History of San Diego, 1542-1908

PART SIX: CHAPTER 1: Churches and Religious Life

The organized religious life of San Diego began in 1769 and has been continuously maintained down to the present time. It was begun, of course, by the Roman Catholics, whose congregation at Old San Diego was served by priests from the mission until the latter was abandoned, when a resident priest was supplied.

The first priest whose name appears in the records was Father Vicente Oliva, from the mission. He left in 1847 and was succeeded by Father Juan Holbein. A room in the house of José Estudillo was at first used as a place of worship. On September 29, 1851, the cornerstone of a church building was laid, on a lot given by the city trustees. Father Holbein made himself obnoxious to the Masons, who were strong at Old Town, by forbidding the members of his flock to attend their ceremonies, or even to go into the street while a Masonic procession was passing, on pain of excommunication. TheHerald says that he was otherwise illiberal, and interfered with the education of the Old Town children. It appears the school trustees distributed a circular announcing the opening of their school, and Father Holbein, from his pulpit, with one of these circulars in hand, forbade his members to send their children to this school. This and his attitude toward the Masons gave offense to the American population. He left in September, 1853, and was succeeded by Father Marincovich, who only remained a few days. In 1856 the priest was Father Meinrich, and a year later Father Jaime Vila was in charge. Father Juan Molinier came soon after, and under his pastorate a new church was built. The church was consecrated with high mass on November 21, 1858. The San Diego Guards assisted and fired a salute, and a dinner was given by José Antonio Aguirre, who had contributed largely to the building and equipment of the church.

This church is still standing, in the southerly outskirts of Old Town. It was built of adobes, but a few years later these were enclosed with weatherboarding. It is the Church of the Immaculate Conception, and is still used for services on Sunday, when priests attend from New San Diego. In it are kept some vestments, images and other articles which were used at a very early day in the mission. A number of Indians still attend this church—a little remnant of the once great band of mission neophytes. Outside hang two bells which have an interesting history. They were confiscated by Charles V. of Spain from the churches in Bohemia, and found their way here through Mexico early in the last century. They bear the following inscriptions: “Ave Maria Porimus, 1802”; on one is added “San José, H.,” and on the other, “Sivan Nepomnceus, 1822.”

FATHER ANTONIO D. UBACH. The famous priest of San Diego from 1866 until his death in March, 1907.


After Father Molinier, Father Vicente Llover was cura for a time. In 1866, Father Antonio D. Ubach came to San Diego and took charge of the congregation until his recent death. Soon after coming, he undertook the erection of a new brick church at Old Town, but Horton’s Addition drew the population away and he was never able to complete it. The cornerstone was laid on July 18, 1869, and the foundation stands, as mentioned in Ramona, on the east side of the main street, in a good state of preservation.

Early in the seventies, a large part of the congregation having removed thither, Father Ubach organized St. Joseph’s Church in Horton’s Addition. The first place of worship was Rosario Ball. The church building, at the corner of Third and Beech, was dedicated January 31, 1875, by Rev. Francis Mora. It was a small wooden building, which is still standing in the rear of the new brick structure. At the time of its erection, it was considered a fine building, and was spoken of by the newspapers as being situated “on the mesa, west of town.” The new brick church was completed and dedicated in 1894. It is a commodious and imposing structure. The parsonage adjoins it on the north.

ST. JOSEPH’S CHURCH. On the day of Father Ubach’s funeral, April 3, 1907.

The church on Golden Hill, called “Our Lady Queen of the Angels,” was organized in 1905 by Father William Quinlan. A fine church building is being erected for it. The Sisters of St. Joseph opened the Academy of Our Lady of Peace in 1884, in a building erected by Mr. Horton on block 12 of his Addition, which they have conducted successfully ever since and is in a prosperous condition. St. Joseph’s Hospital and Sanitarium was opened in June, 1890, by the Sisters of Mercy. It has large and beautiful grounds on University Avenue and Sixth Street, where a building was erected in 1891. The original building has been greatly enlarged, and there is a chapel and other buildings. The grounds are beautifully improved. The sanitarium is nonsectarian, and here a large number of invalids and aged people find a comfortable home and good care.

THE FIRST CHURCH BUILDING IN NEW SAN DIEGO. Erected by the Episcopalians in may, 1869, on the northeast corner of Sixth and C Streets. It now stands on Eighth Street immediately adjoining St. Paul’s rectory.


The first Protestant denomination to obtain a foothold in San Diego was the Episcopalian. The Reverend John Reynolds, of the Protestant Episcopal Church, was appointed chaplain of the Post at San Diego, on December 31, 1850, and was army chaplain for the troops stationed at the mission until August 31, 1854. On July 4, 1853, the Herald announced that “hereafter the Rev. Dr. John Reynolds . . . chaplain of the U. S. Army, will conduct divine service at the court house, and for the first time we have Protestant church services in our town of San Diego.” The very first service at Old Town was held at 3 P.M., on July 10, 1853. The details of these early meetings are meager, but the Herald and “John Phoenix” supply some local color. The paper complained that “an audience of over a dozen is rarely seen at the court house, where Dr. Reynolds preaches on Sunday, while the Sabbath calm is broken in upon by the riot of the inebriated, and the very words of holy writ are drowned by the clicking of billiard balls and calls for cocktails from the adjacent saloon.” Derby’s references to Dr. Reynolds are almost entirely in a joking way, and not to be taken seriously.

