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Full text of "Spanish and Indian place names of California, their meaning and their romance"

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MONUMENT TO JUNIPERO SERRA IN GOLDEN GATE PARK. 
" His memory still rests like a benediction over the noble State 
which he rescued from savagery." 



SPANISH AND INDIAN 

PLACE NAMES OF 

CALIFORNIA 

THKIR MKANINC; AND IHl.IR RO.MANCK 

NELLIE VAN DE GRIFT SANCHEZ 




A. M. KOHEKISON 

SAN FRANCISCO. CAI llOKMA 

MDCCCCXn 

f9ff 
35 ^V^ 



COPYRIGHT, 1914 

BY 
A. M. ROBERTSON 



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San 7ranctsco 



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TO MY SON 



AN ACKNOWLEDGMENT 

The author wishes to express grateful appreciation of 
generous aid given in the ])reparation of this book by 
Herbert E. Bolton, Ph. D., Professor of American History 
in the University of California. 

Acknowledgment is also due to Dr. A. L. Kroeber, 
Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Dr. Harvey M. Hall, 
Assistant Professor of Economic Botany, Dr. John C. 
Merriam, Professor of Palaeontology, Dr. Andrew C. 
Lawson, Professor of Geology and Mineralogy, all of the 
University of California; Mr. John Miiir, I'atluT Zephy- 
rin Phigelhardt, O. E. M., Mr. Charles B. Turrill, of San 
Erancisco, and many other persons in \arious parts of the 
state for their courtesy in furnishing points of informati»)n. 

For the sources used in the work, the author is in- 
debted, in great measure, to the Bancroft Library at the 
University of California, and to the many writers from 
whose works (luolalions ha\e been freely used. 



" NONE CAN CARE FOR LITERATURE IN ITSELF WHO 
DOES NOT TAKE A SPECIAL PLEASURE IN THE SOUND OF 
names; and there is no part of the world WHERE 
NOMENCLATURE IS SO RICH, POETICAL, HUMOROUS, AND 
PICTURESCUE AS THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. . . . 
THE NAMES OF THE STATES AND TERRITORIES THEMSELVES 
FORM A CHORUS OF SWEET AND MOST ROMANTIC VOCABLES ; 
.... THERE ARE FEW POEMS WITH A NOBLER MUSIC 
FOR THE EAR; A SONGFUL, TUNEFUL LAND; AND IF THE 
NEW HOMER SHALL ARISE FROM THE WESTERN CONTINENT, 
HIS \ERSE WILL BE ENRICHED, HIS PAGES SING SPON- 
TANEOUSLY, WITH THE NAMES OF STATES AND CITIES 
THAT WOULD STRIKE THE FANCY IN A BUSINESS CIRCULAR." 

KOBKRT I.Ol'IS STF.VKN'SON. 



TABLE OF CX)XTENTS 

Pac.f. 
CHAPTER I 
Introduction 3 

CHAPTER II 
California i.^ 

CHAPTER TIT 
T\ AND About San Diego ...... 21 

CHAPTER IV 
Los Angeles and her Neighbors 51 

CHAPTER V 

I\ the Vicinity of Santa B.a.rbara S<) 

CHAPTER M 
The San Luis Obispo Group ' ^ 7 

CHAPTER VII 

In the Neighborhood of Monterey i ^ ^ 

CH.VPTER Mil 

The Sant.v Cl.vra Valley '"7 

rilAin'ER IX 
Around Sax Fr.vncisco I'.as ^'^^ 



TABLE OF CONTENTS 




Page 
CHAPTER X 

North of San Francisco 241 

CHAPTER XI 
The Central Valley 265 

CHAPTER XII 

In the Sierras 235 

Pronunciation of Spanish Names 335 

CHAPTER XIII 

Final List and Index 347-444 

Addenda 445 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 

Page 

Mission of San Diego de Alcala, Founded in 

1769 23 

Mission of San Antonio de Pala, Founded i\ 

1816 31 

Archway at Capistrano 37 

Mission of San Gabriel Arcangel, Founded in 

1771 67 

Mission of Santa Barbara 91 

Mission of Santa Inez, Founded in 1804 . iii 

Mission of San Luis Obispo, Founded in 1772 . 119 
Mission of San Miguel, Founded in 1797 125 

Monterey in 1850 135 

Mission of San Carlos Borromeo, Founded in 

1770 1.^9 

Interior of the Quadrangle at San Carlos 

Mission 14,1 

La Punta de los Cipreses 149 

Mission of San Juan Bautista, Founded ix 1797 155 
Mission of Santa Clara, Founded in 1777 . . 169 
The Palo Colorado (Redwood Tree) i75 

The City of Verba Buena (San Francisco in 

1846-47) ... 187 

Mission of San I'rancisco de Asis, commonly 

CALLED Mission Dolores 195 



LIST OF illustratio;ns 




i Page 

The Golden Gate 201 

The Farallones 209 

Tamalpais 215 

The Mission of San Rafael, Founded IN1817 . 221 

Napa Valley 243 

Mount Shasta 253 

El Rio DE LOS Santos Reyes (the River of the 

Holy Kings) 279 

In the Sierra Nevadas 284 

In the High Sierras 295 

El Rio DE LAS Plumas (Feather River) . . . 301 

El Rio DE LOS Americanos (American River) . 307 

Shore of Lake Tahoe 313 

Mariposa Sequoias 319 

Vernal Falls in the Yosemite Valley . 325 

Map of the Missions 343 

Kaweah Mountains 383 

The Mission of PuRisiMA Concepcion, Founded 

IN 1880 409 

The Tallac Trail to Tahoe 437 




XNTRppUCTION£ ^ 







lis 




INTRODUCTION. 

This volume has been prepared in the hope 
that it may serve, not only as a source of enter- 
tainment to our own people, but also as a useful 
handbook for the schools, and as a sort of tour- 
ist's guide for those who visit the state in such 
numbers, and who almost invariably exhibit a 
lively interest in our Spanish and Indian place 
names. 

We of California are doubly rich in the matter 
of names, since, in addition to the Indian nomen- 
clature common to all the states, we possess tlie 
s])lendid heritage left us b)' those bold a(l\cn- 
turers from Castile who first set foot ujwn our 
shores. In these names the s])irit of our romantic 
past still li\es and breathes, and their sound is 
like an echo coming down the years to tell ot that 
other day when the savage built his bee-hive huts 
on the river-banks, and liu' SjKmish caballero 
jingled his spurs along the Camino Real. 

3 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




And in what manner, it may well be asked, 
have we been caring for this priceless heritage, — 
to keep it pure, to preserve its inspiring history, 
to present it in proper and authentic form for the 
instruction and entertainment of ''the stranger 
within our gates," as well as for the education of 
our own youth? As the most convincing answer 
to this question, some of the numerous errors in 
works purporting to deal with this subject, many 
of which have even crept into histories and books 
for the use of schools, will be corrected in these 
pages. 

In the belief that the Spanish and Indian names 
possess the greatest interest for the public, both 
"tenderfoot" and native, they will be dealt with 
here almost exclusively, excepting a very few of 
American origin, whose stories are so involved 
with the others that they can scarcely be omitted. 
In addition, there are a number that appear to 
be of Anglo-Saxon parentage, but are in reality 
to be counted among those that have suffered 
the regrettable fate of translation into English 
from the original Spanish. Of such are Kings 
County and River, which took their names from 
El Rio de los Santos Reyes (the River of the Holy 



T H E 1 R M E A N I N G A \ 1) li O A I A X C V. 




\ 



Kings), and the Feather River, originally El Rio \j 
dc las Plumas (the Ri\'er of the Feathers). ' 

While searching for the beginnings of these 
names through the diaries of the early Spanish I 
explorers and other sources, a number of curious 
stories ha\'e been encountered, which are shared 
with the reader in the belief that he will l)e glad 
to know something of the romance lying behind 
the nomenclature of our "songful, tuneful" land. 

It is a matter of deep regret that the work 
must of necessity be incomplete, the sources of 
information being so scattered, and so often un- 
reliable, that it has been found impossible to trace 
all the names to their origin. 

Indian words are especially difficult; in fact, 
as .soon as we enter that field we step into the 
mist\- land of legend, where all becomes doubt 
and uncertainty. That such should be the case 
is inevitable. Scientific study of the nati\c Cali- 
fornian languages, of which there were so many as 
to constitute a veritable Babel of tongues among 
the multitude of small tribes inhabiting this region, 
was begun in such rcicnt limes that but lew abo- 
rigines were left to le'li the story ol tlieir names, 
and those few retained but a dim nKiiiorx ol the 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




old days. In view of the unsatisfactory nature 
of this information, stories of Indian origin will 
be told here with the express qualification that 
their authenticity is not vouched for, except in 
cases based upon scientific evidence. Some of the 
most romantic among them, when put to the 
"acid test" of such investigation, melt into thin 
air. In a general way, it may be said that Indian 
names were usually derived from villages, rather 
than tribes, and that, in most cases, their meaning 
has been lost. 

In the case of Spanish names, we have a rich 
mine in the documents left behind by the methodi- 
cal Spaniards, who maintained the praiseworthy 
custom of keeping minute accounts of their travels 
and all circumstances connected therewith. From 
these sources the true stories of the origin of some 
of our place names have been collected, and are 
retold in these pages, as far as possible, in the 
language of their founders. Unfortunately, the 
story can not always be run to earth, and in such 
cases, the names, with their translation, and 
sometimes an explanatory paragraph, will appear 
in a supplementary list at the end of the volume. 
The stories have been arranged in a series of 

6 



THEIR MEANING AND ROMANCE 




groups, according Lo their geographical location, 
beginning with San Diego as the most logical 
point, since it was there that the first mission was 
established by the illustrious Junipero Serra, and 
there that the history of California practically 
began. The arrangement of these groups is not 
arbitrary, but, in a general way, follows the course 
of Spanish Empire, as it took its way, first up the 
coast, then branching out into the interior \alley, 
and climbing the Sierras. 

Some of the stories may appear as "twice-told 
tales" to scholars and other persons to whom they 
have long been familiar, but are included here for 
the benefit of the stranger and the many "native 
sons" who have had no oi)portunity to become 
acquainted with them. 

A few words in regard to the method of naming I 
places customary among the Sjianish exi)lvrers 
may help the reader to a better understanding of 
results. The military and religious members of 
the parties were naturally inllueiued I)\ <)i)p()sile 
ideas, and so they went at it in two different wa\ s. 
The i)adres, as a matter of course, almost iinari- 
abl\- ( liose names of a rehgious character, \ery 
often the name of the saint upon whose "day" 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




jthe party happened to arrive at a given spot. 
I 'This tendency resulted in the multitude of Sans 
\ and Santas with which the map of our state is so 
generously sprinkled, and which are the cause of 
a certain monotony. Fortunately for variety's 
sake, the soldiers possessed more imagination, if 
less religion, than the padres, and were generally 
influenced by some striking circumstance, per- 
haps trivial or humorous, but always character- 
istic, and often picturesque. In many cases the 
choice of the soldiers has out-lived that of the 
fathers. 

Broadly speaking, it may be said that names 
were first applied to rivers, creeks or mountains, 
as being those natural features of the country 
most important to the welfare, or even the very 
existence, of the exploring parties. For instance, 
the Merced (Mercy), River was so-called because 
it was the first drinking water encountered by the 
party after having traversed forty miles of the hot, 
dr\' valley. Then, as time passed and the country 
developed, towns were built upon the banks 
of these streams, frequently receiving the 
same names, and these were often finally adopted 
to designate the counties established later in the 

8 



THEIR M E A N I N G A NT) R U M A N C E 




regions through wliich their waters flow. Tn this ^ 
way Plumas County (leri\ed its name from the 
Feather River, originally El Rio de las Plumas, 
and Kings County from El Rio dc los Reyes (the 
River of the Kings). This way of naming was, 
however, not invariable. 

It sometimes happens that the name has dis- 
appeared from the ma]), while the story remains, 
and some such stories will be told, partl\' for their 
own interest, and partly for the light the>- throw 
u]^()n a past age. 

Among our Spanish names there is a certain 
class given to ])laces in modern times 1)\' Ameri- 
cans in u praiseworthy attem|)t to preserve the 
romantic flavor of the old days. Unfortunately, 
an insuflkient knowledge of the syntax and 
etymolog}- of the Spanish language has resulted 
in some im])roper combinations. Such names, lor 
instance, as Moiilc \'is(a (Mountain or I'orest 
View), LoiHn I'islii (Mill \'iew), Rio \'lsUi ( Rixi-r 
View), etc., grate upon the ears of a Spaniard. 
who would never combine two nouns in this wa\'. 
The correct forms for these names would be 
\'isla del Monte (View of the .Mountain), Visla dr 
hi Lonia (View of the Hill), l'/.v/(/ il<i Rio (N'iew 



I I 



9 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




of the River), etc. Between this class of modern 
Spanish names, more or less faulty in construc- 
tion, given by "Spaniards from Kansas," as has 
been humorously said, and the real old names of 
the Spanish epoch about which a genuine halo of 
romance still clings, there is an immense gulf. 

In the numerous quotations used in this book, 
the language of the original has generally been 
retained, with no attempt to change the form of 
expression. In spite of the most conscientious 
efforts to avoid them, unreliability of sources may 
cause some errors to find their way into these 
pages; for these the author hopes not to be held 
responsible. 



lO 



jf^'^C ^ALIFOR^NI:^ 



V. 




II 

CALIFORNIA 

First comes the name of California herself, 
the sin par (peerless one), as Don Quixote says 
of his Dulcinea. This name, strange to say, 
was a matter of confusion and conjecture for 
many years, until, in 1862, Edward Everett Hale 
accidentally hit u])on the explanation since ac- 
cepted by historians. 

Several theories, all more or less fanciful and 
far-fetched, were based upon the supposed con- 
struction of the word from the Latin calida fornax 
(hot oven), in reference either to the hoi, dry 
climate of Lower California, or to the "sweat- 
houses" in use among the Indians. Such theories 
not only ])resuppose a knowledge of Latin not 
likely to exist among the hard}- int-n who iir>l 
landed ui)on our western shores l)ul also indicate 
a labored method of naming jilaces quite contrary 
to their custom of seizing upon somr direct and 
obsious circumstance ui)on which to base thrir 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




choice. In all the length and breadth of Cahfornia 
few, if any, instances exist where the Spaniards 
invented a name produced from the Latin or 
Greek in this far-fetched way. They saw a big 
bird, so they named the river where they saw it 
El Rio del Pdjaro (the River of the Bird), or they 
suffered from starvation in a certain canyon, so 
they called it La Canada del Hamhre (the Canyon 
of Hunger), or they reached a place on a certain 
saint's day, and so they named it for that saint. 
T hey w ere practical men and their methods were 
simple. 

In any case, since Mr. Hale has provided us 
with a more reasonable explanation, all such 
theories may be passed over as unworthy of con- 
sideration. While engaged in the study of Spanish 
literature, he was fortunate enough to run across 
a copy of an old novel, published in Toledo some- 
time between 1510 and 1521, in which the word 
California occurred as the name of a fabulous 
island, rich in minerals and precious stones, and 
said to be the home of a tribe of Amazons. This 
novel, entitled Las Sergas de Esplandidn (The 
Adventures of Esplandian), was written by the 
author, Garcia Ordonez de Montalvo, as a sequel 

14 



THEIR MEANING AND ROMANCE 




to the famous novel of chi\-alry, Amadis of Gaul, 
of which he was the translator. The two works 
were printed in the same volume. Alontalvo's 
romance, although of small literary value, had a 
considerable vogue among Spanish readers of the 
day, and that its pages were probably familiar 
to the early explorers in .America is proved by the 
fact that Bernal Diaz, one of the companions of 
Cortes, often mentions the Amadis, to which tlic 
story of Esplandian was attached. The passage 
containing the name that has since become famous 
in all the high- ways and by-wa}'s of the world 
runs as follows: "Know that on the right hand 
of the Indies there is an island called California. 
very near to the terrestrial paradise, which was 
peopled by black women, without any men among 
them, for they were accustomed to live after the 
manner of Amazons. They were of strong and 
hardened bodies, of ardent courage and of great 
force. The island was the strongest in the world, 
from its stee]) rocks and great cliffs. 'Huir arms 
were all of gold and so were the caparisons of the 
wild beasts 11k'\- rode." 

It was during the ])eri()(l when this noNcI was 
at the height of its popularity that Cortes wrote 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




to the King of Spain concerning information he 
had of "an island of Amazons, or women only, 
abounding in pearls and gold, lying ten days 
journey from Colima." After having sent one 
expedition to explore the unknown waters in that 
direction, in 1535 or thereabout, an expedition 
that ended in disaster, he went himself and 
planted a colony at a point, probably La Paz, 
on the coast of Lower California. In his diarv of 

mil 

this expedition, Bernal Diaz speaks of California 
as a "bay," and it is probable that the name was 
first applied to some definite point on the coast, 
afterward becoming the designation of the whole 
region. The name also occurs in Preciado's diary 
of Ulloa's voyage down the coast in 1539, making 
it reasonable to suppose that it was adopted in the 
period between 1535 and 1539, whether by Cortes 
or some other person can not be ascertained. 

Bancroft expresses the opinion that the followers 
of Cortes may have used the name in derision, 
to express their disappointment in finding a 
desert, barren land in lieu of the rich country of 
their expectations, but it seems far more in keep- 
ing with the sanguine nature of the Spaniards that 
their imaginations should lead them to draw a 

16 



THEIR MEANING AND ROMANCE 




parallel between the rich island of the novel, with 
its treasures of gold and silver, and the new land, 
of whose wealth in pearls and precious metals 
some positive proof, as well as many exaggerated 
tales, had reached them. 

An argument that seems to clinch the matter 
of the origin of the name is the extreme improb- 
ability that two dilYerent persons, on opposite 
sides of the world, should have invented exactly 
the same word, at about the same period, espec- 
ially such an unusual one as California. 

As for the ct\'mology of the word itself, it is as 
yet an unsolved problem. The suggestion that 
it is compounded of the Greek root A'a/z (beautiful), 
and the Latin fornix (vaulted arch), thus making 
its definition "beautiful sky," may be the true 
explanation, but even if that be so, Cortes or his 
followers took it at second hand from Montaho 
and were not its original inventors. 

Professor (ieorge Davidson, in a mon()gra])h on 
the Origin and the Meaning of the Xame California, 
states that incidental mention had been made as 
early as 184Q of the name as occurring in 
Montalvo's noxcl 1)\ (ieorge Ticknor, in his 
History of Spanish Lilcraturt, but .Mr. Ticknor 

17 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




refers to it simply as literature, without any 
thought of connecting it with the name of the 
state. This connection was undoubtedly first 
thought of by Mr. Hale and was discussed in his 
paper read before the Historical Society of 
Massachusetts in 1862; therefore the honor of the 
discovery of the origin of the state's name must 
in justice be awarded to him. Professor Davidson, 
in an elaborate discussion of the possible etymology 
of the word, expresses the opinion that it may be a 
combination of two Greek words, kallos (beauty), 
and ornis (bird), in reference to the following 
passage in the book: 'Tn this island are many 
griffins, which can be found in no other part of 
the world." Its etymology, however, is a matter 
for further investigation. The one fact that seems 
certain is its origin in the name of the fabulous 
island of the novel. 

It may well suffice for the fortunate heritors of 
the splendid principality now known as California 
that this charming name became affixed to it 
permanently, rather than the less "tuneful" one 
of New Albion, which Sir Francis Drake applied 
to it, and under which cognomen it appears on 
some English maps of the date. 

18 



te'.%IN AND ABOUT <^A 



'^--^ 




Ill 



IN AND ABOUT SAN DIEGO 



Like many other places in California, Sa>i 
Diego (St. James), has had more than one 
christening. The first was at the hands of 
Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, who discovered the 
harbor in 1542, and named it San Miguel (St. 
Michael). Cabrillo was a Portuguese in the 
Spanish service, who was sent to explore the 
coast in 1542 by Viceroy Mendoza. "He sailed 
from Natividad with two vessels, made a careful 
survey, a])i)lied names that for the most part 
have not been retained, and described the coast 
somewhat accurately as far as Monterey. He 
discovered 'a land-locked and very good harbor,' 
probably San Diego, which he named San 
Miguel. 'The next day he sent a boat farther 
into the port, which was large. A \\i\ great 
gale blew from the west-southwest, and south- 
southwest, but the ])()rt being good, llu\- felt 
nothing.' On the return from the north the 



21 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




party stopped at La Posesion, where Cabrillo 
died on January third, from the effects of a fall 
and exposure. No traces of his last resting-place, 
almost certainly on San Miguel near Cuyler's 
harbor, have been found; and the drifting sands 
have perhaps made such a discovery doubtful. 
To this bold mariner, the first to discover her 
coasts, if to any one, California may with pro- 
priety erect a monument." — (Bancroft's History 
of California.) 

Then, in 1602, came Sebastian Vizcaino, who 
changed the name from San Miguel to San Diego. 
He was "sent to make the discovery and demar- 
cation of the ports and bays of the Southern Sea 
(Pacific Ocean)," and to occupy for Spain the 
California isles, as they were then thought to be. 
From the diary of Vizcaino's voyage we get the 
following account of his arrival at San Diego: 
"The next day, Sunday, the tenth of the said 
month (November), we arrived at a port, the best 
that there can be in all the Southern Sea, for, 
besides being guarded from all winds, and having 
a good bottom, it is in latitude 2>2>y2- It has very 
good water and wood, many fish of all sorts, of 
which we caught a great many with the net and 



22 



THEIR MEANING AN 1) R U M A N C E 




hooks. There is good hunting of rabbits, hares, 
deer, and many large quail, ducks and other 
birds. On the twelfth of the said month, which 
was the day of the glorious San Diego, the admiral, 
the priests, the officers, and almost all the people, 
went on shore. A hut was built, thus enabling 
the feast of the Senor San Diego to be celebrated." 
A party sent out to get wood "saw upon a hill 
a band of loo Indians, with bows and arrows, 
and many feathers upon their heads, and .vith a 
great shouting they called out to us." By a 
bestowal of presents, friendly relations were 
established. The account continues: "They had 
pots in which they cooked their food, and the 
Indian women were dressed in the skins of animals. 
The name of San Diego was given to this i)ort." 
Thus, it was the bay that first received the name, 
years afterwards given to the mission, then to the 
town. During the stay of Vizcaino's party the 
Indians came often to their camp with marten 
skins and other articles. On November 20, 
having taken on food and water, the ])arty set 
sail, the Indians shouting a vociferous farewell 
from the beach [qucdaban vii la playa, dando 
boces.) 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




A long period of neglect of more than i6o years 
then ensued. The Indians continued to carry 
on their wretched hand-to-mouth existence, trap- 
ping wild beasts for their food and scanty cloth- 
ing, fishing in the teeming streams, and keeping 
up their constant inter-tribal quarrels unmolested 
by the white man. Several generations grew up 
and passed away without a reminder of the strange 
people who had once been seen upon their shores, 
except perhaps an occasional white sail of some 
Philippine galleon seen flitting like a ghost on its 
southward trip along the coast. 

Then the Spaniards, alarmed by reports of the 
encroachments of the Russians on the north, 
waked up from their long sleep, and determined 
to establish a chain of missions along the Cali- 
fornia coast. Father Junipero Serra was 
appointed president of these missions, and the 
first one of the chain was founded by him at San 
Diego in 1769. The name was originally applied 
to the "Old Town," some distance from the 
present city. The founding party encountered 
great difficulties, partly through their fearful 
sufferings from scurvy, and partly from the tur- 
bulent and thievish nature of the Indians in that 

26 



THEIR MEANING AND ROMANCE 




vicinity, with whom they had several hvely fights, 
and who stole everything they could lay their 
hands on, even to the sheets from the beds of the 
sick. During one of these attacks, the mission 
buildings were burned and one of the i)adres, 
Fray Luis Jaime, suffered a cruel death, but all 
difficulties were fmally overcome by the strong 
hand of Father Serra, and the mission was placed 
on a firm basis. Its partially ruined buildings 
still remain at a place about six miles from the 
present city. 

To return to the matter of the name, San Diego 
is doubly rich in possessing two titular saints, 
the bay having been undoubtedly named by 
Viscaino in honor of St. James, the patron saint 
of Spain, whereas the town takes its name from 
the mission, which ]K'ri:)etuates the memory of a 
canonized Spanish monk, San Diego de Alcala. 
The story of St. James, the patron of S})ain, runs 
as follows: "As one of Christ's disciples, a noble- 
man's son who chose to abandon his weakh and 
follow Jesus, he was persecuted 1)\' the Jews, and 
finally beheaded. When dragged htforc Ilcnxl 
Agri])])a, his gentleness touched ihe soul ol one 
of his tornuiUors, who begged lo tlie with him. 

27 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




James gave him a kiss, saying ^Pax Vobiscum' 
(peace be with you) , and from this arose the kiss 
of peace which has been used in the church since 
that time. The legend has it that his body was 
conducted by angels to Spain, where a magnificent 
church was built for its reception, and that his 
spirit returned to earth and took an active part 
in the military affairs of the country. He was said 
to have appeared at the head of the Spanish armies 
on thirty-eight difTerent occasions, most notably 
in 939, when King Ramirez determined not to 
submit longer to the tribute of one hundred virgins 
annually paid to the Moors, and defied them to 
a battle. After the Spaniards had suffered one 
repulse, the spirit of St. James appeared at their 
head on a milk-white charger, and led them to a 
victory in which sixty thousand Moors were left 
dead on the field. From that day 'Santiago!' has 
been the Spanish war-cry." — (From Clara Erskine 
Clement's Stories of the Saints.) 

It happens, rather curiously, that in the Spanish 
language St. James appears under several different 
forms, Santiago, San Diego and San Tiago. The 
immediate patron of our southernmost city, 
San Diego de Alcald, was a humble Capuchin 

28 



THEIR MEANING AND ROMANCE 




brother in a monastery of Alcala. It is said that 
the infante Don Carlos was healed of a se\'ere 
wound through the intercession of this saint, and 
that on this account Philip II promoted his 
canonization. 

May the spirit of the "glorious San Diego" 
shed some of his tender humanity u])()n the city 
of which he is the protector! 



CORONADO BP:ACH 

Coronado Beach, the long spit of land forming 
the outer shore of the harbor of San Diego, 
"derived its name from the Coronado Islands 
near it. These islands were original!)' named by 
the Spaniards in honor of Coronado. When the 
improvement of the sand spit opposite San Diego 
City and facing the Coronado Islands was made 
in 1885, the name of Coronado Beach was be- 
stowed upon it." (Charles B. Turrill, San I'raii- 
cisco.) 

In all till' histor>- of Spain in western America 
there is nothing more romantic than the storx- ol 
the famous explorer, Francisco Vascjuez de Coro- 

29 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




nado, who, with the dehghtful childhke faith of 
his race, marched through Texas and Kansas in 
search of the fabulous city of Gran Quivira, 
''where every one had his dishes made of wrought 
plate, and the jugs and bowls were of gold," and 
then marched back again! Imagine our hard- 
headed Puritan ancestors setting forth on such a 
quest ! 

SAN LUIS REY 

San Luis Rey dc Francia (St. Louis King of 
France), is the name of the mission situated in a 
charming little valley about forty miles north of 
San Diego and three miles from the sea. It was 
founded June 13, 1798, by Padres Lasuen, San- 
tiago and Peyri, and its ruins may still be seen 
upon the spot. A partial restoration has been 
made of these buildings and they are now used by 
the Franciscans. The exact circumstances of its 
naming have not come to light, but we know of 
its patron saint that his holiness was such that 
even Voltaire said of him: "It is scarcely given 
to man to push virtue further." Born at Poissy 
in 1215, the son of Louis VIII and Blanche of 

30 






'< ^. 



o 

3 > 



EL X 



X 



n 

3 " 



i > 

c '-: 



y; 



0^ 




THEIR MEANING AND R O .M A N C E 




Castile, he became noted for his saintliness, and 
twice led an army of Crusaders in the "holy war." 



PALA 

Pala, often misspelled pah, through an acci- 
dental resemblance to the Spanish word pah 
(stick or tree), is situated some fifteen miles or 
more to the northeast of San Luis Rey, and is 
the site of the sub-mission of San Antonio de Pala, 
founded in 1816 b}- Padre Peyri as a branch of 
San Luis Rey. This mission was unique in having 
a bell-tower built apart from the church, and 
many romantic stories have been told about the 
"bells of Pala." It was located in the center of a 
poi)ulous Indian community, and it haj^pens, 
rather curious!)-, that the word itself has a sig- 
nificance both in S])anish and Indian, meaning 
in Spanish "spade" and in Indian "water." The 
Reverend Cieorge Doyle, i)ast()r at the mission 
of San Antonio dc Pala, writes the following in 
regard to this name: "The word T'ala' is an 
Indian word, meaning, in tlu' Cupaniaii Mission 
Indian language, 'water,' prol)al)l\ dui' to the 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




fact that the San Luis Rey River passes through 
it. The proper title of the mission chapel here is 
San Antonio de Padua, but as there is another 
San Antonio de Padua mission chapel in the 
north, to distinguish between the two some one 
in the misty past changed the proper title of the 
Saint, and so we have 'de Pala' instead of 'de 
Padua.' Some writers say Pala is Spanish, but 
this is not true, for the little valley in no way 
resembles a spade, and the Palanian Indians were 
here long before the Franciscan padres brought 
civilization, Christianity and the Spanish 
language." 

Pala, in this case, is almost certainly Indian, 
and originates in a legend of the Luisenos. Accord- 
ing to this legend, one of the natives of the Teme- 
cula tribe went forth on his travels, stopping at 
many places and giving names to them. One of 
these places was a canyon, "where he drank water 
and called it pala, water." — {The Religion of the 
Luiseno Indians, by Constance Goddard Dubois, 
in the Univ. of Cal. Publ. of Arch, and Tech.) 



34 



THEIR MEANING AND ROMANCE 




SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO 

San Juan Capistrano (St. John Capistrano), 
was at one time sadly mutilated by having its 
first part clipped off, appearing on the ma]) as 
Capistrano, but upon representations made by 
Zoeth S. Eldredge it was restored to its full form 
by the Post Office Department. A mission was 
founded at this place, which is near the coast about 
halfway between San Diego and Los Angeles, by 
Padres Serra and Amurrio, November i, 1776, 
the year of our own glorious memory. While on 
the other side of the continent bloody war raged, 
under the sunny .skies of California the gentle 
]iadres were raising altars to the "Man of Peace." 

The buildings at this place were badl\' wrecked 
by an earthcjuake on December <S, 1S12, \et the 
ruins still remain to attest lo the fact that this 
was at one time regarded as the finest ot all the 
mission structures. 

Its patron saint. St. John ( ■a])ist raiio. was a 
Franciscan friar who lived at the time ol the t ru- 
sades, and took jiart in them. A colossal statue 
of him adorns the exterior of the Cathedral at 



35 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




Vienna. It represents him as having a Turk under 
his feet, a standard in one hand, and a cross in 
the other. 



SUPPLEMENTARY LIST 

There remain some names in the San Diego 
group of less importance, yet possessing many 
points of interest, which will be included in the 
following list, with an explanation of their mean- 
ings, and their history wherever it has been possible 
to ascertain it. 

Agua Tibia (warm water, warm springs), is in 
San Diego County. For some reason difficult 
to divine, this perfectly simple name has been the 
cause of great confusion in the minds of a number 
of writers. In one case the almost incredibly 
absurd translation "shinbone water" has been 
given. It may be thought that this was intended 
as a bit of humor, but it is greatly to be feared 
that the writer mixed up the Spanish word tibia, 
which simply means "tepid, warm," with the 
Latin name of one of the bones of the lower leg, 
the tibia. In another case the equally absurd 

36 




AKCIIW \^ .\r CAIMS'IK.W'O. 
"Al line time riKanlid a> ihc Imot ai :\\\ lln' mission strinliirt's. 



T HEIR M E A N I N G A N I) R O M A N C E 




translation "llute water" has been given. Where 
such a meaning could ha\e been obtained is be- 
yond comprehension to any person possessing 
even a slight knowledge of the Spanish language. 
Agua Tibia is no more nor less than "warm 
water," applied in this case to warm springs 
existing at that place. This extreme case is en- 
larged upon here as an examjile of the gross 
errors that ha\-e been freely handed out to an 
unsuspecting ])ublic in the matter of our jjlace 
names. There are man\- more of the same sort, 
and the authors of this inexcusable stuff have 
been accei)ted and even quoted as authorities 
n the subject. Those of us wlio loxe our ("ali- 
fornia, in other words all of us, can not tail to be 
pained by such a degradation of lur romantic 
history. 

Ballcna (whale), is in San Diego Count\' at the 
west end of Ballena Valle}-, and as it is a good 
man>' miles inland its name seems iiuongruous, 
until we learn from oiu' of its rcsi(lcnt> that it 
was so-called in rcfcTciu c to a mountain in llie 
valley whose outline along the l<»p is exact !>■ 
the shape of a humpbacked whale. 

"This place lias prot)ably no (omiettion with 

39 



o 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




Ballenas, a name applied to a bay in Lower Cali- 
fornia on account of its being a favorite resort of 
the Humpback whale." — (Mr. Charles B. Turrill.) 

Berenda, in Merced County, is a misspelling of 
Berrendo or Berrenda. 

Berrendo (antelope). A writer whose knowledge 
of Spanish seems to be wholly a matter of the 
dictionary, confused by the fact that the defini- 
tion given for berrendo is "having two colors," 
has offered the fantastic translation of El Rio de 
los Berrendos as "The River of two Colors." 
Although the idea of such a river, like a piece of 
changeable silk, may be picturesque, the simple 
truth is that the word berrendo, although not 
so-defined in the dictionaries, is used in Spanish 
America to signify a deer of the antelope variety 
and frequently occurs in that sense in the diaries. 
Miguel Costanso, an engineer accompanying the 
Portola expedition of 1769, says: ''Hay en la 
tierra venados, verrendos (also spelled berrendos), 
muchos liebres, conejos, gatos monteses y ratas 
(there are in the land deer, antelope, many hares, 
rabbits, wild-cats and rats)." On iVugust 4 this 
party reached a place forty leagues from San Diego 
which they called Berrendo because they caught 

40 



THEIR MEANING AND ROMANCE 




alive a deer which had been shot ihc day before 
by the soldiers and had a broken leg. Antelope 
Creek, in Tehama County, was original!}' named 
El Rio de los Bcrrendos (The River of the Ante- 
lopes), undoubtedly because it was a drinking 
place frequented by those graceful creatures, 
and Antelope Valley, in the central part of the 
state, must have received its name in the same 
way. 

El Cajon (the box), about twelve miles north- 
east of San Diego, perhaps received its name from 
a custom the Spaniards had of calling a dcej) can- 
yon with high, box-like walls, iin cajon (a box). 

Caliente Creek (hot creek), is in the northern 
part of San Diego County. 

Campo (a level field), also sometimes used in 
the sense of a camj), is the name of a i)lacc about 
forty miles east-southeast of San Diego, just 
above the Mexican border. Campo was an Indian 
settlement, and may have been so-called b\- the 
Spaniards siinpl>- in reference lo the cimp nl 
Indians. 

Canada del Haul is mo (glen of the bai)tism), 
so-called from the ( ireumstam e that two dying 
native children were there hai)tize(l 1)\ the ])a(h-i-s, 

41 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




as told in the diary of Miguel Costanso, of the 
Portola expedition of 1769. Death, when it 
came to the children of the natives, was often 
regarded as cause for rejoicing by the mission- 
aries, not, of course, through any lack of humanity 
on their part, but because the Indian parents 
more readily consented to baptism at such a 
time, and the padres regarded these as so many 
souls "snatched from the burning." 

Carriso (reed grass), is the name of a village 
and creek in San Diego County. 

Chula Vista (pretty view), is the name of a 
town near the coast, a few miles southeast of San 
Diego. Chula is a word of Mexican origin, mean- 
ing pretty, graceful, attractive. "This name was 
probably first used by the promoters during the 
boom of 1887."— (Mr. Charles B. Turrill.) 

La Costa (the coast), a place on the shore north 
of San Diego. 

Coyote Valley, situated just below the southern 
border of the San Jacinto Forest Reservation. 
Coyote, the name of the wolf of Western America, 
is an Aztec word, originally coyotl. 

Cuyamaca is probably derived from the land 
grant of that name, which in turn took its name 

42 



T H E 1 R M E A N I N G A N I) R O M A N C E 




from the Cuyamaca Mountain, which, according 
to the scientists, was so-called in reference to the 
clouds and rain gathering around its summit. 
Mr. T. T. Waterman, instructor in Anthropology 
at the University of California, says the word is 
derived from two Indian words, kwe (rain), and 
afnak (yonder), and consequently means "rain 
yonder." The popular translation of it as 
"woman's breast" is probably not based on fact. 
There was an Indian \illage of that name some 
miles northwest of San Diego. 

Descanso (rest), is the name of a ])lace north- 
east of San Diego, so-called l3\- a government 
surveying ])arty for the reason that they sto])])ed 
here each day for rest. 

Duhiira (sweetness), is the name of a place but 
a few miles north of the Mexican border line. 
What there was of "sweetness" in the histor\- of 
this desolate mining camp can not be discovered. 

Kncinitas (little oaks), is a ])lace on the coast 
about twenty miles northwest of San Diego. 

Kscondido (hidden), a place lying about tittctii 
miles from the coast, to the northeast •)! Snn 
Diego. it is said to ha\e \k\-\\ ^o-iiained on 
account of its location in the valle} . A i)lace at 

43 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIF^ORNIA 




another point was called Escondido by the Span- 
iards because of the difficulty they experienced 
in finding the water for which they were anxiously 
searching, and it may be that in this case the 
origin of the name was the same. 

LaJolla,Si word of doubtful origin, said by some 
persons to mean a "pool," by others to be from 
hoy a, a hollow surrounded by hills, and by 
still others to be a possible corruption of joy a, a 
"jewel." The suggestion has been made that La 
Jolla was named from caves situated there which 
contain pools, but until some further information 
turns up this name must remain among the un- 
solved problems. There is always the possibility 
also that La Jolla means none of these things but 
is a corruption of some Indian word with a totally 
different meaning. More than one place in the 
state masquerades under an apparently Spanish 
name which is in reality an Indian word cor- 
rupted into some Spanish word to which it bore 
an accidental resemblance in sound. Cortina 
(curtain) is an example of this sort of corruption, 
it being derived from the Indian Ko-tina. 

Laguna del Corral (lagoon of the yard). Corral 
is a word much in use to signify a space of ground 

44 



THEIR MEANING AN D R O M A N C E 




enclosed by a fence, often for the detention of 
animals. In one of the diaries an Indian corral 
is thus spoken of: "Near the place in which we 
camped there was a populous Indian village; the 
inhabitants lived without other protection than 
a light shelter of branches in the form of an en- 
closure; for this reason the soldiers gave to the 
whole place the name of the Rancheria del Corral 
(the village of the yard)." There are other corrals 
and corralitos (little yards) in the state. 

Linda Vista (charming or pretty view), is the 
name of a place ten or twelve miles due north of 
San Diego. 

Point Loma (hill ])()int). Loma means "hill," 
hence Point Eoma, the very end of the little 
peninsula enclosing San Diego bay, is a high 
promontory. 

I)c Liiz (a surname), that of a ])i()neer family. 
The literal meaning of the word ///; is "light." 

Del Mar (of or on the sea), the name of a ])lace 
on the shore about eighti'Lii niiks iioilli of Sail 
Diego. 

La Mesa (literail>' "the table"), used \vv\ coni- 
monK' to mean "a high, llat tableland. " /.(/ 
il/f'jc/, iiuorrcc tl\ j)rinted on some ol the maps as 

45 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




one word, Lamesa, lies a few miles to the north- 
east of San Diego. 

Mesa Grande (literally "big table"), big table- 
land, is some distance to the northeast of San 
Diego. 

El Nido (the nest), is southeast of San Diego, 
near the border. 

Potrero (pasture ground), is just above the bor- 
der line. There are many Potreros scattered over 
the state. 

La Presa (the dam or dike). La Presa is a few 
miles east of San Diego, on the Sweetwater River, 
no doubt called Agua Duke by the Spaniards. 

Los Rosales (the rose-bushes), a spot located in 
the narratives of the Spaniards at about seventeen 
leagues from San Diego, and two leagues from 
Santa Margarita. Nothing in the new land 
brought to the explorers sweeter memories of 
their distant home than "the roses of Castile" 
which grew so luxuriantly along their pathway 
as to bring forth frequent expressions of delight 
from the padres. This particular place we find 
mentioned in the diary of Miguel Costanso, as 
follows: "We gave it the name of Canada de los 
Rosales (glen of the rose-bushes), on account of 

4O 



THEIR MEANING AND R O M A N C E 




the great number of rose-bushes we saw." — 
(Translation edited by Frederick J. Teggart, 
Curator of the Academy of Pacific Coast History.) 

Temecida, the name of a once important Indian 
\'illage in the Temecula Valley, about thirty-five 
miles south of Riverside. Its inhabitants suffered 
the usual fate of the native when the white man 
discovers the value of the land, and were com- 
pelled to leave their valley in 1875, and remove to 
Pichanga Canyon, in a desert region. 

7ia J nana (literally Aunt Jane). Travelers on 
the way to Mexico who stop for customs examin- 
ation at this border town are no doubt surprised 
by its peculiar name. This is an cxam])le of llic 
corruption, through its resemblance in sound, of 
an Indian word, Tiwana, into lia Jiiana, Spanish 
for "Aunt jane." Tiwana is said to mean "b\ 
the sea," which may or may not be the correct 
translation. 



47 



LOS ANGELES AND 



HER NEIGHBORS 




IV 



LOS Angeles and her neighbors 



Los Angeles (the angels). In the diary of 
]\riguel Costanso, date of August 2, 1769, we 
read: "To the north-northeast onecould see an- 
other water-course or river bed, which formed 
a wide ravine, but it was dry. This water-course 
joined that of the river, and gave clear indica- 
tions of heavy floods during the rainy season, as 
it had many branches of trees and debris on its 
sides. We halted at this place, which was named 
La Porciunctda. Here wc felt three successive 
earthquakes during the afternoon and night." — 
(Translation edited by Frederick J. 'iVggart.) 

This was the stream u])on which the cit\' ol 
Los Angeles was subsc(|iunll\- bnilt and whose 
name became a pail ol" lur title. Pore iiim ula wa.s 
the name of a town and parish near .\ssisi which 
became the abode of St. P'rancis (K' .\ssisi alter 
the Bene(h"(tine monks had i)resi'nte(l him. about 
1211, witii the iiUle eliai)el whieli he udled, in a 

51 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




jocular way, La Porciuncula (the small portion). 
By order of Pius V, in 1556 the erection of a new 
edifice over the Porciuncula chapel was begun. 
Under the bay of the choir is still preserved the 
cell in which St. Francis died, while a little behind 
the sacristy is the spot where the saint, during a 
temptation, is said to have rolled in a brier-bush, 
which was then changed into thornless roses. — 
(Cathohc Encyclopedia.) In this story there is 
a curious interweaving of the history of the names 
of our two rival cities, St. Francis in the north 
and Los Angeles de Porciuncula in the south. 

Continuing their journey on the following day, 
the Portola party reached the Indian rancheria 
(village) of Yangna, the site chosen for the pueblo 
established at a later date. Father Crespi writes 
of it thus: "We followed the road to the west, 
and the good pasture land followed us; at about 
half a league of travel we encountered the village 
of this part; on seeing us they came out on the 
road, and when we drew near they began to howl, 
as though they were wolves; we saluted them, 
they wished to give us some seeds, and as we had 
nothing at hand in which to carry them, we did 
not accept them; seeing this, they threw some 

52 



THEIR MEANING AND ROMANCE 




handfuls on the ground and the rest in the 



air. 



August 2 being the feast day of Xuestra Scfiora 
de los Angeles, as the Virgin Mary is often called 
by the Spaniards, this name was given to the 
place. 

The actual founding of the pueblo did not occur 
until September 4, lycSi, when Governor Neve 
issued the order for its establishment upon the 
site of the Indian village Yangna. It is said that 
the Porciuncula River, henceforth to be known as 
the Los Angeles, at that time ran to the east of 
its present course. The name of the little stream 
was added to that of the pueblo, so thai the true, 
complete title of the s])lendid city which has grown 
up on the spot where the Indian once raised his 
wolf-like howl is Xuestra Senora la Rt'nia dr los 
Angeles de J^orciihicida (Our Lad)- the (juccn 
of the Angels of Porciuncula). 

The social beginnings of Los Angeles were 
humble indeed, the first st'ltkTS l)eiiig persons of 
mixed race, and the lirst housi's mere howls, 
made of adobe, with tlat root's coNered with a^l)halL 
from the springs west ot llu' town. 



