Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Williams Ranch or Rancho del Chino

This is a continuation of my retracing George Q. Cannon’s 1849 journey. An index is found in the first post.

December 11, 1849 (Tuesday):

Rich Company – Forward Group (Cucamonga Ranch to Williams Ranch): Rich and his forward company left Cucamonga Ranch and traveled ten miles to Williams Ranch. Isaac Williams was at Pueblo de Los Angeles for several days.[1]

December 12, 1849 (Wednesday):

Rich Company – Forward Group (Williams Ranch): The forward group of the Rich company remained at Williams Ranch.

December 13, 1849 (Thursday):

Rich Company – Forward Group (Williams Ranch): Charles Rich “hired a room in one of Mr. William’s houses” and moved the entire company indoors[2] to take “shelter,”[3] as it looked like it was going to rain.[4]

Rich Company – Rear Group (Cucamonga Ranch to Williams Ranch): Having found all the horses, they left for Williams Ranch at 1:00 p.m. After traveling the ten miles they arrived and found Charles Rich and the forward group “all quartered with a room all ready provided for [them] to go into and plenty of provisions.” They received flour and meat without having to pay for it as Isaac Williams was still not at the Ranch and his “agents and clerks seem to know nothing about the price of anything, hence [they] wait until he” gets back, which is expected that evening.[5]

December 14, 1849 (Friday):

Rich Company (Williams Ranch): It started to rain the night before and continued to rain hard all during the day. Isaac Williams arrived last evening and got everything “regulated.” Flour is $12 per “fanagen, which is about 100 lbs.,” or $2 per “alimo;” corn is $6 per fanagen; salt is $1 per alimo; coffee and sugar are 37 ½ cents per pound; and “beef cattle [are] from $5 to 15 dollars per head.”[6]

December 15, 1849 (Saturday):

Rich Company (Williams Ranch): Isaac Williams allowed them to “take 2 yoke of cattle to haul some wood” in order to allow them to “let [their] animals rest.” Henry Bigler “and 3 others got up the te[a]m and brought in a load of wood while some others got up a beef and dres[sed] it. Others kep[t] house and cleaned it out and at night [they] had a fine supper.”[7]

December 16, 1849 (Sunday):

Rich Company (Williams Ranch): Henry Bigler bought two alimo of flour and heard that in San Francisco beef is $.75 per pound, flour is $1.25 per pound, and boards are worth “$500 a thousand at the [B]ay and in the mines.” It costs $250 for “passage on a vessel” from Pueblo de Los Angeles to San Francisco.[8]

December 17, 1849 (Monday):

Rich Company (Williams Ranch): It “rained all day. Bro. Rich brought in some books for [them] to pass…the day with,” including Pilgram’s Progress and “other religious works [and] trac[t]s.”[9]

December 18, 1849 (Tuesday):

Rich Company (Williams Ranch): The weather cleared up in the morning. Isaac Williams offered to sell his ranch to Charles Rich for $200,000. Williams claimed he was “not satisfied” with his current situation and wanted to “sell [the ranch] or leave it in some shape or other to be secured for his children” and then he would “go to the states.” Williams stated that Rich, with his men, could pay for the ranch in six months out of the cattle already on the ranch. The ranch had “more than 40,000 head of cattle” and an additional “1,000 head of horses and mules.” Charles Rich gave Isaac Williams a copy of the Book of Mormon to read.[10]

December 19, 1849 (Wednesday):

Rich Company (Williams Ranch): Men of the Rich company began to work for Isaac Williams to earn their provisions. They began by cleaning “out an old water ditch.” Francis Pomeroy, who left the Hunt company on the Mojave River, arrived after dark “bringing 4 horses that had been left [by the Rich company along] the way,”[11] including the horse of George Cannon that had been left with Pomeroy at Resting Springs.[12] In the “evening Bro. Rich called” the men together “and wanted to know how much wheat” they wanted. They concluded that each man should get two fanagens, at a cost of $45.50 per fanagen and $.50 to have it ground.[13]

December 20, 1849 (Thursday):

Rich Company (Williams Ranch): The men continued to work “on the ditch.” It was very “laborious work.” Henry Rollins and James Keeler were “appointed [as] cooks” for the company. Henry Bigler and Joseph Cain went to the cane break and “cut some cane for brooms to swe[e]p out the house.” Henry Bigler indicated that some of the company began to get colds. His own “back and head ached” so that he quit work for the day in mid-afternoon.[14] George Cannon indicated that while at the William’s Ranch he got very sick and nearly died. He felt his “life was saved through the elders laying hands upon” him and “administering” to him.[15]

December 21, 1849 (Friday):

Rich Company (Williams Ranch): It was “clear and very warm.” The men finished cleaning out the ditch.[16]

December 22, 1849 (Saturday):

Rich Company (Williams Ranch): Henry Bigler noted that the San Bernardino valley was “as green as the month of May” back in Salt Lake. He also noted that the Hunt company arrived and the “roadometer” attached to Addison Pratt’s wagon indicated the “distance from Great Salt Lake City” to the Cajon Pass was 701 miles, and to the William’s ranch was 722 miles.[17]

Hunt Company (Cucamonga Ranch to Williams Ranch): The Hunt company started for the William’s Ranch, which was “on the opposite side of the valley and ten miles distant,” about three miles southwest of the present town of Chino. “The buildings on the ranch [were] in sight. [They] arrived there a little after noon, found Bro. Rich and about thirty brethren from Salt Lake, all glad to see [them].” The “ranch comprise[d] a tract of land some ten miles wide and thirty long and Williams[,] the owner of it[,] was formerly an American hunter [who] obtained a grant for this land while it was under the government of Mexico[.]”[18] Williams had a “large herd of cattle” on his land. “The hills and plains [were] covered with them.”[19] In addition, there was “a large vineyard and many fruit trees in it.” They found Charles Rich and his company at work for Williams “repairing a mill race,” which they were doing in return for having their wheat ground. There was “no bolt,” so they “had to sift the meal.” It “was pretty coarse, but [they] found by sad experience to have none [none of what?] was still coarser.” They were happy to get even this, “for emigrants, from various directions were pouring in [there], and all were out of provisions.” Many of the emigrants had come from Santa Fe by the same route the Mormon Battalion had pioneered, and were calling it Cooke’s route, after ____________ of the Mormon Battalion. Addison Pratt found it “surprising” to “see the crazy anxiety of the people after gold.” The “rainy season had…set in and it was thought best to stay [at William’s ranch]” until the rain subsided. The Hunt company pulled their wagons up near the house the Rich company was renting and lived in their wagons. “As Christmas was near at hand it was proposed that [they] should have a company dinner. A party was sent out after wild game, as geese, brant and ducks [were] plentiful at [that] time of the year.” Addison Pratt was one in a party of hunters and “got one brant and two ducks,” the only one in the party to get anything. However, there were “plenty” of fish, and they were “cheap,” and would be the “answer for what was lacking.”[20]

