February 2018 Archives

The Ontario Land Company

On August 13, 1883 George Chaffey wrote a letter to J. P. Gildersleeve, one of the original settlers in Ontario, California. This letter announces the creation of the Ontario Land Company in the form of a trust deed. Although originally the company was planned to be a joint stock company, the Chaffey brothers thought that was too risky for themselves and their potential stock holders.

The benefits of creating a company in this manner, according to George Chaffey are the following:

"1st. There can be no combination of stock holders by which the minority can be driven to the wall and be obliged to sacrifice to the interests of the majority. Thus the holder of one share is in a good position as regards his proportion as the owner of a thousand. 2nd. The shares are unassumable and therefore the holder enjoys immunity from forfeiture. 3rd. No debts can be made against the lands except such as is necessary to protect and care for the property. 4th. The certificates of ownership can always be paid in to the company at par value with 8% added for any of the unsold lands, thus offering a security which has for its base real estate at market value."

Then, George Chaffey transitions to talking about Gildersleeve's property. Apparently, the fruit trees are doing well, in particular the apricot trees. A few weeks ago I wrote about George Chaffey's interest in apricot trees on this blog, so it was fun to see him mention it again. The warm weather this summer has allowed for "enormous growth on vines & trees."

George Chaffey ends the letter by letting Gildersleeve know that "a great many strangers" have been settling in the colony and they "expect lively times next winter." George Chaffey hopes that Gildersleeve will find time to visit the colony during the winter to escape the Canadian snow storms.

Claremont in the 1960s

Hi Everyone, 

This week, I continued to survey the Yao family collection and encountered a box full of negatives and 35 mm slides. Since Mr. Norman Yao took many photos for the Claremont Colleges and the Claremont Church, I am also discovering local history while going through his photos. In the 1960s, the Scripps College campus was decorated with Chinese Buddhist statues donated by Norwegian General Johan Munthe who emigrated to China in 1886. The fascination with the Orient was so deep that President of Scripps College Mark Curtis even tried on a Chinese imperial robe. 

The racial aspect of 1960s Claremont in this collection is also rather interesting as the vast majority of the people Norman photographed were Caucasians, and yet he was a person of color. This particular dynamic reminded me of the photos of the all-white parties that Norman took in Hong Kong. I wonder what psychological effect such racial dynamics could have had on Norman as well as the photographed subjects. Meanwhile, Norman's camera also captured social changes in the 1960s, for instance, the first admission of Black students into Scripps College through Future Development Program of Negro Students. 

Hope you have a good week! 


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Norman Yao reads "How to Use the Box Camera"

Race Against the Clock

Hello Everyone, this week has been productive, but time on this project seems to be passing quickly and I am trying to pick up the pace to accomplish as much as possible. I now have nine of the twenty-seven boxes completed with much of the annual and monthly operational club activity records and Junior Club project reports in folders. I have also made significant progress on creating folders for Club history as well as Woman's Club events and projects. The remaining boxes awaiting processing contain ledgers and journals, printed matter and ephemera, newspaper clippings, photos, and slides, and some remaining loose paperwork. I have a good plan of attack for next week and am eager to get started on Tuesday.

The Woman's Club of Claremont has had some great fundraising events throughout their history and have been very creative in coming up with event themes. I have come across some wonderful event programs for fashion shows from the 1950's and 1960's with such titles as "Autumn Fashion Treasures," "Fashions for a Goddess," and "Strawberry Supreme," with some programs being handmade. Check them out!

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Knee Deep in Frankish Letters

Hi all,

This week I broke apart transcripts from the Frankish letters book three and then started scanning the Frankish letters book two. As I broke apart the PDFs and scanned the letters I was surprised by the daily number of letters that Charles Frankish wrote. Some days he wrote twenty! I have also been thinking about the fact that before Charles was able to send the letters he wrote, someone had to transcribe them into a bound book for record keeping. It is making me feel very thankful for email!

