by Edward Leo Lyman
Chapter Six: Living Together
[p.255]While essentially seeking to remain socially isolated from the rest of southern California, the main core of original San Bernardino citizens and their later-arriving associates continued to show an outstanding degree of concern and cordiality toward their neighbors as they engaged in the various pursuits of everyday life. While it is difficult to treat evenly social and cultural interaction in the study of a local area, it is possible at least to get glimpses into such life in this impressive community.
The most striking characteristic of San Bernardino social relations was the vast amount of visiting which took place. Judging from the existing evidence, almost daily calling on and receiving guests from home to home were commonplace. Some of these, such as the numerous lunch and dinner engagements and the frequent quilt-making gatherings, were by invitation, but more often a husband and wife simply went for an evening stroll and stopped by to visit one or several other families for social conversation in what was clearly the main adult leisure pastime in the settlement. Daytime calls among the sisters were equally frequent.
Quantifying the extent of these interactions is difficult, but the diary of Caroline Barnes Crosby offers detail concerning at least her visits. In the two years her family lived in San Bernardino, from December 1855 through the difficult fall of 1857, she called upon and received calls from—in approximately equal [p.256]numbers—180 different families and individuals. Since many of these visits were repeated rather frequently, the total number of visits reached at least 650. This personable and caring woman averaged almost one visit per day even though her health was sometimes not good.
Generally, there were more such visits on Sunday, holidays, and during pleasant weather. Among the most festive occasions were when the fruit was ripe. There are no known instances of anyone selling peaches, grapes, or melons to fellow residents of San Bernardino. Rather, it seems clear that growers considered the produce to belong to the entire community and there were numerous informal “feasts” held to consume these luscious items throughout the seasons available.1
Although some of the women had participated in the Female Relief Society at Nauvoo, Illinois, this organization did not exist at San Bernardino. Even so, there was a reasonably effective informal network of compassionate care for those in need. This responsibility appears to have been taken most conscientiously by middle-aged married women without younger children, along with the few young women not yet married. Notice of need passed by word of mouth. On one occasion Crosby felt chagrined that the Cases, an older couple, had been ill for several weeks and she had not yet heard of it, though they lived fairly close. Those who resided closest took the initiative in caring for the ill. When someone was needed to stay through the night, most often it was single women who did this.2
Among a religion-based community, weekly worship services formed the most important hub of social interaction. Services in San Bernardino were held in the 30-by-60-foot meeting house erected within the fort in April 1852, but almost from the [p.257]beginning the building was inadequate to seat more than a relatively small proportion of church members. In good weather services were often held outside under the large brush-covered boweries, the last of which was erected several blocks away at the town square. This occasionally led to confusion as to which meeting place would be used on any given day, and outdoor services were sometimes canceled midway due to cold winds. But the most common complaint was that the meeting house “was crowded so that it was very unpleasant” or “there was not room to convene the congregation.” The men invariably took seats outside on benches placed some distance back from around the door of the building. Still it was crowded inside and impossible to leave without being disruptive.3
The ecclesiastical organization was in keeping with church practice at the time. The San Bernardino Stake was organized with one huge ward in town and a small one some five miles away at the old asistancia. This was similar to the earlier Zarahemla Stake across the Mississippi River from Nauvoo with but one ward. The stake was the basic local unit of the church, and a ward bishop served mainly as a judge and in caring for the poor, not in conducting meetings or performing priestly duties. Bishop William Crosby’s jurisdiction became so large that his counselor, Albert Collins, was given authority to collect tithing independently and on occasion was himself referred to as “bishop.” No concern was shown over the size of the San Bernardino ward, [p.258]since such units were not intended to be distinct entities with separate sacrament meetings. Priesthood quorums were part of the stake organization.
When more than one ward is mentioned in connection with San Bernardino, it refers to political subdivisions, irrigation districts, and neighborhood groupings for purposes of seating at community picnics, all loosely related to ward teaching districts for which the various quorums of seventies had chief responsibility. As the settlement grew, some church meetings were held at neighborhood schools, but there was still only one worship service for the entire city. Occasionally Amasa Lyman chided the community for neglecting to construct a larger chapel, and in late 1856 he, Charles Rich, and several others were designated to plan such a building. With continuing financial problems and later political and military upheavals, the edifice was never started.
Sunday worship services followed a regular pattern, consisting of lengthy preaching, singing of hymns, administration of the emblems of the sacrament—bread and water—and prayers at the beginning and close of each meeting. The sacrament service was usually at ten o’clock in the morning, with Sunday school in the afternoon and prayer meetings in the evening. The leadership delivered the sermons. Lyman and Rich spoke almost every week. The stake presidency and bishoprics and many of the high council preached regularly, particularly senior high councilman and former Methodist minister Theodore Turley. The many missionaries passing through the settlement to and from their fields of labor were also in demand as speakers, and when there were too many to hear on the Sabbath, special meetings were called during the week. There is virtually no reference to women or young people speaking.4
[p.259]As one of Mormondom’s best-known orators, Lyman was clearly a favorite “preacher,” and although he sometimes spoke “loud and long,” his subjects tended toward love and doing right rather than “hellfire and damnation.” He encouraged harmonious family life, was said to practice what he preached, and was neither tyrannical nor fault-finding. Rich was “not counted so great a reasoner, but distinguished for wise council in all difficult cases, always a peacemaker, always encouraging charity and brotherly love.” Typical weekly entries in the branch record and in Carolyn Crosby’s diary mention Lyman’s “discourse” and Rich’s “exhortation.” Both Rich and Bishop Crosby were described as more quiet in their delivery than Lyman. High councillor Jefferson Hunt was not particularly articulate but full of fervor. Most of the listeners obediently and appreciatively accepted the sermons, however delivered, and the common report from brethren and sisters alike was that they were “much edified” by their presence at the services. Certainly these weekly gatherings were among the most crucial factors in maintaining the solidarity of feeling and purpose among those maintaining full fellowship in the San Bernardino congregations.5
Not that all of the parishioners were equally attentive. When Captain Edward O. C. Ord visited a service in 1856, he noticed boys in the choir preoccupied with a pack of playing cards. He also noted some “sleepy girls, lax looking,” and squalling babies. Many in the congregation displayed “hard phizis [faces].” The soldier’s view was probably not inaccurate, but rather proved that people derived from such proceedings what they sought to obtain. For most, that was spiritual uplift, despite the distractions.6
[p.260]Prayer meetings instituted by Lyman and Rich late in 1852 were bi-weekly gatherings held in the various homes and school houses where adult men and women gathered on Thursday and Sunday evenings “at first candlelight” to bear testimony and speak extemporaneously “as moved by the spirit.” Without careful supervision from church leaders, some strayed from strict orthodoxy, as noted in 1856 by Henry G. Boyle who expressed dismay at the spirit displayed, including “speaking and singing in tongues,” of which he did not approve. Early in 1856 President Rich counseled the Saints against “injudicious use of the gift of tongues in prayer meeting.”
A prayer circle involved a far more select group of some two dozen who were considered the more spiritual men of the settlement. The group met periodically in the upper chamber of the council house after it was completed in 1854. At least a portion of the time these brethren dressed in sacred temple robes and may have observed some aspects of the ceremonies first practiced at Kirtland and continued at the Nauvoo temple by some of those so gathered. When rumors circulated about these secret meetings, Rich snapped back that the group met to pray for the welfare of the colony, which, he said, he doubted would harm anyone. Besides these, there were other religious observances and family devotionals in a culture where such practices were among the preoccupations of the lives of most inhabitants.7
Traditional holidays were observed in San Bernardino, May Day being one of the two most extensively celebrated. [p.261]In 1856 there was a May Day wagon procession to a designated “party grounds” at “Jackson’s grove,” near the present Inland Center, where “quite a company assembled.” First on the program were “several interesting speakers,” including school teacher C. W. Wandell, who had been assigned to oversee the day’s events as “superintendent of the party,” along with Rich and school commissioner Horace A. Skinner. There were addresses by several younger participants in honor of the May Day queen, Lois Pratt, including maid of honor Sela Matthews and a young man, Joseph Hunt, with a carefully prepared response from the queen. The program included music prepared by Wandell with the assistance of Jonathan Crosby. The children reportedly sang “melodiously.” Caroline Jackson, always a favorite, played on her melodion, sometimes called a seraphine, and sang. At midday the party broke into smaller groups, each retiring to an assigned portion of the grounds for lunch. A “very nice variety” of food was presented, along with wine. After the meal there were several hours of dancing by the children on the “dancing ground.” That evening there was an adult dance at Bishop Crosby’s hotel.
The following year’s celebration was distinctly different but equally festive. Some 200 people journeyed three miles by carriage and wagon to the mouth of City Creek Canyon, termed “a beautiful spot” despite gale winds. Addison Pratt had gone to the creek the previous day and as usual had been successful at fishing—sufficient to furnish much of the party with fresh trout. Bart Smithson, one of the most accomplished deer hunters in the colony, accompanied Pratt but was apparently less successful in providing venison. There were no speeches on this occasion, but reports were that the festivities were enjoyed by all present. Citizens returned to town in the afternoon in time for an all-night ball held at Ed Daley’s Star Hotel. The Los Angeles Star reported that “this celebration will long be remembered for the good feeling, [p.262]happiness and uninterrupted enjoyment which prevailed throughout the entire proceedings.”8
The community’s first observance of the Fourth of July was in 1853 when a hot air balloon was launched. Some remembered the occasion the rest of their lives. Independence Day 1856 was particularly elaborate because political factions used the occasion to upstage the other side. Invited guests came from as far away as Los Angeles, including former Mexican governor of California Pio Pico, who considered Lyman, Rich, and attorney Alden Jackson among his personal friends. So many people gathered—as many as 2,000—that the group had to eat in three shifts at tables situated under the huge, specially-constructed bowery.
