S-5 Historic Place Names


Valley Rich in Historic Place Names

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

...Continued from page S-4:

Wade -- being forced to abandon wagons and most possessions.

Largest of the marooned groups, the Jayhawkers, consisted of between 20 and 40 young men predominently [sic] from Illinois. This group made its way out of Death Valley through Emigrant Wash, over the Panamint Range, down Panamint Valley close to the present Trona, over the Angus Mts. to China Lake and Indian Wells then down Red Rock Canyon to the Mojave Desert and on to the Del Valle family's San Francisco Rancho near Saugus, where they arrived Feb. 4, 1850.


Two families, those of Asabel Bennett and John Arcane, remained camped at a small water seep on the valley's west side, probably the later location of the Eagle Borax Works, while two of their ox drivers, one a family friend, set out on fooot [sic] to find help. These young men, William Lewis Manly and John Rogers, walked all the way to San Fernando, obtained horses at the Del Valle Rancho and returned to Death Valley with provisions to rescue the two families.

The remarkable Manly and Rogers trip, one last some six weeks, wrote one of the greatest chapters of heroism in the thick volume of overland trail exploits. One of the rescued Bennetts is credited with naming Death Valley.

With the gold rush in full swing, a constitutional convention was held in Monterey which drew up California's first constitution. Congress accepted California as a state, President Millard Fillmore signing the bill on Sept. 9, 1850.
Peter H. Burnett had already been chosen governor, and state government was a reality. The state originally had 27 counties.


In the first year most of what is San Bernardino County was a part of San Diego. The next year lines were shifted and the San Bernardino Valley became a part of Los Angeles. San Bernardino County was created April 26, 1853, and the City of San Bernardino was incorporated on April 13, 1854.
Back in Salt Lake the rapidly growing Mormon territory was receiving large additions through migration of converts from Europe, Scandinavia and elsewhere.
It was found that converts reaching the United States through New York and other Atlantic Coast ports were subjected to temptations to tarry and work under the high American wage standards. Many never left the, to them, unbelievably rich employment to continue their pilgrimage to the church's territory.
With the gold rush, an even greater diversion was presented to converts arriving in San Francisco.

Image of the the bronze tablet that was placed at the site of the Guachama Rancheria in the Mission Township by the DAR.
This bronze tablet was placed at the site of the Guachama Rancheria in the Mission Township by the DAR. It marks the location of the second mission penetration in 1819.

Latter Day Saints authorities decided that it would be best to land immigrants at some less worldly port than either New York or San Francisco. San Diego was regarded as ideal for this purpose and plans were drawn for an overland chain of Mormon settlements to serve, in part, as assistance stations along the San Diego-Salt Lake route. Such towns as Nephi and Paworan were established in Utah and the call made for volunteers to form the projected Southern California settlement.

Amasa M. Lyman, one of the Council of 12 of the church, was selected by President Young to head the Southern California colony volunteers. When, however, this group had assembled, the church president is reported to have wept because instead of the handful he had visioned as willing to settle in far off California, the group numbered around 500 persons.

Because it was so large a group, Charles C. Rich, another apostle, was named as co-leader of the enterprise.


Both Apostles Lyman and Rich had been in California before.
Lyman had been in the San Francisco and Sacramento region where he had been sent by President Young to collect tithes from Mormons working in the gold placers and to reason with the recalcitrant Brannan.
Rich had traveled over the Old Spanish Trail with the Hunt caravan in 1849. Rich was also experienced in desert travel from numerous other missions. It would have been difficult to have found two leaders better qualified to head a pioneering colony in the semi-arid southwest.

In the California-bound party were also Capt. Hunt who, as has been noted, had already served as guide over the route; Davis Seely, who had been over the same route in 1849-50; and several former soldiers of the Mormon Battalion. These men all knew the country of their destination and the rough trail between that goal and Salt Lake.


Salt Lake was left behind early in March 1851. On March 24 the group had been "shaken down," organized into 10s and 100s and arrived at Payson. It was at Payson that President Young reviewed the group and apparently realized how large the exodus had become.

The trail followed ran generally southwest to Las Vegas, the route now followed by U.S. Highway 91 and the Union Pacific Railroad, except that in the part of Nevada east of Las Vegas the old trail veered to the south missing the mud hills and wound closer to the Colorado River over terrain now inundated by Lake Mead.

From Las Vegas the way led through a pass to the west and on into the Pahrump Valley to the little waterhole of Stump Spring, then northwest to Resting Spring, over a divide to Tecopa, and down the Amargosa River canyon to Salt Spring near the southern tip of Death Valley.