Looking forward to next week,

Week of February 19-23

Hi all,

There isn't much to blog about this week. I just continued to make PDF/A's out of PDFs. Some of the other material on this blog is really interesting, though. I'm jealous of the work that's being done on the T.S. Eliot collection (never knew he frequented Claremont)! I wish there was more poetry to my work!


Frankish Letters Book 1

Good afternoon everyone,

This week I finished breaking apart all of the transcription files from the Frankish Letters Book 1. There were about 500 transcriptions for Book 1. It was interesting to see business transactions played out in letters. The most fascinating part about these transcriptions was the organization of the letters. I think it's also important to note the underlying significance for organizing these letters in a specific way. I am looking forward to delving into another collection of letter transcriptions!

Until next time,

Angel Ornelas

Valerie Eliot's Christmas Card

Valerie Eliot's whimsical personality is evident even in her penmanship. 

I think I am drawn to Valerie Eliot's cards to Jeanette McPherrin because I see so much of Eliot's influence on Valerie here. Her signature has the same slanted line underneath her name that T.S. Eliot employs. 

Her handwriting is a lot easier to read than her husband's, as hers is more bubbly and almost youthful. Valerie was 40 years younger than T.S. Eliot and she was a longtime fan of Eliot's before she met him at Faber & Faber, where she purposefully worked as Eliot's secretary (she used Charles Morgan's connections to get a job at Eliot's publishing company so that she could work in the vicinity of T.S. Eliot). Quite a fandom! Years after their deaths, I sit quietly at the Denison Library admiring Eliot's writings, just as Valerie must have done when she was around my age. I wonder if Valerie knew about T.S. Eliot's previous "relationship" with Emily Hale, Jeanette's friend... A mystery indeed. 


For Your Health

On May 25th, 1883, William Henderson wrote a letter to C. L. Stephens.  Stephens had been in bad health for quite some time and William Henderson was writing to offer his sympathies as well as invite C. L. Stephens to move to Southern California. In order to better convince Stephens, Henderson enclosed an informational pamphlet with his letter.

William Henderson believes that C. L. Stephens' health will improve if he moves to Southern California from Canada. Henderson writes of the Chaffey brothers' colonies, "so far as climate is concerned we have no hesitation in saying that for Asthma and Bronchitis there is none better under the sun." Henderson also writes that many of the settlers in Etiwanda and Ontario are fellow Canadians, with the hope, perhaps, to convince C. L. Stephens that he will feel at home in the new Southern Californian colonies.

William Henderson believes that even with C. L. Stephens' poor health, he would be able to find work in the colony. If Stephens' health improves enough after settling in the warm, dry climate of Southern California, Henderson is confident that he will be able to find a good paying job. He writes, "a small fruit farm would fill the bill exactly and you may be able to get some occupation in this southern country that will eventually make such an attainment possible." William Henderson ends his letter by describing Southern California as "the best climate in America for your particular complaints."

I find this letter interesting because it aligns with a common idea at the time that moving to a warm, dry climate could help with one's ailing health. In Southern California specifically there has been a pervading idea that the weather here could help with a whole range of health complaints, most notably upper respiratory issues. We see that illustrated here.

The Story of the Yao Family

Hi Everyone, 

I am very excited to be on board to work as a CCEPS fellow. This semester, I will be working on Claremont's former mayor Mr. Peter Yao's donation of photos and other family documents to The Claremont Colleges Library. First week on the job, I encountered many fascinating documents, including numerous personal letters and dozens of official documents issued by the Kuomintang, British Hong Kong and American government. From these documents I was able to reconstruct the story of the Yao family. Graduates of University of Shanghai, Peter Yao's parents hailed from elite families in mainland China. But when the Communists won the civil war and confiscated their business, they fled to British Hong Kong where they worked for the US Information Service. Under the Refugee Relief Act of 1953, they came to the United States. Peter Yao's father Norman Yao was a lifelong enthusiast of photography, and the photographs he had taken constitutes the majority of the documents I will be processing. 

Hope you have a good week! 



