[page 117]


It may be correctly asserted that nearly every character of Ramona had its original, either in whole or in part. Mr. Abbot Kinney was a co-commissioner with Mrs. Jackson in an official investigation into the condition of the Mission Indians of Southern California. Referring to their joint report to the Secretary of the Interior, Mr. Kinney says: ‘‘It was made by Mrs. Jackson and myself, and it was in the investigations that led to the making of it that the book Ramona was born. We actually saw some of the incidents described; many of the facts were developed by the witnesses, all of whom we examined under oath. We met with many of the characters whose pictures were afterwards drawn with startling fidelity by Mrs. Jackson in the pages of her book.’’

Mr. Henry Sandham, the ‘‘Century's’’ artist, who accompanied Mrs. Jackson on her journeys through Southern California, wrote

[page 118]

thus: ‘‘As for the characters themselves, I have now in my possession sketches and studies made from life at the time of meeting the originals, meetings that were often as much fraught with meaning for me as they were for Mrs. Jackson.’’

In other chapters of this volume it is stated that the character of Señora Moreno was suggested to Mrs. Jackson in part by Doña Ysabel del Valle, widowed mistress of Camulos ranch; that Ramona was a blending of two members of the del Valle family, Blanca Yndart, a Spanish girl, now Mrs. James Maguire, residing with her daughter at Los Angeles, and Guadalupe, a Mission Indian girl, given to Señora del Valle when a child by a Piru chief; and that in Felipe was the portrayal of the eldest son of the mistress of Camulos ranch, Don Reginald Francisco del Valle. Guadalupe is married and now resides in Arizona.


It has been a vain search to identify any living person as Alessandro. Sheep-shearing bands in Southern California were numerous at the time laid for the story, and each had its captain.

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In the Coronel Collection at the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce is a photograph of Rojerio Rocha, choir leader at San Fernando Mission and a violin player, whose lands were shamefully appropriated by white men, one of whom is now a well-to-do and prominent resident of Los Angeles. This Indian singer and violinist was well known to the Coronels, and they told Mrs. Jackson of him in detail. He has been declared by many to have suggested the character of Alessandro.

Like Alessandro, Rojerio was a violin player and a singer. He played from notes and had a fine voice, the finest in the old Mission choir. The old people about the Mission even now tell of the wonderful playing of the violin by Rojerio.

He was also an expert blacksmith and silversmith, and performed both services at the Mission for many years. He formed much of the beaten gold and silver plate used by the Mission fathers, and it was his skill that fashioned the elaborately silver-ornamented bridles used by the wealthy señores of the Mission days.

Rojerio married and continued to live at the Mission until the padres were driven from it. Then General Pico gave him a small tract of fertile land three miles to the east of the Mission,

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near Pacoima Creek. But the white men were driving the Indians from their possessions, and one day Rojerio and his family, with all their belongings, were forced into a wagon, and taken away and dumped on the San Fernando county road. That night it rained, and the outcasts were without shelter or food. Rojerio's wife was then quite sickly, and because of the exposure she died in the road where they had been put.

Rojerio never forgot the awful wrong. He had deep disdain for Americans and their honor. He knew of the location of the mine which furnished the Mission padres the gold which made the San Fernando Mission famous for its gold plate. A short time before his death Rojerio showed to an Indian friend a large nugget of almost pure gold, saying that he would tell him of the location of the mine, if a deed were so drawn that no American could ever get possession of it.

When in 1846 the San Fernando Mission padres anticipated and feared an attack by the Americans they hurried away all the gold plate in the Mission and secretly buried it. In late years Rojerio was credited with being the only living person who knew where the valuable treasure was hidden, and he declared that

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he was one of the persons who carried the plate from the Mission and buried it; yet he so hated the Americans because of the wrong done him by white men, that he persistently refused to disclose the place where the golden treasure was secreted.

Choir leader and violin player at , whose attainments Mrs.  used in creating the character of .


Chart showing place of burial of  gold plate, made by the Fathers of that Mission with a hot sharp-pointed instrument on a sheep-skin. The lines and characters are too dim for photographing, and were retraced on the print in white for the production of this illustration. The gold plate was secretly hidden in anticipation of the coming of the  soldiers into the  valley in .


A few weeks before his death he took from an old chest in his home a part of a sheep's hide, tanned on the inside, on which were tracings, arrows and crosses and other characters. This skin he gave to an old Indian companion, with the statement that the tracings and marks on it had been made by the Mission padres, and showed the location of the lost Mission plate, said to be of the value of not less than one million dollars.

Later this sheepskin was delivered by the Indian friend of Rojerio's, after the latter's death, to some white men, for a price paid and a promise to give a good share of the gold plate, if found. One of these men was a client of the writer, and the latter undertook, with others, the translation and deciphering of this chart. All agreed that the drawing led from the Mission buildings eastward to Pacoima cañon, thence up the creek from the base line of the mountains one mile. A marking on the skin which we interpreted to indicate a certain

[page 122]

sycamore tree proved accurate. The tree stood on the south side of the cañon at the edge of the creek's bank. Directly across from this tree was a flat rock imbedded in the side of the cañon, which was another of the points indicated by the marks on the skin.

Distances were minutely measured. Every effort to locate the spot where the golden treasure lay was made with scientific accurateness. All agreed as to the place where digging should begin. The utmost secrecy was attempted. The work of uncovering the hunted gold began. Watchers were stationed up and down the cañon.

The first work was in sinking a shaft to a depth of twenty feet, as indicated by the sheepskin chart. Then a drift was cut to the west, as indicated by the drawings on the skin. Day after day, and often at night, the work progressed.

Two strangers appeared on the scene, declaring that they knew the men there were hunting for the buried plate belonging to the San Fernando Mission, and if the gold were found the Church would claim it. The lawyers advised continuing the work, and if the treasure should be found then to meet the demand of the Church, if any.

[page 123]

When what the expert ground men declared to have been an old tunnel was encountered in running the drift from the bottom of the twenty-foot shaft, there was great consternation and hope. All were enthused. Night shifts were put on. They dug and dug on, but in vain.