5.3 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




EL RANCHO LA BREA 

La Brea (the asphalt), has been retained as the 
appropriate designation of the ranch containing 
the famous asphaltum beds near Los Angeles. 
Ever since the days of the Tertiary Age, the quak- 
ing, sticky surface of these beds has acted as a 
"death trap" for unwary animals, and the remains 
of the unfortunate creatures have been securely 
preserved down to our times, furnishing indis- 
putable evidence of the strange life that once 
existed on our shores. Fossils of a large number 
of pre-historic and later animals have been taken 
out, aggregating nearly a million specimens of 
bird and animal life, many of them hitherto 
unknown to science. Among them are the saber- 
tooth tiger, gigantic wolves, bears, horses, bison, 
deer, an extinct species of coyote, camels, ele- 
phants, and giant sloths. Remains are also found 
of mice, rabbits, sc^uirrels, several species of 
insects, and a large number of birds, such as 
ducks, geese, pelicans, eagles and condors. 

Among the most remarkable of these fossils 
are the saber-tooth tiger and the great wolf. 

54 



THEIR MEANING AND ROMANCE 




Specimens of the wolf have been found wliirh 
are among the largest known in either li\ing or 
extinct species. This wolf differs from existing 
species in having a larger and heavier skull and 
jaws, and in its massive teeth, a conformation 
that must have given it great crushing i)ower. 
The structure of the skeleton shows it to have 
been probably less swift, but more powerful than 
the modern wolf, and the great number of bones 
found indicate that it was exceedingly common 
in that age. One bed of bones was uncovered in 
which the number of saber-tooth and wolf skulls 
together averaged twenty i)er cubic yard. Alto- 
gether, the disai)pearance of these great, ferocious 
beasts from the California forests need cause no 
keen regret. 

Next to the large w^olf thr most common is the 
saber-tooth tiger, of which one comi)lete skeleton 
and a large number of bones ha\e been lound. 
'I'he skeleton shows the animal to haw been ol 
about the size of a large Afrii an lion, and its most 
remarkable characteristic was the extraordinary 
length of the iipjjer canine teeth, whieli were like 
long, tiiin sabers, with finel)- serrated edges. 
These teeth were awkwardlx placed lor ordinary 



3:) 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




use, and it is thought by scientists that they were 
used for a downward stab through the thick necks 
of bulky creatures, such as the giant sloth. There 
is also an unusual development of the claws, 
possibly to make up for the loss of grasping power 
in the jaws, resulting from the interference of the 
long saber teeth. It appears from the state of 
many of the fossils that these teeth were peculiarly 
liable to fracture, and accidents of this sort may 
have led to the extinction of the species, the 
animal thus perishing through the over-develop- 
ment of one of its characteristics. 

Fossils of the extinct horse and bison are com- 
mon, and a smaller number are found of camels, 
deer, goats, and the mammoth. The bison were 
heavy-horned and somewhat larger than the 
existing species of buffalo. The camel, of which 
an almost complete specimen has very recently 
been taken out by Professor R. C. Stoner, of the 
University of California, was much larger than the 
present day species. Since the above was put in 
type, a human skeleton has been taken from the 
vicinity of the La Brea bed. Whether this skele- 
ton belongs with the La Brea deposits, and what 
its comparative age in relation to other human 

S6 



THEIR MEANING AND ROMANCE 




remains may be, are matters now being investi- 
gated by scientists. 

The preponderance of meat-eating animals in 
the La Brea beds has attracted the attention of 
scientists, who believe that these creatures were 
lured to the spot in large numbers b\' the struggles 
and cries of their unfortunate prey caught in the 
sticky mass of the tar. In this way, a single sloth, 
or other creature, ma\' have been the means of 
bringing retribution upon a whole pack of wolves. — 
(Notes taken from an article in the Sunset Maga- 
zine of October, 1908, entitled 'llic Death Trap 
of the Ages^ b\' John C. Merriam, Professor of 
Paleontology in the University of California.) 

The manner in which this great aggregation of 
animals came to a tragic end in that l()ng-])ast 
age is exemplified in the way that birds and other 
small animals are still occasionally caught in the 
treacherous asi)halt and tlurc ])crish miserably, 
adding their bones to those of their unhai)])y 
predecessors. 

The La Brea beds furnish one of the richest 
fields tor ])ale()ntological research lo be found 
anywhere in the world; and it may be said, that 
with her great Se(|uoias in the north, and her 

57 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




reservoir of pre-historic remains in the south, 
Cahfornia stands as a link between a past age and 
the present. 

The tarry deposit itself has its own place in 
history, for it appears that the first settlers of 
Los Angeles were alive to the practical value of 
this supply of asphaltum lying ready to their 
hands, and used it in roofing their houses. Even 
the Indians, little as is the credit usually given 
them for skill in the arts and crafts, recognized 
the possibilities of this peculiar substance, and 
used it in calking their canoes. 



LOS OJITOS 

The story of Los Ojitos (literally "little eyes"), 
but here used in the sense of "little springs," 
situated about two leagues from Santa Ana, 
indicates that the pleasures of social intercourse 
were not altogether lacking among the California 
Indians. In the diary of Miguel Costanso, of 
the date of their arrival at this place, he writes: 
"We found no water for the animals, but there 
was sufficient for the people in some little springs'^ 

58 



THEIR MEANING AND ROMANCE 




or small pools, in a narrow canyon close to 
a native village. The Indians of this \illage 
were holding a feast and dance, to which they had 
invited their relatives of the Rio dc los Tcmhiorcs 
(River of the Earthquakes, or Santa Ana)." — 
(Translation edited by Frederick J. Teggart.) 
During this time the travelers experienced a 
series of earthcjuakes lasting several da}'S. 

Ojo de agna was commonly used b\' the Span- 
iards to mean a spring, but during the eighteenth 
century it was frequently used in America in the 
sense of a small stream of water rather than a 
spring. 

SANTA ANA 



On the day, Friday, July 28, lybg, of the arrival 
of the Portola expedition at the stream now called 
the Scuihi Aiiii, which takes its rise in the San 
Bernardino Mountains, and em])ties into the ocean 
at a point southeast of Los Angeles, four scwre 
earthf|uakes occurred. SjK-aking of this circum- 
stance in his (harx', l'"alhcr Crcspi sa\"s: "To this 
si)ot was giwii AV Dulcc XoiHhrc dc Jesus dc los 
'Tanblorcs (The Sweet Name of Jesus of the 

59 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




Earthquakes), because of having experienced 
here a frightful earthquake, which was repeated 
four times during the day. The first, which was 
the most violent, happened at one o'clock of the 
afternoon, and the last about four o'clock. One 
of the gentiles (unbaptized Indians), who hap- 
pened to be in the camp, and who, without doubt, 
exercised among them the ofhce of priest, no less 
terrified at the event than we, began, with horrible 
cries and great demonstrations, to entreat Heaven, 
turning to all points of the compass. This river 
is known to the soldiers as the San fa Ana.'' This 
was one of the rare cases where the usual method 
of naming was reversed, and the soldiers chose 
the name of the saint. St. Anna was the mother 
of the Virgin and her name signifies "gracious." 
In the account of Captain Pedro Fages, of the 
same expedition, the natives on this stream are 
described as having light complexions and hair, 
and a good appearance, differing in these par- 
ticulars from the other inhabitants of that region, 
who were said to be dark, dirty, under-sized and 
slovenly. This is not the only occasion when the 
Spaniards reported finding Indians of light com- 
plexions and hair in California. One account 

60 



THEIR MEANING AND ROMANCE 




speaks of a red-haired tribe not far north of San 
Francisco, and still another of "white Indians" 
at Monterey, but, judging by the light of our 
subsequent knowledge of these aborigines, the 
writers of these reports must have indulged in 
exaggeration. 

On the southern bank of the Santa Ana, not 
far from the coast, is the town of the same name, 
and further inland its waters have made to bloom 
in the desert the famous orange orchards of 
Riverside. 



SANTA MONICA 

Santa Monica, situated at the innermost point 
of the great curve in the coast line just west of 
Los Angeles, was named in honor of a saintly 
hi(l>- whose stor>- is here quoted from Clara iM-skine 
Clement's Slorics of tliv Saints: "She was the 
mother of St. Augustine, and was a Christian, 
while his father was a heathen. Monica was 
sorely troubled at the dissipated life of lur Noung 
son; she wejit anrl ])ra\'ed for him, and at last 
sought tlie advice and aid of the Hisho]) of Carth- 
age, who dismissed her with these words, 'do in 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




peace; the son of so many tears will not perish.' 
At length she had the joy of beholding the bap- 
tism of St. Augustine by the Bishop of Milan." 
Santa Monica is venerated as the great pa- 
troness of the Augustinian nuns, and might well 
be placed at the head of the world-wide order of 
"Anxious Mothers." 



SANTA CATALINA 

Santa Catalina, the beautiful island off the 
coast of Southern California, was named by 
Vizcaino in honor of St. Catherine, because its 
discovery occurred on the eve of her feast day, 
November 24, 1602. In the diary of the voyage 
we get an interesting description of the island and 
its aboriginal inhabitants: "We continued our 
journey along the coast until November 24, when, 
on the eve of the glorious Santa Catalina, we dis- 
covered three large islands; we took the one in the 
middle, which is more than twenty-five leagues 
in circumference, on November 27, and before 
dropping anchor in a good cove which was found, 
a great number of Indians came out in canoes of 

62 



THEIR M K A N I N G A N I) R O M A N C E 




cedar-wood and pine, made of planking well- 
joined and calked, and with eight oars each, and 
fourteen or fifteen Indians, who looked like galley- 
slaves. They drew near and came on board our 
vessels without an)- fear whatever. We dropped 
anchor and went on shore. There were on the 
beach a great number of Indians, and the women 
received us with roasted sardines and a fruit 
cooked in the manner of sweet potatoes." 

Mass was celebrated there in the presence of 
I 50 Indians. The people were very friendly and 
the women led the white men by the hand into 
their houses. The diary continues: "These 
people go dressed in the skins of seals; the women 
are modest but thievish. The Indians received 
us with embraces and brought water in some very 
well-made jars, and in others like flasks, that were 
highly varnished on the outside. They have acorns 
and some very large skins, with long wool, ai)])ar- 
ciitl\- of bears, \vhi( h scr\t' ihcm lor blankets." 

'i'hc travelers found here an idol, "in thr tnaiuu'r 
of the devil, without a head, but with two horns, 
a dog at thf feet, and man\- chilchvn ])ainted 
around it." The Indians rradily ga\c' iij) this 
idol and accci)te(l the cross in its stead. 

63 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




St. Catherine, patroness of this island, was one 
of the most notable female martyrs of the Roman 
Catholic church. We are told that she was of 
royal blood, being the daughter of a half-brother 
of Constantine the Great. She was converted to 
Christianity, and became noted for her unusual 
sanctity. She was both beautiful and intellectual, 
and possessed the gift of eloquence in such a high 
degree that she was able to confound fifty of the 
most learned men appointed by Maximin to dis- 
pute matters of religion with her. The same 
Maximin, enraged by her refusal of his offers of 
love, ordered that she be tortured "by wheels 
flying in diilerent directions, to tear her to pieces. 
When they had bound her to these, an angel 
came and consumed the wheels in fire, and the 
fragments flew around and killed the executioners 
and 3000 people. Maximin finally caused her to 
be beheaded, when angels came and bore her 
body to the top of Mt. Sinai. In the eighth cen- 
tury a monastery was built over her burial place." 
— {Stories of the Saints.) Santa Catalina is the pa- 
tronessof education, science, philosophy, eloquence, 
and of all colleges, and her island has good reason 
to be satisfied with the name chosen by Vizcaino. 

64 



THEIR MEANING AND ROMANCE 




LAS Animas benditas 

Of Las Animas (the souls), which lay between 
San Gabriel and the country of the Amajaba 
(Mojave) Indians, we find the story in P>ay 
Joaquin Pasqual Nuez's diary of the expedition 
made in 1819 by Lieutenant Gabriel Moraga, to 
punish the marauding Amajabas, who had mur- 
dered a number of Christian natives. This name 
was also used as the title of a land grant just 
south of Gilroy. 

The Moraga party arrived at a point "about a 
league and a half from Our Lady of Guadalupe 
of Guapiabit. We found the place where the 
Amajabas killed four Christians of this mission 
(San (iabriel), three from San Fernando, and some 
gentiles (unbaptized Indians). We found the 
skeletons and skulls roasted, and, at about a 
gun-shot from there we pitched camp. The next 
day, after mass, we caused the bones to be carried 
in procession, the cross in front. Padre Xuez 
chanting funeral services, to the spot where they 
had been burned. There we erected a cross, at the 
foot of which we caused the bones to be buried 

65 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




in a deep hole, and then we blessed the sepulchre. 
We named the spot Las Animas Benditas (The 
Blessed Souls)." May they rest in peace! 

SAN GABRIEL 

San Gabriel, the quaint little town lying nine 
miles east of Los Angeles, is the site of the Mission 
San Gabriel Arcdngel (St. Gabriel Archangel), 
founded September 8, 1771, by Padres Cambon 
and Somera. This mission was placed in a fertile, 
well- wooded spot, in the midst of a large Indian 
population, who, under the instruction of the 
padres, became experts in many arts, such as 
sewing, weaving, soap-making, cobbling, etc. 
Their flocks and herds increased to such an extent 
that they covered the country for many miles 
around. 

The patron saint, San Gabriel, was the second 
in rank of the archangels who stand before the 
Lord. Whenever he is mentioned in the Bible, 
it is as a messenger bearing important tidings, 
and he is especially venerated as having carried 
to the Virgin the message that she was to become 
the mother of Christ. 

66 



THEIR MEANING A N I) R O M A N C E 




SAN FERNANDO 

It was in the \'alley of San Fernando (St. P'ercli- 
nand), a short distance northwest of Los Angeles, 
that the mission pertaining to the latter place was 
established, September 8, 1797, by Padres Lasuen 
and Dumetz. The Camulos Rancho, the home of 
Ramona, the heroine of Mrs. Helen Hunt Jack- 
son's romance, was once included in the lands of 
this mission. 

St. Ferdinand, King of Spain, in whose honor 
this place was named, was a notable warrior, as 
well as a saint, and he succeeded in expelling the 
Moors from Toledo, Cordova and Seville. He is 
said also to have been a patron of the arts, and to 
have been the founder of the cathedral at Burgos, 
celebrated for the beauty of its architecture. But 
more than for such attainments, he is remembered 
for his tenderness toward the poor and lowly of 
his people. When urged to i)ut a tax ui)()n them 
in order to recruit his army, he re])lie(i: "(iod, in 
whose cause I light, will su])])!}- my need. I fear- 
more the curse of one poor old woman than a w hole 
army of Moors." — {Slorics of the Saints.) 

69 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




TEMESCAL 

Temescal (sweathouse), in ^Riverside County, 
although a place of no great importance in itself, 
is interesting in that its name recalls one of the 
curious customs widely prevalent among the 
natives of the Southwest. The word itself is of 
Aztec origin, and was brought to California by the 
Franciscans. 

The temescal is thus described by Dr. A. L. 
Kroeber, in the University of California Publica- 
tions in Archaeology and Ethnology: "At the 
Banning Reservation a sweathouse is still in use. 
From the outside its appearance is that of a small 
mound. The ground has been excavated to the 
depth of a foot or a foot and a half, over a space 
of about twelve by seven or eight feet. In the 
center of this area two heavy posts are set up 
three or four feet apart. These are connected at 
the top by a log laid in their forks. Upon this 
log, and in the two forks, are laid some fifty or 
more logs and sticks of various dimensions, their 
ends sloping down to the edge of the excavation. 
It is probable that brush covers these timbers. 

70 



THEIR M E A X I X G A X D R O M A X C E 




The whole is thoroughly covered wath earth. 
There is no Smoke hole. The entrance is on one 
of the long sides, directly facing the space between 
the two center posts, and only a few feet from 
them. The fireplace is between the entrance and 
the posts. It is just possible to stand upright in 
the center of the house. In Northern California, 
the so-called sweathouse is of larger dimensions, 
and was preeminently a ceremonial or assembly 
chamber." 

Dr. L. H. Bunnell, in his history of the dis- 
covery of the Yosemite valley, gives us some inter- 
esting details of the use of the sweathouse among 
the Indians of that region : "The remains of these 
structures were sometimes mistaken tor ///;;/////, 
being constructed of bark, reeds or grass, covered 
with mud. It (the sweathouse), was used as a 
curative for disease, and as a convenience tor 
cleansing the skin, when necessity demands it, 
although the Indian race is not noted for cleanli- 
ness. 1 ha\'e seen a half-do/en or more enter one 
of these rudely constructed sweathouses through 
the small a])erture Kit tor ihe purjiose. Ih-t 
stones are taken in. the ;i|)eiture is closed until 
suffocation would seem impending, when they 

71 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




would crawl out, reeking with perspiration, and 
with a shout, spring like acrobats into the cold 
waters of the stream. As a remedial agent for 
disease, the same course is pursued, though varied 
at times by the burning and inhalation of resinous 
boughs and herbs. In the process of cleansing 
the skin from impurities, hot air alone is generally 
used. If an Indian had passed the usual period 
of mourning for a relative, and the adhesive pitch 
too tenaciously clung to his no longer sorrowful 
countenance, he would enter and re-enter the 
heated house until the cleansing had become 
complete. The mourning pitch is composed of the 
charred bones and ashes of the dead relative or 
friend. These remains of the funeral pyre, with 
the charcoal, are pulverized and mixed with the 
resin of the pine; this hideous mixture is usually 
retained upon the face of the mourner until it 
wears off. If it has been well-compounded, it 
may last nearly a year; although the young, either 
from a super-abundance of vitality, excessive 
reparative powers of the skin, or from powers of 
will, seldom mourn so long. When the bare sur- 
face exceeds that covered by the pitch, it is not a 
scandalous disrespect in the young to remove it 

72 



THEIR MEANING AND ROMANCE 




entirely, but a mother will seldom remove pitch 
or garment until both are nearly worn out." 

This heroic treatment, while possibly efficacious 
in the simple ailments by which the Indians were 
most often afflicted, usually resulted in a great 
increase of mortality in the epidemics of smallpox 
following upon the footsteps of the white man. 
One traveler speaks of a severe sort of inter- 
mittent fever, to which the natives were subject, 
and of which so many died that hundreds of bodies 
were found strewn about the country. Having 
observed that the whites, even when attacked by 
this fever, rarely died of it, he was inclined to 
ascribe the mortality among the natives to their 
great cure-all, the tcmescal. 

A number of places in the state bore this name, 
among them a small town lying between the sites 
now occupied by the flourishing cities of Oakland 
and Berkeley. lis citizens became discontented 
with the undignified character of the name, and 
changed it to Alden. 



73 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




SAN BERNARDINO 

San Bernardino is the name of a county in the 
southeastern part of Cahfornia, whose broad 
expanse is mainly made up oi volcanic mountains, 
desert plains, and valleys without timber or 
water. 

The name was first given to the snow-capped 
peak, 1 1, 600 feet high, lying about twenty miles 
east of the city of San Bernardino, which is sit- 
uated sixty miles east of Los Angeles, in the fruit 
and alfalfa region. The name of this town is one 
of the most regrettable examples of corruption 
that have occurred in the state, having passed 
from its original sweetly flowing syllables through 
the successive stages of San Berdino, Berdino, 
until finally reaching the acme of vulgarity as 
Berdoo, by which appellation it is known to its 
immediate neighbors. If ideas of romance, of 
pleasant-sounding words, and of fidelity to history 
make no appeal to our fellow-Californians, let 
them read again the quotation from Stevenson 
given above, and learn that a romantic nomencla- 
ture may sometimes be a valuable financial asset. 

74 



THEIR MEANING AND R O M A N C E 




San Bernardino (St. Bernardinus), the patron 
saint of the places bearing his name, is particularly 
remembered as the founder of the charitable 
institution known in Spanish as Monte de Piedad 
(hill of pity), and in French as Mont de Piete,^ 
municipal pawnshops where money was loaned.^ 
on pledges to the poor. These pawnshops are 
still conducted in many Spanish towns, in America 
as well as in Europe. 



SUPPLEMENTARY LIST 

Abalone Point, some miles to the southeast of 
San Pedro bay, was no doubt so-named from 
the abundance of the great sea snails called 
abalone, whose iridescent shells, the abandoned 
dwellings of the dead animals, almost comjiarable 
in beauty to the mother-of-pearl, once covered the 
beaches of the California coast with a gh't taring 
carpet. The word "once" is used advisedl\-, for, 
with our usual easy-going American negligence 
we have permitted these creatures ol tlu' sea, 
valuable for their ediblr meat as wt'll as for tluir 
exquisitely colored shells, to be nearl\- destroxed 

75 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




by Chinese and Japanese fisheries. That the 
flesh of the abalone formed a useful part of the 
food supply of the Indians is evidenced by the 
large number of shells to be found in the mounds 
along the shore. In the living state the abalone 
clings to the rocks on the shore, and its grip is 
so tenacious that more than one unfortunate per- 
son, caught by the foot or hand between the 
shell and the rock, has been held there while 
death crept slowly upon him in the shape of the 
rising tide. There is another Abalone Point on 
the northern coast. 

Agiia Caliente (literally "hot water"), generally 
used in reference to hot springs. Of these there 
are many in the state, one on the Indian Reser- 
vation southeast of Riverside. Agua Caliente 
was originally a land grant. 

Alamitos (Httle cottonwoods), from alamo, a 
tree of the poplar family indigenous to Cali- 
fornia. There are several places bearing this name 
in the state, one a short distance northeast of 
Santa Ana. 

Aliso (alder tree), is the name of a place on 
the Santa Fe Railroad, south of Los Angeles, 
near the shore, and was probably named for 

76 



THEIR MEANING AND ROMANCE 




the Rancho Canada de los Alisos. It is probably 
modern. 

AzMsa is the name of a place in Los Angeles 
County, twenty miles east of Los Angeles, and was 
originally applied to the land grant there. It is 
an Indian place name of a lodge, or rancheria, the 
original form being Asiiksa-gna, the gna an ending 
which indicates place. 

Bandini fa surname), is the name of a place a 
short distance southeast of Los Angeles, on the 
Santa P'e Railroad. The founder of this family 
was Jose Bandini, a mariner of Spanish birth, 
who came to California with war suj^j^lies, and 
finally settled at San Diego. His son, Juan Ban- 
dini, was a notable character in the history of the 
state. He held several public ofiices, took part 
in revolutions and colonization schemes, and finally 
espoused the cause of the United States. Ban- 
croft gives the following resume of his character: 
"Juan Bandini must be regarded as one of the 
most prominent men of his time in ( alitotnia. 
He was a man of fair abilities and education, ot 
generous impulses, of jovial temixraimiU, a most 
interesting man sociull\-, famous lor his grnlle- 
manly manners, of good courage in the midst ol 

77 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




personal misfortunes, and always well-liked and 
respected; indeed his record as a citizen was an 
excellent one. In his struggles against fate and 
the stupidity of his compatriots he became 
absurdly diplomatic and tricky as a politician. 
He was an eloquent speaker and fluent writer." 
Members of the Bandini family still occupy 
positions of respect and influence in the state and 
have made some important additions to its his- 
torical literature. 

Bolsa (pocket), a term much in use with the 
Spaniards to signify a shut-in place. Bolsa is in 
Orange County, twelve miles north by west of 
Tres Pinos, and was probably named from the 
land grant, Rancho de las Bolsas. 

Cahezon (big head) , is the name of a place south- 
east of Colton. It was probably named for a 
large-headed Indian chief who lived there at one 
time and who received this name in pursuance of 
an Indian custom of fitting names to physical 
peculiarities. This name is improperly spelled 
on some maps as Cabazon. 

Cahuilla, the name of an Indian tribe, probably 
"Spanishized" in its spelling from Ka-we-a. The 
valley and village of this name are situated in the 

78 



THEIR MEANING AND ROMANCE 




San Jacinto Forest Reserve, southeast of River- 
side, and received their name from a tribe who 
lived, in 1776, on the northern slopes of the San 
Jacinto Mountains. The word Cahiiilla is of 
uncertain derivation. 

Calabazas (pumpkins), is northwest of Los 
Angeles. This is possibly a corruption of an 
Indian word, Calahiiasa, the name of a former 
Chumash village near the mission of Santa Inez. 
There is another possibility that this name may 
have been given to the i)lace by the Spaniards 
in reference to the wild gourd which grows abun- 
dantly there and whose fruit may have been con- 
sidered by them to bear some resemblance to 
pumi)kins, but this is of course mere conjecture. 

Casa Blanca (white house), is a short distance 
west of Riverside, on the Santa Fe Railroad, so- 
called from a large white ranch house once in 
conspicuous view from the railroad station. 

Casco (skull), shell or outside jxirl of anything. 
El Casco is situated about IweKe miles east of 
Riversiflc. Its ai)])li(,atioii lure has not been 
ascertained. 

Conrjo (raljl)il), is the iianu' ol" a nunihiT of 
places in the state, one of tluin in the Santa 

79 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




Monica Mountains, another in the Central Valley, 
on the Santa Fe road. 

Cucamonga, is an Indian name, derived from a 
village in San Bernardino County, forty- two miles 
by rail east of Los Angeles. It was originally 
applied to the land grant at that place. 

Diiarte, a surname. 

Las Flores (the flowers). At this place there was 
once a large Indian village, called in the native 
language ushmai, the place of roses, from ushla, 
rose. 

Garvanza (chick-pea). 

Hermosa (beautiful), is the name of a town in 
San Bernardino County, and of a beach in Los 
Angeles County. 

Indio, the Spanish word for "Indian," is the 
name of a place in Riverside County, near Colton. 

La Joya (the jewel). 

Laguna (lagoon), 

Ledn (lion). 

La Mirada (the view). 

Los Molinos (the mills, or mill-stones), a name 
applied to a place east of San Gabriel by the 
Moraga party of 1819, who went out from the 
mission on a punitive expedition against the 

80 



THEIR MEANING AND ROMANCE 




Amajaba (Mojave) Indians. Padre Nuez, who 
accompanied the party, says: "On the return we 
passed by a place where there was plenty of water, 
below a hill of red stone, ver}' suitable for mill- 
stones." The same name, probably for similar 
reasons, was applied to other places in the state, 
among them one in Sonoma County, and Mill 
Creek in Tehama County, originally called El Rio 
de los Molinos (The River of the Mill-stones). 

Montalvo (a surname), the name of a place in 
Ventura County, near Ventura. This name is 
interesting as being the same as that borne by the 
author of Las Sergas dc Esplandidn, in which the 
fabulous island of California plays a leading part. 

Miiriefla (a surname), the same as that of the 
noted bandit, Joaquin Murietta, who once ter- 
rorized California with his depredations. The 
town of Murietta, however, was not named in 
honor of this gentleman of unsavory memory, 
l)ut for Mr. J. Murietta, who is still livin<; in 
Southern Cahfornia. 

Los Xirlos (literally "the grandchildren"), but 
in this case a surname, tiial of the Xieto family. 
Los Xietos was a land grant taken u]) b\ Manuel 
Nieto and Jose Maria Verdugo in 1784. 

81 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




Pasadena, said to be derived from the Chippewa 
Indian language. The full name is said to be 
Weoquan Pasadena, and the meaning to be "Crown 
of the Valley." Let no man believe in the absurd 
story that it means "Pass of Eden." 

Prado (meadow) . "The Prado" is also the name 
of a famous promenade in the city of Madrid. 

Puente (bridge), in Los Angeles County, was 
taken from the name of the land grant, Rancho 
de la Puente. 

Pulgas Creek (fleas creek). 

Redondo Beach, (round beach), a well-known 
seaside resort near Los Angeles, is usually sup- 
posed to have received its name from the curved 
line of the shore there, but the fact that a land 
grant occupying that identical spot was called 
Sausal Redondo (round willow-grove), from a 
clump of willows growing there accounts for 
its name. 

Rivera (river, stream). Rivera was also the 
name of a pioneer family. 

Rodeo de las Aguas (gathering of the waters), 
a name once given to the present site of La Brea 
Rancho, near Los Angeles, perhaps because there 
is at that point a natural amphitheatre which 

82 



THEIR MEANING AND ROMANCE 




receives the greater portion of the waters flowing 
from the neighboring mountains and the Ca- 
huenga Pass. 

San Ckmente (St. Clement), the name of the 
island fifteen miles south of Santa Catalina. The 
saint for whom this island was named "was con- 
demned to be cast into the sea bound to an anchor. 
But when the Christians prayed, the waters were 
driven back for three miles, and they saw a ruined 
temple which the sea had covered, and in it was 
found the body of the saint, with the anchor 
round his neck. For many years, at the anni- 
versary of his death, the sea retreated for seven 
days, and j^ilgrimages were made to this sub- 
marine tomb." — {Stories oj the Saints.) 

San Jacinto (St. Hyacinth), was a Silcsian 
nobleman who became a monk, and was noted 
for his intellectual superiority, as well as for liis 
piety. San Jacinto is the name of a town in Ri\ er- 
side County, thirt>' miles southeast of Riverside, 
in the fruit region, and of the range of mountains 
in the same countw 

San J UiUi I'oiiil (St. John j'oint). 

San Malvo /'oliil (St. .Matthew I'oiiit). 

San OnoJ'rc (St. Onophrius), was a hermit saint 

83 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




who chief claim to sanctity seems to have been 
that le deprived himself of all the comforts of 
life and lived for sixty years in the desert, "durin; 
which time he never uttered a word except in 
pra^ T, nor saw a human face." 

San Pedro (St. Peter), is on San Pedro bay, 
twenty-six miles south of Los Angeles. St. Peter, 
the fisherman apostle and companion of St. Paul, 
is usually represented as the custodian of the keys 
of Heaven and Hell, one key being of gold and the 
other of iron. "There is a legend that the Gentiles 
shaved his head in mockery, and that from this 
originated the tonsure of the priests." Peter 
suffered martyrdom by crucifixion, "but tra- 
ditions disagree in regard to the place where he 
suffered." The name Peter is said to signify "a 
rock." "Thou art Peter, on this rock have I 
founded My church."— (Matthew, i6, i8.) 

Saticoy was the name of a former Chumash 
Indian village on the lower part of Santa Paula 
River, in Ventura County, about eight miles from 
the sea. The present town of Saticoy is on the Santa 
Clara River, in Ventura County, near Ventura. 

Serra (a surname), probably given in honor of 
the celebrated founder of the California missions. 

84 



THEIR MEANING AND RO'^ANCE 




El Toro (the bull). 

Trahiico Canyon (literally blunderbuss can_ 3n), 
irom trabuco, a short, wide-mouthed gun formerly 
used by the Spaniards, although this may n 't be 
the true derivation of the name in this case. One 
writer has translated this name as "land much 
tumbled about," but where he obtained such a 
meaning remains an impenetrable mystery. Tra- 
buco may be a surname here. 

V'alle Verde (green valley), incorrectl}' spelled 
on the map as Val Verde. 

Valle Vista (valley view), is in Ri\'erside County, 
five miles northwest of San Jacinto. Tliis name 
is modern and incorrect in construction. 

Verdugo was named for the Verdugo family, 
the owners of the Ranclio San Rafael, northeast 
of Los Angeles and near the base of the Verdugo 
mountains. Jose Maria Verdugo was one of the 
grantees of the Xietos grant in 1784. 

Vicente Point (Point Vincent). This i)oint was 
named in lyg-; by Cieorge Vancou\cr, the Knglish 
explorer, in honor of i-'riar \'icente Santa Maria, 
"one of the reverend fathers of the mission of 
Buena Ventura." 



«5 




IN THE VICINITY OF,, 

\ SANTA BARBARA ""^""^ 








V 

TX THE VICINITY OF SANTA BARBARA 

Santa Barbara, the charming httle town that 
dreams away its existence among the flowers of 
its old gardens, on the shore of the sheltered 
stretch of water formed by the islands lying to the 
seaward, was named for a noble lady of Heliopolis, 
the daughter of Dioscorus. She became con- 
verted to Christianity, and was in consequence 
cruelly persecuted and fmally beheaded b\ her 
own father. "The legend that lier father was 
struck by lightning in i)unishment for this ciiiiu' 
])robably caused her to be regarded by the com- 
mon people as the guardian saint against tempest 
and fire, and later, by analogy, as the protectress 
of artillery-men and miners." — (Catholic Ency- 
clopedia.) I'or this reason Iut image was placed 
over the doors of powder magazines, and her 
name came at last to be a})plie(l to the maga- 
zines themselves, which are known to the Si)anish 
people as sanUibdrbaras. Thus is exjilained the 
apparent incongruit\- between the name ol the 

•So 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




gentle saint and the places for storage of the 
instruments of savage war. 

At the time of the arrival of the Spaniards the 
shores of the Santa Barbara channel probably 
supported a denser native population than any 
other part of the state. The gracious climate and 
never-failing food supply furnished by the gener- 
ous waters of the ocean, enabled the Indians 
to live at ease. 

When Cabrillo entered the channel in 1542, he 
reported that: "A great number of Indians issued 
from the bushes, yelling and dancing, and making 
signs, inviting us to come on shore. They laid 
down their bows and arrows and came to the 
vessel in a good canoe. They possessed boats, 
large enough to carry twelve or fourteen men, 
well-constructed of bent planks and cemented 
with bitumen." 

These Indians were of a higher order of intelli- 
gence than those further north, and were skilled 
in some of the arts, including the making of 
excellent pottery. They were expert fishermen, 
using nets for the purpose, and often eating the 
fish raw. They wore their hair long, tied up with 
long cords, to which many small daggers of flint, 

90 



(/■. 






'"■ X 



— X 

■z. y. 



3 



O 
D 



■c 

ft 




THEIR MEANING AND ROMANCE 




wood and bone were attached. They had some 
notion of music, using a primitive sort of flute, 
or whistle, made of the hollow bones of birds. 
They lived in conical houses, which were covered 
well down to the ground. 

WTien P^ather Serra passed that way, more than 
two centuries later, he found the same conditions 
of population, counting as many as twenty 
populous villages along the channel. He was 
moved to bitter tears of grief over the delay 
in establishing a mission where so rich a harvest 
of souls lay ready to his hand. He died before 
this dearest wish of his heart was accom])lished, 
yet Santa Barbara may justly claim the honor 
of his presence at her birth, for he took part in 
the establishment of the presidio, which occurred 
in 1783, three years before the building of tlie 
mission. In Palou's Life of Serra he describes that 
occasion thus: "The party traveled along the 
coast of the channel, in sight of the islands which 
form it, and when llu'\- jiidgcd it to be about 
half-way, about nine leagues from San liiunaNcii- 
tura, they stopped and selected a site for llu- pre- 
sidio, in siglit of tlie beach, which there forms a 
sort of bay, furnishing anchorage for shii)S. On 

93 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




this beach there was a large village of Gentiles. 
Here the cross was raised, Father Serra blessed 
it and the land, and held mass. The following 
day they began to cut wood for the building of 
the chapel, the priest's house, officials' houses, 
cuartel, almacenes (storehouses), houses for fam- 
ilies of married soldiers and the stockade." 

The mission, which is still in an excellent state of 
preservation, was not established until December 
4, 1786, although Serra looked upon that location 
as the most desirable in California, and spent the 
last years of his life in constant efforts to urge 
on the authorities to the work. That his hopes 
were realized to the full after his death, and that 
large numbers of natives, as well as the succeeding 
white parishioners, knelt before the altar dedicated 
to the gentle Santa Barbara, is evidenced by the 
deeply worn marks of several generations of feet 
to be seen in the wide flight of steps at the entrance. 

A circumstance that makes Santa Barbara 
unique among the missions is that within her 
gardens, hidden behind their secluding walls, 
there is a "holy of holies" where no woman's 
foot is permitted to desecrate the sacred ground. 
It is quite likely that this rule is kept up by the 

94 



THEIR MEANING AND ROMANCE 




brothers now in charge of the mission, rather 
through a desire to preserve the traditions of the 
old church than through any unwarranted pre- 
judice against the fair sex. 



SAN BUENAVENTURA 

San Buenaventura Mission, at the town now 
called Ventura, stands near the southeastern end 
of the Santa Barbara channel. It was the last 
work of the great Serra, and was founded March 
31, 1782,, by the venerable president himself and 
Father Cambon. Palou gives us a detailed account 
of this event in his IJfc of Serra: "March 26, the 
whole party, the largest ever engaged in the 
founding of a mission, soldiers, settlers, and their 
families, muleteers, etc., but only two priests, 
Padres Serra and Cambon, set out .... 
They went on to the head of \hv channel, a site 
near the beach, on w liose edge there was a large 
town of Gentiles, (unbaptizcd Indians), well built 
of ])yramidal houses made of straw. They raised 
the cross, erected an arbor to serve as chaj)el, made 
an altar and adorned it. On the last day of March 

95 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




they took possession and held the first mass. The 
natives assisted wiUingly in building the chapel, 
and continued friendly, helping to build a house 
for the padre, — all of wood. The soldiers began 
to cut timbers for their houses, and for the stock- 
ade. They also went to work at once to conduct 
water by ditches from a neighboring stream, to 
bring it conveniently near the houses, and to 
serve to irrigate crops. By means of a neophyte, 
brought from San Gabriel, they were able to com- 
municate with the natives, and to let them know 
that their only purpose in coming here was to 
direct their souls to Heaven." 

The patron of this mission was originally named 
Giovanni Fidanga. When a child he fell very ill, 
and was taken by his mother to St. Francis to be 
healed. When the saint saw him recovered he 
exclaimed: "O buena ventura!" whereupon his 
mother dedicated him to God by the name of 
Buenaventura (good fortune). It is a pity that a 
name of such happy auguryshould be mutilated 
by the amputation of its first part, the town and 
county now appearing as Ventura. 



96 



THEIR MEANING AND ROMANCE 




ASUNCION 

In the diaries of the Spanish pioneers, a distinct 
impression is conveyed that the Cahfornia Indians, 
so far from being morose and taciturn, as their 
brothers in other parts of the United States are 
often portrayed, were rather a merry lot, and 
received the white men everywhere in their long 
journey up the coast, with music, feasting and the 
dance. In fact, we run across a complaint now 
and then that their hospitality was sometimes so 
insistent that their guests suffered from loss of 
sleep, the serenading being kc})! up during the 
entire night. 

Their music, no doubt of the most ])rimitive 
sort, was produced by means of "a small whistle, 
sometimes double, sometimes single, about the 
size and length of a common fife. It was held in 
the mouth 1)\' one end, without ihr aid ot the 
fiiigiTS, and only about two notes could be sounded 
on it." --(Bancroft, from Cal. Farmer.) 

Along the Santa Barbara channel tlie festivities 
in honor of the strangers were especiall\- h\ei\-. 
M Asiiiirioii (Ascension), a ])()int on the coast h\e 

97 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




leagues below Carpinteria, they received a recep- 
tion of which we read in Costanso's diary of the 
Portola expedition of 1769, date of August 14: 
"We reached the coast, and came in sight of a 
real town, situated on a tongue or point of land, 
right on the shore, which it dominated, seeming 
to command the waters. We counted as many as 
thirty large and capacious houses, spherical in 
form, well built and thatched with grass. We 
judged there could not be less than four hundred 
souls in the town. These natives are well built 
and of a good disposition, very agile and alert, dili- 
gent and skillful. Their handiness and ability were 
at their best in the construction of their canoes, 
made of good pine boards, well joined and calked, 
and of a pleasing form. They handle these with 
equal skill, and three or four men go out to sea in 
them to fish, for they will hold eight or ten men. 
They use long, double-bladed paddles, and row 
with indescribable agility and swiftness. All their 
work is neat and well finished, and what is most 
worthy of surprise is that to work the wood and 
stone they have no other tools than those made of 
flint .... We saw, and obtained in 
exchange for strings of glass beads, and other 

98 



THEIR MEANING AND ROMANCE 




trinkets, some baskets or trays made of reeds, 
with different designs; wooden plates, and bowls 
of different forms and sizes, made of one piece, 
so that not even those turned out in a lathe could 
be more successful. They presented us with a 
quantity of fish, particularly the kind known as 
bonito; it had as good a flavor as that caught in the 
tunny-fisheries of Cartegena de Levante, and on 
the coasts of Granada. We gave it the name of 
La Asuncion de Nuestra Sefiora (the Ascension of 
Our Lady), because we reached it on the eve of 
that festival." — (Translation edited by Frederick 
J. Teggart.) 

EL BAILARIN 

El Bailarin (the dancer). This spot, one league 
from ("arpinteria, was named in honor of a nimble- 
footed Indian, who cheered the weary trawlers 
on their way, as thus told by Father Cres])i, in 
his diary of the Portola expedition: "This place 
was named through the notable fact of an Indian 
having feasted us extraordinarih- two leagues 
beyond (always coasting the sea-shore), where 
there is a large town on a jioint of land on the 
same shore; whii h Indian was a robust man ot 

99 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




good form, and a great dancer; through respect 
for him we called this town, of which our friend 
was a resident. El Pueblo del Bailarin (the Town 
of the Dancer)." 

Rancheria del Baile de las Indias (Village of the 
Dance of the Indian Women). As a rule, the 
women seemed to take no part in the dances, but 
Costanso tells of one occasion when they joined 
in the festivities: "They honored us with a 
dance, and it was the first place where we saw the 
women dance. Two of these excelled the others; 
they had a bunch of flowers in their hands, and 
accompanied the dance with various graceful 
gestures and movements, without getting out of 
time in their songs. We called the place the 
Rancheria del Baile de las Indias. " 

This place was about five leagues from Point 
Pedernales. 

CARPINTERIA 

Carpinteria is the name of a little cluster of 
houses near the shore about ten miles east of 
Santa Barbara. It lies in a region once densely 
populated with natives of very "gentle and mild 

lOO 



THEIR MEANING AND R O M A N C E 




disposition." The story of its naming is told by 
Father Crespi, of the Portola party: ''Not very 
far from the town we saw some springs of 
asphaltum. These Indians have many canoes, 
and at that time were constructing one, for which 
reason the soldiers named this town Carpinteria 
(carpenter shop), but I baptized it with the name 
of Sa)i Roqiie." 

MONTECITO 

Monteciio (little hill or little wood), is the name 
of a small village about six miles from Santa 
Barbara. The country in this vicinity, through 
its extraordinary charm of climate and scenery, 
has attracted a large number of very rich people, 
whose splendid country houses, in bizarre con- 
trast, now occupy the self-same s})ots where the 
Indians once raised their flimsv huts of straw. 



SANTA VMVV. ISLAND 

While traversing the shore of Saiila Barbara 
channel, the Portola expedition ol' i yOy took lime 
to make tri])s lo the islands and bestow names 

lOI 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




upon them. The island of Santa Cruz received 
its name from a rather trivial circumstance. By 
some chance the padres lost there a staff which 
bore a cross on the end. They gave it up as 
irretrievably lost, so were the more pleased when 
the Indians appeared the following day to restore 
it. From this they gave the island the name of 
Santa Cruz (Holy Cross). 

RANCHERIA DE LA ESP ADA 

Of the Rancheria de la Espada (village of the 
sword), Captain Fages, of the Portola expedition 
says: "Two and a half leagues northwest of Point 
Conception, another glen is found with a popula- 
tion of twenty hearths, with 250 Indians, more or 
less. The natives of the settlement here are 
extremely poor and starved, so that they can 
scarcely live, being without canoes, in rugged 
land, and short of firewood. While here a soldier 
lost his sword, leaving it carelessly fastened, so 
that they took it from his belt. But the Indians 
who saw this theft themselves ran in pursuit of 
the thief, and deprived him of the article in order 
that its owner might recover it." From this the 

s 

102 



THEIR MEANING AND ROMANCE 




place received the name of the Rancher la dc la 
Espada, and the little story is still commemor- 
ated in the name of Espada Landing. 



MATILIJA 

Matillja Creek and Matilija Springs, in Ventura 
County, derive their name from an Indian \illage, 
one of those mentioned in the mission archives. 
The name is best known as applied to the Matilija 
poppy, that flower of the gods which has its nati\T 
habitat along the banks of the creek. This giant 
poppy, by reason of its extraordinary size and 
dehcate beauty, has a just claim to be called 
"queen of all California's wild flowers," as the 
Secjuoia is king of her trees. It is a perennial 
plant, of shrubby character, and grows wild in 
the southern ])art of the state, from ihc Santa 
Maria Rixcr southward, extending into Lower 
California, where it sj)reads oxer large areas, it 
flourishes in particular luxuriance in the .Matilija 
canyon, but the jxipular idea thai llial >\)n[ was 
its only habitat is erroneous. 1 iu' shrub reaches 
a height of eight or ten feel, has gray-green foliage, 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




and bears splendid, six-petaled white flowers, 
often six or seven inches in diameter, "of a crepe- 
like texture, pure glistening white, with bright 
yellow centers." "It not only grows in fertile 
valleys, but seeks the seclusion of remote canyons, 
and nothing more magnificent could be imagined 
than a steep canyon-side covered with the great 
bushy plants, thickly covered with the enormous 
white flowers." — (Miss Parsons, quoted by J. 
Burt Davy, in Baileys Cyclopedia of American 
Horticulture.) 

POINT PEDERNALES 

• 
Captain Fages, of the Portola party, says of 
this place: "Going two leagues through high 
land, and With a good outlook over the sea-coast, 
a flowing stream appears, with very good water, 
and near it a poor settlement of only ten houses, 
probably numbering about sixty inhabitants, 
crowded together. We stopped at the place near 
where a strip or point of land extends to the sea. 
There we gathered a multitude of flints, good for 
fire-arms, and so this place is called Los Pedernales 
(the flints)." 

