Tag Archives: American County Histories
Our Lady, Queen of Angels, Old Mission Plaza Church, Los Angeles

The Glory of the Schools of Los Angeles

(Excerpted) We are indebted to Laura Grover Smith for the following very illuminating and inspiring chronicle of the birth and growth of public education in the City of Los Angeles:

The school in the early pueblo of Los Angeles was not regarded as an indispensable thing in a new community, as it was in New England settlements. It was not until the tide of immigration brought eastern men and women from communities where schools had been established, that education by way of schools became important in the little pueblo of Our Lady of the Angels.

Thirty-seven years from the time of the founding of the pueblo, under a Spanish governor, Maxima Pina taught the first school. It lasted a short two years and he received $140 a year.

The next record found allowed the purchase of a bench and table for the use of a school in the pueblo. Doubtless the bench and table were for the school kept by Lucian Valdez from 1827-32. This was the longest school period under Mexican rule. The only paid officials in the pueblo were the secretary of the ayuntamiento, the sindic or tax collector, and the schoolmaster, when there was one.

The schoolmaster’s salary was not to exceed $15 a month, and the chief qualification and requirement was that he should not expect, and certainly must not ask for an increase of salary. In the latter event he was to be dismissed as unfit for the office.

In addition to the long vacations, there were frequent short ones when the teacher would be called to explain. It was apparently quite a satisfactory excuse to say that the scholars had run away! Saints’ days were holidays, and each child’s name saint’s day was invariably celebrated, so schools, to say the least, were intermittently conducted.

The full-text search capability of the American County Histories database permits the student/researcher to explore all the publications of a particular county by using a single query. In addition, those wishing to read or browse the text on a page by page basis may do so in the original format merely by scrolling down the screen and then continuing to the next chapter.

converted PNM file

New American County Histories Online

One of our major efforts this year is the expansion of our American County Histories collection to cover the nation from coast to coast.  Our most recent update brings four books online as full text searchable material and thirty more as page images.  As each page is converted to text and double checked, they will become searchable too.

The Browse and/or Search links below are for visitors on networks with institutional access to this collection. Individuals with personal subscriptions must login at accessible.com to access the Browse and Search features.

Full Text Online

Page Images Online


17th Century Swedes on the Delaware

The first white settlers within the present bounds of Delaware, as has already been shown in the preceding chapters, and the only white settlers previous to the coming of Penn who made any distinct and durable impress upon the country, were the Swedes. Their first, second and third colonies arrived in 1638 and 1640.

Landing of the Finns and Swedes in Delaware

Landing of the Finns and Swedes in Delaware

The Swedes on the Delaware have sometimes been reproached as a lazy people because they did not clear the forests at a rapid rate, nor build themselves fine houses. But this is not the character which Penn gives them, nor that to which their performances entitle them.

Penn says, “They are a plain, strong, industrious people, yet have made no great progress in the culture or propagation of fruit-trees as if they desired to have enough, not a superfluity.” He speaks also of their respect for authority, adding, “As they are a people proper and strong of body, so they have fine children, and almost every house full; rare to find one of them without three or four boys and as many girls; some six, seven and eight sons. And I must do them that right, I see few men more sober and industrious.”

In speaking of their lack of diversified husbandry, Penn forgot that their leading crop was tobacco, which, being without slaves almost entirely, they had to cultivate with their own hands. Their intelligence must have been at least equal to their loyalty, for they were more than fully represented, on the basis of comparative population, in all the early assemblies, councils and magistrates’ courts, under Lovelace and Penn, and they were the only interpreters Penn could get in his intercourse with the Indians. They were not devoid, moreover, of what would nowadays be esteemed remarkable industrial enterprise.



Bald Eagle Tales from 1911

This is from Chapter XVII of History of Walton County by John L. McKinnon in our Florida County Histories:

The Great American Bald Eagle

This bird, symbolical of American liberty, is a great bird, and develops a faculty, or instinct, very near akin to reasoning. They give much trouble in the range to sheepmen. Since I have lived in DeFuniak, J. Love McLean, Bazey Andrews (a colored man) and myself were on a cow hunt in the southern range. We were on horseback, each had a dog, but no gun. As we passed up east of the scrub and near the “scrub pond,” we heard a great noise in the air. We looked to our right and there was one of these great bald eagles, swooping down on a fleet-footed doe, striking her at one time on the head, and then on the rump, tearing the flesh each time with his great beak and talons, repeating these blows. On nearing us, the scared doe saw us on the slant of the hill, ran to us, stopped in our very midst, looked up to us with her soft, dreamy eyes, as much as to say, “will you not protect me from this terrible bird of prey?”

Bald EagleThe eagle poised in mid-air for a moment just above us, then flew away across the pond and lighted on the lowest limb of a very low pine, under which were ewes and lambs feeding. When our dogs came up they chased the panting doe from our midst into the “scrub” that was close at hand, where she was safe from all. We passed through the pond, rode immediately under the bird, hollowed and squalled at him until we found that there was no use wasting our breath, and could never make it fly away. It would move sideways back and forth along the limb looking at us, as much as to say, “you kept me, through your dogs and the “scrub” from dining on venison, I will see to it that you will not keep me from dining on tender lamb. I am the great bald eagle, symbol of American liberty. This is my country, where in the mischief are you from?”

We had to go on and leave him there, knowing well that he would soon dine on lamb meat. We reported that evening to the sheep men and they went in quest of the saucy rascal. Are we not reminded here that there is a Refuge for us when we are pursued by the evil one, that is more secure than the “scrub” was to that stricken, soft-eyed doe?


Story of Inyo 1

A Look Inside: The Story of Inyo

The Story of Inyo can be found in the California section of our American County Histories: The West. This book was compiled by Willie Arthur Chalfant (1868-1943) and dedicated to Pleasant Arthur Chalfant.

Story of Inyo Dedication

Story of Inyo Dedication

From the Foreword to the First Edition

California has furnished probably more themes for books than has any other American State. The easy-going romantic years of Mexican rule, the padres, the Argonauts, the golden era, the wonders of this Empire of the West, have had generous attention from both masters and amateurs in prose and poetry, fact and fiction. The flood of writing hardly diminishes, for magazine literature and still more books add to it month by month.

This book’s purpose is to preserve, particularly, the record of Inyo County earlier than 1870, when a printed record began. Gathering data for some such purpose began more than twenty years ago, while many of the pioneers still lived. It was the author’s good fortune to know personally every early-day Inyoite then in the county. All narratives were checked and rechecked with each other and with other sources of information.

One of the most valuable sources of information was an extensive manuscript collection in the private library of Henry G. Hanks, in San Francisco. Mr. Hanks was an assayer in San Carlos and Chrysopolis mining camps, Owens Valley, in 1863. In later years he became State Mineralogist of California. He was a man of education, and when age caused his retirement from active labors his library received his whole attention. His interest in Owens Valley continuing, he kept and arranged many letters, diaries and other writings relating to this county’s history.

Everyone who took any prominent part in the Indian war has passed on. The Hanks library was burned in the fire of 1906. As those sources of information are thus forever lost, there is some justification in believing that a service was done in getting what they had to impart; and also, that these chronicles, having that advantage, give the only fairly complete record of the county’s beginnings that can be compiled.

Story of Inyo - Settlement Map

Story of Inyo – Settlement Map