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What I Saw in California by Edwin Bryant

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A Description of Its Soil, Climate, Productions, and Gold Mines;
with the Best Routes and Latest Information for Intending Emigrants.



Late Alcade of San Francisco.

To which is annexed, an Appendix

Containing official documents and letters authenticating the accounts
of the quantities of gold found, with its actual value ascertained by
chemical assay.

Also late communications containing accounts of the highest interest
and importance from the gold districts.

With a Map.


"All which I saw, and part of which I was."


Geographical sketch of California
Its political and social institutions
Colorado River
Valley and river of San Joaquin
Former government
Ports and commerce.

For the general information of the reader, it will be proper to give a
brief geographical sketch of California, and some account of its
political and social institutions, as they have heretofore existed.

The district of country known geographically as Upper California is
bounded on the north by Oregon, the forty-second degree of north
latitude being the boundary line between the two territories; on the
east by the Rocky Mountains and the Sierra de los Mimbres, a
continuation of the same range; on the south by Sonora and Old or Lower
California, and on the west by the Pacific Ocean. Its extent from north
to south is about 700 miles, and from east to west from 600 to 800
miles, with an area of about 400,000 square miles. A small portion only
of this extensive territory is fertile or inhabitable by civilized man,
and this portion consists chiefly in the strip of country along the
Pacific Ocean, about 700 miles in length, and from 100 to 150 in
breadth, bounded on the east by the Sierra Nevada, and on the west by
the Pacific. In speaking of Upper California this strip of country is
what is generally referred to.

The largest river of Upper California is the Colorado or Red, which has
a course of about 1000 miles, and empties into the Gulf of California
in latitude about 32 degrees north. But little is known of the region
through which this stream flows. The report of trappers, however, is
that the river is _canoned_ between high mountains and precipices a
large portion of its course, and that its banks and the country
generally through which it flows are arid, sandy, and barren. Green and
Grand Rivers are its principal upper tributaries, both of which rise in
the Rocky Mountains, and within the territories of the United States.
The Gila is its lowest and largest branch, emptying into the Colorado,
just above its mouth. Sevier and Virgin Rivers are also tributaries of
the Colorado. Mary's River rises near latitude 42 degrees north, and
has a course of about 400 miles, when its waters sink in the sands of
the desert. This river is not laid down on any map which I have seen.
The Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers have each a course of from 300 to
400 miles, the first flowing from the north and the last from the
south, and both emptying into the Bay of St. Francisco at the same
point. They water the large and fertile valley lying between the Sierra
Nevada and the coast range of mountains. I subjoin a description of the
valley and river San Joaquin, from the pen of a gentleman (Dr. Marsh)
who has explored the river from its source to its mouth.

"This noble valley is the first undoubtedly in California, and one of
the most magnificent in the world. It is about 500 miles long, with
an-average width of about fifty miles. It is bounded on the east by the
great Snowy Mountains, and on the west by the low range, which in many
places dwindles into insignificant hills, and has its northern terminus
at the Strait of Carquines, on the Bay of San Francisco, and its
southern near the Colorado River.

"The river of San Joaquin flows through the middle of the valley for
about half of its extent, and thence diverges towards the eastern
mountain, in which it has its source. About sixty miles further south
is the northern end of the Buena Vista Lake, which is about one hundred
miles long, and from ten to twenty wide. Still farther south, and near
the western side of the valley, is another and much smaller lake.

"The great lake receives about a dozen tributaries on its eastern side,
which all rise in the great range of the Snowy Mountains. Some of these
streams flow through broad and fertile valleys within the mountain's
range, and, from thence emerging, irrigate the plains of the great
valley for the distance of twenty or thirty miles. The largest of these
rivers is called by the Spanish inhabitants the river Reyes, and falls
into the lake near its northern end; it is a well-timbered stream, and
flows through a country of great fertility and beauty. The tributaries
of the San Joaquin are all on the east side.

"On ascending the stream we first meet with the Stanislaus, a clear
rapid mountain stream, some forty or fifty yards wide, with a
considerable depth of water in its lower portion. The Mormons have
commenced a settlement, called New Hope, and built some two or three
houses near the mouth.

"There are considerable bodies of fertile land along the river, and the
higher plains afford good pasturage.

"Ten miles higher up is the river of the Tawalomes; it is about the
size of the Stanislaus, which it greatly resembles, except that the
soil is somewhat better, and that it particularly abounds with salmon.

"Some thirty miles farther comes in the Merced, much the largest of the
tributaries of the San Joaquin. The lands along and between the
tributaries of the San Joaquin and the lake of Buena Vista form a fine
pastoral region, with a good proportion of arable land, and a very
inviting field for emigration. The whole of this region has been but
imperfectly explored; enough, however, is known to make it certain that
it is one of the most desirable regions on the continent.

"In the valleys of the rivers which come down from the great Snowy
Mountains are vast bodies of pine, and red-wood, or cedar timber, and
the streams afford water power to any desirable amount.

"The whole country east of the San Joaquin, and the water communication
which connects it with the lakes, is considered, by the best judges, to
be particularly adapted to the culture of the vine, which must
necessarily become one of the principal agricultural resources of

The Salinas River empties into the Pacific, about twelve miles above
Monterey. Bear River empties into the Great Salt Lake. The other
streams of California are all small. In addition to the Great Salt Lake
and the Utah Lake there are numerous small lakes in the Sierra Nevada.
The San Joaquin is connected with Tule Lake, or Lake Buena Vista, a
sheet of water about eighty miles in length and fifteen in breadth. A
lake, not laid down in any map, and known as the _Laguna_ among the
Californians, is situated about sixty miles north of the Bay of San
Francisco. It is between forty and sixty miles in length. The valleys
in its vicinity are highly fertile, and romantically beautiful. In the
vicinity of this lake there is a mountain of pure sulphur. There are
also soda springs, and a great variety of other mineral waters, and

The principal mountains west of the eastern boundary of California (the
Rocky Mountains) are the Bear River, Wahsatch, Utah, the Sierra Nevada,
and the Coast range. The Wahsatch Mountains form the eastern rim of the
"great interior basin." There are numerous ranges in this desert basin,
all of which run north and south, and are separated from each other by
spacious and barren valleys and plains. The Sierra Nevada range is of
greater elevation than the Rocky Mountains. The summits of the most
elevated peaks are covered with perpetual snow. This and the coast
range run nearly parallel with the shore of the Pacific. The first is
from 100 to 200 miles from the Pacific, and the last from forty to
sixty miles. The valley between them is the most fertile portion of

Upper California was discovered in 1548, by Cabrillo, a Spanish
navigator. In 1578, the northern portion of it was visited by Sir
Francis Drake, who called it New Albion. It was first colonized by the
Spaniards, in 1768, and formed a province of Mexico until after the
revolution in that country. There have been numerous revolutions and
civil wars in California within the last twenty years; but up to the
conquest of the country by the United States in 1846, Mexican authority
has generally been exercised over it.

The following description of the political and social condition of
Upper California in 1822 is extracted and translated from a Spanish
writer of that date. I have thought that the extract would not be

"_Government_.--Upper California, on account of its small population,
not being able to become a state of the great Mexican republic, takes
the character of territory, the government of which is under the charge
of a commandant-general, who exercises the charge of a superior
political chief, whose attributes depend entirely upon the president of
the republic and the general congress. But, to amplify the legislation
of its centre, it has a deputation made up of seven vocals, the half of
these individuals being removed every two years. The superior political
chief presides at their sessions. The inhabitants of the territory are
divided amongst the presidios, missions, and towns.

"_Presidios_.--The necessity of protecting the apostolic predication
was the obligatory reason for forming the presidios, which were
established according to circumstances. That of San Diego was the
first; Santa Barbara, Monterey, and San Francisco were built
afterwards. The form of all of them is nearly the same, and this is a
square, containing about two hundred yards in each front, formed of a
weak wall made of mud-bricks. Its height may be four yards in the
interior of the square, and built on to the same wall. In its entire
circumference are a chapel, storehouses, and houses for the commandant,
officers, and troops, having at the entrance of the presidio quarters
for a _corps-de-garde_.

"These buildings in the presidios, at the first idea, appear to have
been sufficient, the only object having been for a defence against a
surprise from the gentiles, or wild Indians in the immediate vicinity.
But this cause having ceased, I believe they ought to be demolished, as
they are daily threatening a complete ruin, and, from the very limited
spaces of habitation, must be very incommodious to those who inhabit
them. As to the exterior of the presidios, several private individuals
have built some very decent houses, and, having evinced great emulation
in this branch of business, I have no doubt but in a short time we
shall see very considerable towns in California.

"At the distance of one, or at the most two miles from the presidio,
and near to the anchoring-ground, is a fort, which has a few pieces of
artillery of small calibre. The situation of most of them is very
advantageous for the defence of the port, though the form of the walls,
esplanades, and other imperfections which may be seen, make them very

"The battalion of each presidio is made up of eighty or more horse
soldiers, called _cuera_; besides these, it has a number of auxiliary
troops and a detachment of artillery. The commandant of each presidio
is the captain of its respective company, and besides the intervention,
military and political, he has charge of all things relating to the
marine department.

"_Missions_.--The missions contained in the territory are twenty-one.
They were built at different epochs: that of San Diego, being the
first, was built in 1769; its distance from the presidio of the same
name is two leagues. The rest were built successively, according to
circumstances and necessity. The last one was founded in the year 1822,
under the name of San Francisco Dolores, and is the most northern of

"The edifices in some of those missions are more extensive than in
others, but in form they are all nearly equal. They are all fabricated
of mud-bricks, and the divisions are according to necessity. In all of
them may be found commodious habitations for the ministers, storehouses
to keep their goods in, proportional granaries, offices for
soap-makers, weavers, blacksmiths, and large parterres, and horse and
cattle pens, independent apartments for Indian youths of each sex, and
all such offices as were necessary at the time of its institution.
Contiguous to and communicating with the former is a church, forming a
part of the edifices of each mission; they are all very proportionable,
and are adorned with profusion.

"The Indians reside about two hundred yards distant from the
above-mentioned edifice. This place is called the rancheria. Most of
the missions are made up of very reduced quarters, built with
mud-bricks, forming streets, while in others the Indians have been
allowed to follow their primitive customs; their dwellings being a sort
of huts, in a conical shape, which at the most do not exceed four yards
in diameter, and the top of the cone may be elevated three yards. They
are built of rough sticks, covered with bulrushes or grass, in such a
manner as to completely protect the inhabitants from all the
inclemencies of the weather. In my opinion, these rancherias are the
most adequate to the natural uncleanliness of the Indians, as the
families often renew them, burning the old ones, and immediately
building others with the greatest facility. Opposite the rancherias,
and near to the mission, is to be found a small garrison, with
proportionate rooms, for a corporal and five soldiers with their
families. This small garrison is quite sufficient to prevent any
attempt of the Indians from taking effect, there having been some
examples made, which causes the Indians to respect this small force.
One of these pickets in a mission has a double object; besides keeping
the Indians in subjection, they run post with a monthly correspondence,
or with any extraordinaries that may be necessary for government.

