From Shamrocks to Serapes
(From Kelly Tobin O'Donnell - Masters Thesis USD 1995)

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A Synopsis of "From Shamrocks to Serapes"

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Synopsis

Introduction

Prologue

No Irish need apply

"Paddy" comes to California

American
San Diego

Andrew Cassidy

George Lyons

James McCoy

Joshua Sloan

Conclusion

Bibliography

Foot Notes

 

   

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Below you will find the complete work done by Kelly Tobin O’Donnell for her Masters Thesis at USD in 1995. I scanned it at the Copley Library in San Diego and formatted it for the web (renumbering and creating hyperlinks for the footnotes nearly drove me crazy but it was worth it). 

First she contrasts the experience of the immigrant Irish who made it all the way to San Diego and the West with those who hung around the Irish ghettos of Boston and New York. In 1850 the Irish constituted 40% of the foreign-born population in the United States! 

She carefully documents how those who made the arduous trip “shaped the development of the third largest state in the Union, California.” Indeed they did and we are very proud of them e.g. the Irish contractor who developed many of the first roads in San Diego and the Irishman who was responsible for ensuring the preservation of Balboa Park as a public park. 

Ms. O’Donnell makes the point that “in San Diego where the need for a separate and distinct Irish community did not exist, those who braved the trans-Atlantic journey and the cross-country trek to settle on America's West Coast did not do so in order to create an Irish community on the Pacific Ocean. They did so in order to build a better life for themselves and their progeny, as well as contribute to the development of America’s newest state.” They just became Californians.

This had the peculiar effect of hiding the contribution of these early Irish because fellow San Diegans recognized their names and faces as neighbors and friends, not as immigrants and outcasts, as Easterners would have viewed them. The influence of early Irish settlers in California generally has been overlooked or under-appreciated precisely because of their integration and assimilation into the communities in which they lived. 

Many changed their Irish names in favor of the Spanish counterpart: Don Timoteo Murphy, a.k.a. Timothy Murphy, Juan Murray, a.k.a. John Murray, and Andrés Cassidy, a.k.a. Andrew Cassidy. 

Ms. O’Donnell asserts that on the East Coast: “the problem did not lie in being Irish, but being Catholic”, while on the West Coast: “the Irish immigrants had room to expand without fear of Anglo-American prejudice. They lived a life far removed from the oppression suffered at the hands of the British and from the prejudice experienced in the larger American cities. The opportunities seemed to be unlimited and the immigrants took advantage of the situations presented to them”. 

She goes on to say: “Irishmen who arrived in California before 1848 became prominent as rancheros and adapted to the Spanish customs and ideals of the area. The Irish who settled in California took strong root and thrived in the Spanish and Mexican hospitality. They adopted the culture of their new communities and the local inhabitants gladly accepted them.” That is their monument and a great tribute to Irishness! 

Her descriptions of ordinary life in San Diego in the mid-1800’s is a great read in the “American San Diego - The Early Years” section below and describes how the Irish went from Shamrocks to serapes, “a type of mantle worn with the head inserted through a hole in the center, was a standard for the men”. 

As to how the Irish got here: “The first group of Irishmen arrived in San Diego during the Mexican-American War as a contingent of the United States Army destined for Mexico. General Winfield Scott estimated that of the 3,500 soldiers of foreign birth in Mexico, 2,000 of them were Irish”. 

“The 1850 census revealed 36 distinct families with at least one adult born in Ireland. The majority either claimed “soldier” as their occupation or held an auxiliary position related to the camp such as clerk, carpenter or, for the women, cook and housekeeper”. 

“A decade later, the number of Irish-born in San Diego County had more than doubled. The 1860 census shows that 84 Ireland natives, plus their families, called San Diego home”. Most of these 84 were not of the 36 families who had been here in 1850 because most of those moved on with the military, “becoming part of the patriotic Irish brigades who fought so valiantly during the Civil War”.  

By the census of 1870, the number of native Irish had risen to 134. They recorded occupations as varied as carpenter, painter, blacksmith, grocer, surveyor, cook, farmer, merchant, undertaker and even sheriff. 

Unlike their counterparts on the East Coast the Irish in San Diego became prominent property owners. Ms. O’Donnell documents Andrew Cassidy, George Lyons, James McCoy and Joshua Sloane to exemplify the success of the Irish in San Diego. James McCoy became one of the best-known San Diegans of his time and eventually served as a state senator. 

Andrew Cassidy

Andrew Cassidy arrived in San Diego in 1853, at the age of thirty-six, and lived there longer than most of the other men of his period. Born in 1817 in County Cavan, Ireland, Cassidy immigrated to the United States in 1834 at the age of seventeen. 

He had learned engineering at West Point. On September 25, 1853, he established an automatic tidal gauge, which set the standard for measuring the ebb and flow of the tide in San Diego for many years. He also submitted many specimens of an undetermined nature for the Smithsonian Institution. For many years he lived at La Playa (Point Loma) with his Irish housekeeper, Bridget Knowles. 

He escaped the solitude of La Playa, when he moved to Old Town after his marriage in 1863 to Rosa Serrano, daughter of José Antonio Serrano and Rafaela Nieves Aquilar. She was only fifteen years old when she married the Irishman and she died on February 11, 1870 at the age of twenty-one. Her tombstone, located in El Campo Santo Cemetery, bears the inscription: “Sacred to the Memory of Rosa Serrano de Cassidy”.

Cassidy’s second wife, Mary Providencia Smith, was born in 1858 to Albert Benjamin Smith, a Mexican-American War hero, and Gaudalupe Machado. In 1877, Andrew and Mary had one child, a daughter, Mary Winifred Cassidy. On September 16, 1878, Mary Smith Cassidy, just twenty years old, died of cholera.  No records indicate whether the widower married for a third time. It is possible that he lived the rest of his life concerned with his business affairs and his daughter’s well being. 

Although he served as tide gauge keeper in San Diego for sixteen years, Cassidy found time to pursue other interests. In 1864, he acquired one thousand acres of the common lands of Soledad Valley, perhaps with the thought of raising a family there with his wife Rosa. Under both Spain and Mexico, these fertile lands supplied Old Town with grain. 

Apart from that of Tide Gauge Keeper, Cassidy fulfilled many other official duties such as: Grand Juror, Deputy Collector of Customs of the District of San Diego, organizer of Old Town’s July Fourth celebration and most importantly Supervisor of the Third District.  

He was obviously very successful financially because he owned considerable real estate including several properties in the growing town of San Diego and the Pauma Rancho in San Luis Rey. 

He was thought of as a kind and generous man and had few if any detractors. His obituary after 54 years in San Diego recorded that he lived “a long life of usefulness in a humble, kindly, loveable way.” His quiet legacy remains in the form of “Cassidy Street” in Oceanside, California, and a historic marker, which indicates the site of his first tidal gauge.  

George Lyons

“Born on June 15, 1823 to Daniel and Catherine Kirkpatrick Lyons of County Donegal, Ireland, George Lyons arrived in America as a boy and later became a carpenter. In the 1840s, he embarked from New Bedford, Massachusetts, on a journey around the Horn to California.” 

“Shortly after he settled in San Diego, George married Maria Bernarda de Villars, the daughter of a Mexican army officer who, at one time, commanded the Presidio. Bernarda and George raised nine children: William, Alexander, Andrew, Dolores, Benjamin, Daniel, Benetia, Bernarda, and John; each of whom became productive citizens of San Diego. 

The Lyons family made their home on the opposite bank of the San Diego River from Old Town. The verdant beauty and productivity of their residence attracted much attention. In 1873, a local newspaper heralded in particular the beauty of their trees: “the pepper trees are the finest we have seen this side of Los Angeles, and their graceful foliage is gladdening to the eye of the wayfarer." 

George Lyons actively participated in San Diego politics and public affairs, so much so that he must be considered as instrumental in the city’s evolution from a Mexican village to an American city. His first appointment to public service in San Diego came in 1853 when his fellow citizens elected him as one of the Trustees of the city. In response to this election, the San Diego Herald noted that each of the gentlemen chosen as Trustees ‘‘are trustworthy and estimable men in private life and, we doubt not, will fulfill their public duties in a satisfactory manner.” Thus, George Lyons established himself as a highly regarded citizen (and founding father) of San Diego. 

He became Postmaster of San Diego in 1854. Like Cassidy he became a Grand Juror. He was elected Sheriff in 1857. 

Lyons opened several businesses in Old Town. In November 1850, the Herald ran an advertisement for the George Lyons & Co. Variety Store. He had just returned from a trip to San Francisco and brought a “large and well-selected stock of general merchandise” including groceries, gun powder and shot, boots, shoes, Sarsaparilla, dry goods and watches. He also operated a saloon on Washington Street. 

“He became partners with Daniel Brown Kurtz in the firm of Kurtz and Lyons, or, Kurtz and Co., Architects and Builders. In June 1869, an advertisement appeared in the San Diego Union, which proclaimed their motto: “Promptly and neatly executed. Our work speaks for itself.” … Kurtz and Lyons were responsible for the design and construction of much of old San Diego. This work, however, is not documented.” 

Lyons’ contracting experience included the construction of several roads in San Diego County. 

In his sixty years as an Old Town resident, Lyons made countless contributions to the civic and economic growth of the small town as it grew into a city and is still regarded as one of the most prominent Old Town residents from that era.

     
   

Introduction

   
   

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Scholars have long regarded Irish immigrants in America as a wretched lot, forced by powers beyond their control to emigrate to a country where they ultimately lived in squalid conditions, surrounded by poverty and despair.

They portray the Irish immigrant as an urban dweller who could not make a niche for himself in American society until the second or third generation. This limited picture of the Irish experience in America fails to recognize that a substantial number of Irish immigrants did not remain among the squalor of New York or Boston, but suffered the hardships and reaped the fruits of the American frontier.  

Overlooked as part of the Irish Diaspora in America, the West presented many opportunities to the Irish who could endure the harsh conditions of the frontier. Dispersed throughout the Midwest and Western states, these immigrants had the opportunity to make an impact on their environment, rather than be acted upon by forces beyond their control. Unlike their eastern counterparts, the Irish who settled in the West managed to grow rapidly beyond the hunger and despair of famine-ridden Ireland to shape the development of the third largest state in the Union, California. 

From the first Irishman to visit the breathtaking coast of Santa Barbara in 1795, to the powerful and well-respected Irish rancheros in the San Francisco area and the Irish contractor who developed many of the first roads in San Diego, the Celtic presence is seen in many aspects of California’s development.

Those Irish men and women who opted to settle the California frontier did not, however, leave a legacy of “Irishness” as did those who struggled in the eastern cities. Instead, they embraced the existing cultures and strove for the greater good of the entire community, especially in San Diego where the need for a separate and distinct Irish community did not exist. Those who braved the trans-Atlantic journey and the cross-country trek to settle on America's West Coast did not do so in order to create an Irish community on the Pacific Ocean. They did so in order to build a better life for themselves and their progeny, as well as contribute to the development of America’s newest state. 

Many Irish achievements in California, particularly southern California and San Diego, have been overlooked, however. Irish contributions to the development of “America’s Finest City” are all but ignored in San Diego history. Research shows that several of the prominent figures in Old Town and around San Diego County during the early American period hailed from the Emerald Isle. Local newspapers touted their achievements and fellow citizens recognized their names and faces as neighbors and friends, not as immigrants and outcasts, as Easterners viewed those of Celtic origin. 

Perhaps the influence of the Irish settlers in Southern California during the mid-to late-1800s has been overlooked precisely because of their integration and assimilation into the communities in which they lived.

Many of the immigrants adopted so many of the local Mexican and Spanish customs that their lifestyles became indistinguishable from the “native” population. In some cases, the immigrants changed their Irish names in favor of the Spanish counterpart. Don Timoteo Murphy, a.k.a. Timothy Murphy, Juan Murray, a.k.a. John Murray, and Andrés Cassidy, a.k.a. Andrew Cassidy are just a few examples.

This reflected the willingness on the part of the Irish in Southern California to adapt to their new environment and the ability of the locals to absorb newcomers. In San Diego, the Irish immigrants became important members of the community. They integrated into the community with ease partially because of the similarities between themselves and the Mexicans. Both were newly admitted to the United States, and both understood the trial of being an outcast in one's own land.

The Mexicanos and the Irish shared a similar culture, rich in music, family life and religion. The latter similarity was crucial at a time when most Americans, particularly on the East Coast, embraced Anglo-Protestant customs. This sect of society viewed Catholics, notably the Irish Catholics, with suspicion and disdain. In southern California, however, Catholics comprised a majority of the population. 

The Irish immigrants who found a place in San Diego’s community remain, for the most part, nameless in an otherwise colorful history. With the modern development of San Diego, their homes and achievements lay buried in a past dominated by Spanish and Mexican history. Even a cursory glance through a census record reveals, however, that the Irish did survive the tortuous cross-country trek, and arduous trip around the horn of South America to prosper in San Diego.

Irish surnames appear in property, tax and marriage records as evidence that they lived a full life, unaffected by the anti-Irish sentiment elsewhere in the United States. Several held important community posts, and one, James McCoy, served as a California State Senator in Sacramento during the 1870s. 

The Irish who settled in San Diego played a major role in the small town’s development from a sleepy frontier port to a major American city. The San Diegan Irish managed to escape the pitfalls of poverty and discrimination found on the East Coast and prospered among the locals, who remained receptive to the Celtic newcomers.
 

   
     

Prologue

   
     

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Traveling has always been a part of the Irish spirit. Irish history and folklore contain many accounts of early Irish voyages to the New World. In the Middle Ages, one such story that captured the attention of Europeans related the tale of Brendan the Navigator who sailed with his fellow monks to
Tir na nOg, or the Land of the Young, in the sixth century.  

Although the ancient folk tales lack much in the way of evidence, contemporary stories of journeys beyond the Emerald Isle are repeated by more than one author. One legend cited by several authors claims an Irishman traveled on one of Christopher Columbus’ ships. In 1492, a native of County Galway, Ireland, sailed with Columbus to the New World. William Eris (Ayers) did not quite make it as far as his fellow countrymen some 400 years later, however. He and 39 other crew members, volunteered to remain on the island of Hispaniola, where they perished at the hands of the natives.1

Influence of the Irish immigrants in the United States began earlier than most people realize. In 1791, almost one hundred years before the Irish became involved with American politics, the influence of one Irishman was felt in the young nation’s new capital.

James Hoban, a native of Kilkenny, moved to Charleston after the Revolutionary War. He subsequently produced a design for the “President’s Palace,” modeled after Leinster House in Dublin, to be located in Federal City, now Washington D.C. Hoban’s Palace subsequently became known as the White House.2 

The Irish did not begin arriving in large numbers, however, until the mid-1800s. They arrived in such large numbers that by 1850, the Irish constituted 40% of the foreign-born population in the United States.3  The desire to escape became the main reason which led to the massive migrations from Ireland in the mid to late 1800s. Faced with steady population increase, reduced wages, unemployment and devastating famines, many Irish believed that the country held no future for them or their families. 

In the first half of the 1800s, a newborn in Ireland could only be expected to live, on average, to the age of 19, and less than one-fifth of the population lived past 40. In America, the life-expectancy at birth was 40. After the first ten years of life, it increased to 58, an age reached by less than 5% of those in Ireland. Even the disease, hunger and squalor of the ships which sailed to American and Canadian ports could not deter the would-be immigrants, for they at least represented an escape from the terrible conditions in the ports from which the ships departed.4

The worst potato failure and most extensive of all famines in Ireland occurred from 1845 to 1849. Therefore, the greatest number of emigrations also occurred during those years. Mass starvation, disease, despair and death characterized the “great hunger” years. Census information shows that between 1845 and 1855, the country’s population decreased from 8.5 million to approximately 6 million. Famine-related starvation, disease and emigration, both forced and voluntary, resulted in this loss of more than two million inhabitants. Between 1856 and 1921, some 4.1 to 4.5 million inhabitants emigrated from Ireland, 3.5 million of which ended up in North America.5

During the “great hunger” years, most of the immigrants who embarked for the New World hailed from the rural Ireland. Although unaccustomed to ocean voyages, the peasants did not emigrate in ignorance of the conditions they would face on the crossing, but in spite of them. The misery that drove the people from their homeland far outweighed the hardships and unsanitary conditions endured on the long, treacherous ocean voyage to the New World, Most of the rural immigrants had never before stepped aboard a ship, let alone lived for months in a squalid, airless hold, yet the hardships of the journey were a small price to pay to escape the horrors of famine and oppression at home. 

The ships which brought the poor, rural Irish out of Ireland were overcrowded, antique in condition, and not provided with the legal quotas of food and water. A typical example of these “coffin ships,” the barque Elizabeth and Sarah, sailed from the small harbor of Killala, County Mayo, Ireland, in July, 1846, and arrived at Quebec in September: 

"She had been built in 1762 and was of 330 tons burthen. Her list of passengers, as certified by the officer at Killala, showed 212 names, whereas in fact she carried 276 persons. She should have carried 12,532 gallons of water, but had only 8700 gallons in leaky casks. The Passenger Act of 1842 required 7 lbs. of provisions to be given out weekly to each passenger, but no distribution was ever made in the Elizabeth and Sarah. Berths numbered only 36, of which 4 were taken by the crew: the remaining 32 were shared between 276 passengers, who otherwise slept on the floor. No sanitary convenience of any kind was provided, and the state of the vessel was ‘horrible and disgusting beyond the power of language to describe".6

In most cases, the four to ten week journey across the Atlantic in ships such as described proved horrible beyond words. In the Minutes of Evidence before the Select Committee (Lords) on Colonization from Ireland, Testimony of Robert Smith, Smith documents the unimaginable traveling conditions with a first-hand account: 

"The fearful state of disease and debility in which the Irish emigrants have reached Canada must undoubtedly be attributed in a great degree to the destitution and consequent sickness prevailing in Ireland, but has been much aggravated by the neglect of cleanliness, ventilation and a generally good state of social economy during the passage.  Hundreds of poor people, men women and children of all ages.. .huddled together without light, without air, wallowing in filth and breathing a fetid atmosphere, sick in body, dispirited in heart, the fever patients lying between the sound.. . living without food or medicine, except as administered by the hand of casual charity, dying without the voice of spiritual consolation.. The food is generally ill-selected and seldom sufficiently cooked.