Dr. Reynolds had been rector of the Episcopal Church at Stockton, and was well spoken of by the newspapers of that place. He was about sixty years of age, and was large and stout. Lieutenant Adam J. Slemmer, U. S. A., married his daughter. Dr. Reynolds removed to the Atlantic States about August, 1854.

After this, there were no regular Protestant services at Old Town, until after Horton came. Ministers occasionally came along and preached a sermon or two. The best remembered of these occasional sermons was that of Bishop Kip. He had been given charge of the Diocese of California and set sail, with his family. Coming up from Panama on the Golden Gate, the steamer was disabled, as has been related, and ran aground while trying to leave port. At this time the Bishop and his family were the guests of Don Juan Bandini for a week. His first service within his Episcopal jurisdiction was the burial, in the Protestant cemetery near Old Town, of some passengers who had died on the voyage. On the following Sunday, January 22, 1854, he preached in the court house at Old Town. On this occasion Lieutenant George H. Derby acted as clerk, read the responses, and led the singing. These two afterward became intimate friends. The Bishop said (to Daniel Cleveland) that, had he known at the time that the little man who assisted him so reverently and efficiently in this service was “John Phoenix,” he would not have felt so comfortable and assured in the service as he then felt.

REV. SIDNEY WILBUR. Who organized the first Protestant Church and was the first regular minister in San Diego.

Rev. Sidney Wilbur arrived in San Diego in October, 1868, and proceeded immediately to arrange for services at new San Diego. The old government barracks had been long unused and were very dirty, but he courageously undertook to make them fit for the purpose. With the aid of an Indian, he cleaned and washed a portion of the large hall, and on November 8, 1868, held his first service in it. Having borrowed a melodeon, he played it himself, in addition to rendering the church service and preaching. He continued to hold services here for some time, and his work aroused so much interest that he was able to organize a parish early in 1869. Mr. Horton gave two lots on the northeast corner of Sixth and C Streets, and in May a church building was erected upon these lots, with money donated by the Episcopalians of San Francisco. This was the first church building of any kind in new San Diego. It now stands on the west side of Eighth Street, next door south of St. Paul’s rectory and is used as a residence. It was built with two stories, and while the services were held on the lower floor, Mr. Wilbur and family made their home on the second floor. It was used for church purposes until about November, 1869, when it was removed and another building, known as Trinity Hall, erected on the same spot. This second building was removed, in April, 1871, to two lots on the southeast corner of Fourth and C Streets, now covered by the Brewster Hotel, which lots Mr. Horton had in the meantime conveyed to the society in exchange for the lots on Sixth and C Streets.

In August, 1886, the two parish lots on the Brewster Hotel site were sold and two lots on the southeast corner of Eighth and C Streets purchased. The church and rectory were built in 1887 and first occupied at Easter in that year. The first cost of the buildings was about $13,000, and considerable money has been expended on them since.

DANIEL CLEVELAND. Located, 1869; attorney Texas & Pacific Railroad, 1876-85; One of the founders of the Bank of San Diego, 1870. Prominently identified with St. Paul’s Pariah from its organization, 1869, and for nearly thirty years senior warden; lay reader since 1871; delegate from Diocese of California to General Convention, 1889, 1901. Has been president Society of Natural History, Coronado Beach Summer School, University Extension Society, San Diego Art Association, and Southern California Society of Sons of American Revolution.

The first parish meeting was held November 26, 1869. Rev. Sidney Wilbur, Daniel Cleveland, Oliver T. Ladue, E. D. Switzer, J. S. Buck, C. P. Rudd, K. J. Ware, George E. Nottage, Daniel Stewart, and John T. Hawley were present, and were chosen as the first vestrymen. The name of the organization was the Parish of the Holy Trinity. Of these organizers, Rev. Mr. Wilbur yet living in San Francisco, and Daniel Cleveland in San Diego, are the only survivors. Others who acted as vestrymen and were active at an early day, were: Charles S. Hamilton, John P. Young (now manager of the San Francisco Chronicle), Wm. J. McCormick, Dr. Thomas C. Stockton, Dr. W. W. Royal, and Mr. Lake. Daniel Cleveland acted as senior warden for almost thirty years.

On January 22, 1887, new articles of incorporation were adopted and filed, by which the name of the parish was changed to St. Paul’s.

Rev. Mr. Wilbur resigned on December 1, 1870, and was succeeded by Rev. Dr. Kellogg, of Cleveland, Ohio, who served about two months. In January, 1871, upon request of the vestry, Daniel Cleveland was licensed to act as lay reader, and he has acted frequently in that capacity since, at times when there was no rector. In February, 1872, Rev. J. F. Bowles became the rector, and remained a few months. In the following October, Rev. Hobart Chetwood came and remained until February, 1876. During his pastorate the parish was harmonious and prosperous. His successor was Rev. Henry J. Camp, who remained until May, 1881. There was then an interregnum filled by the lay reader, until July 25, 1882, when Rev. Henry B. Restarick arrived to take charge of the parish.

Mr. Restarick was a young man, energetic and tactful, and soon infused new life into the congregation. He found about 20 communicants; when he left, twenty years later, there were over 400 communicants, plenty of funds and a large number of activities. A fine new parish church and rectory had been built, and four other church buildings—two in San Diego, one with a rectory at National City, and one at Bostonia—had been erected and paid for through his labors. From the time of his ordination to the priesthood in Iowa, in June, 1882, until his election and consecration as Bishop of Honolulu, in 1902, he had only one parish—St. Paul’s, San Diego. He was consecrated bishop in his own parish church, July 2, 1902.

