Early Settlement



A Memorial and Biographical 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 Publishing Co.


            Although quite a number of Americans, being traders, sailors, or adventurers, had settled in various parts of the territory now known as Santa Barbara County, none of them had located permanently at San Buenaventura up to the time of American military occupation, since Santa Barbara, the more important town, had superior attractions for them. When Stevenson's regiment arrived in Southern California, Isaac CALLAHAN and W. A. STREETER were put in charge of the mission at San Buenaventura. A few years later Russel HEATH, in connection with Don Jose ARNAZ and one MORRIS, established the first store within the present county limits. In 1850 came C. C. RYNERSON and wife from the Mississippi Valley, camping at first at the mouth of the river San Buenaventura: they afterward moved northward. The first American fanner was A. COLOMBO, and Mr. WARE was the first blacksmith. Even as late as 1857 there were in the whole district but two houses of entertainment. One of these was a tent on the Sespe Rancho, and the other a little hostelry established in rooms in the east wing of the ex-mission buildings. It is worth while to note here a tribute to the climate of Ventura County, paid by John CARR and wife, who kept this little inn or tavern. They had lived together for twelve years in childlessness, but within two years of their arrival in San Buenaventura they had presented their country with no less than five children, products, so they declared, of the matchless climate!

The first lumber-yard was kept by Thomas DENNIS, but the date of his arrival is not given. Very early in the '50's T. Wallace MORE obtained a title to an immense tract of the richest land in the region; be claimed over thirty miles along the Santa Clara and in other districts, possessions about as enormous, over which grazed 10,000 head of cattle. These lands were valued at ten to fifty cents the acre. During this period the whole Colonia Rancho was sold for 15,000, and this price the purchaser finally concluded was exorbitant. About 1851 W. D. HOBSON removed to the Sespe, where he built a house and there Lived in 1859. In 1858, the Americans resident in San Buenaventura were: A. M. CAMERON, Griffin ROBBINS, -- McLAUGHLIN and one other, name unknown. As late as 1860 there were but nine American voters in the precinct. CHAFEE & ROBBINS, and afterward CHAFFEE & GILBERT, kept the only store in the town for many years. In 1860 the Fourth of July was celebrated here with a regular program of exercises, and much enthusiasm was displayed. About this time the American population was augmented by the arrival of John HILL, V. A. SIMPSON, Albert MARTIN, G. S. BRIGGS, G. S. GILBERT, W. S. Chaffee, W. A. NORWAY, H. P. FLINT, the BARNET and Messrs. BURBANK, HANKERSON, CRANE and HARRINGTON.

            In 1861 a post office was established at San Buenaventura and V. A. SIMPSON became postmaster. The mail matter received, apparently, was not extensive, for it is related that on its arrival the postmaster was in the habit of depositing it in his hat, and then walking around among the citizens to deliver the letters. This," says a previous historian, "may be regarded as the first introduction of the system of letter-carriers in California.' This year the first brick house in town was built. by W. D. HOLDEN, who moved hither from the Sespe.

During the winter of 1861–'62, there was an excessive amount of wet weather; rain fell for sixty consecutive days; all the land to a great depth was saturated and reeking; live stock was reduced almost to starvation, the animals dying in great numbers. Landslides were very frequent, half of the soil in certain localities being moved to a greater or less distance. The soil would often be displaced in patches of an acre or more. In the town various houses were submerged, or carried away bodily. The only life lost was that of Mr. HEWITT, a resident of Santa Barbara, who was drowned while on a prospecting tour up the Piru Creek. Travel was rendered almost impossible for twenty days. In 1862 Messrs. WATERMAN, VASSAULT & Co., owning the lands of the ex-mission, laid out a town there. This enterprise had been projected as early as 1848, when Don Jose ARNAZ laid out here a town site, and advertised the advantages of the spot in Eastern journals, offering lots to those who would make improvements upon them. This offer had not elicited response, and the subject had not been revived until the project above mentioned. The survey made in this instance was rejected by the board of trustees after the town was incorporated, and another was substituted. The first attempt to incorporate was in 1863, when a number of citizens met and drew up a petition addressed to the Legislature, asking for incorporation. Ramon J. HILL, at that time a member from Santa Barbara County, opposed the proposition, and the subject was dropped for the time.