Hope died, and the attempt to find the golden plate with the aid of Rojerio's sheepskin was abandoned.

This identical sheepskin is in the possession of one of the authors.

Señora de Coronel relates and vouches for the correctness of the following story of Rojerio, which he told her and her husband with tears and sobs. He went to them as the refuge and helper of the troubled Indian.

Pacoima Creek, which empties into San Fernando valley near the town of that name, was swollen and filled with a torrent of water. The white men, who had taken his land and resented his remonstrance, tied Rojerio's hands behind him, fastened a rope around his waist, securing the other end to a rock, then threw him into the creek, and left him to what seemed certain death.

Rojerio was swiftly carried to the length of the rope, and then into a sycamore tree, to

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the branches of which he desperately clung for a day and a night, when the water in the swollen stream subsided and he managed to free his hands and escape.

Rojerio died in 1904 at an age supposed to have been near one hundred years. He was a giant in stature, and a Hercules in strength. A century of years did not bend his form. He was ‘‘as straight as an Indian’’ to the time of his death.

The life of this Indian must have impressed Mrs. Jackson, and his accomplishments and sufferings doubtless suggested some of the features and experiences of Alessandro. An Indian who could sing well and play the violin entertainingly was a rarity. Rojerio is the only one possessing such accomplishments of whom the Coronels told Mrs. Jackson, and it is a reasonable inference that the musical attainments Mrs. Jackson gave to the Indian Alessandro, the hero of her novel, were suggested by the story of Rojerio.

Mrs. Jackson was particularly interested in the sad experience of Pablo Assis, chief of the Temecula Indians. After returning to Colorado Springs she wrote to the Coronels of her intention to write a novel, ‘‘in which,’’ quoting from the letter, ‘‘will be set forth some

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Indian experiences in a way to move people's hearts. . . . I would like an account, written in as much detail as you remember, of the time when you, dear Mr. Coronel, went to Temecula and marked off the boundaries of the Indians' lands there. How many Indians were living there then? What crops had they? Had they a chapel? Was Pablo Assis, their chief, alive? I would like to know his whole history, life, death, and all, minutely.’’

It is in the orange grove in front of the chapel. The railing in the center is on the south veranda of the dwelling.


© by ,


Mrs. Jackson made her Alessandro the son of Pablo Assis, the Temecula Indian chief and the sheep-shearers Temecula Indians. Pablo Assis had a son, but his name, disposition and attainments are unknown.

The experiences of Alessandro, as portrayed by Mrs. Jackson, aside from the Ramona love part, were real as to different Indians. There were the Temecula ejectment, the wanderings of members of that tribe and the killing of Juan Diego, a crazy Indian, on a spur of the San Jacinto Mountains, by Sam Temple, for horse-stealing, just as related in the story to have been the tragic death of Alessandro.

So far as can be discovered the character of Alessandro must be taken as original with Mrs. Jackson, created by her without reference to

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any particular person, unless it was Rojerio Rocha.


What has been already said as to the character of Ramona may be supplemented by asserting that she was not Ramona Diego, wife of the Indian killed for horse stealing by Sam Temple, and known as Ramona Lubo, or the Cahuilla Ramona. This woman is squat, fat and unattractive. She and her baskets have been commercialized to a ridiculous extent. Susceptible tourists travel far to see her, buy the baskets she offers for sale and look upon her as the real Ramona of Mrs. Jackson's novel. Far from it.

The identity of names in this instance does not prove identity of person. Ramona is a common name among Indians and Mexicans. It is the feminine of Ramon, which means the tops of branches cut for food for sheep in snowy weather. The name is beautiful and easily spoken.

In a previous chapter we have told of how Mrs. Jackson was attracted by the name Ramona when she first heard it, and of her declaration to the Coronels that she would use

[page 127]

the name as the title to her proposed novel.

Here Father  often officiated.



Every woman Mrs. Jackson met or heard of in California bearing the name Ramona is supposed to be the real Ramona of her genius. Mrs. Hartsel, of Temecula, who was Mrs. Ramona Wolfe, is accordingly, by some, declared to be the real Ramona; but she was not.

The care with which Mrs. Jackson selected the names for her characters is evidenced by a letter from her to Señor and Señora de Coronel containing the following: ‘‘I am still at work on my story (Ramona). It is more than half done. I wish you would ask those Indian women who made the lace for me what would be, in their Pala or San Luis Rey dialect, the words for Blue Eyes. I want to have a little child called by that name in my story, if the Indian name is not too harsh to the ear.’’

The ‘‘little child’’ proved to be the first-born of Alessandro and Ramona. It had blue eyes, a natural repetition of the eyes of Ramona's paternal Scotch ancestors. The child was named ‘‘Eyes of the Sky,’’ but the Indian word is not given in the novel. It is related, however, that at the baptismal, ‘‘when Father Gaspara took the little one in his arms, and made the sign of the cross on her brow, he pronounced with some difficulty the syllables

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of the Indian name, which meant 'Blue Eyes,' or 'Eyes of the Sky.'’’

When asked concerning this incident Señora de Coronel said: ‘‘I remember Mrs. Jackson's letter asking for the Indian name for 'Blue Eyes.' My husband answered it. He knew the name and gave it to Mrs. Jackson. I cannot now recall it. It is a peculiar name.’’

The selection of the names of two of the helpers at Camulos ranch and Felipe, the eldest son of Señora Moreno, may be reasonably conjectured. When at San Luis Rey Mission Mrs. Jackson attended the funeral services of an old Indian woman named Margarita, whose life was told to Mrs. Jackson, and greatly interested her. Margarita was a sister of Manuelito, a famous chief of several bands of the San Luisenos. Mrs. Jackson went ten miles from San Luis Rey Mission to the home of this old woman, at Potrero, passing the night there. The name Margarita she gave to ‘‘the youngest and prettiest of the maids’’ at Camulos.