Norman Yao and his beloved Rolleiflex camera

First Week On The Job

This week was my first week working as a CLIR CCEPS fellow. I am very excited to work with and learn at Special Collections this semester. This week I have been exporting individual pages from transcripts of the Frankish Letters Book Two. As I exported the pages, I thought about the diligence put into writing, binding, and transcribing the letters. I am excited that soon they will become a public resource for researchers to use. I am sure they produce something equally as impressive as the letters themselves. Looking forward to what next week will hold.


A surprise while scanning

Hi all,

Today as I was scanning the contents of one of the Ontario Mutual Water Companies Collection folders, I came across a scrap from a planner which caught my eye. It's similar to the one I use to keep life organized, but it's from 1952, which is so cool! Apart from a little calendar and dates on the side, it also includes historical facts. For example, on August 5th, it says "first Atlantic cable U.S. to England 1858." What fascinates me most, though, is the quote printed across the top: "to know but one religion is not to know that one." It's pretty thought-provoking and encourages an open mind- not something I necessarily associate with the 1950s in the U.S. I wonder why this blank page ended up in a folder which mostly contains letters to stockholders and such. I hope to continue stumbling across little interesting tidbits as I get through scanning the rest of this box.


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The Monkey and the Cat

On May 25, 1883 George Chaffey wrote a letter to William Johnston. George Chaffey relays various information about the Ontario Colony: Rent is double what it is in Kingston, Canada. The schools are "first class." Other than the cost of rent, the cost of living is the same as Kingston, Canada. Employment is readily available for hard workers. This last point George Chaffey emphasizes, writing, "the principle trouble with the men who come here is they are a vexing lot--cut shady therefore, a level man is always in demand."

Next, George Chaffey mentions the "Plain Statement" letter published in the British Whig (see my last post for more information about this). Apparently George Chaffey tracked down the author of this anonymous letter. George Chaffey expresses his disdain for the author by explaining that he never met George Chaffey or even visited Etiwanda and Ontario, even though the author lambasts Etiwanda in "A Plain Statement" specifically. Furthermore, George Chaffey explains, the author has been sick with typhus fever which George thinks means the author "has been induced to evil and allow himself to be used as a catspaw."

"Catspaw." This word gave me pause. What is a catspaw? Apparently this is a reference to a fable called "The Monkey and the Cat" in which a monkey convinces a cat to use its paw to retrieve food that is roasting over a fire. Once the cat uses his paw to get the food, burning his paw in the process, the monkey steals the food. In this way the monkey uses the cat (and his paw) to the monkey's benefit while the cat gets no benefit.

George Chaffey continues, writing, "I will catch the monkey however and warm his jacket." Apparently, George Chaffey believes that the man who wrote "A Plain Statement" was writing on behalf of someone else entirely! The intrigue continues to build. Maybe a future letter will reveal who the Monkey is! By the way, I wasn't sure the meaning of the phrase "warm his jacket" so I looked that up as well. So far I haven't found any explanations for that phrase but perhaps it is another reference to "The Monkey and the Cat" fable. In any case, it sounds threatening to me!

George Chaffey ends the letter writing that many of the settlers are writing to the British Whig to rebut the words of "A Plain Statement." George Chaffey hopes that these letters will be published in the periodically shortly.

George Chaffey signs the letter "Yours & etc.," which incidentally is now my new favorite sign off.

Happy Valentine's Day!


It feels befitting to start my CCEPS project on Valentine's day because I will be working on the T.S. Eliot Collection at Denison Library. And this is so, not just because Eliot wrote many love poems, but because I will be examining Eliot's (most likely) romantic relationship with Emily Hale, a former faculty member at Scripps. 

Thanks to this "friendship" (we really don't know for sure what kind of relationship they had. I am certain though that we will know more when T.S. Eliot's 1,131 letters to Hale become open to the public on 1/1/2020), T.S. Eliot was here in Claremont several times and the collection houses memorabilia, handwritten cards, and letters from Eliot. He made friends in Claremont through Hale and I am excited to explore his connection to Claremont by digging into the box!



