History of San Diego, 1542-1908

PART THREE: CHAPTER 2: Horton’s Own Story

(The statement contained in this chapter, together with much other material for this volume, was dictated by Mr. Hor­ton to a stenographer in a series of interviews occurring in October, November and December, 1906. The white old pioneer had then just entered upon his ninety-third year, yet enjoyed vigorous health, with unimpaired sight and hearing, and with the keenest interest in all public affairs, present as well as past. Every day he drove alone through the streets of the city, as self-reliant as in the days of his prime. His memory seemed clear and strong, though it naturally dwelt largely in the past and lingered with especial fondness on the triumphs of his career. And as these words are written, nearly a year after the interviews described, “Father” Horton still lives in his suburban home, at the corner of State and Olive, from which spot he commands one of the finest views in the world.)

I returned to the Pacific Coast in 1861, and in May, 1867, was living in San Francisco. I had a store at the corner of Sixth and Mar­ket Streets where I dealt in furniture and household goods, and was doing well. One night a friend said to me:

“There is going to be a big meeting tonight” [at such a place], “and it might be interesting for you to attend.”

“What is to be the subject of the talk?” I asked.

“It will be on the subject of what ports of the Pacific Coast will make big cities.”

So I went, and the speaker commenced at Seattle and said it was going to be a big city; and then he came on down to San Francisco, which he said would be one of the biggest cities in California. Then he kept on down along the coast until he came to San Diego, and he said that San Diego was one of the health­iest places in the world, and that it had one of the best harbors in the world; that there was no better harbor.

I could not sleep that night for thinking about San Diego, and at two o’clock in the morning I got up and looked on a map to see where San Diego was, and then went back to bed satisfied. In the morning I said to my wife: “I am going to sell my goods and go to San Diego and build a city.” She said I talked like a wild man, that I could not dispose of my goods in six months.

But I commenced that morning and made a large sale that day. The second day it was the same and I had to hire two more help­ers. By the third day I had five men hired, and in these three days I had sold out all my stock. It was not an auction sale, but just a run of business which seemed providential. Then my wife said she would not oppose me any longer, for she had always noticed when it was right for me to do anything, it always went right in my favor; and as this had gone that way, she believed it was right for me to do so.



I went down to the office of the Pacific Mail Steamship Com­pany and inquired, and they said the steamer would be in on her return trip in about ten days; so I engaged passage down and back. I took passage on the steamer Pacific, and arrived in San Diego on the 15th of April. The steamer carried twenty-­six tons of freight and six passengers. On the return trip she had a cargo of whale oil. I was the only passenger going to San Diego to stay. Wells, Fargo & Co.’s agent was on hoard. His name was Morgan, and he did business at all the places where the steamer stopped on the way down. E. W. Morse was the ­agent of the express company in Old Town at that time. This Morgan was bragging about San Diego all the way down, and telling me what a beautiful place it was.

We landed at the old wharf, near where the coal bunkers [Santa Fe wharves] now are, and had to wait there an hour for a wagon to come and take us up to San Diego (Old Town). While we were waiting, I walked up to where the court-house now is and looked over the ground. There was nothing there but sage-brush then. I thought San Diego must be a heaven-on­-earth, if it was all as fine as that; it seemed to me the best spot for building a city I ever saw.

I made some inquiries about who had been here before. Some army officers had come in from the East before the war and started a town at what was called New San Diego. At the time of the discovery of gold the people all left that place. They said there could never be a town there. When I came, all the inhab­itants were at Old Town. There was not a man living south of Old Town for twenty miles, to the head of the Bay. There was one man living at the head of the Bay; his name was Santiago E. Argüello. The Spanish settlements at the old fort on Pre­sidio Hill, and at the old hide houses near where Roseville now is, were entirely deserted.

When we got to Old Town, they were taking, the goods out of the wagon, and this Mr. Morgan said to me:

“Well, Horton, how do you like the looks of San Diego?”

“Is this the great San Diego you were talking so nmch about?” said I.


“Look here, are you telling me the truth?”

“Sure; this is San Diego; what do you think of it?”

“I would not give you $5 for a deed to the whole of it—I would not take it as a gift. It doesn’t lie right. Never in the world can you have a city here.”

Mr. Morse was standing by and heard this. He had a store in Old Town and was one of the first men here in San Diego. He was one of the smartest men they had here, and has always been one of our best citizens. When he heard this he said to me (and these were the first words he ever spoke to me):

“Where do you think the city ought to be?”

“Right down there by the wharf,” I replied. “I have been nearly all over the United States, and that is the prettiest place for a city I ever saw. Is there any land there for sale?”

I thought then that if I could buy twenty or forty acres there, that I would be satisfied. Mr. Morse said:

“Yes, you can buy property there, by having it put up and sold at auction.”

