HISTORIC RANCHOS OF SAN DIEGO, by Cecil C. Moyer (San Diego: Union-Tribune Publishing Co., 1969). 115 pp. Indexed. Illustrated. Bibliography. $7.50.
In reading this book, one must bear in mind that in a sense it is a sequel to Richard F. Pourade’s The Silver Dons, which partially explains the terse delineations of the owners and their activities. One’s curiosity is aroused to know these rancheros better without having to refer to Pourade’s and other works. As an example, it would have enhanced ones interest to have included an account of the lavish fiestas of Jesse Julian Ames at Los Coches which drew guests from as far away as Santa Barbara and Los Angeles.
This is a minor complaint in comparison with the general excellence of this work. It is most helpful to be able to locate the ranchos of San Diego County in relation to present day highways, towns, and other landmarks. This is achieved by locating all the ranchos on endpaper maps and inserts at the beginning of each’ individual account. The other major contribution is the tracing of the ownership from the original grantee to 1968. The desenos (the maps drawn by the owners to prove their titles before the U. S. Land Commission) are reproduced and add to the value of the account.
The author has gone to considerable pains to locate illustrations of ranch buildings and portraits of the rancheros. These vividly show the change from cattle roaming on the hills, to towns, golf courses, and commercial developments. The colored reproductions of the water colors by E. S. Fenyes are the highlight of the illustrations. As one views the illustrations of the buildings, he is saddened that most of them have disappeared through neglect and vandalism.
There is one gap in the continuity of the operations of Rancho Santa Margarita y Flores. After the death of Jerome O’Neill in 1925 and until the U. S. Government took over in 1941 and 1942, the rancho was managed by Charles S. Hardy, Harry Heffner, and H. W. Wittman for the heirs.
This book is a worthy addition to one’s personal library both for its content and its attractive format designed by Anderson, Ritchie and Simon.
Edwin T. Coman, Jr.
University of California, Riverside