Western Portion of Ventura County
San Buenaventura Valley—Ex-Mission—San Miguelito—Green B. TAYLOR—Rock Soap—Canada Largo o Verde Rancho—Ojai Rancho—Robert AYERS—W. S. McKEE—Other Settlers—Theodore TODD—Disagreeable Visitor—Statistics of the Ojai—Schools—Quality of the Soil—As a Sanitarium—Joseph HOBART—Roads to the Ojai—Nordhoff—Frank P. BARROWS—Private Houses—H. J. DENNISON—Views Near the Upper Ojai—Poetry—John MONTGOMERY—Cloud-bursts —Glacial Theory—Liability to Cloud-bursts—Is There Any Help!—Santa Ana Rancho—Colonization Project—Matilija Sulphur Springs—Other Parts of the County—M. S. DIMMICK
THE river of the same name, which flows through San Buenaventura Valley, has its source in the wilderness above the Santa Ana and Ojai Ranchos; and, after meandering fifty miles through a rugged and picturesque valley, a good part of which is impassable canon, empties into the Santa Barbara Channel at the county seat. The country drained by this stream is nearly comprised within the boundaries of the following Ranchos: The Canada San Miguelito and a part of the ex-Mission, both bordering on the ocean; the Canada Largo o Verde and Ojai on the left bank, and the Santa Ana on the right bank. Above this section the Ventura River makes a rapid descent, passing by highlands and over cascades, until it reaches the table-like lands of the Ojai and Santa Ana Ranchos, where it gathers the waters of the celebrated Coyote and San Antonio Creeks—the first-mentioned from the west, the other from the east—whence it flows with a gentle current to the sea. For a portion of its lower course, a strip of bottom-land about one mile wide and of unsurpassed richness, makes glad the hearts of its owners with prodigious returns. The sides of the valley carry-delightful groves of oak and sycamore, refreshing in their perennial beauty, and furnishing an endless supply of fire wood. About four miles above San Buenaventura, there is a venerable old sycamore about which cling many quaint and charming Indian traditions. It is about four feet in diameter, hollow, and inclined at an angle of about forty-five degrees. The Indians call it the "Mother Tree," and place food under its wide-spreading branches - an offering to the "Great Spirit," whose breath they affirm is always felt by those standing beneath it.
There is a monster grapevine in the valley, owned by Senor MORAGA, which is over seventy years old, and measures about three feet around the trunk. It is trained up over frame-work, and produces annually some thousands of pounds of grapes.
The perennial flow of the river furnishes unlimited water-power and irrigating facilities.
Three miles above San Buenaventura is the flouring-mill and warehouses of BEALE & SMITH, described in another part of the work.
The vast domain of the
EX - MISSION RANCHO
Was granted as twelve leagues to Jose de ARNAZ, by Governor Pio PICO, June 8, 1846. ARNAZ sold it to, M. A. R. POLI in 1850. The claim was confirmed by the United States Land Commissioner for the Southern District of California, May 15, 1855, and finally by a decision of the United States District Court, April 1, 1861. The United States patent was issued in August, 1874, for 48,822.91 acres to the grantees. POLI sold the property to the San Buenaventura Manufacturing and Mining Co., of which Ferdinand VASSAULT was President. The portion of the rancho not yet sold to settlers is owned by Messrs. STEINBACH & CARPENTIER, who offer for sale any desired number of acres to suit the purchaser, on the following terms: "All lands within five miles of the town of San Buenaventura, $30 per acre; beyond this limit, from $10 to $15 will be the maximum. S. Marion BOOKS is the local agent at San Buenaventura. POLI died insolvent. The history of the struggle over the title is extensively discussed on page 209.
This rancho derives its name from the old Mission of San Buenaventura, but was called ex-Mission because of a division made of the lands held in the name of the Mission—the church retaining the old orchard and the grounds immediately around it, containing 36 27/100 acres. All of the lands outside of this reservation are called ex-Mission lands.
At the sale of lands for delinquent taxes, February 16, 1874, the ex-Mission lands were offered for sale, without a buyer, the amount of taxes being $3,163, which was drawing interest at two per cents per month.
The long range of picturesque hills rising from where the beautiful town of San Buenaventura„ nestles under cover of their extreme western spur, and where the great flanking valleys of the Santa Clara and San Buenaventura Rivers meet in a depression of the land, are the ex-Mission Hills. The region is one with almost continuous settlement around it, and with easy outlets. The soil is exceedingly rich to the very crests of the hills, and the climate is equal to any in the world; 10,000 acres of arable land are adapted to the growth in perfection of the semi-tropical fruits, the cereals, as well as alfalfa and every variety of vegetables. Over all this wide extent of territory grows luxuriantly, wild oats, wild burr-clover, and the never-failing alfileria. There are forests of oaks back a short distance from the sea, rarely visible until you come right in front of the northern exposure of the range. But the present use is for pastoral purposes, excepting, of course, the tillable lands. The bee pasturage is rich and extensive. The oil belt underlies a portion of the rancho, and is treated in a separate chapter. So also are the asphaltum springs and beds, and the sulphur mountain.
The boundaries of the ranch are, on the northwest, the Rancho Canada San Mignelito (from which it is separated by the San Buenaventura River), Rancho Canada Largo o Verde, and a strip of Government land lying between it and the Ojai Rancho; on the east by the Santa Paula Creek and Government land; on the southeast by the Rancho Santa Paula y Saticoy.
Mr. HANKERSON was one of the early settlers on this rancho, and was located at the Aliso Canon, where, in 1867, he raised a field of barley which was perhaps the first raised south of the river in this section.
THE RANCHO CANADA SAN MIGUELITO
Is the one next northwest of the ex-Mission Rancho and separated from it by the San Buenaventura River. It has a coast line on the southwest of about three miles, and is bounded on the northwest by public lands, on the north by the Santa Ana Rancho, and on the east by the Canada Largo o Verde Rancho, from which it is separated by the San Buenaventura River. The grant of 8,877.04 acres was confirmed to J. F. de RODRIGUEZ and others.
Standing sentinel over a scenery of matchless symmetry are the highlands of the San Miguelito Rancho, which rise from the west bank of the San Buenaventura River in steep slopes, narrowing while ascending into lofty grassy crests.
The rancho consists almost wholly of rich pasture lands, where sheep are raised in great numbers. Very little timber is found. The ocean road from San Buenaventura to Santa Barbara passes along the beach.
GREEN B. TAYLOR,
Who owns the ranch, and lives in the San Buenaventura Valley, was born at Huntsville, Madison County, Alabama, January 20, 1819. The patriot blood of the heroes of the American Revolution runs in his veins, his grandfather, Capt. Christopher TAYLOR, having earned his title as commander of a company in the War of Independence. His father was John E. TAYLOR, and his mother's maiden name, Keturah BLEVINS, both natives of Tennessee, and both living (1882) in Alabama upwards of ninety years of age. Green B. spent his days of boyhood and youth attending the common schools of his native State and with his duties upon his father's farm. On the 4th of July, 1846, he was married, at the town of Chattanooga, to Miss Nancy M. DONOHOU, a native of Monroe County, Tennessee, and four children, three sons and one daughter, live to bless the marriage. Mrs. TAYLOR's parents were among the first settlers of Tennessee, going to that region in 1790, when it was called " The Territory of the United States south of the Ohio," the Federal Government having accepted it from the State of North Carolina, and extended its jurisdiction over it: Fort Louden was the first military post established by the General Government in the Territory, and in this fort the parents of Mrs. TAYLOR resided for ten years, such protection being necessary against the cruel savages who infested the country from the lakes to the gulf.