I found out that the old city trustees were holding over. The pueblo had some debts and no income, so they did not want to incur the expense of holding an election. I said right away that that was illegal, that the old trustees could not give a good title to the property, and that there would have to be an election called. They could call a special election by giving ten days’ notice, and I asked who the man was to call the election. Morse pointed out a tall man on the other side of the plaza, and said:

“There is Mr. Pendleton crossing the plaza. He is county clerk and clerk of the court and can call an election.” I went across to meet this man, and said to him:

“Mr. Pendleton, I came down here to buy some land and help you build up a town, but I find the old town trustees are hold­ing over and cannot do anything legally, so I want you to call an election.”

“I shan’t do it, sir. The town owes me enough, already.”

“Mr. Pendleton, how much would it cost for you to call an election?”

“Not less than five dollars.” I put my hand in my pocket and took out ten dollars and handed it to him and said: “Here is ten dollars; now call the election.”

GEORGE A. PENDLETON. A prominent figure of the early days, who, as County Clerk, called the election in connection with the sale of Pueblo lands to A. E. Horton.

He wrote three notices and I put them up that night in con­spicuous places, and that was the starting of San Diego. Morse went with me to show me what would be good land to get hold of, and showed me what is now called Horton’s Addition.

They had to give ten days’ notice before the election could be held. While waiting for the time to pass, a doctor at 01d Town asked me to go out on the mesa with him to shoot quail. I went out on the mesa with him, and I asked him how it was that since coming here my cough had left me? I had had a hard cough for six months and began to feel alarmed about it.

“Well,” he said, “that is the way with everybody that comes here. They all get well right off, even if they have consumption.”

When Sunday came, I went to the Catholic church service at Old Town. Father Ubach was the priest in charge, and he was a young man, then. When they passed around the plate I noticed that the contributions were in small coins, and the most I saw put in was ten cents. I had $5 in silver with me, rolled up, and I put that on the plate. This attracted considerable attention, and Father Ubach, among the rest, noticed it. After the service he came and talked with me; asked if I was a Cath­olic. I said no. What church did I belong to? I told him none. What was I there for? I told him about that and about the election. He asked me who I wanted for the trustees. I said I wanted F. W. Morse for one, and I did not know the business men very well, but I thought Joseph S. Mannasse and Thomas H. Bush would be satisfactory for the other two. He said immediately: “You can have them.” When the election came off, these three men were elected, having received just 32 votes each.

Mr. Morse was the auctioneer. The first tract put up extended from where the court-house now is, south to the water front and east to Fifteenth Street, and contained about 200 acres. My first bid was $100, and the people around me began to giggle and laugh when they heard it. I thought they were laughing because I had bid so little, but on inquiring what it was cus­tomary to pay for land, I was told that $20 was a good price if the land was smooth, or about $15 if it was rough. I did not bid so much after that. The pueblo lands had been surveyed into quarter-sections by the United States surveyors. I was the only bidder on all the parcels except one, and I bought in all about a thousand acres at an average of 26 cents an acre. On a fractional section near where Upas Street now is, Judge Hol­lister bid $5 over me. I told him he could have it, and then he begged me to bid again. I finally raised him 25 cents, and then he would not bid any more, but said:

“You can have it. I wouldn’t give a mill an acre for all you’ve bought. That land has lain there for a million years, and nobody has built a city on it yet.”

“Yes,” I said, “and it would lay there a million years longer without any city being built on it, if it depended upon you to do it.”

After the auction and before commencing work on my land, I thought I would go back to San Francisco and close out what business I had left there. I had the deeds from the trustees put on record and then when the steamer came took passage back to San Francisco. I told my wife I considered I had made a fortune while I had been away, and she was wonderfully well pleased.

I had lived in San Francisco about two years and was well known there, and after I returned large crowds came to ask for information about the new city by the only harbor south of San Francisco. I told them all about the harbor, the climate, and so forth, and what a beautiful site it was for a city. General Rosecrans was one of these visitors, although I did not know him at the time. He came to me a little while afterward and said he had heard about San Diego before, but had never heard its advantages so well explained. He thought he would like to go down and see it, and to make a trip from San Diego to the desert, to see if a railroad could be built from San Diego eastward. He said if it could, my property was worth a million dollars. “Well,” I said, “come on.” So we came down to San Diego (it did not cost him anything for steamer fare), and we got two teams, one for passengers and the other for provisions, etc., and started. E. W. Morse and Jo Mannasse furnished the teams, and they and two or three other people went along. We went first down to Tia Juana and from there about a hundred miles east to Jacumba Pass, where we could see out across the desert. General Rosecrans said to me: “Horton, this is the best route for a railroad through the mountains that I have ever seen in California.” He said he had been all over the state, and he was now satisfied that Horton’s property was well worth a million dollars. I said: “I am glad you are so sanguine about the property.” Coming back through where San Diego now is, he said to me: “If I ever have a lot in San Diego, I would like to have it right here.” I said I would remember him when the survey was made, and after it was completed I made him a present of the block bounded by Fifth and Sixth, F and G streets—block 70, I think it is. He had not asked for anything and did not expect to be paid, but he thanked me very kindly. Two years from that time I paid him $4,000 to get that block back again, and I sold half of it afterwards for more than I paid him.

