S-7 First Newspapers


First Newspapers Come Into the City

(Sun-Telegram Historical Writer)
Copyright (1960), The Sun. Reprinted by permission

...Continued from page S-6:

-pers and traders. Herring and Brown were old "mountain men" who gravitated to California.
Brown settled at first in the Sepulveda adobe at Yucaipa. County government, aside from these three, was composed of Mormons. Herring, as assessor, soon broke with Apostle Lyman, who accused him of setting too high a value on colony lands. Apparently it took a diplomat to be assessor back as far as 1853.
Herring also may have been suspect with the theocracy because he had briefly affiliated with the Latter-day Saints, then thrown his copy of the Book of Mormon into the Little Colorado River.


County government cost was small. The assessor, for instance, when Herring presented a bill for working 60 days in covering the county, assessing property and preparing the assessment roll, his bill was declared excessive. He was allowed for 30 days at $8 a day which included his travel costs.
Thus his salary and expenses for the year totaled $240 and he had no deputies or clerk.
The original commissioners decided San Bernardino owed Las Angeles $4,000 for various services performed in the transition period while the new county was setting up its own government. The biggest item was for road work.

There were three "county roads." One to Yuma crossed the southwest corner via Santa Ana del Chino and Temescal, thence to Elsinore, Temecula and out to the desert via Warner's and Carrizo Gorge, It was the road to California taken by General Kearny and the Mormon Battalion, and later by the Butterfield stage.


The second road went to both Prescott and Yuma via San Gorgonio Pass. From Chino it came east to Agua Mansa, San Bernardino, the old mission asistencia, San Timoteo Canyon as far as the present Singleton Rd., over a little pass south of Calimesa to Pauline Weaver's adobe in Cherry Valley, on to the mesa in northern Banning, Whitewater, Palm Springs (then called Aqua Caliente), Indian Wells, Martinez Spring, and Dos Palmas.
At Dos Palmas one fork went east to the Palo Verde Valley and the other continued south to Yuma more or less along the present Southern Pacific route.
In San Diego County there was a link from Dos Palmas down the west side of the Salton Sink to a junction with the Carrizo Route east of the present Plaster City.
The third road was to Cucamonga Rancho from the Palomares house, then to San Bernardino, up Cajon Pass to the Mojave River and on to Salt Lake. A shorter and more direct road west was started by the Mormons direct from San Bernardino to Cucamonga and from Cucamonga to Spadra.

Los Angeles County accepted this "cutoff" shortly before county division.


In the initial elections there was but a single ticket presented. By 1855, however, the election precinct of Old San Bernardino had F. M. (Mack) Van Leuven and B. F. Grouard running as independents. Church candidates polled 100 votes apiece while the independents failed to muster 20.

Even such minor opposition seems to have nettled Lyman, for his diary noted that he "labored" with the divergent brethren.
Grouard said he thought his filing as a candidate was proper. He had done so before the church caucus had acted. He was "dis-fellowshipped [sic]" however, and left the valley. Van Leuven apparently did not feel so badly over church discipline. He stayed and became a leader in the ever-growing independent party.
When the City of San Bernardino was incorporated in 1854, Lyman was chosen as mayor. Two years later he was called back to Salt Lake by the church. Thereup-on Rich was named mayor in his place.
In the county, however, Rubidoux was named initial chairman of the Board of Supervisors, when that body was created replacing the Court of Sessions. The other four supervisors were all members of the church party, however.


Despite the tensions which were certainly to be expected under the circumstances, the San Bernardino Colony was a success.
Financially the colony heads were hard pressed at times borrowing money from Rubidoux, Brown, Waters and others to tide over the colony treasury when mortgage payments were due; but the valley prospered.
By 1857 San Bernardino had assumed a dominant trade position. Its voter registration indicated that it had passed both Los Angeles and San Diego.
The new German colony of grape growers at Anaheim was also pressing forward though yet fourth in size among the settlements south of the Tehachapi Mts.
With success demonstrated beyond argument as far as San Bernardino, was concerned, events elsewhere brought an abrupt change in affairs. Salt Lake was in trouble, and President Young recalled "all faithful" to close ranks and return to Salt Lake. The call also affected prosperous agricultural and trading outposts in the Carson Valley of Nevada.


Young, the church president, had been governor of Utah territory. Two federal judges, however, were outsiders whose ideas were in violent disagreement with the Mormon way of life.
The Mormons had been persecuted and driven from establishments in both Missouri and Illinois. They had undergone great hardships to move to the isolated Salt Lake Valley, some even walking and pulling their meager possessions in handcarts.
In Salt Lake they reasoned they would be let alone to pursue their chosen paths. The California gold rush had ended Salt Lake's isolation and, incidentally, left a group of non-Mormon residents behind.

