Town of San Buenaventura
A Memorial and Bigraphical History of the Counties of Santa Barbara, San LUis Obispo, and Ventura, California
by yda Addis Storke
Published in 1891 in Chicago by the Lewis Publishng Co
THE TOWN OF SAN BUENAVENTURA
The capitol, or county-seat, of Ventura is situated a few miles east of Point Rincon, near where the Ventura River empties into the ocean. The "Small City," or "Palm City," as it loves to call itself, spreads over an area extending to about twenty blocks long by six wide. The sea washes the southern boundary, the Ventura River skirts the western, a high hill looms on the northern side, whilst the fertile Santa Clara Valley stretches out eastward.
The old town was grouped about the adobe buildings and the semi-tropical gardens of the mission, and it was long isolated for lack of railway communication, being accessible only by means of the steamers of the coast line, at that time generally small and uncomfortable for purposes of travel.
This has, however, always been an important shipping point. In the mission days, when the hides and tallow produced from the broad lands ruled by the fathers were carried hence by Indians and wading sailors, as related by Robinson and Dana, and in later days when a substantial wharf, large warehouses and frequent service of steamers facilitated the export of products from the rich tributary country.
Since the coming of the railway, in 1887, San Buenaventura has veritably entered upon a new epoch of existence, with a new lease of life, and the outside world has begun to learn somewhat of her resources.
The town is eighty miles distant from Los Angeles, thirty from Santa Barbara and 300 by sea from San Francisco.
Lying upon a narrow plain between the foot-hills and the sea, the town, like many others of the older Spanish settlements, naturally enough grew along one main business street. When the Americans came they spread out across that narrow plain, and began also to climb the hills in search of places whereon to build homes. Thus San Buenaventura today has five long streets, Front, Meta, Santa Clara, Main and Poli, in the order named from the water front back which run east and west, parallel to the shore, and crossed at right angles by nineteen other streets, running north and south. These all have either wooden or concrete walks eight and ten feet in width. Probably no other town in the Stte of the same population has the same quantity of sidewalks. In the last two years Ventura has built 11,310 feet of cement sidewalks, at a cost of $25,188, and 39,104 feet of wooden sidewalks, costing $32,100, making in all nine and one-half miles of walks, at a cost of $57,288. Aside from this there are eight and one-half miles of graded streets, prepared at a cost of $38,145. The system of sewerage is good, there being three miles of sewer pipe that cost $20,000.
Here, as in Paris, France, there are city ordinances forbidding the casting down of paper, etc., upon the streets, or the throwing into them of any sort of litter, and these precautions, together with the services of men employed to do weeding, etc., keep the streets and sidewalks of this town in fine condition. Provision is made, too, against the bane of Southern California during the dry season - dust. By an ordinance approved in November, 1888, constantly three, and occasionally four, sprinkling carts are kept at work on the city streets, at a cost of about $2,500 per year.
There is also a good system of sewerage, based on the Waring plan, comprising 17,914 feet of pipe, of diameters ranging from six to fourteen inches, constructed of the best vitrified ironstone piping, at a cost of $21,000. The sewering is greatly facilitated by the natural slope of the town site. Running for several miles northward along the border of the Ventura River is a beautiful valley, or narrow strip of land, called "The Avenue." It is laid off into small farms and villa lots, skirted by hills on either hand, and here live many of Ventura's people, amidst a wealth of fruit and flowers. The street which runs through this valley is broad, level and very nearly straight, extending six or eight miles. It is set with shade trees nearly the whole distance, and the enterprise of the residents here provides for its sprinkling from end to end. This is the boulevard of Ventura, and its beautiful bordering of tasteful houses, and its well-kept orchards and gardens, make it indeed an attractive drive.
On the avenue grows a monster grapevine, about seventy-five years old, whose main vine is over three feet in circumference. It is trained over framework, and produces annually several thousand tons of grapes.
San Buenaventura is a town of the sixth class. Its population is 2,350, of which about sixteen per cent. consist of the Spanish-American element.
The assessed valuation of city property for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1890, shows as follows: town lots, $814,385; improvements, $375,370; personal property, $391,529; money, $18,871; mortgages, $171,103. San Buenaventura was incorporated as town March 10, 1866, and re-incorporated March 29. 1876.
The municipal officers are: A board of town trustees, consisting of J. S. COLLINS, President; and Peter BENNETT, C. D. BONESTEL, E. M. JONES and J. R. WILLOUGHBY; Marshal, Frank S. COOK; Clerk, J. F. NEWBY; Attorney, Lloyd SELBY; Treasurer, Chas. McDONALD; Engineer, G. C. POWER.
