24 July 2010

Carbon Canyon and Rancho Santa Ana del Chino: Francisca Willams and Robert Carlisle

Isaac Williams' third and final child by his wife, Maria de Jesús Lugo, was Francisca, born in 1841.  The child was only about a year old when her mother died in childbirth.  Though her father did not remarry, he did father several children by three other women before his death fifteen years later.  As noted in an earlier post, elder daughter Merced married John Rains just days after Isaac Williams died.  Perhaps foreshadowing a major rivalry, Francisca soon found a husband, Robert S. Carlisle, born in 1830 in Kentucky.  Nothing is known about Carlisle, except that he lived in San Jose before migrating south and finding employment for Isaac Williams in 1856.  His whirlwind courtship of the fifteen-year old Francisca concluded with their nuptials in May 1857.

While John and Merced Rains claimed control of the ranch, Carlisle appears to have managed significant parts of his wife's holdings.  Though there is no direct substantiating evidence, it seems that brother-in-law and/or sisterly rivalry led John Rains to sell out his wife's share of Chino to Carlisle to buy the Rancho Cucamonga.  As mentioned in the Rains post, John Rains was murdered in 1862, with the crime never being solved.  Some pointed to Carlisle as involved in some way, perhaps in hiring the killers.

Meantime, in the 1860 census, Robert Carlisle, listed as age 31, was a rancher with a self-assessment of $30,000 real estate and $25,000 in personal property, a handsome (and certainly under reported) estate.  Francisca was shown as 20 yeas of age, with two daughters, two-year old Mary and nine-month old Laura.  There were also Francisca's step-siblings, Feliciano and Francisca Apis, shown as ten and twelve years of age.  The ranch overseer at Chino was Jose Sotelo and there were at least seven Indian laborers listed.

Carlisle, like Rains, was a tempestuous Southerner, with a pride, sense of chivalry, and ability to make boon companions and bitter enemies in equal measure.  For example, while Carlisle secured election to the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors in 1862 and served a two-year term, he also incurred the enmity of another Southern family, the Kings of El Monte.  It was said that Carlisle accused Los Angeles County Under Sheriff, Andrew J. King (later a state senator and newspaper publisher) of bungling the investigation of Rains' murder and in interfering with Carlisle's handling of the Rains estate as executor.

In July 1865, the Carlisle-King feud erupted into an epic gun battle, the likes of which was rarely seen in Los Angeles, which had more than its share of gun violence in that period.  First, Carlisle confronted Andrew King on the streets of town and the fracas led to blows.  When Carlisle decamped to the saloon of the Bella Union Hotel, co-owned by John Rains at this death and in years past, King's brothers, Frank and Houston, burst in and confronted him.  In a matter of seconds, bullets rang out and, when the smoke cleared, Carlisle was mortally wounded and was placed writhing in agony, upon a table in the establishment, where he soon expired.  Frank King also died from his wounds, while Houston King was badly wounded but survived.  A few innocent bystanders also took bullets, but none very seriously.

Francisca Williams Carlisle was twenty-four years old and had two daughters and two sons (seven-year old Mary, six-year old Laura, two-year old William, and a year-old Eugene.)  She was left as sole proprietress to a 35,000-acre estate of great value and the southern California area, ravaged by a poor economy and a severe drought, was, however, ready for its first land boom. 

Fortunately, Francisca found an able ranch manager in Joseph Bridger, who was born in Missouri in 1830, came to California with his father in the 1840s, served in the American army during the conquest and was San Bernardino County Sheriff from 1857 to 1859 (succeeding one-time Chino Rancho overseer Robert Clift), in 1864, married Francisca's half-sister, Victoria, whose mother was one of the Apis cousins (Temecula Indians) with whom Isaac Williams fathered children.  Bridger, whose adobe house was on the grounds of today's Los Serranos Country Club in Chino Hills, a couple of miles south of the main ranch adobe, ran the Chino ranch for fifteen years, until his death in 1880. 