The meat was of the worst quality. The supply of water shipped on board was abundant, but the quantity served out to the passengers was so scanty that they were frequently obliged to throw overboard their salt provisions and rice because they had not enough water both for the necessary cooking and the satisfying of their raging thirst afterwards.

No cleanliness was enforced, and the beds were never aired. The master during the whole voyage never entered the steerage, and would listen to no complaints; the dietary contracted for was, with some exceptions, nominally supplied, though at irregular periods.

Disease and death among the emigrants.. .are not the worst consequences of this atrocious system.. .A result far worse is to be found in the utter demoralization of the passengers by the filth and debasement and disease of two or three months so passed. The emigrant has lost his self-respect, his elasticity of spirit; he no longer stands erect; he throws himself listlessly upon the daily dole of Government, and in order to earn it carelessly lies for weeks on the contaminated straw of a fever lazaretto."7 

The end of the journey did not mean an end to suffering, however. As the headlong exodus from Smith submitted himself to almost two months of steerage passage on an emigrant ship in order to determine for himself the state of the emigrant during the voyage.

Ireland reached its height in 1847, regulations in Quebec dictated that all ships with passengers coming up the St. Lawrence River should stop at the quarantine station on Grosse Isle, 30 miles down the river, for medical inspection.8 

The emigrant vessel arrived with “ghastly, yellow looking specters, unshaven and hollow cheeked.9  The feeble, cadaverous immigrants arrived so emaciated and prostrate that many had to go at once to hospital for treatment. For many, the hospital at Grosse Isle meant a slow, agonizing death, as evidenced by the monument erected there in memorial of the immigrants. Their legacy is recorded by an inscription on one side of the monument: “In this secluded spot lie the mortal remains of 5294 persons who, flying from Pestilence and Famine in Ireland in the year 1847, found in America but a Grave.”10

Those who survived the journey and the immigrant stations in Canada and the United States, congregated in the port cities where they disembarked. Although their experiences in Ireland made them well-suited for farming, most of the Irish immigrants could not bear the solitude and loneliness represented by the frontier, and the big cities provided endless entertainment and fascination.11

According to the Boston Transcript, groups of poor wretches were to be seen in every part of the city, resting their weary and emaciated limbs at the corners of the streets and in the doorways of both private and public houses.”12  In 1853, the New York Daily Times described the newest members of the New York community as "... human freight of half-sad, half-hopeful beings... about to launch themselves into a new sphere.. " 13  

To a society already leery of immigrants from poor countries, the Irish most certainly did not make a favorable first impression on the citizens. The poverty-stricken Irish brought nothing to the New World. The standards in which they lived were considered unfit by most for human habitation. Surrounded by dismal living conditions, the poor immigrants huddled together in overcrowded working  class slums in the large eastern ports such as New York, Boston, Philadelphia and Baltimore.

In the predominantly Irish Fifth Ward of Providence, Rhode Island, for example, an average of nine persons lived in one or two-room dwellings. In New York City, almost 30,000 people, mostly Irish, lived below ground in cellars which often flooded with rainwater and raw sewage.14 They packed into tenements which lacked light, heat, ventilation and water taps. In many cases, up to a hundred inhabitants could be found in a three to six story house.15 

These poor Irish also formed a mass of under­paid, unskilled laborers, ready to be exploited. They took whatever available jobs for which they were suited. The majority worked as laborers in factories, construction camps, mills or on the docks. Although the average daily wage in the winter was $.50 and $.75 in the summer, the Irish competed for these jobs with other immigrants and poor Americans.16

Only about two out of every 100 Irish immigrants went into shop keeping and rose to a position of prominence in their communities. The majority took jobs as semi- and unskilled laborers and remained at the bottom of American society through the first and sometimes second generations.17

   
     

No Irish Need Apply

   
     

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In the country that was founded and built on religious tolerance, the Irish Catholics found little acceptance. Even though the Irish immigrants began to assimilate into their adopted cities, prejudice against them prevailed in every aspect of life, based on their ties to the Catholic Church. Prior to the massive Irish immigration to the United States, Americans tolerated Catholicism as a minor, insignificant sect of Christianity. The Irish who arrived en masse to the United States gave the Church its numbers and significance in American society. The Church also became the primary element which distinguished the Irish from their Anglo peers who represented most of the non-Catholic Christian sects.18

The massive waves of Irish immigration to the U.S. in the mid to late 1800s came at a time when the dominant Anglo-Americans held the Catholics in contempt.

Although the United States had been free of British control for nearly 80 years at the height of the immigration, the residual anti-Catholic feelings which originated in Britain remained part of the American heritage. Religion, therefore, not nationality, relegated the newest Americans to a position of inferiority. The problem did not lie in being Irish, but being Catholic.19

In the 1850s anti-Irish Catholic sentiment reached a height and coincided with virulent nativism, institutionalized in the Know-Nothing party, the American Protestant Society and the Republican Party. The greatest prejudice lay along the Atlantic coast in the New England states where most of the Irish had settled.20  Even Theodore Roosevelt, when he served on the New York state Assembly, in 1882 said, “The average Catholic Irishman of the first generation, as represented in this Assembly, is a low venal, corrupt and unintelligent brute.”21 

Economic prejudice reflected the prevalent cultural and religious prejudices against the Irish as well. When unskilled Irish searched for jobs, particularly in New York and Boston, notices such as “No Irish Need Apply” greeted them.

In one instance during the winter of 1851-52, railroad contractors in upstate New York falsely advertised liberal wages for twice the number of positions actually available on the railroad. When an excessive number of workers appeared, the company reduced the wage by half and called in the state militia to force their terms. Almost all of the workers assembled were Irish.22

 “Home” for the Irish immigrants consisted of over-crowded basement apartments and boarding houses in “Irish districts.” In many cases, immigrants from the same areas in Ireland tended to live in discrete neighborhoods. In these neighborhoods they could perpetuate traditional social patterns from the old country, such as Irish wakes and “Paddy funerals.”23

They continued old Gaelic customs such as the ceili, a gathering of neighbors in one family’s house, where they would spend the night singing, dancing, storytelling and talking.24 Although the move from rural Ireland to the industrial and commercial centers of America seemed drastic, the immigrants retained their songs, dances and soirees, and clubs from home. Through these rituals, the Irish maintained much of their culture and the districts they inhabited reflected this. Indeed, the Irish sections of New York City - Greenwich Village and Five Points - seemed just as provincial as rural Ireland.25

The center of existence for the Irish in these districts became the corner saloon and the political clubs, usually one and the same place, which suited the Irishman fine. Due to a lack of employment opportunities, the sons of Eire continued to suffer in their new home from excessive spare time and the lack of education to use it wisely.26 One pastime for many of the transplanted Irish became agitation against the British. They adopted New York City as the overseas capital for the nationalist movement.

A large segment of the Irish population in New York City sympathized with the liberation movement in Ireland. Many of the sympathizers themselves had fled English tyranny and joined Irish nationalist groups in the United States which focused on the history of English misrule in Ireland.

Free speech in America meant that, unlike in Ireland, writers and publishers could express their views about British oppression in Ireland without fear of imprisonment. It also meant that the Irish across the U.S. had an outlet to express their feelings and concerns in regards to matters in the old country. The communication and interest generated by the Irish opinion groups concentrated in New York City which, with Boston, became the main destination for refugees fleeing the British authorities.27

In spite of the hardships endured on the journey to America and the hostility encountered once in the New World, the Irish banded together in large community and social groups and survived. They at once revived their old Celtic traditions and created a new Irish-American tradition in the large cities where they dwelled.

By 1860, over 200,000 Irish-born people lived in New York City and Brooklyn alone. A host of Irish businesses opened to serve their needs and preferences including: hotels, restaurants, dry goods stores, food stores, boot makers, tailors, book stores, importers, bars and liquor stores. Irish cultural, fraternal and nationalist groups formed in large numbers. Irish newspapers reported not only the events held by the Irish groups but also the news from “back home.”28 The social and economic conditions in the large eastern cities created a need for such social groups and newspapers. 

The Irish cultural groups did not take root in the undeveloped frontier, however, because the need for them did not exist. The nationalist groups that thrived in New York did not influence the Irish in small western towns, such as San Diego. There, the Irish immigrants had room to expand without fear of Anglo-American prejudice. They lived a life far removed from the oppression suffered at the hands of the British and from the prejudice experienced in the larger American cities. The opportunities seemed to be unlimited and the immigrants took advantage of the situations presented to them. 

Although most of the Irish congregated in the East, they established two colonies of immigrants in Texas as early as 1828, when it was still under Mexican control. James Power and James Hewitson brought 200 families to Refugio and another 200 families settled at San Patricio under the leadership of John Mullen and Patrick McGloin.29 Although not comparable to the eastern metropolises or San Francisco to the west, these settlements marked the Irish movement westward.

The massive growth and development of the l800s compelled Americans to expand. The western territories provided adventurous spirits with an opportunity to strike out on their own and make their own niche. The lure of unknown territory and possible dangers did not pass up the newly arrived Irish. Just as eager for success in their new home, some immigrants were drawn to continue west, past the crowded eastern port cities where they disembarked the immigrant ships or bypass them completely and head for the distant shores of the Pacific. 

The opening of the West provided more than just adventure for the Irish and Irish-Americans. The vast frontier and the unknown relieved the immigrants from the discrimination and overcrowded conditions they encountered in the large eastern cities. The miseries of the old country and the ghetto confinement of the cities back east were lost amidst the bountiful opportunity provided by the challenge of taming the frontier.30

The “urban” environment of the west differed greatly from that of the east. While hundreds converged in the slums and ghetto neighborhoods of New York, the western cities, such as San Diego, remained sparsely populated. They lacked the overcrowding, malnutrition, and annual epidemics which characterized life in the east. Caught in the web of poverty, the eastern Irish were surrounded with crime, insanity, alcoholism, despair and rage.31

The Irish who left the eastern cities such as Boston, merged quickly into the less structured societies of the west. Optimism and enthusiasm surrounded the expansion of the United States, which also provided great opportunity for the Irish who moved westward.

The frontier communities were the opposite of the well established eastern cities dominated by Anglo-Americans. For that reason, the Irish immigrants could assimilate and improve their status much earlier than their fellow country-men in the east.32  The Irish reached higher levels of success in the new, rapidly developing urban environments which characterized the West.33 California represented the epitome of this environment.

   
     

"Paddy" Comes to California

   
     

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The first known Irishman in California arrived at Santa Barbara in September 1795. Joseph O’Cain worked as a crew member on the Britisher until she was wrecked in the far East. After that, he hired on a British ship from Bombay for the voyage home. When the ship arrived in Santa Barbara, 0’Cain was mesmerized by the beauty of the place and petitioned the governor to remain in California. His petition denied, O’Cain continued on his journey to Boston.34

The first Irishman known to settle in California chose Monterey as his home. John (Juan) Mulligan, a native of Down County, Ireland, landed at Monterey in 1814.35 In his History of California, Hubert Howe Bancroft suggests that Mulligan, a weaver, arrived with the John Gilroy party.36  Little information about Mulligan survives, although it is probable that he was the first foreigner37  to settle in California.

Those few Irish who arrived in California between 1825 and 1836, arrived by sea. They were principally masters or officers of American trading vessels from Boston and New York, or seamen before the mast.38

Quite a few Irishmen achieved a good level of success while the Mexican government controlled California. John J. Read, born in 1805 in Dublin, left the Emerald Isle in 1820 and arrived in San Francisco in 1826 on a Mexican ship. Read first settled in Sonoma County, but moved to the mission at San Rafael after Indians drove him out.

Some years later, he moved to Sausalito and obtained a land grant on the bay between Sausalito and San Rafael. An entrepreneur, Read acquired a small boat and used it to operate a small ferry service, perhaps the first on the San Francisco Bay. In 1832, he began operation of the Golden Gate Ferry. On October 13, 1836, Read married Hilarita, a daughter of Don José Antonio Sanchez. The wedding took place at the Mission Dolores church, and that same year, the governor of California appointed him to the post of administrator of the Asistencia of San Rafael.39

Another success story of Northern California Irish involves a native of County Wexford. Born in 1800, Timothy Murphy made his way to Monterey via Lima, Peru. Murphy worked in Peru for the commercial house of Hartnell and Company and was transferred to the northern Pacific branch in Monterey in 1828. From there, he moved to San Francisco.

A naturalized Mexican citizen in 1839, Murphy served as an Indian agent for the Mann Indians, Land Commissioner, and Juez de Paz. Don Timoteo, as he became known, also held the positions of Alcalde at San Rafael and administrator of San Rafael Mission from 1837-1849. He died at home in San Rafael in 1853, a few years after the American conquest of Alta California.40

Another son of Erin who arrived in California in the mid-1800s found it a place of endless opportunity. Jasper O’Farrell was born in Dublin in 1817. Appointed to an English surveying expedition to South America in 1841, O’Farrell found his way to Yerba Buena on October 20, 1843 after he left the company in Valparaiso.

In 1843, he worked for the Mexican government as engineer and surveyor of Spanish and Mexican land grants in the San Francisco area. Prior to O’Farrel’s survey, the grants had no fences; the owners based the boundaries on natural objects such as trees, rocks, and streams and the topography of the land. O’Farrell’s survey maps became the foundation of legal boundaries of the ranchos. In 1847, when O’Farrell retired from government service, he received a ranch in Mann county for his services.41

In 1847, O’Farrell took a job surveying and expanding the growing town of Yerba Buena. The military governor of California, General Stephen Watts Kearny, granted by decree all of the beach and water lots between Telegraph Hill and Rincon Point to Yerba Buena. With future development in mind, O’Farrell laid out Market Street diagonally across the checkerboard map. The design of San Francisco remains O’Farrell’s triumph.42

 O’Farrell married a daughter of a fellow immigrant, Patrick McChristian, in 1846. Two years later, he gave up his Mexican land grant in Mann County for an imposing estate near Bolinas which he titled “Annaly,” the ancient title of the Gaelic patrimony of the O’Farrals.43

In 1853, O’Farrell re-entered government service when elected to the state senate to represent Sonoma and Mendocino counties. He later became a member of the State Board of Harbor Commissioners in San Francisco and was eventually defeated by Stanford in the election for Lieutenant Governor. O’Farrell died suddenly in San Francisco on November 16, 1875.44

As shown by the above examples, Irishmen who arrived in California before 1848 became prominent as rancheros and adapted to the Spanish customs and ideals of the area. The Irish who settled in California took strong root and thrived in the Spanish and Mexican hospitality. They adopted the culture of their new communities and the local inhabitants gladly accepted them.45 These successful Irish had more than just the good fortune to avoid the ghettos of the eastern ports, they had the courage, enterprise and love of adventure it took to settle the frontier. 

The Irish had little problem with assimilation into Spanish California. This may be due to the similarities they shared with Mexicans in religion and customs, and the ease with which the Irish learned Spanish.46 They must have found several crucial commonalities in order to achieve the level of success they did in California. The endless opportunities available in California also attracted the Irish. Towns such as San Diego had ample space and small populations. Even though a part of Mexico, California was still a frontier needing buildings, roads and businesses, and the Irish arrived willing and able to work. 

The lack of Anglo prejudice also attracted the Irish to California. An article in the San Francisco Monitor explained why the Irish should emigrate to California: 

"[the people] have not the prejudices of race or religious bigotry which exist in some parts of the East to contend with; unskilled labor is more respected here than there, and finally, the natural resources of the country are greater, and the population less dense than in any of the Atlantic States."47

Clearly in all areas, California offered more to the Irish immigrants, both rich and poor, than did the crowded ghettos of the Anglo-dominated eastern cities. 

When the Irish began to arrive, they first established a large community in San Francisco. By 1852, approximately 4,000 Irishmen lived there. Even though laborers represented almost half of this group, they achieved a high level of success.48 The youth of the city and the lack of an Anglo upper class contributed to this.

Although these also characterized San Diego, an Irish community as such did not develop there. Perhaps San Diego was not cosmopolitan enough to attract a large group of non-American immigrants, or perhaps the Irish who settled there did not feel a need to create a distinctive community.

Whatever the case, those who emigrated from Ireland and settled in San Diego, achieved comparable levels of success to their compatriots in San Francisco.        
 

   
     

American San Diego - The Early Years

   
     

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Modern San Diego bears little resemblance to the San Diego of the 1800s. Vestiges remain in the form of reconstructed buildings in Old Town State Park, but if Father Junipero Serra49 returned today, he would no doubt find the one-time remote frontier town unrecognizable. After the Mexican-American war, little change occurred in San Diego from the Mexican era, and a rustic life-style confronted newcomers, such as the Irish.

Although graced with a moderate climate, San Diego’s harsh environment must have greeted new arrivals with a rude awakening. In the mid-l800s southern California lacked all of the comforts which most cities and large towns possessed at that time. The rugged, semi-barren southern Californian terrain forewarned newcomers what to expect in the small frontier town. 

To the west of San Diego stretched the Pacific Ocean. To the east, rose the coastal ranges behind which lay the harsh wastelands of the Colorado Desert. Although the coast proved mild year round, the mountains, with peaks that reached over 6,000 feet, became blanketed with snow in the winter months. For the remainder of the year, vegetation covered the western slopes while the eastern slopes remained steep, rocky, dry and hot. Even near the coast a season’s rainfall could vary greatly from year-to-year, from a few inches to more than twenty-five. The majority of the rain San Diego received fell within the few winter months, often, almost all at once.50 

The population of the town following the war remained predominantly of Mexican and Spanish heritage, combined with the newly arrived American soldiers garrisoned there. Mexican culture and traditions permeated every aspect of San Diego. 

