By Michael Casey
Longhorn cattle, which, I submit, were identical to those cattle which are today known as "Texas Longhorns" (see footnote), have played a colorful role in the history of California from the earliest days of Spanish settlement. They were the State's first economically viable trading "product" and, in that respect, enjoyed a very important place in the economic development not only of this State but of the boot and shoe industries in New England as well. Yet, somehow their role seems to have slipped through the cracks of history, and they remain forgotten heros of our State's past.
For the origins of Longhorn cattle in this state, one must look to the Spanish missionaries and explorers of the 18th century. Although Spanish explorers and their cattle had been present in Mexico since the early part of the sixteenth century, efforts to explore California had been thwarted consistently until 1769. Ever since the mid 1600s (and to some extent before that as well) voyages by ship along the coast had succeeded in whetting the appetites of the Spaniards; however, numerous overland attempts at exploration had been rebuffed both due to savage indian opposition and, more significantly, due to the natural barriers of the deserts which cross lower California all the way from the coast to the Colorado River. Then, in 1769, an expedition, led by Gaspar de Portola and Father Junipero Serra, achieved the breakthrough and arrived in San Diego in "Alta California" on July 1, 1769. They thereafter continued north, discovering Monterey and, ultimately, San Francisco Bay as well. That expedition, staffed primarily by soldiers and clergy, also brought with it "several hundred head of cattle...both to augment the food supply and to furnish breeding stock for the proposed missions and settlements in Alta California."1 Those horned Spanish cattle which accompanied Portola and Father Serra were, it is believed, the first cattle to arrive in what is now the State of California.
Over the next five years an overland supply route was created, and, in 1775, Juan Bautista de Anza led the first group of colonists from Sonora, Mexico, a group of 240 hardy souls, accompanied by many horses and cattle, who ultimately made their way to Monterey and to the southern portion of San Francisco Bay. Typically, those cattle which escaped slaughter enroute survived at trails end and, along with other cattle which had accompanied the earlier military and franciscan trips, became seedstock for future generations of cattle which ultimately roamed semi wild throughout the State.
The Spanish explorers of the mid and late 18th centuries for the most part limited their explorations to the coastal regions of the southern and middle portions of the State. Longhorn cattle, therefore, ended up mainly populating the coastal Counties from San Diego north to Monterey, primarily inhabiting the non fenced and vast boundaries of the lands which the Spanish Crown had provided for the use of the Franciscan missionaries. They quickly multiplied under the favorable climatic conditions they found. Thus, whereas in 1774 there were only approximately 350 head of horned cattle in all of Alta California, by 1800 the missions reported holdings totalling 153,000 head.2 By 1834 that total had jumped to 396,000 head of longhorn cattle populating the lands controlled by 21 missions.3 By 1850, it has been estimated that nearly 500,000 Longhorns could be found in four counties alone (Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, Ventura, and San Bernardino).4
Early Californians were apparently pastoral by nature. They were far better at, and more interested in, raising cattle than in cultivating the land. The former was easy - their cattle pretty much did everything necessary for their survival and procreation by themselves. To the contrary, cultivation of the soil would have entailed long days, hard work, and natural climate cycles which could, in a bad year, wreak havoc on one's efforts. Furthermore, roundups and slaughterings had an element of danger about them which appealed to the early Californians' love of sport and excitement.5 Hence, Californians were content to see their herds of t02/16/2012 --> --> --> -->allow, and beef for purely local consumption. They initially completely fail05/25/201102/16/2012-->-->--> --> -->tle in the economic development of California, it would be well to read Two Years Before the Mast, the classic non fictional account by Richard Henry Dana of his two year stint on a Yankee trading vessel which travelled up and down the coast of California gathering hides for its owners, Bryant, Sturgis & Co. in Boston.6 Dana, who had little respect for the early settlers in California, describes an "idle, thriftless people" who seemed incapable of making anything for themselves and seemed content to do business with avaricious ships' captains for nearly everything they required. These Spanish se02/16/2012-->-->--> -->ides of their longhorned cattle, valued those hides at $2.00 apiece and used them as currency. The Yankee traders, in turn, would take them in trade for highly marked up merchandise from the ships' stores, such as food, tools, linen, jewelry, furniture, clothing, and other goods. A full shipload was 40,000 hides, and it generally took several years of cruising the coast for each ship to accumulate that many. Indeed, by the 1830s and 1840s it was common to see 30 or more Yankee trading ships as well as whalers anchored in San Francisco bay at any given time.
Thus was born late in the 18th century a modest trading relationship which spurred greater interest, on the part of the Californians, in accumulating, branding, and owning these longhorned cattle which were roaming, often wild, throughout the southern and middle regions of the State. With the passage of time, the large Hide and Tallow companies, both in New England and in Britain, came ever more to appreciate the existence of California's cattle population. In 1821 (the year that Spain ceded California to Mexico), Bryant, Sturgis & Co. established a permanent agent in the territory to begin the systematic collection of hides for the New England market. At about that same time, John Begg & Co., an English house, sent out two agents to undertake the same business. Within a year, nine Hide and Tallow companies had opened offices in California, and business began to flourish. For New England, this new found trading opportunity enabled Connecticut and Massachusetts to achieve dominance in the boot and shoe industry in the United States, and it also provided them with a product with which they could begin to conduct international trade with European nations. It has been said that, "[th]rough the hide and tallow trade, more than through any other agency, New England began her expansion to the West Coast."7
During this same period, the Oregon Territory was also beginning to become populated by American settlers. Recognizing the need in that territory for a local source of meat, hides, and tallow, in 1837 Ewing Young led an expedition to California to purchase a number of these longhorn cattle. The expedition sailed down to San Francisco and then spread out overland in search of animals to purchase. Ultimately, they gathered up 729 head of longhorn cattle which, over the next 120 days, they walked north to Oregon . .8 This cattle drive, incidentally, predated the better known trail drives north from Texas by over thirty years and may be the first recorded long trail drive of longhorn cattle to meet the needs of a distant market.
Meanwhile, for Californians, this new trading opportunity also meant lasting changes. At last there was an outlet for these many thousands of animals which were rapidly propagating but which had, until the early 1800s, been considered largely worthless. Californians knew how to tan hides, and the Hide and Tallow Companies had developed sophisticated vats for rendering fat (be it whale blubber or cattle fat) off shore on their vessels. However, there was still no known market for the beef of these cattle. Therefore, typically the animal carcasses, after being skinned and having the renderable fat removed, were left to rot. Tens of thousands of tons of beef simply went wasted in this way, much of it abandoned on beaches near where the longboats had loaded the usable portions.
During the earlier days of California's hide and tallow trade the cattle sellers had received, in addition to the basic goods described above, oriental silks, damask, delicate laces, Spanish embroideries, French tapestries, silver mounted saddles and ornate riding costumes with silver buttons, all of which denoted wealth and power.9 Once the Hide and Tallow Companies established business offices, both the landowners and the newly independent Mexican Government (which had defeated Spain in 1821 after years of bloody revolution) began demanding payment in the form of currency which not only created liquidity and wealth for private individuals, but al02/16/2012-->-->-->ment workers and the Mexican military garrisons.10
In 1833, Mexico passed the "Secularization Act", a dramatic piece of legislation which brought the mission era to a quick and dramatic conclusion and "ushered in the golden age of the ranchos." That Act, by which the mission lands were taken back from the Franciscans and made available for large scale grants by the Mexican Government to private individuals, enabled those settlers fortunate enough to obtain private grants, to obtain huge holdings of land on which to raise their cattle. However, boundaries were set haphazardly at best. Indeed, the officially sanctioned method of setting boundaries was through the use of 50 yard long "reatas" which were staked at both ends. A stake would be set at the beginning point, and one of the two vaqueros responsible for measuring the boundary would then gallop to the end of the rope and set the far stake. The other vaquero would then pull the near stake and gallop on until the reata was taught again. The procedure allowed people to measure many miles of boundaries in a single day, but they were inexact and best described by the term "mas o menos" which was always part of the official title description.11 The resultant "boundaries" were then frequently memorialized by piling loose stones atop one another at corner points, a practice which obviously lacked any permanence whatsoever. Furthermore, record keeping was largely non existent, and many of the records that were created were subsequently lost. This sort of feeble effort at delineating property lines worked only so long as the landowners had access to the power of the Government and the Military to protect their claimed rights.
By the time that control of California passed to The United States in 1848, the State's economic prosperity was largely tied to its hide and tallow export trade. In that year alone the province exported 80,000 hides and 1,500,000 pounds of tallow.12 At that time, however, pressure to contest the titles to these ranchos was building, first by many Americans who were by then crossing by wagon train and seeking land to homestead, and later by miners after gold was discovered. This mounting and chaotic pressure caused Congress to hastily pass the Land Act in 1851. That Act caused the establishment of a commission based in San Francisco whose charge was to pass judgment on all titles held under Spanish or Mexican grants and to require forfeiture of all such titles which could not be proved within two years. Over the next five years, the Commission decided over 800 claims involving over 12,000,000 acres of land. Although over two thirds of the titles were confirmed, even the successful owners often found much of their lands eroded or foreclosed because of attorneys fees and the huge costs of submitting their proofs. Many had to borrow money to cover these proceedings, and the interest rates, which then ranged from a low of 3% to a high of 10% per month wiped out many legitimate landowners and reduced them to poverty.
On January 24, 1848 gold was discovered in Northern California. That created a whole new industry for the north and brought in people by the tens of thousands literally overnight. This teeming new population required food as well as clothing. As Northern California became wealthy, not only from the gold generated in its mines but also from the growth of supporting industries, the business of raising and selling cattle began taking a far less important role in their economy. Now, instead, those in the northern part of the State became consumers of the products of cattle raised by others. The southern part of the state, which had found itself cut off from any direct share of this newly discovered northern wealth, seemed to be the perfect supplier to this new and growing market. Therefore, the southern counties, and particularly those located along the coast, became increasingly invested in and dependent on the cattle business, not only because of its historic trading opportunities but now suddenly also because of the new markets in the north. To the newly rich Northern Californians, these southern counties were derisively referred to as the "cow counties."
Just as in every other section of the State, these southern cattle raising counties were, at this time, facing the confusion of transition from Mexican to American control, and many formerly large holdings were being decimated by title disputes, squatter claims, and mortgage foreclosures. Still, there remained large landholdings "upon which still roamed vast herds of long horned, slim bodied cattle."13
For these cattlemen of the south, the demand for beef from the miners in the north initially provided a new and lucrative market; however, due to the breakdown of most of the large ranchos, and also because of the sheer size of the population explosion in northern California, supplies were simply inadequate to meet demand. Prices escalated through natural market forces, and suddenly it became profitable for ranchers as far away as Texas and New Mexico to drive cattle westward to feed this large new market. Clarence Gordon, in his "Report on Cattle, Sheep, and Swine", appearing in Volume III of The Tenth Census of the United States, (1880), estimated that during the decade of the 1850s approximately 100,000 head of cattle were driven west into California.14 On the other hand, J. Frank Dobie, in a footnote appearing at page 363 of his definitive book, The Longhorns, (Little, Brown & Co, Boston, 1941), noted:
"I have a mass of records on drives before the Civil War that show a much livelier movement than chroniclers of the cattle trade seem to have been aware of."15
Whatever the actual numbers were, it seems clear that the beef requirements of Northern Californians were initially met during the early 1850s not only by Southern California longhorn ranchers but also by the importation of large numbers of longhorn cattle from Texas and New Mexico. Those drives, which were actually longer in distance and required passage through hostile Indian country, predated the more famous great northern drives by a decade or more.
In 1856, a severe drought caused the loss of at least 100,000 head of cattle in Southern California. That calamity was followed by another drought in 1860, and, finally, by the great disastrous drought of 1864. In that latter year alone an estimated 50-75% of the entire cattle population of Los Angeles County died of thirst or starvation. Land values plummeted, mortgages were foreclosed, and the industry never02/16/2012-->-->-->--> -->ler holdings, and landowners began diversifying out of cattle and into other more profitable and stable forms of agriculture.
