09 February 2016

Before Olinda: The Shanklin Ranch

As noted before, the area that became Olinda and extended into Carbon Canyon as far as the Rancho Santa Ana del Chino boundary, just east of today's Sleepy Hollow neighborhood in Chino Hills was considered public land from the Spanish period of California onward through the Mexican era.

Public lands became important as common grazing lands between ranches like Chino, Cajon de Santa Ana, La Puente, Cañada de la Brea, La Habra and others in the area, so that cattle could be moved from the ranches to the public lands to equalize the effect of grazing on grasses and other plant material.

James W. Shanklin's listing in the Great Register of Voters, San Francisco, 1866.  Click on any image to see the set in enlarged views in a separate window.
Once the American conquest of Mexican California took place in 1846-47, there were no immediate changes to that status, because the regional economy was still cattle-dominated and the ranches in full operation.

By the late 1860s, however, matters had changed considerably.  The end of the Gold Rush, an economic downturn in the late 1850s, floods in 1861-62, and drought to 1865 all contributed to the decline of the cattle industry and to the loss of many of the ranches that existed to serve it.  A new era was at hand, led by agriculture, including vineyards and orange groves, primarily.

In the late 1850s, President James Buchanan reversed the policy of Franklin Pierce and ordered tens of millions of acres of federal public land placed on the market--this followed the Depression of 1857 and a need for increased revenue was part of Buchanan's decision.  Between 25 and 30 percent of this land was in California alone.

James W. Shanklin's entry in the Great Register of Voters, Alameda County, 1870.
A problem was that surveys of California lands under the auspices of the federal General Land Office were proceeding slowly as land claims from Spanish and Mexican grants on ranchers was also moving through the courts at a glacial pace.

The state legislature passed an act in 1863 allowing persons interested in acquiring public land to apply to the state, which would then check with the federal land register.  If the land in question was determined to be open, not mineral land, or subject to any legitimate claim, the surveyor general would do a recheck.  If the land was considered available, it was up to the state to issue a patent, after one had been given from the federal government to the state.

Finally, public land sales, mostly to speculators and wealthy land owners with a great deal of pull, accelerated in the latter part of the Sixties.  By 1869, public land sales in California were more than those of all other states in the Union combined and another 8 million acres of lands initially set aside for schools, colleges, and as swamp lands, were being put on the market, as well.

Photo from James W. Shanklin obituary, San Francisco Chronicle, 1 March 1902.
It was in this context that former public lands in northeastern Orange County became available.  In a 1916 court case, Stutsman v. Olinda Land Company, the judge observed that property later part of the Olinda Ranch was composed of lands 'in lieu of a certain thirty-sixth section given to the state [by the federal government] under general grant for school purposes."

The plaintiff in this case, W. A. Stutsman, argued that the acquisition of the land at issue in this case was acquired by James White Shanklin in 1868 from a deputy federal surveyor, Henry Hancock, and that the property, being mineral land, could not be sold nor could Shanklin, who Stutsman argued was the state surveyor general, acquire the land.  Unfortunately for Stutsman, his facts were somewhat off base.  The judge, moreover, ruled that "the conveyance to Shanklin came from the state of California and not from the {federal] government" rendering Stutsman's argument moot and the matter was dismissed.

What did happen to the land that became Olinda, though, is that these former public lands were assumed by the federal government after the conquest of California, were in limbo as surveys were being completed and land grants sorted out, and then assigned to the state for sale by the late 1860s.

In early March 1874, Shanklin acquired 4,360 acres in the former public lands of northeastern Orange County for $1,000 from C.G. Jones and his associates.  Notably, Shanklin also filed an "agreement as to conveyance of lands" with Hancock, who was no longer a surveyor but an attorney specializing in land cases,  A week later, Hancock and others then conveyed their one-third interest in the 4,360 acres to Shanklin for $2,500.

Los Angeles Herald, 6 March 1874.
James W. Shanklin was born 5 August 1824 near Rochester, New York and worked on the family farm before briefly becoming a teacher and then studied the law in Rochester.  When the Gold Rush erupted, he followed the teeming hordes to California and mined on the American River.  He also participated in a lumber business.

In 1864, President Lincoln appointed Shanklin as the receiver in the federal land office in San Francisco just as California's public lands were beginning to be transferred to the state.  He then became the register in the same office, the same position mentioned above.  In 1870, Shanklin moved to Oakland, where he served on that city's Board of Education and then its city council during the following decade.  It was, of course, during these years that Shanklin acquired his property in what later became Orange County.  The Anaheim Gazette in its last issue of 1875 mentioned his "sheep camp," with the raising of these animals growing in significance in those years.

