by Paul R. Spitzzeri
The so-called “Pastoral Era” of greater Los Angeles, during which the raising of cattle constituted the economic backbone of the region from the late 18th century is generally considered to have come to an end following the major flooding of the winter of 1861-1862 followed by the devastating drought of 1863-1864. With herds decimated by the dual disaster, the trend afterward was towards agriculture with such principal crops as wheat, grapes, walnuts and, especially, oranges becoming dominant.
The raising of livestock, however, continued, albeit on a much reduced level. William Workman, for example, still had, on his half of Rancho La Puente, thousands of head of cattle into the 1870s, though he sold off most of his herds before his death in 1876. The major change in this area of animal husbandry, however, was the dramatic increase in sheep raising, but an aspect that was as yet undeveloped by the end of the 1860s was the raising of goats.
An early instance of this is found with the highlighted object, recently donated by the Josette Temple Estate, from the Homestead’s collection for this post, being a 4 February 1869 memorandum of agreement between F.P.F. Temple and Andrew Kittilson. The Los Angeles County Assessor’s statistics for the 1868, while noting there were just above 18,000 cattle and some 209,000 sheep, recorded only 2 Cashmere or Angora goats (in Monterey County, though, there were more than 1,600 in 1870).
The document, written by Temple stipulated that he
agrees to deliver as many as two hundred goats between this date and the fourth day of May . . . seventy of that amount has been delivered and are now in [the] possession of the said Kittilson—should the said Temple have the opportunity of buying more and saw proper to do so he can increase the number to five hundred or more
Beyond this, Temple also was to provide one of two Cashmere (derived from Kashmir in the Indian subcontinent) goats “on his own account to run with the flock this season.” These goats, of course, are prized for their soft, downy undercoats. It was further noted that Temple was to “furnish range for the above stock and increase.” While he owned about 1,180 acres of the Rancho La Merced, situated in the Whittier Narrows where Temple had both farm and range land, it was not stated where the goats were to be pastured.
We do know, however, that a portion of Workman’s share of La Puente had a section, directly west of the Homestead in what is now the Avocado Heights unincorporated community, designated specifically as an equestrian district, identified on the 1867-1868 map of partition Workman created with John Rowland as “Temple’s sheep rancho.” It seems likely that this is where the goats were to be kept.
Over the three-year term of the contract, Kittilson “agrees to take charge of the above described stock at his own expense” and, in February 1872, was “to receive one half of the increase” in animals “after deducting the amounts delivered him from time to time.” Additionally, he was, after the first season, “to pay one half of the expense of furnishing cashmere goats to put with the flock” while no division of the animals was to be completed until the three years were up.
As for taxes, this was also split between the two men with Kittilson agreeing that if was to “desire to sell his interest in the above stock,” Temple was to be given “preferrance [sic] to any other party” with respect to that half-ownership. If the latter, however, chose to divest himself of his interest “Kittilson has the first chance in purchasing” that half and becoming the flock’s full owner.
At the expiration of the term and when the division of the goats was undertaken, “Temple is to receive back the old stock or as much of it as exists on account of the amounts delivered” to his partner “from time to time to breed from.” With respect to the cashmere goats Temple added to the flock at his own expense, he retained the option to keep them in it for up to the life of the agreement. Finally, any animals provided by Temple to Kittilson “are to bear the ear mark,” these being registered with the county, “of the said Temple as far as practicable.”
On the outside of the contract was a notation by Temple that some alterations were made and, being signed by the two men, the agreement was on file “at the bank of H. T. & Co.,” this being Hellman, Temple and Company, the second bank opened in Los Angeles, following Hayward and Company, when it opened its doors in August 1868, just several months before the document was created.
While there aren’t any known details or information about this partnership and how it fared, Kittilson, who was born in Norway in April 1835, migrated to the United States at 20 years of age, and became an American citizen in San Francisco in 1868, was enumerated in the 1870 census as a herder and was the next household to that of William Turner, who operated the Workman Mill, just west of Temple’s sheep ranch. In August 1871, he was registered to vote and his residence given as Old Mission, where the Temple family resided, while his vocation was listed as laborer.
Given that the contract expired the following February and was not renewed, it makes sense that Kittilson moved on to other ventures. In August 1872, he married E. Janette Gridley of Anaheim and, after her death, married Myra Morrell at Los Nietos, the township south of Old Mission. When Temple’s Centinela subdivision was launched in early 1875, Kittilson was the purchaser of a 40-acre lot there. The Kittilson’s only child, Norma, was born at Downey City (now just Downey), the following year. When the 1880 census was conducted, the family resided on Eleventh Street in Los Angeles, where Kittilson was engaged in farming.
Two years later, finding that there were opportunities to homestead government-owned land in northwestern San Diego County, Kittilson set out for Paloma Valley, where, in 1882, he secured a grant of 160 acres. After building a house and preparing his property for farming, he had his wife and daughter join him and they were one of the first three families to settle in what is today the city of Menifee (part of Riverside County, which was established in 1893.) Another 160 acres was added to their holdings under a Timber Culture Claim, through which cottonwood trees were planted and some of these still stand.