The following is given as an accurate list of the foreign (i. e., not Spanish or Mexican) citizens resident in San Buenaventura in 1862: Baptiste YSOARDY, who came in 1858; Agustin SOLARI, in 1857; Victor USUSUSATEGUI, in 1852; Isidro OBIOS, in 1853; Antonio SCIAPPAPIETRA in 1862; John THOMPSON, in 1862; Oscar Wells, George V. WHITMAN,  Albert and Frank Martin, in 1859; Myron WARNER, in 1863; William PRATT, 1866; William WHITNEY, 1864; Thomas R. BARD, in 1865; Henry COHN, in 1866; Joseph WOLFSON, 1867; — CLEMENTS, 1868; Thomas WILLIAMS, 1866; A. T. HERRING. 1863; Henry SPEARS, 1865; Welter S. CHAFFEE, Volney A. SIMPSON, John T. STOW, Griffin ROBBINS, William S. RILEY, William T. NASH, Jefferson CRANE, John HILL, Henry CLIFTON, Marshall ROUTH, George S. GILBERT, James BEEBE, William H. LEIGHTON, Samuel BARNETT, Sr., Samuel Barnett, Jr., William Barnett, W. D. HOBSON, Alex. CAMERON, Melvin BEARDSLEY, George DODGE, George S. BRIGGS, Albert de CHATEAUNEUF and Henry DUBBERS.


In 1864 the question of incorporation was renewed and accomplished, but it was not until thirteen years later that the patents to the town site were received from the Government. This was the year of the disastrous dry season; the rains of the preceding season had not wet the ground deeper than three inches, and the feed was therefore a failure.  From this cause two-thirds of all the stock in Ventura famished.

The beginning of growth and development in Ventura is agreed to date back to the sub- division into small tracts of the large ranchos, thus inducing immigration and settlement by small farmers and fruit-raisers. In 1866, the Briggs tract was cut up and put on the market, and two years later began a general influx of Americans, from which directly resulted an epoch of prosperity which became assured with the breaking up and selling to actual settlers of the great ranchos of Santa Paula y Saticoy and Colonia or Santa Clara. The first cultivation of grain in Ventura County was by Christian BORCHARD and his son, J. A. BORCHARD, on the Colonia Rancho in 1867. Thirty acres each of wheat and barley were sown. The rust destroyed the wheat crop, but the barley yielded eighteen rentals or hundreds per acre.

The first Protestant church (Congregational) was organized in San Buenaventura in 1867.

Again in 1867 was San Buenaventura visited by devastating waters. On Christmas Day of that year the Ventura River overflowed, and thee to a depth of three feet in Main Street. The lower part of the town was submerged, and the safety of the inhabitants was endangered. The land from the Santa Clara House to the river was flooded, and forty-seven women, gathered from the imperiled houses, were assembled in one small adobe shanty. Some of these had been brought from their flooded homes on horse-back, and others had been carried on the shoulders of men. This episode gave rise to various feats of real gallantry, courage, and daring. The immediate cause of the freshet was supposed to be the melting of heavy deposit of snows about the river's source, through the agency of warns rains falling upon them.

In 1868 came hither Dr. Cephas L. BARD, the first American physician in San Buenaventura.

In September, 1870, San Buenaventura and Santa Barbara were placed in telegraphic communication.

Anticipating the needs and opportunities to result from the creation of the new county, in immediate prospective, John H. BRADLEY in April, 1871, started the Ventura Signal at the proposed new county seat. Mr. BRADLEY was a good and practical business man, and (131 editor of some experience; and so, avoiding the political issues not properly within the province of a country newspaper, he devoted his attention to the production and publication of matter relative to the recommendations and resources of the section; such as would contribute to the advancement and advertisement of the region and its merits.

Contemporaneously with the formation of the county, work was begun to provide canals to supply water for domestic and irrigating purposes. The old Mission water works, which brought a supply from six miles up the Ventura River, was overhauled and repaired, portions of the aqueduct having here destroyed by the excessive rains of 1861–'62.

Owing to the difficulties attending the disembarkation of freight and passengers by means of lighters to transport them between their vessels and the shore; it became evident that a wharf was an absolute necessity to the public. Accordingly, in January, 1871, a franchise was procured, and work was began upon the structure, by Joseph WOLFSON. The beginning of operations was signalized by formal ceremonies. In August of this year the right to construct a wharf at Hueneme was granted to Thos. R. Bard, C. L. Bard and R. G. SURDAM.

By February, 1872, the Ventura wharf was so far completed as to obviate further necessity for lightening steamers now discharging directly upon it. Rates of toll were instituted, and an instrument of great public utility was firmly established.

In May, 1871, was formed the Santa Clara Irrigating Company, designed to water the fertile lands of the Colonia Rancho from the Santa Clara River. The canal therefor was twelve miles long, twelve feet wide, and two feet deep, with branches of smaller dimensions. In 1871 also surveys were made for "The Farmers' Canal and Water Ditch," taking water from the Santa Paula Creek, and conveying it some eight and a half miles down the valley.