Shanklin then moved into state politics when he was elected in 1879 to be the state surveyor general, responsible for the surveying and tracking of the transfer of lands from the federal to the state government.  Shanklin served in this position from 1880 to 1883, when he decided not to run for reelection and returned to private life.

Los Angeles Herald, 19 March 1882 [the year was inadvertently listed as 1881 by the paper].
He did, however, add to his ranch holdings in what became Olinda.  In March 1882, Charles M. Laughlin sold to Shanklin additional acreage of an unstated amount (lots and sections were, however, listed, including areas within and to the east and south of future Olinda) for $6,000.

Early in 1883, Shanklin, having just left office, authored a bill to be introduced to the state legislature by Reginaldo F. del Valle of Los Angeles, concerning the better regulation of water for irrigation.  This was a contentious issue, concerning whether riparian water rights to be available to any land owners along the course of the river, stream, creek, or wash was to be superior over the right for nearby landowners to draw water by means of irrigation.

The Shanklin family's census listing, Oakland, 1900.
In semi-arid southern California, especially, the question of water rights and access was not only controversial but could lead to violence.  In Shanklin's case, he clearly needed irrigation to draw water from the Santa Ana River to his ranch.  In 1878, he was the president of the new Cajon Irrigation Company, formerly the North Anaheim Canal Company.  That November a new flume was completed, which was cause for a large celebration (documented in the accompanying photo from the collection of the Anaheim Public Library) and documented in the Anaheim Gazette and reprinted in the Los Angeles Herald.

Shanklin could not be present at the event, but had a letter read by W.M. McFadden, who then discussed the origins of the irrigation canal project in early 1875, just after Shanklin's purchase of his ranch and of a state law which cleared the way for such work.  The North Anaheim Canal Company was not named in McFadden's address, but the financial problems of continuing the work after eight miles were dug were noted.  Then, in 1877, a new effort was launched by seven men, (in addition to Shanklin and McFadden, there were names like Crowther and Gilman involved--the names of the latter three memorialized in Placentia street names today), with the 8-foot deep, 15-miles long ditch capable of irrigating 10,000 acres finished at a cost of $50,000.

The celebration of the completion of Flume #7, Cajon Irrigation Company, November 1878.  From the collection of the Anaheim Public Library.
Problems ensued, however, internally and externally and involving lawsuits, so in 1884, a new enterprise, the Anaheim Union Water Company, was created to embrace Cajon and two rivals.

In 1886, Shanklin and R.J, Northam were the heads of the Anaheim Anti-Riparian Irrigation Club, as listed in the Proceedings of the State Irrigation Convention.  That same year, an address to the State Irrigation Committee included this caustic commentary
J.W. Shanklin, once Surveyor-General of this State, ‘hogged’ more water in Los Angeles county than he has land to cover, or has ‘hogged’ more land than he has water to cover, we know not which, is up at Sacramento ‘bellyaching’ against the irrigation bills.  The burden of his song is that the laws proposed don’t fit his case.  Shanklin ought to buy an uninhabited island and move on it.  Then he could pass laws to suit his own views. 
Another potential problem, it seems, had to do with land squatters.  In June 1883, the Los Angeles Herald published an editorial claiming that squatters from Las Bolsas, near the Pacific in modern Huntington Beach, were flocking to the Santa Ana Mountains because of reports of oil found there.

The paper noted that there were several large landowners in the general vicinity, including Shanklin, and that these men "will not stand any squatter sovreignty" and "will use their lands for pasturage at present" for cattle, horses and sheep.  Most relevantly, the Herald continued, "there is no water for their stock in that highland plateau at present."

Shanklin took to renting out a large portion of his holdings, said by the Gazette to amount to a substantial 12,000 acres.  One such advertisement, in the Herald in August 1884, sought someone to take a lease on 5,000 acres, being "a splendid place for hogs or sheep," but also having access to "a good ditch of running water," presumably the irrigation canal, near which were 73 acres of alfalfa.

Los Angeles Herald, 13 August 1884.
The following year, 1885, brought the direct connection of a transcontinental railroad to Los Angeles through the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe line, which ran along the southern reaches of Shanklin's domain.  Within a couple of years, the famed "Boom of the Eighties" erupted in the region.  Thousands and thousands of emigrants flocked to the area, land prices skyrocketed, and wild speculation was the order of the day.

Looking to get in on the action, former Los Angeles newspaper publisher Jesse Yarnell and future Los Angeles mayor Henry T. Hazard purchased some of Shanklin's ranch in March 1887, during the frenzy of the boom, for $50,000.  Within five months, Yarnell and Hazard were part of a syndicate planning a "colony" on their new holdings.  As reported in the Herald on 26 August, the group looked at their "patch" of 750 acres, valued at $150 an acre, for the laying out of a townsite adjacent to the new railroad line.