Religion, in particular Catholicism, represented a large portion of that heritage, even when it came to laws and local customs. Under Mexican law, anyone who desired to trade, marry or own property in California had to be a Mexican citizen. The law further stipulated that in order to become a naturalized citizen, it was necessary to be a nominal Catholic.

San Diego remained much this way until the arrival of Alonzo Erastus Horton in 1867, therefore, it is not surprising that Irish Catholics who arrived in Mexican and early American California found at least one aspect of the culture with which they could readily identify.

Social life and customs in San Diego drew largely from the Spanish and Mexican cultures, and the Americans who arrived in San Diego even after the conquest of California adopted the lifestyle of the inhabitants. Amusements in the early American period still included fiestas, bullfights and many religious celebrations.51 Residents also indulged in horse racing during the holiday seasons. Eventually, to accommodate this pastime, they laid out a half-mile track in town for the horses brought in from the ranchos.52 

San Diegans also enjoyed cock fights, bull baiting with dogs and, most of all, dancing. Marriages, christenings and even deaths provided occasions for a baile some of which could last for several days. The newcomers adopted this custom and all residents of the town, regardless of ethnicity, religion, or social status, were invited to partake in the festivities.53

Although devout Catholics, the Mexicans had never erected a Catholic Church in San Diego, other than that at the Mission. Services had always been held at the small chapel in the home of Juan Bandini.54 As more and more foreigners arrived, however, Catholic San Diegans needed a larger place of worship. On January 10, 1850, the first Catholic church in San Diego in the American period was organized.55 The parishioners built their church in Old Town and christened it the Church of the Immaculate Conception.56

The central plaza in what is now Old Town State Park represented the center of life for San Diegans. Stores and residences surrounded the plaza and, in the 1860s, mercantile houses covered approximately one entire block. In the 1850s and 1860s, a number of pretentious Spanish-style residences and several frame buildings constructed by Americans decorated Old Town.

On the south end stood the Estudillo house,57 which occupied the entire frontage of the block. Just east of this, stood the Bandini home58 (today it's the famous Casa de Bandini restaurant). To the west, the San Diego River, which ran directly to the harbor, bordered Old Town. Willows and sycamores which grew in the wash enclosed the small farms along the river and created a natural boundary along the outskirts of town.59

After the American conquest of California, San Diego retained much of its Spanish and Mexican flavor. In Lillian Whaley’s reminiscences of Old Town, she describes how the small town appeared to her newlywed parents upon their arrival from New York in 1853.60 At that time, the population was a mixture of Americans, Mexicans and the local Indians. The upper classes obtained their riches through cattle ranches and were generally hospitable and pleasure-loving. Often, they proposed a baile to be arranged and held the same day. Elaborate and costly, the balls provided great entertainment and gaiety in Old Town. Whaley describes the festivities: 

The musicians, if Spanish, kept up a running comment on the dress and general appearance of the ladies, all the time continuing their playing. Violins, guitars and accordions were the instruments. Spanish dances were in order: the contradanza, ei jarave and jota. The old ladies danced a peculiar gliding step, shuffling their feet and clacking their heels on the floor. A glass of water was placed on their head not a drop of which was spilled during the dance and for which performance money was flung to them in generous measure.61

Also representative of the Spanish and Mexican periods was the manner of dress of many of the citizens of San Diego. The serape a type of mantle worn with the head inserted through a hole in the center, was a standard for the men. The women wore a garment called a rebosa made of heavy silk in gay colors. Bright colors, usually striped, characterized these woven garments.

In addition, the women wore canton crepe shawls, heavily fringed and embroidered in vivid colors, as well as shawls worn over their heads, with one end thrown over the left shoulder. The style also called for wide gathered skirts, worn as many as twelve at one time by the women.62

The manner of dress alone would be foreign to the Irish immigrants, accustomed to Anglo and Northern European fashion. They must have embraced their new culture, however, because they participated in the festivities and community events. Several Irishmen in California even married daughters of the best-known Mexican families. This undoubtedly necessitated learning Spanish and accepting new customs. 

Although San Diego provided many amusements and modern buildings, it still had the look of a wild, rough frontier town to many new arrivals. The desolate landscape consisted of brown, barren hills, devoid of trees and vegetation. The town itself wanted for the conveniences of the modern, eastern cities, such as streetcars and carriages. While the culture and lifestyle of San Diego appealed to some, the majority of well-to-do visitors from the cosmopolitan cities of the east must have found the town lacking in basic comforts. 

One such arrival, Mary C. Walker, who would become the wife of businessman Ephraim Morse, expressed her dismay upon arrival in San Diego. From Manchester, New York, Walker disembarked in San Diego in 1865. Unfamiliar with a frontier town, Walker viewed with disdain the horsemen who rode through town in wild costumes and was shocked that upon landing, ship’s boats took passengers to shallow water and sailors carried them to shore, because wharves had not yet been built. To one accustomed to the large, modern cities of the east, the Plaza in Old Town looked unrefined and dilapidated with its one-story adobe buildings.63 

Life in San Diego presented many challenges for newcomers unused to the rough living conditions. Whaley relates stories of outlaw gangs who rode up from Baja California and circled around the town at night, yelling like Indians and firing their revolvers in the air. Indians, guilty of horse theft were strapped to the cannon in the plaza and flogged with riatas, usually by another Indian.64 These types of incidents, although unheard of back east, occurred regularly in the early days of San Diego. 

The first group of Irishmen arrived in San Diego during the Mexican-American War as a contingent of the United States Army destined for Mexico. General Winfield Scott estimated that of the 3,500 soldiers of foreign birth in Mexico, 2,000 of them were Irish.

Smith also praised his Irish soldiers and their bravery in the line of battle.65  The final American conquest of California in 1848 would be a precursor to the great things other men from his ancestral home would achieve in San Diego. 

A glance through the public records of San Diego County in the fifty years following the American acquisition of California reveals many Irish surnames. Census data from 1850 up to and including 1880 indicates place of birth, leaving no doubt as to which residents of the county were Irish-born. The register of deaths and coroner’s inquest records specify vital statistics such as date and cause of death, and place of burial. Voter registration rolls include age, occupation, residence at time of registration, and date and place of naturalization for foreign-born citizens. Finally, assessment rolls provide crucial financial information which gives insight into land ownership and personal wealth. 

The 1850 census revealed 36 distinct families with at least one adult born in Ireland. The majority either claimed “soldier” as their occupation or held an auxiliary position related to the camp such as clerk, carpenter or, for the women, cook and housekeeper.66 

It is probable that most of the Irish included in the 1850 census did not plan to make San Diego their home because only two of the thirty-six listed indicated any property. William Limoney, 38, a butcher, claimed $2,500 in real estate, no small amount for the time. William B. Dunn, a carpenter, and his wife Maria, a native of California, claimed $1,000 in real estate.67 Dunn undoubtedly had a profitable carpentry business due to the post-war growth San Diego experienced. 

A decade later, the number of Irish-born in San Diego County had more than doubled. The 1860 census shows that 84 Ireland natives, plus their families, called San Diego home.

Although more than ten years after the conquest of California, many of the Irish still comprised part of the military force in San Diego. Not many of the soldiers from 1850, however, appear on the 1860 census. They must have departed when their military service ended. A few of the 1860 soldiers had wives, although none listed any property, strong evidence that they, too, would not stay to reside permanently in San Diego. Many probably became part of the patriotic Irish brigades which fought so valiantly during the Civil War. 

The census indicates that most of the Irish earned a living through manual labor, however a large number reported at least a modest amount of property, real and personal. The occupations listed on the roll included: farmer, painter, gardener, assistant lighthouse keeper, teamster, ferryman and hostler.

In one case, a woman, Bridget Knowles, who worked as Andrew Cassidy’s housekeeper, claimed $300 in real estate and $500 in personal property, no small accomplishment for a woman, who probably lacked an education.68 Undoubtedly the young Irish women taken in by the wealthy Boston families as housekeepers did not manage to save money or buy property. The opportunity just did not exist for them. 

Along with the dramatic increase in the general San Diego County population by 1870, the number of native Irish surnames rose to 134. The majority of the Irish listed owned property and had families. Approximately 64% of those on the census roll declared some amount of real and/or personal property.69 Many of those included in that percentage were not well-to-do merchants or large land owners, but semi- and unskilled workers who managed to take advantage of the opportunities offered by Southern California. 

These immigrants filled every job necessary for the small frontier town’s expansion. They performed the duties of carpenter, painter, blacksmith, grocer, surveyor, cook, farmer, merchant, undertaker and even sheriff. They all filled a need and contributed in a tangible way to the growing community, and, at the same time, took advantage of that need to create a better life for themselves and their families. 

In the 1880 census rolls, indicate 38 fewer Irish families, for a total of 91. This may be due to several factors. As the region stabilized, most of the military force deployed there left, including the large number of Irish-born soldiers. Perhaps the population of San Diego County decreased in general.70

Regardless of the fewer numbers, the Irish continued to fill positions crucial to the development of the community. The 1880 census did not include property, so it is not possible to determine if the level of opportunity remained as great as in the previous three decades.71 It is safe to assume, however, that those who had a “steady” occupation, settled in San Diego with the intention of making Southern California their home. Most of the itinerant Irish, comprised of soldiers and camp followers, probably left with the U.S. military force.

Similar records from a large Eastern city, such as Boston, provide the same data as do those from San Diego. The 1850 Boston census illustrates that most of the Irish who lived within the city limits filled positions at the lowest levels and owned no property, real or personal. 

A survey of several wards of the 1850 Boston census supports this. Of 7,600 Irish immigrants chosen, the majority worked as unspecified laborers.72 Many filled positions as stone cutters, carpenters, painters and plasterers. Unlike San Diego carpenter William B. Dunn, however, the Boston carpenters from the first, fifth and ninth wards did not declare any property on the census. Even the skilled workers such as tailors and printers declared nothing in the way of property. 

Success eluded the majority of these immigrants. The opportunities available for skilled and unskilled laborers in the budding Southern California community did not exist in the large eastern cities. The Irish immigrants in Boston, New York and Baltimore took their place at the lowest levels with little or no chance for advancement. The ghettos and prejudice which trapped the East Coast Irish did not exist in San Diego. 

A notable lack of discrimination against any new settlers characterized San Diego. Those immigrants who settled in San Diego found a welcoming community and ample opportunity for a better life. The Irish who resided in San Diego represented achieved a higher level of success than did their counterparts on the East Coast. At fifty to seventy-five cents per day, the immigrants who remained in the East could barely sustain themselves, let alone purchase real estate. They could not become self-sufficient nor could they make major contributions to the development of their communities.

Andrew Cassidy, George Lyons, James Mccoy and Joshua Sloane exemplify the success of the Irish in San Diego. They became prominent members of the community and achieved financial success.

Both Andrew Cassidy and George Lyons married into well-known and respected local families, in the “upper class” of San Diego society. This would not have transpired on the East Coast. James McCoy became one of the best-known San Diegans of his time and eventually served as a state senator. Joshua Sloane’s eccentricities would have made him an object of ridicule anywhere. San Diegans, however, took his oddities in stride and accepted him into the community. 

The noticeable lack of prejudice among the community and the opportunity that abounded in San Diego, made it the ideal situation for the Irish immigrants. From the most unskilled laborer to the future state senator, the San Diego Irish grasped the opportunity presented to them and succeeded in a land as distinct and rich in culture as their own homeland. They played an integral part in the development of the small frontier town to a cosmopolitan city, and their legacy quietly endures throughout Southern California.

   
     

Andrew Cassidy

   
     

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Andrew Cassidy arrived in San Diego in 1853, at the age of thirty six, and lived there longer than most Andrew Cassidyof the  other men of his period.73 Born in 1817 in County Cavan, Ireland,74 Cassidy emigrated to the United States in 1834 at the age of seventeen.75

Given his future successes, it is doubtful that he arrived as one of the “ghastly specters” described on the emigrant ships. He more than likely left Ireland to seek adventure and opportunity rather than to flee the oppression and poverty which dominated his homeland. 

Although research uncovered little about his life between the years 1834 and 1850, it is evident that young Cassidy received a quality education during his early years in the United States. Around 1850, he found employment at West Point in the Engineering Corps. Three years later, Cassidy entered the employ of the Coast Survey Office in Washington, D.C.76

After one year with the Coast Survey Office, Cassidy ventured to the west coast with the Topographical Engineers, led by Lieutenant W. T. Trowbridge. In July, 1853, they reached in San Francisco and by August, arrived in San Diego to establish the tidal gauge at La Playa.77 When Trowbridge’s company left San Diego, Cassidy remained behind to take charge of the tidal gauge, the first one in Southern California. On September 25, 1853, he officially took over responsibility for the gauge, which set the standard for measuring the ebb and flow of the tide in San Diego, from Mr. Szabo.78 

Cassidy’s first order of business in his new post was to remove the manual tide gauge used by his predecessor, and erect a self-registering one in a building already prepared by Szabo. In his journal, Cassidy described this building: 

"The structure is formed by setting heavy posts on the ground in about fifteen feet of water at high tide and three or four feet at the lowest tide near an old wreck which lies firmly embedded in the sand. The posts were secured to this wreck by heavy iron bolts and secured by cross braces.. .On these posts a small house was put and the box for the float fastened by brackets to one of the upright posts. The bottom of the box reaching to within about three feet of the ground. The tide gauge is a new one and seemed firmly and correctly built." 79

For seventeen years, Cassidy used this gauge to record the depth of the water and the tides. He left behind nine, 5-inch by 8-inch worn, leather-bound journals in which he recorded his daily observations. They allow a glimpse of Cassidy’s day to day life as he performed his duties at La Playa.

The first journal commenced on July 1, 1853, perhaps left over from Mr. Szabo. Across the top of every neatly documented page the same headings appear: date, barometer, thermometer, wind, rain, clouds, and remarks.80 The small, precise handwriting indicates a great attention to detail which must have been a necessary quality in order to perform such a task. In addition to his observations and journals, Cassidy also collected specimens of an undetermined nature for the Smithsonian Institution.81

In his early San Diego days, Andrew Cassidy lived at La Playa with his Irish housekeeper, Bridget Knowles.82  As mentioned by Judge Benjamin Hayes, an early pioneer and diarist of Southern California, life at La Playa somewhat lacked for amusements. Hayes noted that after five years in charge of the tidal gauge, Cassidy did nothing “save watch the ebb and flow of the tide. [Cassidy] says he is very lonesome; he applied for five months leave of absence.83 In Cassidy’s time, according to Hayes, La Playa only had about four or five inhabitants, and only the arrival of a landing boat from a ship, or the sight of a whale brought in, varied the monotony of their lives. Hayes depicts Cassidy’s life as very routine, stating that: 

"almost every day... [he] would draw rein on the same gray nag at the door of Frank Ames; come to the saloon, finish a game of billiards, take a drink, then a smoke, pass the time of day with a little cheerful conversation, and before sunset return to the solitude of [his] home at the Playa. Thus, all year round."84

Despite his tide gauge responsibilities Cassidy escaped the solitude of La Playa, when he moved to Old Town after his marriage in 1863. His first wife, Rosa Serrano, daughter of José Antonio Serrano85 and Rafaela Nieves Aquilar, was only fifteen years old when she married the Irishman. She died, however, on February 11, 1870 at the age of twenty-one.86 Her tombstone, located in El Campo Santo Cemetery, bears the inscription: “Sacred to the Memory of Rosa Serrano de Cassidy.” 

Cassidy’s second wife, Mary Providencia Smith, was born in 1858 to Albert Benjamin Smith,87 a Mexican-American War hero, and Gaudalupe Machado. In 1877, Andrew and Mary had one child, a daughter, Mary Winifred Cassidy.88

Andrew’s wife, however, soon fell ill. Albert H. Smith, Mary’s brother, mentions in his memoirs that Mrs. Winifred McCoy, wife of fellow Irishman James McCoy, took Mary to the McCoy home in Old Town to care for her.89 On September 16, 1878, Mary Smith Cassidy, just twenty years old, died of cholera.90 No records indicate whether the widower married for a third time. It is possible that he lived the rest of his life concerned with his business affairs and his daughter’s well-being.91 

Those business affairs reached beyond the duties of the tidal gauge. Although he served as tide gauge keeper in San Diego for sixteen years, Cassidy found time to pursue other interests. In 1864, he acquired one thousand acres of the common lands of Soledad Valley, perhaps with the thought of raising a family there with his wife Rosa. Under both Spain and Mexico, these fertile lands supplied Old Town with grain92 A beautiful, verdant pasture land, Miguel Costanso described it in 1769: 

"In parts it is probably more than 2000 yards wide; it is entirely covered with pasture and some groves of trees and has much water collected in the pools. All the country was rich in pasture and not rough.. .The country was composed of hills of moderate height sloping into various canyons, all of which ran down to the sea.. "93

The rolling green hills and valley pastures of the valley resemble those of the Emerald Isle. Undoubtedly, the similarities between the ranch land and the country of his birth were not lost on Andrew Cassidy.

In this fertile land, which probably remained unchanged in the 100 years before he arrived, the Irishman raised livestock and cultivated figs, pears, olives and pomegranates until 1887 when he sold the ranch.94 During the years which overlapped his responsibilities at the tide gauge in La Playa, Cassidy hired his brother-in-law, Albert H. Smith to run the ranch. Smith lived on the ranch for approximately six years, and while there, took care of the stock95 In the early days at the ranch, Cassidy and his family inhabited the Bonifacio Lopez adobe house. After his marriage to Mary Smith, however, Andrew constructed his own home. 