This post card caught my eye today. It's sent on April 6th, so I presume that the "Valentine's Post Card" is just a printing company owned by someone named Valentine. But still, I thought it was cool and sort of relevant. Eliot writes to Jeanette McPherrin (a friend of Hale's): "This is to let you know that there is still a good deal of snow about Inverness, which I left yesterday morning. Crocuses are out, however. T.S.E." Decoding his handwriting has been tough. Initially I read "snow" as "show" and I could not figure out "crocuses" until Dr. Susan Allen helped me out. More to come, I'm sure. 

Week of February 5-9

 Hi everyone,

I mostly spent this week continuing to convert files into PDF/A format and scanning documents from the Southside Mutual Water Company collection. Though these may turn out to be of great relevance to researchers in the future, I don't quite have the context for what makes them significant. So, I'll blog my response to a question my boss, Tanya, asked me about how the Chaffey letters fit with my understanding of their time period.

Although the Chaffey letters often function as reminders of how much business, technology, and the Inland Empire have changed since the 1800s, they also make me feel closer to their time period when I read them. My image of California in the 1800s consists of Spanish missions, Mexican ranchos, and the gold rush. The letters delve into a much more specific aspect of this history, although they still fit within the period's struggles with contested land and colonization, which I've learned about in history classes.

Til next week,


Seeing Where I Am At

Hi Everyone, this week has been spent sorting and creating folders. I have continued working on processing Junior Club project report folders. It is time consuming work. I have been removing staples and transferring the contents of the reports from report covers to file folders. It took longer than I estimated, but I managed to get through two boxes of project reports. I was beginning to feel as though I hadn't accomplished much, but I felt a little better after looking at the tidy boxes of folders I have processed. It is hard to believe the amount of work it has taken to produce these six organized boxes. Still a long way to go!

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A Plain Statement

On April 28, 1883 a letter was published in the Canadian periodical the British Whig titled "A Plain Statement." The anonymous letter, signed simply "Western Settler," warned Canadians interested in settling in Southern California to be wary of accounts of how prosperous the land is. He states that water scarcity is a huge problem and that "the land is worth nothing without water, and there is nothing more than two thirds enough for the lots sold" in Etiwanda and Riverside. The writer states "This is not a paradise by any means. Riverside is a beautiful place and the climate is unsurpassed by any other. It is a fine place for a person with money seeking a pleasant home, apart from the profits of agriculture." He is concerned that new settlers, drawn by the good things being said about Southern California, will come to the area seeking easy investment opportunities. On the contrary, he states that many of the crops, including orange trees, have failed during this season and that "the orchards will not pay this year." The letter concisely discourages anyone to settle in Riverside and Etiwanda.

The Chaffey brothers were quick to respond. 1883 marked an important year for the Chaffeys as they generated momentum for settlement in the Inland Empire. Etiwanda, in particular was a key colony for the Chaffey brothers, along with Ontario. Many of the letters sent during these years are dedicated to encouraging and convincing people that Southern California is a prosperous place to live and work. Their company, and in fact their lives, depended on people purchasing land from them in places like Etiwanda and Riverside. A letter like "A Plain Statement," published in a widely read publication like the British Whig could be extremely detrimental to the Chaffey brothers.

On May 15, 1883, less than a month after the letter was published (remember, this is a time before email, when information moved slower), William Henderson wrote a lengthy letter to the editor of the British Whig regarding the letter. Immediately William Henderson calls out the anonymity of the letter as evidence that the writer is "evidently ashamed of his work." William Henderson calls the claims basely false but that because of the periodical's "wide circulation and general good reputation" readers might believe the statement uncritically.

William Henderson refutes the idea that people buying the land are participating in risky speculation, stating that many people are buying the land in small parcels for homes and farms, turning it into a proper city. In fact, Etiwanda, one of the cities the "Western Settler" is most critical of, has a school, a church, a store, and a hotel. This is especially impressive given only a year ago the area had been completely undeveloped.

