Letter from “Gospel Swamp”

(Southern Californian, July 6, 1872)

Gospel Swamp, June 26, 1872

Ed. Southern Californian. –

            Presuming that a few items from “Gospel Swamp” would be acceptable to readers of your excellent paper, and as you seldom visit the settlement, I will, with your sanction, write a few lines relating to the present prospect of the people. Large fields of waving corn, that extend from the foothills on the South, to the cienagas on the North, testify to the thrift and enterprise of the farmers; and, notwithstanding the recurrence of three dry seasons, the soil, with all its natural richness, seems almost impregnable to the effects of the mighty devastator – drought. The summer heat, so destructive to corn growing on moderately wet lands, has damaged but little corn, comparatively none.


            Under the tuition of Mr. Morgan, is in a flourishing condition. There are at present about forty pupils attending school daily, and it is expected that with the next school year there will be about fifty. Every Friday afternoon Mr. Morgan exercises his school in reading, original compositions and extracts, declamations and dialogues. The manner in which the pupils acquit themselves reflects great credit on the training capacities of their teacher, as well as their own inherent and dormant faculties.


            Need go no further than Gospel Swamp, for certainly they can be satisfied with the quality of the land, the nearness of a good school, and the certainty of Divine services. I came very near forgetting to mention


            Preaching 11 a.m., 2 p.m. and “candle lighting.” Not that the people are so very religious, but that the ministers of the Gospel take a delight in endeavoring to convert the sinner. Ye ‘homeless and despairing’ come to the Great “Gospel Swamp,” for here you receive spiritual as well as bodily nourishment, and plenty of it, too.


[Gospel Swamp was the original name for the area north of South Coast Plaza; later it was known as Newport, Old Newport, or Greenville. "W.J.W." was probably William J. Williams, whose father Isaac bought 1,200 acres there in 1868. – PB]