Results tagged “#CLIRWater”

Spring Break Scanning

This week I continued scanning Frankish Letters Book 2. I am just over half way through scanning the book. I am very excited about this, and I think I might finish scanning the book by April!

This week I scanned letters from July and I noticed that Charles Frankish wrote less letters in July than in June. I find this very interesting and I wonder if it is because on average more business was conducted in June than July. Hopefully as I continue to read the letters I will find out.

More Next Week,


Hello Everyone!

This week I continued scanning Frankish Letters Book 2! It went really well. I am proud to say I have learned how to use the book scanner. I am excited to continue working on this project and seeing it develop. 

All the best, 

Frankish Letters Book 3

Hi everyone,

This past week I started scanning letters from Frankish Book III. It has been really interesting working hands-on with archives. The experience so far this week has been very insightful. The delicate nature of Book III has made me more conscious of the work that archivists conduct. The book scanning process is also interesting. The positioning of the book is critical to scanning a clear and legible letter page from Frankish Letters Book III. I am really looking forward to continuing this work and having more hands-on experiences with archives.

Hope everyone has a great Spring Break,

Angel Ornelas

First full week!


My name is Hazel and this week was my first full week as a CLIR CCEPS Fellow. It has been really awesome to see all the different steps that go into uploading just one document. I spent the first half of the week looking over scans and transcripts for the Chaffey Letters book II, making sure that everything in that file was oriented correctly. Then for the last half of the week, I started separating individual scans of the Frankish Letters Book I from the larger ongoing PDF. After I separate a scan then I rename it and pair it with the corresponding transcript. I have found that through working this week, I have learned a lot about the systems within which I will be working for the remainder of the semester, as well as more about the team. I'm super excited to see what's next!



On July 18, 1884 William Chaffey wrote a scathing letter to C. N. Ross. Because it is so juicy, I thought I would include the body of the letter:

Reliable parties inform us that you made statements which no gentleman much less one with whom our relations have been so friendly would have uttered and we are at a loss to understand it. What right had you to accuse us of being swindlers? Did we ever swindle you in any way, or have we ever taken any mean advantage of you?

Unless we hear from you, about this matter and you apologize we shall be compelled to...have you do so in a way which will not be very pleasant--or inexpensive.

I personally suggest reading it out loud in your most intimidating voice. Unfortunately, I have no context for what happened before or after this letter explaining why C. N. Ross called the Chaffey Brothers swindlers. I am hoping that as I continue to go through these letters this mystery, as with all the mysteries I have found among these letters, is solved.

The more I read about the Chaffey brothers the more I consider them as pretty ruthless business men. The possible allusion to litigation is also interesting to me--were the Chaffey brothers planning on suing C. N. Ross? Or was something more nefarious going on when he wrote "we shall be compelled to...have you do so in a way which will not be very pleasant--or inexpensive?"

These are the letters I am most excited to read. They break up the monotony of everyday business transactions but they also inspire me to continue to ask questions.

Week of March 5-9

Hi all,

Today I worked on scanning more documents from the Ontario Mutual Water Companies Collection. A lot of them were excluded from the digitizing process because they contain sensitive information. For example, I couldn't scan insurance documents, tax receipts, invoices, and so on. This led me to think about whether the things I was leaving un-scanned would have an impact on the work of a historian or researcher. I sometimes like to think of these documents as puzzle pieces, or clues in an investigation, but it's hard to tell how significant each one might be. I'm sure someone with more historical context would be able to distinguish this more accurately, but for now I'm left wondering!


Frankish Letters Book II

Hi everyone,

This week, I finished breaking apart the transcriptions from Book II of the Frankish Letters. I was really intrigued by the way transactions were handled. Many of the letters contained references to property, land usage, etc. I have definitely become more familiar with the ways in which business was handled through letter-writing. I am really looking forward to start scanning archives next week! Now that I got a handle on understanding the relationship between transcriptions and archives within the CLIR Water project, I am excited for the rest of the semester!

Talk to you all next week,

Angel Ornelas

Student Appreciation!

Hi all,

This week I continued working on the task of converting Chaffey Letters Book 2 into PDF/A format. On Wednesday, I also attended an appreciation event for students who work at the library, which was so fun! There was free pizza and candy, I met some new people, and we played Pictionary (my team won)! It was nice to see how much students do to keep the library running and to feel appreciated.


Scanning Frankish Letters

Hi All,

This week I worked on scanning pages and matching the transcripts to Frankish Letters Book 2. This week I also had the opportunity to read some of the letters! Charles Frankish wrote many letters a day, and I have noticed that he regularly writes to the same people. I think it is very interesting that these letters can help us better understand the business relationships that Charles had. I am excited to see the other people Charles worked with.

More next week,

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.

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,

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

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.

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.

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,


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.

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."

Chaffey Letter 3.57.1.jpg

Historical records

Hi everyone,

Today as I scanned and named documents, I thought about how my work might affect a historian's research. A decision or error that I might make in the process could later determine a researcher's access to, or understanding of, certain information. I tried to be very careful in my steps because of this. Although making one mistake on one scan of one folder of one box about California water history may not necessarily transform a historical narrative, it was interesting to think of how information is recorded and preserved, and the effects that can have on the way we understand the past.

I haven't found anything too fascinating this week because, again, the folder I was working on was full of business-related documents, but I'm keeping an eye out for cool details.

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