In 1850, Mr. TAYLOR and family went to Texas, where he engaged in the business of raising and dealing in cattle for a period of two years. In the fall of 1852 he left Texas for California, taking passage on the steamer Daniel Webster to Greytown, thence by the way of the San Juan River and Lake Nicaragua to the Pacific and to San Francisco, which place he reached, November 11, 1852. After landing he proceeded directly to Sonora, Tuolumne County, following his old business of farming and stock-raising, remaining there eighteen months, when he removed to Mariposa County, where he continued the business for a similar period, then transferring his field of operations to Tulare County. From Tulare County he removed to San Luis Obispo County where he continued his pastoral life for eleven years, and in 1870 taking up his residence where he now resides, a successful grazier, owning the valuable San Miguelito Rancho, a tract of over 8,000 acres of land adjoining the town of San Buenaventura, lying west of the San Buenaventura River, usually called Ventura, and bordering the Pacific Ocean. Upon this rancho is the mine of the "Ventura Rock Soap Company," a vast deposit of diatomaceous earth, which is mined and manufactured into cakes for washing purposes.
Not far from Mr. TAYLOR's, on Government land, is also a mine of so-called rock soap, resembling marl. Use is made of the pulverized article for burnishing purposes by jewelers, and for polishing silverware. It has been exported to San Francisco for these purposes. Extended notice of this mineral, which is simply an infusorial earth, and of no use for toilet purposes, is made elsewhere in this work.
A view of Colonel TAYLOR's residence is published in these pages.
CANADA LARGO O VERDE RANCHO
Was granted to J. ALVARADO. Joaquin ALVARADO pushed the claim to confirmation; it contains about 2,220 acres. (Hoffman.) Other authorities place the acreage at 6,659.04. It extends along the east bank of the San Buenaventura River for about two miles of its course, the coast being about three miles distant from that point of the rancho nearest to it. Across the river is the Rancho Canada San Miguelito; to the north lies a narrow strip of Government land, separating it from the Ojai Rancho, and to the south the ex-Mission Rancho. It consists of a slender valley, that heads northeasterly up on the Sulphur Mountain. A branch of the valley is known as the Coche (pig) Canon, while another portion of the rancho is called "Sleepy Hollow." The valley is well protected by the foot-hills on either side, and contains about 1,000 acres of tillable land, which is under a good state of cultivation. The balance is grazing land. Here are to be found some beautiful suburban homes, handsome villas with fine orchards, and well-planned grounds, adorned with flowers and ornamental shrubbery.
Is a wedge-shaped tract of country, whose base, about six miles long, rests on the eastern boundary of the Santa Ana Rancho, about three-quarters of a mile from the parallel channel of the San Buenaventura River, and which extends thence directly east about twelve miles, tapering to a blunt point near the Sespe Rancho. To its north stretches an indefinite extent of mountainous country, public lands; on its south is a narrow strip of Government land, separating it from the ex-Mission and Canada Largo o Verde Ranchos. That portion of the rancho nearest to San Buenaventura is about eight miles distant, via the river. About six miles above the county seat, and just within the Santa Ana Rancho, a branch of the San Buenaventura River flows into it from the northeast, through a canon which, followed for four miles, more or less, brings one to where the stream divides, the right-hand branch leading via Lion Canon to the "Upper Ojai," the other to the "Lower Ojai" Valley lying fifteen miles from the county seat, two days' drive from Los Angeles, and one from Santa Barbara. These twin sisters of the Ojai Rancho are the centers of settlement and of resort of the rancho. The Ojai Rancho contains 17,000 acres, about 10,000 acres of which are tillable and under good cultivation.
It was granted to Fernando TICO, April 6, 1837, and afterward also confirmed to him; acreage, 17,792.70. (Hoffman.) In 1864-65 the ranch was bought by the California Petroleum Co., of which Thomas A. SCOTT was an active member. Mr. GREEN once owned the rancho, and it was supposed that he was the agent of the Tom SCOTT Co. It was under the management of W. H. STONE, of New York, assisted by Thomas R. BARD, who soon after was made sole manager. The history and present condition of the oil interests of the rancho is treated of elsewhere in this volume. John T. STOW, now of San Buenaventura, lived in the Ojai Valley in 1864, and killed a dozen or more grizzlies during one winter. He thinks he saw as many as a hundred in that time. California lions, wild cats and coyotes were also abundant. Lion Canon was so named from the numerous panthers that it harbored. It is still a wild place, though no lions have been seen there for many years. Wild cats often display their fondness for the spring chickens. The family of Mr. Robert AYERS is credited with being the first American household that settled in the Ojai Valleys. On October 15, 1868, he moved into an old adobe ranch house, which be bought of Dr. Chauncey ISBELL, who had been in the valley at least two years. He purchased a place on the Upper Ojai, from John P. GREEN, in the same year. A few Spanish families were in the two valleys at that time.
One of the first settlers in the Ojai, was born in County Dinnagall, Ireland, June 14, 1826, his parents being William and Elizabeth (MONTGOMERY) AYERS. In 1836 the family removed to America, settling on a farm in Hancock County, Illinois. On the farm and in the schools of the Prairie State, Robert received his education and grew to manhood, and there married, December 18, 1848, Miss Christiana CONNOR, a native of Pennsylvania. In 1850, Mr. AYERS came to California and sought his fortune in the mines with such success that two years' mining enabled him to return to Illinois and bring his family with him. This was done in 1852. He then settled in Sonoma County and engaged in farming, which business he continued until 1859. He then built the "Washoe House," which was situated eight miles from Petaluma, and which he kept as a public hotel until 1868, the year he removed to the Ojai Valley, Ventura County. There he has since lived, engaged in farming and stock-raising. He has paid much attention to the breeding of blooded horses of the Norman stock, of which he now has a fine young stallion. Mr. AYERS is the happy possessor of a well-improved farm of 250 acres of choice land, located half a mile from the town of Nordhoff. In this pleasant homestead Mr. AYERS can pass in ease the remaining years of a well-spent life, with his happy family around him. During his residence in Sonoma County, Mr. AYERS had the honor of being the Postmaster at Stony Point for fifteen years, from 1853 to the time of his departure for Ventura in 1868. His present residence is illustrated in this volume.
W. S. M'KEE
Came to the Upper Ojai in 1870 and remained there until 1873, when he sold out to Joseph HOBART and moved to the Lower Ojai and built a home, where he now keeps the sanitarium of Ventura County, now called the Oak Glen Cottages, the favorite resort for tourists and health-seekers.
