The Journal of San Diego History
SAN DIEGO HISTORICAL SOCIETY QUARTERLY
Winter 1975, Volume 21, Number 1
James E. Moss, Editor

The Little Landers Colony of San Ysidro

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Smythe Avenue in the former community of San Ysidro, site of the Mexican border station of the United States Naturalization Service, is all that remains today to commemorate the colonizing activities of William E. Smythe. He was the founder of a unique agricultural settlement which flourished during the years, 1909-1916, in San Diego's environs. The motto of the settlement, "A Little Land and a Living," expressed the working principle of the colony, that a family could gain a livelihood from cultivating an acre of land. This improbable formula for success was actually sustained by the experiences of these Little Landers for almost a decade, proving the wisdom of Founder Smythe's vision.

William F. Smythe, renowned leader of the national reclamation movement as editor of the Irrigation Age and founder of the National Irrigation Congress in the 1890s, moved to the City of Bay 'n Clime in 1901 and there gained for himself a place of high regard in the community. He won lasting laurels for his authoritative History of San Diego published in 1907, but his activities in promoting a greater San Diego have also been noted.1 As a journalist, public speaker of extraordinary effectiveness and organizer of popular campaigns, he sought in vain to tie Imperial Valley's growth to San Diego, to bring Federal Reclamation Service reservoir construction to San Diego's hinterland, to undertake public construction of the Yuma railroad, and to boost San Diego expansion through the auspices of the local Chamber of Commerce. In fact, the San Ysidro colonization venture was initially prompted by a Chamber of Commerce promotional impulse to divert the steady stream of Midwestern immigrants from Los Angeles to San Diego and provide them with a livelihood on suburban San Diego soil. The city's commercial life, at that time, however, was still feeling the effects of the Panic of 1907 and trade and manufacturing employment opportunities were limited. Smythe's experiment in Arcadian living announced in his portentous speech at the local Garrick Theatre July 28, 1908, promised newcomers economic opportunity in San Diego's own venture in the twentieth century back-to-the-land movement.2

That William E. Smythe should be the founder of Little Lander Colony No. 1, as it was called, was implicit in his career prior to the Garrick Theatre speech. When the widespread Panic of 1893 undermined financial backing for the national Irrigation Congress movement, he had embarked on a colonization program in 1895. Encouraged by the response he received from eastern speaking tours he launched successful colonies at Payette, Idaho, and two in California, one in Tehama County and the other at Standish in Lassen County before permanently removing to San Diego in 1901.3 Interspersed in his promotional articles in eastern journals of opinion were the old blandishments to would-be settlers to restore the Homestead Act ideal in a western irrigated rural paradise together with a new emphasis on economic independence.4 The troubled Populist Era revealed widespread discontent with America's industrial order and Smythe promised economic security to those who would remove from urban centers of misery and tie their futures to the soil. The eastern homeseeker was never far from Smythe's mind, even later, during his first busy years in San Diego. He ran for Congress, contributed to Out West, the southwestern regional magazine of Charles Lummis, wrote publicity articles for the U. S. Reclamation Service, and sought to promote his adopted city's expansion.

New elements in the traditional pattern of western colony settlement appeared as the program for San Ysidro was formulated. Most striking was the emphasis upon micro-farm acreage plots. Also stressed was proximity to a metropolitan area which would serve as a market for colony produce. Smythe had earlier written the remarkable story of Samuel Cleeks who tilled an acre of land at Orlando in the Sacramento Valley for thirty years and grew an astonishing variety of crops on his single irrigated acre which gave him a comfortable living and still permitted him to save several hundred dollars a year.5 The Garden City Movement, attributed to the English urban reformer, Ebenezer Howard, achieved great popularity in the East at this time and undoubtedly cast its influence on Smythe's thinking.6 As some Garden Cities were situated on the urban periphery so must Little Landers colonies. Fundamental, as well, was the impact of Liberty Hyde Bailey, distinguished professor of agriculture at Cornell University and later chairman of president Theodore Roosevelt's Country Life Commission whose distinctive magazine, Country Life in America, announced as one of its purposes "to encourage home building outside the city."7 It was Bailey and others, who inspired the Wall Street lawyer, Bolton Hall, to write the volume, A Little Land and a Living, that more than any other started William E. Smythe on his Little Lander experiment. Here was an author who shared Smythe's assumptions that intensive farming was the secret to obtaining a livelihood from a small tract of land, that financial independence could be garnered from the soil, that truck farming, horticulture and the raising of marketable animals were practicable for the transplanted urban worker and that cooperation could be the governing economic principle to make such an experiment work.8

