Documents of San Diego History—A Unique Case
April 1, 1969
By Florence Shipek
Florence Connolly Shipek needs little introduction to students of San Diego history, for she has been a writer and a researcher for many years. Mrs. Shipek has both a Bachelor of Arts degree and a Master of Arts degree from the University of Arizona.
She specializes in the history of the Indians of this locality. Her publications, “Lower California Frontier -1870,” Baja California Travel Series #2 and “The Autobiography of Delfina Cuero, as told to Florence Shipek,” Baja California Travel Series #12, are available in Junipero Serra Museum Research Library.
This article dealing with the plight of the Temecula Indians, to whom justice was given and then taken away is an illustration of the fortune of most California Indians after the white man arrived in their mother county.
California is the only state that did not reserve to the federal government, the right to deal exclusively with the Indians within the state. Instead the State Legislature passed the “Act of April 22, 1850 for the Government and Protection of Indians.”
This act required local authorities to determine which lands were occupied and used by Indians, to set off their boundaries and to prevent settlers from entering upon such lands.
The only record of compliance with this act seemed to be in the various Helen Hunt Jackson reports on the conditions of the Mission Indians, which state that some of the Indian villages had worthless papers signed by local sheriffs, indicating the extent and boundaries of their villages and lands. Also, in her book, “Glimpses of California and the Missions,” (Boston 1903), she stated on page 115, in regard to Temecula in 1S65, “…to be sure the man was still alive who had assisted in marking off the boundaries of their part of this original Temecula grant,… “
Proof that the county of San Diego did comply with this California Act of 1850 rests in the archives of the San Diego County Court. A dispute arose concerning the boundaries of the village of Temecula. This dispute became the court case entitled “Temecula Indians vs Holman & Seaman, Appeal to the County Court from Decission (sic) of Magistrate Juan Machado,” filed March 21, 1859.
The Temecula Indians, with the aid of the United States Indian Agent for Southern California, appealed the decision of the local magistrate. The archives include the appeal, its adjudication and a map indicating the village houses and planting ground.
A rather unusual feature of the case is the basis for the decision in determining the boundaries of the Indian land?not past ownership and use?but the number of Indians and their need, or lack of need, of the disputed piece for the subsistence of that number of Indians. In spite of this basis for the decision, George A. Pendleton, who had been commissioned by the court to make the determination, did note the Indian land and water use and state that the Indian rights should be protected.
Unfortunately for the Indian, the California law contained no further implementation to protect his land rights. In the meantime, on March 3, 1852, the United States Congress had passed “An Act to Ascertain and Settle The Private Land Claims in The State of California.”
This act superseded any state law in regard to land held under the Spanish and Mexican governments, as the Mission Indians had held land. While this federal act required the Land Commissioners to determine the lands held, used and occupied by the Indians, no record exists that the Commissioners fulfilled this part of the Act. The Rancho grants were verified by the commissioners without regard to Indian rights, and as new owners acquired the properties, they brought suits for ejectment.
The Temecula Indians were ejected from the Temecula village in 1875 by the sheriff under orders from the District Court in San Francisco. In spite of Pendleton’s decision and determination of use, the Temecula Indians had the enjoyment of their property for a scant six years longer.
Local sentiment about the ejection of the Indians was well expressed by E. W. Morse, a leading San Diego citizen: “trouble is expected from the Temecula Indians who have been ejected from the Temecula Ranch by the sheriff under order of the District Court of San Francisco. I presume it is the law but it is a rascally law to turn them off the land that they have occupied and their fathers before them for hundreds of years.” (E.W. Morse letter-book #3, page 218.)
The entire document is presented in its original form with its original spelling and punctuation.
HOLMAN & SEAMAN APPEAL
THE COUNTY COURT
DECISSION OF MAGISTRATE
Filed March 21, 1859
Geo. A. Pendleton
The Indians of Temecula vs. Holman & Seaman
San Diego County
Whereas some time since (date not known as the magistrate made no record) Messrs Holman & Seaman of Temcula (sic) called upon Juan Machado (then a magistrate) of the before mentioned Township, according to the provisions of the second section of the “Act of April 22nd 1850, for the Government and Protection of Indians” to set off to the Indians of Temecula a certain amount of the lands of Temecula as was necessary for the said Indians for planting, sewing, (sic) and their site or place of their village and said Juan Machado having set off such?&the Indians being dissatisfied with the land so set apart for their use by the said Juan Machado, appealed from his decission (sic) to the County Court as by law they have a right to do & they appeal from said decission (sic) on the ground that the land so laid off & set apart for their use by the said Juan Machado is not the lands which they have planted for many years taut that a portion of their ancient planting lands have been taken from them by the said Holman & Seaman & that said Indians have no redress but to appeal to the County Court. And the Appellants further set forth that the statement as to dates are not more specific for the reason that the Magistrate made no record of his proceedings as the law required Mm to do?that if he did they are unable to procure a copy thereof.