In December, 1871, Ysabel YORBA sold to DICKENSON & FUNK the Guadalasca Rancho, comprising 22,000 acres, for $28,100. In 1872 many property owners refused to pay taxes, owing to the abeyance of financial settlement between Ventura and Santa Barbara counties.

In July, 1872. the first gold was taken to Santa Barbara from the Sespe mines.

On September 16, 1872, the cornerstone of the high school building at San Buenaventura was laid. This building was the first public building erected in the county. The total number of school children in the county at that time was 800.


The inception of the plan for setting off Ventura County from Santa Barbara County dates as far back as 1868. In that year began a new era of growth, increase in population, and prosperity in business. This was mainly owing to the subdivision into small tracks of several important ranchos in the district. The sale of these tracts to small farmers and fruit-growers brought immigration, the establishment of industries, production, and the circulation of money. As the country became populous, the citizens desired local, independent government, and so began to agitate the project of creating a new county. This question was made an issue of the election of 1869, and Mr. A. G. ESCANDON was elected to the Assembly for the purpose of furthering the plan, but the measure miscarried in the Legislature thanks to the opposition offered by the northern part of the county. The Venturans were not vanquished by this defeat, but continued to carry on a vigorous fight for division. The Ventura Signal, established largely with a view to that end, was a powerful weapon in this struggle, devoting itself to demonstrating the advantages of such division. It is not uninteresting to note some of the statistics presented in this discussion. Santa Barbara County then had a total area of 1,450 spare miles, or 3,491,000 acres, of which 1,070,419 acres were covered by Spanish grants, 1,920,531 acres being public lands, the most of which were of an inferior character. The proposed new county comprised 20,600 acres of improved land and 2,000 acres of wooded land, probably of individual ownership, and 390,000 acres of unimproved land, of private holding. It was estimated that the real estate was worth $3,018,200; personal property, $911,000,the total valuation for the projected new county being $3,929,000. There were 2,800 head of horses and mules, 6,000 horned cattle, and 7,400 sheep, - worth in the aggregate, $442,000; the wool clip was 320,000 pounds; there were produced 35,000 pounds of butter and 20,000 pounds of cheese locally, the revenue from farm products being $307,000. The new county would contain, as per the Signal of February 17, 1872, an area of 2,000 square miles, and a population of 3,500, with an assessment roll of $1,200,000, leaving Santa Barbara with 3,000 square miles, 7,000 inhabitants, and an assessment roll of $2,000,000.

By the opening of the session of the Legislature of  1871-'72, there had been engendered so strong a public sentiment as to result in organized action, and W. D. HOBSON, a prominent citizen, was chosen and sent to Sacramento to work for the desired end. So successful were the measures now taken that the bill, when presented to the Assembly, passed with but one dissentient vote; and in the Senate it was approved also, March 22, 1872, and it was ordained to be in force on and after January 1, 1873. The boundaries prescribed for the new county were as follows: Commencing on the coast of the Pacific Ocean, at the mouth of the Rincon Creek, thence following up the center of said creek to its source; thence due north to the boundary live of Santa Barbara County; thence in an easterly direction along the boundary line of Santa Barbara County to the northeast corner of the same; thence southerly along the line between the said Santa Barbara County to the Pacific Ocean and three miles therein; thence in a northwesterly direction to a point due south of and three miles distant from the center of the mouth of Rincon Creek; thence north to the point of beginning and including the islands Anacapa and San Nicolas.

Contemporaneously with the passage of the bill for county division, great activity sprang up in Ventura. During the summer, the immigration was so extensive that the accommodations were insufficient to hold the new arrivals. Municipal improvements were instituted, new buildings were erected, including a hotel and a $10,000 school-house, water companies were established to supply the needs for irrigation  and domestic purposes, and the county government was organized, with the usual complement of officers, the county to contain three townships, three supervisorial districts, and eight election precincts. The townships were: Ventura, Saticoy, Hueneme; the supervisorial districts coincided with the respective townships; the election precincts were: San Buenaventura, La Canada, Mountain View, Sespe, Saticoy. Pleasant Valley, San Pedro, and Hueneme. The Legislature appointed a hoard of commissioners, consisting of S. BRISTOL, President; Thom. R. BARD, Secretary; W. D. F. RICHARDS, A. G. ESCANDON, and C. W. THACKER, to put into action the government of Ventura County. Meeting on January 15, 1873, this board issued a proclamation calling for election to be held on the 25th day of February following, to elect district attorney, county clerk, school superintendent, sheriff, assessor county treasurer, county surveyor, coroner, and supervisors.

The county was divided into three townships, 'Ventura, Saticoy, and Hueneme, the islands of San Nicolas and Anacapa being attached to and forming a part of Hueneme Township. The voting places were established for the various election precincts, numbering eight.

