Squire Ensworth's Letters to Mr. Whaley
April 5, 1861
San Diego, Cal.
The boat time being about to arrive I suppose I must write you something even if I can't entertain, and most certainly I have nothing new or cheerful to send you from this "Dull Town of Ours." The most of the business carried on within the limits of the corporation, at present, is herding sheep. The town makes quite a good sheep ranch, the old adobe walls being turned to some use as sheep lots, for four quite respectable droves are now nightly enclosed in the neighborhood of the Plaza. Besides this Kris has a drove of cattle which he had been herding about town during the last ten days. Besides all this, there is not much else to make a dust, for there is nobody here to make it. There are very few goods in town, but fully as many as there is much use for. Donehoe's shelves are nearly empty. He says that he is better off than he would be if he had goods, for he would be compelled to trust them out and as to Meir, he has literally nothing - says he will go up for goods on the expected boat (the one expected tomorrow) but this I doubt. The fact is, he has trusted out all over the county and now can't release the cash. Mr. Ames has equally few goods. M. Mannasse & Jos & Co. have only tolerable assortments. I shall send you in the neighborhood of $200 mas o' menes, but where the money comes from I can't see. I sold one bill to the troops in Lower California of about $90, which has helped to swell my money to this amount. Unless something starts up in this part of the country to help things along we may as well turn the Plaza into a garden. During the past two or three weeks there has been some little talk ABOUT A SILVER MINE IN Pine Valley, beyond Bill Williams' ranch & some persons who claim to hail from San Francisco, are now out there prospecting around, but whether it will amount to anything or not time alone can determine. The whaling season is over. The two parties on the point have done very well, as also the ship ocean, Capt. Clark of New Haven, who told me today that since he anchored in our bay he had taken 40 whales which had made him 1226 barrels and 26 gals of oil, worth at the present low price about $15,000. The other two companies on shore have each done about the same. Capt. Clark will sail for the Sandwich islands immediately after the steamer, and after ten days delay in Honolula will sail to the Arctic Ocean, but returning here next fall. But these whalers are of no use to us, as they all bring their supplies with them. To run from one thing to another and that you may see how the stock stands. I have looked over and find I have on hand the following articles, (All the rest that you have sent me having been sold), to wit: Chemical Olive Soap 13 boxes - Candles eight boxes - Tobacco 29 lbs twist - Schnapps -1 - Box Lard 1 tin - Sugar 7 CWT. & 3 Arrobas - Do two boxes of 25 lbs each, & 4 kegs of crushed starch 2 Boxes Salt (All received, with the exception of 3, 4, or 5 sacks) Whiskey 3 bbls & the keg of 20 gallons coffee 1 sack Champaigne, one basket - Claret 5 boxes. Flour about 82 sacks. I have trusted no goods and no person owes me anything with the exception of Morrow, the man working Witherby's mines, who made a bill of $55, for which he gave me a draft on Los Angeles (He paying the cost of collection) & if it reached there in time (which I doubt,) to be sent to me by the expected steamer. I shall remit that you with this letter which will swell to 50 more by "$200 mas o manos" mentioned on second page. Please hunt around the bookstores and send me "Forum" the printed notice of which is here attached and charge to my individual account. And so going from one thing back to another, from the schedule (as an atty would say) of things on hand, as you know pretty well how this mercantile institution stands. Meir and Hollister have been selling sugar at $3.00 an arroba, & sometimes to a cash customer, flour at $4.35 lb - my price. The Jews cussawfully! Please send 5 yards of bolting cloth herewith enclosed & charge to my individual account. This is a particular thing & must be just of this quality. - No finer & no coarser. I have not the remotest idea of the price.
