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The Silver Dons, 1833-1865

CHAPTER SEVEN: End of the Pueblo

The conquest was nearing an end. The North had not joined in resisting the invasion, and the Sureños of the great ranchos of Southern California were dismayed by the loss of life at San Pas­qual and in the Pauma massacre, and fearful of more Indian uprisings. The officers of Gen. Pico were divided by jealousy and bickering. With Col. Frémont’s Volunteers threatening from the north, and Commodore Stockton and Gen. Kearny beginning final preparations for a march from San Diego, further resistance seemed hopeless, and then came the disheartening report from Indians that a large force of Americans with covered wagons soon would be at Warner’s Pass. This was the Mormon Battalion.

The rancheros concealed their horses and cattle to prevent their seizure by Pico’s Lancers who were made up largely of youngsters and rift raff of the pueblos of Sonora. But a cry for revenge would take more lives and shed more helpless blood in the silent mountain valleys.

San Diego’s destiny as a military city perhaps was written in the muddy little Plaza in Old Town. The Cyane returned to join the Congress, Savannah and the Portsmouth in the bay and add its marines and sailors to a force of 600 men being whipped into an “army” by hours of drilling in the Plaza. On November 23, Dr. Griffin noted in his diary:

“We have but little bread only four ounces per diem. No vegetables, but plenty of fresh beef and mutton. I fear dysentery with this diet. The garrison is in a wretched state . . . the quarters like all Mexican houses are ill ventilated, cold and damp. As to military affairs we had what I suppose was intended for a grand review yesterday, 20 dragoons on horses that would not have been used for anything else in the United States but for wolf bait; some 80 or one hun­dred marines; some 40 volunteer rifle men, and some 40 jacktars — all mounted on horses and mules. This presented certainly the most grotesque cav­alry parade I have ever witnessed. All hands however got along remarkably well with their horses — except the marines. They either had the luck of get­ting the worst animals, or were the worst horsemen. A horse occasionally would become a little restless and give a slight kick, and off would roll the mar­ine, bayonet and musket, then another would give a shake and off would go another marine.”

As fighting men, however, Dr. Griffin praised the marines as well drilled and healthy and as fine an infantry as could be raised in the United States. As for the sailors, he said jacktars didn’t know what “back out” meant, were first rate in discipline, “and if they only had shoes, there is certainly no reason why they should not make first rate soldiers.”

Their supply of horses had been increased with the return of the Stonington and Capt. Samuel J. Hensley of the California Vol­unteers. They had gone as far south as Mission Santo Domingo, 185 miles below San Diego in Lower California, and they had obtained 300 head of cattle belonging to Juan Bandini, 140 horses and mules, and some saddles and saddle rigging.

There were some hours of leisure and pleasure, despite the rather primitive surroundings, and Dr. Griffin wrote that “we had a fine ball last night, quite a turn out of good-looking women.” Not all Americans were in agreement about such things. Gun­ner Meyers, who came to San Diego on the Cyane, noted that “for a description of the town, it is a miserable hole and the ugliest women I ever saw.” He can be forgiven, perhaps, for of the many water color paintings this sailor made of the Mexican and California coast, he left two of San Diego, the only detailed sketch of the hide houses at La Playa and of Old Town as seen from across the bay.

Lt. Emory, the engineer, studied the coast as mapped on old Spanish charts published in Madrid in 1825 and the survey of the harbor made by Capt. Edward Belcher of the Royal Navy and pub­lished in his “Voyage Around the World.” From the hill above the town he saw that the Rio San Diego originally debouched into False, or Mission Bay, “where meeting the waters rolling in from the seaward, a bar was formed by the deposit of sand, making the entrance of False Bay impractical.”

As for San Diego Bay into which the river was now emptying:

“Well grounded fears are entertained that the immense quantity of sand discharged by this river will materially injure, if it does not destroy the harbor of San Diego; but this evil could be arrested at a slight cost, compared with the objects to be obtained. At present San Diego is, all things considered, perhaps one of the best harbors on the coast from Callao to Puget’s Sound, with a single exception, that of San Francisco. In the opinion of some intelligent navy officers, it is preferable even to this. The harbor of San Francisco has more water, but that of San Diego has a more uniform climate, better anchorage, and perfect security from winds in any direction. However, the commercial metropolis must be at San Francisco, owing to the greater extent and superiority of the country adjacent, watered by the rivers Sacramento and San Joachim, unless indeed San Diego should be made the terminus of a railroad leading by the route of the Gila to the Del Norte, and thence to the Mississippi and the Atlantic.”

