CHAPTER XVII: ABBOT KINNEY, CO-COMMISSIONER WITH MRS. JACKSON


Up: Contents Previous: CHAPTER XVI: THE HOME OF RAMONA Next: CHAPTER XVIII: HENRY SANDHAM, THE ARTIST OF RAMONA

ABBOT KINNEY, CO-COMMISSIONER WITH MRS. JACKSON--N. H. MITCHELL


[page 215]

Now known as ‘‘The Doge of Venice,’’ his present abode, the beautiful and popular seaside resort near Los Angeles which he founded, Mr. Abbot Kinney is enjoying the fruits of a long and successful life.

He came to California in 1873, and was a guest at the famous old Kimball Mansion on New High Street, Los Angeles, when Mrs. Jackson stopped there on her first visit to the State.

The vivacity, wit, culture and genius of the woman attracted Mr. Kinney. He was a friend to the Mission Indians, was in deep sympathy with the purpose of Mrs. Jackson's trip to California, and soon a close friendship was created between them, which resulted in Mr. Kinney being selected by Mrs. Jackson as co-commissioner to aid in her struggling effort to protect the various Indian tribes in Southern California.

Mrs. Jackson's selection of Mr. Kinney to accompany and aid her was little less than an


[page 216]

inspiration. He was familiar with the ground to be covered, had some knowledge of the subject to be considered, and was not wholly a stranger to the Spanish language or the mixed dialects of the various tribes of Indians whose villages were to be visited. Moreover, he had come to share in the earnestness and enthusiasm with which the noble woman entered upon her mission. He recognized her as the leading spirit in the humanitarian movement, and addressed her as ‘‘General.’’ She, in turn, regarded him as her ‘‘Comrade,’’ and so addressed him, later, in her correspondence, shortening the appellation to ‘‘Co.’’

In their wanderings over the San Jacinto Mountains it became necessary to visit localities that could not be reached in any sort of vehicle. Mr. Kinney naturally relieved Mrs. Jackson in so far as he could from these arduous tasks. In doing so he met with some incidents not witnessed by his chief. Some of these were related by Mr. Kinney to the authors of this volume. One instance is of peculiar human interest. A man named Fayne had wrongfully dispossessed an Indian of his home, and was holding possession when Mr. Kinney was in the neighborhood. It was a singularly aggravating outrage, and Commissioner Kinney


[page 217]

determined to dispossess him while on the ground, if possible, and to that extent right the wrong.

Co-commissioner and intimate friend of , who journeyed with her through , and aided in her work for the .

MR. ABBOT KINNEY,

As it appeared at the time Mrs.  saw it. One of the missing bells is at the late 's  ranch. The other was given to and is now at the Church of the Angels, .

SAN GABRIEL MISSION

As he approached the house on horseback he observed a man leaning over the front gate with a rifle in his hand and a set look of wicked determination in his eyes. Mr. Kinney affected not to observe the bellicose attitude of the villain, and although the weapon was pointed at him, rode directly up to the fence.

‘‘Well,’’ said Fayne, in a brutal tone of voice, ‘‘what do you want here?’’

‘‘I am an agent of the Government,’’ answered Mr. Kinney, ‘‘and I've come to investigate your title to this property. I've heard the Indian's story, and now I've come to hear what you have to say.’’

‘‘Oh, well, that's different. If you want to be decent about the matter and do the right thing, I don't mind telling you what my claim is.’’

With this Fayne lowered his rifle and invited Mr. Kinney into the house. His story was long and rambling, but wholly without merit, and Mr. Kinney and Mrs. Jackson, before leaving the locality, had the satisfaction of restoring the little ranch to its rightful owner,


[page 218]

the Indian who had lived on it all his life, as had his father before him.

Upon another occasion it became necessary for Mr. Kinney to go on foot to a little ranch on the edge of the desert, where he found the owner, an aged Indian, in great distress over the complete destruction of his crop--sole reliance for the sustenance of himself and family until another could be grown--by a white man named Lugo, who had driven a herd of cattle and a band of sheep over it, breaking down the fences on either side, and leaving not a vestige of vegetation upon the place. The act was one of pure malevolence, since there was an abundance of room on either side of the ranch to have driven his stock without damage to anyone.

Mr. Kinney burned with indignation when he viewed the wreck and heard the pitiful story from the lips of the sufferer. Seeking out the perpetrator he introduced himself as an agent of the Government, told him he had appraised the damage, and warned him that, unless he should appear at a certain place in San Diego within ten days and deposit the sum named for the benefit of the outraged Indian, he would send an officer after him. There was no parleying, nor was there any subsequent


[page 219]

default. Mr. Kinney and Mrs. Jackson were able to hand the money over to the grateful Indian a few weeks later.

