OF REDLANDS, CALIFORNIA  - Founded 24 January 1895


MEETING # 1 5 8

24:00 P.M.

FEBRUARY 13, 1997

How Did the San Bernardino Museum Acquire Satellites?

by Gerald A. Smith Ed.D


Assembly Room, A. K. Smiley Public Library

Dr. Gerald A. Smith is a graduate of the University of Redlands, where he also received his M.A. degree. He took graduate work at the University of California at Los Angeles and at Harvard School of Business Administration, and earned his Ed.D. degree at the University of Southern California.Dr. Smith has maintained an interest in education, history, and archaeology throughout his career. During World War II, while serving as an officer in the United States Naval Reserve, he worked with the Micronesian people of the Marshall Islands and assisted in re-establishing their schools, stores, and self government. He assisted the late Dr. M.R. Harrington in field archaeology in Northern and Southern California. During the many years that he served as Superintendent of Schools in Bloomington and in Colton, California, Dr. Smith wrote numerous books and articles dealing with the history and pre-history of the Indians of Southern California and established files for the ever increasing records of archaeological sites discovered in Southern California.Dr. Smith's conviction that history is important and should be preserved and shared found expression in the San Bernardino County Museum, which he founded with the cooperative efforts of dedicated volunteers and guided to the impressive edifice dedicated on November 22, 1975. He served as first director of the County Museum until his retirement in 1983. The Hall of Anthropology at the Museum was named in his honor.Dr. Smith has received many awards during his career. In recognition of his service to American youth as an educator, he was presented with the American Education Medal by the Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. A school was named in his honor in recognition of his outstanding service to the children in the school district in which he served as Superintendent. A past president of the Conference of California Historical Societies, he was presented a Special Award for outstanding effort in preserving state and local history. In 1989 he was recognized by the American Rock Art Research Association as a pioneer in the study of the rock art of the American Indians.Far from retired, Jerry Smith continues his writing and his active participation in various research projects in Southern California. He also enjoys the time he spends with his four grown children, his ten grandchildren and his wife, Dr. Maxine Smith.
San Bernardino County Museum Satellites
While I was attending Redlands High School, the restoration of the Asistencia ruins on Barton Road was in progress. This site of melted adobe buildings adjacent to the historic Dr. Ben Barton house had been acquired by San Bernardino County in 1925. Many of the citizens of San Bernardino Valley and especially members of the San Bernardino County Historical Society urged the County Board of Supervisors to acquire and restore this most important historic landmark.
The Asistencia had first been established on the flat land west of its present location on Barton Road. Now a state Historical Plaque marks this location along Mission Road in the City of Loma Linda. San Gabriel Mission authorities established this facility in 1820 as an outreach effort to be in better contact with the Indians of the San Bernardino Mountains and the Desert, and to afford better protection for the Mission's live stock that grazed on the grasses of San Bernardino Valley. In a report documented in the writings of George W. Beattie, Father Sanchez of San Gabriel Mission said that this facility consisted of a house of adobe, and that there was one long building, and an enramada, or structure of boughs which served for a chapel. He also stated that there was a building with compartments for keeping grain, and that the walls of this structure were of adobe. Francisco Alvarado, son of the last mayordomo that represented Mission San Gabriel at this location, stated that his father moved into the adobe house in 1826.
By 1830, a builder named Manuel was brought from Mexico by the San Gabriel Mission authorities to began construction of new buildings for the Asistencia on what later became known as Barton Hill, the present location of the restored Asistencia. Manuel was never able to finish all of the planned construction. Mexico had won its independence from Spain, and the Mexican government had issued the Decree Secularization which took control of Mission properties from the priests and placed the control in the hands of civil authorities. Another reason the construction was not completed was that the local Indians revolted because they believed that the Mission authorities were taking too much of the grain produced in San Bernardino Valley back to San Gabriel. According to a military report to Governor Figueroa, the Indians stole the ornaments and sacred vessels from the chapel at the Asistencia as well as the grain in storage.