HENRY B. RESTARICK. For twenty years rector of St. Paul’s Church; created Bishop of Honolulu in 1902.

Rev. Charles L. Barnes was chosen to succeed Mr. Restarick, and is still the incumbent.

The working organizations of St. Paul’s are: Woman’s Auxiliary to the Board of Missions, the Guild, a Chapter of the Brotherhood of St. Andrew, etc.

St. James’s Mission on Logan Heights was founded by Bishop Restarick in 1888. Services were first held in a store building on Logan Avenue near Twenty-fourth. In 1891, two lots were purchased at Twenty-sixth Street and Kearney Avenue, and a church building erected. The building was consecrated as a mission and later became an independent church. The rectors, beginning in 1889, have been : Messrs. Sanderson, S. H. Ilderton, James R. De Wolfe Cowie, F. W. Chase, A. L. Mitchell, F. A. Zimmerman, Alfred R. Taylor, and Alfred Kinsley Glover, who is still in charge.

All Saints Mission, corner Sixth and Thornton Streets, is another of Bishop Restarick’s foundations. Rev. J. A. M. Richey is its rector.

REV. CHARLES L. BARNES. The present rector of St. Paul’s Church.

St. Peter’s Mission Hall, Coronado, was organized in 1887 by Bishop Restarick. The church at National City is called St. Matthew’s and that at South San Diego, St. Mark’s. At La Jolla there is a small congregation, which recently began to hold services, with Mr. Cleveland as lay reader.


The activity of the growing settlement at Horton’s Addition brought about the organization of congregations of a number of the principal Protestant denominations at nearly the same time. The Methodists were a close second to the Episcopalians, in point of time. The pioneer minister of this denomination was Rev. G. W. B. McDonald, who came January 12, 1869, and at once organized a church and Sunday-school with about 20 members. Prior to that date, meetings had been held at the homes of members, led by H. H. Dougherty, who came to San Diego October 10, 1868. Mr. McDonald was a native of Nova Scotia. He spent his remaining days in San Diego and was an active and useful citizen. He died February 8, 1886, aged 65.

Following Mr. McDonald, Rev. I. H. Cox acted as supply until October, 1869, when he was relieved by Rev. D. A. Dryden, who was the first regularly appointed minister to take charge of the congregation. The formal organization was made in January, 1870, at which time a church building was dedicated, free from debt, on the northeast corner of D and Fourth Streets, on two lots given by Mr. Horton. It is said that Mr. Dryden made the pulpit and chair with his own hands. This building is still standing, at No. 646 India Street, to which place it was removed when the new brick church building was erected. It was used as a barracks for the volunteers during the Spanish War, and is now occupied by the American Televue Company.

The first board of trustees consisted of: G. W. B. McDonald, R. D. Case, J. M. Young, C. B. Richards, N. W. Hensley, J. W. Gale, A. E. Horton, E. Aylesworth, and W. F. Pettit. The dedication took place on February 13, 1870, and the sermon was preached by Rev. M. C. Briggs, D.D., of Santa Clara. This church was removed, as stated, in 1887, and a three-story brick block erected on the site, for the combined uses of the church and as a business block. At the time of its erection and for several years after, this was one of the most substantial and useful buildings in the city. The first floor and the front of the second and third floors are rented for business offices, and the rear of the second and third stories contains the auditorium. This new church was dedicated on February 26, 1888, Rev. R. S. Cantine, of Los Angeles, preaching the dedicatory sermon.

FIRST METHODIST CHURCH. Erected on the corner of Ninth and C Streets in 1906.

Recently, the congregation outgrew these quarters, and the building was sold in 1905 and plans prepared for a new church. The cornerstone of a new building was laid July 1, 1906, Bishop John W. Hamilton, of Mexico, delivering the principal address. The new church is the most magnificent in the city, and has cost about $65,000. The lots, on the northwest corner of Ninth and C Streets, are worth about $35,000.

This congregation has been, from the beginning, a strong and active element in the religious life of the community. Among the ministers who have served at different times are found the following names: G. W. B. McDonald, I. H. Cox, D. A. Dryden, H. H. Dougherty, W. Inch (who died February 12, 1871), J. R. Tasey, James Wickes, G. S. Hickey, T. S. Houts, M. M. Bovard, J. L. Mann, A. H. Tevis, P. Y. Cool, A. M. Bunker, T. S. Uren, E. S. Chase, M. F. Colburn, L. M. Hartley, R. L. Bruce, A. M. Gibbons, and the present incumbent, Dr. Lewis Guild.

The Central M. E. Church, at the corner of Twenty-sixth Street and Harrison Avenue, was established January 12, 1887, with a membership of 12, under care of Rev. J. I. Foote. The cornerstone was laid July 31, 1887, Bishop Fowler officiating. Among the pastors have been: D. H. Gillan, J. Pittenger, and C. M. Christ. The present pastor is Rev. Bede A. Johnson. There is a parsonage, and the congregation is a prosperous one.

There is a prosperous German M. E. Church, in its own building at Sixteenth and I Streets. This church was organized in 1887 and the building was first used on April 4, 1888. The first pastor was Rev. L. C. Pfaffinger. Succeeding him, L. E. Schneider, F. A. Werth, and Mr. Schroeder served. The present pastor is Rev. Frederick Bonn.

A Scandinavian M. E. Church was organized in 1880.

The African M. E. Church was organized in 1888, with a membership of 9. Rev. W. H. Hillery was the first pastor, and after him appear the names of W. E. De Claybrook and Rev. Price Haywood. Their place of worship is at No. 1645 Front Street.