Though Stockton and Kearny fell into a dispute as to their respective authority in establishing civil government, the Army at last was ready to bid goodbye to San Diego. With Kearny in command of the troops under Stockton as commander-in-chief, and with some of Pico’s irregulars watching from the hills, the 600 men, ill-clad and with shoes made of canvas, and oxen pulling heavily-­loaded carretas marched out December 29th and camped that night in a heavy rain in Soledad Valley. Santiago E. Arguello went as captain of a Volunteer Battalion, with Luis Arguello as a lieuten­ant and Miguel de Pedrorena as an aide-de-camp to Stockton.

The next morning, Dr. Griffin wrote, they “marched as hard as our poor devilish, broken down animals could carry us.” After camping the second night at Los Peñasquitos they reached San Bernardo Rancho. The day had been beautiful but the night was cold, the water freezing, and the mountains in the distance were covered with snow.

Dr. Griffin visited the scene of the Battle of San Pasqual and Mule Hill, where he found “everything just as we left it, except poor Sgt. Cox’s grave, the wolves had scratched down to the body and eaten off part of the feet.” A marine guard was drawn up at Bernardo Rancho and the camp of Stockton:

“The Commodore with his staff passed the night at the ranch, and report says had a fine supper. The Commodore has the most enlarged view of the hardships of a soldier’s life. He has a fine tent well supplied with table furniture and bedstead, I am told, while our old General has nothing in the world but his blankets and bear skins, and a common tent, one pack mule for himself, Capt. Turner and Stewart.”

On the way they passed the deserted San Luis Rey Mission and came to Santa Margarita Rancho, where they received reports of Frémont’s movements from John Forster, who said his brother-­in-law, Andrés Pico, really believed that the American govern­ment would never confiscate property or shoot a man though he may have violated the most sacred pledge.

To Dr. Griffin it seemed a “misfortune that our government has the reputation of exercising too much leniency. These fellows suppose that they can make war as long as it is convenient and when they get tired of it, come in and be paid high wages for little or no service.”

Forster remained with them on the march to San Juan Capistrano Mission:

“Forster told us that after the Battle of San Pasqual . . . the Californians came to St. Johns, that each man told how many of our men they had killed individu­ally, that upon computation taken of each man, they killed some 200 of our people. Of course the bragging must have been rare . . . We found here four Californians, who had been wounded in the action. Forster told us that these rascals after they had concluded to run, found some of our dead and wounded in the bushes, and actually (stuck) their lances in them so they might draw blood on their lances.”

The Americans and the Californios finally came face to face at the upper ford of the San Gabriel River southeast of Los Angeles. Though there was some desultory artillery fire, and a few casual­ties, Gen. José María Flores was unable to prevent the crossing of the river. The Californios retreated to the Los Angeles River, but again a crossing was effected. Los Angeles surrendered on January 10. Flores turned his authority over to Andrés Pico and fled to Sonora. Pico chose to surrender to Frémont, who had reached San Fernando, and the Capitulation of Cahuenga was signed on January 13, 1847, in an atmosphere of forgiveness and goodwill.

Sometime during the closing phases of the war, Gen. Flores dispatched José del Carmen Lugo and Ramón Carrillo and fifteen men on a mission of revenge. They were joined by a band of Cahuilla Indians led by Juan Antonio. At Aguanga, between Warner’s and Temecula, just north of the present San Diego­ Riverside County line, they trapped many members of the small Luiseño tribe which had committed the Pauma Valley massacre. A number were killed and the rest turned over to the custody of Juan Antonio. Juan Antonio slaughtered them all. How many died is not known as the reports of the affair are fragmentary. Probably more than half of the little tribe of seventy was wiped out and the Paumas reduced to impotency.

Both Stockton and Kearny returned to San Diego, for short stays, continuing their disagreement as to their respective author­ities, while Lt. Beale and Kit Carson and ten picked men were sent from San Diego to Washington with dispatches announcing the acquisition of California. They were followed by Indians for 800 miles. Beale, a slight, stoop-shouldered little man, also took with him a letter from twenty brother officers and shipmates thanking him for his success in getting through to San Diego and bringing help for the survivors of San Pasqual. The letter stated that they had ordered from England a pair of epaulettes and sword “to be presented to you . . . as a testimony of our admiration of your gallant conduct in the bold and hazardous enterprise . . .”