As soon as the county government was established, certain changes were made in the road districts.

All the territory in the first supervisorial district was made into the San Buenaventura road district; the third supervisorial district was designated as constituting the Saticoy road district, and Mountain View and Sespe road districts were united into one under the name of Sespe road district.

The first election was held on February 25, 1873. The Republicans had desired a fusion of parties and nominations irrespective of politics; but, the Democrats opposing this proposition, the usual course was followed, the result being a Democratic victory. The total vote polled was 630. The officers elected were as follows: District judge, Pablo de la GUERRA; county judge, Milton WASON; district attorney, J. Marion BROOKS; county clerk, Frank MOLLEDA (dying very shortly, S. M. W. EASLEY was appointed); sheriff, Frank PETERSON; treasurer, E. A. EDWARDS; assessor, J. Z. BARNETT; superintendent of schools, F. S. S. BUCKMAN; surveyor, C. J. De MERRITT, coroner, Dr. Cephas L. Bard; county physician, Dr. S. P. GUIBERSON; supervisors, James DALEY, J. A. CONAWAY, C. W. THACKER; justices of the peace, J. W. Guiberson, W. D. Hobson, F. A. SPRAGUE, J. G. RICKER, John SAVIERS, R. J. COLYEAR.

On April 13, 1873. a final settlement with Santa Barbara was effected under the terms of the act of Legislature of March 22, 1872. The commissioners from Ventura were Thomas BARD and Charles LINDLEY, and from Santa Barbara, Ulpiano YNDART and C. E. HUSE.

Their report was as follows:


Assets to March 20, 1878


Old court-house and lot


Present unfinished courthouse with proceeds of bonds


Interest paid and unpaid on same


Cost of advertising


Delinquent taxes collected to date


Funds for interest on hand




Total assets



Bonds of 1856 and subsequent indebtedness


Court house and jail bonds


Interest due on same




Total indebtedness




Excess of assets


of which the proportion belonging to Ventura County was fixed at $581.52.



The supervisors in May, 1873, ordered the issue of $20,000 in interest-bearing bonds, to meet current expenses, and advertised for bids for the same; they also authorized the transcription of such portion of the records of Santa Barbara as related to Ventura  County, paying F. A. THOMPSON $4,000 for that service. The county-seat was appointed by the creating act to be at San Buenaventura, and the question of county buildings at once assumed importance, as the rental paid by the county for the use of private buildings amounted to $1,044 per annum, besides $3 per diem paid for guarding the prisoners, in the absence of a jail building. Hence the supervisors appropriated $6,000 of the funds resulting from the sale of the bonds, to the erection of a court-house, on condition that private parties should donate $4,000 and also a suitable site or the purpose.

            Bishop AMAT, head of the Roman Catholic diocese of Southern California, now renewed his previous offer of three blocks of the old mission garden, on condition of the erection within two years of a $10,000 building. These terms were accepted, the $4,000 subscribed by the citizens, and the court-house was promptly built.

In the autumn of 1873 took place the regular State and county election, resulting in the seating of the entire Republican ticket except the school superintendent.

            By the following enumeration of holdings may be seen what radical changes by this time had come about in land ownership since 1868, when the whole territory of the present county had been owned by a handful of men in great ranchos, largely uncultivated. In 1873 there were: ninety-five ranchos of 100 to 200 acres; nine ranchos of 200 to 400 acres; seven of 500 acres; two of 600 acres; six of 800 acres; two of 900 acres; seven of 1,000 acres; one of 1,100 acres; three of 2,000 acres; one of 2,500 acres; one of 4,000 acres; two of 4,500 acres; two of 6,500, and one each of 8,000, 9,000, 10,500, 12,500, 13,500, 17,090, 23,000, 24,000, 42,000 and 131,083 acres. Total number of acres assessed, 338,761; value assessed $1,554,951.

A very sensational tragedy had place in the record of this year. At the Colonia Rancho, George HARGAN, after disputing George MARTIN's land boundaries, shot and instantly killed MARTIN, and he was immediately captured and lynched by the neighbors of the murdered man.

In April, 1873, extensive bodies of gypsum were found on the Ojai Rancho.

On June 23, 1873, the Ventura Reading Club was organized. '

In 1873 Mr. BRADLEY, on account of ill-health, retired from the Signal, Messrs. W. E. SHEPHERD and John T. SHERIDAN succeeding him.

In January, 1873, was published the first report of the county treasurer, which showed that the preceding year's receipts were $20,522, and the disbursements $5,018, leaving a balance of $15,504.

In 1874 were made extensive additions and improvements to the wharf constructed at San Buenaventura in 1871.