Claims as to the cause of an outright break between the federal government and the government of the Utah Territory vary. Church histories pinpoint the blame on one of the outside federal judges and claim the magistrate's mistress was not accepted socially and that this caused untrue reports to be sent Washington by him.


The other side claimed that non-Mormons had no rights in court and that all Mormon juries in-variably ruled for their fellow churchmen.
Whatever the cause President James Buchanan, in 1857, declared Utah to be in insurrection, named a new governor and sent Gen. Albert Sidney Johnson at the head of the U.S. Army to "subdue" the Salt Lake folks.
One can imagine the alarm such news created, especially when many older Deseret residents had known the vengence [sic] of mobs in Missouri and Illinois.
President Young put his territorial militia in readiness. He recalled the outposts at San Bernardino, and Genoa, Nev. He sent out prospectors to find lead to make bullets. In southern Nevada mixed lead and silver ore, valuable ore, was even run into molds for shot.
Apostle Apostle Lyman was sent south to the rough northern valleys of Arizona and New Mexico to locate possible places of refuge. Young planned a scorched earth policy to greet the oncoming army with only the ashes of Salt Lake.


Nature and a brave man who kept his head prevented the "Mormon War" from exploding into another massacre. The advancing army of Gen. Johnson was plagued by Mormon guerillas [sic] who destroyed provision trains, felled trees across roads and rolled rocks into narrow passes. These tactics delayed the army until winter brought deep snow and more delay.
What the weather started, a heroic man, who had kept his head when even the United States President had lost his own, finished. This was Thomas L. Kane, an influential easterner who was a confidant of powerful Pennsylvanians.
These men from Buchanan's own state helped hone obtain a letter as an unofficial peace commissioner.
The army was too far ahead to be caught by overland travel. Kane took a steamer to Panama, crossed the isthmus on horseback, took a ship to San Francisco, another down to San Pedro and hired fast horses to bring him to San Bernardino.
Here he met more or less secretly with some of the remaining Mormons. They had teams waiting for him at Verdemont and he raced for Salt Lake where he arrived ahead of the army.
President Brigham Young agreed to friendly terms. Kane went on to the army camps and showed his credentials. Salt Lake welcomed the oncoming troops and provided a place for their camp sufficiently outside town to minimize friction. The new governor was accepted for the Utah territory, and the army packed up and went back east.


Tensions and bitter feeling took years to subside. The most provocative incident was the Mountain Meadows massacre in which the men and women of a wagon train from Arkansas were massacred by Indians and the allied Iron Mountain Mormon militia.
Small children were spared and raised by Mormon families.
J. D. Lee, leader in the massacre and founder of Lee's Ferry on the Colorado, was later arrested and hanged. It is not difficult to understand that the events of 1857 made the exodus from San Bernardino even more urgent than indicated in the initial church call.
To the San Bernardino settlers it was a great tragedy. In a scant six years they had reared a sizable city, built substantial homes, made fertile farms of raw land, started schools and established what by all norms was the most law abiding and industrious part of all California.


Newcomers arrived, some to profit exhorbitantly [sic] through the colonists' misfortune. Houses and lots or even farms are said to have been sold for a good horse team and farm wagon strong enough to make the Salt Lake trip.
Not all the colonists left, however. Those who stayed were strong men who went right ahead and helped the valley recover from the heavy shock.
There was sharp division in ideas about the church recall, division that even split families. For instance one of Jefferson Hunt's daughters was married and she stayed with her husband who declined to leave.
One day out on the way to Cajon, a younger Hunt daughter ran away from the caravan and returned to San Bernardino.
A good portion of the new influx of 1857-8 was from El Monte, a squatter town settled largely by Texans. These ex-frontiersmen were self-reliant but restive under too much law and order. From a strictly temperance town San Bernardino changed overnight to a typical frontier village.


The downtown corner of 3rd and D Sts. became nicknamed "Whisky Point" when four saloons blossomed there. Some of the new folks were prone to shoot first and ask questions later.
One of them was a dentist named G. T. Gentry, from El Monte. The town already had one dentist, Dr. A. Ainsworth. Before long Gentry was accusing Ainsworth of belittling his professional status or whatever passed for that in the fighting Texan's vocabulary.
One sunny afternoon Gentry was doing a bit of two fisted drinking at Whisky Point when he noted Ainsworth driving past in a buggy. Gentry stepped outside and emptied hrs revolver at the disappearing Ainsworth. No bullets hit man, buggy or horse.
That didn't end the feud by any means. Gentry challenged for a duel. Ainsworth ignored the challenge. Then Gentry sent to El Monte for friends, They came on horseback and proceeded to shoot up the place. Ainsworth took refuge in a relative's home on E St., midway between 5th & 6th. That was the B. F. Coopwood home.