Mrs. Jackson attended a sheep-shearing at La Puente ranch, a part of the late ‘‘Lucky’’ Baldwin's estate, and thus describes an incident of the occasion: ‘‘As soon as the shearers perceived that their pictures were being drawn by

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the artist in our party, they were all agog; by twos and threes they left their work and crowded around the carriage, peering, commenting, asking to have their portraits taken, quizzing those whose features they recognized. All were ready to pose and stand, even in the most difficult attitudes, as long as was required. Those who had done so asked, like children, if their names could not be put in the book; so I wrote them all down: 'Juan Canero, Juan Rivera, Felipe Ybara, José Jesus Lopez, and Domingo Garcia.'’’


Here Father  often officiated.


Here is evidenced her knowledge of the name Felipe. Juan Canero could have reasonably suggested Juan Canito, the name of the head-shepherd at Camulos.

Father Salvierderra

The noble character given to Father Salvierderra by Mrs. Jackson is not overdrawn. There were many of the Franciscan Fathers who lived the pure, sweet, unselfish life portrayed of this priest in Ramona.

There was an original of Father Salvierderra. The statement of this fact by Mr. Henry Sandham, the artist, should be conclusive. He bore a commission from the

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Century Magazine to accompany Mrs. Jackson on her California travels. It is his work that adorns Little, Brown & Company's edition of Ramona, 1900. One of the paintings from which the illustrations are taken is the original of Father Salvierderra.

Mr. Sandham thus refers to his work with Mrs. Jackson: ‘‘At the time of the California sojourn I knew neither the name nor the exact details of the proposed book; but I did know that the general plan was a defense of the Mission Indians, together with a plea for the preservation of the Mission buildings, and so on; the whole to be enveloped in the mystery and poetry of romance. I had thus sufficient knowledge of the spirit of the text to work with keener zest upon the sketches for the illustrations; sketches which, it may be of interest to know, were always made on the spot, with Mrs. Jackson close at hand, suggesting emphasis to this object or prominence to that, as it was to have special mention in the book. . . . As for the characters themselves, I have now in my possession sketches and studies made from life at the time of my meeting the originals--a meeting that was often as much fraught with meaning for me as it was for Mrs. Jackson. . . . As illustrative of the author's

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fidelity to truth in character drawing, I shall mention but one of the many real characters; namely, the original of Father Salvierderra. This character is positively startling in its accurateness. I knew the original Father well, and often sought his assistance and advice. I remember I needed him once while at work in the Santa Barbara Mission, and failing to find him in any other of his favorite haunts, I entered the church, where I found him kneeling before the altar praying. He looked up as I entered, and with his usual lovable smile, said: 'I will be with you in a few minutes, my son.' Shortly he arose to his feet, threw his arm around my neck, and leaning on my shoulder (he was then well past seventy years of age) he asked as we passed down the corridor, 'What can I do to help you?' In this question lay the keynote of his whole life. At another time, as we walked through the garden, he stooped, and putting his hand under one of the gorgeous California poppies, remarked, as he turned its face up to me, 'Is not our little brother beautiful?' . . . In my studio I have the venerable Father's complete costume, given me at the time I was making the Ramona sketches; it includes the cassock, cowl, sandals and hempen girdle with its symbolical

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five knots. The sandals are well worn and the cowl bleached and faded by the sun--marks of the endless round of toils and duties so faithfully described by Mrs. Jackson.’’

The omission by Mr. Sandham of the true name of the original of Father Salvierderra left the identity of that person in doubt. But the authors labored unceasingly to identify the original and with success.

The fact that the original was one of the Fathers at Old Mission, Santa Barbara, did not give certainty to the labor of discovery; for there have been, as there now are, many saintly characters within the confines of that Mission whose devout and unselfish lives have been a part of the work and history of the Catholic Church in Southern California.

Father Joseph J. O'Keefe, of Old Mission, Santa Barbara, was suggested to the authors as the original of Father Salvierderra. This thought gave a lead to the real Father Salvierderra of Ramona. He was not Father O'Keefe, but he died in the arms of this noble and venerable Franciscan, who yet lives, and, though feeble, is still in active service at St. Francis' Orphanage, Watsonville, California.

We may positively and correctly assert that the original of Father Salvierderra was Fr.

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Francisco de Jesus Sanchez, O.F.M., of the Santa Barbara Mission. The records and traditions of this Mission, and evidence from other sources, establish this fact.


Father , O. S. F., , the original of Father  of .  (Mrs.  in .)

Fr. Franco de Jesus Sanchez, O. S. F.

The Rev. Father Conradine Wallbraun, of the Old Mission, Santa Barbara, answering a letter the authors wrote to the Rev. Father Guardian of that Mission concerning the original of Father Salvierderra, says in part: ‘‘The Rev. Fr. Guardian of our Mission has authorized me to give you the desired information about the noble character, Rev. Father Salvierderra, in Ramona. The hero is Rev. Fr. Francisco Sanchez, O.F.M., who died here in the Old Mission in 1884, at the side of Rev. Fr. J. O'Keefe, O.F.M., who is still living at our establishment in Watsonville, California, St. Francis' Orphanage. The Rev. Fr. O'Keefe, O.F.M., was then not well past seventy, since he was born in 1843. The death of Fr. Francisco Sanchez is well described by Mrs. Helen Hunt Jackson. Fr. O'Keefe, in whose arms the saintly Father expired, can testify to it.’’

At the request of the authors Father O'Keefe has written of Father Francisco Sanchez and his death expressly for this volume, and the article is here given in full:

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Many are the incidents that could be related about the Reverend Father de Jesus Sanchez, O.F.M., regarding his great missionary zeal and unbounded charity to all, his self-denial and patience in suffering. I am sorry I am so disabled, owing to the condition of my sight, which is very poor, leaving me unable to write much, and having no one who could spare the time to write at my dictation, I must be content to write what I can at present, and that is little.