Particularly interesting was Mr. Kinney's relation of the visit of Mrs. Jackson to Temecula. He was with her on that momentous occasion. The scenes of desolation, mute but irrefutable evidence of the outrage of the whites upon the Indians, seemed to wrack the heart and mind of Mrs. Jackson. The interview between her and Mrs. Wolfe, Mrs. Hartsel of Ramona, was fervent and dramatic. Mrs. Wolfe had witnessed the ejectment of the Indians from Temecula. Her sympathies were with the maltreated red men, and naturally she elicited the confidence and admiration of Mrs. Jackson.

At the Temecula graveyard Mrs. Jackson observed an Indian woman weeping over the grave of her husband. The incident gave birth to the character of Carmena in Ramona. ‘‘As they entered the enclosure a dark figure arose from one of the graves. . . . It was Carmena. The poor creature, nearly crazed with grief, was spending her days by her baby's grave in Pachanga, and her nights by her husband's in Temecula. She dared not come to


[page 220]

Temecula by day, for the Americans were there, and she feared them.’’

When in a reminiscent mood Mr. Kinney relates many interesting incidents associated with the historical journey over the San Jacinto Mountains, originally suggested to Mrs. Jackson by the Coronels, and which gave birth to the great American romance, Ramona. He asserts that nearly if not quite all of the characters and incidents in Ramona were suggested by persons seen and episodes encountered during the journey and Mrs. Jackson's visit to Camulos ranch, and that the author's description of places, relation of incidents and portrayal of characters are astonishingly correct and faithful.

While Mr. Kinney, with his accustomed courtesy, talked willingly and at length with the authors concerning Mrs. Jackson and Ramona, to the request that he contribute something to this volume over his own signature he answered: ‘‘I could not write anything on the subject that would not be either dull or colorless, or violate my views on the sacred character of the relations of personal friendship.’’

The close and intimate friendship existing between Mrs. Jackson and Mr. Kinney is evidenced


[page 221]

by the correspondence between them. Portions of some of the letters of the author of Ramona to Mr. Kinney are here given:

New York, January 17, 1884.

Dear Co.:

. . . . . . .

When I arrived here on Nov. 20 and found that you had left on November 19, ‘‘a madder man than Mr. Mears you would not wish to see.’’--You surely could not have got my note saying I would start on the 16th--I took cold on the journey. . . .

Feby. 2. Whether from the horrible weather or from overwork I don't know, I collapsed for a week, and had an ugly sore throat and did no work. Now I am all right again and back at my table, but shall go slower. I am leading a life as quiet as if I were at Mrs. Kimball's--I go nowhere--am never out after 5 P.M. I am resolved to run no risks whatever till after I get this story done. I hope it is good. It is over one-third done. Am pretty sure the 1st of March will see it done. Then I will play.

The weather has been horrible--snow after snow; raw and cloudy days,--I have sighed for Southern California.


[page 222]

But in the house I have been comfortable--have not once seen the mercury below 60 in my rooms. The apartment is sunny and light--6th floor--east windows--all my ‘‘traps,’’ as Mr. Jackson calls them, came in well, and the room looks as if I had lived in it all my life.

Now, for yourself--What have you done? How are you running your home?--Who is at the Villa? Is Mrs. Carr well? My regards to her. Don't you wish you had carried home a wife? I am exceedingly disappointed that you didn't.

Miss Sheriff writes me that a suit is brought for the ejectment of the Saboba Indians. Let me know if you have heard of it--what Brunson & Wells say. I wrote to Wells a long time ago asking for information about the suit by which the Temecula Indians were ejected--but he has not replied.

What do you hear of the new agent?

I got Miss Sheriff's salary restored to old figure.

I have just sent a list of 200 names to Com. Price to mail our report to. Of course you had copies. I feel well satisfied with it. Do not you? I wish they'd send us again somewhere. They never will. I've had my last trip as a ‘‘Junketing Female Commissioner.’’


[page 223]

Do write soon;--and answer all my questions--and don't wait for me to reply, but write again. I am writing from 1,000 to 2,000 words a day on the story and letters are impossible, except to Mr. Jackson. Whether I write or not you know I am always the same affectionate old General.

Yours ever,

H. J.

INTERIOR OF SAN GABRIEL MISSION

 .

SAN DIEGO MISSION

The ‘‘story’’ to which reference is made was Ramona, which was being written at the date of the letter.

New York, February 20th, 1884.

Dear Co.:

Your first letter made me wretched. If we had ‘‘been and gone’’ and got a rascally firm set over those Indian matters I thought we might better never have been born.

But your second reassures me.

I sent you one of the reports. You can get all you want, I think, by writing to Commissioner Price. I sent him a long list of names to mail it to. They said I could have all I wanted. Of course you can too. There is a bill of some sort, prepared and before Congress. I have written to Teller asking for it, or sum and substance. He does not reply. None of


[page 224]

them care for anything now, except the election. . . .