By 1842, the Antonio Maria Lugo family had been granted all the lands of Mission San Gabriel's San Bernardino Rancho extending from present San Bernardino City to Yucaipa and included the Asistencia buildings which were soon occupied by one of Lugo's sons. The Lugos paid the Mexican Government about $800. in cattle hides and tallow for this property. After the Mexican War, which resulted in the United States acquiring California, the Mormon Colonists came from Utah and purchased the San Bernardino Rancho property from the Lugo family for about $77,000. We really could think of Don Antonio Lugo as being the first of many who have gotten rich from selling San Bernardino real estate.Soon after the Mormons bought the Rancho property from Lugo in 1852, Bishop C. Tenney moved into the Asistencia and his wife established a school in one of the rooms. Ben Barton later lived in the Asistencia in 1866 and 1867 while he was building his brick home.About one hundred years after the Asistencia had been built the County acquired the property and restoration was begun with contributions from the San Bernardino County Historical Society members. During the 1930's, the County Board of Supervisors received federal funds from S.E.R.A. and W.P.A. programs to proceed with the restoration. The late Horace Hinkley, a young engineering student from Stanford University and a member of a Redlands pioneer family, was placed in charge of the construction.About this time I became acquainted with some of the people involved with the Asistencia Project. I remember thinking of them as being very old. With the passage of time I realize they were just young senior citizens like we are today. A few of you may remember some of these people, among them were O. J. Fisk and his wife Dellah, who was a daughter of the Yount family. In 1952, when I was elected President of the San Bernardino County Museum Association, Jim Fisk was elected first vice-president. (Jim and Dellah Fisk provided funds in their will which helped make possible the new San Bernardino County Museum.) Others, with whom I worked included Rob Peters, Helen Meserve, A. B. Drake and his wife Ruth Smiley Drake, Paul Moore, father of Bill and Frank Moore who published the Redlands Daily Facts newspaper for many years, Emma Jackson, and Jerome Cavanaugh, who was the District Attorney. Also included in the group were George W. and Helen P. Beattie, who later wrote the History of San Bernardino Valley, which was published as Heritage of the Valley. Helen Pruitt Beattie received her Master's degree from the University of Redlands at the same time I did. Two others with whom I worked were Wilson C. Manna, the noted collector of birds' eggs, and Ritner J. Sayles who in 1939 helped me establish the first San Bernardino County Museum in an empty classroom at a Bloomington School.I assisted Rob Peters and Ruth Smiley Drake in arranging historical displays in the cases at the restored Asistencia, which is our visible link with the Spanish Mission Period of California History.After I returned from active duty in the Naval Reserve during World War II, I was elected president of the San Bernardino County Historical Society. I was Superintendent of Schools for the Bloomington School District at that time, and I did persuade Herman Ruhnau, a local architect, to develop a plot plan for a Natural History Museum at the Asistencia location.The wish for development of this plan was never realized because funding could not be obtained. Pleas for dollars from the City of Redlands, the County Board of Supervisors, and from the citizens of the County went unanswered.In 1952, while I was still president of the San Bernardino County Historical Society, and George A. Klapp was one of the leaders of the Pioneer Society, we arranged a meeting for Tuesday, May 13th, in the County Agricultural Building in San Bernardino. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the possibility of creating some new organization that could make the dream of a fine County Museum a reality. All interested citizens were urged to attend. Representatives came from the Pioneer Society, Native Daughters, Native Sons, Art Associations, Historical Societies, San Bernardino Valley College, and various school districts and public libraries. George Klapp passed a hat around to obtain funds for current expenses and the sum of $9.93 was collected. O. J. Fisk, representing the Pioneer Society, and I representing the County Historical Society each pledged $50 from our organizations to help create the new organization which we called the San Bernardino County Museum Association. L. Burr Belden, who wrote the history items for the Sun Newspaper, made the motion to form the Association and the favorable vote was unanimous. The Chairman Pro-Tem of this meeting, by vote, was instructed to appoint a nominating committee with the responsibility to meet immediately and report on nominations for a president, seven vice-presidents, and a Secretary/Treasurer. Helen Luce, the County Librarian, read the committee's nominations and the following were elected:
  • President: Gerald A. Smith, Representing the San Bernardino County Historical Society
  • First V.P.: O.J. Fisk, Representing the Pioneer Society
  • 2nd V.P.: Mrs. Mildred Myer, Representing Native Daughters
  • 3rd V.P.: Mrs. Dorothy Bright, " Art Associations