The general character of the Ojai Valley is treated elsewhere, but the attractive features of the collection of cottages may well claim special mention. From the first coming of the Americans the Ojai Valley was noted not only for its fertile soil and abundant feed for cattle, but for its magnificent oak forests which seemed more stately than elsewhere, as if proud of the spot which gave them birth, and more than all for the balmy atmosphere which seemed to infuse life and happiness into all who came within its influence. The elevation above the sea level and its comparative freedom from fogs gave it a peculiar value for those afflicted with lung difficulties, while the bold scenery, the lofty mountains ribbed with gray sandstone, resembling granite, and the deep ravines changing in appearance each hour, as sunshine or shadow prevailed; gave enjoyment to the mind wearied with care or literary labor, and furnished additional means of recovery to the sick and suffering. Mr. McKEE was among the first to appreciate the advantages, and set about the construction of suitable buildings to accommodate the traveling public. The result is a collection of cottages rather than an extensive and imposing hotel. It is true that a certain class of travelers, especially those who travel to see the world and mix with society prefer a big hotel. To such the great hotel with its hundred rooms filled with a brilliant and fashionable throng, and the army of well-trained waiters that anticipate every want, is attractive. The whole life is like a gala day, one pleasure succeeding another. The case is entirely different with those who are worn out with the cares of business or society, or the strain of a professional life. Rest and quiet is necessary. The very noise and hurry incident to a large hotel would and does aggravate most forms of nervous diseases, or cases arising from exhausted vitality. The Ojai is not on the great lines of travel. Those who visit the valley come for rest. To such Mr. McKEE's cottages offer an excellent retreat. The rooms all admit of sunshine nearly all the day, are large and airy and well furnished, and while they are sufficiently detached to be secluded, are still so near the main offices as to receive all necessary care and attention. Tents are furnished those who wish to live a still more outdoor life; indeed this is positively enjoined on those inclined to pulmonary diseases. Plenty of "fresh air, exercise and nutritious food " is the best prescription ever yet written. The first every one at the Ojai gets; the hunting, fishing and sight-seeing in the neighborhood furnish inducements for the second, while the third and the indispensable one is dispensed at the cottages ad infinitum.
In most cases a marked improvement is observed at the very start. Persons who are afflicted with asthma, neuralgia and rheumatism, are often relieved in a day or two. Stages to San Buenaventura and Santa Barbara furnish daily communication with the outside world; fare to the former place $1, to the latter $3. Mr. McKEE can accommodate about fifty guests in his cottages, and as many as may come with tents. The illustrations in this book will give a better idea of his place than any description.
In 1870 there were but two houses in the Upper Ojai, one an adobe, occupied in 1868 by Robt. AYERS, and at this time by Mr. J. WILSON, and the other a frame structure adjoining Mr. WILSON's on the north, in possession of Mr. BRYANT, who settled there in 1868 or 1869. Mr. WILSON sowed the first grain in the valley, reaping a fair harvest. When Mr. BRYANT moved in he found the BARCH boys in camp on the opposite side of the creek from his house. Mr. John PINKERTON was also an early settler in the Ojai.
Also an early settler; is a native of the town of Port Chester, Westchester County, New York, where he was born March 22, 1838, being next to the youngest of six children of Darius and Margaret (COMSTOCK) TODD, both parents being now deceased. When he was but two years of age the family moved to Connecticut, where they continued to reside for the following thirteen years. In that land of "steady habits" and good schools Mr. TODD received his education. When fifteen years of age he removed to Illinois, settling at Princeton in that State, where he remained for a period of four years, engaged in farming. The great political question of the government of Kansas and Nebraska Territories was, in 1858, creating an intense excitement throughout the United States, the pro-slavery element urging immigration favorable to establishing the institution of slavery, and the anti-slavery people of the North contending for its exclusion. Mr. TODD, joining the throng, moved to Kansas in 1858, engaged in farming, and there remained for two years. But the land that was to satisfy his desires was not yet reached, and in search .of this he crossed the broad plains and mountain ranges, in 1860, to California, settling in Contra Costa County, and there, following the vocation of his life, engaged in farming. While residing in that peaceful county, the great War of the Rebellion arose. Mr. TODD returned East in 1864, and there joined the 44th Regiment, under command of Colonel HENDERSON, and served a. term of 100 days. The Rebellion being soon thereafter suppressed, and the volunteers disbanded, Mr. TODD returned: to California and to his farm. In 1869 he came to the Upper Ojai Valley, then included in Santa Barbara County. Here he located upon a farm of 140 acres, which he now cultivates, and upon which he resides. He was married July 14, 1881, to Miss Anna WILSON, a native of England, and the family occupy the pleasant home illustrated on another page.
It is a well-known fact that the California lion has a predilection for the society of humans under the shelter of their abodes; but when person becomes so exposed, it is not generally considered the proper thing for one to turn the muzzle of his weapon upon himself. However that may be, in March, 1870, Dr. BARD was the recipient of a call from one of these too-sociable brutes, who coolly sprang into his bed-room. The sequence came near being a fatal one, for, in reaching for his gun, the good doctor accidentally discharged it, the ball intended for his lionship ranging dangerously near his own person.
Mr. ROBERTS settled in the Lower Ojai in 1872, where he has since remained.
STATISTICS OF THE OJAI.
As illustrating the development of the rancho, the following statistics of the wheat product for 1872 will be useful: BARTCH, 1,200 sacks; CLARK, 1,000; PROCTOR, 600; DENNISON, 600; RIGGEN, 600; WILLSON, 500; PINKERTON, 500; TODD, 500; McKEE & HEUSTON, 500; BRYANT, 300; and AYERS, 200; a total of 7,200 sacks, or about 16,200 bushels. The yield averaged from thirty to forty bushels per acre, though some of the later-sown grain was affected by rust.
The Ojai Grange was organized March 19, 1874, with C. E. SOULE, M.; J. M. CHARLES, O.; G. T. GROW, L.; Theodore TODD, S.; F. M. WHITE, A. S.; I. N. JONES, C.; Robert AYERS, T.; James HOBART, Secretary; George L. WALTERS, G. K.; Mrs. Georgie JONES, Ceres; Mrs. M. H. McKEE, Pomona; Mrs. Adeline SOULE, Flora; and Mrs. M. E. JONES, L. A. S.
In 1875 the Ojai School District was divided into two, known as the Ojai and the Nordboff Districts.
F. S. S. BACKMAN, of the Ojai, was County Superintendent of Schools from 1872 for five years. He has a pretty ranch, upon which he has a large patch of strawberries and 1,000 orange trees, and to which he proposes adding 200 acres of grapevines.
The settlement of the valleys has been most rapid, and now all arable land is cut up into small farms. At one time the Lower Ojai had not half-a-dozen inhabitants; four years later it had nearly a hundred, forming an enterprising and intelligent community such as is seldom seen.
QUALITY OF THE SOIL.
