On March 15, 1866, Special Agent John Quincy Adams Stanly submitted a report to Washington, complaining about irregularities among the Indians then living at Temecula. He sent a copy of the charges to Charles Maltby, the Superintendent of Indian Affairs for California and, thirteen days later, Maltby left for the southland to make a personal investigation of the allegations.
After speaking at length with Stanly and meeting with concerned Indians and others, the Superintendent returned to San Francisco where, on April 13th, he dispatched a ten page, handwritten report to Dennis T. Cooley, the Commissioner of Indian Affairs.
The original manuscript of Maltby’s report is now filed with other papers relating to the California Superintendency (1849-1880), in the Office of Indian Affairs, at the National Archives, Washington, D.C. A microprint of the report is among the many acquired some fifty years ago by the late Msgr. William McDermott Hughes, who served as Director for the Bureau of Catholic Indian Missions from 1921 to 1935. It is here reproduced from the Chancery Archives, Archdiocese of Los Angeles, with the permission of Cardinal Timothy Manning.
A number of such reports were published, at various times, by the Commissioner of Indian Affairs. Dr. Robert M. Kvasnicka, an official for the Natural Resources Branch, Civil Archives Division, informed this writer, on November 30, 1974, that “to our knowledge this letter has not been published.”
I have the honour to state that on the 28th ult. I left San Francisco for purpose of making a personal examination of the condition of the mission Indians in Southern California, and the causes of the troubles and difficulties amongst them as stated by Special Agent Stanly1 in his report to this office a copy of which was forwarded to the Hon Comm. under date of March 15th ult. with my report for the month of February ultimo.
I arrived at Los Angeles on the 31st ult. and left there on the 2d inst for Temecula2 with Special Agent Stanly where we arrived on the 3rd inst. On the next day we proceeded to the Old Mission of Pala,3 a distance of 10 miles from Temecula over the mountains, in the valley of the San Luis River, the residence of Manuel Cota4 the present-authorized Chief of the Indians in San Diego County. We made an examination of the old mission5 and the lands in the vicinity and returned to Temecula the same day with Manuel Cota.
Information having been sent to the several racharias (sic) of my arrival with the request that the Indians meet the following morning at Temecula at which place a large number assembled. I ascertained that the opposition to Manuel Cota, and the troubles and difficulties existing was caused by the dissatisfaction of a few lazy, vicious, and drunken Indians who would steal rather than work, led on and encouraged by low vicious white men6 interfering with the efforts of Manuel Cota to prevent the selling liquors to the Indians,7 and the selling of the squaws by the Indians to these degenerate white men for prostitution and further by the interfereance (sic) of a Lawyer in Los Angeles by the name of Howard8 “who for a fee” and a few others had promised those disafected (sic) Indians that they would obtain the removal of Manuel Cota from his appointment as Chief.
I told the Indians that I had continued Manuel Cota as Chief over them, that he was to have supervision for the settlement of their difficulties and the management of their affairs, and that he was authorized to arrest and take before the proper authorities of the County for punishment any or all Indians guilty of crimes and misconduct and that they was (sic) to be governed by him and pay respect to him as chief appointed by the proper authority. The Indians mostly stated that they were satisfied with Manuel Cota as their Chief and would be governed by him. A small number said that they had paid Howard of Los Angeles who told them that he would have Manuel Cota removed and if he now told them it could not be they would be satisfied and submit to his authority. I have reason to believe that now the disafected (sic) Indians being satisfied that they must submit to Manuel Cota as their Chief will cease all further opposition to his authority and that order and tranquility amongst them will be restored. I received on my arrival at Temecula a Petition signed by a large number of the citizens of San Diego County stating that they desired Manuel Cota should be retained in his position as Chief, that he was an Indian of good character, of extraordinary intelligence and energy and that he was labouring to improve the condition of his people9 by preventing as far as possible the use of Spiritous Liquours by the Indians and inducing them by precept and example to be industrious and cultivate the lands they occupy for their support and subsistance. He is a remarkable Indian, perfectly temperate, uses no spiritous liquors, nor does he indulge in any of the vice so common amongst the Indians.