The following year’s celebration was also segregated, with the dissidents gathered at their new headquarters, Fort Benson, while the larger Mormon group staged what would have been a typical American celebration at the bowery. The latter started at three o’clock in the morning with a gunpowder “salute” that woke many who thought it much too early to commence such festivities. Later in the morning crowds gathered to witness a procession led by young men bearing a banner inscribed, “The Pride Of Our Country,” followed by twenty-four young women dressed in white, then another, saying, “The Strength Of The Nation,” accompanied by a similar number of young men. Then a “feeding committee” gathered freshly prepared food on long tables situated under the bowery. After dinner, at which the people were seated by neighborhoods, there were toasts. People danced in the dust, which bothered some people’s eyes. Stake president Cox reported 1,500 in attendance.9
[p.263]Besides the Independence Day celebration, some San Bernardino citizens also chose to celebrate the 24th of July, the anniversary of the Mormons’ arrival in Salt Lake Valley in 1847. In 1856 the militia or posse company of “rangers” had a drill and dress parade under the direction of Sheriff Robert Clift. The American flag was unfurled and patriotic speeches given. That evening a military ball was held at Lyman’s mansion.10
Christmas was more subdued and private. Usually a few rowdies did a little shooting of firearms, and each year there was some kind of school program. Candy pulls were continued as a tradition of many generations. Some gifts were exchanged, but this was not a major feature of the observance. The food was extensive and lavish, and there were private dinner parties throughout the city. On Christmas night there was usually a ball at Daley’s Hotel. The New Year’s celebration was an extension of the same itinerary.11
Although informal sociability in the community was clearly the favorite pastime of most San Bernardino adults, there were other pursuits as well. Among the most popular were the traditional frontier avocations of hunting and fishing. As Robert Glass Cleland, historian of the region, has noted, “All southern California was a hunter’s paradise. Bear and deer abounded in the mountains and foothills, antelope were plentiful on the arid plains; trout filled every mountain stream.” The San Bernardino Valley certainly fit that description. Perhaps the foremost outdoorsman was missionary Addison Pratt who liked nothing better [p.264]than to “go forth with his dog and gun and shoot wild game,” seeking bear, deer, turkey, ducks, and other quarry. Another successful hunter was Henry Boyle, who shot many deer while traveling to and from his mountain lumber and shingles mill. Boyle and Pratt were also known to have bagged antelope in the northeastern corner of the valley. The only person the scanty records document killing a bear during the period is young Silas Cox. Lumberman Bart Smithson became so involved in the quest for game that he later opened a hunting lodge in the mountains. Fishing was even more popular. Boys were noted by the government surveyors to be fishing on the lower portion of Lytle Creek in 1853. The next year, as Rich was convalescing, he spent several weeks in succession camped in the mountains in pursuit of trout. Lyman, who accompanied Rich on the last of these expeditions, caught only sufficient fish for the morning and evening meals, though Pratt was usually more successful, as were Ed Daley and some others.12
Another pastime, becoming too popular in the area to please the church leaders, was horse racing. This interest may have been growing throughout the entire Mormon period as it had long been a passion among the neighboring residents. In Los Angeles in 1852 Pio Pico bet that his famous horse, Sarco, could beat Jose Sepulveda’s Black Swan, imported from Australia, in what became the most famous race of the time. At least $50,000 in cash, land, and livestock was wagered, the foreign horse winning. It had always been difficult to keep Mormons from attending such events at Agua Mansa, but when a make-shift racetrack was established between the two towns, where Colton would later be, the appeal became greater. At the local track a Mormon named Rasor matched his horse against one from El Monte, with stakes of $1,000 on each side. Rasor chose Silas Cox [p.265]as his rider, then trained and conditioned the young man for several weeks as rigorously as he did the horse. In the race the San Bernardino entry won narrowly, stirring public interest and the ire of Mormon leaders. The stake clerk commented that this or another race “came off” with several thousand dollars changing hands, indicating San Bernardino was becoming thoroughly “gentilized.” The stake president exhorted the young women not to associate with those who would absent themselves from church services for such activities, but this probably had little direct effect on curbing the interest in horse racing.13
Early in 1856 some kind of circus came to town for an extended engagement held in a “pavilion” specially erected. The company must not have been large, as its members apparently all boarded at a single residence. Whatever the acts and oddities, including “acrobats and beasts,” the performances attracted considerable interest and comment, including the branch clerk lamenting the drain of an estimated $1,500 from local citizens. The next autumn another such group paraded through the city announcing performances. It must have been a make-shift affair because they had to borrow a musical instrument from a townsman to accompany the program. Also that year an “exhibition of some magic” arrived and, perhaps in an effort to secure a license to perform in the city, invited the city council and other officials to see their acts prior to the public performances 14
[p.266]The universal interests among the young people of San Bernardino included swimming and dancing. The former was engaged behind the dams in the irrigation ditches and the mill race and at hot springs north of town. U.S. senator William M. Gwin was taken to the hot springs, probably upon request. Dancing was associated with quarterly school commencement and at holiday celebrations. The younger children danced during the day and the older people throughout the night. Waltzes were popular, as were “French Fours” and cotillions. There were no known church leaders’ exhortations against round dancing as in some Mormon communities of the time. For those most interested in this activity, there was also an almost weekly series of informal dancing parties, usually at Ed and Nancy Daily’s inn but also in individual homes. It was common to use new buildings, commercial and residential, for such purposes before they were furnished. Little mention is made of any other indoor pastime, even of toys for little boys and girls. Children spent some of their free time outdoors gathering wild flowers and collecting bird eggs, sometimes stringing them for decoration.15
In a community where work and pleasure were so intertwined with riding horseback, inevitably young people became attached to their steeds. While still a boy, Francis Lyman received a spirited mule, Jimmy, which was his favorite companion. Silas Cox likewise received a pet pony at age nine which he managed to “break” by himself. Thereafter he was seldom on foot, becoming one of the best horsemen in southern California. Young Ammon Tenney was sufficiently expert that while riding at full speed through a cottonwood grove he ducked down and hung to the side of his horse as a tree limb tore the pommel from the saddle. Perhaps the most accomplished rider was Matilda Brown, the daughter of famous mountain man Jim Beckworth, who [p.267]dressed in black velvet with a black-plumed broad-brimmed hat, rode a black horse with a handsome red girth for a saddle and a gold-fringed bridle. Thus equipped, she would ride “free, fearless and fast as the wind.”16
The most careful observer of the growing Mormon town during these years was Judge Benjamin Hayes, who particularly lauded the educational system. “[N]o people I have met with,” he observed, “are more enthusiastic on the subject of public education. The intense devotion to the interest of their schools and indeed all literary culture, I have ever since observed [is] a distinguishing trait of the inhabitants of this charming valley.” The first county court of sessions, meeting 1 August 1853, authorized a twenty-five-cent tax levy per hundred dollars of assessed property value for schools, compared to the five-cent limit imposed by the recent state legislature. But the tax hardly mattered, since the school system that year relied on individual subscriptions for the $2,000 generated primarily for teachers’ salaries. The four or five teachers engaged were hard-pressed for adequate space to conduct their classes. The primary grades met in a vacant room in the fort under the direction of Ellen Pratt, summoned from San Francisco for that purpose. She was assisted by either of her younger sisters or her mother.
One of the more impressive aspects of the school system was the so-called “juvenile school” operated by the Pratt women. Pupils were accepted at the age of four, and enrollment eventually reached 350 students. Singing was a part of the daily exercises, similar to Louisa Barnes Pratt’s later institution at Beaver, Utah, where the students learned to perform common household tasks, “each one performed while singing an appropriate song.” The school, which is rightly considered a forerunner of later [p.268]kindergartens, was visited by interested outsiders and “highly commended.” Branch clerk Richard Hopkins reported to Lyman and Rich in early 1855 that “the miss we hired [Ellen Pratt] has proved to be a splendid teacher.”17
In the crucial years of general building, community leaders made construction of school facilities a high priority, with two separate adobe buildings situated forty feet apart. There were good structural reasons for separating the two school rooms, and in the absence of central heating, there was no real reason for joining them, although later additions would do so. One of these school rooms had a zinc roof, perhaps the first experiment in the area using metal sheeting in construction. By the end of 1855 both buildings were plastered on the outside, and officials intended to similarly finish the interior adobe walls. Teachers lived in both buildings, perhaps to maintain the fires in the stoves so the rooms would be properly heated by school time. During at least a portion of the period, one school was designated as the boy’s school, indicating that the division between the two was not by grade.
As late as 1855 schools were receiving no operating funds from either the state or county and had little hope of procuring such assistance. Expansion continued nevertheless. That year citizens from outlying areas petitioned the County Board of Supervisors to establish schools in their areas. As a result, districts were provided in the Warm Creek area to the northeast of the city, the mill district to the southwest, and in the San Gorgonio Pass area. One due west in the vicinity, later known as the Mt. [p.269]Vernon district, received similar authorization soon thereafter. None of these had nearly as many pupils as the first schools, but they made attendance more convenient.18
A decade later the community came in for high compliment, without proper credit to the people who did the building, from a well-known writer and promoter of California, Charles Nordhoff. He wrote that one could hardly find a town of San Bernardino’s size and character with such a “large, well-built and well-kept schoolhouse.” He further asserted, with less accuracy for the present than the past, that investigators would find the people there “take great pride and interest in their public schools. The school building at San Bernardino would be creditable to an eastern town of 10,000 inhabitants.”19
According to a careful study of the system during the 1850s, the San Bernardino schools were, by several measures, the best in the state during the period of Mormon habitation. The percentage of school-aged children enrolled and attending was the highest in the state, and the ratio of pupils to teachers was the lowest of those submitting such figures, which would have been at least the main school districts at the time. While there is no type of comparative study of the relative amount of their wealth communities expended on their schools, with so many poor grain harvests in San Bernardino and the continuing general indebtedness on the ranch, the public financial commitment in this district in terms of proportion of average family income is impressive.
The school year was divided into four quarters with several weeks of break time in between and probably considerable latitude among parents as to whether children attended each [p.270]quarter. Summer sessions would have required some dedication considering the oppressive heat. The school week was apparently only four days long, with no classes on Saturday, Sunday, or Monday. Less than one-third of the teachers hired were female. There were Ellen and Louisa Pratt, assisted sometimes by the younger girls in the family, along with Mrs. Olive Tenney and for a short time one of the Holladay sisters, but the rest were men. Some schools during the period attracted male teachers considered perhaps too lazy for other work, but most of the San Bernardino men were prominent even as they taught and all were fully respected in the community. It is true that, as was the case elsewhere with the more ambitious, many were simply using teaching as a stepping stone to another profession. William Warren reflected these views when he stated that teaching was fine for those who fancied it, but his own preferences were for occupations more “businesslike.” Still, the male teachers were considered among the more capable men of the settlement and were apparently good instructors.20
In an era stressing rote memorization, motivating the students could be a challenge. Louisa Pratt confided that some children “required great attention and compulsory measures for their advancement.” One student recalled arriving at school one morning in time to find a note on the door stating: “Mister master teach ’em well, / If they don’t study make ’em yell.” The author was never apprehended, but he certainly understood the methods then in common use. The same observer remembered that the school room, probably the one near the gristmill, was constructed with four corner posts so implanted in the soil that they again took root and provided the schoolmaster with a convenient [p.271]supply of live switches. Assuming original San Bernardino teacher John P. Lee used the same methods he did later in Utah, where he was called “Pumpkin” behind his back because of his rotund shape, he always kept an ample supply of switches handy and used them frequently as he “taught by the rule of the hickory stick” and “never spared the rod.” Other discipline methods included exhortations on behavior and the value of education from the highest church authorities in the settlement, who supported all aspects of the school and were proud of the progress they perceived taking place there. Also, it is known that if students were late for school, they would be locked out and not allowed to attend that day.21
An important part of education was a student’s public recitation or “exhibition.” One early in 1852 was described by the branch clerk: “[Y]oung people and many of their parents gathered at the council house to display their talents. A number of good speeches were recited and some splendid articles read.” There is every indication that some portions of both the May Day celebrations in 1856 and 1857 were similar to commencement exercises. In the former, the young speakers referred to the schools they represented, and in the latter, there were exhibitions on that last day of the school term.22
Parents seem to have purchased textbooks at local stores. These included the famous McGuffey’s graded readers and Webster’s blue-backed spellers. Certainly there would be shortages of essential instructional materials, and at least one girl who attended school in San Bernardino and later became a teacher commented on the unevenness of her education there. This was perhaps more the case with the older students who may have approached the educational level of their teachers. Illustrative of [p.272]the scarcity of upper level books is the fact that Marion Lyman copied his teacher’s astronomy book in longhand so that he would have his own to study from.