The fertility of the soil is hardly exceeded anywhere in the State. In the Ojai the wheat crop reaches its maximum of quality and quantity. The traveler along the roads in all directions sees wheat, wheat everywhere; growing, too, under forests. This is the way it grows around Nordhoff, where. the trees appear to be just far enough apart to let in the sunshine sufficiently to keep an even growth of grain. A field of 300 acres in wheat, that was almost ripe the first day of June, 1880, averaged four and a half feet high; and this was only a sample of thousands of broad acres growing in and around this land of cereals. The Proper and the White Australian wheats are the varieties mostly sown. No irrigation is needed, or, at least, used, for the small grain crops. Artesian water is obtained at Nordhoff, but does not rise much above the surface. The land is extremely fertile, not only in the valleys but everywhere. On the hills all the usual northern farm crops thrive remarkably—the vine, the fig, and in fact all the semi-tropical fruits and flora. In the Upper Ojai apricot-drying gives occupation to several dryers, which turn out a superior quality of fruit. This valley is peculiarly adapted to apricot culture. No richer, brighter fruit was ever put upon the market than that of Captain ROBINSON. He has fourteen acres of fruit trees on the Upper Ojai, which area he intends to double. He also has fourteen acres of fruit on his other place in the Lower Ojai, where most of his property is situated. Captain ROBINSON's place is 350 feet higher than Mr. McKEE's, and ranges from 1,000 to 1,200 feet above the sea.
AS A SANITARIUM.
But great as are the agricultural and fruit resources of the Ojai, they are secondary to its value considered as a pleasure and a health resort. It is to these considerations that its great and overextending fame is due, and which will soon make its reputation not only national but world-wide. Asthma, that most distressing and tenacious enemy of man's health and happiness, speedily takes to itself wings and flies away from a climate of such characters. An apt case to the point is furnished in the career of
Of Nordhoff, one of the most estimable residents of the valley. Mr. HOBART traces his ancestry through the earliest Pilgrim Fathers of New England to their former homes in the " fast-anchored isle," being a descendant of Rev. Peter HOBART, who came from the town of Bingham, England, in 1633, and settled at Hingham, Massachusetts, where he served as minister in the first church ever built in the English colonies of America. To such an ancestry all New England's sons refer with pride, as from that stalwart, brave, and liberty-loving body came the thoughts and principles now crystallized in our Republican institutions, and which are destined to dominate the world. Joseph HOBART was born at Abington, Plymouth County, Massachusetts, December 3, 1831, his parents being Benjamin and Deborah (LAZELLE) HOBART. The father was born October 24, 1781, graduated at Brown University, in the class of 1804, and died in 1876; the mother was born in 1796, and is still living, proofs of a long-lived and vigorous race. Mr. HOBART, however, has not been entirely exempt from the ills that flesh is heir to, as from early youth he has been afflicted with that dreaded complaint, the asthma. While attending the Phillips Academy, in Exeter, New Hampshire, he was so troubled with the asthma that he concluded to leave school, and take a voyage to sea. Returning from his first voyage, he learned of the discovery of gold in California. and for a second voyage he sailed for the golden land, leaving Boston on the 17th of July, 1849, doubling the stormy cape, and arriving in San Francisco, January 14, 1850, a youthful pioneer of the new State upon the Pacific Coast. Following the example of others, he first sought the mining region, going to the mines on the Middle and South Forks of the American River. At this toilsome vocation he continued for six months, and then engaged in other business. In 1852 he returned to his home in Massachusetts, and engaged in business in Boston, where he remained until 1856, when he again sought the Pacific Coast, and in the mercantile house of HOBART Bros. & Co., engaged in the boot and shoe trade. The establishment was located on California Street, between Battery and Front, San Francisco. In this he remained until 1864, making frequent journeys to the East, in connection with his business. In 1864 he went East with the intention of remaining, residing in the cities of Boston, New York, and Philadelphia. His asthmatic affection rendered life uncomfortable, notwithstanding all the luxuries and pleasures the great cities of the East afforded, and he decided to again make the Pacific Coast his home. While in San Francisco .he had been comparatively free from his complaint, and he designed making the city his permanent home. With the expectation of meeting relief, he left New York January 1, 1871, and arrived in San Francisco on the 8th of June of that year. This time, however, he was disappointed in the expected effect. The climate that had been so kind to him in former years now denied him comfort and threatened his life. Within a few hours after his turn, he was attacked by the dreaded asthma, and for three weeks could not lie down. As soon as he was able, he took the steamer for Santa Barbara, and as soon breathing freely again. Tarrying six weeks in Santa Barbara, he felt so far recovered as to venture to return to San Francisco, where he immediately met his old enemy, the asthma, which kept him close company while in the city of winds and fogs. This admonished him that only in the mild clime of the southern coast could permanent relief found, and there he determined, directed by the right promise of comfort and prosperity, as well as by necessity, to make his future home. Returning to Santa Barbara September 1, 1871, he remained there for about one year, when he purchased of W. S. McKEE, the rancho Viejo, in" the Upper Ojai Valley, comprising 442 acres. There he has since resided, and been entirely exempt from his long affliction. Mr. HOBART's fine rancho is devoted to the production of wheat, fruit, and stock, filling every requirement of its enterprising and energetic owner.
Mr. HOBART was married in Philadelphia, January 16, 1862, to Miss Elizabeth HUTCHINSON, a lady of English and Scotch descent, who, for many years, has shared his joys and solaced his woes. She occupies the front rank in society. Mr. H. has always taken a warm interest in public affairs and social orders, being for two years Master of the Ojai Grange of Patrons of Husbandry. He is also a member of the Order of Free and Accepted Masons.
The Swedenborgian philosophy of religion is the faith he accepts. In his early San Francisco life he was a member of the "City Guard," a military organization of the peaceful period, so gallantly toasted by Phoenix, as " Invincible in peace; invisible in war." But the military of 1859 were not without their spirited contests, as the records of the best restaurants of that day attest, conviviality and social pleasures being more the object of the plumed and belted warriors, than the shedding of fraternal blood. In politics he is a staunch Republican, impelled by ancestral blood to advocate freedom to all, and continual progress in the development of society. With his extensive business operations, and while in pursuit of health, Mr. HOBART has been quite a traveler, making the journey to Europe in 1848, and again in 1865. In 1849 he came around the Horn, and has crossed the Isthmus of Panama fourteen times in his journeys between San Francisco and New York. In 1862 he took the overland route by stage through Arizona, Now Mexico, Texas, and Missouri to St. Louis, returning by the Pacific Railroad in 1871.
After such an active life, contentment and happiness may well be found in the healthful and equable climate of Ventura County. His pleasant home is illustrated in this volume.
ROADS TO THE OJAI.
The road from San Buenaventura leaves nothing to be desired, being a nearly uniform ascending grade of about sixty feet to the mile, smooth all the way. From the county seat it follows the San Buenaventura River, until the eastern tributary, formed by the union above of the two Ojai creeks, is reached into which it turns.. The canon thus reached is one of the most charming that ever delighted the eye: and refreshed the soul of a weary traveler. The road winds gracefully through it, now under some high bank fringed with giant sycamores from the lofty branches of which the wild grapevine droops into natural bowers; flecking the smooth way with delicate shadows, Nature's own inimitable tracery—now opening out into some dainty dell, where nestles the neat, trim, home of some contented granger, who looks out in rain or shine upon his growing wealth of maturing grain with quiet satisfaction. The road crosses and re-crosses a clear, sparkling, pebbly-bottomed trout stream a dozen times or more in the four miles, more or less, that it covers before reaching Lion Canon, the outlet of the Upper Ojai Valley. Continuing up the left-hand branch, the Lower Ojai Valley all at once bursts upon the gaze with all its bewildering loveliness. In the lower part of the valley, at its point of greatest breadth, half hidden in the thickest clusters of oaks is the village of
Named after the well-known New York Tribune correspondent and author of "California," Chas. NORDHOFF. It is already a famous resort of the pleasure-seeker and invalid, and even without the attraction of its unequalled climate, would charm by its beauty, freshness, and repose. Perched a thousand feet above the sea, this spot has the first and most important elements of a resort: remoteness from cities, landscape beauty, and a delicious atmosphere. Add to these, for the pleasure-seeker, a refined neighborhood and the presence here, for many months yearly, of the most agreeable society; and for the invalid suffering from nervous and pulmonary complaints, heart disease, or asthma, the mild, balmy, and soothing properties of the climate, and the fame of the place will be explained. The sea breeze, by its journey across mountains and hills, is so tempered that it is mild and stimulating; soothing without enervation, and in the winter, warm without being too hot.