"All the missions in this California are under the charge of religious
men of the order of San Francisco. At the present time their number is
twenty-seven, most of them of an advanced age. Each mission has one of
these fathers for its administrator, and he holds absolute authority.
The tilling of the ground, the gathering of the harvest, the
slaughtering of cattle, the weaving, and everything that concerns the
mission, is under the direction of the fathers, without any other
person interfering in any way whatever, so that, if any one mission has
the good fortune to be superintended by an industrious and discreet
padre, the Indians disfrute in abundance all the real necessaries of
life; at the same time the nakedness and misery of any one mission are
a palpable proof of the inactivity of its director. The missions extend
their possessions from one extremity of the territory to the other, and
have made the limits of one mission from those of another. Though they
do not require all this land for their agriculture and the maintenance
of their stock, they have appropriated the whole; always strongly
opposing any individual who may wish to settle himself or his family on
any piece of land between them. But it is to be hoped that the new
system of illustration, and the necessity of augmenting private
properly, and the people of reason, will cause the government to take
such adequate measures as will conciliate the interests of all. Amongst
all the missions there are from twenty-one to twenty-two thousand
Catholic Indians; but each mission has not an equal or a proportionate
part in its congregation. Some have three or four thousand, whilst
others have scarcely four hundred; and at this difference may be
computed the riches of the missions in proportion. Besides the number
of Indians already spoken of, each mission has a considerable number of
gentiles, who live chiefly on farms annexed to the missions. The number
of these is undetermined.

"The Indians are naturally filthy and careless, and their understanding
is very limited. In the small arts they are not deficient in ideas of
imitation but they never will be inventors. Their true character is
that of being revengeful and timid, consequently they are very much
addicted to treachery. They have no knowledge of benefits received, and
ingratitude is common amongst them. The education they receive in their
infancy is not the proper one to develope their reason, and, if it
were, I do not believe them capable of any good impression. All these
Indians, whether from the continual use of the sweat-house, or from
their filthiness, or the little ventilation in their habitations, are
weak and unvigorous; spasms and rheumatics, to which they are so much
subject, are the consequences of their customs. But what most injures
them, and prevents propagation, is the venereal disease, which most of
them have very strongly, clearly proving that their humours are
analogous to receiving the impressions of this contagion. From this
reason may be deduced the enormous differences between the births and
deaths, which, without doubt, is one-tenth per year in favour of the
latter; but the missionaries do all in their power to prevent this,
with respect to the catechumens situated near them.

"The general productions of the missions are, the breed of the larger
class of cattle, and sheep, horses, wheat, maize or Indian corn, beans,
peas, and other vegetables; though the productions of the missions
situated more to the southward are more extensive, these producing the
grape and olive in abundance. Of all these articles of production, the
most lucrative is the large cattle, their hides and tallow affording an
active commerce with foreign vessels on this coast. This being the only
means the inhabitants, missionaries, or private individuals have of
supplying their actual necessities, for this reason they give this
branch all the impulse they possibly can, and on it generally place all
their attention.

"It is now six years since they began to gather in hides and tallow for
commerce. Formerly they merely took care of as many or as much as they
required for their own private use, and the rest was thrown away as
useless; but at this time the actual number of hides sold annually on
board of foreign vessels amounts to thirty or forty thousand, and about
the same amount of arrobas (twenty-five pounds) of tallow; and, in
pursuing their present method, there is no doubt but in three or four
years the amount of the exportation of each of these articles will be
doubled. Flax, linen, wine, olive-oil, grain, and other agricultural
productions, would be very extensive if there were stimulants to excite
industry; but, this not being the case, there is just grain enough sown
and reaped for the consumption of the inhabitants in the territory.

"The towns contained in this district are three; the most populous
being that of Angeles, which has about twelve hundred souls; that of
St. Joseph's of Guadaloupe may contain six hundred, and the village of
Branciforte two hundred; they are all formed imperfectly and without
order, each person having built his own house on the spot he thought
most convenient for himself. The first of these pueblos is governed by
its corresponding body of magistrates, composed of an alcalde or judge,
four regidores or municipal officers, a syndic, and secretary; the
second, of an alcalde, two regidores, a syndic, and secretary; and the
third, on account of the smallness of its population, is subject to the
commandancia of Monterey.

"The inhabitants of the towns are white, and, to distinguish them from
the Indians, are vulgarly called _people of reason_. The number of
these contained in the territory may be nearly five thousand. These
families are divided amongst the pueblos and presidios. They are nearly
all the descendants of a small number of individuals who came from the
Mexican country, some as settlers, others in the service of the army,
and accompanied by their wives. In the limited space of little more
than fifty years the present generation has been formed.

"The whites are in general robust, healthy, and well made. Some of them
are occupied in breeding and raising cattle, and cultivating small
quantities of wheat and beans; but for want of sufficient land, for
which they cannot obtain a rightful ownership, their labours are very
limited. Others dedicate themselves to the service of arms. All the
presidial companies are composed of the natives of the country, but the
most of them are entirely indolent, it being very rare for any
individual to strive to augment his fortune. Dancing, horse-riding, and
gambling occupy all their time. The arts are entirely unknown, and I am
doubtful if there is one individual who exercises any trade; very few
who understand the first rudiments of letters, and the other sciences
are unknown amongst them.

"The fecundity of the _people of reason_ is extreme. It is very rare to
find a married couple with less than five or six children, while there
are hundreds who have from twelve to fifteen. Very few of them die in
their youth, and in reaching the age of puberty are sure to see their
grand-children. The age of eighty and one hundred has always been
common in this climate; most infirmities are unknown here, and the
freshness and robustness of the people show the beneficial influence of
the climate; the women in particular have always the roses stamped on
their cheeks. This beautiful species is without doubt the most active
and laborious, all their vigilance in duties of the house, the
cleanliness of their children, and attention to their husbands,
dedicating all their leisure moments to some kind of occupation that
may be useful towards their maintenance. Their clothing is always clean
and decent, nakedness being entirely unknown in either sex.

"_Ports and Commerce_.--There are four ports, principal bays, in this
territory, which take the names of the corresponding presidios. The
best guarded is that of San Diego. That of San Francisco has many
advantages. Santa Barbara is but middling in the best part of the
season; at other times always bad. Besides the above-mentioned places,
vessels sometimes anchor at Santa Cruz, San Luis Obispo, El Refugio,
San Pedro, and San Juan, that they may obtain the productions of the
missions nearest these last-mentioned places; but from an order sent by
the minister of war, and circulated by the commandante-general, we are
given to understand that no foreign vessel is permitted to anchor at
any of these places, Monterey only excepted, notwithstanding the
commandante-general has allowed the first three principal ports to
remain open provisionally. Were it not so, there would undoubtedly be
an end to all commerce with California, as I will quickly show.

"The only motive that induces foreign vessels to visit this coast is
for the hides and tallow which they barter for in the territory. It is
well known, that at any of these parts there is no possibility of
realizing any money, for here it does not circulate. The goods imported
by foreign vessels are intended to facilitate the purchase of the
aforesaid articles, well knowing that the missions have no interest in
money, but rather such goods as are necessary for the Indians, so that
several persons who have brought goods to sell for nothing but money
have not been able to sell them. It will appear very extraordinary that
money should not be appreciated in a country where its value is so well
known; but the reason may be easily perceived by attending to the
circumstances of the territory.

"The quantity of hides gathered yearly is about thirty or forty
thousand; and the arrobas of tallow, with very little difference, will
be about the same. Averaging the price of each article at two dollars,
we shall see that the intrinsic value in annual circulation in
California is 140,000 dollars. This sum, divided between twenty-one
missions, will give each one 6666 dollars. Supposing the only
production of the country converted into money, with what would the
Indians be clothed, and by what means would they be able to cover a
thousand other necessaries? Money is useful in amplifying speculations;
but in California, as yet, there are no speculations, and it
productions are barely sufficient for the absolute necessary
consumption. The same comparison may be made with respect to private
individuals, who are able to gather a few hides and a few arrobas of
tallow, these being in small quantities."


Leave New Helvetia for San Francisco
Coscumne River
Mickelemes River
Ford of the San Joaquin
Extensive plain
Tule marshes
Large droves of wild horses and elk
Arrive at Dr. Marsh's
Californian grape
Californian wine
Mormon settlements on the San Joaquin
Californian beef
Grasses of California
Leave Dr. Marsh's
Arrive at Mr. Livermore's
Comforts of his dwelling
Large herds of cattle
Californian senora
Slaughtering of a bullock
Fossil oyster-shells
Skeleton of a whale on a high mountain
Arrive at mission of San Jose
Ruinous and desolate appearance of the mission
Gardens of the mission
Fruit orchards
Empty warehouses and workshops
Foul lodgings.

_September 13th_.--We commenced to-day our journey from New Helvetia to
San Francisco. Our party consisted, including myself, of Colonel
Russell, Dr. McKee of Monterey, Mr. Pickett, a traveller in the
country, recently from Oregon, and an Indian servant, who had been
furnished us by Captain Sutter. Starting about 3 o'clock P.M., we
travelled in a south course over a flat plain until sunset, and
encamped near a small lake on the rancho of Mr. Murphy, near the
Coscumne River, a tributary of the Sacramento, which heads near the
foot of the Sierra Nevada. The stream is small, but the bottom-lands
are extensive and rich. Mr. Murphy has been settled in California about
two years, and, with his wife and several children, has resided at this
place sixteen months, during which time he has erected a comfortable
dwelling-house, and other necessary buildings and conveniences. His
wheat crop was abundant this year; and he presented us with as much
milk and fresh butter as we desired. The grass on the upland plain over
which we have travelled is brown and crisp from the annual drought. In
the low bottom it is still green. Distance 18 miles.

_September 14_.--We crossed the Coscumne River about a mile from our
camp, and travelled over a level plain covered with luxuriant grass,
and timbered with the evergreen oak, until three o'clock, when we
crossed the Mickelemes River, another tributary of the Sacramento, and
encamped on its southern bank in a beautiful grove of live oaks. The
Mickelemes, where we crossed it, is considerably larger than the
Coscumnes. The soil of the bottom appears to be very rich, and produces
the finest qualities of grasses. The grass on the upland is also
abundant, but at this time it is brown and dead. We passed through
large tracts of wild oats during the day; the stalks are generally from
three to five feet in length.

Our Indian servant, or vaquero, feigned sickness this morning, and we
discharged him. As soon as he obtained his discharge, he was entirely
relieved from the excruciating agonies under which he had affected to
be suffering for several hours. Eating his breakfast, and mounting his
horse, he galloped off in the direction of the fort. We overtook this
afternoon an English sailor, named Jack, who was travelling towards
Monterey; and we employed him as cook and hostler for the remainder of
the journey.

A variety of autumnal flowers, generally of a brilliant yellow, are in
bloom along the beautiful and romantic bunks of the rivulet. Distance
25 miles.

_September 15_.--Our horses were frightened last night by bears, and
this morning, with the exception of those which were picketed, had
strayed so far that we did not recover them until ten o'clock. Our
route has continued over a flat plain, generally covered with luxuriant
grass, wild oats, and a variety of sparkling flowers. The soil is
composed of a rich argillaceous loam. Large tracts of the land are
evidently subject to annual inundations. About noon we reached a small
lake surrounded by _tule_. There being no trail for our guidance, we
experienced some difficulty in shaping our course so as to strike the
San Joaquin River at the usual fording place. Our man Jack, by some
neglect or mistake of his own, lost sight of us, and we were compelled
to proceed without him. This afternoon we saw several large droves of
antelope and deer. Game of all kinds appears to be very abundant in
this rich valley. Passing through large tracts of _tule_, we reached
the San Joaquin River at dark, and encamped on the eastern bank. Here
we immediately made large fires, and discharged pistols as signals to
our man Jack, but he did not come into camp. Distance 35 miles.

_September 16_.--Jack came into camp while we were breakfasting,
leading his tired horse. He had bivouacked on the plain, and, fearful
that his horse would break loose if he tied him, he held the animal by
the bridle all night.