Inclosed herewith you will find a letter directed to C. Burbank Engr. You will also receive by this Express a long roll of paper directed to yourself, which, after taking off the cover, you will hand to Mr. B., together with the letter referred to, pay him the $50 belonging to Breeze sent you by last steamer, & get him to sign the inclose receipt, which remit to me. If Mr. B is not in town, Mr. Perkins, his partner, will do as well. You are at Liberty to read all these things, if they contain nothing private. When you open the roll, don't lose a brief, which is loose inside of it - It is now evening, & I am quite alone & feel quite alone down here solo in this big house. I have plenty of time for solitary musings, not having been up in town since morning, I have seen only three or four persons, but I hear Witherby has arrived. He generally comes in at the boat. But what is this thriving part of the world to do now? We hear that the steamer is to stop. Here semi monthly trips & only coming down when sufficiently freighted to pay & that we will get our mail from Temecula once a week. This is an arrangement I do not like. In this manner I think it would be quite uncertain how many letters, and how often we receive our letters and papers. During the present week we received the first mail from Temecula and some say that the steamer will not ever arrive on the morrow; but I suppose we will know when the morrow comes. No news - nobody married and nobody dead. Victoria (Magee's wife), had a child, but it died coming into the world. "Maybe" it would have been better if the like had been the fate of more of us. - I see that I commenced this new business of merchandizing on the 28th of November last & that it will be six months on the 28th of next month. When that time arrives, I had better cut out the leaves containing entries of "cash recd" and "cash paid out," & send them to you together with the amt. of stock on hand, & let you figure up and see how the thing comes out - see if it is "nix comerouse" (there is German for you.) I had also better send you a copy of my book containing the private account current between us, for I have sold some brick & some other few things, & have recd things from you on my private account. If I have got the addition right, this account is about square between us. What few people live in town (save us merchants), have gone out to cut hay, Wall, Stewart, Evens, Tebbetts, and I hear that Uncle Ames, John Brown, Bill Fritz and others are cutting. Grass is quite good this year. Rose still butchers, Gerson is here, but has nothing in his store. Newman is at his old place yet, but how in the thunder he musters up them 15 for rent, I can't understand. Mr. Ames is down on the mail arrangement, as it will upset the Express Business. Noyes is still walking around with that little black cane, and looks like the last of pea-time. Mrs. Kerren still lives at the old place and since she married she looks more cheerful and as though she felt better. Compton is hunting snakes most of the time, and now and then has an assault and battery law suit with his neighbor H. Mannasse. What has become of his wife and daughter? Hollister is the only thriving man in town. People must eat bread. Ware has got a bill hold on the San Dieguito ranch by buying one or two shares and he will move out there. Tom Lush keeps bar at the Colorado House. Van yet in the Franklin House and George Smith still deals in Blue Ruin (Rens - his wife Lorenza as he calls her) has had a little one. Bill Williams lives in town with Mrs. Curly. Breeze having leased the ranch. Cassidy and Biddy are yet at the Playa, and living as turtle doves - when they are not fighting. Bogert still the same - Keating confined to his room in town with paralysis, where he has been several months. Van Alst and Jake Cressman are working together near the river - when they are not drunk. Serrano is here walking about engaged in rolling up paper segars, and quen sabeing how he can pay Mannasse and Schiller about $3000 which he owes them, running a 2-1/2% interest. Frank Ames face, towards evening looks pretty red, but then he feels so good - "Cha Cha Cha" pleasant dreams to you - good night - one moment more, for I forgot one character, our mutual and venerable friend Hinton - I have not seen him out with his brother, but doing nothing. By the way, now while I think of it, you forgot the sewing machine pamplets.
Good night - Good night.
April 6 - Well the day is pretty well and no boat. Today, I (that is myself and another Indian) have dug the hay scales out of the mud, and fixed them up so that they will weigh as well as last year. They were in the water so long, & the sand and mud covered some of the irons so deep, that some of the irons want oil to keep them from rusting. One of the large timers on which the planks are laid, (the one next to the street,) is much decayed with rot, but I think the whole will do for this year - we are having most beautiful weather & I wish you were here to enjoy it, with sufficient business to be profitable and to render you useful and contented.
April 7 - Boat in - all right - Today is Sunday - The homestead shall be recorded tomorrow - The 15th vol. of Rep is rec'd together with mucho papers, for which received my thanks - Please send the 16th so soon as out, without waiting for order. Doyle wrote me by this boat on business, but said nothing about the house - He may have written to some persons in town, and if so I will keep my eye open - Let the Peacocks wagon... stand for the present - As to "Chit Chat," which you say you had not time to hold, I think I have given you enough in the forgoing letter - By W. F. & Co's Express I send you $180.00 - of this $160.00 credit on merchandise account - The freight Bill by this ST was $42. I did not receive the amt. of my draft on Los Angeles.
As we will have a mail once a week by land. You can write me at any time - I have paid express on money. Give my respect of Mr. W. & Believe Me.
A. S. Ensworth
San Diego, Ca.
April 15, 1861
Inclosed herewith you will find your homestead claim certified by the clerk as having been recorded. The amt. for recording, ($2.75). I have paid & charged to you in our private acct. There was no particular hurry about it, for if good for anything, it is good if recorded anytime before the property is seized for debt.