There is a volunteer fire department, equipped with two hose carts and hook-and-ladder paraphernalia. There are about forty members.
The town hall and library building, in one, built in 1883, is owned by the city. It is a one-story brick of fifty feet frontage on the main street, with a depth of seventy feet. The construction is such as provides for the ready and economic addition of another story.
The town hall contains a fine cement and brick fire-proof vault of the latest improved order, whose capacity is sufficient to make it the receptacle of the municipal records and documents for at least twenty-five years to come. This building is valued at about $7,000.
The cemeteries, Protestant, Roman Catholic and Jewish, are situated on a beautiful location in the eastern addition. With the exception of the Roman Catholic one, they are owned and managed by the municipal jurisdiction, the town clerk giving deeds for lots, while the sexton reports to the town trustees.
The Ventura post office is of the third class. The postmaster is Nathan B. SHAW, and he has one assistant. The postmaster refuses to give any information regarding the business of the office, such as is customarily given to the public press once or twice a year; therefore no comparison can be made of the relative importance of this with other county-seat post offices. The Postoffice Department at Washington, at the request of citizens here, recently changed the name of this postoffice from San Buenaventura to Ventura. Much mail and express matter designed for this office found its way to San Bernardino, and vice versa. Then the name was too long to write and too difficult for strangers to pronounce.
For a number of years the town was lighted by gas, there being twenty-five street lamps, paid for by the city; but since September 1, 1890, the municipality has adopted the electric light system, of which there are two circuits. The gas company still lights many stores, offices, etc.
Ventura has no street railways, but a franchise to build one has recently been granted. In February, 1888, the telephone service was introduced, under the management of an experienced electrician. Beginning with thirty connections, the patronage has steadily increased to sixty, and connection will soon be made with neighboring towns. The service is in great favor here.
Ventura has in force various ordinances highly favorable to public morals, among others, one prohibiting boys under sixteen years old from being in the streets after 8 p.m.
The high-license law has been in operation for one year. The license is $600 per month, of which one-half goes to the town and one-half to the county.
Located in San Buenaventura, as the county-seat, are various county institutions, hereinafter described, as the hospital, the court-house, etc.
Within the city limits there is a half-mile racetrack, of private ownership.
There are several excellent hotels, among them the Rose, a handsome three-story brick, cost $120,000; artistic in furnishing, and excellently managed, it is safe to say this is the best hotel in Southern California.
The following report was prepared by Mr. J. F. NEWBY, who was our ten years librarian of the Ventura Library Association:
"This association was incorporated November 23, 1874, with Milton WASON, James DALY, C. G. FINNEY, L. F. EASTIN, G. S. GILBERT, Jr., C. H. BAILEY, J. J. SHERIDAN, T. B. STEEPLETON and L. C. GRANGER as incorporators. The association arranged for a fair and festival, the proceeds of which went to purchase books and furniture. All members were required to pay $5 per annum toward supporting the library, and those who did not pay the $5 for membership paid twenty-five cents a month for the privilege of drawing books. A room was secured and some 600 volumes purchased, Mr. J. W. MAXWELL being the first librarian, succeeded by Miss Cecelia PERKINS. The library was kept up until the spring of 1878, when it became involved in debt and was closed.
"In August, 1878, the library trustees, Messrs. James DALY, M. H. GAY, C. H. BAILEY, L. F. EASTIN and J. J. SHERIDAN, made a proposition to the board of town trustees to transfer the assets of the association to the town, provided the town would pay the library indebtedness, and agree to levy a library tax under a State law allowing incorporated towns to levy a library tax. The town board accepted the proposition and took charge of the library August 21, 1878, with J. F. NEWBY as librarian, he continuing to fill the position until February 1, 1888.
"The library from the time the town took charge of it and levied an annual tax to support it. New books are added two or three times each year, until the library now contains 4,000 carefully selected volumes. A reading room is attached to the library, in which one finds the standard periodicals of the day. There were over 10,000 books drawn from the library last year by citizens. The town has lately added an addition to the library room, and the library now has two large, well-lighted rooms.
"Miss Florence VANDEVER, daughter of General VANDEVER, is the present librarian, and under her management the place is made attractive, as shown by the increased attendance.