Los Angeles Herald, 8 September 1887.
A few weeks later, in early September, the Richfield Land and Water Company was incorporated, including Yarnell; Hazard; H. C. Witmer, a banker, streetcar line owner and real estate developer; W.H. Bonsall, whose realty deals included the Centinela Land Company near today's Los Angeles International Airport and the Redondo Beach Company and who was a Los Angeles city council and Board of Public Works member; and George O. Ford, who became the company's agent and whose home in the historic Angelino Heights neighborhood in Los Angeles still stands.

The company then announced a new townsite to be called Richfield, but, by the end of 1887, the Herald reported, in its 23 December issue, that it "now goes by the name of Carlton."  Perhaps in the flurried activity of the boom the paper got its towns mixed up, as Richfield was located by the Santa Fe rail line in what is now the Atwood neighborhood of Placentia.

Los Angeles Herald, 23 December 1887.
The other issue is that Carlton was not in the Yarnell-Hazard tract at the southern portion of the Shanklin Ranch, but was in the northern section.  This was sold by Shanklin, also in March 1887, to William Hervey Bailey, who was fellow Oakland resident.

As extensively covered in this blog, Bailey was the son of Congregationlist missionaries on the Hawaiian island of Mau'i and he and his family resettled in Oakland in 1885.  Earlier posts suggested he bought the land "about 1888" that he renamed "Olinda" after his family's sugarcane plantation in Mau'i, which in turn was named for the famed Brazilian region of Olinda.

Instead, Shanklin executed an "agreement to convey ranch" of just a smidgen over 4,857 acres on 30 March 1887 to E.W. Blaisdell of Oakland.  Then, that same day, Blaisdell issued "an assignment of above" to Bailey.  It was later reported, in October, when Edward Record bought a one-third interest in this parcel from Bailey for $33,333.33 that the purchase price by Bailey was $70,000.

The Herald did go on to say that "Carlton is on the same slope with Whittier," that is along the foothills of the Puente Hills-Chino Hills range.  Carlton, moreover, was said to be one mile from the rail line and that a proposed railroad to run from Pomona through Tonner Canyon and then to the coast was to pass through it.

Los Angeles Herald, 12 January 1888.
Significantly, the paper reported "an oil well has been drilled in the foothills one mile north of the place, and oil is now flowing from it."  This was a foretaste of the great Olinda oil field that was still a decade away from developing.

The article went on to say that Carlton sat amidst a very fertile region, as
large flocks of sheep are no grazing upon it, and within one mile are corn fields and orchards of almost all kinds of fruits.  Hundreds of wagon loads of pumpkins and watermelons are lying uncared for in the fields, and hundreds of acres of alfalfa are growing in the neighborhood.
The piece ended by predicting that "a new town will soon—perhaps within ninety days—look down upon the distant sea from this sunny slope."

Los Angeles Herald, 28 January 1888.
In January 1888, the first advertisements for Carlton were taken out in the Herald and a sampling of those is offered here.  With the usual hype, hoopla and hysteria, Carlton was pumped up to be many things, including "The Greatest Town of the Age!"  It was anything but, as the boom soon went bust and whatever was actually built in Carlton was probably little more than window-dressing for a speculative project that typified the excesses of greater Los Angeles's first huge growth boom.

Los Angeles Herald, 3 February 1888.
As for Shanklin, his luck continued with selling off pieces of his ranch to a great profit.  Having already pocketed $50,000 in sales to Yarnell and Hazard and $70,000 to Bailey, he returned to the ranch in April 1888 after a trip back from the East and, as noted by the Herald, spent a couple of days "during which the [ex-Surveyor] General will close up some of his business interests in the Shanklin ranch, near Anaheim." Among these "closures" was the sale of more parcels in the Yarnell-Hazard subdivision.  Still, in the Directory of Grape Growers and Wine Makers of California for 1888, Shanklin was listed among the many local vineyardists.

An ad selling a piece of the former Shanklin Ranch, Santa Ana Register, 9 February 1920.
Yet, some of the former ranch property remained in his possession until his death in Oakland in February 1902 at the age of 77.  He left behind a son, Edwin, a mining engineer, an adopted daughter Georgia, and his wife, the former Adaline Slater.  When his widow died in early 1920, she still had some of the old ranch land in her estate, which her son, as executor, sold, ending the Shanklin family presence in the Olinda area after nearly a half-century.

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