Though delightful at all seasons of the year, Nordhoff is essentially a winter resort. It is then that the local accommodations are taxed to their utmost by those seeking to escape the greater rigor of that season in central and northern California. Here, in a region of almost incomparable wealth of beauty, of situation, and of vegetation, where modern civilization has commenced to blossom so symmetrically, in a climate where exercise is delight, where sleep is a revelation, and where appetite finds wholesome stimulus to eat abundant food, life becomes an enjoyment all at once. The valley of the Ojai is free from excessive wind, cloudiness, and dust. The average annual rain-fall is about fifteen inches. Not only is this valley attractive for its climate, its productions, and its scenery, but the sportsman finds large and small game in its mountains, and fine fish in the waters of Matilija Canon. In brief, the claims of the unsurpassed valley of the Ojai upon the tourist and invalid, challenge comparison with any place in the wide world, and are great inducements that must start into irresistible movement hitherward, those who would seek relaxation far away from the glare of the great cities, and those who would find a true fountain of health.
The "Ojai Valley House," kept by Frank P. BARROWS and "Glen Cottage," kept by W. S. McKEE, and a number of cosy cottages are open for visitors, whose proprietors aim to make their guests at home, and by so doing, induce the same people to return to them year after year.
FRANK P. BARROWS
Is a native of Massachusetts, coming to this State in 1874, and to the Ojai in 1879. He is the popular landlord of the "Ojai Valley House," situated in the delightful hamlet of Nordhoff, described in an adjoining article. The house contains about twenty-five rooms, situated so as to have the largest amount of sunshine. The remarks made about the Glen Cottage will apply nearly as well here, because the adjoining town is not large enough to interfere materially with one's comfort. Quiet comfort characterizes everything about the place. In the winter season the house is taxed to its utmost, but pleasant rooms can be obtained in the town adjoining. When the sanitary influences of the Ojai Valley are duly appreciated, larger hotels will be required.
Aside from these hotels the town contains a store and post-office, a brick school house, and fifteen or twenty dwellings. Divine service is regularly held.
Nordhoff was laid out in 1874, by R. G. SURDAM, of San Buenaventura. The "Home" for invalids was then opened, by A. W. BLUMBERG, who sold out to F. P. BARROWS in 1879, who changed the name to "Ojai Valley House." Nordhoff is fifteen miles from San Buenaventura, with which it is connected by a daily stage and mail. A stage runs to Santa Barbara via Casitas Pass, one day, and returns the next, distance about thirty miles.
Continuing on his way beyond Nordhoff, the traveler, at the end of four miles, comes suddenly to a tolerably steep ascent, which, followed for nearly a mile, brings him to the lower end of the upper valley, 600 feet above the lower valley, and 1,600 feet above the sea, - a basin-like valley, with its bounds rising in acclivities to the feet of its inclosing hills, and separated from the main Ojai Valley by a ridge with a scattering growth of live-oaks upon it. Nothing could be more charming than the landscape as it first salutes the eye of the visitor. There is but little timber, and so thousands of acres of golden grain, dotted with thriving orchards, cover the entire basin, reaching far up the sides of the hills. Agriculture and fruit-raising are the only industries. The fences, buildings, and all the improvements in the entire valley are neat, comfortable, and substantial. The buildings are of a modern style of architecture, neatly painted and beautifully surrounded. There is no hap-hazard, shoddy work. There are in the valley about forty families, mostly in easy circumstances. It may be said of both the upper and lower valleys, that, as is always the case with an industrious people farming its own rich land, this whole agricultural community is in a very prosperous condition, and individuals of more than comfortable wealth are by no means rare. There is an air of comfort and cheerfulness about their homes, and, notably, a great profusion of flowers, fine orchards, and shade trees.
Commodious home-like mansions, looking into pleasant blooming gardens, are dotted over the landscape. One of the most attractive of these homes is the one owned by
HENRY J. DENNISON.
The indomitable energy which achieves success unaided by inheritance, the assistance of friends, or fortuitous circumstances, commands the attention and respect of the best of mankind. Still more commendable is the career of him who has gained success through labors of benefit to fellow-creatures, or at the risk of life in defense of the common country. Such has been the career of Henry J. DENNISON, who first saw the light on the 9th of February, 1833, in Guernsey County, Ohio. The progenitors of this gentleman were Elias and Nancy (JACKSON) DENNISON, the mother being deceased, and the father now dwelling with his son, at his splendid home in the Upper Ojai Valley. Possessing the laudable ambition of a worthy American youth, young DENNISON sought an education in the public schools of his native State, completing his school education at the Manual Labor University of Athens County, Ohio. With a good education and high resolutions he entered upon the duties of active life. In 1855, when twenty-two years of age, he commenced teaching school in his native State, and remained thus engaged for six years. He then made a journey to Texas, from which State he removed to Iowa, and resumed the practice of his profession, teaching both in Iowa and Missouri. During this period he also became the owner and tiller of a farm, bordering on the dividing line between the, two States. There he remained until 1871, a period of ten years. On March 21, 1861, Mr. DENNISON married Miss Margaret RAPP, a native of Laurence County, Ohio. The War of the Rebellion called him to the field in defense of the Union. He joined the Missouri Volunteers, and was assigned to the duty of guarding the railroads of that State. This was an arduous service, and full of danger, although it did not take him to the front of battle, where the great armies marched, and where glory was won.
In 1871, Mr. DENNISON and family removed to California, settling upon his present home in the Upper Ojai Valley, where he is the happy owner of 1,000 acres of excellent land. Here his chief business has been farming and stock-raising. He taught in the public school during one winter of his residence in the county. Politically, Mr. DENNISON acts with the Republican party, and is never backward in letting his sentiments be known. As a public man and a farmer, he takes an active interest in the society of Patrons of Husbandry, commonly known as the Grangers, of which he is a worthy member. His character and sense of refinement is well shown in the elegant home which he has established in the midst of his broad acres. This residence is classed as one of the handsomest of Ventura County, and is illustrated in this volume.