"The library is one of the best small libraries in the State, and is the pride of the citizens of Ventura. The success of the library is mainly due to the intelligent and constant supervision of Messrs. James DALY, W. E. SHEPHERD and Judge S. A. SHEPPARD, and especially to James DALY, who was one of the original founders, and since then almost continuously one of the trustees, he having been untiring in his efforts to build up the library and make it a success.
"The library is open every afternoon and evening, and it is largely patronized, the Venturans taking great pride in the institution."
A feature aesthetic as well as practical of the town is
A few years ago Mrs. T. B. SHEPHERD of San Buenaventura, possessing a love for flowers and rare plants, sought, through a system of mutual exchange, to add to her collection and at the same time furnish persons in other parts of the country with such seeds and bulbs as she grew at home. In her zeal and anxiety to secure for herself some varieties grown by Eastern florists, she occasionally applied to them, proposing to furnish from her stock such as they might wish to propagate. These applications were often entirely unnoticed. Peter HENDERSON, however, the noted seedsman and florist, wrote her encouragingly and advised her to raise seeds and bulbs for the Eastern market. This was four years ago; but, having no capital and only a limited experience, her progress was necessarily slow. But with a courage born of love for the business, she went to work upon about two acres of ground adjoining her residence. As fast as the income from her sales would permit she would order seeds and bulbs from prominent florists in Europe and America. Her ground had to be prepared and necessary buildings put up, and all from the income of the garden. Thus has she worked along, experimenting sometimes though rarely failing, until she has demonstrated that this country, and right here in Ventura, is one of the best places for cultivating flowering plants for profit in the world. Of all the European plants and bulbs she has cultivated, those raised here are superior to those raised in their own country. Her business has increased until it requires the constant attention of two men under her supervision, and her sales to Eastern seedsmen and florists alone will amount to $2,000 this year. This amount does not include her sales to individuals and those who purchased for their own use, which sales are very considerable. She values her stock at $5,000, and fully expects to realize that amount upon her next year's sales. Eastern florists who would not deign to answer her letters when, as an amateur, she applied to them for favors now send her orders for seeds and bulbs. She shipped, in one year, on orders from the Eastern States, 10,000 calla lilies, 20,000 Freesia refracta alba and 1,750 Canna Ehemani. She has already received orders for thirty-three pounds of smilax seed, awl has sent to one order $45 worth of fuchsia seed. Mrs. SHEPHERD states that her business is increasing rapidly, and that, as Southern California becomes better known for the excellence of its seeds and bulbs, she cannot supply the demand, notwithstanding the fact that she is now improving and planting out five acres in addition to the above floral park.
It having become noticed abroad that Mrs. SHEPHERD was willing to impart to others the results of her experience, she has been besieged with letters, often from people who write from curiosity only. This is obviously unfair to the lady; for, while she is always ready to give information to persons interested in pursuing this new field of labor she has shown to be open to and practicable for women, she has not the time nor the strength to attend to the merely curious.
THE COUNTY HOSPITAL
This institution is situated in a central portion of San Buenaventura, on the same tract as the court-house and other county edifices, where the county owns one half-block.
The building has recently been renovated; its walls calcimined and cheerful pictures hung upon them; the wood-work is clean with fresh paint, and carpets are laid on most of the passage-ways. In the lower hall is a case containing a number of books and periodicals.
The office contains a supply of medicines; the wards are well lighted, well ventilated, commodious, and comfortably fitted. There are four wards upstairs and two down, - in all about eighteen beds. At present thirteen beds are occupied - eleven by men, and two by old ladies of neat and tidy appearance, disabled by rheumatism from work.
The kitchen is well kept, and it and the pantry seem to be supplied with viands of a better quality than is usual in such institutions.
The outhouses are ample and ordinary, the grounds cheerful with flowers, and the kitchen garden filled with vegetables.
This hospital seems less formal and more homelike than most refuges of the sort. It is under the management of Dr. Cephas R. BARD, the county physician, and of Dr. Joshua MARKS, hospital superintendent. The cost of the hospital was $10,000.
Until within the past few years the poor were "farmed out," then the attention of Mr. W. H. JEWETT, county auditor and recorder, having been called to an act of the Legislature of 1882 to provide aid for the indigent sick, he looked up the records, and claims were made out for $1,800. This being allowed, the matter was pressed, and Ventura County was found to be entitled to $10,700 from this source, and the amount was duly collected from the respective fund or appropriation.