104 



THEIR MEANING AND ROMANCE 




Point Pedernales still remains as the name of 
"that point of land extending into the sea," a few 
miles north of Point Conception. 

CAMULOS 

Cam u I OS, also spelled Kamulas, was the name 
of an Indian \illage near San Buenaventura. 
This village is among those mentioned in the 
mission archives, and is noted as the home of 
Ramona, the heroine of Mrs. Helen Hunt Jack- 
son's romance. The meaning of the word Camillas, 
according to Professor A.L. Kroeber,is "my fruit." 

SUPPLEMENU ARY LIST 

Los Alamos (the cottonwoods), is in Santa 
Barbara County, northwest of Santa Barbara. 
The alamo is a species of p()i)lar tree indigenous 
to California uiid widcl}' spread throughout the 
state. 

Ari^iicllo Point is on the coast of Santa Barbara 
Count}-, just south of I'oint I'cdcriiales. Argiiello 
is a surname, that of a i)ioiiceT family, ol which 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




Jose Dario Argiiello was the founder. "For 
many years Don Jose was the most prominent, 
influential and respected man in Cahfornia." — 
(Bancroft.) 

Argiiello Point was named by Vancouver in 
honor of the Spanish governor. — (Mr. Charles 
B. Turrill.) 

El Cojo (the lame one). This place, near Point 
Conception, was so-named by the Spaniards 
because they saw here an Indian chief who was 
lame. 

Point Concepcion, the point at the southwestern 
extremity of Santa Barbara County, was so-named 
in reference to the "immaculate conception" of 
the Virgin. 

Los Dos Pueblos (the two towns) , is on the coast 
a few miles west of Santa Barbara. On October 
1 6, 1542, the Cabrillo expedition anchored oppo- 
site two Indian vi'lages here, and named the place 
Los Dos Pueblos. "Although these villages were 
separated only by a small stream, their inhabit- 
ants were of a different race and language, those 
on one side being short, thick and swarthy, and 
on the other tall, slender and not so dark. The 
depth of the kitchen refuse at the site of these 

106 



1 H E I R M E A N I N G AND R O M A N C E 




two towns indicates that these Indians had Uved 
here since the Christian era and were contem- 
porary with the mound builders." — {History of 
Santa Barbara County.) 

Gaviota (sea-gull), is on the shore a few miles 
west of Santa Barbara. Father Crespi mentions 
having given this name to another place further 
down the coast: "We reached an estuary, on 
whose border stood a rancheria of fifty-two huts, 
with three hundred people. I'Or having killed a 
sea-gull here, the soldiers called this j)lace La Gav- 
iota, but 1 named it San Luis Key dc Francia.^' 
As San Luis Rcy it has remained upon the maj:). 

Gaviota Pass is an im})ortant gap in the Santa 
Inez range. 

Every one who has crossed the ba\' of San 
Francisco in the winter season must have rejoiced 
in the sight of the flying convoy of those beautiful 
creatures, the j^aviotas, by which each ferry-boat 
is accompanied. 

Goleta (schooner), is Ihc nanic of a \illagc in 
Santa Barbara ("ouiitx, seven miles west of Santa 
Barbara. 

Guadalupe (a Christian name). The town is 
near the northern border of Santa Barbara Count}-. 

107 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




Lompoc is one of the names of Indian villages 
taken from the mission archives. It is situated 
fifty miles northwest of Santa Barbara, on the 
Southern Pacific Railroad. 

Nojoqui, in Santa Barbara County, was pre- 
sumably the name of an Indian village. 

Los Olivos (the olives), is in Santa Barbara 
County, on the Coast Line Railroad. 

La Piedra Pintada (the painted rock), is about 
eighty miles from Santa Barbara. Here there was 
a stone wigwam, forty or fifty yards in diameter, 
whose walls were covered with paintings in the 
form of halos and circles, with radiations from the 
center. — {History of Santa Barbara County.) 

Punta Gorda (fat or broad point), is one of the 
points of land running into the sea from the Santa 
Barbara Coast. Its name indicates its shape. 

Punta de las Ritas (point of the rites), perhaps 
refers to some religious ceremony held upon that 
spot. 

Rincon Point (corner point), is one of the many 
points of land running out from the Santa Barbara 
Coast. 

Point Sal, was named for Hermenegi do Sal, 
who was one of the prominent figures in the early 

io8 



THEIR MEANING AND ROMANCE 




history of Southern CaHfornia. He was a Spanish 
soldier who came to this coast in 1776 with Anza 
and his party of colonists. Sal filled many im- 
portant military offices. This point was named by 
Vancouver for this official, who was at one time 
commandante of the presidio of San Francisco, 
in return for signal courtesies shown by him in 
1792, when he permitted Vancouver to go to the 
mission of Santa Clara, this being the first occasion 
when this part of Spanish America was penetrated 
by an}' foreigner. 

Sal Si Piiedes (get out if nou can). Several 
places in the state, one in the Santa Cruz Moun- 
tains, another in Santa Barbara County, received 
this name, so eloquent of the rough road that the 
Spaniards sometimes had to travel. Captain 
Arguello, in his diar\- of the expedition of 1821, 
refers to his struggles in getting out of a certain 
canyon in these terms: "On account of its dilTi- 
cult situation it was named Montana dc Maltrato 
y Arroyo dc Sal si Pucdcs'' (mountain of ill-treat- 
ment and creek of get out if you lan). 

Sanld Inez (St. Agnes), is the name of a ri\er 
in Santa Barbara Count \ which rises in the coast 
range and falls into thr Pacilic ()(ean about ten 

109 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




miles north of Cape Conception. The town of 
the same name is situated on this river. The 
Mission Santa Inez was founded September 17, 
1804, by Padres Tapis, Calzada and Gutierrez. 
It flourished for a time, but was greatly damaged 
by an earthquake in 181 2, was rebuilt and damaged 
again by the Indians in the revolt of 1824, and its 
partially ruined buildings still remain to tell of a 
vanished past. Its patroness, St. Agnes, was one 
of the four great virgin martyrs of the Latin 
Church. She was a Roman maiden of great 
beauty, and was condemned to death by the sword, 
by the Prefect Sempronius, in revenge for her 
refusal to marry his son, on the ground that she 
was "already afhanced to a husband whom she 
loved, meaning Jesus." Before causing her death 
Sempronius attempted to procure her dishonor 
by having her conveyed to a house of infamy, 
"but when she prayed to Christ that she might 
not be dishonored, she saw before her a shining 
white garment which she put on with joy, and the 
room was filled with great light." 

Santa Maria (St. Mary), so-named in honor of 
the mother of Christ, is in Santa Barbara County, 
near the Santa Maria River. 



no 



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THEIR M E A N I N G AND ROM A N C E 




Santa Paula (St, Paula), is in Ventura County, 
thirty-five miles west of San Fernando, on the 
Southern Pacific Railroad. "St. Paula was a 
noble Roman matron, a pupil and disciple of St. 
Jerome. Though descended from the Scipios and 
the Gracchi, and accustomed to luxurious self- 
indulgence, she preferred to follow her saintly 
teacher to Bethlehem and devote herself to a relig- 
ious life. She built a monastery, a hospital, and 
three nunneries at Bethlehem." — (Stories of the 
Saints.) 

Serena (serene), a place on the shore near Santa 
Barbara, whose placid charm well befits its name. 

Ventura (fortune), a town near the southeastern 
end of the Santa Barbara channel. 



"3 



THE SAN LUIS OBISPO 
GROUP 




VI 



THE SAN LUIS OBISPO GROUP 



San Luis Obispo (St. Louis the Bishop). Trav- 
elers on the Coast Line, whose attention is at- 
tracted to the smiling vale where the pretty town 
of San Luis Obispo nestles in the hollow of the 
hills, about eight miles from the ocean and ninety 
to the northwest of Santa Barbara, will doubtless 
be pleased to learn something of its history. So 
peaceful is the aspect of the valley at this time 
that it comes rather as a surj^rise to read, in the 
diaries of the Portola expedition of 1769, stories 
of fierce fights with bears, which then haunted 
this place in such numbers that the explorers gave 
it the name of La Canada de los Osos (the glen of 
the bears). From Father Crespi we get some 
account of the luimhcrs and ferocity of these 
animals: "In this glen we saw troops of bears, 
which ha\c the ground ploughed u]-) anfl full of 
scratches which lluy makf in search ol ihr roots 
that form tlu'ir food. Ui)on these roots, of whii h 
there are many of a good savor and taste, the 



1 1 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




Gentiles (unbaptized Indians), also live. The 
soldiers, who went out to hunt, succeeded in kill- 
ing one bear with gun-shots, and experienced the 
ferocity of these animals. Upon feeling them- 
selves wounded they attack the hunter at full 
speed, and he can only escape by using the greatest 
dexterity. They do not yield except when the 
shot succeeds in reaching the head or heart. The 
one that the soldiers killed received nine balls 
before falling, and did not fall until one struck 
him in the head." 

Captain Fages, of the same expedition, gives a 
similar account " .... a spacious glen 
with a rivulet of very good water .... 
In said glen they saw whole herds of bears, which 
have ploughed up all the ground, where they dug 
to seek their livelihood from the roots that it 
produces. They are ferocious brutes, and of very 
difficult hunting, throwing themselves with in- 
credible speed and anger upon the hunter, who 
only escapes by means of a swift horse. They do 
not yield to the shot unless it be in the head or 
heart." 

Miguel Costanso, of the same party, says: 
"In the afternoon, as they had seen many tracks 

ii8 



THEIR MEANING AND ROMANCE 




of bears, six soldiers went out hunting on horse- 
back, and succeeded in shooting one bear. It 
was an enormous animal; it measured fourteen 
palms from the sole of the feet to the top of its 
head; its feet were more than a foot long; and it 
must have weighed over 375 pounds. We ate 
the flesh and found it savory and good." — 
Translation edited by Frederick J. Teggart.) 

At a later date, when the mission at IMonterey 
was in serious danger of a famine, Captain Pages 
called to mind the experiences in the Canada de 
los Osos, and headed a hunting expedition to that 
region for the purpose of securing a supply of 
bear meat. The party succeeded in killing a 
considerable number of the animals, and were 
thus able to relieve the scarcity at Monterey. 
The name of Los Osos (the bears), is still applied 
to a valle>- in the vicinity of San Luis Obispo. 

Finding ihis si)()t highl\- suitable for a settle- 
ment, in the matters of climate, arable land and 
water, points always carefull}' considered b\- the 
padres, liu' mission of San Luis Obispo dc Tolosa 
(St. Louis the Lisho]) of Toulouse), was t'slab- 
lished by Padre Serra, Sci)tenil)er t, 1772, in /.(/ 
Canada dc los Osos. In the usual course ol e\enLs, 



121 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




the name of the mission was extended to the town 
and finally to the county. 

The story of the patron saint of this mission 
runs as follows: "St. Louis of Toulouse was the 
nephew of St. Louis King of France, and son of 
the King of Naples and Sicily. Like his kingly 
uncle-saint, he was piously reared by his mother. 
When he was but fourteen, his father, being made 
prisoner by the King of Aragon, gave Louis and 
his brother as hostages. He became wearied of 
everything but religion, and in 1294, when he 
was made free, he gave all his royal rights to his 
brother Robert, and became a monk of the Order 
of St. Francis. He was then twenty-two years 
old. Soon he was made Bishop of Toulouse; 
and he set out, bare-footed and clothed as a friar, 
to take his new office. He went into Provence 
on a charitable mission, and died at the castle 
of Brignolles, where he was born. He was first 
buried at Marseilles, then removed to Valencia, 
where he was enshrined. His pictures represent 
him as young, beardless, and of gentle face. 
He has the fleur-de-lys embroidered on his 
cope, or on some part of his dress. The crown 
which he gave away lies at his feet, while he 

122 



THEIR MEANING AND ROMANCE 




wears the mitre of a bishop." — (Stories of the 
Saints.) 

SAN MIGUEL 

San Miguel (St. Michael), situated about forty- 
seven miles northeast of San Luis Obispo, is the 
site of Mission San Miguel, founded July 25, 
1797, by Padres Lasuen and Sitjar.\ It is said that 
"the lands of this mission extended from the 
Tulares on the east to the sea on the west, and 
from the north boundary of the San Luis Obispo 
district to the south line of San Antonio. It had 
its work-shops and little factories where the good 
padres taught the Indians the useful arts. Its 
property was confiscated in 1836, and sold at 
auction in 1846." 

St. Michael, in whose honor this mission was 
named, '^is regarded as the first and mightiest 
of all created spirits. He it was whom (jod com- 
missioned to expel Satan and the rebelHous angels 
from Heaven. His office now is believed to he 
two-fold, including that of patron saint of the 
Church on earth, and Lord of the souls of the 
dead; presenting the good to (iod and sending 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




the evil and wicked away to torment." In pic- 
tures St. Michael is always represented as young 
and beautiful, sometimes as the Lord of souls in 
pictures of death, sometimes in armor as the 
conqueror of Satan. 



PASO DE ROBLES 

Paso de Robles (pass of the oaks), known far 
and wide for its hot sulphur springs, where the 
sick of many lands find surcease from their pain, 
is situated twenty-nine miles north of San Luis 
Obispo. It was named for the reason indicated 
by Father Crespi, who says: " .... in 
a valley in the hollow of the Santa Lucia Moun- 
tains, called Los Robles, for the great abundance 
of these trees with which it is populated." 

It should be explained that the roble is not the 
evergreen, or live-oak, which is called encino. At 
Leland Stanford Jr. University the names of these 
two species of oaks have been rathei poetically 
used for the students' dormitories, — Encina Hall 
for the men, and Roble Hall for the women. 



124 



THEIR MEANING AND ROMANCE 




SUPPLEMENTARY LIST 

Arroyo Grande (big creek), a village in San Luis 
Obispo County, iifteen miles southeast of San 
Luis Obispo. 

Atascadero (boggy ground, quagmire). 

Avenal (a field sowti with oats). 

BiicJwn (big craw), is the name of the point 
on the coast directly opposite the town of San 
Luis Obispo, and has a significance not altogether 
agreeable. The Spanish soldiers called the place 
Buchon from an Indian in the neighborhood who 
was the unfortunate possessor of an enormous 
goitre, which was so large thai it liung down upon 
his breast. 

Canada del Osito (glen of the little bear), so- 
called because some Indians from the mountains 
offered the Sj^aniards a present of a bear cub. 

Cayucos is the name of ;i \illage in San Luis 
Obispo (\)unty, eighteen miles northwest of San 
Luis ()bis])(). 'i'lu' word myiico is i)robably Indian 
in origin, and is used in different senses in different 
parts of America, in Venezuela it means a small 
lishing boat, Ijuilt In hold mily oiu' ])erson, while 

127 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




in Cuba it means "head." As this place is on the 
shore, it was probably named in reference to 
Indian fishing skiffs. 

Cholame (the name of an Indian tribe). 

Cuesta (hill, mount, ridge, also family name). 

Esteros (estuaries, creeks into which the tide 
flows at flood time). 

Ester Point (estuary point). 

Estrella (star). 

Lopez (a surname). 

Morro (headland, bluff). Morro is the name of 
a hamlet in San Luis Obispo County, on the 
shore, twelve miles northwest of San Luis Obispo, 

Nacimiento (birth). This word is generally 
used by the Spaniards in the sense of the birth 
of Christ. 

Los Osos (the bears). 

Piedras Blancas (white stones, or rocks), the 
name of a point on the coast. 

Pismo, an Indian word said to mean "place of 
fish", but this definition is not based upon 
scientific authority, 

Pozo (well, or pool), is the name of a village in 
San Luis Obispo County. 

San Simeon (St. Simeon), is the name of a 

128 



THEIR MEANING AND ROMANCE 




village in San Luis Obispo County, on the shore 
twenty miles south of Jolon. It has a good harbor. 
St. Simeon, the patron saint of this place, was one 
of the apostles, and is called "the Prophet" 
because he was the translator of the book of 
Isaiah in which is made the prophecy "Behold a 
virgin shall conceive." 

St. Simeon Stylites, who set the fashion of the 
pillar-hermits, spent almost half of the fifth 
century on the summit of a column sixty feet in 
height, drawing up his meager food and water 
in a pail which he lowered for the purpose. This 
peculiar and apparently senseless mode of life 
has been partially justified by the reflection that 
the notoriety he thus gained brought curious 
crowds of pagans about his pillar, to whom he 
was enabled to preach the Christian doctrine. 
It is said that he converted many thousands of tin- 
nomadic Saracen tribes to Christianity. 

Santa Lucia (St. Lucy), is the name of a section 
of the coast range of mountains in the central 
part of the state. St. Lucy is thr protectress 
against all diseases of the eye, and is tlir patroness 
of the laboring poor. 

Santa Margarita (St. Margaret), is the nanu' of 

129 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




a town in San Luis Obispo County, on the Southern 
Pacific Railroad. St. Margaret is the patroness 
who presides over births. 



130 



IN THE 
^^ JNEIGHBORHOOD OF 
^^ MONTEREY 



■~-~^f^^ 



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VTI 
T\ THE NEIGHBORHOOD OE ^[ONTEREY 

Monterey. "Llegamos a este puerto dc Monterey 
a 1 6 de Diciemhre, 1602 a las siete de la noche^' 
(We arrived at this port of Monterey on the six- 
teenth of December, 1602, at seven o'clock in the 
evening). — (From the diar>- of Sebastian Viz- 
caino.) 

When Vizcaino sailed into the beautiful blue 
bay of Monterey, and looked about him at tlie 
ring of hills, dark with the dense growth of i)ines 
covering them from summit to base, he became 
at once enamored with the place, and wrote 
enthusiastically to his S])anish Majesty concern- 
ing it. In a letter of the date of May 23, 1603, 
he says: ''Among the ports of most importance 
which I found was one in latitude 37, which I 
named Monterrey. As I wrote to \<)ur majesty 
from there on the twenty-eighth of Septemhtr 
of the said year, it is all that can be desired for 
the conwnience and sea-poil ol" the shi])S ot the 
rhilip])ine line, whence they come to exi)lore this 

U3 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




coast. The port is sheltered from all winds, and 
has on the shore many pines to supply the ships 
with masts of any size that they may wish, and 
also live-oaks, oaks, rosemary, rock-roses, roses 
of Alexandria, good hunting of rabbits, hares, 
partridges and flying birds of different sorts. 
The land is of mild temperature, and of good 
waters, and very fertile, judging by the luxuriant 
growth of the trees and plants, for I saw some 
fruits from them, particularly of chestnuts and 
acorns, larger than those of Spain; and it is well- 
populated with people, whose disposition I saw 
to be soft, gentle, docile, and very fit to be reduced 
to the Holy Church. Their food is of many and 
various seeds that they have and also wild game, 
such as deer, some of which are larger than cows, 
also bears, and cattle and buffalo, and many 
others. The Indians are of good body, white of 
countenance, and the women somewhat smaller, 
and well-favored. Their dress is of the people 
of the beach, of the skins of seals, of which there 
are an abundance, which they tan and prepare 
better than in Spain." 

At first thought it would seem that Vizcaino 
must have been in error about finding buffalo 

134 



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X 



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3 



O 
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THEIR MEANING AND ROMANCE 




at Monterey, but inxestigation shows that in 
1530 those animals "ranged through what is now 
New Mexico, Utah, Oregon, Washington, and 
British Columbia." — (Handbook of American 
Indians.) Oregon is not so far away but that 
scattering herds may have wandered as far as 
Monterey, and that Vizcaino actually saw them 
there. It has been suggested, also, that he may 
have mistaken the tracks of the great elk for 
those of buffalo. In calHng the Indians "white," 
he was, no doubt, speaking comparatively. Ac- 
cording to the diaries of the Spaniards, the natives 
of different sections varied considerably in com- 
plexion. What he meant by "chestnuts" can 
only be conjectured, since that tree is not 
indigenous to Monterey, but it is ]")Ossible that 
the nut of the wild buck-eye, which resembles the 
chestnut in size and shape, may have been mis- 
taken for it by the Spaniards. 

Vizcaino named the port in honor of (laspar de 
Ziiniga, Count of Monterey, at that time Viceroy 
of Mexico. The word itself, whose literal meaning 
is "the King's wood," or "the King's mountain," 
since montc may be used in either sense, was for- 
merly si)elled Monterrey, Montere\-, or Monte Rey. 

137 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




When Father Serra arrived at Monterey in 
1770, he decided to make it the headquarters of 
all the California missions, and it was there that 
the rest of his life was spent, excepting the periods 
of absence required in visiting the other missions, 
and in one visit to Mexico. Very shortly after 
the landing of the party in a little cove at the 
edge of the present town, it was decided that not 
enough arable land existed at that point for the 
support of the mission, so the religious estab- 
lishment was removed to Carmel Bay, while the 
Presidio and its chapel remained at Monterey. 

The Mission San Carlos Borromeo (St. Charles 
Borromeo), was founded June 3, 1770, near the 
shore of the charming little bay of Carmel, about 
seven miles from Monterey. This church, now 
in an excellent state of repair, through the efforts 
of the late Father Angelo Casanova, is distin- 
guished above all the others, "for under its altar 
lies buried all that is mortal of the remains of its 
venerable founder, Junipero Serra." 

Its patron saint, St. Charles Borromeo, belonged 
to a noble family of Lombardy. Being a second 
son, he was dedicated to the church at a very 
early age, and soon rose to distinction, receiving 

138 



THEIR MEANING AND ROMANCE 




the cardinal's hat at twenty-three. The death 
of his elder brother placed the family fortune 
at his disposal, but he gave it all in charity, 
reserving for himself merely enough for bread and 
water, and straw on which to sleep. In public 
he gave feasts, but never partook of them himself. 
At the time of the plague in Milan, when all 
others fled from the city, he remained to attend 
the sick. His remains repose in a rich shrine in 
that city. 

SAxN ANTONIO 

At San Antonio (St. Anthonyj, in Monterey 
County, between Kings City and Jolon, Father 
Serra established the mission of San Antonio de 
Padua, July 14, 1771. In connection with its 
establishment, Palou tells a story that brings out 
one of the most marked characteristics of the 
venerable founder, — his ardent enthusiasm: 
"They [the founding j)art\'] de])arted for the 
Santa Lucia Mountains, taking j)riests for the 
new mission, the rcfjuired escort of soldiers, and 
all necessaries. 'j'\vcnt\ -five leagues south-south- 
east from Monterey, they arrixed at tin- hollow 

141 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




of this ridge, where they found a great Canada, 
which they called Robles (oaks), from the great 
number of those trees. Finding a level plain in 
the same Canada, bordering on a river which they 
called San Antonio, and which they thought to 
be a good site, for the good flow of water, even in 
the dry month of July, which could be conducted 
to the lands without difficulty, all agreed upon 
the choice of this spot. Serra ordered the mules 
to be unloaded, and the bells to be hung up on the 
branch of a tree. As soon as they were hung up, 
he began to ring them, crying out, 'Ho! Gentiles, 
come, come to the Holy Church, come to receive 
the faith of Jesus Christ!'" One of the other 
priests remonstrated with him, saying it was idle 
to ring the bells in the absence of the gentiles, 
but Serra said, "Let me ring, let me relieve my 
heart, so that all the wild people in this mountain 
range may hear!" It happened that some natives 
were attracted by the ringing of the bells, and 
came to witness the first mass, which Serra re- 
garded as a good augury. 

St. Anthony of Padua, the patron of this place, 
was a Portuguese by birth, who entered the Fran- 
ciscan Order. He went as a missionary to the 

142 



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x 






O 




THEIR MEANING AND ROMANCE 




Moors, but was compelled by illness to return to 
Europe, where he had great success in Italy and 
France as a preacher. Among many miracles 
accredited to him is the one thus related: "WTien 
preaching at the funeral of a very rich man, St. 
Anthony denounced his love of money, and 
exclaimed, 'His heart is buried in his treasure 
chest; go seek it there and you will find it.' The 
friends of the man broke open the chest, and to 
their surprise, found the heart; they then 
examined his body and found that his heart was 
indeed wanting." — (Stories of the Saints.) 



POINT CYPRESS 

La Piinta de Jos Ciprcses (Point C\press), is 
the home of those wonderful trees, twisted and 
gnarled into a thousand fantastic shapes by their 
age-long struggle against the <Kean winds, which 
furnish yet another jiroof of the part played 1)\- 
California in the preservation of tlie rare and the 
unique, for this species of coniferous tree is said 
to be confined to that region, not occurring in 
any other part of tlie world. 

145 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




The following interesting paragraph on these 
trees is quoted from The Trees of Calif or nia, by 
Willis Linn Jepsen, Asst. Professor of Dendrology 
in the University of California: "Cupressus Macro- 
carpa is limited to two localities on the ocean shore 
at the mouth of the Carmel river near Monterey. 
The Cypress Point grove extends along the cliffs 
and low blufYs from Pescadero Point to Cypress 
Point, a distance of two miles, reaching inland 
about one-eighth of a mile. The Point Lobos 
grove is much smaller. The trees are scattered 
over the summits of two headlands, and cling to 
the edges of the cliffs, where on account of the 
erosive action of the ocean, they are occasionally 
under-mined and fall into the sea. Monterey 
Cypress is most interesting for its remarkably 
restricted natural range and the exceedingly 
picturesque outlines characteristic of the trees 
growing on the ocean shore. As a result of their 
struggle with violent storms from the Pacific 
Ocean which break on the unprotected cliffs and 
headlands of Cypress Point and Point Lobos, 
they present a variety and singularity of form 
which is obviously connected with their exposed 
habitat, and lends a never-failing interest to these 

146 



THEIR MEANING AND ROMANCE 




two narrow localities. Of the highly picturesque 
trees, the most common t^pe is that with long 
irregular arms. Such trees recall most strikingly 
the classical pictures of the Cedars of Lebanon. 
Monterey Cypress is of course a genuine cypress 
and Lebanon Cedar a genuine cedar; the two do 
not even belong to the same family of conifers. 
Vet the popular story that the two are the same 
makes so strong an appeal to the imagination of 
the tourist at Monterey that the guides and pro- 
moters in the region will doubtless never cease to 
disseminate it. As a consequence the error goes 
into the daily press and the magazines, and is 
evidently destined to flourish in perennial green- 
ness under the guise of fact. The wide dissemina- 
tion of this fiction is all the more remarkable in 
that in the case of all other unique features of the 
state, such as the Sequoias and the Yosemite, our 
Californians have evinced a remarkable pride in 
their possession, without thought of inventing a 
(iu])Hcation of th(>m elsewhere .... 
The matter of the age of these trees has been much 
exaggerated. It is a tree of rapid growth, and the 
older specimens are ])robably not more than 200 
or ,:^oo years old." 

147 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




The above paragraph, quoted from a writer 
acknowledged to be one of the best authorities 
on the trees of Cahfornia, is given here in full, in 
the hope of correcting these two common errors 
concerning the Monterey Cypress, — the one that 
it is identical with the Cedar of Lebanon, the 
other, an exaggerated notion of the great age of 
some of the trees. As Professor Jepsen justly 
remarks, the truth in this case is a greater matter 
for pride than the fiction. 



POINT PINOS 

La Punta de Pinos (the point of pines), is situ- 
ated a few miles from Monterey, just beyond 
Pacific Grove. It is one of the most picturesque 
points on the coast, and is the location of one of 
the government light-houses. 



SALINAS 

When the Portola expedition of 1769 arrived 
at the Salinas River, they made the first of the 
series of errors which caused them to pass by the 

148 




ON TIIK SHORE XKAR l.\ I'lMA Dl-; l.OS C irKi;SKS. 

"'I'lu' lioniL' of those won(l(.-rliil trees, twisted into a tliousaiul 
fantastic shapes by tlieir age-Ion^; strll^^Kk• 
with the ocean winds." 



THEIR MEANING AND ROMANCE 




bay of Monterey without recognizing it, for they 
mistook this stream for the Carmel. The Salinas 
(salt marshes), so-called for the chain of salt- 
water ponds lying along its course, was known by 
various names before a permanent one became 
attached to it, appearing at different times as 
El Rio Elzeario, Santa Delfina, and El Rio de 
Monterey. 

The town of Salinas is the countv-seat of 
Monterey County and is situated about eighteen 
miles east of Monterey, in the heart of an im- 
portant agricultural, dairying, and sugar-beet 
district. 

SOLEDAD 

Soledad (solitude), in Monterey County, 143 
miles southeast of San Francisco, is dcscri])cd as 
"a very dry plain, witli few trees, swe])l b\' I'lcrce 
winds and dust storms in summer." No wonder 
they called it Soledad, — Lonesometown 1 

Yet those same dry ])lains j)roved to l)c of 
sufficient tVrlilily to warrant the establishment, 
in i7()i, of the mission of Xurslrd Scfiora dr la 
Soledad, freely translated as "Our Ladx of Sor- 

1^1 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




rows," which became the center of a large and 
prosperous Indian community. The buildings of 
the mission have now fallen into almost complete 
decay. 

PAJARO 

Pdjaro (bird), a town in Monterey County, on 
the Pajaro River, which rises on the slope of the 
Coast Range, and flows westerly, falling into 
Monterey Bay, derives its name from a circum- 
stance told in the diary of the faithful Father 
Crespi: "We saw in this place a bird, which the 
Gentiles (unbaptized Indians), had killed and 
stuffed with straw, and which appeared to some 
[of the party] to be a royal eagle ; it was measured 
from tip to tip of the wings, and was found to 
measure eleven palms (nine feet and three inches) , 
for which reason the soldiers called the place 
El Rio del Pdjaro.^'' The scream of the eagle 
may still be heard in the more remote parts of 
the Santa Cruz Mountains, where the great birds 
are occasionally seen circling far over-head, or 
perched in the tops of the tallest trees. 



152 



THEIR MEANING AND ROMANCE 




SANTA CRUZ 

Santa Cruz (holy cross), the well-known sea- 
side resort lying at the northern hook of the great 
curve that forms Monterey Bay, was named by 
the Portola expedition, as thus described by 
Father Crespi: "We camped on the north side 
of the river [San Lorenzo] , and we had a great 
deal of work to cut down trees to open a little 
passage for our beasts .... Not far 
from the river we saw a fertile spot where the grass 
was not burnt, and it was a pleasure to sec the 
pasture and the variety of herbs and rose-bushes 
of Castile." The next day they moved on again, 
and the diary continues: "After proceeding 
about five hundred steps, we passed a large 
stream of running water, which has its source 
among some high hills and passes through some 
great table- lands of good soil, that nia\ casil\- be 
irrigated by the waters of the said creek. This 
creek was named Saula Criiz.'^ 

A mission was established at this i)lace by 
Padres Salazar and Lopez, Sei)tember 25, 1791, 
but the buildings finally fell into a ruinous con- 

153 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNI|A 




dition, and were removed to give place to the 
modern church which now stands upon the 
original site. 

SAN JUAN BAUTISTA 

San Juan Bautista (St. John the Baptist), has 
suffered mutilation by the dropping of its last 
part, and usually appears as San Juan. San Juan 
is a small town in San Benito County, in a fertile 
valley on the San Benito River, forty-four miles 
southeast of San Jose. At this place the mission 
of San Juan Bautista was founded, June 24, 1797. 
Although this mission passed through some 
strenuous experiences, and was twice attacked 
by the Indians, and somewhat damaged by re- 
peated earthquakes in 1800, it is still moderately 
well preserved. 

SUPPLEMENTARY LIST 

Agua Amargosa (bitter water), a place in San 
Benito County now known by its English trans- 
lation, "Bitter Water," and so-called from mineral 
springs. 

154 



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THEIR MEANING AND ROMANCE 




Am Neuvo (new year), is the name of a prom- 
inent cape running out from the shore of Santa 
Cruz County, where one of the coast Hght-houses 
is situated. It received its name from the day of 
its discovery. 

Arroyo Seco (dry creek). The Arroyo Seco, 
rising in the Santa Lucia Range and flowing 
northeasterly into the Salinas River, is probably 
the most remarkable example of terrace formation 
to be found among the streams of the state. 

There are other Arroyo Secos in the state, one 
near Los Angeles which is very striking in its 
color effects. 

Blanco (white), is a town in Monterey County 
which may have received its name from Thomas 
B. Blanco, a pioneer and grantee of land in that 
county. 

Canada Scgiinda (second valley). 

Ccrro del Vcnado (hill of the deer). 

Chualar is a village in Monterey County, in 
the Salinas valley, 128 miles southeast of San 
Francisco, The chiial is a wild i)lant of Cali- 
fornia, — pig- weed or goose-foot, — and chualar 
is a spot abounding in chual ])lants. 

Corral (yard, enclosed place). On October 11, 



0/ 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




1769, the Portola party stopped at a place about 
a league from the Pajaro River, where they con- 
structed a fence between a lake and a low hill, in 
order to keep the animals secure at night without 
the need of many watchmen. Palou, in his 
Life of Sen a, says: "The first expedition called 
this place the Corral, on account of having built 
there, with some sticks nailed together, a pasture 
in the manner of a yard, in order to keep the 
animals safe at night. This was of great assist- 
ance, for there were so many sick that there were 
not enough [people] to guard the animals." In 
different parts of the state there were many 
Corrals and Corralitos (little yards). Sometimes 
the enclosing fence was made of stones, when 
more convenient, and the enclosure was then 
called Corral de Piedra (stone corral) ; sometimes 
a barricade of earth was thrown up, and it was 
then called Corral de Tierra (earth corral). Corral 
de Tierra is the name of a well-known ranch near 
Monterey. In the days of old, many a joyous 
merienda (picnic) and barbecue was held at the 
Corral de Tierra Rancho. Corralitos (little cor- 
rals), is in Santa Cruz County, fourteen miles 
east of Santa Cruz. 

158 



THEIR MEANING AND ROMANCE 




Gabildn, also spelled Gavildn (hawk), is the 
name of the long mountain ridge, a branch of 
the Coast Range, which extends through the 
counties of San Mateo and Santa Cruz. 

Gonzales (a surname). This place is in Monterey 
Count}-, in the Salinas valley, seventeen miles 
southeast of Salinas. 

Gorda (fat, thick). 

Las GriiUas (the cranes). In the diaries of the 
Portola expedition, date of October 7, 1769, we 
read: "We pitched our camp between some low 
hills near a pond, where we saw a great number 
of cranes, the first we had seen on this journey." 
This was about four leagues from the Pajaro 
River. 

Jolon, a word of doubtful origin, which has been 
variousl}' explained. It is thought by some persons 
to be a corruption of Jalon, a proper name, but 
old Spanish residents say it is an Indian word, 
meaning "valley of dead oaks." 

IJanada (a plain, level ground). This ])lace is 
in San Benito County. 

Laurcles (laurels). Los Laurdcs is the name of a 
ranch near Monterey. The wild laurel is a shrub 
common to nian\- j)arts of the state. 

159 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




Lohos (wolves), generally used on this coast in 
the sense of loho marino, (sea- wolf, or seal). There 
is a Punta de Lohos (seal point), near Monterey 
which is noted for the bold grandeur of its ocean 
scenery, as well as for its seals. 

Loma Prieta (dark hill), is the name of a peak 
in the Santa Cruz Mountains. 

Moro Cojo (literally "lame Moor"), is the name 
of a well-known ranch in Monterey County. The 
Spaniards were in the habit of using moro to mean 
anything black, and in this case, according to 
old residents, the ranch was named for a lame 
black horse that ran wild there. 

Natividad (nativity of Christ), is the name of 
a town in Monterey County, about one hun- 
dred miles southeast of San Francisco. 

Paicines is in San Benito County. This is a 
word of doubtful origin, and many theories have 
been advanced to account for it. The most 
probable is that given by an Indian woman, a 
resident of the place, who says it was the 
name of an Indian tribe. The word is also 
sometimes spelled Pajines. See Tres Pinos, 
page 98. 

Panocha is in San Benito County. This is a 

160 



THEIR MEANING AND ROMANCE 




word applied to crude sugar, or syrup, somewhat 
resembling sorghum. Probably modern. 

Paraiso Springs (paradise springs), is a health 
resort in Monterey County. 

Pleito (quarrel, argument, lawsuit). This place 
is in Monterey County. It has not been possible 
to ascertain the application of its name. 

Potrero (pasture). There were many potrcros 
scattered about the state. 

Puentes (bridges). This place, two leagues 
from the San Lorenzo River, was reached by the 
Portola party October i8, 1769, and the reason 
for its naming is explained by Miguel Costanso: 
"These canyons contained running water in very 
deep ditches, over which it was necessary to lay 
bridges of logs, covered with earth and bundles 
of sticks, so that the pack animals could cross. 
The place was called Las Puentes^ 

San Benito (St. Benedict), was named in honor 
of the founder of the great order of Benedictines. 
San Benito Creek was named in 177J by I'alhcr 
Crespi, and the name was eventuallx' ai)i)Iie(i to 
the county. The town ol" San Hcnilo is on the 
Salinas Ri\er, sixt\' miles southeast of Monlcrcy. 
It is said of St. Benedict that he became a hermit 

161 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




at the age of fifteen and fled to the wilderness, 
where he lived on bread and water. While there 
he was tempted by the remembrance of a beau- 
tiful woman he had seen in Rome, and to over- 
come his wish to see her again "he flung himself 
into a thicket of briers and thorns, and rolled 
himself therein until he was torn and bleeding. 
At the monastery of Subiaco they show roses, 
said to have been propagated from these briers." 

San Lucas (St. Luke), is in Monterey County, 
sixty miles southeast of Salinas. St. Luke was 
the disciple of Paul, who speaks of him as "Luke, 
the beloved physician," but tradition reports 
him to have been an artist, and that he always 
carried with him two portraits, one of the Saviour 
and the other of Mary. Doubtless for this reason 
he is regarded as the patron of artists and acade- 
mies of art. 

Sur (south). Point Sur (south point), on the 
coast south of Monterey, is a bold promontory 
where a light-house was placed by the govern- 
ment, in consequence of the frequent occurrence 
of shipwrecks there. The Sur River runs 
through a region remarkable for the wild pic- 
turesqueness of its scenery, and for the strange 

162 



THEIR MEANING AND ROMANCE 




tales told of happenings among its early 
inhabitants. 

Toro (bull), is the name of a ranch near Monte- 
rey, said to have been so-called after a wild bull. 

Tres Pinos (three pines), a place in San Benito 
County, one hundred miles southeast of San Fran- 
cisco. Postmaster Black, of Tres Pinos, gives us 
the following history of the naming of this place : 
*'The name was originally applied to what is now 
known as Paicines, but when the railroad came 
to this place they appropriated the name of 
Tres Pinos, hence it has no significance as applied 
to this town. The name was given the stopping- 
place now known as Paicines because of three 
pines alleged to have grown on the banks of the 
Tres Pinos creek near that place. Paicines, then 
Tres Pinos, was the scene of the \';isrjuc'z raid and 
murders in the t'arly '70's." 

Uvas (grai)es), the name of a town and creek 
in the Santa Cruz Mountains, no doubt so-called 
from the abundance of wild grapes found in that 
locality. 



1O3 



{THE SANTA CLARA 




VIII 



THE SANTA CLARA VALLEY 



Santa Clara. When the Spaniards passed 
through this valley, they were not slow to recog- 
nize in it one of those favored spots on the earth's 
surface where climate and soil unite to produce 
the highest results. So here they founded two 
missions, one at Santa Clara, and one at San Jose. 

Santa Clara (St. Clara), stands in one of the 
most fertile valleys in California, which is equiva- 
lent to saying in the whole world, and is about 
forty-six miles south-southeast of San Francisco. 
The mission was founded by Padres Pena and 
Murguia, January 12, 1777. The buildings now 
standing arc mainly modern, l)ut a small portion 
of the original structure being inc()r])()raled in 
them. The ceiling over the sanctuary is original, 
and a small part of the adobf buildings. 

Clara dc Asis, the sweet saint lor whom this 
mission was named, was the daughli r (»l a noble- 
man. Her bcaut\- and wcallli bronghl lu'r 
many olfcrs of maii'iage, all ol whii h slu' rttused, 

167 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




preferring to devote herself to a religious life. 
She became the founder of the order of Franciscan 
nuns, known as the "Poor Clares," to which many 
noble ladies attached themselves. The rules of 
the order were so strict that St. Clara's health 
finally became undermined, and she died in 
an ecstatic trance, believing herself called to 
Heaven by angelic voices. Her special symbol is 
the lily, peculiarly appropriate for the patroness 
of the ever-blooming Santa Clara Valley. 



SAN JOSE 

San Jose (St. Joseph), enjoys the distinction 
of having been the first white colony planted in 
the state by the Spaniards, although when we 
read the complaints of the padres concerning the 
highly undesirable character of its first settlers, 
recruited mainly from the criminal classes of 
Sonora, the distinction would seem to be of rather 
a doubtful sort. 

Spurred on by the old bogie of their fear of 
foreign invasion, the Spanish government decided 
to estabHsh colonies of white settlers, believing 

1 68 



THEIR MEANING AND ROMANCE 




that their hold upon the country would be ren- 
dered more secure by this means. The pueblo of 
San Jose de (iuadalupe, founded November 29, 
1777, by Lieutenant Jose Moraga, then in com- 
mand at San Francisco, under orders from Gov- 
ernor Neve, was originally located on a site about 
a mile and a c^uarter distant from the present city, 
but was removed in 1797, in consequence of the 
discovery that the low-lying ground of its first 
location was often submerged during the winter 
rains. The people of tlic pueblo were compelled 
to travel a distance of three miles to attend mass 
at the Santa Clara Mission, and in order to make 
this journey more agreeable, Father Maguin de 
Catala laid out the alamcda between the two 
places, planting a fine avenue of willow trees which 
once comforted the wayfarer with their grateful 
shade. The original trees ha\e now practically 
all disaj)pearcd and others have taken their places 
in part, 'i'he old alameda has vanished. 

Not until 1797 was the mission of San jose 
founded, on a s])()t some fourteen miles distant 
from the ])uebl(). The ])a(lres had no keen desire 
to ])laie the missions in close ])ro.\iniity to the 
I)uel)l()S, fearing the e\il intluciuf on tin- Indians 

171 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




of a bad class of white men, besides other inevitable 
complications, such as the mixing up of cattle. 
Father Engelhardt, in his History of the California 
Missions, tells the story of the founding of the 
Mission San Jose thus: ''Here, on Trinity Sun- 
day, June II, 1797, Father Lasuen raised and 
blessed the cross. In a shelter of boughs he cele- 
brated Holy Mass, and thus dedicated the mission 
in honor of the foster-father of Christ, St. Joseph." 

The old church was unfortunately so shattered 
by an earthquake in 1868 that it was torn down 
and replaced by a wooden edifice. 

It should be made clear that two missions were 
established here, Santa Clara and San Jose, and 
that the latter was not at San Jose, as some maps 
represent it, but some fourteen miles distant from 
the town. 

PALO ALTO 

Palo Alto (high stick, or tree), in Santa Clara 
County, sixteen miles northwest of San Jose, once 
a stock farm where blooded horses were raised, 
now best known as the site of the Leland Stanford 
Junior University, is said to have received its 

172 



THEIR MEANING AND ROMANCE 




name from a tall redwood tree on the SanFran- 
cisquito (little St. Francis) creek. This tree 
stands just a few feet from the railroad bridge 
near Palo Alto station, and is said by old residents 
to have originally been in the form of a twin tree, 
one of the twins having been cut down. The 
trees of this species received the name Palo 
Colorado (red stick, or tree), from the Portola 
party, whose attention was attracted by their 
uncommon size and the peculiar reddish color of 
the wood, and the honor of their discovery may 
justly be awarded to (Caspar de Portola, since he 
seems to have been the first white man to make 
report of having seen them. 

This place was named by the Anza expedition 
of 1 775-1 776, and it seems rather strange that no 
mention is made in the diaries of the fact that the 
tree was a twin. Father Pedro Font, who accom- 
panied the expedition, says: "From a slight 
eminence I here observed the lay of the port from 
this point and saw that its extremity lay to the 
east-southeast. I also noticed that a very high 
spruce tree, which is to be seen at a great dis- 
tance, rising uj) like a great tower, from the fJaiio 
de !os Rohles, — it stands on the hanks of the 

173 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




Arroyo de San Francisco, later on I measurecf its 
height — lay to the southeast." Further on in the 
diary he says: "Beside this stream is the redwood 
tree I spoke of yesterday: I measured its height 
with the graphometer which they lent me at the 
mission of San Carlos, and, according to my 
reckoning, found it to be some fifty yards high, 
more or less; the trunk was five yards and a half 
in circumference at the base, and the soldiers said 
that there were still larger ones in the mountains." 
— (Translation edited by Frederick J. Teggart.) 
This description of Father Font's gives rise to a 
strong suspicion that the tree now so highly 
venerated is not the original Palo Alto from which 
the place takes its name. The name was first 
applied to a land grant. 



LA SALUD 

La Salud (health). In the name of this place, 
not far from the San Lorenzo River, reached by 
the Portola party on October 22, there is a refer- 
ence to one of the heaviest of the afflictions from 
which the vSpaniards suffered during their journey 

174 




Till'; I'AI.O COLORADO iRi;i)\\()Ol) TREE). 
"First observed and named by GasjKir dc I'ortold.' 



