S-4 Yields Exciting Moments


Every Era Yields Exciting Moments

(Sun-Telegram Historical Writer)
Copyright (1960), The Sun. Reprinted by permission

...Continued from page S-3:
on the piedmont between Devil and Cable canyons, right where the old Mojave Indian trail crossed from the desert. There he could command both the old trail and the Cajon route.

It was a fine idea but it didn't work. Walkara was too swift and clever for White. Adding insult to injury, the Ute stole White's horses along with those of Lugo and Bandini.

The Lugo brothers next persuaded Lorenzo Trujillo, a leader in annual New Mexican trade caravans, to recruit a group of settlers. Lands were offered in Politana, south of Vicente Lugo's home. The New Mexican caravans were an annual trade link between Mexico's most northerly provinces.

The caravans came out from Santa Fe in the fall of the year, camped during the winter in the land below the Urbita bluffs about where the freeways now intersect. In spring, when the grass had been replenished along the trail, the traders went back to New Mexico.

This is the cornerstone at Bunker Hill which was dedicated May 20, 1910 by Bishop Conaty of the Los Angeles diocese.
A Century after Padre Dumetz' arrival, San Bernardino observed its centennial. This is the cornerstone at Bunker Hill which was dedicated May 20, 1910 by Bishop Conaty of the Los Angeles diocese.

Trujillo recruited a group of families, all but one of which were either Mexican or Indian. The lone exception was Isaac Stover. The colonists built a row of adobes near what would now be the Colton Municipal Plunge.

Lytle Creek, in its old channel, ran a little distance to the west. They were allocated lands for gardens. For irrigating water they ran a ditch from a big spring on what now would be Mill St. west of the California Electric Power Co. plant. The irrigating ditch passed through what is today the Valley College athletic field.

There, one fine day, the young and fiery Vicente Lugo decided to hold a rodeo for some visiting friends from the Los Angeles area. Vicente spent but little time on the rancho. He was yet a minor and unmarried and cut quite a figure as a horseman.

Lugo's rodeo ruined the crops of the New Mexicans at Politana because the wild cattle broke down the banks of the irrigation ditch. When their corn died the New Mexicans quit.

They were offered land over southwest of Colton in the Agua Mansa district, a tract known as the Bandini donation. There they built a little village called by that name. It was actually two villages. The larger part was on the north side of the river and nearby, on higher ground, a plot was set aside for a cemetery. A small church was built also.


On the south bank was a smaller part of the colony, variously called San Salvador and the Little Town of the Trujillos. Agua Mansa became the biggest settlement in Southern California east of San Gabriel.

Before the Trujillo colonists left, the Lugos had built a small adobe house on the bench in what is now the northern part of Rialto. A reliable vaquero stayed there to keep watch on Cajon Pass and the mountains. He was in a position where he could ride and give early alarm. The little outpost adobe where the sentinel lived is still standing.


When the New Mexicans quit the Lugos, it left the San Bernardino Rancho exposed to attack. Jose del Carmen Lugo, the older brother, then negotiated with Juan Antonio, head chief of the Cahuilla. The chief moved a band of mountain Cahuilla down to the deserted settlement of Politana. The Cahuilla remained as Lugo cowboys and guards until the San Bernardino Rancho was sold to the Mormons in the fall of 1851.

In 1846 the United States and Mexico went to war when the Mexican dictator, Santa Anna, invaded Texas, then recently annexed by the United States. President James K. Polk informed a tense Congress, "American blood has been shed on American soil" and hostilities started.

Santa Anna had a standing army far larger than did the United States, and his precision drilled cavalry appeared invincible on a parade ground. The dictator looked forward to slicing off more territory but the war turned into a one-sided one.


The Pacific Squadron, under the command of Commodore John D Sloat, a senior officer who had entered the naval service way back in 1800, won a hide-and-seek game with the British off the west coast of Mexico and reached Monterey, unchallenged by any European power. Both Great Britain and France were presumably eyeing [sic] California and looking for an excuse to seize the territory once Mexico became involved in war.

Commodore Sloat had the Stars and Stripes raised at Monterey, but not until after American settlers in the Sacramento Valley had acted independently and seized the northern military head quarters at Sonoma, where Gen. Mario G. Vallejo was taken prisoner.

The settlers formed a provisional government named the California Republic, chose William B. Ide as president and raised a banner they had designed with a grizzly bear as central figure.


In California at the time was a noted lieutenant of the topographical engineers, John Charles Fremont, who was mapping and exploring near the California-Oregon border. Fremont headed a well-armed group of scouts and he had a bit of unpleasant experience at Gavilan Peak east of Monterey, where he had successfully maintained his position against something of a comic opera "attack" by Jose Castro, military commander.

It was the same Castro whose threats of wholesale executions sparked the Bear Flag revolt.

The actual war found the Navy in early possession of the seaports while landing parties from the fleet and the Bear Flag frontiers men, now formed under Fremont as the California Battalion, soon obtained control of the entire north.

In the south, early successes were reversed. A small American guard was driven from Los Angeles. The war came to what is now San Bernardino County when the Santa Ana del Chino ranch house, a massive adobe structure built in form of a rectangle with open court center, was attacked.


Inside were Isaac Williams, owner of the rancho, who had become a naturalized Mexican citizen and married a Lugo daughter; Benjamin Wilson and others who were former United States citizens and who were generally disgusted with the ups and downs of recent Mexican rule and civil wars.

The pro-American faction was short of powder and forced to surrender when the attackers fired the roof of the huge adobe. Their lives were spared through intercession of the venerable Antonio Maria Lugo.