One02/16/2012-->-->-->--> -->of 1864 was a man by the name of Henry Miller, a one time butcher in San Francisco who went on to become probably the largest private landowner in the State. Although his holdings expanded during the 1860s and in later decades, (and, indeed, are largely still owned by his descendants today), he was one of the first, if not the first, rancher in The United States to bring in Durham and Hereford bulls to breed to his longhorn cows. Thus, as fascinating a story as his is, it is ultimately a story which parallels that of the 1880s and 1890s throughout the herds of Texas and the South where purebred longhorns became nearly extinct due to the changing demands of the marketplace toward fattier British breeds.
Just as purebred Longhorns largely disappeared from Texas during the 1890s, the same had already begun to happen in California several decades earlier. Ultimately, however, it cannot be denied that, during their heyday, the impact these animals had on the growth of trade and prosperity in this State was a very significant one. Indeed, one might argue that, had the gold rush never occurred in California (and thereby eclipsed the role of the Longhorn in the State's prosperity), the California Longhorn might have been given a far more important place in the history in the United States.
Descendents of the longhorn cattle which inhabited California during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries are, to the best of the author's knowledge, no longer in existence. While it is known that, for a time between 1850 and 1853, the California animal was slaughtered in California alongside longhorns which had been driven from Texas to feed the burgeoning population of gold miners and others who flocked to this state during that time period, there is no known account from butchers, cowboys, or other contemporary sources in which the animals were described side by side. Nor do the records of Henry Miller (the largest landowner and cattle rancher in the State during those years, - whose voluminous records are archived at both the Bancroft Library in Berkeley and the Huntington Library in Pasadena) shed any light on the subject.
The following information has come to light, thanks to the painstaking research of Professor Terry Jordan (Professor of History and Ideas in the Department of Geography at the University of Texas at Austin), and is based on his 1993 book, North American Cattle Ranching Frontiers. It points to what appears to the author, to be an inescapable conclusion that the animals were identical.
A. Ancestors of both the California and Texas variety of longhorns ultimately trace back to the estuarian marshes of Andalusia in Southern Spain as well as the more wooded region of Extramadura in Western Spain. The people who inhabited those regions comprised the largest block of settlers who came to the new world with Columbus, beginning in 1493. They settled in the four islands comprising the Antilles chain (Hispaniola, Jamaica, Cuba, and Puerto Rico). Professor Jordan reports that the cattle those settlers brought with them were allowed to roam freely and became semi-feral, giving birth to offspring which often displayed spotted and speckled color patterns typical of feral animals.
B. Beginning in 1519 many of the Antilles settlers left for the Mexican mainland in search of gold and other rumored treasures. They took with them their cattle, and those cattle began populating Mexico. Once there, they accompanied their Spanish owners on a slow northward migration along both the Pacific and Caribbean coastlines (as well as the central highlands). Along the eastern coast, the ancestors of "Texas Longhorns" entered south Texas in the mid 1700s by way of the Nueces Strip (a region of South Texas lying between the Nueces and Rio Grande Rivers). Brought in largely by Spanish missionaries, they quickly populated the San Antonio River Valley out as far as Goliad on the coast. In 1806 Martin DeLeon began ranching in the Nueces Strip and ultimately drove his Andalusian cattle eastward toward New Orleans, adding to his ranchlands along the coastal plains of Texas beyond the Guadalupe River.
C. "Although there was arguably some interbreeding between British and Andalusian cattle in Florida in the early 1700s, that appears to have been of little, if any, consequence. The Andalusian cattle had entered Florida with Spanish explorers eager to push their colonial boundaries ever northward; however they were routed by British forces fighting alongside their Creek Indian allies. Those few longhorns that survived did, undoubtedly, mix to some small extent with British cattle being driven along the gulf coast by early American settlers, primarily from South Carolina. However, unlike the Spanish, the Americans who were moving west along the gulf coast exerted far tighter control over their cattle, penning them at night, driving them in closely watched herds during the days, and otherwise limiting much exposure by their cattle to interbreeding with the feral longhorns. Those settlers were also motivated to minimize contact between their animals and the wild longhorns since (as documented by Frank Dobie in his classic work The Longhorns, (at page 32) longhorns were immune to a disease, variously referred to as "Spanish Fever", "Texas Fever" and "Cattle Tick Fever". Spread by a tick that longhorns often carried, this disease was frequently fatal to other cattle which had not developed an immunity to it. (Please also see the excellent article by Dwight G. Bennett, DVM, entitled Drving Cattle, and Piroplasmosis (Tick Fever), published in the February 1999 issue of the Western Horseman.) Hence, it is likely that whatever interbreeding may have taken place among those animals was quite minor and of no practical consequence in the makeup of the breed of animals now known as "Texas Longhorns". That same disease carrying attribute also made longhorns very unwanted guests around the cattle which came into Texas from the north and northeast by way of settlers coming through the Cumberland Gap. Indeed, many those settlers are known to have developed a policy of shooting longhorns in order to protect their herds.
D. Further evidence of the absence of any meaningful dilution in Texas of the pure Andalusian blood strains of the "Texas Longhorn" is provided by a look at more recent history. Thus, M.P. Wright's "Bow and Arrow" ranch, which bordered the Nueces River on both sides was started in the 1870s and is one of the oldest ranches in the country. In an article published in the Fall, 1977 edition of the Texas Longhorn Journal, Mr. Wright was acclaimed for his foresight in resisting the strong temptations of the day to "upbreed the scrub cattle" and for his insistance in preserving for posterity a herd of purebred longhorn cattle. As every longhorn breeder is well aware, the "Wright" herd is one of the seven families from which all purebred Texas Longhorns derive today. That same edition of the Texas Longhorn Journal contains an article on the Wichita Refuge (another of the recognized seven families). That article (as well as a later article appearing in the same magazine in the May/June 1984 edition) reports on WR's early collection practices, noting that its initial collection efforts were centered in the Nueces Strip and that they went to Mexico in 1931 and again in 1935 in order to find purebred bulls. Finally, the Yates ranch (another of the seven families) is located 70 miles from the Mexican border in Marathon Texas, an area of Southwestern Texas below Ft. Stockton which is widely considered to have been free from any influence of settlers importing British breeds of cattle. Its founder, Cap Yates is widely known for his insistance on breed purity and for his trips to Mexico to find and buy his cattle.
E. While some of the Andalusian cattle were making their way north along the eastern seaboard of Mexico, others were finding their way north along the Pacific. There, the relative isolation of the coast as well as its favorable climate, combined to create an ideal environment for cattle raising and hastened their nothward progress. The Church established an early presence in western Mexico, and, by 1637, the Jesuits had established missions which had a total population of longhorn cattle in excess of 100,000 living in the region between Sinaloa and Sonora. The settlers who were recruited by Portola and Anza for the overland expeditions into Alta California (present day California) in 1769 and 1770 came largely from Sonora, and the cattle they brought with them, and which came to form the seedstock for all later longhorns in California, were those same Andalusian cattle which had come north with Church missionaries along the Pacific coast a century or so earlier.
The foregoing, while not establishing proof beyond a reasonable doubt, certainly supports the author's hypothesis that the cattle which are today known as "Texas Longhorns" are the same breed of cattle which populated early California and provided that State with its earliest export opportunities.
1. Cleland, From Wilderness to Empire, A History of California - 1542-1900, page 60;
2. Mora, Californios, 1949, The Country Press, Garden City, NY, pages 33 and 34.)
3. Dwinelle, The Colonial History of San Francisco, published by Towne & Bacon in 1867, page 44)
4. Taylor, Bayard, Eldorado - or Adventures In The Path of Empire, published in 1949 by Alfred Knopf, New York).
5. Cleland, A History of California - The American Period, published in 1939 by The McMillan Co. in New York
6. Dana, Two Years Before the Mast, 1840, (Reprinted by Houghton, Mifflin & Co. in 1869 as the "New Edition, with Subsequent matter by the Author").
7. Cleland, A History of California - The American Period, supra at page 45.
8. Edwards, The Diary of Philip Leget Edwards - The Great Cattle Drive from California to Oregon in 1837, published in 1932 by Grabhorn Press in San Francisco.
9. Coolidge, Old California Cowboys, published in 1939 by E.P. Dation & Co, New York.
10. Cleland, A History of California - The American Period, supra.
11. Cleland, The Cattle on a Thousand Hills, 1941, published by the Henry Huntington Library and Art Gallery, pages 26 and 27.
12. Cleland, The Cattle on a Thousand Hills, supra, at page 33
13. Cleland, A History of California - The American Period, supra, at page 305.
14. Clarence Gordon, "Report on Cattle, Sheep, and Swine", Volume III of The Tenth Census of the United States, (1880),
15. Dobie, Frank, The Longhorns, (Little, Brown & Co, Boston, 1941)
The above article, History of Longhorns in California, is used on this web site with the permission of the author, Michael Casey.
By Michael Casey
I have, for some time, been interested in knowing whether the Texas Longhorns I raise in California today are similar to the longhorns which roamed these lands several hundred years ago. There are two parts to this question. First, were the longhorns which populated both California and Texas in the 1700s descended from the same Spanish cattle that were brought to North America by the first Spanish settlers and were they similar to one another in appearance, temperament and other characteristics? Secondly, do present-day Texas Longhorns descend directly from the early longhorns that populated Texas or did genetic changes because of crossbreeding occur during the 19th and early 20th centuries? These are questions which may never be answered with absolute certainty.
Until recently, little has been known about the California Longhorn and, unfortunately, it died out in the 1860s. I can find no photographs or accounts that compare them to the longhorns that populated Texas in the early to mid 1800s. We do know that longhorns existed in large numbers in California and, like their Texas counterparts, propagated profusely. It is also known that they were slim-bodied and had long curving horns (Cleland, The Cattle on a Thousand Hills, 1941, at pages 60 and 72). Finally, they were wild, capable of an even fight with grizzlies, typically worked by expert cowboys on horseback, and otherwise appear (at least in temperament) to have been very similar to the longhorns which populated Texas during the same time period.
Research into the attributes of California longhorns has been frustrating at best. For example, Richard Henry Dana, in his classic book, Two Years Before the Mast, described in great detail most of the scenery he saw and events he witnessed during his several years aboard a hide and tallow collecting vessel off the coast of California in the early 19th century. However, he utterly failed to describe, by size, color, or any other way, the hides he and his shipmates collected. Dana, and countless other historians and authors, also failed to describe the cattle which populated California other than in very generic terms (i.e. "cattle", "horned cattle", and the like). Even Robert Glass Cleland, a highly regarded historian who wrote prolifically about early California and its early cattle industry, never documented any primary sources that bothered to describe the cattle which constituted the major influence on this State's early economic development. Finally, Henry Miller, a butcher and the largest landowner and cattle rancher in the State during the last half of the nineteenth century, wrote volumes of notes, instructions to foremen, reports to partners, proposals for bettering water and land management systems, and other materials. Still, his voluminous collections of papers do not apparently contain any descriptions of the cattle which grazed his pasturelands. *
While I am still unable to conclusively answer the questions I raised at the outset of this article, some relatively new information uncovered by Terry Jordan, Professor of History and Ideas in the Department of Geography at the University of Texas, has led to some interesting conclusions. In his brilliantly researched 1993 book, North American Cattle Ranching Frontiers, Jordan describes in detail, the movement of cattle from Spain to the New World and, ultimately, into the United States, as well as the advancement of cattle ranching across the American frontier.
Genetic Similarity of Early Longhorn Populations in California and Texas.
The longhorns which populated both California and Texas beginning in the mid 1700s were most likely direct descendants of Iberian Longhorns which came predominately from the Las Marismas region of Andalusia in southwestern Spain. Much of the Las Marismas region is described as a coastal estuarine marsh area, which is largely influenced by tidal action and is not easily traversed by man. The cattle in this region were, for the most part, left to graze free of man's influence, and were semi-feral. Although Andalusia's Iberian Longhorns are generally described as being red and/or linebacked, these anima02/16/2012 -->of semi-feral animals. Indeed, examples are known to have existed which varied in color "from black to roan and even white" (Jor02/16/2012 -->hat the speckled coloration so often seen in "Texas Longhorns" is one of the characteristics upon which Frank Dobie lays his case for the uniqueness of the Texas version of the Longhorn. Professor Jordan appears to take issue with that hypothesis.