December 23, 1849 (Sunday):

Rich and Hunt Companies (Williams Ranch): It was an uneventful day. Henry Bigler is the only diarist to make an entry. He indicated the weather was warm and he was “unwell” with a cold. He washed his shirt and garment and mentioned that there was “some talk of Christmas.”[21]

December 24, 1849 (Monday):

Rich and Hunt Companies (Williams Ranch): It was difficult keeping track of the cattle and horses on the ranch and kept everyone busy trying to keep them “where [they] could find them.” Some of the cattle and horses “strayed in spite of [their] best efforts,” some of which they found again and others they never found.[22] Henry Bigler spent most of the day “hunting for Bro. Whittles horse.”[23] Addison Pratt went hunting for more ducks during the day. He indicated, “I found it an unpleasant job to hunt among those half wild cattle. It is impossible to go amis[s] of them, as every hill and valley is full of them and when they see a stranger or hear the report of the gun they will all run to the spot with head and tails up as if ready for the combat and it is not uncommon that they will attack a lone person and they often made me change my course contrary to my own wish to keep clear of them.”[24] “In the evening Bro. Pratt came in from hunting [and] brought in 2 ducks and 1 curlew for Christmas.” A “bullock” was also “dressed” and “cooks appointed to cook a Christmas dinner.”[25] Francis Pomeroy made a plum pudding.[26]

December 25, 1849 (Tuesday):

Rich and Hunt Companies (Williams Ranch): It was “clear and warm” and the “earth [was] green with grass and wild oats.”[27] The Rich and Hunt companies joined together for Christmas dinner.[28] The dinner was “excellent,…. considering the materials they had to make it of.” There was “plenty of roast beef and potatoes, baked ducks and plum pooding.” Henry Bigler did not enjoy the day as he had a “severe pain” in his “left eye.” It felt to him like “something was sticking in it near the pupil.” He went to the doctor who told him there “was nothing in it.” Even his good eye got so sensitive to light that he was “compelled” to blind fold himself. In the evening, after prayers, he got Brothers Rich and Pratt to administer to him. When they laid their hands on his head, “their hands felt hot.” Afterwards, he “felt easy and rested well all night.”[29]

December 26, 1849 (Wednesday):

Rich and Hunt Companies (Williams Ranch): Henry Bigler indicated it was “fo[g]gy from the ocean” and that his eye was no longer painful. He “worked on the mill race all day” and that night Addison Pratt sang “some good songs.”[30]

December 27, 1849 (Thursday):

Rich and Hunt Companies (Williams Ranch): Henry Bigler indicates he “worked all day.” The light irritated his eye, but it was not painful. He had a cold and was feeling “weak and feeble.” He “sent to the store for some sugar to sweaten” his tea and after supper Addison Pratt sang a few songs.[31]

December 31, 1849 (Monday):

Rich and Hunt Companies (Williams Ranch and Rancho San Bernardino): Henry Bigler stated that “[n]othing of importance” had happened “since the 27th. Capt. Hunt and Pomeroy left…for Mr. Lug[o]s[32] to buy oxen for the company to go from here to the mines with ox teams.” He had cleaned some wheat and it was “ready for the mill.” Addison Pratt, who was headed to the Society Islands on a mission, asked Bigler if he “would go to the islands should Bros. Rich and Amasa Lyman call on [him] to go.” He responded he would “if that was their council.”[33]

January 1, 1850 (Tuesday):

Rich and Hunt Companies (Williams Ranch): It was “New Years day” and they cleaned 34 fanagers of wheat that was “full of gravel.” They “hired 4 squaws” to help them do the cleaning and Bigler noted that “[o]ne of them will clean as much as 3 of us.”[34]

January 2, 1850 (Wednesday):

Rich and Hunt Companies (Williams Ranch): It rained and they continued to clean wheat all day. Henry Bigler continued with a severe cold.[35]

January 3, 1850 (Thursday):

Rich and Hunt Companies (Williams Ranch): It continued to rain and some of the men looked for their horses. Charles Rich was “uneasy” as Jefferson Hunt had not returned from the Lugos. It was only 30 miles away and he should have “been back yesterday.”[36]

January 4, 1850 (Friday):

Rich and Hunt Companies (Williams Ranch): It continued to rain. The men “returned without finding their horses. In the evening Capt. H[unt] and P[omeroy] returned [from Rancho San Bernardino] with 4 yoke of half broke oxen, $31 per yoke.” Bigler and Darwin Chase weighed flower.[37]

January 5, 1850 (Saturday):

Rich and Hunt Companies (Williams Ranch): It was “[w]et and very muddy”. They hobbled their “cattle” and let them loose. The cattle ran like “buffalo” and “broke a part” the hobbles. They had to “hire a young Spaniard to take his horse and lasso them” while they secured the cattle “by the horns.”[38]

January 6, 1850 (Sunday):

Rich and Hunt Companies (Williams Ranch): Henry Bigler herded oxen during the day. In the evening, “Capt[ain] Egan arrived from the [Salt Lake V]alley.” He had a letter for Charles Rich from “Brothers Geo[rge] Smith and E[zra] T. Benson” asking Rich to “raise…$5000 from the brethren who are now on their mis[s]ion [presumably Addison Pratt, James Brown and Hiram Blackwell, on their way to the Society Islands,] to get gold[,] that their hands may be liberated [so that they can] return to their fields of labor[.] …[Smith and Benson] will pray [to] the Lord to lead the [b]rethren [to] some nook or corner where [the gold] lays.” The letter also informed Rich “that the President of the United States had made [a] procl[a]mation and s[e]t a part a day of fasting to Almighty God to take away the sc[o]urge” of cholera[39] that was killing many people. Bigler, commenting on the letter, stated that if God were like the President, God’s response would be ‘[I] can do nothing for them,’ alluding to the response of President Van Buren to Joseph Smith’s petition for redress from Missourian depredations. Bigler also expressed to his journal his willingness to help raise the money so that he could “have their prayers and blessings on [his] head.”[40]