After this excursion we went back to San Francisco and in a few days General Rosecrans came to me and said there were two men who wanted to buy me out. I went with him and met these men. General Rosecrans described the property and we talked it over for half or three-quarters of an hour, and they said they would give me $100,000 for the property. I thought, since they took me up so quick that they would probably give more. General Rosecrans told them that in his opinion the prop­erty was well worth a million dollars, and at last they said they would give me $200,000, and finally $250,000. I thought they might not be able to carry out their agreement, and also that if it was worth that much I might as well build a city there myself and get the profits. General Rosecrans asked me afterwards why I did not accept the offer. He said that I could have lived all my days like a fighting-cock on that much money. He said that they had the money and were abundantly able to fulfill any agreement they might make.

CAPT. S.S. DUNNELLS. Proprietor of the first hotel in Horton’s Addition.

There was an old building standing in new San Diego, about State and F Streets, on the water front when we landed. It had been braced up to keep it from falling down. It belonged to a man named Wm. H. Davis known as “Kanaka” Davis, who had been connected with new San Diego, but was then living in San Francisco. I bought this building from him with the lot it stood on and I think I paid him $100 for them. A man named Dunnells came to me to ask about the chance for starting a hotel at San Diego. He had been up north somewhere and was looking for a location, and I wanted to get a hotel started. So I told him about the place and about this old building, and he wanted to know what I would take for it. I sold it to him, with the lot, for $1,000. He was afraid he would not like the place, so I told him 1 would take it off his hands if he did not; and when he got there he liked the place and the property. It was a small frame building. Captain Dunnells was a good citizen. He died within a year past. His son is chief pilot of San Diego harbor.

Well, I got everything closed up in San Francisco and came down here and began work. I surveyed the land; I also began the building of a wharf at the foot of Fifth Street, in August, 1868. A man from San Francisco had agreed to put in half the materials and do half the work on this wharf, if I would give him five blocks of land for it. I agreed and he began work under this arrangement; but he soon backed out and I took it off his hands and finished the work myself. This was the first construction work I did in San Diego. The wharf cost alto­gether $45,000. This Judge Hollister, the same man who bid against me for the last parcel of land I bought from the city trustees, was the assessor, and he assessed this wharf at $60,000 and tried to make me pay taxes on that valuation. But I took the matter up with higher authorities, showed them just what the wharf had cost, and got the assessment canceled.

DUNNELL’S HOTEL. Corner State and F Streets.

After the survey was made, I set to work to get the town built up. There were a number of men who had come here and wanted work, and I offered them lots at $10 apiece. There was a man stopping with Dunnells who had brought about $8,000 in silver with him and said he was going to buy property. He said to these men: “Don’t pay it, you fools; you will be giving Hor­ton something for nothing. Those lots only cost him about 26 cents an acre.” They had already agreed to buy, but this man’s talk made them want to go back on their bargain. I went to them and said: “I understand that you would like to get our money back. There is your money.” I had not yet made out the deeds. I told them that they could each have a lot free, on condition that they would each put up a house on his lot to be at least twelve feet wide, sixteen feet long and twelve feet high, covered with shingles or shakes. That I would give them an inside lot on these conditions, but not a corner, and the deeds to be delivered when the buildings were finished. They said they would do that, and they went ahead and put up twenty build­ings, down on Fifth Street, near the water front. That was the beginning of the building of new San Diego. I said to those men: “Now you keep those and take care of them and pay the taxes, and they will make you well off.” But every one of them sold out in a little while for a good price, except one man, Joseph Nash. He still owns the lot he got from me.

The next day after I had made this arrangement, some of the men who had been scared out of buying from me came and said: “Well, Horton, I guess we will take those lots now at $10.” I said: “No, they will cost you $20 now.” A few days later I raised them to $25, then to $30, and sold them at these prices. The man who had caused trouble with my first purchasers came to me and wanted to buy lots at the increased prices, but I refused to sell him anything, because it was through him that these men had backed out of their trade. “Not one dollar of your money, sir,” I said, “will buy anything from me. If you buy it will be at second hand from someone else.” He went lack to San Francisco and told people there was no use for any­body to come down here to buy property from Horton, unless he was a Republican.

When I went to San Francisco, I had just come from the war and was a black Republican. I talked my religion (Republican­ism) freely in Old Town. A man came to me and said: “Be careful how you talk politics, Horton. What you have already said here is as much as your life is worth. This is the worst Copperhead hole in California.”

I said: “I will make it a Republican hole before I have been here very long.”