In 1887, the first area post office was established at the Kittilson house with Myra as the postmaster and it was called “Anon,” which, rather than referring to the archaic meaning of “soon” or “shortly,” was derived from the first two letters of “Andrew” and the last two of “Kittilson.” A few years later, however, Andrew and Myra were divorced on the grounds that he abandoned her and their daughter in 1888. Yet, in the 1900 census, the couple resided next to each other on the Kittilson homestead, with Andrew engaged in farming and their newly married daughter also on the tract. A half-dozen years later, he died of pneumonia and his ex-wife and daughter continued to reside on it for decades. In 2017, the Menifee Valley Historical Society placed a marker in that area recognizing the Kittilsons as early Anglo settlers.
With respect to goat-raising, there was a gradual increase in this endeavor in greater Los Angeles, though it should be noted that the first person to raise them on a major scale in California was William M. Landrum of Watsonville in Monterey County, who imported his first Angora goats in 1861. The Los Angeles Star of 25 April 1871 reported that “a flock of over 200 Angora goats will be sheared in this county next fall” and it added that “indications are that the rearing and shearing of this goat will prove profitable.” Presumably, at least some of these were owned by Temple and Kittilson.
The 20 October 1871 edition of the Los Angeles News reported that Stephen A. Rendall, a resident of Santa Rosa in the northern part of the state but previously a photographer in the Angel City, purchased a couple of thoroughbred Angoras at the state fair and was shipping them to Los Angeles “where that gentleman has a large flock of the same species. In its 17 December issue the paper ran an article on Angora goats, discussing the prices fetched for wool and noting that large herds were found in Monterey and Santa Cruz counties. It also observed,
There are quite a number of these animals in Los Angeles county, but we have been unable, at the present writing, to obtain any information regarding the experience of breeders. We trust that some one or more of those engaged in the business, will furnish us with the desired data, so that we may lay it before the public. If the qualities ascribed are possessed by these animals, and our climate should prove congenial, their production might become a valuable accession to our list of home industries.
In February 1872, less than two weeks after the Temple-Kittilson agreement was to expire, Frank Bouchard of Los Nietos took out an advertisement to sell 700 Cashmere goats, including full and half-bred animals, from the flock at the “Tehungo,” or Tujunga, ranch. Perhaps Bouchard acquired the herd from Temple and Kittilson and drove them to Tujunga to prepare them for sale?
The Los Angeles Herald of 11 November 1873 recorded that there other Los Nietos farmers and ranchers who were invested in raising Cashmere goats, including Joseph Pleasants and his wife Mary Refugio Carpenter. She was the daughter of María de los Angeles Dominguez, of the prominent family which long owned Rancho San Pedro, and Kentucky native Lemuel Carpenter who came to Los Angeles in 1833 and opened a soap factory next to the San Gabriel River (Río Hondo). Her father, who purchased Rancho Santa Gertrudes but borrowed $5,000 in 1852 from John G. Downey and James P. McFarland and was unable to repay the loan, which ballooned to over $100,000 in seven years, committed suicide in 1859.
Joseph Pleasants, a native of Missouri who came as a ten-year old to Gold Rush California, was sent to Los Angeles in 1856 to attend a private school taught by Henry D. Barrows at the Wolfskill family house in Los Angeles. For several years until William Wolfskill’s death in 1866, Pleasants was foreman of Wolfskill’s Rancho Lomas de Santiago in what became Orange County and became owner of it. He and Refugio, who married in 1868, had a residence in Santiago Canyon, and, after she died twenty years later, Joseph sold the ranch to the famed actor Helena Modjeska, who used part of the Pleasants dwelling for her estate.
The Herald article noted that the Pleasants’ had “80 head of cross stock on their ranch, while “F. Buschard” had between 400 and 500. The other major owner of goats mentioned in the piece was Eduardo Poyorena (1825-1912), “whose ranch is situated at Los Nietos” where he “has about 500 common goats, and has some real valuable Cashmere bucks which he is breeding in with his milkers.”
Poyorena, also spelled Pollorena or Polloreno and whose wife was María Antonia Sánchez, who was from another prominent Californio family in greater Los Angeles, served as a county supervisor in the late 1860s as well as a judge of the plains, supervising livestock raising and settling disputes between ranchers. Poyorena also owned a large tract of land east of the Santa Ana River in what became Costa Mesa and the name “Paularino,” used for a street, park and elementary school in that city, is a corruption of his name.
Another early reference to Cashmere goats from this period is from an advertisement in the 16 May 1875 edition of the Los Angeles Star, in which it was stated that 200 animals were to be auctioned three days later by the well-known firm of Jones and Noyes from the D.G. Stephens corral, also known as the Temple Street Stables, which was on the north side of the street at New High Street, about where the former lumber yard and corral, once owned by Jonathan Temple, Phineas Banning and then John J. Tomlinson and John M. Griffith, where lynchings were commonly held. Today, the federal courthouse complex is on the site.
Although we don’t anything else about the Temple-Kittilson partnership on raising goats other than Temple’s copy of the 1869 agreement, it is an interesting document concerning the history of livestock raising and animal husbandry in the period when this aspect of the economy of greater Los Angeles was transitioning from cattle ranching to the raising of sheep and goats. We’ll look to offer more posts in the “Working the Land” series based on ranching and farming history in our region, so be sure to keep an eye out for those.