THE COURT HOUSE,
built in 1872, originally consisted of the main square building, to "which was added, some six years later, a wing containing an enlargement of several offices in two stories, and a vault for the storage of records. In 1884 four rooms were added to the west end. It now contains the quarters of the sheriff, assessor, district attorney, clerk and auditor and recorder, on the ground floor; and the court-room and chambers, jury-room, and the offices of the county surveyor and school superintendent. The treasurer is quartered elsewhere. The building is of brick, stuccoed, with fittings rather comfortable, although somewhat out of repair and antiquated. At one time of the present writing, an addition is in progress, to contain the papers of the clerk's office and the supervisors. The cost was $20,000.
THE COUNTY JAIL
erected in 1888, is a substantial brick building of two stories and a basement, its wood- work being of Oregon pine, sugar pine, redwood, and white fir, all the materials being of the best quality. The cells, locks, etc., are of the most modern and complete designs, and the jail is a model of this sort of institution. It cost $20,000.
The valuation of Ventura's county property as per the rates of the present year, 1890, is at follows: court-house, $20,000; hospital, $10,000; jail, $20,000; records, books, improvements, furnishings, etc., $35,000; total, $85,000.
The pioneer banking establishment of this county is the Bank of Ventura, which was founded in September, 1874, with a capital of $250,000. Its officers were: L. SNODGRASS, President; M. CANNON, Vice-President; H. M. GAY, Cashier and Secretary. This bank now has a paid up capital of $100,000; surplus, $50,000. Its present officers are: E P. FOSTER, President; L. C. McKEEBY, Vice-President; J. A. WALKER, Cashier; A. BERNHEIM, Secretary.
The bank of William COLLINS & Sons was opened in September, 1887. The following is its comparative statement:
In the city of San Buenaventura there are 679 census children, of whom 464 are enrolled in the public schools, and average attendance being ninety-seven per cent. of the enrollment. There are some 125 or 130 children of Spanish blood in attendance. There are three departments - primary, grammar and high schools. The corps comprises Professor BLACK, principal of the city schools, and nine other teachers. The school build-legs are: the High School-house, which cost $30,000; the Poli street building, worth $2,500, and the Meta street building, worth $2,000. The High School was established in 1889, by the people voting a special tax for the purpose, the vote being unanimous but for two votes. This department has three courses, scientific, literary and classical, and it prepares pupils for the colleges and for the State University. There are thirty-three pupils in the High School, of whom eight are seniors, who will be graduated in 1891.
It will readily be seen from the following list of the different denominations and their churches that Ventura County will rank among the first as a church-going people; and while the compiler has not been able to get the whole number in the county, the following brief sketches of the principal churches of San Buenaventura will be found nearly correct:
Catholic. - There are 1,500 Roman Catholic parishioners in the district of La Mision and 850 in Ventura, where Father Cipriano RUBIO is pastor, officiating in the old Mission church. This sanctuary has been extensively repaired, but with consistency preserving as far as might be the ancient characteristics. The earthquake of 1857 caused the roof to fall in, lodging in the garret, where it was held by the vigas (beams). Thereupon the present roof of shingles was put in place. Twenty years ago new altars and flooring were supplied, and about the same time the pews were placed. Within the last three years, many modifications have been made, but with discretion. The sanctuary, being of insufficient space, was raised, and extended to the body of the church; and a new chancel railing was put in. The main altar was built in 1886-'88, and two aide-altars in 1889. Since 1885 there has been a resident priest at New Jerusalem, eight miles from Ventura. Previous to that, Father John PUJOT had officiated there at intervals since 1875 or 1876.
Congregational Church. The Congregational Church was the first Protestant church in the county, having been organized in 1867, at the time the land known as the Briggs tract was thrown upon the market and opened to settlement, the founding of said church being the result of the settlement of the above mentioned tract of land by American citizens.
There being no Protestant church at that time nearer than Santa Barbara, the services of Rev. M. B. STERN were secured to act as missionary for $1,000, donated by the Society of Missions.
The first members consisted of Revs. BRISTOL and HARRISON, Eliza A. SHAW, Francis L. SAXBY, Isabella L. HOBSON, Hannah E McCARTY, Mary A. HERBERT, Matilda P. BARNARD, George BEERS, Sarah BEERS, Edward B. WILLIAMS, Elizabeth A. WILLIAMS, Amanda BAKER, Maria A. WASON, Nancy L. BANNING, Celia A. SIMPSON, Fanny WILLIAMS, W. E. BARNARD and G. S. GILBERT, the two latter persons being deacons, and the latter of these clerk.