Young Lyman regarded himself as an average student. He particularly appreciated the teaching of C. W. Wandell, described by Louisa Pratt as a “very scholarly gentleman.”23 However, Marion’s responsibilities outside the classroom were an equally valuable aspect of his training and lend insight into the transition to adulthood. With his father absent much of the time, the young man had to take more than usual responsibility for family affairs. Other men helped oversee some aspects of his father’s extensive enterprises, but it was mainly Marion who accounted for the farming and livestock. He was also given some land and cattle of his own, as was his foster brother, William Flake. During harvest season they reluctantly withdrew from Wandell’s classes. Always large for his age, Marion was in demand as a member of the local threshing crews, where he commanded the full wage of $2.25 per day. He had already served a year-long apprenticeship to carpenter Thomas Whitaker while both were engaged in building the Lymans’ big house, but the boy admitted he was not particularly adept at such work. He preferred driving freight wagons and working as a mule-skinner. Through all of these experiences, the eighteen-year-old became as qualified as anyone to support a wife and family, which he undertook just as his people were vacating the settlement.24
The residents of San Bernardino were not only committed to educating their children, they understood the need for furthering their own learning, as what they accepted as modern-day [p.273]scripture so clearly admonished (D&C 88:118, 93:36). This is one reason they were so prompt in establishing a circulating library several years before either Los Angeles or San Diego. The Star envied the enterprise and hoped for liberal donations of books and periodicals from throughout the state. Besides founding this association, which also periodically sponsored public talks and oratorical events, local citizens were probably the first in southern California to attempt to transplant the lyceum method of adult education which had been flourishing for several decades in the northeast and midwest states from which many San Bernardino citizens came. There was hardly a traveling circuit of outside experts to draw upon very often, but returned LDS missionaries could inform their fellows on a variety of other cultures and points of geographic interest. A number of the San Bernardino brethren also had avocations and special reading knowledge of other subjects of interest. The lyceum and library association programs continued with impressive regularity. Sometimes the programs took the form of a debate, such as the one on the question of “Which had been the most admired, art or nature?” On occasion there was a visiting lecturer, such as from the Pacific Lyceum, mentioned at the end of 1855. There were also adult education classes, taught in the evenings by the regular school teachers, including instruction in English and Spanish, the nature of language, composition, and penmanship which generated good attendance and considerable dedication to self-improvement, as indicated through the time expended on such homework. In the last of these evening writing schools in the summer of 1857 Ann Louisa Pratt received a prize for the neatness of her writing book, in which “not a blot had been found.”25
[p.274]No newspapers were published at San Bernardino during the Mormon period, although one of the survivors of William Walker’s ill-fated Sonora filibustering expedition expressed an interest. Many correspondents made it their business to send news items to the church newspaper, the Deseret News, published in Salt Lake City, and a periodical church journal, the Millennial Star, published in Liverpool, England, and to the regular weekly newspapers at San Diego, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. Locals appeared much more interested in securing news from Utah, mainly through the Deseret News, than from the rest of the world. In early 1856 George Q. Cannon commenced publishing a church newspaper in San Francisco, the Western Standard, which often included national and world news items. Thereafter, San Bernardino readers, who were urged to support the paper, may have been a little better informed of events beyond the valley. With the slowness of mall service, such awareness could not have been particularly high anywhere in southern California. There were a few subscriptions to eastern journals and magazines, but these were rare and widely circulated when received. The Barnes sisters, Louisa Pratt and Caroline Crosby, often read to each other from such church publications as The Mormon, published briefly in New York by Apostle John Taylor, and The Seer, produced by Apostle Orson Pratt at Washington, D.C. They also read the Nichols Journal which contained some spiritualist articles.26
Caroline Barnes Crosby derived more than a little solace and pleasure from poetry. Once while feeling discontented, she took down a sheet of verse she had pinned to the wall and recited it several times over. This, she noted, gave her much satisfaction and cheered her spirit. Crosby’s sister, Louisa, fancied herself a poetess and wrote for special occasions, and in earlier years both [p.275]sisters had been associated with Eliza Roxcy Snow, the most widely-known woman writer among the Latter-day Saints. Besides her widely-known verse, Snow was one of the founders of the Female Relief Society and was generally considered the leader and spokesperson for Mormon women. When Caroline Crosby or Cornelia Leavitt Lyman, Snow’s niece, received a letter from the Salt Lake City resident, it was an important event in the colony. Crosby recorded that her visitors “thought it quite a pleasure to hear from [their] beloved poetess.”27
Among the frequent visitors from Los Angeles to the Addison Pratt family were the daughters of Don Carlos Smith, deceased brother of the Mormon prophet. After their father’s death resulting from anti-Mormon violence, the mother had married a lawyer named Picket and moved to California. Seeking to maintain some old ties of friendship and religion, the teenaged Smith girls periodically called on relatives and engaged in rounds of singing and dancing parties. It is not known to what extent the younger of them, Josephine, was exposed to the poetry of Eliza Snow, who once wrote a tribute to the girl’s deceased father, but it is likely she heard some of it on one of her frequent visits to the Crosby home. The young woman later became a prominent poet under the pen name of Ina Coolbrith, the poet laureate of California.28
[p.276]Virtually all of the festive occasions in the valley, along with more informal gatherings, featured singing and instrumental music. Those who played musical instruments were in demand, particularly if they could play the violin, most preferred for accompanying the much-loved dancing. There were a half-dozen fiddlers in the community, including William McGary, William Warren, Thomas Whitaker, John McDonald, Alma Crosby, a visitor named Watergren, and one of the African-American men residing at Crosby’s hotel. The youngest of these violinists, Alma Crosby, was constantly requested to play for dances. There were a number of other musicians, including Alma Crosby’s father, Jonathan, a flautist and singer, and his cousin, Ellen Pratt McGary, who played the accordion, as did Charlotte, the young daughter of Eleanor Morse. Charles Burke played the piccolo. Former slave Hark Lay was noted for his vocal talent. Several professional musicians visited San Bernardino, including one singer who was initially trained in his boyhood by Louisa Barnes, who commented on the great coincidenceof meeting him on the opposite end of the continent and hearing him perform songs she had taught him. One of the Australians who spent the winter of 1856-57 at San Bernardino was Joseph S. Ridges, who had assembled the beginnings of the famous Salt Lake Tabernacle organ which he transported to Utah in the spring.29
The most popular musician was Caroline Joyce-Jackson, a singer and instrumentalist. In Boston, Massachusetts, she had been known as “the Mormon nightingale,” and one promoter had offered to send her to Italy for formal training. She declined [p.277]but continued to sing at church and made several Mormon songs relatively famous, including William Clayton’s “The Resurrection.” While at San Francisco, Caroline purchased the first melodeon brought to that city, much to the disappointment of several competing ministers’ wives. This small keyboard organ drew air past metal reeds through pedal-operated bellows. She became equally accomplished on that instrument, often playing it to accompany her own singing. Upon being entertained by her one evening, Judge Benjamin Hayes described Sister Jackson as “a Mormon lady of much sprightliness.” The center of music-making, both choir practice and special parties, was the beautifully furnished Jackson parlor where a “singing school” was held in the evenings.30
At least three photographers, working with the new ambrotype techniques, came to San Bernardino during its years of peak development. Messieurs Dalee and Cornick advertised for those who wished to “see themselves as others see them.” Caroline Crosby, at least, was not satisfied with their work. The next year Dr. McIntyre considered setting up a gallery and training an apprentice, but it is doubtful he did so. The relatively famous artist of one of John C. Fremont’s last expeditions, Solomon Carvalho, spent several days in the Mormon settlement, during a period when he contemplated opening a studio in southern California, which would include photography. Unfortunately, none of the work of any of these men has been preserved or at least yet discovered. Besides the Jewish artist, Carvalho, primarily known for his portraiture, the city also hosted another painter of California scenes, Henry Miller, in 1856. While sketching in the street near Lyman’s mansion, he was struck by the lack of attention he attracted. When he commented on the matter to the senior church leader, the reply was that the San Bernardino [p.278]citizens were particularly adept at minding their own business. The work he was then engaged in has been preserved.31
Besides the published accounts of Carvalho and Jackson, several other renowned world travelers visited San Bernardino and commented in some detail on their experiences. The Frenchmen Jules Remy and Julius Brenchley documented interviews with several women in the settlement. William Chandless recounted his observations of Utah Mormons and the details of travel to California by the southern route. He was particularly interested in William Crosby’s relationship with his former slaves. Also, three well-known chroniclers of contemporary life in southern California, Judge Hayes, Harris Newmark, and Major Horace Bell, recorded important comments on the community.32
Courtship in San Bernardino was probably little different than in other American communities of the times, except that acceptable marriage partners came from within the faith. The numerous dancing parties in the settlement were perhaps most conducive to courtship, although the frequent musical and singing parties were almost as effective for such purposes. Young couples engaged in walks and horseback and carriage rides, usually with other couples. One couple, married in 1856, recalled riding double on one horse during their engagement. As the courting became more serious and received the approval of the [p.279]families, a good deal of time was spent simply visiting in the homes of prospective in-laws, with family members who wished to encourage the relationship probably retiring early to bed to leave the couple time alone together in the parlor.
Weddings were performed in the home of the bride’s parents, with as many guests present as the premises could accommodate. Chairs and dishes were borrowed from neighbors. The ceremony was performed by the highest available church authority. Bridesmaids and groomsmen were on hand, and feasting continued throughout succeeding days at the home of each set of parents. Wine was included in the refreshments, even at the weddings of the most upstanding church families. Often a dancing party followed at either the Daley or Crosby hotel.33
Almost all of the marriages and family situations in the community were happy and harmonious. Many instances of devotion to one’s spouse and other family members are mentioned, particularly during times of illness and death. The senior leader in the colony, Amasa Lyman, made marriage relations one of the foremost subjects in his sermons. One interested woman observer recorded that “he often expiated with great energy on the condition of families in the married state [and encouraged] their incessant labors in raising a family.” She recalled that “he would set forth in a clear light how their [families’] condition might be ameliorated with proper forethought on the part of the husband.”34 She also raised the question of whether the gentleman practiced what he preached, answering that so far as she knew, he did.
On the other hand, even in a community in which dissolution of family units was usually discouraged, the sketchy sources mention a number of breaches in harmony. These less functional situations also lend insight into life at San Bernardino. Perhaps [p.280]the confidentiality expected of clergymen prevented such reports from appearing in the documents left by the community leaders. Those impressions gathered steam mainly from the pens of women who were involved in attempting to ameliorate suffering in their own way. This is particularly true of the most dedicated known diarist in San Bernardino, Caroline Barnes Crosby. In late 1856 she became involved with the Coombs family through the oldest daughter, Helen, then in her early teens. Her father, Abraham, was described as an “old man.” The considerably younger mother, Olive, had four other younger daughters, including an infant, and one young son. Just after Helen moved into the Crosby home to assist with housework, it was reported that Olive was talking of leaving Abraham, putting the other children in foster homes, and finding lodging elsewhere, perhaps cooking for a lumber crew in the mountains. Upon hearing this, Crosby discussed the matter with the woman who promised to reconsider her decision. However, the next day Olive passed out drunk, while her baby cried at her side and the other three daughters stood by “looking very sad and forsaken.” Crosby observed, “I know not that I ever saw a more pitiful sight.”