VIEWS NEAR THE UPPER OJAI
Standing on the flower-bespangled ridge of low hills that separate the two valleys, the lover of natural scenery has spread before him a feast worthy of the appreciative mind of Thoreau, the glowing pen of SCOTT, and the magic brush of Bierstadt. To the south, a lofty range of hills, with here and there a dip, spur, and angle, descends to the San Buenaventura Valley. To the west, and in the immediate foreground, lies the lower valley, with its wealth of foliage, and nothing to mar its peaceful beauty. Nearer, beneath the trees that stoop to kiss their shadows in the stream below., glimpses are caught of San Antonio Creek and beyond, where fields are shining through the open forest. Looking further west, the high hills of the coast join those of San Miguelito, which turn toward_ the south, following the course of the Ventura River, and coming boldly up to the sea, shut off the wind and fog of Santa Barbara Channel. Nature has thus placed a barricade before her lovely valleys of the Ojai, which she keeps sacred to herself, holding them in her rough but cherishing mountain arms.
To the north rise the high Santa Barbara Mountains, prolonged in a serried succession of curving crests, bare on their summits, but covered with pine forests on their northern slopes; while farther west the line is broken by the Ventura River, which has torn its broad way through them, and filled its valley with rich deposit. Beyond the winding river and fruitful valley are Topa-Topa Peaks, standing in bold relief and keeping eternal watch over all this loveliness at their feet.
The Ojai is the natural home of the poet. Where so much poetry exists in every environing object, springs from the soil in countless forms of beauty, and breathes in the balmy, incense-laden zephyr, poesy becomes a second nature. As exemplifying this idea, a portion of a poem on the Ojai, written by John MONTGOMERY of Nordhoff is given. Its length unfortunately prohibits its full publication, but a short extract will show forth its merits. The opening lines of the epic relate the troubles of imperial Jove in dealing with applications for the contract of ferrying across the Styx and carrying the mails to the yon shore:—
"The mail-bags celestial with letters are crammed,
Begging contracts to ferry the souls of the damned ,
'Cross the dark River Styx."
Diana is pictured as wailing and sobbing because of the destruction of her beloved forests. Jove, who has always been a devoted admirer of Diana, notwithstanding her persistent refusals to yield to his amorous desires, wishing to console her, gives her a home more charming than any that gods or goddesses had yet seen:—
"But Jove, all serene, to the goddess replied:
'For thy future, my daughter, the gods will provide;
In ages long distant, thy wrongs we foresaw,
And man's disregard for thy rights and our law.
We decreed that for thee a retreat should be found,
A bright spot of beauty, where joy shall abound,
A health-given Eden, by soft winds caressed,
In sunshine and shadow, alternately blessed;
That mountains to circle the spot should be found,
High, rugged and steep, to stand guardian around,
With forests so dense that the moon's silver ray
Scarce kissed the moss through the leaves in its play.
That sweet, smiling, valley is thine, oh! my child;
Go! Guard its green forests and mountains so wild'—
* * * * * * *
He said; and the goddess, in joy from on high,
Took her flight to the valley we call the Ojai."
According to the author. Jove continued his attentions to Diana, promising to visit her often at the setting of the sun, the most witching and dangerous hour for gods or mortals susceptible to the fascinations of beauty. As Jove promised to visit her frequently, it may be presumed that the Ojai is not far away from the regions celestial.
Author of the above poem and one of the large landholders of the Ojai Valley, is a native of England, born in Liverpool, January 1, 1834. His parents, now deceased, were Thomas and Ellen (MORTON) MONTGOMERY, and were of Scotch or North Ireland descent. The life of Mr. MONTGOMERY has been one of travel, study, enterprise and adventure. When but eleven years of age, he left England for France, where he obtained his education, attending several schools and colleges in that country, until sixteen years of age. Thus acquiring a thorough education and a knowledge of languages, he was well fitted to travel or engage in business in the various civilized countries of the world. After finishing his education, he spent three years in traveling through Europe and the United States, and at the age of twenty, found himself in Texas, thence removing to Mexico, settling in 1854 at Monterey, in the State of Nuevo Leon. There he engaged in business, chiefly dealing in cotton goods and other merchandise, and there he spent many years of his life, remaining until 1873. On the 21st of August, 1863, he was married to Jacobita Tejerina de la FUENTE, a native of Mexico. This lady is of illustrious family, her grand uncle being Licinciado de la FUENTE, the author of the Constitution of the Republic of Mexico. The many years spent in Mexico covered an eventful period in the history of that country, as well as in our own United States. This period embraced the years of the allied invasion; the French conquest of the Capital; the ephemeral empire of Maxmillian, and the restoration of the Republic upon a more solid basis than before. These many changes were witnessed by Mr. MONTGOMERY, who always took great interest in public affairs.
Owing to the impaired state of health of Mrs. MONTGOMERY, he decided to seek the genial climate by the shore of the Pacific, and in 1873, moved to Santa Barbara, the Mecca of invalids. The following year, he located in the Ojai Valley, upon a fine farm of seventy-five acres, adjoining the town of Nordhoff. This is the home place of Mr. MONTGOMERY, and is well improved, but he owns three other farms in the Ojai, aggregating 1,100 acres of land.
Since residing in California, Mr. MONTGOMERY has been engaged chiefly in dealing in lands, to which he has added farming of late years. After an active life of travel and adventure, he has settled down for comfort and happiness in one of the pleasantest homes of California. His family consists of a wife and four children—two sons and two daughters. A view of his home is herein published.
Reference has been made several times to these phenomena. Several times they have been accompanied with loss of life. The phenomena are not new, though the name is so, to some extent. Before proceeding to point out any evidences of the prevalence of such a storm, it may be well enough to inquire what they are.
The name is suggestive enough, but, unfortunately, conveys a wrong impression. It is as if a cloud were a great sack or bag of water, which could be ruptured and the whole contents let out, by having a hole torn in it by coming in contact with a mountain top, or even with the branches of a dry tree, a sort of Cesarian operation; an unpleasant process for the clouds certainly. The writer of this work had the pleasure witnessing one of the peculiar storms, or rain-falls bearing that name. The clouds had been gathering in a great black bank in the west for some hours. Thick masses piled up on the already accumulated clouds, until they seemed miles thick, dark, and threatening. On the opposite side from the northeast was a similar bank of clouds, giving the impression that a storm was gathering there also. As the hours rolled on the dense masses approached each other. At first only the advanced clouds met, and seemed to be rolled back on the masses; there
was no rain yet. We could see a long line forming at right angles with the course of the clouds. It was of a lighter color than the banks on either side, and reminded one of the changing shades when steel is being tempered. Still towards each other the great masses moved; the small scurrying clouds, like on riders, would roll back on the main masses or sweep partly to the rear. The winds, which at first had blown strongly from the west, had ceased, but high up, among the clouds, we could hear a sullen, subdued roar, as if from a thousand brazen throats afar off. The fall of a leaf could be heard; the birds and wild animals were aware of the war, and seemed unmindful of human presence. The roar became deeper, and seemed mingled with the rustle of leaves and branches. At first a few drops fell, as large bullets and several feet apart. Soon they came faster and so thickly that it became impossible to see fifty feet away. The ground was soon running an inch deep with water. Every little ravine that was a hundred yards long was running waist deep, and still the rain kept falling. The water that should have been drawn from the clouds by miles of woodland, was being precipitated on a small territory. Now, amid the roar of the falling rain and rushing water, we heard a still greater roaring. Down the channel of the brook, which an hour before contained scarcely water enough for an ox to drink, came a breast of water four or five feet high, and a hundred feet wide, held back to some extent by timber, leaves, and other trash; but sweeping everything in its course. This, uniting with other streams, formed a flood big enough to wipe out a city if it was in its way. In this way Eureka was destroyed, also a coach, horses, and passengers were overtaken by a flood in one of the ravines or canons of the Sierra Nevada a few years since. A cloud-burst is simply a point of condensation between two opposing currents of air, both saturated with moisture and suspended for some considerable time over a small territory. A timbered point in a country, otherwise destitute of timber, will frequently determine the locality of the phenomenon.