Charles Kelly, Old Town resident during that time, claimed in his memoirs that he once went out to the ranch to stay with Cassidy for an unspecified length of time. While there, the Irishman showed him how to eat pomegranates.96 During Cassidy’s ownership, news of the ranch appeared in the San  Diego Union on several occasions. In one instance, on August 18, 1878, and unknown perpetrator set fire to the grain stacks. Before the fire could be extinguished, Cassidy lost 1,500 sacks of grain.97

Cassidy rented his ranch lands on several occasions. In February, 1882, sheep herders and their flocks enjoyed the 2-3 inch tall grass which covered the ranch lands.98 That same year, a Colonel Bayley and his family leased the ranch from Cassidy for six months. This may have been during the Irishman’s three month journey by steamer to the Eastern States. It had been his first trip back East in 30 years.99

Concurrent with his tide gauge duties, Cassidy served as a member of the Grand Jury. Selected for the June, 1857 term, Cassidy, along with Thomas Whaley, foreman, and fellow Irishman, George Lyons, fulfilled his civic duty. One petition submitted by the Grand Jury requested the rigid enforcement of laws which concerned drunkenness, carrying deadly weapons and selling liquor to Indians.100 

Three years later, on June 4, 1860, Henry Hancock, Collector of the Port of San Diego, appointed Andrew Cassidy as Deputy Collector of Customs of the District of San Diego. Re-appointed the following year, Cassidy then served under Joshua Sloane,101 an eccentric Irishman who also lived in San Dieg.102

In 1869, Andrew Cassidy retired from his position of Tide Gauge Keeper.103 Although he left a legacy for San Diego in that post, he moved on to pursue other interests and further contribute to the good of his community. Despite the untimely death of his first wife that same year, Cassidy endured and went on to fill several significant posts in San Diego.

His first civic position following retirement came in June, 1869. Cassidy received an appointment to a committee of citizens organized to make the necessary arrangements for Old Town’s July Fourth celebration. At a June 26, 1869 meeting held in Franklin’s Hall, Cassidy, along with fellow Irishman, James McCoy, became a member of the Committee of Arrangements.

The committee decided to celebrate the ninety-third anniversary of American independence with an excursion and a picnic in Rose’s Canyon,104 one mile east of the Los Angeles stage road. They also opted for a prayer, music by the choir, a recitation of the Declaration of Independence, refreshments and a dance to conclude the festivities.105

Like many Irishmen on the East Coast, Andrew Cassidy entered the sphere of Democratic politics. On August 4, 1871, the first day of the Democratic County Convention, held at the San Diego Courthouse, the convention members nominated Cassidy for Supervisor of the Third District. In the September election, Cassidy defeated his Republican opponent 70 to 39. 106 On August 7, 1873, convention members once again nominated Cassidy for Third District Supervisor. In the September 3, 1873 election, Cassidy found himself victorious, this time by a margin of 131-68.107

Throughout his life in San Diego, Cassidy’s financial success steadily increased, as evidenced by tax returns, assessments and other available financial records. On his 1855 tax return, Cassidy claimed only one horse worth $25 (perhaps the “grey nag” referred to by Judge Hayes) and cash in the amount of $1,000.108 By 1858, his tax return indicated a slow but steady increase - he claimed a horse and buggy worth $300, county script in the amount of $270, and $875 in cash.109

In the 1860s Cassidy’s assessments began to include ranch lands. Sometime between the 1863 and 1864 assessments, Cassidy acquired the Pauma Rancho in San Luis Rey.110 This may have been part of a marriage agreement with his bride’s father, José Antonio Serrano, who owned the ranch prior to Andrew Cassidy.111  1869 appeared to be a very successful year for the Irishman. His assessment totaled $6,441 and included $2,300 in property and 300 wild cattle.112

The next available financial records from the 1870s and l880s continue the story of a successful man. In 1871, Cassidy paid $160.75 in state and county taxes, based on an assessment of 960 acres of land and $4,444 of personal property.113 In 1873, however, he only paid $99.50 in state and county taxes, based on 950 acres of property and $2,340 in personal property.114

City tax receipts tell a similar story to the county and state tax records. The 1880 city tax records indicated that Cassidy’s land, valued at $2,580, had increased to 1,114.5 acres. For that assessment, Cassidy paid $12.90 in city taxes.115

The amount of money Cassidy spent on luxury goods further indicates his wealth. A receipt dated October 12, 1876 from Barrett and Sherwood, jewelers and watchmakers located at 517 Montgomery Street in San Francisco, shows that he spent $621.50 on various jewelry as follows:

            pearl set        $ 52.50
            bracelets           85.00
            guard chain    60.00
            cuff pins      20.00
            sleeve buttons 9.00
            shirt studs    5.00
            gold watch   175.00
            vest chain    40.00
            diamond ring    175.00 116

Although these items may have been a one-time purchase, the receipt still gives a good indication of Andrew Cassidy’s prosperity. 

Cassidy’s property interests expanded beyond the Soledad acres he purchased in 1864. The same year as the Soledad purchase, Cassidy owned two lots in Old Town. In his 1864 assessment, he claimed part of lot 3, in block 408, situated on Washington Square at Fitch Street, and lot 4, in block 410, located on the corner of Washington and Juan Streets.117 The former lot was near the residence of fellow Irishman, James McCoy. José Antonio Serrano, lived in close proximity to Block 410. Possibly the Cassidy's lived here to be close to Rosa’s family. The assessment valued these two lots at $1,050.00. Cassidy also applied to lease some Pueblo lots in June, 1884. The City Board of Trustees reviewed his request and pended it until July.118

By all indications, Andrew Cassidy established himself as a well-respected citizen of Old Town. San Diego became his home and he was an integral member of the community. He was apparently thought of as a kind, generous man. In a letter dated October 11, 1882, a Mrs. T. F. Squires of San Francisco implores Cassidy to use his influence to assist her husband in finding employment in San Diego. Cassidy and Mrs. Squires were fellow passengers on a trip prior to her marriage, and he left such an impression on her that she felt compelled to write: 

"knowing from my short.. .acquaintance with you that you are kind and good, I thought that you might interest yourself in our behalf, and assure you that we would prove. . .worthy of anything you could do on our behalf."119

When Andrew Cassidy died on November 25, 1907 from “senile debility,” he had resided in San Diego for fifty-four years.120 He lived “a long life of usefulness in a humble, kindly, loveable way.”121  His quiet legacy remains in the form of “Cassidy Street”122  in Oceanside, California, and a historic marker which indicates the site of the first tide gauge. 

Andrew Cassidy’s life is not representative of what became of his fellow countrymen on the East Coast, however. As evidenced by his accomplishments in San Diego, Andrew managed to overcome whatever obstacles which surfaced. Respected by his fellow San Diegans, he became an integral member of the community, unhindered by his heritage or religion. 

Success may have favored Cassidy even had he remained on the East Coast. However, when he arrived in San Diego, opportunity abounded. Land ownership and public office probably would have eluded Cassidy in the congested Eastern cities. Between the “society families” and Anglo prejudice found in the East, the potential for success there remains questionable. 

The result of Andrew Cassidy’s success in San Diego is two-fold. It reflects the immense opportunities available in Southern California to achieve personal wealth and stature in the community. More important, however, are the durable contributions Cassidy made to the development of his adopted city.

Interview with Michael Normandin, Oceanside Historical Society, December 2, 1994.
 

   
     

George Lyons

   
     

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Born on June 15, 1823 to Daniel and Catherine Kirkpatrick Lyons of County Donegal, Ireland, George Lyons arrived in America as a boy and later became a carpenter. In the 1840s, he embarked from New Bedford, Massachusetts, on a journey around the Horn to Ca1ifornia.

Research has uncovered discrepancies in the date of Lyons’ arrival in San Diego, but it is assumed to be around the time of the American conquest in 1846.2 He embarked immediately as ship’s carpenter on a whaling expedition to the Northwest, but returned one year later to settle permanently in San Diego.3 

A native of County Donegal, the northern-most county in Ireland, George Lyons must have found San Diego to be an intriguing place to live.4 The moderate climate, desert scenery and Spanish-speaking population would seem foreign to someone accustomed to the damp, cool climate and Celtic customs of the Irish northwest. Despite these differences, Lyons successfully entered into the San Diego community and became one of its best-known members. 

Shortly after he settled in San Diego, George married Maria Bernarda de Villars, the daughter of a Mexican army officer who, at one time, commanded the Presidio. 5 Bernarda and George raised nine children- William, Alexander, Andrew, Dolores, Benjamin, Daniel, Benetia, Bernarda, and John- each of whom became productive citizens of San Diego.6 The Lyons made their home on the opposite bank of the San Diego River from Old Town.7 The verdant beauty and productivity of their residence attracted much attention.8 In 1873, a local newspaper heralded in particular the beauty of their trees: “the pepper trees are the finest we have seen this side of Los Angeles, and their graceful foliage is gladdening to the eye of the wayfarer."9

Judge Benjamin Hayes also took note of the Lyons’ garden and recorded in his Diaries that they owned 1-1/2 acres on the right bank of the river. Hayes further noted that: 

"[Lyons’] garden was surrounded by a live fence of willows, which provided abundant foliage, and watered by five wells. In the late spring of 1854, [George] spent $280 for ditching, setting fence poles and other maintenance necessities."10 

The San Diego Herald felt compelled to make mention of Lyons’ green thumb and reported in September, 1855, that he had succeeded in raising a crop of tobacco on his property. Lyons believed that the crop could be cultivated in San Diego on the expanse of flat lands between Old Town and False Bay. Several citizens actually planned to cultivate it in 1856 based on Lyons’ results and advice.11 Fertilized with manure from the stables and corrals, the garden also supported fruit trees brought from San Francisco and was tended by a gardener whom Lyons paid $20 per month. 

Although a flood of 1861-1862 washed away the locally renowned garden, Lyons and his green thumb managed to re-cultivate the land. The San Diego reported in 1868 that Lyons gave the staff a sweet potato which weighed 6-1/4 pounds.12 The transplanted Irishman claimed to have grown the potato without irrigation, and the article described it as “solid, through and through, and when baked, mealy and of a delicious flavor.”13 

In addition to his home and fine garden, Lyons owned four horses, one dairy cow, and two work oxen. In 1860, his farm implements and machinery were valued at $100.00, his farm at $500.00, and his livestock at $300.00.’14

Lyons acquired further property in August, 1876 when he leased pueblo lot 1191, which lay within the pueblo lands of the city of San Diego, for the term of one year at an annual rent of one dollar! City regulations required that he leave a public road open through the land and prohibited him from removing trees from the premises.15 

George Lyons actively participated in San Diego politics and public affairs, so much so that he must be considered as instrumental in the city’s evolution from a Mexican village to an American city. His first appointment to public service in San Diego came in 1853 when his fellow citizens elected him as one of the Trustees of the city. In response to this election, the San Diego Herald noted that each of the gentlemen chosen as Trustees ‘‘are trustworthy and estimable men in private life and, we doubt not, will fulfill their public duties in a satisfactory manner.”16 Thus, George Lyons established himself as a highly regarded citizen of San Diego. 

Lyons progressed from city Trustee to Postmaster of San Diego in 1854. He held this post until 1856, when replaced by Richard Rust, who had held the post prior to Lyons in 1850. Obviously political rivals, Lyons succeeded Rust once again in 1857.’’ Lyons took charge of his new duty the first week of February, 1854. In order to learn how to manage the post office, Lyons traveled to San Francisco where he observed its functions. He made extensive arrangements to ensure “good accommodations” for the San Diego post office.’8 In response, the previous Postmaster, Philip Hooff, conceded that the Lyons’ “well-known comfort, taste and elegance” would add to the business.’9 Upon Lyons’ return from San Francisco, he announced that James W. Robinson would serve as Deputy Postmaster.’20 

Public life seemed to agree with Lyons and on June 30, 1855, he announced his candidacy for sheriff in the upcoming fall election. Less than one month later, however, on July 28, he withdrew his candidacy.21 Although the reason is unknown, this did not stop Lyons from pursuing other interests in the public sector. In 1856, San Diego democrats chose him as their representative to the State Democratic Convention held in Sacramento. These representatives elected California delegates to the national convention to be held in Cincinnati, Ohio. 22 

Lyons actively participated in his his community in an unofficial capacity as well. In July, 1856, San Diegans proposed that an infantry company be stationed in the town. A proponent of the idea, Lyons was scheduled to attend a meeting to discuss the proposal at the San Diego and Gila Railroad office on July 8 at 8:00p.m.23

The following year, he served on a committee which petitioned the Board of Supervisors to build a road to the Colorado River. The committee believed the cost of the road would be $2,300 to construct. The same year, he also served on the Grand Jury, which recommended the county jail’s condition be improved and refused to indict a citizen for shooting and killing a soldier.24

George Lyons’ participation in San Diego’s civic affairs reflects his interest in the community’s well-being. Lyons originated from one of the poorest, most rural counties in Ireland. Perhaps he desired to do his part to ensure a stable and secure life for his family in the United States. 

Although he withdrew his candidacy for Sheriff in 1855, Lyons once again announced on July 25, 1857 his intention to run for the position. His opponents included Joseph Smith, the Deputy; Phillip Crosthwaite, one of the first sheriffs of San Diego; and Thomas Darnall. In the September election, Lyons won by a majority of 62 votes. He held the post of Sheriff concurrently with that of Postmaster for six months, until replaced by the new Postmaster in April 1858.25 

The race for Sheriff brought Lyons his share of problems. On August 22, 1857, one month after Lyons announced his intention to run for the office of Sheriff, the San Diego Herald published a letter from Lyons’ friends and supporters which illuminated a rumor that questioned Lyons’ citizenship. The rumor held that Lyons had neglected to become a naturalized citizen of the United States and that he assumed, due to his length of residency in San Diego, his right to run for the office would not be questioned. His supporters asked for a public reply to their question so that everyone would be aware of the answer. 26

In a letter published August 29, 1857 in the Herald Lyons called the rumors malicious slander and replied that he was in fact a citizen of the United States and, therefore, “eligible to hold the office of Sheriff or any other the people may see proper to confer” on him. He did not, however, provide any documentation to this effect.27 The register of voters of San Diego County, however, provides some insight. In order to register to vote, those of foreign birth needed to provide the date and location of naturalization, as well as produce documentation. In the 1866 and 1887 registers, George Lyons declared his date of naturalization to be August 28, 1857, and the locality, San Diego County.28 

If this date is correct, George Lyons did not become a citizen of the United States until six days after the letter appeared in the Herald. It is possible that he simply went through the naturalization process to appease his opponents and quiet the rumors. Had Lyons’ father been naturalized while George was under the age of eighteen, George would have automatically become a citizen of the United States. If this did in fact occur, the documentation would be on the East coast where the Lyons’ had lived during George’s youth. These papers could have easily been lost or misplaced. 

Although Lyons’ career as sheriff lacked “wild west” antics such as gunfights and manhunts, he did oversee numerous court-directed auctions which offered some of San Diego county’s most valuable real estate. Included in these sales was part of Warners Ranch, as the result of foreclosure against the owner, Jonathon J. Warner. The auctions also offered Rancho Santa Ysabel, a Mexican grant of 1844, and Rancho Tecate, part of Juan Bandini’s estate. 29 

In the 1860s Lyons again held the position of Postmaster. Considering his career as Sheriff, perhaps the post office proved more exciting! In May, 1860, he applied for an extra allowance from the Postmaster General. As of July 4, that same year, he had received no reply to his request. John Ferguson of San Francisco, perhaps Lyons’ attorney, wrote to the San Diego Postmaster and attributed the delay to the failure of Congress to make provisions for the post office. In Ferguson’s opinion, the Postmaster General opposed the Act of July 27, 1854 and would decline to make allowances under its provisions.30 Despite this, Lyons undoubtedly made the best of the situation and succeeded at his post. 

Lyons began his last job in the San Diego post office in November, 1885, as Assistant Postmaster of Old Town. Patrick O’Neill served as Postmaster, and one of Lyons’ sons, Daniel, held a position as a mail carrier. Assistant Postmaster would be George’s last position on the San Diego public payroll. 

As all good Irishmen, George Lyons became involved in San Diego politics. In 1868, San Diego democrats chose Lyons to represent them at the Democratic County Convention held in San Pasqual on August 8.32 Three years later, in 1871, they chose him once again for the same purpose. This time, the convention was held on August 5 and fellow San Diego Irishman, Andrew Cassidy, attended the convention as well.33 

In addition to his public and political endeavors, Lyons opened several businesses in Old Town. In November, 1850, the Herald ran an advertisement for the George Lyons & Co. Variety Store. He had just returned from a trip to San Francisco and brought a “large and well-selected stock of general merchandise” including groceries, gun powder and shot, boots, shoes, Sarsaparilla, dry goods and watches.34

In 1856, an announcement appeared in the ~ that requested any persons indebted to George Lyons & Co. settle the debt with Deputy Sheriff Phillip Crosthwaite who held the responsibility of collecting the monies.35 Lyons must have extended large amounts of credit to his fellow citizens and found himself in need of the money, perhaps for a buying trip to San Francisco. Or, perhaps he endeavored to close his store upon leaving the position of Postmaster.

In addition to the variety store in town, Lyons operated a saloon on Washington Street. Opened around February, 1854, the same month he began his first year as Postmaster, the saloon featured reasonably priced bowling and “some of the best arranged alleys in the southern country.”36 

Lyons’ interest in carpentry and contracting, which stemmed from his career as a young man, carried on through his life in San Diego. In 1869, he became partners with Daniel Brown Kurtz37 in the firm of Kurtz and Lyons, or, Kurtz and Co., Architects and Builders. In June 1869, an advertisement appeared in the San Diego ~1njQn which proclaimed their motto: “Promptly and neatly executed. Our work speaks for itself.”38 The partnership probably did not last for more than a year or two, but Kurtz and Lyons were responsible for the design and construction of much of old San Diego. This work, however, is not documented.39 

Lyons’ contracting experience included the construction of several roads in San Diego County. In 1883, the Board of Supervisors approved a transfer of the rights and interests in the San Diego-Poway Road contract from Mssrs. Hornbreck and Heuthley to Lyons. For the project, he received a $100 advance from the Board.40 In 1884, Lyons put in two bids for constructing the Mussey-Matthews Roadi He offered $4,500 for the entire project or $.50 per cubic yard of stone work and $.20 per cubic yard of earth work. The Board of Supervisors declined each of his bids, however.42 

Financial records from San Diego indicate that George Lyons achieved a good amount of success in his various endeavors. Early assessment rolls show that Lyons owned several lots in Old Town and possessed a fair amount in taxable goods. The 1856 roll, for example, discloses that George owned six lots in Old Town on two separate blocks, as well as 27 head of cattle and 2 horses.