The ford of the San Joaquin is about forty or fifty miles from its
mouth. At this season the water is at its lowest stage. The stream at
the ford is probably one hundred yards in breadth, and our animals
crossed it without much difficulty, the water reaching about midway of
their bodies. Oak and small willows are the principal growth of wood
skirting the river. Soon after we crossed the San Joaquin this morning
we met two men, couriers, bearing despatches from Commodore Stockton,
the governor and commander-in-chief in California, to Sutter's Fort.
Entering upon the broad plain, we passed, in about three miles, a small
lake, the water of which was so much impregnated with alkali as to be
undrinkable. The grass is brown and crisp, but the seed upon it is
evidence that it had fully matured before the drought affected it. The
plain is furrowed with numerous deep trails, made by the droves of wild
horses, elk, deer, and antelope, which roam over and graze upon it. The
hunting sportsman can here enjoy his favourite pleasure to its fullest

Having determined to deviate from our direct course, in order to visit
the rancho of Dr. Marsh, we parted from Messrs. McKee and Pickett about
noon. We passed during the afternoon several _tule_ marshes, with which
the plain of the San Joaquin is dotted. At a distance, the tule of
these marshes presents the appearance of immense fields of ripened
corn. The marshes are now nearly dry, and to shorten our journey we
crossed several of them without difficulty. A month earlier, this would
not have been practicable. I have but little doubt that these marshes
would make fine rice plantations, and perhaps, if properly drained,
they might produce the sugar-cane.

While pursuing our journey we frequently saw large droves of wild
horses and elk grazing quietly upon the plain. No spectacle of moving
life can present a more animated and beautiful appearance than a herd
of wild horses. They were divided into droves of some one or two
hundred. When they noticed us, attracted by curiosity to discover what
we were, they would start and run almost with the fleetness of the wind
in the direction towards us. But, arriving within a distance of two
hundred yards, they would suddenly halt, and after bowing their necks
into graceful curves, and looking steadily at us a few moments, with
loud snortings they would wheel about and bound away with the same
lightning speed. These evolutions they would repeat several times,
until, having satisfied their curiosity, they would bid us a final
adieu, and disappear behind the undulations of the plain.

The herds of elk were much more numerous. Some of them numbered at
least two thousand, and with their immense antlers presented, when
running, a very singular and picturesque appearance. We approached some
of these herds within fifty yards before they took the alarm. Beef in
California is so abundant, and of so fine a quality, that game is but
little hunted, and not much prized, hence the elk, deer, and even
antelope are comparatively very tame, and rarely run from the
traveller, unless he rides very near them. Some of these elk are as
large as a medium-sized Mexican mule.

We arrived at the rancho of Dr. Marsh about 5 o'clock P.M., greatly
fatigued with the day's ride. The residence of Dr. M. is romantically
situated, near the foot of one of the most elevated mountains in the
range separating the valley of the San Joaquin from the plain
surrounding the Bay of San Francisco. It is called "Mount Diablo," and
may be seen in clear weather a great distance. The dwelling of Dr. M.
is a small one-story house, rudely constructed of adobes, and divided
into two or three apartments. The flooring is of earth, like the walls.
A table or two, and some benches and a bed, are all the furniture it
contains. Such are the privations to which those who settle in new
countries must submit. Dr. M. is a native of New England, a graduate of
Harvard University, and a gentleman of fine natural abilities and
extensive scientific and literary acquirements. He emigrated to
California some seven or eight years since, after having travelled
through most of the Mexican States. He speaks the Spanish language
fluently and correctly, and his accurate knowledge of Mexican
institutions, laws, and customs was fully displayed in his conversation
in regard to them. He obtained the grant of land upon which he now
resides, some ten or twelve miles square, four or fire years ago; and
although he has been constantly harassed by the wild Indians, who have
several times stolen all his horses, and sometimes numbers of his
cattle, he has succeeded in permanently establishing himself. The
present number of cattle on his rancho is about two thousand, and the
increase of the present year he estimates at five hundred.

I noticed near the house a vegetable garden, with the usual variety of
vegetables. In another inclosure was the commencement of an extensive
vineyard, the fruit of which (now ripe) exceeds in delicacy of flavour
any grapes which I have ever tasted. This grape is not indigenous, but
was introduced by _the padres_, when they first established themselves
in the country. The soil and climate of California have probably
improved it. Many of the clusters are eight and ten inches in length,
and weigh several pounds. The fruit is of medium size, and in colour a
dark purple. The rind is very thin, and when broken the pulp dissolves
in the mouth immediately. Although Dr. M. has just commenced his
vineyard, he has made several casks of wine this year, which is now in
a stale of fermentation. I tasted here, for the first time,
_aguardiente_, or brandy distilled from the Californian grape. Its
flavour is not unpleasant, and age, I do not doubt, would render it
equal to the brandies of France. Large quantities of wine and
_aguardiente_ are made from the extensive vineyards farther south. Dr.
M. informed me that his lands had produced a hundredfold of wheat
without irrigation. This yield seems almost incredible; but, if we can
believe the statements of men of unimpeached veracity, there have been
numerous instances of reproduction of wheat in California equalling and
even exceeding this.

Some time in July, a vessel arrived at San Francisco from New York,
which had been chartered and freighted principally by a party of Mormon
emigrants, numbering between two and three hundred, women and children
included. These Mormons are about making a settlement for agricultural
purposes on the San Joaquin River, above the rancho of Dr. Marsh. Two
of the women and one of the men are now here, waiting for the return of
the main party, which has gone up the river to explore and select a
suitable site for the settlement. The women are young, neatly dressed,
and one of them may be called good-looking. Captain Gant, formerly of
the U.S. Army, in very bad health, is also residing here. He has
crossed the Rocky Mountains eight times, and, in various trapping
excursions, has explored nearly every river between the settlements of
the United States and the Pacific Ocean.

The house of Dr. Marsh being fully occupied, we made our beds in a
shed, a short distance from it. Suspended from one of the poles forming
the frame of this shed was a portion of the carcass of a recently
slaughtered beef. The meat was very fat, the muscular portions of it
presenting that marbled appearance, produced by a mixture of the fat
and lean, so agreeable to the sight and palate of the epicure. The
horned cattle of California, which I have thus far seen, are the
largest and the handsomest in shape which I ever saw. There is
certainly no breed in the United States equalling them in size. They,
as well as the horses, subsist entirely on the indigenous grasses, at
all seasons of the year; and such are the nutritious qualities of the
herbage, that the former are always in condition for slaughtering, and
the latter have as much flesh upon them as is desirable, unless (which
is often the case) they are kept up at hard work and denied the
privilege of eating, or are broken down by hard riding. The varieties
of grass are very numerous, and nearly all of them are heavily seeded
when ripe, and are equal, if not superior, as food for animals, to corn
and oats. The horses are not as large as the breeds of the United
States, but in point of symmetrical proportions and in capacity for
endurance they are fully equal to our best breeds. The distance we have
travelled to-day I estimate at thirty-five miles.

_September 17_.--The temperature of the mornings is most agreeable, and
every other phenomenon accompanying it is correspondingly delightful to
the senses. Our breakfast consisted of warm bread, made of unbolted
flour, stewed beef, seasoned with _chile colorado_, a species of red
pepper, and _frijoles_, a dark-coloured bean, with coffee. After
breakfast I walked with Dr. Marsh to the summit of a conical hill,
about a mile distant from his house, from which the view of the plain
on the north, south, and east, and the more broken and mountainous
country on the west, is very extensive and picturesque. The hills and
the plain are ornamented with the evergreen oak, sometimes in clumps or
groves, at others standing solitary. On the summits, and in the gorges
of the mountains, the cedar, pine, and fir display their tall
symmetrical shapes; and the San Joaquin, at a distance of about ten
miles, is belted by a dense forest of oak, sycamore, and smaller timber
and shrubbery. The herds of cattle are scattered over the plain,--some
of them grazing upon the brown but nutritious grass; others sheltering
themselves from the sun under the wide-spreading branches of the oaks.
The _tout ensemble_ of the landscape is charming.

Leaving Dr. Marsh's about three o'clock P.M., we travelled fifteen
miles, over a rolling and well-watered country, covered generally with
wild oats, and arrived at the residence of Mr. Robert Livermore just
before dark. We were most kindly and hospitably received, and
entertained by Mr. L. and his interesting family. After our mules and
baggage had been cared for, we were introduced to the principal room in
the house, which consisted of a number of small adobe buildings,
erected apparently at different times, and connected together. Here we
found chairs, and, for the first time in California, saw a side-board
set out with glass tumblers and chinaware. A decanter of _aguardiente_,
a bowl of loaf sugar, and a pitcher of cold water from the spring, were
set before us, and, being duly honoured, had a most reviving influence
upon our spirits as well as our corporeal energies. Suspended from the
walls of the room were numerous coarse engravings, highly coloured with
green, blue, and crimson paints, representing the Virgin Mary, and many
of the saints. These engravings are held in great veneration by the
devout Catholics of this country. In the corners of the room were two
comfortable-looking beds, with clean white sheets and pillow-cases, a
sight with which my eyes have not been greeted for many months.

The table was soon set out, and covered with a linen cloth of snowy
whiteness, upon which were placed dishes of stewed beef, seasoned with
_chile Colorado, frijoles_, and a plentiful supply of _tortillas_, with
an excellent cup of tea, to the merits of which we did ample justice.
Never were men blessed with better appetites than we are at the present

Mr. Livermore has been a resident of California nearly thirty years,
and, having married into one of the wealthy families of the country, is
the proprietor of some of the best lands for tillage and grazing. An
_arroyo_, or small rivulet fed by springs, runs through his rancho, in
such a course that, if expedient, he could, without much expense,
irrigate one or two thousand acres. Irrigation in this part of
California, however, seems to be entirely unnecessary for the
production of wheat or any of the small grains. To produce maize,
potatoes, and garden vegetables, irrigation is indispensable. Mr.
Livermore has on his rancho about 3500 head of cattle. His horses,
during the late disturbances, have nearly all been driven off or stolen
by the Indians. I saw in his corral a flock of sheep numbering several
hundred. They are of good size, and the mutton is said to be of an
excellent quality, but the wool is coarse. It is, however, well adapted
to the only manufacture of wool that is carried on in the
country,--coarse blankets and _serapes_. But little attention is paid
to hogs here, although the breeds are as fine as I have ever seen
elsewhere. Beef being so abundant, and of a quality so superior, pork
is not prized by the native Californians.

The Senora L. is the first Hispano-American lady I have seen since
arriving in the country. She was dressed in a white cambric robe,
loosely banded round the waist, and without ornament of any kind,
except several rings on her small delicate fingers. Her complexion is
that of a dark brunette, but lighter and more clear than the skin of
most Californian women. The dark lustrous eye, the long black and
glossy hair, the natural ease, grace, and vivacity of manners and
conversation, characteristic of Spanish ladies, were fully displayed by
her from the moment of our introduction. The children, especially two
or three little _senoritas_, were very beautiful, and manifested a
remarkable degree of sprightliness and intelligence. One of them
presented me with a small basket wrought from a species of tough grass,
and ornamented with the plumage of birds of a variety of brilliant
colours. It was a beautiful specimen of Indian ingenuity.

Retiring to bed about ten o'clock, I enjoyed, the first time for four
months, the luxury of clean sheets, with a mattress and a soft pillow.
My enjoyment, however, was not unmixed with regret, for I noticed that
several members of the family, to accommodate us with lodgings in the
house, slept in the piazza outside. To have objected to sleeping in the
house, however, would have been considered discourteous and offensive.

