Dorothy Sloan -- Books

AUCTION 18

Texas, California, the Southwest U.S., Mexico & the Borderlands:
Interesting books, broadsides, maps & ephemera

Lot 43

First modern depiction of the area that became San Fernando and important areas of modern-day Los Angeles

43. [MAP]. DAY, Sherman. Plat of the Ex-Mission De San Fernando finally confirmed to Eulogi[sic] de Celis Compiled in the Office of the U. S. Surveyor General from the examined and approved field notes of official Surveys on record therein. May 26 1869. containing 116.85846 acres. Manuscript survey map on sized cartographical cloth. 41.8 x 54.5 cm (16-3/8 x 21-1/2 inches). Original ink drawing and lettering in black, red, and gold. With certification at lower right signed by Day as U. S. Surveyor General of California, confirming that the survey is in conformity with a federal court orders of August 14, 1865, and July 8, 1868. Also with approval of January 8, 1875, signed by Willis Drummond, Land Office Commissioner. Two insets at upper left: [1] “Table A” showing gross number of acres comprising the tract; and [2] three tables consisting of “Exterior Boundaries of the Ex Mission San Fernando,” “Co. boundaries with the 8 Tracts of the Mission San Fernando,” and “Connecting lines of the 8 Tracts.” Mounted on foam board, creased where formerly folded, occasional light darkening (mostly confined to edges), otherwise very fine and handsome.
     Detailed professional survey map made as part of the U. S. patent approval process documenting this as the largest private holding in California at the time and confirming it to Eulogio de Celis in 1873. The area comprised 13 square leagues and is the basis of present-day San Fernando, California, and parts of Los Angeles. The Mexican government, desperate for cash to fight the U.S. invasion of its country, had sold the property to de Celis in 1846 for $14,000.00. De Celis’ heirs, however, did not enjoy the property for long. Isaac Lankershim and Isaac Newton Van Nuys, principals in the San Fernando Farm Association, forced them to sell them the lower portion of the valley, which they developed as a wheat ranch. Apparently chastened by that encounter, the heirs were all too happy to sell the northern part of their property to George K. Porter and Charles Maclay, who made plans to develop the area in a somewhat orderly fashion. Maclay, in his 1874 subdivision filings in Los Angeles, gave the town its present name. Thus, this map dates from the very days of the founding of modern-day San Fernando.

     There are three important exceptions shown on the map. The original mission, outlined here and still standing in downtown San Fernando, was founded September 8, 1797, as the fourth mission created by Father Lasuén in a period of four months. He named it San Fernando Rey de España. The church property itself was reserved when the land was sold to de Celis, and President Lincoln, in an order of May 31, 1862, confirmed the church buildings and the immediate property to the Catholic Church. Also confirmed as part of the same series of proceedings in 1850 were the Rancho el Encino and El Escorpion, both of which are shown here as distinct from the rest of the property

     The area shown here was first sighted by Gaspar de Portolá’s 1769 expedition to the area. Father Juan Crespí left a charming description of the valley, which impressed him immensely. The area was first traversed by Juan Bautista de Anza in 1774 and again by him in 1776. When the area passed from the control of the Catholic Church to the Mexican government as part of the secularization program in 1822, the mission owned 7000 cattle, 6500 sheep, 49 goats, 50 pigs, 1320 horses, and 80 mules. As secularization advanced, however, the Native Americans drifted away and the mission declined. Eventually, the valley came to comprise all or parts of the communities of San Fernando, Van Nuys, Hollywood, Universal City, and Sylmar, all except the first now part of Los Angeles itself.

     Day (1806-1884) was the scion of a prominent Connecticut family. His father was a signer of the Declaration of Independence and President of Yale College. After graduating from Yale, Day embarked on the first of his careers, this time as a merchant. He travelled to France on business and after returning to the U.S. established himself as a merchant in Philadelphia and later in the Midwest. At these business ventures, however, he was basically unsuccessful. His second career, and that for which he is best remembered on the East Coast, is as the author of Historical Collections of the State of Pennsylvania (1848), to which he was inspired by his friend John Warner Barber. In the execution of this book, he made numerous exquisite sketches that preserved a fast disappearing landscape. Not finding the East Coast climate agreeable to his health, in 1849 he set out for California by the Panama route. In the Golden State he prospered tremendously as a mining and civil engineer and California state senator. He helped lay the path for the first practical wagon route across the Sierras. Appointed surveyor general, he was instrumental in many of the surveys so necessary to establishing land claims and solving land controversies. It was in this vital role that he created this important map of the old mission of San Fernando.

     Eulogio de Celis, a native Spaniard, returned with his family in 1853 to Spain, where he died in 1868.

     References: Robinson, W. W. Southern California Local History: A Gathering of the Writings of W. W. Robinson. Ed. Doyce B. Nunis, Jr. Los Angeles: Zamorano Club, 1994; Smith, Murphy D. Sherman Day: Artist, Forty-Niner, Engineer. William: Michael Glazier, 1980; Weber, Francis J. Documents of California Catholic History (1784-1963). Los Angeles: Dawson’s Book Shop, 1965.

($4,000-8,000)

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