Tag Archives: California

Vices and Evils of Urban Life in San Francisco

In dwelling on the performances of San Francisco after the great disaster of 1906, and in pointing out that material advancement is not dependent on the moral status of a community there is no desire to convey the impression that profit is derived from the pursuit of vicious courses.

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.

The parasite never contributes to the growth of the thing on which it fastens, but on the other hand the purest of motives, the best of intentions and the most perfect of laws unaided cannot promote the growth of a city. That depends entirely on the sagacity and energy of its people. Urban expansion is a purely material phenomenon, and whether we like to recognize the fact or not the flower of spirituality seems to grow most luxuriantly in the muck heap of wealth produced in the commercial struggle.

Virtue is the antithesis of vice, and the worst forms of the latter are those which human greed calls into existence. But exaggerated human desire seems as necessary for the preservation of the race as the fertilizing element is to soil productivity. And like the agriculturist who is called upon to deal with the problem of providing for the subsistence of his kind, society must make up its mind that its struggle with parasitic enemies will be incessant. There are times when the horticulturist is compelled to cut down and destroy trees to prevent the spread of some infectious disease, but he rarely extends his precautions to the extirpation of all trees, as he would have to do if he wished to completely eradicate the evil he attacks, an end which could only be accomplished by the destruction of the fertilizers which promote productivity.

Source: Chapter LXVI: The Summing Up of the Achievements after the Fire in San Francisco a History of the Pacific Coast Metropolis – Volume II — American County Histories: California – Upper image is from the book.

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.

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



The History of Monterey and San Benito Counties

This volume, History and Biographical Record of Monterey and San Benito Counties And History of the State of California Containing Biographies of Well-known Citizens of the Past and Present, can be found in California County Histories in American County Histories: The West.

This volume stands out because it includes a wealth of information about history California itself before moving on to a detailed chronicle of Monterey and San Benito Counties including impressions of the Native Americans living in the region before and during the European settlement of the area.

Introduction (Excerpted)

Few states of the Union have a more varied, a more interesting or a more instructive history than California, and few have done so little to preserve their history. In this statement I do not contrast California with older states of the Atlantic seaboard, but draw a parallel between our state and the more recently created states of the far west, many years younger in statehood than the Golden State of the Pacific.

J.M. Guinn

J.M. Guinn

When Kansas and Nebraska were uninhabited except by buffaloes and Indians, California was a populous state pouring fifty millions of gold yearly into the world’s coffers. For more than a quarter of a century these states, from their public funds, have maintained state historical societies that have gathered and are preserving valuable historical material, while California, without a protest, has allowed literary pot hunters and speculative curio collectors to rob her of her historical treasures. When Washington, Montana and the two Dakotas were Indian hunting grounds, California was a state of a quarter million inhabitants; each of these states now has its State Historical Society supported by appropriations from its public funds.

California, of all the states west of the Mississippi river, spends nothing from its public funds to collect and preserve its history.

To a lover of California, this is humiliating; to a student of her history exasperating. While preparing this History of California I visited all the large public libraries of the state. I found in all of them a very limited collection of books on California, and an almost entire absence of manuscripts and of the rarer books of the earlier eras. Evidently the demand for works pertaining to California history is not very insistent. If it were, more of an effort would be put forth to procure them.

The lack of interest in our history is due largely to the fact that California was settled by one nation and developed by another. In the rapid development of the state by the conquering nation, the trials, struggles and privations of the first colonists who were of another nation have been ignored or forgotten. No forefathers’ day keeps their memory green, no observance celebrates the anniversary of their landing. To many of its people the history of California begins with the discovery of gold, and all before that time is regarded as of little importance.

J. M. Guinn
Los Angeles, February 1, 1910.


Yolo County, California

A Sketch of Mrs. Emma C. Laugenour

We are still working on expanding our California County Histories in the newest section of our American County Histories Collection.

New online and fully searchable is History of Yolo County, California, with biographical sketches of the leading men and women of the county, who have been identified with its growth and development from the early days to the present, published in 1913.

This 900+ page volume contains a comprehensive history of Yolo County as well as almost 600 pages of biographical information and illustrations of the region’s settlers.

Mrs. Emma C. Laugenour

As compared with the volumes that have been written exploiting the accomplishments of men in bringing California up to its present state of development, little or nothing has been said concerning the part women have taken in this same work. While from an outward viewpoint the characters they have represented in the drama have been less conspicuous perhaps than those portrayed by the men, nevertheless they have been equally necessary to bring about the ends accomplished, as many men have declared in giving the synopsis of their lives.

Emma C. Laugenour of Yolo County, California

Emma C. Laugenour

Few of California’s early settlers recognized more thoroughly than did John D. Laugenour the sustaining help and comfort which he received from his wife, and he frankly gave credit to her for much that he was able to accomplish during his long residence in the west.

Emma Christene Watkins was born in New Philadelphia, Ohio, May 12, 1842, and was therefore about eighteen years of age when she became the wife of John D. Laugenour in 1860. Of the eight children born to them five are now living and exemplifying in their daily lives the high principles of manhood and womanhood instilled in them by the teachings of their parents. Named in the order of their birth they are as follows: Philip T., Henry W., Jesse D., William R., and Emma Carter, the wife of Walter F. Malcomb.

To the tactful sympathy, as well as conservative judgment of his wife, Mr. Laugenour attributed much of his success, and the fact that since his death she has faithfully endeavored to carry out plans of both philanthropy and business in which she deems he would have been deeply interested, is proof of the confidence and understanding which existed between them.