On November 23, 1874, the Ventura Library Association was incorporated.

During 1874 there was a notable advance in population and in wealth throughout Ventura County, and many new and important institutions were organized. The Fourth of July was here celebrated with a vim and an originality perhaps not equaled elsewhere in the State. In August, the question of local option in regard to the traffic in liquor came up in Ventura, but on putting it to a vote of the people, the temperance faction was put badly in the minority. On September 19, the bank of Ventura was founded; on September 20, the trotting park was opened to racing. At the election this year attention was paid to the nativity of the voters, and the population was found to be very cosmopolitan, numbering members from almost every country. The tax list showed thirty-five citizens owning from $10,000 to $187,000 each worth of property. A notable feature of this year's record was the remarkable lowering of rates and fares. The jealous competition between the South Pacific Coast Steamship Company and the California Steam Navigation Company, brought the fare from Ventura down to $3 to San Francisco, and $4 to San Diego, while merchandise was transported for $1.50 per ton. The shipments of produce from San Buenaventura for the six months ending May 1, 1874, were: wheat, 5,600 sacks; barley, 23,000 sacks; corn, 6,000 sacks; beans, 2,100 sacks; wool, 1,000 sacks; hogs, 300; sheep, 700; petroleum, 1,876 barrels.

The winter of 1874-'75 was an exceptionally wet one. In one week of January, 1875, 9 32/100, inches fell at San Buenaventura, while the fall in the Ojai Valley was tremendous, it being estimated that ten inches of water fell within twenty-four hours, whereas, even in those sections where the fall sometimes amounts to sixty inches in the season, a fall of three inches in twenty-four hours is considered excessive. Peculiarly enough, too, the excessive fall here was not general throughout the State that season. The phenomenal quantity here was attributable to cloudbursts. The rivers, San Buenaventura and Clara, were for days at a time impassable.

The year 1875 witnessed the establishment of various institutions of the highest importance to the comfort and advancement of the section. The "Monnmentals," a fire company, was organized, comprising in its officers and members many of the most respected citizens of San Buenaventura. The Ventura Gas Company was also instituted, the city appreciating the need of efficient street illumination and an impulse was given to manufacturing industry, in the opening of a large steam planing-mill.

The Free Press was first issued November 30 of this year for a very few months as a daily, and continuing as a weekly. The diversity in the California field of politics at this time bore its natural fruits here as elsewhere. There were three State tickets before the people, and Ventura entered into the canvass with great energy and enthusiasm; the Republicans, fearing injury to their cause by the disaffection of the temperance people, prepared a ticket to unite these two factions. Nevertheless, the Democrats elected most of their candidates. This election took also the sense of Ventura for the new Constitutional Convention, at this time offered for suffrage.

It was on April 13 of this year that a final settlement of finances was effected between this and the mother county of Santa Barbara, under the terms of the act of March 22, 1872. The commissioners from Ventura, Thomas R. BARD and Charles LINDLEY, met with C. E. HUSE and Ulpiano YNDART, of Santa Barbara, and, making the estimates and balancing accounts, they found Ventura entitled to $581.52.

Early in 1876 came a disaster for Ventura, in the loss of the Kalorama, which was an iron schooner-rigged steamer of 491 tons' burden, belonging to the Coast Steamship Company; she had accommodations for sixty-three cabin, fourteen steerage and thirty-nine deck passengers. Built in England, and purchased, for the coast trade, she had been since the beginning of 1873 plying between San Francisco and San Diego, and way ports, alternating with the Constantine. On Friday, February 25, 1876, she lay at Wolfson's wharf, when, being chafed by the roll of the surf, she was ordered to move out to the floating buoy. On the way thither, the screw fouled with the mooring line, and left the vessel at the mercy of the wind, which drove her ashore at once. No lives were lost, but as she lay on the beach the heavy machinery broke loose in her hull and beat her to piece, the loss was $77,500.

Ventura, always fond of civic displays, celebrated the Fourth of July in this the Centennial year, with actual pomp. Besides the program of parade, orations, music, etc., a dinner was prepared on the grounds for no less than 3,000 individuals. At Sespe also, there was a spirited celebration.

There had now been added two more precincts (Santa Paula and Conejo) to the original eight in the county, and they polled at the presidential election m tins year an aggregate of 1,097 votes. The Hayes electors received 608 votes, the Tilden electors 590; PACHECO, Republican nominee for Congress received 694, and WIGGINTON, Democratic candidate, 532. There were now 1,400 names on the Great Register and an estimated population of 7,000, being just double that in the county at the date of organization. There were now twenty-seven citizens paying taxes on $10,000; twelve paying on more than $15,000; seventeen on 220,000 to $50,000, and one each paying respectively $75,000, $100,000, $150,000, and $200,000.

