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Yosemite Indians and Other Sketches (1936) by Mrs. H. J. Taylor

Chapter 7: The Peregoy Register

“M ountain View House—Chas. E. Peregoy” is the inscription on the cover of an old register that was given to the Yosemite Museum in June, 1929, by Mrs. Lucy Peregoy Milburn. It is a rare gift, an interesting and valuable book, because the names on its pages make history in themselves.

Mountain View House register has entries from September 10, 1869, when five guests registered, to October 24, 1874. There are no further entries until June 5 and 7, 1878, when a small party was cared for by Mr. and Mrs. Peregoy. In a letter dated at the Sentinel Hotel, Yosemite, April 23, 1872, John Muir advises his friend, Mrs. Carr, after leaving Clark’s, to stop “at Peregoy’s, five or six miles south of the Valley at the Westfall Meadows.” This was the starting place for the trip into the Valley by way of Glacier, Snow’s Casa de Nevada located at the head of Vernal Falls.

In 1870, between May 16 and October 26, 514 guests registered. Among these names we find on the page of July 6, 1870, Terese Yelverton, Viscountess Avonmore, England, who wrote Zanita, a Tale of the Yosemite, the first novel written about Yosemite. The characters in the book are largely taken from the people living in the Valley at the time. Zanita is Florence Hutchings, first white child born in the Valley. Kenmuir is John Muir. On leaving the Valley, the Viscountess wrote: “I have spent the four happiest months of my life in this glorious valley.” October 5, 1870, J. M. Hutchings and Miss Florence Hutchings registered from Yosemite Valley. We find the name of Galen Clark registered on October 2. Fred Leidig, pioneer hotel keeper in the Valley, registered in July. All of these are prominent names in the early history of Yosemite.

G. Garibaldi, B. Ardizzi, Nestor Randseype, and A. Vohl of Mariposa registered on July 23. The writing of each name is labored, yet it reveals character. Are these men from the unknown throng that, through its labors, makes easy the road for others to travel? If so, we rejoice that the love of beauty and grandeur remained in their hearts and led them to the Valley to satisfy their love.

The reader experiences a thrill as he reads in the old register: “July 27, 1870, Mark Hopkins and wife, Williamstown, Mass.” He was in this Yosemite and left here something of his spirit as an educator and author. Literally, we did not “sit on one end of a log with Mark Hopkins on the other” to get our education, but in reality thousands have sat at the feet of his spirit and learned of him. His book, The Law of Love and Love as Law, stands the test of time.

Peregoy’s Mountain View House was known far and wide for the unusual hospitality of Mr. and Mrs. Peregoy, their excellent beds and wonderful food. Often the guests, on leaving the hotel, paid tribute in the register to their host and hostess. The guides, too, were the subject of most favorable comment. Leidig’s Hotel was also highly recommended. On July 25, 1870, a guest, on returning from the Valley, records: “We remained in the Valley nine days, stopped at Leidig’s Hotel, which we take pleasure to recommend as a first-class hotel.”

From May 8, 1871, to October 4, 1871, over 1300 guests registered. This closed the register except for June 4 and 5, 1878, when a party of 22 registered from New York and Oakland.

On June 4, 1871, appears the following entry: “For the first time a religious service was held under Chapel Tree on Glacier Point, Sunday, June 4, 1871. A sermon was preached by Rev. Lewis Frances from the text, Psalm 100:2, ‘Serve the Lord with gladness.’ There were present the 18 persons whose names are inclosed within brackets upon the opposite page, with the guides, James A. Ridgeway, Eli Stump, and Thomas Treamer.”

Concerning the guides that seemed most popular, we find these comments on the register:

“Joseph Ridgeway—an a No. 1 Guide.
Eli Stump—A No. 1 Guide.
Garvey and Ridgeway—the Lord’s Guide.
We were guided by E. Stump
And we voted him a trump.
Eli Stump, best Guide in America.
E. Stump best guide in the world.”

On June 20, 1871, a party records: “The views from Glacier Point and Sentinel Dome are grand beyond description. The whole Yosemite Valley in all its beauty and sublimity can be seen from these two points and nobody should fail to make the trip.” On June 29, 1871, D. H. Temple, Bloomfield, N. J., writes: “Returning from the valley. The first tourists through by the new trail from the Nevada Falls through the Little Yosemite. Left Snow’s at 6 1/4 a. m. Eli Stump, Guide.”

The words of praise for Peregoy’s were generous. On July 7, 1871, a party says: “Our first party here was delightful and we were more than glad to return because of the general neatness and generousness of the fare. God help the host and hostess.”

