CHAPTER XV: CONTRIBUTED BY DOñA MARIANA DE CORONEL


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CONTRIBUTED BY DOñA MARIANA DE CORONEL--HER ASSOCIATION WITH MRS. JACKSON

‘‘You are going to get well, Mariana. You will survive me. I feel that you will live to complete my work.’’ Thus said Mrs. Jackson to me but a few short weeks before her death. Often she had talked in that vein. She seemed ever to have a presentiment that I would survive her.

One of her most coveted projects, after her visit to the Indian settlements and her report to the Government, was the institution at some available place of a school for Indian women and girls, where instruction could be given in all of the useful arts, to the end that they might in time become self-sustaining. Regarding the details of this enterprise Mrs. Jackson talked frequently with my husband, Don Antonio, and myself.

‘‘I shall endeavor to secure an appropriation from Congress for the necessary grounds, and these shall be deeded directly to the Indians,’’ said Mrs. Jackson. ‘‘For the buildings


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I shall appeal to the people of the East for donations, and I shall endeavor to have the institution abundantly endowed. But you and Don Antonio must, at whatever sacrifice, take charge of the institution and make a success of it. Congress has passed the act that you and the Don and I have drafted, providing for the granting of lands to the Indians in severalty; but little good will come of it unless these poor people are taught how to make a living for themselves aside from the weaving of baskets. Nobody but you and dear Don Antonio can successfully carry out my ideas. I am counting upon meeting with numerous obstacles in getting the Indians to give up their tribal relations. To them it will be an immense problem, a complete change in their mode of life, and we may not expect that all will adopt it cheerfully. I am counting upon the influence that you and Don Antonio can exert to reconcile them to the transformation. Indeed I should entertain all sorts of fear and apprehension and doubt regarding the outcome, but for the compelling influence which you and your husband can exert. No one else I have in mind can be intrusted with the work.’’

Mrs. Jackson gave much thought to the working


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out of the details at the California end of the line. She counted largely upon the support, financial and otherwise, that Hon. Henry M. Teller, then Secretary of the Interior, would give to her noble and highly practical enterprise. Don Antonio and I sympathized thoroughly with her, and stood ready to lend hearty assistance when required. But Mrs. Jackson's early death forever sealed the fate of the educational undertaking.

Nearly thirty years have passed since Helen Hunt Jackson put her arm lovingly about me and declared her belief that I would survive her, and that the completion of her life's work would devolve upon me. To some persons ‘‘Time's unpitying fingers’’ may begin ‘‘to smooth out and obliterate the lines, once so sharp and distinct, with which she engraved herself on the consciousness of her contemporaries.’’ To some persons even her memory may have grown dim, as the impression of a face long unseen fades, until no longer can be recalled the exact look and smile. This is regarded as the inevitable law, each day bringing its ‘‘little dust our soon choked hearts to fill.’’ But it has never been so with me. Never a day or night but I feel her presence. Once, I well remember, she said: ‘‘Mariana, if it be possible


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in the next world to come to you in trouble or grief or distress, you may count upon me doing so.’’ The promise has never been forgotten. The suggestion has never once passed from my memory.

Eight months ago, at the beginning of the terrible fratricidal strife that has brought so much misery to my country and its people, I thought it best I should return to the United States before it should become too hazardous to undertake the journey. It involved a muleback trip of one hundred and fifty miles over the mountains to the nearest railway station; not a cheerful prospect for a woman of my years to undertake. But I entered upon it with the utmost confidence that Helen Hunt Jackson would be with me every foot of the way, protecting me from every possible danger. As though in life, she seemed to place her hand upon my shoulder and assure me that all would be well.

I have never thought much about spiritualism. I am not a spiritualist. And yet, oh, so many times since, when trouble and grief have been my lot, when clouds encircled my pathway, when gloom surrounded and threatened to engulf me, I have suddenly been brought to a realization that Mrs. Jackson's


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spirit was near, that she was shielding me, that in her presence no harm could come.

Intimate friend of , photographed in --especially for this volume. Señora  and her husband, Don , really inspired  and gave to its author the principal facts of the story. She is holding the copy of  given her by Mrs. .

DOñA MARIANA DE CORONEL, LOS ANGELES

Presented by the translator to Señora .

FIRST COPY OF RAMONA TRANSLATED INTO SPANISH,

My acquaintance and association with her has constituted one of the fondest and sweetest recollections of my whole life. Our meeting was singular. Had she come in any other way than she did, her first visit, it is likely, would have been her last. I had never heard of her or her books. Like most Spanish people, I shrank from publicity. Had she simply introduced herself as a correspondent of the Century Magazine, it is likely I should have taken little interest in what she had to say. But she brought a letter from Bishop Mora to Don Antonio and myself. In it the Bishop asked us to give her all the information we could regarding the Mission Indians. This we proceeded to do, her interest in our relation of the story of their treatment, so far as had come within our observation and experience, being singularly intense.

She made an engagement to come again the following week, and it happened to be Christmas day, 1881. While she and Don Antonio and myself were seated on the veranda, at the old hacienda in the orange grove, Los Angeles, five or six Indian chiefs rode into the court, in


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a high state of excitement. Don Antonio excused himself from the circle and stepped out to converse with the chiefs. They were talking with great animation, and to my amazement I observed that Mrs. Jackson was following the conversation with the closest attention, although she could understand not a word of what was being said. I noticed her lips moving in unison with the voices of the chiefs, although she made no audible sound. She seemed to be repeating what they said, or endeavoring to comprehend its meaning. It was perfectly obvious that they were deeply in earnest, and finally, as if she could stand it no longer, Mrs. Jackson addressed Don Antonio and asked if she might not talk with the Indians. The request was of course promptly granted. I acted as interpreter, and soon Mrs. Jackson was in full possession of the reason for their visit.