During the late 1400s, Spain was in a recession. As a result, Christopher Columbus and other explorers sailing under the Spanish flag were able to find, from among the residents of Andalusia, people who were willing to pull up stakes and travel to the risky "New World" in search of a better life. They made up the largest block of settlers who came to the four islands comprising the A02/16/2012-->een 1493 and 1512. Many of these Andalusian settlers brought with them their Iberian longhorn cattle02/16/2012-->ulate the Antilles during at least the initial century of occupation. Just as in Spain, the Spanish settlers of the Antilles allowed their cattle to roam free on the fertile grasslands of those islands and again become semi-feral. Indeed, when the British took over Jamaica in the 17th century, it appears that, rather than bringing in their own cattle, their initial influence on cattle ranching consisted of taming the Spanish longhorns and applying their more intensive management techniques in the raising and harvesting of them. Thus, Professor Jordan's research suggests that the cattle which populated the Antilles during the 16th and 17th centuries were direct and undiluted descendents of Iberian Longhorns.
Beginning in 1519, many of the colonists of the Antilles left for the Mexican mainland in search of gold and other rumored treasures. Many took their cattle with them. Those Antillean cattle, and other Iberian longhorns that arrived directly from Spain with Spanish colonists during the same time period, began populating Mexico, initially on the coastal plains and ultimately in the highlands to the west as well. It is well documented that Antillean cattle were landed all along the eastern coast of Mexico during the 16th and 17th centuries. The most popular port of entry was Vera Cruz, but they also came ashore as far north as Tampico (less than 200 miles south of the Texas border). From Vera Cruz, ranches were established quickly, and soon large populations of Iberian longhorns were seen throughout the Panuco Delta as well as south and west of the port of Vera Cruz. Hence, it is clear that Iberian longhorn cattle reached Mexico and began moving outward in both northerly and westerly directions well over 200 years before they are known to have entered either California or Texas.
Once having reached Mexico, the Iberian Longhorns made their way along both coasts with the northward progress of Spanish settlement. The first known cattle in Texas arrived in the early 1700s with Franciscan missionaries as they began to build a chain of Missions extending through the San Antonio River valley and out to the present city of Goliad. As noted by Professor Jordan, the mission system in Texas emphasized cattle, both because no indigenous Indian agriculture stood to be displaced by them and also because wolf packs took a heavy toll among sheep and goats (Jordan, page 148). By the 1780s, however, the influence of the missions had declined greatly in Texas, and cattle raising largely passed into the hands of private ranchers, many of whom had acquired large land grants from local governors. Cattle ranching quickly spread throughout south Texas and particularly in the region sometimes referred to as the Nueces Strip (a strip of land in south Texas lying between the Nueces River and the Rio Grande). The area between Tampico and Matamoros (just south of the present day Texas border) is cited by Professor Jordan as today's remaining primary source area for feral "Texas Longhorns" (Jordan, pages 124 and 153).
Whereas the progress of cattle movement up the eastern gulf coast was relatively slow, the opposite was true of progress along the Pacific coastal region. This was due to several factors, including the relative isolation of the area, the absence of serious resistance by natives, and its relatively inhospitable climactic conditions (including desert and thorn thickets) which deterred alternative uses. After the 1590s, the northward progress of Spanish influence and cattle raising along the western seaboard of Mexico came under the dominance of the Jesuit missionaries. Although even Professor Jordan has had to concede that knowledge is very sparse regarding "the early Pacific Coast ranching frontier in Mexico" (Jordan, page 140), it is clear that it had its roots in Guadalajara and El Bajio (Jordan, page 145). The ranchers in those two areas have been described as having "a very pronounced Iberian cultural imprint", and the region "[becam02/16/2012->
The cattle that first populated Alta California (present-day California) came from Sonora in northwestern Mexico. That is where the initial missionary and military expeditions of 1769 and 1770 obtained the cattle with which they provisioned their expedition, and it is also where Portola and Anza recruited the settlers who traveled north with them into California in 1775. Although Sonoran cattle have not been described in sufficient detail to prove breed purity, the system used to manage cattle in Sonora has been described as being Andalusian (Jordan, page 142). Furthermore, in describing the provisions that those settlers brought with them to California, Professor Jordan stated:
"Due to California's remoteness, these outposts of Christendom needed to become largely self sufficient, prompting the early introductions of the whole array of Iberian crops and livestock, including cattle."
He went on to say, "two hundred longhorns went north from Velicita in Baja California to San Diego in 1769" and that "300 more arrived from the lower peninsula the following year." (Page 162). The vast herds of longhorn cattle which later populated California ultimately derived from these small herds, several hundred more of which came from Sonora with the civilian expedition in 1775 and another 350 of which were driven overland to California from the Santa Cruz Valley of Arizona in 1776.
For other specific information about California Longhorns, we are left with a number of descriptions which Professor Jordan has given regarding diffusion of California cattle into other states. For example, he speaks of the exportation, during the 1790s, of "small numbers of Iberian longhorn cattle" to Spain's outpost settlements at Neah Bay on the Olympic Peninsula and Nootka Sound on Vancouver Island (page 243). He also mentions the exportation, in 1824, of a small number of California cattle to the Hudson Bay Company and of the latter's careful management of that "Iberian herd". He also describes the trail drive organized by Ewing Young in 1837 during which "over 800 Iberian longhorns" were herded overland to Oregon. Another statement made by Professor Jordan is that, as late as the 1840s, "Spanish cattle of Californian origin remained the dominant breed in the Pacific Northwest." (Page 245). Finally, he states that, in 1848, "California Spanish cattle helped stock the newly founded Mormon settlements in the Great Basin" (page 245).
Although much research remains to be done, based on Professor Jordan's exhaustive research, it seems clear that the California Longhorn was very likely a direct descendent of the Iberian Longhorn and that the longhorn which entered Texas from Mexico has the same ancestry.
Ancestry of Present Day Texas Longhorns
The British breeds of cattle began making their presence felt in this country in the early 1700s. Early on, South Carolina became the main cattle ranching region of the British colonies and numerous breeds of British cattle, Durham, Kerry (Ireland), Hereford, and Devon, came in with the settlers. Interestingly, even in South Carolina's early cattle population there appears to have been significant Iberian influence. That influence traces back to 1704 when British troops and their Creek Indian allies raided Spanish strongholds in Florida in an effort to displace Spanish influence. They captured a number of the Antillean cattle, which had come north to Florida with Spanish settlers from the Antilles in the early 1600s, and they took them to South Carolina where they were crossed with the British cattle which already existed in that colony (Jordan, page 108).
By the end of the 18th century, the "British" cattle had migrated with their owners as far west as Mississippi. While the "cracker cattle herders" (i.e. Carolinian settlers) did reach Texas in the early 1800s, they seem to have initially limited their expansion to the Piney Woods area of western Louisiana and eastern Texas and to the westernmost portions of the longleaf belt in the lower Trinity River valley (Jordan, pages 178-179). More importantly, it would seem that by then the stock they were raising were largely comprised of Iberian longhorn blood, including longhorns from Florida and also longhorns which had earlier flowed eastward into Louisiana from Texas during the 1780s after a permissive trade edict issued by the Spanish Government. That edict had enabled Texas ranchers to round up and drive a "huge export of cattle and horses to Louisiana ... sufficient to cause herd depletion in the lower San Antonio Valley." (Jordan, page 157). Those cattle, which were driven east from Texas into Louisiana, must have been Iberian Longhorns since the influx of Carolinian settlers and their cattle into Texas did not commence until the first decade of the 19th century (Jordan, pages 178 and 179). Furthermore, as those Carolinian "cowpenners" continued their progress west along the coastal plains of Texas, it appears that they changed their management styles as well as the makeup of their cattle, adopting the Spanish/Mexican styles of loose management and also Iberian bloodlines in their herds (Jordan, pages 184-188).
Interestingly, Texas seems to have become a melting pot of migrating cattle and settlers. As noted above, settlers arriving by way of the gulf coast came with stock heavily influenced by Iberian longhorn bloodlines. Northern and northeastern Texas, on the other hand, were initially populated in the first several decades of the 19th century by settlers who came through the Cumberland gap into the Heartland of the Country, bringing with them their herds of Devon, Durham, Hereford, and other British breeds. These settlers managed their cattle quite differently than did the southern Texans and Mexicans, who emphasized free range grazing, no winter feeding, no castration, and very little oversight. Rather, the "northern" settlers were known for penning their cattle, feeding supplements in the wintertime, castrating lesser males, and otherwise rather intensively managing their herds. They considered the longhorns to be wild animals and pests to be gotten rid of in order to prevent the spread of Texas Fever into their herds. Hence, there was little, if any, crossbreeding, and it appears that the cattle in northern and northeastern Texas are probably free of longhorn genetic influence. It is also likely true that the genetics of Iberian longhorns were never compromised, at least in that part of Texas, by blood from other breeds.
While the cattle drives of the 1870s and 1880s have become romanticized and legendary, the greater influence of these drives was in the exportati02/16/2012->bodied not only the longhorn animal but also the management technique used in Southern Texas (Jordan, pages 236 through 240) that was characterized by &q02/16/2012->ationary pastures on the free range, without supplementary feeding or protection." (Jordan, page 210) While it worked well in the tropical climates of Mexico and south Texas, it was inadequate in the more hostile climates further north. The failure of this system in northern climates, plus the influence of "Cattle Tick Fever" (see below), resulted in the near demise of Spanish longhorns in this country. According to Professor Jordan, only 40% of the longhorn population in Kansas and Nebraska survived the freezing winter of 1871/72 (page 237), and the huge winter storms of 1886/87 took an even greater toll (up to 90% mortality). Northern ranchers, who were enjoying relative success during those hard times by utilizing the British system of close penning and winter supplement feeding, lost faith in the longhorn. While it was probably unfair to blame the longhorns for the bad management practices of their owners, the fact remains that the animals known as the "Texas Longhorns" were rapidly seen as scrub cattle that should be eliminated rather than propagated.
That downhill slide for the breed was exacerbated by one of the strengths of the longhorns - their immune system - which now worked against them. Their immune system enabled longhorns to survive while carrying a tick on their hides which, in turn, carried the disease, Cattle Tick Fever. Cattle Tick Fever was devastating to the British and other cattle that were not immune to it. When populations of those other breeds (whose management techniques were enabling them to survive better under harsh winter conditions) began to decline because of this disease carried by the longhorns, that was the last straw and the result was large scale destruction of the nation's longhorn population.
In a fascinating article appearing in the February, 1999 edition of the Western Horseman, Dwight G. Bennett, DVM, recounts the role of "Cattle Tick Fever" in the history of the demise of longhorn cattle. He attributes that phenomenon largely to pressures from other cattle ranchers intent on protecting their herds from the "Texas cattle" which were "poisoning their [pasturelands]" and killing their cattle. It turns out that the disease-laden ticks, carried by the longhorns (Boophilus annulatus and Boophilus microplus) engorged themselves with the blood of their host longhorn, then dropped from the cow, laid eggs on the ground, and died. The disease is carried on through the eggs to the next generation of ticks, which, after hatching, attach themselves to passing cattle. That description of their life cycle explains why ranchers complained that the longhorns had poisoned their pasturelands.
Furthermore, as noted by Dr. Bennett, the disease carried by those parasitic ticks was not just identified locally where longhorns were passing through. Indeed, it was recognized as early as 1868 among cattle breeders as far east as New York State who noticed their purebred British stock dying when Texas Longhorns were shipped into the state by railroad from the stockyards in Abilene and other railheads. As a result of public outcry throughout the country the market for longhorn cattle toppled, and, various states passed laws attempting to prevent the passage of longhorn cattle across their borders. Although the tick was later found to be controllable and Cattle Tick Fever has since been eradicated in the United States, those scientific advances came too late to restore the reputation of what had, by the mid 1870s, become, essentially, outlaw cattle.
By the early 20th century, Texas Longhorn cattle were nearly extinct. In 1927 Congress (at the behest of conservationists and historians) appropriated money to establish a Federal herd of purebred Texas Longhorn cattle. Over the next several years, two U.S. Forest Service rangers inspected over 30,000 head of cattle and found only 20 purebred Texas Longhorn cows, 3 purebred bulls, and four purebred calves. The Longhorns were taken to the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge near Cache, Oklahoma, as seed stock for what has become the "W.R." herd, one of the seven foundation herds of purebred Texas Longhorns. Those original seed stock animals were found in South Texas and Mexico. In an article appearing in the Fall, 1977 edition of the Texas Longhorn Journal, it was reported that ongoing efforts by the managers of the WR herd to collect purebred specimens of longhorn cattle were centered in the Nueces Strip. In 1931 and again in 1935 they had to go down into Mexico to find purebred bulls. (See also the May/June, 1984 edition).