_September 18_.--Early this morning a bullock was brought up and
slaughtered in front of the house. The process of slaughtering a beef
is as follows: a _vaquero_, mounted on a trained horse, and provided
with a lasso, proceeds to the place where the herd is grazing.
Selecting an animal, he soon secures it by throwing the noose of the
lasso over the horns, and fastening the other end around the pommel of
the saddle. During the first struggles of the animal for liberty, which
usually are very violent, the vaquero sits firmly in his seat, and
keeps his horse in such a position that the fury and strength of the
beast are wasted without producing any other result than his own
exhaustion. The animal, soon ascertaining that he cannot release
himself from the rope, submits to be pulled along to the place of
execution. Arriving here, the vaquero winds the lasso round the legs of
the doomed beast, and throws him to the ground, where he lies perfectly
helpless and motionless. Dismounting from his horse, he then takes from
his leggin the butcher-knife that he always carries with him, and
sticks the animal in the throat. He soon bleeds to death, when, in an
incredibly short space of time for such a performance, the carcass is
flayed and quartered, and the meat is either roasting before the fire
or simmering in the stew-pan. The _lassoing_ and slaughter of a bullock
is one of the most exciting sports of the Californians; and the daring
horsemanship and dexterous use of the lariat usually displayed on these
occasions are worthy of admiration. I could not but notice the
Golgotha-like aspect of the grounds surrounding the house. The bones of
cattle were thickly strewn in all directions, showing a terrible
slaughter of the four-footed tribe and a prodigious consumption of

A _carretada_ of fossil oyster--shells was shown to me by Mr.
Livermore, which had been hauled for the purpose of being manufactured
into lime. Some of these shells were eight inches in length, and of
corresponding breadth and thickness. They were dug from a hill two or
three miles distant, which is composed almost entirely of this fossil.
Several bones belonging to the skeleton of a whale, discovered by Mr.
L. on the summit of one of the highest elevations in the vicinity of
his residence, were shown to me. The skeleton when discovered was
nearly perfect and entirely exposed, and its elevation above the level
of the sea between one and two thousand feet. How the huge aquatic
monster, of which this skeleton is the remains, managed to make his dry
bed on the summit of an elevated mountain, more experienced geologists
than myself will hereafter determine. I have an opinion on the subject,
however; but it is so contrary in some respects to the received
geological theories, that I will not now hazard it.

Leaving Mr. Livermore's about nine o'clock A.M., we travelled three or
four miles over a level plain, upon which immense herds of cattle were
grazing. When we approached, they fled from us with as much alarm as
herds of deer and elk. From this plain we entered a hilly country,
covered to the summits of the elevations with wild oats and tufts or
hunches of a species of grass, which remains green through the whole
season. Cattle were scattered through these hills, and more sumptuous
grazing they could not desire. Small streams of water, fed by springs,
flow through the hollows and ravines, which, as well as the hill-sides,
are timbered with the evergreen oak and a variety of smaller trees.
About two o'clock, P.M., we crossed an _arroyo_ which runs through a
narrow gorge of the hills, and struck an artificial wagon-road,
excavated and embanked so as to afford a passage for wheeled vehicles
along the steep hill-side. A little farther on we crossed a very rudely
constructed bridge. These are the first signs of road-making I have
seen in the country. Emerging from the hills, the southern arm of the
Bay of San Francisco came in view, separated from us by a broad and
fertile plain, some ten or twelve miles in width, sloping gradually
down to the shore of the bay, and watered by several small creeks and

We soon entered through a narrow street the mission of San Jose, or St.
Joseph. Passing the squares of one-story adobe buildings once inhabited
by thousands of busy Indians, but now deserted, roofless, and crumbling
into ruins, we reached the plaza in front of the church, and the
massive two-story edifices occupied by the _padres_ during the
flourishing epoch of the establishment. These were in good repair; but
the doors and windows, with the exception of one, were closed, and
nothing of moving life was visible except a donkey or two, standing
near a fountain which gushed its waters into a capacious stone trough.
Dismounting from our mules, we entered the open door, and here we found
two Frenchmen dressed in sailor costume, with a quantity of coarse
shirts, pantaloons, stockings, and other small articles, together with
_aguardiente_, which they designed retailing to such of the natives in
the vicinity as chose to become their customers. They were itinerant
merchants, or pedlars, and had opened their wares here for a day or two
only, or so long as they could find purchasers.

Having determined to remain here the residue of the day and the night,
we inquired of the Frenchmen if there was any family in the place that
could furnish us with food. They directed us to a house on the opposite
side of the plaza, to which we immediately repaired. The senora, a
dark-skinned and rather shrivelled and filthy specimen of the fair sex,
but with a black, sparkling, and intelligent eye, met us at the door of
the miserable hovel, and invited us in. In one corner of this wretched
and foul abode was a pile of raw hides, and in another a heap of wheat.
The only furniture it contained were two small benches, or stools, one
of which, being higher than the other, appeared to have been
constructed for a table. We informed the senora that we were
travellers, and wished refreshment and lodgings for the night. "_Esta
bueno, senores, esta bueno_," was her reply; and she immediately left
us, and, opening the door of the kitchen, commenced the preparation of
our dinner. The interior of the kitchen, of which I had a good view
through the door, was more revolting in its filthiness than the room in
which we were seated. In a short time, so industrious was our hostess,
our dinner, consisting of two plates of jerked beef, stewed, and
seasoned with _chile colorado_, a plate of _tortillas_, and a bowl of
coffee, was set out upon the most elevated stool. There were no knives,
forks, or spoons, on the table. Our amiable landlady apologized for
this deficiency of table-furniture, saying that she was "_muy pobre_"
(very poor), and possessed none of these table implements. "Fingers
were made before forks," and in our recent travels we had learned to
use them as substitutes, so that we found no difficulty in conveying
the meat from the plates to our mouths.

Belonging to the mission are two gardens, inclosed by high adobe walls.
After dinner we visited one of these. The area of the inclosure
contains fifteen or twenty acres of ground, the whole of which was
planted with fruit trees and grape-vines. There are about six hundred
pear trees, and a large number of apple and peach trees, all bearing
fruit in great abundance and in full perfection. The quality of the
pears is excellent, but the apples and peaches are indifferent. The
grapes have been gathered, as I suppose, for I saw none upon the vines,
which appeared healthy and vigorous. The gardens are irrigated with
very little trouble, from large springs which flow from the hills a
short distance above them. Numerous aqueducts, formerly conveying and
distributing water over an extensive tract of land surrounding the
mission, are still visible, but as the land is not now cultivated, they
at present contain no water.

The mission buildings cover fifty acres of ground, perhaps more, and
are all constructed of adobes with tile roofs. Those houses or barracks
which were occupied by the Indian families are built in compact
squares, one story in height. They are generally partitioned into two
rooms, one fronting on the street, the other upon a court or corral in
the rear. The main buildings of the mission are two stories in height,
with wide corridors in front and rear. The walls are massive, and, if
protected from the winter rains, will stand for ages. But if exposed to
the storms by the decay of the projecting roofs, or by leaks in the
main roof, they will soon crumble, or sink into shapeless heaps of mud.
I passed through extensive warehouses and immense rooms, once occupied
for the manufacture of woollen blankets and other articles, with the
rude machinery still standing in them, but unemployed. Filth and
desolation have taken the place of cleanliness and busy life. The
granary was very capacious, and its dimensions were an evidence of the
exuberant fertility of the soil, when properly cultivated under the
superintendence of the _padres_. The calaboose is a miserable dark room
of two apartments, one with a small loop-hole in the wall, the other a
dungeon without light or ventilation. The stocks, and several other
inventions for the punishment of offenders, are still standing in this
prison. I requested permission to examine the interior of the church,
but it was locked up, and no person in the mission was in possession of
the key. Its length I should suppose is from one hundred to one hundred
and twenty feet, and its breadth between thirty and forty, with small
exterior pretensions to architectural ornament or symmetry of

Returning from our rambles about the mission, we found that our
landlady had been reinforced by an elderly woman, whom she introduced
as "_mi madre_," and two or three Indian _muchachas_, or girls, clad in
a costume not differing much from that of our mother Eve. The latter
were obese in their figures, and the mingled perspiration and filth
standing upon their skins were any thing but agreeable to the eye. The
two senoras, with these handmaids near them, were sitting in front of
the house, busily engaged in executing some needlework.

Supper being prepared and discussed, our landlady informed us that she
had a husband, who was absent, but would return in the course of the
night, and, if he found strange men in the house, he would be much
offended with her. She had therefore directed her _muchachas_ to sweep
out one of the deserted and half-ruined rooms on the opposite square,
to which we could remove our baggage, and in which we could lodge
during the night; and as soon as the necessary preparations were made,
we retired to our dismal apartment. The "compound of villanous smells"
which saluted our nostrils when we entered our dormitory for the night
augured unfavourably for repose. The place had evidently been the abode
of horses, cattle, pigs, and foul vermin of every description. But with
the aid of a dark-coloured tallow-candle, which gave just light enough
to display the murkiness and filth surrounding us, we spread our beds
in the cleanest places, and laid down to rest. Distance travelled, 18


Armies of fleas
Leave the mission
Wild mustard
A carreta
Family travelling
Arrive at Pueblo de San Jose
Capt. Fisher
Description of the Pueblo
The embarcadero
Beautiful and fertile valley of the Pueblo
Absence of architectural taste in California
Town squirrels
Fruit garden
Tropical fruits
Gaming rooms
Contrast between California and American gamesters
Leave San Jose
Beautiful avenue
Mission of Santa Clara
Rich but neglected lands
Effects of a bad government
A senora on the road-side
Kindness of Californian women
Fast riding
Cruel treatment of horses
Arrive at the mission of San Francisco
A poor but hospitable family
Arrive at the town of San Francisco
W.A. Leidesdorff, Esq., American vice-consul
First view of the bay of San Francisco
Muchachos and Muchachas
Capt. Montgomery
U.S. sloop-of-war, Portsmouth
Town of San Francisco; its situation, appearance, population
Commerce of California
Extortion of the government and traders.

_September 19_.--Several Californians came into the mission during the
night or early this morning; among them the husband of our hostess, who
was very kind and cordial in his greetings.

While our man Jack was saddling and packing the mules, they gathered
around us to the number of a dozen or more, and were desirous of
trading their horses for articles of clothing; articles which many of
them appeared to stand greatly in need of, but which we had not to part
from. Their pertinacity exceeded the bounds of civility, as I thought;
but I was not in a good humour, for the fleas, bugs, and other vermin,
which infested our miserable lodgings, had caused me a sleepless night,
by goring my body until the blood oozed from the skin in countless
places. These ruinous missions are prolific generators, and the
nurseries of vermin of all kinds, as the hapless traveller who tarries
in them a few hours will learn to his sorrow. When these bloodthirsty
assailants once make a lodgment in the clothing or bedding of the
unfortunate victim of their attacks, such are their courage and
perseverance, that they never capitulate. "Blood or death" is their
motto;--the war against them, to be successful, must be a war of

Poor as our hostess was, she nevertheless was reluctant to receive any
compensation for her hospitality. We, however, insisted upon her
receiving a dollar from each of us (_dos pesos_), which she finally
accepted; and after shaking us cordially by the hand she bade us an
affectionate _adios_, and we proceeded on our journey.

From the Mission of San Jose to the Pueblo of San Jose, the distance is
fifteen miles, for the most part over a level and highly fertile plain,
producing a variety of indigenous grasses, among which I noticed
several species of clover and mustard, large tracts of which we rode
through, the stalks varying from six to ten feet in height. The plain
is watered by several _arroyos_, skirted with timber, generally the
evergreen oak.

We met this morning a Californian _carreta_, or travelling-cart,
freighted with women and children, bound on a pleasure excursion. The
_carreta_ is the rudest specimen of the wheeled vehicle I have seen.
The wheels are transverse sections of a log, and are usually about
2-1/2 feet in diameter, and varying in thickness from the centre to the
rim. These wheels are coupled together by an axletree, into which a
tongue is inserted. On the axletree and tongue rests a frame,
constructed of square pieces of timber, six or eight feet in length,
and four or five in breadth, into which are inserted a number of stakes
about, four feet in length. This frame-work being covered and floored
with raw hides, the carriage is complete. The _carreta_ which we met
was drawn by two yokes of oxen, driven by an Indian vaquero, mounted on
a horse. In the rear were two _caballeros_, riding fine spirited
horses, with gaudy trappings. They were dressed in steeple-crowned
glazed _sombreros, serapes_ of fiery colours, velvet (cotton)
_calzoneros_, white cambric _calzoncillos_, and leggins and shoes of
undressed leather. Their spurs were of immense size.