Joseph and Victoria Bridger had eight children, one of whom, Andrew, along with Francisca and Robert Carlisle's two surviving children, daughters Mary and Laura, issued a 1938 statement identifying the location of the Chino Rancho adobe, built by Antonio María Lugo and occupied by Isaac Williams and, presumably, Merced and John Rains and Francisca and Robert Carlisle, as "upon the site of the former main building (pink house, as its color designated) at what is now known as the George Junior Republic dairy—an adobe, the headquarters of Mr. H. J. Stewart, 1874—since then destroyed, we understand, by fire and demolition."  Joseph and Victoria Bridger and some of their children are buried at the Odd Fellows Cemetery in East Los Angeles.  Of note, the other Francisca Williams, fathered by Isaac out of wedlock, later married James Ramoni, a contractor and builder, and lived in Hollister in northern California.

In the meantime, between 1865 and 1870, Francisca remarried.  Her second husband was Scotland native Frederick A. MacDougal, a physician, Los Angeles police chief and, from 1876 to 1878, mayor of the city.  In the 1870 census, the McDougals were counted on 28 July.  Frederick was fifty-five years old, Francisca twenty-nine.  Her four Carlisle children, Mary, Laura,William and Eugene were considered a separate household along with McDougal's children from a previous marriage, Frederick, Jr., age 10, and Dora and born about 1866.  Notably, Francisca's step-siblings, Francisca, age 17,  Refugia, 16, and Concepción, 22 lived nearby.  Also notable is the value of the estates of some of the Williams heirs.  While McDougal was well-off on his own, with $25,000 in self-reported real estate and $3,000 in personal effects, Francisca had $50,000 and $20,000, respectively.  Moreover, her four children each had $15,000 and $3,000, respectively, so that the Chino Rancho (assuming this comprised the entirely of their fortunes) had a self-reported value of $110,000 with $32,000 in personal property for the five persons.  Interestingly, the three out-of-wedlock daughters of Isaac Williams had no property values reported..  Also, a few households away was Isaac Williams' nephew, Wallace Woodworth (son of Isaac's sister, Samantha).

Los Angeles newspaper publisher Benjamin C. Truman published his travelogue, Semi-Tropical California, in 1874 and gave a long description of his visit to the Rancho Santa Ana del Chino and called it "a magnificent estate."  Noting the management of Bridger, Truman wrote that "it was from his hospitable residence that I sallied out on several tours which I made through its broad acres."  He stated that 7,000 acres were "meadow lands," 10,000 acres rolling hills, 8,000 acres of "mesa," or flat table lands, and 10,000 acres planted to wheat and other grains.  He mentioned Scotch-born H. J. Stewart as leasing half the ranch [recall his being mentioned in the 1938 statement by the Williams heirs above] and stocking 10,000 sheep upon it, with an increase in 1874 alone of 4,000 head.  Another lessee, "Martine Echapar," which appears to be a misspelled Basque name, had 6,000 sheep, as well.  Bridger was said to have 1,000 cattle and 220 horses and mules under his care. 

Truman went on to state that Chino was "universally regarded as one of the most valuable and uniformly fertile bodies of land in the country [meaning southern California]."  Moreover, he took care to note that "it has many distinguishing features, chiefly among which are its springs.  These Chino springs are immense bodies of water welling up from subterranean sources, one of them at least fifty yards in circumference, and discharging day and night, the whole year round."  One of these even had, according to the writer, enough fish for a good day's fishing so that Bridger's cook made a nice soup with Madeira wine, lemon, and hard boiled eggs!  Truman further observed that "there are six of these springs on the ranch."

This blogger can testify that, when living for seven years at the "Los Serranos Ranch" subdivision just a few hundred yards from the old Bridger property, just south of the Los Serranos Country Club, a hole that formerly housed a plant became, after the first few months of living at my new house in 1997, a continual supply of spring water.  Because the tract was built on a down slope from the Chino Hills to the south, there was undoubtedly a subterranean channel of water that came through my yard and from which, until I moved in 2004, constantly supplied as much water as I could scoop out.  Later, I noticed that almost the entire yard was cemented over.