The Bethel African M. E. Church meets on Union Street near H. Among the pastors are Rev. George A. Bailey and W. M. Viney.

The Coronado M. E. Church was organized in 1887, with 20 members. The congregation has a good property. The first pastor was Rev. Silas S. Sprowles, who was succeeded by Rev. A. Inwood.

FIRST FREE METHODIST CHURCH. Corner of Front and Beech Streets.

The First Free Methodist Church was organized in the summer of 1897 by Rev. C. B. Ebey and wife, W. H. Tucker and wife, F. F. Allen and wife, Virginia M. Walters, and Maggie A. Nickle. Meetings had been held the previous year at the Helping Hand Mission, and immediately prior to the organization in a tent on the corner of Eighth and G Streets. A church building was erected in 1899, on the same site, which was dedicated on January 1, 1900, by Rev. E. P. Hart, of Alameda. The first pastor was Rev. W. G. Lopeman, and following him were Revs. C. B. Ebey, James Seals, E. G. Albright, John B. Roberts, and J. Q. Murray. A lot on the corner of Front and Beech Streets was purchased in 1900, and the church building moved to that location. During the pastorate of Mr. Roberts, a parsonage was built adjoining the church.

The Methodist Episcopal Church South has a strong and active organization. In 1871, Bishop John C. Keener purchased for the Society two lots on the southeast corner of Seventh and D Streets. A few years later, Rev. John Wesley Allen was appointed pastor for San Diego, and arrived November 23, 1882. The first service was held on the 26th of the same month, in Hubbell’s Hall. The congregation then worshipped in the old Masonic Hall until their church building was ready. The cornerstone of this building was laid on the first day of January, 1884. The new edifice was called “Keener Chapel.” It was dedicated May 11, 1884, Rev. W. B. Stradley, of Los Angeles, preaching the dedicatory sermon. The greater part of the funds for this building was provided by the Board of Church Extension, and the congregation began its work out of debt. The lots were afterward exchanged for one on the southeast corner of Eighth and C Streets, and the chapel was removed to the new location and at the same time considerably improved, as well as being provided with a parsonage.

Mr. Allen remained until November, 1884, when he was sent to Santa Barbara and succeeded by W. W. Welsh. Then followed R. Pratt, E. T. Hodges, James Healey, R. W. Bailey, J. F. C. Finley, James Healey again, W. H. Dyer, A. C. Bane, R. W. Rowland, S. W. Walker, C. S. Perry, C. S. McCausland, R. P. Howett, M. P. Sharborough, and S. E. Allison, the present incumbent. Mr. Allison is a native of Georgia, and served in the Texan and New Mexican Conferences before coming here. He was transferred to the Los Angeles Conference in 1900, and came to San Diego in 1905. The total enrollment of this church organization is 493, and the present membership about 125.

OLD BAPTIST CHURCH. The building was erected in the autumn of 1869 and is still standing on its original site on Seventh, between F and G Streets.


Although the Methodists began holding services in private houses earlier, the Baptists were before them in the organization of a congregation and the building of a church edifice, being second only to the Episcopalians. The first congregation was organized by Rev. C. F. Weston on June 5, 1869. He had been preaching at the government barracks since the preceding February. At this organization, W. S. Gregg and Dr. Jacob Allen were chosen deacons and E. W. S. Cole, clerk. The church building was commenced in August and opened for worship October 3, Rev. Mr. Morse preaching the first sermon in it. This building was on Seventh Street near F, on a lot given by Mr. Horton. He also gave the young congregation a church bell—the first one ever used in new San Diego. The formal dedication took place on the 31st of the same month, and Rev. B. S. McLafferty, of Marysville, preached the sermon. Mr. McLafferty was called to take charge of the congregation, and arrived for that purpose on December 18, 1869. The present church building, on Tenth and E Streets, was built in 1888, and cost $32,000. The First Baptist Church was incorporated on August 19, 1887.

REV. W.B. HINSON. Who has been pastor of the First Baptist Church since June, 1900, and who ranks among the leading pulpit orators of California.

Mr. McLafferty remained in San Diego a year and a half. Resigning in January, 1873, he was succeeded by O. W. Gates, who remained eight years. Then followed Revs. A. J. Sturtevant, one year; Edwin C. Hamilton, one year; W. H. Stenger, two years; A. Chapman, two months; E. P. Smith, two months; W. F. Harper, from 1888 to 1893 (during which time the new church was built); A. E. Knapp, 1893 to 1900. The present pastor, Rev. W. B. Hinson, took charge the first Sunday in June, 1900, coming direct from Vancouver, B. C., and has remained ever since. The church has a membership of nearly 700 and is strong and active.

Among its activities, the First Baptist Church maintains a number of missions. One was organized at Old Town in 1888, in charge of H. S. Hanson, and maintained for some years. It is noteworthy that this was the only Protestant religious organization ever made in Old Town. Missions were also organized several years ago at National City, Coronado and Chollas Valley. The Grand Avenue Baptist Church, on Grand Avenue between Twenty-ninth and Thirtieth Streets, was organized in 1889 as a mission of the First Church.

Other Baptist organizations are the Baptist Scandinavian Church, organized in 1888. On the corner of Nineteenth and H Streets, is the Swedish Baptist Church. The Second Baptist Church (colored) was organized in 1888, with a membership of thirty, by Rev. T. F. Smith. Their place of worship is on B Street, between Front and First, and among the pastors have been: M. E. Sykes, J. H. Clisby, and M. A. Mitchell.

FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH. Erected in 1888 on the northwest corner of Tenth and E Streets.

OLD PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH. Erected on Eight Street near D in 1871. The structure is still standing, adjoining the present church building on the south and is part of the church property.


The First Presbyterian Church was organized June 7, 1869 only two days after the Baptists, by Rev. Thomas Fraser, missionary of the Synod of the Pacific. There were 13 members, and Charles Russell Clarke, David Lamb, and Samuel Merrill were elected elders. The first pastor was Rev. J. S. McDonald. He began his labors in April, 1870. The services were held in private houses until Mr. McDonald’s arrival, and after that in Horton’s Hall. Mr. Horton gave the society two lots on the southwest corner of Eighth and D Streets, and on these a building was soon after erected, and dedicated June 18, 1871, Rev. W. A. Scott, of San Francisco, preaching the dedicatory sermon. In 1888, the present church building was erected and furnished, at a cost of $36,000.

Rev. Mr. McDonald was succeeded in 1872 by F. L. Nash. From 1875 to 1880 the church was supplied by Revs. James Robertson, John W. Partridge, Mr. Lanman, James Woods, and Dr. Phelps. Rev. Richard V. Dodge began his pastorate in 1880 and continued until his death, February 26, 1885. For the following three years the incumbents were H. A. Lounsbury and H. I. Stern. On January 1, 1887, Rev. W. B. Noble became the pastor, and during his incumbency

REV. R.G. WALLACE. First Pastor of the United Presbyterian Church.

the present church was built. The church suffered severely after the collapse of the boom, having a debt of more than $20,000, and it was only by a hard struggle that the loss of the property was prevented. Rev. F. Merton Smith became the pastor in 1894, but died a few

weeks later, and was succeeded by Rev. P. E. Kipp, who died in 1900. Rev. R. B. Taylor commenced his work in 1901. During his pastorate the church debt was paid and the congregation greatly enlarged. On November 19, 1904, Mr. Taylor was drowned in San Diego Bay. He was greatly beloved. His successor, Rev. Harvey S. Jordan, of Newcastle, Pennsylvania, is the present incumbent. The membership of the church is about 600. It is one of the strongest and most active influences for good in the community. It has two Women’s Missionary Societies, a Ladies’ Aid Society, a large Christian Endeavor membership, and a number of missions are supported, including a Chinese mission, a school for Chinese children, and churches in several suburban towns.

REV. S.J. SHAW. Pastor of the United Presbyterian Church.

The First United Presbyterian Church was organized on August 18, 1888, in the Holt House, on H Street near Fifteenth, by the installation of J. W. Collins, J. L. Griffin and E. T. Hill as elders, and the election of Robert Blair, Daniel Andrew, and W. L. Hamilton as trustees. The first pastor was Rev. Robert G. Wallace, one of the organizers of the church, who began his pastorate in November, 1887, and ended October 31, 1897. He was succeeded by Rev. Samuel J. Shaw, D.D., who is the present minister.


The Hebrews of San Diego have maintained an organization since 1872. Prior to that time, it was their custom to meet at private houses for the observance of fast days. The Herald of October 9, 1851, says: “The Israelites of San Diego, faithful to the religion of their forefathers, observed their New Year’s Day and Days of Atonement, with due solemnity. The Day of Atonement was observed by Messrs. Lewis Franklin, Jacob Marks, and Charles A. Fletcher (the only three Hebrews in town) by their assembling in the house of the former gentleman, and passing the entire day in fasting and prayers.”

The first organization of the Hebrew Congregation took place in 1872 at the house of Marcos Schiller in Old Town; it was called at that time the Hebrew Congregation. The organizers were Marcos Schiller, Joseph Mannasse and E. Loewenstein. Services were held in rented halls and the Unitarian Church, but only on the Jewish New Year and Day of Atonement. There were at first eighteen members.

In 1888, the congregation was reorganized and incorporated as the Congregation Beth Israel, with a membership of 55. The first officers were: President, Marcos Schiller (who served in that capacity until his death, in 1904); vice-president, H. Welisch; secretary, A. Blochman; treasurer, A. Lippman. In the following year, a synagogue was built and dedicated, on the northwest corner of Beech and Second Streets. The first Rabbi was Samuel Freuder, who organized the new congregation; the second was A. Danziger, who served in 1886. E. Freud was rabbi in 1887-8, and Dr. Marx Moses from 1890 to 1894. There has been no rabbi since. The congregation is small, having only 22 contributing members.


The First Unitarian Society began in a Sunday-school which was organized and held for the first time in Horton’s Hall, June 22, 1873. Mr. Horton gave the use of the hall and organ. C. S. Hamilton was chosen president; Mrs. Knapp, secretary and treasurer; Mrs. Haight, musical director, and Miss Carrie Hills, organist. The attendance increased from 13 to 50, and Rev. Joseph May became the pastor. Among the early members were M. A. Luce, C. S. Hamilton, A. E. Horton, E. W. Morse, J. H. Simpson, Mr. Hubon, A. Overbaugh, and their families. The first public service was on Easter Sunday, 1874. At a meeting held March 11, 1877, Rev. David A. Cronyn was chosen pastor. M. A. Luce became president of the Society at the same meeting, and has acted in that capacity ever since.

REV. E.R. WATSON. Pastor of the First Unitarian Society.