            The year 1877 was made fairly calamitous by a drouth of excessive severity. Great numbers of sheep and cattle perished from the lack of feed caused by the dry weather, and multitudes were saved only by transportation to distant pasture where feed was plentiful. T. Wallace MORE, of Ventura, sent 10,000 and METCALF & Co., 6,000 head of sheep through the Soledad Pass to Elizabeth LAKE, in Los Angeles County, where good grazing was found and great herds of cattle were sent by various owners to Arizona.

        On March 29, 1877, the brig Crimea, of 223 tons, loaded with lumber, while made fast to the wharf, parted her lines and was beached during a heavy westerly gale and sea; loss $9,200. It was reported also that a portion of the wharf was washed away.

        On the evening of October 22, Charles BARTLETT and Walter PERKINS walked down the wharf to watch the heavy rollers, caused by a southeaster. Finally, alarmed by the tremendous height of three, the largest they had ever seen, the gentlemen decided to beat a hasty retreat, and they ran up the wharf at full speed. When they had covered some two-thirds of the distance to shore, the Sot of the rollers struck and breached the wharf, and at the progress of the wave the piles bent down before it like grass stalks. The two fleeing men barely saved themselves from being overtaken by the waves, and the wharf reeled and rolled beneath their feet as they fairly flew along it.

On December 1, the brig Lucy Ann, of 199.61 tons, here parted her moorings in a northwesterly gale and a heavy sea, and was wrecked, with a loss of one life and $6,500.

These repeated disasters caused the people of Ventura to yearn for Government appropriation for a breakwater, and they accordingly entered a petition therefor. In consequence of their representations, Lieutenant SEAFORTH, of the United States Engineers, examined the port or roadstead, and made an exhaustive report, adversely, however, to the construction of the breakwater.

Ventura County made substantial progress this year; business was in a prosperous condition, and manufacturing interests were beginning to awaken. A substantial brewery had been erected, with a capacity of 1,500 gallons per week. The Casitas Pass road was inaugurated this year, under an $8,990 contract, the expenses being met by the issue of bonds for $8,000, which were sold for $8,500 to SUTRO & Co., of San Francisco, thus indexing the solvent condition of the county; the assessed value of all taxable property here had now risen to $3,270,161.

            The election this year distributed the offices pretty evenly between Democrats and Republicans. One office was yielded to the Democrats with considerable bitterness of spirit by the Ventura constituency, who, with the Republicans of Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo, had nominated T. R. BARD, the reputed wealthiest man in the county, as the Republican candidate for the State Senate, as against MURPHY, a wealthy land-owner of San Luis Obispo. Mr. BARD was nominated without a dissenting voice, and received a handsome majority in his own section, but the Democratic vote in the other two counties elected his opponent.

The chief item recorded for 1878 is the arrival from San Francisco, in January, of the apparatus of a hook and ladder company, following the "Monumentals," long the only fire company in Ventura.

The record of public events for 1879 is mostly political. This was the year of the Workingmen's agitation, so that three tickets, partial or entire, were in the field. WHITE and PERKINS, two of the three gubernatorial candidates, addressed the people of Ventura, as did also Denis KEARNEY, the agitator-in chief of the Workingmen; he, however, was not received here with enthusiasm. The result of the election was a pretty fair distribution of the offices among the three parties.

The progress of matters agricultural in this section may be judged from the following figures: With a total population of about 7,000, the assessed valuation of property was about 13,394,000, with a cultivated area of 75,000 acres. The crops comprised: barley, 36,000 acres; corn, 19,000; wheat, 13,000; beans, 1,800; flax, 1,250; alfalfa, 900; oats, 550; potatoes, 300; canary seed, 285; and 570 of vegetables, peanuts, tobacco, etc. In orchards and vineyards there were 37,000 acres, of which 1,500 acres were planted to English walnuts, 300 to oranges, 210 to grapes, 75 to lemons, and about 1,100 to other fruits.

Early in 1880, the people of Ventura were thrown into violent excitement by an affair whose mystery continued unraveled. Miss Jennie McLEAN, an accomplished young lady, a favorite in the community, while alone and engaged about household matters, was attacked and struck down by a terrible blow on the head, dealt by some unknown party, who beat her into insensibility. Her jewelry was not taken and it was never known whether her assailant was man or woman, nor whether the object was plunder, jealousy or revenge, although Miss McLean was not known to have an enemy in the world. The deed had the seeming of a frenzy of insanity, rather than the act of an ordinary criminal, and it is not impossible that it was such, and that a connection might have been traced between this and an occurrence some three weeks later. On June 15, a young man named MILLS, nephew of Governor A. A. LOW, boarded the stage at Ventura, and after traveling a few miles it was noticed that he held a new hatchet, with which be threatened to kill the driver unless he kept out of the way of parties who, Mills fancied, were in pursuit of himself, in order to take his life. The driver was compelled to keep his horses lashed to a run for miles, to avoid having his head split open. The unsatisfactory passenger, on reaching Newhall's Rancho, sprang to the ground with his hatchet, and with deer-like speed ran to the hills. Some days later he was found, being reduced to a famishing condition.