“Well,” he said, “I would like to see the tools you will do it with.”

At that time I would not employ a man unless he was a Repub­lican. Two years after I started San Diego, I carried the city for the Republican ticket, county and state, and the city and county have remained Republican ever since.

Nobody here had any money to hire men but me. I employed in building, surveying, working on the wharf, and so on, about a hundred men. I had my office on Sixth Street. Property was rising in value and I was taking in money fast. After a steamer came in, I would take in, for lots and blocks, in a single day, $5,000, $10,000, $15,000, and even $20,000. I have taken in money so fast I was tired of handling it.

CORNER OF 5TH AND ‘D’ IN 1872. Showing Horton House and Union Building in course of construction.

There was a man named John Allyn, who built the Allyn Block on Fifth Street. He came down here to see San Diego and I hired him to paper this old building that I had sold to Dun­nells. He was four days doing the work, and I gave him for it the lot on the southeast corner of Fifth and D Streets, 50x100. He took it, but said he didn’t know whether he would ever get enough for it to make it worth while to record the deed. It was only a year or two later that he sold it for $2,000 to the people who now own it, and it is now worth over $100,000. Allyn is now dead. He gave $3,000 to the city park, and that was the first donation that was made for that purpose.

Just north of the Russ Lumber Company’s place there were about a dozen houses which had been built by people who had bought lots. I said to these people that if they would white­wash their houses I would furnish the brushes and lime. They said they could not spare the time. But I wanted it done because I thought it would look well when the steamers came in. I then said that if they would let me whitewash one-half of their houses, on the seaward sides, I would furnish the materials and do the work. They consented, and so I hired men and had the houses whitewashed on the south and west sides. Then they wanted me to whitewash them all over, and I would not do it, but still offered to furnish the brushes and lime, so they finally finished the job themselves. The houses then made a fine show and peo­ple coming in on the steamers thought the town was growing very fast.

I commenced building the Horton House in January, 1870, and finished it in just nine months to a day from the time I turned the first shovelful of dirt. It cost me $150,000, finished, furnished and painted. There were 96 sleeping rooms in the Horton House, besides a dining room, reading room, bar, and office. The main wing was three stories high and the balance two. It was built of brick made here and they cost $11 a thou­sand. I bought two steamer loads of lumber and used it in the building.

I began the bank building just about the time I moved into the Horton House. This is the building on the southwest corner of Third and D Streets, where the Union has its offices. It was built of the same kind of brick that the Horton House was. The strongest vault in California today, I think, is in that building. A hole was dug down to hard gravel and a foundation laid upon it with cement and broken bottles. There were either four or six pieces of stone about 18 inches thick, 21 inches wide and 12 feet long for the foundation, laid on top of this foundation. The building was finished in about a year. I used the build­ing myself—had my office in the corner rooms upstairs for my land business, and the downstairs part was fitted up for a bank. The building was intended for the Texas and Pacific Railroad, but they never occupied it.

I was president of the old San Diego Bank when it was first organized, but I resigned soon after and Mr. Nesmith became its president. I was doing more business than the bank was; I told them they were too slow for me. I used to keep my money in the old Pacific Bank, at San Francisco, and I would give Klauber, Marston and others certificates on that bank, and they used these certificates as checks to pay their bills with.

The property I have given away in San Diego and never received a cent for is now worth over a million dollars. Out­side of this, I have received, as I can show from my books, from the sale of property, over a million dollars in San Diego.

I put up about fifty residences in Middletown for people who had come out here during the boom and wanted to get prop­erty cheap. None of these houses cost less than $500; one cost $3,000, and the rest cost $1,500 apiece. I rented these build­ings to people who were waiting to buy, at $5 a month. As soon as things began to go down and rents were cheap, many of these people left my buildings. I was once offered $30,000 for 30 of these buildings, by people who wanted to buy right off and move into them.

After I had built the Horton House, I went to San Fran­cisco to get Ben Holliday to put down the steamer fare and freight. The freight was $15 a ton from San Francisco to San Diego, and passenger fares were $60 a round trip. Holliday was the principal owner of the steamship line. He said to me “Mr. Horton, I am running these steamers to make money, and I am not going to put the freight or passenger rates down. I shan’t put them down, at all.”

“Then,” I said, “I shall have to do the best I can.”

“Well, what will you do?”

“I will put on an opposition line, if I can find a steamer.”

“Well, you do it, if you can, and be damned!”

Holliday was a rough talking man. After I had left his office I went up Montgomery Street and there I met a man named George W. Wright, who was the owner of the steamer Wm. Taber, which had just come around the Horn. He said to me: “Horton, if you will give me one-half the freight you are giving to Holliday & Co., I will put the steamer Taber on as an opposition line to San Diego.”

I said if he put the freight down from $15 a ton to $9 a ton, and passenger fares from $60 to $30 a round trip from San Francisco to San Diego, he should have one-half of the freight.