The Indians in San Diego County under his supervision number some three thousand, they have all been connected heretofore with the Catholic Missions, and are considerably advanced in civizitation (sic), but since the breaking up and abandonement of the missions they have scattered and located in various places in the vallies (sic) and on the streams, where water could be obtained for the irigation (sic) of the small patches of land they cultivate. Since they have passed from under the control and advice of the Padries (sic) or Priests they have to a considerable extent become demoralized indolent, lazy, fond of Liquours, and gambling, and other vices which has been the invariable result—in all cases in this state when the Indians have come in contact with that class of white population whose conduct and influance (sic) demoralizes and degrades instead of elivating (sic) the Indians.
Manuel Cota resides at the mission of Pala, he has a good adobe house and forty acres of land in cultivation, and owns a considerable number of horses, and cattle, and is highly esteemed by the citizens for his good character and influance (sic) with the Indians. His time is constantly employed in the supervision and management of the Indians, in the settlement of their difficulties and in maintaining order and discipline amongst them, and as their settlements embrace a large extent of country he has a large amount of traveling to perform in visiting their different settlements. I stated to him at Temecula that I would recommend to and ask of the Hon Comm. of Indian affairs that he be allowed fifty dollars per month for his services as chief.
The service of Special Agent Stanly who has had charge of these Indians will not be required after this date, and Manuel Cota having the entire charge and control of them, I believe it to be an act of justice, as well as economy that he should be allowed a small compensation for his services. It will be an inducement and stimulant for a more faithful discharge of his duties, and his position and authority will the more readily be recognized by the Indian as one employed and paid by the Government for his service. I would therefore respectfully recommend that he be allowed for his service fifty dollars per month, as I believe that this amount of money expended in payment of his services will be of much advantage to the Indian Service in this part of the State.
The Indians in San Diego County are residing mostly on Government lands, in some cases on lands held by individuals under Spanish or Mexican Grants, and they must as the country becomes settled by the whites give place to them. This has been and will be the result in all cases in this State, had all the Indians a perfect title to the lands they now occupy. Most of them as opportunity offered would be induced by the whites who desire a possession to sell them land for a few blankets or some trifling consideration, and then they would be turned over to the care of the Government, or on the community to obtain a subsistance as best they could.
This state of affairs existing, I believe now is the proper time for the Government to make some provisions for those Indians in providing for them a permanent location and future home. All they want is a tract of land suitable for cultivation on which they can locate and raise their subsistance, and be unmolested by the whites. A few farming implements and seeds they will require yearly—No expenses attending the establishment of a reservation will be required. Give them lands and protection, and they will provide for their own subsistance.
The old mission of Pala10 located on the San Luis River embracing 25,000 acres valley and mountains lands would be the best location for those Indians in that part of the State. The lands in the valley adjoining the mission which could be irigated (sic) and made productive would subsist two thousand Indians as many as would ever require a home and lands at the hands of the Governments. About 160 Indians reside here at present, and with this mission and land adjoining as above mentioned set apart by the Government for the Indians, their use and benefit, which I would recommend many of the Indians now without lands would come here and locate, and others as they will require to give place to the white would here find a home. The mission buildings here are in a fair state of preservation. The Indians here have recently repaired their Church, and enlarged their burying grounds by the advice and under the direction of Manuel Cota, and one of the Priests11 formerly connected with the Missions, recently visited them, consecrated their burying ground, baptized their children, and married all those who were living together unmarried.
Most of those Indians understand and speak the Spanish language, and have great respect for the Priests, who have considerable influence and control over them. To protect and benefit this remnent (sic) of the natives of this State partially civalized (sic) and Christianized by the early missionaries “whose efforts and example are at present worthy of imitation.” Government must assign them a tract of land expressly for their use and benefit and protect them in the occupation and use of the same from all aggressions and interference of the whites, and this should be done at an early day.