An article which appeared in the same Fall, 1977 edition of the Texas Longhorn Journal describes M.P. Wright's "Bow and Arrow" Ranch. In that article, it is noted that the Bow and Arrow ranch, which borders the Nueces River on both sides, was founded in the 1870s and is one of the oldest ranches in the Country. The article emphasizes the foresight of Mr. Wright to resist the temptation to "upbreed the scrub cattle" and to preserve for posterity a herd of purebred longhorn cattle. The article went on to say that Wright's perseverance in the face of "anti-longhorn propaganda" must have created some trying times for him - indeed forcing him to inbreed in order to preserve the purebred strain.
Finally, the Yates Ranch (which was founded and owned by Cap Yates until his death in 1959) had another of the original seven herds. The ranch is located in Marathon, Texas, an area of southwestern Texas below Fort Stockton. Cap Yates was well known for his unyielding commitment to breed purity and for his many trips across the border into Mexico (seventy miles away) to buy his cattle.
So, it seems clear that British breeds came into Texas in the 19th century and may have influenced Iberian cattle in parts of the state. However, the "Texas Longhorn" we know today traces back to the original Spanish cattle that entered south Texas in the 1700s and survived in the tropical area known as the Nueces Strip and in northern Mexico.
Final answers to my questions will have to await further research; however, I have reached the following conclusions, which I thought might be of interest to others:
Professor Jordan's well researched book appears to justify a strong argument that today's Texas Longhorn cattle are direct descendents of animals which flourished in the 1700s in the missions in the San Antonio Valley and in the Nueces strip of southwest Texas. They, in turn, are probably direct descendents of Iberian longhorns, which had migrated northward along the eastern seaboard of Mexico during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.
It also seems clear that California's longhorns bore the same genetic imprint and were, descended from those same Iberian (i.e. Andalusian/Antillean) cattle which came to the New World with Christopher Columbus and other Spanish settlers, beginning in 1493.
It is indeed fortuitous that in 1927 Congress allocated money to establish a purebred herd of longhorn cattle and also that in Texas there existed, in the late 1800s and early 1900s, several forward thinking ranchers who cared enough to maintain herds of purebred longhorn cattle. It is equally unfortunate that circumstances in California (primarily killer droughts in the 1850s and in 1864 and also the breakup of large ranches due to homestead pressures and the Land Act of 1851) prevented any of these magnificent beasts surviving in this State.
In the final analysis, it would appear, despite the absence of conclusive evidence on the subject, that the California Longhorn of yesteryear and the present day Texas Longhorn were likely very closely related. If that is indeed the case, then thanks to the efforts of others, California is now able, by displaying these magnificent beasts on its pasturelands, to regain an extremely important part of its heritage.
* (return) My source for the statement about the absence, in Henry Miller's records, of any descriptive information about longhorn cattle is David Igler, a Ph.D. candidate from Cal Tech University, who spent four years pouring through Miller's records at both the Bancroft and Huntington libraries. He has told me that he had not come across any writings, which might be relevant to my quest. I have also spoken with several of Miller's direct descendants who still own and operate the remaining Miller/Lux land holdings. They too have been unable to point me to any information in this regard.
I want to give credit to Candy Judd for her editorial insight and valued input into this article.
The above article, is used on this web site with the permission of the author, Michael Casey.
By Michael Casey
The Diary of Philip Leget Edwards is a fascinating account of the first known overland longhorn cattle drive - a drive led in 1837 by explorer, Ewing Young, who had settled in Oregon and needed a supply of beef to sustain the settlers in that territory. This diary (no longer in print) is the journal of a member of that expedition party. It details the trip by ship down to San Francisco bay, the locating and gathering of the longhorns, and ultimately the cattle drive north to the Oregon border. It chronicles the group's harrowing experiences as they crossed through hostile indian country and across other natural obstacles, and it describes in a very matter of fact way a journey which most of us today would consider the adventure of a lifetime.INTRODUCTION
DIARY OF PHILIP LEGET EDWARDS
DOUGLAS S. WATSON
The great cattle drive from the Bay of San Francisco to Champoeg, or Campment du Sable, on the Willamette, which Philip Leget Edwards records in his 1837 diary, is more than a link between California and Oregon.
It is a chapter of the story begun long before when intrepid pioneers braved the unknown dangers that lay beyond the Alleghenies and, moving westward from North Carolina and Virginia, possessed themselves of the rich virgin lands lying in the Ohio Valley and there settled what later became the State of Kentucky.
In 1837 the eyes of America were turned toward the shores of the Pacific. Oregon was still disputed territory: both Great Britain and the United States claimed its sovereignty, but hardy descendants of those first leaders in westward expansion, who had won not only the valley of the Ohio but likewise that of the Mississippi, were filtering into both Oregon and California.
Edwards was a Kentuckian, though his parents moved into frontier Missouri when he was only a year old. Ewing Young, who shared with him the responsibilities of the great cattle drive, was a native of Tennessee. The same spirit that had carried Anglo-Saxon civilization across the Appalachians to the Father of the Waters actuated both; they were part of the vanguard of the mighty army which was to take up the westward march but a dozen years later.
In 1833 when twenty-one, Edwards was teaching school in Missouri. The following year he joined the party of Capt. N.J. Wyeth and with the Methodist missionaries Jason and Daniel Lee, uncle and nephew, set out for Oregon.
Ewing Young was no stranger to California. From Taos in New Mexico he had led trapping and hunting expeditions to California as early as 1828. On one of these he was accompanied by Kit Carson, and later he was to return and journey north to Oregon with Hall J. Kelley.
Along the Willamette the first farmer settlers lacked cattle, so necessary to the conquering of the wilderness. John McLoughlin-- "White Eagle," the Indians called him--was chief factor for the Hudson's Bay Company at its principal station; Fort Vancouver on the Columbia River. To him Jason and Daniel Lee and the settlers applied for aid, but his herds were insufficient even for his own needs. The purchase of California cattle was decided upon and McLoughlin joined in the enterprise. The Willamette Cattle Company was organized. Ewing Young was chosen as leader; Philip Leget Edwards was named as treasurer, and William A. Slacum, acting as agent of the United States Government, came forward not only with a money contribution but with an offer to defray the cost of transporting the members of the cattle party to its destination by sea.
Edwards gave up the school he had been teaching at Campment du Sable; Young closed his distillery, and, sailing south in the Loriot, they set foot on California soil at Yerba Buena in March, 1837, to be welcomed by the town's founder, Capt. William A. Richardson, and Jacob Primer Leese who had erected the settlement's second building a short nine months before.
The California that Edwards and Young saw was pictured by Richard Henry Dana, Jr., in his "Two Years before the Mast." Dana however, was yet to write his classic tale of the California hide and tallow trade. The Missions that once flourished from San Diego to Sonoma had fallen into decay; secularized, they were being stripped of their herds, and newly created rancheros waxed rich from the spoils.
In Los Angeles, Abel Stearns had set himself up as merchant. In Monterey Thomas 0. Larkin and David Spence kept store, and here and there along the coast there was a sprinkling of forward looking Anglo-Saxons.
Boston ships traded from San Diego to San Francisco Bay, bringing the provincial Californians both necessities and luxuries, for which they paid in hides and tallow and at prices which insured New England owners handsome profits.
It was amid these surroundings that Edwards and Young organized the great cattle drive; a vast undertaking when the only trails were those made by occasional trappers like Michel La Framboise, and the her02/16/2012 -->>Of the 729 head of stock with which the drive started, 630 were to reach Oregon; a cont02/16/2012 -->tlements, and which was later repaid by sturdy Oregonians who came south to assist in making California American soil.
The manuscript of the Edwards diary is a prized possession of the California State Library. It first appeared in print in Themis, Vol. II, and in 1890 A.J. Johnson issued a reprint of it at Sacramento. Edwards was not always careful of his chronology. In this reprinting of his diary the imperfect dating of the entries has been retained. It would be impossible to make corrections, after this lapse of time, without again falling into error. One would have to choose between the correctness of Edwards' days of the week or his days of the month, and so it has been thought best to leave them as he wrote them, even though he introduces a February 29 in a year not a leap year. Proper names, however, have been correctly spelled and indications have been inserted in brackets to make plain the sense of the narrative. Obvious typographical errors have, of course, been corrected.
Aside from the historical importance which Henry R. Wagner in his "Plains and the Rockies" assigns to it, the story of the great cattle drive from California to Oregon in 1837 presents a picture of early far western life, of hardships and obstacles overcome, told in forceful yet simple language, which give it a lasting place in the literature of the American conquest of this continent.
December 11, 1932.