"I became acquainted with the Reverend Father Sanchez in July, 1860. He was then Master of Novices at the Old Mission at Santa Barbara. He was very much sought after by pastors throughout the State to preach and give mission to the Mexican and Spanish people, and also to the Indians. So he was well known by all the ranch owners from Sacramento to San Diego, and nearly all the Spanish and Mexican people in the State knew him.

"In 1872 he was assigned to reside in the Orphanage, give missions and collect for the orphans.

"In 1882 he received several injuries. He never said much about the injuries, but bore them very patiently.

"Shortly after this he left the Orphanage

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and returned to Santa Barbara, and there his injuries were aggravated by his falling over a large cut stone. A few days after he felt unable to go about much, and the doctor ordered him to be quiet and remain in his room, where he was nursed, receiving the best care and attention possible.

"I visited him often every day, and my first visit was always early every morning. The last morning I saw him very early before I went to the Church, and found him in very good humor, and seemingly very lively; so I told him I would return again as soon as I was through in the Church.

"I came as I promised, and found him lying on the bare floor, and seemingly in great pain. I raised him into a sitting posture and held him awaiting a chance to put him on the bed; but while I held him, believing he would be rested by my holding him, he gave a deep sigh and expired in my arms.

"His death occurred in 1884.

Very Sincerely Yours

Fr. Jasf O'Keefe, O.F.M.

August 10th, 1913.

Watsonville, California.


In Ramona the death of Father Salvierderra is thus described: "When Father Gaspara

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was taking leave, Ramona said, with quivering lips: 'Father, if there is anything you know of Father Salvierderra's last hours, I would be grateful to you for telling me.'


'I heard very little,' replied the Father, 'except that he had been feeble for some weeks; yet he would persist in spending most of the night kneeling on the stone floor in the Church, praying.'

"'Yes,' interrupted Ramona; 'that he always did.'

"'And the last morning,' continued the Father, 'the Brothers found him there, still kneeling on the stone floor, but quite powerless to move; and they lifted him, and carried him to his room, and there they found, to their horror, that he had no bed; he had lain on the stones; and then they took him to the Superior's own room, and laid him in the bed, and he did not speak any more; and at noon he died.'


At the time of the death of Father Sanchez Mrs. Jackson was in New York writing Ramona. The news of his death was communicated to her there, and in time for the portrayal of the dying of Father Salvierderra and the relation of the sad occurrence to Ramona by Father Gaspara of San Diego while on a visit

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at San Pasquale, where Alessandro and Ramona had established a home, in which they made Father Gaspara their guest. He was the same Father who had married this wandering couple two years previous.




It was the custom of Father Sanchez to spend much of each day kneeling in prayer on the stone floor of the Church.

Mrs. Jackson evidently heard just sufficient of the circumstances of the death of Father Sanchez to suggest the conditions which she described as attending the death of Father Salvierderra.

Father Sanchez was in every respect the noble and saintly priest as portrayed by Mrs. Jackson in the character of Father Salvierderra.

In discovering and identifying the original of Father Salvierderra of Ramona, the authors have been given valuable assistance by Father Theodore Arentz, O.F.M., Superior of Old Mission, Santa Barbara. We here submit an interesting communication from him upon the subject:


I have glanced over the book Ramona of Mrs. Helen Hunt Jackson, and I must say that, from what she writes about Father 'Salvierderra,' from the mention she makes of one

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other Father who was with him at Santa Barbara, and of other conditions and circumstances, it appears evident to me, that by Father Salvierderra she can mean no one else but Rev. Father Francisco Sanchez of the Mission Santa Barbara.

"Father Francisco Sanchez was at the time Mrs. Jackson was in Southern California (1882-83) nearly 70 years of age, he having been born in Leon, State of Guanajuato, Mexico, in August, 1813. In February, 1837, he received the habit of the Franciscan Order in the Franciscan Colegio Apostolico de Guadalupe, near Zacatecas, and in 1838 he was ordained priest. In 1841 he came with Rt. Rev. Francisco Garcia Diego y Moreno, first bishop of both Californias, who was of the same Colegio Apostolico de Guadalupe, to California, arriving at San Diego on December 11, 1841, and at Santa Barbara on January 11, 1842.

"From then on he traveled as missionary more than once over nearly all California, visiting many places frequently, and being at intervals stationed at different places, such as at San Buenaventura, 1842-43, 1852-53; at Santa Ines, 1844-50, as Vice-Rector of the seminary at Pajaro Valley Orphanage, 1874-79,

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being most of the time on collection trips for the orphanage and giving at the same time missions in the different places he visited. The rest of the time he was stationed at Santa Barbara, where he held the office of Master of Novices, and from where he visited as missionary other places near and far, being invited by people and priests.

"He was a very pious and zealous padre. He died at the Old Mission, Santa Barbara, in one of the lower rooms facing the front corridor, on April 17, 1884, at 7:45 A.M., in the arms of Rev. Father Joseph O'Keefe, at the age of 70 years and 8 months.

"At about the same time Mrs. Jackson finished her book Ramona in New York. Perhaps she had heard of the severe illness, or even death, of Father Francisco Sanchez at the time she finished her book.

"The young Brazilian monk, Father Francis, to whom, Mrs. Jackson says (Chap. XXV), Father Salvierderra was greatly attached, must have been Father Francisco Arbondin. He came as a young man (student) from South America, was received into the Franciscan Order at Santa Barbara on April 26, 1876, took the solemn vows May 6, 1880, and was ordained priest that same year in the month

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of July. In 1885 he went, with the permission of his superiors, to Guatemala.

"The Santa Barbara Mission was, according to Mrs. Jackson, the place where Father Salvierderra made his home, and here it was where Father Sanchez lived, especially after 1879, though while stationed at the Pajaro Valley Orphanage he was frequently at Santa Barbara, and from where he made his visits to different places, rancherias, etc., to give the people a chance to assist at Holy Mass, to hear the word of God preached to them, to go to confession, to receive holy communion, etc. Here, at Santa Barbara, the people also came to him.

