Stephen A. Colston, Book Review Editor
Memories of the Early Settlements: Dulzura, Potrero, and Campo.
By Ella McCain. San Diego: n.p., 1955. Reprint. Illustrations. Index. 113 pages.
Reprinted after it was first published forty years earlier, McCain’s study chronicles the histories of three communities located in southeastern San Diego County. Rather than developing an interpretive history, McCain’s approach to her subject is narrative. The author does not provide a balanced overview of the three communities’ pasts but instead has examined these histories by developing seventy-one separate vignettes. These vignettes largely describe the histories of specifics, namely, individuals (e.g., “Mr. Sam Moore”), families (e.g., “The Williams Family”), structures (e.g., “First Stores in Potrero”), and events (e.g., “Indians Steal Their Horses”). Much of the source material for this study is, by any canon of professional historical writing, both inadequately and improperly cited.
Still, McCain’s book is not without value. She drew heavily upon personal recollections of early settlers for developing her story, and she provides extensive quotations from these individuals’ narratives. In so doing, McCain merits plaudits for rescuing and preserving the voices of a past which might have otherwise been forever lost. The reprinted edition is enhanced by an index compiled by Jean Gideon Taylor.