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.
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.
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.