Crosby offered to take one of the younger girls into her home and “do a mother’s part by her.” The parents consented and later expressed willingness that the Crosbys should have the child as their own. But six weeks later the mother reconsidered, even though she acknowledged that the girl was better off in the foster home. When the father was asked his opinion, he admitted that he had agreed to the arrangement in order to reconcile with his wife if possible. The child was returned to the parents.35
By that time Caroline was asserting some firmness with Helen. She was corrected for bringing a friend into the yet-unfinished new house where they had erected some sort of swing which [p.281]the girls used all Sunday morning while the rest of the family was at church. When Jonathan Crosby subsequently confronted Helen to make a choice between complying with their directions or returning to her parents, the girl chose to return home. Later it was discovered that she was wearing items to school that had been taken from a trunk stored at the Crosby house. Although clearly disappointed, Caroline confessed relief that a large burden had been removed when the girl was no longer staying with them. The Coombs family moved temporarily from San Bernardino soon thereafter, undoubtedly with their problems yet unresolved.36
Caroline Crosby also assisted a Mrs. Patton as a genuine friend. Patton had left the Mormon husband she had married in Nauvoo and had come to California married to a man who proved hostile to the church. They resided on the outskirts of San Bernardino. Patton experienced some domestic difficulty as she attempted to maintain some allegiance to her religion. She began criticizing her husband to others, leading to a confrontation that ended in separation. Taking up residence with the Crosbys, Mrs. Patton conferred with attorney Quartus S. Sparks concerning what she might do to receive some support from her husband. The advice must have been that she would have to accomplish [p.282]some type of reconciliation with him. After several rebuffs, she was accepted back home when her husband was struck ill.37
Certainly some marriages could not be salvaged. Early in 1856 the colony clerk noted that Edward Mills had become alarmed when “evil disposed persons” began doubting the “chastity” of his wife. Upon investigation, he discovered her friendship with a member of the circus company then staying in the settlement. When Caroline Crosby subsequently called on Sister Mills, she found the husband had “deserted her and refused to live with or provide for her.” The story Crosby heard was distressing, and indeed the woman may have been falsely accused but, despite their having a beautiful fifteen-month-old daughter, there appeared to be no hope of saving the marriage. It is doubtful if the church brethren even tried to do so.38
Even some couples deeply involved in the Mormon community had marital problems. Addison and Louisa Pratt were among the best-known citizens of San Bernardino, although the husband was often absent either on missions in the South Pacific or working in the San Francisco Bay area, which he appeared to prefer, supposedly because of his health. Over their long years of separation, Louisa became notably self-sufficient and independent minded, which some people interpreted as stubbornness. This was just one of the factors leading to incompatibility and unhappiness between the couple, eventually leading to further long-term separations. Part of the problem may have stemmed from doctrinal irregularities held by Addison Pratt, as noted on several occasions by his ward teacher and brother-in-law, Jonathan Crosby, who, along with others, reported him not only “extremely skeptical” but “full of vain philosophy.” While Addison apparently held no sympathy for spiritualism, his wife, [p.283]and at least one daughter and son-in-law maintained interest in those subjects. The couple also disagreed on plural marriage, Addison opposing it and Louisa fearing it was essential for their salvation. Another bone of contention was a foster child, Ephraim, a half-Tahitian son of Benjamin F. Grouard whom Louisa was charged with rearing. Young Grouard often wandered away to sleep at night in the schoolhouse and other random places. Addison, impatient with the situation, urged his wife to place the boy under the supervision of someone more strict who could “make him more obedient.” His wife objected, and they exchanged “unpleasant language” over the subject. Louisa confided to her sister “some of the trials with her husband, his hard speeches and the disunion that existed between them.” The situation did not improve in San Bernardino or thereafter.39
Divorce was seldom encouraged, but there were occasions when it was preferable to alternatives. One of the marriages performed by Amasa Lyman in 1853 joined Marion Perkins, a member of the original company of San Bernardino pioneers, to Ann H. Matthews, also of the initial group. The union must have been dissolved quickly and quietly. None of the available sources mention a divorce or annulment, but a dissolution clearly took place. Perhaps Perkins’s propensity for alcohol, which helped lead to his untimely death, was becoming evident. On one occasion he was described as a single man without a family. Meanwhile, Ann Matthews married Thomas M. Holladay in early 1856 and subsequently had ten children by him, including a son born at San Bernardino one year later.40
Unquestionably the bitterest divorce contest was that of attorney Quartus Sparks and his estranged wife, Mary Hamilton. The former church leader had allegedly kept a mistress named [p.284]Jane Coburn, also reportedly a former Mormon, for most of a year. When his wife sought divorce, he counter-sued, alleging she had been “too free in the company with one Dr. Beems,” probably Burrus. The trial is said to have featured such explicit language that women hesitated to attend, while some of the male jurors regarded the proceedings as “considerable sport.” Although Sparks mounted an elaborate defense, he was found guilty and failed to prove a case against his wife.
The trial involved a fight over property, including a newly completed house in the city. Judge Hayes ruled against Sparks and ordered his mistress arrested for keeping items belonging to Mrs. Sparks. “Armed to the teeth,” she fought desperately against those sent to apprehend her. She was taken to Los Angeles for detention. In the spring of the following year it was rumored that Sparks was seeking to take his children away from his former wife who had subsequently remarried a man named Hunt. Cooperative townspeople helped hide the children until the danger passed.41
One subject of growing interest regarding Mormons was polygamy. So far as can be determined, nine men in San Bernardino engaged in the supposedly higher commitment to plural marriage. Announced as a practice of the church in 1852 after more than a decade of secrecy, the polygamous relationships in San Bernardino—twenty-two marriages to plural wives—were almost all contracted earlier, mostly during the overland trek to Utah. Eleven young women were attached to Lyman or Rich. [p.285]Justus Morse, who left a wife in Nauvoo, had taken Eleanor Earl and Nancy Pratt as wives. Theodore Turley was married to three Clift sisters, two of whom subsequently died. His first wife also died, as did an appalling number of ten little children. Jefferson Hunt was married polygamously to Matilda Nease who had lost her mother and father. And Norman Taylor, the youngest of the California polygamists, married two Forbush sisters sometime before embarking as part of the first immigrant company to the Great Salt Lake Valley. On the advice of Brigham Young, James Henry Rollins married his young English housemaid, Hannah Humes, just prior to embarking for California. Missionary Benjamin F. Grouard married a second wife, Louisa Maria Hardy, on a visit to Utah in 1853 after returning from Tahiti and prior to locating at San Bernardino.42
The only known polygamous relationship contracted at San Bernardino was that of Charles Crismon and Mary Pierson, a young widow. After a sermon on the subject, Amasa Lyman had asked the first Mrs. Crismon if she believed in the principle of plural marriage, and upon an affirmative reply, he introduced the couple to the other woman who had recently arrived in the colony. After further visits between the two women and a somewhat awkward courtship, the marriage was performed by Bishop Crosby.43
Lyman had five wives residing with him during various portions of his sojourn at San Bernardino. Only the three Partridge sisters remained in Salt Lake City the entire time. His enlargement of the Jose Maria Lugo house resulted in separate apartments for each wife and her children, although four adjacent parlors [p.286]could be opened into one large room by folding the doors constructed for that purpose. Despite a common kitchen, the wives preferred to prepare meals separately. Yet as they had done during the pioneer trek to Utah, these Lyman women worked together to ease individual burdens, and they apparently enjoyed each other’s company, occasionally visiting and sewing together.
Two of the Lyman wives had sisters in the colony. Paulina Phelps’s sister, Mary Ann, was the plural wife of Charles Rich, and Dionetia Lyman’s sister was Evaline Walker Rollins, the first wife of J. Henry Rollins. In addition, Pricilla Turley Lyman’s father and surviving siblings were in San Bernardino, as was first wife Maria Tanner Lyman’s mother and several brothers. Dionetia’s mother, Nancy Walker, an active woman though over seventy years old, resided with her daughter in the big Lyman house.
Some insight into this family may be gained from the writings of Lyman’s oldest son, Francis Marion. In his numerous diary references to his mother and “aunts,” as plural wives were known, tenderness and respect are evident. On occasion, while he was away, he wrote to several of his aunts. During his teen-age years Marion lived in the apartment of Aunt Dionetia, the childless but much-loved wife. After the death of Agnes Flake in 1855, three of her children were made wards of the Lyman family, probably at the request of the dying mother. William Flake was the same age as Marion, and they soon became inseparable friends and work partners. There was similar harmony in the Rollins family, including unity between the two wives. A daughter, Melissa, young while at San Bernardino, later stated that when she was a girl she did not know which of the two Rollins wives was her actual mother. She recalled a household marked by “good will.”44
Not all polygamous relationships were harmonious—in San [p.287]Bernardino or elsewhere. Lyman’s early friend, Justus Morse, at some point in his San Bernardino years, turned away from his faith in the church and eventually alienated first wife Eleanor. Central to the domestic discord was Morse’s drinking, since when he was intoxicated he reportedly “would abuse his best friend.” Even though she was said to be the preferred wife, Eleanor concluded to leave her husband and return to Utah. When she approached Morse on the subject, he consented to give her a yoke of oxen to make the journey. Although she had many friends in the California community, she embarked for Salt Lake City with the very next company. It is doubtful that any divorce papers were ever signed or if there was any further financial settlement.45
When Theodore Turley first left Utah and then again a year after the colony was established at San Bernardino, census enumerators recorded him as living with but one wife, his fifth. Three of the others were known to have died, but Eliza Clift was still alive. There is no reference to her at San Bernardino during the years when her brother, Robert, acted as county sheriff and her husband was prominent in the community. But there is an Eliza Clift listed in the 1860 census for San Bernardino, indicating that she may have eventually emigrated and then remained there when the others returned to Utah. She may have been the unnamed plural wife who sought a divorce in the California courts because her husband had another wife. Her petition was denied by Judge Pablo de la Guerra.46
One somewhat perplexing generalization concerning the San Bernardino polygamists can be made. With the exceptions of B. F. Grouard and Theodore Turley who no longer had plural [p.288]wives, all of the colony’s polygamists were engaged in lumbering rather than agriculture as a major occupational pursuit. There were at least 150 heads of families in the settlement when the lumber industry was established and at most only ten to twelve local men chose that occupation, over half of whom had more than one wife. They may have anticipated that the probability for making sufficient money to maintain several families was more likely if they engaged in sawing and marketing lumber, but it is doubtful if such proved to be the case.
While twentieth-century Latter-day Saints are noted for observance of “The Word of Wisdom”—a strict code of abstinence from alcohol, tobacco, coffee, and tea—this was not considered a commandment until the 1890s. At San Bernardino, as elsewhere, tea remained a common beverage that was served during social visits. Similarly there were few weddings and holiday feasts where at least wine and sometimes whiskey were not available. High councilman Charles Crismon’s distillery began producing whiskey in September 1856. Coffee and tobacco are seldom mentioned, although the latter was abundantly used among Hispanic neighbors of both sexes.