A simple and inexpensive church, 28 x 40 feet, costing but a few hundred dollars, was soon erected. The Ventura Land Company donated the lot on which the church was built, and the Rev. Mr. WARREN, of San Francisco, preached the first sermon in the new edifice, the Rev. Mr. HARRISON occupying the pulpit from October, 1869, until March, 1870. Rev. W. E. MERRITT officiated from July 30th of that year until the following October. Rev. S. BRISTOL preached at intervals until 1875, when Rev. T. C. JEROME, of Illinois, was engaged and remained until June, 1876; Rev. R. B. SNELL from August 1, 1876, to January 1, 1878; Rev. Charles B. SHELDEN from January, 1878, to —. Rev. T. D. MURPHY began his services here October 26, 1884.
The church building now occupied was finished, furnished and dedicated free from debt, without missionary help, May 3, 1885. It has a seating capacity for 350 persons. An annex, 24 is 30 feet, has recently been added.
Methodist Episcopal Church. - In 1887 Rev. R. R. DUNLAP was appointed to the pastorate of Santa Barbara, his charge embracing the whole county, which at that time included the county of Ventura. In 1867 Rev. P. Y. COOLE took charge of the western district and Mr. DUNLAP was sent to San Buenaventura and Saticoy, and he organized the church in San Buenaventura. In 1870 Rev. George O. ASHE was sent to this circuit and became popular at once. He held services in the room which afterward became the public reading room. Mr. ASHE's family responsibilities crowded upon him. He worked during all his spare time at the printer's case, thus obtaining but a small pittance, upon which the average Methodist minister in all new countries is supposed to keep the wolf from the door. In 1871 the Rev. B. HOLLAND was sent to the circuit, and, like his predecessors, received a very small allowance, but conversions followed his labor, part of the converts joining the Methodist Church and part joining other churches. In 1872 Rev. G. O. ASHE was returned to the circuit for a second time and much good was done during his year. Rev. Adam BLAND officiated in 1873, and was instrumental in building the Methodist Church, at a cost of $1,700, the lot upon which the same was built costing $400, and when the church was completed, the society found itself in debt $1,000.
Mr. BLAND seems to have been the first pastor who received a fair salary, he receiving $200 from the Missionary Society and $500 from the people.
In 1874 Rev. W. A. KNIGHTEN became pastor, Ventura being set apart as a station with a missionary appropriation of $500. After arriving at the place, he and others concluded that the house rent was so high that it would be better to build a parsonage; consequently the lumber was bought, and the house was completed in about six days, most of the work being donated. During this year the Sunday-school was organized and an organ purchased for the church. A ladies' "Aid Society" was organized and rendered efficient financial aid, paying a large portion of the church debt, and furnishing the parsonage. Mr. KNIGHTEN was returned for the third time. This year was marked with financial prosperity. During the three years that Mr. KNIGHTEN was pastor, he had the pleasure of seeing the membership increase from seventeen to seventy-five.
Rev. F. S. WOODCOCK was appointed pastor by the conference of 1877 and remained one year. Owing to the severe financial depression of that year, the church was considerably crippled, but maintained its spiritual power. In September, 1878, the Southern California Conference held its session in San Buenaventura. The sittings were attended by the people generally and greatly enjoyed. At this session Rev. E. F. WALKER was appointed pastor, but he became discouraged and remained only ten months. At the next session of the conference the Rev. J. A. Van-ANDA was appointed, and the work of the church proceeded. The Rev. J. H. PETERS served the church during 1880–'81, and during his pastorate the church enjoyed a good degree of prosperity, and reduced its indebtedness.
During 1882 Rev. A. N. FIELDS was pastor and had a fair share of success, and did good work. Rev. James A. WHITE was sent to the charge by the conference of 1883. Improvements on the church property were immediately commenced. The parsonage was removed from behind the church to the corner of the lot and enlarged. The church edifice was dedicated during the year. Mr. WHITE remained three years. Rev. J. A. McMILLAN followed in the fall of 1886 and had a successful year. During this year the church debt was entirely paid off. He was returned for another year, but owing to ill-health was compelled to abandon his work at the end of three months, the pulpit being supplied until the end of the conference year by various ministers.
In April, 1888, Rev. W. L. DOUGLASS was transferred from the New York East Conference and placed in charge of the church.