Egan Wagon Train (Williams Ranch): Captain Egan arrived at “William’s Rancho” ahead of his company and “found Bro Rich & Hunt & some 18 or 20 of the brethren all well.” The valley was “beautiful” and “the hills” looked “as green” as they would in the Salt Lake Valley in May.[41]

January 7, 1850 (Monday):

Rich and Hunt Companies (Williams Ranch): The Rich and Hunt Companies were “preparing to start”.[42]

January 8, 1850 (Tuesday):

Egan Wagon Train (Williams Ranch): Charles Rich was “procuring wheat & corn & getting it ground for” the Egan Company. Sheldon Stoddard arrived in the evening and reported that the rest of the company was 10 miles from Williams Ranch.[43]

January 9, 1850 (Wednesday):

Egan Wagon Train (Williams Ranch): The Egan Company arrived at Williams Ranch about “about noon”.[44]

January 10, 1850 (Thursday):

Rich and Hunt Companies (Williams Ranch): It rained considerably during the week, but all but two horses, those belonging to Brother Farrer, had been found. Late in the afternoon, “two ox teams belonging” to the Rich company, started “for the mines”.[45] They traveled three miles and then camped. Charles Rich stayed at Williams Ranch with a few men who were going “with pack animals.” Bigler “stood guard” that night “to keep the cattle from run[n]ing away.”[46]

Egan Wagon Train (Williams Ranch): The Egan company spent the day grinding wheat. Howard Egan estimated the distance to Utah Lake as 769 miles.[47]

January 11, 1850 (Friday):

Rich and Hunt Companies (Near Williams Ranch to San Jose Creek): They got started about 9:00 a.m. The wagons got mired in the muddy road and had to be unloaded before they could be pulled out. They traveled six miles and camped near San Jose Creek.[48] About an hour after camping, “Capt[ain] Howard Egan ro[l]led up and camp[ed]” near them “with instructions for [them] to wait until” General Rich arrived.[49]

Egan Wagon Train (Williams Ranch to San Jose Creek): The Egan company left Williams Ranch and traveled ten miles until they met the “two ox teams belonging to Bro Rich’s company.” They stopped and camped. “[T]he feed [was] much better [there] than at Williams” Ranch and there was plenty of wood near the stream. It began to rain in the evening.[50]

January 12, 1850 (Saturday):

Rich, Hunt and Egan Companies (San Jose Creek): The Rich, Hunt and Egan companies remained at San Jose Creek, awaiting the arrival of Charles Rich. Some of them unsuccessfully hunted for William Farrer’s two horses. Meanwhile, Charles Rich, Addison Pratt and Jefferson Hunt left Williams Ranch in the morning, traveled ten miles and met the wagons at San Jose Creek in the afternoon.[51] In the evening, the companies were reorganized into one company with Jefferson Hunt as captain.[51] They heard that the “City of San Francisco…burnt down and in consequence…[the price of] grocer[ie]s is very high at the Pueb[lo de Los Angeles] wh[e]re [they] wanted to get [their] sugar and coffee.”[53]

January 13, 1850 (Sunday):

Hunt Company (San Jose Creek to San Gabriel River): It rained in the morning, but cleared by 10:00 a.m.[54] The company traveled over muddy roads[55] for ten miles, passing “some splend[i]d ranches”, “hundreds of thousands of cattle” and “hundreds of” horses “feeding on the plains”.[56] They camped near the San Gabriel River, “a fine stream”[57] with “plenty” of “feed and wood”.[58] Early in the day, Henry Bigler and four others “went to look for [William Farrer’s] 2 lost horses but could not find them”. They caught up with the company at the San Gabriel River.[59]

January 14, 1850 (Monday):

Pomeroy Relief Party (Rancho Cucamonga to Williams Ranch and Gruwell’s): They “hitched up and after a drive of ten miles reached Rancho del Chino or Williams’” Ranch, “one of the finest places in Lower California.” Williams “counts his land by miles, has more cattle than Job of old and several thousand horses. His place is a perfect paradise, the only green hills surrounding it” they had “seen since leaving the Valley of the Lake.” Hamelin presumed it to be “one of the finest natural pasture grounds in the world, blessed with a fine climate and abundance of water.” They “stopped with a Mr. Gruwell and had quite” a “different fare from” what they had eaten at Rancho Cucamonga the day before. “Everything about the house was in apple pie order, the table neat, clean and heavily laden with the ‘best the market affords.’”[60]

Rancho Santa Ana del Chino or Williams Ranch:

Isaac Williams: Background, Marriage and Children: Isaac Williams, known to the Californios as Julian or Don Julian Williams, was born September 19, 1799 in Wyoming Valley, Pennsylvania, arrived at the Pueblo de Los Angeles in April 1832 with the Ewing Young party of trappers and decided to stay. In 1834 he started a mercantile business (the building he erected was later used as a court house when Los Angeles County was organized) and in 1839 he was naturalized as a Mexican citizen.[61]

On December 24, 1836, 37 year old Isaac married 13 year old Maria de Jesus Lugo, daughter of a wealthy local land owner named Antonio Maria Lugo, known to the Californios as Don Antonio Lugo.[62] While in Los Angeles, Isaac and Maria de Jesus had three children: a son, Jose Antonio Maria, who was born May 25, 1838; a daughter, Maria Merced, who was born June 8, 1839; and a daughter, Francisca, who was born in 1840. After moving to Rancho del Chino, Maria de Jesus died on June 28, 1842, while giving birth to their fourth child, a daughter, named Maria de Jesus. The daughter died either during childbirth or shortly thereafter.[63] Isaac’s son, Jose Antonio Maria, died in 1846, shortly after the Battle of Chino, when just 8 years old.[64] Therefore, at the time the forty-niners arrived at Rancho del Chino, Isaac was a 50 year old widower living with his ten year old daughter Merced and nine year old daughter Francisca.