The party halted as soon as we met them, the men touching their heavy
_sombreros_, and uttering the usual salutation of the morning, "_Buenos
dios, senores_," and shaking hands with us very cordially. The same
salutation was repeated by all the senoras and senoritas in the
_carreta_. In dress and personal appearance the women of this party
were much inferior to the men. Their skins were dark, sallow, and
shrivelled; and their costume, a loose gown and _reboso_, were made of
very common materials. The children, however, were all handsome, with
sparkling eyes and ruddy complexions. Women and children were seated,
_a la Turque_, on the bottom of the _carreta_, there being no raised
seats in the vehicle.

We arrived at the Pueblo do San Jose about twelve o'clock. There being
no hotels in California, we were much at a loss where to apply for
refreshments and lodgings for the night. Soon, however, we were met by
Captain Fisher, a native of Massachusetts, but a resident of this
country for twenty years or more, who invited us to his house. We were
most civilly received by Senora F., who, although she did not speak
English, seemed to understand it very well. She is a native of the
southern Pacific coast of Mexico, and a lady of fine manners and
personal appearance. Her oldest daughter, about thirteen years of age,
is very beautiful. An excellent dinner was soon set out, with a variety
of the native wines of California and other liquors. We could not have
felt ourselves more happy and more at home, even at our own firesides
and in the midst of our own families.

The Pueblo de San Jose is a village containing some six or eight
hundred inhabitants. It is situated in what is called the "Pueblo
Valley," about fifteen miles south of the southern shore of the Bay of
San Francisco. Through a navigable creek, vessels of considerable
burden can approach the town within a distance of five or six miles.
The _embarcadero_, or landing, I think, is six miles from the Pueblo.
The fertile plain between this and the town, at certain seasons of the
year, is sometimes inundated. The "Pueblo Valley," which is eighty or
one hundred miles in length, varying from ten to twenty in breadth, is
well watered by the Rio Santa Clara and numerous _arroyos_, and is one
of the most fertile and picturesque plains in California. For pastoral
charms, fertility of soil, variety of productions, and delicious
voluptuousness of climate and scenery, it cannot be surpassed. This
valley, if properly cultivated, would alone produce breadstuffs enough
to supply millions of population. The buildings of the Pueblo, with few
exceptions, are constructed of adobes, and none of them have even the
smallest pretensions to architectural taste or beauty. The church,
which is situated near the centre of the town, exteriorly resembles a
huge Dutch barn. The streets are irregular, every man having erected
his house in a position most convenient to him. Aqueducts convey water
from the Santa Clara River to all parts of the town. In the main plaza
hundreds, perhaps thousands, of squirrels, whose abodes are under
ground, have their residences. They are of a brownish colour, and about
the size of our common gray squirrel. Emerging from their subterraneous
abodes, they skip and leap about over the plaza without the least
concern, no one molesting them.

The population of the place is composed chiefly of native Californian
land-proprietors. Their ranchos are in the valley, but their residences
and gardens are in the town. We visited this afternoon the garden of
Senor Don Antonio Sugnol. He received us with much politeness, and
conducted us through his garden. Apples, pears, peaches, figs, oranges,
and grapes, with other fruits which I do not now recollect, were
growing and ripening. The grape-vines were bowed to the ground with the
luxuriance arid weight of the yield; and more delicious fruit I never
tasted. From the garden we crossed over to a flouring-mill recently
erected by a son-in-law of Don Antonio, a Frenchman by birth. The mill
is a creditable enterprise to the proprietor, and he will coin money
from its operations.

The Pueblo de San Jose is one of the oldest settlements in Alta
California. Captain Fisher pointed out to me a house built of adobes,
which has been standing between 80 and 90 years, and no house in the
place appeared to be more substantial or in better repair. A garrison,
composed of marines from the United States' ships, and volunteers
enlisted from the American settlers in the country, is now stationed
here. The post is under the command of Purser Watmough, of the United
States sloop-of-war Portsmouth, commanded by Captain Montgomery. During
the evening I visited several public places (bar-rooms), where I saw
men and women engaged promiscuously at the game of _monte_. Gambling is
a universal vice in California. All classes and both sexes participate
in its excitements to some extent. The games, however, while I was
present, were conducted with great propriety and decorum so far as the
native Californians were concerned. The loud swearing and other
turbulent demonstrations generally proceeded from the unsuccessful
foreigners. I could not but observe the contrast between the two races
in this respect. The one bore their losses with stoical composure and
indifference; the other announced each unsuccessful bet with profane
imprecations and maledictions. Excitement prompted the hazards of the
former, avarice the latter.

_September 20_.--The morning was cloudy and cool; but the clouds broke
away about nine o'clock, and the sun shone from a vapourless sky, as
usual. We met, at the Pueblo, Mr. Grove Cook, a native of Gerrard
county, Ky., but for many years a resident of California. He is the
proprietor of a rancho in the vicinity. We determined to leave our
mules in charge of Mr. Cook's vaquero, and proceed to San Francisco on
hired horses. The distance from the Pueblo de San Jose to San Francisco
is called sixty miles. The time occupied in performing the journey, on
Californian horses at Californian speed, is generally six or seven
hours. Procuring horses for the journey, and leaving our baggage, with
the exception of a change of clothing, we left the Pueblo about eleven
o'clock A.M.

The mission of Santa Clara is situated about two and a half miles from
the town. A broad _alameda_, shaded by stately trees (elms and
willows), planted by the _padres_, extends nearly the entire distance,
forming a most beautiful drive or walk for equestrians or pedestrians.
The motive of the _padres_ in planting this avenue was to afford the
devout senoras and senoritas a shade from the sun, when walking from
the Pueblo to the church at the mission to attend mass. A few minutes
over the smooth level road, at the rapid speed of our fresh Californian
horses, brought us to the mission, where we halted to make our
observations. This mission is not so extensive in its buildings as that
of San Jose, but the houses are generally in better repair. They are
constructed of adobes; the church was open, and, entering the interior,
I found the walls hung with coarse paintings and engravings of the
saints, etc., etc. The chancel decorated with numerous images, and
symbolical ornaments used by the priests in their worship. Gold-paper,
and tinsel, in barbaric taste, are plastered without stint upon nearly
every object that meets the eye, so that, when on festive occasions the
church is lighted, it must present a very glittering appearance.

The rich lands surrounding the mission are entirely neglected. I did
not notice a foot of ground under cultivation, except the garden
inclosure, which contained a variety of fruits and plants of the
temperate and tropical climates. From want of care these are fast
decaying. Some excellent pears were furnished us by Mrs. Bennett, an
American lady, of Amazonian proportions, who, with her family of sons,
has taken up her residence in one of the buildings of the mission. The
picture of decay and ruin presented by this once flourishing
establishment, surrounded by a country so fertile and scenery so
enchanting, is a most melancholy spectacle to the passing traveller,
and speaks a language of loud condemnation against the government.

Proceeding on our journey, we travelled fifteen miles over a flat
plain, timbered with groves and parks of evergreen oaks, and covered
with a great variety of grasses, wild oats, and mustard. So rank is the
growth of mustard in many places, that it is with difficulty that a
horse can penetrate through it. Numerous birds flitted from tree to
tree, making the groves musical with their harmonious notes. The
black-tailed deer bounded frequently across our path, and the lurking
and stealthy _coyotes_ were continually in view. We halted at a small
cabin, with a _corral_ near it, in order to breathe our horses, and
refresh ourselves. Captain Fisher had kindly filled a small sack with
bread, cheese, roasted beef, and a small jug of excellent schiedam.
Entering the cabin, the interior of which was cleanly, we found a
solitary woman, young, neatly dressed, and displaying many personal
charms. With the characteristic ease and grace of a Spanish woman, she
gave the usual salutation for the hour of the day, "_Buenas tardes,
senores caballeros_;" to which we responded by a suitable salutation.
We requested of our hostess some water, which she furnished us
immediately, in an earthen bowl. Opening our sack of provisions, we
spread them upon the table, and invited the senora to partake of them
with us, which invitation she accepted without the slightest
hesitation, and with much good-nature, vivacity, and even thankfulness
for our politeness. There are no women in the world for whose manners
nature has done so much, and for whom art and education, in this
respect, have done so little, as these Hispano-American females on the
coast of the Pacific. In their deportment towards strangers they are
queens, when, in costume, they are peasants. None of them, according to
our tastes, can be called beautiful; but what they want in complexion
and regularity of feature is fully supplied by their kindliness, the
soul and sympathy which beam from their dark eyes, and their grace and
warmth of manners and expression.

While enjoying the _pic-nic_ with our agreeable hostess, a _caballada_
was driven into the _corral_ by two _vaqueros_, and two gentlemen soon
after came into the house. They were Messrs. Lightson and Murphy, from
the Pueblo, bound for San Francisco, and had stopped to change their
horses. We immediately made ready to accompany them, and were soon on
the road again, travelling at racehorse speed; these gentlemen having
furnished us with a change of horses, in order that we might be able to
keep up with them.

To account for the fast travelling in California on horseback, it is
necessary to explain the mode by which it is accomplished. A gentleman
who starts upon a journey of one hundred miles, and wishes to perform
the trip in a day, will take with him ten fresh horses and a _vaquero_.
The eight loose horses are placed under the charge of the _vaquero_,
and are driven in front, at the rate of ten or twelve miles an hour,
according to the speed that is required for the journey. At the end of
twenty miles, the horses which have been rode are discharged and turned
into the _caballada_, and horses which have not been rode, but driven
along without weight, are saddled and mounted and rode at the same
speed, and so on to the end of the journey. If a horse gives out from
inability to proceed at this gait, he is left on the road. The owner's
brand is on him, and, if of any value, he can be recovered without
difficulty. But in California no one thinks of stopping on the road, on
account of the loss of a horse, or his inability to travel at the rate
of ten or twelve miles an hour. Horseflesh is cheap, and the animal
must go as long as he can, and when he cannot travel longer he is left,
and another horse is substituted.

Twenty-five miles, at a rapid gait over a level and fertile plain,
brought us to the rancho of Don Francisco Sanchez, where we halted to
change horses. Breathing our animals a short time, we resumed our
journey, and reached the mission of San Francisco Dolores, three miles
from the town of San Francisco, just after sunset. Between the mission
and the town the road is very sandy, and we determined to remain here
for the night, _corraling_ the loose animals, and picketing those we
rode. It was some time, however, before we could find a house to lodge
in. The foreign occupants of the mission buildings, to whom we applied
for accommodations for the night, gave us no satisfaction. After
several applications, we were at last accommodated by an old and very
poor Californian Spaniard, who inhabited a small house in one of the
ruinous squares, formerly occupied by the operative Indians. All that he
had (and it was but little) was at our disposal. A more miserable
supper I never sat down to; but the spirit of genuine hospitality in
which it was given imparted to the poor viands a flavour that rendered
the entertainment almost sumptuous--in my imagination. A cup of water
cheerfully given to the weary and thirsty traveller, by him who has no
more to part with, is worth a cask of wine grudgingly bestowed by the
stingy or the ostentatious churl. Notwithstanding we preferred sleeping
on our own blankets, these poor people would not suffer us to do it,
but spread their own pallets on the earth floor of their miserable hut,
and insisted so strongly upon our occupying them, that we could not

_September 21_.--We rose at daylight. The morning was clear, and our
horses were shivering with the cold. The mission of San Francisco is
situated at the northern terminus of the fertile plain over which we
travelled yesterday, and at the foot, on the eastern side, of the coast
range of mountains. These mountains are of considerable elevation. The
shore of the Bay of San Francisco is about two miles distant from the
mission. An _arroyo_ waters the mission lands, and empties into the
bay. The church of the mission, and the main buildings contiguous, are
in tolerable repair. In the latter, several Mormon families, which
arrived in the ship Brooklyn from New York, are quartered. As in the
other missions I have passed through, the Indian quarters are crumbling
into shapeless heaps of mud.

