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The Julian News
Julian , California
January 20, 2010     The Julian News
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January 20, 2010

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January 20, 2010 Rancho Volcan On The First Tax Roll by Albert Simonson Our local rancheros and vaqueros must have wondered what it meant when the Army invaded and made themselves comfortable at the Santa Ysabel mission chapel, where they were hosted by Rancho Volcan's ranchero. Rancheros wondered what it all meant when our California founding fathers proclaimed a "California Republic." Those founders were a greasy, rough bunch, according to Bancroft's authoritative 1886 "History of California." They made the first version of our California flag, using Dirty Matthews' wife's petticoat. Or maybe not, depending on which founding father you believe. And lettered the flag using pokeberry juice and a chewed-up stick for a brush. The grizzly looked rather pig-like, some thought. Our present flag is a much-improved version. Our state government is less improved. Our grizzlies are extinct. Later, it became clear what all that Americanization meant. It meant taxes. Lots of taxes. In 1850, as military rule in California yielded to civil government and a new state constitution, tax revenue was needed. And the easiest victims to tax were the Indians and rancheros. It would be several decades before Mexican-era land titles would be confirmed or rejected by the United States Land Commission and the courts. In contrast, taxation began without hesitation. Why are you not surprised? Taxation of Indians without representation led to an uprising and army campaigns in our area. The new government was very unpopular throughout the county. So before Julian was Julian, there were taxes, taxes on almost everything, even things now no longer taxed, like cash or implements. Around here, there was only "Rancho Volcan de Santa Ysabel" run by "Cockney Bill" Williams, aka "Sailor Bill" and his sidekick Julian Sandoval. Living with them were various drifters, Indians, and probably some Hawaiians from the hide houses. Cockney Bill had been around the world, from London to Hawaii, and worked with the Hawaiians at the La Playa hide houses and had managed Captain Fitch's emporium in Old Town. He spoke Spanish with a dreadful Cockney accent and looked every bit the sailor. Bill's primary rancho was just north of Julian, beyond Wynola Road, where the town wells are. He and Julian had 3 square leagues in Volcan Valley, about 13,000 acres centered in a big meadow, which earlier had been mission rodeo grounds, planted in grain. The site of his house was likely beneath a solitary sycamore a .quarter mile down the trail from the Santa Ysabel Open Space Preserve parking area. From there, he could see if any thieving cattle broke into the grain fields. Rancho Volcan was a remote outpost deep in Indian country. Bill's closest non-Indian neighbors were Jose Ortega and his son-in-law Captain Edward Stokes at Santa Ysabel, and Long John (or Juan Largo) Warner at Warner's Ranch. Useful information on these ranchos is found in the little- known 1850 first county property tax roll. This is literally a paper roll, about 3 by 6 feet, listing 72 property owners and their assets. The tax roll was handwritten in Spanish and the assessed valuations were in pesos, at that time equal to dollars. Our dollar A Studebaker Farm Wagon > r "', ,. ," . Ltl. ..... , .' tb " '" /Z> , ! . . . ........ J // i " " V t # i . - .... ., . , ., .?Ii,", ..:1 ." . ' ;7. / " ;lt.. ./tie/i k . ' " . /tI ilil t /ct,' .. " S/,,//4 " +" " ' ' " ,,,:l,, . >': ,. " "  :,, # " , ". ,  ] ., ,, =,, 7Pi,'+00es . ' "" ;4.''"/ =' " ,,J/'ai'. i,'H., 6.teya/ ' i/.,'##.: ,.',', ,.. ., " " , Y. . ' f4 , The 1850 tax roll - showing Ouillermo Sandoval and the Rancho Volcan. is based upon the older peso and the dollar sign we use today was bookkeeper shorthand for the P and S of the peso, but superimposed and with the loop of the 'P' omitted. Here in the west, the two currencies were interchangeable, and both were scarce. Of course, rancheros did their best to conceal assets, and rightly so, considering the injustice of the taxation. Much of Bill's possessions were branded with a stylized 'B' so there was no use in denying ownership of, for example, cattle. The educated, wealthy ranchero of "Santa Monica" (Lakeside), J. A. Estudillo, was tax assessor. His town house in Old Town is without doubt the best, most authentic house there and always a joy to visit. He complained about the difficulties of obtaining information for this first tax roll. Some people flatly refused to turn over a list of property. Some ranchos were vacant, with ownership unknown or in dispute. Cockney Bil's house was assessed at 100 pesos (or dollars), more than Warner's 12- peso house. Warner, though, had a vineyard, which Bill did not. Still, it is well documented that our wine-loving English sailor had access to comforting quantities of "abominable wine" through his employment at Rancho Santa Ysabel. A year earlier, while he still was in charge of San Luis Rey mission, he had similar employment perks. A ranch boss can get mighty thirsty riding around all day supervising Indians, so he kept a wineskin on his saddle. Warner had many more range cattle and a better corral, but Bill was ahead with 6 "milch" cows. Travelers to and from the desert could usually count on at least milk and meat or acorns and coffee at Bill's. The word "milch," now archaic, meant "milk-giving" in rancher-speak. Bill was even assessed