Historian John S. Hittell described Williams as “a man who stood at least six feet in height, of large frame, muscular, and without much flesh. He was of commanding appearance, with a pleasant countenance.” (need cite) Horace Bell described him as “the most perfect specimen of frontier gentlemen I ever knew-tall, handsome, elegant, and courtly in his manner…With his corps of Mexican assistants and his village of Indian vassals, this adventurous American was more than a baron; he was a prince, and wielded an influence and power more absolute and arbitrary than any of the barons of the middle ages.”[65]

Acquisition of Rancho del Chino: In March 1841, Don Antonio acquired five leagues of land (22,000 acres) from the Mexican government, known as the Santa Ana del Chino. Within three months, Don Antonio built an adobe house on the property, brought in 3,800 head of cattle, 400 horses, a large flock of sheep, fenced 100 acres, planted 1,000 fruit trees and began cultivating land for grain and vegetables.[66]

Just nine months later, in December 1841, six months before Maria de Jesus died, Don Antonio deeded a one-half interest in the Rancho Santa Ana del Chino to his son-in-law, Isaac. Isaac began a house of adobe for his family in the form of a quadrangle, with walls 250 feet long and a roof covered with asphaltum.[67] It had a patio inside entirely enclosed by rooms, with one large door. On the northern side were two or three windows.[68] The walls were full of “loop-holes” and the entire building was surrounded by an adobe wall and a ditch.[69] There was a knoll on the west side.[70] Williams also built numerous outbuildings and corrals, augmented the livestock and cultivated more land.

As part of his co-ownership with Don Antonio, Isaac was primarily responsible for the building operations and general development of the property and Don Antonio and his sons were primarily responsible for the cattle and other livestock.[71]

In 1843, Isaac, without the participation of Don Antonio, acquired another three leagues of adjacent land (13,000 acres) from the Mexican government which was designated as an “Addition to Santa Ana del Chino.”[72]

Battle of Chino: No one knows exactly what happened at the Battle of Chino because each of the available accounts varies. However, rather detailed retrospective accounts were given by Benjamin Wilson, from the American perspective, and from Jose del Carmen Lugo, from the Californio perspective, and many of the details are consistent with each other.

On July 7, 1846, Commodore Sloat of the United States Navy raised the United States flag over Monterey, then the capital of California. In August 1846, Commodore Stockton sailed into San Pedro Bay and Governor Pio Pico called Benjamin Wilson, a U.S. citizen and owner of Jurupa Rancho, to meet with him. Pico told Wilson that he intended to leave the country for Sonora and hoped that Stockton would not ill treat his people. Pico asked Wilson to go to Stockton and communicate this. The next day, Wilson and John Rowland met Stockton and informed him that Pico and Jose Castro, the military commander, had departed.[73] Two days later, on August 13, 1846, John C. Fremont and Commodore Stockton entered and occupied the Pueblo de Los Angeles for the United States.

Commodore Stockton asked Wilson to follow Castro and determine his movements. Stockton did not want to place too much reliance on Castro’s leaving for Sonora. He was concerned that Castro might go to the frontier, find some more men, and return to retake the country. So he commissioned Wilson as a captain and told him to enlist as many men as he wanted. Wilson enlisted 22 men and followed Castro’s trail out into the desert. He learned positively that Castro had crossed the River at Yuma and had gone to Sonora.

Wilson reported back to Stockton and was told by Stockton that he was going to depart and leave Lieutenant Archibald Gillespie, of the U.S. Marines, in charge with a small force in Los Angeles. Wilson concluded there was nothing more he could do around his Jurupa Rancho and took his men out into the frontier to meet with the Indians and instruct them to keep a lookout and keep him advised. Wilson took his men into the mountains to hunt and shoot.[74]

Meanwhile, Gillespie declared martial law in Los Angeles which angered the Californios. On September 23, 1846, Gillespie’s garrison was attacked by the Californios, beginning a week long siege where the marines traded gunfire with the Californios.[75]

While in the mountains, Wilson received a letter from David Alexander and John Rowland advising him they had fled Los Angeles and were at his Rancho Jurupa, as a result of a general revolt of the Californios and Mexicans against Gillespie and all Americans. They requested that he return quickly. Wilson marched all night and arrived the next morning, finding Rubidoux there as well. Alexander, Rowland and Rubidoux indicated that Gillespie had been despotic and unjustifiable in dealing with the Californios and that the Californios had risen against him. Gillespie had established obnoxious regulations and had arrested the most respectable men in the community on frivolous pretexts just to humiliate them.[76] Wilson also found several letters waiting for him. One was from Gillespie, summoning him to come to Los Angeles as fast as he could to come to his aid. Another letter was from Isaac Williams at Rancho Chino, inviting Wilson to come to Rancho Chino with his men and assuring Wilson that he had plenty of ammunition.[77] As Wilson and his men had wasted most of their ammunition in the mountains, they saddled in great haste and headed for Rancho Chino.[78] However, they intended only to resupply and go on to Los Angeles.[79]

Jose Lugo states that Don Benito Wilson sent word to him by a New Mexican, named Rafael Blea, that Wilson intended to take Lugo prisoner. Lugo enlisted the help of New Mexicans living at Jurupa (Agua Mansa) to protect him. He went with 21 men to Wilson’s home at Jurupa Rancho and learned that Wilson had gone to Rancho Chino. Lugo decided to follow him there.[80] On Wilson’s arrival at Rancho Chino, Williams informed him that an officer and some soldiers of the California Brigade had just been there and taken all of the ammunition he had. Wilson met with his men and advised them he felt that they should go to the mountains and make their way to Los Angeles. But his men held the Californios in contempt and felt that a few shots would frighten them away. In deference to his mens’ opinions, Wilson decided to remain.[81]

Wilson called Williams aside and asked if he had a man that could take a letter to Captain Gillespie (Williams did). Wilson wrote a short note to Gillespie, informing him of the scarcity of his ammunition and the certainty he could not come to his assistance. Wilson took a new pair of shoes, ripped a hole in the sole, put the letter inside and resewed it. The shoes were put on Feliz Gallardo, William’s employee, and Gallardo was told to go as fast as he could to Los Angeles to Gillespie. After Gallardo had ridden off a hundred yards, Williams called out to him to stop and met briefly with him. Gallardo told Wilson afterward that Williams had told him (Gallardo) to deliver the letter instead to Captain Flores, as evidence of his loyalty to the Mexican government. Gallardo obeyed Williams and delivered the letter to Flores.[82]

On the way to Rancho Chino, Lugo enlisted a small party of Indians. Lugo also received an order from General Flores to join him in Los Angeles, but responded with a request back to Flores for aid himself, indicating Wilson was in the Rancho Chino with about 50 men. Lugo was under fire from the house and responded in kind. The next day, the aid requested from Flores arrived, including Servulo Varela and about thirty men.