While the war was moving back and forth in California, American troops were winning phenomenal victories elsewhere. Gen. Zachary Taylor repreatedly [sic] defeated Santa Anna in northern Mexico at Monterey, and elsewhere, and Gen. Winfield Scott moved inland from Vera Cruz to capture Mexico City itself.


Smaller forces moved into other districts until over a third of Mexico was occupied, including even Baja California.

Gen. Stephen W. Kearny came west after taking Santa Fe and succeeded in being handed the only major defeat of the war at San Pascual, near Escondido, where his besieged army of regulars was finally rescued by a naval force sent inland by Commodore Robert F. Stockton, who had succeeded Sloat in command of the Pacific squadron.

After San Pascual Kearny joined forces with Stockton and together they marched to complete the conquest by recapture of Los Angeles after battles at the San Gabriel River and in the pueblo's outskirts.

The Mexican army was driven north to meet and surrender to Fremont at Cahuenga Pass and the war was over.

Military rule followed for the next three years. Volunteer soldiers formed into the Mormon Battalion under command of Lt. Col Philip St. George Cook had followed Kearny's Army of the West out from Santa Fe. They crossed the Colorado Desert from Yuma to Carrizo Gorge, where with hand axes they literally cut a road for wagons up the dry falls of Box Canyon and continued on to San Diego.


While the Mormon Battalion's arrival was too late for actual fighting, its sober and industrious members served to give the needed stability to the mercurial transition period in the southern district of California.
Companies of this battalion garrisoned Cajon Pass and for the first time effectively halted organized bands of horse thieves. Others were stationed at Santa Ana del Chino Rancho where they were impressed with the San Bernardino Valley's fertility.
Second in command of the Mormon Battalion was Jefferson Hunt, captain of Co. A, and he succeeded to acting commander when Col. Cook was sent elsewhere. Hunt was offered command of the citizen soldier group if the men would enlist for another term. He traveled to Salt Lake and conferred with President Brigham Young of the Latter Day Saints Church, who advised him that the Mormon men were most needed to build the infant Salt Lake City and turn Utah, then known as Deseret, into a self-sustaining agricultural territory.


Hunt returned to his troops and all prepared to leave for Salt Lake when enlistments expired. One group loaded a wagon with grape cuttings, grains and fruit tree slips which it took north through Cajon Pass and over the Old Spanish trade trail blazed 20 years earlier by the annual Santa Fe pack train caravans of the Trujillos and others.
Before the Mormon soldiers left Chino, however, they had talked with owner Williams and were given a price for which he would sell the big rancho. The Mormons conceived the idea of a Pacific outpost colony there.
In the meantime great events were happening 400 miles to the north. James W. Marshall was building a sawmill for Capt. John A. Sutter. In the millrace gold nuggets were found. Gold had been found in California before, but earlier discoveries had failed to attract much attention.


Now Sam Brannan, a Mormon leader who had brought a shipload of colonists to San Francisco but subsequently severed ties with President Young of the church, was publishing an infant news paper. He became the publicist of the gold discovery, rushing into Portsmouth square at San Francisco displaying a bottle of nuggets and shouting "Gold! Gold from the forks of the American River!"
The cry electrified the tiny San Francisco, almost equally small Monterey and spread in an ever increasing shout across the mountains and plains to New York, Washington and on to Europe, South America and even far off Australia.
Some historians have offered the thesis that no event had so violently affected world civilization since the Crusades. At any rate, the young men of America started for California. Before Marshall's Jan. 24 discovery was three months old, the little towns of Northern California were virtually depopulated as all went to the mines.
A few weeks later Southern California followed suit. At Chino Williams could not even collect enough cowboys to round up his cattle.


The next year came the great tidal wave of humanity overland by ox team, around Cape Horn by sailing vessel, over the Isthmus of Panama and by a dozen other less favored routes. At one time some 200 ships lay idle in San Francisco harbor, deserted by crews and officers alike. Everyone headed for the Sierra and its streams with their yellow nuggets.
More than a year prior to the gold discovery, in late October 1846, an overland party had become trapped in the Sierra snows and many perished. One of the survivors had turned cannibal.
The fate of these travelers -- the Donner Party -- served to warn later emigrants of the danger of attempting Sierra Nevada crossings at any time except late spring and summer.


Thus when California-bound parties began reaching Salt Lake City in the summer of 1849, too late to safely attempt the trip on to the gold regions, their members faced the alternative of either spending the fall and winter in overcrowded and undersupplied Salt Lake or finding an alternative route to California.
At this juncture Capt. Jefferson Hunt, late of the Mormon Battalion and who had made three trips to Southern California, offered to guide argonaut wagons to Los Angeles over the Old Spanish Trail. It would accommodate a wagon, he knew, because his former soldiers had blazed the way, though he also knew and warned that it was no boulevard.
Hunt's offer to serve as guide was accepted by a large number of California-bound travelers with some 100 wagons. After a shake down march and organization as the Sand Walking Co., the group started southwest pointed toward Cajon Pass and Southern California.
In the southern part of Utah territory, near Mountain Meadows, dissension in the ranks resulted in a major division with the majority deciding to try a "short cut" to California.


Most of the dissenters returned to Hunt's leadership after the "short cut" reached a steep bluff at Beaver Dam Wash, but the hard core pressed on directly west to become trapped in Death Valley on Christmas week.

The Hunt caravan made the trip with no great difficulty, reaching William's rancho at Chino in time for Christmas dinner. The remaining dissenters extricated themselves from Death Valley by varied rough routes, all but one family -- that of Harry

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