THEIR MEANING AND ROMANCE 




up the state, — serious sickness and many deaths 
from scurvy. To their great surprise, after a 
wetting received during a heavy storm at this 
place, all the sick began to recover. Costanso, 
in his diary, date of October 22, says: "The day 
dawned overcast and gloomy. The men were 
wet. What excited our wonder was that all the 
sick, for whom we greatly feared that the wetting 
might prove harmful, suddenly found their pains 
very much relieved. This was the reason for 
giving the canyon the name of La Salud.''— 
(Translation edited by P>ederick J. Teggart.) 



LOS GATOS 

Los Gatos (the cats), is the rather unpoetic 
name of a very pretty town in Santa Clara 
County, ten miles southwest of San Jose. From 
its location at the mouth of a canyon in the Santa 
Cruz Mountains, the inference may be drawn 
that it was named in reference to the wild-cats 
which even at this day infest that region. John 
Charles Fremont, in his Memoirs, says: "The 
valley is ()})enly wooded with groves of oak, free 

177 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




from under-brush, and after the spring rains cov- 
ered with grass. On the west it is protected from 
the chilling influence of the northwest winds by 
the Cuesta de los Gatos (wild-cat ridge), which 
separates it from the coast." 

"It seems to have been known as early as 1831 
as La Cuesta de Jos Gatos. That there were troub- 
lous times about there in other matters besides 
wild-cats is evidenced by the story of a lively 
fight that took place in 1831 against a band of 
Indians under a chief named Yoscol. This chief 
was eventually captured by the Santa Clara 
authorities and beheaded, his head being exposed 
in front of the mission as a warning to others." — 
(W. Drummond Norie, of Los Gatos.) 



SUPPLEMENTARY LIST 

Almaden (mine, mineral), a word of Moorish 
origin. New Almaden, in Santa Clara County, 
where there is a quicksilver mine, is named after 
the famous Almaden quicksilver mines of Spain. 

Alviso (a surname). Alviso is in Santa Clara 
County, eight miles northwest of San Jose, and 

178 



THEIR MEANING AND ROMANCE 




received its name from Tgnacio Alviso, a native 
of Sonora, born in 1772, who was a member of 
Anza's party of colonists in 1775-6. He was the 
original Alviso of California, and was the grantee 
of Rincon de los Esteros Rancho. 

Arroyo Hondo (deep creek). 

Coyote, the native wolf of California. Coyote 
is an Aztec word, originally coyotl. The town of 
this name is situated thirteen miles southeast of 
San Jose. 

Las Llagas (the wounds or stigmata of St. 
Francis),— in reference to the legend that St. 
Francis was supposed to have received, after a 
fast of fifty days, the miraculous imprint of the 
wounds of the Sa\ior in his hands, feet and side. 
Las Llagas was the name of a place near Gilroy, 
and was also given b\' the padres to Alameda 
Creek. 

Madrofio, often misspelled madroiic, is the name 
given by the Spaniards to a very beautiful tree 
indigenous to California, which is thus described 
by Fremont in his Memoirs : "Another remarkable 
tree of these woods is called in th(^ language of the 
country Madrofia. It is a hcautiful evergreen, 
with large, thick and glossy digitated leaves; the 

179 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




trunk and branches reddish-colored, and having 
a smooth and singularly naked appearance, as if 
the bark had been stripped off. In its green state 
the wood is brittle, very heavy, hard and close- 
grained; it is said to assume a red color when dry, 
sometimes variegated, and susceptible of a high 
polish. Some measured nearly four feet in 
diameter, and were about sixty feet high." 

Mil pit as, see page 232. 

San Felipe (St. Philip), is the name of a village 
in Santa Clara County. There were four saints 
of this name, perhaps the most distinguished 
being St. Philip Neri, a Florentine, born in 151 5. 
He was the intimate friend of St. Charles Bor- 
romeo, patron of the mission at Monterey, and 
was the founder of the order of the Oratorians, 
"who were bound by no vows, and were not 
secluded from the world, but went about reading 
and praying with the sick and needy, founding 
and visiting hospitals and doing various chari- 
ties." Then there was St. Philip of Bethsaida, 
who, going to Hieropohs, "found the people wor- 
shipping a huge serpent, or dragon, which they 
thought to be a personification of Mars. Then 
Philip took pity on their ignorance. He held up 

180 



THEIR MEANING AND ROMANCE 




the cross and commanded the serpent to dis- 
appear. Immediately it glided from beneath the 
altar, and as it moved it sent forth so dreadful 
an odor that many died, and among them the 
son of the King; but Philip restored him to life. 
Then the priests of the serpent were so wroth 
with the apostle that they crucified him, and when 
he was fastened to the cross they stoned him." 
— (Stories of the Saints.) 

San Martin (St. Martin), is a town in Santa 
Clara County, six miles north of Gilroy. St. 
Martin has many legends connected with his 
history. Before he became a Christian, he was a 
soldier and was noted for his kindness and charity 
to his comrades. "The winter of 332 was so 
severely cold that large numbers perished in the 
streets of Amiens, where the regiment of St. 
Martin was quartered. One day he met at the 
gate a naked man, and taking pity on him, he 
divided his cloak, for it was all he liad, and gave 
half to the beggar. That night in a dream Jesus 
stood before him, and on his shoulders he wore 
the half of the cloak that Martin had given the 
beggar. And he said to the angels who attended 
him, 'Know ye who hath thus arra\e(l me? My 

181 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




servant Martin, though yet unbaptized, hath 
done this.' Then Martin was immediately bap- 
tized." Again it is told of him that being invited 
to sup with the emperor, "the cup was passed to 
Martin, before his Majesty drank, with the ex- 
pectation that he would touch it to his lips, as 
was the custom. But a poor priest stood behind 
Martin, and to the surprise and admiration of 
all, the saint presented the full goblet to him, 
thus signifying that a servant of God deserved 
more honor, however humble his station, than 
any merely earthly potentate; from this legend 
he has been chosen the patron of all innocent 
conviviality." — (Stories of the Saints.) 



182 



AROUND 
.{^{ FRANCISCO BAY 








TX 
AROUND SAN FRANCISCO BAY 

San Francisco. Many persons, misled by an 
incorrect translation of a certain passage in 
Palou's Life of Serra, have ascribed the naming of 
the bay of San Francisco (St. Francis), to the 
Portola expedition of 1769, but, as a matter of 
fact, the outer bay, the great indentation in the 
coast outside of the Golden Gate, between Point 
Reyes and Mussel Point, had received this name 
man\- years before. In remonstrating with the 
Visitador General because no mission had been 
provided for St. Francis in Upper California, 
Serra remarked, "And is there no mission for our 
Father St. JYancis?" Senor Galvez replied, 
"5/ San Francisco quicrc mi si on, que Jiaga sc 
luilla su Puerto y sc Ic pondrd (If St. Francis wants 
a mission, let him cause his port to be found and 
one will be ])laced there for him)." By "liis 
port" (ialvez referred to a port already discovered 
and named, but which had been lost sight of during 
the intcr\-ening years, and which he wished to 

i«5 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




have re-discovered. This is further carried out 
by the succeeding statements of Palou, in which 
he says that after faihng to recognize the port of 
Monterey, "they came to the port of St. Francis, 
our father, and they all knew it immediately by 
the agreement of the descriptions which they 
carried," referring to descriptions obtained from 
the papers of the first discoverers. Father Crespi, 
who accompanied the expedition, says: "All the 
descriptions which we found here we read in the 
log-book of the pilot Cabrera Bueno, in order to 
form a judgment that this is the port of San 
Francisco. To make it all clear, the Sefior Com- 
mandante ordered that during the day Sergeant 
Ortega should go out with a party of soldiers to 
explore." Further on in the same diary we read: 
"From the top of a hill we made out the great 
estuary, or arm of the sea, which probably has a 
width of four or live leagues." This is undoubtedly 
the first occasion when the eye of a white man 
rested upon "the great arm of the sea," that is, 
the inner harbor of San Francisco as we now 
knQw it. 

It must be remembered that until the arrival 
of Portola, the Spaniards only knew this part of 

i86 



THEIR MEANING AND ROMANCE 




the coast from the sea side, having no knowledge 
of that great inland sea known to us as the bay of 
San Francisco. When the party came up by 
land on their futile search for Monterey, they 
reached Fort Point, and there recognized the 
marks of the outer bay as given by early navi- 
gators and called by them San Francisco. Then 
they climbed a hill, and looking to the landward 
saw the ''great arm of the sea," the inner harbor, 
to which the name of San Francisco was finally 
extended. 

Palou ascribed the failure of the party to recog- 
nize the port of Monterey, and the consequent 
continuance of their journey as far as San Fran- 
cisco, to a direct interposition of the divine hand, 
so that Galvez's promise of a mission for St. 
Francis might be carried out. 

The honor of the christening of our world-fam- 
ous bay probably belongs to Sebastian Rodriguez 
Cermenon, a Portuguese navigator, who was 
commissioned in the year 1595 by Philij) II to 
search for safe harbors along the coast for \essels 
in the Philij)i)ine trade. These shi])s usually 
shaped their return course so as lo touch t'lrst at 
about the latitude of Cape Mendocino, making 

189 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




a knowledge of the harbors south of that point 
a matter of great importance, especially in stormy 
weather. Cermefion had the misfortune to lose 
his vessel, the San Agustin, on Point Reyes, and 
was compelled to make his way home, with great 
peril and suffering, in a small boat. In his Der- 
rotero y Relacion (Itinerary and Narrative), 
under date of April 24, 1596, he says: "We 
sighted New Spain at Cape Mendocino on No- 
vember 4, 1595 .... We left the bay 
and port of San Francisco, which is called by 
another name, a large bay, in 382^^ degrees, and 
the islets [Farallones] in the mouth are in 381^^ 
degrees, the distance between the two points of 
the bay being twenty-five leagues." It is clear 
from this description that he referred to that 
great indentation in the coast between Point 
Reyes and one of the points to the south, possibly 
Mussel Point, and that he gave the name of San 
Francisco to it, displacing some other name by 
which it had been previously known. At any 
rate, if this is not the origin, it is likely to remain 
lost in the mists of the Pacific. Bancroft says: 
"There can be little doubt that Cermefion named 
the port of his disaster San Francisco.'''' 

190 



THEIR MEANING AND ROMANCE 




An absurd theory advanced by certain persons 
that the name was derived from that of Sir 
Francis Drake is wholly unworthy of consider- 
ation. The resemblance between the two names 
must be regarded as purely a co-incidence, and 
any connection between "£/ PzVa/a" (the pirate) 
Drake, as the Spaniards usually called him, and 
the name of the gentle St. Francis must be taken 
in the light of a jest. 

Portola, then, although he was indubitably 
the discoverer of the bay as we know it, — the 
inner harbor, — found the name already applied 
to the outer ensenada b\- his predecessor, Cer- 
menon. 

It is held by some persons that Portola cannot 
in all fairness be considered the actual discoverer 
of the bay, since it is most probable that Lieu- 
tenant Ortega or perhaps some meml)er of a hunt- 
ing ])arty which was sent out actually laid physi- 
cal eyes u])()n it first, and it is e\cn thought j)ossi])le 
that Portola never saw it at all, but remained in 
camp all tlic time during thrir stay on its shores. 
Even granting these facts, the question remains 
whether he, as the tomniandcr of the ]>arty mak- 
ing the ex]X'dition which louhrd in tlu' dis- 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




covery, is not still entitled to the fame which has 
generally been granted to him. 

A parallel might be drawn between the case of 
Portola and that of Columbus. When the famous 
expedition of 1492 drew near to the shores of the 
new world, it was not the great admiral, but a 
common sailor, Rodrigo de Triana by name, who 
first raised the thrilling cry of "land! land!"; yet, 
nevertheless, the world justly awards the honor 
and glory of the discovery to Christopher Colum- 
bus, the leader and the soul of the party, whose 
splendid imagination and unconquerable resolu- 
tion m.ade it possible. 

Although the Portola party made a partial 
examination at this time of the shores of what 
they called the "great arm of the sea," and Cap- 
tain Fages returned for further explorations in 
1770, and again in 1772, when he stood on the 
present site of Berkeley and looked out through 
the Golden Gate, the mission was not established 
until 1776. Father Palou was its founder, and 
he states in his Life of Serra that the presidio 
was established with solemn religious services, 
September 17, 1776, on the day of the "impressions 
of the stigmata of St. Francis," but on account of 

192 



THEIR MEANING AND ROMANCE 




a delay in receiving orders, the founding of the 
mission did not take place until October 9. On 
that day a procession was held with the image of 
St. Francis, and mass was celebrated by Father 
Palou himself. 

So they prayed and sang their hymns, in the 
year of '76, while their hearts beat high with the 
zeal of the missionar}% and, happily, no echo of 
the roll of drums and boom of minute guns came 
to them across the untrodden miles of mountain 
and plain, of forest and prairie, that separated 
them from the alien race on the other rim of the 
continent, for whom they were all unconsciously 
preparing the way to the possession of a great 
principality. 

No natives were present at this mass, for the 
reason that in the month of August they had been 
driven on their tule rafts to the islands of the bay 
and the opposite shores, by their enemies, the 
Salsonas, who lived about seven leagues to the 
southeast, and who had set fire to their ranchcrias 
and killed and wounded many of their people, 
the Spaniards not being able to prevent it. 

The first settlement was three-fold, including 
the mission of San Francisco dc Asis, on the 

193 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




Laguna de los Dolores (the lagoon of sorrows), 
the presidio, and the pueblo, separated from one 
another by about a league. The Pueblo was at 
first known as Yerha Buena, in reference to the 
profuse growth of that vine about the locality. 
The change of the name is ascribed by General 
Sherman, in his Memoirs, to jealousy of the town 
of Benicia, which was at first called Francisca, 
in honor of General Vallejo's wife, and was 
thought to bear too marked a resemblance to the 
name of the great patron, San Francisco. Gen- 
eral Vallejo himself states that the change was 
made as a matter of convenience, to bring the three 
points of the triangle, church, town, and presidio, 
all under one name. Whatever the reason for 
the change, it is a matter of congratulation that 
it occurred, for the name of the venerable saint 
carries a dignity more commensurate to a noble 
city than the poetic, but less impressive Yerba 
Buena. 

The church of San Francisco de Asis, popularly 
known as Mission Dolores, still stands in a good 
state of preservation, having almost miraculously 
withstood the earthquake and fire of 1906, which 
laid low all its proud modern neighbors. Of its 

194 



THEIR MEANING AND ROMANCE 




patron, the gentle St. Francis, it may be said that 
he was the son of a rich merchant, but that he 
abandoned his riches, adopted vows of poverty, 
and founded the order of Franciscans. "While 
in a trance, or vision, after having fasted for fifty 
days, he received the miraculous imprint of the 
wounds of the Savior on his hands, feet, and side." 
His chief attributes were humility, poverty, and 
love for animals. In pictures he is always repre- 
sented as accompanied bv a pet lamb. 

THE GOLDEN GATE 

Although this name, not being of Spanish or 
Indian origin, is not properly included in these 
pages, its close relationship to San Francisco, 
and its position as the gate-way to the entire 
state, will not permit it to be passed by. 

In view of the comparatively recent origin of 
the name, 1844, and the accessibility of the story, 
it seems strange indeed that aii\- writer should 
have advanced the theory that the Golden Gate 
received its name from Sii- P'rancis Drake, yet 
this wholly unfounded exi)lanati()n has found its 
way into print. In the first place, it has been 

197 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




pretty thoroughly estabHshed by historians that 
Drake never saw the inner harbor, and knew 
nothiT^Tj of the narrow strait leading to it. In the 
repc ;f his voyage, written by one of his corn- 
pan' .s, we read: "At 38 degrees toward the Hne, 
it pj ised God to send us into a faire and good 
harborow, with a good wind to enter the same. 
Our General called this country Nova Albion, and 
that for tw^o causes; — the one in respect of the 
white bankes and cHffes, which ly toward the 
sea; and the other that it might have some 
affinity with our country in name, which sometime 
was so-called." The white chffs under Point 
Reyes answer so well to this description that 
there can be little doubt that Drake's anchorage 
was in the small outer bay under that point, now 
known as Drake's Bay; to say nothing of the fact 
that the account of the voyage has no word con- 
cerning the great land-locked harbor, with a 
narrow strait as its only entrance, a circumstance 
so novel that, as Bancroft justly observes, Drake 
could not have failed to mention it had he known 
aught of it. 

All discussion of the name Golden Gate is, more- 
over, brought to an end by the fact that its real 

198 



THEIR MEANING AND ROMANCE 




author, John Charles Fremont, gi\-es a circum- 
stantial account of it in his Memoirs. After an 
elaborate description of the bay, and its sur- 
roundings, he says: "Between these p ts is 
the strait, — about one mile broad in its na, west 
part, and five miles long from the sea to tl. bay. 
To this gate I gave the name of Chrysopyiae, or 
Golden C.ate; for the same reasons that the harbor 
of Byzantium (Constantinople afterwards), was 
called Chrysoccras, or Golden Horn. The form 
of the harbor and its advantages for commerce, 
and that before it became an entrepot of eastern 
commerce, suggested the name to the Greek 
founders of Byzantium. The form of the entrance 
into the bay of San Francisco, and its advantages 
for commerce, Asiatic indusive, suggested to me 
the name which I gave to this entrance, and 
which I ])ut upon tlie maj) that accom})anied a 
geograi)hi(al memoir a(l(h-essed to the senate of 
the United States, in June, 1S48." 

Here we have, told in the somewhat ])edantic 
language of its aulhor, Hu' Iriu' story (»l ihi' lirst 
appearance of the famous name Golden (idle upon 
the map of the world, and instead of its having 
been "nannd b\- Coloiul I'lciiioiU l)ccause ol the 

199 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




brilliant effect of the setting sun on the chffs and 
hills," as one writer has fondly imagined, or from 
any idea connected with the shining metal, 
which still lay buried deep from the sight of man 
beneath the mountains of the land, it was born 
in a sordid dream of commerce. Yet, for so 
wonderfully apt a name, whatever may have been 
Fremont's motive in selecting it, we owe him a 
debt of gratitude. 

There is some disposition to doubt this expla- 
nation of the name Golden Gate, partly on the 
ground of a distrust of Fremont's trustworthiness, 
and partly because of its far-fetched nature. As 
to the latter objection it should be remembered 
that he was that kind of a man. He was pos- 
sessed of a certain amount of erudition which he 
was fond of showing off, and this labored method 
of seeking for a name in the old Greek was quite 
in keeping with his character. As to his reha- 
bility, although it is quite possible that he colored 
events of a political character to suit his own pur- 
poses, in ordinary matters there seems to be no 
reason to doubt his statements. At all events, 
the name Golden Gate does in fact appear upon 
his map of 1848 as he says. 



200 



THEIR MEANING AND ROMANCE 




According to Dr. Vallejo, the Golden Gate 
was called by the Indians Yulupa, pronounced 
ee-oo-loo-pa, which means "near the sea plunge," 
that is, the plunge of the sun into the sea, and may 
be freely translated as the "Sunset Strait." The 
suffix pa is said by Dr. Vallejo to signify "near." 
— {Memoirs of the Vallejos, edited by James H. 
Wilkins, San Francisco Bulletin, January, 1914.) 



ALCATRAZ 

Alcatraz (pelican), the fortress-like island in the 
bay, just inside the channel, performs the triple 
duty of a fortified military post, prison, and light- 
house. Although but 1650 feet in length, it rises 
to a height of 130 feet above the water, and in the 
shadowy light just after sunset, its high, rocky 
walls, t()])])ed by the buildings of the fortifications 
and ])ris()n, make a silhouette against the sky 
strikingly like a great drcadnaughl, standing 
guard at the harbor's entrance. 

The story of its naming can not be run to earth, 
but it i)robably originated in some circumstance 
connected with the great sea-birds whose ungainly 

203 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




forms may still be seen heavily flapping over the 
bay, or resting on the island. 



ANGEL ISLAND 

Angel Island, the Americanization of La Isla 
de los Angeles (the isle of the angels), belies its 
name, since it has been devoted to the quite 
un-angehc business of quarantine station of San 
Francisco. 

Palou, in speaking of the expedition of 1776, 
says': "They moved to the island which is in 
front of the mouth, which they called Nuestra 
Senora de los Angeles [Our Lady of the Angels], 
on which they found good anchorage, and going 
on land, they found plenty of wood and water." 

A story has found its way into print that the 
island was named "from a miner who once settled 
there," the writer probably mixing it up with the 
name of Angel's Camp, in the Sierras. What a 
desecration for our island, with its romantic 
name of "Our Lady of the Angels," piously 
given to it by the Spaniards in honor of the 
Virgin 1 

204 



THEIR MEANING AND ROMANCE 




YERBA BUENA ISLAND 

Verba Biicna (the good herb), is the name of a 
dainty Httle \ine native to the Cahfornia woods, 
which has an agreeable aromatic odor, and was 
much in use among the Spanish as a medicinal 
herb, and to add a pleasant aroma to their tea. 
Fremont, who, whatever else may be said of him, 
had enough poetry in his soul to feel an expansive 
joy over the plant life of this flowery land, des- 
cribes it as follows: "A vine with a small white 
flower, called here la yerba buena, which, from its 
abundance, gives its name to an island and town 
in the bay, was to-day very frequent on our road, 
sometimes running on the ground, or climbing 
the trees." It is said that the Hupa Indians were 
in the hal)it of weaving the tendrils of this vine 
in their hair for the sake of the perfume. 

Some talk has arisen of late that this poetic 
and historic name is to be taken away from our 
island. Commuters, when you pass it on your 
daily journey, let your minds carry you back to 
the day when the delicate tendrils of the little 
vine wa\ed on the island's steep slopes, and its 

205 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




sweet scent was wafted on the breeze from the 
Golden Gate, and do not, I pray you, consent to 
call it Goat I 

MARE ISLAND 

Mare Island, in San Pablo Bay, separated from 
Vallejo by a strait one-half mile wide, a charming 
spot with an unpoetic name, — is another example 
of writers attempting to make difficulties where 
none exist, and so they would have us believe that 
the name of this isle arose, like Venus, from mare, 
the sea. Apart from the fact that this labored 
method of naming places, by seeking in the Latin, 
was quite foreign to the custom of the Spaniards, 
it happens that the true story in this case is at 
hand, and can scarcely be doubted, since it 
occurred in the immediate family of Dr. Vallejo, 
who tells it thus: ''In early days, the only ferry- 
boat on the waters near Vallejo and Benicia was 
a rude one, made chiefly of oil barrels obtained 
from whaling ships, and propelled by sails. These 
barrels were secured together by beams and 
planking, and it was divided into compartments 
for the accommodation of cattle, to the transpor- 

206 



THEIR MEANING AND ROMANCE 




tation of which it was chiefly devoted. One day, 
while this boat was coming from Martinez to 
Benicia, a sudden squall overtook it, and the craft 
pitched fearfully; the animals, chiefly horses, 
became restive, and some of them broke through 
it. The boat was upset, and the living cargo 
thrown into the bay. Some of the livestock were 
drowned, and some managed to reach either shore 
by swimming. One of the horses, an old white 
mare, owned and much prized by General \'allejo, 
succeeded in effecting a landing on the island, and 
was rescued there a few days after by the General, 
who thereupon called the place La Isla dc la 
Vegua (the island of the mare)." 

An interesting corroboration of this story is 
found on ])age 574 of Fremont's Memoirs, where 
he refers to the island as La Lsia dc la Ycgua. 

A statue of a white horse would perj:)etuate the 
history of this isle in a manner both api:)ro])riate 
and beautiful, in the same way that upon the 
heights of Angel Island a colossal figure of an 
angel, or of the \'irgin, and u])on .Mcatraz a great 
pelican with outspread wings, might he j)laced 
to tell their stories. In the old world, many 
legends of the past are perpetuated in this way, 

207 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




and there is no reason why the equally romantic 
episodes in California's history should not be so 
commemorated, at least in those cases that lend 
themselves readily to purposes of art. 



ALAMEDA 

It has been thought that this name may have 
been derived from the resemblance between 
Alameda creek, at one time thickly shaded along 
its banks by willows and silver-barked sycamores, 
and an alameda (an avenue shaded by trees), 
but since the primary meaning of the word is "a 
place w^here poplar trees grow," from alamo (pop- 
lar or Cottonwood), it requires less stretching of 
the imagination to believe that some such grove 
of cottonwoods near the creek gave it the name. 
Fray Danti, in his diary of the exploration of "the 
Alameda" in 1795, says: "We came to the river 
of the Alameda, which has many large boulders, 
brought down by floods, and is well populated with 
willows, alders, and here and there a laurel. At 
a little distance from where the river runs, the 
tides of the Estuary come." 

208 



3 

a 



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c 






■f. 




THEIR MEANING AND ROMANCE 




'^ From the name of an insignificant little stream, 
Alameda has come to be the designation of one of 
the most important counties in the state, and of 
the flourishing city on the east side of San Fran- 
cisco Bay, nine miles east-southeast of San Fran- 
cisco. This city was once knowTi as Encinal 
(place of oaks), on account of the groves of beau- 
tiful live-oaks there, nearly all of which have, 
most unfortunately, been sacrificed to so-called 
"improvements." Yet, some fine specimens still 
remain in the county, perhaps the best being 
those on the campus of the University of Cali- 
fornia, at Berkeley, Alameda County. The 
encino (live-oak), is thus described by Professor 
Jepsen : 'Tt is a low, broad-headed tree, commonly 
twenty to forty feet, but sometimes seventy feet 
high. The trunk is from one to four feet in diam- 
eter, usually short, and parting into wide-spread 
limbs, which often touch or trail along the ground." 
This tree has little commercial value, but is highly 
regarded for its hardy nature, which permits it 
to flourish in exposed localities along the coast, 
where no other tree thrives, and for the perennial 
green with which it adorns an otherwise often 
bleak landsraju'. (Xotes taken from T//r Trees 



211 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




of California, by Professor Willis Linn Jepsen, 
of the University of California.) 



LOS FARALLONES 

Los Farallones, the three small islands standing 
like watch-dogs at our outer gate, about thirty- 
two miles due west of the entrance to the bay, 
derive their name from farallon, a word meaning 
"a small pointed island in the sea." Although 
this word is commonly employed by the Spanish 
to designate such islands, and its use in this case 
is perfectly obvious, the statement has been made 
that our isles were named for a certain FeroUa, 
one of the early navigators, a theory entirely 
without value. 

The Farallones are frequented by multitudes 
of sea-fowl, which breed there and at one time 
supplied great quantities of eggs for the San 
Francisco market. For some twenty years or 
more the United States Government, owing to 
the contentions of rival egg companies, has pro- 
hibited the gathering and sale of these eggs. 



212 



THEIR MEANING AND ROMANCE 




MOUNT TAMALPAIS 

"To see the sun set over Tamalpais, 
Whose tented peak, suffused with rosy mist, 
Blended the colors of the sea and sky 
And made the mountain one great amethyst 

Hanging against the sunset." 

{Edward Rowland Sill.) 

Tamalpais (bay mountain), is in Marin County, 
five miles southwest of San Rafael; it rises to a 
height of 2606 feet above sea level, and dominates 
San Francisco Bay and the surrounding country, 
offering one of the most magnificent panoramas 
of sea and land to be seen anywhere on the earth's 
surface. Its name is a comj^ound of two Indian 
words, tamal (bay), and pais (mountain). The 
resemblance of the latter word to the Spanish 
pais (country), is thought by ethnologists to be 
purely accidental. 

Dr. X'cillejo has an exjilanation of llic meaning 
of this word which differs somewhat from the one 
given by ethnologists. He says it was originally 
called Tcmel-pa (near the sea), and was corrui)ted 
into its present form by the Spaniards. According 

21.^ 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




to Dr. Vallejo, the suffix pa signifies nearness. 
{Memoirs of the Vallejos, edited by James H. 
Wilkins, San Francisco Bulletin, January, 1914.) 

A very remarkable circumstance in the history 
of this mountain is the fact that it underwent a 
change of position at the time of the great earth- 
quake of 1906, of course in conjunction with the 
entire sheet of the earth's surface upon which it 
stands. On that occasion, the northeast and 
southwest sides of the rift slipped upon each 
other, first carrying the sheet of land upon which 
Tamalpais rests to the north, then the "spring- 
back" carried it back toward the south again. 
According to the report of the State Earthquake 
Investigation Commission, "As a consequence 
of the movement, it is probable that the latitudes 
and longitudes of all points in the Coast Ranges 
have been permanently changed a few feet." 

So the old mountain, sitting in Indian stoicism, 
indifferent to the storms that sometimes lash its 
sturdy sides, the fogs that roll in a white, billowy 
sea around its foot, and earthquakes that shift 
its latitude and longitude some feet, has very 
appropriately received its name from the language 
of the aborigines who once dwelt at its base. 

214 



c 

75 



3 

r— ■ 

cr 

V; 



3 

ft; 



C 
3 



X 




THEIR MEANING AND ROMANCE 




MOUNT DIABLO 

Mount Diablo (devil mountain), is an isolated, 
conical peak of the Coast Range, in Contra Costa 
County, about thirty-eight miles northeast of 
San Francisco. It rises 3849 feet above the level 
of the sea, and is the most conspicuous land-mark 
in the central part of the state. General M. G. 
Vallejo tells the following story to account for 
the name: "In 1806, a military expedition from 
San Francisco marched against a tribe called the 
Bolgones, who were encamped at the foot of the 
mountain. There was a hot fight, which was won 
by the Indians. Near the end of the fight, a 
person, decorated with remarkable plumage, and 
making strange movements, suddenly appeared. 
After the victory, the i)erson, called Puy (evil 
spirit), in the Indian tongue, departed toward 
the mountain. The soldiers heard that this spirit 
often a])peared thus, and they i^amed the moun- 
tain Diablo (devil). These ap])earances con- 
tinued until the tribe was subdued b\' Lieutenant 
Moraga, in the same \ear." 

if this tjc the true stor}' of tile naming of Mount 

217 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




Diablo, and there seems to be no good reason to 
doubt it, it is quite likely that the Pwy, or devil, 
was one of the "medicine men" who played upon 
the superstitions of the Indians by pretending 
to be the "spirit of the mountain." 

It is said by Dr. Vallejo that this mountain 
was regarded by the Indians as the home of the 
Devil, called in their language Pui, and that the 
medicine men claimed to be his agents. {Memoirs 
of the Vallejos, edited by James H. Wilkins, San 
Francisco Bulletin, January, 1914.) 



SAUSALITO 

Sausalito (little willow grove), the diminutive 
of sausal (willow grove), or, as formerly and offi- 
cially written, Saucelito (little willow, from sauce), 
is on the west shore of the bay, in Marin County, 
six miles northwest of San Francisco. This is 
one of the delightful suburban towns around the 
bay, where business men of San Francisco have 
their homes. 



218 



THEIR MEANING AND ROMANCE 




MARIN COUNTY 

Of Marin County, separated from San Fran- 
cisco by the Golden Gate, and noted for the 
beauty of its scenery, we get the story from 
General M. G. Vallejo. It appears that in 1815 
or '16, an exploring party from San Francisco had 
a fight with the Licatiut tribe, so-called from a 
certain root used by them as food, especially in 
the Petaluma Valley. During this light the chief 
was captured and carried to San Francisco, but 
afterwards escaped, and kept up constant hos- 
tilities in Petaluma Valley. He was finally con- 
verted to Christianity, and did good service for 
the whites as ferryman on the bay, and on account 
of his skill in na\igating these waters, they called 
him El Marincro (the sailor); it is thought that 
the name of Marin County is a corruption of 
this word. A7 Marincro died at the mission of 
San Rafael in 1834. 



219 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




TIBURON 

Tiburon (shark), is on the Marin County shore, 
opposite San Francisco. It has been facetiously 
suggested that this name may have been derived 
from "sharks" of the land variety, but it probably 
came from some story connected with those of 
the sea. 



SAN RAFAEL 

Even in this land, so prodigal with its flowers 
from its northern to its southern borders, San 
Rafael, the county-seat of Marin County, fifteen 
miles north of San Francisco, is notable for the 
exceeding beauty of its gardens, where the lily 
and the rose bloom from year's end to year's 
end. 

Its patron, St. Raphael, "is considered the 
guardian angel of humanity. He was the herald 
who bore to the shepherds the 'good tidings of 
great joy which shall be for all people', and is 
especially the protector of the young, the pil- 

220 



THEIR MEANING AND ROMANCE 




grim and the traveler." The "herald of great 
joy" seems peculiarly fitting as the protector of 
a place where nature has done so much for the 
"joy of living." 

The mission of San Rafael Arcdngel (St. Raphael 
the Archangel), founded in 1817, has now dis- 
appeared, not a vestige remaining of it. 

A spur of the Coast Range in Southern Cali- 
fornia bears the name of the San Rafael Mountains. 



BENICIA 

Benicia (a surname), is the name of a town in 
Solano County, on the north side of Carquinez 
Strait, twenty-eight miles northeast of San Fran- 
cisco. Its story may best be told in the words of 
General Sherman, in the following quotation from 
his Memoirs : "We found a solitary adobe house, 
occupied by Mr. Hastings and ]iis family, cm- 
bracing J)r. Seni])le, the i)r()])riet()r of the ferry. 
The ferry was a ship's boat, with a lateen sail, 
which could carry six or eight horses. It took us 
several days to cross over, and during that time 
we got well acquainted w ilh the doctor, who was 

223 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




quite a character. He was about seven feet high. 
Foreseeing, as he thought, a great city on the bay 
somewhere, he selected Carquinez Straits as its 
location, and obtained from General Vallejo title 
to a league of land, on condition of building a city 
to b ar the name of General Vallejo's wife, Fran- 
cist, Benicia. Accordingly, the city was first 
call Francisca. At this time, where San Fran- 
cisco )w is was known as Verba Buena; now some 
of the chief men of that place, knowing the im- 
portance of a name, saw their danger, and so 
changed the name to San Francisco. Dr. Semple 
was so outraged at their changing the name to 
one so nearly like his town that he, in turn, 
changed his town's name to the other name of 
Mrs. Vallejo, and Benicia it has been to this 
day." 

LAS PULGAS RANCHO 

Las Pulgas Rancho (the fleas ranch), is near 
Redwood City. The story of this place, with its 
unpleasantly suggestive name, although of little 
importance in itself, is told here for the light it 
throws upon the manners and customs of the 

224 



THEIR MEANING AND ROMANCE 




original dwellers in the land. Father Engelhardt, 
in his History of the California Missions, describes 
their way of living thus: "Their habitations were 
primitive, in summer often but a shady spot, or 
mere shelter of brush. Their winter quarters con- 
sisted of a flimsy structure of poles fixed ir "the 
ground, and drawn together at the top, at a 1 ,ht 
of ten or twelve feet. The poles were interA en 
with small twigs, and the structure then c ered 
with tules, or tufts of dried grass. In some places 
these dwellings were conical in shape, in others 
oblong, and their size ranged according to the 
number of people. At a distance they resembled 
large bee-hives, or small hay-stacks. On one side 
there was an opening for a door, at the top another 
for smoke. Here the family, including relatives 
and friends, huddled around the fire, without 
privacy, beds or other furniture. A few baskets, 
a stone mortar or two, weapons, some scanty 
rags of clothing, food obtained from the hunt, or 
seeds, were kept here. All refuse food and bones 
were left where they were dropped, giving the 
earth floor the appearance of a dog-kennel. Fleas 
and other vermin abounded in this mass of filth, 
which soon became too offensive even for savages, 

225 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




and they adopted the very simple method of 
setting fire to the hut and erecting another." 

After reading this description, we are not sur- 
prised when Father Crespi tells us that, having 
arrived at a deserted Indian village, and some of 
the soldiers having rashly taken refuge in the huts 
for the night, they soon rushed out with cries of 
"las pulgas! las pulgas!'' (the fleas! the fleas!). 
He goes on to say, "for this reason, the soldiers 
called it the Rancheria de las Pulgas" (the village 
of the fleas), a name borne by the ranch to this 

day. 

La Perouse, in his Voyage Autour du Monde, 
says the padres were never able to change this 
form of architecture common to the two Cali- 
fornias. The Indians said they liked open air, 
and that it was convenient, when the fleas became 
too numerous, to burn the house and construct 
a new one, an argument not without merit. 



POINT LOBOS 

Point Lobos (seal point, from loho marino, sea- 
wolf), is just outside of the Golden Gate, on the 

226 



THEIR MEANING AND ROMANCE 




south side, near the spot where the seals crawHng 
about on the rocks have long been one of the 

chief attractions of the famous Cliff House. 



SUPPLEMENTARY LIST 

Alamo (cottonwood tree), is the name of a 
place in Contra Costa County, twenty-four miles 
northeast of San P>ancisco. 

Aharado (a surname), that of one of the first 
governors of the state. Alvarado is a village in 
Alameda County, on Alameda Creek, twenty-four 
miles southeast of San Francisco. Juan Bautista 
Alvarado was a central figure in California history. 
He was born at Monterey, February 14, 1809, 
and from '27 on occupied various official positions, 
including that of governor of the state. Bancroft 
says of his character and appearance: *Tn 
physique Don Juan Bautista was of medium 
stature, stout build, fair complexion, and light 
hair; of genial lcini)eraincnl, courteous manners, 
and rare powers of winning friends. There was 
much in his character to praise, much to condemn. 
He was a man of dissipated habits, and engaged 

227 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




in intrigues, but in his favor it may be said that 
he had more brains, energy and executive ability 
than any three of his contemporaries combined; 
he was patriotic and with good intentions toward 
his country, honorable in private dealings, and 
never enriched himself by his intrigues. He was 
not personally guilty of having plundered the 
missions, only responsible through being governor 
at that time. The accusations made against him 
of an unjust policy towards foreigners were entire- 
ly false." 

Bolinas, the name of a town in Marin County, 
delightfully situated on Bolinas Bay, eighteen 
miles northwest of San Francisco. Bolinas is 
probably a corruption of Baulines, an Indian word 
of unknown meaning. A land grant called Los 
Baulines was located at the same place, and was 
probably the name of an Indian village. 

Point Bonito (pretty point), is the southern 
extremity of Marin County, on the north side of 
the Golden Gate. 

Carquinez is the name of the strait flowing 
between the counties of Contra Costa and Solano, 
and connects San Pablo Bay with Suisun Bay. 
The strait is eight miles long, and at its narrowest 

228 



THEIR MEANING AND ROMANCE 




part nearly a mile wide. All the waters flowing 
through the great central valley of the state from 
the Sierra Nevada pass through this strait. 
According to the scientists the name Carquinez is 
derived from Karkin, the name of an Indian 
village in that region, but Dr. Vallejo has an- 
other story. He says the commandant at Mon- 
terey, who was a man with some classical educa- 
tion, named it from the Greek word karkin, 
crab, because of the report made by the Lieutenant 
Vallejo expedition of having found a great number 
of little crabs there. {Memoirs of the Vallejos, 
edited by James H. Wilkins, San Francisco Bul- 
letin, January, 1914.) 

Contra Costa (opposite coast), so-called on account 
of its original position directly opposite San 
Francisco. It should be explained that the name 
Contra Costa, which scarcely seems ai)i)r(,)i)riatc 
in its present a])plication, was originally applied 
to the whole of the coast opposite San Francisco. 
Afterwards the i)art dirertly facing San Francisco 
was cut off to form Alameda County, thus des- 
troying the significance of the name Contra Costa. 

Martinez (a surname), is the name of the county- 
scat of Contra Costa Count w and is on llu' south 

229 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




shore of Suisun Bay, thirty-six miles northeast of 
San Francisco. Ignacio Martinez was a native 
of the city of Mexico, born in 177 a. He was a 
mihtary officer under the Mexican government in 
California, and was commandant e at San Fran- 
cisco from 1822 to '27. Bancroft says of him: 
"He was not popular as an officer, being haughty 
and despotic, but as a rancher he is spoken of as 
a very courteous and hospitable man. The town 
of Martinez takes its name from him or his 
family." 

Montara Point and Montara Mountains are in 
the western part of San Mateo County. Montara 
is a surname. 

Olema, said to be an Indian word meaning 
"coyote," is the name of a towoi in Marin County, 
one mile from the head of Tomales Bay, and 
thirty-five miles northwest of San Francisco. 

Pacheco (a surname), that of a pioneer family 
of California. The town of Pacheco is in Contra 
Costa County, thirty miles northeast of San 
Francisco. Although Governor Romualdo 
Pacheco, of whom Bancroft says that "his record 
as a citizen, in respect of character, attainments 
and social standing was a good one," was the most 

230 



THEIR MEANING AND ROMANCE 




prominent member of the family, the town was 
not named in his honor, but for Salvio Pacheco, 
a man who served in many military and civil 
offices. "He spent his life on Mount Diablo 
Rancho, on which is the town bearing his name." 

Pescadero (fishing place), is in a fertile valley 
of San Mateo County, on the coast about forty- 
four miles south of San Francisco. There are a 
number of Pcscaderos in the state. 

Pinole is said to be an Aztec word, applied to 
any kind of grain or seeds, parched and ground. 
Of this flour a very appetizing sort of gruel was 
made. The town of Pinole is in Contra Costa 
County, twelve miles west of IMartinez. It is the 
site of extensive powder works. See page 239. 

Portold (a surname), is the name of a town in 
San Mateo County, and was named in honor of 
the celebrated discoverer of San Francisco Bay. 

Potrero (pasture ground), is one of the districts 
of San I'rancisco. This is only one of the many 
Polreros in the state. 

Presidio is a word used b\- llic Si)aniar{ls in tlie 
double meaning of prison or niiHlary jwst. It 
may be that the custom of using convicts as 
soldiers, prevalent with the Spanish, had something 

231 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




to do with this double usage of the word. The 
Presidio of San Francisco, now a regular military 
post of the United States, although still retaining 
its Castilian name, is picturesquely and delight- 
fully situated on the north end of the peninsula. 
There is also a government presidio at Monterey. 

Point Reyes (kings point), was named by Viz- 
caino in honor of the "three wise men," or "holy 
kings," because it was discovered on the day of 
their devotion. This point is in Marin County 
and is the outer point of Drake's Bay, where the 
noted adventurer is supposed to have made his 
anchorage, and where Cermenon was wrecked. 

Rodeo (round-up of cattle). Rodeos were held, 
and in some parts of the state still take place, for 
the purpose of separating and branding the cattle 
"belonging to individual owners, an operation 
decidedly necessary when pastures were unfenced, 
and in early days one of the most picturesque 
features of California life. The village of Rodeo 
is in Contra Costa County. 

San Anselmo (St. Anselm), is in Marin County. 

San Bruno, a village near San Francisco, was 
named for St. Bruno, the founder and first abbot 
of the Carthusian Order. This order of monks 

232 



THEIR MEANING AND ROMANCE 




is among the most severe in its rules, requiring 
almost perpetual silence of its members. Its 
devotees are only permitted to speak together 
once a week. They never eat flesh, and are com- 
pelled to labor constantly. 

San Geronimo (St. Jerome), is the saint usually 
pictured as accompanied by a lion, in commemo- 
ration of the well-known story of the removal of a 
thorn from the foot of one of those beasts by 
Jerome, and the devotion of the lion to him after- 
wards. San Geronimo is the name of a small 
stream in Marin County, noted for its salmon 
fisheries. 

San Gregorio (St. Gregory), is in San Mateo 
County, twenty-four miles southwest of Redwood 
City. St. Gregory was a noble Roman who devoted 
his wealth to charity, and turned his home into a 
hospital and monastery. He was elected to the 
high olTice of Pope, and became the c()m])()ser 
of wluit is called from him the "Gregorian Chant." 

San Lcandro (St. Leander), is in Alameda 
County, on San Leandro Creek, sixteen miles 
southeast of San Francisco. St. Leander was at 
one time Bisho]) of Se\ille, and is one of ihc patron 
saints of that city. 

233 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




San Lorenzo (St. Lawrence), was a saint who 
suffered martyrdom by being roasted on a gridiron. 
The legend relates that he said to his tormentors, 
"I am now sufficiently cooked on this side, turn 
me over and roast me on the other." San Lorenzo 
is in Alameda County, twenty miles southeast of 
San Francisco. 

San Mateo (St. Matthew), is the name of a 
county bordering on San Francisco Bay, and of a 
town on the west shore of the bay, twenty-one 
miles south of San Francisco. St. Matthew was a 
Hebrew by birth, and the author of the book of 
the Scriptures that bears his name. 

San Pablo (St. Paul) , is in Contra Costa County, 
on San Pablo Bay, fifteen miles northeast of San 
Francisco. One of the legends concerning St. 
Paul is that "the church called 'San Paolo delle 
Tre Fontane,' near Rome, is built over three 
fountains which are said to have sprung up at 
the three places where the head of St. Paul fell 
and bounded, after being cut off by the execu- 
tioner. It is said that the fountains vary in the 
warmth of the water, — the first, or the one where 
the head fell, being the hottest; the next, or that 
of the first bound, cooler; and the third still cooler." 

