CHAPTER XII: DOñA YSABEL DEL VALLE


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DOñA YSABEL DEL VALLE--THE MISTRESS OF CAMULOS RANCH--SEñORA MORENO OF RAMONA

Camulos ranch has by universal acclaim been accepted as the home of Ramona. The evidence conclusively establishes this fact. Naturally we turn there for the originals of the principal characters of the novel.

We have heretofore asserted that Blanca Yndart and Guadalupe, the Indian girl, both wards of Señora del Valle, the mistress of Camulos, most likely suggested to Mrs. Jackson, in the blending of their lives, the character of Ramona, and that Reginald F. del Valle, the eldest son of the family, could truly be taken as the original of Felipe.

What Mrs. Jackson did not see or hear of the del Valle household when at Camulos was detailed to her by the Coronels. The fact that she did not meet Señora del Valle, because of the latter's absence from home on a mission of mercy elsewhere, weighed but little. Mrs.


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Jackson let nothing escape her. She tenaciously and retentively sought full knowledge of every person and thing that were incident to her travels.

On meeting the Coronels after her visit to Camulos ranch, Mrs. Jackson was gleeful and enthusiastic over her trip there. She wanted all possible information concerning Señora del Valle, her deceased husband, Blanca Yndart, Guadalupe, Reginald F. del Valle, the eldest son, and other members of the household, and of the customs of the ranch.

The strong religious part of the personality of Señora del Valle was pictured to Mrs. Jackson by the Coronels, who knew that devout woman intimately; and it may be correctly asserted that the religious devotion portrayed in the character of Señora Moreno was suggested by the saintly and religious life of Señora del Valle.

But the harsh and unlovable disposition of Señora Moreno--her haughty, merciless and cruel nature which crushed Ramona and drove her out into the night with an Indian sheepshearer--was never intended by Mrs. Jackson to be attributed to Señora del Valle, whose disposition, charity, nobleness and sympathy were the beautiful gems in her sweet character.


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Mrs. Jackson desired it to be distinctly understood that she was not writing history in giving to the world the story of Ramona. Nowhere in the novel does she specify Camulos ranch by name. The character of Señora Moreno was of her own creation, into whose life were injected these features of Señora del Valle: widowhood, the owner and mistress of an old California hacienda, devoutness to the Catholic Church, and having a son within the description of the magnanimous character of Felipe.

And it is because Mrs. Jackson drew from Señora del Valle the good qualities given to Señora Moreno of Ramona, that makes the former an important and interesting personage in the story of Ramona. And it was Señora del Valle who was the mistress of Camulos ranch, who maintained the chapel there, from whose dress the torn altar cloth was made, who maintained the Mission bells, whose hospitality was extended to all who came upon her estate, and who ‘‘caused to be set up upon every one of the soft rounded hills which made the beautiful rolling sides of that part of the valley, a large wooden cross, . . . that the faithful may be reminded to pray.’’

Señora Ysabel del Valle was one of the noblest women ever created, distinguished far


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and wide for those characteristics that made her life a distinct blessing to all with whom she came in contact, and her death a loss from which a wide community has not yet ceased to suffer acutely or to mourn without surcease.

In older times saints were made of such material; and were we living in the fourteenth rather than the twentieth century we certainly would have a Saint Ysabel.

So true, so sincere, so devout, so constant, was her devotion to the Church of Rome, that when she died Bishop Conaty of Los Angeles took it upon himself to make all the arrangements for the funeral, saying to the family, ‘‘she belongs to us, not to you, and the Church claims all the privileges of caring for its own.’’

From The Tidings, the authorized organ of the Catholic Church of the Los Angeles diocese, we take the following concerning Señora del Valle and her funeral:

‘‘

Señora del Valle was the daughter of Don Cerval Varela and Doña Ascencion Avila. Don Varela took an active part in the war with the United States and led an attack against the Americans at Rancho del Chino. He was the possessor of large tracts of land on which is now Boyle Heights and was owner of


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the site where the Catholic orphanage now stands.

"Señorita del Varela married Don Ygnacio del Valle, a man prominent in the history of California, and who controlled many of the large ranches in the San Fernando Valley. The ceremony was performed at the Church of Our Lady of the Angels, Los Angeles, December 14, 1851.

