Pomona Valley Poetry describes in poem form the history of the historic Rancho San Jose set in present-day Pomona Valley amid the foothills along the southern slopes of the San Gabriel Mountains—the San Gabriel Valley which runs from Pasadena east to San Dimas, and the Inland Valley from San Dimas east to San Bernardino.
The book describes Southern California’s evolution through several waves of civilization—first occupied by Paleo-Indians, then claimed by Spanish explorers, Christianized by Franciscan Fathers, settled by Mexican rancheros, and finally overrun by American gold seekers.
Pomona Valley Poetry provides historical introductions and establishes the context for each of the poems. The poetry focuses on the historic Rancho San Jose that included today’s California communities of Azusa, Claremont, Covina, Glendora, La Verne, Pomona, San Dimas, and Walnut. This book concludes with the Teague family’s first permanent settlement in the area in 1878.
The book covers five eras: Discovery, Mission, Rancho, Statehood, and Valley.
Discovery Era from 1542 to 1768
From the European perspective, western North American was largely unknown and inaccessible. When the Russians began to move in from the north and the English from the east, Spain decided that the time had come to establish sea and lands routes, and to get serious about claiming the territory. The Discovery Era was the beginning of the end of Native societies.
Commandment Eight says thou shalt not steal,
But the queen was willing to make a deal.
For a one-half share, she would regally declare
Me a privateer behind her nom de guerre.
Mission Era from 1769 to 1834
With fervent missionary zeal and the backing of the Spanish army, Spain aimed to colonize, civilize, and Christianize the Indian population and to create a self-sustaining economy. The Mission Era’s architectural legacy—the iconic mission structures—have become enduring elements of California’s self-image.
The Indians have joined a culture that lasts.
As Hispanic Christians, they’re no longer outcasts.
We prepared them for life in a more civilized community,
And even more important, saved their souls for eternity.
Rancho Era from 1835 to 1863
The newly-independent Mexican government went through a chaotic and cash-starved couple of decades while they worked to established economic stability and governmental process. They seized the missions to avoid paying debts the government owed to the Church and sold or gave them to responsible and loyal Californios. The Rancho Era brought privately-owned cattle ranches that enabled wealthy owners to build homes, entertain grandly, and enjoy beautiful and bucolic surroundings.
Who could have foretold that streets paved with gold
Would have less of a hold than a simple dirt road.
I said, please, no offense, but forget opulence.
Give me the beauty and bounty of Los Angeles County.
Statehood Era from 1846 to 1862
With the flood of American immigrants, the discovery of gold, and victory in the Mexican-American War, California became an American state. The Treaty of Cahuenga guaranteed the property rights of Mexican landowners, but homestead laws, railroad land grants, and spurious surveys enabled American immigrants to encroach. The Statehood Era opened the door for courts, schools, governments, and a booming population.
The race has begun. I won’t be outrun.
Whoever arrives first will be number one.
I’m on my way south. Kearney’s heading north.
The winner will be governor now and henceforth.
Valley Era from 1862 to 1878
After a devastating drought followed by the great flood of 1862, many Californio ranchers lost their crops, livestock, and finances. Lenders foreclosed on ranchos, farmers experimented to find crops that would thrive, and immigrants poured in and built towns and infrastructure. The Valley Era saw the first settlers move into San Dimas and lay the groundwork for the community that exists today.
We made a cross-country migration to this valley location,
Which we decided would be our final destination.
We plowed into the unknown, found a frost-free zone,
And have made Mud Springs our permanent home.
—2011 Fred Olds Cowboy Poetry Award Winner—
Book Size: 154 pages
Category/Subject: POETRY / General