  • 4th V.P.: Paul Allen, " S.B.Valley College
  • 5th V.P.: Elmer Hoien, " Native Sons
  • 6th V.P. George Klapp, " Pioneer Society
  • 7th V.P.: L. Burr Belden, " California Conference of Historical Societies
The president was instructed to appoint a committee to draft a Constitution and set of By-laws for the organization. The committee appointed consisted of Judge Archie D. Mitchell, of Ontario as chairman, George Klapp, Lloyd Martin, Walter Schuiling, and Judge Martin Coughlin. The committee did its work well and the Constitution and By-laws developed were adopted. and served the Museum Association for more than thirty years. Soon after the San Bernardino County Museum Association was established, we learned that the Sepulveda Adobe located in Dunlap Acres, was going to be demolished. This adobe is the oldest residential building in San Bernardino County. The Association believed it should be saved as one of the State's Historical Landmarks. Diego Sepulveda, a nephew of Don Antonio Lugo, had built the adobe in the 1840's. James Waters and John Brown, both Mountain men and non-Mormons, who were active in helping establish San Bernardino as a county in 1853, lived in the adobe after the Mormon colonists bought Rancho San Bernardino from the Lugo family. I believe James Waters sold the property to the Dunlap family. The San Bernardino County Museum Association purchased the neglected Sepulveda Adobe from a descendent of the Dunlap family. The Yucaipa Women’s Club helped the Association raise funds for this project. With the help of school children, Boy Scouts, Association members and even S. Wesley Break, a member of the County Board of Supervisors, who brought his bulldozer from his ranch in Bryn Mawr to help with the clean up, the Sepulveda Adobe site was improved. The Association saved the Adobe and deeded it to San Bernardino County. Now the County had a visible link with the Spanish Mission Period of California History, the Asistencia, and also a visible link with the Romantic Mexican Rancho Period, but the County still had no outstanding County Museum of Natural History. I was Superintendent of the Bloomington School District at this time. Our enrollment was increasing rapidly, and most classes were on double session. There were no church buildings or even commercial buildings that we could rent for school purposes. Portable classrooms like the ones used today had not been invented, and we were desperate for classroom space. A group of fathers of some of students had been meeting with me on a regular basis to try and help solve our space problem and also to assist with other aspects of the educational program. At one of these meetings, I suggested that we organize the group as the Bloomington Dads' Club, with non-profit corporation status, for the purpose of creating classroom and other space needed for our children's education. This we did, and written into the Institution and By-laws of the Bloomington Dads' Club was the provision that upon dissolution of the organization, all assets would accrue to the San Bernardino County Museum Association, which was also another non-profit organization. We still had no money! Some of us became beggars. We approached our friends, and even those who were not, and asked for donations. We collected $1000. and purchased a lot across the street from one our Bloomington Schools. We also located an old building that we purchased for $40. and moved this building to our vacant lot. All the Dads brought their saws and hammers and with donated materials, we made this building usable for school purposes and rented it to the school district. We also learned that an adjoining school district was going to sell, by auction, four or five old bungalows they had been using as classrooms. I took the president of our school board, Mr. P. D. Cloud, with me to the auction. He was a builder with a few dollars, and I had an idea. With his dollars we bought two of the classrooms for $150. each. These were given to the Dads' Club and moved onto their property. The Dads' Club still had no money so it seemed appropriate for us to visit our local banker. Because the Bloomington Dads' Club was an organization with property, remember the lot and the $40 building, our friendly banker loaned the Club $4000., and I borrowed my mother's life savings of $1500. With this money, donated materials, and volunteer help we made the buildings into suitable classrooms and rented them to the Bloomington School District. The program was most successful. Then we learned that the adjoining property, which had a house on it, was for sale. We went back to our banker and borrowed $8000., and bought the property. We converted the house into kindergarten classrooms and rented them to the school district. Again the project was a great success, but the school district needed much more space. I contacted an architect friend, Hal Gogerty, and asked him to design and plan a building that would connect the two separate classroom buildings with the new construction of his plan. Of course, the Bloomington Dads' Club did not have the money to approve the proposed new construction, so we again had to visit our friendly banker. This time, we had to borrow $16,000 from the bank and members of the Board of Directors of the Dads' Club became somewhat apprehensive. They realized that each one would be financially responsible