DIARY OF PHILIP LEGET EDWARDS
Friday, January 14th, 1837
At night the formation of the Willamette Cattle Company was completed at Campment du Sable.Monday, January 17th
Took leave of the Mission, and at 3 o'clock p.m. left Campment du Sable, in company with Messrs. Young, Hauxhurst, Carmichael, Bailey, Ergnette and De Puis. Camped nearly opposite the mouth of Pudding river. Rained nearly all night, and having no tent slept uncomfortably.Tuesday, January 18th
Set off at sunrise, and with much difficulty got our canoe past the Willamette Falls about 1 o'clock p.m. About 2 o'clock finished our breakfast, and renewed our journey. About sunset camped at an old house formerly occupied by Mr. Lucier. Nearly the whole day a cold rain was falling. My feet were all day in the water, and having to work, I of course could not keep myself wrapped up. Even my shirt was drenched and I was so benumbed that it was with difficulty I could exert myself in getting the baggage ashoreWednesday, January 19th
At sunset reached the brig Loriot, anchored about a mile and a half below Wapato island. Camped on shore. After dark Mr. Slacum arrived from Fort Vancouver.Thursday, January 20th
Our party remained on shore. Capt. Bancroft and Mr. Lee arrived from Fort Vancouver, about 8 o'clock at nightFriday, January 21st
Put our outfit on board and all embarked.Saturday, January 22nd
At 9 o'clock a.m. the party and crew being called to the quarter deck, Mr. Lee prayed for the Divine blessing to attend us all; after which the anchor was weighed and we began to drop down the Columbia. Anchored at night off Oak Point.Sunday, January 23rd
About 10 o'clock a.m. ran aground above Sand Island. In about two hours, with the favor of the tide, again got under way. At night anchored in Gray's Bay, near Tongue PointMonday, January 24th
Fine breeze. Passed Fort George about 10 o'clock a.m. Hardly had I caught a distant and shadowy view of Neptune's restless domains, when the mischievous and frolicksome 02/16/2012 -->esting from the poor, hapless land lubber's stomach its contents, and infusing his sickening influence through his whole system. And forsooth little is the sympathy which the sufferer excites. Twice I vomited and twice the risibles of those around were excited. Mr. Birnie, from Fort George, came off in a canoe and joined us. With a fine breeze swept down to Baker's Bay, and anchored in the horse shoe near Cape Disappointment, at one o'clock p.m. Capts. Brotchie and McNeal had been here for near a month, the latter twenty-eight days. Went ashore with Capt. Brotchie and ascended the Cape. Those fervid emotions which I had anticipated would attend my first gaze over the vasty deep did not arise. Seasickness is an infallible remedy to poetic fancies. As I stood on the bold promontory and gazed over the mightiest ocean of earth; the broad and majestic river was behind me; on my right and left the frightful breakers, bursting and thundering. Had the vagaries of fancy, too sanguine expectations, divested the scene of interest, or did indisposition repress, in a good degree, pleasurable emotionsTuesday, January 25th
Went with Mr. Slacum to the Indian village at the mouth of Chinook river. Missing the proper channel we were in some danger in crossing the bar.Friday, January 28th
At night the wind blew a storm which threatened our safety. With a second anchor we held our place.Saturday, January 29th and Sunday, January 30th
At sunrise the wind abated. At night it again blew a storm from the S.E. At 2 o'clock in the morning our cable parted. A second anchor was immediately thrown out. A signal gun was fired, but not heard on account of the roar of winds and seas. The flash of the powder, however, being seen by Capts. McNeal and Brotchie, they ventured off to us with much danger, but said they could render us no assistance. About sunrise our second and last cable parted. The kedge was immediately slipped, and we drove before the wind. It was thought we could not drive ashore anywhere besides in shoal water, and therefore had little prospect of continuing our voyage. Fortunately we gained a favorable spot. Two ropes were employed to keep the vessel from driving fur02/16/2012 -->a tree on shore. Here the vessel lay beating the sand until the recision of the tide, when she became quiet. We now observed that we had narrowly escaped striking upon snags and stumps of trees, which were covered by the water when the tide was up. Our party encamped on shore. An anchor and kedge were borrowed from the other vessels in the bay. About 3 o'clock, with the return of the tide and a heavy gale of wind, we worked out into the open bay. While the old brig was laboring and tugging, and as I fancied, seriously threatening to try it on her beam-ends, Capt. Brotchie's boat was swamped (himself and part of his crew were assisting us). She was, however, rescued before the tackle by which she was fastened to the ship broke. Meantime the plug in the Loriot's boat came out, and she was near filling. The wind not allowing us to get into a more secure place, we were forced to anchor as soon as we had gained five fathoms water. The tide falling, we again saw that we had narrowly missed stumps and snags; for they were scattered plentifully between us and shore. Our situation to-night is anything but enviable. If our cable fail again, with the wind from the same direction, we must certainly be driven aground far from shore, perhaps a half mile or a mile, and heavy surf is breaking all along the beach.Monday, January 31st
Capt. Bancroft set off for Vancouver to procure anchors. In the afternoon accompanied Mr. Slacum to Chinook village. The tide being low, we were forced to pull the boat with our hands about a hundred yards over the bar, where we had formerly been endangered by the breakers. In going out, however, we took the channel, and avoided wading and pulling.Friday, February 4th
Beat down to the lower part of the bay, and anchored in a more secure place. Slept ashore.Wednesday, February 8th
On account of our detention we were apprehensive that our stock of provisions would not be sufficient. The bateau in which Capt. Bancroft had arrived the day before returning to Fort George to procure one of the anchors she had left there, it was thought advisable that I should go in her. Supposing that their stock of rum was not adequate to their demand, one of the boatmen prudently exchanged his blanket with an Indian for a bottle full. This prudential bargain was, no doubt, made to secure the continuance of their happiness, for they were already as happy as ever drunkenness could well make them. Under this favorable omen we set out. As we passed one of the vessels (the Nereid) the supercargo, not being advised of our supply, kindly treated our crew to a glass each. Before we had reached the swells off Chinook Bar, the singing of the boatmen had ceased, and they began to exhibit their combative propensities by dropping their oars, pulling off their clothes, swearing most bravely, striking their clenched fists together, and occasionally falling backwards off their seats. While we were tossing on the swells one, more heroic than the rest, threw his oar overboard as preparatory to a pugilistic encounter. It was, however, recovered by the sternsman, who was less intoxicated than the rest. Fortunately, their spirits had a little evaporated before we reached Chinook Point. The passage here is between the spit outside and the breakers on the beach. In the passage itself there were heavy swells and occasional breakers. A little imprudence here might probably have saved me the trouble of writing my escape. The breakers several times broke over the bow, in which I was seated, but without any other injury than wetting my clothes. When we reached Chinook village the wind was deemed too high to venture across. The boat was, therefore, drawn up on the beach. I was invited by one of the principal men of the village to go into his house. He spread a neat mat for me to sit on, asked me if I was hungry, and beating up some dried sturgeon between two stones set it before me. What means all this, thought I. I have not been accustomed to such hospitality from the Indian. Verily, mused I, this presents a redeeming feature in the Indian character! or, perchance, this household is more than mediocre, a rare instance of kindly sentiment amid a mercenary and sinister race. Here, a few shadowy dreams of the patriarchs intervened. Perhaps, I continued, these poor creatures are not really defective in - "Halo rum, shixt?" here interrupted my agreeable musing. (No rum, friend?) I replied, "none" They pointed to the boatmen who were drinking. I said they were not my people. But neither abuse of rum nor the declar02/16/2012 -->ur and a half, the wind having partially abated, we prepared to cross the river. One old man who had been very officious in assisting to draw the boat 02/16/2012 -->nd had fallen asleep from disappointment and vexation. Another angrily refused my hand at parting, saying I "was not good." The one who had invited me to the house continued friendly to the last. Perhaps it would do injustice to attribute all his kindness to motives as humble as those certainly were which influenced the kindness of the majority. Two of our boatmen were too much intoxicated to proceed in the boat, and were left lying senseless as brute could wish in the Indian house. There were now three men in the boat and myself. Proceeding a half mile from shore we raised a sail, and though there was considerable sea, reached the south of the river without much difficulty, just below Fort George Point. About sunset reached Fort George, thankful to have escaped the dangers with which I had been menaced.Thursday, February 9th
Set out at half past 11 a.m., with Mr. Birnie in his canoe, and after a pleasant passage, reached the ship about 4 p.m. The bateau took in the men who had been left the day before.Friday, February 10thAt sunrise Capts. McNeal and Brotchie having ascended the cape to ascertain the practicability of going out, pronounced the bar favorable. The three vessels immediately weighed anchor and sailed, the Loriot bringing up the rear. Wind and tide being favorable, we were soon floating on the blue, vasty deep, the bar being almost as smooth as the ocean outside which, indeed, was not the smoothest. Winds and seas increased, and consequently seasickness.Saturday, February 11th
At 8 o'clock this morning the brig Llama, which left us yesterday, appeared in the dim distance and swept down upon us with that grandeur which I had imagined a fine vessel under full sail would show, but which I had never before witnessed. At 10 o'clock she came up with us, and after exchanging salutations bore on her magnificent flight, now sinking, and anon mounting the combing billows, until she seemed to mingle in the dim shadows of the horizon. And is there, thought I, no fairy land beyond? How much is there to palliate the enthusiasm of voyagers before geographical knowledge had attained its present extent! During the night the sea was boisterous, the pumps frequently in action, a sound to which my ears were very averse.Sunday, February 19th
This morning were in sight of Fort Ross, the Russian establishment. At 8 o'clock fired a gun, which was answered by one from the fort. About 10 o'clock Mr. Slacum set off in the boat for the fort. About an hour after two men in a skin canoe came to us. One of them was our pilot. Two others which were coming off were turned back by Mr. Slacum. About sunset the wind, which had been calm during the day, began to blow a strong breeze from S.E., and continued until nearly day, when it shifted to N.W. How sick; how melancholy! Notwithstanding the rain I could stay no where but on deck, unless I was sleeping. The wind was too strong for us to lie to, consequently we were driven out to sea; when the wind veered to N.W. we were able, however, to change our course.Monday, February 20th
A pleasant morning. Land in sight, though there was fog. With a favorable breeze entered Port Bodega at 9 o'clock. Once more I am on my own element. What a repulsive passage. Tempestuous and cold! sick and melancholy! Perhaps no period of my life has been less calculated to give happiness. But peace! God is merciful and I am safe! The climate here is delightful. The ground is green and the hills and mountains clad in verdure to their summits.Tuesday, February 21st
Mr. Slacum and Don Pedro, the commandant of the Russian establishment, came aboard.Wednesday, February 22nd
Our party and outfit disembarked.February 27th
Most of our party and baggage went to Capt. Cooper's mill.February 28th
Early this morning Mr. Young and myself embarked in the Loriot for Port San Francisco. The wind being low at night we were off Point Reyes. At night the wind springing up and the captain being unacquainted with the coast, the vessel lay off and on during the night. The weather pleasant and myself not so sick as usual.Tuesday, February 29th
This morning found ourselves drifting between the Farallone islands and Sir Francis Drake's Bay, having made little advance during the night. During the day but little wind. At 4 p.m. it became so feeble that we found ourselves drifting with the tide towards shore in Drake's Bay. There was a short distance below us a reef of rocks which extended as far up as we were. An anchor was thrown out in 13 fathoms water and after letting out 80 fathoms of chain, our bow was in 9 and our stern in 7 fathoms water. In this unenviable situation night set in with a heavy wind from S.S.E. and rain. Tremendous seas were breaking over our bows, and it was pretty evident even to the inexperienced land lubber that we would not weather it until morning. The violent motions of the vessel had induced so violent a headache that I was fain to retreat from this scene of terror to the cabin. Spreading my pallet on the cabin floor, I fell in a slumber. At 9 o'clock I was aroused by a frightful crashing on deck, and the cry that the cable had parted. All were immediately on deck to assist in throwing out the second anchor, when, to our great satisfaction, we ascertained that only the windlass had capsized. The captain now calling his officers to the quarter deck declared the ship in danger. Should the larger cable fail, there was, he said, not hope that the smaller would hold. That therefore the only hope of saving the people was in running the vessel aground in a small bay to the northward, which might possibly be effected, if the reef to the N.W. which was discernable by the breakers on it did not prevent, and that we were now probably on the continuation of the reef. With the same wind there was, he said, no hope of retaining our hold, for the seas would continue to increase. Unless the wind shifted we must therefore be ready for the worst, and the harsh grating of the chain as a furious sea dashed over the ship's bow and washed her decks, as if frantic to impel us towards the frightful reef, augured his apprehensions too rational. But that kind Providence who had "clothed and fed us all our lives long" did not forsake us. Before 10 o'clock the wind had changed to the N.W., and at 10 we began to draw up our anchor, which, the windlass being useless, we were forced to do with tackles. It is peculiarly trying to labor unsuccessfully when life, perhaps, depends upon its issue. It was, however, our fate. The old tackles parted three or four times, and consequently we must lose chain before it could be arrested. In three hours, however, of tugging at the tackles, the anchor was got up and sails unfurled. It required the entire force on board, and my blistered hands could attest my own exertions. The decks were so slippery from the rain that they were necessarily sprinkled with sand, and even then many were our slips and a few falls. Hardly had we got under way, when the stupid Sandwich Islander at the helm, either through inattention or fright, brought the vessel about. She was, however, soon brought right again, and in a few minutes we were considered safe. The sternsman, who was so near putting us in new troubles, was punished on the spot. But the propriety of whipping a man under such circumstances I think more than questionable. First, let danger blow past and passion abate. A man smarting and indignant from castigation will be less disposed to do his duty as well as less collected. We now sailed on the east of the Farallone islands. There are two of them, small and barren, with sunken rocks between.Wednesday, March 1st
