Our last remarks ended with a view of the high Sierras, and the
future of our county as a summer resort for over warm valley campers; we
also had a few words to say concerning "the fog," "up our sleeve" are
feelings that we do not care to air just at present. It cannot be
wondered at when I tell you Hornitos has been our stopping place for
several days. Hornitos lies antiguos to the fog headquarters - Merced,
and it has slashed over and has mad muddy our spirits. All visions of
"Cloud Nymphs" have been dispelled and an ocean of flying microbes have
inoculated our feelings with disgust, almost similar to those imparted
by a moist "kid" and we feel like apologizing to our readers for the
last week's letter. However, above the fog the sun is shinning, and most
of our county is above the fog.
Hunter's Valley was our next stopping place after leaving
Horseshoe Bend. This is one of our county's most favored nooks. It fits
into a niche in the hills and has many beautiful homes spread over its
dimpling valleys and hills. It is rich in stories of gold and is famed
as a nugget patch. The largest pockets of our early history were found
in Hunter's Valley. The Blue Lead is in the upper end of the valley and
has been immensely rich. The Barrett mine too has produced large
fortunes. Three pockets aggregating eighty thousand were taken out of
this mine near the surface. It was first worked in 1862. Forty-one tons
of copper from the same mine paid 17 per cent, the ledge at surface is
two feet and at one hundred feet it is six feet. There are many mines in
this section that space at present does not permit us to mention. We met
several gentlemen who are confident of a bright future for their valley.
It is a section well favored for the raising of citrus fruit, and when
its gold fields are exhausted it will rival the famed orange groves of
Southern California in producing fine fruit. From Ferrari's Store it is
twelve miles to Hornitos, and fog all the way. We passed several
beautiful homes conspicuous being that of Mr. Frank THORNE. This
beautiful place crowns a hill reminding one of the castles of Scotland,
without the frowning walls that projected those succinct feudal
We reached Hornitos hungry, and there was no better place in our
county to satisfy one's appetite as there is a first class hotel and
restaurant in the city. Hornitos is a Spanish word meaning little ovens.
In early days the Mexicans used to build earthen ovens in which they
baked their bread, hence the name. This town was incorporated in the
early seventies and is the only city in our county. Its present officers
are George REEB, Joseph BAUER and Samuel TIPPET, Trustees. The legal
director is Wm. ADAMS, City Attorney. In 1852, Hornitos was placed on
the map of the nation as a mining town. Thousands flocked to its
surrounding country and the stories of its richness is part of our most
fabulous history, and each day new found nuggets add lustre to its
ancient history. The falling stamps at Mt. Gaines mine are easily heard.
This is the only mine in Mariposa county that is worked my electricity.
It is at present owned by George Crocker. Its early history would fill a
volume. There has been sufficient gold taken out of it to buy miles of
the Mother Lode. They are down 800 feet and ore is being extracted about
the 600 foot level, south of the shaft. In fact between the three and
six hundred foot levels. A Mr. JOHNSON is manager, H. V. VANCE Foreman,
R. P. BROWNWELL has charge of the mill, and H. S. BATES is Assayer and
Book-keeper. The walls of the mine are diabase on the hanging and slate
on the foot wall. This mine is near the celebrated Washington mine, the
deepest mine in our county, being 1500 feet in depth. The walls at the
bottom of the shaft are fifty feet apart proving that the mines of this
section are not surface mines as told by the San Francisco experts. This
mine is the property of Moses ROGERS, also the No. 9, a rich gold
producer in the "early days." These mines have been worked successfully
for years, at present they are idle, but are expected to turn our mint
arguments in the near future. But to return to Hornitos. As you enter
the only city of our county from Bear Valley way several beautiful
residences are passed before the business houses are reached. The first
place of business on the right is the mercantile establishment of
Gagliardo & Co. This is a large brick building stocked with a full line
of everything used by a mining and agricultural community. Like the post
office at Coulterville it too is permeated with a bright smile so
bewitching that we would not care how long it would take to find a glove
that would fit. Mr. Gagliardo has been established in business in
Hornitos 32 years. Just across the street is the store of C. B.
CAVANARO, first class in every particular. For 40 years the CAVANARO
family have done business in Hornitos C. B. CAVANARO the sole owner.
Rumor of a very unsatisfactory character says ere long Mr. CAVANARO will
not be so lonesome as he now appears. The next business house is the
store of Mrs. LESSMAN. When we asked her how long she had lived in
Hornitos, you could see in her kindly face the leaves of history turning
back even to the springtime of her life and with a sigh she told us 32
years. Across the street is the office of Wm. Adams the only attorney in
this city. Mr. ADAMS is an old timer and is one of the best posted men
in our county on its early history, and is alive to its present and
future welfare. Then the post office and telephone office run by Mr.
RUNDELL. Then Mr. Richard THOMAS comes next with a restaurant and
saloon. Mr. THOMAS needs no introduction and if you are hungry the best
the market affords is on his table, and if you are dry you will find
behind his bar the choices of wet goods from Hunter's Valley J. A. B. to
Jesse Moore's tripple A. Then comes the old timer Raphael BARCROFF. Mr.