At night Gentry's Texans repaired to Pioneer Park, then known as the town plaza, and started for the house. Coopwood had alerted friends who deployed in the corn of Coopwood's adjacent garden.
When the Texans started across E St. a half dozen guns barked. The Texans retreated, all the way back to El Monte. Where Gentry went no one seems to know.
The affair appears typical of the rough days immediately following the Mormon recall. "Rube" Herring, the ex-mountain man turned justice of the peace, later assessor and school superintendent, was moved again, this time to become sheriff.
Herring was disgusted. For a day and a half he tried to raise a posse to drive out the El Monte horsemen. He couldn't get a half dozen who would stand up to fire. Herring resigned as sheriff.
A leader among the roughs was Charles W. Piercy. Piercy was arrested for doing a bit of fighting. The courtroom filled to the doors with some obviously well armed friends of the defendant.
The judge discreetly found Piercy "not guilty." The Elliott "History of San Bernardino County," published in 1883, thought the situation disgraceful.


When Assemblyman Hunt went back to Salt Lake, his legislative seat was taken by Dr. Isaac Smith, who established what is now the Highland Springs Ranch at Beaumont.
When the term was over in 1860 there were two candidates, Piercy and William A. Conn. Conn head of the syndicate that had bought the unsold colony lands from Lyman, Rich and Hanks. He claimed, and probably had, the backing of the solid citizenry.
Piercy put together a political group that was effective in getting out his vote. Piercy won and went to Sacramento. He was elected in November 1860.
In May 1861 the legislature had a roll call vote on the position of California in the Civil War. Piercy, a Democrat, voted to stay in the Union and started to make a little talk explaining his stand.
Dan W. Schowalter of Mariposa, another Democrat, objected. Showalter voted to secede and Piercy came back asking an explanation of the vote. Showalter strode over and slapped Piercy with his gloves. A duel at San Rafael followed.
Weapons were rifles at 40 paces. Showalter shot at the count of two, killed Piercy and fled to Visalia where he raised a troop of irregular Confederate cavalry and started for Texas.


The great War Between the States found California teetering for a while. Visalia, Los Angeles, San Bernardino and, of course, El Monte were regarded as Confederate areas. The Mother Lode miners were predominantly for the Union and swung the balance.
Showalter came across the Mojave with his "cavalrymen," detoured to Holcomb Valley where he failed to pick up expected recruits and holed up at the Cleghorn Ranch in Cajon Pass. He planned to raid San Bernardino and sent in a messenger to rally supposed secessionists.
The messenger made the mistake of contacting Dr. Ben Barton, a former southerner and a valley leader. Barton would have no part of the idea and alerted the town.
The brick Catholic Church was partly built, its walls shoulder high. Women and children were put inside and men marched guard around the bricklayers' scaffold.
Showalter's irregulars wanted no part in attacking an armed camp. They slipped over west of town and out Reche Canyon heading south. Soldiers caught them south of Warner's Ranch at the site of today's Lake Henshaw.
One man, John Brown Sr., who was willing to stand up and be counted, did much to hold San Bernardino loyal to the Union. Brown formed the Union League. Indirectly, he also brought a camp of California Volunteers to the town. The volunteers first camped on the site of the Valley College campus, then moved to the Tippecanoe crossing of the Santa Ana River.
During the six years when the city and county were largely settled by the colonists from Salt Lake, the San Bernardino vote, as has been noted, was predominantly that of the so-called "church party," in effect, the slate discussed and endorsed in church council. The importance of this vote was appreciated on the state level.


With the recall of the faithful to Salt Lake and the simultaneous anti-Mormon feeling engendered by President Buchanan's "Mormon War" and the Mountain Meadows massacre, the strong leadership heretofore apparent in San Bernardino was lacking. One of the greatest needs of the valley was for some newspaper medium to reflect county aspirations rather than the Los Angeles views mirrored in the papers of that community.
Down in San Diego a colorful pioneer newspaper publisher, J. Judson Ames, was printing the San Diego Herald, but his financial returns were not what he desired.
San Bernardino wanted a newspaper and Ames wanted to move. Thus in November 1859, the Los Angeles Star carried a notice that Ames was to establish a paper in San Bernardino. The item didn't say the San Diego paper was to be discontinued, but that was not a difficult guess. Brown and some of his friends appear to have backed Ames with some money. Brown also sent an ox team to San Diego which hauled the Ames press to San Bernardino.
The San Diego Herald was dis-

Next Page