He said: “I don’t know whether I can rely on that or not. Show me how you are situated.”

I said to him: “I am employing in San Diego a hundred men. I will tell them that if they don’t, support the opposition line, I will tell them that their time is out and they can go wherever they can do better.”

“What would you advise me to do?” he asked.

“I would advise you to put into the newspapers—all of them—a notice that you will carry freight between San Francisco and San Diego for $9 a ton and passengers for $30 a round trip or $15 each way. I will take the stage and ride night and day till I get to San Diego, and attend to that end of it.”

When the steamers came in, the Taber was loaded down to the gunwale with freight and passengers, but the Orizaba had not enough passengers to pay for the lights they were burning on the ship. It went that way, as near as I can remember, about two months. Then Holliday went to Wright and asked him to take off the opposition steamer, and how much he would take to keep it off for three years. Wright said he wanted $300,000. “Well, what will you take for keeping it off for only a year?” Wright said $100,000, but that he would have to send down for Horton and see him about it first. “What, has Horton got anything to say about it?” “Yes.” “The hell he has! Well, send for Horton.” So Wright sent for me and I went up to San Francisco and Wright told Holliday: “Horton has come and is at the Occidental Hotel.”

“Well, ask him to come to my office. ”

“Horton has told me he would never set foot in your office again and you know it. You will have to go up to the hotel to see him, for Horton will not come down here.”

“Horton’s pretty damned independent, isn’t he?”

“Yes, and he is able to be.”

“Well, Jesse [speaking to his brother, Jesse Holliday], come along and let’s go up and see Horton. “Well, they came up to the hotel were I was stopping, and Wright told them about the arrangements they had with me.

“Well,” said Holliday, “I will agree to that.”

“Well,” I said, “I want you to agree further never to raise the rates for freight or passengers.”

He said he would not agree to that.

“Well, gentlemen,” I said, “you can sit here as long as you like; I have other business to attend to;” and I took my hat and started for the door. They called me back, and after some further talk, agreed to my demands. I said to them then: “Before this business is closed, we will have a lawyer come here, and you will sign an agreement never to raise the freight or passenger rates.” He didn’t want to do it, but I said: “Do it, or I’ll have nothing more to do with you;” so finally he agreed to that. Holliday paid Wright his $100,000, and he went out of the business. That was a benefit to Los Angeles, too, because freight rates were reduced to that point.

The landing for Los Angeles was San Pedro. The old Taber lies today up above Rio Vista, where she has been run ever since she was taken off. The Orizaba continued to run, for years. I don’t know just when she stopped running. Captain Johnson was her captain.

Just after I had moved into the Horton House, a man in the employ of the Western Union Telegraph Company came down here to see if he could get subscriptions enough to build the telegraph line from Los Angeles to San Diego. After he had been around and raised what he could, he was sitting in the stage waiting for it to start, to return to Los Angeles. He called me out there and told me he could not get help enough to warrant building the line down from Los Angeles; he thought perhaps it could be done after a year. I said: ” What will it cost to build the line from Los Angeles?” He said that he lacked about $5,000 of having enough. I said: “What will you give me if I make up the amount?” He said: “If you will subscribe one-half the amount we lack, we will give you one-half the earnings of the telegraph for three years. We will send an operator down here, and you to furnish an office and pay him $50 a month.” I said: “I will take it.” He said: “Shake hands on it, sir!” So we shook hands, and in one month from that time they had the instruments in working order in the Horton House. Quite a number of people around town had subscribed, but there was not enough pledged to secure the line. E. W. Morse was appointed to collect the subscrip­tions, but I furnished the $5,000 that was lacking to secure the extension. Within three years I got my money back and a little more.

I never parted with the title to the Plaza until I sold it to the city, but had reserved it for my own use and for the Hor­ton House. People got to talking about wanting to buy it and to put different buildings on the ground. I told them they could have it for the city, if they would pay me $10,000 for it, and they agreed to do it. Before the sale was closed, a man from Massachusetts wanted that ground, and after he had exam­ined the title offered me $50,000 for it. I went to the men I had had most of the talk with, and asked them if they would not let me sell to this man, instead of to the city. “Well,” they said, “we want it for the city, and we should think you would, too.” “Yes,” I said, “I did want the city to have it.” “Well, you agreed to let the city have it for $10,000 and we think you ought to stand by your bargain.” “Very well, then,” I said, “let me have $100 a month until it is paid for,” and that is the way the arrangement was made, to pay me $10,000 in monthly payments of $100 until it was paid for. That is the full history of the Plaza.