234 



THEIR MEANING AND ROMANCE 




San Quentin (properly San Quintin) is a village 
in Marin County, on the west shore of San Fran- 
cisco Bay, eleven miles north of San Francisco. 
This place, where the forbidding walls of the 
State's Prison shut out the light of California's 
glorious sun from the unfortunates enclosed there, 
very fittingly bears the name of a saint whose 
gloomy story runs thus: "San Quintin was the 
son of Zeno. He became converted and gave up a 
high command which he held in the Roman army, 
in order to preach. He labored especially in 
Belgium, and suffered death by being impaled 
on an iron spit." — {Stories of the Saints.) It is 
probable, however, that the town was not directly 
named for this saint, but received the name in- 
directly from Point Quintin, on the Marin coast, 
which was so-called from an Indian chief of that 
region who had been thus christened by the 
Spaniards.. 

San Ramon (St. Raymond), is in Contra Costa 
County, nine miles east of Haywood. "St. Ray- 
mond belonged to the Order of Mercy, and 
labored for the captives among the Moors. By 
the Mahometans, among whom lie was long a 
captive, for the ransom of his Christian brethren, 

235 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




his lips were bored through with a red-hot iron, 
and fastened with a padlock," an effective, if 
cruel method of preventing him from preaching 
the Christian faith. 

Siinol (a surname). Sunol is a town in Alameda 
County, thirty-six miles southeast of San Fran- 
cisco. In Fremont's Memoirs he refers to Don 
Antonio Sunol, probably a member of the same 
family for whom this town is named. 

Tocaloma is a delightful secluded glen and creek 
in Marin County, not far north of San Francisco, 
where a hunting and fishing preserve is main- 
tained. The word is Indian, but its meaning has 
not been ascertained. 

Tomales Bay is an inlet of the Pacific Ocean, 
extending southeastward into Marin County. 
It is fourteen miles long. The village of Tomales 
is on the bay of the same name, fifty-five miles 
northwest of San Francisco. The name Tomales 
is a Spanish corruption of the Indian lamal (bay), 
a word which came to be applied to the natives 
in the neighborhood of San Francisco Bay. 

Vallejo (a surname), is the name of a place in 
Solano County. The Vallejos were among the most 
prominent of the California pioneer families. 

236 



THEIR MEANING AND R O M A N C E 




''The founder of the family was Ignacio Vicente 
Ferrer Vallejo, born at JaHsco, Mexico, in 1748. 
He came of a family of pure Spanish blood, and of 
superior education. The most distinguished of 
his large famil}' was Mariano Guadalupe, born 
at Monterey in 1808. Don Mariano served with 
great ability in various capacities under the 
Mexican go\'ernment, and was at one time Corn- 
mandanie General of California. He was the 
founder of Sonoma, and it was to his untiring 
efforts that the development of the north was 
largely due. He foresaw the fate of his country, 
and finally cast in liis lot with the United States, 
for which he seems to have been but ill-repaid. 
I have found none among the Californians whose 
public record in respect of honorable conduct, 
patriotic zeal, executive ability, and freedom from 
petty prejudices of race or religion or sectional 
politics is more evenly favorable than his." — 
(Bancroft.) 



237 



X 

NORTH OF SAN FRANCISCO 

SONOMA 

Sonoma, the name of the northern county, and 
of the town in the beautiful Sonoma Valley, 
forty-five miles north of San Francisco, is of 
doubtful origin. It is probable that it comes from 
Indian, rather than Spanish sources. In the 
native dialect of that region there is the con- 
stantly recurring ending tso-iioma, from tso (the 
earth), and noma (village), — hence, tsonoma 
(earth \illagc or earth place). The name was 
given b\- missionaries to a chief of the Indians 
there, and later a]:)plied to all ihc Indians at the 
mission, i'loni Indian sources it seems there was 
a captain among them who was commonly called 
Sonoma, but who was known Ijy a different name 
among his own people. — (University of Cali- 
fornia Publications in American Archaeolog}' and 
Technology.) 

The name Sonoma is e.\])laincd in a dilTercnt 

241 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




way by Dr. Vallejo, who says it was named for 
an Indian chief called Sono, a word signifying 
"nose," given to the chief as his appellation be- 
cause of the very large development of that 
feature of his face. The sufhx ma is said by Dr. 
Vallejo to mean "valley" or "land," and thus 
Sonoma would bear the meaning of "nose valley," 
or "nose land," — {Memoirs of the Vallejos, edited 
by James H. Wilkins, San Francisco Bulletin, 
January, 19 14.) 

It has been said that Sonoma means "valley 
of the moon," in reference to the shape of the 
valley, but there is probably more of poetry than 
of truth in this story. 

At this place, San Francisco de Solano, the last 
of the great chain of missions, was founded 
July 4, 1823. The mission buildings have been 
put in a fair state of preservation and the church 
has been restored by the state. 

NAPA 

Napa is the name of a county, river and city, 
the county adjacent to San Pablo Bay, into which 
the river falls. The town is the county-seat of 

242 






2. »-^ 



C/3 

C 



r, 




THEIR MEANING AND ROMANCE 




Napa County, and is on the river of the same name, 
about thirty-nine miles northeast of San Fran- 
cisco. The Napa Soda Springs are an interesting 
natural feature of this place. 

Napa, accented in some of the old documents 
as Xapd, was the name of an Indian tribe who 
occupied that valley, said to have been one of the 
bravest of the California tribes, and who con- 
stantly harassed the frontier posts. The ent're 
tribe was practically wiped out by smallpox in 
1838. 

According to S. A. Barrett, in the University 
of California Publications in American Archaeol- 
ogy and Technology, there is a Pomo Indian 
word, }iapa, meaning "harpoon point," between 
which and the name of the town of Napa there 
may be some connection. 

Dr. Vallejo says the suffix pa signifies prox- 
imity, and that Napa means "near mother," or 
"near home," or "mother-land," and that accord- 
ing to tradition Napa Valley was the cradle of the 
Suysun ra.cc. (Memoirs oj the Vallcjos, edited 
b\- James 11. W'ilkins, San Francisco Bulletin, 
January, 1914.) 



245 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




CARNE HUMANA 

Among the names of the old Spanish land 
grants are many that hold a suggestion of inter- 
esting and sometimes tragic tales, now lost in the 
dim shadows of the past. Of such is Came 
Humana (human flesh), the name of a grant in 
Napa County, near St. Helena. This spot may 
have been the scene of one of those horrible acts 
of cannibalism to which the Indians of the entire 
Southwest were quite generally addicted. Cap- 
tain Fages, in his diary of one of the expeditions 
to San Francisco Bay, mentions that this practice 
prevailed among the Indians of that region to a 
certain extent, but seems to have been confined 
to the eating of the bodies of enemies slain in 
battle, and only the relatives of the slayer were 
permitted to take part in the abhorrent feast. 

SANTA ROSA 

Santa Rosa (St. Rose), the county-seat of 
Sonoma County, is fifty-seven miles northwest of 
San Francisco. 

246 



THEIR MEANING AND ROMANCE 




An interesting story is told of Santa Rosa de 
Lima, said to be the only canonized female saint 
of the New World, She was born at Lima, in 
Peru, and was distinguished for her hatred of 
vanity, and her great austerity, carrying these 
characteristics to such an extreme that she des- 
troyed her beautiful complexion with a compound 
of pepper and quicklime. When her mother 
commanded her to wear a wreath of roses, she so 
arranged it that it was in truth a crown of thorns. 
Her food consisted principally of bitter herbs, and 
she maintained her parents by her labor, working 
all day in her garden and all night with her needle. 
The legend relates that when Pope Clement X 
was asked to canonize her, he refused, exclaiming: 
^^ India y Santa! Asi como Uneven rosasV^ (An 
Indian woman a saint I That may happen when 
it rains roses!) Instantly a shower of roses began 
to fall in the Vatican, and did not cease until the 
Pope was convinced of his error. This saint is the 
patroness of America, and is represented as wear- 
ing a tiiorny crown, and holding in Iut hand the 
figure of liic infant Jesus, which rests on full- 
blown roses. — (Slorics of the Saints.) 



247 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




MENDOCINO COUNTY 

Mendocino County, in the northwestern part of 
the state, is distinguished for its extensive forests 
of redwoods. The main belt of these trees 
extends through this county, and they may here 
be seen in their highest development. They vary 
in height from loo to 340 feet, and reach a diam- 
eter of from two to sixteen feet, having a red, 
fibrous bark sometimes a foot in thickness. Not- 
withstanding their great size, the delicacy of their 
foliage, which takes the form of flat sprays, gives 
them a graceful, fern-like appearance. The age 
of mature redwoods is said to range from 500 to 
1300 years. The special characteristics of the 
wood of these trees are, its durability when buried 
in the soil, and its resistance to fire. Commer- 
cially it is valuable for many purposes, being pre- 
ferred to steel for water supply conduits, and, in 
the form of saw-dust, found to be better than 
cork for packing fresh grapes. — (Notes from The 
Trees of California, by Professor Willis Linn 
Jepsen, of the University of California.) 

Probably the first written mention of these 

248 



THEIR iMEANING AND ROMANCE 




trees occurs in the diary of Caspar de Portola, the 
discoverer of San Francisco Bay, whose attention 
was attracted to them while on his way up the 
coast, and from whom they received the name of 
pah Colorado (redwood). Altogether, the credit 
of their discovery seems to belong to Portola, 
although it has been given by some persons to 
Archibald Menzies, who wrote a description of 
the trees in 1795. 

The village of Mendocino is on the coast, about 
130 miles northwest of San Francisco. The name 
was first applied to the cape, which was discovered 
by Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, in 1542, and named 
by him for Don Antonio de Mcndoza, first viceroy 
of New Spain. 

KLAMATH 

Klamath is the name of a village in Humboldt 
County, but is particularly known as aj)i)Hed to 
the Klamath River, which flows in a deep and 
narrow canyon through tlie counties of Siski}-()u 
and Humboldt. 

The word, in its different forms of Klamalli, 
Tlamctl, and Clamct, is the name by which these 

249 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




Indians were known to the Chinooks, and through 
them to the whites, their proper designation in 
their own language being Lutuami. — (Bancroft's 
Native Races, Vol. i , page 444.) 

The meaning of the word has not been posi- 
tively ascertained, although it is thought by 
ethnologists to be a possible corruption of Maklaks 
(people, community, — hterally, the encamped). 
The Klamaths were a hardy people, who had 
many slaves captured from other tribes. The 
slave trade seems to have been carried on quite 
extensively among the California Indians. 



MODOC COUNTY 

Modoc, the county in the northeastern corner 
of the state, is notable as having been the home 
of the only Cahfornia tribe that ever caused 
serious trouble to the United States Government. 
The Modoc wars are a matter of history. 

The Modocs were a fierce tribe of Indians who 
lived at the head-waters of Pit River, and the 
name is thought by some persons to mean "head 
of the river," or "people, community," but 

250 



THEIR MEANING AND ROMANCE 




ethnologists are of the opinion that it means 
"south people," probably used by tribes living 
north of the Modocs. Bancroft, quoting from 
Steele, in Indian xAffairs Report of 1864, page 121, 
says: "The word Modoc is a Shasta Indian word, 
and means all distant, stranger, or hostile Indians, 
and became applied to this tribe by white men in 
early days from hearing the Shastas refer to them 
by this term." It does not appear that Bancroft 
had any genuine scientific authority for this 
statement. 

Powers, in his Tribes of California, states that 
some persons derive this name from Mo-dok-us, 
the name of a former chief of the tribe under 
whose leadershij) they seceded from the Klam- 
ath Lake Indians and became an independent 
tribe. As it was common for seceding bands to 
assume the name of their leader. Powers is inclined 
to accept this explanation of the name. 



SHASTA 

To account for llu' iianic Sliasia, a number of 
theories ha\c been ad\anccd, no one ol which 

251 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




seems to be positively established. According 
to the Bureau of Ethnology, "Shasta may be a 
corruption of Sus-ti-ka, apparently the name of a 
well-known Indian living about 1840 near the 
site of Yreka. The name was applied to a group 
of small tribes in Northern California, extending 
into Oregon, who were soon extinguished by the 
development of mining operations." 

Bancroft, in his Amative Races, says, "Shasta 
was apparently the name of a tribe living about 
1840 near Yreka, a tribe made up of several 
groups. They were a sedentary people, living in 
small houses, similar to those in use by the Indians 
on the coast immediately to the west. Their food 
was made up of acorns, seeds, roots, and fish, 
particularly salmon. The salmon was caught by 
net, weir, trap, and spear. Their arts were few. 
They had dug-out canoes of a rather broad, 
clumsy type. The bow was their chief weapon, 
and their carving was limited to rude spoons of 
wood and bone. Painting was little used, and 
basketry was limited to basket caps for the 
women, and small food baskets of simple form. 
The tribe soon succumbed to the unfavorable 
environment of the mining camp, and is now 

252 



THEIR MEANING AND ROMANCE 




almost extinct .... The Shasta Indians 
were known in their own language as WeoJiow, 
a word meaning 'stone house,' from the large 
cave in their country." 

"Shas-ti-ka was probably the tribal name of 
the Shasta Indians. Wai-re-ka (mountain) was 
their name for Mt. Shasta." — (Powers' Tribes of 
California.) 

Another theory advanced is that Shasta is a 
corruption of the Russian word tchastal, (white, 
or pure mountain), and still another that it comes 
from the French chaste, (pure), but it is likely 
that its resemblance to these words is purely 
accidental, and that its origin is Indian. 

Whatever may be the derivation of its name, 
there is no question that Mount Shasta, with its 
snow-capped summit, has but few rivals for 
scenic beauty among its mountain sisterhood. 
It is an extinct volcano, with a double peak, and 
rises to a height of 14,^80 feet. There are minor 
glaciers on the northern slope. I">emont says of 
it: "The Shastl peak stands at the head of the 
lower valley, rising from a base of about one 
thousand feet, out of a forest of heavy timber. 
It ascends like an immense column upwards of 



'■:):> 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




14000 feet (nearly the height of Mont Blanc), 
the summit glistening with snow, and visible, 
from favorable points of view, at a distance of 140 
miles down the valley." 

On a United States map of date of 1848, drawn 
by Charles Preuss from surveys made by Fremont 
and other persons, the name appears spelled as 
Tshastl. 

Mount Shasta is in Siskiyou County, and is 
the most conspicuous natural feature in that 
part of the state. 



SISKIYOU COUNTY 

Except that it is of Indian origin, nothing 
authentic has been obtained concerning Siskiyou, 
the name of the county in the extreme north of 
the state. Several popular theories have been 
advanced, one to the effect that Siskiyou means 
"lame horse." If that be true the word must have 
been introduced into the Indian language after 
the coming of the Spaniards, since horses were 
unknown to the Indians before that period. 
Another story, perhaps more pleasing than true, 

256 



THEIR MEANING AND ROMANCE 




runs as follows: "On the summit of a mountain 
in Oregon, just over the divide, there is a beautiful, 
level spot, watered by cool springs, which over- 
looks the country for miles around. Here the 
powerful Shasta, Rogue River, and Klamath 
tribes used to meet to smoke and indulge in danc- 
ing and games. They called the place Sis-ki-you, 
the 'ccuncil ground'." 

Siskiyou County is notable for its mountain 
scenery, and includes within its borders the 
famous Mount Shasta. 



TRINITY COUNTY 

Trinity County received its name from Trinidad 
Bay, which was discovered and named by Ca])tain 
Bruno P^zeta, on Trinity Sunday, in the year 
1775. Trinidad is the Spanish word meaning 
Trinity. 

Trinity Ri\er was so-named through llic mis- 
taken behef that it emjHied into Trinidad Bay. 

Trinidad is also the name of a xillage in Hum- 
boldt County, on the ocean short', t\\cnt\- miles 
north of I-AU-eka. 

257 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




YREKA 

Yreka, the name of the county-seat of Siskiyou 
County, is an Indian word, of which the spelUng 
has probably been corrupted, perhaps in a spirit 
of facetiousness, from the original Wai-ri-ka to its 
present eccentric form. Various theories have been 
offered in explanation of the word, but the only 
one apparently based on scientific data seems to 
be that it means "north place." One writer 
advances the whimsical explanation that the word 
was formed by the transposition of the letters 
in "bakery," but fails to explain what becomes of 
the letter "b." This is, of course, but an idle 
invention. 

Yreka is said by Powers, in his Tribes of Cali- 
fornia, to be the Indian word for "mountain," 
especially applied to Mt. Shasta. Its former 
spelling was Wai-ri-ka. Here is a contradiction 
between scientists. 



258 



THEIR MEANING AND ROMANCE 




SUPPLEMENTARY LIST 

Agua Caliente (hot water, hot springs), a village 
in Sonoma County, forty-five miles north of San 
Francisco. 

Altiiras (heights), the county-seat of Modoc 
County, no miles north of Reno. 

Point Arena (sandy point), is the name of the 
cape on the Mendocino coast, and of the village in 
that county, no miles northwest of San Francisco. 

Bodega (a surname), that of its discoverer, Don 
Juan de la Bodega y Quadra, Captain of the 
schooner Sonora, who sailed into Bodega Bay 
October 3, 1775. This bay, and the town of 
Bodega Roads are in Sonoma County, about 
sixty-four miles northwest of San Francisco. 

Point Cahrillo (a surname), that of the cele- 
brated Spanish explorer, Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo. 

Calistoga, one of those h\brid words of which 
California has too manw This word was the 
invention of Sanuul iiraiinan, an carl)' settler, 
and is comijouiided of the lirst syllable of Cali- 
fornia and the last of Saratoga. It is given here 
lest it be mistaken for Indian or Spanish. 

259 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




Cazadero (hunting-place) . 

Chileno (Chilean, native of Chile). 

Punta Delgada (thin or narrow point). See 
Punta Gorda. 

Cape Fortiinas (cape fortunes). Fortuna is a 
village in Humboldt County, twelve miles south 
of Eureka. 

Del Norte (of the north), is the name of the 
county in the extreme northwestern corner of the 
state. 

Garcia (a surname), the name of a creek in 
Mendocino County. 

Punta Got da (thick or broad point). Punta 
Gorda and Punta Delgada are adjacent points 
on the northern coast whose contrast in shape is 
indicated by their names. See Punta Delgada. 

Gualala, a village in Mendocino County, forty 
miles west of Cloverdale. This is an Indian word, 
"probably from walali, a generic term of the Pomo 
language, signifying the meeting-place of the 
waters of any in- flowing stream with those of the 
stream into which it flows, or with the ocean. 
The present spelling is probably influenced by 
the Spanish." — (S. A. Barrett, in California Pub- 
lications of Archaeology and Ethnology.) 

260 



THEIR MEANING AND ROMANCE 




Hoopa, a village in Humboldt County, on the 
Trinity River, was named for the Hupa Indians, 
a tribe on the lower Trinity River. Hoopa 
Mountain was named in the same way. 

Point Laguna (lagoon point). 

Oro Fino (fme gold), is the name of a \illagc in 
Siskiyou County, twenty-five miles southwest of 
Yreka. This name is in contrast to the place 
called Oro Grande (coarse gold), in the southern 
part of the state. 

Petaliima, the name of a town in Sonoma 
County, forty-two miles northwest of San Fran- 
cisco. Petaluma was the name of an Indian 
village situated near the site of the ])resent town 
on a low hill, and according to S. A. Barrett 
the word is compounded of prla (llatj, and 
lu)na (back), making Petaluma (llat hack), but 
Dr. Vallejo has another explanation of its mean- 
ing. He holds that the suffix ma means "valley" 
or "land," and that Petaluma is a combination 
of three Suysun words, Pc-la/ii-nid, signifying 
"Oh! fair valley," or "Oh! lair land." (Memoirs 
of the Vallejos, edited 1)\- James H. W'ilkins, San 
Francisc Bulletin, Januar\-, k;i4.) 

I^omo is northeast of Ukiah. "Porno was an 

261 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




Indian village on the east bank of the Russian 
River, in the southern end of Potter Valley, a 
short distance south of the post-ofhce at Porno. 
The word is an ending, meaning 'people of, village 
of'."— (S. A. Barrett.) 

Tomales Bay is just north of Drake's Bay, in 
Marin County. The word is a Spanish corruption 
of the Indian tamal (bay). 

Ukiah is the county-seat of Mendocino County, 
and is on the Russian River, no miles northwest 
of San Francisco. "The word is said to be derived 
from the Indian yokaia, yo (south), and ka-ia 
(valley), the name of a village about six miles 
southeast of the present town of Ukiah." 



262 



THE 
fO CENTRAL VALLEY, 





,.y 



XI 
THE CENTRAL VALLEY 

TEHAMA COUNTY 

Tehama County lies at the extreme northern 
end of the great Central Valley of the state. 
There is a village of the same name in the county, 
on the Sacramento River, twelve miles southeast 
of Red Bluff. 

The name Tehama was derived from an Lidian 
tribe, but the meaning of it has not been ascer- 
tained. Two definitions have been offered, — 
"high water," in reference to the overflowing of 
the Sacramento River, and "low land," but these 
may be among those attempts to account for our 
names by making the name fit the circumstances, 
a method which has resulted in many errors. All 
that can be positively stated is that the word is 
of Indian origin. 

COLUSA 

Culiisa is a county in ihc norlluTii pari of the 
Central Valley, and has a county-seat of the same 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




name, situated on the west bank of the Sacra- 
mento River, sixty-five miles northwest of Sac- 
ramento. 

This name appears as Coins on the land grant 
located at that place, and is said by Powers, in 
his Tribes of California, to be a corruption of 
Ko-ru-si, a tribal name, a more reasonable ex- 
planation than any other that has been offered. 
General Will Green, said to have known the tribe 
well, was of the opinion that Colusa meant "the 
scratchers," in allusion to a strange custom among 
these people of scratching one another's faces. 
While it is true that the prevalence of this custom 
is mentioned by the Spaniards, Captain Fages 
referring to it in terms of great distaste, there is 
no scientific corroboration of that definition for 
the word Colusa. 

YUBA 

Yuba is the name of a county in the Central 
Valley, of Yuba City, the county-seat of Sutter 
County, and of the Yuba River, which is formed 
by the union of three branches rising in the Sierra 
Nevada. 

266 



THEIR MEANING AND ROMANCE 




The name Yuba was first applied to the river, 
the chief tributary of the Feather. The theory 
has been advanced that it received the name of 
Uba, or Uva, the Spanish word for grapes, from 
an exploring party in 1824, in reference to the 
immense quantities of vines loaded with wild 
grapes growing along its banks, Uba, becoming 
corrupted into Yuba, but Powers, in his Tribes of 
California, says Yuba is derived from a tribe of 
Maidu Indians named Yii-ba, who lived on the 
Feather River. This is probably the true explan- 
ation of the name. It is to be noted that Fremont, 
in his Memoirs, speaks of it as Indian: ''We 
traveled across the valley plain, and in about 
sixteen miles reached Feather River, at twenty 
miles from its junction with the Sacramento, near 
the mouth of the Yuba, so-called from a \ illage of 
Indians who live on it. The Indians aided us 
across the ri\cr with canoes and small rafts. Ex- 
tending along the bank in front of the village 
was a range of wicker cribs, about twelve feet 
high, partly filled with what is there the Indians' 
staff of life, acorns. A collection of huts, sha])ed 
like bee-hives, with naked Indians sunning 
themselves on the tops, and these acorn 

267 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




cribs, are the prominent objects in an Indian 
village." 

YOLO 

Yolo is the name of a county in the northern 
part of the Central Valley, and of a village near 
Woodland. 

Yolo, or Yoloy, was the name of a Patwin tribe, 
and the word is said by the Bureau of Ethnology 
to mean "a place abounding with rushes." 

In 1884 there were still forty-five of the tribe 
living in Yolo County. 



SOLANO 

This county, situated in the Central Valley, 
immediately northeast of San Francisco, was 
named, at the request of General Mariano Vallejo, 
in honor of an Indian chief of the Suisunes who 
had aided him in war against the other natives. 
The name of this chief in his own tongue is said 
to have been Sem Yeto, "the Fierce one of the 
Brave Hand," or Sum-yet-ho, "the Mighty Arm," 
and, judging by the description given of him by 

268 



THEIR MEANING AND ROMANCE 




Dr. Vallejo, he must have been a Hving refutation 
of the common beUef that the CaHfornia Indians 
were invariabh' squat and ill-formed, for he was 
a splendid figure of a man, six feet, seven inches 
in height and large in j)roportion. He was con- 
verted to Christianity and received the name of 
the celebrated missionary, Francisco Solano, as 
well as a grant of land containing 17752 acres, 
known as the Suisun Grant. 



SUISUN 

Suisihi Bay is a body of navigable water con- 
nected with San Pablo Bay by the Carcjuinez 
Strait, and is the outlet of the San Joafjufn and 
Sacramento Rivers. Suisun City is in Solano 
County, on a slough, about fifty miles northeast 
of San I'rancisco. Suisun was the name of an 
Indian \ illage on that bay, and the word is said 
by some i)ersons to mean a "big exjmnse." The 
name was ])robabl\' first gi\cn to the land grant. 

This region was the honu' ot' an im])ortant tribe 
of Indians who h;i(l an interesting and tragic 
history. Their religious capital, it su( h it could 
be called, was at \apa, near which j)lace there was 

269 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




a certain stone from which they beheved one of 
their gods had ascended into upper air, leaving 
the impress of his foot upon the stone. General 
Vallejo says that in 1817 a military expedition 
under command of Lieutenant Jose Sanchez 
crossed the straits of Carquinez on rafts, for the 
double purpose of exploring the country and re- 
ducing it to Christianity. "On crossing the river 
they were attacked by the Suisun tribe, headed 
by their chief Malaca, and the Spaniards suffered 
considerable loss; the Indians fought bravely, 
but were forced to retire to their rancheria, where, 
being hotly pursued, and believing their fate 
sealed, these unfortunate people, incited by their 
chief, set fire to their own rush-built huts, and 
perished in the flames with their families. The 
soldiers endeavored to stay their desperate reso- 
lution, in order to save the women and children, 
but they preferred this doom to that which they 
believed to await them at the hands of their 
enemies." The Suisun tribe is now entirely ex- 
tinct, a large number having been carried off by 
a frightful epidemic of smallpox. Dr. Vallejo 
states that this tribe, a people described by him as 
possessing many attractive qualities, was esti- 

270 



THEIR MEANING AND ROMANCE 




mated by his father to number at least 40,000 
persons in 1835. After the great epidemic, which 
was brought down by the Russians from the 
north, and which lasted during the three consecu- 
tive years of 1837-38-39, there were barely two 
hundred left. Thus the disappearance of the 
California Indians was occasioned, not by the 
white man's bullets or fire-water, nor even by the 
deteriorating influence of a changed mode of 
living, nor by the loss of native sturdiness through 
an accjuired dependence ujxm the church, but 
suddenl}' and fearfully by the introduction of 
the hideous diseases of cixilization. 



SACRAMENTO 

Sacramento County and the city of the same 
name, the state capital, situated near the center 
of the (ireat Valley, received their names from 
the river, which, following the usual custom of the 
Spaniards, was christened first, being named in 
honor of the Holy Sacrament. 

Captain Moraga first gave the name of Jesus 
Maria to the main ri\er, calling the branch 

271 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




Sacramento, but later the main stream became 
known as Sacramento, and the branch as El Rio 
de las Plumas (the river of the feathers). 



COSUMNE 

Cosumne is the name of a village in Sacramento 
County, about twenty-two miles southeast of 
Sacramento. The Cosumne river rises in El 
Dorado County, near the Sierra Nevada, and 
enters the Mokelumne about twenty-five miles 
south of the city of Sacramento. 

Cosumne is an Indian word, said to mean 
"salmon," and was taken from the tribe who lived 
upon the river. The frequent occurrence of the 
ending amni, or umne, in the names of rivers in 
the Sierras has led to the mistaken conclusion 
that the sufhx actually means "river," but we 
have the statement of A. L. Kroeber, Professor 
of Anthropology in the University of California, 
that, "The supposition may be hazarded that the 
ending amni, or umne, is originally a Miwok 
ending, with the meaning 'people of." Thus the 
meaning of Cosumne may be "people of the 

272 



THEIR MEANING AND ROMANCE 




village of Coso," and of ^Mokelumnc, "people of 
the village of Mukkel," and so on through all the 
names having this ending. 

Powers, in his Tribes of Califoniia, says Kos-su m- 
mi was the Indian word for "salmon," and that 
this is the probable origin of the name Cosumne. 

The Bureau of Ethnolog>^ has an interesting 
paragraph on the manners and customs of these 
Indians: "They went almost naked; their houses 
were of bark, sometimes thatched with grass, and 
covered with earth; the bark was loosened from 
the trees by repeated blows with stone hatchets, 
the latter having the head fastened lo the handle 
with deer sinews. Their ordinary weapons were 
bows and stone-tipped arrows. The women made 
finely-woven conical baskets of grass, the smaller 
ones of which held water. Their amusements 
were chiefly dancing and foot-ball; the dances, 
however, were in some degree ceremonial. Their 
princi])al deity was tlie sun, and the women had a 
ceremony which resembled the 'sun dance' of 
the tribes of the up])er Missouri. 'Hieir dead were 
buried in graves in the earth. The tribe is now 
practically extinct." — (Quoted from Rice, in 
American Anllir apology, III, 259, 1890.) 

273 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




SAN JOAQUIN 

San Joaquin County, famous for its vast fields 
of wheat, is a part of the great Central Valley, 
and the river of the same name rises in the Sierras, 
flows north-northwest through the valley and 
unites with the Sacramento River near its mouth. 

The river was named in honor of St. Joachim, 
the father of the Virgin. Lieutenant Moraga 
first gave the name to a rivulet which springs 
from the Sierra Nevada, and empties into Lake 
Buena Vista. The river derived its name from 
this rivulet. 

The rich valley of the San Joaquin, two hundred 
miles long and thirty miles wide, with its wide, tree- 
less expanses where the wild grasses grew rankly, 
was once a paradise for game. Fremont says: 
"Descending the valley we traveled among mul- 
titudinous herds of elk, antelope, and wild horses. 
Several of the latter which we killed for food were 
found to be very fat." Herds of wild horses still 
range in California and Nevada, and are some- 
times captured for sale, fine specimens bringing 
high prices. 

274 



THEIR MEANING AND ROMANCE 




STANISLAUS 

Stanislaus is the name of the county just south 
of San Joaquin, and of one of the tributaries of 
the San Joaqum River. 

The word Stanislaus is said to be derived from 
an Indian chief of that region, who became 
Christianized and was baptized under the Spanish 
name of Estauislao. He was educated at Mission 
San Jose, but became a renegade, and incited his 
tribe against the Spaniards. In 1826 he was de- 
feated in a fierce battle on the banks of the river 
now bearing his name. 

Fremont thus describes the scenery along the 
Stanislaus: ''Issuing from the woods, we rode 
about sixteen miles over open prairie partly 
covered with bunch grass, the timber re-appearing 
on the rolling hills of the River Stanislaus, 
in the usual l)clt of e\'ergrcen oaks. The level 
valley was about forty feet below the up- 
land, aiitt the stream sc\'ent\- Nanls broad, 
with the usual t'crlik' bottom land which 
was covered with green grass among large 
oaks. We encam{)cd in one of these bottoms, 

275 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




in a grove of the large white oaks previously 
mentioned." 

MERCED 

Merced (mercy), is the name of the county 
south of Stanislaus, of its own principal stream, 
and of its county-seat. The river was named by 
the Spaniards, in honor of the Virgin, El Rio 
de Nuestra Senora de la Merced (the river of our 
Lady of Mercy). This name was given to the 
stream by the Moraga party as an expression of 
their joy and gratitude at the sight of its sparkling 
waters, after an exhausting journey of forty miles 
through a water-less country. 

According to Fremont, this stream was called 
Auxumne by the Indians: 'Tn about seventeen 
miles we reached the Auxumne River, called by 
the Mexicans Merced .... We encamped on 
the southern side of the river, where broken hills 
made a steep bluff, with a narrow bottom. On the 
northern side was a low undulating wood and 
prairie land, over which a band of about three 
hundred elk was slowly coming to water, feeding 
as they approached." 

276 



THEIR MEANING AND ROMANCE 




The Merced River is notable in that it flows 
along the floor of the Yosemite Valley. Like all 
the other streams that have their rise in the 
Sierras, its character in its upper and lower 
reaches is vastly dissimilar. In the days of its 
turbulent youth it is a wild and boisterous stream, 
and in the \-oice of its hissing, roaring waters the 
wayfarer hears no sound of "mercy," but after it 
makes its tremendous plunge down the western 
slope of the Sierras, and debouches upon the floor 
of the valley, it takes on a serene air of maturity, 
and widens into a ]:)lacid river, its current flowing 
sluggishl\- between low, level banks. 

MADERA COUNTY 

Madera (wood, timl)cr), is the name of the 
county to the southwest of Stanislaus. It occupies 
a stretch of fertile land, and was called Madera 
by the Spaniards on account of its heavy growth 
of timber. 

1 RKSXO COIN r\' 

Fresno (ash-tree), so-called in reference to the 
abundance of those trees in that region, is the 

277 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




name of a county in the San Joaquin Valley, in 
the heart of the grain and fruit country. Raisins 
and wine are its especial products. Its capital 
city and principal stream also bear the name of 
Fresno. 

KINGS COUNTY 

This county, now appearing under its English 
form, originally received its name from the river, 
which was discovered by a Spanish exploring 
party in 1805, and called by them El Rio de los 
Santos Reyes (the river of the Holy Kings), in 
honor of the "three wise men." 

A considerable part of the area of this county 
was at one time covered by Tulare Lake, but the 
shrinkage of that body of water through the with- 
drawal of its sources of supply have added nearly 
the whole of the territory occupied by its waters 
to the arable land of the county. This subject 
is further discussed under the head of Tulare. 

The river seems to have been known at one time 
as the Lake Fork, by which name Fremont men- 
tions it in the following paragraph: "We crossed 
an open plain still in a southeasterly direction, 

278 




KL Rfo m: I. OS s.wrns rkyks ctuv. ri\ i;r of 
riir; iioi.\' ki\(;si. 

"... named in lioiior of the tliict.- wise men." 



THEIR MEANING AND ROMANCE 




reaching in about twenty miles the Tulare Lake 
river. This is the Lake Fork, one of the largest 
and handsomest streams in the valley, being 
about one hundred yards broad, and having per- 
haps a larger body of fertile lands than any of the 
others. It is called by the Mexicans El Rio de 
los Reyes. The broad alluvial bottoms were well 
wooded with several species of oaks. This is the 
principal affluent of the Tulare Lake, a strip 
of water which receives all the rivers in the 
upper or southern end of the valley." 



TULARE COUNTY 

Tulare (place of tules, or rushes), is the name of a 
county in the south-central part of the state, of 
Tulare Lake in Kings County, and of a town in 
the San Joaquin Valley. The county is remarkable 
for the high mountain peaks of the Sierra Nevada, 
on its northeast border. Among these is Mount 
Whitney, about 14500 feet in height. 

Tulare Lake, in Kings County, at one time filled 
a shallow depression about thirty miles in length, 
and recei\e(l through a number of small streams 

281 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




the drainage from the southern part of the Sierra 
Nevada, soon losing the greater part of this 
water by evaporation. It is now practically dry, 
as a result of the withdrawal for irrigation-, pur- 
poses of Kings and Kern Rivers, and tb *^^erri- 
tory formerly covered by it has been to a great 
extent placed under cultivation. The lake was 
discovered in 1773 by Commandant Fages, 
while hunting for deserters from the presidio at 
Monterey, and called by him Los Tides (the 
rushes), from the great number of those plants 
with which it was filled. In 181 3 Captain Moraga 
passed through the valley of this lake, and named 
it Valle de los Tides (valley of the rushes). 



SUPPLEMENTARY LIST 

Acampo (common pasture), is the name of a 
village in San Joaquin County. See Final Index. 

Arroyo Buenos Aires (creek of the good airs), 
is in San Joaquin County, 

Caliente (hot), is the name of a town in Kern 
County. 

Chico (little), is the name of a town in Butte 

282 



MEANING AND ROMANCE 




County, ninety-six miles north of Sacramento. 
This place derives its name from the Rancho 
Chico (the little ranch), of which General John 
Bidwv.!^ was the original grantee. The Arroyo 
Chic. \nd the town both took their names from 
the ranch. — (Mr. Charles B. Turrill.) 

ChowchiUa^ a large ranch in the San Joaquin 
Valley, takes its name from the Chowchilla 
Indians, a branch of the Moquelumnan family. 
Fremont refers to this name under a somewhat 
different spelling: "The springs and streams 
hereabout were waters of the Chaucliiles and 
Mariposas Rivers, and the Indians of this xillage 
belonged to the Chauckiles tribe." 

Dos Pahs (two sticks, or trees), is in Merced 
County, twenty miles southwest of Merced. 

Esparto (feather-grass), is a town in Yolo 
County. 

Esperanza (hope), is in Kings County, west of 
Lake Tulare. 

Hornitos (little ovens), is in Mariposa Count)', 
sixteen miles northwest of Mariposa. An attempt 
has been made to account for this name as a 
reference to the intense heat sometimes ])revalent 
ill that region, but the probable origin of the 

283 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




name is that given by Mr. J. P. Gagliardo, a 
resident of the place, who says it was derived 
"from a number of hornitos built here by the 
first settlers, who located here about the early 
fifties." Homos (ovens), of brick and adobe, 
built out-of-doors, and used to bake the bread 
for several families, were in very common use 
among the first Spanish settlers of California. 
Ovens were also used by the Indians, for, instead 
of eating their food raw or imperfectly cooked, 
they used quite elaborate methods in its prepara- 
tion. Their ovens are thus described in the 
Handbook of American Indians, by Dr. Pliny E. 
Goddard, of the American Museum of Natural 
History: "The pit oven, consisting of a hole 
excavated in the ground, heated with fire, and 
then filled with food, which was covered over and 
allowed to cook, was general in America, though 
as a rule it was employed only occasionally, and 
principally for cooking vegetal substances. This 
method of cooking was found necessary to render 
acrid or poisonous foods harmless, and starchy 
foods saccharine, and as a preliminary in drying 
and preserving food for winter use. Most of the 
acorn-consuming Indians of California cooked 

284 




IN THK SIKRRA M;\.\1).\S. 
'Kast Vidcllf, tin- Alps of llu- Kin^' Kern (li\i(lc. 



THEIR MEANING AND ROMANCE 




acorn mush in small sand-pits. The soap-root 
was made palatable by cooking it in an earth- 
covered heap. The Hupa cook the same plant 
for about two days in a large pit lined with 
stones, in which a hot fire is maintained until 
the stones and surrounding earth are well heated; 
the fire is then drawn, the pit lined with leaves 
of wild grape and wood sorrel to impro\'e the 
flavor of the bulbs, and a quantity of the bulbs 
thrown in; leaves are then placed on top, the 
whole is covered with earth, and a big fire built 
on top." Mr. Charles B. Turrill states that "the 
meal of the ground acorns was placed in shallow 
hollows in the sand and water poured on it, by 
which means the bitter principle was leached out. 
Then the meal was placed in baskets and cooked 
by putting hot stones therein. The cooking was 
done in tin- basket, not in llie sand." Other 
Indians used ])il oNcns for baking clams, and the 
Panamints of California roasted cactus joints 
and mescal in pits. The Pueblo Indians used 
dome-sha])e<l o\xns of stone ])lastered with clay, 
a form that nia>- have been imitated l)\- the 
S])aniards, since their ovens were of that char- 
acter. 

287 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




Modesto (modest), is the county-seat of Stanis- 
laus County, and is thirty miles south of Stockton. 
According to residents of this town, "The place 
was first named Ralston in the year 1870, in 
honor of Mr. Ralston, who was then a very 
prominent resident of San Francisco, and presi- 
dent of the Bank of California. He was so modest 
that he preferred that some other name be 
adopted, so the name was changed to Modesto.'^ 
If this be the true story, it was surely a unique 
reason for the naming of a town. 

Oroville (goldtown), is a hybrid word made up 
of the Spanish oro (gold), and the French ville 
(town). Oroville is the county-seat of Butte 
County, and is on the Feather River, in the heart 
of a mining and fruit region. 

Rio Vista (river view), is in Solano County, on 
the Sacramento River. Modern. Incorrect con- 
struction. It should be Vista del Rio. 

Tehachapi, an Indian word of which the mean- 
ing has not been ascertained, is the name of the 
mountain pass in Kern County across the Sierra 
Nevada, of which it approximately marks the 
southern limit, and of a town in the same county, 
thirty-five miles southeast of Bakersfield. 

288 



THEIR MEANING AND ROMANCE 




"Tn the famous Tahichapah Pass was a tribe 
called by themselves Ta-Jii-cha-pa-han-na, and 
l)y the Kern Indians Ta-hicli. This tribe is now 
extinct." — (Powers' Tribes of Calij'ornia.) 

Vacaville is situated in a beautiful and fertile 
valley in Solano County. It received its name 
from a famil)- named Vaca, who were at one time 
prominent in that region. Manuel Vaca, the 
founder of the family, was a native of New 
Mexico, and came to California in 1841. "He 
was a hospitable man of good repute." 



289 



XII 

IN THE SIERRAS 
THE SIERRA NEVADA 

The Sierra Nevada Mountains, California's 
wonder-land, derive their name from sierra (saw), 
and nevada (snowy), — descriptive of the saw- 
toothed outlines of the summits of the range, and 
the mantle of per[Detual snow that covers the 
highest tops. 

The term Sierra Madre, absurdly translated by 
some persons as "Mother of Christ," means, of 
course, "Mother Sierra," that is, the largest 
mountain range personified as the mother of the 
smaller ranges. 

"The Sierra Nevada is generally considered to 
extend from Tehachapi Pass in ihc south to 
Lassen Peak in the north, and constitutes the 
dividing ridge between the great basin on the 
east, to which it falls abru])tl_\-, and !he San 
Joac(uin and Sacramento \'alle\s on the west. 
It is characterized b}' deej) and narrow \alle\s, 

293 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




with almost vertical walls of rock thousands of 
feet in height, and its scenery is of surpassing 
grandeur, much more imposing than that of the 
Rockies. Many of its higher summits are cov- 
ered with perpetual snow." — (Lippincott's 
Gazetteer.) 

PIT RIVER 

Among the many tributary streams that carry 
the waters of the Sierra Nevada down the western 
slope into the Sacramento, the Pit, often incor- 
rectly spelled Pitt, is one of the most important, 
and, although not properly belonging in these 
pages, is included for the sake of the information 
to be gained concerning Indian customs. 

The natives along this river were in the habit 
of digging pits near the banks to catch bear and 
deer, and, on occasion, even their human enemies. 
The pits were dug in the regular trails of animals, 
twelve to fourteen feet deep, conical in shape, 
with a small opening at the top, covered with 
brush and earth. Signs, such as broken twigs, 
were placed as a warning to their own people, 
and sharp stakes were placed in the bottom to 

294 



THEIR MEANING AND ROMANCE 




impale any creature that might fall in. Another 
account of this custom is given in Miller's Life 
Among the Modocs: "Pits from ten to fifteen feet 
deep were dug, in which natives caught man and 
beast. These man-traps, for such was their 
primary use, were small at the mouth, widening 
toward the bottom, so that exit was impossible, 
even were the victim to escape impalement upon 
sharpened elk and deer horns, which were favor- 
ably placed for his reception. The opening was 
craftily concealed by means of light sticks, over 
which earth was scattered, and the better to 
deceive the unwary, travelers' footprints were 
frequently stamped with a moccasin in the loose 
soil." It was from these Indian })its that the 
river received its name. 



PLUAIAS 

Plumas (feathers), is the name of a county in 
tlu' northeastern ]xirt of the state. It is drained 

by the I'catluT Rix'cr, which Hows throiii^fh one 
of the deepest and most pic tiircs(|uc canNons in 
California. The count}- is characterized b)- its 

297 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




wild and rugged scenery, its deep canyons and 
extensive forests of evergreen trees. In the 
northwest corner Lassen Peak, now an active 
volcano, rises to a height of 10437 f^^t. 

The county derives its name from its principal 
stream, which now appears under its English 
form of The Feather, but which was originally 
named El Rio de las Plumas (the river of the 
feathers), by Captain Luis A. Argiiello, who led 
an exploring party up the valley in 1820, and 
whose attention was attracted by the great num- 
ber of feathers of wild fowl floating on the sur- 
face of the river. Even to this day the valley of 
the Feather has remained a favorite haunt of the 
wild ducks and geese, as will be attested by the 
many hunters who seek sport there during the 
season. By an inconsistency, the county has 
retained the original Spanish name, Plumas, 
while that of the river has been Americanized. 
An erroneous and extremely far-fetched expla- 
nation of the name has often appeared in print 
to the effect that it was derived from a fancied 
resemblance between the spray of the river and 
a feather. 



298 



THEIR MEANING AND ROMANCE 




THE AMERICAN RIVER 

The American River, another of the names 
which have been translated from the original 
Spanish, is formed by three forks rising in the 
Sierra Nevada, and empties into the Sacramento 
at the site of the city of that name. The three 
branches forming it run in deep canyons, some- 
times two thousand feet in depth, and the scen- 
ery along its course is of a rugged and striking 
character. , 

The ri\'er was originall}' called El Rio dc los 
Americanos (the river of the Americans), prob- 
ably from the presence on its banks of a company 
of western trai)pers, who lived there from 1822 to 
1830, and no! "because it was the usual route of 
travel by which Americans entered the state," 
as is stated by Bancroft and others. 