His total assessment equaled approximately $1200.43 By 1869, his assessment had grown to $2014.50, which included 10 lots of city property, 20 head of cattle, 22 goats and 2 hogs.44 Like any other entrepreneur, Lyons’ personal wealth increased and decreased over the years. Unlike James McCoy and Andrew Cassidy, Lyons did not own large ranches and herds. He managed to provide a comfortable life for his family, however, and made an impact on the San Diego  community.

In November, 1899, at 10:15 a.m. Lyons’ wife of 53 years, Bernarda de Villar Lyons, died. According to a letter from Benetia Lyons Thomas, to her sister, Bernarda Lyons Harry, their mother remained conscious to the end, her last words to her husband being “goodbye.”45 George lived nine years more, following his wife to the grave on March 10, 1908 at 4:30 p.m. Ill for forty days, his death was precipitated by an attack of the grippe. Both Lyons and his wife were buried in the Catholic Cemetery, which is today Pioneer Park in Mission Hills.4~ 

Lyons’ passing marked the end of an era in San Diego history. Very few American citizens resided in San Diego the length of time George Lyons did. In his sixty years as an Old Town resident, Lyons made countless contributions to the civic and economic growth of the small town as it grew into a city. Lyons rode out the ebb and flow of development and his efforts laid the foundation for the modern city of San Diego. 

As an immigrant from one of the poorest counties in Ireland, it is likely that George Lyons arrived in the United States with little or no formal education. As a young man, he apprenticed with a carpenter in order to learn a skill and earn a living. Documentation shows that unskilled and semi-skilled laborers in the overcrowded Eastern cities did not achieve a high level of success. It is possible to assume, therefore, that had Lyons remained on the East Coast, he may not have reached the level that he did in San Diego. 

Although little remains of George Lyons’ achievements in San Diego, he is still regarded as one of the most prominent Old Town residents from his era. He made an effort to succeed in almost every type of business and public office possible. In so doing, he made countless contributions to the development of San Diego.

   
     

James McCoy

   
     

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Born on August 12, 1821 to John and Margaret McCormick McCoy, James McCoy grew up in James McCoyCounty Antrim, on the northeast coast of Ireland.’ One of the northernmost counties in Ireland, Antrim is separated from England by a short 60 miles across the North Channel. James McCoy chose, however, to emigrate across the Atlantic to the United States, over 3,000 miles away. 

McCoy left Ireland in 1842, just three years prior to the “Great Hunger” and the mass immigrations that followed. By 1842, the Irish had already experienced decades of starvation and oppression at the hands of the British, so it is possible that young James left his troubled homeland in anticipation that the environment, both economic and political, would deteriorate further. 

On July 9, 1842, just one month before his twenty—first birthday, McCoy arrived in Baltimore on the ship Alexander. A farmer by birth, McCoy took his first job in the United States working in a market garden, but soon moved on to become a laborer in a distillery.2 On January 24, 1850, eight years after his arrival in Baltimore, McCoy left for California, destined for Brevet-Lieutenant Colonel John Bankhead Magruder’s 1st U.S. Artillery Headquarters. Magruder assigned Mccoy to protect the settlers at San Luis Rey Mission against the threat of Indian attacks. A non-commissioned officer, McCoy led twelve soldiers on that assignment.3

In 1852, Magruder ordered McCoy to Jacumba4 in the back country. Located approximately mid-way between San Diego and El Centro, close to the Mexican border, the Indians recognized Jacumba as a natural health resort with miraculous powers attributed to the hot springs. Formerly peaceful, the Indians became hostile in their defense of the springs against white intruders. Magruder deployed Mccoy, with fourteen men, to Jacumba to protect the mail line station from the frequent Indian raids. During his eleven months stationed there, McCoy came under many Indian attacks. This prompted the soldiers to construct of a small fort at Jacumba to protect themselves. Legend has it that a band of 500 Indians attacked the fort, but were bested by McCoy and his well-trained soldiers.5 No matter how well-trained, it is unlikely that fifteen men could defeat an angry band of 500 Indians! 

Upon the expiration of his enlistment in 1853, McCoy received an honorable discharge from the military. He opted to stay in the Southwest, and took a post with a Colorado Desert surveying party for two and one-half months.  For the next two years, McCoy worked for the government driving teams between San Diego and Fort Yuma.6 With this post, McCoy began to establish the bonds which would keep him in San Diego and assist him in his future success. 

The former soldier became a more and more frequent sight in San Diego, and eventually held a position with the San Antonio and San Diego Mail Line, commonly known as the “Jackass Mail.”2 McCoy’s routes lay over the desert terrain with which he had become so familiar.8 He first had charge of the San Diego - Fort Yuma run followed by the Fort Yuma - Tuscon run, a distance of 289 miles over difficult desert and mountain terrain. Mccoy established a reputation for fast runs, and, on one occasion, he supposedly covered 300 miles in three days and eleven hours, only changing mules twice.9 

McCoy’s interests went beyond the “Jackass Mail” however. His close ties with the San Diego community paid off, when, in September 1859, he became county assessor. He held this post for two years, after which time, in 1861, he ran for sheriff.10 In a few short years within the community, James McCoy had already begun to make his mark. 

McCoy seemed the perfect candidate for sheriff, a post he eventually held for ten years. As a bachelor, the new sheriff lived by the river in an adobe house with his deputy and friend, Tom Fox.11 Charles Kelly, owner of a livery stable in Old Town and a friend to McCoy, described them both as “fine specimens of young Irish manhood, six feet tall, weighing about 190 pounds.”12 Kelly further stated that the sheriff “could speak Spanish fluently. Everybody thought a great deal of him.”13 

As a further testament to Mccoy’s character, Ephraiin W. Morse,a merchant and fellow Old Town resident, wrote his father that there were only two men in San Diego who did not occasionally get drunk, himself and James McCoy.14 This contradicts the traditional view of the drunken and disorderly Irish held by Easterners. In good Irish tradition, however, McCoy and his deputy reportedly sparred each morning in a one-round bout. The victor won a beefsteak breakfast prepared by the loser.15 

In conjunction with his duties as sheriff, James McCoy served his fellow citizens as Chief of Police. An old record found in the office of the Board of Supervisors details how an outbreak of smallpox prompted his appointment to this additional office. In 1863, the Board of Supervisors charged McCoy with the added responsibilities of Chief of Police in order to “better protect the inhabitants of (San Diego) from the exposure of smallpox disease.”16 They directed him to prevent any person who resided in an infected area from entering San Diego and to eject anyone caught in town from those areas. McCoy’s orders also dictated that he command all undesirable, unemployed Indians and Mexicans to leave town within twelve hours.17 It is not clear if this remained a standing order or if it referred specifically to the duration of the smallpox outbreak. 

Despite his civic responsibilities, McCoy managed to find time in his life, albeit late, for love and marriage. On April 27, 1869, Reverend Father Antonio Ubach joined James McCoy and Winifred Kearny, also a native of Ireland, in holy matrimony at the residence of a friend in Los Angeles. Following the ceremony, the couple left for an extended honeymoon trip aboard McCoy’s steamship, the Sierra Nevada, en route to San  Francisco.18

A lengthy article appeared in the May 5, 1869 San Diego Union which detailed the nuptials and proclaimed that McCoy was “one of [San Diego’s] oldest and best citizens and only lacked a good wife to be a full grown man.” The article further extolled him as one of the most popular men in the county and surmised that if he made as good a husband as an officer, then Mrs. McCoy should be most happy. 19 

Upon their return to San Diego, the McCoys settled in an elegant residence on Garden Street, in Old Town. Completed in September, 1869, a white picket fence surrounded the house and trees and shrubs shaded it from the Southern California sun. Constructed by D. B. Kurtz and Co., the McCoy house remained one of the largest and most impressive structures in Old Town.20 A Union reporter even remarked that the McCoy home ‘‘[loomed] up over the rest of the houses in the neighborhood in about the same proportion that its owner did over his late competitor in the race for Sheriff. “21 

In the manner of true Irish hospitality, the McCoys shared their large home with many guests. They made certain to take good care of any visitors who stopped by, with an Indian boy always at hand to attend to the horses and lunch always offered. The McCoy house featured numerous bedrooms so that any of the sheepherders who came into town from the range could have a room if they needed a place to sleep.22 

McCoy’s connection to sheep herding began prior to his marriage. In 1867, he acquired San Bernardo Rancho, which encompassed 17,763 acres, where he claimed to raise the finest sheep in the county. A cattle ranch during the Mission period, San Bernardo was later granted to an Englishman, Captain Snook.22 On December 19, 1868, five months before his wedding to Winnifred Kearny, however, the San Diego Union announced that McCoy sold his ranch for $35,000, the rate at the time being approximately $2 per acre< Perhaps he used part of the income from the sale as payment for the home he had constructed for Winnifred.

McCoy prospered in San Diego. Prior to his acquisition of San Bernardo, McCoy owned a tract of government land in the San Pasqual Valley.22 On both San Bernardo and San Pasqual, McCoy raised a considerable number of sheep. Assessment rolls show a steady increase in livestock, particularly in the sheep of which McCoy was so proud. In the 1860 assessment, McCoy claimed 500 sheep and 125 goats, as well as one mule and one horse. Just two years later, in 1862, the number of sheep grew to 1,200 and by 1865 McCoy owned 3,200 head.26 

The value of the sheep varied between only $.50 and $1.00 per head.27 This price was obviously sufficient, however, to ensure financial success for McCoy. The San Pasqual ranch was only assessed at $20.00 for the five years it appeared on McCoy’s assessment. The San Bernardo ranch, valued in 1868 at $3,550, appeared to be the greater return for McCoy.

 A farmer by birth, McCoy must have felt an affinity with the land, as evidenced by his land purchases in San Diego. At a delinquent taxes auction in April, 1873, McCoy purchased two pueblo lots and a lot in New Town. He obtained pueblo lots 1208 and 1209 for $20.10 and he bought lot A in New Town for $8.25.29 Assessment rolls from that same year indicate that McCoy paid taxes on 2186 acres

In addition to sheep-herding, McCoy’s interests burgeoned in the field of civil service. In keeping with Irish-American tradition, McCoy flourished in the realm of civic duty and public leadership. In 1869, McCoy served on two social committees in Old Town. The first, the Committee of Arrangements, organized the July Fourth celebration in Old Town. Along with fellow Irishman Andrew Cassidy, McCoy helped coordinate the celebration of his adopted country’s independence. The committee opted for an excursion arid a picnic in Rose’s Canyon, one mile east of the Los Angeles stage road. For entertainment, they decided on a prayer, music by the choir and a recitation of the Declaration of Independence, highlighted by refreshments and a dance to conclude the festivities.31

In November, McCoy served on a second special social committee in Old Town, this time in preparation for the Thanksgiving Grand Ball sponsored by the Independent Order of Odd Fellows of San Diego.32 A member of the club, McCoy served on the invitation committee. The I.O.O.F. extended invitations to all of San Diego and held the Ball in a newly constructed bank building in South San Diego

McCoy followed in the footsteps of his fellow San Diego Irishmen and ventured further into the public sector. His long and distinguished career began with his election to sheriff in 1861, a post which he held for ten years. The election of 1869 in which McCoy appeared on the Democratic ticket is a testament to his popularity. In the September 1 election, McCoy won with a victory of 352 votes to his Republican opponent’s 175 and the independent’s 246 votes.34 

In addition to his service as sheriff and chief of police, McCoy served his fellow San Diegans as City Trustee. Nominated for the position in February, 1869, McCoy held two executive posts as a member of the Board of City Trustees.35 In 1870, he served as treasurer, and, in February, 1871, he filled the position of President left vacant by the untimely death of C.W. Lewis

In the following year’s election, a committee formed by San Diego citizens nominated McCoy once again. The Union endorsed McCoy and two other candidates as people’s candidates. They all embraced the principal of making the Pueblo lands available to the citizens of San Diego for fair prices and desired to maintain the ancient Pueblo boundaries. The Union a further stated that “[it believed] they are honest and capable and will give [San Diego] a better municipal administration than the ‘Reform’ candidates.”35

A rumor erupted in 1871 that McCoy would in fact run for the position of Sheriff once again. In May, McCoy wrote to the .UaL.o.n and denied that he had any intention to run for public office as he needed to devote his time to his private affairs.38 Ironically, on August 8, 1871, the Democratic Joint Senatorial Convention for State Senator for the First District unanimously nominated James McCoy as their candidate

The Los  Angeles  News endorsed McCoy’s candidacy on August 24 and claimed that McCoy, “by his own energy and business talent amassed a handsome fortune, and hailed him as “a genial gentleman, generous to a fault, [who] unites in himself not only many elements of popularity, but the qualities that go to make a good legislator.” The article further highlighted McCoy’s impressive public career in San Diego. He held the post of Assessor for four terms; Sheriff for four terms; and had been elected several times to the Board of City Trustees.40 Following the November election, a victorious McCoy resigned from the office of sheriff and departed for the state capital at Sacramento. 

During his four—year tenure in the California State Senate, McCoy introduced more than twenty bills. He introduced his first bill on September 8, 1871, just four days after his first session opened! It requested that the legislature “legalize, ratify and confirm deeds of conveyance and grants of land made by the municipal authorities of the city of San Diego.”42 Passed on March 9, 1872, this bill gave the Board of Trustees the authority to sell, grant, and deed city-held lands to the railroad.43 With this, McCoy was off to an impressive start in the state government. 

The Senate’s adjournment on Monday, March 30, 1874, marked McCoy’s permanent retirement from public office. The San Diego Union gave McCoy favorable reviews for his four years in the state government. The paper even printed a rumor that the Southern California Democrats favored the Honorable James McCoy for United States Congress in the next election. According to the article, “the soundness of Mr. McCoy’s democracy is unquestioned and the ‘old liners’ want that kind of a man in these days... “~ Despite this support, McCoy would not hold an office beyond the local level again. 

He made an attempt for Sheriff in 1875, but lost by a return of 915 to 657. In 1885, McCoy applied for the post of Collector of the Port. Both McCoy and his competitor planned to petition President Grover Cleveland for the position.45 This post never materialized for McCoy, however, and he spent the remainder of his life looking after his nearly 200 deeds and filling lesser posts in the public realm.46 

Although a wealthy and well-respected member of the San Diego community, controversy surrounded McCoy on several occasions. In 1873, two years after his term as county tax collector expired, the Union published an article on April 6 which listed delinquent taxes from 1869 and attributed them to the “impotency of the county tax collector in years past.” McCoy took offense to the comment and requested that the newspaper correct itself. According to McCoy, when he served as tax collector, the law provided a limitation on the amount of time in which the collector could take action to secure payment of monies due. McCoy further claimed that very little remained unclaimed for which it had been his duty to enforce payment by the seizure and sale of property. He asserted that in some instances, he paid the taxes of poor persons from his own pocket rather than seize their property.47

Another article in the April 6, 1869 Union claimed that McCoy stated he “was in the habit of commanding the columns of [the] sheet for coin.” The newspaper demanded proof from McCoy in the way of vouchers showing that he paid the Union for anything other than advertising purposes. McCoy denounced the statement as a malicious rumor and asserted that he never paid the Union to secure friendly view of his politics.48

Controversy followed McCoy in the way of legal suits as well. In 1870, Cave J. Couts, County Judge, Judge of the Plains and Justice of the Peace, sued McCoy in the District Court for $20,000 in damages. In a complaint filed September 12, 1870, the plaintiff claimed that upon spending some time in the San Diego jail, McCoy, then sheriff, beat him. He attested to the fact that “. . .the said James McCoy in and upon the said Couts did then and there beat, wound and ill treat and other wrongs to said Couts. . .and with intent to humiliate, degrade, and injure the said Couts manacled and then did beat.”49

Couts asked for the $20,000 plus costs and demanded the trial be held in another city. He claimed that McCoy had too many friends in San Diego for him to receive a fair and impartial trial. The judge refused to change the venue, dismissed the case and ordered Couts to pay $28.25 in costs to McCoy. Couts appealed the judgment, and, in 1872, Couts again lost his case and paid McCoy’s costs of $75.45 50 

McCoy’s legal problems continued. In 1882, he found himself further embroiled in problems related to his service as Sheriff. In 1869, the county assessor evaluated a lot in New San Diego with a house and fence, then owned by Joseph Morrison who continuously used it as a home. The assessment for state and county tax listed the house as belonging to unknown owners. The tax remained unpaid and the District Attorney brought a suit to condemn the land in order to collect the taxes. Service of the condemnation was made by publication; a notice was neither placed on the property in question nor received by the owner.51 

As sheriff, McCoy legally sold the land. In 1878, McCoy and his attorneys commenced suit to eject Morrison from the land. On December 21, 1880, the court ruled in favor of the Plaintiff, James McCoy. Morrison and his attorneys appealed the case, and, in February 1882, the Supreme Court of California overturned the first decision and invalidated all tax decrees in question in regards to Morrison’s property.52 

Although an upstanding, respected citizen, Mccoy encountered his share of trouble. On March 2, 1857, he became involved in a shooting incident at the “Jolly Boy.” Although wounded in three places, McCoy survived the confrontation.53 Twenty-five years later, the ex-soldier was again involved in a shooting, this time with the proprietor of the American Hotel in Old Town, Patrick O’Neill. Several bystanders intervened after McCoy and O’Neill exchanged the first shots, and everyone involved escaped harm.54

 In the winter of 1884 to 1885, McCoy’s health began to fail and he departed for San Francisco to undergo medical treatment. On February 4, the sixty-three year-old returned home after two months in San Francisco. Reports indicated that his health had much improved.55 

When he fell ill again ten years later, however, McCoy would not be able to recover his health. On November 8, 1895, the 74-year old Irishman passed away in his home at 10:00p.m. The death came as no surprise since his health had deteriorated and he succumbed to an attack of the grippe.56 His doctor proclaimed the cause of death to be lung congestion. Buried in Calvary Cemetery, Mission Hills, the inscription on his tombstone reads: 

"Ah, why should we grieve that
the spirit has flown
To the heaven of rest where
No sorrow is known.
Rest in Peace."57

The Irishman’s last will and testament, dated June 4, 1894, clearly outlined his wishes in regards to his considerable estate. To Winifred McCoy, his wife, he left all of his property, “of every kind and nature.” He appointed her as executrix of the estate and requested that she hold $200.00 in trust for James Freeman, also known as Bennie McCoy.58 As executrix, Winnie had the right to manage the estate as she pleased. 