"In her book Mrs. Jackson calls the Mission Santa Barbara promiscuously 'Franciscan Monastery' (Chap. IV), and 'College' (Chap. XXV). The Mission at that time was not a monastery in the proper sense; such it became in 1885, when it was incorporated into the Franciscan Province of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, whose headquarters are at St. Louis, Mo. Nor was it any longer a college in the common sense, or an institution of learning for young boys and men, as it had been from 1868 to 1876, when it was closed, because the Fathers were too few and too old and the hiring

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of professors was too expensive to keep it up; but it was a missionary college, i.e., a colegio apostolico de propaganda fide, like the colegios in Mexico, from which the missionaries had come to California; though, for certain reasons, on a very small scale. As such it had been established in 1854, and such it remained until 1885.



The eight Fathers and Lay Brothers, , , , at the time of Mrs. 's visit there. From left to right: Fathers , , , , ; Brothers , , .  (Mrs.  in .)


"The community from 1880 to 1884 consisted of the following solemnly professed Fathers (priests) and Lay Brothers: Very Rev. José Maria Romo, O.F.M., Guardian Superior; Rev. Joseph J. O'Keefe, O.F.M., Vicar; Rev. Francisco Sanchez, O.F.M.; Rev. José Godiol, O.F.M.; Rev. Bonaventura Fox, O.F.M.; Rev. Francisco Arbondin, O.F.M.; Bro. Anthony Gallagher, O.F.M.; Bro. Joseph Patrick O'Malley, O.F.M.; Bro. Dominie Reid, O.F.M.

"We have a good photograph here which was taken in 1882 or 1883, and on which all the above mentioned Fathers and Brothers, except Father José Godiol, are represented.

"As to the name 'Salvierderra' used by Mrs. Jackson, I think, and I have also heard the same opinion expressed by others, that she took and changed it from 'Zalvidea,' the name of a Franciscan missionary who came to California in August, 1805, and was successively

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stationed at San Fernando 1805-6, at San Gabriel 1806-26, at San Juan Capistrano 1826-42, and at San Luis Rey 1842-46, when and where he died at an age of about 66 years, and who was a model missionary, and considered and much talked of by the common people as a saint; as also Bancroft remarks. Probably Mrs. Jackson heard his name mentioned when in California. Or she may have changed the name from 'Salvatierra,' the great Jesuit missionary, or apostle of Lower California, from 1697-1717.

Sincerly yours,

Theodore Aresetz, O.F.M. Superior

Santa Barbara, California,

September 4, 1913.


In Glimpses of California and the Missions Mrs. Jackson thus pictured Father Sanchez and the Santa Barbara Mission:


The Santa Barbara Mission is still in the charge of Franciscans, the only one remaining in their possession. It is now called a college for apostolic missionary work, and there are living within its walls eight members of the order. One of them is very old,--a friar of the ancient régime; his benevolent face is

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well known throughout the country, and there are in many a town and remote hamlet men and women who wait always for his coming before they will make confession. He is like Saint Francis's first followers: the obligations of poverty and charity still hold to him the literal fullness of the original bond. He gives away garment after garment, leaving himself without protection against cold; and the brothers are forced to lock up and hide from him all provisions, or he would leave the house bare of food. He often kneels from midnight to dawn on the stone floor of the church, praying and chanting psalms; and when a terrible epidemic of smallpox broke out some years ago, he labored day and night, nursing the worst victims of it, shrouding them and burying them with his own hands. He is past eighty and has not much longer to stay. He has outlived many things beside his own prime; the day of the sort of faith and work to which his spirit is attuned has passed by forever.

"The Mission buildings stand on high ground, three miles from the beach, west of the town and above it, looking to the sea. In the morning the sun's first rays flash full on its front, and at evening they linger late on its western wall. It is an inalienable benediction

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to the place. The longer one stays there the more he is aware of the influence on his soul, as well as of the importance in the landscape of the benign and stately edifice.

"On the corridor of the inner court hangs a bell which is rung for the hours of the daily offices and secular duties. It is also struck whenever a friar dies, to announce that all is over. It is the duty of the brother who has watched the last breath of the dying one to go immediately and strike this bell. Its sad note has echoed many times through the corridors. One of the brothers said last year: 'The first time I rang that bell to announce a death, there were fifteen of us left. Now there are only eight.'

"The sentence itself fell on my ear like the note of a passing-bell. It seems a not unfitting last word to this slight and fragmentary sketch of the labors of the Franciscan Order in California.


The authors have sought to discover the origin of the name Salvierderra. Some have accepted Padre José Maria de Zalvidea, for years one of the Fathers at San Gabriel Mission, as the original of Father Salvierderra, but merely because of some similarity of names. But not so. There is nothing in Ramona

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that in any way identifies the San Gabriel Father with Father Salvierderra of the story.

Mrs. Jackson did nothing in a light or insignificant way. She wanted a fictitious name for dear old Father Sanchez. She frequently had Señor and Señora de Coronel define and translate Spanish words and expressions for her. A superficial answer was not sufficient; she wanted the derivation of words, and often the conversation upon such a topic would lead to a lesson in etymology.

Mrs. Jackson was an intense admirer of Father Sanchez. He and Father Junipero Serra were to her almost Christ-like. She extolled their virtues, recounted with tearful sympathy their struggles and sufferings and proclaimed their lives to have been divinely perfect. She knew that the prototype of the priestly character of her proposed novel was teaching and giving salvation to his fellow-beings. She sought a name bearing significance. She had only to take the Spanish verbs salvar, to save, and dar, to give, and create the name she desired. Dropping the ‘‘r’’ from salvar, and combining the root with the subjunctive imperfect of the irregular verb dar, which is diera, produces Salvadiera, signifying giving salvation.

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It is true Mrs. Jackson did not follow the correct Spanish spelling of the name. This may have been intentional or an error. The same comment may be made concerning the name Alessandro. As to it Mrs. Jackson rejected the Spanish spelling, Alejandro, and adopted the Italian.

However this may be, we find in Father Francisco de Jesus Sanchez, O.F.M., Master of Novices at Old Mission, Santa Barbara, the worthy original of Father Salvierderra of Ramona.