Returning to Truman, he marveled at the "surpassing productiveness" of the meadows, filled with nutritious burr, sweet clover and other grasses to feed the animals, as well as the fertile grain lands to the north and west, in the 1843 addition obtained by Isaac Williams.  As for "the old homestead, no occupied by Mr. Stewart." that is, the Lugo/Williams adobe on today's Boys' Republic, "walnuts and fruit of several varieties are flourishing" and Stewart's "thrifty orchard" included vineyards and shade trees.  Moreover, "attached to the same estate are several productive asphaltum springs, which in time must necessarily become very valuable," though oil was never found in appreciable quantities.  Finally, Truman concluded by noting that Bridger had built his own school house and hired a new teacher for a new school district--precursor, perhaps, to the modern Chino Valley Unified School District?

Frederick McDougal, age 63, died while serving as Los Angeles' mayor in 1878.  Two years later, in the 1880 federal census, Francisca resided on San Pedro Street, south of downtown Los Angeles, next to her married daughter Laura Brodrick, whose husband William was an insurance broker.  Her stepson, Frederick McDougal, Jr., was 19 and a grocery clerk.  Stepdaughter Dora McDougal was 14 and still in school.  There were three children born to Frederick and Francisca: Robert S. [named for Francisca's first husband], 10, George S., 7, and Lucy, 1.  The three Carlisle children in the household were Mary, 21, William, 17, and Eugene, 15.  There was also a Swiss gardener and Chinese cook.

Within a year, Francisca would sell the Rancho Santa Ana del Chino to Richard Gird, whose tenure was marked by some significant successes and notable failures.  As for Francisca, she married a third time, to a much younger man named Edward Jesurun, born about 1862 in Curacao, an island in the Netherlands Antilles off the coast of Venezuela, where he was the son of the American consul.  Jesurun lived in Los Angeles during the 1880s, though it is not known when he married Francisca, and he worked with the Citizens' Transfer Company and Gurney Cab Service in the city. 

Later, he was involved in real estate, but seemed to have alienated his wife's affections when he failed to repay a $22,000 loan from her, presumably for a realty deal.  Indeed, in 1910, Francisca resided alone with a Chinese servant, in a home on Washington Boulevard, in the West Adams district of Los Angeles.  Curiously, she had a near neighbor, Charles W. Price, who was an investor in the Rancho Santa Ana del Chino, which she had sold 30 years before!  Yet, in 1920, Francisca and Edward Jesurun were back together, residing in Palo Alto, south of San Francisco, where he was secretary of a land company and she was a hearty 78 years old.  Six years later, on 19 April 1926, Francisca Williams Carlisle McDougal Jesurun, who lived a life undoubtedly filled with many highs and lows, died in Palo Alto at about age 84 or 85.  Her widow, died at about age 70, six years afterwards, in 1932.

The photos of Robert S. Carlisle and Joseph Bridger are from Edwin Rhodes' The Break of Day in Chino, published by Rhodes in 1952.


BobSaw.com said...

I know where Francesca and Dr. MacDougall are buried now, but do you have any idea where they were buried when they died? Any idea where John Rains is buried? Mr. Jesurun?

prs said...

Hello BobSaw, where are Francesca and MacDougall buried now? If it's the Calvary Cemetery in East Los Angeles, then they would have been buried in the old Calvary near Dodger Stadium where Cathedral High School is located. As to John Rains, there was a description of his funeral in a LA newspaper in December 1862, but all it says is that the service happened at the Bella Union Hotel and then the procession went to the grave. I suspect it was the old city cemetery on Fort Moore Hill west of the old Plaza. If no one claimed the body after the cemetery was condemned, I'm not sure where the remains would have been taken, if they were removed at all. If I remember correctly, Jessurum died Palo Alto, so perhaps he was buried there?

Bob Marlowe said...

Excellent news about John Rains; I will pursue that. Francesca and Dr. MacDougall are at Rose Hills, near Robert Snell Carlisle, who was also at Ft. Moore Hill. Please communicate with me by email so I don't your messages -sometimes WRMedu@aol.com