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April 25, 1863: San Emidio Ranch

April 25, 2013

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Mouth of San Emigdio Canyon (near site of ranch headquarters); by Tom Hilton, on Flickr


[Today] our mule got away and we spent most of the forenoon in catching her, so we could not leave. We spent the rest of the day at the ranch house.

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In San Emigdio Canyon; by Tom Hilton, on Flickr

San Emidio Ranch is a large and valuable one, near the mouth of the canyon, commanding a lovely view of the plain, of Buena Vista Lake, and of the coast ranges. Two large springs water the gardens—fruits and grapes grow to perfection—yet nothing would tempt me to live in such isolation. We found three ladies there. Mr. Alexander was absent, but we had a letter from him to the ladies, and we had a hearty welcome, for visitors are scarce there. The ladies of the place were a sister and niece of Mr. Alexander and a visitor from a neighboring ranch (forty miles distant). The ladies had been there three years, had come out from New York for the romantic life on a Californian ranch, but were heartily tired of it now.

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Road to Wind Wolves Preserve (San Emidio Ranch); by Tom Hilton, on Flickr

Mr. Alexander is a rich man—a single business transaction of his, three years ago, amounted to $90,000. He was now absent, but we met him on his return. He had just refused $15,000 for a thousand cattle—his cattle were numbered by thousands and his horses by hundreds. How did he live? In what style? His house was surrounded by the houses and huts of his Indian and Mexican servants and vaqueros. The residence was of adobe, the floor of rough stones, the furniture rude. The ladies had been eight months without seeing any other white woman. They were twenty-eight miles from their nearest neighbors and forty from their next nearest. They were a hundred and forty miles from their post office (Los Angeles), and the same distance from a doctor—in fact, from any of the refinements of civilization. No wonder that even with all the wealth of their relative they thought California decidedly a humbug.

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