Angus Phail--Ramona's Father

As further evidence of the assertion that many of the characters of the Ramona romance had their originals, is the assured fact that Angus Phail, Ramona's father, was in reality Hugo Reid, a well-known Scotchman of many eccentricities, who lived for years at San Gabriel.

Angus Phail loved Ramona Gonzaga, sister of Señora Moreno. His love was unrequited, and this drove him to desperation. ‘‘He was the owner of the richest line of ships which traded along the coast at that time. The richest stuffs, carvings, woods, pearls and jewels,

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which came into the country, came in his ships. . . . The Señorita Ramona Gonzaga sailed for Monterey the same day and hour her lover sailed for San Blas. . . . This was to be his last voyage. . . . He comforted himself by thinking that he would bring back for his bride . . . treasures of all sorts.’’



Brick walls of unfinished church, , commenced , to commemorate the one-hundredth anniversary of the founding of this Mission, as they appeared in . The building is to be completed by Father : work to begin .  .


Angus returned from this last voyage to find his señorita married to an Ortegna. This maddened him. ‘‘He sold all he possessed; ship after ship sold for a song, and the proceeds squandered in drinking or worse. . . . Finally Angus disappeared, and after a time the news came up from Los Angeles that he was there, had gone out to San Gabriel Mission, and was living with the Indians. Some years later came the still more surprising news that he had married a squaw.’’

Ramona, as related in the story, was the child of this marriage. When a babe, Angus Phail, her father, gave her to the object of his early devotion, Ramona Gonzaga Ortegna, who was childless.

Soon afterward Angus died, and to the foster-mother of Ramona, Señora Ortegna, came an Indian messenger from San Gabriel, bearing a box and a letter, given him by Angus the day before his death. ‘‘The box contained

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jewels of value, of fashions a quarter of a century old. They were the jewels which Angus had bought for his bride.’’ The note read: ‘‘I send you all I have to leave my daughter. I meant to bring them myself this year. I wished to kiss your hands and hers once more. But I am dying. Farewell.’’

Thus Mrs. Jackson laid the origin of the Ramona jewels.

‘‘After these jewels were in her possession, Señora Ortegna rested not until she had persuaded Señora Moreno to journey to Monterey, and put the box into her keeping as a sacred trust. She also won from her a solemn promise that at her own death she would adopt the little Ramona. . . . One hour after the funeral . . . Señora Moreno, leading the little four-year-old Ramona by the hand, left the house, and early the next morning set sail for home.’’

Hugo Reid, whom we assert to be the original of Angus Phail, passed a part of his early life in Mexico, and there had an affair of the heart that shaped his future. In 1834, when twenty-three years old, he went to Los Angeles and became a merchant. He married an Indian woman at San Gabriel, Doña Victoria, said to have possessed both good looks and

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wealth. Of this marriage three children were born, one of them, a daughter, famed for intelligence and beauty. Her name was Ignacia, but she was commonly called Nacha, or Nachita. The Coronels told Mrs. Jackson the story of Hugo Reid, his marriage to the Indian woman, and of Ignacia, and she became so much interested in the facts that she planned to write another story, similar to that of Ramona, and entitle it Nacha.

Hugo Reid at one time was a ship-captain. He was the owner of the Esmeralda, burned at San Pedro in 1842. He brought home from ocean voyages many costly and beautiful things--diamonds, strings of pearls, silks and shawls. He had been jilted in Mexico, and left there with the avowal to marry someone bearing the name of the woman to whom he was a victim, Victoria; ‘‘even though she be an Indian,’’ he said.

He possessed fine literary tastes, and made the Indians a special study, upon which subject he wrote extensively, his writings gaining circulation in the East and attracting general attention. There is now in the possession of Miss Annie B. Picher, Pasadena, an extensive manuscript of Hugo Reid upon the Mission Indians,

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of great interest, which has never been published.

A letter from Mrs. Jackson to Señor and Señora de Coronel, written at Boston, contains this reference to the original of Angus Phail: ‘‘The Hugo Reid letters I saw at the Bancroft Library, though I did not find much in them which I could use in my very limited space.’’

Thus is evidenced how Mrs. Jackson founded her story of Ramona on living persons and real facts. The Ramona jewels and silks did exist, but they were not the gems and rich fabrics of Hugo Reid. As heretofore related in these pages, they were the identical treasures of great beauty and value collected by Captain U. Yndart, a sea-faring man, of Santa Barbara, grandfather of Blanca Yndart, who, with the jewels, at the death of her mother, was given into the keeping of Doña Ysabel del Valle, mistress of Camulos ranch. This beautiful and intelligent girl was to Mrs. Jackson the inspiration of her Ramona.

The Ranch Servants

At the time of Mrs. Jackson's visit to Camulos ranch there were such a number of house and ranch servants, of varied ages, types and

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characteristics, that numerous characters could have been readily selected by the author. Naturally she gave to them fictitious names.



There was a head shepherd, Juan Canito, an upper herdsman of the cattle, Juan José, and Luigo, ‘‘the lazy shepherd.’’ And there were the house servants: Margarita, the ‘‘youngest and prettiest of the maids,’’ her mother, Marda, the old cook, Anita and Maria, twins, Rosa, and Anita ‘‘the little,’’ and Juanita, oldest of the house servants, ‘‘silly, good for nothing except to shell beans.’’

There were a number of shepherd dogs on the ranch, any one of which could have been identified as Capitan, Juan Canito's favorite collie, the same that followed Alessandro and Ramona in their wanderings.

Mrs. Hartsel

On departing from Camulos ranch Alessandro and Ramona directed their journey to Temecula, Alessandro's old home. The Indians had but recently been ejected from that village, and Alessandro's father, Chief Pablo Assis, was dead. There remained only ruin and devastation to mark the site of the Indian settlement, save Alessandro's home, and several

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others, too good for the white invaders to destroy, and Hartsel's store. The rare violin of Alessandro's father had been placed with Mrs. Hartsel for safe keeping. Alessandro planned to see her and secure money from its sale. He had his own violin with him, through the thoughtfulness of Ramona, who took it from Felipe's room the night of her escape from Señora Moreno's. ‘‘What would life be to Alessandro without a violin?’’ she said.