On September 27, 1846, Williams’ home was surrounded by a group of about 100 taunting Californios, including Jose del Carmen Lugo and two other sons of Don Antonio, Williams’ brothers-in-law.[83]

Benjamin Wilson makes no mention of any communication with Jose Lugo. He indicates that on the evening of September 26th, shortly after Gallardo was sent with the message, 80 to 100 men arrived on horseback. One of Wilson’s men, Callaghan returned with a broken arm, stating he had been fired upon by the Californios and that Jose del Carmen Lugo was commanding them. Wilson suggested one more time that they leave while they had the opportunity, but again his men felt they could prevail against the Californio forces. In the morning, Wilson found that they were surrounded by cavalry. Benjamin Wilson, p. 107-108

It appears that Williams asked Wilson to tell the Californios that he had occupied the house by force, hoping to avert any danger of confiscation of the property by the Mexican government. Wilson apparently refused or failed to do so.[84]

Shooting began and one of the Californios was killed before the Californios set fire to the roof.[85] Williams, with his three surviving children, the nephew and nieces of the three Lugos that were part of the Californio party, appeared on the burning roof and begged for clemency. The blood relationship of Williams’ children to the Lugos undoubtedly softened the Californio’s position and the Californios accepted the Americans’ surrender.[86] Don Diego Sepulveda opened the great door of the house with all of the Americans gathered near him. They surrendered their arms to the Californios and were made prisoners.[87] The U.S. supporters were nearly hanged by the Californios.[88] The Californios stripped the Rancho del Chino of its goods and furnishings, including all food, clothing and bedding, drove off all 250 of Williams’ saddle horses[89] and took the Americans as prisoners to Los Angeles,[90] where Gillespie had also surrendered.[91]

In Los Angeles, Don Antonio played a conciliatory role and offered to furnish the local Americans’ bail, but General Flores refused. Don Antonio then successfully sought to take the sick and wounded into his care. He took them to his home and personally dressed their wounds and later denounced his sons for taking part in the assault.[92]

Mormon Battalion: In April 1847, a detachment of the Mormon Battalion was stationed on the Rancho del Chino to protect the area ranchos from hostile Indians. These men were to operate under the guidance of Isaac Williams in the event of hostilities. Battalion soldiers were also placed in the Cajon Pass to prevent Indian raids from that direction.[93]

A month later, in May 1847, Williams’ father-in-law, Don Antonio, deeded his one-half interest in the original five league grant of Santa Ana del Chino to Williams’ surviving children, Maria Merced and Francisca.[94] About this same time, Williams offered to sell the Rancho del Chino to the Mormons. The Battalion members considered the area a suitable site for their emigrating people to settle. Jefferson Hunt and three other officers of the Mormon Battalion wrote a letter to Brigham Young, from the Pueblo de Los Angeles, dated May 14, 1847, as follows:

“We have a very good offer to purchase a large valley sufficient to support fifty thousand families, connected with other excellent country which might be obtained. The rancho connected with the valley is about thirty miles from this place, and about twenty miles from a good ship landing [Newport]. We may have the land and stock consisting of eight thousand head of cattle, the increase of which was three thousand last year, and an immense quantity of horses by paying five hundred dollars down and taking our own time to pay the remainder, if we only had the privilege to buy it. There are excellent water privileges on it.”[95]

By June 1847, a number of furloughed Battalion soldiers were at Rancho del Chino to labor for provisions for their trip to meet up with Brigham Young and the emigrating Mormons. These furloughed men were engaged by Williams to cut wheat and dig a mill race. Daniel Tyler indicated that Williams had 1,000 acres of wheat to cut, but that he also had barley, peas and large vineyards. Tyler indicated that thousands of head of cattle were slaughtered, the meat left to waste on the ground. The hides and some of the tallow were shipped east and much of the tallow was used to make soap, which Tyler described as follows:

“Over a furnace was placed a boiler about ten feet deep and the same in diameter, and the upper part made of wood. This was filled with tallow and the fattest of the meat. A little water was also poured into it and then the whole tried out, after which the grease was dipped into a box about ten or twelve feet square. The meat was then thrown away. Mineral earth was then leached like ashes, the lye obtained from it put with the grease and boiled into soap. The best quality of soap, when made, was almost as white as snow. Indians usually did the work.”[96] A kettle similar to one that may have been used by Dan Tyler is on display now.
A closer view of the sign.
As indicated earlier, Jefferson Hunt returned to Rancho del Chino from the Great Salt Lake Valley around January 1, 1848, to obtain cattle and seeds for the Mormons who were just getting settled in their new home. Hunt left the rancho for his return trip on February 15, 1848.[97] On April 12, 1848, Orrin Porter Rockwell, who had come with Hunt, and a group of Battalion members who had just completed their second enlistment in the Army, also left for the trip to the Great Salt Lake Valley, after outfitting themselves at the rancho.[98]

Lieutenant Cave Johnson Couts, of the U.S. Army, who visited Rancho del Chino in January 1849, indicates that Mormons were still working for Williams at that time: “He [Williams] had a large number of Mormons employed making an immense adobe wall and ditch around his pasture…but the gold mania broke out just before it was completed, and all hands left…The pasture which this wall and ditch was to encompass embraced three or four hundred acres…”[99]

As indicated in the narrative, on December 18, 1849, while Charles Rich was staying at Williams Ranch, Williams offered to sell the Ranch for $200,000.

