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Correspondence from Adolfo Rivera to Frank Walker
Re: Oak of the Golden Dream Dedication, 1930

Webmaster's note.

Adolfo G. Rivera was the chief architect of the original dedication of the Oak of the Golden Dream in Placerita Canyon on March 9, 1930, the 88th anniversary of the gold discovery by Francisco Lopez. It was Adolfo who determined which tree would be associated with the legend of Lopez's golden dream, on the word of relatives of a Lopez descendant who pointed it out to them 70 years after the fact.

This is a piece of Rivera's correspondence relating to the March 1930 dedication ceremony on behalf of the La Mesa Club, which was one of the organizations to host the event. The others were Ramona Parlor No. 109 of the Native Sons of the Golden West (which Rivera also represented), the Kiwanis Club and Chamber of Commerce of Newhall-Saugus. Local historian and then-justice of the peace A.B. Perkins represented the latter two.

A digital copy of this document comes to us from Tom and Mary Salter; Mary is daughter to Tommy Walker and granddaughter to Frank Walker. The latter was the 1930 owner of the Lopez discovery site.


Click image to enlarge

A. RIVERA LETTERS

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Cover Letter to Frank Walker 2-18-1930

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Program for 3-9-1930

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Letter to Frank Walker 4-9-1934

Febry. 18th. '30.

Mr. F.E. Walker
Newhall.

Dear Mr. Walker and Fellow-Native:

Fearful, lest I did not send you a copy of our tentative program for March 9th. prox. festivities, I am enclosing one in this letter.

Should you desire any changes or additions, I will be pleased to get your recommendations and abide by them, so please let me hear from you.

If you should see Mr. Perkins, remind him of the tablet, to order it and have it ready next week.

I know you will have all of your matters attended to, so I'll not worry about them.

With best wishes and highest personal regards, I remain, your Amigo,

/s/ A.G. Rivera
606½ Hall of Justice.
'Fone, MUtual 9211.
Station 2451.
Co. Interpreters' Dept.


The identity of the Oak of the Golden Dream in Placerita Canyon State Park as "the" tree where Francisco Lopez napped and dreamed of finding gold (which he did) in 1842 was not set in stone — literally or figuratively — until nearly a century later, in 1930, by Frances Lopez de Belderrain, a Lopez descendant. Belderrain (alternately Francisca Lopez de Balderain) had learned the story from Catalina Lopez, who was in her 80s when she shared the information with family members from memory.

According to Adolfo G. Rivera, who presided at the 1930 dedication of the tree, Catalina would have been 12 years old when she attended an 1843 ceremony marking the one-year anniversary of the Lopez discovery, whereupon she learned learned the relevant locations.

In a promotional brochure published by 1930s Placerita landowner Frank Walker, Rivera writes in part: "The first anniversary [in 1843] of this gold discovery was celebrated by the erection of a chapel on the site of the discovery and the chanting of a solemn high mass by three priests, two from San Fernando and one from Los Angeles, six altar boys, the entire Mission choir, consisting of twenty neophytes and eight musicians. Many prominent families of Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, San Buena Ventura and the surrounding country and the Commissioners sent by Mexico to investigate the truth or falsity of the discovery, were present, — a date in the history of our State was solemnized, which was to be forever after forgotten.

"Catarina [sic] Lopez, wife of Geronimo Lopez, was eleven years old when gold was discovered here and was present at the celebration of the mass in 1843. Before her death she took several members of her family to Placeritos Canyon and pointed out to them the exact spot where the chapel had been erected and gold discovered by her ancestor. In this party were the Señoras Frances Lopez de Belderrain, and Graciosa Lopez de Wilson of San Fernando and these kind ladies have in turn shown the writer the self-same spot of FIRST GOLD DISCOVERY IN CALIFORNIA."

Read Rivera's entire story and see the Walker brochure here.

Whatever the truth of the dream legend or the accuracy of the tree's identification, Lopez and his partners did extract gold from Placerita Canyon in 1842 and did file a claim with the Mexican governor of Alta California — and that piece of parchment, with the governor's seal of approval, is what makes the Lopez discovery the first documented discovery of gold in California.

Earlier discoveries in the Castaic and Piru region appear in 19th-century literature, but in each case, the documentary evidence is lacking.

In a joint effort of fraternal organizations — Ramona Parlor No. 109 of the Native Sons of the Golden West, the La Mesa Club and the Kiwanis Club of Newhall-Saugus — a plaque was placed on March 9, 1930, the 88th anniversary of the Lopez discovery, at the site of the tree that is now recognized by the state of California as the Oak of the Golden Dream.


LA MESA CLUB ROSTER 1930

Charter Members:
Wm. T. Aggeler
Eugene V. Biscailuz
George J. Burns
Geo. P. Clements, M.D.
Zach Lamar Cobb
J.W. Dondon
Isidore B. Dockweiler
Major John H. Dockweiler
C.J. Doherty
C.F. Guthridge
Col. Chas. H. Haskell
T.E. Johnson
C.W. Jones
H.H. Kinney
Dr. J.A. Kleiser
Herman C. Lichtenberger
Marshall F. McComb
J.A. McNaughton
Burrell D. Neighbors
James P. O'Neil
P.H. O'Neil
Eugene Overton
D.S. Reynolds
Adolfo G. Rivera
Gabriel Ruiz
Ulpiano T. Ruiz
Louis P. Russill
B. Rey Schauer
Joseph P. Sproul
Walter B. Thompson
Otto Weid
W.S. Wheaton
F.M. White
K.B. Wilson
Walton J. Wood
Honorary Members:
H.L. Carnahan
Carl R. Gray
Arthur G. Leonard
H.E. Poronto
Eugene V.R. Thayer


LW2575a: 19200 dpi jpeg from smaller jpeg | Online image only.
GOLD CATEGORIES:
• California Gold
• Lopez Discovery
• Placerita Post-Lopez
• San Francisquito
• Oak/Dream Dedication 1930
• Oak/Dream

OAK OF THE GOLDEN DREAM DEDICATION
Placerita Canyon 1930

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Belderrain Affidavit 2-23-1930

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Walker Affidavit 3-1-1930

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Event Program 3-9-1930

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Rivera's Speech 3-9-1930

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Sen. Del Valle's Speech 3-9-1930

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Perkins' Speech 3-9-1930

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Dedication 3-9-1930

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Dedication 3-9-1930

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Tree Plaque 1930

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Lopez Plaque 1930 x2

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Van Nuys News 4-25-1930

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Correspondence 1934

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