Mrs. Hartsel was the wife of Jim Hartsel, the storekeeper at Temecula. ‘‘Hartsel's was one of those mongrel establishments to be seen nowhere except in Southern California. Half shop, half farm, half tavern, it gathered up to itself all the threads of the life of the whole region. Indians, ranchmen, travelers of all sorts, traded at Hartsel's, drank at Hartsel's, slept at Hartsel's.’’ The description of Hartsel's store and dwelling as given in Ramona is true to life.

Alessandro succeeded in reaching Mrs. Hartsel's kitchen early in the night unobserved, while Ramona awaited him with the horses at the cemetery. This good woman, a friend of the Indians, who knew and admired Alessandro, readily responded to the offer to sell his father's violin. But Jim, her husband, was

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drunk, and no barter could be made with him; and so Mrs. Hartsel took from her purse four five-dollar gold pieces and gave them to Alessandro as a loan, saying, ‘‘I'll give you what money you need to-night, and then, if you say so, Jim'll sell the violin to-morrow, if that man wants it, and you can pay me back.’’




‘‘At Temecula, from Mrs. Hartsel, Felipe got the first true intelligence of Alessandro's movements,’’ when he was endeavoring, after Señora Moreno's death, to locate him. Mrs. Hartsel had known nothing of Ramona, or that anyone was accompanying Alessandro when he visited her on the violin errand.

This kindly woman is one of the striking characters of Ramona, and it is interesting to know who she really was. The question may be correctly answered: she was Ramona Wolfe, whose husband kept the ‘‘mongrel establishment,’’ store, inn and saloon at Temecula. He was a Frenchman. His wife is said to have been a half-breed; her father French. Because she bore the name of Ramona she, too, has been accepted by many as the original of that character in the romance. Mrs. Jackson met Mrs. Wolfe at Temecula and was deeply impressed by her romantic life and her

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sterling worth, and especially because of her friendship for the Indians.

Father Antonio Peyri

Father Antonio Peyri was a living person. He was the devoted Franciscan who built the chapel and campanile at San Luis Rey Mission. He and Pablo Assis, Alessandro's father, were close friends. Alessandro is made to say: ‘‘Father Peyri was like a father to all his Indians. My father says that they would all of them lie down in a fire for him, if he had commanded it.’’

Father Peyri introduced the beautiful pepper tree into California, and with his own hands planted the first of these trees in the State at San Luis Rey Mission.

In her story of ‘‘Father Junipero and His Work,’’ to be found in Glimpses of California and the Missions, Mrs. Jackson thus wrote of Father Peyri:


Under the new régime the friars suffered hardly less than the Indians. Some fled the country, unable to bear the humiliations and hardships of their positions under the control of the administrators or majors-domo, and dependent on their caprice for shelter and even

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for food. Among this number was Father Antonio Peyri, who had been for over thirty years in charge of the splendid Mission of San Luis Rey. In 1800, two years after its founding, this Mission had 369 Indians. In 1827 it had 2,685; it owned over twenty thousand head of cattle, and nearly twenty thousand sheep. It controlled over two hundred thousand acres of land, and there were raised in its fields in one year three thousand bushels of wheat, six thousand of barley and ten thousand of corn. No other Mission had so fine a church. It was one hundred and sixty feet long, fifty wide and sixty high, with walls four feet thick. A tower at one side held a belfry for eight bells. The corridor on the opposite side had two hundred and fifty-six arches. Its gold and silver ornaments are said to have been superb.


Father  of , , who married  and : Photographed while reading service over victims of the  disaster, , .  .


"When Father Peyri made up his mind to leave the country, he slipped off by night to San Diego, hoping to escape without the Indians' knowledge. But, missing him in the morning, and knowing only too well what it meant, five hundred of them mounted their ponies in hot haste, and galloped all the way to San Diego, forty-five miles, to bring him back by force. They arrived just as the ship, with Father Peyri on board, was weighing

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anchor. Standing on the deck, with outstretched arms, he blessed them, amid their tears and loud cries. Some flung themselves into the water and swam after the ship. Four reached it, and clinging to its side, so implored to be taken that the father consented, and carried them with him to Rome, where one of them became a priest.


Father Gaspara

Father Gaspara is named in the romance as the priest at San Diego Mission who married Alessandro and Ramona. The original of this character was Father Anthony Ubach, in charge of the San Diego Mission at the time of Mrs. Jackson's visit there. He was a sincere friend to the Mission Indians, and endeared himself to Mrs. Jackson accordingly.

This good Father was born in Barcelona. He came to California in 1860, and was stationed first at San Luis Obispo. In 1868 he moved to San Diego, and located in what is now known as ‘‘Old Town.’’ He undertook the erection of a church there, but failed, his effort being thus related by Mrs. Jackson in Ramona: ‘‘A few paces off from his door stood the just begun walls of a fine brick

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church, which it had been the dream and pride of his heart to see builded and full of worshipers. This, too, had failed. . . . To build a church on the ground where Father Junipero first trod and labored would be a work to which no Catholic could be indifferent. . . . The sight of these silent walls, only a few feet high, was a sore one to Father Gaspara--a daily cross, which he did not find grow lighter as he paced up and down his veranda, year in and year out, in the balmy winter and cool summer of that magic climate.’’

These same brick walls, about five feet high, stand to-day just as Mrs. Jackson saw and described them.

In a letter to the Coronels, written November 8, 1883, which gave an outline of her proposed novel, Ramona, Mrs. Jackson said: ‘‘I have written to Father Ubach and to Mr. Morse of San Diego for their reminiscences.’’