Years of controversy, however, surrounded the settlement of the considerable estate. Estimated worth more than $50,000, McCoy’s vast holdings included property in the Pueblo lands, La Playa, New San Diego, Horton’s addition, Sherman’s addition and Old San Diego. In addition, he also owned 1,975 acres of the San Bernardo ranch worth approximately $50,000.59

William Roarke, McCoy’s nephew, first came forward to contest the probate of the will. Despite the will’s specifications that McCoy’s widow receive the entire estate, Roarke alleged that his uncle intended to leave the property to his blood relations and that Winnifred obtained it while McCoy was of unsound mind. Roarke also claimed that Winnifred promised her late husband that she would provide for his relatives. Furthermore, he asserted that McCoy acted as his guardian and cared for his money, some of which had not been accounted for.60 

Despite Roarke’s claims, on December 23, 1895, the superior court admitted McCoy’s will to probate and appointed his widow as the executrix.61 In April, 1896, a reassessment of the estate valued it at $50,241, the principal items of which included lot 1 in Pueblo lot 1105, which overlooked Mission Valley, valued at $19,200, and 1,920 acres of San Bernardo Ranch, valued at $25,000.62 

Winnifred McCoy’s troubles continued, however. In May, 1896, Joseph Winchester, trustee for the Savings Bank of San Diego, sued Winnifred. Winchester held her liable, as trustee for McCoy’s estate, for $4454.96 due to numerous creditors.63 Yet another claim to McCoy’s estate came the following year when his brother, Hugh, brought suit against Winnifred for $1,820.00 allegedly due him.64 The result of this case is unknown. 

James McCoy led a very full life in San Diego. He strove to effect changes to better the world around him through his contributions to the social and civic development of San Diego, and his efforts in the California State Senate. McCoy’s hospitality, his work as sheriff, his achievements in the Senate and his countless civic contributions are interwoven with the history of San Diego. His Irish heritage remained a part of him, but it did not become the focal point for others. Events in McCoy’s life are referred to in publications and public documents for what they were, not as a reflection of his Irish birth. As an Irishman, he found acceptance in the San Diego community and worked to make difference for himself, his family and his fellow citizens. His character and accomplishments are the qualities of James McCoy which endure.
 

   
     

Joshua Sloan

   
     

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Joshua Sloane, perhaps one of the most colorful characters in San Diego history was born in Ireland in 1814. Although research has not uncovered the date of his arrival in the United States, he arrived in San Diego sometime in the early 1850s. 1 Described as a small Irishman, he had an “open face, light brown hair and sideburns that ended in chin whiskers. Possessed of one ‘wall’ eye, the other was sparkling blue.”2 Reportedly from a good Irish family, Sloane earned his livelihood through various pursuits in San Diego.3 

One of the eccentric Irishman’s first positions in San Diego was that of schoolteacher. On January 26, 1856, Sloane began his short—lived but well—known teaching career at the school house on the plaza in Old Town.4 The School Board expelled Sloane on March 1, 1856, however due to his questionable disciplinary measures) In one of his methods, Sloane removed his shoe and held the misbehaving student’s nose up to his “fetid stocking.” In order to terminate him, the school board charged him with brutality.6 

Despite this early negative notoriety, Sloane did contribute to the well—being of his community. One of his most noted contributions was a windmill Sloane owned, located on the summit of the Old Mission grounds. John Judson Ames,writer and editor for the San Diego Herald, took special note of the location of Sloane’s windmill in 1859: 

"On this elevation and beautiful spot, commanding as it does a fine view of Mission Valley, the plateau below, False Bay, the City full and our magnificent harbor - a sight at once picturesque and grand - the wind sweeps in graceful currents and fitful gusts from ten to twelve hours out of twenty-four each day and night, affording motive power sufficient for grinding purposes."7

In the center of the mill rose a shaft forty feet high and twenty inches in diameter. To the shaft six wings, twenty feet long by nine inches wide, were attached. The mill also had a French burr stone and superior bolting cloth.8 

Originally built by an engineer from Texas in 1857 or 1858, the mill manufactured flour -superfine, fine and middling - of an excellent quality, as well as shorts and bran. As no other flour mills operated within 75 to 100 miles of Joshua Sloane’s, the property it sat on could be considered quite valuable.9 In February, 1859, a severe storm blew three wings off of the windmill, but Sloane repaired it and within a week the mill produced its excellent flour once more. 

In early April 1859, Sloane sold his windmill to Mssrs. Ware and Parks for $900. The San Diego Herald claimed that the value of the mill was actually three times greater than the amount accepted by Sloane. The Herald supposed that with the addition of an Archimidean Lever the mill could grind all of the wheat in San Diego County.11 

In the Irish-American tradition, Sloane entered the realm of civil service. In the fall of 1857, Sloane received an appointment as Deputy County Treasurer in the absence of Judge Morse to Baja California. Despite Sloane’s error in judgement as a schoolteacher, the San Diego Herald called the selection “a judicious one.”12 Perhaps the citizens of San Diego forgave him the early mistake he made as a teacher. 

Sloane moved further into public office when he received an appointment as Deputy Postmaster and, in 1859, Sloane moved into the position of Postmaster. 13 Near the expiration of his term, the citizens of San Diego, who almost unanimously opposed Sloane’s politics, signed a protest against his reappointment. When the letter arrived at the post office, a curious Sloane opened it and read the contents. Promptly, he cut off the remonstrance, wrote a petition for his reappointment on a similar piece of paper, pasted the original signatures back on it, and forwarded it in a new envelope! When Sloane received the reappointment, a perplexed San Diego community could only wonder about the outcome of their practically unanimous petition against him.14 

Sloane’s politics, however disliked by his fellow San Diegans, would win him another appointment in San Diego’s public offices. In the 1856 Presidential election, Sloane backed the Republican Party. Despite the predominance of Democrats in San Diego, Sloane supported Republican dedication to stop the extension of slavery into the territories. 15 To further his cause, Sloane called for a Republican rally in San Diego. Only two participants showed up.  Sloane and his dog Patrick. Sloane promptly wrote to the Republican Party National Headquarters and announced that he had been unanimously chosen as party chairman in San Diego and that “Mr. Patrick” had been chosen as secretary. i6 

After the election of Abraham Lincoln, the Republican-led government wanted to show its appreciation for Sloane’s efforts. He received an appointment as Collector of Customs of San Diego from 1861 to 1862, at a salary of $75 per month. Legend has it that Sloane actually appointed “Mr.” Patrick (his dog) as Deputy Collector and put him on the payroll.” Original public records indicate, however, that Andrew Cassidy served as Deputy Collector of Customs for that year.18 

Old Joshua could not avoid trouble even in this post, however. One story relates that Sloane would peep at disembarking females through binoculars while he allowed his “Deputy"  Patrick, to inspect cargo for loose pork chops. 

Disapproving citizens noticed Sloane’s behavior and suggested that he court one of the elderly widows in town. To this advice, Sloane reportedly replied, “Rather kiss a rat trap than an old woman".19

Although his actions indicate an outspoken personality, Sloane, in reality was a shy man. He lived in boarding houses and preferred the company of cats and dogs to that of humans. When he drank, however, he found “Dutch” courage and voiced his strong convictions.20 This is perhaps why most information available on his life is replete with such colorful anecdotes.

Possibly the most durable contribution Sloane made to the development of San Diego was his involvement with the creation of Balboa Park, San Diego’s crown jewel. Perhaps one of the oldest tracts of land in the United States set aside for recreational usage, the site of Balboa park represents Sloane’s determination that land be set aside as a public park. In 1789, King Charles of Spain designated the site as “commercial land held for the people, in common, for pasturage or for recreational purposes.”21 Although incorporated under the first state legislature in 1851, the citizens of San Diego did not request that the pueblo lands, which comprised the future park, be set aside for that purpose until 1868.22 

On February 15, 1868, Ephraim Morse presented a resolution to the Board of Trustees of San Diego, of which Sloane was the secretary, to reserve two, one hundred and sixty acre tracts of city lands for the purpose of creating a park for the residents of San Diego.2’ The city set aside 1,400 acres for a park largely because Sloane’s adamant insistence that the park be formed. A tireless advocate of the resolution, Sloane urged Morse’s idea upon the Trustees until they allowed him to have his way. As the debate ensued, Sloane reportedly said: “They want to cut up the park, but I’m damned if they shall do it!”24 

In addition to public office and his windmill, Sloane dabbled in trade. Although unclear whether he owned ranch land and raised sheep, or if he simply became interested in the trade, it is evident that he had some dealings in the sheep business. A November 7, 1868 article in the .aan Diego  Union reported that Sloane had made the heaviest shipment ever recorded from the port of San Diego. He shipped between $6000 - $8000 worth of sheeps’ wool, goat hides and tallow to an R. A. Raimond of San Francisco.25 

Financial records for Sloane indicate that he probably lived a moderately comfortable life. Most of the available assessment rolls for Sloane include only personal property and some cash on hand. In 1858, however, he was assessed on quite a few lots in both Old Town and La Playa. Perhaps he rented or leased these to tenants. The lots do not appear again on later records, however.26 

To the end, Joshua Sloane was an Irishman marked by eccentricities, a gift for ~blarney~2? and an affinity for alcohol. Reportedly, in his declining years, Sloane had the audacity to talk back to a minister he met on the street. According to the story, Sloane meandered his way home one night in an inebriated state when a minister inquired what he would do if “. .the Lord called for [him] now.” Sloane purportedly thought for a moment before he replied, “I don’t think I’d go.”26

Sloane’s time did come when, on January 6, 1879, he died, still a bachelor.29 The question of his estate continued until May 13, 1882, when it was ordered to be sold at auction.30 On June 20, 1882, Patrick O’Neill of Old Town purchased approximately 30 city lots and 800 acres of Pueblo land of Sloane s estate. Deputy Sheriff Christian served as auctioneer and even though bidding was slow, the real estate sold for a fair price.31

Joshua Sloane’s most lasting contributions to San Diego include his efforts to set aside the park lands and the colorful anecdotes about his life. These may not be of the same civic significance as James McCoy’s or George Lyons’ contributions, but Sloane’s actions made an impact on the history of San Diego. 

The anecdotes about his eccentric behavior reflect a disapproving acceptance of Sloane by his fellow San Diegans. They must have tolerated him nonetheless, for there is little evidence in the newspapers or public records that the citizenry disliked him on a large scale.

As with the other immigrants, San Diegans accepted Sloane and allowed him to pursue the opportunities available to succeed.

   
     

Conclusion

   
     

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The significance of the Irish immigrants in San Diego does not lie in their “Irishness,” but rather in their lack of it. Those Irish immigrants fortunate enough to leave the East Coast ghettos and Irish quarters, pursued the boundless opportunities presented by the American frontier and the West Coast. In this pursuit, they found communities who openly accepted them and afforded them the chance for advancement despite their heritage or religion. In the case of San Diego, so few families lived in the town in the 1850s and 1860s that perhaps the Mexicans and Californios felt they had no alternative. This is an unlikely scenario, however.

More likely, the residents of San Diego simply accepted anyone who contributed to the community. The lives of Andrew Cassidy, George Lyons, James McCoy and Joshua Sloane certainly attest to this. Their success stemmed not only from their own abilities and skills, but from the opportunities of which they took advantage in the growing community. 

While the Irish immigrants in the large Eastern cities crowded together in poverty ata misery, Irish immigrants in San Diego pursued their dreams. Laborers and stone cutters owned rear estate. Painters and butchers had money saved to show for their efforts. Narratives of Irish immigrants on the East Coast and census data from Boston clearly reflect that the same opportunities did not exist in the crowded metropolitan areas. 

Andrew Cassidy, George Lyons, James McCoy and Joshua Sloane are only a few examples of the Irish men and women who found success in San Diego County. They became an integral part of the larger community in which they lived. On the East coast, however, the Irish remained a close-knit community. They huddled together in the immigrant ghettos of Boston and New York, and took comfort in their shared heritage and mutual despair. Their niche consisted of fierce nationalism and Irish culture, as well as unemployment and drunkenness. The displaced of Ireland soon became the displaced of the large American port cities. They found little acceptance or opportunity in the new land where they settled. 

In San Diego, however, a one-time farmer from County Antrim became a state senator and a young carpenter from County Donegal left his mark on the development of his town. The Irish who fled their homeland, fled in the face of misery and despair, not a quest for freedom and opportunity. The Irish who fled the American East Coast, however, sought the opportunity presented by the Western frontier. 

The story of Irish immigrants in the United States, then, is not simply a tale of Celtic people unable to adapt to the customs of their new country. The experiences of the Irish in San Diego refute this. Those Irish immigrants who opted to settle in the Mexican town, adapted nicely to their new environment. Not only did they embrace the customs and culture of their adopted home, many immigrants also had to learn a new language -Spanish. 2 

The problems encountered by the Irish who settled in the East, are problems related to the inability of Americans, in a predominantly Anglo culture, to accept the Irish Catholics who flooded their shores. The unwanted Irish took solace in their social groups and nationalistic organizations. These same groups are strangely missing from the annals of late nineteenth century San Diego, however.2 

Relative to the millions of Irish who emigrated to the United States in the second half of the nineteenth century, few settled on the West Coast. Those who remained in the East, left a legacy of Irish culture, spirit, determination and nationalism which today still pervades the pubs and social halls of Boston and New York. Those Irish who ventured West and settled in San Diego, left a different legacy. Their spirit and determination are evidenced by their achievements in civic leadership and personal success. Rather than cultural contributions, the Irish made an impact in the realm of civic, political and municipal development in San Diego. 

In contrast to Boston and New York, Irish political leaders do not visit San Diego today in search of support for their nationalist causes. Terrorist support organizations do not make headlines in the local newspapers and no single section of modern San Diego is known as a predominantly Irish quarter. 

In the three decades following the America conquest of California, however, a consequential number of Irish immigrants made their way to the small, Mexican village of San Diego. These immigrants played an essential role in the town’s development into a thriving city. Their legacy will be evident even after their names have been forgotten.
 

   
     

Bibliography

   
     

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Books

An Illustrated History of Southern California. Chicago: The Lewis Publishing Co., 1890. 

Adams, William Forbes. Ireland and Irish Emigration to the New World from 1815 to the Famine. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1932. 

Bancroft, Hubert Howe. California Pioneer Register and Index. 1542—1848 Including Inhabitants of California. 1769-1800 and List of Pioneers. Baltimore: Regional Publishing Co., 1964.

Brakcett, R. W. The History of San Diego County Ranchos. San Diego: Union Title Insurance & Trust Co., 1951. 

Brandes, Ray. San Diego An Illustrated History. Los Angeles: Rosebud Books, 1981. 

Christman, Florence. The Romance of Balboa Park. San Diego: The Committee of 100, 1947. 

Clark, Dennis. Hibernia America: The Irish and Regional Cultures New York: Greenwood Press, 1986. 

DePaor, Liam. Portrait of Ireland: Ireland Past and Present. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1985. 

Detzer, Jordan Edward Th.D. Jacumba: Mountain Empire Town with Bibles and Bullets on the Border. 1973. 

Engstrand, Iris Wilson. San Diego: California’s Cornerstone. Tulsa: Continental Heritage Press, 1980.

Fallows, Marjorie R. Irish Americans: Identity and Assimilation. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall, 1979. 

Fitzgerald, Margaret E. and Joseph A. King. The Uncounted Irish in Canada and the United States. Toronto: P.D. Meany, 1990. 

Griffin, William D. The Irish In America. 550—1972: A Chronology and Fact Book. New York: Oceana Publications, 1973. 

A Portrait of the Irish In America. New York: Charles Scribners Sons, 1981. 

Hayes, Benjamin I. Pioneer Notes from the Diaries of Judge Benjamin Hayes. 1849-1875. Ed. Marjorie Walcott. Los Angeles: np, 1929. 

Lockwood, Herbert. Skeleton’s Closet. Vol. 1. San Diego: Bailey & Associates, 1973. 

Maguire, John Francis. The Irish in America. London, 1868. McGrew, Clarence Alan. City of San Diego and San Diego County: The Birthplace of California. Chicago: American Historical Society, 1922. 

Miller, Kerby A. Emigrants and Exiles: Ireland and the Irish Exodus to North America. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1985. 

Pourade, Richard F. The History of San Diego. 6 Vols. San Diego: Union Tribune Publishing Company, 1960. 

Prendergast, Thomas F. Forgotten Pioneers: Irish Leaders in Early California. San Francisco: The Trade Pressroom, 1942. 

Schwartz, Henry. Kit Carson’s Long Walk and Other True Tales of Old San Diego. La Mesa: Associated Creative Writers, 1980. 

Smith, Cecil Woodham. The Great Hunger: Ireland 1845-1849. New York: Penguin Books, 1962. 

Smythe, William E. History of San Diego 1542 1908. Vol 1. San Diego: The History Company, 1908. 

University of San Diego Department of History, Graduate Division. San Diego Architects 1868 - 1939. San Diego: 1991. 