Has that invoice of pen cutters arrived yet? Last summer when I was in Los Angeles, I saw Jo Palmer and Fremont wearing hats which I was told were Chinese hats. I only saw them from the opposite side of the street. Since that, I have seen a hat of the same fashion worn by one of the Arguellos. It is a hat for summer, made so that the head rests in a band about an inch or so wide, which is on the inside of the hat, and leaves the whole space open all around the head between the sides of the sweat leather in the hat (or the place where the sweat leather would be in an ordinary hat.), for the air to circulate all around the head with the exception of that part of the head resting in the band. This band is held in place by three wooden brackets. (Do you know what these are,?) - See Webster. The space between the outside of the band (the inside of the band rests against the head,) & the inside of the hat (the sweat leather - or where it should be if there was another one,) is about an inch or such a matter. These hats which I saw were white. The Crown was of an oval shape, and the rim about 2-1/2 inches wide. At a little distance off they look as thou they had a roll or something as large, or larger, than a man's wrist, wrapped around them for a... band, but this is only an enlargement, (sort of a bulging cut), of the body of the hat where the hand band should be, for the purpose of forming a vacancy inside the hat to make room for a place for the wooden brackets to rest upon, as also to for a vacancy, or hallow place, for the air to pass up into the hat around the head, as before mentioned. I tried on Arguello's & it was a luxury. I presume they are common in the upper country. If they are not, they should be. Please do me the favor to hunt one up and send it. One that will measure inside of the band in which the head rests 6 inches and seven sixteenths of a inch one way, and 7 inches three sixteenths of an inch the other way will fit. It must be pretty nearly this size, for it is a stiff hat, and not easily enlarged or compressed to suit the head. I do not think it will cost high for those I saw appeared to be made out of cheap materials, although I was unable to tell from a slight uninspecting, what they were - may be so, papers maybe - so - cloth of some kind, and may be so - part bamboo. On looking over what I have written, I am somewhat surprised myself at its length - And all about a hat well there. Nothing like being particular.
I have no champaigne - you may as well send me two or more baskets, or so.
On yesterday, Magee brought us the mail from Temecula, which contains San Francisco papers of the 6th instant. He leaves here for Temecula this forenoon with the mail by which I will send you this. But as I presume you visit the Post Office but seldom there is no telling when you will receive it.
A. S. Ensworth
San Diego, Ca.
April 24, 1861
As the mail will leave tomorrow morning for Los Angeles I drop you a line but with not much expectation that you will receive it before the departure, although by yesterday's mail from Los Angeles I received a letter from San Francisco of the 18th inst.
Don't send me any more of those fancy colored soap boxes. The other kind I am out of. I have salt a plenty. This evening I have on hand 65 sacks of flour. I think there is not much in town, and the probability is that I will be out of it before the next steamer. They all come down to $2.12 and the consequence was I sold none until I dropped off a ... which the Jews would not do, and the result has been more lively sales, but a small profit. I have on hand about 10 CWT of sugar. I sold none of consequence, for a long time, as I held it at $3 an arroba and they all came down to that. Within two or three days I have been offering it at $2.87 and I may sell at this for I don't believe they can stand it to come down this low. Don't send me any more whiskey. I have sold none for a long time. A few more schnapps might be sent and some hard bread. The crushed sugar I have sold none of - you might also send a few of these small boxes of tobacco. I have now on hand over $200 which I would send you, but Ames says he sends no money by the Express bag of tomorrow. Meier threatens to go up on the next boat and bring his goods down in a schooner & dry me up entirely. We will see. I hear nothing about Doyle's coming down here to reside - on the contrary I think he will go to Los Angeles, as his line starts from there, but he could be down at the next District Court on the 13th of May, for he has a suit or two to look after. Our three month license will expire on the 28th of next month, which will make the six months. What should I do? I want to send you up all my "cash rec'd" and "cash paid out" and goods on hand and see if you can find out how much is made or lost. What do you say? As I yet have not had occasion to use the hay scales even once, but I think the hay will come in soon. I have not seen a single load in the street. I have some of the most beautiful white chickens you ever saw. I got the breed accidentally from Los Angeles County, and they hatch out white every lick, without a single colored feather. They are beauties. If you keep chickens, I would like to send you a pair when they grow a little larger.
What do you think of the troubles of the Country? Are they not horrible?
I have no news. All is quiet down here and I pray God it may remain so. I don't see Hinton in a dog's age, or Witherby either. At his mine they have been doing quite well lately. The last two wash ups averaged $52 per ton of Quartz rock. At this rate the Company will soon be out of debt.
My respects to Mrs. Whaley
A. S. Ensworth
P. S. As it is generally understood here, we are now to have a weekly mail to Los Angeles.
WHALEY HOUSE MUSEUM
2476 San Diego Avenue, San Diego 92110
HISTORY & RESTORATION