Legislative Recognition and Snub: The California legislature proposed a resolution on January 11, 1850, right after the Rich and Hunt Companies left, honoring Isaac Williams and Captain Sutter for the relief they had given to emigrants during the year. Due to intense lobbying from some opposed to Williams, William’s name was removed before the resolution was passed on January 12, 1850. It appears that Benjamin D. Wilson, who condemned Williams for his actions during the Battle of Chino, was responsible for having Williams’ name removed.[100] In a letter sent to the president of the state senate, dated February 15, 1850, which was never received by the president, Williams gave the following response:

“My ranch is situated on the great thoroughfare from the Atlantic states that crosses the Colorado and I am the first permanent American settler to be met upon it. My property also directly adjoins the Cajon Pass through which enters the Old Spanish Trail, as it is termed, from Santa Fe and also the road from Salt Lake and Los Angeles. In consequence of this position, my house has been visited, since the commencement of the gold excitement, with a number of people that I hesitate to name. I can safely say that there has not been more than two or three days at a time during the period, but that more or less emigrants have passed my door. On many days as many as two or three hundred. During the period referred to, I have had at my table, on an average, not less than six persons, very often as high as twenty. Never less than two or three out of this multitude of persons I have never charged or received one shilling by way of compensation…It is well known that great numbers of emigrants have reached the settlements the past two seasons in a very destitute manner and many of them ill. I doubt if there has been a period for the last twelve months when I have not had at least one invalid in my house. Three men have died here within as many months last passed. From robbery by the Indians and other causes, great numbers of the emigrants have arrived at my Rancho on foot. I have furnished on credit over 200 animals to such with an understanding that they should pay me when they got to the mines. In addition to this, I have advanced in cash to emigrants more than $5,000, and from all the amount of credit, I have not yet received, and in all probability never shall, $500. To parties who have passed in want of provisions, I have invariably sold corn and wheat at $6 per fanaga, while flour has been selling at $.25 per pound at Los Angeles, the nearest neighboring Pueblo. Whenever a party has wanted meat, which occurs daily, I have invariably supplied them without charge, unless indeed they required a bullock. And these I have supplied at from $4 to $8, which has been not more than about one half what my neighbors during the present winter have sold such animals for. The emigrants from the Salt Lake, then distant at least 300 miles, dispatched to me a messenger requesting me to send them a supply of provisions. I at once fitted out a train of pack mules which met them many miles the other side of the Mojave River. Many of them were women and children on foot and had been living for at least three weeks on the flesh of their exhausted oxen and animals. My agent supplied them with flour and other necessaries, at that point much cheaper than such articles could be obtained at Los Angeles. When parties were unable to pay upon credit and many times without charge. Many of these people arrived at my rancho penniless, and in not a few instances, without a shoe to their feet. They lived upon me for weeks, and to several who were unable to pay me, I gave shoes and other necessaries and sent them on their way.”[101]

Subsequent Mormon Efforts to Purchase Rancho del Chino: On December 17, 1850, Robert Clift, a former officer of the Battalion who had been working at the Ranch since March, wrote to Brigham Young that Williams had 500 horses, 8,000 to 10,000 cattle and that Williams had branded 2,500 calves that year. He suggested that the “property contains in my opinion advantages for a settlement of our people which no other does in California. Here is soil and climate and country in the world…With respect to the proposition made for the sale of the property, I think it is liberal. There is cattle enough and more than enough to pay the amount in two months if disposed of to advantage.” A day later, Williams submitted an offer to Charles Rich to sell the entire property, with the exception of a one-third interest in any coal that might be developed in the land he obtained from Yorba and the 2 ½ leagues which belonged to his daughters, for $150,000.

Subsequent Williams’ Family Evants: In February 1851, Williams purchased the one-half interest in five leagues of the Rancho del Chino from his two daughters for $10,000.[102] When Charles Rich and the Mormon colonists arrived in June 1851, Williams was unwilling to sell to the Mormons on the terms he had offered them previously[103] and the Mormons purchased land instead from the Lugos. Williams died in September 1856 and he left Rancho del Chino and its livestock to his two daughters. Maria Merced Williams married John Rains shortly after and he assumed charge of the Rancho del Chino. About the same time, Francisca Williams married Robert S. Carlisle and both families lived at the Rancho. Carlisle purchased Maria Merced’s interest in the Rancho del Chino in 1859 and Rains used the money to acquire the Rancho Cucamonga and began building a brick house there and moved into the house in 1861. In 1865, Robert Carlisle was killed and Francisca demolished the greater part of the adobe house and erected a frame house on the site.[104]

Contemporary Descriptions of Rancho del Chino: Benjamin Wilson, in his narrative of the Battle of Chino which took place in 1846, stated that the home “was an old adobe built in the usual Mexican style with a patio inside entirely enclosed by rooms, with only one large door for entrance to the main patio or square. The house was probably over three hundred feet long….”[105]

Benjamin Hayes, who arrived at Williams Ranch on January 30, 1850, gave the following description: “First came to a collection of Indian huts, of the workmen of Williams. Off to the right a mill, conspicuous amid the verdure. The large dwelling of Williams off to the left, then two or three wagons of emigrants…Riding up to a [separate] large house [operated by Gruwell], found we could have lodgings, supper, etc. Sociable set of men, all emigrants or American traders. All in a bustle. Tales of privation. Good supper. Flour $1 the almud at the mill…Adjoining the house is a large field of wheat, as fine as any in the world…We did not go over to seek the acquaintance of Col. Williams. His house is now full of strangers, whom he is entertaining. He has sent out to the Mohave Desert, and relieved many. His hand is open to everybody.”[106]

Cave Couts, with the army, arrived at Williams Ranch in December, 1848 and gave the following description of Williams and the ranch: “The valleys, mountains, ridge and mill owned by Isaac Williams is 30 miles from the Pueblo and is a grand, magnificent place. Superior to anything in my travels. Williams was taken prisoner during the Mexican War, his cattle driven off, and many of his horses, but yet he can say, ‘his cattle on a thousand hills.’ Informed me that he now has 10,000 head of cattle, some 500 horses, that during the Mexican war the men took 1,200 horses from him. The Sonorans pass his ranch daily, going to and fro and take his horses and his bullocks without paying him. He has sustained a loss of $50,000 since last July. He hates them with a holy hatred. Is a very interesting man in conversation, highly accommodating to Americans – loves money and knows how to charge. Had a large number of Mormons employed making an immense adobe wall and ditch around his pasture…”