I am working away at the story (Ramona)--twenty chapters done. I'd like to consult you. Do you think it will do any harm to depart from the chronological sequence of events in my story?

For dramatic purposes I have put the Temecula ejectment before the first troubles in San Pasquale.

Will anybody be idiot enough to make a point of that? I am not writing history. I hope the story is good.

I wish you could see my rooms. What with Indian baskets, the things from Marsh's, and antique rugs, they are really quite charming, luckily for me who have been shut up in them by the solid week.

Such weather was never seen. There are no words--proper ones--suitable to describe it. I sigh for San Gabriel sunshine.

I hope you are well and jolly. I'm awfully sorry you are not married. Good night. Always,

Affectionately yours,

General.

Regards to Mrs. Crank, Mrs. C---, etc. I don't wonder the latter does not succeed as landlady. I'd as soon board with a cyclone.

PAGE OF OLD RECORD AND BELL, SAN GABRIEL

INDIAN MISSION SCHOOL, SAN DIEGO


[page 225]

The following letter was written after the completion of Ramona, and Mrs. Jackson had fallen down the stairs in her home at Colorado Springs and fractured her leg.

Colorado Springs,

September 28th, 1884.

Dear Co.:

. . . . . . .

I am thinking of coming to So. California as soon as I can hobble. I must fly from here before November, but I do not feel quite up to shutting myself in for the winter as I must in New York. So I propose to run across to your snug seashore--for two or three months of sunshine and outdoors--before going to New York. Do you not think that wise?

I wrote to Mrs. W--- in San Diego--the only place I know in all California where there was real comfort. Also I like the San Diego climate best. But I learned to my great disappointment that she had gone to Los Angeles. The N's urge my coming to a new hotel in San Diego--but I have a mortal dread of California hotels. Do you know anything of it?--And do you know where Mrs. W's house in Los Angeles is? If it is on high ground? . . .

. . . I shall bring my Effie with me--too


[page 226]

helpless yet to travel alone. Goodness! What martyrdom crutches are! While I was stationary in bed it was fun in comparison with this. But I am a sinner to grumble. I shall walk with one crutch and one cane, next week, the doctor thinks, and that is great luck for such a bad compound fracture as mine; and at my age. My weight also is a sad hindrance. If I weighed only 125 or so they say I could walk with a cane now. Ultimately--they insist--my leg will be as good as ever, and no lameness. I shall believe it when I see it! . . .

I had a letter from Mrs. C--- the other day. Strange, that disorderly chaotic woman writes a precise, methodical hand, clear as type, characterless in its precision; and I, who am a martinet of ardent system, write--well--as you see! What nonsense to say handwriting shows character.

I have ordered a copy of The Hunter Cats of Connorloa sent to you. You will laugh to see yourself saddled with an orphan niece and nephew. I hope you won't dislike the story. I propose in the next to make you travel all through Southern California with Susy and Rea--and tell the Indian story over again. I only hope that scalawag C---, of Los Angeles, will come across the story,


[page 227]

and see himself set forth in it. He will recognize the story of Fernando, the old Indian he turned out at San Gabriel.

As you recollect the situation of lands at Saboba was there good land enough in that neighborhood for those Indians to get homes? The Indian appropriation bill passed in July has a clause enabling Indians to take land under homestead laws, with no fees.

What are Brunson and Wells doing? Anything? What is the state of the Saboba matter? But I suppose you can think of nothing save politics till next Dec.

Write soon. I want to know about Mrs. W's house--if it is high, sunny, airy, etc.

Yours always,

General.

Having passed several months in Los Angeles, Mrs. Jackson went to San Francisco early in 1885, where she died a few months later.

San Francisco, April 1st, 1885.

Dear Co.:

I don't wonder you thought so. Anybody well enough to journey to S. F. wouldn't seem to be in such bad case. But it was true--I


[page 228]

came up here on my last shred of nerve force, and collapsed at once. I have had a terrible poisoning. It will be seven weeks next Saturday since there has been any proper action of either stomach or bowels,--simply six weeks of starvation, that is all, and the flesh has rained off me. I must have lost at least forty pounds, and I am wan and yellow in the face. Nothing ever before so utterly upset me. Everybody cried that bade me good-by, I looked so ill. Even Miller, my driver, stood speechless, before me in the cars--with his eyes full of tears! Dear old Mr. Coronel put his arms round me sighing: ‘‘Excuse me, I must!’’ Embraced me in Spanish fashion with a half sob. I know they none of them expected me to live--which did not cheer me up much. I seemed to be better at first after getting here, but had a relapse last week--diarrhoea as bad as ever and stomach worse. I am in bed--take only heated milk and gr--and sit up long enough to have my bed made. It is a bad job, old fellow, and I doubt very much if I ever pull out of it. It's all right, only if I had been asked to choose the one city of all I know in which I would have most disliked to be slain, it would have been San Francisco.