Spcial (sic) Agent Stanly has faithfully and efficiently discharged his duties as agent. He has been much anoyed (sic) and harrassed by the interference of those evil disposed whites before mentioned. They have endeavoured to create discontent and discord amongst the Indians and to throw all the obsticles (sic) possible in his way which in the discharge of his duty they have proceeded so far as to commence a suit against him and Manuel Cota in the District Court of Los Angeles County for six thousand dollars, damages in favour of an Indian who was whipped for stealing by the order of Manuel Cota the chief with the assent of Agent Stanly, a custom and practice of punishment with the Indians.
The citizens of Los Angeles and San Diego Counties, with very few exceptions and those are and have been disloyal and opposed the Government since the commencement of the rebellion, approve and commend the manner in which Agent Stanly has discharged his duties, and say that no one could have done as well as he has under the difficulties in which he has been placed.
Under the present laws the Superintendent or Agents has but little power or authority outside the Indian Territory or reservation for preventing those abuses which arise from white persons interfering with the Indians, abusing their squaws, selling them Liquors, etc.
To attempt to prevent and punish offenders under the State laws would envolve (sic) expense, difficulties, and delays, which would produce no good results
On the 5th we left Temecula for Los Angeles, where we arrived on the evening of the 6th. On the morning of the 7th I left Los Angeles for Wilmington where I took passage on Steamer and arrived at San Francisco on the 9th ult.
Very Respectfully Your Obt Servent,
Supt. Indian Affairs, Cala.
1. John Quincy Adams Stanly, approved as a Special Indian Agent on the previous May 8, was among the founders of the Historical Society of Southern California, on December 6, 1883. He was described by Helen Hunt Jackson as “a warm friend” of the Indians. See Report on the Condition and Needs of the Mission Indians of California (Washington, 1883), p. 32.
2. The Temécula Valley was part of the tract given to the San Luiseños by the Treaty of January 3, 1853.
3. The first mention of Pala in the annals dates from 1810. Six years later, a chapel was constructed and, by 1818, a town was beginning to take shape. San Antonio was sold, along with Mission San Luis Rey de Francia, on November 14, 1845, to José A. Cota and José A. Pico. Today, San Antonio de Pala is the only one of the California missionary establishments still serving the spiritual needs of an exclusively Indian population, the Palatinguas, moved there from Warner’s Ranch by the United States Government.
4. Manuel Cota, known familiarly in the annals as Manuelito, was “a somewhat famous chief of several bands of the San Luisenos.” See George Wharton James, Picturesque Pala. The Story of the Mission Chapel of San Antonio de Padua (Pasadena, 1916), p. 35.
5. Technically speaking, the outpost of San Antonio was not a mission but an asistencia, a term used to describe a foundation having all the requisites for a mission except a resident priest. Of the five assistencias in Provincial California, only San Rafael Arcangel achieved full mission status.
6. One such culprit is identified as Andrew Scott by Helen Hunt Jackson and Abbot Kinney in their Report on the Condition and Needs of the Mission Indians of California, p. 29.
7. This observation is confirmed by other sources too. See, for example, Report of Chas. A. Wetmore (Washington, 1875), p. 6.
8. This reference is likely to Colonel Jim (James G.) Howard, a highly successful but controversial southland criminal attorney.
9. According to one newspaper account, the Indians of the area were long “recognized as the most thrifty and industrious Indians in all California.” See the San Diego Union, September 23, 1875.
10. See note number 5.
11. The priest here referred to is Father Anthony Ubach (1835-1907), who cared for the spiritualities of many Indians in the region. So great was his influence with the natives, “that Ubach is credited with preventing a bloody reprisal from the Temécula Indians when they were forcibly ejected from their homes by unprincipled Anglo settlers.” See Francis J. Weber, Readings in California Catholic History (Los Angeles, 1967), p. 157.
Reverend Francis J. Weber, noted Catholic scholar and an Honorary Chaplain to His Holiness, is Archivist for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Monsignor Weber has published A Select Bibliography To California Catholic Literature, 1856-1974 which lists 500 writings, 22 of them by Father Weber himself, and is currently working on a “History of Religion” in Southern California for the Interreligious Council. His article on John Steven McGroarty appeared in the Fall, 1974 issue of this Journal.