After I got moved into the Horton House, I went to Wash­ington to see about getting the Scott Railroad. Scott and some other people in the East wanted to build a railroad from El Paso west, but they did not make any provision for building from San Diego east. I saw how this was, and so I got up one morning, took money, and went off to Washington without waiting to consult anyone about it. When I got to Washington, I went to Scott and said:

“I see your bill is up and I don’t know whether it will pass or not, but it depends upon one thing: You have agreed in your bill to build one hundred miles a year, commencing at El Paso, this way; and you have agreed to nothing from San Diego east. Now, unless you will agree, and have it put in the bill, that you shall build fifty miles a year east from San Diego and fifty miles west from El Paso, your bill is lost.”

“Well,” said Scott, “how do you know you can defeat it?”

I said: “Tomorrow or next day your bill comes up, and you are beaten. If you can get that bill fixed right, I can help you to pass it.”

S.S. (“Sunset”) Cox was in Congress then, and had just made a speech against this bill. When I first got there, I went to see our Congressman. He was from San José. A man from New Orleans, our Congressman, and Cox were the committee in charge of the bill, and Cox said that if Scott would consent to amend it, he (Cox) would help get the Democratic votes neces­sary to pass it, notwithstanding he had already made a speech against the bill. This was done in half an hour.

So then I told Scott about Cox and the arrangement I had made with him. I got Scott and the committee together in the library of the Capitol, and they agreed to change the bill the way I wanted it. Of course, Cox could not vote for the bill after having made a speech against it, but he got leave of absence and went home for a few days when it was about to be voted on. After securing his leave of absence he started off without having arranged with his friends to vote for the bill. I reminded him of it just in time, and he said: “Oh, my God! I had forgotten all about that.” Then he went back and talked with about twenty-five of his Democratic friends, and when the bill came up for a vote, it passed.

I went to Washington three times on this business, after I got into the Horton House, and it cost me altogether $8,000. I got Scott, one senator, and two or three congressmen and oth­ers who were helping with the road, to come out here, and they all stopped with me at the Horton House. (This was Aug­ust 30, 1872.)

Scott was satisfied with the proposition, and so he let a con­tract to grade 25 miles, from 25th Street to Rose Canyon, and 10 miles were graded and Scott paid for it. [Horton threw the first shovelful of dirt, April 21, 1873.]

Scott went to Paris and made an agreement to sell his bonds there, and they were getting everything ready in order to close the transaction. They called him “the railroad king” in the United States at that time. He had an invitation to dine with the crowned heads of Europe, in Belgium. He did not tell the Paris bankers where he was going, but went off and was gone thirty-six hours. In twelve hours after he left, they had every­thing ready to pay over the money at the bank. They went to the place where he had been stopping and inquired, and sent in every direction to find him, and even telegraphed to Eng­land, but could not hear from him. During the time before he got back, Jay Cooke and Company failed, and when he got back to Paris, they said to him:

“Mr. Scott, if you had been here a few hours ago instead of taking dinner with the crowned heads, you would have had your twelve million dollars. Now, we have lost confidence and cannot take your bonds.”

Scott telegraphed me how it was. I had put up the bank building, where the Union office now is, as I said, for him, and he had agreed to give me $45,000 for it. He telegraphed me:

“I have lost the sale of my bonds and am a ruined man. I don’t know whether I shall ever be able to get my head above water again. Do the best you can. I shall not be able to ful­fill the contracts I have with you.”

This failure hurt me severely. People who had bought land of me heard of the failure, and they met in front of the bank building and sent for me. I went over there and they asked me to take the property back, and said I was welcome to all they had paid if I would only give up the contracts. I told them nobody should be deceived, and how Scott had failed and would not be able to live up to his contract. I paid them back dollar for dollar; every man who had made payments on account of land purchase got it back.

I had given 22 blocks of land at the northwest corner of Hor­ton’s Addition, as a contribution toward getting the first rail­road to come here. I lost them, and the railroad never was built.

This refers, of course, to the Texas and Pacific. When Hunt­ington, Crocker, and some other Southern Pacific officials came here (there were five in the party), I entertained them at the Horton House and did not charge them a cent.

Huntington said: “If you will give us one-half of the prop­erty you have agreed to give Tom Scott, we will build the road from here to Fort Yuma.” I told them we could not do it. They sent an engineer to go over the ground that had already been surveyed by Scott.

JOSEPH S. MANNASSE. Conspicuous in business and political affairs in San Diego before and during the boom.

Up at Los, Angeles, they had agreed to build a road, and had it as far as from Los Angeles to San Bernardino, and there they came to a stand. They told the Los Angeles people if they would give them $400,000 to help them get through a certain piece of land to the desert (San Gorgonio Pass), they would go on through there; otherwise then would build the road to San Diego and from there to Point Yuma. Mayor Hazzard told the people of Los Angeles that if they did that, Los Angeles would be nothing but a way-station, and the only way to save the city was to agree to give them the money they wanted. They did this, and that was the reason the Southern Pacific was not built to San Diego. The objection they had to coming here, they said, was because they could not compete with water transportation, and therefore it would not be to their interests to come to a place where they would have to compete with water. [This is the end of Mr. Horton’s “own story.”]