Presbyterian Church—Rev. T. E. TAYLOR, a missionary to the Sandwich Islands in 1847, and founder, in 1852, of the first church for foreigners, having returned and settled in Virginia City, Nevada, was petitioned by a number of Ventura citizens to organize a Presbyterian Church in this place. He answered at once, and on Sunday, January 31, 1869, in the school-house just north of town, he met the friends of the enterprise. At the close of his sermon ten members were enrolled by certificate, who at once elected as elders, M. J. ASHMORE, E. B. CONKLIN and B. LEHMAN. The following gentlemen were elected trustees: M. J. ASHMORE, A. D. BARNARD, E. B. CONKLIN, George A. GILBERT and S. W. CHAFFEE. Mr. TAYLOR was invited to remain as their pastor. T. R. BARD gave the ground on the northeast corner of Oak and Meta streets, 80 x 200 feet, for the church building, and by March 27, 1870, the present house of worship was finished, paid for and dedicated, all in fourteen months from the organization of the society. The total cost was $2,511.60. Mr. TAYLOR found it necessary to resign shortly after the completion of the church. He was followed for short terms by Revs. William CAMPBELL and H. H. DOBYNS, and November 1, 1873, Rev. Mr. TAYLOR was recalled, continuing his pastorate to the close of the year 1876. The parsonage on Meta street had been built in the meantime, entailing a heavy debt upon the young and straggling church.
The year 1877 was wholly given to the experiment of a union with the Congregationalists, the points of which were, that for that term both organizations worship together in the Presbyterian church, under the pastorate, first, of Rev. Mr. SNELL, now of the SNELL Academy, Oakland; second, that of Rev. Charles B. SHELDON, of the Anoka Congregational Union, Minnesota; but the ecclesiastical, like the domestic step-fathership, was not satisfactory to all the parties concerned. The debt had increased, while death and removals had weakened the already feeble church. As a result, Sunday, January 6, 1878, the "union " was, on motion of Mr. BLACKSTOCK, dissolved. No permanent supply for the pulpit was secured till July 1, when Rev. S. T. WELLS, of Oakland, amid great discouragements, began his pastorate, which continued for three years and resulted in greatly strengthening the church and freeing the property from encumbrance.
Mr. WELLS resigned the pastorate in July, 1881, but as "honorably retired" continues, with his excellent wife, foremost in every good work. His successor, Rev. F. D. SEWARD, of New York, carried forward the work with rare energy and faithfulness from October, 1881, until September 1, 1887, when he took the field of Synodical Missionary for Southern California; and Rev. James M. CRAWFORD, the present pastor, was called to the church from Greensville, Ohio. Under its various leaders the church has steadily increased in membership, while the Sunday-school and prayer meetings have shared in the prosperity of the congregation.
The church building, now eighteen years old, and by no means attractive in its exterior, is, inside, not surpassed in the county for the cheerfulness and good taste of its furnishings; and though quite ample for all the uses of the church, is being so fully occupied as to make it evident that more churchly and commodious quarter, is only a question of the near future. From a dependent of the Presbyterian Board of Home Missions and church erection, it has become self-sustaining and at the same time a generous contributor through the nine great agencies of that church to the world's evangelization. It has steadily fostered the work at Saticoy, and been largely instrumental in securing to that community a beautiful church building, a church organization and Sabbath-school.
Besides the officers already alluded to, Messrs. T. R. BARD, D. S. Blackburn, George W. CHRISMAN, J. L. KENNEY, James R. BOAL, J. P. CUTTER, Frank DENNIS, E. A. EDWARDS, A. J. COLLINS and Rev. S. T. WELLS have served as trustees. Messrs. E. A. DUVALL, J. P. CUTTER, J. C. BREWSTER, N. BLACKSTOCK, George P. WELDON, Hon. William VANDEVER, A. D. SEWARD, L. W. HARE and Luther SKELLENGER have been elders.
Rev. James Monroe CRAWFORD, pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Ventura, was born in Trimble County, Kentucky, August 12. 1836. His father, John CRAWFORD, of Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, was of Scotch descent, and brought up in the Presbyterian Church; his mother was Clarissa BELL, a native of Culpeper Court-House, Virginia, who, from childhood, was a devoted member of the Methodist Episcopal Church.
At the time of their marriage they were residents of Madison, Indiana, which city continued to be the family home, with the brief exception of two years spent in Kentucky, until 1878. The subject of this sketch was the oldest son of twelve children; the foundation of his education was laid in the private and public schools of that city. At the age of sixteen he was apprenticed to learn the pattern-maker's trade, that being his father's business. During the three years' term of service he had taken a preliminary course in theology, aided only by the text books and such comments on them as be was able to read in the people about him. Admitted into the Southeast Indiana Conference as an itinerant minister of the Methodist Episcopal Church, in October, 1856, he entered fully upon the double work of student and pastor.