They have become common in some places in the Eastern States, especially in those places where the timber has been generally cut away. When the great forests covered the ground from the Atlantic to the Mississippi River, they were unknown. The unbroken forests maintained an equable temperature and no portion of the earth escaped its due portion of rain. Forty years ago the writer of this work examined the results of a cloud-burst in Lyme, New Hampshire. The country had been generally denuded of timber. Some lofty peaks, however, inaccessible to the logger's team were spared, leaving a tract perhaps a mile square covered with trees standing so thickly that the sunlight scarce penetrated the thick foliage. The moss on the ground at the foot of the trees was three feet thick, nourished by the perennial moisture. The atmosphere, even in midsummer, was cool and damp. This afforded the requisites for a cloud-burst. The clouds that formerly parted with their moisture over the whole country, now precipitated the rain on this mountain. What combinations of wind currents brought it about none could tell; but the rain fell in a deluge. The thick timber was leveled as if by a hurricane. The channel at the foot of the mountain catching the rain-fall was not a quarter large enough to carry the water. Logs, fences, buildings, granite boulders, and sand, all went down the stream. Some mills were carried away. In other instances a new channel was cut far away from the mills. Dams were swept away, or, if strong, were buried in boulders and gravel. This was named a cloud-burst.
From the very nature of the circumstances, this excessive rain-fall can extend over but a small space, otherwise the most devastating floods would occur. Happily in most countries, these cloud-bursts are, perhaps, less frequent than earthquakes. People wonder at the destruction, and for a while fear a return, but hundreds of years may elapse before such a peculiar combination of winds and clouds may bring about another catastrophe. In the great interior, between the Sierra Nevada and the Rocky Mountains, their destructive force is often seen.
In this way Denver was destroyed. The town of Jackson, in Amador County, of this State, was visited by one, although the destruction of life was limited to the few Chinamen, whose dwellings lay in the course of the torrent.
The history of a cloud-burst in the Lower Ojai is written in the pile of rocks, or tailings, as the miner would say, at its upper end, which covers nearly four square miles. At the mouth of the canon whence it came, the debris is over 100 feet deep, as is proved by a well sunk through it. This is probably the deepest part, but if the whole area averages twenty-five feet deep, which is a moderate estimate, over 100,000,000 cubic yards of earth and rocks were swept out during the flood. In the canons above, boulders twenty or thirty feet thick are piled on each other, as if they were grains of sand. About 100 feet from the surface of the pile of debris is a layer of black earth, or vegetable humus, showing the original ground on which the debris was thrown; also, showing that the great flood was a recent affair, or the vegetable mould would have disappeared. A few feet below the black earth is a second soil, separated by a gravel, similar to that on the surface, showing a previous, though smaller, cloud burst. The force of a torrent which could, in an hour or two, cast forth 100,000,000 cubic yards of earth and rocks can hardly be imagined. Such an eruption out of the Mission Canon would utterly destroy Santa Barbara. Indeed, there are many reasons for thinking that the pile of rocks in the mouth of the canon was deposited by a similar flood. The CALDWELL farm is on a portion of the debris pile that has not been eroded away by the subsequent action of the creek.
THE GLACIER THEORY.
Some persons have accounted for these rock piles by supposing that they were left by glaciers; but there are several fatal objections: First, the piles are not old enough to have been left by glaciers, as the black earth a hundred feet down certainly proves, as any earth of the glacier age subject to saturation would have lost its organic matter ages since; secondly, there are no moraines, or walls of gravel, or boulders at the sides and at the termination of the drift pile, which always mark the site of a glacier; thirdly, the canon through which the drift has come is a water erosion, following the softest lines in its course, while a glacier turns aside at nothing less than a firmly-seated mountain, but levels everything before it, hard and soft rock alike.
It is very probably that glacial erosions exist in the interior, but a close examination failed to make visible any indications of such in the vicinity of Santa Barbara.
LIABILITY TO CLOUD-BURSTS.
Lest the impression should be made that a timberless country is liable to get more rain than otherwise, the writer begs permission to say that the evaporation from the sea goes on whether there is a timbered land or desert near; that the clouds must discharge their water somewhere; that where a country is covered with timber the rain-fall is general; that in treeless countries the rain-fall is general; that in treeless countries the rain-fall is uneven and uncertain. Santa Barbara and Ventura are on the margin of a territory subject to droughts and excessive rain-falls. The territory is, perhaps, best described as being around the base of the mountainous region of Santa Barbara, Ventura, and Kern Counties. On the edge of the Mohave Desert cloud-bursts are the ordinary forms of rain. All of our readers will recollect a story of a vessel being found in the Mojave Desert some years since. The story was discredited at the time, but, nevertheless, was true. A party of men built a large boat in a canon near the desert, intending to haul it with a team to the Colorado River; but a cloud-burst took it thirty miles out on the desert, and left it in such a shattered condition that the owners never reclaimed it. The Elder McLean, of the Free Press, saw a cloud-burst in Ventura County, some years since, which made a wall of water ten feet high, or more, drowning several persons in its course. Almost every old resident has some knowledge of some phenomenal rain-fall belonging to the character of a cloud-burst.
IS THERE ANY HELP?
Only remotely. The French Government long since decided that at least one-third of the whole country should be covered with forest to insure an even rain-fall, but the American will cut down the timber and burn the brush to make feed for his sheep. If the timber cut away from the country around Santa Barbara could be restored, or if every farmer would plant trees as Ellwood COOPER has done, the danger from cloud-bursts and drought would be much lessened.
SANTA ANA RANCHO.