Our aged host, notwithstanding he is a pious Catholic, and considers us
as heretics and heathens, gave us his benediction in a very impressive
manner when we were about to start. Mounting our horses at sunrise, we
travelled three miles over low ridges of sand-hills, with sufficient
soil, however, to produce a thick growth of scrubby evergreen oak, and
brambles of hawthorn, wild currant and gooseberry bushes, rose bushes,
briers, etc. We reached the residence of Wm. A. Leidesdorff, Esq., late
American vice-consul at San Francisco, when the sun was about an hour
high. The morning was calm and beautiful. Not a ripple disturbed the
placid and glassy surface of the magnificent bay and harbour, upon
which rested at anchor thirty large vessels, consisting of whalemen,
merchantmen, and the U.S. sloop-of-war Portsmouth, Captain Montgomery.
Besides these, there were numerous small craft, giving to the harbour a
commercial air, of which some of the large cities on the Atlantic coast
would feel vain. The bay, from the town of San Francisco due east, is
about twelve miles in breadth. An elevated range of hills bounds the
view on the opposite side. These slope gradually down, and between them
and the shore there is a broad and fertile plain, which is called the
_Contra Costa_. There are several small islands in the bay, but they do
not present a fertile appearance to the eye.

We were received with every mark of respectful attention and cordial
hospitality by Mr. Leidesdorff. Mr. L. is a native of Denmark; was for
some years a resident of the United States; but subsequently the
captain of a merchant vessel, and has been established at this place as
a merchant some five or six years. The house in which he resides, now
under the process of completion, is the largest private building in the
town. Being shown to a well-furnished room, we changed our
travel-soiled clothing for a more civilized costume, by which time
breakfast was announced, and we were ushered into a large dining-hall.
In the centre stood a table, upon which was spread a substantial
breakfast of stewed and fried beef, fried onions, and potatoes, bread,
butter, and coffee. Our appetites were very sharp, and we did full
justice to the merits of the fare before us. The servants waiting upon
the table were an Indian _muchachito_ and _muchachita_, about ten or
twelve years of age. They had not been long from their wild
_rancherias_, and knew but little of civilized life. Our host, however,
who speaks, I believe, nearly every living language, whether of
Christian, barbarian, or savage nations, seemed determined to impress
upon their dull intellects the forms and customs of civilization. He
scolded them with great vivacity, sometimes in their own tongue,
sometimes in French, Spanish, Portuguese, Danish, German, and English,
in accordance with the language in which he was thinking at the moment.
It seemed to me that the little fat Indians were more confused than
enlightened by his emphatic instructions. At the table, besides
ourselves and host, was Lieutenant W.A. Bartlett, of the U.S.
sloop-of-war Portsmouth, now acting as Alcalde of the town and district
of San Francisco.

The Portsmouth, Commander Montgomery, is the only United States vessel
of war now lying in the harbour. She is regarded as the finest vessel
of her class belonging to our navy. By invitation of Lieutenant
Bartlett, I went on board of her between ten and eleven o'clock. The
crew and officers were assembled on deck to attend Divine service. They
were all dressed with great neatness, and seemed to listen with deep
attention to the Episcopal service and a sermon, which were read by
Commander Montgomery, who is a member of the church.

In the afternoon I walked to the summit of one of the elevated hills in
the vicinity of the town, from which I had a view of the entrance to
the bay of San Francisco and of the Pacific Ocean. A thick fog hung
over the ocean outside of the bay. The deep roar of the eternally
restless waves, as they broke one after another upon the beach, or
dashed against the rock-bound shore, could be heard with great
distinctness, although some five or six miles distant. The entrance
from the ocean into the bay is about a mile and half in breadth. The
waters of the bay appear to have forced a passage through the elevated
ridge of hills next to the shore of the Pacific. These rise abruptly on
either side of the entrance. The water at the entrance and inside is of
sufficient depth to admit the largest ship that was ever constructed;
and so completely land-locked and protected from the winds is the
harbour, that vessels can ride at anchor in perfect safety in all kinds
of weather. The capacity of the harbour is sufficient for the
accommodation of all the navies of the world.

The town of San Francisco is situated on the south side of the
entrance, fronting on the bay, and about six miles from the ocean. The
flow and ebb of the tide are sufficient to bring a vessel to the
anchorage in front of the town and carry it outside, without the aid of
wind, or even against an unfavourable wind. A more approachable
harbour, or one of greater security, is unknown to navigators. The
permanent population of the town is at this time between one and two
hundred,[1] and is composed almost exclusively of foreigners. There are
but two or three native Californian families in the place. The
transient population, and at present it is quite numerous, consists of
the garrison of marines stationed here, and the officers and crews
attached to the merchant and whale ships lying in the harbour. The
houses, with a few exceptions, are small adobes and frames, constructed
without regard to architectural taste, convenience, or comfort. Very
few of them have either chimneys or fire-places. The inhabitants
contrive to live the year round without fires, except for cooking. The
position of San Francisco for commerce is, without doubt, superior to
any other port on the Pacific coast of North America. The country
contiguous and contributory to it cannot be surpassed in fertility,
healthfulness of climate, and beauty of scenery. It is capable of
producing whatever is necessary to the sustenance of man, and many of
the luxuries of tropical climates, not taking into the account the
mineral wealth of the surrounding hills and mountains, which there is
reason to believe is very great. This place is, doubtless, destined to
become one of the largest and most opulent commercial cities in the
world, and under American authority it will rise with astonishing
rapidity. The principal merchants now established here are Messrs.
Leidesdorff, Grimes and Davis, and Frank Ward, a young gentleman
recently from New York. These houses carry on an extensive and
profitable commerce with the interior, the Sandwich Islands, Oregon,
and the southern coast of the Pacific. The produce of Oregon for
exportation is flour, lumber, salmon, and cheese; of the Sandwich
Islands, sugar, coffee, and preserved tropical fruits.

California, until recently, has had no commerce, in the broad
signification of the term. A few commercial houses of Boston and New
York have monopolized all the trade on this coast for a number of
years. These houses have sent out ships freighted with cargoes of dry
goods and a variety of _knick-knacks_ saleable in the country. The
ships are fitted up for the retail sale of these articles, and trade
from port to port, vending their wares on board to the rancheros at
prices that would be astonishing at home. For instance, the price of
common brown cotton cloth is one dollar per yard, and other articles in
this and even greater proportion of advance upon home prices. They
receive in payment for their wares, hides and tallow. The price of a
dry hide is ordinarily one dollar and fifty cents. The price of tallow
I do not know. When the ship has disposed of her cargo, she is loaded
with hides, and returns to Boston, where the hides bring about four or
five dollars, according to the fluctuations of the market. Immense
fortunes have been made by this trade; and between the government of
Mexico and the traders on the coast California has been literally
_skinned_, annually, for the last thirty years. Of natural wealth the
population of California possess a superabundance, and are immensely
rich; still, such have been the extortionate prices that they have been
compelled to pay for their commonest artificial luxuries and
wearing-apparel, that generally they are but indifferently provided
with the ordinary necessaries of civilized life. For a suit of clothes,
which in New York or Boston would cost seventy-five dollars, the
Californian has been compelled to pay five times that sum in hides at
one dollar and fifty cents; so that a _caballero_, to clothe himself
genteelly, has been obliged, as often as he renewed his dress, to
sacrifice about two hundred of the cattle on his rancho. No people,
whether males or females, are more fond of display; no people have paid
more dearly to gratify this vanity; and yet no civilized people I have
seen are so deficient in what they most covet.

[1] This was in September, 1846. In June, 1847, when I left San
Francisco, on my return to the United States, the population had
increased to about twelve hundred, and houses were rising in all


Climate of San Francisco
Periodical winds
Dine on board the Portsmouth
A supper party on shore
Arrival of Commodore Stockton at San Francisco
Rumours of rebellion from the south
Californian court
Trial by jury
Californian belles
American pioneers of the Pacific
Reception of Commodore Stockton
Captain Fremont leaves San Francisco for the south
Offer our services as volunteers.

From the 21st of September to the 13th of October I remained at San
Francisco. The weather during this period was uniformly clear. The
climate of San Francisco is peculiar and local, from its position.
During the summer and autumnal months, the wind on this coast blows
from the west and northwest, directly from the ocean. The mornings here
are usually calm and pleasantly warm. About twelve o'clock M., the wind
blows strong from the ocean, through the entrance of the bay, rendering
the temperature cool enough for woollen clothing in midsummer. About
sunset the wind dies away, and the evenings and nights are comparatively
calm. In the winter months the wind blows in soft and gentle breezes
from the south-east, and the temperature is agreeable, the thermometer
rarely sinking below 50 deg. When the winds blow from the ocean, it
never rains; when they blow from the land, as they do during the winter
and spring months, the weather is showery, and resembles that of the
month of May in the same latitude on the Atlantic coast. The coolness
of the climate and briskness of the air above described are confined to
particular positions on the coast, and the description in this respect
is not applicable to the interior of the country, nor even to other
localities immediately on the coast.

On the 21st, by invitation of Captain Montgomery, I dined on board of
the sloop-of-war Portsmouth. The party, including myself, consisted of
Colonel Russell, Mr. Jacob, Lieutenant Bartlett, and a son of Captain
M. There are few if any officers in our navy more highly and
universally esteemed, for their moral qualities and professional
merits, than Captain M. He is a sincere Christian, a brave officer, and
an accomplished gentleman. Under the orders of Commodore Sloat, he
first raised the American flag in San Francisco. We spent the afternoon
most agreeably, and the refined hospitality, courteous manners, and
intelligent and interesting conversation of our host made us regret the
rapidly fleeting moments. The wines on the table were the produce of
the vine of California, and, having attained age, were of an excellent
quality in substance and flavour.

I attended a supper-party given this evening by Mr. Frank Ward. The
party was composed of citizens of the town, and officers of the navy
and the merchant and whale ships in the harbour. In such a company as
was here assembled, it was very difficult for me to realize that I was
many thousand miles from, home, in a strange and foreign country. All
the faces about me were American, and there was nothing in scene or
sentiment to remind the guests of their remoteness from their native
shores. Indeed, it seems to be a settled opinion, that California is
henceforth to compose a part of the United States, and every American
who is now here considers himself as treading upon his own soil, as
much as if he were in one of the old thirteen revolutionary states.
Song, sentiment, story, and wit heightened the enjoyments of the
excellent entertainment of our host, and the jovial party did not
separate until a late hour of the night. The guests, as may be
supposed, were composed chiefly of gentlemen who had, from their
pursuits, travelled over most of the world--had seen developments of
human character under every variety of circumstance, and observed
society, civilized, barbarous, and savage, in all its phases. Their
conversation, therefore, when around the convivial board, possessed an
unhackneyed freshness and raciness highly entertaining and instructive.

On the 27th of September, the U.S. frigate Congress, Captain
Livingston, bearing the broad pennant of Commodore Stockton, and the
U.S. frigate Savannah, Captain Mervine, anchored in the harbour, having
sailed from Monterey a day or two previously. The arrival of these
large men-of-war produced an increase of the bustle in the small town.
Blue coats and bright buttons (the naval uniform) became the prevailing
costume at the billiard-rooms and other public places, and the plain
dress of a private citizen might be regarded as a badge of distinction.