On September 14, 1858, he was united in marriage to Miss Clarissa L. GOLAY, the daughter of Constant and Louisa GOLAY, of Switzerland County, Indiana, both of whom were descendants of prominent Swiss families.
August, 1862, during the gloomiest period of the war, he enlisted a full company of volunteers from his congregation in Dearborn County, Indiana. On their "muster in" as Company H, Eighty-third Indiana Volunteers, he was unanimously elected and Governor Morton commissioned him, Captain; two months later he was appointed Chaplain; and during the siege of Vicksburg was compelled to resign on amount of wretched health. After five months' rest he resumed his work. While closing his term of pastor of Trinity Methodist Episcopal Church, Indianapolis, Indiana, having fallen a victim to insomnia, he gave up active service, spending the next few years in a fight for life and health. It was at the close of that period, with returning health, that he severed his ecclesiastical connection with the Methodist Episcopal Church, and united with the Presbytery of Indianapolis. The cause of the change was no grievance, neither a want of appreciation of Methodism, nor disappointment as to his private ambitious; but rather a conviction that had spring up early in his ministry and strengthened each year that both the teachings and methods of the Presbyterian Church would be more helpful to his Christian experience and add largely to his ability to make full proof of his ministry.
Mr. CRAWFORD was called immediately to the pastorate of the Sixth Church, Indianapolis, Indiana, and thence to Greenville, Ohio, and from the latter church to this, September 1, 1887, of which be continues pastor at this writing. Of their family of eight children, three died in early childhood; three are yet with them; two, Edward S. and Louisa, are in the East, the former as foreman of the pattern department of the Malleable Iron Works, Indianapolis, Indiana, and the latter, as wife of Rev. Berthold SEEHOLZER, a minister of the North Ohio Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church.
Episcopalian.—During the summer of 1887, an informal meeting of four or five persons interested in the Episcopal Church was held at the residence of Judge L. C. McKEEBY, to consider the propriety of organizing such a church in San Buenaventura. As a final result of the preliminary conference, the Rev. A. G. L. TREW, Dean of the Diocese, visited Ventura on the 7th of December, 1887.
Services of the Episcopal Church were held in the house of worship of the Congregationalists, who kindly placed their edifice at the service of the Episcopalians for the purpose. A mission was organized under the name of St. Paul's, and the announcement made that the bishop had appointed Rev. F. R. SANFORD, of Connecticut, as missionary rector thereto. January 15, 1888, the first regular service was held in Odd Fellows Hall. At this time there were but vie communicants of the church. On Easter Sunday of 1888 confirmation service was administered to a class of fifteen adults, and the church thus strengthened began preparations for a church building.
A most eligible lot on the corner of Oak and Santa Clara streets was purchased, and the present church edifice was erected, being opened for services in December, 1889. The church property is valued at not less than $8,000, the lot having cost $3,000. Rev. W. A. M. BRECK, the present incumbent, began his rectorship in May, 1890. The membership comprises thirty communicants, besides the unconfirmed.
Since his arrival, Mr. BRECK has instituted services at the mission stations, Nordhoff, Santa Paula and Hueneme, there being fifteen communicants at the last mentioned place, eight at Santa Paula, and six at Nordhoff.
The Methodist Episcopal Church, South, was organized in Ventura, July 29, 1888, under the ministry of Rev. J. W. ALLEN, presiding elder of the San Luis Obispo District, Los Angeles Conference, and Rev. D. C. BROWNE, pastor of the Trinity Methodist Episcopal Church, South, Los Angeles. There were thirteen charter members, and five more were added by the end of the conference year October 2.
Rev. D. C. BROWNE succeeded Rev. J. W. ALLEN as presiding elder of the district, and was also appointed pastor of the church at Ventura. During this year, from October, 1888, to October, 1889, twenty-five were added to the membership, and the church, led by Hon. L. M. LLOYD, secured the building of a house of worship, on the corner of Main and Kalorama streets. The church services this year were held in the Young Men's Christian Association Hall.