"As the funeral cortege passed the orphan asylum on Boyle Heights three hundred or more of the children of that institution, dressed in white, stood in line by the roadside and recited aloud the prayers for the dead.

"To the few mourners who had lived in the early days and whose minds were treasured with the memories of Señora del Valle's youth, who had witnessed the trend of her young life as it molded itself into the woman and she became known as an exemplar among a people where the reign of honor and hospitality seemed to reach no bounds, the spectacle of these motherless children appealed most strikingly, and the days of the old Camulos were again recalled; days when great herds of stock wandered over the hills and valleys of the famous rancho, and the orchards hung heavy with the products of the fruitful seasons.

POMEGRANATE TREES, CAMULOS, 1913

 .

ARCADE ENTRANCE TO CAMULOS CHAPEL


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"Life was much the same at Camulos as on the other great ranchos, and as the travel-worn stranger passed on his journey, by horse or afoot, he stopped for a while at the household where a welcome was never wanting.

"The mistress of the rancho attended personally to the details of the home-life, and from the break of dawn when the chapel bells called all to the morning devotion, she watched over her family and the servants of the household with a firmness and gentleness of manner which won a love and respect that time has never altered.

"Instances of Señora del Valle's charity are innumerable, and race or creed did not enter into her thoughts when, whatever the hour of need, she was called upon to care for the poor or distressed.

"She had been removed to Los Angeles several years before her death, where she made her home with her daughter, Mrs. Josefa Forster, at whose residence she died. In her last moments she begged to be taken to Camulos that she might die amid scenes which were the dearest to her on earth, where her children had been raised and where her husband was lying under the altar of the little chapel.

’’

The Tidings is mistaken as to the burial


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place of the husband of Señora del Valle. He was buried in the family graveyard at Camulos, but his remains were afterward removed and reinterred in the Catholic Cemetery at Los Angeles.

At the close of the funeral exercises after the absolution, Rt. Rev. Bishop Conaty said:

‘‘

While it is contrary to the established rules of the parish to deliver a eulogy over the dead, I feel that this occasion is one which will allow the rule to be set aside out of respect for the memory of the services rendered religion by the good woman whose death is universally lamented.

"She represented a type of womanhood, the glory of the Church, as well as of the community in which it is found. She was a woman whose life was dominated by the spirit of absolute and simple faith, which led her through a long life to untold deeds of kindness and charity. Her faith was something more than profession; it expressed itself in the everyday act of religion and charity.

"Her home was the center of her affections, and the love of husband and children caught its glow from the love of God, which characterized her entire life. The ranch home at Camulos was the home of hospitality and the


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center of the religious life of all who came in contact with it. Her love of faith led her to a love for the altar and the priesthood, and the first gift of her olive harvest was in the oil needed for the Holy Thursday consecration in the Diocesan Cathedral.

POMEGRANATE TREES, CAMULOS, 1913

 .

ARCADE ENTRANCE TO CAMULOS CHAPEL

"As a young woman, wife and mother, the Señora of Camulos was a model of Christian womanhood, and she leaves the sweetest memories of all that stands for goodness of life in Christian virtue. This type of woman is the outcome of faith in the Church which she loved. It is needed in our civilization to teach us the beauty of home-life in which the service of God is the source and spirit of God, the inspiration. Such women are the bulwarks of our civilization and the pride of our humanity.

’’

To the smallest detail Señora del Valle was buried as a church dignitary would have been, and when asked for the expense bill by a family well able and more than willing to pay, the members of it were denied the privilege of participating even in that.

After Don Ygnacio del Valle passed away, and until her own death, Señora del Valle was never seen with uncovered head. The nature of her husband's illness had been such that he could not lie down with comfort, and he died while


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sitting in a chair. His devoted wife sat close to and directly in front of him, and when the final moment came and the last flickering spark of life went out, his head gently dropped upon that of his wife, their foreheads meeting. The Señora wore at the time a light mantilla, a custom of Spanish ladies. Her husband's life had gone out while his head rested upon it, and thereafter this covering was never removed, day or night, save upon a few occasions when it became necessary to replace it temporarily with a bonnet. This circumstance accentuates the Señora's unyielding devotion to whatever she regarded as a sacred duty.

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