Was a grant of 21,522.04 acres to Crisogono AYOLA and others, April 14, 1837, and confirmed to them. Upon the north, west, and greater part of the south it borders on public land; the Ojai Rancho bounds it on the east, and the Rancho Canada San Miguelito on the extreme south. Its southwestern boundary lies but about two miles from the coast, while the point farthest from the sea lies about twelve miles inland. Santa Ana is the most northerly rancho in Ventura County, being but about two miles from the Santa Barbara line. The San Buenaventura River follows along within its eastern boundary, and about three-quarters of a mile from it, for its whole extent, some nine miles. The Coyote Creek crosses the rancho from northwest to southeast, joining the San Buenaventura River. This forest-hooded rancho is principally owned by R. G. de la RIVA, Captain ROBINSON, and Messrs. FAWCETT and DEAN. Nearly 10,000 acres of this vast forest region would be good arable land if cleared of the timber. It would grow all the fruits, vegetables and grains know to this country. There are on this rancho a number of well-cultivated farms and orchards, upon which are raised as fine fruits as grow in Ventura County, and wheat attains to its maximum in height, quantity and quality. In fact, it is a twin sister to the Ojai Valley in its climate, soil and resources, with perhaps quite as much water and timber, but less arable land. It is a region of forests; the timber is majestic in girth, with wide-spreading branches. In many places wild oats grow under the trees, and these forest floors are generally studded with undergrowth of red honeysuckle, wild grasses, wild gooseberries, and the shade-loving rhododendron, with its fragrant pink blossoms. Along the river and creeks the wild grape covers many a tree with gracefully festooned arbors made by Nature's hand. A portion of the territory is as high above the sea as the Ojai, but at its nearest approach to San Buenaventura Valley it is much lower. In the southwest the land rises in graceful but steep acclivities, covered with live-oak trees and evergreen growth to its boundary line on the tops of the highlands of the San Miguelito Rancho, and from thence, on crooked divides, the boundary line gathers in the rich pasture lands away round to the west and north. The timber is valuable for fire-wood, though as yet scarcely touched by the woodman's ax, and is as near the seaboard as any of the forest ranchos. It is sufficiently watered for the great pastoral purposes for which it is now used. The geological formation is similar to that of the oil districts found elsewhere in the county. The environing highlands are great game preserves, and the fine, cool, shady retreats of its forests make a paradise for picnic parties from town. The visitor to this rancho finds himself entranced by the loveliness of the scenery, which by its mild enchantment drives dull care away. There are mineral springs in this region and invalids go to drink their medicinal waters; but the more open-air life among these hills is the chief agent in recovering and preserving all but perpetual vigor, which characterizes all the inhabitants. The owners ask, for farming lands, $10.00 per acre; while the pasture lands are sold according to location, quantity and quality - title, United States patent.
In May, 1875, the Santa Ana Rancho was surveyed into lots, which were to be sold on terms similar to those of the Lompoc Colony lands, O. L. ABBOTT manager. The capital stock of the company was fixed at $60,000, divided into 600 shares of $100 each. Six thousand acres of arable land, as much more capable of cultivation with a side-hill plow, and 75,000 cords of wood were amongst the estimated resources of the tract. The temperance principle was to be a leading feature of the settlement. The project was never carried out.
MATILIJA SULPHUR SPRINGS
Are about 1,500 feet above the sea, and a little way beyond the Ojai Valley; a pleasant drive over gentle acclivities and through some grand forests, by cascades, takes the traveler from Nordhoff, six miles northwest, through a constant succession of beautiful scenery, up to this resort, which is beyond all ranch boundary lines. A good road leads from San Buenaventura, eighteen miles, over gentle grades, by river, through forests, and across table-lands, where, at each successive turn, new features unroll to view, until the visitor lands at this valley of tranquil delights.
J. W. WILCOX discovered the springs about the year 1873, and, thinking the water might be beneficial to him in removing a complaint left by service in the Mexican War, camped there several weeks, and found himself greatly relieved by the use of the waters. W. E. BARNARD, now of Oakland, visited the place and in a well-written newspaper article set forth the qualities of the several springs. Some possessed active cathartic and other astringent properties, according as magnesium Or iron salts predominated. In July, 1873, Mr. BROWN constructed a road to the springs and made a number of improvements on the grounds, but the public were slow to visit him, and, becoming discouraged, he sold out for a small sum to Captain GARDNER, who erected bath houses, cottages, and a comfortable hotel, and otherwise improved the place, besides widening the roads. H. F. JEWELL was the proprietor in 1880.
These grounds, intersected by limpid streams, seem to have been selected by nature as a spot of earth where the chemistry of her great laboratory for the care of diseases displays itself in great perfection. There are twenty-two of the springs, and it is a remarkable fact that the quantity of water discharged never varies; it is the same in the hottest and dryest spells of weather. While the temperature ranges from 35° to 150° in the different springs, it never rises or falls in any particular one. The experience of years has shown what diseases are mitigated by the use of the water. Its effects are especially notable in that obstinate ailment, rheumatism. It is also beneficial in cases of dyspepsia, irritation of the mucous membranes of the stomach, and diseases of the liver and kidneys. The pure mountain air; freedom from wind and dust, and the equal climate, combine with its healing waters to stimulate nature to her own best restorative processes.
The effect on the healthy of a sojourn here is to incite them to the highest mental and bodily efforts. A wholesome feeling of energy pervades and fits a man for his best and steadiest work. The mountain streams abound in trout, and the neighboring hills afford deer, quail and rabbits. Tucked away in little valleys far up among the hills around, are the homes of the bee-keepers, while the lower valleys hold the farmers, dairymen and orchardists. The vineyards and apple orchards along the river are marvels of beauty. These supply the resorts with fruits, honey and fresh butter, while the sheep-owners have the best of juicy, mountain mutton. The situation of Matilija, its air, its evidence of having pleasure and health for its chief industry, the grand scenery and balmy climate, will assure its fame as a resort.
OTHER PARTS OF THE COUNTY.
It must not be supposed that because the descriptive part of this volume ends here all the country is described or the resources exhausted. There is a great tract up the Ventura River thickly inhabited, if report is to be believed, but the inhabitants are not subscribers for this work—never heard of it, in fact, as they would be likely to make a lively row with the toughest canvasser that ever shouldered his pack of extraordinary samples. It is an excellent place, however, to hunt California lions and fish for trout, which every one says weigh five pounds or less.
Towards Santa Barbara is a high, mountainous range, where sheep get a living by clinging to the sides of the mountain and gathering the scattering spears of grass. As we approach the Santa Barbara line good farms begin to appear. When we get to the Rincon Creek we are ready to swear that we are coming to Paradise, for right below us is the farm of
MILTON SPRAGUE DIMMICK
who was born in the town of Union Dale, Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania, April 26, 1850, his parents being Elmer D. and Julia A. (SMITH) DIMMICK, Milton S. being the second of three sons. His early years were those of the usual course in American country life in the pleasant valley of the crooked river until the age of thirteen, when he moved with his parents to Monona County, Iowa, where he remained for ten years. The common schools of Pennsylvania and Iowa afford favorable opportunities for acquiring a good education, and young DIMMICK attended these until he had prepared himself for the battle of life. His health declining, and believing that the pure air which sweeps from the uncontaminated surface of the Pacific upon the fertile shores of Southern. California would restore to vigor that which the malarial atmosphere of the Mississippi Valley had enfeebled, he sought, in 1873, this equable clime, making Santa Barbara County his home.
Settling upon the Rincon Creek, about one mile from the ocean, he finds himself on the dividing line between Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties, with his residence and improvements in the latter. Here he has a lovely place of fifty-one acres, highly improved and beautifully ornamented with trees and shrubbery, which flourish with remarkable luxuriance in this fertile soil. This fine place, when Mr. DIMMICK began his improvements in 1875, was a monte of brush, elders and sycamores, which have given away before the industry and indomitable energy of the owner, and it is now transformed into one of the handsomest and happiest homes of this pleasant region. Mr. DIMMICK shares his cozy home with his fair wife and child, having married, September 21, 1879, Miss Ella M. COLBY, a native of Wisconsin. A view of the residence and its surroundings constitutes one of the instructive pictures of this book.