The society was incorporated in January, 1882. A lot on the northeast corner of Tenth and F Streets was purchased and the first church building erected there in that year, and dedicated August 26, 1883. Rev. Horatio Stebbins, of San Francisco, delivered the sermon and Rev. George H. Deere, of Riverside, assisted. Additions were made to this building in 1887. This building was burned on Sunday afternoon, February 17, 1895. Following this, the society occupied the old Louis Opera House. They then leased a lot on the west side of Sixth Street, between C and D, and built the present Unity Hall upon it. The society also owns a lot on the corner of Ninth and C Streets, upon which it is planning to place a new building at an early date. The pastors, after those named, were: B. F. McDaniel, 1887 to 1892; J. F. Dutton, from 1894; Solon Lauer, from 1895; Elijah R. Watson, from 1899 to the present time. The membership is about 200.


The First Spiritualist Society was incorporated in July, 1885. Services were held,in Lafayette Hall for a number of years. In 1903 the society built its hall on Seventh Street between A and B. The building cost about $6,000, and was dedicated in March, 1904. Clara A. Beck is president of the society.


Many of the Congregationalists who came to new San Diego at an early day affiliated with the Presbyterians. But in August, 1886, it was felt that the time had come for the establishment of a church of their own faith. Twelve of these people met at the home of Frank A. Stephens, on Tenth and F Streets, and made a preliminary organization. These were: Mr. and Mrs. Frank A. Stephens, who now live in Los Angeles; Arch. Stephens and J. P. Davies, who are now deceased; and Mr. and Mrs. George W. Marston, Mr. and Mrs. M. T. Gilmore, Mr. and Mrs. Joseph H. Smith, Mrs. Arch. Stephens and Mrs. J. P. Davies, who are still active workers in the church. The congregation was organized a month later, with Rev. J. H. Harwood as pastor, and 78 members. The first public service was held in the Y. M. C. A. rooms in Dunham’s Hall, on Fifth Street, October 10, 1886.


This hall was soon too small for the congregation. A lot was leased on the corner of State and F Streets and a tabernacle erected. This building was completed in January, 1887, and dedicated the following month. It was in 1896, during the pastorate of Rev. Stephen A. Norton and largely through his efforts, that the present church building was constructed. The movement began in February, and at one meeting on May 10th, $17,000 were subscribed for the purpose. A lot on the northwest corner of Sixth and A Streets was purchased; the corner stone was laid in November, 1896, and the church was completed and dedicated on July 4, 1897. This is one of the most beautiful church edifices in the city. It cost $23,500, and with the ground is today worth probably $50,000. It has a seating capacity of 800. The church is a strong and active one, with a membership of 464, and supports a number of activities—among others, a foreign missionary.

Rev. Mr. Harwood was succeeded, near the close of 1887, by Rev. J. B. Silcox, of Winnipeg, Manitoba, who served until August, 1889, when he resigned. He was followed by Rev. E. A. Field, W. C. Merrill, and Stephen A. Norton, respectively. The latter remained seven years. The present pastor is Rev. Clarence T. Brown, who came in 1903.

The Second Congregational Church, known as the Logan Heights Church, had its beginning on the second Sunday in November, 1887, when Rev. A. B. White, of Toledo, Ohio, began to preach in the schoolhouse on Twenty-seventh Street. On February 19, 1888, the church building at Twenty-sixth Street and Kearney Avenue was dedicated, Mr. Silcox preaching the sermon. The Land & Town Company gave the lots and the members of the First Congregational Church contributed liberally to the building fund. Mr. White resigned in the following August, and F. B. Perkins became the pastor. He remained two years and resigned in 1890. George A. Hall was then the pastor until March 24, 1895. His successor was R. T. Earl, who ministered until 1902. Since then J. L. Pearson and Henry M. Lyman have supplied the pulpit. Rev. E. E. P. Abbott is now the resident pastor.

The Chinese Mission, organized in 1885, is sustained by the American Missionary Association of the Congregational Church.


The Central Christian Church was organized October 27, 1886, with 28 charter members. Rev. R. G. Hand was the first minister. Henry Drury and W. B. Cloyd were elected elders, and B. F. Boone, John Coates, and A. J. Burns, deacons. The first meetings were held in various halls. During the boom, the church purchased its first lot, on Thirteenth Street between F and G. Here a frame church was built and the first service in it held on December 11, 1887, the sermon being by Rev. Mr. Johnson.

REV. W.E. CRABTREE. Pastor of the Central Christian Church.

Mr. Hand remained only a few months and was succeeded by A. B. Griffith, who remained less than a year. For a year after this the pastor was John L. Brant, now a noted preacher. Rev. A. B. Markle came next and remained three years. In 1893 B. C. Hagerman became the pastor and served two years. In 1895 the present pastorate began under W. E. Crabtree.

The church was regularly incorporated in 1899. Two years later the lot on the southeast corner of Ninth and F Streets was purchased, later an adjoining lot added, and the church building removed to the new location. Upon this ground a very substantial and beautiful church building is soon to be erected, at a cost of $25,000. During its early years the church had a hard struggle, but is now prosperous. The church has a number of well-sustained activities and is one of the most aggressive and influential elements in the religious life of the city.

The Seventh Day Adventist Church was organized January 21, 1888, with a membership of 10. Their church at Eighteenth and G Streets was immediately occupied. It has a seating capacity of 350, and the society owns it free of debt, with a lot 100 x 176 feet. The first pastor was Elder W. M. Healey. He was followed by Elder H. A. St. John. The present elder is Frederick I. Richardson.


