poor grass.
We were up early in the morning, and pushed for the “mines.” We were getting used to a “hard road to travel,” but this beat our yesterday’s experience. We passed up a canyon, in which we surmounted obstacles I would have thought entirely impassable. It was perfectly astonishing how the mules would go. We would get off, tie up the reins, lead them up to a rock; they would eye it well, and coolly, with a spring or two, mount rocks nearly perpendicular, six to ten feet high, if they could only get a foothold. I wondered how we were to get back, but on returning they would slide down coolly and safely.
We followed this canyon a few miles, then crossed another ridge near or quite four thousand feet high, possibly more. From this summit we had a grand view of the desolate, forbidding wilderness of mountains that surrounded us. We then sank into another canyon, 1,500 or 2,000 feet, followed it up, and at last arrived at the mines near noon—thirteen or fourteen hours in the saddle to overcome a distance of about twenty-four or twenty-five miles from camp, half of that time on not over six miles of trail.
We found the mines positively nothing. A few seams of coal from one-eighth to three-quarters of an inch thick, and those short, standing in perpendicular strata of rock, were the “indications.” A sort of “pocket” had furnished about a peck of coal or less, on which the company had been formed, a shaft commenced, four hundred dollars expended, and great prospective wealth built up—to such a feverish state is the whole community worked up here about mines. I did not tell the stockholders how very slim the indications were, on my return, but slicked it over by merely telling them that they would not find the coal in profitable quantities, that the difficulty of access, position of the strata, and necessary thinness of the beds would prevent the mines being profitable.
We found tools, drill, picks, shovels, hammers, crowbar, tent, provisions, etc., which had been left by the men when the work was deserted some months ago. We saw bear and wolf tracks along the stream—one bear must have been truly huge—and deer tracks without number. We once came on a flock of ten beautiful deer. Averill tried to get a shot with his pistol but could not succeed. We returned to the cabin again that night, as we found no grass for our hungry mules beyond that point; and lucky we were, for it rained nearly all of that night—decidedly damp to be out.
The next day (Thursday) we returned. We got a fine view from the ridge—the plain and ocean on the south, the mountains on the north. We were up to the height of snow on other peaks, but we found none. This trail was cut two or three years ago to carry the mail on horseback to Fort Tejon, but never used, and rains and neglect had reduced it to its present condition. The trip was a tiresome one, but most interesting. Could it all be put on one ascent and descent, I doubt not that it would make a twenty thousand or twenty-five thousand foot climb up, and the same back.
Only six things were lacking to make it a very “thrilling tale.” First, to have had it rain hard, and we, with no shelter, to lie out in it—it rained enough but we had the shelter—and to have had said rains so swell the water in the canyons that we could not get out, but have to subsist on mule meat, roots, and “yarbs.” Second, to have met and vanquished several grizzlies, and to have returned triumphant with their skins, and lots of wounds and bites, as trophies—we saw only their tracks. Third, to have had a mule and its rider go tumbling down some precipice, both to be food for the buzzards and a warning to the venturesome—but Old Sleepy only slipped. Fourth, to have killed sundry deer with our pistols and returned fat and portly on eating so much venison—we only saw the deer, and got back hungry. Fifth, to have had our mules get away, and we have to foot it home, packing our saddles, blankets, and specimens on our own backs—alas, they were well picketed. And sixth, to have lost our teapot on the first slope and be obliged to drink cold water—we lost only the lid. Owing to these failures I have no thrilling tale to write. Good night!
I promised to tell something about the festivities of Holy Week in Santa Barbara. The whole week was a week of festival, but I was in town only the last three days. Friday I was in camp most of the day, but there was the ceremony of “lying in the sepulcher,” “washing of feet,” etc. The town seemed like a true sabbath day. Among the true Catholics, men are not allowed to ride on horseback—formerly policemen prevented any from so riding on Good Friday—and but few horsemen are seen now.
I went into town in the afternoon. In the church the altar was trimmed off with a profusion of flowers around the sepulcher, tapers were burning, the windows were partially darkened, and a few of the devout were praying to their favorite saints. We rode to the Mission church—its windows were darkened by thick curtains and the many candles at the altar did not light up the obscurity. Many Indians were about. Within, a number of Indian women were kneeling before a shrine; one would lead off with the prayers and all join in the responses. Their pensive voices, the darkened vast interior, the pictures and images obscurely seen in the dim light, the tapers of the altar, the echoes of their voices, the only sounds heard breaking the stillness, produced an effect I can easily conceive most touching to the imagination of the worshipers. Some of the Indian girls and half-breeds were quite pretty, but the majority were decidedly ugly.
Saturday I attended Mass in the morning. The curtains were removed from the altar, and more ceremonies were gone through with than I can detail, but they differed very materially from the ceremonies at Munich on a similar occasion. The music was the best I have heard in California. It began with an instrumental gallopade (I think from Norma), decidedly lively and un devotional in its effect and associations. But other parts were more appropriate. As the priests chanted the long list of saints in order, the response, “Ora pro nobis,” by the audience (I can hardly say congregation) and choir was very pretty indeed. At the unveiling of the altar, two lovely little girls dressed as angels, with large white swan wings upon their shoulders, one on each side of the altar, looked most lovely. They stood there as watching angels during the ceremonies.
