Orangethorpe Items

(Anaheim Semi-Weekly Gazette, February 9, 1878)

            The warm sunny weather causes the grass to grow splendidly, and gladdens the heart of the shepherd. Messrs. Stroud and Felton, and other sheepmen, report their flocks in thriving condition, and rapidly recovering from the ill effects of the long continued drouth.

            The farmers in this vicinity are still busily engaged in plowing and seeding land with barley, in order for it to receive the full benefit of the February rain….

            Geese, ducks, and snipe are to be found in the tules, the hunting of which affords pastime for sportsmen from Anaheim and other places. There is no prettier sport than bagging the wary duck or shooting the long-billed snipe on the wing….

            A ride or walk among the hills these beautiful afternoons is invigorating and highly pleasurable. The hills and plains, covered with their beautiful carpet of bight green, contrast finely with the distant mountains wrapped in their hoary mantle of snow, and the eye gazes with rapture upon the lovely landscape spread out before it. The blackbirds sing their sweetest songs, and the meadow larks fill the air with their liquid melody. Pleasant it is to recline upon the grassy slopes of the verdant hills, and basking in the warm, bright sunshine, and inhale the fragrant breath of the wild flowers, and listen to the vocal choruses gushing forth from the throats of the feathered songsters. All this enjoyment costs nothing. Nature is lavish in her gifts to man, and if rightly understood and properly appreciated, give the most exquisite pleasure to her true lovers.

            The old Coyote ranch house, once the seat of open-handed hospitality and a noted place for convivial gatherings in the old days of Spanish prosperity, now wears a forlorn and desolate aspect. “Through the windows one may see the vacancy, the nakedness, of the drear, deserted house.” It has been tenantless for some time, during which period it has been a most convenient stopping place for tramps. These itinerant gentry have wrenched off the doors and shutters, and disposed of them for firewood, and the flooring has been torn up and used for the same purpose. The damaged roofing and the adobe walls alone remain. If this old house could talk – if its sun-dried mud walls, now crumbling to dust, could speak in tones of human utterance, how eagerly would they be listened to! What an interesting discourse upon the early history of this State they might deliver! What vivid pictures of social life in California before the American conquest they might unveil! Many a deeply buried secret they could reveal, and many an interesting but now forgotten incident of local history they could relate. But the old walls are silent now and will always remain so. Once they echoed to the sound of merriment, the light tread of the fandango, and the twang of musical instruments. Many a scene of gayety has this old house witnessed, and many are the guests that have been sheltered by its hospitable roof. From thirty to fifty vaqueros were employed upon this ranch alone, and it was the general headquarters for all the vaqueros from the surrounding country. One part of the ranch house was used as a store, while another portion was reserved especially for fandangos. But this, it must be remembered, was many years ago, who thousands upon thousands of fat cattle roamed over these hills, and the plains trembled beneath the hoofs of numerous herds of mustangs. But all this has passes away forever. No more are heard the plaintive notes of the guitar and the low, sweet tones of serenade; no longer do swarthy vaqueros ride about with jingling spurs and coiled riattas; and never again gaily-dressed caballeros and dark-eyed senoritas go through the graceful motions of the fandango. Senoritas, caballeros, vaqueros, all have long since disappeared, and left this old building a prey to the ravages of time. [s] Croydon

["Croydon" was the pen-name of E.F. Webber, a local teacher, who wrote several features for the Gazette in the late 1870s. --P.B.]