Kearny re-instituted regular mail service between San Diego and San Francisco, in much the same manner as that conducted by the Spaniards. Even well up into the Mexican period couriers twice a week had been dispatched in both directions, from San Diego at one end and San Francisco at the other, journeying from mission to mission. Under Kearny, each Monday two Army cour­iers left San Francisco and San Diego, carrying civilian as well as military mail, meeting and exchanging mail pouches half way, and then retracing their routes. Mail from San Diego arrived at San Luis Rey Monday evening; at Los Angeles, Wednesday noon; at Santa Barbara, Friday evening; at Monterey, Wednesday even­ing, and at San Francisco, Sunday evening.

With the establishment of the military posts on the Pacific Coast and due to the increased tension between the North and the South over the issue of slavery, it was imperative that the government mail between Washington, D.C., and the West Coast be main­tained on schedule. In 1848 a military mail service was started from San Diego to Yuma. The route proceeded south from San Di­ego to the Tia Juana River, thence up the river for a distance and then following the low valleys where the mountains slide off below the international border, which are now traversed by the Tijuana-­Mexicali highway, for about forty miles, entering California again near Campo, and continuing east down Walker Canyon, past Mountain Springs. This route long had been used by Bandini in travelling from his ranch at Tecate to Tijuana, and the rancho of Arguello, and from there along the mission road to San Diego. It was a natural corridor to the mountain passes. At Mountain Springs the mail route went down harsh Long Canyon to connect with the Kearny route east of Coyote Wells, and from there it went on to Yuma.

The Mormon Battalion, deviating at times from the route fol­lowed by Kearny, in carrying out instructions to open a wagon route to California, reached the Colorado River on January 8. The Battalion then was down to about 350 men, the feeblest among them long since having been sent back. With the Battalion were the wives of five officers. It had been a long and trying march by men unaccustomed to the discipline of military life and beset all the way by shortages of clothing and livestock. At the Colorado Lt. Col. Cooke accused the Mormons of indifference in getting their wagons across the mile-wide ford, a task that required three days, but in truth, their mules were worn and weak, and ahead lay the worst of the march, sixty miles of bleak, forbidding desert.

Wells in the desert ran dry, many of the wagons had to be aban­doned, and the Battalion became separated from its train, and as Cooke wrote in his Journal:

“Thus, without water for near three days (for the animals) and encamping two nights in succession without water, the battalion made, in forty-eight hours, four marches of eighteen, eight, eleven, and nineteen miles, suffering from frost and summer heat.”

On the last day before reaching Carrizo Springs, their water ran out altogether and Henry Standage saw “many of the brethern laying by the road side begging water. . . ” A message for assist­ance had been sent to Kearny, and at this almost hopeless point some herders arrived with thirty-five mules and the sad news of Kearny’s defeat at San Pasqual and the death of a number of Cooke’s friends.

When they reached Carrizo Springs on January 17, to the com­mander’s amazement, the Mormons broke out a fiddle and sang lustily all evening around their camp fires. With the disaster of San Pasqual in mind, Cooke, on January 19, ordered his men into a more military order, with scouts in front and baggage to the rear, and marched them up through Mason Valley. A guide came back with the report that it appeared as if they were coming to a dead end. At the tip of Mason Valley, the historic desert trail branched off, one an Indian road, swinging northwest up through Oriflamme Canyon to Cuyamaca and Green Valleys, high in the mountains, and the other turning slightly east through a narrow rocky chasm into Earthquake Valley and then San Felipe Valley and Warner’s Pass. But the flat chasm was too narrow for the wagons and the 200-foot ridge separating the two valleys too steep for the mules and their wagons.

Cooke inspected the situation. He took off his coat, seized a pick and told his men to “fall to.” By nightfall they had chipped away a foot of rock and dirt and cut a path for four and a half-miles through which the wagons could be squeezed. This was Box Can­yon, and the work of Cooke and the Mormons made possible the historic Butterfield Stage Route.

The Battalion arrived at Warner’s on January 21, and it rained for three days, the men seeking shelter in the timber, and the march was resumed on the 25th. They were soaked through to the skin in trying to ford a swollen creek, and finally learned they were on the wrong road. Henry Wm. Bigler, in his Diary of a Mormon in California writes that the whole country appeared to be alive with large bands of horses, mules and johasses, and the valleys and hills were covered with herds of cattle, and along the larger streams there was any amount of wildlife.