The first Lutheran Church was organized March 18, 1888, with 31 members. A Sunday-school was organized the previous month by Prof. F. P. Davidson. C. W. Heisler, of Los Angeles, aided in the organization. The first officers were: F. P. Davidson and A. W. Smenner, elders, and Isaac Ulrick, H. Seebold, and R. H. Young, deacons. E. R. Wagner was chosen pastor, and conducted his first service October 21, 1888, in Good Templars’ Hall on third Street. Services were soon after removed to Louis Opera House and held there for six months, then in the old Methodist Church. The congregation then purchased the lot where the present church building stands. The church building was begun in 1893, the cornerstone laid on July 30th, and the dedication made April 8, 1894. The building has a seating capacity of 700. The value of the property is now estimated at $20,000.

Dr. Wagner resigned November 1, 1891, and was succeeded in February, 1892, by C. W. Maggart, of Salina, Kansas. He served until October 17, 1897, when he resigned. The present pastor, John E. Hoick, began his pastorate March 10, 1898. The church is out of debt and prosperous, and numbers about 150 members.


The German Evangelical Lutheran Church has a handsome building at the corner of Twenty-fourth Street and Grant Avenue. The congregation numbers over 100. Rev. G. W. F. Kiessel is the pastor.

The Friends have a meeting-house at 1121 Sixth Street. Adell Burkhead is the minister.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormons) maintains an organization, which meets at No. 752 Fifth Street.

The Christian Scientists make the latest addition to the city’s congregations, with an unique building on the southeast corner of Ash and Third Streets, completed and occupied this year. C. H. Clark is the reader to this active organization.

The Union Church at La Jolla is an unique organization. There not being sufficient population to support separate denominations, the people of all denominations united and organized a Union Church, on March 11, 1897. It was incorporated in the following October. The first pastor was William L. Johnson, two years; the next, J. L. Pearson, three years. The present pastor is Mr. Lathe. Daniel Cleveland, of San Diego, conducted services during the intervals between the different pastors. In 1905, the Episcopalians formed a separate organization in La Jolla and now have regular services. Recently, the Presbyterians also took similar action. The Union Church, however, was never so strong and active as at present.

The Peniel Mission, the Christian Endeavor Society, the Helping Hand Mission, and a number of other missionary organizations, as well as the Salvation Army, are actively represented.


The Young Men’s Christian Association is so strong and its work so important that it is believed a somewhat full and circumstantial account of its growth is warranted.

The association was organized in March, 1882, and for a few months held its meetings in Hubbell’s Hall, on the corner of Fifth and F Streets. There is no record of any active work in 1883, but in June, 1884, it was reorganized and the old Masonic Hall, on Fifth Street, rented for its use, at $5 per month. In August, 1885, C. L. Sturges was engaged as general secretary, and from this time on an open room for young men’s use was maintained. In May, 1886, J. A. Rogers was elected general secretary, with the modest salary of $35 per month and the use of a small room in the rear of the hall, and continued in the position till July, 1890.

Mr. Rogers had remarkable success in building up the association. His character was an interesting and noble one. Although probably not over sixty years of age, his white hair and partial blindness gave him an older appearance; yet he was a fresh, vigorous, cheerful man, with power to please and attach boys and young men. He had been a locomotive engineer and ran a fast express out of New York City. Without technical training, he was nevertheless admirably fitted for the peculiar pioneer work in the exciting times of 1887 and 1888. Hundreds of young men came under his friendly Christian influence. The little Dunham House Hall, on Fifth Street, was the scene of crowded Sunday meetings and many social gatherings and entertainments.

The association had no gymnasium in those days, but as early as 1886 three or four classes had been formed, the principal one being for the study of Spanish. The members were active in the care of the sick and also paid regular visits to the county jail. The rapid growth in Mr. Rogers’ administration is shown by the treasurer’s expense account, the rent being increased in the first year from $5 to $40 per month and the secretary’s salary from $35 to $75. In 1887 the association bought two lots at the northeast corner of Seventh and G Streets. Plans for a building to cost about $80,000 were drawn and bids for its construction received; but the collapse of the boom, early in 1888, prevented the accomplishment of this design. Early in 1888 the association moved to rooms on Seventh Street, just north of G, where it was proposed to build, and a large reading room was fitted up on the first floor. The membership at that time was 200. Later in the year, owing to high rent ($150 per month), another move was made, to the two-story residence on the northwest corner of Eighth and G Streets. The whole house was occupied, and here the association had, for the first time, a number of convenient classrooms. But the financial stringency compelled another move in a few months, and the association then took up its quarters in a one-story building on the west side of Sixth Street between E and F, where it remained for about a year.

In October, 1889, a complete change was made in the directorate, the following being chosen: J. E. Hall, J. C. Packard, Henry Siebold, W. E. Howard, Dr. Hurlburt, John P. Lewis, and L. P. Davidson. Mr. Rogers remained as secretary, and J. E. Hall was elected president; a month later he was succeeded by C. D. Todd, who served till June, 1890, when he resigned and W. E. Howard was chosen and served till the end of the association year.

During the year 1890, the association moved into the Turnverein Hall, on Eighth Street between G and H, and opened a well equipped gymnasium, with Professor Hoeh in charge. Notwithstanding great financial difficulties, excellent work was done. Mr. Rogers withdrew in July, having been called to ministerial service in one of the country churches.

