Sep 26

Early days in Cambria, or Roseaville

By the time the second edition the weekly San Luis Obispo Tribune was published the paper was starting to hit stride. The editor, Walter Murray had a bright confident writing style and the paper was interested in more than politics.
Volume 1 Number 1 of the San Luis Obispo Tribune was published on Saturday but by the second pressing, the publication day was switched to Mondays.
This may have been to accommodate the editor’s busy schedule. Walter Murray was at the time District Attorney and planning running for office as judge in November.

A little self-promotion surfaces in the second issue of the San Luis Obispo Tribune.

August 16, 1869

MISCALCULATION.—We made an unfortunate miscalculation in regard to the number of sheets required of our first number. They went off so fast that we were unable to supply many persons to whom we had intended to send our first issue. We will endeavor to make good this delinquency with the present number. We intend that all who desire it shall have a specimen or our paper as we are satisfied that upon inspection they will subscribe for a copy.

The article below alludes to the sometimes bitter politics of the era pitting Republican’s stand as pro-Union and honoring rights for former slaves, against the Democrats who courted other voters. Murray and his partner Rembaugh had shouldered arms in the Union cause. Murray fought Mexico to bring California into the Union and Rembaugh was a former Union cavalrymen. Both were willing to be friendly with Democrats but Murray also strongly supported his Republicans. This would lead to colorful fights with the Pioneer, the Democratic paper that preceded the Tribune. More on that in a future post.

The issue also contained a love letter for the second largest and growing town of the county.
Can you guess which town?

We have two towns in our flourishing county, each the antipodes of the other. One, San Luis Obispo, with its old mission building and church, and prevailing adobe style of architecture, reminds us of the past,—slow but solid. Cambria, with its brand-new brightness and its rapid growth mark the advancement hither of American improvement.
Nearly a hundred years ago the same old bells which now call the faithful to their devotions in our old mission church, first woke up the echoes from the surrounding hills. The population was then of a different class, but it was greater in number. Tradition has it that several thousand of the regenerated aborigines, used to assemble daily to hear mass, and to pursue their ordinary labors. Three years ago the name of Cambria was unknown to the county; not a house stood where now there can be collected together on any important occasion an assembly of one thousand souls; and only Nature’s sounds were heard, where now the air resounds with the whir of the steam saw, the heavy pounding of the blacksmith’s sledge, and the brisker tappings of the carpenter’s hammer.
We were agreeably surprised last July, to see the great change in the town of Cambria for good. It can boast to-day of one first class country hotel, kept by a very courteous landlord, Mr. George W. Lingo, besides several restaurants, of a less imposing appearance. The limited number of bar-rooms speaks well for the temperance of the neighborhood. Our friend, Mr. Jerry Johnson, however, strives to do his best to dispense liquid refreshments to the few thirsty souls that stand in great necessity of them.
Dr. J.W. Frame, hangs out his shingle in Chamblin’s new block, and attends faithfully to the ailments of those who suffer, or think they do. We should judge, however, that fancied ailments are not very common in Cambria, its inhabitants being of robust physique and hearty temperament, and, not much addicted to flights of fancy. Of stores we counted three, crammed full of articles to supply the necessities of the surrounding country, embracing everything that the mind may fancy, from a needle to an anchor. We speak figuratively.
Messrs George W. Lull and W. S. Whittaker, the latter being the attentive postmaster of this flourishing town, preside over the destinies of the store of Grant, Lull & Co., where choice Spanish or English, as the case may be, are dispensed to the numerous customers who crowd their establishment. Chamblin & Co. have taken the store formerly belonging to Long and Pollard and are very popular men in their neighborhood, being attentive to their patrons, courteous in their manners, and withal, good Democrats. We were received very friendlily by them, notwithstanding the Ethiopian complexion of our politics. We think they, like ourselves don’t look at the color of their customers’ money, except to prefer yellow to white.
We found two public buildings in Cambria, which speak well for the enterprize of its citizens. The Masonic Hall, over the store of Grant, Lull & Co., is an edifice combining neatness with comfort, and is well adapted to the end designed. It is amply large and well arranged, and well furnished. We wish our great metropolis of San Luis Obispo would “go and do likewise.” Its deliberations are presided over by Mr. T. Sherman, W.M. of the lodge, a man who appears every way worthy of the honor conferred upon him by his associates and neighbors. The other building referred to is the Assembly-room, built by Mr. Taylor, for the purpose of giving the disciples of Terpsichore the chance to trip the light fantastic toe with full liberty, and to accommodate the political speakers who abound everywhere about the time elections are held.
This room is the largest in the county of San Luis Obispo, and gave “ample scope and verge enough” on the memorable evening of July 5th, 1869 for the whole surrounding country to disport themselves in the mazy dance. We mean the population, not the trees nor houses.
We saw moreover, a nice new schoolhouse, on a pretty side hill, which made us look wistfully for the day when our town also would drop personalities and the pursuit of wealth and try to make common accord in the attainment of those ordinary evidences of civilization, without which no American community is deemed to be either prosperous, healthy or respectable.
Did we see a church in Cambria? We forget if we did; and, furthermore, being sinners, we perhaps did not look very closely after it or went about seeking, but hoping not to find.
And when we speak of the town itself, shall we fail to mention the men that made the town, the lumbermen — We hope not. In town, then we find the saw-mill of F. F. Letcher, an enterprising Virginian, who has in his composition a little of Yankee ingenuity and elasticity. His institution is constantly at work, sawing out material for the still further increase of Cambria and vicinity. Not far from town is another saw-mill, belonging to Mr. W. Leffingwell Jr., constantly exercising its teeth upon the tall pines of the vicinity. These mills have done more for the advancement of this section of the country than any other material agency and we look upon the men who have set them in motion as true benefactors of the county. We trust that their purses wax weightier with each successive revolution of the saw.
We have only one fault to find with Cambria, and that is, its name. The history of its varied nomenclature is as follows. When first the place was founded it was called Rosaville, then Santa Rosa, and all along it has been called by some by the name of San Simeon. The present name of its post office is down on the Post office list as San Simeon. Of course it is advisable that the name of the town and of its post-office be the same. Rosaville and Santa Rosa, we understand were objectionable to the P.O. authorities, there being other post-offices of those names in the state. San Simeon was deemed improper because that is the name of the port, distant some miles from the town, also of a creek, lying between the two points. A public meeting was held of the citizens, at which it was determined to call the town “Cambria,” and the P.O. authorities were memorialized to alter the name of the post-office in conformity. Why the selection of this name was made, we do not know, unless it were by the rule of contrary, Cambria being the ancient name of Wales, and there being no Welshman living in the vicinity. Unless, indeed, the town were so named as a compliment to Chino Lewelling, the present candidate for Justice of the Peace.—We think the name of Caledonia would have been much more appropriate, in honor of the worthy doctor above named.
But what’s in a name? A rose with any other name would smell as sweet.
Seriously, if the people of Cambria are satisfied with the name of their town, so are we. So for the present,
Cambria, farewell!!

Related posts:

  1. Early days of the Tribune
  2. Cambria 1963
  3. Early days of the San Luis Obispo post office
  4. The Chinese temple in Cambria
  5. 1968 Cambria Air Station