George W. Evans, on September 16, 1849, stated the following: “Contain’s 50 to 75 inhabitants, Indians and all. Here we found the first two story dwelling since leaving Chihuahua, and the dwellings of the best part of the population are neat…Mr. Williams, the owner of this rancho, is well spoken of and has the reputation of being very benevolent and kind to his countrymen. He tells the emigrants that they are welcome to the beef and that they have only to go out and kill it…the hills and mountain sides are thickly covered with wild oats and clover, and better feed for animals never grew…Soon after our arrival, he had a large basket of excellently flavored grapes brought in by an Indian servant, and we once more had an opportunity of sitting upon Windsor chairs, eating grapes, and conversing with a gentleman in our own language.”[107]

Williams had Indians as farm laborers and household servants who lived in huts near his home. He also had dwellings for cowboys, blacksmiths and carpenters.[108]

Gruwell’s: It appears that one of the Gruwells kept the boarding house at Rancho del Chino.[109] Hamelin noted staying with a Mr. Gruwell when he first arrived at Williams Ranch on January 14, 1850 and Benjamin Hayes, on January 30, 1850, indicated that Mr. Gruwell kept his “hotel.”[110]

Today: The site of Rancho Santa Ana del Chino is now occupied by the Chino Valley Fire Department Station No. 2, located at 4040 Eucalyptus Avenue, near Chino Hills.
To find it from Highway 71 (the Corona Expressway), take the Chino Hills Parkway exit and head west on Chino Hills Parkway about .4 mile to Pipeline Road. The Chino Hills Marketplace is to your right. Turn right and head north through a traffic light on to Eucalyptus Avenue. The fire station is on the right about 75 yards past the light. There are two plaques in front of the station. One plaque recognizes the area as the site of Rancho Chino, built in 1841. The other plaque, mounted on a stone monument underneath a cannon barrel, recognizes the area as the site of the Battle of Chino in September 1846. A view behind the fire station.
Although the Williams home no longer exists, the Yorba-Slaughter adobe, built in 1852-1853, the oldest standing residence in San Bernardino County, is located about five miles away. It gives a sense of what the Williams home would have been like. The adobe can be found by taking the Euclid exit east from Highway 71. In about .1 mile, turn left (north) onto Pomona Rincon Road. The adobe is .7 mile on the right side at the top of a small hill. The address is 17127 Pomona Rincon Road and is a historical site administered by the San Bernardino County Museum.

[1] Rich; Rich stated the distance was 12 miles, but the Mormon Way-Bill lists the distance between Coco Mongo ranch and Del Chino ranche (Williams) as 10 miles.

[2] Pratt, p. 109

[3] Rich, p. 192

[4] Bigler, pp. 25-26

[5] Bigler, pp. 25-26

[6] Bigler, p. 26

[7] Bigler, p. 26

[8] Bigler

[9] Bigler, p. 26

[10] Bigler, p. 26

[11] Bigler

[12] Cannon

[13] Bigler

[14] Bigler, p. 27

[15] Cannon, pp. 39-40

[16] Bigler

[17] Bigler, p. 27; LeRoy and Ann Hafen determined that the distance on the modern highway from Salt Lake to the Chino Rancho was 710 miles. (49ers, p. 176, n. 51)

[18] Pratt, pp. 108-109; Isaac Williams went to California with Ewing Young’s party in 1832 and after marriage to a daughter of A.M. Lugo, he was given part of the large land grant, and later acquired the remainder. (49ers, p. 109, n. 130)

[19] Pratt, p. 109. Isaac Williams told Pratt the number of cattle on the ranch was 35,000. Charles Rich was told 40,000. Pratt indicated he did not believe there were that many cattle.

[20] Pratt, pp. 209-210

[21] Bigler, p. 27

[22] Pratt, p. 110

[23] Bigler, p. 27

[24] Pratt, p. 110

[25] Bigler, p. 27

[26] Pratt, p. 110

[27] Bigler, p. 27

[28] Brown, p. 128

[29] Bigler, pp. 27-28

[30] Bigler p. 28

[31] Bigler, p. 28

[32] Lugo’s Rancho San Bernardino, included present-day Colton and San Bernardino. (49ers, p. 177, n. 53, citing Beattie at pp. 51-55)

[33] Bigler, p. 28

[34] Bigler, p. 28

[35] Bigler, p. 28

[36] Bigler, p. 29

[37] Bigler, p. 29

[38] Bigler, p. 29

[39] I am assuming the scourge is cholera as Bigler refers to it as “calery”.

[40] Bigler, p. 29

[41] Egan, p. 317

[42] Egan, p. 317

[43] Egan, p. 317-318

[44] Egan, p. 318

[45] Egan, p. 318

[46] Bigler, p. 29

[47] Egan, p. 318

[48] Hafen identified the name of the creek. 49ers, p. 179.

[49] Bigler, p. 29-30

[50] Egan, p. 318

[51] Bigler, p. 30; Rich, p. 192

[52] Egan, p. 318; Bigler, p. 30

[53] Bigler, p. 30

[54] Bigler, p. 30

[55] Egan, p. 318

[56] Bigler, p. 30; The Mormon Way-Bill lists the distance between “Del Chino ranche (Williams)” and “San Gabriel river” as 19 3/8 miles, 49ers, p. 323

[57]  Rich, p. 192

[58] Egan, p. 318

[59] Bigler, p. 30

[60] Hamelin

[61] Bynum, Lindley (transcriber and editor) “The Record Book of the Rancho Santa Ana Del Chino,” Historical Society of Southern California: Annual Publication (1934), 1-56, p. 1 (Rancho del Chino Record Book); Rancho Cucamonga, p. 2, 227

[62] The 1836 census states that Maria de Jesus was born in 1823. The acceptability of marriage at such a young age is illustrated by the later marriage of Don Antonio to a girl who was no more than 14 while he was 53 years older than she was (the 1844 census lists Don Antonio as age 69, his wife as age 16 and their son as age 1) (Rancho Cucamonga, p. 221)

[63] Rancho Cucamonga, p. 226 (The child, Maria de Jesus, was baptized on June 28, 1842, and I have assumed that she was baptized on the date of her birth, although the baptism could have taken place later).