This morning were sailing with a fine wind in sight of the entrance of the Bay of San Francisco. Outside of the entrance there is considerable sea. There is here a bar, sometime a little troublesome. The entrance is about a half mile wide. The fort which once commanded the entrance is very eligible, but is now entirely neglected. Messrs. Slacum, Brotchie, Birnie, Leese, and Richardson, Captain of the Port, were here waiting our arrival, and came off to us in a boat. At one o'clock p.m. anchored in Whaler's Harbor, on the north side of the bay.Thursday, March 2nd
After breakfast the Loriot sailed for Monterey; on board Messrs. Slacum, Birnie, Leese and Young. The latter goes to get an interview with Gen. Vallejo on the subject of driving out cattle. I came off with Capt. Brotchie and Richardson to the Llama.March 9thRode with ---- Farwell to examine the Presidio and fort. These buildings were erected, I was told, about fifty-five years ago for the accommodation of the Spanish garrison. The Presidio is a building, the walls of adobes and the roofs of tiles, enclosing a square area, the sides of which are perhaps three hundred feet long. Since the expulsion of the Spaniards in the revolution, the place has been going to ruins. One entire side is fallen and parts of the others. All of the outer buildings, of which there were many, are now fallen except one. It is now inhabited by a half dozen families, too indolent to do anything to arrest the progress of decay. A sort of military burlesque is here still supported at times. I found the fort which once commanded the entrance of the bay in the same ruinous condition. Some of the cannon bore inscriptions dated A. D. 1648. Ruins, however diminutive, are melancholy mementos of human blindness and folly. These humble ruins, thought I, vie not with those more extensive and magnificent found in the old world, but are equally indicative of debased propensities. I am not gazing upon the ravages of war. These are simply the ravages of time - of a little time! A little circumspection and industry would have averted all. But so it is. One American colony, supposing itself aggrieved, has dissolved its connection with its transatlantic parent, and assumed a "separate and equal station" - has risen to grandeur and happiness; another, without the same causes of complaint, and without the essential qualifications in itself, ventures upon the same experiment, and sinks down into an anarchy more abhorrent than despotism. [Paragraph] Spotted mares are generally broke in and much esteemed on the following account: All the horses of a band follow her, attracted by her peculiarity of color, and are not so likely to stray abroad. Horses are here made to work by a leather thong fastened to the draught and round the pommel of the saddle, so that all the draught is upon the girt. Thus tackled, the driver mounts his horse, not doubting but he takes the world in the easiest manner. Everything possible is here performed on horseback, If a man drive oxen he must ride.Saturday, March 10th
Mr. Young, Mr. Birnie and Mr. Leese returned from Monterey. Gen. Vallejo declines having anything to do in giving us permission to drive out cattle; says that it is the prerogative of the civil Governor. The latter is at Santa Barbara.Monday, March 12th
Gen. Guadaloupe Vallejo came aboard the Llama; was saluted with five guns, and on taking leave, with a like number. Mr. Young sets out to-morrow or next day for Santa Barbara.April 5th
Crossed the Bay of San Francisco to Whaler's Harbor in the Llama. Here she anchored. Dr. Marsh, Padre Quijas, Mr. Birnie, myself and a drunken crew proceeded in a boat to Mr. Reed's farm. The tide being low, a part of us were forced to land and walk about 4 miles. Dr. M. alone remained in the boat with the crew. A drunken being, Long Jim, was unable to carry a bundle of goods, and was indebted to me for carrying a part, which by no means contributed to my comfort. About three-quarters of an hour after dark we reached the farm thoroughly fatigued. A substantial supper was set before us as soon as it could be prepared. Mr. Reed being absent, the Padre, of course, became first in authority. He freely circulated several bottles of wine which had been presented him at Yerba Buena, saying it was given him and he would distribute as freely. As I sat in a house of antique construction, looked upon the primitive manners of the Father, the unaffected hospitality of our hostess and the convivial hilarity of all, feudal recollections passed rapidly through my mind. I felt myself transported back to former centuries and mingling in the transactions of an age that is past. Truly, this people seemed to be, as Santa Anna said of them, "a century behind the rest of Christendom."April 6thPadre Quijas having procured horses, about 9 o'clock we set out for San Rafael, and remained there that and the ensuing day, being treated with that free and cordial hospitality which we may well conceive to have prevailed a hundred years since in Europe. This mission is poor and decaying. The buildings, though spacious, are very rude and inconvenient. It was originally a rancho of the Mission of San Francisco. About forty years since it became a separate mission, under the superintendence of a very strict Padre. So punctilious was he of wasting anything that, I am told, he would not suffer the tools used in erecting the buildings to be ground. The mission, I believe, numbers about nine hundred Indians. The stock has been in a good measure divided among the Indians on their little farms. But they are so extravagant that it is thought they will soon have none unless taken from them, as has been done at other missions.April 8th
Dr. Marsh, James Black, and myself set out for Cooper's Mill, and camped between it and J. Martin'sSunday, April 9th
Reached the mill 11 o'clock.Tuesday, April 11th
Returned with the two Indian boys and Gay and Bailey as far as Martin's farm.Wednesday, April 12th
Reached San Rafael and remained the thirteenth.Friday, April 14th
Crossed the bay with Mr. ThompsonWednesday, May 8th
Took passage in the ship Sarah and Caroline, Capt. Steele, for Monterey, anchored in Whaler's Harbor.Thursday, May 9th
Worked out of the bay and at night lay off Santa Cruz, which it was intended to enter but it was too late when we reached there. The barque Kent also lay near us.Friday, May 10th
Reached Monterey about 11 o'cl. - was moderately seasick on the passage.Saturday, May 11th
Went ashore and took my lodging at the house of Mr. Spence, where I was treated with much politeness.Sunday, May 12th
Mr. Young came into Monterey, having returned from Santa Cruz on his way from the south to San Francisco. His horses were left at Santa Cruz. He has, after much difficulty, got permission to drive out seven hundred cattle under the condition that we purchase them from the government - that is, cattle of the missions on which the authorities have unjustly seized. The Governor, not willing to assume the responsibility himself, laid the matter before the Deputation then in session. The latter, after some debating, refused permission. On a second attempt, however, the motion carried. And all this rumpus on account of an old colonial law yet unrepealed, which forbids the exportation of male and female animals from the colonies. It is due to Gen. Vallejo and Gov. Alvarado to say that they exerted their influence in opposition to this narrow policy, as also did the Padre Presidente, not as one of the Deputation but by his private influence with its members. Monterey is extremely irregularly laid out - if, indeed, it can be said to be laid out at all. The presidio here is going to ruins. Business is almost stopped. Everything bears the marks of confusion and anarchy.Monday, May 13th
At 3 o'clock p.m. left Monterey with Mr. Young and Dye. Slept at the Salinas.Tuesday, May 14th
Having no horse, bought one which was young and badly broken. Being unwell, I was thoroughly tired before reaching Dye's still-house, about five miles from Santa Cruz. Passed in sight of this place, but not near enough to examine its buildings. At night had a high fever. Took a dose of salts. Never perhaps have I been so tired from a day's ride.Wednesday, May 15th
Remained at Dye's, branding horses.Thursday, May 16th
Traveled a very narrow and mountainous road. Drove our horses with difficulty. Camped about 8 miles from the Pueblo de San Jose, now sometimes called the Pueblo de Alvarado.Friday, May 17th
Took breakfast at the Pueblo and proceeded as far as the Pulgas Rancho (Rancho de las Pulgas) or rancho of fleas.Saturday, May 18th
Reached Yerba BuenaThursday, May 24th
Mr. Young crossed the bay to see Gen. Vallejo, who was appointed agent of the government in selling us cattle.Saturday, May 26th
O'Neil, Turner, De Puis and Ergnette came across the bay.May 29th
Mr. Young returned from San [Francisco] Solano, having purchased seven hundred cattle at $3.00 per head, to be received 200 at a rancho of San Francisco and 500 at the Mission of San Jose.June 1st
Took leave of Yerba Buena and camped 1/2 league beyond the Mission of San Francisco. Calling at the Mission to see the Administrador, he used every means to evade giving us 170 cows and 30 bulls, wishing to inverse the numbers, saying that his Mission was due that of San [Francisco] Solano that number of cows and bulls. Mr. Young returned to get the orders translated and proved it to be correctly written.Friday, June 2nd
Mr. Young returned, the Administrador having consented to comply with the order. Passed a very difficult road to a rancho about 25 miles to the S.W. on the sea coast.Sunday, June 4th
Moved about a league to another corral.Wednesday, June 7th
We have been detained here until this morning. The Administrador has been collecting cattle. Some have been confined in the corral since Monday morning without food or water. We however got off this morning by paying the Administrador 1 rifle $30.00 value, 6 shirts $2.50, and $20.00 cash, to be divided, as he alleged, among his Indians. The whole was, however, an exaction he had no right to make, it being the custom of the country for the vender of cattle to assist in driving them off the rancho. For the above consideration he insured our number as far as a rancho called St. Martin's, being a small peninsula on which the cattle were easily guarded, and as we afterward learned a part of the Mission land. No fresh water under a half league --cold and windy- - cattle suffering much from thirst, and drinking salt water.Thursday, June 8th
Left early this morning-had difficulty in counting the cattle. Mr. Y. had a sharp altercation with the authorities. Retained but five men to assist us, whom we dismissed within nine miles of Santa Clara. The others had been dismissed at the Rancho of the Pulgas. One dollar to each of them we retained. Reached the Mission of Santa Clara at dark, with the loss of three cattle which had tired out, and with much difficulty got our cattle into the corral. Ate nothing all day. A couple of reals procured us a little brush by which we raised a little fire and broiled a little wretched, partly dried meat. Slept in the corral with our animals, a partition separating us and the horses from the cattle.Friday, June 9th
Started before sunrise. Passed the Pueblo de Alvarado, and a half mile beyond allowed our animals about three hours to feed. Camped at the rancho of Don Higuera, having with much difficulty got permission to put our cattle in the corral, his Donship being drunk. Just before sunset, as some of the men were driving the cattle towards the corral, they took fright and were with much difficulty got back and driven into the corral. Three or four were probably lost. Ate nothing during this toilsome and perplexing day, except a few morsels of bread at the Pueblo.Saturday, June 10th
Moved early, stopped for breakfast about a mile beyond the Mission of St. Joseph's, [San Jose] and reached the rancho of Robert Livermore, 16 miles distant.Sunday, June 11th
Guarded the cattle. Mr. Young returned to the Pueblo. Moved i6 miles to an old thrown-down corral - partly repaired it. Guarded the cattle at night.Tuesday, June 13th
With an elk and bullock skin tied up the corral.Sunday, June 18th
Went to a valley within a half mile of [Mission] San Jose and encamped.Tuesday, June 22d
This morning received the 500 cattle due from this Mission. It has been the desire of the Administrador to collect up all the wild cattle possible for us. While making his collections, those first put in the corral have been starving, some of them seven days without either food or water, except when guarded out a few minutes at a time. Some were so feeble from starvation and others so crippled from rough usage, that we left eleven unable to travel the first league. The Administrador agreed to supply these at the Mission sheep pasture; but when we reached there, he said the cattle had all gone off, and now we must either return to the Mission or take an order on some rancho on our way. We did the latter, as it was impossible for any of us to leave our band. About sunset reached a lake or bulrush pond, where we guarded the impatient cattle on horseback all night, half of us guarding while the others slept. Last night I rode to Livermore's, 16 miles, after sunset, and returned by sunrise this morning - was on horseback all day and half the night. One young cow being crippled, tired out, and being fat, was killed a league from camp, and partly eat for supper.Friday, June 23d
Moved early - ate breakfast at Livermore's. At dark reached the corral where our other cattle were, and with much difficulty got them into the corral. Of the 200 cattle left here only about 118 remain. They broke out of the corral last night. Tonight we were forced to use the utmost vigilance to prevent them from breaking out - did not lie down to sleep until a half hour before day, having been all the time walking about the corral.Saturday, June 24th
In the afternoon moved about a mile to an open plain, where they can be guarded more securely.Sunday, June 25th
Moved 16 miles and camped on a slough of the San Joaquin.July 3d
Started to the Pueblo; was there the fourth, fifth and sixth; returned to camp.July 20th
