Fruit of the Land

Below is an early label for one of the main products of San Diego County agriculture, courtesy of the California Secretary of State’s Office and the U. S. National Archives:

C.C. Brandt applied to the California Secretary of State’s office for trademark rights to his lemon juice in April 1900. At that point lemons and their by-products had become a major cash crop for San Diego County farmers. Just a few months earlier, The San Diego Union had made “the lemon-growing industry” the focus of most of its edition of Sunday, October 22, 1899.

“The subject of lemons was the sole topic of discussion at a meeting of the San Diego Horticultural Society held in the chamber of commerce rooms in this city last Tuesday,” noted the Union. Six of the paper’s twelve pages were dominated by articles reporting on the meeting, which included addresses by local growers offering advice on growing and marketing lemons.

Unique soil and climate conditions had made San Diego “the center of the lemon industry in the United States,” according to the Union.

“In round numbers,” reported a separate Union article, “San Diego County has 500.000 lemon trees. Of these, one-fifth are now bearing, their product being 500 carloads or over for the present year.”

That’s railroad carloads they were talking about. Up to October, according to industry statistics, 401 carloads had been shipped to markets across the country. That was compared to 228 carloads just three years earlier.

“In no county in the United States has lemon-growing assumed the proportions it has reached in San Diego County, and nowhere can lemons be produced more successfully than here, the frostless belt of the bay region being peculiarly adapted to this fruit. The industry has a magnificent future.”

Just as an update, according to the latest crop report from the County of San Diego, in 2020, the latest year for which statistics are available, 73,295 tons of lemons were harvested, tops for all local citrus fruits.

From the Horse’s Mouth-Literally

William Perry Bevington, like a lot of other San Diego County residents in the 19th century, originally came from elsewhere. Born in the Midwest in 1850, he’d come to southern California with his family in 1871, originally settling in San Jacinto. In 1873 he married and in 1875 he and his wife Elizabeth acquired land in the San Pasqual Valley. In the 1880 United States Census he is listed as a farmer. But in 1887 he moved to the budding new town of Escondido where he started pursuing a different line of work, one still critically important to San Diego County life in that era, a “liveryman.”

In the 1892-93 city/county directory, Bevington is listed as the proprietor of “Fashion Stable.” Below is a view of his corral and stables, also known as “Fashion Livery,” from an 1892 fire insurance map of Escondido, part of the Sanborn Fire Insurance Map Collection of the Library of Congress. It was a pretty large operation, covering most of a block along the intersection of Ohio Avenue and Ivy Street:

From the early 1890s until Bevington’s death in 1917, Escondido newspapers frequently ran ads for his stable, offering horse breeding as well as stabling services, as shown by the ad below from the March 24, 1911 Escondido Times-Advocate:

An add from June 30, 1905 shows another service Bevington offered:

Equine dentistry may have become his primary business, as the 1910 U.S. Census lists his occupation as “Veterinary Surgeon.”

When he died in September 1917 one of Escondido’s prominent citizens, Judge J. N. Turrentine, gave the eulogy, and the Times-Advocate noted “Many beautiful flowers and floral pieces were brought by loving friends in token of the high esteem in which they held the memory of the departed.”

Indigenous Peoples’ Day

“We stand upon a land that carries the footsteps of millennnia of Kumeyaay people. They are a people whose traditional lifeways intertwine with a worldview of earth and sky in a community of living beings.”

These are the opening words of a resolution adopted by the Senate of San Diego State University in September 2019. That resolution acknowledged the legacy of the university’s site as Kumeyaay land. It was part of a movement throughout the nation by the descendants of America’s original residents to reassert their historical legacy and to assume agency over their history and their future.

You can read the resolution in full by clicking on this link: .

I would also recommend checking out two other San Diego County organizations in the forefront of embracing and building on San Diego’s indigenous heritage:

This is the link to the website of the California Indian Culture and Sovereignty Center at California State University San Marcos:

This is the link to the Kumeyaay Diegueno Land Conservancy:

Admission Day

The text above is a direct copy from the proceedings of the United States Congress from 1850, courtesy of the Library of Congress. This was the act which made California the 31st state in our federal union on September 9, 1850, 171 years ago yesterday.

The Library of Congress website, , is a gold mine of information for researchers, but it can take a little digging which along with other tasks caused me to miss getting this post out on Admission Day itself. But hey, history tells us, quite literally, that folks in San Diego and elsewhere got this news rather belatedly as well. The written notice had to be hand-carried by horsedrawn wagons to a steamship that carried it down the Atlantic to the then-canal-less isthmus of Panama. There it had to be carried overland from the Atlantic coast to the Pacific Coast, then placed back on another steamship to be carried to the coast of California. It took over a month and a half, which was why it wasn’t until October 18, 1850, that the mayor and town council of the then-small town of San Diego, according to several historical accounts, “set aside $300 for a ball in honor of the admission of California into the Union.”

Happy Belated Admission Day!

In addition to the Library of Congress, sources for this post included the 1908 book, History of San Diego: 1542-1908, by William E. Smythe, and Patt Morriison’s article, “It’s Time to Celebrate California Admission Day! Wait, what’s Admission Day? in the Los Angeles Times three days ago.


Below are excerpts from two pages of the 1850 United States Census for San Diego County:

They show the household of Antonia Snook. You can learn a lot of history from census entries, although often, especially if you go back this far in time, you learn more about what had been omitted from history. The number “63” in the far-left column indicates that this was the 63rd dwelling visited by the census takers on their rounds through that particular enumeration district. The first person enumerated at that dwelling is Antonia Snook. The two columns to the immediate right of her name list her as 35-year-old female.

The next column over is blank, which is where we get into historic omission. In this case, it’s a sexist omission, as the 1850 census only asked for the “Profession, Occupation, or Trade of each Male person over 15 years of age.” So as a woman Antonia didn’t count for having a livelihood,  even though she’s listed first in her household, an indication of authority over the other occupants. That omission is made more glaring by the next column over. That column lists “Value of Real Estate owned” by Antonia, which amounts to $5,000.00, That was a considerable chunk of change in 1850. And again, please note that the only person having any financial assets in the household is Antonia.

Antonia’s full name was Maria Antonia Alvarado Snook. Born Maria Antonia Alvarado, she was the daughter of a prominent San Diego family when she married Don Jose Snook, an English sea captain who had moved to what was then the Mexican province of Alta California, in 1837. In the early 1840s Don Jose became the owner of the 17,000 acre Rancho San Bernardo 20 miles north of the then Pueblo of San Diego.

Don Jose Snook died in 1848, as his ranch and all of California were coming under U.S. control with the end of the Mexican-American War. The 1850 United States Census was the first to include California and San Diego County.

Don Jose and Maria had no children, so it’s possible the three females listed in her household, one adult, one teenager and one child, are members of her extended Alvarado family. There are also three adult males listed only by the first names, consistent with the designation ”I” in a separate column, indicating they are “Indians.” They are also listed as being “Laborers,” clearly part of the rancho workforce. The incomplete names offer another look into what history was left out of this census.

Rancho San Bernardo was then a considerable grain and cattle-raising operation. In his will Don Jose left Maria a life estate in the rancho and she actively pursued her right to use the property after her husband’s death. According to a 1997 essay by Ruth Collings in The Journal of San Diego History, Maria “added a fleur-de-lis to [Don Jose’s original cattle] brand and registered it as her own. Lured by the high prices for beef in San Francisco, she sent cattle north for several years.”