When Horton came along and proposed to buy lands from the town, no meeting of the trustees, and no election, had been held for two years. Horton insisting upon it, a special election was called, and E. W. Morse, Thomas H. Bush, and J. S. Mannasse elected trustees. This board met and organized on April 30, 1867, the minutes of the meeting reading as follows:

Organization of the Board of Trustees for the City of San Diego, California.
April 30, 1867.


The new Board, consisting of J. S. Mannasse, E. W. Morse, and Thomas H. Bush, chosen at the election held the 27th day of April, 1867, met and Organized by Electing J. S. Mannasse President, E. W. Morse Treasurer, and Thomas H. Bush Secretary.


On motion of E. W. Morse it was Resolved that an order be entered for the Sale of certain farming Lands of the city prop­erty. Said Sale to take place on the last day of May, 1867, at the Court House.


On Motion, the Board adjourned to meet Tuesday Evening May 11, 1867



Thomas H. Bush, Secretary.
J. S. Mannasse, President.

The sale was held at the court house in old San Diego, on Friday, May 10, 1867. The sheriff (James McCoy) was the proper official to act as auctioneer, but Mr. Morse acted in his place as deputy. Mr. Horton bought six 160-acre lots, 960 acres in all, for an aggregate sum of $265, a little over 27 cents an acre, and two parcels were sold to other parties at the same time. The following is a copy of the minutes of the next ensu­ing meeting of the trustees, at which the sales was confirmed and the deed issued:

Special Meeting
May 11, 1867.


All the members of the Board present. The Board con­veyed by Deed the following Lots of land purchased by A. E. Horton, May 10th:
Eleven hundred and Forty-Six 1146
Eleven hundred and Forty-Seven 1747
Eleven hundred and Fifty-Six 1156
Eleven hundred and Forty-Five 1145
Eleven hundred and Thirty-Four 1134
Eleven hundred and Thirty-Three 1133


At the City Land Sale held at the Court House on Friday, May 10, 1867, the following Lands were sold and account pre­sented of such to the Board, by James McCoy, Auctioneer:

Purchaser Price
1146 Lots Eleven hundred and Forty-Six A. E. Horton
1147 Lots Eleven hundred and Forty-Seven A. E. Horton
1156 Lots Eleven hundred and Fifty-Six A. E. Horton $150.00
1145 Lots Eleven hundred and Forty-Five A. E. Horton 40.00
1134 Lots Eleven hundred and Thirty-Four A. E. Horton 20.00
1133 Lots Eleven hundred and Thirty-Three A. E. Horton 55.00
1173 Lots Eleven hundred and Seventy-Three J. S. Murray 20.50
Fractional Lot lying between Eleven hundred and Fifty-Six and Eleven hundred and Fifty-Seven, to Edward Heuck 9.50

On motion of J. S. Mannasse it was resolved to advertise City Lands for Sale, on the third day of June, 1867, at public Auction, and the Secretary be ordered to post Notices of the Same, in three conspicuous places.


On Motion Meeting Adjourned to meet June 10, 1867.



Thomas H. Bush, Secretary.
J. S. Mannasse, President.

The deed was made and recorded the same day. It was signed by Morse and Bush, Mannasse not signing, and witnessed by C. A. Johnson. A full copy of this deed is given below:

This indenture made this eleventh day of May, A. D. one thousand eight hundred and sixty-seven, between E. W. Morse and Thomas H. Bush, Trustees of the City of San Diego, Coun­ty of San Diego, State of California, parties of the first part, and A. E. Horton, of the same place, party of the second part, Witnesseth, That whereas at a sale at public auction of lots of said City of San Diego, after due notice given of the same, according to law, on the tenth day of May, eighteen hundred and sixty-seven, by the said parties of the first part, Trustees of said City as aforesaid, the said party of the second part bid for and became the purchaser of the following described property and that said property was then and there sold and struck off to the said party of the second part—as the highest and best bidder thereof.


Now therefore the parties of the first part, Trustees of the said City as aforesaid for themselves and their successors in office, by virtue of authority in law in them vested—and for and in consideration of the sum of two hundred and sixty-­five dollars to them in hand paid by the said party of the second part, the receipt whereof is hereby acknowledged, have granted, sold, released and quitclaimed and by these presents, do grant, sell, release and quitclaim unto the said party of the second part, his heirs and assigns forever, all the right, title, interest or claim whatsoever, of the said party of the first part, or their successors in office in and to the following described property, situate in the boundary of said City, to wit: Lots eleven hundred and forty-six (1146), eleven hun­dred and forty-seven (1147), eleven hundred and fifty-six (1156), eleven hundred and forty-five (1145), eleven hundred and thirty-four (1134), and eleven hundred and thirty-three (1133), and designated upon the official map of said city, made by Charles H. Poole in the year 1856. Together with all and singular the ways, streets, rights, hereditaments and ap­purtenances thereunto belonging or in any wise appertaining. To have and to hold the aforesaid premises, hereby granted to the said party of the second part, his heirs and assigns forever.