Resting Spring previously named Archilette by Fremont, was the last good water until the Mojave River was reached a few miles downstream from the present Daggett.
In between were Salt Spring and Bitter Spring. Salt Spring is alongside California Highway 127 some 29 miles north of Baker. Bitter Spring, astride the boundary of the Camp Irwin reservation, is about 10 miles north of the midway point between Yermo and Baker. The old trail went that way.
When the trail reached the Mojave River it followed that stream all the way to the present Hesperia where it veered more directly south to Horsethief Canyon, then entered the Cajon Pass through Coyote Canyon and the East Cajon Narrows.

A trail designed primarily for pack animals in the days of the New Mexican trade caravans, it was not too well suited for the heavy-ox-drawn covered wagons.
In the Cajon Narrows wagons had to be taken apart and lowered by rope. By 1852 the resourceful Mormons had found a shorter way by blazing a road from the Mojave River about the present junction of the road to Adelanto south to the crest of the West Cajon through the Baldy Mesa region.
There are monuments in the Cajon Pass mraking [sic] both trails. The Old Spanish Trail marker is at Cajon alongside the down lanes of the Barstow Freeway. The marker for the road of 1852 is along side Highway 136 and is surmounted by a wagon wheel set to point toward the steep saddle down which the wagons were skidded.
At the foot of Cajon Pass the Caravan of 1851 was halted and camp was made west of the present Devore in Sycamore Grove. The site is marked by a monument now opposite the Ellena vineyard on Devore Rd.

On June 11, 1851, the advance contingent of 50 headed by Captain Seely reached Sycamore Grove. Others were strung out behind in companies of similar size, there being some nine companies in all.

The division had been decided upon by the desert-wise leaders to actually speed desert travel as the intervals between groups gave the tiny desert springs time to be refilled.


At Sycamore Grove negotiations were opened with Isaac Williams for purchase of Santa Ana del Chino. When the Mormon Battalion had had men stationed at Chino in 1847, Williams had offered to sell his vast ranch, including cattle, for a down payment of $5,000.
Hunt, to whom the sale offer had been made, looked over the cattle and reasoned that there was enough stock, if sold for meat in the mines, to fully pay Williams' price. Four years later when the Mormons were three months or more from home, Williams doubled his asking price.
Ranching income had picked up since his earlier conversations with Hunt.
In the camp at Sycamore Grove there were around 450 persons plus sizable animal herds. The prospective settlers had come in 150 wagons which had been drawn by nearly 600 oxen and over 50 mules.


There were also over 100 horses, most of which had been ridden overland by their owners, though the bulk of the horse herd was designed for farm work. Several had been harnessed to buggies and light wagons, there being numerous conveyances in the emigrant group in addition to the covered wagons that served as homes on wheels.
Inside these prairie schooners were the clothing, household implements, bedding and furniture of the settlers. Often a cook stove was in the wagonbed, a stovepipe protruding through the canvas cover while water barrels, plows and other farm implements were lashed outside.
There were many steep grades to cross, on which it was customary for the multiple teams of two wagons to be hitched to a single heavy vehicle. At these rocky grades there were habitual halts both while doubled teams made the two trips and while the men "shortened wagons," which meant moving the wheel sets closer together to prevent hanging up in sharp, pitchy terrain.
Sixteen miles was about the [extent] of a 1 day's travel even over favorable terrain with good tough ox teams.


During the 90 days or more of the trek the Mormon colonists, inspired with the belief they were doing the Lord's bidding, were a cheerful group. Even after hours of jolting travel through rough country there was merriment.
Instead of 80,000 acres the Mormons bought only 40,000. The balance was held by the Lugos under a "permit to occupy" and not a true title. The United States land commission, however, permitted the Mormons to select what part of the vast rancho they desired.
Title passed to Lyman and Rich who were, in a sense, trustees. Louis Rubidoux who held Jurupa Rancho alongside Bandini, advanced money for the Mormons to complete the purchase. There was left, however, a big mortgage, and the prevailing interest rate in California was around 30 per cent annually; so it was imperative to pay as soon as possible.


No sooner had the sale been made than the campers started moving onto the new land. There was no time to wait for surveys. Cabins, small ones, were erected. They could be moved later when streets and roads were plotted. No time was lost in sowing fall grain to take advantage of the rainy season.
At this juncture a mountain Indian chief, Antonio Garra, conspired to drive all the whites out of Southern California. Attacks were made on isolated ranchos in the interior. One person occupying such an exposed position was Pauline Weaver, living in an adobe at Beaumont and running cattle in the San Gorgonio Pass in partnership with Isaac Williams.


Weaver was a friend of Juan Antonio, powerful chief of the Cahuillas, who had been brought to Politana by the Lugos to supplant the Trujillo colonists after the latter had moved to Agua Mansa. When the Lugos sold the Rancho Juan Antonio and his cowboys moved up into San Timoteo Canyon and started a rancheria near El Casco where Duff Weav-

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