On September 30, Bishop R. K. HARGRAVE, with appropriate services, laid the corner stone of the new church building. Rev. J. M. Neems was appointed to the pastorate by Bishop HARGRAVE, October 6, 1889, and entered at once upon his work. The services were held in the HARE School building on Main Street, from October, 1889, to May, 1890. May 1, 1890, the church held their first service in their new building, in the Sunday-school room, with much rejoicing. And on July 27, following, they entered their beautiful auditorium with grateful hearts to Him who had so wondrously led them in this work. During the year, from October 6, 1889, to September 11, 1890, fifteen were added to the membership, and the church building was finished and furnished at a cost of $7,000.
The Methodist Episcopal Church, South, in Ventura, while not strong in either numbers or wealth, yet has thus far met all claims against it, and looks to the future with hopeful hearts, believing that He whose hand hath led them thus far will lead them on.
Christian Church.—Charles BRADSHAW began to preach in July, 1870, at Pleasant Valley. There were a few members who continued to meet occasionally until December 25, of the same year, when the church was organized with fourteen members at Pleasant Valley. The following were the charter members: Charles BRADSHAW and wife, J. S. HARKEY and wife. Martha WHITE, Fanny and Laurence WHITE, William CAGLE, D. W. GILBERT, Mrs. GILBERT, S. WALLBRIDGE, and Amy and Ollie WALLBRIDGE and Mrs. BEAR. The church continued to meet for three years, when a land decision occurred adverse to the settlers, at the end of which time there were about fifty members.
As most of them were deprived of their homes, they began to scatter until there were only a few left, but they continued to meet until the summer of 1876, when all had left but three.
In October, 1876, Elder G. R. HAND came to Ventura and engaged to preach for one year. The church then reorganized with thirty members. Rev. HAND preached until May, when he left and went East. The members continued to meet and worship until the spring of 1879, at the school-house. From 1875 to 1883 there were no meetings of the church. About July, 1883, Rev. J. S. HARKEY, who had been elder of the church ever since the first organization in the county, called the membership together and they covenanted to meet and worship together, and they have been doing so from that time until the present. They are now meeting at Good Templars' Hall on Main street. There has been added since the organization up to the present time by letter, confession and obedience, forty-eight members. There are, as near as can be ascertained, between fifty and sixty members in the county. Elder F. W. PATTEE, formerly from Pasadena, is now preaching on the first Lord's day in each month. The church meets every alternate Sunday for social worship in the above named hall, and a Sunday-school meets every Sunday in the same place, at two o'clock. It has about fifty scholars and teachers enrolled, with Miss Annie LINN as superintendent.
A lot has been donated to the church at the western end of the town, and the congregation hope soon to erect a suitable house of worship upon it.
Y. M. C. A. - The Young Men's Christian Association of San Buenaventura was organized in September, 1887, with sixteen charter members. It has now a membership of sixty-four. The president is J. S. COLLINS; vice-president, Dr. C. F. MILLER; treasurer, J. C. BREWSTER; and general secretary, Moore HESKETH. The rooms are in Collins' Block, Main Street, and are comfortably furnished, being open daily, Sunday excepted, from 8:30 A. M. to 10 P.M. The association is liberally supported by the Christian and business people of the town. It has already a building fund, and is now endeavoring to secure a suitable lot on which to erect a permanent home. During the nine months of its existence it has helped a number of young men to better and purer lives, and is now exerting a silent influence for good in the community.
As has been seen, the Signal was established in 1871, by John H. BRADLEY, who in 1873 retired from its management, on account of ill-health, being succeeded by Messrs. W. E. SHEPHERD and John J. SHERIDAN.
In November, 1875, was first issued the Free Press. Its editor was O. P. HARDY, and its politics nominally independent. The two papers fell into a hot controversy, in which was displayed much personal acrimony. In November, 1883, the Democrat was founded by the Democrat Publishing Company, and subsequently purchased by John McGONIGLE, its editor from the beginning. The Vidette was founded in May, 1888, by F. E. SMITH, and an interest in it was subsequently purchased by Dr. Stephen BOWERS.
The newspapers at present in the city of Ventura are: The Free Press, daily and weekly (publishers, Leonard & Sykes); the Democrat, weekly; the Republican, weekly.
In other towns of the county are published the following: The Chronicle, Santa Paula; the Herald, Hueneme; the Recurrent, Nordhoff.
Ventura has the usual number. The Masons own a handsome hall.
THE BENCH AND BAR
As the judiciary of Santa Barbara for many years included that of Ventura, the names of the earlier Bar members in the older county comprehend those of the younger. As to those of later date, a report on this subject has been promised the editor by B. T. WILLIAMS, Esq., Superior Judge of Ventura County, but, as it has not yet been received, the present writing must go to press without treating of this subject.