While San Bernardino saw its first saloon eighteen months before the Mormon evacuation, liquor by the bottle had been available earlier at several of the Jewish mercantile establishments. This helped lead to serious drinking problems for several men and at least one woman. Frank Noyes, who made such a favorable impression when he arrived in town in late 1854, either suppressed his addiction initially or developed a compulsive taste for alcohol the ensuing year. He was disfellowshipped for drunkenness and immoral conduct. After apparently attempting to dishonestly influence a state legislative election, he left the colony discredited. Rich predicted he would die a wretched death, which proved true. Early in 1856 he was found lifeless in his bed at Los Angeles, a victim of over-drinking. However, there is reason to believe Noyes was not ostracized simply for his propensity for drink. Marion Perkins, who had a similar problem, [p.289]remained loved and accepted in the community. In fact, when he was killed in a liquor-induced fight, he was planning to go back to Utah to work in the Rich household, some of whom doubtless understood his cravings for strong drink. When Mrs. Coombs demonstrated over-indulgence in alcohol, the women who sought to assist her did so without judgement.47
As the colony continued its phenomenal growth, a substantial number of new converts arrived from Australia. While San Bernardino awaited another shipload in mid-1855, the Los Angeles Star commented on the fact that church members did not consider their work accomplished until they had assured the future “steadfastness” of new arrivals by “drawing them within the influences of the community of interests and feelings, where their temporal as well as spiritual wants” were provided for. Some Latter-day Saints did not appreciate the newspaper writer’s remarks, but they were an accurate assessment of the assimilation church leaders aimed to achieve. The community successfully accommodated Australians, Britons, and American southerners in all aspects of life, although they missed the mark, sometimes severely, with people of more diverse backgrounds.48
In the summer of 1854, when hired labor was scarce, Lyman engaged “Bishop [Crosby]’s hands” at a rate of thirty feet of lumber per hand per day to work at his Mill Creek sawmill. The hands referred to were several African-American men. While no longer slaves, they may not yet have felt totally free. The transaction for their labor was probably made by Crosby, who was then building his hotel and certainly had need of the lumber. A week earlier Lyman had hired “Robert Smith’s colored woman” to do domestic work for his wife, Maria, who had borne a new daughter the previous day. Louisa Pratt described the blacks in the settlement [p.290]as “free [but] still remain[ing] with their masters.” In the absence of male help in her household while Addison Pratt was away on a mission, Louisa cultivated friendships with some of these former slaves “by sometimes having a little wine or cherry-bounce and treating them when they would do [her] a favor.” Pratt secured assistance from her African-American neighbors in arranging her fort cabin and later her city house and lot according to her demanding preferences. One of these men also played the violin owned by Pratt’s nephew, Alma Crosby, and at other times another man, named Philemon, entertained the family by recounting stories from the antebellum South. Several other African-Americans were good singers, and Uncle Grief Embers was celebrated for playing the “bishop’s horn.” It should not be concluded that there was unrestricted social and economic interaction between blacks and whites, although the sketchy sources indicate a good degree of cordiality and no hostility. Despite free mingling on such occasions as holiday picnics, there were undoubtedly limits to these associations.
The status of African-Americans has in fact remained somewhat confusing. The terminology Rich used in referring to “his negro[,] Dick,” caused historian Byron Skinner to conclude that the possessive reference was “further evidence that although Blacks were free, the relationship between slaves and masters had changed little.” However, the man in question was particularly appreciative after being seized by a former owner and taken to El Monte, a town dominated by Texans who would undoubtedly have had little sympathy for escaped slaves. The captor accepted a payment of wheat from the Lyman and Rich company, and consequently Dick had pledged to “stay with them” the rest of his life—an idea that was not Rich’s so much as Dick’s.49 When [p.291]traveler William Chandless visited the colony in 1855, he noted Bishop Crosby’s hands “continued with him in a voluntary servitude,” in which the former owner did not believe he was in a beneficial position since the hands “had little to do, and ate a good deal more than they worked.” The matter was resolved with total freedom soon after, probably forced through the actions of Robert M. Smith.
Smith was a convert from Georgia and an original immigrant who brought the largest number of slaves with him to California. According to fellow southerner Daniel Thomas, who was a member of the San Bernardino Stake presidency, Smith had prospered in California and planned to leave for Texas, allegedly to avoid paying tithing on his considerable earnings. Undoubtedly a greater motivation was the prospect of losing considerable wealth embodied in his human property which he still had hopes to recoup even after spending so much time in a free state. The basis of these hopes was likely a state law passed in 1852 which provided that slave owners “who had brought their slaves into the territory before it was admitted into the Union [could] keep them, provided they did not remain in California.” Smith did not fully fit this situation since he arrived a year after statehood, but he apparently sought to utilize the provision to save his property. Smith left for Los Angeles prior to attempting to leave the state, and while he and his slaves were encamped in the Santa Monica canyon area, presumably awaiting a cooperative ship captain, the county sheriff received word, probably from San Bernardino. Obtaining a writ to prevent Smith from removing the blacks from the state, the sheriff took them to jail to “keep them from being kidnapped.” Smith must have left for the South [p.292]anyway, and his subsequent excommunication was undoubtedly done in absentia.50
Early in 1856 former slave owner Thomas wrote Lyman concerning the considerable changes among the colony’s black citizens in the months after Smith’s departure. Most of the adult African-Americans chose to abandon the community when given full opportunity to do so. Thomas’s own former servant, Philemon, had left “of his own free will and accord” and gone to Los Angeles to work as a bootblack at a mercantile house there. Grief Embers and Oscar Crosby departed for the same destination, taking Harriett who had once belonged to William Lay and was married to Grief. Two of Bishop Crosby’s ex-slaves, Mary and Samuel, had married and departed for other opportunities. Lizzy Flake was engaged, probably to Charles Rowan. They mainly stayed in the vicinity, where they were respected property owners the rest of their lives. Toby and Vilate, the other two adult African-Americans known to have come to San Bernardino, were both approaching sixty years of age. They likely remained connected with the Crosby Hotel, although Vilate was not listed in the 1852 census. Grief and Harriet Embers returned to San Bernardino at some point and by 1860 owned one of the city lots formerly possessed by Bishop Crosby. Oscar, married to a woman who had belonged to Robert Smith, also returned to San Bernardino. Grief, Oscar, and the Rowans must have concluded, after some outside comparison, that their former home was not such a bad place to live, though they may have come to this conclusion after the Latter-day Saint majority had departed. These people formed the nucleus of the permanent black com-[p.293]munity important in the Inland Empire from the beginnings of settlement.51
The first of several groups of Polynesians the San Bernardino colony had the opportunity to assimilate were the native Tahitian wives of several Anglo missionaries to the Society Islands. The attempt may have been futile from the beginning because of the wide cultural gulf that would have to be bridged and the inherited biases of most citizens in the California community and beyond. Louisa Pratt and her four daughters joined Addison Pratt on his mission in 1850, and Louisa did her best to love the people who so much admired “Praita.” Eventually she learned enough of the language to understand the sermons at church services and acquired a taste for some of the native foods.
But Louisa never considered the islanders equals. In referring to Thomas Whitaker, an Englishman who had joined the church in San Francisco and who, because of his previous experiences in the Society Islands, was sent back there to assist with the missionary work, she described him as a faithful and intelligent man who had married a “good, kind Tahitian woman.” But by so marrying, she opined, Whitaker had debased himself by stepping below his station. She could not understand the motives of the men who acted so rashly. Speaking more generally, including the similar situation of John Layton, she lamented seeing white men, otherwise sensible, conforming to the habits of island women, by “eating their food from the ground without knife or fork, isolating themselves from the world, raising a posterity they can never be proud of … . For them to go back to their native land and mingle in society would be like being ushered into a new world.” Certainly some of the men involved would disagree, [p.294]but most contemporaries in and out of the church probably shared similar views.
Because of restrictions on religion by French officials in the Society Islands, veteran missionary B. F. Grouard wished to transport Tahitian Latter-day Saints to California. He was unable to secure support for this proposal. But three island women accompanied their spouses to San Bernardino and attempted to adjust to the culture and religion of their husbands, though the undertaking proved challenging. Louisa recorded some of the difficulties and her own lack of empathy when she noted on the return voyage that “Mrs. Grouard clings to her old practices, lies about barefoot.” One wonders if her own conceptions of good taste in diary entries prevented her from fully listing the woman’s offenses, since shoes would hardly have been regarded as less confining than some other items of clothing. Further evidence of this omission is that in the subsequent diary entry, Pratt noted “today for the first time [we] persuaded her to dress herself and put on shoes.”52
After arriving at San Bernardino, Grouard journeyed to Salt Lake City to report his mission and send a letter to his wife, Nahina, enclosing a photograph of the woman he had chosen to be his second spouse. This in no way appeared to displease the island wife, who sincerely expressed her desire to learn a new lifestyle, stating, “If the woman is not proud and will teach me and the children,” she would accept the change. But when her husband returned with tendencies toward disaffection from the church and perhaps preference for his second wife, the Tahitian woman expressed the desire to return to her native land. After some consultation, Grouard consented to let her go but cruelly compelled her to leave one of her two sons. After the heart-rending separation from the little boy, who never again lived with his [p.295]father or mother, Nahina returned to Tahiti, married, and was happy there.53
After failure to construct a machine shop at San Bernardino and following the loss of a little girl during a whooping cough epidemic, John Layton and his family concluded to return to the islands as soon as they could raise the requisite funds. The decision of the Laytons and Mrs. Grouard undoubtedly influenced the third Tahitian woman, Mrs. Whitaker. When Rich called her husband to accompany him to Utah to become foreman of his affairs there, the wife expressed opposition. At first she argued that she could not live in the cold climate, but it soon became apparent that she also feared that her husband might take another wife or be called on another mission and leave her there. Rich advised Whitaker to appeal to her commitment to religion. This came nowhere close to persuading her. In desperation Whitaker agreed to let her return to her home, supposedly to visit her friends, expressing confidence that her faithfulness to her religion would bring her back to him. So far as is known, the husband and wife never saw each other again.54
Louisa Pratt clearly loved the young half-Tahitian placed in her custody by his father, whom she regarded as her only opportunity to raise a son. But little Ephraim Grouard demonstrated what Pratt called “the habits of his race, a constant desire to ramble about, could not bear confinement.” Like his older half-brother by another wife who died prior to Grouard’s marriage to Nahina, Ephraim would wander away and sleep wherever sunset found him, forcing his frantic foster mother to search for him. She had similar difficulty convincing him there was any problem in his taking fruit without permission from whatever trees he encountered. She felt constrained to punish him severely for his [p.296]propensity not to tell the truth. Pratt confessed grief when other family members remarked that “there [was] no prospect for making an honest boy of him.” Despite a reciprocal loving relationship, she concluded that “nature show[ed] out,” and that while both the boy and his brother were “bright, shrewd and witty, with loving dispositions, … their Indian traits … seemed impossible to overcome.” Pratt probably did better than she had hoped. Ephraim became a prominent army scout. Still, her contemporary views on race are revealing.55
Early in 1854 Sandwich Islands missionary Nathan Tanner began the purchase of a ship, the Rosalind, to transport Hawaiian converts to California. Financial reversals made it impossible to secure the expected funds to complete the payments. After advice from Parley P. Pratt, Tanner abandoned the ship and the emigration scheme at considerable loss. However, as he was thus engaged, the first three Hawaiian women, married to American and English converts named Dennis, Kipp, and Hill, made their way to San Bernardino at their own expense in keeping with the desired gathering policy as a vanguard for other Polynesians to follow when possible. The new arrivals were welcomed into the settlement, and at least sometimes resident veterans of the mission offered worship services to the sisters in the Hawaiian language. But real assimilation into the community did not occur.56
[p.297]When perceptive French travelers Jules Remy and Julius Brenchly reached San Bernardino the next year, they were particularly interested in interviewing the Polynesian women. The Tahitian they approached, probably Teina Layton, was entirely uncommunicative. But when they called on Sister Dennis, one of the Hawaiian women, they were startled to hear her call them by the names they had previously been given while visiting the Sandwich Islands. Hakuole Dennis was most willing to express her feelings toward her present situation, offering candid insights into life in the California Mormon community as she experienced it. Above all she graphically demonstrated how poorly the Mormon experiment in cultural and ethnic accommodation had progressed. She lamented ever leaving the climate, lifestyle, and people of her home islands, tearfully striking her breast for having done so. She explained she came out of love for her Mormon convert husband, who emigrated to California through obedience to direction from the missionaries he had befriended. However, both he and his wife had abandoned the Latter-day Saint faith, and she hoped they could raise sufficient funds within the year to return to Hawaii.