In some doubt as to their instructions, they continued on the road to Los Angeles until they reached the Temecula turn-off, where they received orders directing them to San Diego, and they went south through Rainbow and reached the broad San Luis Rey River Valley west of Pala. They followed the river west until they passed the San Luis Rey Mission on January 27th, and camped near the seashore north of what is now the city of Oceanside. From there they went south toward San Diego, in two marches, Bigler noting that “in many places there were acres and perhaps hundreds of acres of wild oats growing, looking as green as a wheat field at home in the month of May . . ‘. I have seen some Mexicans and Indians who looked to me as if they were as old as the everlasting hills.”

From Soledad Valley they crossed the Miramar Mesa and went down the padres’ road through Cañada de la Soledad, or Murphy Canyon, to San Diego Mission, which had been designated as their quarters. It was January 30. Bigler writes that they found the mission rooms dirty and full of fleas as they had been occupied only by Indians for some time. The harbor was full of ships, Bigler noting the presence of two men o’ war, one merchant vessel, a whaler and a schooner.

Cooke issued his “Order Number I” which follows, in part:

“The lieutenant-colonel commanding congratulates the battalion on their safe arrival on the shore of the Pacific ocean, and the conclusion of the march of over two thousand miles. History may be searched in vain for an equal march of infantry. Nine-tenths of it has been through a wilderness where nothing but savages and wild beasts are found, or deserts where, for want of water, there is no living thing . . . With crowbar and pick and ax in hand we have worked our way over mountains which seemed to defy aught save the wild goat, and hewed a passage through a chasm of living rock more narrow than our wagons . . . Thus, marching half naked and half fed, and living upon wild animals, we have discovered and made a road of great value to our country . . .”

The town, however, was without provisions and the Battalion was destitute of clothing. Consequently, the Battalion was ordered to move up to the San Luis Rey Mission, where it arrived February 3, and Bigler writes that “this is a handsome situation and good buildings sufficient to accommodate a thousand soldiers.” A sup­ply vessel from the Sandwich Islands arrived at San Diego, and the food situation was temporarily relieved. In mid-March the Battalion was divided, Company B under Capt. Jesse D. Hunter being ordered to San Diego to take over from the Marines the garrisoning of Fort Stockton with its seven pieces of artillery.

San Diego could never resume its old ways, but life began to flow once again, and Dr. Griffin, who had returned with Kearny’s Dragoons, writes:

“The Commodore gave an eloquent blow out on board the Congress. The decor­ations were the flags of different nations, and the deck of the ships made decidedly the finest ballroom I ever saw. We had all the ladies from San Diego and everything went off in fine style. We had a little dance every evening at Señor Bandini’s and . . . the whole time passes off agreeably.”

Rumors of Mexican forces approaching from Sonora persisted, but nothing ever came of them, though at one time Frémont sent a force of 175 men and four pieces of artillery to Warner’s. Accord­ing to Dr. Griffin, Stockton upon returning to San Diego on the Congress, proclaimed his intention of fighting any enemy legions reported massing at San Vicente in Lower California and “Stock­ton made a speech to his men before sailing yesterday . . . that if pushed to the last he will make the pass of San Vicente as re­nowned as Thermopylae . . . Ye gods, what gas!” The Congress sailed for the south with Santiago Arguello and Pedrorena but evidently saw no signs of impending danger.

The industrious Mormons brought a sense of urgency to a pueblo that had existed with only a limited feeling for time and events, and the Californios slowly laid aside their fears that the Mormons would run off with their women. Dr. Griffin notes:

“The prejudice against the Mormons here seems to be wearing off. It is as yet among the Californians a great term of reproach to be called Mormon. Yet, as they are quiet, industrious, sober, inoffensive people they seem to be gradually working their way up. They are extremely industrious. They have been engaged while here in digging wells, plastering houses, and seem anxious and ready to work . . . they are barefooted and naked . . . Mormons building a horse mill . . . this is looked upon in San Diego as the greatest feat that has ever been undertaken in these parts.”

Bigler in his diary said that masons among the Mormons built the first brick house in San Diego and “for all I know in Califor­nia. The building I believe was to be used for a courthouse and school.” Some fifteen or twenty wells were dug, lined with brick, pumps installed, and a kiln completed. The brick structure erected by the Mormons probably was the office and court of the alcalde which is shown west of the Plaza in the first sketches of Old Town made by the Americans. It appeared to be two-stories in height, with an American-type porch. The old adobe town house in the Plaza was falling into ruins.