At the beginning of the new association year, in October, 1890, important changes were made. George W. Marston was elected president, Giles Kellogg vice-president, and Philip Morse recording secretary. John McTaggart was elected general secretary, and filled the position with marked ability and devotion for four years. Prominent workers in the association about this time were: C. D. Todd, W. E. Howard, W. R. Guy, Watson Parrish, A. L. Bachmann, Henry Siebold, L. P. Davidson, Herbert Wylie, Irving McMahon, E. S. Gillan, E. A. Churcher, and M. T. Gilmore. At the annual meeting in 1891, a resolution of thanks was adopted in gratitude for the large membership and payment of all debts.

In 1893 it became evident that a location nearer the center of town would be more desirable. Rooms in the Express Block were therefore rented from January 1, 1894, which were headquarters for a year and four months. At the close of Mr. McTaggart’s secretaryship, in September, 1894, W. E. Neelands was secretary for a few months. In April, 1895, a lease was signed with U. S. Grant, Jr., for the second floor of his new building at the corner of Sixth and D Streets, at an annual rental of $1,000. Mr. Grant arranged the room as the association desired. The floor space was 75x100 feet, which gave room for a lecture hall, gymnasium, baths, reading room, and several social and class rooms. This was the home of the association for ten years.

NEW HOME OF THE Y.M.C.A. On the corner of Eight and C Streets.

In May, 1895, George A. Miller (now a Methodist minister in Manila) became secretary of the association. Under his vigorous management, in its new quarters, the association started on its larger career. In the first quarter of 1896 it gained very rapidly, receiving nearly 300 new members. J. P. Smith became general secretary in the fall of 1896 and filled the office till March, 1903—the longest service of any secretary. He was the first secretary with much experience in association work. Besides this training, he had a fine enthusiasm and genuine sympathy for the young. Under his careful and faithful administration, the Y. M. C. A. carried on its four-fold activities—religious, social, physical, and educational—with steady power and usefulness. As physical director, Fred A. Crosby was employed for five years. He made marked improvements in the gymnasium and exerted a fine influence over the younger boys. Professors Davidson and Freeman, of the public schools, gave the association valuable services in forming its educational course. Will H. Holcomb was especially active in building up the gymnasium, and many others contributed in various ways to the progress of the association.

The association has always been deeply indebted to the Ladies’ Central Committee for contributions of money, furnishings for rooms, and constant service in social affairs. During Mr. Smith’s secretaryship and for two or three years after, Mrs. V. D. Rood was the inspiring leader of the ladies’ work and made it one of the most successful organizations of its kind in the state. In 1899, George W. Marston declined further re-election to the presidency, having served in that capacity every year, save one, since the organization of the association. He is still a member of the board of directors. Philip Morse, who had been an active member and valuable director for several years, was chosen to succeed Mr. Marston. In 1900, Will H. Holcomb became president, and he has filled the office, most acceptably, from that time to the present, guiding the association’s affairs with great tact and ability. During his presidency, large things have been undertaken and great changes made.

During the winter of 1902-03 a very determined effort was made to provide for the payment of a debt of about $4,000 which had gradually accrued in past years. Under the direction of Mr. Sutherland, the state secretary, subscriptions to the amount of $9,000 were secured. These subscriptions, payable half in 1903 and half in 1904, were collected, for the most part, and, united with the membership fees, enabled the association to reach the year 1905 with current expenses paid and the debt reduced to $1,000.

In the summer of 1903, Roy H. Campbell became general secretary and E. A. Merwin physical director. Under Mr. Campbell’s very able management great interest was aroused among the boys and young men. Athletic activities and social affairs were specially prominent. Several radical changes in methods of work were adopted in 1903-04, among them, the discontinuance of Sunday afternoon religious mass meetings and the substitution of smaller group meetings for Bible study. Great efforts were made to bring into association influence the younger classes of young men, and this was successfully accomplished.

It became evident early in 1905 that the association’s quarters were already inadequate in size and convenience, and, after careful consideration, the residence property at the northeast corner of Eighth and C Streets was purchased. A large, substantial house, with ample ground for building extensions, was thus secured at a cost of $20,000. In order to build a gymnasium adjoining the house, make necessary repairs and changes, and provide for a large part of the current expenses, the association undertook to raise a fund of $32,000. Secretary Campbell devoted himself to the task for many weeks, assisted by many friends of the association. It was impossible to obtain cash donations for such a sum, but by accepting subscriptions payable over a period of two years, the full amount was pledged without mortgaging its property, and the association secured sufficient loaned money to carry its finances during the two years.

In October, 1905, the old rooms at Sixth and D Streets were left and the removal made to the new house. The gymnasium, costing $6,000, was built in the following months, and in May, 1906, the completed new association quarters were occupied and placed in full use. This happy consummation was not attained without toil and sacrifice. To the sorrow of all, Secretary Campbell’s health broke down from overwork and nervous strain, just before the close of the financial canvass. He had planned and led all the work with untiring zeal until success was in sight, but was obliged to resign the office in December, 1905. Mr. Campbell’s services to the San Diego Y. M. C. A. were remarkably strong. Full of youthful enthusiasm himself, he attracted and influenced other young men with power and moral helpfulness. In all the activities of association life he was efficient and forceful.

In January, 1906, Earle Davenport Smith was engaged as general secretary, and a little later Albert N. Morris as physical director. Mr. Smith found a heavy work of organization on his hands, owing to several months’ interruption of regular, systematic management. He attacked it vigorously and at this writing (November, 1906) has an efficient organization and the best facilities for complete association service that this city has ever enjoyed.


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