Next, William Henderson addresses the water scarcity topic as well as the claim that crops are unsuccessful. He categorically refutes any statement that says water is a problem in the Chaffey Brothers' properties. He writes, "The water rights of Ontario and Etiwanda are among the best in Southern California. The amount of water given with the land is definite and the supply is greater than that used in some of the most prosperous settlements of this favored region." He continues by stating that claims against the viability of the crops planting in the region are failing. William Henderson refers to several farms that have made money through the various fruit trees and crops.

William Henderson ends the letter undermining the validity of the "Western Settler," calling him a lazy and indolent instigator. He presumes that the writer of "A Plain Statement" was an unwise investor that settled in a different part of Southern California that experienced problems and that now he is generalizing inappropriately. He reiterates that the anonymous nature of the letter is suspicious, perhaps if the letter writer has attributed his name, the "Western Settler" would be revealed to be an unreliable source of information. William Henderson encourages the letter writer to "back up his statements, let him come forward like a man, and face the music instead of sneaking behind an assumed name."

It's no surprise that the Chaffey brothers would want to act fast and aggressively towards anyone who is critical of their business plan. It is interesting to read this publication and the following letters as history unfolds page by page, letter by letter.

Things Are Shaping Up Nicely

This week was productive. I managed to get all the annual and monthly activity documents sorted from the boxes and put into folders. I also began getting the Junior Club Project reports separated and into folders as well. Next week I will continue with Junior Club Project reports and then, depending how long that takes, begin on scrap books. There are many scrap books full of newspaper articles, achievement awards, certificates of recognition, and photographs from decades of activities and events. I am looking forward to processing all these memorabilia.

The Woman's Club of Claremont has had many interactions with the Girl Scouts of Claremont over the years. I came across a Girl Scout Calendar from 1988 as well as a letter sent to households and members of the community in 1957 detailing "OPERATION SEOPATCA," the Claremont Girl Scout's effort to send one of their troops to Canada. The letter explains the troop's plan for an "all-out sale" of Girl Scout cookies to fund their trip to Canada. Considering it is Girl Scout cookie season now, it was amusing to note in the letter that cookies were only .50 cents a box, $6.00 a case! Times sure have changed.

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Girl Scout calendar 1988, a blast from the past.

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Girl Scout Cookies @ .50 cents a box!

May 12, 1883

On May 12, 1883 George Chaffey wrote a letter to J. W. Snowden. J. W. Snowden bought land from the Chaffey brothers and George Chaffey is updating him about the state of the land. Apparently people who wanted to settle in the area could pay the Chaffey brothers to get the property set up for them. J. W. Snowden wanted fruit trees planted on his Cucamonga property. At the time of the letter's writing, the land had been plowed and orange trees were planning on being planted the very next week. George Chaffey claims that the orange trees are "the best in the market."

After this update, George Chaffey discusses planting crops and orchards more generally. He claims that by May the "time for planting deciduous trees of any kind is past for this season" but that lemons can be planted for six more weeks. Lemon plants cost the same as oranges and the best trees to buy are two year old plants. By four years old, trees begin to produce fruit, but they really start producing fruit by the fifth year. Therefore, planting two year old trees shortens the wait until the orchard is fully productive.

George Chaffey also goes into great detail about the benefits of the apricot tree. Apparently there wasn't a huge market for apricots at this time, but as farmers continued to grow them there was hope that a taste for apricots would develop.  In fact, Chaffey is so confident that he writes, "We do not fear for the ultimate success of the apricot, it is the King of deciduous fruits."

George Chaffey then transitions to writing about a friend of J. W. Snowden, who is thinking about settling in Southern California as well. Chaffey says that if the man has good work ethic he will not have trouble finding work in this area, even offering to employ him as a ranch worker for $75 a month while he gets settled. George Chaffey also offers to employ the man's wife for $15-20 a month if she wants to join the man in Southern California. He recommends that they both come and work for him because "a few hundred dollars will build a home." George Chaffey ends the letter by writing, "The country presents opportunities for energetic persons which we believe cannot be found elsewhere."

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