for 83 fanegas (125 bushels) of grain, at 5 pesos each. He had 55 acres under grain cultivation, slightly more than his successor, Englishman Samuel Neeson. That would be impossible now, after years of erosion and catastrophic gullying. Army Major Heintzelman called it "a fine valley, well wooded and watered, and very fertile." It's a scenic hike now along the preserve's trail, but you will need a lot of imagination to see Volcan Valley as the Major saw it. Bill had 8 tame horses valued at 35 pesos each, and he was further assessed for the 31 wild horses (caballos broncos) found on his land. One item stands out as expensive - a "carro" assessed at 100 pesos. This was likely a farm wagon with 4 spoked wheels, iron tires (rims), and a seat with springs. There were only 33 such wagons in the county, many in the city where roads were not so rough on those slender spoked wheels. The first really nice carriage was bought by the Osuna ranchera of Agua Hedionda (stinking water, now Carlsbad). She gave 50 cows for it. Later, Bill would get a "spring carriage" with cushions at his Viejas rancho (Alpine), wagon, but the sheriff seized it to settle a lawsuit by Estudillo's widow in Lakeside. He even levied on Bill's percussion caps, brogan boots, Chinese cupboard, and corkscrew. He might have levied on more of Bill's property, except that he had already levied on better items in another lawsuit brought by the San Antonio San Diego Mail Line. Incidentally, that mail line had passed through the headquarters area of Cuyamaca State Park. Bill died soon after, "in a fit in the night." But that is another story, so let it suffice to note that the invading U.S. Army was promptly followed by lawyers. The new county government needed tax money to pay its officials and to upgrade rough, rutted ox cart roads. The first specific reference to our local traffic, as far as I know, dates from December 4, 1846, when a mountain howitzer (light cannon) rolled into Santa Ysabel from Warner's ranch. It had been hauled all the way from Fort Leavenworth, Kansas Indian The Julian News 7 Commercial Residential Payment Options 24 Hour Relationships Matter Emergency Service Over 60 years serving the community we live in. ...... fGASChe&" PROPANE f l. r4 lr Trame r]coiCl--, t J ,lib Groceries. Fresh Produce. Sundries Beer. Wine. Liquor Dry Cleaning Lotto Scratchers Full Service "Best in the County" Meat Department U.S.D.A. Choice Beef Buffalo Meat Special and Holiday Orders, Cut to your Specifications ++ j[ L;iI] []I [il B oi I I Pa   ................. i ............... I i' " i HARDWARE STORES 532"B Street " P.O. Box 159. Ramona, CA 92065 (760) 789-0240 @ OPEN SUNDAYS! and Indians leading the way. They say that death and taxes are our only certainties. Luckily, the former gives lasting relief from the latter. But meanwhile, just think if you could buy San Diego County for its 1850 total assessed value - 570,997 pesos! You probably wouldn't even mind paying taxes on it. / Territory, by the Army of the West. Cockney Bill, acting as the army's tipsily hospitable host, went off to fetch a cart for army baggage. Oxen and carts would have been basic to Santa Ysabel's documented large- scale agriculture. We know Bill was the mission theater's stage carpenter, so he could have shown the Indians how to build carts. That theater was a good place to meet Old Town Iovelies who could dance all night. On the 1850 tax roll, Bill was assessed for two yoke (teams) of oxen at 50 pesos each and for two ox carts (carretas). His carts must have been of a niftier model than Warner's, being valued at 25 pesos each, more than twice as high. They were basic at best with rugged, solid wooden wheels and only straw for buttock protection. They were built of only wood and rawhide, available at inland ranchos. The Spanish word for highway, carretera, derives from carreta (cart). There must have been a carretera to haul all those bushels of grain to the Estudilo mill and to market. The carretera must have traversed a scenic upland meadow in the open space le area. , -y-... .. '00iilltop Supply &  Country l=lare St= Why spin your wheals trying to find items elsewhere. Our customers say we tk aln''l even/fling they've ever tried to find. Instead of last resort, TRY US FIRST! We don't got it, we can get it. Come see why we're "HILLTOP SUPPLY." 619 428-8461" 619 ltS-ll 17506 Old HW. SO, Ouatay carts came to play a vital role in supplying the army's Fort Yuma wagon trains with grain. His Viejas rancho was the leading supplier. There is reliable testimony about his ox cart trains, but we will need a future article to see and hear those wobbly rumbling wheels and oxen tied at the horns preserve. That meadow is accessible to hikers. As my friend Ed Huffman has written, the Kanaka trail passed that meadow and was probably named for Volcan Valley's Hawaiian gardeners. Cockney Bill was not alone at the rancho. The first tax roll shows tax owners as "Guillermo y Sandoval," with Bill's name hispanicized. Julian Sandoval from New Mexico moved away in 1851 to take charge of Bill's other rancho, Valle de las Viejas, and he later settled in Descanso's valley. There were a number of Indians and footloose pioneers with Bill at hisnot-very-tidy house. Just down the creek were the Indian villages of Geenat and Tatayojai. If you think your taxes are bad, consider this - in 1851 Bill was assessed $4600 for debts owed to him! Then there was poll tax and militia tax. His Volcan Valley land was assessed at $10,000. Just three years earlier, he had paid only 500 pesos for all of Viejas Valley! As years passed, Bill's ox