BARCROFT is one of our oldest citizens, his memory of our early history
is as fresh in his mind as if 'twas yesterday. His place of business is
famed through all the country. Around his place seems to linger the
memories of our golden days. To us it is a pleasure unspeakable to
converse with such old timers and in their stories of olden times live
with them the scenes that have made our state's proudest history which
they love so well. Mr. BARCROFT runs an old fashioned saloon that rivals
any up to date place in Mariposa county. Then the store of Mrs.
CAMPODONICO comes next. When we inquired how long she had been in
business in Hornitos like Mrs. LESSMAN she seemed appalled by the years.
She has lived in Hornitos 40 years and been in business all that time.
We skipped the barber shop of Joseph BAUER. Mr. BAUER runs the only
tonsorial parlor in the city and is a first class workman. Mr. BAUER is
also one of the city trustees. Next is Mrs. MERCK one of the very oldest
citizens. She superintends a saloon and confectionery store and has a
fine establishment and business corner. Then Mrs. K. KOCHER'S millinery
and dry goods store comes next. Mrs. KOCHER has raised a large family in
Hornitos and is one of the oldest settlers of the place. Her store is
filled with a fine line of millinery and ladies dress goods. Gregory
WALZ, the only shoemaker in our city, is next in line. Mr. WALZ is a
thorough workman in his line. On the 21st of October, 1861, George REEB,
the Hornitos butcher established his business. He informs us that not a
day has his shop been out of meat, although burned out three times, Mr.
REEB is noted as the best bologna sausage maker in the San Joaquin
Valley, shipping them as far as away as Bakersfield. Then the livery
stable of Mike BAUER is next. This is the only stable in town that does
a general livery business. Like the balance of Hornitos citizens Mr.
BAUER has been in business many years. Across the street from Mr. BAUER
is the blacksmith shop of the ARTHUR Brothers. Though no "spreading oak"
shades their place of business "you can hear their anvil ring." They are
working in the shop founded by their father in the halcion days of the
old town. Theirs is the only shop in Hornitos. Then the Hornitos Hotel
is next up the street. A first class hotel with her bar room filled with
the choicest of smokes and drinks. This is the stage station for dinner.
This place is run by W. L. GOMMO. He is agent for the Southern Pacific
railroad and will sell tickets direct from Hornitos to the State
metropolis and return. We skipped the office of Dr. Hartwell B. STANLEY.
Dr. STANLEY is not an old timer in Hornitos but his presence is all the
little town needed. The Dr. comes with the very best recommendations. He
was for a number of years surgeon for the S. P. railroad. His office is
filled with a complete line of fine instruments and is prepared to treat
any character of disorder and perform the most delicate surgical
operation. While we were in town he set two broken arms, Mr. FERARRI of
Hunter's Valley furnish one and the others name we have forgotten.
But we turn from these scenes to those of another character.
Hornitos has a fine school, about 65 scholars attend. There are two
teachers, Sam W. BROWN is the principal. Mr. BROWN is a young man of
exemplary character and is a graduate of the Chico Normal Institute.
Mrs. Ada HODGES is the other teacher. Her abilities as a teacher is
attested by the number of years she has taught at Hornitos, this being
her fifth successive term. While we are talking school we will mention
that we met Miss Julia JONES the school superintendent while at
Hornitos. If McKINLEY was as sure of re-election as Miss JONES (if she
asks for the office) BRYAN had as well as quit talking imperialism and
free coinage. We were also out at Elkhorn school. The teacher is one of
Mariposa's most popular teachers, Miss Kate STERNE. The Elkhorn is not a
very large school but they have a beautiful school house and an
efficient teacher, and the district is large enough to produce a WEBSTER
or a Harriet Beecher Stowe. Near Elkhorn school is the fine farm and
ranch of STOCKTON and BUFFUM. These gentlemen are as noted as the county
itself. In the early fifties they formed a co-partnership that has
lasted until the present day. Mr. BUFFUM was a supervisor of the county
for sixteen years. Their farm lies near the famous Mariposa Grant, being
just south of it, and like the notorious Grant has vast mineral deposits
rich in gold in the numerous quartz ledges. We were shown some very rich
specimens taken from Blue Lead, a mine on their land. The pay shoot is
over a half a mile in length. All the rock carries gold but it is mined
simply for pockets. Some very rich pockets have been found. There is a
crew of miners working all the time. Aside from its rich mines this farm
has produced wheat that carried off first prize at the midwinter fair.
Oranges that in competition with the orange groves of southern
California and the world in general took second prize. And olive oil
made on the farm took third prize against the world. Fine diplomas were
awarded them in each competition. When one stops to think a moment at so
much merit on one farm the though naturally arises, what causes brought
around such results. Their land is not irrigated but they cultivate it
well. These gentlemen have proven that our county has a future other
than mines. There are thousands of acres of land in this section of
country of like character and all it needs is the application of
judgment and intelligence to place it in the van in the production of
citrous fruit and olive oil.
W. F. R.
Hornitos, February 2nd, 1900
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November 23, 2002