This afternoon finished swimming the cattle across the San Joaquin, at which we have been engaged since the 12th. A corral had previously been made on the bank to prevent the cattle from scattering abroad. On the 12th we drove them in, and immediately made an effort to drive the cattle across, but the water being deep at the going in, they took fright and refused to swim. We now caught a few calves, and, towing them across with skin lassos, succeeded in driving their mothers across also, a few heifers only following. On the 13th we made up our minds for a desperate effort. In the morning, mustering all our force, we determined to make an energetic effort to do what all perhaps augured a hopeless experiment. With about seven hundred wild cattle in the corral, we got on our horses and began the attack. Being unsuccessful, we dismounted and tried on foot; still in vain. We now, with logs, brush, etc., made another fence, dividing the corral, and driving the cattle into smaller part again to get them into river, but they bore down our partition fence instead. Some got outside of the corral altogether, and it took much care to prevent them from bearing down the main corral. We removed our partition fence and strengthened the main corral, preparatory to another trial, and, crowding the cattle into it, called all hands to the charge. We this time succeeded in getting nearly all of them into the river. Some got halfway across, but all returned to us except seven, which reached the other side, two being caught by the canoes, and seventeen which were drowned. In these sallies, when we huddled up the cattle on the bank and had formed a circle around them, then came the "tug of war." Jump as we would, strike as we would, bawl as we would, threaten as we would, our line was broken. A furious bull would anon rush by, horning and kicking. We were exposed to a broiling sun and enveloped in clouds of dust. The latter article was seized upon by the sweat and we soon presented faces hideous enough to appall either man or beast. Finally, we abandoned our object, stretched a rope across the river, and began to catch the cattle with the lasso, and tow them across the river by means of bulrush boats pulled by the rope stretched across. On the boats were seated two or three men, some to pull and some to hold the cattle. Two, three or four were taken at one time. Skin canoes were first tried, but did not answer so well. Most ofthis time I have been guarding the cattle on the north side. This business is extremely hard, the party being divided. On this side I have guarded generally half the night and sometimes nearly all, on horseback, after toiling in sweat, water and great danger through the day. Meantime, the mosquitoes are so abundant, except in the heat of the day and the coldest part of the night, that it was difficult to breathe, and the animals were, of course, very impatient and hard to keep. This afternoon Mr. Young and the main part of our camp came across, and here a new misfortune crowned all others. Mr. Young was driving the cattle with a few men to a new camp. I singled out the pack animal that usually carried our powder from the rest of the horses, to follow the cattle, thinking to secure the ammunition. Driving her along the margin of a bulrush or tule pond she turned about, and, in chasing her, Benj. W. run close upon her outside, and she rushed into the pond and threw off her load, and everything was completely wet, powder entirely lost. Horrors! Now we chased the cattle until after the moon rose, to get them across a little water not more than knee deep. And then the state of camp! Shut the book! The last month, what has it been? Little sleep, much fatigue! Hardly time to eat, many times! Cattle breaking like so many evil spirits and scattering to the four winds! Men, ill-natured and quarreling, growling and cursing! Have, however, recovered the greater part of the lost cattle and purchased others. Another month like the last, God avert! Who can describe it?July 21st
Sun about two hours high in the afternoon, set out for Yerba Buena to procure a supply of powder. Slept at R. Livermore's, about 20 miles from camp.July 22d
Reached the Pueblo de Santa Clara. Was kindly entertained by William Gulnack. Reached Yerba Buena, a distance of near 60 miles.July 23d
Set off between 10 and 11 a.m. and reached the Pueblo late at night.July 24th
Passing the Mission of St. Joseph's, contracted with Mr. Forbes - two horses, one of which I was riding and the other left at Livermore's. The sale for cattle on good terms. Reached Livermore's with Mr. F. and learned that the horse left there was stolenJuly 25th
Two Spaniards, who had engaged to be here by this time, to assist in driving out cattle, did not comply with their engagement. In the afternoon sent Gay to camp to procure help.July 26th
Received near 20 head of cattle, and with the assistance received from camp and the two Spaniards, who had now appeared, reached the corral on the bank of the river about sunsetJuly 27th
Early in the morning crossed the cattle with some difficulty, and about 12 o'clock took leave of the river San Joaquin with the hearty delight of those who are exchanging localities without dreaming the possibility of suffering by the exchange. (Adios, San Joaquin!)August 14th
Reached the Jesus Maria (Buenaventura) with 729 cattle, having lost 15 - five drowned and ten tired out - and killed two for beef, making us less 17 since leaving the San Joaquin.Wednesday, August 16th and Thursday, August 17th
Lay encamped; part of the men hunting elk for provisions. Succeeded in killing some. Dried the meat.Friday, August 18th
upon the whole, more injury than good, besides tiring the horses in chasing them with the lasso. About ten or twelve Indians approached within about three hundred yards of camp. They were shy and four only ventured into camp. We understood them to say that they had once had some difficulty with Mr. La Framboise and that he had killed some of their people. They soon left us. Were unarmed except with bows and arrows. One having his bow strung was made to unstring it.August 20th
This morning, the cattle and horses being recruited by rest and good pasturage, we resolved to try the long dreaded passage across the largest river on our route. Our past difficulties at smaller rivers could not augur well of this. We, however, succeeded without difficulty or loss at a ford discovered the day before. Admirable! every lip said, and every heart responded! In about two hours came upon the trail of Mr. La Framboise, which we intend following. This morning began traveling among the mountains which separate the valley of the Tulares from that of the Shastas - had some difficulty in following the trail. We have now taken leave of the valley of Tule or Bulrush. Its length is said to be about 500 miles and its breadth upon an average about 60. The soil, so far as my observation extends, is of an excellent quality and immediately on the banks of its rivers superior to any I have seen on the Pacific coast. At this season it presents a parched and uninviting appearance. Large tracts are covered with pebbles, and a great portion of the valley is subject to annual inundations, of which fragments of pine wood and bark where pine trees do not grow is sufficient evidence. The climate, though sometimes very warm, is upon the whole fine, particularly the sea breezes which fan up the evening. Its commercial facilities are admirable. The greatest defect is want of timber, there being scarcely any except dwarfish oaks along the margin of the streams. The intermittent fever sometimes fearfully prevails. Mr. Young informs me that with a trapping party he passed one summer here without having one man sick, but that on his trip to the Columbia 3 years ago with Mr. K[elley] everyone of the company, himself excepted, had this fever. We have in our party had two or three cases. On every hand we see revolting signs of its fearful ravages. About 4 years it prevailed with such mortality that the few survivors of a village sometimes fled from their homes, leaving the village literally strewed with the dead and dying. Mr. Y. says he saw hundreds lying dead in one village, forsaken by the few survivors, and birds preying upon the uncovered carcasses. This disease seems to have prevailed with like fatality from the Bay of San Francisco to the Columbia river in these fatal times. Previous to 1829 it was unknown in the Columbia. Its greatest mortality seems to have been from about 50 to 100 miles interior. Still the Indians in this valley are numerous. They do not bury their dead, but carry them a few hundred yards from their houses and leave them exposed. Skulls and bones are scattered all around their villages. They live principally upon roots and grass plants. Their abundant use of the latter have led the Californians to say that they live on grass. They appear to be peaceable, and though shy of us have offered us no injury except in two very doubtful cases. The horse guard one night fired on what he took to be an Indian stealing a horse. On another night one of the men said that an Indian crept into camp and stole his gun, but he pursued him and recovered it. Of neither instance have we proof. Their mildness is as much, perhaps, the consequence of want of energy as of any more worthy cause. The men cut off their hair, and live mostly perfectly naked.August 26th
Since last date traveling in the mountains. They appear every day to grow more difficult. "Hills peep over hills and Alps on Alps." The grass is so generally burned that our animals have become feeble. Our cattle have learned their mastery in the brushy and mountainous road. Our horses are so exhausted from the same causes that they are of more trouble than service. Yesterday as the forward cattle were drove down to the river to drink, being much heated and the bank steep, they got into swimming water and crossed. Nor were they stopped until about a hundred of the best cattle in the band were across. The water being very rapid, it was difficult to get men and horses over. Before we had succeeded, the cattle, weary as they were, had gained the summit of a mountain several thousand feet high. With much difficulty they were recovered. Several of us started in advance to hunt a camp. Myself up the bank, etc.; until I rose the mountain, made for the road. Turner and Tibbets found one, though not good, which we reached after sunset. To-day the mountains grow more brushy, steep and rocky. To-day we have reached a place where there is water, but no grass. Unless grass is found to-morrow, we have every prospect of starvation to our animals. A tremendous mountain rises before us which we fain would have attempted, but Mr. Young, having rode up it for some distance, returned in half an hour swearing that "a still higher mountain was on the top of this." "Now," said he, "if you are a philosopher, show yourself." Animals were of course hard to guard where there was nothing to eat. Some of the men being tired of eating dried meat insisted on killing a beef. Mr. Young did not consent, as he very reasonably did not wish to carry the meat over the high mountains ahead. A very rough and disagreeable quarrel ensued. Some had sworn they would kill one at all events. Mr. Y. defied them, and told them to "kill one at their peril."August 27th
At daylight this morning we commenced moving camp, and ascended the dreaded mountain, and found another on it after pursuing a ridge about a mile. After ascending this one we had fondly dreamed we would descend into some friendly valley, but when we had gained the summit of this, behold another, and our hearts sickened as we foreboded another still. Our horses were so weak from fatigue and hunger that they were of little use - nay, of more trouble than service. The cattle, too, were laboring under the same disadvantages, and besides were so obstinately lazy that every inch of ground we gained was contested. Hallooing, bawling, stones, clubs, and everything on which we could lay our hands, achieved every inch of our progress. They would turn off from the road, wander down the sides of the mountain, take refuge in the dense brush, stop to fight each other, and in short appeared willing to do anything but go quietly along the trail. Three horses and some of our best cattle tired down on the road. The day was excessively warm, our faces covered and our throats and noses filled with dust Great thirst was the necessary consequence of intense labor under such circumstances, but it was impossible to get water. Under these circumstances I reached the point of the mountain where the roads turned down to the river. Here were lying some of the men who had driven the first band of cattle. Some of them had gone down the mountain for water. I myself, supposing there was a spring somewhere on the side of the mountain, started in the pursuit; but after going about two hundred yards, and seeing no indications of water nearer than the river, about a mile distant, three-fourths of which was down the side of a steep mountain, I returned and persuaded the gentry lying in the shade to return with me to assist in driving up the rear cattle. At last the whole party were rendezvoused at this point and we began to descend, and in about 30 or 40 minutes gained the valley. Traveling about two hundred paces we came to a cool and delightful rivulet. Never had I so suffered from thirst as this day, and now I plunged into it with an avidity which frightened myself. At the first hearty draught it did not have the usual taste in my slimy mouth. I perhaps drank three quarts in fifteen minutes. Short sighted man! Happy that his knowledge is not prospective! Else he would not venture upon some of his most ennobling enterprises. Few of our party, perhaps none, would have ventured upon this enterprise could they have foreseen all its difficulties. It boots little to reflect that the future gains will amply compensate for present suffering. Most of the party cursed the day on which they engaged, and would hardly have exchanged a draught of cool water for their expected share of the profits. We encamped 4 or 5 hundred yards from where we had descended into the river valley, at about 4 p.m. Plenty of wood and water, and some grass. A good beef was killed, a part soon cooked and almost as soon consumed, we having eaten nothing all day. Thrice happy evening, unknown to those who have not known the contrast of the morning! And were it not for that fearful mountain before us we should forget all our toils in our present happy condition; or, if remembered, only remembered to endear our present enjoyments. But meantime another quarrel with Wood and Mr. Y. about the beef. Our horses were so exhausted, for the first time on our trip we guarded them and the cattle on foot.August 28th
Remained encamped during the day to recruit our animals, though there was but little grass. Some of the men returned and recovered two horses that were left by the way yesterday.August 29th
At daylight this morning began our march, and ascended a mountain as high as any we had yet encountered. The road as difficult and the cattle as weak and stubborn as on the last day's march. The horses so weak that nearly all the driving was done on foot. Nearly every inch of progress has been gained by the use of clubs, sticks, stones, and bawling. When we had gained the summit of the mountain we stopped about an hour for the cattle to eat grass and rest. The descent was about a mile and a half or two miles, and sometimes very abrupt. When we had proceeded about halfway down three Indians came to us, and to encourage us said, "Go on, there are no more mountains ahead." Though not much accustomed to believe in Indian veracity, this assertion produced a shout among us. And "Thank the Lord," came from lips not much accustomed to devotion. The first impulse of my own heart was to halloo aloud and echo the news, the second to exhibit my unusual gratitude to the naked savage who brought us the welcome tale. The happy tidings soon spread along our line and gave us all new life. Even our cattle seemed to catch the prevailing passion, and we were all huddled in a trice to the mountain's base. Our animals and ourselves here drank freely of a beautiful stream. Three cows were here left; we suppose they were poisoned on the mountain. We now had about two miles to go around and over the point of a mountain before reaching camp. The brush was very dense and there were several difficult ravines. Every inch was contested and achieved only by the exertion of all our strength. We at length found grass and water, and upon the whole the most pleasant encampment since we entered the mountains. Our labor to-day was only surpassed by that of the former. We did not suffer for water, otherwise it equals any other.August 30th
Lay encamped all day.August 31st
Moved camp, and counting cattle ascertained that we have lost 49 since leaving the Jesus Maria (Buenaventura).September 3d