In Fremont's time it was still known by its 
Spanish name, by which he refers to it in the 
following paragra])h: "Just tlun a well-dressed 
Indian came up, and made his salutations in very 
well-s]K)ken S])anish. In answer to our iiKjuiries 
he informed us Llial we were upon the Rio dc los 

299 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




Americanos, and that it joined the Sacramento 
River about ten miles below. Never did a name 
sound more sweetly! We felt ourselves among 
our countrymen, for the name of American, in 
these distant parts, is applied to the citizens of 
the United States." 



EL DORADO COUNTY 

El Dorado (the gilded man). Although it is 
known to most people, in a vague, general 
way, that the name El Dorado was given to 
this county on account of the discovery of 
gold there, the romantic tales connected with 
the name are probably not so well known. The 
Indians of Peru, Venezuela, and New Granada, 
perhaps in the hope of inducing their oppressors 
to move on, were constantly pointing out to the 
Spaniards, first in one direction, then in another, 
a land of fabulous riches. This land was said to 
have a king, who caused his body to be covered 
every morning with gold dust, by means of an 
odorous resin. Each evening he washed it off, 
as it incommoded his sleep, and each morning 

300 




i;i. RIO 1)1. l.AS I'l.UMAS (FEATIIl.R RI\i;Rj. 

'To this day the valley of the Feather is a favorite haunt for wild 

diuks and f^eese." 



THEIR MEANING AND ROMANCE 




had the gilding process repeated. From this 
fable the white men were led to believe that 
the country must be rich in gold, and long, 
costly, and fruitless expeditions were under- 
taken in j)ursuit of this ])hantom of El Dorado. 
In time the phrase El Dorado came to be ap- 
plied to regions where gold and other precious 
metals were thought to be plentiful. According 
to General Vallejo, one P'rancisco Orellana, a 
companion of the adventurer Pizarro, wrote a 
fictitious account of an El Dorado in South 
America, "a region of genial clime and never- 
fading verdure, abounding in gold and precious 
stones, where wine gushed forth from never- 
ceasing springs, wheat fields grew ready-baked 
loaves of bread, birds ahead}' roasted flew among 
the trees, and nature was filled with harmony 
and sweetness." Although old Mother Nature 
has not yet provided us with "bread ready-baked" 
or "birds readx-roasted" in California, her gifts 
to her children have been so bountiful ihal they 
may almost be compared to the fabulous tales of 
El Dorado, the gild(>d man. 



.•)^.') 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




PLACER COUNTY 

Placer, the county in the Sierras famous for 
its surface gold-mining, has a puzzHng name for 
which no satisfactory explanation has yet been 
found. Although it has been used m Spanish 
countries for centuries in the sense of surface 
mining, dictionaries remain silent upon the sub- 
ject. The theory often advanced that the word 
is a contraction of plaza dc oro (place of gold), 
bears none of the marks of probability, and 
another that it means "a river where gold is 
found" is not supported by adequate authority. 
One old Spanish dictionary gives the meaning 
of placer as "a sea bottom, level and of slight 
depth, of sand, mud, or stone," and states also 
that the word is sometimes used to designate 
places where pearl diving is carried on. It may 
be that the word was extended from this usage 
to include placer mining, since in that case the 
gold is found in shallow pockets near the surface. 
This theory is offered here as a mere suggestion. 

Placer County has some of the most striking 
mountain scenery in the state, and has been the 

304 



THEIR MEANING AND ROMANCE 




theatre of many remarkable events in its history, 
particularly those connected with the "days of 
'49." In the town of Placerville, the county-seat 
of El Dorado County, there is an instance of a 
change of name from English to Spanish for the 
better, for this place was originally called Hang- 
town, in commemoration of the hanging of certain 
'bad men" on a tree there. 



THE TRUCKEE RIVER 

The Triickee River rises on the borders of 
El Dorado and Placer Counties, and is the outlet 
of Lake Tahoe, discharging its waters into Pyra- 
mid Lake in Nevada. This mountain stream is 
justly celebrated for the wild charm of its scenery. 
There is a village bearing the same name, in 
Nevada County, well-known to travelers through 
being on the regular route to Tahoe. At this 
place winter sports, tobogganing, skiing, skating, 
etc., are pro\i(k'<l lor San I'runciscans, who need 
to travel but a few hours to exchange their rlime 
of eternal spring for the deep snows of the Siirras. 

The explanation generally accei)ted for the 

305 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




name of Truckee is that it was so-called for an 
Indian, by some accounts described as a Canadian 
trapper, who guided a party of explorers in 1844 
to its lower crossing, where the town of Wads- 
worth now stands. The party, who were suffering 
from thirst, felt themselves to be under such 
obligations to the Indian for having guided them 
to this lovely mountain stream, with its crystal 
waters and abundance of fish, that they gave it 
his name. Of this Indian it is said that "he joined 
Fremont's battalion, and was afterwards known 
as Captain Truckee; he became a great favorite 
with Fremont, who gave him a Bible. When he 
died he asked to be buried by white men in their 
style. The miners dug a grave near Como, in 
the croppings of the old Goliah ledge. Here he 
was laid to rest, with the Bible by his side." — - 
{History of Nevada County.) 



LAKE TAHOE 

Tahoe is another of the Indian names whose 
meaning can not be ascertained with any degree 
of certainty. The definition "Big Water," the 

306 



U'' 






MEANING AND ROMANCE 




tally given, is considered doubtful by 
ists. The statement has been made by 
.'nt Indians now living on the banks of 
that the word, pronounced Dd-o by them, 
leep" and "blue." Yet it is much to 
kx X this pearl among all lakes has at least 

beci tunate enough to receive an indigenous 
nam. ^scaping by a narrow margin the ignomini- 
ous fate of being called Lake Bigler, for a former 
governor of the state. It appears that Fremont 
was the first to give to this body of water a name, 
and it is shown upon his map under the rather 
indefinite title of Mountain Lake. Afterward it 
was known for a short time as Lake Bigler. The 
story goes that in 1859 Dr. Henry de Groot, while 
exploring the mountains, learned that tali-00-ee 
meant "a great deal of water," and from this 
Tahoe was evolved as an appropriate name, Init 
did not become attached to the lake until the 
period of the Civil War. During that time the 
Reverend Tliomas Starr King, llic famous "war" 
clergyman of San I'rancisco, visited the lake, and 
inspired b\' indignation against the Democratic 
Governor Higler, whom he regarded as a secession- 
ist, he dehnitely christened it Talioc, for which we 

309 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




may be grateful to his memory, regardless of the 
motives by which he was actuated. 

Tahoe is partly in Placer, and partly in El 
Dorado, at the eastern base of the Sierra Nevada, 
a portion of its waters also extending into the 
state of Nevada. It is twenty-two miles long and 
ten wide, and has an elevation of 6225 feet above 
sea level. It is especially remarkable for its great 
depth, being over 1500 feet deep. 



AMADOR COUNTY 

Amador (literally "lover"), but in this case a 
surname. Amador is the long, narrow county 
lying between Calaveras and El Dorado, and was 
probably named in honor of the Amador family, 
either Don Pedro Amador, or his son, Jose Maria. 
Pedro Amador is said to have been a "soldier of 
fortune" in the Spanish army, who came to Cali- 
fornia in 1 77 1. His son, Jose Maria, was also a 
soldier and a renowned Indian fighter, and was 
known to be living as late as 1883. 



310 



THEIR MEANING AND ROMANCE 




CALAVERAS 

Calaveras (skulls), is the name of a county in 
the central part of the Sierra Nevada, on the 
eastern border. This county is famous for its 
gold and copper mines, and its Giant Sequoias. 
The river, to which the name of Calaveras was 
first given, rises in the foothills of the Sierra 
Nevada and flows southwest, emptying into the 
San Joaquin about fifteen miles below Stockton. 

The river received its rather lugubrious name 

at the hands of Captain Moraga, who led the 

first expedition up the Sacramento and San 

Joafjuin rivers. In his diary, Moraga says that 

the river tribes fought against those of the Sierra 

for possession of the salmon in the stream, and 

that in one battle as many as three thousand 

were said to have been killed and left on the 

field. A great num])er of skulls, relics of this 

bloody conflict, were found b>- Moraga scattered 

along the creek bed, and caused him to give it the 

name of Lus Calaveras. W'c find in Fremont a 

corroborating reference to I lie salmon as a cause 

of dissension among the Indians of that region: 

3" 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




'This fish had a large share in supporting the 
Indians, who raised nothing, but hved on what 
nature gave. A 'salmon water,' as they named it, 
was a valuable possession to a tribe or village, 
and jealously preserved as an inheritance." 

Particular interest was aroused in the Indian 
relics of this county some years ago by the finding 
of the celebrated "Calaveras skull," purporting 
to have been taken from the Tertiary deposit, 
a stratum in which no human remains had ever 
before been discovered. A close examination into 
the circumstances, however, caused scientists to 
look with great doubt upon the assertion that the 
skull had been taken from the Tertiary deposit. 
In the Handbook of American Indians, published 
by the Smithsonian Institute, the following 
reference appears: "Remains of aborigines are 
plentiful in this county, embedded in ancient 
river gravels, from which gold was washed. By 
some scientists these remains were thought to 
belong to the Tertiary Age, but their resemblance 
to the modern Indian makes this doubtful. The 
Calaveras skull, still preserved in the Peabody 
Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, at 
Cambridge, Massachusetts, was said to have come 

312 




SHORE OF LAKE TAHOE. 
" * * * pearl among all lakes.' 



THEIR MEANING AND ROMANCE 




from the gravels of Bald Mountain, at a depth of 
130 feet, but there are good reasons for suspect- 
ing that it was derived from one of the limestone 
caves so numerous in that region." 



TUOLUMNE 

Tuolumne is the name of the county in the 
Sierras just east of Calaveras, and of the river 
which rises at the base of the Sierra Nevadas, and 
tlows into the San Joaquin, twenty-iive miles 
south of Stockton, a part of its course running 
through a deep canyon. 

Here we have another of the river names ending 
in iinnic, already discussed under the heading of 
Cosumne. As stated before, umnc i)robal)l>' means 
"people of," and it is held by some authorities 
that the meaning of Tuolumne is "peo])le of the 
stone houses, or caves." Bancroft maintains 
this theory, holding that the name is a corruption 
of lalmalamne, "a grouj) of stone huts or caves, or 
collection of wigwams." Objection has been 
raised to this theory on the ground that the 
Indians of CaHlornia were not cave-dwellers, but 

315 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




universally lived in flimsy huts made of sticks 
and grass. This objection is cleared away in some 
measure by a very interesting paragraph in the 
diary of Padre Pedro Munoz, who accompanied 
the Gabriel Moraga expedition of 1806 into that 
region. The passage in question relates: "On 
the morning of this day, the expedition went 
toward the east along the banks of the river, and 
having traveled about six leagues, we came upon 
a village called TaMtamne. This village is situated 
on some steep precipices, inaccessible on account 
of their rough rocks. The Indians live in their 
sotanos (cellars or caves) ; they go up and come 
down by means of a weak stick, held up by one 
of themselves while the one who descends slips 
down. They did not wish to come down from 
their hiding-places, and for me the ascent was too 
difficult. This village probably has about two hun- 
dred souls, judging by the considerable mass which 
we repeatedly made out among the rocks and cor- 
ridors [or ledges], in the manner of balconies, 
which the precipice made." This meeting with 
the cave-dwellers occurred at a spot about six 
leagues from the Guadalupe River, after the 
expedition had left the Merced. It is not, of 

316 



1 H E I R M E A N 1 N G AND R O M A N C E 




course, to be inferred from this circumstance that 
the Cahfornia Indians were genuine "cHff dwell- 
ers," but rather that, at least in the mountainous 
parts of the state, they rnay have had the habit 
of taking refuge in natural caves from inclement 
weather or attacks of enemies. 

As to the pronunciation of the word, it is said 
that the Indians called it Tii-ah-hlm-ne, rather 
than Tuohimnc, which is the general usage. 



MARIPOSA 

Mariposa (butterfly), is famous as the county 
that holds within its borders two of the wonders 
of the earth, the Yosemite Valley and the (liant 
Sequoias. Some of Ihcsc Irees are three hundred 
feet high, thirty feet in diameter, and 2400 years 
old, having unfolded their feathery fronds before 
Christ came ujjon the earth. .According to Pro- 
lessor Jej)sen, "they arc the direct descendants 
of the species dominant in tlie Tertiary Period," 
and thus are a li\ ing reminder of the plant life of 
that dim and distant past of which the animal 
liU' is ])i(tLn'ed for us in the fossil ri'niains of the 

.317 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




mammoth and saber- tooth tiger of the La Brea 
asphalt beds. 

Nearly every writer who has attempted to 
account for the name Mariposa has fallen into 
the error of ascribing it to the charming little 
flower called the Mariposa lily. Fremont, with 
his intense appreciation of the beauty of the wild 
flowers covering the whole country with a carpet 
of many hues at the time of his passage over the 
Sierra, says: "On some of the higher ridges were 
fields of a poppy which, fluttering and tremulous 
on its long thin stalk, suggests the idea of a 
butterfly settling on a flower, and gives to this 
flower its name of Mariposa (butterflies) , and the 
flower extends its name to the stream." It is 
almost a pity to demolish such a pretty story, yet 
it is unavoidable, for the true explanation is at 
hand in the diary of Padre Muiioz, who accom- 
panied the Gabriel Moraga expedition of 1806 
into the Sierra. He says: "This spot [not far 
from the Merced river], was called Las Mari- 
posas (the butterflies), on account of their great 
multitude, especially at night and in the morning, 
so much so that they became excessively annoy- 
ing, carrying their desire to hide from the rays of 

318 



THEIR MEANING AND ROMANCE 




the sun so far that the}' followed us everywhere, 
and one even entered into the ear of one of the 
leaders of the expedition, causing him a great deal 
of annoyance, and not a little trouble in getting 
it out." This story is corroborated by the fact 
that at the present day cciually great numbers of 
butterflies, equally annoying, swarm through the 
mountain forests during a certain part of the 
autumn. 

YOSEMITE 

Yosemite (grizzly bear, not lar^c grizzly bear, 
according to the scientists), said to liaxc ])een 
called Vohamitc by the natives, is one of the few 
Indian names whose meaning has been ascer- 
tained witli a reasonable degree of certainty. 
It must be remembered that Yosemite, like most 
Indian words, has been greatly C()rru])ted from 
its original form, which was u-zi'i-mai-li, o-so- 
uuii-ti or uh-zu-mai-li, according to the tribe using 
it, and llu' \alk'y was iK'wr known by this name 
to the Indians, hut ahva>s as A-uui-ni, from the 
name ot" their i)rin(ii);il village, ("onsiflering the 
great alteration of the name from its natixc form, 

321 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




it does not seem to be a matter of vital importance 
whether it shall now be used as one word, Yosem- 
ite, or in two words, Yo Semite, although the 
latter form was at one time the more general 
usage, and is greatly preferred by some persons. 
The valley was discovered in 1851 by Major 
James D. Savage of the United States army, while 
chasing the Indians, who had a bad habit of 
sallying forth from their hiding-place in the 
valley to commit depredations. The name was 
chosen by Dr. L. H. Bunnell, surgeon of the ex- 
pedition, who tells the story in his Discovery of 
the Yosemite. He gave it the name of an Indian 
tribe hving there and to whom this name 
had been given by other tribes, they calling 
themselves Ah-wah-nee. Their chief, Ten-ei-ya, 
said that when he was a young man the name 
Yosemite, or Yohamite, had been chosen because 
the tribe lived in the mountains and valleys which 
were the favorite resorts of the bears, and because 
his people were expert in killing them. He also 
said, perhaps in a spirit of boasting, that the name 
was bestowed upon his tribe to express the idea 
that they were held in as much fear as the bears. 
This band of Indians was said to have been 

322 



THEIR MEANING AND ROMANCE 




originally composed of outlaws or refugees from 
other tribes, and may have well deserved their 
evil reputation. 

Indian names, few of which can be scientifically 
defined, have been given to many peaks and water- 
falls in the valley. In the folder printed by the 
Southern Pacific Railroad Company more or less 
fanciful definitions are given for these names, for 
which there is no foundation in fact except in the 
case of Yosemite itself and Iluuto, which really 
does mean "eye," though not "watching eye." 
Tenaya Peak was probably named for the Yosem- 
ite chief, Ten-ei-ya. The definition of Pi-wa-ack 
as "cataract of diamonds" is absurd on its face, 
for a moment's thought will remind any one that 
diamonds were wholly unknown to the Indians 
of that time and place. 

"Ma-la fthe canyon), a generic word, in explain- 
ing which the Indians held up both hands to de- 
note perpendicular walls." — (Powers' Tribes of 
California.) 

"Tis-se-yak is the name of an Indian woman who 
figured in a legend. The Indian woman cuts her 
hair straight across the forehead and allows the 
sides to drop along her cheeks, presenting a sriuarc 

323 



PLACE NAMES OF CAET'O 




face, which the Indians account the r 
female beauty, and they think they discc 
square face in the vast front of South T 
(Powers' Tribes of California.) i 

Cho-ko-nip-o-deh, translated as "baby 
in the Southern Pacific folder, means 
"dog-place" or "dog-house." — (Powers' 
California.) 

MONO 



Mono is the name of a county on tV rn 

border of the state, and of the lake near tf ' cern 

base of the Sierra Nevada. This lake - -teen 

miles long and nine miles wide, and \ culiar 
in having no outlet, its waters bein| rongly 
saline and alkaline. It lies 6730 feet av;ove sea- 
level and is almost completely destitute jf animal 
life. 

This name, corrupted from Monache, the name 
of the Indians of this region, through its resem- 
blance to the Spanish word mono (monkey), has 
been the cause of considerable confusion, and of 
a number of extravagant theories, such as the 
supposed existence of monkeys in that country, 

324 




\i.k\.\i. I Ai.i.s IN nil; ^()Sl•;MI^l•; \ .\i.i.i;\'. 

"The valley was called by the Indians Awnni, from llu' name of 
their |)rinci[)al \ illagc." 



THEIR MEANING AND ROMANCE 




or the resemblance of the natives to those animals, 
but the similarity between the two words is 
regarded by ethnologists as ])urely accidental. 
The meaning is obscure, but it is said that the 
name was applied to some Shoshonean tribes of 
southeastern California by their neighbors on the 
west. 

TNYO 

Inyo, a word of unknown meaning, was the 
name of a tribe of Indians in the Sierra. Inyo 
County is on the eastern Ijorder of the state, 
adjacent to Nevada. Its largest stream is the 
Owens Ri\-er, wliich flows into Owens Lake, 
another body of saline water having no outlet. 
This county has the um'ii\ia])K' distinction of 
containing witliin its boi-dcrs the ttTrible "Death 
Valley," where the bones of so man\- unfortunates 
have been left lo whiten under the desert sun, 
and which still claims a \ictim now and then. 
This desolate x'allc}' is fort\' miles long, King far 
below tin- le\cl of the sea, is (!e>lilule of all \-ege- 
tation, totally without water, subject to terrific 
heat, and in all resi)ects ui'll deserves its funereal 

3^7 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




name. Inyo is unique in containing the high- 
est and lowest points in the United States, 
Mount Whitney and Death Valley, within sight 
of each other. In other parts of the county the 
mountain scenery is of remarkable grandeur, and 
the gold mines in which it is unusually rich are 
still worked with profit. 

AMARGOSA RIVER 

Amargosa (bitter), is the very appropriate 
name of a river of Nevada and southeastern 
California which flows into Death Valley, some- 
times known also as the Amargosa Desert. The 
mountains lying northeast of the river's upper 
course are sometimes called the Amargosa Moun- 
tains. Fremont gives a characteristic picture of 
this dreary country in the following paragraph: 
"We traveled through a barren district, where a 
heavy gale was blowing about the loose sand, and, 
after a ride of eight miles, reached a large creek 
of salt and bitter water, running in a westerly 
direction, to meet the stream bed we had left. It 
is called by the Spaniards Amargosa, the bitter 
water of the desert." 

328 



THEIR MEANING AND ROMANCE 




SUPPLEMENTARY LIST 

Alta (high), is a village in Placer County, sixty- 
eight miles northeast of Sacramento, two miles 
from the great American Canyon. The altitude 
of this place is 3607 feet above sea level. The 
name is modern and was only given to the place 
after the building of the Central Pacific Railroad. 

Cerro Gordo (large, thick hill), is the name of a 
famous mining camp in Inyo County. 

Cisco is a town in Placer County, situated at 
an altitude of 5934 feet above sea level. Cisco 
is a word of disjnited origin. It has been said to 
be derived from the Algonf(uin word risco, mean- 
ing a lish, a sort of oily herring found in the Great 
Lakes, but it seems unlikely that such a name 
should be transported all the way from the (ireat 
Lakes to the Sierras, especially as no fish of that 
kind is to be found tluTc. ()tluT persons believe 
llie word to be (kTi\C(l from the Sjxinish cisco 
(broken jjieces of coal), but for ihis there appears 
to be no legitimate reason, in the History of 
Placer County the statement is made that the 
town was named for John J. Cisco, at one time 

329 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




connected with the United States Government, 
an explanation which is probably the true one. 

Esmeralda (emerald), a village in Calaveras 
County. 

Hetch Hetchy is the Indian name of a deep valley 
in the Sierra, lying north of the Yosemite, which 
will some day cease to be a valley and become a 
lake, as the people of San Francisco have succeeded 
in obtaining the permission of the United States 
Government to turn it into a reservoir for 
the city's water supply. An explanation of the 
meaning of the word Hetch Hetchy has been 
obtained through the kindness of John Muir, 
who says: "I have been informed by moun- 
taineers who know something of the Indian 
language that Hetch Hetchy is the name of a 
species of grass that the Tuolumne Indians used 
for food, and which grows on the meadow at the 
lower end of the valley. The grain, when ripe, 
was gathered and beaten out and pounded into 
meal in mortars." The word was originally 
spelled Hatchatchie. 

Lancha Plana (fiat-boat), is in Amador County, 
and its story is thus told by Mr. Junius Farns- 
worth, an old resident of Stockton: "This town 



THEIR MEANING AND ROMANCE 




is located across the Mokelumne River from Po\'- 
erty Bar, a name given to a gravel bar in the 
river which was exceedingl\' rich in placer gold, 
and to which thousands of early day miners were 
attracted. Those who came from the north side 
of the ]\Iokelumne centered in Lancha Plana and 
reached Poverty Bar by means of a flat-boat, or 
fiat ferry. The Spanish soon designated the set- 
tlement on the north bank of the river as Lancha 
Plana, as it was the point at which the flat-boat 
tied ujj.'' 

Moqucliimnc is the name of a river which 
rises in the high Sierra in Alpine County, flows 
southwesterly and empties into the San Joaquin. 
The word is a corruption of the Miwok Waka- 
lumiloh, the Indian name of the river. The 
Mocjuelumne famil\- was made uj) of an aggrega- 
tion of tribes which occupied three sections, one 
lying between the Cosumnes and I'^esno Rivers, 
another in Marin, Sonoma, and \a])a Counties, 
and a third occupying a small area in the south 
end of Lake County. — (A. L. Kroeber, in Ameri- 
can Anthrop. \'I1I, no. 4, \()ob.) The Aliwoks 
constituted the great body of this familw tin- 
different branches of which were coniUHlccl by u 

331 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




similarity of languages. The Miwoks are de- 
scribed as being quite low in the scale of civili- 
zation, and "it has been asserted that this tribe of 
Indians ate every variety of living creature 
indigenous to their territory except the skunk. 
The skins of jack-rabbits were rudely woven 
into robes, and they bought bows and arrows 
from the mountain Indians for shell money. 
Cremation of the dead was usual, and all posses- 
sions of the departed were burned with them. 
Their names were never afterward mentioned and 
those who bore the same names changed them 
for others. Widows covered their faces with 
pitch, and the younger women singed their hair 
short as a sign of widowhood." — {Handbook of 
American Indians.) Muk-kel was the name of 
the principal village of this tribe, and if umne does 
in fact mean "people of", Moquelumne may be 
"people of the village of Muk-kel." 

Panamint Range of mountains was named for 
the Panamint tribe, who belonged to the Sho- 
shonean family, and lived around the Panamint 
Valley, in Inyo County, southeastern California. 
Many unfortunate seekers after gold have lost 
their lives in this desolate mountain range. 

332 



THEIR MEANING AND ROMANCE 




Pinto Range fj)ainted or spotted range), so- 
called because of the variegated colors of the 
rocks. This range is in Inyo County. 

San Andreas (St. Andrew), is the county-seat 
of Calaveras County, and is situated near the 
Calaveras Ri\er, fifty-six miles southeast of 
Sacramento. Placer gold mining was at one time 
extensively carried on here. St. Andrew, the 
patron saint of this place, was the brother of 
Simon Peter, and was the first called to be an 
apostle. He suffered martyrdom by being crucified, 
supposedly on a cross shaped like the one that 
bears his name. He is the patron of the Order of 
the Golden Fleece, and of the great Order of the 
Cross of St. Andrew. — (Stories of the Saints.) San 
Andreas is anomalous in being almost the only 
Spanish name in the mining district. The circum- 
stances of its naming have not been ascer- 
tained. 

Sonora, named for the i)ro\incc of Sonora in 
Mexico, is the capital of Tuolumne County, and 
is situated ninety miles southeast of Sacramento. 
It received its name from the large number of 
Sonorans from the Mexican ])ro\ince who mined 
there in the \'ery early days. This is a mining 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




period name and has no real connection with 
Spanish names. 

Tenaya Peak in Yosemite Valley is named for 
Ten-ei-ya, chief of the Yosemite Indians. 

Vallecito (little valley), is in Calaveras County, 
fifty-five miles northeast of Stockton. 

Wawona, in Mariposa County, is said by some 
authorities to be a Moquelumnan word meaning 
"big tree," but this definition is regarded by 
ethnologists with doubt. 



CAMINO REAL 

Caniino Real (royal road, or the King's high- 
way). The Camino Real was the road connect- 
ing the missions, and was the chief means of 
intercourse between the different settlements 
during the early years of the state's history. 
After American occupation the road fell into 
disuse, but at present is being reconstructed along 
the old route, with many extensions and branches, 
and will, when finished, be one of the finest roads 
in the United States. 



334 



THEIR MEANING AND ROMANCE 




PRONUNCIATION OF SPANISH NAMES. 

While it scarcely falls within the province of this book 
to enter into an elaborate discussion of the matter of pro- 
nunciation of Spanish names, it is thought desirable to 
jiresent a few of the simplest rules, with some examples, 
so that persons unacquainted with the language may 
avoid at least the worst of those pit-falls set for their 
inexperienced feet by our nomenclature. It should be 
mentioned that in California the Spanish-American usage, 
rather than the Castilian, is followed in the pronunciation 
of the c and s. The rules of pronunciation quoted here 
are those given in Ramsey's text books, generally regarded 
as excellent authority. 

\OWELS. 



A sounds like a in ah, midway between the English a 
in father and that in fat. Example, Pala, pronounced 
Pah' la h. 

E sounds liki' a in hay, its sound being slightly \'aried 
according to situation. Example, Rode'o, pronounced 
Ro-day'o. 

I sounds like cr in hrc. Example, Vista, i)ronounced 
Vees'lah. 

O sounds like o in hope. Example, Contra Costa, pro- 
nounced Coiie'tra/i Coast'ah. This name is frequently 
mispronounced Ijy using the short sound of o, as in not. 

335 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




U sounds like u in rule. Example, La Funta, pro- 
nounced La Poon'tah. 

Y, when a vowel, is equivalent to i. Y is considered a 
vowel only when standing alone, as in y (the conjunction 
and), or at the end of a word, as in ley (law), but is some- 
times used interchangeably with / at the beginning of a 
word, as in San Ysidro, pronounced San Ee-see'dro, and 
sometimes spelled Isidro. In other cases it is a consonant 
and is pronounced like the v in the English yard. 

CONSONANTS. 

Only those consonant sounds differing from English 
usage need be mentioned here. 

C has two sounds. Before e and i it is pronounced like 
5 in seat, that is, in Spanish-American usage; examples, 
Cerro, pronounced Ser'ro, and Cima, pronounced See'mah. 
In all other cases c has the sound of k; examples, Carlos, 
pronounced Kar'loce, Colorado, pronounced Ko-lo-rah'do 
(each long, as in hope), Cuesta, pronounced Kwes'tah, 
and Cruz, pronounced Kroos. 

Ch has the sound of ch in church. Example, Chico, pro- 
nounced Chee'ko. 

D is slightly softened, and when occurring between 
vowels and at the end of words it is almost like th in then. 
Examples, Andrade, pronounced Ahn-drah'-dthay, and 
Soledad, pronounced Sole-ay-dadth. 

G has two sounds. Before e and i it has the sound of 
strongly aspirated h. Examples, German' , pronounced 
Ilare-mahn' , and ,£j/ro, pronounced hee'ro. In all other 

336 



THEIR MEANING AND ROMANCE 




cases it sounds like ^ in go. Examples, Gaviota, Golela, 
Guadalupe, Granada. In gue and gui the u is regularly 
silent; exceptions to this rule are marked by the diaeresis, 
as in Arguello, pronounced Ar-gwayl'yo, or in Spanish- 
American, Ar-gway'yo. 

II is silent except in the combined character ch. Ex- 
ample, La Honda, pronounced La On'dab, with long o, 
as in Jwpe. 

J has the sound of strongly aspirated //. Examples, 
Pdjaro, pronounced Pah'hah-ro, and San Jose, pronounced 
San Ho-say' . This letter is one of the worst stumbling- 
blocks in the pronunciation of Sj^anish names. 

LI has the sound of the letters /// in the English million, 
but in many parts of Spanish-America it is pronounced 
like y in beyond. The latter is not considered an elegant 
])ronunciation. Example, Vallejo, properly pronounced 
Val-yay'ho, but in Spanish-American, Va-yay'ho. 

N has the sound of the letters ni in the English pinion. 
Iv\amplr, Canada, pronounced Can-yah'dthah. 

(J only occurs before uc and ui, and sounds like h, the 
following ii being always silent. Exami:)le, San Quinlin, 
pronounced Sn/i Keen-teen'. 

S has the hissing sound of .v in say, base, and is ne\er 
])ronounced like s/i as in mansion, or z as in rose. Thus in 
Sa)ila Rosa the .v is shari)ly hissed and is not pronounced 
as Sanla Koza. 

Z is sounded in Si)anish-.'\merica like sharply hissed s, 
as in say or base. Example, /.aniora, j)ronounced Sah- 
mo'rah. 

337 



PLACE NAMES OF C A L I F R N JA 




A peculiarity of pronunciation common to almost all 
Spaniards is the confusion of the b and the v so that one 
can hardly be distinguished from the other. Vowel 
sounds are pronounced shortly and crisply, never with the 
drawling circumflex sound sometimes heard in English. 
Without going into the complications of the division of 
syllables, it may be stated that the fundamental principle 
is to make syllables end in a vowel as far as possible; 
examples, Do-lo-res (not Do-lor-es), Sa-li-nas (not Sal-in-as. 

ACCENT. 

All words ending in n or 5 or a vowel are regularly 
accented on the next to the last syllable; examples, 
SausalUo, Alturas, comen. All others are accented on the 
last syllable; examples, San Rafael', AvenaV . In words 
following the above rules no mark is used, but in the 
exceptions, which are many, the stress must be indicated 
by the written accent. Examples, Portold, Jolon, Alamo, 
Los Angeles. 

ARTICLES. 

In the Spanish language articles agree with their nouns 
in gender and number. The forms of the definite article 
are el (singular) and los (plural) for the masculine, la 
(singular) and las (plural) for the feminine. Examples, 
El Portal (the portal, or gate), Los Gatos (the cats). La 
Paz (the peace), Las Vir genes (the virgins). 



338 



'^MEIR MEANING AND ROMANCE 




LIST OF NAMES MOST LIKELY TO BE MISPRO- 
NOUNCED, WITH THEIR PHONETIC PRO- 
NUNCIATION. 

A^ua pronounced Ah'gwah. Spanish Ameri- 
cans often mispronounce 
this word by leaving out 
the g, calling it ah'wa. 

Aguajito " Ah-gwah-hee'to. 

Alameda " Ah-lah-may'dthah. 

Los Angeles " Loce Ahng' hell-ess. 

Asuncion " Ah-soon-see-on' , with the 

long, as in hope. 

El Cajon' " El Kah-hon' , with the o 

long, as in hope. 

Camino Real " Kah-niee'no Ray-ahV . 

Canada " Kahn-yah'dtha, with the d 

slightly softened like th 
in then. 

Carpinteria " Kar-peen-tay-ree' ah. 

Carqulnez " Kar-kee'ness. 

Conejo " Ko-nay'ho. 

Corral " Kore-rahl' . 

Dolores " Do-lo'ress. 

Farallones " Eah-rahl-yo'ness, in Sj)an- 

ish-American, Fa-rah-yo' 
ness. 

Los Gatos " Loce Gah'tos, the a long, as 

in hope. 

339 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




Guadalupe pronounced 

La Jolla 

La Joya 

La Junta " 

Laguna Seca 

Lagunitas 

Matilija " 

Merced 

Mesa " 

Ojo 

Pdjaro " 

Paso Robles " 

Portold " 

Punta Arenas " 

Rodeo " 

Salinas " 

San Geronimo " 

San Jacinto " 

San Joaquin " 

San Jose " 

San Juan Bautista. " 

San Julian " 

San Luis Obisi)o. . . " 

San Martin " 



Gwa-dah-loo' pay . 

La Hole'yah, or in Span- 
ish-American, Ho' yah. 

La Ho' yah. 

La Hoon'tah. 

Lah-goo'nah Say'cah. 

Lah-goo-nee'tas. 

Mah-tee-lee'hah. 

Mare-sedth', with the d 
sHghtly softened Hke th 
in then. 

May'sah. 

O'ho, with the j strongly 
aspirated. 

Pah'hah-ro. 

Pah' so Ro'blace. 

Por-to-lah' . 

Poon'tah Ah-ray'nas. 

Ro-day'o. 

Sah-lee'nas. 

Sahn Hay-ro' nee-mo. 

Sahn Hah-seen'to. 

Sahn Wha-keen'. 

Sahn Ho-say' . 

Sahn Whan Bau-tees'ta. 

Sahn Hoo-lee-ahn'. 

Sahn Loo-ees' 0-bees'po. 

Sahn Mar-teen' . 



340 



THEIR MEANING AND ROMANCE 




San Quintin pronounced Sahn Keen-teen' , colloqui- 
ally spelled Quentin. 

Santa Fe " Sahnta Fay'. 

Santa Inez " Sahnta Ee-ness'. 

San Ysidro " Sahn Ee-see'dro also 

spelled Isidro. 

Snnol " Soon-yole'. 

Vallejo " Val-yay'ho, in Spanish- 

American Vah-yay'ho. 

Las V'trgenes " Las Veer'hen-ess 



^4l 




MAP ()!• Till'; MISSIONS. 
Usid liv till.' rourlisy i>f I'litluT KnKclhardt. 



FINAL LIST AND 
INDEX 





THEIR MEANING AND ROMANCE 




FINAL LIST AND INDEX 

Abalone (the great sea-snail of the Pacific Coast). 
See page 75. 

Acampo (common pasture). See page 282. This 
name is used here in the sense of "camp," and was 
given by the Southern Pacific Railroad years ago, 
in reference to a camp of wood choppers and 
Chinese which was located there. 

Acolito (acolyte), is in Imperial County. 

Adelantc (onward, forward), now changed to 
Napa Junction, is in \ay)a County. This place was 
called Adelantc in the h()])e that its location on 
Napa River would cause it to become the principal 
city of the valley. 

Adobe (sun-dried brick). 

Agua (water), is in very common use in referring 
to springs, usually accom})anied by a qualifying 
adjective. See page 339. 'Hiis word is usually 
mispronounced by vSpanish Americans. 

Agiia Amargosa (bitter water). See page 154. 

Agua Calioilr (hot water, hot spring). See 
pages 76 and 259. 

Agua Caycudo (falling water). 

347 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




Agua Duke (sweet water, fresh water). 

Agna Fria (cold water, cold spring). 

Agua Hedionda (stinking water, sulphur spring) . 

Agiiaje del Centinela (water hole, or watering 
place of the sentinel), the title of a land grant. 

Agua del Medio (middle spring). 

Agiiajito (little water hole). Near Monterey, 
in a dehghtful little glen, there were a number of 
these springs, or water holes, where the women 
were in the habit of doing the town washing, 
kneeling upon the ground and washing the cloth- 
ing directly in the springs. This place was called 
Los Aguajitos (the water holes), by the Spanish 
residents, and "washerwoman's canyon" by the 
Americans. In the pastoral days of California, 
entire families climbed into their ox-carts, made 
with solid wooden wheels, and, provided with a 
liberal lunch basket, made a picnic of "blue 
Monday" under the green trees of Los Aguajitos 
canyon. See page 339. 

Agua Mansa (still water, smooth-running cur- 
rent). One writer, for what reason does not 
appear, defines this as "house water." This 
place is in Southern California, near Colton. 

Agua Puerca (dirty or muddy water). 

348 



THEIR MEANING AND ROMANCE 




Agiia Piicrca v las Trancas (muddy water and 
the bars, or stiles). This was the peculiar title 
of a land grant, based, no doubt, upon some 
trivial circumstance now forgotten. One writer 
has translated it as "water lit for pigs and French- 
men," a Gratuitous insult to the French people 
of which the Spaniards were not guilty. This 
writer evidently mistook the word pucrca (muddy 
or dirty) for piterca (sow), and by some strange 
twist of the imagination, seems to have taken 
trancas to mean Frenchmen ! 

Agua Tibia (tepid or warm water, warm spring). 
See page 36. 

Agua dc Vida (water of life). 

Aguilar (the place of eagles). 

Las Aguilas (the eagles). Real dc las Agiiilas 
means the "camp of the eagles." 

Ahwanee (an Indian place name), poi)ularly but 
not aulhcnlirall\- Iraiislalcd as "a deep or grassy 
\'alley," is the name of a place in Madera Countx . 

'^A-um-ni was the nanu- of a large \illage stand- 
ing direcllx- at the toot of \'osemite Fall." — 
(Powers' Trihrs of Calijoniia.) 

Alameda (an axciuie shaded b\- trees, or a 
Cottonwood grow). This word i> derived from 

349 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




alamo, a poplar tree known in the West as cotton- 
wood. See pages 208 and 339. 

Los Alamitos (the little cottonwoods). Seepage 76. 

Alamo (cottonwood). See page 227. 

Los Alamos (the cottonwoods). See page 105. 

Los Alamos y Agua Calient e (the cottonwoods 
and hot spring), the title of a land grant. 

Alcalde (mayor, justice of the peace). This 
place is in the southern part of Fresno County. 

Alcatraz (pelican), see page 203. 

Alessandro (Alexander). This place is in River- 
side County. 

AlJmmbra, near Los Angeles, was named for 
the famous Alhambra of Spain. The Alhambra 
was an ancient palace and fortress of the Moorish 
mcnarchs of Granada in Southern Spain, prob- 
ably built between 1248 and 1354. The word 
signifies in Arabic "the red," and was perhaps 
given to this building in allusion to the color 
of the bricks of which the outer walls are con- 
structed. "The marvelous beauty of the archi- 
tecture of this structure has been greatly injured 
by alterations, earthquakes, etc., yet it still 
remains the most perfect example of Moorish art 
in its final European development." 

350 



THEIR MEANING AND ROMANCE 




El Alisal (alder grove). 

AUso (alder), see page 76. 

Los Alisos (the alders). 

Almaden (mine, mineral). See page 178. 

Aha (high). See page 329. 

Alto (high), is near San Francisco. 

Los Altos (the heights), is about iifteen miles 
from Los Gatos. 

Alturas (heights). See page 259. 

Aharado (a surname). See page 227. 

Alviso (a surname). See page 178. 

Amador (a surname). See page 310. 

Amargosa (bitter). See page 328. 

American River. See page 299. 

Anacapa Island. This name is Indian, but the 
popular story that it means "vanishing island, 
disappearing island," is probably not authentic. 
''Anacapa is a corruption of Vancouver's Indian 
name of the island, hlnnecapah; the engraver 
spelled it Knecapali on the chart, and subsequent 
compilers have endeavored to gi\e it a Spanish 
form." — (Geo. Daxidson in I'liilcd Stales Coast 
ami Geodetic Survey.) 

Andrade (a surname). This i)lace is near 
Calexico. 

351 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




Los Angeles (the angels). See pages 51 and 339. 

Angel Island. See page 204. 

Las Animas (the souls). See page 65. 

Ano Nuevo (new year). See page 157. 

Aptos is 'said to be an Indian name, meaning 
"the meeting of two streams," in reference to 
Valencia and Aptos Creeks. As this was a 
method of naming very much in vogue among 
the Indians, it is likely that this is the true expla- 
nation of Aptos. 

Arena (sand). See page 259. 

Las Arenas (the sands). 

Punta de Arenas (sandy point), a cape on the 
coast of Mendocino County. 

Arguello (a surname). See page 106. 

Armada (fleet, squadron). The Armada was 
the name of the great fleet sent against England 
by Philip II in 1588. Whether the name of this 
town, situated in Riverside County, has this 
origin has not been ascertained. 

Las Aromitas y Agua Caliente (the little per- 
fumes and hot spring), title of a land grant. 

Aromas (the odors, perfumes), is in San Benito 
County. 

Arroyo (a creek or small stream). The designa- 

352 



THEIR MEANING AND ROMANCE 




tion arroyo is sometimes applied to the dry bed of 
a former stream. It does not, as is sometimes 
thought, refer only to a bed with steep sides, but 
is applied as well to shallow streams flowing 
through level country. 

Arroyo de la Alameda (creek of the cotton wood 
grove) . 

Arroyo Buenos Aires (creek of the good airs). 
See page 282. 

Arroyo del Burro (jackass creek). 

Arroyo Chico (little creek). See page 283. 

Arroyo dc las Dolores (creek of the sorrows). 
Dolores Creek in San Francisco was so-named 
"because this was the Friday of Sorrows." 

Arroyo de los Galas (creek of the cats — wild- 
cats). 

Arroyo Grande (big creek). See page 127. 

Arroyo Hondo (deep creek). See page 179. 

Arroyo de la Lai^ima (creek of the lagoon). 

Arroyo Medio (middle creek). 

Arroyo de las Xueces y Bolbones (creek of the 
walnuts and Bolbones). The meaning of Bolbones 
has not been ascertained, but it may have been 
the name of an Indian tribe. 

Arroyo del Xorte (creek of the north). 

353 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




Arroyo Real de las Aguilas (creek of the camp 
of the eagles). 

Arroyo del Rodeo (creek of the cattle round- 
up). 

Arroyo Seco (dry creek). See page 157. 

Asfalto (asphalt), incorrectly spelled asphalto, 
is in southwestern Kern County. 

Asuncion (ascension). See pages 97 and 339. 

Atascadero (bog-mire). See page 127. The 
Atascadero is one of the largest ranches in the 
state, comprising 22000 acres. 

Avena (oats), is in Inyo County. 

Avenal (a field sown with oats). See page 127. 

Avenales (wild oats). 

Avila (a surname), eight miles from San Luis 
Obispo, was probably named for a pioneer family 
of Los Angeles. 

Azusa. See page 77. This is the name of a 
place in Los Angeles County. 

El Bailarin (the dancer). See page 99. 

Ballena (whale). See page 39. 

Bandini (a surname). See page 77. 

Los Bams (the baths), is in Merced County, 
thirty-five miles southwest of Merced. This place 
was so-called from the creek, which has large, deep 

354 



THEIR MEANING AND ROMANCE 




pools of clear water that were used by the early 
inhabitants as a bathing place. 

Barranca (ravine). 

La Barranca Color ada (the red ravine). 

Barril (barrel). 

Barro (clay). 

Batata (sweet potato) , is in Merced County, and 
is so-called because it lies in the best sweet potato 
growing district in California. 

Baulines, see page 228. 

Bella Vista (beautiful view). 

BcUota (acorn), is in San Joacjuin County. 

Benicia (a surname). See page 223. 

Bcrenda, probably a misspelling of bcrreiida 
(female antelope), is in Madera County. 

Berrendo (antelope). See page 40. 

Berrcndos (antelopes). See page 40. 

Bcrros (water-cresses), is in San Luis Obispo 
County. 

Berryessa (a surname). 

Blanco (white). See page 157. In early days an 
American named Thomas White lived near the ]:)res- 
ent town of Blanco. His name was translated into 
the Spanish form for white, /?/(z;?rf7, by the native re- 
sidents, and the place became known 1)\ tliatname. 

355 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




Boca (mouth), in this case refers to the mouth 
of the Truckee River, in Nevada County. 

La Boca de la Canada del Pinole (the mouth of 
the valley of the cereal meal). This was a land 
grant, which received its peculiar name from the 
fact of the Spaniards having been compelled to 
live on pinole while they awaited the return of a 
party with supplies from Monterey, See Pinole, 
page 231. 

Boca de la Playa (mouth of the beach) . 

Boca de Santa Monica (mouth of Santa Monica) . 

Bodega (a surname). See page 259. 

