David J. Weber, Book Review Editor
Towns of Baja California, A 1918 Report by David Goldbaum. Translated and Edited by William O. Hendricks. Glendale: La Siesta Press, 1971. Illustrations. Folding Map. 70 pages. $2.75
Reviewed by Dr. W. Michael Mathes, Associate Professor of History at the University of San Francisco and author of Vizcaíno and Spanish Expansion in the Pacific Ocean: 1580-1630, and various other books and articles on the early Spanish Californias, in English and Spanish.
Baja California, since its discovery in 1533, was among the most difficult geographical regions of Mexico in which permanent settlement was attempted. Private enterprise for exploitation of pearl fisheries failed to establish settlers in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and even the relative success of Jesuit, Franciscan and Dominican missions on the peninsula in the eighteenth century failed to expand the permanent population and development of the area. Desirous of colonizing the peninsula as a buffer against the United States, the Mexican government in the latter half of the nineteenth century granted extensive tracts of land to entrepreneurs under the condition that they attract permanent settlers and develop the region. Among these grants was the concession to the Mexican Land and Colonization Company of virtually the entire northern half of the peninsula.
Rather unsuccessful, this grant was contrary to the agrarian reform programs of the Mexican Revolution and it was declared forfeit by Governor Esteban Cantú in 1916. The administration of the ex-Mexican Land and Colonization Company tract, extending from approximately 30° North Latitude to the International Border, was placed under David Goldbaum, an Ensenada engineer who had settled on the peninsula about 1888. Goldbaum, a holder of various mining interests, prepared a report on the settlements within his jurisdiction which he submitted to the government on 13 November 1918.
Goldbaum’s report was lost in the immensity of governmental files until a copy was discovered in Ensenada by the late Ellen C. Barrett in 1954. The report deals with the climate, topography and resources of Calamallí, El Barril, San Fernando (Velicatá), Santa Catarina (near Cataviña), El Rosario (de Viñadaco), San Quintín, Santo Domingo (de la Frontera), San Telmo, San Rafael Abajo, San Vicente (Ferrer), Santo Tomás (de Aquino), Punta Banda, Real del Castillo, El Alamo, Valle de Trinidad, San Felipe, Guadalupe (del Norte), Ensenada, Colnett and El Centinela (Signal Mountain). Tijuana, Mexicali and Tecate are not included for they did not fall within the jurisdiction of the colonization lands.
Although the report itself is rather brief, a well-researched and well-written introduction and extensive historical notes on each settlement by Dr. William O. Hendricks of the Sherman Foundation convert Goldbaum’s work into a virtual history of rural Baja California Norte during the Díaz and early Revolutionary periods. Early photographs, a Goldbaum map of 1919, bibliography, index and modern map enhance the text. This interesting little volume is well worth its low price.