On July 15, 1871, “T. De Witt Talmage, Brooklyn, N. Y.,” appears on the register and awakens memories of early Chautauqua days when he was popular as a preacher. Dr. Talmage’s Brooklyn tabernacle, three times consumed by fire, was widely known.

On July 17, 1871, a party records:

“We went into the Valley
By the Point of Inspiration
And returned from there today
By the ‘Road of Desperation,’
And have only time to say
That it met with Expectation.”

On August 9, 1872, we find written in beautiful penmanship:

“Not peregoric but Peregoy!
A name of comfort and of joy!
Here the tired traveler racked with pains,
A little of his strength regains.
Here, too, forgetting all his woes
Fresh courage takes and Clarkwise goes!”

Eighteen hundred and seventy-two has very interesting entries. “May 24, 1872, A. Bierstadt, N. Y.,” is on the register. This name has special interest. In 1930, Domes of Yosemite, painted by this German-American artist in 1864, was presented to the Yosemite Museum by the Charlotte Bowditch estate through Sophia F. Baylor.

On June 4, 1872, a party writes: “56 tourists caught here in a pitiful snowstorm and harbored here for shelter 18 hours; all found as well as could be expected with accommodations for 16.”

“June 12, Joaquin Miller, Oregon,” arrests the eye. We do not associate him with Oregon but rather with his California home near the city of Oakland. On his seventy acres of land near the city of Oakland this pioneer of the West, this poet of the Sierra, expressed his life in an unusual, yet most significant, way. On the hill’s slope he planted trees in the form of a cross to signify that all mankind must bear a cross. To Moses, the Lawgiver, he erected a pyramid of rock. To Browning, the poet of the soul, he erected a tower; he also erected a tower to J. C. Frémont, Pioneer. Recently Oakland made a park of Joaquin Miller’s home and grounds.

On June 12, 1872, a guest records: “A good rectangular repast and ‘guter wein’.”

On June 12, 1872, “J. C. Lamon, Yosemite,” is again registered. He was the first settler in the Valley and built his log cabin in 1859. John Muir speaks of him as kindly and hospitable to any one who came to his door. The entry on July 15, 1872, “Prof. A. Gray and wife, Cambridge, Mass.,” almost startles us. Asa Gray— the foremost name in botany of his time. To countless thousands he has been a help and guide. Gray’s Herbarium in Harvard will continue to guide and inspire.

On August 14, 1872, we read, “Horace Greeley, New York.” Hated and beloved in his time, though hate dies and love survives, Greeleys name is great in history. When, in 1872, Greeley was defeated by Grant in the presidential election, every schoolchild joined in the chorus “Hurrah for Greeley! Grant’s elected!” I, too, was in that chorus.

On June 1, 1873, a party writes in the register: “To their kind host and hostess, Mr. and Mrs. Peregoy, for their more than courteous hospitality. Tourists passing this way will do well to avail themselves of the comfortable beds and luxuriant table of the Hotel Peregoy.”

On June 1, 1873, another writes: “The best house we have found west of the Rocky Mountains.”

On June 2, still another writes: “Valley of Yosemite, fare thee well, thy tranquil river, thy beautiful cascades, thy towering cliffs. We may never again look into thy bosom, but we take with us photographed in our memory thy every wonder and thy every charm, a lingering long farewell.”

On June 16, 1873, a beloved name is recorded: “John Muir, Yosemite Valley.” He has taught us to know the beauty and grandeur of nature’s book, and his spirit will continue to teach throughout the years. On the Lost Arrow Trail, near the foot of Yosemite Falls, a boulder with a bronze tablet marks the site of the little cabin that was Muir’s home for eleven years.

On July 17, 1873, “Bret Harte, N. Y.,” is recorded, and we recall the Luck of Roaring Camp and other wonderful tales that only Bret Harte could write.

The last days of July are full of tributes to the splendid host and hostess of Mountain View House. Among them are:

“The best host and hostess I have found in California.”

“We recommend this locality as it beats the best hotels in the city.”

“This hotel is the best in California.”

In the short period of four summers Mountain View House gave splendid service to some five thousand people who came to look into the heart of what, since 1860, has been Yosemite National Park. These guests came from every state then in the Union and from the territories of Wyoming and New Mexico. They came from the Hawaiian Archipelago, the Philippines, and the West Indies.

The old register is full of interest and full of history. It provides an original source of historical material, and it also serves as a priceless reminder of many of those pioneer nature lovers who have done so much for Yosemite and for the nation. We are grateful to Mrs. Lucy Peregoy Milburn for this gift. She prized it and also appreciated its full value to all who are interested in the early life and history of Yosemite, and to all these she gave it.

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Online Library: Title Author California Geology History Indians Muir Mountaineering Nature Management