J. J. Hendrick
U. S. Indian Agent and agent
For the Temecula Indians
21, March 1859
Temecula Indians App’ l
Holman & Seman
In said cause, it is ordered by the County Judge at chambers, that George A. Pendleton, Esq., be and is hereby appointed Commissioner in said cause, and that said commissioner proceed to Temecula in Temecula Township San Diego County where said difficulty exists, fin the facts in the case, and lay off such land, or lands, as may be necessary for the maintainance of said Indians, in accordance with the statues (sic) of this state, it is further ordered that said commissioner report the facts and a drawing of the land so laid off by him for said Indians at the next Regular Term of the County Court, May Term, 1859, or as soon thereafter as possible.
D. B. Kurtz
March 22nd 1859
To The Hon
D. B. Kurtz
San Diego County, Cal.
In accordance with an order made by your Honor at chambers, on the 22nd day of March A.D. 1859, appointing the undersigned a commissioner in the case of the Temecula Indian App. vs Holman and Seaman Respdts I would respectfully submit the following report.
Upon receiving the order referred to above I proceeded to Temecula, and entered upon the duties assigned me, by gathering all the facts in relation to the piece of ground held in possession by Holman and Seaman, and claimed by the Temecula Indians as a portion of their planting ground. By reference to the accompanying plat, the piece of land in dispute is represented by the letter B.C.P.O. The Temecula Indians have heretofore occupied all the valley as planting ground including between the Eastern and the Western limits marked Y and W and between Temecula Creek and the base of the mountain line X, with the exception of the field included within the lines J.H.G.F. now cultivated by Holman & Seaman, together with a small slip of ground bordering on the creek and marked N. Which said slip was acknowledged to have been purchased from the Indians by said Holdman (sic) and Seaman.
It was represented to me that the U. S. Surveyor had visited Temecula and laid off the claim of said Holman and Seaman according to the Apiz Grant confirmed by the U. S. Land Comm. and subsequently by the U. S. Dist. Court the corners of which grant as surveyed are represented by the letters A.B.D. on said plat. (In the San Diego County Recorders Office, Book of Deeds No. 1, pages 329-330, is a deed which seems to refer to this, plot of ground. It is dated June 27, 1859 and is from María Jesus Apis and Juana Apis of Los Angeles County to John Rains of San Bernardino County… “in consideration of $200… have bargained, sold and quit claimed… all right, title and interest … to a certain tract of land lying and situate in the County of San Diego, California known as Temecula, formerly owned and claimed by Pablo Apis and confirmed in the U. S. District Court of Southern California on or about the 23rd day of February, A.D. 1857… consisting of about one (1) league in length and one half a league in breadth, including the planting grounds and some vines of the same… “) Upon the survey being completed Holdman (sic) and Seaman proceeded, by the sanction and under the direction of Juan Machado Justice of the Peace to lay off and fence in preparation to planting the said field B.C.P.O. Thls the Indians considered intruding upon their planting grounds, and from which proceeding they appealed to be reinstated in the piece of ground of which they had been dispossessed
Your Commissioner believes from representations made to him that there are from two hundred and fifty to three hundred Indians belonging to this locality and who cultivate the valley yearly, and as there appeared to be sufficient land independent of the piece in dispute (which was only seven or eight acres) for the undersigned allowed the Respondents to remain in possession of the disputed parcel of land. The Indians were then placed in possession of the tract of land from the Aroya las Guajomitas and Canyon East to the Enclosed field of Holman and Seaman on the North side of the Creek, and all the land above said Holman and Seaman field to the ditch in front of Frager and Woolfs Stores together with all buildings occupied by said Indians, together with all the lands, vinyards and orchards above and abreast of Holman & Seaman’ s residence, (but not to include any land now enclosed and occupied by said Holman & Seaman.) and thence following the creek to where an old zanjo E takes the water from the creek, thence following the Eastern limit Y to the Base line X, as indicated on land plat, with the privilege to the said Indians to use the water from the main creek, and Lagoon K for the purposes of irrigation.
The orchard marked A.M.L.R. has been in the possession and for the use and enjoyment for a number of years of the Indians named Domingo Aguscola, Juan Cauvtsimo (sic), and Manuel. They have a house erected on the premises and a fence surrounds the ground. They asked to tae protected in the peaceable enjoyment of the property, against the attempts of any person or persons to dispossess them, and from what your commissioner could gather in reference to the ownership of this orchard, the Indians above cited are entitled to the full possession, enjoyment and benefits of the same.
In reference to the Laguna K, which is an artificial work, I was informed that credit was due to the Indians for keeping the same in repair for the purpose of irrigating their fields. They asked to be protected in the use of the water from said laguna, against the attempt of any person or persons to dispossess them.
The Indians were informed of the action of your Commissioner in the premises, which was thoroughly explained to them, and with which they expressed themselves perfectly contented and satisfied.
Your Commissioner in conclusion, would respectfully ask that Fifty dollars be allowed as the cost of this Commission.
All of which is respectfully submitted
Geo. A. Pendleton
San Diego, Cal.
April 23rd 1859