On the 1st of October a courier arrived from the south with
intelligence that the Californians at Los Angeles had organized a force
and rebelled against the authority of the Americans--that they had also
captured an American merchant-vessel lying at San Pedro, the port of
the city of Angels, about thirty miles distant, and robbed it of a
quantity of merchandise and specie. Whether this latter report was or
was not true, I do not know--the former was correct. The frigate
Savannah sailed for Los Angeles immediately.

Among those American naval officers whose agreeable acquaintance I made
at San Francisco, was Mr. James F. Schenck, first-lieutenant of the
frigate Congress, brother of the distinguished member of congress from
Ohio of that name,--a native of Dayton, Ohio,--a gentleman of
intelligence, keen wit, and a most accomplished officer. The officers
of our navy are our representatives in foreign countries, and they are
generally such representatives as their constituents have reason to
feel proud of. Their chivalry, patriotism, gentlemanlike deportment,
and professional skill cannot be too much admired and applauded by
their countrymen. I shall ever feel grateful to the naval officers of
the Pacific squadron for their numerous civilities during my sojourn on
the Pacific coast.

Among the novelties presented while at San Francisco was a trial by
jury--the second tribunal of this kind which had been organized in
California. The trial look place before Judge Bartlett, and the
litigants were two Mormons. Counsel was employed on both sides. Some of
the forms of American judicial proceedings were observed, and many of
the legal technicalities and nice flaws, so often urged in common-law
courts, were here argued by the learned counsel of the parties, with a
vehemence of language and gesticulation with which I thought the legal
learning and acumen displayed did not correspond. The proceedings were
a mixture, made up of common law, equity, and a sprinkling of military
despotism--which last ingredient the court was compelled to employ,
when entangled in the intricate meshes woven by the counsel for the
litigants, in order to extricate itself. The jury, after the case was
referred to them, were what is called "hung;" they could not agree, and
the matters in issue, therefore, remained exactly where they were
before the proceedings were commenced.

I attended one evening a _fandango_ given by Mr. Ridley, an English
gentleman, whose wife is a Californian lady. Several of the senoras and
senoritas from the ranchos of the vicinity were present. The
Californian ladies dance with much ease and grace. The waltz appears to
be a favourite with them. Smoking is not prohibited in these
assemblies, nor is it confined to the gentlemen. The _cigarita_ is
freely used by the senoras and senoritas, and they puff it with much
gusto while threading the mazes of the cotillion or swinging in the

I had the pleasure of being introduced, at the residence of Mr.
Leidesdorff, to two young ladies, sisters and belles in Alta
California. They are members of an old and numerous family on the
Contra Costa. Their names are singular indeed, for, if I heard them
correctly, one of them was called Donna Maria Jesus, and the other
Donna Maria Conception. They were interesting and graceful young
ladies, with regular features, symmetrical figures, and their dark eyes
flashed with all the intelligence and passion characteristic of Spanish

Among the gentlemen with whom I met soon after my arrival at San
Francisco, and whoso acquaintance I afterwards cultivated, were Mr. E.
Grimes and Mr. N. Spear, both natives of Massachusetts, but residents
of this coast and of the Pacific Islands, for many years. They may be
called the patriarchs of American pioneers on the Pacific. After
forming an acquaintance with Mr. G., if any one were to say to me that

"Old Grimes is dead, that good old man,"

I should not hesitate to contradict him with emphasis; for he is still
living, and possesses all the charities and virtues which can adorn
human nature, with some of the eccentricities of his name-sake in the
song. By leading a life of peril and adventure on the Pacific Ocean for
fifty years he has accumulated a large fortune, and is a man now
proverbial for his integrity, candour, and charities. Both of these
gentlemen have been largely engaged in the local commerce of the
Pacific. Mr. S., some twenty-five or thirty years ago, colonized one of
the Cannibal Islands, and remained upon it with the colony for nearly
two years. The attempt to introduce agriculture into the island was a
failure, and the enterprise was afterwards abandoned.

On the evening of the third of October, it having been announced that
Commodore Stockton would land on the fifth, a public meeting of the
citizens was called by the alcalde, for the purpose of adopting
suitable arrangements for his reception, in his civic capacity as
governor. The meeting was convened in the _plaza_ (Portsmouth Square).
Colonel Russell was appointed chairman, and on motion of E. Bryant a
committee was appointed to make all necessary and suitable arrangements
for the reception of his excellency, Governor Stockton. The following
account of this pageant I extract from the "California" newspaper of
October 24th, 1846.

"Agreeable to public notice, a large number of the citizens of San
Francisco and vicinity assembled in Portsmouth Square for the purpose
of meeting his excellency Robert F. Stockton, to welcome his arrival,
and offer him the hospitalities of the city. At ten o'clock, a
procession was formed, led by the Chief Marshal of the day, supported
on either hand by two aids, followed by an excellent band of music--a
military escort, under command of Captain J. Zeilen, U.S.M.C.--Captain
John B. Montgomery and suite--Magistracy of the District, and the
Orator of the day--Foreign Consuls--Captain John Paty, Senior Captain
of the Hawanian Navy--Lieutenant-Commanding Ruducoff, Russian Navy, and
Lieutenant-Commanding Bonnett, French Navy. The procession was closed
by the Committee of Arrangements, captains of ships in port, and a long
line of citizens.

"General Mariano Guadaloupe Vallejo, with several others who had held
office under the late government, took their appropriate place in the

"The procession moved in fine style down Portsmouth Street to the
landing, and formed a line in Water Street. The Governor-General landed
from his barge, and was met on the wharf by Captain John B. Montgomery,
U.S.N., Judge W.A. Bartlett, and Marshal of the day (Frank Ward), who
conducted him to the front of the line, and presented him to the
procession, through the orator of the day, Colonel Russell, who
addressed the commodore."

When the governor and commander-in-chief had closed his reply, the
procession moved through the principal streets, and halted in front of
Captain Leidesdorff's residence, where the governor and suite entered,
and was presented to a number of ladies, who welcomed him to the shores
of California. After which a large portion of the procession
accompanied the governor, on horseback, to the mission of San Francisco
Dolores, several miles in the country, and returned to an excellent
collation prepared by the committee of arrangements, at the house of
Captain Leidesdorff. After the cloth was removed, the usual number of
regular toasts, prepared by the committee of arrangements, and numerous
volunteer sentiments by the members of the company, were drunk with
many demonstrations of enthusiasm, and several speeches were made. In
response to a complimentary toast, Commodore Stockton made an eloquent
address of an hour's length. The toasts given in English were
translated into Spanish, and those given in Spanish were translated
into English. A ball in honour of the occasion was given by the
committee of arrangements in the evening, which was attended by all the
ladies, native and foreign, in the town and vicinity, the naval
officers attached to the three ships of war, and the captains of the
merchant vessels lying in the harbour. So seductive were the
festivities of the day and the pleasures of the dance, that they were
not closed until a late hour of the night, or rather until an early
hour in the morning.

Among the numerous vessels of many nations at anchor in the harbour is
a Russian brig from Sitca, the central port of the Russian-American Fur
Company, on the northwestern coast of this continent. She is commanded
by Lieutenant Ruducoff of the Russian navy, and is here to be freighted
with wheat to supply that settlement with breadstuff. Sitca is situated
in a high northern latitude, and has a population of some four or five
thousand inhabitants. A large portion of these, I conjecture, are
christianized natives or Indians. Many of the crew of this vessel are
the aborigines of the country to which she belongs, and from which she
last sailed. I noticed, however, from an inscription, that the brig was
built at Newburyport, Massachusetts, showing that the autocrat of all
the Russias is tributary, to some extent, to the free Yankees of New
England for his naval equipment. On the 11th of October, by invitation
of Lieutenant Ruducoff, in company of Mr. Jacob and Captain
Leidesdorff, I dined on board this vessel. The Russian customs are in
some respects peculiar. Soon after we reached the vessel and were shown
into the cabin, a lunch was served up. This consisted of a variety of
dried and smoked fish, pickled fish-roe, and other hyperborean pickles,
the nature of which, whether animal or vegetable, I could not
determine. Various wines and liquors accompanied this lunch, the
discussion of which lasted until an Indian servant, a native of the
north-pole, or thereabouts, announced dinner. We were then shown into a
handsomely furnished dining-cabin, where the table was spread. The
dinner consisted of several courses, some of which were peculiarly
Russian or Sitcan, and I regret that my culinary knowledge is not equal
to the task of describing them, for the benefit of epicures of a more
southern region than the place of their invention. They were certainly
very delightful to the palate. The afternoon glided away most

On the 12th of October, Captain Fremont, with a number of volunteers
destined for the south, to co-operate with Commodore Stockton in the
suppression of the reported rebellion at Los Angeles, arrived at San
Francisco from the Sacramento. I had previously offered my services,
and Mr. Jacob had done the same, to Commodore Stockton, as volunteers
in this expedition, if they were necessary or desirable. They were now
repeated. Although travellers in the country, we were American
citizens, and we felt under obligation to assist in defending the flag
of our country wherever it had been planted by proper authority. At
this time we were given to understand that a larger force than was
already organised was not considered necessary for the expedition.


Leave San Francisco for Sonoma
Sonoma creek
"Bear men."
Islands in the bay
Liberality of "Uncle Sam" to sailors
Beautiful country
General Vallejo
Senora Vallejo
Thomas O. Larkin, U.S. Consul
Signs of rain
The seasons in California
More warlike rumours from the south
Mission of San Rafael
An Irish ranchero
Return to San Francisco
Meet Lippincott
Discomfort of Californian houses.

_October 13_.--This morning the United States frigate Congress,
Commodore Stockton, and the merchant-ship Sterling, employed to
transport the volunteers under the command of Captain Fremont (one
hundred and eighty in number), sailed for the south. The destination of
these vessels was understood to be San Pedro or San Diego. While those
vessels were leaving the harbour, accompanied by Mr. Jacob, I took
passage for Sonoma in a cutter belonging to the sloop-of-war
Portsmouth. Sonoma is situated on the northern side of the Bay of San
Francisco, about 15 miles from the shore, and about 45 miles from the
town of San Francisco. Sonoma creek is navigable for vessels of
considerable burden to within four miles of the town.

Among the passengers in the boat were Mr. Ide, who acted so conspicuous
a part in what is called the "Bear Revolution," and Messrs. Nash and
Grigsby, who were likewise prominent in this movement. The boat was
manned by six sailors and a cockswain. We passed Yerba Buena, Bird, and
several other small islands in the bay. Some of these are white, as if
covered with snow, from the deposit upon them of bird-manure. Tens of
thousands of wild geese, ducks, gulls, and other water-fowls, were
perched upon them, or sporting in the waters of the bay, making a
prodigious cackling and clatter with their voices and wings. By the aid
of oars and sails we reached the mouth of Sonoma creek about 9 o'clock
at night, where we landed and encamped on the low marsh which borders
the bay on this side. The marshes contiguous to the Bay of San
Francisco are extensive, and with little trouble I believe they could
be reclaimed and transformed into valuable and productive rice
plantations. Having made our supper on raw salt pork and bread
generously furnished by the sailors, as soon as we landed, we spread
our blankets on the damp and rank vegetation and slept soundly until

_October 14_.--Wind and tide being favourable, at daylight we proceeded
up the serpentine creek, which winds through a flat and fertile plain,
sometimes marshy, at others more elevated and dry, to the
_embarcadero_, ten or twelve miles from the bay. We landed here between
nine and ten o'clock, A.M. All the passengers, except ourselves,
proceeded immediately to the town. By them we sent for a cart to
transport our saddles, bridles, blankets, and other baggage, which we
had brought with us. While some of the sailors were preparing
breakfast, others, with their muskets, shot wild geese, with which the
plain was covered. An excellent breakfast was prepared in a short time
by our sailor companions, of which we partook with them. No benevolent
old gentleman provides more bountifully for his servants than "Uncle
Sam." These sailors, from the regular rations served out to them from
their ship, gave an excellent breakfast, of bread, butter, coffee, tea,
fresh beefsteaks, fried salt pork, cheese, pickles, and a variety of
other delicacies, to which we had been unaccustomed for several months,
and which cannot be obtained at present in this country. They all said
that their rations were more than ample in quantity, and excellent in
quality, and that no government was so generous in supplying its
sailors as the government of the United States. They appeared to be
happy, and contented with their condition and service, and animated
with a patriotic pride for the honour of their country, and the flag
under which they sailed. The open frankness and honest patriotism of
these single-hearted and weather-beaten tars gave a spice and flavour
to our entertainment which I shall not soon forget.