The wife of Capt. Hunter, who had come with him with the Mormon Battalion, gave birth to a son named Diego, the first child born in Old Town of American parents. Mrs. Hunter, however, died in April, during an influenza epidemic. A census of the region taken by the Mormon company listed 248 whites, three Sandwich Islanders, three Negroes, 483 “tame” Indians, and 1550 “wild” Indians. Actually, the Indian population was much larger.

During the period of the conquest José Antonio Estudillo, Pedro­rena, Joaquín Ortega and Capt. Fitch served successively as justices of the peace, or alcaldes, as they were generally referred to, and in 1847, under American military rule, Fitch and possibly Philip Crosthwaite were elected and confirmed by military author­ities. Fitch also had been appointed receptor or collector of customs but resigned and was succeeded by Pedro C. Carrillo, and the port was opened to foreign trade. Carrillo was succeeded, in turn, by Santiago Arguello and Miguel de Pedrorena.

In April, Fitch, as alcalde, reported to Kearny, as acting gov­ernor of California, that he was having difficulty enforcing his own decrees. In reply, Kearny wrote:

“I regret to learn that Mr. Warner refuses obedience to your decree. If he remain refractory, you are authorized to call upon the military officer most convenient to you for men to enforce your decree. This authority is also dele­gated to you in any other case in which the military may be required to give effect to your judicial acts.”

Fitch resigned and was succeeded by Lt. Robert Clift of the Mormon Battalion. He, in turn, in the following year, was suc­ceeded by Bandini and Edmund Lee Brown, as first and second alcaldes, respectively. Juan María Marrón succeeded Bandini. Brown had been a sergeant with the Mormon Battalion.

At the time Stockton returned from the capture of Los Angeles, he ordered the dismantling of Ft. Stockton. The cannons originally from the old Spanish fort on Ballast Point were taken out and dropped into the deepest part of the bay. According to Judge Hayes, one cannon, which had been cast in Manila in 1783, and had been hidden by Pedrorena at the outbreak of war, was left in the Plaza, on the plea of Crosthwaite, for the protection of San Diego and the firing of salutes. It was mounted on wheels and axle by the carpenter of the frigate Congress. However, two cannons have survived. The one cast in Manila is engraved “El Júpiter” and points seaward from Stockton Hill; the other, named “El Cápitan” and also cast in 1783, is in the Old Town Plaza.

With the war over, Santiago Arguello sought to take possession of the San Diego Mission and its lands which had been granted to him by Pío Pico but he was frustrated in this effort by José Antonio Estudillo. Estudillo exhibited a power of attorney as administrator on behalf of Fr. Vicente Oliva, thus showing that the church still claimed jurisdiction. Capt. Daniel Davis, who commanded the First Company, Mormon Volunteers, held the sale invalid though Philip Crosthwaite and E. L. Brown were placed in charge of the property. Apolinaria Lorenzana informed the president of the missions of the theft of the sacred vessels and silver candlesticks, some of which, she said, were melted down in a smithy operated by the Americans in Old Town. However, Estu­dillo subsequently reported finding many of the missing articles buried in the sand of the river bottom, where they must have been hidden by devout Indians.

The suspicion that missions had been fraudulently given away led Kearny to issue a proclamation halting further sale of mis­sions and Indian lands and the United States assumed a guardian­ship over the properties until all claims as to ownership could be verified. As Fr. Oliva had died in January of 1847, custody of the San Diego Mission was conveyed temporarily to Padre Gonzales of the Santa Barbara Mission.

The Americanization that had begun with the arrivals of the fur ships from Boston, and then the hide ships of the days of Richard Henry Dana, proceeded swiftly. On the Fourth of July, 1847, Bigler’s diary notes:

“At daylight 5 pieces of cannon were fired off in salute of the day of American independence, after which the Comp. shouldered their mustkets . . . and gave the officers of Comp. B, and the citizens of San Diego a . . . salute . . . This seemed to please the inhabitants of the town so well that they brought out their bottles of wine and (aguardiente, or spirits), . . . and called on the boys to help themselves to all they could drink and the day passed nicely . . .”

When the time neared for the Mormons to receive their long anticipated discharges from military service, “the citizens of San Diego insisted that we enlist again. . . they seemed to be favorable to the American flag and said they knew they will ketch hell soon after we leave.”

Their departure alarmed San Diego and they petitioned the military on the need of a garrison. Re-enlisted Mormons returned, but early in 1848 they were succeeded by Company I of Steven­son’s Regiment of Volunteers who had been recruited in New York State and arrived by sea after the shooting was over. The com­pany, however, remained only until September, when it, too, was mustered out, and that ended the military occupation of San Diego.