Since the last date we have been making short marches, and camping wherever we could find small parcels of grass. Our fond expectation of getting out of these mountains each successive day has been delusive. Lofty mountains have been exchanged for deep and difficult ravines, and our labor little diminishes. I reckon yesterday the most laborious day to myself since beginning the trip, my bones aching from exertion and my lungs painful from hallooing. Since last date have lost seven cattle and two horses. The horses for the first time were suffered to go unguarded last night. This morning found that two horses were missing - one, Mr. Y.'s favorite saddle horse, and one of B. Williams'. The horses were found near the top of a high mountain on our left, whither they had gone in quest of grass. Mr. Y. had much difficulty in driving them down to camp. It was thought possible that the two lost horses had been stolen, but more probable that they had been left by the way in the brush yesterday. The cattle were very impatient, having scarcely anything to eat, so that I was kept running all the morning till about 1/2 past 7 to prevent them from wandering, though not my guard. Moved about three miles, and, finding grass, encamped. Mr. Young, B. Williams and Tibbets returned from their quest of the lost horses, sun 1 ? hours high, after a hard day's walk, having found the two horses. They had been unmolested by the Indians, as well as two bulls tired down by the way, one of which they also brought on. To-day, Turner and Gay went in advance about six miles to examine the road, and reported favorably, having found several parcels of grass at which we can recruit our animals. They also opportunely found 130 Indian trade balls - will probably be needed. A repulsive mountain still lies before us. The report, however, is favorable; we may not cross it.September 4th
Moved 1/2 mile to fresh grass. Camped. Some of the wretched cattle wandered to the very summit of a high mountain on our right, and were got down with much difficulty.September 5th
Remained encamped all day. With the hope of finding mountain sheep and gratifying my curiosity, about 8 o'clock I set off with Henry Wood to climb a towering stony peak on a high mountain about 1/2 mile before us. De Puis had gone before, and the frequent report of his gun induced us to hurry off, thinking he was in the midst of game. We were upwards of an hour toiling up the mountain, when we gained the summit of ridge which led to the stony peak at which we were aiming. Here we were so thoroughly fatigued that we were glad to shelter ourselves from the wind under the side of the ridge to rest, and both in a short time fell asleep. After an hour's rest we renewed our progress, and began to ascend the elevation on which stood the stony peak. With much difficulty we clambered up the rocks within 50 feet of the summit. But what appeared one peak from the valley, now proved to be four or five. The ascent of the highest was impracticable, but we gained the summit of the second in height, and were even now sufficiently elevated to gaze with caution upon the fearful depth below. We are now near the summit of a peak which we had supposed, when in the valley, would command a view of the surrounding scenery, but from this abrupt elevation we now saw ourselves encompassed by awful mountain barriers. On every hand "Alps on Alps arise" and mingle with the clouds. There appears but one way of exit, along which it appears we must travel. After rolling off stones awhile to see them tumble and smash below, and being very cold, we began to descend. The peak is massive granite. Reach camp in about an hour and a half tired enough to wish the romantic granite peak at "Nova Zembla," having seen no game at all. Chagrin pour la terre!September 6th
Moved about 8 miles - road very brushy and difficult. Camped at a spring apparently impregnated with ferruginous matter. Traveling along a bank which sloped abruptly towards the river, a loose mare slipped and stopped not till she reached the bottom. On hearing of this, I returned to see if she could be got out, but could find nothing of her. She had probably struggled into the current and been carried away. Poor horses! They have become too weak, and their feet are so sore that they dread to move, and passing along the side of the river to-day some crossed to evade their drivers, and they frequently tried to conceal themselves in the brush. This is the first encampment, since entering the mountains, known to any of our party. It is said we shall reach Shasta Valley in three or four days. Grass not very plenty. The mineral spring above named possesses purgative properties; animals very fond of it. About 12 Indian houses vacant.September 7th
Moved about a mile, and found a better encampment for our animals than any we have found since the San Joaquin.September 8th and September 9th
Lay encamped. Our animals rapidly recruiting. For the last five or six days we have seen no Indians. The country is perhaps the line between the Indians of the valley and those of the mountains, though sometimes occupied by one or the other, or perhaps held in common. The Indians of the mountains do not appear to be numerous, having never seen more than 15 at one time. They are unoffending and friendly. I was particularly pleased with their language. The enunciation is peculiarly clear and distinct, and entirely free from the harsh gutterals to which I have been accustomed in Indian languages. Like all American savages before they have had much intercourse with white men, they exhibit a great propensity for long and high toned harangues. That we did not understand them was no consideration. One old man, after seating himself in silence and smoking his pipe with much formality, raised his voice to its highest key and began as follows: "In yonder mountains I was born. There I sucked my mother's breast. There he had grown up," and, doubtless, many other items of equal importance, could we have understood him. I never failed in getting a grave harangue when I addressed one of these mountain orators. We have been frequently scattered along the road for a mile or two, where there was dense brush on all sides, and, of course, much exposed. Indeed, we have been much at their mercy, but they have offered no injury either to ourselves or property. On counting our cattle correctly, ascertained that our present number was six hundred and eighty, making our previous loss less than we had supposed.September 10th
Moved about five miles, and finding excellent grass encamped, and remained the 11th.September 12th
Made a long and difficult march, and gained the long wished for Shasta Valley; began to leave in the rear our old acquaintance, the snowy peak, with feelings of anything but regret. Lost two horses, one of which was a pack animal with the pack on; was found back at camp. After traveling about 3 miles in the valley, we began to feel some solicitude about Wood and Jim, who had returned in pursuit of the horses, and halted for them. In about i~ minutes they appeared, and we pursued our way. Long march to-daySeptember 13th
Made an early move and halted on a stream - tributary to Rogue's river. We here eat breakfast, gave our animals a few hours to eat, and moved until after sunset, and reached a good encampment - distance, 20 miles. Mr. Young had supposed, on leaving the place at which we halted for breakfast, that the distance to this place was not more than 3 or 4 miles, but it proved to be 8 or 10. Once started, we were obliged to go through.September 14th
Moved camp about 10 o'clock, and after traveling 5 miles crossed Shasta river. About 5 miles further, encamped; but little grass and water for our animals. About two miles before reaching camp, five or six Indians came to us in a friendly manner, and one, accompanied by a boy about 10 years old, followed us to camp. There had been frequent threats on theway that Indians would be killed as soon as we had crossed Shasta river, and I had heard threats of killing this one while he was following us. It had generally passed as idle braggadocio, and I was hoping that present threats were of the same sort. I, nevertheless, intended telling Mr. Young. In the hurry, however, of unpacking I could not do it unobserved. We had just let loose our horses and sat, when a gun was fired just behind me. Gay and the Indian were sitting within ten feet of each other, when the former shot. The Indian sprang up to run when Bailey also shot at him. The Indian ran about 20 paces and fell dead, down the hill. Some of the scoundrels now hallooed, "Shoot the boy! Shoot the boy!" The little fellow, however, turned a point of rocks, plunged in the brush, and, as he was not pursued, he escaped. They afterwards alleged it was only to prevent his spreading the news. At the sound of the gun, Mr. Young asked vehemently, "What's that?" and began censuring the act. I sprang up, calling it a mean, base, dastardly act, and that such men were not to be depended upon in danger! Bailey retorted, "Are you to be depended upon in danger?" I replied, "Yes." "We'll see," said he. I said, "Yes." Carmichael was one of the first to censure the murder, but he now joined others against me. "We are not missionaries," said he, "we will avenge the death of Americans." Mr. Young and myself soon saw that it was of no use to wrangle. Some of the party were silent-most were in favor of the act. Only one that I recollect spoke against it. Turner, Gay and Bailey were three of four survivors of a party of eight men who had been defeated at the next river, and several of the survivors were much mangled. Turner's wife had also escaped. This they allege as their justification. But the murder was committed four days before reaching the place of their defeat, and the Indians may have been of another tribe. Nor could any consideration of private revenge, allowing its legality in itself, authorize endangering the property of others. We must now prepare ourselves for fighting our way through the hostile Indians. This fool act, as Mr. Young said, "cost us half our animals." One act of barbarity is not to be omitted. Camp and Pat stripped the Indian of his skin clothing, and left him lying naked. The Indian had a bow and about 10 or 15 arrows. Only two arrows in the pouch had stone points.September 15th
Moved before sunrise-road brushy and difficult. Had much difficulty in ascending the brushy hill. The cattle were to-day driven in three bands. The first ascended with little trouble- the second, which I was assisting to drive, with more. Some of the third band were unable to get up and were shot by the drivers. The two first bands of cattle had halted until the arrival of the third. After allowing a half hour for rest, Mr. Young gave orders to march. Some of the drivers, however, had become displeased because he had not stopped in the valley below, and now did not pay any attention to his orders. Here a most horrid quarrel ensued. Curses, guns and knives were bandied for 15 minutes. Turner, Gay, Carmichael and Bailey were the principal speakers against Mr. Young. Myself and De Puis tried to quash the business; others were silent and apparently indifferent. Here we were, in a most difficult pass, where a dozen Indians might have killed the half of us and numbers of our animals before we could gain a good road, and no doubt we would here have been attacked if the Indians had had time to collect. Property of a very exposed nature was to be protected, and besides we were in equal danger from each other. We now had much difficulty in driving through the dense wood down the brushy hill for about a mile. We then gained a prairie, and as there was a gentle declivity, nearly all the afternoon we traveled without much further difficulty, until two hours before sunset, when we encamped; little grass. At night strengthened the guards, putting five men on each instead of four. My station was beyond the brook on which we were camped, to prevent the Indians from firing into camp or among the horses from the brush in that quarter. About an hour after I had taken my place, the moon having just risen, I observed about five Indians stealing along the wood around a small hill to the east, seemingly with the intention of getting into the brush near camp. Having a double-barreled fowling piece, I fired one barrel, which brought them to a halt. The discharge of the second was a signal for their retreat the way they came. I now hastened to reload my gun, but could get no powder out of my horn. Supposing it was empty I hastened to camp to refill it, but could get none in. And now I found that a rag which I had wrapped around the stopple had slipped off and stopped up the horn. The guards were again strengthened by addition of another man to each, which took all the party for the guards of one night except two, which two had no guns. No further molestation during the night. About 2 o'clock p.m., as we were passing a difficult place between the mountains on our left covered with dense brush, and a thick wood on our right, the horses and cattle being scattered along for a mile, hallooing and a shot in the rear announced an attack. I was at this time carrying a young calf before me on the horse, with the forward band of cattle, because its mother would not remain behind. At the above signal I hastened forward to place the calf with its mother, and to acquaint Mr. Young, and then returned to the assistance of the rear. The horses being foremost were not molested, as well as the forward band of cattle. The attack was made from each side of the road. Five or six head of cattle were wounded, but only one killed. This one was able to travel out into the open plain, where she was butchered, and as we needed a beef it happened just at the right time. In this attack the enemy were so well concealed that not one was seen until we had gained the open plain, when a few showed themselves on the hill, but beyond the reach of gunshot. Camped on a small brook, in the edge of the brush-had the same guards as the last night.September 17th
Moved after breakfast. A few arrows were shot at us from a thick wood on our right. Nothing was injured, however, but the riding horse of B. Williams, into the right hip of which an arrow was shot, but without much injury. Camped in an open plain, where there was no water for our animals; but a small spring about four hundred yards distant supplied our wants.September 18th
Moved about sunrise. Indians were observed running along the mountains to our right. There could be no doubt that they were intending to attack us at some difficult pass. Our braves occasionally fired on them when there was a mere possibility of doing any execution. About 12 o'clock, as we were in a strong and brushy pass between the river on the right and a mountain covered with wood on the left, firing and yelling in front announced an attack. Mr. Young, apprehensive of an attack at this pass, had gone in advance to examine the brush and ravine, and returned without seeing Indians. On making further search he found them posted on each side of the road. After the firing of four guns, the forward cattle having halted and myself having arrived with the rear, I started forward, but orders met me in front that no others should leave the cattle, Mr. Young, feeling himself able, with two or three men already with him, to rout the Indians. In the struggle Gay was wounded in the back by an arrow. Two arrows were shot into the riding horse of Mr. Young while he was snapping his gun at an Indian not more than ten yards off. To save his horse he had dismounted and struck him on the head, but he refused to go off, and received two arrows probably shot at his master. Having another brushy place to pass, about four or five of us went in advance, but were not molested. Camped on the spot where Turner and party were defeated two years ago. Soon after, the men on day guard said they had seen three Indians in a small grove about three hundred yards from camp. About half of the party went, surrounded the grove, some of them fired into it, and others passed through it, but could find no Indians. At night all the horses nearly famished as they were tied up. Night set in dark, cloudy and threatening rain, so that the guards could hardly have seen an Indian ten paces off, until the moon arose about ten o'clock. I was on watch the first half of the night.
[Here the diary ends. in the midst of action the picture fades. There is no conclusion, and to other sources we must go to learn of the successful termination of the great cattle drive. Edwards and Young with their charges reached their destination about the middle of October without further adventure.]