Part of her discontent stemmed from the “dreariness” of the land and climate compared to her former home. She had no word in her vocabulary for the frost the travelers asked her about. Undoubtedly her greatest problem was her perception that she had not been fully accepted. She had no visitors even though she [p.298]had gone to the trouble to learn English. When the Frenchmen commented on her success in adopting the dress habits of her neighbors, she modestly accepted the compliment, then stated that white women were not a bit better than their island counterparts. She described the former as more full of pride, ostentation, and generally less natural. She also exhibited some deeply hurt feelings involving her supposition that the white sisters regarded the simple island ways as “savage,” further expressing the opinion that they regarded her “as if she were a negress.” Her own attitude toward them included the observation that “white women [were] prudish, full of affectation,” and should hardly be regarded as part of a superior civilization.
These were candid and harsh comments, particularly, as the observers noted, for one from Mrs. Dennis’s culture. Unfortunately they were her true inner feelings. She mentioned the two other native Hawaiian sisters residing in San Bernardino, who with her husband were her only relief from loneliness. However, Mrs. Kipp and Mrs. Hill interacted with at least some of their Caucasian neighbors on a friendly basis, as did their husbands, although they too had lost their religious fervor. Part of Hakuole’s problem was that her husband, sometimes known as the “pagan prophet,” was notably loud when intoxicated. And he and his fellows not only fully embraced the spiritualist doctrines but were also known to advocate “freelovism,” which some associated with the former doctrines.57 This may have been as much a cause of the social ostracism Sister Dennis perceived as her cultural and ethnic background.
The converts from Hawaii were much influenced away from the Latter-day Saints and toward spiritualism by Benjamin F. Grouard, although all had probably espoused similar beliefs back in the home islands both before and after embracing Mormonism. [p.299]One of the former Hawaiian missionaries, Francis A. Hammond, visited one of their meetings and noted Grouard was a capable and persuasive speaker “well calculated to lead away the unwary.” Hammond also visited his former associates in their homes and noted they had totally apostatized and were no longer able to say anything good about any of the church members among whom they resided. Finally, Grouard, Dennis, Kipp, and Hill moved their families some two-and-a-half miles west of San Bernardino, where they established their own spiritualist settlement while engaged in agriculture on public lands. They were totally alienated from the Mormon community, and when the anti-Mormon political activity resumed in 1856, all were numbered among the active participants in that movement. Thus any attempt at permanent assimilation of Polynesians into the San Bernardino Anglo-American culture was a failure.58
Nothing indicates that church leaders did anything in particular to make the islanders feel a part of the community, although Lyman visited with them when they first arrived. And perhaps it was too much to expect at that time that more specific efforts be attempted. But if not, there was something contradictory about continuing the aggressive proselytizing program among them, with at least some stress on gathering to Zion, their preaching and practices sometimes causing difficulties for new believers in their native land. Certainly it was a matter to be resolved by the general church leaders, but no such direction came from them on these matters. There had been requests to use Perpetual Emigration Funds to bring Australian converts to California, yet no such funds were appropriated, although the program was then bringing thousands of Europeans directly to Utah via Atlantic routes. No requests for church assistance for transporting Polynesians are known, but in fact they had even greater financial need. It would have taken positive encourage-[p.300]ment and direction from Brigham Young and his associates for San Bernardino to become a real center of gathering for converts from the Pacific Islands, and despite some mention of this possibility from time to time, it never became a priority.59
Native Americans who frequented the San Bernardino Valley in the 1850s were rather thoroughly Hispanicized, speaking Spanish and practicing, at least to an extent, Roman Catholic belief. They understood the pruning, irrigation, and culture of grape vines, and each spring some came down from the nearby mountains to work in the vineyards. As had been the case in the days of the Franciscan missions, California Indians had difficulty adjusting to a rigid work routine and would periodically take a pasea—ashort pleasure trip into the mountains or desert to hunt for rabbit, quail, and venison, along with preparing roasted stalks and bulbs of mescal and mesquite bread. Still Louisa Pratt deemed the native Californians she knew “the best Indians [she] ever saw to work.” She utilized their labor on many occasions, particularly in preparing her garden for planting. Her sister, Caroline Crosby, employed an orphan boy for a time, allowing him to sleep on the wood shavings of her husband’s workshop floor. An Australian convert who arrived at San Bernardino in 1856, Luke Syphus, ignored the protests of his wife and allowed his Indian workman to sit with him at the dinner table.60
Among the Indians who frequented the temporary camps on the Jackson property on the west edge of San Bernardino, near where the old Gauchama rancheria had been located, was “Old Martinez,” a much-revered elder of the Cabezon [p.301]band of the Cahuilla tribe. This patriarch of three generations was notably reticent even among white people he respected, and he fully retained his traditional dress and was never seen without his old weapons. On the other hand, some of his associates adopted European ways. Francisco, a six-foot-tall Indian employed by the Jacksons, often inquired into aspects of the Mormon faith, and Caroline Jackson, easily one of the most impressive women in the colony, patiently answered his questions, including teaching him to pray, which he practiced thereafter. On one occasion visiting Indians became rowdy and the ranch mistress ordered them to leave. One man not only refused but responded menacingly toward her and the Mormons in general. Big Francisco stepped forward, claiming he was a Mormon, bound the troublemaker’s hands, and handing the other end of the rope to a mounted companion, ordered the defiant Indian dragged from the property.
The Jacksons once paid school tuition for an Indian girl, Adelia, befriended by their daughters. Adelia not only made good progress in her formal classes, but also learned sewing and other skills. In return, she taught her playmates about their outdoor surroundings. Unfortunately, Adelia died while in her teens, perhaps succumbing to one of the several diseases to which her people had no immunity, the ultimate fate of many of the remaining Indians in the area. Despite these and similar contacts and sporadic missionary efforts by Mormons among the neighboring rancherias and hiring some to help with harvests, there was little attempt to adopt Native Americans into the mainstream of community life.61
Despite lingering resentments from the United States war with Mexico, relations between Mormons and their Hispanic neighbors were generally cordial. While yet camped at Sycamore Grove, Mexican peddlers of peaches and prickly pear fruit were [p.302]well received, and San Bernardino citizens would continue to visit Agua Mansa, the closest neighboring settlement, particularly when fruit, melons, and blackberries were ripe, and on horse race days. Occasionally Spanish-speaking women would visit the Mormon town to sell silk handbags they had made, and on one such occasion the visitors gave a little Mormon girl who danced for them a small gold piece. On some holidays and election celebrations, “serenaders,” Hispanic guitarists, visited the city and were invited to participate in the festivities. On several occasions former Mexican government dignitaries were seated and fed as honored guests.
Colonel Alden Jackson was a particular friend of Pio Pico and acted as attorney for many of the region’s prominent land grant-holding families. As justice of the peace, he was honored by the local Californios as the “alcalde,” actually a former local office of considerably more than judicial prerogatives. On one occasion Jackson called attention to the fact that many naive customers were receiving less than a full measure of cloth yardage from the local merchants who used only their arm length for determining fabric length. In fact, Lewis Jacobs acquired the nickname “Long Lewis” for his best reach of 33 inches, although he charged customers for three additional inches worth of merchandise. Jackson’s role in apprising Spanish-speaking customers of this condition earned him the appellation “el amigo del Español,” the friend of the Spanish, which he and his family fully deserved.62
Among the main results of close and prolonged contact with Hispanic neighbors were young men seeking to emulate the ways of the men who had captured their admiration upon first contact. This probably included the vices more than the virtues. They watched Mexicans inhale cigarette smoke and blow it out their [p.303]nostrils and drink pepper-spiced liquor, aguardiente. As Francis Lyman admitted, “It became the ambition of the boys in school to smoke and drink right away.” In fact, he recalled “the brighter students in [the] school and the leading spirits among [the] young men, nearly all indulged in the cigarette habit and in the use of strong drink and in profanity.” Others mentioned the “astonishing readiness” with which the ability to swear in Spanish was acquired by San Bernardino school children. Young Lyman was among those who acquired the smoking and drinking habits, and despite the pleading of his parents, he persisted in these practices for several years. Smoking almost cost him the opportunity to marry the girl of his choice, whose Australian mother admonished her to avoid a man who could not break the tobacco habit. Perhaps these experiences made Francis M. Lyman a foremost advocate of living the Word of Wisdom as a measure of Mormon faithfulness in later years when he was a senior apostle during the 1890s. It is impossible to ascertain just what senior high councilman Theodore Turley was referring to when he exhorted the church youth against “adopting the practices of the Spaniards and spending their time in worse than idleness,” but smoking and drinking were undoubtedly what he had in mind.63
Although a few Hispanic neighbors became members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, there is no evidence that they were fully welcomed into the congregation. Mormons of the southern California colony had a unique opportunity to demonstrate to the entire world a true community of ethnic and cultural accommodation. Church doctrine stressed that the Indians were children of ancient Israel and therefore among God’s chosen people. Although the tenet was later interpreted to in-[p.304]clude Hispanics and Polynesians, it apparently had no such meaning at the time when ethnocentrism was common among almost all Americans and Europeans. Despite a clear cordiality demonstrated toward individuals from the various groups, there was no known specific effort encouraged by church leaders, local or general, to give real meaning to equality and full acceptance of the various minority citizens and members. Such a conscious program would undoubtedly have been essential to overcome the ethnocentrism common among almost all American and Europeans of that era. Thus the opportunity to begin a complex process of true assimilation of cultures and lives from diverse backgrounds as brothers and sisters in one common gospel was neither encouraged nor accomplished. It would have probably been too much to expect at the time, but the opportunity was present, if only the essential motivation and leadership had also been available.