White men had secured possession of the water rights to their land, and it was to them no better than a desert. Mrs. Jackson comprehended the whole story, and secured the consent of the Indians to visit their settlements, Don Antonio assuring them that she was their friend and would work in their interest.


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She had secured the services of Mr. Abbot Kinney, and obtained his appointment as a co-commissioner soon after, and the details of the now celebrated official journey through the country of the Southern California Mission Indians were arranged at our home.

The party consisted of Mrs. Jackson, Mr. Abbot Kinney, the late Mr. Henry Sandham, the ‘‘Century's’’ artist, and Mr. N. H. Mitchell, the proprietor of a livery stable and hotel at Anaheim, whose two-seated carriage was used for a part of the journey, he acting as driver. This carriage was soon abandoned, however, not being suited to all purposes of the trip, and most of it was made on horseback, or rather mule-back, as the sure-footed little burros of the Indians were more suited to the condition of the trails over the mountains. Indeed, I later was advised that the party visited some places high up on the mountain sides, or on the borders of the desert, where it was possible only to go afoot. On one occasion, contemplating a hazardous journey into the mountains, I remonstrated with Mrs. Jackson and attempted to dissuade her from the trip. Her answer was, ‘‘I must see those poor Indians, and I'll go if I die.’’

At this time, before the journey was undertaken,


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Mrs. Jackson was a guest at Mrs. Kimball's boarding house on New High Street, then about the best place of entertainment in Los Angeles. Mr. Kinney and Mr. Sandham, pending completion of the arrangements, were guests at our home.

Don Antonio was a veritable encyclopedia, and was able to recall, with the slightest effort, every important event since his boyhood. His knowledge covered the whole period of Spanish, Mexican and American rule, from the time of his arrival in California until his death. His information regarding the Indians was particularly full and accurate; hence he was of invaluable assistance to Mrs. Jackson in all her work. But his knowledge of the English language was limited, and the work of interpreting fell largely upon me.

Mrs. Jackson made many notes regarding the story of Ramona at our home. She discussed the intended book with us on many occasions, and told us she would name it Ramona. She would gladly have located the scene of Ramona at our hacienda, and doubtless would have done so but for the suggestion made by Don Antonio himself, and insisted upon by him, that Camulos was the more fitting place. We both assured her that


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the Camulos Rancho was one of the few remaining of the old Spanish homesteads where the original life of a California hacienda still existed. It was about the only place yet existing where the original California hacienda could still be studied in all its poetry and importance. We told her of the patrician character of Camulos. Here, we told her, might still be studied the pressing of the Mission olive in the old morteros, the gathering of the vintage in Hispano-Indian fashion, the making of Spanish wine, the Spanish sheep-shearing, under an Indian capitan; here were still the picturesque retainers; here were distinguished family traditions--all the elements, in fact, upon which the book might grow with historic fidelity.

Notwithstanding all these facts, the author might easily and with perfect fidelity to truth and tradition, have located the scenes at the Coronel hacienda. But there was another fact, another barrier, and a well-nigh insurmountable one: the excessive modesty of Don Antonio himself. So marked a characteristic of him was this that, notwithstanding all he had done for Los Angeles, notwithstanding the fact that he had labored for thirty years to clear the title to Elysian Park, that it might become the


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property of the city in fee simple, without a shade or shadow, he steadily declined even the small honor, so often sought to be conferred upon him, of having a street named for him.

But it is true, it is history--and it would not be history if it were not true--that the inspiration of Ramona was Don Franco Antonio de Coronel, my husband, under whose expansive roof it sprouted and grew, and there it was christened with the name by which it soon came to be known and ever will be known, Ramona.

After Mrs. Jackson's return to California in 1884, the story of Ramona having been published, she did much writing at our home. She had broken her leg before leaving Colorado Springs by falling down the stairway in her home, and she had to write in a reclining position. Don Antonio, my husband, had a little table made especially for her use, Mrs. Jackson specifying its height, and requesting the placing of two shelves in it upon which she could lay her finished sheets or notes. Much of her writing during her stay in Los Angeles in 1884-85, was done on this table, which is now a part of the Coronel Collection in the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce.

Mrs. Jackson selected the Camulos Rancho


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as the home of Ramona. This I know, not only because of general conversations with her, but she positively declared to me that it was Camulos Rancho which she sought to describe in the story of Ramona, and that that rancho was the home of Ramona.

THE WILLOWS AND SOUTH VERANDA, CAMULOS

 . (2) To the left the plank fence on which  hung the altar cloth, and from which it was blown and then torn; the bells, cross and famous little chapel, , as they appeared .

(1)THE CROSS ON THE NORTH HILL, CAMULOS, OVERLOOKING THE RANCH

In the latter part of 1884 Mrs. Jackson returned to Los Angeles. Ramona had not been issued from the press at the time of her departure from the East. I went with her to the postoffice one day, when a package was delivered to her there. She opened it, and there was a copy of Ramona, the first she had seen. She at once said to me: ‘‘Mariana, here is the first copy of my book, and I give it to you.’’ Taking a pencil she wrote on the flyleaf, ‘‘With compliments of the author,’’ and then handed it to me. I have the same book now.

I have also the first copy of the book containing the Spanish translation of Ramona, which was sent me by the translator.

Naturally I am proud of the fact that Mrs. Jackson wished to make our home the home of Ramona; but greater honor have I always had, and greater comfort will I ever enjoy, in the fact that the gifted author, beloved of two continents, enshrined in the hearts of the people


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of the whole world, regarded me as her best friend.

Her name and her work are immortalized. Nothing I can say will add to her fame.

Mariana W. de Coronel

Los Angeles, July, 1913.

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