From the _embarcadero_ we walked, under the influence of the rays of an
almost broiling sun, four miles to the town of Sonoma. The plain, which
lies between the landing and Sonoma, is timbered sparsely with
evergreen oaks. The luxuriant grass is now brown and crisp. The hills
surrounding this beautiful valley or plain are gentle, sloping, highly
picturesque, and covered to their tops with wild oats. Reaching Sonoma,
we procured lodgings in a large and half-finished adobe house, erected
by Don Salvador Vallejo, but now occupied by Mr. Griffith, an American
emigrant, originally from North Carolina. Sonoma is one of the old
mission establishments of California; but there is now scarcely a
mission building standing, most of them having fallen into shapeless
masses of mud; and a few years will prostrate the roofless walls which
are now standing. The principal houses in the place are the residences
of Gen. Don Mariano Guadaloupe Vallejo; his brother-in-law, Mr. J.P.
Leese, an American; and his brother, Don Salvador Vallejo. The quartel,
a barn-like adobe house, faces the public square. The town presents a
most dull and ruinous appearance; but the country surrounding it is
exuberantly fertile, and romantically picturesque, and Sonoma, under
American authority, and with an American population, will very soon
become a secondary commercial point, and a delightful residence. Most
of the buildings are erected around a _plaza_, about two hundred yards
square. The only ornaments in this square are numerous skulls and
dislocated skeletons of slaughtered beeves, with which hideous remains
the ground is strewn. Cold and warm springs gush from the hills near
the town, and supply, at all seasons, a sufficiency of water to
irrigate any required extent of ground on the plain below. I noticed
outside of the square several groves of peach and other fruit trees,
and vineyards, which were planted here by the _padres_; but the walls
and fences that once surrounded them are now fallen, or have been
consumed for fuel; and they are exposed to the _mercies_ of the immense
herds of cattle which roam over and graze upon the plain.

_October 15_.--I do not like to trouble the reader with a frequent
reference to the myriads of fleas and other vermin which infest the
rancherias and old mission establishments in California; but, if any
sinning soul ever suffered the punishments of purgatory before leaving
its tenement of clay, those torments were endured by myself last night.
When I rose from my blankets this morning, after a sleepless night, I
do not think there was an inch square of my body that did not exhibit
the inflammation consequent upon a puncture by a flea, or some other
equally rabid and poisonous insect. Small-pox, erysipelas, measles, and
scarlet-fever combined, could not have imparted to my skin a more
inflamed and sanguineous appearance. The multitudes of these insects,
however, have been generated by Indian filthiness. They do not disturb
the inmates of those _casas_ where cleanliness prevails.

Having letters of introduction to General Vallejo and Mr. Leese, I
delivered them this morning. General Vallejo is a native Californian,
and a gentleman of intelligence and taste far superior to most of his
countrymen. The interior of his house presented a different appearance
from any house occupied by native Californians which I have entered
since I have been in the country. Every apartment, even the main
entrance-hall and corridors, were scrupulously clean, and presented an
air of comfort which I have not elsewhere seen in California. The
parlour was furnished with handsome chairs, sofas, mirrors, and tables,
of mahogany framework, and a fine piano, the first I have seen in the
country. Several paintings and some superior engravings ornamented the
walls. Senora Vallejo is a lady of charming personal appearance, and
possesses in the highest degree that natural grace, ease, and warmth of
manner which render Spanish ladies so attractive and fascinating to the
stranger. The children, some five or six in number, were all beautiful
and interesting. General V. is, I believe, strongly desirous that the
United States shall retain and annex California. He is thoroughly
disgusted with Mexican sway, which is fast sending his country
backwards, instead of forwards, in the scale of civilization, and for
years he has been desirous of the change which has now taken place.

In the afternoon we visited the house of Mr. Leese, which is also
furnished in American style. Mr. L. is the proprietor of a vineyard in
the vicinity of the town, and we were regaled upon grapes as luscious,
I dare say, as the forbidden fruit that provoked the first
transgression. Nothing of the fruit kind can exceed the delicious
richness and flavour, of the California grape.

This evening Thomas O. Larkin, Esq., late United States Consul for
California, arrived here, having left San Francisco on the same morning
that we did, travelling by land. Mr. L. resides in Monterey, but I had
the pleasure of an introduction to him at San Francisco several days
previously to my leaving that place. Mr. L. is a native of Boston, and
has been a resident in California for about fifteen years, during which
time he has amassed a large fortune, and from the changes now taking
place he is rapidly increasing it. He will probably be the first
American millionnaire of California.

_October 17_.--The last two mornings have been cloudy and cool. The
rainy season, it is thought by the weather-wise in this climate, will
set in earlier this year than usual. The periodical rains ordinarily
commence about the middle of November. It is now a month earlier, and
the meteorological phenomena portend "falling weather." The rains
during the winter, in California, are not continuous, as is generally
supposed. It sometimes rains during an entire day, without cessation,
but most generally the weather is showery, with intervals of bright
sunshine and a delightful temperature. The first rains of the year fall
usually in November, and the last about the middle of May. As soon as
the ground becomes moistened, the grass, and other hardy vegetation,
springs up, and by the middle of December the landscape is arrayed in a
robe of fresh verdure. The grasses grow through the entire winter, and
most of them mature by the first of May. The season for sowing wheat
commences as soon as the ground is sufficiently softened by moisture to
admit of ploughing, and continues until March or April.

We had made preparations this morning to visit a rancho, belonging to
General Vallejo, in company with the general and Mr. Larkin. This
rancho contains about eleven leagues of land, bordering upon a portion
of the Bay of San Francisco, twenty-five or thirty miles distant from
Sonoma. Just as we were about mounting our horses, however, a courier
arrived from San Francisco with despatches from Captain Montgomery,
addressed to Lieutenant Revere, the military commandant at this post,
giving such intelligence in regard to the insurrection at the south,
that we determined to return to San Francisco forthwith. Procuring
horses, and accompanied by Mr. Larkin, we left Sonoma about two o'clock
in the afternoon, riding at the usual California speed. After leaving
Sonoma plain we crossed a ridge of hills, and entered the fertile and
picturesque valley of Petaluma creek, which empties into the bay.
General Vallejo has an extensive rancho in this valley, upon which he
has recently erected, at great expense, a very large house.
Architecture, however, in this country is in its infancy. The money
expended in erecting this house, which presents to the eye no tasteful
architectural attractions, would, in the United States, have raised a
palace of symmetrical proportions, and adorned it with every requisite
ornament. Large herds of cattle were grazing in this valley.

From Petaluma valley we crossed a high rolling country, and reached the
mission of San Rafael (forty-five miles) between seven and eight
o'clock in the evening. San Rafael is situated two or three miles from
the shore of the bay, and commands an extensive view of the bay and its
islands. The mission buildings are generally in the same ruinous
condition I have before described. We put up at the house of a Mr.
Murphy, a scholastic Irish bachelor, who has been a resident of
California for a number of years. His _casa_, when we arrived, was
closed, and it was with some difficulty that we could gain admission.
When, however, the occupant of the house had ascertained, from one of
the loopholes of the building, who we were, the doors were soon
unbarred and we were admitted, but not without many sallies of Irish
wit, sometimes good-natured, and sometimes keenly caustic and ironical.
We found a table spread with cold mutton and cold beef upon it. A cup
of coffee was soon prepared by the Indian muchachos and muchachas, and
our host brought out some scheidam and _aguardiente_. A draught or two
of these liquids seemed to correct the acidity of his humour, and he
entertained us with his jokes and conversation several hours.

_October 18_.--From San Rafael to Sausolito, opposite San Francisco on
the north side of the entrance to the bay, it is five leagues (fifteen
miles), generally over elevated hills and through deep hollows, the
ascents and descents being frequently steep and laborious to our
animals. Starting at half-past seven o'clock, we reached the residence
of Captain Richardson, the proprietor of Sausolito, about nine o'clock
in the morning. In travelling this distance we passed some temporary
houses, erected by American emigrants on the mission lands, and the
rancho of Mrs. Reed, a widow. We immediately hired a whale-boat from
one of the ships, lying here, at two dollars for each passenger, and
between ten and eleven o'clock we landed in San Francisco.

I met, soon after my arrival, Mr. Lippincott, heretofore mentioned, who
accompanied us a portion of the distance over the mountains; and Mr.
Hastings, who, with Mr. Hudspeth, conducted a party of the emigrants
from fort Bridger by the new route, _via_ the south end of the Salt
Lake, to Mary's River. From Mr. Lippincott I learned the particulars of
an engagement between a party of the emigrants (Captain West's company)
and the Indians on Mary's River, which resulted, as has before been
stated, in the death of Mr. Sallee and a dangerous arrow wound to Mr.
L. He had now, however, recovered from the effects of the wound. The
emigrants, who accompanied Messrs. Hastings and Hudspeth, or followed
their trail, had all reached the valley of the Sacramento without any
material loss or disaster.

I remained at San Francisco from the 18th to the 22d of October. The
weather during this time was sufficiently cool to render fires
necessary to comfort in the houses; but fireplaces or stoves are
luxuries which but few of the San Franciscans have any knowledge of,
except in their kitchens. This deficiency, however, will soon be
remedied. American settlers here will not build houses without
chimneys. They would as soon plan a house without a door, or with the
entrance upon its roof, in imitation of the architecture of the Pueblo
Indians of New Mexico.


Boat trip up the bay and the Sacramento to New Helvetia
An appeal to the alcalde
Straits of San Pueblo and Pedro
Straits of Carquinez
Town of Francisca
Feather-beds furnished by nature
Mouth of the Sacramento
Delaware Tom
A man who has forgotten his mother tongue
Salmon of the Sacramento
Indian fishermen
Arrive at New Helvetia.

_October 22_.--Having determined to make a trip to Nueva Helvetia by
water, for the purpose of examining more particularly the upper portion
of the bay and the Sacramento river, in conjunction with Mr. Larkin, we
chartered a small open sail-boat for the excursion. The charter, to
avoid disputes, was regularly drawn and signed, with all conditions
specified. The price to be paid for a certain number of passengers was
thirty-two dollars, and demurrage at the rate of twenty-five cents per
hour for all delays ordered by the charter-party, on the trip upwards
to Nueva Helvetia. The boat was to be ready at the most convenient
landing at seven o'clock this morning, but when I called at the place
appointed, with our baggage, the boat was not there. In an hour or two
the skipper was found, but refused to comply with his contract. We
immediately laid our grievance before the alcalde, who, after reading
the papers and hearing the statements on both sides, ordered the
skipper to perform what he had agreed to perform, to which decision he
reluctantly assented. In order to facilitate matters, I paid the costs
of the action myself, although the successful litigant in the suit.

We left San Francisco about two o'clock P.M., and, crossing the mouth
of the bay, boarded a Mexican schooner, a prize captured by the U.S.
sloop-of-war Cyane, Captain Dupont, which had entered the bay this
morning and anchored in front of Sausolito. The prize is commanded by
Lieutenant Renshaw, a gallant officer of our navy. Our object in
boarding the schooner was to learn the latest news, but she did not

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