On the 26th of December, the ill-fated wharf met with another misfortune, the waves carrying away 200 feet of its outer end, together with some freight piled thereon.

The traffic from this port had now attained such proportions that the facilities for transportation were entirely inadequate

In round numbers, San Buenaventura exported in 1880, 4,000,000 pounds of corn, 800,000 of barley, 1,400,000 of wheat, 1,100,000 of beans, and 60,000 of potatoes. From Hueneme were shipped during this period about 2,100,000 pounds of corn, 240,000 of barley, 2,200,000 of wheat, and 64,000 pounds of wool. From the three counties of San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, and Ventura, were shipped 1,809,000 pounds of wool during this year.

The events of 1881 were neither exciting nor of a nature to make a permanent impress upon the community. There were two murder cases, of a commonplace character, upon the docket; there was some animation in local musical circles, and there was a temperance agitation, which led to the establishment of four lodges of Good Templars, with an aggregate membership of over 300. Also, eighty feet of extension were added to the wharf. Beyond these, and the GARFIELD funeral exercises, which were of a character truly impressive, there were chronicled no points of especial interest. Assessed valuations, 13,347,787.

Ventura's bean crop for 1880–'81 amounted to 35,000 bushels.

            The season of 1882 appeared less prosperous than many preceding years, to judge by the assessment roll, which showed a diminution from that of the preceding year, being at present $3,171,127. This loss was due mainly to the decrease in sheep, of which large numbers died in the winter and early spring,

The State election, held November 7, 1882, gave the Democratic candidates slight majorities, ranging from six to forty-five votes. There were cast here thirty-five votes for the Prohibition candidate for Governor.

The assessment roll for this year showed a depreciation, enumerating property worth $3,171,127 only, while the previous year had shown $3,347,787. This was mainly due to the loss in sheep, of which large numbers died in the early spring. This county produced 30,000 bushels of beans in the season of 1881-'82.

The delinquent tax list of Ventura for 1883 was so short, being only one and a half columns, that the Signal printed it gratis as a matter of news, and the Free Press officially at a nominal price.

Ventura County was awarded the first premium for county exhibits at the Mechanics' Institute Fair of 1885 in San Francisco.

The next succeeding feature of general interest, was the construction, in the fall of 1888, of the Coast Line branch of the Southern Pacific Railroad, whose advent brought new life and development to the section.

The following figures, taken from the official returns for 1887 of the county clerk, county auditor, and county assessor, will serve as a basis of comparison of the developments of the past few years:


1885, Total value assessed property   $4,574,208

1886,    "         "       "            "              4,693,698

1886,   "  county indebtedness                  22,000

Number acres assessed                            449,937

Real estate, other than town property,  4,050,467

Real estate improvements thereon           322,865

Real estate, city and town property          618,107

Improvements on same                            245,939

Total value real estate                           4,668,574

Total value real estate improvements,     568,304

Total nine personal property                 1,178,694


Total assessed valuation                       $6,415,572


Total county indebtedness, bonds

outstanding,                                                     $22,000,00

Cash in county treasury, November 5, 1887,        14,292.14

Amount thereof applicable to indebtedness,           6,684.79

Bonds paid January 1, 1868,                                   8,000.00

Total county indebtedness, July 1,                        14,000.00

The rate of taxation for 1887 was $2 on the $100.

For 1887 there were shipped from the ports of San Buenaventura and Hueneme the following, all of which were produced in Ventura County:


















Flax Seed,



Eng. Walnuts,






Bird Seed,































The estimated population being 7,500, this would allow to each of 1,500 families of five persons in Ventura County an income of $1,328.

For 1888-'89 the San Buenaventura Wharf Company's statement showed export shipments of 174,158 packages, and import shipments of 113,227 packages of merchandise and 5,715,140 feet of lumber.

            Over the Hueneme wharf were exported during this period 534,757 packages, of which 436,539 were sacks of beans, 18,143 boxes lemons, sacks of wheat, 30,302 sacks of corn, and 32,864 barrels of oil, thus showing the chief staples for the year.

