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Discovery of Oil.
Oakland Tribune | November 4, 1918.
The following extract from a letter published in the recent issue of the Standard Oil Bulletin, the house organ of the Sandard Oil Company of California, is an interesting contribution to the literature of petroleum. It gives one version of the first discovery of oil in California:
"Gentlemen: I was very much interested in your article, 'The Birth of an Industry.' It may be of interest to you to know that my wife's father, J. Del Valle, of Camulos ranch, has often told me about the discovery of oil in Pico canyon. The discoverer, Ramon Perea, worked for Mr. Del Valle's father, and instead of taking the oil to Dr. Gelsich, as you say, he brought it to Mr. Del Valle, who in turn showed it to Antonio Pico and Dr. Gelsich, and they formed a company to exploit the property. Perea was given a small interest, but later disposed of it for a small sum. I have often stopped at Perea's house in the San Franciscquito canyon before he died,, three or four years ago. His daughters live in Newhall at present.
"Is it not strange that Newhall should have the distinction of being the place where both oil and gold were first found? Mr. Del Valle tells me that in 1844 Francisco Lopez and Pedro Bermudas found gold in Placerita canyon and brought it to the ranch. Mr. Del Valle's father took it to Los Angeles and shipped it to England for exchange. The Del Valles still have some of the gold. There was a considerable amount taken from the Placeritas canyon and near by.
"I have taken the liberty of writing you thinking that you would be pleased in knowing the name of the discoverer of oil in California. Very truly,
/s/ "W.B. GANS."
1. "J" would be Juventino del Valle, a son of Ygnacio. Juventino lived at Camulos and died the following year (1919).
2. Ygnacio del Valle, 1808-1880. Prior to the Great Drought of 1864-65, he owned the entire Rancho San Francsico, from Camulos on the west to the edge of modern-day Canyon Country on the east.
3. Dr. Vincent Gelcich.
4. Presumably Andres Pico.
5. Read the Perea family's version of the unhappy turn of events here.
6. Later the Raggio Ranch. Perea is buried on the property, in the Ruiz-Perea Cemetery.
7. Possible, but the date is typically given as 1842.
8. We're unfamiliar with the notion of Placerita gold being shipped to England.
9. Today (2014), Del Valle descendants are in possession of jewelry said to have been owned by Ygnacio's widow and fashioned from Placerita gold during the period discussed.
News story courtesy of Lauren Parker.