[64] Lugo, Jose del Carmen, “Battle of Chino According to Jose Lugo,” as told to Thomas Savage in 1877 and translated from Spanish by Helen Pruitt Beattie in 1950, compiled and edited by Edwin Rhodes The Break of Day in Chino, 52-59, p. 57 Chino (1951) (Lugo’s Battle of Chino)

[65] Rancho Cucamonga, p. 246

[66] Heritage of the Valley, p. 124

[67] Heritage of the Valley, p. 124

[68] Benjamin Wilson, p. 108

[69] Caballeria, Rev. Father Juan, “History of San Bernardino Valley; From the Padres to the Pioneers,” titled as “Chino Rancho (Lugo-Williams Battle of Chino) as compiled and edited by Edwin Rhodes The Break of Day in Chino, 27-28, Chino (1951) (Chino Rancho),p. 27

[70] Benjamin Wilson, p. 108

[71] Heritage of the Valley, p. 124

[72] Heritage of the Valley, p. 124

[73] Wilson, Benjamin David, “Benjamin David Wilson’s Observations On Early Days in California and New Mexico,” Historical Society of Southern California: Annual Publication (19__), 74-__ (Benjamin Wilson), p. 103

[74] Heritage of the Valley, p. 70-71; Benjamin Wilson, p. 104-105

[75] Muckenfuss, Mark, “Prepare for Battle,” The San Bernardino Sun, September 18, 1998 (Battle)

[76] Benjamin Wilson, p. 105-106

[77] This was a dangerous time for local Americans, such as Isaac Williams, who had taken upon themselves Mexican citizenship and owned land in California. There was a strong possibility that the Californios would confiscate their lands and put them before a firing squad for treason. Williams, apparently desired some protection for himself and his family and felt they would be more safe if Wilson and his men were at his Rancho. (Heritage of the Valley, p. 71-72)

[78] Benjamin Wilson, p. 106

[79] Heritage of the Valley, p. 71-72

[80] Lugo, Jose de Carmen Lugo “Battle of Chino According to Jose Lugo,” as told to Thomas Savage in 1877 The Break of Day in Chino, compiled and edited by Edwin Rhodes, Chino (1951) p. 52-59 (Jose Lugo); Wilson makes no mention of sending a communication to Lugo.

[81] Benjamin Wilson, p. 106-107

[82] Benjamin Wilson, p. 107; Heritage of the Valley, p. 71-72

[83] Heritage of the Valley, p. 71-72;

[84] Heritage of the Valley, p. 132

[85] Battle; Jose Lugo indicates that while they were debating whether to wait, or to go on the attack, a boy left the Rancho Chino on horseback heading south. Jose directed his brother, Vicente Lugo, and Ricardo Vejar, to catch the boy. When Jose shouted the orders to catch the boy, his other men came out of their hiding places. Jose made signs for them to stop, but could not halt them. So they approached the Rancho firing shots at each of the four sides. Near the house was a moat. A horse ridden by a man named Ballasteros did not make it over the moat and fell. While Ballasteros was recovering his horse he was struck in the right temple by a bullet and killed. Some of Lugos unarmed men gathered grass. Lugo ordered them to throw the grass on the roof and set it on fire (he obtained the fire from a nearby Indian village). (Jose Lugo, p. 55-56); Benjamin Wilson states that fire was started in several places and the house burned rapidly with a “great deal of smoke and bad odor. They could not see the Californios and the Californios could not see them. The Californios just waited for the fire to do its damage. Cerbulo Varela came to the main door and called Benjamin Wilson by name. He asked Wilson to surrender and assured them they would not be injured. (Benjamin Wilson, p. 108)

[86] Heritage of the Valley, p. 125; Jose Lugo heard the cries of his sister’s children, calling for him. He saw them on the wall above the place behind the corral. He called them and one of his soldiers lifted them down, telling them Jose was waiting for them. (Jose Lugo, p. 56) Benjamin Wilson states that during the fighting, Williams sent his three children up a ladder, following them himself with a white flag and proclaiming his loyalty to the Mexican government, at the same time crying, “Don’t shoot me, don’t shoot me.” (Benjamin Wilson, p. 108-109)

[87] Jose Lugo, p. 56; Benjamin Wilson states that Varela sent his men to the rear of the house while Wilson and his men marched out. They were directed to stack their arms against the walls and then ordered to another building about 400 yards distant to the south. (Benjamin Wilson, p. 108)

[88] Battle; Wilson was allowed to keep his horse and ride by Varela, the others were ordered to march forward under the second in command, Diego Sepulveda. While the prisoners marched ahead, about half a mile from the house, they made a sudden halt. This caught Varela’s attention and he galloped ahead, fearful “that some deviltry was going on there.” The prisoners had all been placed on one side and were going to be shot. Varela rode between his command and the prisoners and declared he would “run his sword through the first man that attempted to touch a hair of the prisoners.” Varela’s actions gained for him the admiration and respect of Wilson. (Benjamin Wilson, p. 109)

[89] Heritage of the Valley, p. 125

[90] Heritage of the Valley, p. 73; The prisoners included John Rowland, Louis Rubidoux, Michael White, three Callaghan brothers, and Isaac Williams. (Jose Lugo, p. 57)

[91] Battle

[92] Heritage of the Valley, p. 73

[93] Heritage of the Valley, p. 126

[94] Heritage of the Valley, p. 127

[95] Heritage of the Valley, p. 127

[96] Heritage of the Valley, p. 126-127

[97] Heritage of the Valley, p. 81

[98] Heritage of the Valley, p. 80-81

[99] Heritage of the Valley, p. 128

[100] Rancho Cucamonga, p. 231, 303; Heritage of the Valley, p. 133

[101] Rancho Cucamonga, p. 304-305

[102] Heritage of the Valley, p. 134 (Rancho Cucamonga, p. 239, states that Antonio Maria Lugo deeded the balance to Isaac in 1851 and that Williams set aside $10,000 for his daughters for their interest in the rancho). Merced was 12 and Francisca was 10.

[103] Heritage of the Valley, p. 134

[104] Heritage of the Valley, p. 135-137

[105] Rancho del Chino Record Book, p. 2

[106] 49ers, p. 55-57

[107] Rancho Cucamonga, p. 235

[108] Black, Esther Boulton Rancho Cucamonga and Dona Merced, Redlands: San Bernardino County Museum Association, p. 2 (Rancho Cucamonga)

[109] Heritage of the Valley, p. 132

[110] 49ers, p. 56-57

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