In addition to the above shipments out of the county over the Southern Pacific were as follows, in pounds: beans, 1,766,700; grain, 1,110,900; potatoes, 117,500; cattle,160,000; sheep, 100,000; hogs, 2,360,000; flour and mill stuff, 384,000; bees and honey, 214,300; dried fruit, 218,400; green fruit, 1,090,000; nuts, 40,800; wool, 402,300; hay, 1,871,000; brick and tile, 357,200; stone, 3,176,340; oil, 41, 268.000; asphaltum, 261,500; miscellaneous, 2,861,000.

Late in 1889 the statistics gathered from the Southern Mill and warehouse Company showed shipments as follows: Barley, 2,676,123 pounds; Lima beans, 2,109,090; common beans, 756,243; corn, 308,750; walnuts, 10,000; honey, 74,463; apricots, 145,726; miscellaneous, 300,000. Total shipments, actual weight, 6,380,395 pounds.

At the same time there was in the warehouse: of barley 2,089,090 pounds; wheat, 453,010; honey, 54, 853; common beans, 136,839; making a grand total of 9,114,187 pounds of farm products, from which, making a low estimate, the farmers of this vicinity must have derived an aggregate revenue of $200,000.

The statement of the San Buenaventura Wharf Company for the year ending May, 1890, shows transactions over that structure as follows: 44,748 bags corn, 54,692 bags beans, 25,370 of barley, 1,3983 of potatoes, 2,737 of wheat, 1,199 of dried fruit, 2,323 of  walnuts, 86 of popcorn, 83 of almonds, 221 of peanuts, 35 of mustard seed, 9 of garlic, 1,220 packages of merchandise, 234 of household goods, 3,167 cases honey, 90 cases lubricator, 215 of coal oil, 262 of eggs, 1,207 empty beer kegs, 1,362 boxes oranges, 1,047 boxes lemons, 294 boxes raisins, 4 of butter, 393 green apricots, 607 of apples, 18 of persimmons, 15 of peaches, 38 of nectarines, 104 of pears, 74 of limes, 20 of prunes, 1,333 barrels asphaltum, 1,091 of distillate, 6,045 of crude oil, 322 barrels of empty bottles, 209 of tallow, 624 tons asphaltum, 89 tons of old iron, 527 bales wool, 1,350 bales seaweed, 31 coops live fowls, 1 steam engine, 4 horses.

            The imports were 93,563 packages merchandise, and 261,059 feet of lumber.

            The value of the wharf warehouses and fixtures is placed at $79,000 at this time.

            Some idea of the relative charges on freight may be formed from the statment that the income of this wharf from all sources was $11,754.43 during the year.

            The Hueneme Wharf Company for 1889-'90 shows exports as follows: - 279,613 sacks barley, 17,018 of wheat, 34,638 of corn, 396 cases honey, 13,462 sacks beans, 1,447 bales wool, 295 sacks mustard seed, 223 of walnuts, 4,824 of potatoes, 519 cases eggs, 1,202 hogs, 2,117 sheep, 249 boxes butter, 46 coops fowls, 489 bundles hides, 122 bundles pelts, 86 barrels tallow, 29 sacks apricots, 30 of onions, 2 of beeswax, 3 of peas; miscellaneous packages, 963.

Ventura County at present, October, 1890, contains twenty-one election precincts, as follows: - San Buenaventura precincts, Nos. 1, 2, and 3; La Canada, Rincon, Santa Ana, Ojai, Cuyama, Piru, Camulos, Sespe, Santa Paula, Nos. 1 and 2, Saticoy, Mound, Pleasant Valley, San Pedro, Simi, Conejo, Springville and Hueneme.

The postoffices in Ventura County are Ventura, Hueneme, Santa Paula, Saticoy, Nordhoff, Bardsdale, Camulos, Fillmore, Matilija, Montalvo, Newbury Park, New Jerusalem, Piru City, Punta Gorda, Simi, Springville, and Timberville. The first five are money order offices, and Ventura has international exchange.

There are four banks in Ventura County, aggregating paid up capital amounting to nearly $400,000.

The present officers of Ventura County are as follows:



State Senator

G.W. WEAR (with Kern County)



Supreme Judge




County Clerk


Auditor and Recorder

Orestes ORR

District Attorney






County Physician




Supt. Public Schools


County Surveyor






County Supervisors






Officers of the U.S. Circuit and District Courts, Southern District of California



Stephen J. FIELD

Circuit Judge

Lorenzo SAWYER

Circuit Judge

Erskine M. ROSS

District Judge

George DENIE

U.S. Attorney


U.S. Marshal

William M. VAN CYKE

Clerk of Circuit Court


Clerk of District Court


Standing Master and Examiner in Chan.




William M. VAN DYKE

Los Angeles


Los Angeles


Santa Barbara



Charles G. HUBBARD

San Diego