Bolinas, probably a corruption of Baulines, an 
Indian word. See page 228. 

Bolsa (pocket), often used to mean a "shut-in 
place." See page 78. 

La Bolsa (the pocket), is near Newport Beach. 

Las Bolsas (the pockets). 

Bolsa de Chamisal (pocket of the wild cane, or 
reeds). The chamisal, sometimes incorrectly 
spelled chemisal, is defined in the dictionaries as 
wild cane, or reed, but in California, at least, it 
is applied to a "shrub attaining a height of six 
or eight feet. Its thickets are almost impassable 
except by bears or similar animals, as the branches 

356 



THEIR AIEANING AND ROMANCE 




are low and very stiff and tough. In some places 
men are only able to penetrate it by crawling.' ' 
—(Mr. Charles B.Turrill.) 

Bolsa Chica (little pocket). 

Bolsa de las Escorpinas (pocket of the perch.) 

Bolsa Niieva y Mora Cojo (new pocket and lame 
Moor). The word Mora was often used to mean 
anything black, as, for instance, a lame black 
horse, for which the Moro Cojo Rancho, near 
Monterey, is said to have been named. 

Bolsa del Pdjaro (pocket of the bird). 

Bolsa del Polrcro, y Moro Cojo 6 la Saf^rada 
Familia (pocket of the pasture, and the lame Moor 
or the Holy Family). This is the combined name 
of several land grants. 

Bolsa dc San Felipe (pocket of St. Philip). 

Bonito (pretty). See page 228. 

La Brea (the asphalt). See page 54. 

El Buclwn (the big craw). See page 127. 

Biiena Visla (good \ic\v). 

Biicyes (oxen). 

Los Burros (the donkeys, or jackasses), is in 
San Luis Obispo Count}'. 

Caheza (head). 

Dos Cabezas (two heads). 

357 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




Caheza de Santa Rosa (head of St. Rose). 

Cabezon (big head). See page 78. 

Cahrillo (a surname), the name of a cape on the 
coast of Mendocino County. See page 259. 

Cadiz, between Needles and Barstow, was 
probably named for the well-known Spanish city 
of the same name. "In naming the stations on the 
Southern Pacific Railroad from Mojave to Needles 
going east, an alphabetical order was used, Bar- 
stow, Cadiz, Daggett, etc., until Needles was 
reached." — (Mr. Charles B. Turrill.) 

Cahto, Mendocino County, Indian, probable 
meaning "lake." 

Cahuenga, near Los Angeles, is an Indian name, 
that of a former village. 

Cahuilla, is said to be a corruption of the Indian 
word Ka-wia. See page 78. 

El Cajon (the box, or canyon). The name of 
El Cajon was first given to a valley lying about 
fifteen miles east of San Diego. The valley com- 
prises about 16,000 acres of level land entirely 
surrounded by hills several hundred feet high, 
thus presenting a box-like appearance that gave 
rise to its name. See pages 41 and 339. 

Cajon Pass is in San Bernardino County. 

358 



THEIR MEANING AND ROMANCE 




Calahazas (pumpkins), see page 79. 

Calaveras (skulls). See page 311. 

Calexico, on the border of Lower California, is 
a hybrid word made up of the first part of California 
and the last of Mexico. Its counterpart on the 
Mexican side is Mexicali, in which the process 
is reversed. 

Caliente (hot). See page 282. 

Caliente Creek. See page 41. This creek was 
so-named because its water is warm, 

California, see page 13. 

Calisloga, see page 259. 

Calncva and Calvada are two more hybrids, 
made up of syllables from California and Nevada. 

Calor, near the Oregon line, is likely to cause 
confusion by its resemblance to the Spanish word 
calor, (heat) ; this Calor is one of those composite 
words to which Californians are so regrettably 
addicted, and is made up of the first syllables of 
California and Oregon. 

CalpcUa was named for llic chief of a \-illage 
situated just soutli of the ])rcscnt town, near Pomo, 
in Mendocino County. Tiie chief's name was 
Kalpela. 

Calzona is another trap for l\\c unwar}-, tiirough 

359 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




its resemblance to the Spanish word calzones 
(breeches) ; it is one more of those border towns 
bearing names made up of the syllables of two 
state names, in this case, California and Arizona. 
Camanche, a post town in Calaveras County, 
was so-named in honor of the great Camanche, 
or Comanche tribe, whose remarkable qualities 
are thus described by Father Morfi in his Memorias 
de Texas, a document written about the year 1778: 
"The Comanche nation is composed of five thou- 
sand fighting men, divided into five tribes, each 
with a different name. They are very superior 
to all the others in number of people, extent 
of the territory that they occupy, modesty of 
their dress, hospitality to all who visit them, 
humanity towards all captives except Apaches, 
and their bravery, which is remarkable even 
in the women. They live by hunting and war, 
and this wandering disposition is the worst 
obstacle to their reduction, for it induces them to 
steal. Nevertheless, they are very generous with 
what they have, and so proud that one alone is 
capable of facing a whole camp of enemies if he 
cannot escape without witnesses to his flight." 
Both spellings are used in the original records. 

360 



THEIR MEANING AND ROMANCE 




Camaritas (small cabins or rooms). The appli- 
cation of this name has not been ascertained. It 
may refer to Indian huts seen by the Spaniards, 
or may have a totally different meaning. 

Camino Real (royal road, or the King's high- 
way). See page 339. 

Campo fa level field, a camp, the country). 
See page 41. 

El Campo (the field or camp), places in Marin 
and San Diego Counties. 

Campo de los Franceses (field or camp of the 
Frenchmen). 

Campo seco (dry field or camp), in Calaveras 
County. 

Camitlos, or Kamnlas. See page 105. 

Canada (valley or dale between mountains). 
See page 339. 

Canada dc los Alisos (valley of the alders). 

Canada del Baiitisnio (valley of the baptism). 
See i)age 4 1 . 

Canada de los Capitancillos (vallc)' of the Httle 
captains). 

Canada de la Carpinlena (valley of the car- 
penter-shoj)). See page 100. 

Canada de los Caches (valley of the pigs). Cache, 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




used in the sense of "pig", is a Mexicanism, said 
to have originated in the state of Sonora. 

Canada del Corte de Madera (valley of the wood- 
cutting place). 

Canada del Hambre v las Balsas (valley of hun- 
ger and the pockets), a name said to have been 
given to this canyon because some Spanish soldiers 
nearly perished of starvation there. A bolsa is 
a pocket, or shut-in place. 

Canada Larga (long valley). 

Canada de las Muertos (valley of the dead). 

Canada de los Nogales (valley of the walnut- 
trees). 

Canada de los Noques (valley of the tan-pits). 

Canada del Osito (valley of the little bear). 
See page 127. 

Canada de los Osos y Pec ho y I slay, valley of the 
bears and breast (perhaps referring to Pecho 
Mountain in San Luis Obispo County), and wild 
cherry. Islay is said to be a California Indian 
word meaning wild cherry. Islais Creek, San 
Francisco, may take its name from the wild cherry. 

Canada de los Pines (valley of the pines). 

Canada de Raymundo (valley of Raymond). 

Canada del Rincon en el Rio San Lorenzo de 

362 



THEIR MEANING AND ROMANCE 




Santa Cruz (valley of the corner section on the 
river San Lorenzo of Santa Cruz). 

Canada de Sal si Puedes (valley of "get out if 
you can"). See page 109. 

Canada dc San Felipe y las Animas (valley of 
St. Philip and the souls). 

Canada Scgiinda (second valley). 

Canada de los Vaqiieros (valley of the cow-boys). 

Canada Verde, y Arroyo de la Purisima Con- 
eepcion (green valley and creek of the immacu- 
late concepcion). 

Capay, in Yolo County, is Indian, but its mean- 
ing has not been ascertained. 

Capislrano, see page 35. 

El Capitdn (the captain), the name of a precipice 
in the Yosemite Valley. 

Capitdn (capitan), the name of a flag station in 
Santa Barbara Count)'. It was named for a ranch 
owned by Cai)tain Ortega, which was called Capi- 
tan, in reference to his title. 

Caplldii Cninde (big cai)tain). The origin of 
this name has not been ascertained. 

/.(/ Carbonera (the charcoal pit). 

Carnadero, a (oiriii)! word uxd to mean 
"butchering-place." 

363 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




Came Humana (human flesh). See page 246. 

Cameras (sheep). Camera is especially applied 
to sheep used for mutton, rather than wool. 

Car pint eria (carpenter-shop). See pages 100 
and 339. 

Carquinez. See pages 228 and 339. 

Carriso (large water bunch grass or reed-grass) . 
See page 42. 

Casa Blanca (white house). See page 79. 

Casa Grande (big house). This place was so- 
called by the Spanish explorers on account of an 
unusually large Indian house they saw here. 
They speak of finding a "large village of many 
houses, and among them one extremely large." 
This place is not to be confused with the famous 
Casa Grande in Arizona. 

El Casco (the skull, or outside shell of anything). 
See page 79. As casco also has the meaning of 
potsherd, or fragment of a broken vessel, a theory 
has been deduced that it was so-called because of 
a resemblance between the hollow in the hills 
where the place is located and a potsherd. This 
is one of those extremely far-fetched theories 
which are not likely to have any basis in fact. 

Castac, an Indian word. The Castake was one 

364 



THEIR MEANING AND ROMANCE 




of several tribes occupying the country from 
Buena Vista and Kern Lakes to the Sierra Nevada 
and Coast Range. Castake Lake in the Tejon 
Pass region derives its name from this tribe. 
According to Professor A. L. Kroeber, castac means 
"my eyes." 

Castrovillc, a composite word made up of Castro, 
a surname, and the French ville (town). The 
Castro family was perhaps the most numerous in 
California. Its most prominent member was 
General Jose Castro, of whom Bancroft says: 
"The charges against him of mal-treatment of 
settlers were unfounded. His conduct was more 
honorable, dignified, and consistent than that of 
Fremont, and he treated immigrants with uni- 
form kindness. He was not a very able man, but 
energetic, ])opu]ar, true to his friends, and in 
public office fairly honest. An injustice has been 
done him in painting him as a cowardly, incom- 
petent braggart. He was at one time Com- 
mandante Cieneral of California." The town of 
Castroville, named for this prominent family, 
is near Monterey. 

Calalina, see page 62. 

Cayegiias was named for a former Inch'an \illagc 

365 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




near San Buenaventura. This village was among 
those mentioned in the mission archives. 

The meaning of the word Cayeguas is "my 
head."— (A. L. Kroeber.) 

Cayucos. See page 127. 

Cazadero (hunting-place). See page 260, 

Centinela (sentinel). 

El Centro (the center) , three miles from Imperial 
and so-named because it is practically the center 
of the valley. This name is recent. 

Cerro (hill), near Sacramento. 

Cerro Chico (little hill). 

Cerro Gordo (fat, thick hill). See page 329. 

Los Cerritos (the little hills), in Los Angeles 
County. 

Los Cerros (the hills). 

Cerro de las Posas (hill of the pools or wells). 
The translation "hill of the seat" has been given 
to this by one writer, apparently without any justi- 
fication. Posa, or poso, was in constant use 
among the Spaniards in the sense of "pool" or 
"well." 

Cerro del Venado (hill of the deer). 

El Chamisal (thicket of wild cane or reed). 

Chico (little). See page 282. 

366 



THEIR MEANING AND ROMANCE 




Chileno (Chilean, native of Chile). Seepage 260. 

Las chimeneas (the chimneys), old volcanic 
rock shaped like chimneys. This place is in San 
Luis Obispo County. 

Chino, a word which may mean a Chinese, or a 
person with curly hair. The town of Chino, in 
San Bernardino County, took its name from the 
land grant called Santa Ana del Chino, but why 
the grant was so-called has not been ascertained. 

Chi qui la (little). 

Chiqiiito Peak (little peak), is in F>esno County. 

Cholanic was the name of an Indian tribe. 
See page 128. 

El Chorro (a gushing stream of water). This 
place is in San Luis Obispo County. 

Chowchilla was the name of a Yokuts tribe of 
the Central Valley. See page 283. 

Chualar. Sec ])age 157. 

Chuhi Vista (pretty view). See page 42. 

Ciencga (swam])), is in Los Angeles County. 

Las Cicnc^as (the swamps). 

Las Cicnci^itas (the little swamps). 

Ciencii^a del (}abild)i (the swamp of the hawk). 

Cicnci^d (Ic los I\iici)ics, swamp of the Paicines 
(Indian tribe). 

367 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




Cima (summit), between San Bernardino and 
Las Vegas. 

Cimarron (wild, unruly). The Spaniards applied 
this word to plants or animals indiscriminately, 
sometimes using it in reference to the wild grapes 
which they found growing in such profusion in 
California, sometimes in reference to wild Indians. 
The writer who translated it as "lost river" must 
have drawn upon his imagination for that defini- 
tion. 

Cisco. See page 329. 

Los Codies (the pigs). 

Codornices Creek (quail creek). 

Cojo (lame). See page 106. 

Rancheria del Cojo (village of the lame one), 
so-called from a lame Indian seen there. 

Coloma, a town in El Dorado County, so-named 
from the Koloma tribe, a division of the Nishinam 
family. It was at this place that Sutter's Mill, 
where gold was discovered in 1848, was situated, 
and it is also there that the native sons erected a 
monument to John W. Marshall. 

Colorado (red). 

Colusa, an Indian word, meaning not ascer- 
tained. See page 265. 

368 



THEIR MEANING AND ROMANCE 




Concepcion. See page io6. 

Conejo (rabbit), is the name of several places. 
See pages 79 and 339. 

Conejo Peak (rabbit peak), is in Ventura 
County. 

Contra Costa (opposite coast). See page 229. 

Cordero (literally "lamb"), but probably a 
surname here. 

Cordova, near Sacramento. Cordova or Cor- 
doba is the name of a province of the Argentine 
Republic, in South America. Cattle raising is its 
chief industry. The California town may have been 
directly named for the city of Cordova in Mexico. 

Corona (crown). 

Coronado Beach, see page 29. 

Corral (}'ard, enclosed piece of ground). See 
pages 157 and 339. 

Los Corral itos (the Httle yards). 

Corral de Piedra (yard enclosed by a stone fence) . 
See page 158. 

Corral dc Ticrra (earth corral). Sec page 158. 

Cortina, a town in Colusa County. Cortina, 
the Spanish word for "curtain, " is a corrujUion 
of Kotina, the name of the chief of a fornuT \illage 
near the east bank of (Ortina ("reek. 

369 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




Coso Mountains, in Inyo County, were named 
for the Coso or Cosho Indians, 

La Costa (the coast). See page 42. 

Cosumne, a word of Indian derivation, said to 
mean "fish, salmon." See page 272. If the theory 
that the sufhx umne means "place of" be correct, 
then it may be that the meaning of Cosumne is 
"place of fish," probably referring to salmon 
fisheries. 

Cotate, in Sonoma County, derived its name 
from a former Indian village. Mr. George Page, 
whose family have been in possession of the 
Cotate ranch since 1849, states that he has never 
been able to ascertain the meaning of the word. 

Coyote (western wolf). See pages 42 and 179. 

Los Coyotes (the wolves). 

Criicero, a word having several meanings, 
possibly in this case "cross-roads." 

Las Cruces (the crosses), is in Santa Barbara 
County. 

Cruz (cross) . Santa Cruz (holy cross) . See page 153. 

Cucamonga, in San Bernardino County, derived 
its name from an Indian village. See page 80. 

Cueros de Venado (hides of deer), the name of a 
land grant. 

370 



THEIR MEANING AND ROMANCE 




Cuesta (hill, ridge, slope of a hill). Cuesta is the 
name of the old stage road leading from Santa 
Margarita to San Luis Obispo. It was so named 
because the road came over the crest of the Santa 
Lucia range. Seepage 128. 

Cuyamaca. See page 42. 

Cypress Point. See page 145. 

DeJiesa (pasture ground), is in San Diego 
County. 

Delgada Point (thin, or narrow point). See 
page 260. 

Dc Liiz (literally "of light"), but in this case a 
surname. 

Del Mar (of the sea). Modern. 

Del Monte (of the wood or hill). The Hotel 
del Monte, near Monterey, was so called from the 
grove of magnificent live-oaks in which it stands. 
Modern. 

Del Norte (of the north), is the name of the 
countv in the extreme northwestern corner of the 
state. 

Del Paso (of tin- i)ass). 

Del Rev (of tin- king). 

Del Rio (of ihu river). 

Del Rosa (of the rose). Unless this is a surname, 

371 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




the construction is incorrect, and should be De la 
Rosa. 

Descanso (rest). See page 43. 

Diablo (devil). See page 217. 

Dolores (sorrows, pains). For Mission Dolores 
See pages 194 and 339. 

El Dorado (the gilded man). See page 300. 

Dos (two). 

Dos Cabezas (two heads). 

Dos Pal mas (two palms) . 

Dos Pahs (two sticks, or trees). See page 283. 

Dos Puchlos (two towns). See page 106. 

Dos Valles (two valleys). 

Diiarte (a surname). See page 80. 

Dulzura (sweetness). See page 43. 

Point Duma, on the coast north of San Pedro, 
was named by Vancouver for "the reverend friar 
Father Francisco Duma, priest at Buena Ven- 
tura," as an expression of his gratitude for the 
father's courtesy in furnishing the explorers with 
abundant supplies of vegetables from the mission 
gardens. — (Mr. Charles B. Turrill.) 

Eliseo (Elisha). 

Embarcadero (landing-place). There were a 
number of cmbarcaderos in the state, in Sonoma, 

372 



THEIR MEANING AND ROMANCE 




A 



Santa Clara and other places. The street skirting 
the San Francisco water front is now called the 
Emharcadero, having been recently changed from 
East Street. 

Encanto (enchantment, charm), is in San Diego 
County. Encanto "was so named on account of 
its especially pleasant climate, being frostless, and 
always cool in the summer, with beautiful views 
of the ocean and bay and the city of San Diego. 
It was named by Miss Alice Klauber." — (W. A. 
Shaules.) 

Encinal (o'dk woods), is in Santa Clara County. 

Encinal y Biiena Esperanza (oak woods and good 
hope), the combined name of two land grants. 

Las Encinitas (the little live-oaks) . See page 43 . 

El Encino (the live-oak). See page 211. 

Enscnada (bay), used often by the Si)aniards 
in referring to a kirge, wide-open bay. 

Ejitrc Xapa (between Xapa), the name of a 
land grant referring to the land between Napa 
Creek and Nai)a Ri\er. 

Enlrr Xapa 6 Rincoii dr las Cameras, combined 
name of Iwo land grants (between Napa or 
corner of the slieep). 

Escaldn (step), is the name of a place twenty 

373 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




miles from Stockton, on the Santa Fe Road. 
According to Mr. Romane Moll, a resident of 
Escalon, the word is used in the sense of "stepping- 
stone," and was taken from a city in Mexico, 
where an important battle was fought during the 
recent revolution. 

Escondido (hidden). See page 43. 

El Escorpion (the scorpion). 

Esmeralda (emerald). See page 330. 

Espada (sword). See page 102, 

Esparto (a sort of tough feather grass). See 
page 283. 

Esperanza (hope). See page 283. 

Espinosa (a surname). This place is in Mon- 
terey County. 

Espifitu Santo (holy ghost). 

Esquon (a surname). 

Estero (an estuary or creek into which the tide 
flows at flood time). 

Los Esteros (the estuaries). See page 128 . 

Estero Americano (American Estuary). 

Estrada (a surname). This place is in Mon- 
terey County. 

Estrella (a star). See page 128. 

Estudillo (a surname). Near San Leandro. 

374 



THEIR MEANING AND ROMANCE 




Etiwanda, in San Bernardino County, is a 
transplanted Indian name, given in honor of an 
Indian chief of Michigan, by Mr. George Chaff ey, 
founder of the CaHfornia colony. 

Falda (skirt, slope of a hill). In San Diego 
County. 

Famoso (famous), is in Kern County. The 
origin of this name has not been ascertained. 

Fandango Peak is in Modoc County. The 
fandango is a Spanish dance. Its application in 
this case has not been ascertained. 

Farallones (small pointed islands in the sea). 
See pages 212 and i,^(.). 

Feather River, see page 297. 

Felipe (Philip). 

Feliz (happy, fortunate), also a surname. 

Fernandez (a surname). 

Fernando (Ferdinand). 

Point Firmin, north of San Pedro, was named 
by Vancouver for the father president of the Fran- 
ciscan Order. — (Mr. Charles B. Turrill.) 

Las Flores (the llowers). See page 80. 

Fortiinas (fortunes). Cai)c Fortunas is on the 
coast of Humboldt County, north of Cape Mendo- 
cino. See page 260. 

375 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




Fresno (ash tree). See page 277. 

Gabildn, or Gavildn (hawk). See page 159 . 

Las Gallinas (the chickens), in Marin County. 
A tribe called Gallinomcro occupied Dry Creek 
and Russian River below Healdsburg, and there 
may be some connection between this name and 
Las Gallinas Rancho in Marin County. Las 
Gallinas may be a mere corruption of Gallinomero. 

Gamboa Point, on the coast of Monterey 
County. Gamboa is a surname. 

Garcia (a surname). See page 260. 

Garvanza (chick-pea). See page 80. 

Los Gatos (the cats). See pages 177 and 339. 

Gaviota (sea gull). Probably so called from the 
large number of these birds which frequent the 
mouth of the little creek that flows into the sea 
at this point. See page 107. 

German (a surname of a pioneer family). 

Golden Gate. See page 197. 

La Goleta (the schooner). This place is said to 
have been so called because a schooner was 
stranded there in early days. See page 107. 

Gonzales (a surname). See page 159. 

Gorda (fat). See page 159. 

Graciosa (graceful, witty). 

376 



THEIR MEANING AND ROMANCE 




Granada is twenty-seven miles from San Fran- 
cisco, on the Ocean Shore Line, and was probably 
named for the province in Spain of the same name. 
Ciranada also means pomegranate. 

Las GriiUas (the cranes). See page 159. 

Guadalupe (a Christian name). See pages 107 
and 340. 

Guadalupe y Llaiiilos de los Correos (Guadalupe 
and the jilains of the mails), combined name of 
two land grants. Correos (mails), may have 
been used in reference to mails brought by mes- 
senger to the Spaniards while they were encamped 
upon these plains. 

Gualala. See page 260. 

Guenoc, an Indian word, meaning not ascer- 
tained. 

Los Guilicos, in Sonoma County, named for a 
former Indian tribe lixing in Nai)a County, near 
Santa Rosa. 

Gu'uula (fruit of tlic wild clicrry). This |)lace 
is in ^'olo County, near Woodland. 

/.(/ Ilabra (the ()])ening, or ])ass), here refers 
to an opening in I lie hills, and is situated a short 
distance southeast of W'hillicr, in ()rangc' (\)unt\-. 

Uermosa (beautiful). See page 80. 

377 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




Hermosillo, probably named for the town of 
Hermosillo in Mexico. 

Hernandez (a surname), is in San Benito County. 

Hetch Heichy. A deep valley in the Sierra. 
See page 330. 

Honcut, a place south of Oroville, in Butte 
County, named from a tribe of Maidu Indians 
who formerly lived near the mouth of Honkut 
creek. 

Honda (deep). Honda is in Santa Barbara 
County, and there is also La Honda, referring to 
a deep canyon, in San Mateo County. The name 
is incomplete in this form, and probably in its 
original form was La Canada Honda. 

Hoopa. See page 261. 

Hornitos (little ovens). See page 283. 

Huasna, in San Luis Obispo County, received 
its name from a former Indian village near Puri- 
sima Mission in Santa Barbara County. The 
signification of the word has not been ascer- 
tained. 

Hueneme, the name of a former Chumash 
Indian village on the coast, a few miles south of 
Saticoy, in Ventura County. 

Los Huecos (the hollows). 

378 



THEIR MEANING AND ROMANCE 




Iluerhuero Creek. Huerhuero is said to be a 
corruption of guerguero, a stream of water which 
make-^ a gurghng noise. An attempt is made to 
imitate the sound by the word. Huerhuero Creek 
is in San Luis Obispo County, near Paso de 
Robles. 

Iluerta de Romiialdo 6 el Chorro (orchard of 
Romualdo, a Christian name, or the gushing 
stream). This is the combined name of two land 
grants. 

IJuicliica, the name of a land grant derived 
from an Indian village called Hiite/ii, formerly 
situated near the plaza in the town of Sonoma. 

Iliiililic, the name of a former Indian ranchcria 
near Santa Barbara. Mentioned in the mission 
archives. 

II unto (eye), is the Indian name of a mountain 
in the Yosemite. 

II yam pom, in Trinity County, is an Indian name, 
meaning not ascertained. 

I aqua, the name of a ])lace in Humboldt County, 
was a sort of familiar salutation, something like 
our "hello," with whiiii tiu' Indians of Humboldt 
and adjacent counties greeted each other when 
they met. From hearing the word so often the 

379 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




whites finally adopted it as the name of this 
place, 

Ignacio (Ignatius). 

Inaja, or Inoje, was the name of a former 
Indian village near San Diego. Mentioned in the 
mission archives. The meaning of the word 
Inaja is "my water." 

Indio (Indian). See page 80. 

Inyo. See page 327. 

Isleta (small island). 

Jacinto (hyacinth), also used as a Christian 
name. 

Jamacha was a former Indian village near San 
Diego. 

Jamon (ham). The application of this peculiar 
name has not been ascertained, and there is always 
the possibility that it is a corrupted word and has 
no such meaning. 

Jamul, in San Diego County, is a place name of 
the Dieguefio Indians. 

Jarame, the name of a tribe thought to have 
been natives of the region around San Antonio, 
Texas. 

Jesus Maria (Jesus Mary). 

Jimeno, a surname of a pioneer family. 

380 



THEIR MEANING AND ROMANCE 




La J oil a. See pages 44 and 340. 

Joldn. See page 159. 

La Joya (the jewel). This name is compara- 
tively modern, and has its origin in the fact that 
the residents, like those of every other California 
town, thought their place the bright particular 
"jewel" of the locality. La Joya Peak is in Los 
Angeles County. See pages 80 and 340. 

Juan (John). J nana (Jane). 

Juarez (a surname). The name of Benito 
Juarez, the Mexican patriot who led the national 
armies to victory against Maximilian, is one of 
which e\'ery native of that country must be proud. 
This man was a brilliant example of the triumi:)h 
of natural genius over tremendous obstacles. 
He was of i)ure native blood, and had so few 
advantages in his youth that at tlie age of twelve 
he was still unable to read or write, or even to 
speak the Spanish language. Yet, his ambition 
once aroused, he succeeded in at(iuiring a collegi- 
ate education, graduating with the degree of 
Bachiller (bachelor in science or art), and later 
became President of the Mexican Republic. 
Among the early settlers of California is the name 
of Cayctano Juarez, who was at one time an oflkial 

3S1 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




at Solano, and who took part in many Indian 
expeditions. 

La Junta (union, junction, meeting of persons 
for consultation). See page 340. 

Las Juntas (the junctions, or meetings). 

Kawia, the name of an Indian tribe near 
Fresno. 

Kings County and River. See page 278. 

Klamath. See page 249. 

Laguna (lake or lagoon), in Sonoma and Orange 
Counties. There were many lagunas in the 
state. See page 80. 

Laguna del Corral (lake or lagoon of the yard). 
See page 44. 

Point Laguna (lake or lagoon point). See 
page 261. 

Laguna de las Calabasas (lagoon of the pump- 
kins). Calabasas in this case may be a corruption 
of the name of an Indian tribe, Calahuasa. See 
page 79. 

Laguna de la Merced (lagoon or lake of mercy). 
Lake Merced. 

Laguna de los Palos Colorados (lagoon of the 
redwoods) . 

Laguna Puerca (muddy lagoon), in the San 

382 



T H E I R M E A N I N G AND R O M A N C E 




Francisco district. This name does not mean 
"Hog Lake," as has been stated. 

Laguna del Rey (lagoon of the king). 

Laguna de San Antonio (lagoon of St. Anthony). 

Laguna Seca (drv^ lagoon). See page 340. 

Lagunitas (little lagoons or kikes), one in 
Invo County and one in Marin County. See 
page 340. 

Lancha Plana (flat-boat). See page 330. 

Largo (long). This place is in Mendocino 
County. The name of this station represents an 
inversion of the usual order of naming, since it is 
a translation into Spanish of the name of Mr. L. V . 
Long, a pioneer of Mendocino County. 

Laurelcs (laurels). See page 159. 

Leon (Hon). See ])age 80. This name turns out 
not to be Spanish in origin, l)ut merely the name 
of an American who first had charge of the post- 
office there. 

Lerdo (a sunuiini'), is in Kern County. 

L(i lAebrc (the hare, or jac k-ral)l)it). 

Linda Rosa (lovel}- rose), is forty-eight mik's 
from San Bernardino. 

Linda Vista (lovel\ \ iew). See i)age 45. 

Llagas (wounds, or stigmata). See page 179. 

3«5 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




Llanada (a wide, level plain). See page 159. 

Llanitos de los Correos (plains of the mails). 
Correo was used to mean a King's messenger, 
mail or bag of letters, and it is possible that at 
this point a messenger or mail carrier caught up 
with the exploring party. 

Llano (a flat, level field). There are places 
bearing this name in Los Angeles and Sonoma 
Counties. 

Llano de Buena Vista (plain of the good view). 

Llano de Santa Rosa (plain of St. Rose). 

Llano Seco (dry plain). 

Llano de Tequisquite (plain of saltpetre). Te- 
quisquite is an Aztec word. 

Llorones (the weepers), a name given to a place 
in the vicinity of San Francisco Bay, for the reason 
given in Palou's account of the expedition to that 
region in 1776, as follows: "The launch went 
out again with the pilot Bautista Aguiray to 
examine the arm of the sea that runs to the south- 
east; they saw nothing more than two or three 
Indians who made no other demonstration than 
to weep, for which reason the place was called 
La Ensenada de los Llorones (the bay of the 
weepers)." 

386 



THEIR MEANING AND ROMANCE 




Lohitos (little seals), is on the Ocean Shore Line, 
near San Francisco. 

Lobos (wolves, also sea-wolves, or seals). See 
pages i6o and 226. 

Loma (hill). 

Point Loma (hill point). See page 45. 

Loma Linda (beautiful hill), is in San Ber- 
nardino County, 

Loma Pricta (dark hill). See page 160. 

Lomas de la Purificacion (hills of the purifi- 
cation). 

Lomas de Sanliai^o (hills of St. James). 

Loma Vista (hill view), near Los Angeles. 
Modern and improper in construction. It should 
be Vista de la Loma. 

Lomcrias Mucrtas (dead hills), possibly should 
be Lomcrias dc los Mncrtos (hills of the dead). 

Lomitas (little hills), north of San Francisco. 

Lompoc, an Indian name. See i)age 108. 

Lopez (a surname). See page 128. 

Lorenzo (Lawrence) . 

Lugo (a surname), that of a family of early 
settlers. This i)lace is thirt}' miles from San 
Bernardino. 

De Liiz (a surname). See page 45. 

387 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




Madera (wood). See page 277. 

Madrone, properly spelled Madrono, a native 
tree of California. See page 179. 

Malaga, the name of a province in Southern 
Spain celebrated for its exports of grapes, raisins, 
oranges, lemons, figs and almonds. As raisins 
are among the chief products of this part of 
Fresno County, the town of Malaga was so named 
from the Spanish province. 

Manca, or Manka. To prevent the unwary 
rom falling into the erroneous belief that this 
name is Spanish or Indian, the rather humorous 
story of Manka is told here. The story goes that it 
was named for a German who came there in '67, 
built a little sixteen by twenty-four foot shanty 
and sold whiskey. It was his proud boast that in 
the fifteen years he ran this business he never 
renewed his stock. The inference may be drawn. 

Manteca (lard, butter), is near Modesto. This 
place was so called by the railroad company in 
reference to a creamery existing there. In Spanish 
America butter is called mantequilla. 

Manzana (apple), is in Los Angeles County. 

Manzanita (little apple), a native shrub that 
is one of the most striking objects in the Cali- 

388 



THEIR MEANING AND ROMANCE 




fornia woods. Fremont says of it: "A new and 
singular shrub was very frequent to-day. It 
branched out near the ground, forming a clump 
eight to ten feet high, with pale green leaves of 
an oval form, and the bod}' and branches had a 
naked appearance as if stripped of the bark, which 
is very smooth and thin, of a chocolate color, con- 
trasting well with the pale green of the leaves." 
Towns in Marin, San Diego, and Tehama Counties 
bear the name of Manzanita. 

Powers, in his Tribes of California, describes 
the method of making manzanita cider practiced 
by the Indians, as follows: "After reducing the 
berries to Hour by pounding, they carefully remove 
all the seeds and skins, then soak the flour in 
water for a considerable length of time. A scjuaw 
then heaps it u]) in a little mound, with a crater 
in the center, into which she ])ours a minute 
stream of water, allowing it to ])ercolate through. 
In this way she gets about a gallon an hour 
of a rcallx delicious beverage, clear, cool, clean, 
and richer than most California apple cider. 
As the Indians always drink il ii]) before it 
has lime to ferment, it is ne\er intoxicating." 
l''ren-ionl also nuiilions this as a \-er\ deli- 

389 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




cious drink that he had tasted when among the 
Indians. 

Manzanita Knob, in Tulare County, is near the 
summit of the Sierras. 

M apache Peak (raccoon peak). 

Mar (the sea). 

Del Mar (of the sea). 

Mare Island. See page 206. 

Maricopa is the name of an Arizona tribe. The 
word is said to mean "bean people," which is 
probably the correct definition. — (A. L. Kroeber.) 

Marin. See page 219. 

Mariposa (butterfly). See page 317. 

Martinez (a surname). See page 229. 

Matilija. See pages 103 and 340. 

Medanos, also spelled Meganos (sand-banks, or 
dunes). This place is in Contra Costa County. 

Media (middle), is in Madera County. 

Mendocino. See page 248. 

Mendota (a surname), is in Fresno County. 

Merced (mercy). See pages 276 and 340. 

Mesa (table, table-land). See pages 45 and 340. 

La Mesa (the table or table-land), is in San 
Diego County. 

Mesa Grande (big table-land). See page 46. 

390 



THEIR MEANING AND ROMANCE 




Mesa dc Ojo dc Agiia (table-land of the 
spring). 

Mesqiiitc fa native shrub of the locust variety). 

Mil pitas (Uttle patches of corn). This word is 
said to be the diminutive of mil pa (a patch of 
maize or corn), but in that case must have referred 
to corn cultivated b\- Mexicans, since the Cali- 
fornia Indians raised no cultivated crops, but 
subsisted entirely on the natural products of the 
land. Mil pitas is a village in Santa Clara County, 
which for some unexplained reason, has come to 
be used as a term of derision, the "jum])ing off 
place of creation." It was ])n)bably the name of 
a land grant. 

La Mirada (the view). See page 80. 

Miramar (sea-view), is the name of a post 
town in San Diego County and of a summer resort 
near Santa Barbara. 

Miramontcs (a surname). Candelario Mira- 
montes, a native of Mexico, was the grantee ol the 
Pilarcitos Rancho in '41. 

Mision Vicjii, or La Paz (old mission or the 
peace). Land grant. 

Mision \'i(/(i dc Id Piirisima (old mission ol llic 
Immaculate Concei)tion). 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




Mocho Peak, in Santa Clara County. Mocho 
means "cropped, cut off." 

Modesto (modest). See page 288. 

Modoc (people of the south). See page 250. 

Mojave, or Mohave. Mojave, also spelled 
Mohave, is an Indian tribal name of disputed 
meaning. It has been stated that it comes from 
hamucklihabi (three hills), but this view is posi- 
tively contradicted by scientists. In the docu- 
ments of the Spanish explorers the Mojaves are 
referred to as Amajabas. The Mojave River is 
remarkable in that it has no true outlet, but sinks 
into the alkaline soil of the desert near the middle 
of San Bernardino County. 

Mokelumne. See Moquelumne. 

Molino (mill, or mill-stone). See page 80. 

Los Molinos (the mills, or mill-stones). See 
page 80. 

El Rio de los Molinos (the river 01 the mill- 
stones), now called Mill Creek, in Tehama 
County. See page 80. 

Mono. See page 324. 

Mo7ita.vo (a surname), in Ventura County. 
See page 81. 

Monte (hill or wood). Monte was generally used 

392 



THEIR MEANING AND ROMANCE 




in the sense of "wood" or "forest" by the Spanish- 
Americans of the eighteenth century. 

El Monte (the hill or the wood) . 

Del Monte (of the wood or hill). In t^ca^e 
of the Hotel del Monte, near Monterey, the name 
refers to the grove of fine live-oaks in the center 
of which the hotel stands. 

Montecito (little hill or wood). See page loi. 

Monterey (hill or wood of the king). See 

page 133. 

Monte Vista (mountain view). ^Modern and 
improper in construction. It should be Vista del 
Monte. 

Moquehimne, or Mokelumnc. See page 331. 

Moreno (a surname). One of the leading mem- 
bers of this numerous family was Antonio Moreno, 
a native of Lower California. 

Mora Cojo (lame Moor). See page 160. 

Moron (hillock, mound). This i)lacc is near 
Bakersfield. 

Morro (a round headland, bluff), ll is upon 
such a rock ihal the well-known Mono Castle at 
Havana is situated. See i)age 12S. This place 
receives its name Ironi .Morro Rock, a remarkable 
round rock, 600 feet high, situated at the enlrante 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




to the bay. The name has no reference to its 
grey color, as some people imagine, but refers to 
its shape — round like a head. 

Mugu Point, on the coast of Ventura County. 
The Mugus were a tribe of Indians. The word 
mugu means "beach." 

Muniz (a surname). 

Murietta (a surname). See page 8i. 

Nacimiento (birth), referring in this case to the 
birth of Christ. See page 128. 

La Nacion (the nation). See Del Rey, page 371. 

Napa, formerly pronounced Napa. See page 242. 

Naranjo (orange-tree), in Tulare County. 

La Natividad (the nativity). See page 160. 

Natoma, is a name about which the romanticists 
have concocted some pleasing theories upon very 
slender foundation. According to scientists it 
is a tribal name, indicating direction, a favorite 
method of naming among the Indians. It may 
mean "north people," or "up-stream," or "down- 
stream," or some such term of direction. By a 
severe wrench of the imagination, as has been 
suggested, it may be considered that "up-stream" 
would eventually lead to the mountains, and that 
in the mountains there were people, among whom 

394 



THEIR MEANING AND ROMANCE 




there were undoubtedly girls, and in this "long- 
distance" manner Mr. Joseph Redding's definition 
of Natoma as the "girl from the mountains" 
might be evolved, but the imagination is likely 
to suffer from such a violent strain. In the same 
way, the persons who belie\-e it to mean "clear 
water" may have acquired this idea from the 
simple fact that the word contains an indirect 
reference to the stream in pointing out the direc- 
tion of its current. It is disappointing perhaps, 
but nevertheless true, that Californian Indian 
nomenclature has little of romance behind it. 
The Indians usually chose names based upon 
practical ideas, most often ideas <»f direction, 
such as "north people," "south people," etc. 

Xavajo, also spelled lavajo (a pool where cattle 
go to drink). 

Navarro (a surname). In Mendocino County, 
west of Ukiah. 

Nevada (snowy). See page 293. 

El Nido (the nest). See page 46. It is thought 
that this ])la(c was so named because of its loca- 
tion ill the hills and mountains suggesting the idea 
of a ncsl in !hr l;iii(iscai)e, Ijut there is no drhnite 
informatit)n aljout it. 

395 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




Los Nietos (literally "the grandchildren/' but 
in this case a surname). See page 8i. 

Nimshew, in Butte County. This is an Indian 
word, from Nimsewi (big river), a division of 
Maidu Indians living on upper Butte Creek, in 
Butte County, near the edge of the timber. 

Nipomo, in San Luis Obispo County, is probably 
Indian, but its meaning has not been ascertained. 

Los Nogales (the walnut-trees). 

Del Norte (of the north). See page 260. 

Novato (new, beginning anything, but possibly 
in this case a surname). The exact origin of the 
name of this California town has not been ascer- 
tained. The place is in Marin County and as 
there was a land grant there called El Rancho de 
Novato, the probabiUties are that it is a surname 
of some family of early settlers. 

Noyo, is in Mendocino County. It was the 
Indian name of a creek, not the one now bearing 
the name of Noyo, but of another one in the 
vicinity. 

Nuestra Senora del Refugio (our lady of refuge) . 

Nuevo (new). In San Diego County. 

Oakland was originally called Las Encinas 
(the oaks), having been named by the com- 

396 



T HEIR M E A N INC A X I) R M A N C E 




mandante at Monterey as a result of the report 
of Lieutenant A'allejo of the great number of 
those trees growing upon the spot. — {Memoirs 
of the Vallejos, edited by James H. Wilkins, San 
Francisco Bulletin, January, 1914.) 

Oceano (ocean), near San Luis Obispo. 

Ojai, the name of a former Indian village in 
Ventura County, popularly translated as "nest" 
or "big tree," neither of which can be looked 
upon as authentic. According to Professor A. L. 
Kroeber, the meaning of the word Ojai is "moon." 

Los Ojitos (little springs). See page 5S. 

Ojo lie Agiia (spring of water). See pages 59 
and .^40. 

Ojo (!(' Aii^iKi </(■ Figiteroa (spring of Figueroa), 
the last word being a surname. The Figueroa 
family were among the earliest settlers 

Ojo Caliente (hot si)ring). 

Ojo de Aii^ita del Coche (spring of ihr pig). 

OUuirhd, in Inyo Counlw just below Owens 
Lake, was named for the Olanches Indians of 
southeastern ( 'alifornia. 

Olema. See page 2\o. 

Oliveras (olive-trees), in San Luis Obispo 
County. 01i\era is also a surname. 

397 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




Los Olivos (the olives). See page io8. 

Olla (a round earthen pot, also a whirlpool in 
a river or sea). Its application here has not 
been ascertained. 

Olompali was named for a former large Moquel- 
umnan village in Marin County, about six miles 
south of Petaluma. 

Onto, in El Dorado County, is the name of a 
Moquel village. 

Oro Fino (fine gold), in Siskiyou County. See 
page 261. 

Oro Grande (large or coarse gold), forty-nine 
miles north of San Bernardino. Also in Madera 
County. 

Oroville (gold-town). See page 288. 

Oso Flaco (thin bear). In San Luis Obispo 
County. 

Los Osos (the bears). See page 128. 

Otay, or Otai, was the name of a former Indian 
village near San Diego. It may have first been 
applied to the Otey or Otay land grant. 

Otero (literally a "hill, or eminence," but 
probably a surname here). 

Pachappa, near Riverside, Indian name, mean- 
ing not ascertained. 

398 



THEIR MEANING AND R O M A N C E 




Pacheco (a surname). See page 230. 

Pacoima, near Los Angeles, an Indian word, 
meaning not ascertained. 

Paicines, also spelled Pajincs. See page 160. 

Pdjaro (bird). See pages 152 and 340. 

Pala. See page 33. 

Palmas (palms). 

Dos Palmas (two palms), in Riverside County, 
so called from two giant palms near a spring. 

Palo, literally "stick," was used by the Span- 
iards in the sense of "tree." 

Palo Alto (high tree). See page 172. 

Palo Blanco (white stick, or tree). 

Palo Cedro (cedar tree), in Shasta County. 

Palo Colorado (redwood tree). These trees 
were first observed and named by Caspar de 
Portola, the discoverer of San I'rancisco Bay. 

Dos Palos (two sticks, or trees). See page 283. 

Paloma (dove, pigeon). 

Palo Vcrdc (green tree). 

Panamiiil Raui^r. See ])age 332. 

Panoclia. See page i5o. 

/.(/ Pa)iza (the paunch), in San Luis Obisix) 
County, so named by some hunters who placed 
ihr paunch of a beef to catch bear. Lu Palrta 

399 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




(shoulder-blade) and El Carnaso (loin) were put 
out in other places, and the names still remain. 

Las Papas (potatoes) Hill, is in the San Fran- 
cisco district. Papa (potato), is provincial and 
American. 

Par also (paradise). See page i6i. 

Paraje de Sanchez (place or station of Sanchez). 

Pasadena (crown of the valley). See page 82. 

Paskenta, in Tehama County, ib Indian and 
means "under the bank." 

Paso (pass). 

El Paso (the pass), of the Truckee River. 

El Paso Peak (the pass peak), in Kern County. 

Del Paso (of the pass), near Sacramento. 

Paso de Bartolo (pass of Bartolo), the last a 
Christian name. 

Paso de Robles (pass of the oaks). See pages 124 
and 340. 

Pasloria de las Borrcgas (pasture of the ewe- 
lambs). 

La Patera (a place where ducks congregate). 
In early days the fresh water swamps near here 
abounded with ducks. La Patera is a flag station 
in Santa Barbara County. 

La Paz (the peace) . Probably a peace arranged 

400 



THEIR MEANING AND ROMANCE 




with the Indians, or it may have been named for 
La Paz in Lower CaHfornia. 

Pecho Rock, near San Luis Obispo. The reason 
for this name has not been discovered, but it may 
be a reference to the shape of the rock. Pecho 
means "breast." 