if we could not pay the bank. I tried to cheer them up by telling them how successful they were. First, we could only borrow $4000. Now we could borrow $16,000 and this must surely indicate great success! Partially satisfied, we even borrowed $32,000., and proceeded to expand the Dads' Club facilities. We also continued to solicit donations, sell cookbooks, and even added a "Buck a Brick" program to raise funds. The voters of the school district passed a school bond election, and the State of California passed a bond election which made funds available for the district to build several new schools. With the new schools, the Dads' Club facilities were no longer required by the school district, and through cooperative action of the Board of Directors of the Dads' Club, the Board of Education of the School District, and the Board of Directors of the San Bernardino County Museum Association, space became available for the San Bernardino County Museum. With volunteer help from many people working together in peace and harmony toward a common goal, the San Bernardino County Museum in Bloomington was dedicated July 14, 1957. The Master of Ceremonies was Dr. John L. Lounsbury, President of San Bernardino Valley College. The Dedication Ceremonies were conducted by the Native Sons of the Golden West. S. Wesley Break, Chairman of the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors, was introduced and extended greetings, and State Senator, the Honorable James E. Cunningham, Sr. gave the Dedication Address. Hundreds of people donated items to make the Museum possible. Teachers from the Bloomington School District volunteered time and talent to create educational displays and exhibits. Thousands of people visited the Museum in Bloomington. The Bloomington Women’s Club members served as hostesses and Intermediate Grade students from the Bloomington Schools served as guides for the thousands of elementary school children who came in school busses from San Bernardino, Riverside, and Los Angeles Counties to view the exhibits and learn about the prehistory and history of this area of Southern California. The San Bernardino County Museum Association was in need of help. The public demand for services had grown beyond the ability of the Association Volunteers alone to carry the full responsibility. We approached the County for financial help. On June 16, 1959, the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors, by unanimous action, adopted the following ordinance declaring its intention to establish and maintain a museum: Section 1. Pursuant to the authority vested in counties by Division 5, Chapter 2, Article 2, of the Public Resources Code of California, the Board of Supervisors hereby declares its intention to establish and maintain a museum of history, science, art, and similar objects devoted to the acquisition, exhibition, preservation, and utilization of historical, scientific, and similar material. This ordinance did not obligate the Board to immediate action, but indicated that the Board of Supervisors was conscious of the need and desirability of maintaining a museum at some further date. On January 9, 1961, the Board of Supervisors by resolution created the office of Museum Director for the County of San Bernardino. I was named Director and my salary was determined to be the sum of $1.00 a year. After conference with County Counsel it was learned that the County did not have to pay the salary, so I lost my annual salary of $1.00 per year before I ever received it!
From its beginning in 1952, with one hundred and nine dollars and ninety three cents, the San Bernardino County Museum Association had as its primary goal, the creation of a San Bernardino County Museum. This was not its only purpose. The by-laws stated that the object of the San Bernardino County Museum Association "shall be to foster research and education and to create and maintain collections of art, archaeology, ethnology, history, and science, to preserve the relics and records of pioneer days, and to further a better understanding of science and the arts." The San Bernardino County Museum Association was organized and operated exclusively for educational purposes, and at the dissolution of the Association' all assets were to be given or inure to the County of San Bernardino. For a few years, I had been meeting with descendants of the New Mexican Pioneers who in 1843, had settled the Agua Mansa area along the banks of the Santa Ana River between Colton and Riverside. This group remained separate, but had representatives at the meetings of the Board of Directors of the San Bernardino County Museum Association. The New Mexican Pioneers in the 1840's had established a little church and a cemetery on the high ground above the church. The San Salvador Church had been moved to Colton after the devastating floods of 1862, which destroyed the Agua Mansa area. After more than one hundred years, the old adobe church building which had been deserted for many years, had completely melted into a mound of adobe. Some members of the pioneer families and even some later immigrants from Mexico continued to bury their dead at the old cemetery. Pioneer family descendants did this because family members were buried there. Some thought the later Mexican families were burying their dead there because they could do so without any cost.