Though the fighting was long since over in California, the war with Mexico continued. The crew of the Portsmouth raised the American flag at San José del Cabo, at the tip of Lower Califor­nia, on March 29, 1847 and at La Paz on the gulf on April 13. The American flag previously had been raised in the northern section by the Volunteers from San Diego. There was no doubt in the minds of the officers of the Navy but that Lower California would become a part of the United States as had Upper California. In July, 115 men of the New York Volunteers were landed at La Paz, while a Navy lieutenant and twenty-four men were left to hold San José. When American ships of war left these waters to block­ade mainland ports, a Mexican army, which had crossed over from Guaymas, attacked both places. The fighting raged back and forth for the rest of the year, and on into 1848, with the USS Cyane, whose crew had raised the first American flag over San Diego, and two whalers assisting the Americans. The Magnolia, under Capt. B. Simmons, which had helped in the recapture of San Diego, sent its crew, along with that of the Edward, of New Bed­ford, J. S. Parker, master, to the relief of an American garrison at San Jose. Finally, the Americans were reinforced and they defeated the Mexicans and captured the officers. This phase had cost many more casualties than had the actions in Upper Califor­nia. The outcome of the war, however, was decided in major battles on the mainland, and the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, signed on February 2, 1848, confirmed United States’ possession of the Southwest and California, but returned Lower Cali­fornia to Mexico.

American whale ships had been putting into Lower California bays, particularly La Paz, for fresh provisions for some time. In a letter written in 1848, Rodman M. Price, purser of the Cyane, stated that:

“On the Pacific Coast of the peninsula there is the great bay of Magdalena . . . a fleet of whale ships have been there during the winter months of the last two years, for a new species of whale that are found there . . . it will be a constant source of regret to this country that it was not included in the treaty of peace just made with Mexico . . . as a possession to any foreign power, I think Lower California more valuable than the group of the Sandwich Islands.”

The leading figures in the conquest of California, Stockton, Kearny and Frémont, had long since left. Col. Richard B. Mason was governor. For Frémont, there was only bitterness ahead. For refusing to obey the orders of Kearny, who had brought with him authority from the President as regards civil government, the same instructions which Stockton had chosen to ignore, he was to be court-martialed in an atmosphere charged with politics, and convicted of mutiny and disobedience. Public sympathy, however, helped to make him the first Republican candidate for President in 1856. Kearny died in 1848 from fever contracted on one of his later campaigns.

The San Diegans returned to their ranchos, and donning the costumes of the old days that they were never really to forget, sat in their silver saddles and once again looked over their rolling empires, uncertain but hopeful in the promise of the Americans that the United States would accept them as free and equal citizens and respect their titles to their lands.

Death was removing some of the early figures of the ranch period. Juan María Osuna, a corporal of the San Diego Company under the banner of Spain, died in 1847, as did Capt. Edward Snook, who in his will left San Bernardo Rancho to relatives in England, subject to his wife’s use during her natural life.

The bodies of the soldiers who had fallen at San Pasqual were removed about May 20, 1848, from their burial place under the willow tree and re-interred in Old Town by the First Dragoons. A new cemetery for Protestants was laid out in a block bounded by the present streets of Hancock, Trias, Moore and Hortensia. There the bodies remained for a number of years, and efforts were made from time to time to have a monument erected.

Pío Pico, the last Mexican governor, returned to California, entering San Diego on July 6, 1848. He failed to report to the military authorities there, and then at San Fernando declared himself still governor under the terms of the armistice that ended the war. But that was in a yesterday that was gone forever.

On the surface, all was tranquil, but Capt. Fitch reflected an undercurrent of resentment. He wrote that “the inhabitants are almost unanimously opposed to the U.S. government, and detest us from the bottom of their hearts in particular the newcomers.” For the Indians, time was quickly running out.

California still was largely unknown. The map of the new ter­ritories accompanying the treaty with Mexico had to be drawn several times, as the first two had failed to include all of Southern California. The first suggested boundary line had run south of San Francisco, and the second, just south of Del Mar, about nine­teen miles north of San Diego. In the end, it was set as running east from a point one marine league south of San Diego Bay.

Barely a week before the signing of the treaty that ended the war a man by the name of James W. Marshall saw some tiny glit­tering pebbles in the tail race of John A. Sutter’s sawmill in one of the small canyons of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Gold!