Pedernales (flints). See page 104. 

I.os Pefiasqiiitos (the little cliffs), in San Diego 
County. 

Per aha (a surname), that of a pioneer family. 

Pcras (pears) Creek, in Los Angeles County. 

Los Pcrros fthc dogs), possibly Indian dogs. 

Pescadcro Point (fishing-place point). See i)age 
231. 

Petal lima. See page 261. 

Picaclws Moiuildiiis, a ridge east of San Fran- 
cisco Bay. Picliacos are frequent, isolated, conical 
peaks. 

Picaclw (top, shaqvpointed summit), is the 
name of a ])ost \illage in Iinj)crial Count \'. 

Pico (a surname), ten miles from Los Angeles. 
Jose Maria Pico of Sinaloa was the founder of 
this family, and its most notable member was his 
son, Pio Pico, at on^ time governor of California. 
According to Ham lofl. \\\c (liaraclcr of I'lo Pico 

401 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




was a mixture of good and bad, in which the good 
predominated. "He was abused beyond his 
deserts; he was a man of ordinary intelhgence and 
limited education; of a generous, jovial disposition, 
reckless and indolent, fond of cards and women; 
disposed to be fair and honorable in transactions, 
but not strong enough to avoid being made the 
tool of knaves. He did not run away with large 
sums of money obtained by sales of missions, as 
has been charged." 

Piedra (stone, rock), near Fresno. 

Piedras Blancas (white rocks). See page 128. 

Piedras Grandes (big rocks). 

La Piedra Pintada (the painted rock). See 
page 108. 

Pilar (literally "pillar of stone"). Point Pilar 
mav have been named for Nuestra Senora del 
Pilar ^ (Our Lady of the pillar), from a church at 
Saragossa, Spain, where there is an image of the 
Virgin on a marble pillar. Pilar is also a surname, 
that of a pioneer family, for whom this point may 
have been named. 

Pilar ciios (little pillars, or little Pilar Ranch). 

Pilitas (basins or water-holes in rock). 

PI Pinal (the pine grove), in San Joaquin County. 

402 



THEIR MEANING AND ROMANCE 




Pino Blanco (white pine), in Mariposa County. 

Pino Grande (big pine), in El Dorado County, 
near Placerville. 

Pinole (parched corn ground into meal). Point 
Pinole was so named because the expedition under 
Lieutenant Vallcjo had nothing to eat but pinole 
while they waited at that spot for the return of the 
car gad ores with provisions from Monterey. — {Mem- 
oirs of the Vallejos, edited by James H. Wilkins, 
San Francisco Bulletin, January, 1914.) 

Pinon (pine kernel, also the scrub pine, a very 
picturesque tree bearing a delicious nut). 

Point Pinos (point of pines). See page 148. 

Tres Pinos (three pines). See page 163. 

Pintado Cpainted, mottled). 

Pinto Range (painted or mottled range). See 
page 332. 

FJ Piojo (the louse), in Monlcrc}- Counl}-, a 
sliort distance soutli of jolon. 

Pirn, near Camulos, the name of a former 
Indian vilhige. 

Pismo. See i)age 128. 

Pit River. See page 294. 

/.(/ Pilii, in S;m Diego Count \. /'/'/(/ liaya is the 
Iruit ol the eaetus called "pri( kly pear." 

403 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




Placer. See page 304. 

Placerville. See page 305. 

Planada (a plain, level ground), seventy-four 
miles from Stockton. 

Piano (a level surface), in Tulare County. 

La Playa (the beach), in Santa Barbara County. 

Pleito (quarrel, lawsuit, bargain). See page 161. 

Plumas (feathers). See page 297. 

Las Plumas (the feathers), near Oroville. 

Pomo. See page 261. 

Poncho (cloak, blanket). 

Poonkiny (wormwood). Poonkiny, sometimes 
misspelled Pookiny, is from the Yuki Indian 
language. 

El Portal (the gate), the entrance to the Yosem- 
ite Valley. 

Portold (a surname). See pages 231 and 340. 

Posa (well, pool, also spelled by the Spaniards 
pozo, poso). The fact that posa also has the mean- 
ing of "passing bell for the dead" has caused some 
rather ludicrous mistakes. For instance. La Posa 
de los Ositos (the pool of the little bears) , evidently 
refers to a place where some bears were seen 
drinking, and certainly would be absurd trans- 
lated as "the passing beh of the Httle bears." 

404 



THEIR MEANING AND ROMANCE 




When used as names of places the connection 
makes it quite clear that they were so called in 
reference to pools of water present on the spot. 

Las Positas (the little pools). 

Las Positas y la Calera (the little wells, or pools, 
and the lime-kiln). 

Poso (pool, or well), in Kern County, and Poso 
in San Luis Obispo County. 

Los Posos (the pools, or wells), in Ventura 
County. 

La Posla (person who rides or travels post, 
post-house, military post, etc.). In the case of 
La Posta, 170 miles from the Mission Tule River 
Agency, it probably means post-station. 

Potrero (pasture, generally for horses). See 
pages 46, 161 and 231. 

Potrero dc los Cerritos (pasture of the little 
hills). 

Potrero Cliico (little pasture). 

Potrero Grande (big ])asture). 

Potrero y Pi neon de Sun Pedro (/e Pet^lado 
(pasture and corner of St. Peter Regalatoj. St. 
Peter Regalato was a TVanciscan, and was "es- 
pecially distinguished for his sublime gift of 
])rayer." This was the name of a land grant. 

405 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




El Potrero de San Carlos (the pasture of St. 
Charles) . 

Potrero de San Francisco (pasture of St. Francis). 
This district still goes by the name of "the po- 
trero" in the city of San Francisco. 

Potrero de San Luis Obispo (pasture of St. Louis 
the Bishop). 

El Potrero de Santa Clara (the pasture of St. 
Clara) . 

Poway, in San Diego County, is an Indian place 

name. 

Pozo (pool, well). See page 128. 

Prado (meadow), in Riverside County. See 
page 82. This place was so named on account of 
its resemblance to a prairie. 

La Presa (dam, dike). See page 46. This place 
is so called from the Sweetwater irrigation dam 
located there. 

Presidio (garrison, prison). See page 231. 

Prieta (dark), a place north of San Francisco. 

Los Prietos (the dark ones) . 

Providencia (providence) . 

Pueblo (town). 

Los Dos Pueblos (the two towns). See page 106. 

Puente (bridge), near Los Angeles. See page 82. 

406 



THEIR MEANING AND ROMANCE 




Las Puentes (the bridges). See page i6i. 

El Puerto (the port), of San Diego. 

Piilgas (fleas). See pages 82 and 224. 

La Punta (the point), in San Diego County. 

Piinta Ahncjas (mussel point). 

Ptmta Ano Nuevo (point New Year). See page 

157. 
Punta Arenas (sandy point). See page 340. 

Punta de la Concepcion (point of the immacu- 
late conception). 

Punta Dclgada (thin or narrow point). See 
page 260. 

Punta Gorda (fat or thick point). See pages 108 
and 260. 

Punta Guijarros (])ebble or boulder i)()int). 

Punta dc la Laguna (point of the lagoon). See 
page 261. 

Pu}ita Loma (hill point j, near San Diego. See 
])age 45. it should be Punta dc la Loma. 

Punta dc Pinos (point of pines;. Xear .Monterc}'. 
J'age 14S. 

Punta dc los Kcycs (poiiU of ihc kings). Sec 
page 232. 

Punta dc las Ritas (i)oint of the rites). See 
page 108. 

407 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




Purisima Point (point of the most pure con- 
ception). On the Santa Barbara Coast. 

Purisima (most pure), in San Mateo County. 

Point Sal (a surname). See page io8. 

Point Siir (south point). See page 162. 

La Quemada (the burned place), from the verb 
quemar (to burn). This name refers to a custom 
prevalent among the Indians of burning over large 
tracts of land for the purpose of killing the under- 
brush and encouraging the growth of grass, which 
resulted in attracting game. The diaries of the 
Spaniards refer frequently to this custom, and 
speak of finding a great deal of country burned 
over in this way. One writer has offered to his 
astonished readers the translation of La Quemada 
as "the over-full, having enough to eat." 

Qiiien Sahe (who knows), a familiar expression 
among the Spaniards. 

Quintin. See page 235. 

Quinto (a surname). Simon Tadeo Quinto was 
one of the members of this pioneer family. 

Raimimdo (Raymond). 

Ramirez (a surname), near Marysville. 

Ramona (a Christian name), well known as that 
of the heroine of Mrs. Helen Hunt Jackson's romance. 

408 



THEIR MEANING AND R M A N C E 




Ranclicria, a word meaning "settlement," but 
generally used by the Spaniards to mean an 
Indian village. 

Rancheria del Bailc de las Indias (village of the 
dance of the Indian women). See page loo. 

Rancheria del Corral (village of the yard). 

Rancheria de la Espada (village of the sword). 
See page 102. 

Rancheria del Rio Estanislao (village of the river 
Stanislaus). 

Ranchita de Santa Fe (little ranch of holy faith). 

Rancho del Puerto (ranch of the pass). 

Raton (mouse). 

Real de las Agnilas (camp of the eagles). 

Redondo (round). See page 82. 

Refugio (refuge), is in Santa Barbara (\)unty. 
Refugio is also a Christian name. 

Represa (dam), so called on account of a dam 
at that point, west of tlir state prison at Folsom. 

Del Rey (of the king), also known as El Rancho 
Nacional because it was used to ])rovide meat and 
horses for the military. This ranch was in Fresno 
County. 

Reyes (kings). See page 232. 

Ricardo (Richard), is in Kern County. 

411 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




Rincon is the interior angle formed by the 
junction of two walls or lines, and is one of the 
terms used in the apportionment of land grants. 

Rincon (corner), is in San Bernardino County. 

El Rincon (the corner), is in Los Angeles County, 
and comprises rich agricultural land on either 
side of the Santa Ana River. 

Rinconada is the corner formed by two houses, 
streets, roads, or between two mountains. 

Rinconada del Arroyo de San Francisquito 
(corner of the creek of little St. Francis). Land 
grant. 

Rincdn de los Cameras (corner of the sheep). 
Land grant. 

Rinconada de los Gatos (corner of the cats 
— wild-cats). Land grant. 

Rincdn de la Brea (corner of the asphalt). 
Land grant. 

Rincdn de los Bueyes (corner of the oxen) . Land 
grant. 

Rincon del Diablo (corner of the devil). Land 
grant. 

Rincon de los Ester os (corner of the estuaries). 
Land grant. 

Rincon Point (corner point). See page io8. 

412 



T H E 1 R MEANING AND R O .M A N C K 




Rincon dc la Puente del Monte (corner of the 
bridge of the wood, or hill). Land grant. 

Rincon de las Salinas (corner of the salt 
marshes). Land grant. 

Rincon dc las Salinas y Potrero Viejo (corner 
of the salt marshes and the old pasture). Land 
grant. 

Rincon de San Francisqnito (corner of little 
San Francisco). Land grant. 

Rincon del San j on (corner of the slough). 
Land grant. 

Rio (river). 

El Rio de los Berrcndos (the river of the ante- 
lopes). See page 40. 

Rio Grande (big river). 

Rio Jesus Maria (River Jesus Mary). Land 
grant. 

El Rio dc los Molinos (the river of the mill- 
stones). See page (So. 

El Rio del Xido (the ri\er of the nest), referring 
to the nest ol an eagle once seen in a tree on the 
banks of this stream. The name is now short- 
ened into l\i() Xido, or Rionido. 

/{/ Rio dc Sanla Clara (the ri\er of St. Clara). 
Land grant. 

413 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




El Rio de los Santos Reyes (the river of the holy 
kings). See page 278. 

Rio Seco (dry river). 

Rio Vista (river view). See page 289. Im- 
proper construction. It should be Vista del Rio. 

El Rito (the rite, ceremony). 

Rivera, literally "brook, creek," but also a 
surname. The Rivera family were among the 
pioneers. See page 82. 

Roblar de la Miseria (oak grove of poverty, 
wretchedness). It is likely that in this grove the 
Spaniards suffered from a shortage of food sup- 
plies, and named it in memory of their suffer- 
ings. Land grant. 

Los Robles (the oaks), ten miles from Los 
Angeles. 

Rodeo (cattle round-up). See pages 232 and 340. 
The town of Rodeo was first laid out to maintain 
a large packing-house for meat, but this was 
abandoned, and it has become an oil- refining town. 

Rodeo de las Aguas (gathering of the waters). 
See page 82. 

Del Rosa (of the rose) , in San Bernardino County. 
If this is not a surname it is improper in construc- 
tion, and should be De la Rosa. 

414 



THEIR MEANING AND ROMANCE 




Los Rosales (the rose-bushes). 

Rosario (rosary), procession of persons who 
recite the rosar}\ Also a Christian name. 

Sacate (grass, hay). 

Sacramento (sacrament). See page 271. 

Sal, in the case of Point Sal a surname. See 
page 108. 

Salada (salted, salty, saline land). Near San 
Francisco. 

Salazar (a surname), that of a pioneer family. 

Salida (exit, out-gate), village in Stanislaus 
County, seven miles northwest of Modesto. 

Salinas (salt-marshes). See pages i48and 340. 

Sal si Piicdcs ("get out if you can"). Seepage 109. 

La Salmi (health). See page 174. 

San Andreas (St. Andrew). See page 333. 

San Andres (St. Andrew). See page 333. 

San Anselmo (St. Anselm). Sec page 232. 

San Antonio (Si. Anthony). 

San Antonio de Padua (St. Anthony of Padua). 
Set- page J41. 

San Ardo (St. Ardo), is in Monterey County. 
St. Ardo, in Latin Smaraij^dus, was a Benedictine 
monk who wrote a life of St. Ik-nechct wliich is 
considered rcHablc. lie died in .S43. 

415 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




San Augustine (properly Agustin), born in 
Numidia, was the son of Santa Monica. "In 
his youth he was so devoted to pleasure that 
his mother feared the destruction of his char- 
acter," but he became converted by the preaching 
of St. Ambrose, and it is thought that the Te 
Deum was composed in honor of the occasion 
of his baptism. It is told of him that "while 
walking on the sea- shore, lost in meditation 
on his great theme, the Discourse on the Trinity, 
he saw a little child bringing water and endeavor- 
ing to fill a hole which he had dug in the sand. 
Augustine asked him the motive of his labors. 
The child said he intended to empty all the water 
of the sea into this cavity. 'Impossible!' ex- 
claimed St. Augustine. 'Not more impossible,' 
answered the child, 'than for thee, O Augustine, 
to explain the mystery on which thou art now 
meditating.' St. Augustine is the patron of 
theologians and learned men." — {Stories of the 
Saints.) 

San Benito (St. Benedict). See page i6i. 

San Bernabe (St. Barnabas, or Barnaby). This 
saint was a native of Cyprus, and a cousin of St. 
Mark. "He labored with Paul at Antioch, and 

416 



THEIR MEANING AND ROMANCE 




tradition says he preached from the gospel of 
St. Matthew, written by the Evangelist himself, 
which he carried always with him, and that it 
had power to heal the sick when laid upon their 
bosoms. He was seized by the Jews and cruelly 
martyred, while preaching in Judea." — {Stories of 
the Saints.) 

San Bcrnardiiw (St. Bcrnardinus). See page 74. 

San Bernardo (St. Bernard). There were two 
saints of this name, one born in 1190 at Fontaine, 
and the other in Savoy. The latter, St. Bernard 
of Menthon, is famous as the founder of the St. 
Bernard hospitals in the Alps, where "the monks, 
assisted b\- their dogs, search out and care for 
travelers who are lost in the passes of the moun- 
tains, where the storms are severe, and the cold 
intense." 

.S"(/;/ Bruno (St. Bruno). See page 232. 

Sd)i Buenaventura (St. Bonaventure). See 
page 95. 

San Carlos (St. Charles). See page 138. 

San Clemente (St. Clement j. See page ?y^. 

San Diegito (little St. James). 

San Diego (St. James). See ])age 21. 

San Dinuis "])n)l)al)l>' St. Dismas, is pujjularl) 

417 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




supposed to have been the good or converted 
robber on the right side of Christ on Good Friday. 
In places he is celebrated by the Latins on March 
25. The Greeks have him on a much later date." 
— (Fray Zephyrin Engelhardt, O. F. M). San 
Dimas is the name of a post- village in Los Angeles 
County. 

San Domingo (St. Dominick). St. Dominick 
was a Castilian of noble descent, and was the 
originator of the Dominican Order of barefoot 
priests, and of the use of the rosary. 

Sanel, the name of a former Indian village called 
variously Se-nel, Sah-nel, Sai-nel and Sanel. 
''Sanel is derived from cane (sweathouse) , and was 
the name of a very large village situated south 
of the town of Sanel, on the eastern side of Hop- 
land Valley." — (Barrett, in Univ. Publ. in Arch, 
and Tech.) 

San Emygdio, "English or Latin St. Emygdius, 
Bishop and Martyr, feast August 5. The Roman 
Martyrolog}^ has this on him: 'St. Emygdius, 
Bishop and Martyr, was consecrated Bishop by 
Pope St. Marcellus and sent to preach the Gospel 
at Ascoli. He received the crown of Martyrdom 
for confessing Christ, under Diocletian.' He is 

418 



THEIR MEANING AND ROMANCE 




invoked against earthquakes." — (Fray Zephyrin 
Engelhardt). 

San Felipe (St. Philip). See page i8o. 

San Fernando (St. Ferdinand). See page 69. 

San Francisco (St. Francis). See page 185. 

San Francisco de las Llagas (St. Francis of the 
''stigmata"). See page 179. 

San Francisquito (httle St. Francis). Land 
grant. 

San Gabriel (St. (jabriel). See page 66. 

San Gcronimo (St. Jerome). See pages 233 
and 340. 

San Gorgon io Mountains and Pass are in the 
Coast Range in Southern California. Their patron 
saint, (iorgonius, suffered martyrdom in 304 at 
Xicomedia during the persecution of Diocletian, 
(iorgonius, who had held a high position in the 
Emperor's household, was subjected to most 
frightful torments, and was finally strangled and 
his body thrown into the sea. Jt was, neverthe- 
less, secured b\' the Christians and was afterwards 
carried to Ronu'. 

San Gregorio (Si. (iregory). See page 2^^^^. 
Sanlgnacio (St. Ignatius). St. Ignatius LoNola 
was the founder of llic order of the Jesuits. "In 

419 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




his youth he was a page in the court of Ferdinand 
the Cathohc, and later a brave and gay soldier," 
He became a permanent cripple through being 
severely wounded in both legs. Wliile confined 
by these sufferings, he devoted himself to reading 
the life of Christ, and was thus induced to take 
up religious work. After some years of study, he 
induced five men to join him in forming a com- 
munity under the title of the "Company of 
Jesus," whose especial duties are "first, preach- 
ing; second, the guidance of souls in confession; 
third, the teaching of the young." 

San Isidro, also spelled Ysidro (St. Isidore). 
There were two saints bearing this name. St. 
Isidore the ploughman could neither read nor 
write, but performed many miracles. His master 
objected to the time wasted by Isidore in prayer, 
but his objections were silenced when he found, 
upon entering the field one day, the plough being 
drawn by two angels, while St. Isidore knelt at 
his devotions. The other St. Isidore was Bishop 
of Seville, and in the church in that city bearing 
his name, there is a "magnificent picture which re- 
presents him dying on the steps of the altar, having 
given all his property to the poor." See page 341. 

420 



THEIR MEANING AND ROMANCE 




San Jacinto (St. Hyacinth). See pages 83 and 
340. 

San J acinic) Vicjo (St. Hyacinth the Old). 

San Joaquin (St. Joachim). See pages 274 and 
340. 

Sa)ij6n (deej) ditcli or slough). Also spelled 
zanjon. 

Sanjon dc los Moqiiclumnes (Aloquelumne slough) . 

San Jose (St. Joseph). Sec pages 168 and 340. 

San Jose de Buenos Aires (St. Joseph of good 
airs). 

San Jose y Sitr Cliiqiiito (St. Joseph and little 
south). These are the names of two creeks near 
Monterey. 

San Juan Baiitista (St. John the Baptist). 
See pages 154 and 340. 

5(7;/ Juan Cajon de Santa A>m (St. John canyon, 
literally "box," of St. Anne). Deep canyons 
were often called cajones (boxes). 

San Juan Capistrano. See page 35. 

San Juan Point (St. John Point). See page 83. 

San Julian (St. Julian). This seems to ha\e 
l)cen a favorite name for saints, since there were 
twelve who bore it. Only two, however, are of 
special imj)ortance, St. Julian Hospitator, and 

421 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




St. Julian of Rimini. The first had the fearful 
misfortune to kill his own father and mother 
through an error, and to make reparation, he 
built a hospital on the bank of a turbulent stream 
in which many persons had been drowned. "He 
constantly ferried travelers over the river without 
reward, and, one stormy night in winter, when it 
seemed that no boat could cross the stream, he 
heard a sad cry from the opposite bank. He went 
over, and found a youth, who was a leper, dying 
from cold and weariness. In spite of his disease 
the saint carried him over, and bore him in his 
arms to his own bed, and he and his wife tended 
him till morning, when the leper rose up, and his 
face was transformed into that of an angel, and 
he said: 'Julian, the Lord hath sent me to thee; 
for thy penitence is accepted, and thy rest is near 
at hand' .... St. Julian is patron saint 
of ferrymen and boatmen, of travelers and of 
wandering minstrels." Little is known of St. 
Julian of Rimini except that he "endured a pro- 
longed martyrdom with unfailing courage." — 
{Stories of the Saints.) See page 340. 

San Justo (St. Justus). Little authentic is 
known of this saint, except that he was the fourth 

422 



THEIR MEANING AND ROMANCE 




archbishop of Canterbury, and died there about 
627. 

San Lcaiuiro (St. Leander). See page 233. 

San Lorenzo (St. Lawrence). See page 234. 

San Lucas (St. Luke). See page 162. 

San Luis Gonzaga (St. Louis Gonzaga). This 
saint, also known as St. Aloysius, was the son of a 
noble Italian lady, the Marchese di Castiglione. 
"He entered the Society of Jesus when not yet 
eighteen years old, and became eminently dis- 
tinguished for his learning, piety and good works. 
He died at Rome in 1591 of fever, which he con- 
tracted while nursing the sick." — {Stories of the 
Saints.) 

San Luis Obispo (St. Louis the Bishop). See 
])ages I 17 and 340. 

San Luis Rev (St. Louis the king). See page 30. 

S(in Mdrridl (St. Martial) was the Bishoj) of 
Limoges, and is esi)eciall\' notrd lOr the conxer- 
sions he accomplished, in particular that of the 
beautiful virgin St. X'alerie, who sulTcri'd marlyr- 
(lom for her faith. 

San Miireos (St. Mark). "This exangelist was a 
disci])le of St. I'eter. lie founded the chunh al 
Alexandria, and on account of his miracles the 

42.5 



y 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




heathen accused him of being a magician; and at 
length, while celebrating the feast of their god 
Serapis, they seized St. Mark and dragged him 
through the streets until he died. Then imme- 
diately there fell a storm of hail, and a tempest of 
lightning came with it which destroyed his mur- 
derers." His remains were removed in A. D. 815 
to Venice, where the splendid cathedral of St. 
Mark was erected over them. Many legends are 
told of this saint, among them the story of his 
having saved the city of Venice from destruction by 
demons, who raised a great storm and came in a 
boat for that purpose, but were driven away by St. 
Mark, who went to meet them and held up a cross. 
San Marino, near Los Angeles, was named for 
a saint who was born in Dalmatia in the fourth 
century. He was a poor laborer and was em- 
ployed in the reconstruction of the bridge of 
Rimini. His piety attracted the attention of the 
Bishop of Brescia, who ordained him as a deacon. 
Marino retired to Mount Titano, and gave him- 
self up entirely to religious practices. His cell 
attracted others, and this was the origin of the 
city and republic of San Marino, the smallest 
republic in the world. 

424 



THEIR MEANING AND ROMANCE 




San Martin (St. Martin). See pages i8i and 340. 
San Mateo (St. Matthew). See pages 234 and 

340. 

San Mateo Point (St. xMatthew Point). See 
page 83. 

San Miguel (St. Michael). See page 123. 

San Miguelito (httle St. Michael). 

San Xicolds (St. Nicholas). Little that is 
authentic can be obtained concerning the history 
of this saint, but there are numerous legends of 
miracles performed by him, several of them con- 
nected with raising children from the dead, and 
similar stories. St. Nicholas is the chief patron 
of Russia and of many sea-port towns, and is the 
])rotector against robbers and violence. He is 
also the patron of children and schoolboys in par- 
ticular, and of poor maidens, sailors, travelers, 
and merchants. 

San Onofre (St. Onophrius). See page St,. 

San Pablo (St. Paul). See page 234. 

San Pasqual (St. Pascal). This saint was a 
S])anish peasant, born in Arag(')ii in 1540. He was 
a member of tlu- 1' raiu iscan order, and was re- 
markable for his unfailing courtesy and (harity 
to the i)oor. 

425 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




San Pedro (St. Peter). See page 84. 

San Pedro, Santa Margarita, y las Gallinas 
(St. Peter, St. Margaret, and the chickens) , com- 
bined names of three land grants. 

San Ouentin (St. Quentin). Seepages 235 and 

341. 

San Rafael (St. Raphael). See page 220. 

San Ramon (St. Raymond). See page 235. 

San Simeon (St. Simeon). See page 128. 

Santa Ana (St. Anne). See page 59. 

Santa Ana y Quien Sabe (St. Anne and "who 
knows"), combined names of two land grants. 

Santa Anita (St. Annie, or little St. Anne). 

Santa Barbara. See page 89. 

Santa Catalina (St. Catherine). See page 62. 

Santa Clara (St. Clara). See page 167. 

Santa Clara del Norte (St. Clara of the north). 

Santa Cruz (holy cross). See page 153. 

Santa Fe (holy faith), near Los Angeles. See 
page 341. 

Santa Cruz Island. See page 10 1. 

Santa Gertrudis (St. Gertrude). St. Gertrude 
the Great was a benedictine nun and mystic 
writer, born in Germany in 1256. She is especially 
noted for her learning and religious writings, all of 

426 



THEIR MEANING AND ROMANCE 




which were written in Latin. She was charitable 
to the poor and had the gift of miracles. 

Santa Inez, also spelled Ynez (St. Agnes). See 
pages 109 and 341. 

Santa Lucia (St. Lucy). See page 129. 

Santa Margarita (St. Margaret). See page 129. 

Santa Margarita y las Flores (St. Margaret and 
the flowers), combined names of two land grants. 

Santa Maria (St. Mary). See page no. 

Santa Monica (St. Monica). See page 61. 

Santa Paula (St. Paula). See page 113. 

Santa Rita is the name of a village in Monterey 
County, near Salinas. The joatron saint of this 
place was bom at Rocca Porena in 1386 and died 
in 1456. Her feast day is May 22, and she is 
represented as holding roses, or roses and ligs. 
W'lu-n but twelve years of age Santa Rita was com- 
])elled by Ikt parents lo marry a cruel, ill-tem- 
])ere(l man. This man was nuirdered, and alter 
his death, his widow desired to enter the convent 
at Cascia, but was at first refused admission on 
account of lu-r widow-iiood. She was liiiahy 
received, however, and so many nn'rac les were 
reported to have been ])irforme(l at her inter- 
cession that she was given in S])ain the title ol 

4-'7 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




La Santa de los Imposihles (the saint of the im- 
possibihties), 

Santa Rosa (St. Rose). See page 246. 

Santa Susana (St. Susanna). This saint, who 
was remarkable for her beauty and learning, was 
a relative of the Emperor Diocletian, who desired 
her as a wife for his adopted son Maximus. St. 
Susanna, having made a vow of chastity, refused 
this offer, and Diocletian, angered by her refusal, 
sent an executioner to kill her in her own house. 

Santa Teresa, was born at Avila in Castile, 
March 28, 151 5. During her earliest youth, 
through reading the lives of the saints and martyrs, 
she formed a desire to take up religious work. 
In accordance with this desire, at the age of twenty 
years, she entered the convent of Carmehtes, and 
chose as her life work the reforming of the order 
of Mount Carmel, as well as the establishment of 
a number of convents for men. It was she who 
made the Carmelites go barefoot, or sandalled. 
Santa Teresa had distinct literary gifts, and her 
history of her life is a work of absorbing interest, 
which is still read with genuine pleasure by stu- 
dents of the literature of Spain. She attained a 
position of such authority in that country that 

428 



THEIR MEANING AND ROMANCE 




Philip III chose her for its second patron saint, 
ranking her next to Santiago (St. James). 

Santa Yncz. See Santa Inez. See page 109 and 

341- 

Santa Ysahel, also spelled Isabel (St. Isabella 

of France), who founded the convent at Long- 
champs, was sister to the sainth' King Louis. 
She was educated with her brother b\^ their 
mother, Blanche of Castile. St. Isabel dedicated 
her convent to the "humility of the Blessed Vir- 
gin," and gave to it all her dowry. As long as the 
convent existed the festival of this saint was cele- 
brated with great splendor. — {Stories of Ihe 
Saints.) 

Santia}^o de Santa Ana (Si. James of St. Anne). 
Land grant. 

San Tinwteo (St. Timothy). St. Timothy was 
llu' hcloxcd (lisci])l(' of St. Paul, whom he accom- 
j)anic(l on many joiiiiioys. It is said that lie was 
Bisho]) of Ki)hesus, until at thi' age of eighty years 
he suffered the cruel fate of being beaten to deatli 
by pagans. 

Sa)i '/'of)iiis() (St. Thomas), was a (iaHlean 
fisherman and one of the apostles. "So great was 
his in(rt'(kiht\ that he has always been remem- 

429 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




bered for that rather than for his other charac- 
teristics," and it was in this way that the famihar 
expression "a doubting Thomas" arose. At the 
time of the ascension of the Virgin, Thomas 
refused to beheve in the event, and the legend 
relates that in order to convince him the Virgin 
dropped her girdle to him from the heavens. 
Three other saints also bear this name, St. Thomas 
a Becket, the celebrated English historical char- 
acter; St. Thomas Aquinas, a grandnephew of 
Frederick I and a man of great learning; and St. 
Thomas the Almoner, who was so charitable that 
"as a child he would take off his own clothes to 
give away to children in the street." It is related 
of the last named that he wore the same hat for 
twenty-six years, and that his whole life was "but 
a grand series of beneficent deeds. When the 
hour of his death came he had given away every- 
thing except the pallet on which he lay, and this 
was to be given to a jailer who had assisted him 
in executing his benevolent designs." There is 
a remarkably beautiful picture of him by Murillo, 
representing him as a child, dividing his clothing 
among four ragged little ones. 

San Vicente (St. Vincent). Three saints bear 

430 



THEIR MEANING AND ROMANCE 




this name. St. Vincent of Saragosa was martyred 
during the persecution of the Christians by 
Diocletian. Legend has it that his remains were 
guarded by crows or ravens, and when in the year 
1 147 Alonzo I removed them to Lisbon, two crows 
accompanied the vessel, one at the prow and one 
at the stern. In pictures St. Vincent is always 
represented as accompanied by a crow or raven. 
St. Vincent Ferraris was born at Valencia in 1357. 
He was a celebrated preacher and missionary, 
and "so moved the hearts of his nearers that he 
was often obliged to pause that the sobbing and 
weeping might subside." The third of this name, 
St. Vincent de Paul, was the son of a Gascon 
farmer, and his charities were so various and so 
many as to cause his name to be revered by all, 
irrespective of religious differences. He estab- 
lished the Hospital La Madeleine for the Magda- 
lens of Paris, a foundling h()S])ital, and numerous 
(ithcr charities. In Iruth, the i)ractical good done 
by this man (hiring his life makes him well worthy 
of the title of "saint." 

San Vsidro. See San Isidro. Sec page 341. 

Salicoy. See ])age S4. 

Saiirilo (little alder). 

431 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




Saucos (alder-trees). 

Sausal (willow-grove) . 

Saiisalito (little willow-grove). See page 218. 

Sausal Redondo (round willow-grove). See 
Redondo Beach, page 82. 

El Segiindo (the second), so called because at 
that place the Standard Oil Company's second 
refinery on the Pacific Coast is located. Modern. 

Sequoia, the giant tree of California, was named 
for the Cherokee, Sequoyah, who invented an 
alphabet for his tribe. Sequoyah, also known as 
George Gist, or Guess, was the son of a white 
man and a Cherokee woman of mixed blood, and 
was, after all, more white man than Indian. He 
had a natural genius for mechanical invention, 
and, having been crippled for life in a hunting 
accident, he occupied his time in devising the 
alphabet, which was accepted with such enthusi- 
asm by his people that every Cherokee, of what- 
ever age, had learned to read and write in a few 
months. Sequoia, although not a place name, is 
given here for the interest it may have for tourists 
and other persons unacquainted with the origin 
of the name of the famous "big trees." 

Serena (serene). See page 113. This name is 

432 



THEIR MEANING AND ROMANCE 




spelled on some maps as Screno, but is called Serena 
by the people of the neighborhood. 

Serra (a surname). See page 84. 

Sespe, named for a former Chumash Indian 
village said by Indians to have been on Sespe 
Creek, in Ventura County. 

Shasta. See page 251. 

Sierra (saw, saw-toothed mountains). See 
page 293. 

Sierra Madre (mother sierra). See page 293. 

Sierra Morena (brown range) is the name of a 
spur of the Coast Range commencing about ten 
miles south of San Francisco and running through 
San Francisco County into Santa Clara County. 
This mountain range, which contains some very 
charming scenery, may have been so named on 
account of its color, or it may be the namesake of 
the Sierra Morena of Spain. The name is some- 
times spelled Moreno, and one of the possibilities 
is that it was named for the i)ioneer Moreno familx'. 

Sierra Xevada (snowy sierra). See page 293. 

Si}ni, in \'entura Count)', is an Indian ])lace 
name. 
• — Siskiyou. See page 256. 

Sis Qkoc, a town and ri\rr in Santa Barbara 

433 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




County, named from Souscoc, a former Chumash 
village near the Santa Inez Mission. 

Sohrante (residue, surplus), a term applied to 
a piece of land left over after measuring off land 
grants. 

Sohrante de San Jacinto^ residue of the grant 
called St. Hyacinth. 

Solano. See page 268. 

Soledad (sohtude). See page 151. 

Somis, in Ventura County, is an Indian place 
name. 

Sonoma. See page 241. 

Sonora. See page 333. 

Soquel, or Souqitcl, was probably derived from 
Usacalis, a Costanoan Indian village situated in 
181 9 within ten miles of the Santa Cruz Mission. 

Soscol. See Suscol. 

Sotoyome, a former Chumash Indian village 
near Santa Inez Mission, in Santa Barbara County. 

Stanislaus. See page 275. 

Suerte, a word of many meanings (luck, chance, 
lot of ground). In the apportionment of land by 
the Spaniards a suerte was a cultivable lot of land 
granted to colonists near the pueblos and within 
the four leagues assigned to the pueblo. Each 

434 



THEIR MEANING AND ROMANCE 




suerte consisted of two hundred varas of length 
and two hundred of breadth, a vara being about 
thirty-three inches. Thus one siierte is one lot 
(of land), and not, as one writer has translated it, 
''one chance." Dos suertes is two lots. 

Siiisim. See page 269. 

Siifwl (a surname). See pages 236 and 341. 

Sur (south). For Point Sur see page 162. In 
this vicinity the scenery is remarkably pictur- 
esque. 

Del Sur (of the south), is in Los Angeles County. 

Suscol was the name of a Moquelumnan tribe 
who lived in a \illage on the east bank of Napa 
River. See Soscol. 

Tahoc. See page 306. 

Tallac, an Indian word, meaning not ascer- 
tained. 

Tamalpais. See i)age 213. 

Tambo (South American lOr inn, or liotcl, so 
called because in early days there was a st()pi)ing 
place in this \icinity for travelers crossing the 
continent. Near Marysville. 

Tenaya Peak, in Yosemite \'alle\-, named for 
Ten-ei-ya, chief of the N'osemite Indians. 

Tasajara, the name of a resort near Monterey, 

435 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




is probably a corruption of tasajera, a place where 
jerked meat is hung up to cure. Tassajara in 
Contra Costa County, and Tasajero creek in 
Contra Costa and Alameda Counties are probably 
different spellings of the same word. 

Tecolote (owl). 

Tehachapi. See page 289. 

Tehama. See page 265. 

El Tejon (the badger), is in Kern County. 
Tejon Pass is badger pass. 

Temecida. See page 47. Temecula is in the 
southern part of Riverside County. 

Temescal (sweathouse) . See page 70. 

Teqiiisqiiite is an Aztec word, probable meaning 
salt-petre. 

Tia Juana. See page 47. 

Tihuron (shark). See page 220, 

Tierra Seca (dry land). 

Tocaloma. See page 236. 

Todos Santos (all saints), 

Todos Santos y San Antonio (all saints and St. 
Anthony). 

Tolenos, in Yolo County, is probably a misspel- 
ling of Yolenos, from the Indian Yolo. See page 
268. 

436 



X 



n 

H 




THEIR MEANING AND ROMANCE 




Tohica, near Los Angeles, is probably derived 
from Tolujaa, or Tilijaes^ a tribe among the 
original ones at San Juan Capistrano in 1731, 
although there is also a place named Toluca in 
Mexico. 

Tomales. See page 236. 

Topo Creek (gopher creek). 

Toro (bull). See pages 85 and 163. 

Toros (bulls). 

Tortuga (turtle, tortoise). 

Trabuco (blunderbuss, a sort of wide-mouthed 
gun), but it may not be used in that sense in this 
case. See page 85. Trabuco Canyon is in Orange 
County. 

Tram pa del Oso (bear trap). 

Trampas (traps, snares), perhaps named in 
reference to traps which were in common use 
among the Indians to catch game, as well as their 
human enemies. In Contra Costa County. 

TriUiquilUhi MoHuia'ni is in Santa Barbara 
County, iranquillon is a mixture of two kinds 
of grain, such as wheat and rye, calkd in English 
"mastlin," or ''mash'n." 

Tres Ojos dc Ai^iui ftliroe springs of water). 

Tres l^inos. See page ibi,. 

439 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




Trigo (wheat), is 128 miles from Stockton. 

Trinity County. See page 257. 

Trinidad Bay and town. See page 257. 

Triunjo (triumph), is in Los Angeles County. 

Tropico (tropical), near Los Angeles. 

Truckee. See page 305. 

Tulare (place of rushes). See page 281. 

Tidarcitos (Httle rushes, Httle Tulare ranch). 

Tiducay Rancho, near Napa State Hospital, is 
derived from the Indian word tiduka (red). 

Tunitas is a place near San Francisco on the 
Ocean Shore Road. The tunita is a beach plant 
sometimes called the "beach apple." Tuna is 
the Spanish name for the common cactus known 
as "prickly pear." 

Tuolumne. See page 315. 

Tustin (a surname), a place in Orange County, 
near Santa Ana. Fernando Tustin was one of the 
early settlers, and came to California in 1845. 

Ukiah. See page 262. 

Usal, in Mendocino County. This is an Indian 
word, derived from yosal, or yusal, the name of 
a tribe of Pomos, living on the coast from Usal 
northward. 

Las Uvas (the grapes). See page 163. 



440 



THEIR MEANING AND ROMANCE 




Vacaville. See page 289. 

Vale?icia Peak, near San Luis Obispo. Valencia 
is a surname. 

Valle (valley). 

Vallecito (little valley) is the name of places in 
Calaveras and San Diego Counties. See page 334. 

Los Vallecitos de San Marcos (the little valleys 
of St. .Mark). 

Vallejo (a surname). See pages 236 and 341. 

]'alle Mar (sea valley), on the Ocean Shore, 
near San Francisco. Improper construction. It 
should be Valle del Mar (valley of the sea). 

\'alle de San Felipe (valley of St. Philip). 

Dos Valles (two valleys). 

Valle de San Jose (valley of St. Joseph). 

Valle Verde (green valley). See page 85. 

Valle Visla (valley view). See page 85. 
proj)er construction. It should be Vista del 
(view of the \alley). 

Vega, an open plain, or tract of lc\cl land. 
is also a surname. 

Iais Vegas (the meadows). Fremont refers to 
the vegas of the Southern Central Valle\ in these 
terms: "We encamped in the midst of another 
very large basin, at a camping ground called Las 

441 



Im- 

'alle 



\ega 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




Vegas, a term which the Spaniards use to signify 
fertile or marshy plains, in contradistinction to 
llanos, which they apply to dry and sterile plains." 

Vega del Rio del Pdjaro (plain of the river of the 
bird). 

Venado (deer), is in Colusa County. 

Ventura (fortune). See page 113. 

Verano (summer), is west of Napa. 

Verde (green), twelve miles from San Luis 
Obispo. 

Verdugo (a surname in this case). See page 85. 

Los Vergeles (flower gardens, beautiful or- 
chards). 

Vicente Point (Point Vincent). See page 85. 

Viento (wind), is in San Bernardino County. 

Las Vir genes (the virgins). See page 341. 

Vista (view), in San Diego County. 

Bella Vista (beautiful view). 

Buena Vista (good view). 

Chula Vista (charming view). See page 42. 

Vista Grande (large view), is in San Mateo 
County. 

Monte Vista (mountain view). Improper con- 
struction. It should be Vista del Monte (view of 
the mountain). 



442 



THEIR MEANING AND ROMANCE 




Rio Vista (river view). See page 289. Improper 
construction. It should be Vista del Rio (view of 
the river). 

Vizcaino Cape, named for the celebrated Span- 
ish explorer Sebastian Vizcaino, who touched at 
various points on the California coast in the year 
1602. 

Volcdn (volcano). 

Wall toque is an Indian word meaning "pine 
nut," the name of a place near Fresno. 

Wawona, an Indian word of disputed meaning. 
See page 334. 

Weitclipec, near Hoopa valley, Humboldt 
County. "The Weitspekan family consisted of 
the Yurok tribe alone, inha.^iting the lower Kla- 
math Ri\er and adjacent coast. The name is 
adapted from W'citspekw, the name of a spring 
in the village. At the site of the present postoOice 
of Weitchpec was one of the most populous Yurok 
villages, and one of only two or three at which 
both the Deerskin dance and the jum])ing dance 
were held." — (A. L. Kroebcr in Ihuidbook of 
Anirriciui Ifidians.) 

Las Vegiias (tin- marc^s), referring to a pasture 
where mares were kept. 

443 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




Yerba Buena (good herb). See page 205. 

YokoJil, in Tulare County. This was the name 
of a Yokuts tribe formerly living on the Kaweah 
River, Tulare County. 

Yolo. See page 268. 

Yorba (a surname). This was the name of one 
of Captain Fages' original Catalan volunteers. 
Yorba is near Los Angeles. 

Yosemite (grizzly bear). See page 321. 

Yreka. See page 258. 

Yuba. See page 266. 

Yucaipe, in San Bernardino County, is an 
Indian place name. 

Zamora, probably named for the province of 
the same name in the ancient kingdom of Leon, in 
Spain. There is an old proverb about this place 
which says: "No se gano Zamora en una hora" 
(Zamora was not taken in an hour), the same idea 
as expressed in ''Rome was not built in a day." 
Za paler Creek (shoemaker creek). 



444 



THEIR MEANING AND ROIMANCE 




ADDENDA 

Las Calahazas means "the squashes" or "the 
gourds," particularly with reference to the wild 
gourds that grow in that locality. — (Mr. Charles 
F, Lummis.) 

El CJwrro (the gushing stream), is the name of 
a creek near San Luis Obispo, and was so named 
from a waterfall on its course. 

Garvanza is a corrupt word, possibly corrupted 
from garhanzo (chick-pea). The town name is a 
modern one, not given by Spaniards but by tender- 
feet, and there is no known reason for its appli- 
cation. — (Mr. Charles F. Lummis.) 

Leon turns out not to be of Spanish origin. 

In a recent ])ubHcation on a California subject 
the definition of Palo Alio is given as "high hill," 
and of Palo Wiutr as "green hill," bolh of which 
are, of course, incorrect. Anxonc who will take 
the trouble to consult an ordinary S])anish dic- 
tionary will lind that l>alo means "stick." As 
stated elsewhere in this book, the Sj)aniar(ls used 
this word in the sense of "tree," and Palo Alto 
consequently means "high tree," as is fully set 

445 



PLACE NAMES OF CALIFORNIA 




forth under the heading of this name in these pages. 
The meaning of Palo Verde is, of course, "green 
tree." 

Pecho (breast) Rock is so named from the shape 
of the rock. 

Prado (meadow) is a modern name apphed with- 
out much regard for its fitness. — (Mr. Charles F. 
Lummis.) 

Rivera should be spelled with a ''b ' instead of a 
"v." It means "banksof a stream," and the name 
is given for this reason. — (Mr. Charles F. Lummis.) 

Serena (serene) is incomplete in this form, as 
Spaniards do not use an adjective standing alone 
as a place name. It may have been originally La 
Ensenada Serena (the serene bay) in reference 
to the charming little cove situated there. 

Triunfo (triumph) is a modern real estate name, 
and has no historical significance that can be dis- 
covered. — (Mr. Charles F. Lummis.) 




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