The cemetery was neglected, overgrown with a great growth of Russian thistles which, when dry, would catch on fire burning the wooden crosses marking the graves. Rains would come, washing out the bones of the pioneers. Vandalizing of the graves was occurring and grave stones were being stolen. We formed the Friends of Agua Mansa Society, raised funds to make some repairs, did some fencing, and constructed a bridge across the irrigation ditch that separated the Agua Mansa Road from the entrance to the cemetery. The members of the pioneer families wanted the Mexicans to stop digging any more graves and bury their dead elsewhere. They wanted the oldest cemetery in San Bernardino County to be preserved as an Historical Landmark because it could not be maintained as an active cemetery. On September 16, 1968, at the request of many citizens, the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors accepted ownership of the property, with responsibility for protecting and preserving this important visible link with the New Mexican Pioneers who contributed so very much, not only to this County, but to the State of California. Louis B. Mousley, a retired apple grower from the state of New York, made money from developing real estate in Yucaipa. He had been a collector and was especially well informed in the field of conchology. He was Wagon Master for many trips taken by members of a trailer group, and added to his collection of sea shells from many locations in the world. With the help of his wife, Louis Mousley built the Mousley Museum of Natural History on his property adjacent to his home in Yucaipa. His home and Museum overlooked a canyon he also owned. He designated this area The Mockingbird Canyon Wildlife Sanctuary. As he grew older and became ill, he gave the Museum and The Mockingbird Wildlife Sanctuary to the County of San Bernardino. On May 1, 1970, this facility became the fifth satellite of the San Bernardino County Museum, which now was a County Department. Mr. Mousley continued to be Curator of his Museum and received a County salary until his death. I was happy to contribute to this Museum a vast collection of sea shells which I had obtained during World War II while serving in the Naval Reserve as Disbursing Officer and Agent Cashier for Military Government in the Marshall Islands. The collection included a rare Golden Cowrie which Mr. Mousley did not have in the Museum. The John Rains House in Rancho Cucamonga was obtained by working with the owner, S. V. Hunsaker. He was a developer of land and owned the brick house built in 1860-61 by John Rains for his wife Dona Maria Merced Williams. Merced was the granddaughter of Antonio Maria Lugo, who was connected with the Asistencia and the San Bernardino Rancho. Hunsaker wanted to destroy the house to make way for his proposed development of a large housing tract. We met with him and persuaded him to sell the house and a small area of land surrounding the house at a small price so it could be preserved. The San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors purchased the property on November 29, 1971, for about $10,000. We organized an outstanding support group for this facility which has been most successful in raising funds for restoration, and has given dedicated service in keeping the facility open for the public. The San Bernardino County Museum Association published Esther Boulton Black's book, Rancho Cucamonga and Dona Merced, which is one of the most outstanding documented local histories ever written. The John Rains House is a visible link with the early history of San Bernardino County. Some believe that Robert Carlisle, who married Merced's sister, and later became a member of the San Bernardino Board of Supervisors may have been the one who murdered John Rains. Like O. J. Simpson today who vowed to find the killer of his wife, Robert Carlisle vowed to find the person or persons who killed his brother-in-law, but he never did. The seventh satellite of the San Bernardino County Museum was the Yorba-Slaughter Adobe in Chino. This was acquired on September 13, 1971, from the owner who originally was going to donate the property to the Museum. For many years T had visited with the owner and shared her regard for this facility and the people who had lived there during its one hundred plus years of existence. Built by Raimundo Yorba in 1851, the adobe was not only home to him and his family, but later to Fenton M. Slaughter, a veteran of the Mexican War who married Maria Dolores Alvarado, a daughter of the last mayordomo of the San Gabriel Mission San Bernardino Rancho which included the Asistencia on Barton Road in Redlands.
The attached page, written December 12, 1984, after I retired not only from the County Museum, but also from the San Bernardino County Museum Association, documents some more of the satellites and accomplishments made by wonderful people working together in peace and harmony toward common objectives. The Museum Association, as a separate non-profit organization could do some things the Museum as a part of County Government could not do. The County Museum as a County Department could do some things that the Association alone could not do. It was my belief that the two entities worked well together for many years and accomplished many good things for the people of San Bernardino County. As a separate independent group, the Association could better keep the focus of the Museum on its true purpose for existence which is that of providing education for all. regardless of race, creed, ethnic background, economic status, or physical or mental abilities. Museums, libraries, and public schools should be free of admission charges and supported by an appropriate percentage of the tax dollars the citizens pay, combined with contributions. Our Nation was created with the belief that its survival depended on educated citizens bound together with a common language and dedicated to a strong belief in democracy. Public schools, public libraries, and public museums touch all people in a positive way and help keep our Nation the greatest democracy in the world.

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