In Glimpses of California and the Missions is this incident described by Mrs. Jackson, the priest mentioned being Father Ubach: ‘‘In the winter of 1882 I visited the San Pasquale valley. I drove over from San Diego with the Catholic priest, who goes there three or four Sundays in a year to hold service in a little adobe chapel built by the Indians in the

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days of their prosperity. . . . The Catholic priest of San Diego is much beloved by them. He has been their friend for many years. When he goes to hold service, they gather from their various hiding-places and refuges; sometimes, on a special fête day, over two hundred come. But on the day I was there, the priest being a young man who was a stranger to them, only a few were present. . . . In front of the chapel, on a rough cross-beam supported by two forked posts, set awry in the ground, swung a bell bearing the date of 1770. It was one of the bells of the old San Diego Mission. Standing bareheaded, the priest rang it long and loud: he rang it several times before the leisurely groups that were plainly to be seen in doorways or on roadsides bestirred themselves to make any haste to come.’’

Father Ubach wore a full beard, having received papal permission for the privilege, because of throat trouble.

Aunt Ri

The dear, sweet soul, with the Tennessee vernacular, Aunt Ri, who, with Jeff Hyer, her husband, rescued Alessandro, Ramona and

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their child from the snow storm, was Mrs. Jordan. She was thoroughly familiar with the killing of Juan Diego by Sam Temple, which furnished Mrs. Jackson the information used in telling of the tragic death of Alessandro by Jim Farrar.



Who killed , and whose tragic death Mrs.  gave to the end of her hero, .  .


She knew Juan Diego, his wife, now known as Ramona Lubo, and Sam Temple. It was she who persuaded Juan Diego to remain at her place over night, because of the long journey to his home in the mountain. In the morning Sam Temple told her someone had stolen his horse, and when she saw Juan's little pony in the corral she said she'd ‘‘bet anything that Juan took it when he had a spell on.’’

Juan Diego and his wife had a sick child. The latter was taken to Mrs. Jordan's home, and she gave medicine to it. When it died Mrs. Jordan tore boards from her barn to make a coffin for the dead infant.

These facts were related to Mrs. Jackson by Mrs. Jordan, as well as by Miss Sheriff, the Indian school teacher, now Mrs. Fowler, and are made a striking part of the Ramona story.

Jim Farrar

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In a former chapter has been related the facts attending the brutal murder of a ‘‘locoed’’ Indian, named Juan Diego, by Sam Temple, whose horse the Indian had taken from a corral at San Jacinto. This tragedy was first given to the public by Mrs. Jackson in her Century of Dishonor, and constituted a part of her report upon the Mission Indians to the Interior Department.

The death of Alessandro, as portrayed in Ramona, was under the identical circumstances attending the murder of Juan Diego. It was this tragedy that gave to Mrs. Jackson the facts which she used in describing the death of her hero, Alessandro.

Sam Temple, the murderer, was the Jim Farrar of Ramona. He never denied killing the Indian but asserted that he did it in self-defense. The story as substantially told by him was, that when he missed one of his finest horses, a beautiful black, from the corral at Hewett's, in San Jacinto, he concluded that it had been taken by an Indian; that he borrowed a shotgun, loaded both barrels with buckshot, and in addition took with him a six-shooter; that he followed the tracks of the

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missing horse up the mountains, riding nearly all day, when he arrived at the home of Juan Diego, and there found his horse tied to a tree; that he alighted from his horse, when Juan's wife appeared and asked what he wanted; that he told her he had come for his horse, when Juan appeared at the door; that he inquired of the Indian where he had gotten the horse, and the answer was, ‘‘at Señor Hewett's corral’’; that he asked the Indian if he did not know that the horse was not his, to which the Indian replied, ‘‘yes’’; that during the conversation he and the Indian were approaching each other, when suddenly the Indian drew a long-bladed knife; that he told the Indian to stop, when the latter made a lunge at him, and thereupon he pulled both triggers of his gun as it rested on his arm; that he afterwards found that he had put sixty-seven buckshot clear through the Indian, but it did not stop him at the moment, as the Indian still struck at him; that he used his gun as a club, breaking the stock on the Indian's head, who fell to the ground, but that such was the Indian's determination that even then he struck at Temple several times with the knife; that then, he, Temple, shot at the Indian three times with his revolver.

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Temple was released on his preliminary hearing before a justice of the peace, and there his prosecution for the brutal crime ended.

Temple never evinced the least regret because of his dastardly act, but boasted that he had rid the country of a dangerous horse thief. He was so elated over his crime and its publication in Ramona that he endeavored to secure financial assistance, that he might place himself on public exhibition, as ‘‘the man who killed Alessandro.’’

Temple was also a wife-beater. His wife had complained to the city marshal of San Jacinto as to her husband's brutal treatment of her, and the marshal warned him not to repeat the offense; but Sam again abused his wife shamefully, her cries arousing the neighbors, who sent for the marshal. The marshal sent a deputy, a Kentuckian, who for many years had been a Pinkerton detective, with instructions to arrest Temple. It was at night when the constable approached Temple's house, and Sam called out to know who was there. He had already sent word to the marshal that he would not be taken alive and would shoot anyone who attempted to arrest him. McKim, the constable, said, ‘‘It is me, Sam. I have got to arrest you and I am going to take you dead

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or alive.’’ Instantly there was a shot from Temple's revolver, which was without effect. Quick as a flash the constable returned the shot, striking Sam's arm and badly injuring it. Immediately Sam yelled out that he had had enough. The constable ordered him to throw out his gun and to stand clear in the light, and throw up his hands. The order was obeyed. McKim took Sam to the jail, had his arm bandaged and locked him up.

Temple last lived at Yuma, Arizona, where he died in 1909.

Judge Wells

Judge Tripp, the justice of the peace at San Jacinto, before whom Sam Temple had his preliminary hearing under the charge of killing Juan Diego, is the Judge Wells of Ramona. Mrs. Jackson thus wrote of him: ‘‘Judge Wells was a frontiersman, and by no means sentimentally inclined; but the tears stood in his eyes as he looked at the unconscious Ramona.’’

Judge Wells is another of the characters of Ramona drawn from life.


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