Thursday, A.M. Your note is just here.


[page 229]

Sorry you have to change cooks. Changing stomachs is worse, however. Don't grumble, lest a worse thing befall you. Give as much of my love as your wife will accept, to her. I liked your calling her the ‘‘Young H. H.’’ There is no doubt she looks as I did at twenty. . . . I shall never be well again, Co. I know it with a certain knowledge. Nobody at my age with my organization ever really got over a severe blood poisoning. My doctor is a good one, a young man--Dr. Boericke, 834 Sutter St. I like him heartily. He is clever, enthusiastic, European taught. All that homeopathy can do for me I shall have, and you know the absoluteness of my faith in homeopathy. Good-by. I'll let you know how it goes. Don't give yourself a moment's worry.

Yours always,

General.

P. S. Can't you do something to get Rust appointed Indian agent? I have heard quite directly that Lamar is full of warm sympathy for the Indians. Do try, Co., and accomplish something for them. You might, if you would determine to.

Although approaching the sere and yellow-leaf period of his useful sojourn here below,


[page 230]

Mr. Kinney is still a very active man, daily to be seen at his desk in Venice of America.

The carriage in which Mrs. Jackson commenced her journey through Southern California was owned and driven by Mr. N. H. Mitchell, who now resides in Los Angeles. The start was made from Anaheim, twenty-six miles from Los Angeles. The occupants of the carriage were Mrs. Jackson, Mr. Abbot Kinney, Mr. Henry Sandham and Mr. N. H. Mitchell. Mr. Mitchell has contributed this statement of his association with Mrs. Jackson:

‘‘

I first met Mrs. Helen Hunt Jackson at Anaheim, near Los Angeles, in April, 1883. She came there in company with Mr. Abbot Kinney and Mr. Henry Sandham, the artist.

"Mrs. Jackson was seeking someone who was familiar with the country and could guide her and her companions through Southern California, and especially to the several Indian settlements.

"I understood that she was in California as a representative of the U. S. Interior Department, especially authorized to visit the Mission Indians and report upon their condition,


[page 231]

and recommend action to be taken by the Government in their behalf. She seemed intensely interested in the Indians at Temecula and Warner's Ranch.

Owner and driver of the carriage in which  made the first part of her journey through .

MR. N. H. MITCHELL,

SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO MISSION

"Our first stop was at San Juan Capistrano, where we remained two days. From there we visited the Santa Margarita Rancho, where we were guests at the palatial home of Don Juan Forster for two days.

"Our journey from place to place was attended by many exciting and interesting incidents. Mrs. Jackson accepted every inconvenience and hardship without complaint. She seemed wholly absorbed by the Indian subject: to hear, to see all concerning them. No detail escaped her. She was ever smiling, good-natured and witty, but always earnest and determined.

"We encountered many trying conditions, especially for a woman, and one of Mrs. Jackson's refinement. We often camped at night. Pala Mission, on the San Luis Rey River, was reached late at night, and there we were forced to camp. We found an American there, who was trading with the Indians, and prevailed upon him to give us some supper. Something about him particularly amused and interested Mr. Sandham, who named the fellow 'Garibaldi.'


[page 232]

No beds could be had, and we had to sleep in a haystack.

"Mrs. Jackson made friends with all whom she met, both white people and Indians. She was attentive, kind and courteous to everyone.

"I kept the carriage in which we rode until a few years ago. I offered to give it to the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, that it might be preserved in connection with the Coronel Collection, but the offer was refused on the ground of lack of space. I finally sold it to a carriage dealer in Pasadena, who dissembled it and used its parts for various purposes.

"I know of many of the incidents of our travel to be the same as related in Ramona. Mrs. Hartsel, whom Mrs. Jackson met at Temecula, was Mrs. Ramona Wolfe, the wife of the storekeeper there. Mrs. Jackson was greatly interested in Mrs. Wolfe, and from her learned many things concerning the Temecula Indians and their ejectment from their lands. Mrs. Wolfe was in sympathy with the Indians, and, therefore, Mrs. Jackson gave her special attention.

"Because Mrs. Wolfe's name was Ramona, and Mrs. Jackson seemed so particularly impressed by her, I have always thought she was


[page 233]

the original of Mrs. Jackson's heroine in Ramona. Mrs. Wolfe never lived at Camulos ranch, and never had, so far as I know, any of the experiences related in the novel as having attended Ramona.

’’

Up: Contents Previous: CHAPTER XVI: THE HOME OF RAMONA Next: CHAPTER XVIII: HENRY SANDHAM, THE ARTIST OF RAMONA




© Arizona Board of Regents