In witness whereof the said parties of the first part have hereunto set their hands and seals the clay and year first above written.

E.W. Morse (Seal)
Thomas H. Bush (Seal)


Signed, sealed and delivered in presence of C. A. Johnson.

State of California
County of San Diego
} ss.

On this eleventh day of May, A. D. one thousand eight hundred and sixty-seven, before me G. A. Pendleton, County Clerk and ex-officio Clerk of the County Court in and for said County, personally appeared E. W. Morse and Thomas H. Bush, personally known to me to be the individuals described in and who executcd the annexed instrument and they acknowl­edged to me that they executed the same freely and voluntarily and for the uses and purposes therein mentioned.


In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and affixed the seal of said Court in this County the day and year in this Certificate first above written.


G.A. Pendleton, Clerk.



Received for record on Saturday, May 17, 1867, at 6 P. M., and recorded on Saturday, May 11, 1867, at 8 o’clock P. M., at request of A. E. Horton.


G.A. Pendleton, County Recorder.

(Fifty cents.)
(U. S. Rev. Stamp)
(E. W. M. T. H. B.)
(May 11, 1867 )

These proceedings did not escape attack. When it became apparent that the new town would be a success, a number of suits were brought for the purpose of setting aside the deed from the trustees to Horton. Perhaps the most famous of these was the suit of Charles H. De Wolf versus Horton, Morse, and Bush, brought in September, 1869, in which Judge Benjamin Hayes was the plaintiff’s attorney. It was alleged that the proceedings leading up to the conveyance were irregular in several respects. The owners of the ex-mission rancho also brought suit to extend their boundaries over Horton’s Addition, claiming that the pueblo lands should comprise four leagues, instead of eleven. There were rumors that there was collusion between Horton, Morse, Bush, and others, by which the trustees profited by the sale. Some excitement rose at one time and “land jump­ing” began; but the people of San Diego took prompt action, pulled down and burned the fences erected around some blocks the “jumpers” were attempting to claim, and soon suppressed their enterprise. Horton’s title was sustained in all the courts and the suits ended in smoke.

Return to Books.


Main Page
Author’s Foreword
Introduction: The Historical Pre-Eminence of San Diego

PART ONE:   Period of Discovery and Mission Rule

  1. The Spanish Explorers
  2. Beginning of the Mission Epoch
  3. The Taming of the Indian
  4. The Day of Mission Greatness
  5. The End of Franciscan Rule
    Priests of San Diego Mission

PART TWO:   When Old Town Was San Diego

  1. Life on Presidio Hill Under the Spanish Flag
    List of Spanish and Mexican commandants
  2. Beginnings of Agriculture and Commerce
    List of Ranchos in San Diego County
  3. Political Life in Mexican Days
  4. Early Homes, Visitors and Families
  5. Pleasant Memories of Social Life
  6. Prominent Spanish Families
  7. The Indians’ Relations With the Settlers
    List of Mission Indian Lands
  8. San Diego in the Mexican War
  9. Public Affairs After the War
  10. Accounts of Early Visitors and Settlers
  11. Annals of the Close of Old San Diego
  12. American Families of the Early Time
  13. The Journalism of Old San Diego
  14. Abortive Attempt to Establish New San Diego

PART THREE:   The Horton Period

  1. The Founder of the Modern City
  2. Horton’s Own Story
  3. Early Railroad Efforts, Including the Texas and Pacific
  4. San Diego’s First Boom
  5. Some Aspects of Social Life

PART FOUR:   Period of “The Great Boom”

  1. Coming of the Santa Fe
  2. Phenomena of the The Great Boom
  3. Growth of Public Utilities
  4. Water Development

PART FIVE:   The Last Two Decades

  1. Local Annals, After the Boom
  2. Political Affairs and Municipal Campaigns
  3. Later Journalism and Literature [new material in second edition]
  4. The Disaster to the Bennington
  5. The Twentieth Century Days
  6. John D. Spreckels Solves the Railroad Problem

PART SIX:   Institutions of Civic Life

  1. Churches and Religious Life
  2. Schools and Education
  3. Records of the Bench and Bar
  4. Growth of the Medical Profession
  5. The Public Library
  6. Story of the City Parks
  7. The Chamber of Commerce
  8. Banks and Banking
  9. Secret, Fraternal and Other Societies
  10. Account of the Fire Department

PART SEVEN:   Miscellaneous Topics

  1. History of the San Diego Climate
  2. San Diego Bay, Harbor and River
  3. Governmental Activities
  4. The Suburbs of San Diego

Political Roster, City of San Diego
Political Roster, San Diego County