Not the least interesting to me were the costumes. Standing, kneeling, sitting over the floor were the people of many races. Here is a genuine American; in that aisle kneels a genuine Irishman, his wife by his side; near him some Germans; in the short pew by the wall I recognize some acquaintances, French Catholics, also an Italian. But the majority of the congregation are Spanish Californians. Black eyes twinkle beneath the shawls drawn over the heads of the females, and glossy hair peeps out also, and the responses show sets of pearly teeth that would make an American belle die with envy should she see them. A few bonnets and “flats” tell of American or foreign women mingled with the crowd. Here is a group of Indians, the women nearly conforming to the Spanish dress, only their calico dresses are of even brighter colors—all are dressed in holiday clothes. Here is a man with Parisian rig; there one with the regular Mexican costume, buttons down the sides of his pants; beside him is an Indian with fancy moccasins and gay leggins; behind me, in the vestibule, looking on with curiosity, are two Chinamen. No place but California can produce such groups.
In the afternoon there were horse races, etc., but I did not attend them. Thereby hangs a tale, but of that more anon.
Saturday evening I was in town again. A gay, jolly crowd were in the streets, the buccaros on their horses, and such horsemen as only Mexico or similar countries can show! Such feats of horsemanship one cannot see in a circus—trying to throw each other from their horses, or throw their horses—it looked as if somebody must be killed, but of course nobody was seriously hurt in their rough sport. I will tell another time of the horsemanship here. Now for less poetry.
Saturday afternoon I was busy at camp, but the men were in town. Peter returned—said one was “jolly,” and the two others getting decidedly “mellow.” Soon they returned, minus Mike, one of them decidedly “over the bay”; Mike had got in the jail. He had not been drunk before with us, but perfectly sober and steady. He is a zealous Catholic, and today celebrated too hard—got pugnacious like all drunken Irishmen, pitched into everybody, whipped and rolled ignominiously in the dust the fat Dutch justice of the peace who came to arrest him, much to the amusement of the crowd, but was finally overpowered, bound, and taken off to jail. Now this excited one of the other men. He was cool at first, but seeing Mike tied, he took out his knife, cut him loose, and was about to take him to camp when the sheriff came and carried Mike to jail. The others then came to camp.
I was decidedly annoyed by this turn of affairs, and while ruminating on this new episode in my company, I was waited on by the sheriff and a deputy who came to arrest the other man on charge of “assault and battery, aiding in escape, prevention of arrest, etc.” I kept him out of the lock-up after much palaver by going his bonds for appearance. I tried to get Michael, but did not get him out on bail until the next morning (Sunday). Finally, on Monday, with the aid of an ingenious American lawyer, I got them off with the payment of costs, about twenty or twenty-five dollars. A decidedly unpleasant affair all around, but a severe lesson for both of them.
During our stay in Santa Barbara we bought milk at a house on the edge of town. Sunday afternoon the woman and baby, little girl, and daughter (young woman), came into camp and paid us a visit of several hours. They sat down in the tent and chatted away very lively—Spanish, of course. The mother was middle-aged, very dark, as dark as a dark mulatto, but with Spanish features, with a shade, perhaps a quarter, Indian—hair black as jet, eyes even blacker, teeth like pearl. She had a lively babe of eight months, which she fed in the “natural way,” decidedly unreservedly. The senorita was quite pretty, hardly as dark as her mother, with clear, olive skin, hair like a raven (not crow), and the finest sparkling eyes, and pearly teeth. She chatted, smoked cigarritos, and apparently enjoyed the visit as much as we did. Some of these Spanish girls are pretty, especially the hair, eyes, and teeth.
1. The Presidio of Santa Barbara was founded in 1782, but the founding of the Mission was delayed until 1786. The first buildings were destroyed by earthquake; the main building standing in 1861 dated from 1820. Missionary activities declined until they ceased in 1856, but the building continued to be used by a missionary college.
2. “The old Spanish Franciscan mentioned in the narrative of Brewer was the Very Rev. Fr. José María González Rúbio, O.F.M., who died here November 2, 1875. The young Irish Franciscan was the Rev. Fr. Joseph Jeremiah o’Keefe. He was a native of San Francisco, Calif. He departed from this life at St. Joseph’s Hospital, San Francisco, on August 13th, 1915” (letter to the editor from Rev. Fr. Zephyrin, O.F.M.; see also Fr. Zephyrin Engelhardt, O.F.M., Santa Barbara Mission [San Francisco, 1923]).
3. This vine appears to have been older than Brewer supposed. It is said to have grown from a slip cut from a vineyard at San Antonio Mission, Monterey County, and planted before 1800, perhaps about 1796. The planter of this vine was Doña Marcellina Feliz de Dominguez, wife of an old soldier, José María Dominguez, who came up to Alta California with one of the earliest expeditions from Sonora, before 1780. He died in 1845 at the age of nearly 100 years. Doña Dominguez died in 1865 at the age of 102, or, according to some, 105 years. The couple had fourteen children, and at the time of her death there were three hundred descendants. (San Francisco, Daily Evening Bulletin, May 26, 1865.)
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