Woodward, Arthur (ed.) . Journal of Lt. Thomas W. Sweeny. Los Angeles: Westerrilore Press, 1956.

Manuscripts/Letters 

Biographical files, various. San Diego Historical Society Research Archives. 

Cassidy, Andrew. Meteorological Journals 1853—1860 (9 vols.), San Diego Historical Society Research Archives. 

Miscellaneous Notes on the Tide Guage; Tidal and Observations at San Diego, Cal. 1853/4, ins. Andrew Cassidy Meteorological Journals. San Diego Historical Society Research Archives. 

Costanso, Miguel. Diary excerpt, 15 July 1769, ins. Soledad vertical file. San Diego Historical Society Research Archives.

Ferguson, John. Letter to George Lyons. 4 July 1860. George Lyons file. San Diego Historical Society Research Archives. 

Kelly, Charles. “Recollections.” ts. 1935. San Diego Historical Society Research Archives. 

Knott, Beatrice Frichette. “Reading Between the Lines: Social History of San Diego During the Early American Period as Derived from Public and Business Records Master’s Thesis. University of San Diego, 1991.

Morse, Mary C. “Recollections of Early Times in San Diego.” Unpublished Essay, San Diego Historical Society Research Archives. 

Neasham, Vernon Aubrey (ed.) . “Casa de Estudillo,” California Historical Landmarks Series. Berkeley, 1936. San Diego Historical Society Research Archives. 

Reading, James E. “Old San Diego’s Background: An Interpretive Prospectus, San Diego Old Town, by the Department of Parks and Recreation,” 1968—1969. 

San Diego Historical Site Board Register no. 14(a), San Diego Historical Society Research Archives. 

Sullivan, Sue. “James McCoy, Lawman and Legislator.” Unpublished Essay, 1976, San Diego Historical Society Research Archives. 

Squires, Mrs. T. G. Letter to Andrew Cassidy. Oct 11, 1882. Andrew Cassidy file. San Diego Historical Society Research Archives. 

Thomas, Benetia. Letter to Mrs. G. Y. Harry. Nov 9, 1899. Lyons Family File. San Diego Historical Society Research Archives. 

Trudell, Clyde. “Historical-Architectual Summary for the Casa de Jose Antonio Estudillo,” 1967. San Diego Historical Society Research Archives. 

“Unveil Broze Tablet Marking End of Kearriy Trail at Old Town.” Vertical file 439. San Diego Historical Societx’ Research Archives. 

Whaley, Lillian. “Old Times in Old Town.” Unpublished Essay, San Diego Historical Society Research Archives. 

Wentworth, Lucy. “Notes.” San Diego Historical Society Research Archives. 

Newspapers/Journals

 Ames, John Judson. “A Wind Flour Mill.” San Diego Herald Feb. 5, 1859. 

“Development of San Diego Mail Service Since Early Settlement Throws Light on Local History.” San Diego Union June 30, 1930. 

“Exiles of Erin.” New York Daily Times. April 28, 1853. 

“The Exodus from Ireland to America.” New York Times. March 14, 1853. 

Garcia, Mario T. “Merchants and Dons; San Diego’s Attempt at Modernization, 1850-1860.” Journal of San Diego History. 21.1 (1975) 

“The Irish in America.” New York Daily Times June 28, 1852.

Kirchhoff, Theodor. “San Diego.” Californische Kulturbilder Trans. Eva Schwartz. 1886. 

MacMullen, Jerry. “Josh’s Shouts Gave us a Park.”San Diego, Jan. 13, 1960. 

“Saga of James McCoy: Soldiering to Senate.” ~ Iloion March 11, 1962. 

“They Owe Him a Debt: Andrew Cassidy Conducted the First Tide Studies.” San Diego Union April 8, 1962. 

Montfort, Grace. “Few Celebrate Where Many Once Feted San Diego Hero Who Spiked Guns,” San Diego Union Nov 14, 1938. 

“The Old Mussey Grade,” California Rancher Jan 1958. 

“Resided Here 60 Years, Now Dead.” San Diego Union Mar 9, 1908. 

Richard Pourade, “Battle of San Pasqual Mingled Politeness, Bloodshed; Lancers Refused to Cut Up Unhorses Americans,” San Diego Union Mar 19, 1944. 

San Diego Herald, 1853 1859. 

San Diego Union, 1869 - 1900. 

San Diego Union Weekly, 1868 - 1871. 

Schwartz, Henry. “As Customs Aide, Patrick was All Dog.” San Diego Union. Dec 17, 1978. 

“Smallpox Brought Police Protection.” San Diego Union Dec 4, 1938. 

Stone, Joe. “He Survived a ‘Joke’ to Make a Serious Contribution.” San Diego Union May 29, 1977. 

“Windmills Blow Up a Nostalgic Storm.” San Diego Union 15 Nov 1970.

Government Documents

National Archives and Records Service. “Population Schedules of the 7th Census of the United States 1850, San Diego County, California.” Family History Center, San Diego, California. 

“Population Schedules of the 7th Census of the United States - 1850, Suffolk County (City of Boston) Massachusetts.” Family History Center, San Diego, California. 

“Population Schedules of the 8th Census of the United States 1860, San Diego County, California.” Family History Center, San Diego, California. 

“Population Schedules of the 9th Census of the United States 1870, San Diego County, California.” Family History Center, San Diego, California. 

“Population Schedules of the 10th Census of the United States - 1880, San Diego County, California.” Family History Center, San Diego, California. 

Archives /Libraries

Church of Jesus Christ and Latter Day Saints Family History Center, San Diego, California.

San Diego Historical Society Research Archives

San Diego State University Library 

University of San Diego Library 

University of California San Diego Library 

San Diego Public Library 

San Diego County Recorders Office, County Administration Building

Old Town State Park
 

   
     

Foot Notes

   
     

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1 William D. Griffin, The Irish in America 550 - 1972: A Chronology and Fact Book (New York: Oceana Publications, 1973) p. 1.

2 Griffin 11.

3 William Forbes Adams, Ireland and Irish Emigration to the New World from 1815 to the Famine  (New Haven: Yale Univ. Press, 1932) pp. 351-52.


4 Adams, Ireland and Irish pp. 336—37.

5 Kerby A. Miller, Emigrants and Exiles:  Ireland and the Irish Exodus to North America (New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1985) p. 346. 

6 Cecil Woodham Smith, The Great Hunger: Ireland 1845-1849 (New York: Penguin Books, 1962) pp. 216-217.


7 William D. Griffin, A Portrait of the Irish in America (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1981) pp. 54—55.

8 A beautiful island, Grosse Isle is located in the center of the St. Lawrence River. It had been selected for a quarantine station in 1832 during an epidemic of cholera. A small island, Grosse Isle’s charm seemed to lay in the large number of trees which lined its shores and whose reflection in the river gave the mirage that the island actually floated. The coastline was characterized by tiny rocky bays; the interior by large trees, green turf, and a wide variety of wild flowers. This island paradise represented the tragic end to a horrible journey for countless immigrants. Smith, 218.


9 Smith, Great Hunger p. 226.


10 Griffin, A Portrait p. 45.
 

11 Griffin, A Portrait pp. 64-76.


12 Smith, Great Hunoer p. 246.

13 “Exiles,” New York Daily Times March 28, 1853.

14 Miller, Emigrants and Exiles p. 319.

15   Smith, Great Hunger p. 248.

16 Adams, Ireland and Irish pp. 340-41.

17 Adams, Ireland and  Irish pp. 340-41;
     Miller, Emigrants and Exiles, pp. 313-14.

18 Griffin, The Irish in America p. 175. 18

19 Marjorie Eallows, Irish Americans:Identity and Assimilation (Englewood Cliffs:      Prentice Hall, 1979) p. 6

20 Miller, Emiarants and Exiles p. 323.

21 Dennis Clark, Hibernia America:  The  Irish and Regional Cultures (New York: Greenwood Press, 1986) p. 61.

22 Miller, Emigrants and Exiles p. 322.

23 Miller, Emiarants and Exiles p. 327.

24 Liam De Paor, Portrait of Ireland:  Ireland Past and Present. (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1985) p. 154.

25 Adams, Ireland and Irish Emigration p. 347.

26  Adams, Ireland and Irish Emigration p. 343.

27 Clark, Hibernia America pp. 58-59.

28 Clark, Hibernia America p. 56.

29 Griffin, The Irish in America p. 15.

30 Clark, Hibernia America p. 139-40.

31 Clark, Hibernia America p. 52.

32 Fallows, Irish Americans p. 70.

33 Miller, Emigrants and Exiles p. 315.

34 Thomas F. Prendergast, Forgotten Pioneers: Irish Leaders  in Early California (San Francisco: The Trade Pressroom, 1942) p. 11-12.

35 Prendergast, Forgotten Pioneers pp. 14-16.

36  Prendergast, Forgotten Pioneers pp. 14-16. 

37  “Foreigner” in this case refers to non—Mexican and non-Spanish people.

38  John Francis Maguire, The  Irish  in  America (London, 1868) 264. 

39 Prendergast, Forgotten Pioneers pp. 27-28.

40 Prendergast, Forgotten Pioneers p. 34. 

41 Prendergast, Forgotten Pioneers pp. 67—68.

42 Prendergast, Forgotten Pioneers p. 70.

43 Prendergast, Forgotten Pioneers p. 72. 

44 Prendergast, Forgotten Pioneers pp. 74, 79.

41 Maguire, Irish in America pp. 262—63.

46 Maguire, Irish in America p. 265.

47 Maguire, Irish in America p. 280. 

48  Clark, Hibernia America p. 151.

49 Born on November 24, 1713 on the Spanish-held island of Mallorca, Junipero Serra became a Franciscan priest and arrived in California in 1770 as a missionary. Fr. Serra established the first mission in Alta California at San Diego and began to convert the natives as well as build a community. Richard Pourade, The History of San ~ vol. 1 (San Diego: Union Tribune Publishing Co., 1960) pp. 91-116. 

50 Pourade, History of San Diego vol. 3, p. 5.

51 Beatrice Frichette Knott, “Reading Between the Lines:   Social History of San Diego during the Early American Period as Determined from Public and Business Records,” Masters thesis, University of San Diego, 1991, p. 60.

52 Clarence Alan McOrew, City of San Diecjo and San Diego  County:  The  Birthplace  of  California (Chicago: American Historical Society, 1922) p. 62.

53 McGrew, City of San Diego pp. 63—64.

54 One of the earliest settlers of San Diego, Juan Bandini arrived from Peru with his father around 1820. Of Spanish extraction, the elegant Bandini became an established, well-to-do San Diegan. He held many important positions in the government of California, including secretary to Governor Pio Pico, and first Alcalde of San Diego under the Americans. His adobe home still stands near the Old Town Plaza on Calhoun Street. In Don Juan’s days, large dinners, fiestas and bailles were common events in the house. Today, the house is a fine Mexican restaurant called, appropriately, “Bandini’s”. Bandini biographical file, San Diego Historical Society Research Archives.

55 Knott, “Reading Between the Lines,” p. 82.

56 Originally an adobe building with a frame structure over it, the one story church featured a choir loft. Now known as the “Old Adobe Church,” the chapel was dedicated on November 11, 1858. In 1868, the parish moved the Church of the Immaculate Conception to its present site near Old Town State Park on San Diego Avenue. The dedication of the new structure did not occur until 1919 however, due to financial difficulties and a fire which destroyed most of Old Town ,including the new church under construction. Vertical file 94—3, San Diego Historical Society Research Archives.

57 A U-shaped building with its frontage on the plaza, the Casa de Estudillo is a beautiful representation of Spanish architecture in Southern California. Built in the 1820s by Jose Antonio Estudillo, the one-story adobe house was roofed with eucalyptus logs and Spanish tile, and topped with a cupula from which family and friends could watch the diversions in the plaza. San Diego Historical Site Board Register no. 14(a), San Diego Historical Society Research Archives. Clyde Trudell, “Historical-Architectual Summary for the Casa de Jose Antonio Estudillo,” 1967, San Diego Historical Society Research Archives. Vernon Aubrey Neasham (ed.), “Casa de Estudillo, California Historical Landmarks Series, Berkeley, 1936, San Diego Historical Society Research Archives.

58 Juan Bandini’s original one—story home was blessed in 1829. In the l860s a second story was added and the adobe became the Cosmopolitan Hotel. James E. Reading, “Old San Diego’s Background,” An Interpretive Prospectus. San Diego Old Town by the Department of Parks and Recreation, 1968—1969. 

59 McGrew, City of San Diego.

60 Lillian Whaley was the daughter of one of Old Town’s most prominent residents, Thomas Whaley.

61 Lillian Whaley, “Old Times in Old Town, unpublished essay, San Diego Historical Society Research Archives, p. 2.

62 Whaley, “Old Times,” p. 3.

63 Mary C. Morse, “Recollections of Early Times in San Diego,” unpublished essay, San Diego Historical Society Research Archives.

64 Whaley, “Old Times,” p. 6.

65 Griffin, The Irish in America p. 72.

66 National Archives and Records Service, “Population Schedules of the Seventh Census of the United States - 1850, San Diego County, California.” Family History Center, San Diego.

67 National Archives, “Seventh Census of the United States.”

68 National Archives and Records Service, “Population Schedules of the Eighth Census of the United States - 1860, San Diego County, California.” Family History Center, San Diego.

69 National Archives and Records Service, “Population Schedules of the Ninth Census of the United States - 1870, San Diego County, California.” Family History Center, San Diego.

70 Human error is not ruled out in this case due to the nature of calculation used in compiling the statistics. As the census rolls were reviewed, the number of Irish-born was calculated by manually counting how many claimed Ireland as their place of birth in the appropriate column.

71 National Archives and Records Service, “Population Schedules of the Tenth Census of the United States - 1880, San Diego County, California.” Family History Center, San Diego.

72 To achieve a random survey, data was compiled from every twentieth person of Irish birth for three wards of the Boston Census. The 1850 census included 12 wards. The census only indicated employment for men over the age of 21, therefore a determination of the percentage of unemployed Irish in Boston would be difficult and inaccurate. National Archives and Records Service, “Population Schedules of the 7th Census of the United States —1850.” Family History Center, San Diego.

73 McGrew, City of San Diego p. 88.

74 County Cavan is situate in the Irish Republic near the border of Northern Ireland.

75 Death Certificate 7-028068, reel 3, San Diego County Administration Building

76 William E. Smythe, History of San Diego 1542—1908 (New York: Penguin Books, 1962) p. 267.

77 Once the site of the Mexican customs houses, La Playa is located on the San Diego Bay side of Point Loma. Here, the Boston clippers also built their hide houses and the sailors cleaned and cured thousands of cattle hides collected from up and down the coast. By Andrew Cassidy’s arrival, however, La Playa had been laid out as a subdivision but remained largely uninhabited. La Playa vertical file, San Diego Historical Society Research Archives.

78 Andrew Cassidy, “Miscellaneous Notes on the Tide Guage; Tidal and Observations at Sari Diego, Cal. 1853/4,” San Diego Historical Society Research Archives.

79 Cassidy, “Miscellaneous Notes.” 

80 Andrew Cassidy, Meteorological Journals, 1853-1860, San Diego Historical Society Research Archives. 

81 Smythe, History  of  San  Diego p. 267; Jerry MacMullen, “They Owe Him a Debt: Andrew Cassidy Conducted the First Tide Studies.” San Diego Union 8 April l962:H2.

82 A native of Ireland, perhaps Bridget Knowles traveled from the East Coast with Cassidy.

83 Benjamin I. Hayes, Pioneer Notes from the Diaries of Judge Benjamin Hayes.  1849—1875 (Los Angeles, 1929) p. 230.

84 Hayes, Pioneer Notes p. 230.

85 Jose Antonio Serrano lived in Old Town and became one of its well-known citizens. A superior horseman, Serrano rode in many bullfights and showed off his fast and beautiful riding on a daily basis. He owned hundreds of horses on his Pauma ranch, and taught his sons how to ride. Prior to the American conquest of California, the Mexican government pressed Serrano into service to fight in the war. He survived the Battle of San Pasqual, even though the only weapon he took into battle was his riata. Serrano biographical file, San Diego Historical Society Research Archives.

86 Register of deaths, book Al, p. 14, San Diego County Administration Building. In her “Notes,” Lucy Wentworth recalls that Rosa died on September 10, 1869. The official records contradict this however.

87 Albert Smith came to San Diego, before the Mexican American War, from Long Island, New York as a young man and lived at La Playa. A stock raiser, Smith came to know San Diego and its inhabitants very well. During the Mexican American War, when the Mexicans took San Diego back from the Americans, Smith volunteered to spike the Mexican guns at the Presidio for fear they would shell a whaleboat with American refugees in the harbor. Smith succeeded in his mission. Legend has it that Smith raised the American flag in Old Town on July 29, 1846, this claim, however, cannot be substantiated. Grace Monfort, “Few Celebrate Where Many Once Feted San Diego Hero Who Spiked Guns,” San Diego Union, November 14, 1938.

88 Smythe, History of San Diego p. 268; Wentworth, “Notes,” p. 10; Cassidy biographical file, San Diego Historical Society Research Archives.

89 Smith Biographical File, San Diego Historical Society Research Archives.

90 Register of deaths, book Al, p. 25, San Diego County Administration Building. 

91 Albert H. Smith, Mary Smith Cassidy’s brother, erroneously believed Andrew took Mary as his first wife. Smith may have thought this if Cassidy took a third bride, however no evidence to support this could be located. Smith Biographical File, San Diego Historical Society Research Archives.

92 Smythe, History of San Diego p. 267—8; Pourade, History of San Diego v. 3, p. 261

93 Today, the town of Sorrento stands on the site of the Soledad Rancho. Smythe, History of San Diego pp. 267-8; Pourade, History of San Diego v. 3, p. 261.

