Category Archives: Migration

Just a Reminder…

Picture 3Immigration requires a certain daring and initiative.

From where I sit, these are virtues.

Imagine our nation awash with the virtuous.

And then there’s this:

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

So let’s all relax a little.

With compliments – and happy Thanksgiving (from the descendent of an immigrant).

Keith

The Americanist Independent

Old (Really Old) Town Pasadena

Picture 6Things have changed a lot in Pasadena since the city’s early years. I’m not sure you can still get lumber on Colorado Blvd. But you could in 1880. My guess is that lumber and other building supplies were in high demand during this era. The 1880s saw a Southern California boom cycle and cities like Pasadena were growing exponentially. Picture 7

One thing is for sure – Colorado Blvd quickly gained a reputation for bad traffic. Did the powers that be ever get a handle on that? Well…I’ve seen worse. Here’s the same general area today – known as “Old Town Pasadena.” I think I can even see a parking space.

With compliments,

Keith

Citrus is a Good Place to Start

IMG_0117Those of you who were Cosmic America readers may remember a while back when I stumbled across a Union Civil War veteran’s grave in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. Unsure of exactly who this person was, I turned to my readership to discover  – with the help of a few people much better at these things than I – that said veteran, one F.A. Whitehead, had served in two branches of the armed forces, had a run-in with the government over desertion (he name was eventually cleared) and wound up as a citrus farmer in Florida and ultimately…Southern California.

As we all know citrus farming was a primary motivating factor for a number of the Civil War era generation when it came to pursuing their livelihood in the West. Of those who moved to the region to proceed with this lucrative vocation, almost all were well-to-do middle class or higher types, and most were middle aged or older.

It took money, patience, and experience to succeed in the citrus business – something perhaps not best suited for a younger, perhaps insolvent individual.

I revisited Hollywood Forever Cemetery today to pay my respects to Whitehead and look for other Union veterans. I found plenty. So again…I turn to my readers. Any information on these fine fellows would be greatly appreciated. I wonder if they were in the citrus business too.

With compliments,

Keith

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A Difference Consumption Made

microscope-cellsWell aren’t these handsome little critters? The problem of course, is if you should happen across them, you might just find your self with a case of pulmonary tuberculosis. Our friends in the nineteenth century called it consumption. And it was a killer. By some estimates, in the mid-nineteenth century, consumption accounted for as many as one in seven deaths in certain regions (such as New England) of the United States.

By the 1870s, medical researchers had determined (after a number of years of isolating reports geographically) that climate could greatly help – even cure – those with early stages of consumption. In addition to vigorous activity and proper nutrition, warmth, sunshine, and aridity were believed to reverse the course of the disease.

And consumptives came to Southern California by the trainload. The disease – or rather, the hope of a cure – was thus one of the many motivating factors that brought the Civil War generation to the West in the 1870s and 80s. What is more important is that many, reclaiming their health,  stayed and would help build the region politically, economically, and culturally. Individuals such as James M. Guinn and Thaddeus S. C. Lowe come immediately to mind.

We have the Southern California boosters to thank. During the period the contributed to a real boomtime mania; as one historian suggests – promoting faith in the omnipotence of a healthful climate. Local analysts observed the growth of the “invalid” newcomer community and exactly what they brought to the table.

[quote]Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, San Diego counties have been practically developed and made what they are by the Eastern people who came out here for their health. They may be a ‘one-lunged crowd,’ as the facetious Missourians and old-timers dub them, but they have shown an amount of business and enterprise which puts the Californian to shame.[/quote]

And so it turns out that a pretty nasty disease became something of a developmental factor when it comes to the culture of Southern California, and as we will likely see in upcoming posts, sufferers having found their cure who stayed on to make a life in the West contributed handily to the identity of the region.

With compliments,
Keith

For an informative and well-written book on consumptives in Southern California by John E. Baur, with a new introduction by Robert G. Frank, Jr., see: The Health Seekers of Southern California 1870-1900.