This is a typical boosterish story pertaining, ironically enough, to the selection of Lucretia del Valle's picture as the face of the "typical California girl" to be used in a marketing campaign for the Golden State. It's instructive if only to demonstrate how details were disregarded and the lines between fact and fiction were blurred by promoters who romanticized California's supposedly idyllic past and its bountiful scenery in order to attract tourists and expand the state's population from the 1880s onward into the 20th Century. At least the writer acknowledges that Jackson's characters are fictional; many writers did not do so, and many visitors came to California expecting to find the "real" people Jackson wrote about.
Lucretia was a daughter of state Sen. Reginalo del Valle and a granddaughter of Ygnacio del Valle, all of whom owned Rancho Camulos in his or her day.
Original caption: Miss Lucretia del Valle, whose picture is to circle the globe
as that of a typical California girl, so declared by her compatriots in southern
California. Her ancestral home and jewels have been described in Helen Hunt
Jackson's novel "Ramona." (Click to enlarge.)
Lucretia del Valle: A Daughter of the Dons.
Twenty-Two Prisoners Are Taken to Los Angeles.
Sunset, The Pacific Monthly | Vol. 33 No. 1 | July 1914, pp. 120-122.
Truly she is a Daughter of the Dons — beautiful, vivacious, talented Lucretia del Valle, scion of an ancient Spanish-California family, whose picture is to circle the globe as that of a typical California girl, so declared by her compatriots in southern California. That the choice is an especially happy one, and that the commonwealth is to be congratulated on the wisdom of the Southland in selecting this particular one of many charming daughters to carry her message around the world, is evident from even a brief survey of the facts.
Miss Del Valle, in the first place, is a child of the Golden West and of the Old California, as well as of the new era. In the second place she is altogether lovely and lovable, just for herself alone.
The first Del Valle came to California in the Long Ago, having journeyed thither with Father Junipero Serra when the land was one vast wilderness. The next of the illustrious name came with Don Gaspar de Portola, and bore the hardships of exploration and discovery and pioneer achievements. The early history of California is closely associated with the history of this branch of the family, the direct forbears of Miss Lucretia. The Del Valle estate is the old Camulos rancho, situated half-way between Los Angeles and Santa Barbara. In the days of the Dons it comprised some five thousand acres, but has now dwindled to 1,800.. It stretches across the valley from side to side and a rude cross on the hilltop marks each boundary. Here is the wonderful old adobe house of twenty-two rooms, which has been immortalized by Helen Hunt Jackson as the home of Ramona in her story of that name, and it was here that Mrs. Jackson wrote much of her famous tale. Here is also to be seen the ancient Indian chapel pictured in "Ramona", while the outbuildings and surrounding landscape are familiar to thousands through the pages of this charming tale of love and tragedy. It was here that Miss Del Valle was born and where she loves best to be, although for more years than the span of her lifetime the family residence has been in Los Angeles. Her association with the scenes of the familiar story has led to the statement that she is a descendant of Ramona's adopted mother. This is obviously untrue, as the character was purely fictitious, but the jewels described by Mrs. Jackson were the Del Valle heirlooms, and these are now in the possession of Miss Del Valle.
Click to enlarge.
When the heiress to the Camulos rancho arrives within its broad domain she sheds the trappings of conventionality as one sheds a coat in summertime, and becomes again a Daughter of the Dons. All the old Spanish-Californian customs are observed with scrupulous care. Masses are read, rosaries are told and prayers said as in the days of old. Here the little Lucretia is a queen come again into her own, for her position as eldest grandchild entitles her to all hereditary honors: her slender hand is reverently kissed by the faithful old Indian servants who still abide at the rancho; she reads the mass and tells the rosary, and sits at the head of the board. And she takes it all with graceful seriousness, being in her heart a "grande dame" of an age long dead, and the old servants adore her for it.
Miss Del Valle's chosen profession is the stage and she has become known to many Californians, and in fact to thousands from all parts of (the) globe, as the Señora Yorba of the Mission Play. Although she has met with much success in other roles, this one is her favorite, and it gives vent to a thousand day-dreams, and transplants her to times and scenes that she loves. Her devotion to this ideal may be understood in the light of the fact that she gave up an opportunity to star under Savage last season in New York, to return to Los Angeles and resume her role in the mission Play for the engagement in San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego. Also she vows that whenever the Mission Play needs her, no other engagement shall stand in the way of her answer to the call.
The father of this delightful daughter is himself a man of note. Reginald F. del Valle has served his state in the Senate of the United States, and in other capacities none the less useful if less distinguished. He is an attorney of repute and is president of the present Los Angeles Water Department, which is responsible for the bringing of the Kern river water11 into the Angel City. On her mother's side Miss Lucretia receives a strain of old Southern blood, of which she is almost as proud as she is of her Spanish-California ancestry — almost, but not quite.
Miss Del Valle's picture is to accompany a series of moving pictures of Calfiornia and will be flashed upon the screen in a thousand cities as a typical girl of the Golden State.
Clara M. Greening.
1. The writer takes some license. Serra was in Mexico City from 1849 until the late 1860s when he set up the missions in Baja California, reaching San Diego in 1769. Serra stayed behind in San Diego with a leg injury in 1769 when Portola traveled with Fr. Juan Crespi through Alta California. When Portola returned to San Diego in 1770, Serra sailed to Monterey.
2. It's much closer to Los Angeles.
3. This is unclear. The Rancho San Francisco, which the Del Valles owned from 1839 to the 1860s, comprised over 48,000 acres. At this writing (1914), 1,800 acres would be about right for Rancho Camulos, which was partitioned from the rest of the Rancho San Francisco as a separate property.
4. When crosses were used to mark ranch boundaries, they had religious (Catholic) significance.
5. Jackson never said her 1884 novel, "Ramona," was set at Camulos.
6. Jackson wrote none of it at Camulos. She spent about two hours at Camulos two years earlier.
7. See note 5.
8. Her death certificate says she was born at Los Angeles.
9. Local Native Americans from the lower Piru Creek area worked at the ranch; Juan Jose Fustero may still have been working at the ranch at this time.
10. No, he served in the state Assembly and state Senate in the 1880s, but he never served in the U.S. Senate. He lost his bids for Congress in 1884 and for lieutenant governor in 1890.
11. Owens River water.