Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Ramona Epic #11: Rancho Gaujome (Part 1)

(GPS: N33 14.000 W117 15.225)

It is time to talk about Rancho Guajome which, like the other rancho I covered, is considered to be the basis of the one used in Helen Hunt Jackson's book. I decided to split this one up into two parts as well. I will cover some of the real history in this one, and in the next blog will cover some of the fictional basis for why it too is considered the home of Ramona.

Originally, the land belonged to the San Luis Rey Mission. The mission is less than a few miles away. During the secularization of the missions in the Mexican period of California history, the land was granted to two indians: Jose and Andres Manuel. They sold their land to Don Abel Sterns. Sterns married into the Bandini family.

Cave Johnson Couts, born in Tennessee, a graduate of West Point, served in the frontier until after the Mexican War. He arrived in California during the years of 1849-1851. He married Ysidora Bandini. As a wedding gift he was given the land from his brother-in-law Sterns. Couts is the one who started building the adobe rancho you will see.
What you see above is the front of the adobe. You do not enter the adobe on this side though. The parking and gift shop the public enters on is on the other side. Much like the other rancho I visited, you have to take a docent led tour. I should note that the little room you see above was added on much later by the son of Cave Couts. It is the sewing room. It is nice in that you can see all around from above.
Much like the other rancho I visited, Couts built a chapel which he dedicated to his mother in 1868. What you see to the right is the dug out well and the cistern, which you can barely see, is right next to the chapel. Below, I am looking into the chapel. It was rebuilt in 1924. In the video I will be showing, I have a picture that shows that it looks much different than it is now.
This is the carriage courtyard. It is really the first area you encounter on the tour. What you see in the background is the where the blacksmith room is. The tree is supposedly from a seed or a part of the famous tree at the San Luis Rey Mission. I have covered that tree before when I talked about that mission. I link the relevant San Luis Rey Mission blogs below.
This is more from the carriage courtyard looking back to where you enter the rancho on the tour. The entrance to the right is where you enter the main courtyard. You can see the chapel in the background.
One thing Cave Couts was able to do was hire 300 of the local Indians to help build the 22 room adobe rancho. One of the problems Couts had was he had a fiery temper. He was indicted twice for whipping two Indians. One did die. He ended up killing two Hispanics and was charged for murder twice. Oddly enough, one of these murders took place at another Ramona site I will be covering eventually.

Much like the other rancho I covered, livestock was very important early on, but the drought issue of the 1860's forced the rancho to turn to agricultural products. When Couts died in 1874, Ysidora took over ownership of the rancho. When she died her 4th son Cave Couts Jr. took over.

I think I will stop with the historical points for this one. I will continue more with Rancho Guajome next time. The video will be coming, and I will come back and edit some of the wording like I normally do once I have the next blog up.

Ramona Epic #11: Rancho Guajome (Youtube Version)

Ramona Epic #11: Rancho Guajome (Vimeo Version)

This links to the San Luis Rey Mission blogs where the famous tree is covered:

San Luis Rey Mission Blogs