March 22, 1934 — Historic American Buildings Survey of Rancho Camulos (as "Casa Del Rancho Camulos"), State Highway 12 (5164 East
Telegraph road), Piru, Ventura County, CA.
Photographs (17) by Norris M. Knaus on March 22, 1934.
Individual photo captions are presented as shown in the survey. Note that the black walnut tree is said to have a 125-foot spread. Click the icon at upper right ("Open image in new window") for a higher-resolution version of each photo.
See the diagrams from this survey, showing building and room measurements and uses, here.
Unfortunately the short written report that accompanies this survey is frought with problems. It demonstrates how pervasive the myths and legends surrounding Francisco Lopez's
1842 gold discovery and Helen Hunt Jackson's 1884 "Ramona" novel had become by the 1930s — even worming their way into the federal record.
Francisco Lopez was not mayordomo at Mission San Fernando (although his brother was); he found placer gold (flakes), not nuggets; and whether
his was the first "California" gold to be turned into coinage at Philadelphia is supposition. A sample was sent to the United States Mint for assaying, but most
of it probably stayed right here in Mexico.
Ysabel Del Valle should not be conflated with
the matron in Jackson's novel. Jackson loosely based her work on Rancho Camulos and other places in Southern California, but her knowledge of
Camulos stemmed more from her conversations with Antonio and Mariana Colonel in Los Angeles than from her own 1882 visit to the rancho, which lasted just
two hours — and Señora Del Valle was not at home. We don't know whether the two actually ever met.
Antonio del Valle died June 21, 1841. The main adobe at Rancho Camulos is generally believed to have been erected in 1853.
The text for HABS CA-38 reads as follows:
La Casa Del Rancho Camulos
HABS No. CAL-38
HABS No. CAL 56-Piru.V.1
WRITTEN HISTORICAL AND DESCRIPTIVE DATA
Historic American Buildings Survey
Henry F. Withey, District Officer
906 Architects Building
Los Angeles, Calif.
A part of the original Rancho San Francisco, which took in the present towns of Castaic, Newhall, Saugus and Piru. The part on which the house is situated near Piru was retained and called Rancho Camulos. The grand was made in 1839 to Lt. Antonio Del Valle, grandfather of the last Del Valle owner, and this was used as his residence until his death in 1841 or 1842.*
About this time gold was discovered on the rancho by one Francisco Lopez, majordomo of San Fernando Mission, while digging wild onions. The nuggets were found hanging in the roots. The first California gold coined at the Philadelphia mint came from these mines.
Ignacio Del Valle inherited Rancho Camulos at the death of his father, and lived there until his own death in 1880. His wife, Senora Ysabel Del Valle, was in active charge of the estate at the time of Mrs. Helen Hunt Jackson's visit there in 1882 and became the original "Senora Morena" of the novel "Ramona." Mrs. Jackson was so impressed with the typical atmosphere of the rancho of early Spanish and Mexican California that she used it in her novel as "Ramona's Home."**
Mrs. Jackson has faithfully described the family chapel, the bells, the old brick winery, the spring and washing-place, the grape arbor, the olive mill, and other interesting features which remain.
It is now owned and maintained as a dwelling by Mr. August Rubel.
* Mr. Rubel, the owner, gives the date of erection as 1841 for the older portion, the balance having been added in 1846.
** Rexford Newcomb "Old Mission Churches and Historic Houses of California" 1925, p. 344-352.
/s/ Henry F. Withey
Reviewed 1936, H.C.F.