Life in a frontier community, or for that matter anywhere prior to relatively modern times, was never without grim reminders of the tenuous nature of human life. This was particularly true for the very young, as genealogical records for almost any family indicate. Of the thirty known deaths in the Mormon community, two-thirds were among those under ten and most of these were under two years of age. A baby’s passing was apparently so common it was hardly mentioned in the sources. For example, Rich frequently mentioned the illness of his son, Morris Marion, but on his passing simply stated in his diary: “I buried my child this morning about 8 o’clock A.M. Went to meeting and Bro. Lyman preached.”64
In the first four years the death toll had been about a dozen people. But as the San Bernardino population approached 2,000 in 1855, the number of fatalities rose proportionately. At the [p.305]beginning of the year one of the settlement’s most tragic episodes was winding to a close. Agnes Love Flake had been born to luxury and leisure on a Mississippi cotton plantation. In her early married life she abandoned that lifestyle to gather with her husband and six small children among fellow converts first at Nauvoo, Illinois, then the plains of Iowa and Nebraska, and finally in Salt Lake City. These journeys not only cost her the lives of half of her children, but her husband, James Madison Flake, was killed in a fall from a skittish mule after he was called to go to California to mine gold for the benefit of church finances. Already stricken with what proved to be a terminal case of tuberculosis, Agnes Flake was so severely shocked by the loss of her husband that she was bedridden for an extended time. When most of her southern friends decided to accompany Lyman and Rich to establish a colony in southern California, Agnes decided to move one more time. She and her children, assisted by the faithful former slave girl Lizzie, braved the extremely difficult desert journey and the vicissitudes of settling in another primitive location.
In the process the Flake family expended most of the remaining funds from a once sizable estate. While living in poverty, Agnes was visited by a brother in California for the Gold Rush. He offered a return to the life of wealth and ease and a good education for the three remaining children if she would renounce her religion and return home with him. To this she replied that she would rather be a poor washerwoman where she could rear her children as Mormons than to be the mistress of any plantation. When the disappointed brother informed her he would return for her any time she reconsidered, she promised she never would. During the ensuing months her disease continued to take its toll. Finally at year’s end she summoned Hopkins and Lyman to assist with a last will and testament. Early in 1855 she gathered her children and informed them she was close to death. After conversing at length on her goals for them and advice on how to conduct their future lives, she kissed each one [p.306]and lay back on her pillow lifeless. Her constant companion, Lizzie, could not restrain her grief. When one of the neighbor women observed that the ex-slave should be glad to be free from all past obligations and possible whippings, Lizzie drove the woman from the house, saying Mrs. Flake “was the best women what ever lived.” Few neighbors would have disputed that.65
Later that same spring another so-called consumptive, the wife of Phillip B. Lewis, then serving a mission in the Hawaiian Islands, returned to the presumably more healthful climate of San Bernardino. But when the heat of summer arrived, Mrs. Lewis requested that she be taken to the lumber camps in the mountains where, with few facilities to tend such a patient, she lapsed into her final illness and died, all the while hoping her husband would return in time to see her once again. He arrived several months after her body had been transported down the mountain and laid to rest with a eulogy from Parley Pratt.66
Louisa Pratt was charged again in 1855 with the task of being foster mother to a little child—Emma, the daughter of a Mr. Grinelle, a non-Mormon from northern California. Louisa became attached to the little girl, calling her “the sweetest and best child I ever saw in my life.” Then a whooping cough epidemic swept the community late in the year. Despite many precautions, a careless neighbor girl brought an infected sibling to the Pratt home “which did the cruel deed” of infecting Emma. As the sickness worsened, the girl recognized that medicine would not relieve her, and she asked her foster mother to “sing me a farewell song.” Her father returned, but not in time to see her alive. He was given a lock of her hair, which Pratt noted he took to a private place, undoubtedly [p.307]for a bitter but futile cry. At least two other little girls died of whooping cough that same season.67
Later, in the autumn of the same year, Susan Hakes Fabun, wife of the blacksmith and daughter of the shoemaker, died a few hours after giving birth to a son. She had earlier suffered complications in childbirth when the pioneers first reached the valley but had recovered. This time, after “much suffering,” she died. Her sorrowing father was assured that she would certainly arise in the blessed resurrection, but this was only partial solace to him after losing his second adult daughter, both of whom Fabun had married in succession.
Besides the whooping cough epidemic in early 1856, there was a serious influenza outbreak in the late summer of the next year which cost the lives of half the other eight children known to have died in the last two years of Mormon occupation. Only one adult, the wife of Edwin Webb, whose infant twins were included in the child death count, died of what was termed “dropsy.” Records of the exodus to Utah are sketchy, but the deaths of two children and one older man are known to have occurred at that time. For a settlement as large as San Bernardino, this was not a large mortality rate.68
As in other communities great compassion—perhaps the ultimate in community spirit—was demonstrated in times of death and bereavement. There appeared to be little hesitancy to call on the church sisters, although it was not usually done through ecclesiastical channels, but informally, by neighbors and loved ones. More than enough assistance was usually present along the later stages of illness of both adults and children, although in that era any attention was tragically deficient of real means—other than faith—of alleviating the situation. Upon the passing of such persons, particularly the children, some of the [p.308]women commenced sewing what was sometimes called “grave clothes,” and other times a shroud. There was no regular undertaking service, so friends prepared the deceased for burial. “Laying out” the dead probably meant simply washing the body and dressing it in the best available clothes, including, for Latter-day Saints who had received their temple endowments, a special undergarment. No formal funeral services were held, although sometimes “short exhortations” were given by church leaders at the family home prior to the procession to the burial grounds. A priesthood holder would dedicate the grave.
The coffins used at San Bernardino in the 1850s were prepared by “mechanics” skilled in woodworking. The lumber was usually donated, as was the labor. Women lined the casket with appropriate fabric. Most grave markers were made of wood, although P. B. Lewis purchased a granite headstone for his deceased wife and child before he returned to Utah.69
San Bernardino always had at least one physician. During the peak of population in 1856-57 there were at least three—Burrus, Sinclair and McIntyre—along with Andrews, who mainly limited his practice, as was common at the time, to operating a drugstore. Each of these doctors was in considerable demand treating accident and illness victims, including a young boy whose arm was torn by a caged mountain lion. Doctor Burrus sewed the wound using bee’s wax on the thread. He may have felt some responsibility in that case since he had at one time owned the animal. On occasion Burrus served as a dentist, although that was not his particular training. Dr. Alma Whitlock arrived in the city in 1857 to commence the first professional dental practice in southern California. John Brown, in his later recollections of “mediumistic experiences,” mentioned two spiritualist cures, [p.309]including the healing of his old friend James Waters of hydrophobia.70
Louisa Pratt and Caroline Crosby were rather dedicated advocates of methods outlined in a “water cure” book they possessed. When Caroline’s foster son, Johnny Tait, contracted a severe cold, he was given a warm bath, along with consecrated oil on his throat and stomach, and more of the same taken internally with a dose of molasses. Similarly, Jonathan Crosby was given a sweat bath for his bad cough, while he also drank pepper tea, probably made with cayenne pepper, which was dispensed for several ailments. Caroline took baths when ill and often noted that she felt better afterward. When the Hill baby had whooping cough, the sisters packed the child in a wet sheet. Later, under the direction of Dr. Burrus, they gave the patient a warm bath and a dose of Dover’s powder “to quiet the nerves.” In this case, after the medicine was administered, the baby “fell into a deep sleep from which she never awoke.” The whooping cough was blamed for the death, but the lack of medical knowledge in such cases certainly did not lessen the death toll.
Others in the settlement were similarly inclined to try whatever methods were said to cure illness. Addison Pratt, often afflicted with what was diagnosed as pleurisy, called for the elders of the church to administer to him, but when comfort was not obtained, he sent for a physician, Dr. McIntyre, who applied mustard plasters and bathed his feet, which reportedly brought some relief. When Pratt’s daughter had been injured by a runaway horse, Doctor Sinclair was summoned first and the religious administration came thereafter. On that occasion Rich simply [p.310]admonished her in his blessing to be more careful in the future. Rich also had faith in priesthood healings, but that did not prevent him from attempting to derive improved health from a “galvanized battery” used in some manner by Burrus. Rich was seriously ill on several occasions and this may have been among his reasons for wanting to return permanently to Utah.71
Despite the phenomenal number of children born in the settlement, the letters, diaries, and other sources never mention pregnancy and seldom childbirth, except after the event. Often a woman was said to be unwell, and then a new child was announced. There are no known instances of physicians being involved with these deliveries, except when called later because of complications. Childbirth appears to have been entirely within the realm of responsibility of other women, particularly those serving as midwives, of which San Bernardino had several. Mrs. Patton was ready at a moment’s notice to hurry to assist her sisters, who had often engaged her in advance. Another midwife known for her dating and speedy night trips on horseback was Hannah Smith, one of the former slaves.72
Another aspect of the San Bernardino community, not unique but noteworthy, was the manner in which the people accommodated children who had lost or become separated from their parents. It is impossible to determine how many such foster children there were in the settlement but indications are that they were numerous. Sometimes there was a kin relationship, as when [p.311]Jefferson Hunt basically adopted Peter and Ellen Nease, the younger siblings of his second wife, Matilda. He also took in a number of young men essentially stranded at San Bernardino who became nominally a part of the family circle for some years. Caroline Crosby took in young Johnny Tait, born in India, until his father became established in Utah. In the meantime she became attached to the boy, as she had been to the Coombs girls. Nursing mothers who were sick often found substitutes willing to share their breast milk until they recovered. At the death of a mother, young children were placed in appropriate homes while the father made more permanent arrangements.73
Most communities throughout the world’s history have displayed degrees of neighborly spirit. Yet it is doubtful if any placed under the scrutiny of historical hindsight have surpassed Mormon San Bernardino in the 1850s in recorded instances of generosity and helpfulness to unrelated fellow residents. Similarly, it must be conceded that the community’s strivings for educational and cultural betterment deserve recognition for outstanding success, particularly for a small town in the Far West in that era. Unfortunately, the opportunities for ethnic and cultural assimilation fell short of what was possible, but perhaps the experiment was premature at best. Despite the emergence of a group of dissenters, mainly in the outlying areas, an impressive instance of true community continued to flourish in this Mormon colony to the very end.
3. Ibid., 18, 23 Mar., 9 Nov. 1856, 27 Sept. 1857; William Chandless, Visit to Salt Lake; Being a Journey Across the Plains and a Residence in the Mormon Settlements (London: Smith, Elder and Co., 1857), 303; Andrew Jensen, comp., “History of San Bernardino, California,” being mainly material recorded by Richard R. Hopkins, San Bernardino branch and stake clerk in his “San Bernardino Branch Record,” 26 Oct., 9 Nov. 1856 (hereafter Hopkins-Jensen), both in archives, Historical Department, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah (hereafter LDS archives).
4. Hopkins-Jensen, 16 Dec. 1855; Crosby Journal, 25 Mar., 13 Aug., 19 Oct., 9 Nov. 1856, 13 Oct. 1857; William G. Hartley, “Nauvoo’s First Stake Priesthood Quorums and the Church’s First Wards,” Brigham Young University Studies 32 (1992), 1:57-64.