94 Miguel Costanso. Diary excerpt. 15 July 1769.

95 Smith Biographical File, San Diego Historical Society Research Archives.

96 Charles Kelly, “Recollections,” 1935, San Diego Historical Society Research Archives.

97 San Diego Union, 20 August 1878, 1:5.

98 San Diego Union, 15 February 1882, 3:1.

99 San Diego Union, 18 April 1882, 3:1.

100 “Report of the Grand Jury for the June Term, 1857,” San Diego Herald, 2:2. 

101 For more information on Joshua Sloane, please refer to chapter 7.

102 "Appointment of Andrew Cassidy to the post of Deputy Collector of Customs, June 4, 1860” signed by Henry Hancock; “Appointment of Andrew Cassidy to the post of Deputy Collector of Customs, July 8, 1861” signed by Joshua Sloane, Cassidy vertical file, San Diego Historical Society Research Archives.

103 Captain Knapp of San Francisco replaced Andrew Cassidy as Tide Guage Keeper on September 8, 1869. San Diego Union Weekly, September 8, 1869, 3:2. 

104 A favorite camping place for travelers to feed and water their horses and rest, the canyon was named for Old Town resident, Louis Rose. Kelly, “Recollections".

105 San Diego Union Weekly, June 30, 1869, 3:2.

106 San Diego Union, September 21, 1871, 2:4

107 San Diego Union, August 9, 1873, 3:3; San Diego  .DLLQII, September 5, 1873, 3:2. 

108 Noted from the 1855 tax return, Cassidy vertical file, San Diego Historical Society Research Archives.

109 Noted from the 1858 tax return, Cassidy vertical file, San Diego Historical Society Research Archives.

110 Assessment rolls, June 2, 1863 and July 26, 1864, San Diego Historical Society Research Archives.

111 Pourade, History of San Diego v. 3, p. 262.

112 Assessment rolls, July 26, 1869, San Diego Historical Society Research Archives. 

113 Noted from the original receipt, December 18, 1871, Cassidy vertical file, San Diego Historical Society Research Archives.

114 Noted from the original receipt, January 4, 1873, Cassidy vertical file, San Diego Historical Society Research Archives.

115 Noted from the original city tax receipts, Cassidy vertical file, San Diego Historical Society Research Archives.

116 Noted from the original receipt, November 12, 1876, Cassidy vertical file, San Diego Historical Society Research Archives.

117 1864 Assessment Rolls, San Diego County, San Diego Historical Society Research Archives.

118 San Diego Union, June 29, 1884, 3:4. 

119 Mrs. T. F. Squires, Letter to Andrew Cassidy, Oct. 11, 1882, San Diego Historical Society Research Archives.

120 Death certificate 7—028068, San Diego County Administration Building.

121 McGrew City of San Diego p. 88.

122 Cassidy Street first appeared on a January 1887 map of Oceanside. It is more than likely that the developer of South Oceanside, John Chauncy Hayes, named the street for Cassidy due to family ties and Cassidy’s position within the San Diego community. The son of Judge Benjamin Hayes, Chauncy was a step-nephew to Andrew Cassidy. Judge Hayes took Adelaide Serrano, the sister of Andrew’s wife Rosa, as his second wife, thereby uniting the Hayes’ and the Cassidys. When Chauncy developed Oceanside, he named many of the streets for prominent citizens of San Diego, and felt inclined to include his uncle.

1-123 Joe Stone, “He Survived a ‘Joke’ to Make a Serious Contribution,” San Diego Union, May 29, 1977.

2-124 Various sources were consulted in an effort to pinpoint Lyons’ exact date of arrival in San Diego. According to an essay submitted by Terry Lyons di Gangi, George’s great-granddaughter, to the San Diego Historical Society, Lyons arrived in 1842. An article published in the San Diego Union on May 29, 1977 by Joe Stone, however, indicates that he arrived around 1846. His death certificate, completed by his son, Benjamin, indicates that George lived in San Diego for sixty years. Since he died in 1908, this puts his arrival in 1848. It is possible, however, that his son approximated the number of years.

3-125 Stone, “He Survived a ‘Joke’.” 

4-126 “Resided Here 60 Years, Now Dead,” San Dieao JlnQa, March 9, 1908: 7.

5-127 Stone, “He Survived a ‘Joke’.”

6-128 Lyons biographical file, San Diego Historical Society Research Archives.

7-129 According to Andrew Lyons’ memoires, the family lived on what is today San Diego Avenue near where Taylor Street joins it. The Santa Fe railroad bed now divides the lot in two. At one time the family also lived on the street between Taylor and Wallace Streets. In 1856 this street was known as Jackson Street. Lyons biographical file, San Diego Historical Society Research Archives. 

8-130 Stone, “He Survived a ‘Joke’.”

9-131 Stone, “He Survived a ‘Joke’.”

10-132 Hayes, Pioneer Notes pp. 130-131.

11-133 San Diego Herald, September 1, 1855, 2:2. 

12-134 Stone, “He Survived a ‘Joke’ .

13-135 San Diego Union Weekly, Nov 14, 1868, 2:4.

14-136 National ArchiveS, “Population Schedules of the Eigth Census of the United States - 1860, San Diego County, California."

15-137 Original lease dated August 4, 1876, signed by the Texas and Pacific RR Company and Thomas L. Nesmith, President of the Bank of San Diego. Lyons vertical file, San Diego Historical Society Research Archives.

16-138 San Dieao Herald, Sept 3, 1853, 3:1.

17-139 “Development of San Diego Mail Service Since Early Settlement Throws Light on Local History,” San Diego Union, June 30, 1939, 11:1. 

18-140 San Diego Herald, January 28, 1854 2:2.

19-141 Hooff wrote a letter to the editor of the Herald prompted by his concern that the citizens of San Diego did not believe he had provided good accommodation for the post office. San  DieQo Herald, February 4, 1854 3:2.

20-142 Stone, “He Survived a ‘Joke’”; While Lyons served San Diego as Postmaster, a new postage law was enacted which required $.03 postage on any letter sent a distance of up to 3,000 miles. Anything greater than 3,000 miles required $.10 postage.

21-143 San  Dieao  Herald, June 30, 1855, 3:1; July 28,1855, 3:1. 

22-144 San Diego Herald, February 23, 1856 2:1.

23-145 San Diego Herald, July 5, 1856 2:4.

24-146 Stone, “He Survived a ‘Joke’.” 

25-147  W.B. Couts, Esquire, replaced Lyons as Postmaster of San Diego. San Diego Herald, July 25, 1857, 2:6; San D±e~o Herald, September 12, 1857 2:4; _a Diego Herald, April 3, 1858, 2:1. 

26-148 Stone, “He Survived a ‘Joke’”; San Diego Herald, August 22, 1857 2:2.

27-149 San Diego Herald, August 29, 1857 2:2.

28-150 Great Register of Voters of California, San Diego County, Family History Center, San Diego.

29-151 Stone, “He Survived a ‘Joke’

30-152 John Ferguson, Letter to George Lyons, July 4, 1860, San Francisco, Lyons vertical file, San Diego Historical Society Research Archives.

31-153 Stone, “He Survived a ‘Joke’.”

32-154 San Diego Union Weekly, August 4, 1868 3:2.

33-155 San Diego Union Weekly, July 27, 1871 3:1. 

34-156 Stone, “He Survived a ‘Joke’

35-157 San Diego Herald, Feb 2, 1856 2:4.

36-158  San Diego Herald, Jan 28, 1854, 2:2. 

37-159 Daniel Brown Kurtz came to San Diego from Pennsylvania in 1850. A lawyer by profession, he became a self-taught architect and builder. He did a large amount of contracting in Old Town and his achievements included the Church of the Immaculate Conception in 1858 and the James McCoy house in 869. Lyons was probably involved in the latter project. University of San Diego Department of History, Graduate Division, San Diego Architects 1868 — 1939, San Diego, 1991, p. 104.

38-160 San Diego Herald, Oct 6, 1869, 2:3.

39-161 University of San Diego, Architects p. 110.

40-162 San Diego Union, July 14, 1883 3:2; San Diego Herald, July 21, 1883 3:2. 

41-163 The Mussey-Matthews Grade once traversed the distance from Lakeside and Foster to to Rosemead and Ramona, via Shady Dell. The narrow, steep grade allowed for teamsters to cover only one mile per hour when carrying a large load. “The Old Mussey Grade,” California Rancher, Jan. 1958, np.

42-164 San Diego Union, April 17, 1884, 3:2.

43-165 Assessment rolls, May 28, 1856, San Diego Historical Society Research Archives.

44-166 Assessment rolls, May 17, 1869, San Diego Historical Society Research Archives.

45-167 Benetia Thomas, Letter to Mrs. G.Y. Harry. 9 November 1899. Lyons vertical file, San Diego Historical Society Research Archives.

46-168 Stone, “He Survived a ‘Joke’ “Resided Here 60 Years, Now Dead.” San Diego Union, March 9, 1908, 7.

1-169 Today, County Antrim lies in Northern Ireland and is part of the United Kingdom.

2-170 Sue Sullivan, “James McCoy, Lawman and Legislator,” p. 1, San Diego Historical Society Research Archives.

3-171 Sullivan, “James McCoy,” p. 2.

4-172 It is thought that the name Jacumba meant either “magic springs” to the Indians or “water” to the Spanish. Jordan Edward Detzer, Th.D., Jacumba: Mountain EmDire Town with Bibles and Bullets on the border 1973, p. 4.

5-173 Detzer, ~~ciinTh~. p. 4.

6-174 An Illustrated History of Southern California (Chicago: The Lewis Publishing Co., 1890) p. 148.

7-175 The mail line was so-named due to the mode of transportation - mules.

8-176 An Illustrated History p. 148.

9-177 Jerry MacMullen, “Saga of James McCoy” San Diego LLama, March 11, 1962, H3:1—8

10-178 MacMullen, “Saga of James McCoy.”

11-179 Once, the San Diego River washed under its left bank near McCoy’s house which caused the end of the house to fali in the river. Charles Kelly, “Recollections,” 1935, San Diego Historical Society Research Archives.

12-180 Kelly, “Recollections.”

13-181 Sullivan, “James McCoy,” p. 5.

14-182 Pourade, The History of San Diego v. 4, p. 6.

15-183 MacMullen, “Saga of James McCoy;” Kelly, “Recollections.

16-184 “Smallpox Brought Police Position.” San Diego Union Dec 4, 1938, D4:6. 

17-185 “Smallpox Brought Police Position.”

18-186 Sullivan, “James McCoy,” p. 7. 

19-187 San Diego Union Weekly, May 5, 1869, 2:1.

20-188 Sullivan, “James McCoy,” pp. 8—10.; It is possible that fellow Irishman George Lyons had a hand in the construction of McCoy’s home. In 1869, Lyons became involved in a partnership with Kurtz, in the field of architecture and building. University of San Diego, Architects, pp. 104, 110.

21-189 San Diego Union Weekly, Sept 8, 1869; The McCoy home, which offered so much hospitality, is scheduled to be reconstructed on its original site in Old Town State Park in 1995. Interview with Ron Quinn, Historian, Old Town State Park, October 12, 1994. 

22-190 “Unveil Bronze Tablet Marking End of Kearny Trail at Old Town,” Vertical file 439, San Diego Historical Society Research Archives.

23-191  R. N. Brackett, The History of San Diego County Ranchos (San Diego: Union Title Insurance & Trust Co., 1951) pp. 40-41.

24-192 San Diego Union Weekly, Dec 19, 1868, 2:4. 

25-193 San Pasqual Valley is located northeast of Lake Hodges near the town of Escondido. This peaceful valley is the site of the bloodiest battle of the Mexican-American War, fought between General Steven Watt Kearney and Andres Pico ‘s Californios. Richard Pourade, “Battle of San Pasqual Mingled Politeness, Bloodshed; Lancers Refused to Cut Up Unhorses Americans,” San Diego  Union, Mar 19, 1944.

26-194 Blank

27-195 In 1862 and 1864 they were valued at $.50 and in 1863, $1.00.

28-196 Blank

29-197 San Diego Union, March 1, 1873, 3:2.

30-198 San Diego Union, November 11, 1873, 3:1. 

31-199 San Diego Weekly LLakn, June 30, 1869, 3:2.

32-200 A fraternal organization, the San Diego lodge of the I.O.O.F. was founded in December 1868 and formally instituted on March 23, 1869. McGrew, Q~y of San Diego.

33-201 San Diego Weekly Union, November 11, 1869, 2:4.

34-202 San Diego Weekly Union, August 25, 1869, 3:3; Lan Diego Weekly Union, September 22, 1869.

35-203 San Diego Weekly Union, February 27, 1869, 2:3.

36-204 San Diego Union, May 12, 1870; San Diego Union February 26,1871, 2:6.

37-205 San Diego Union, March 2, 1871, 2:1.

38-206 San Diego Union, May 4, 1871, 3:5.

39-207 San Dieoo Union, August 17, 1871, 3:1.

40-208 San Diego Union, August 24, 1871, 2:4.

41-209 Sullivan, “James Mccoy,” p. 10.

42-210 Sullivan, “James Mccoy,” p. 11.

43-211 Sullivan, “James McCoy,” p. 11.

44-212 San Diego Union, February 2, 1874, 2:2 

45-213 San Diego Union, February 21, 1885, 3:2 

46-214 Sullivan, “James McCoy,” pp. 11-12.

47-215 San Diego Union, April 6, 1873, 3:3. 

48-216 San Diego Union, April 6, 1873, 3:1.

49-217 Sullivan, “James McCoy,” p. 21; San Diego Union, September 29, 1870, 3:2.

50-218 Sullivan, “James McCoy,” p. 21.

51-219 San Diego Union, February 11, 1882, 3:3. 

52-220 San Diego Union, February 11, 1882, 3:3.

53-221 San Diego Herald, March 7, 1857, 2:1.

54-222 San Dieoo Union, December 9, 1882, 3:1.

55-223 San Diego Union, January 17, 1885, 3:1; San Diego LLama, February 5, 1885, 3:1. 

56-224 Death of James McCoy,” San Diego Union, November 9, 1895, 5:3

57-225 Sullivan, “James McCoy,” pp. 13-14.

58-226 James McCoy, “Last Will and Testament,” June 4, 1894, on file at the San Diego County Superior Court.  

59-227 Sullivan, “James McCoy,” pp. 13—14.

60-228 San Diego Union, December 21, 1895, 2:2.

61-229 San Diego Union, December 24, 1895, 5:1.

62-230 San Diego Union, April 5, 1896, 5:4. 

63-231 San Diego Union, May 30, 1896, 5:1.

64-232  San Diego Union, July 15, 1897, 5:1

1-233 Smythe, History of San Diego p. 288.

2-234 Henry Schwartz, Kit Carson’s Lona Walk and Other True  Tales  of  Old  San  Diego (La Mesa, CA: Associated Creative Writers, 1980) p. 103.

3-235 Smythe, History of San Dieoo p. 288.

4-236 This is not to be confused with the Mason Street school, built sometime later. An operating expenses record from July 6, 1855 for School District No. 1 on file at the San Diego Historical Society shows a payment of $30 to J.W. Robinson for rent of a school room. An historical map of Old Town indicates that Robinson owned a one-story adobe across the plaza from Casa de Estudillo.

5-237 Knott, “Reading Between the Lines” p. 45.

6-238 Henry Schwartz, “As Customs Aide, Patrick was all Dog.” San Diego Union, December 17, 1978, 1:7-8.

7-239 John Judson Ames, “A Wind Flour Mill.” San Diego February 5, 1859.

8-240 Ames, “A Wind Flour Mill.”

9-241 Ames, “A Wind Flour Mill.”

10-242 San Diego Herald, March 5, 1859, 1:3; San Diego Herald, March 12, 1859, 2:3.

11-243 San Diego Herald, April 2, 1859, 2:4.

12-244 San Diego Herald, October 17, 1857, 2:3.

13-245 San Diego Herald, April 3, 1858, 2:1.

14-246 Smythe, History of San Diego, p. 288.

15-247 Schwartz, Kit Carson’s Long Walk p. 105.

16-248 Schwartz, Kit Carson’s Long Walk p. 105.

17-249 Smythe, History of San Diego pp. 288-289.

18-250 Sloane vertical file, San Diego Historical Society Research Archives.

19-251 Herbert Lockwood, Skeleton’s Closet v. 1, (San Diego:  Dailey & Associates, 1973) p. 39.

20-252 Schwartz, Kit Carson’s Long Walk p. 104.

21-253 Florence Christman, The Romance of Balboa Park (San Diego: The Committee of 100, 1947) p. 1.

22-254 Christman, Romance p. 1.

23-255 Christman, Romance p. 1.

24-256 Smythe, History  of  San  Diego p. 289; Jerry MacMullen, “Josh’s Shouts Cave us a Park,” San Diego Union, January 13, 1960, P4:5—8.

25-257 San Diego Weekly Union November 7, 1868, 2:2.

26-258 Assessment rolls, 1856 1869, San Diego Historical Society Research Archives.

27-259 ‘Blarney’ is a slang term denoting a skill in flattery or nonsense. It is derived from Blarney Castle in Cork County, Ireland, whose one-time owner was said to be very skilled in the art of flattery. Today, the superstition holds that if a visitor kisses a certain stone (Blarney Stone) located in the castle wall, he will have bestowed on him the gift of blarney.

28-260 Schwartz, Kit Carson’s Long Walk p. 109.

29-261 Smythe, History of San Diego p. 289.

30-262 San Diego Union, May 20, 1882, 3:2.

31-263 San Diego Union, June 21, 1882, 3:1.

1-264 In a letter to her sister, Benetia Lyons, George Lyons’ daughter, describes their mother’s last minutes before her death. Benetia mentions that her mother spoke in Spanish because she knew very little English. Therefore, George Lyons must have learned Spanish in order to communicate with his wife and her family. Thomas, Letter to Mrs. G. Y. Harry.

2-265 A chapter of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, an international Irish nationalist organization, was not founded in San Diego until 1901. In the East, chapters had already been founded by the late 1800s. McGrew, City of San Diego, np.
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