7. Amasa M. Lyman Journal, 8 Apr. 1855, Lyman Papers, LDS archives; Henry G. Boyle Diary, 27 Jan., 16 July 1855, LDS archives; Richard R. Hopkins, “San Bernardino Branch Journal,” 6 Jan. 1856, LDS archives (hereafter Hopkins Branch Journal). The men involved may have received their temple endowments previously in Kirtland, Nauvoo, or Salt Lake City.
9. San Diego Herald, 19 July 1856; Hopkins-Jensen, 4 July 1856; John Brown, Jr., and James Boyd, History of San Bernardino and Riverside Counties, 3 vols. (Los Angeles: Western Historical Association, 1922), 3:1131; Crosby Journal, 4 July 1857; William J. Cox to Brigham Young, 7 July 1857, Young Papers, LDS archives. See chapter 7 herein for more on Fort Benson.
13. Cleland, The Cattle on a Thousand Hills (San Marino, CA: Huntington Library, 1941), 121; L.A. Southern Californian, 28 Dec. 1854; Richard C. Thompson, ed. “Silas Cox: Daniel Boone of the West,” San Bernardino County Museum Quarterly 22 (Fall 1974): 5-6; Hammond Journal, 18 Feb. 1857; Crosby Journal, 23 Aug. 1857; Hopkins-Jensen, 23 Aug. 1856, 14 Feb. 1857. The former entry recounts another Agua Mansa horse race well attended by San Bernardino citizens.
16. Alberta R. Lyman, Francis M. Lyman: Apostle (Delta, UT: Melvin A. Lyman Publisher, 1958), 22; Cox, “Daniel Boone of the West,” 3; Ammon M. Tenney to Pearl Udall Nelson, 12 July 1915, Ammon M. Tenney Papers, LDS archives; Crocheron, “California Memories,” 369.
17. Benjamin Hayes, Emigrant Notes,” II, 3 Oct. 1856, 247, Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley; Carter, Heart Throbs, 8:302, 12:180; San Bernardino County Court of Sessions, Minutes, 1 Aug. 1853, cited in George W. Beattie and Helen Pruitt Beattie, Heritage of a Valley: San Bernardino’s First Century (Oakland, CA: Biobooks, 1951), 389; Richard Hopkins to Amasa M. Lyman and Charles C. Rich, 8 Feb., 30 Nov., 2 Dec. 1855, Lyman Papers.
20. Hazel Miller Croy, “A History of Education in San Bernardino During the Mormon Period,” Ph.D. diss., University of California at Los Angeles, 1955, 82-98, 106-15; Crocheron, “California Memories,” 406; William Warren to Amasa M. Lyman, 30 Dec. 1855, Lyman Papers.
23. Carter, Heart Throbs, 321, 12:17, states that in 1858 several families from San Bernardino located at Beaver, bringing a few blue-backed spelling books and McGuffey’s Readers with them; Lyman, F. M. Lyman, 22-3; Mrs. Lucinda Lee Dalton Autobiography, 1876, Bancroft Library.
25. Journal History, 6 Feb. 1853; Carter, Heart Throbs, 8:309, 321; Crosby Journal, 13 Apr., 3, 4, 6 May 1855; L.A. Star, 3 Nov. 1855. The officers of this organization were Alden A. M. Jackson, president; Horace A. Skinner, vice president; Daniel Stark and Horace Rolfe, secretaries; and directors Theodore Turley, Addison Pratt, John P. Lee, Ira Burrus, and William J. Cox. Nathan E. Dodge was treasurer, and Andrew DeLin and Daniel Thomas were librarians.
28. Annaleone D. Patton, California Mormons by Sail and Trail (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1962), 149-72; Crosby Journal, 9, 10 Apr. 1857. Coolbrith was the maiden name of Josephine’s mother. On Ina Coolbrith, see J. Rhodehamel and R. F. Wood, Ina Coolbrith, Librarian and Laureate of California (Provo, UT: Brigham Young University Press, 1973), and Ina Agnes Graham, “My Aunt, Ina Coolbrith,” Pacific Historian 17 (Fall 1973): 12-19. Articles connecting her to the larger American scene include George U. Hubbard, “Ina Coolbrith’s Friendship with John Greenleaf Whittier,” New England Quarterly 45 (Mar. 1972): 109-18, and Cheryl Walker, “Ina Coolbrith and the Nightingale Tradition,” Legacy 6 (Spring 1989): 27-33. Coolbrith’s own books included A Perfect Day (1881), Song of the Golden Gate (1896), and Wings of Sunset (1928).
31. Hayes, Emigrant Notes, III, 23 Sept. 1856, 132; Henry Miller, California Missions: The Earliest Series of Views Made in 1856 and Towns, Journal and Drawings of Henry Miller (Santa Barbara, CA: Bellerphon Books, n.d.), n.p.; Solomon Nunes Carvalho, Incidents of Travel and Adventure in the Far West (reprint; Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society of America, 1954 ), 304-308; L.A. Star, 8 July 1854.
32. Crosby Journal, 14, 21, 27 Aug. 1856, 20 July 1857; Jules Remy and Julius Brenchley, A Journey to Great Salt Lake City (London: W. Jeffs, 1861), 459-62; Chandless, Visit to Salt Lake, 288-307; Edwina Jo Snow, “William Chandless: British Overlander, Mormon Observer, Amazon Explorer,” Utah Historical Quarterly 54 (1986), 2:117-18.
36. Crosby Journal, 2, 26, Apr. 3, 4, 23 May 1857; Carter, Heart Throbs, 7:399, recounts the family’s sad subsequent struggles. They apparently went to Napa, where the father had an older daughter by a previous marriage. They left Helen and the boy there to go to school until the family was better settled. They also lived in Kern County and then apparently returned to San Bernardino just as the exodus to Utah commenced. Abraham died of pneumonia as they arrived and was buried at Beaver. The mother taught school at Santa Clara, then at Cedar City, where she died in 1863. The younger children were placed in different homes in the area and never saw their older siblings, still in California, again. This source did not mention the tragic cause of Olive’s death, discussed in chapter 8.
41. Richard Hopkins to Amasa M. Lyman, 3 June 1856, Lyman Papers; Hammond Journal, Crosby Journal, 6, 9 June 1856; William McGary Journal, 9, 10 June 1856, Addison Pratt Family Papers, LDS archives; L.A. Star, 21 June 1856; Hayes, “Scrapbooks,” XCIV, Bancroft Library, contains the judge’s copies of letters from Sparks and his wife to each other, in which the errant husband seemingly attempts to intimidate his wife out of prosecuting him for adultery by citing rumors about her.
42. They Answered the Call: A History of Minersville, Utah (Minersville, UT: privately printed, Minersville Centennial Co., 1962), A169; S. George Ellsworth, ed., The Journals of Addison Pratt (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1990), 505.
46. United States Census, San Bernardino County, California, 1860, manuscript, family listings; Crocheron, “California Memories,” 465-66; Eliza Clift had been briefly married earlier at Nauvoo. See Mary Ann Weston Maughan Journal, 35, copy in LDS archives.
49. Byron R. Skinner, Black Origins in the Inland Empire (San Bernardino: Book Attic Press, 1983), 26-36; Carter, Heart Throbs, 8:310; (Richard Hopkins) to Amasa M. Lyrnan and Charles C. Rich, 8 Feb. 1855, Lyman Papers; Crosby Journal, 11 Aug. 1856. Local historian Germaine Moon argues, based on the U.S. Census of 1860, that “Dick” is Richard Jackson, also listed in an 1852 census for Los Angeles County, and later married to Grief Embers’s daughter “Tennessee.”
50. Crosby Journal, 5, 8 Apr. 1856, 2, 29 July 1857; Hannah and Biddy and their children v. Robert M. Smith, 19 Jan. 1856, District Court of Los Angeles County, 1st Judicial District, California, Judge Benjamin Hayes; Sue Bailey Thurman, Pioneers of Negro Origin in California (San Francisco, 1952), 44-46; Dolores Hayden, “Biddy Mason’s Los Angeles, 1856-1891,” California History 68 (Fall 1989): 91-100.
51. Daniel M. Thomas to Amasa M. Lyman, 4 Feb. 1856, Lyman Papers; Beattie, Heritage of the Valley, 186; the U.S. Census for 1860 lists Lizzy still going by the name of Flake, although she dearly married Rowan at some point.
55. Carter, Heart Throbs, 8:310, 321. In adulthood Ephraim, going by the name Frank Grouard, became one of the foremost Indian scouts for the United States Army, primarily attached to General Crook’s campaigns. He had a reunion with his father at Sheridan, Wyoming, in 1893, when the father, who claimed to have presumed his son dead, asserted: “I would know you among ten thousand.” See Inez Smith Davis Papers, f. 40, p. 23, Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints Archives, Independence, Missouri; Joe De Barthe, Life and Adventures of Frank Grouard (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1958), 3-255.
56. Nathan Tanner Diary, 9 Feb., 3, 16 Mar. 1854, LDS archives; Amasa M. Lyman Journal, 27 Feb. 1854; R. Lanier Britsch, Mormanoa: The Mormons in Hawaii (Laie, HI: Institute for Polynesian Studies, 1989), 22, 27, described Dennis as “a man of considerable means and great generosity, who promised to loan the mission one thousand dollars to be paid back when possible.” It may well be that the money was lost in the attempted ship purchase and never repaid, and that was a factor in the Dennis family withdrawing from the church; Francis Hammond Journal, 10, 18 May, 29 Sept. 1856; Ephraim Green Diary, 9 Sept. 1855, DS archives.
59. Unfortunate as this failure at assimilation was, it was nowhere near as wrongheaded as the later attempt to colonize Hawaiian converts in the most barren portion of Utah, the arid Skull Valley area of Tooele County.
63. Lyman, F. M. Lyman, 23, 30; Crocheron, “California Memories,” 285-86; Joyce Carter Vickery, Defending Eden, New Mexican Pioneers in Southern California: 1830-1890 (Riverside: University of California, Riverside, 1977), 45-66; Hopkins Branch Journal, 10 Jan. 1856.
69. Crosby Journal, 9 Feb., 16 Aug. 1857; Jason Mannor, Phillip L. Walker, and Carl Lipo, Phase II Archaeological Investigation and Removal of Human Burials from an Historic Cemetery in Seccombe Park; San Bernardino, California (Irvine, CA: LSA Associates, Inc., 1991), 8-51.
70. Crosby Journal, 4 Feb., 10, 20 Dec. 1855; 10 Jan., 4 Mar., 18 Aug. 1856; Lyman Journal, 27 May 1854; F. M. Lyman to A. M. Lyman, 30 Jan. 1856, Lyman Papers; An Illustrated History of Southern California (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1890), 492; John Brown, The Mediumistic Experiences of John Brown, the Medium of the Rockies (Des Moines: Moses Hull & Co., 1887), 76-9.
72. Crosby Journal, 17, 20 Jan., 13 Feb., 8 Mar. 1857; Skinner, Black Origins, 13; Hayden, “Biddy Mason,” 91-99, recounts Mason’s having “earned a reputation as a medical practitioner of outstanding skills,” and her use of these skills, but there is no reference to her using such skills while in San Bernardino. However, her close associate, Hannah Smith, was legendary in that regard in the Mormon colony.