The founder of San Ysidro had always been closely associated with George Maxwell, whose National Irrigation Association had played such an important role in lobbying the Newlands irrigation bill into law in 1902. Maxwell then turned to colonization with equal enthusiasm and lectured to audiences on his many cross country tours that workingmen should "get an acre and live on it."9 The acreage should be close enough to the factory so that a laborer could work four hours a day at his place of business and four hours on the land so his agricultural plot would give him security should he be laid off work. Then came his proposal for his Homecroft colonies in Massachusetts and Arizona. Smythe wrote Maxwell in June of 1906 that he was fascinated by the First Book of Homecrofters sent him by his friend. He told Maxwell, "I am strongly tempted to undertake the formation of a village near San Diego and shall discuss it with a few friends."10

The work on the History of San Diego then occupied all of Smythe's time and he put off the settlement project. Smythe, however, never envisioned his Arcadian community to serve as an antidote to social revolution, the obsession of his more alarmist friend, George Maxwell. The San Diego journalist counselled his friend to read Henry Demarest Lloyd's, Man, the Social Creator for inspiration.11 Here one could learn the value of serving others for their own sake and so remove the spirit of self-interest from all undertakings. The San Ysidro colony gave Founder Smythe the opportunity to put into practice these principles of brotherly love.

San Diego was ready for the advent of Little Landers in 1908. The leading newspaper, the San Diego Union, reported in November, 1907, that the city was getting its share of the thousands of tourists and colonists who were taking advantage of the low train fares to come to Southern California. There was the famous Theosophical Society colony of Katherine Tingley at Point Loma founded in 1901. Then there was also a "Simple Life" colony transplanted from Chicago which took root along Chicago's Milwaukee Avenue in February, 1907.12 City fathers, however, wanted colonists who would develop the resources of the area, particularly those who would go into agriculture. They spoke with favor of the state-wide program centered in San Francisco and sponsored by the California Promotion Committee whose testament was: "what California needs today more than any one thing is a larger class of intelligent farmers who will take advantage of modern methods." George Hall, horticultural commissioner for San Diego county, advocated agricultural tracts of ten acres or less as best adapted to county conditions. A concerted effort to people the back country and treble the population of the county with a determined effort to develop its agriculture was under way. In June, 1908, John Scott Mills, secretary of the Chamber of Commerce, complained that the productive capacity of thousands of acres surrounding the city was not known but that all indications showed that profits could be made on commodities such as potatoes, onions, tomatoes, beans, corn, poultry, etc. raised for the San Diego market.13 The climate, the fertile soil, the abundance of cheap water, the electric and steam rail network and planned county highway system made conditions ideal for an agricultural boom in the hinterland. It was not a coincidence that the San Diego Chamber of Commerce undertook a campaign to promote county agricultural development in the same manner that Smythe launched his Little Lander Colony. Smythe always worked closely with the Chamber on development projects for San Diego.14

Then came the kick-off event when Smythe addressed throngs of city folks in the Garrick Theatre in the first of his Little Lander lectures. He gained his enthusiastic audience's attention by contrasting the Los Angeles situation with their own. He quoted eastern reports that a third of the immigrants to Los Angeles county would return home disappointed. The movement to be undertaken in San Diego, however, was "to build the future greatness of San Diego upon the everlasting granite of human industry rather than the shifting sands of speculation."15 Giving expression to popular fears of concentrated wealth aggravated by the rigors of the Panic of 1907 he showed how financial security must be based on agriculture:

Mother Earth never yet denied the cry of children. She never failed to respond to their needs. The earth is one employer, who permits you to name your own wages and to take for yourself all you produce. It is the only friend that will stand by you in sunshine and shadow, in health and sickness, in youth and old age. Amid all our hopes of industrial greatness, the land is the only reality. And, in hard times-everybody can see it-can see that the man who owns the land, tills the land, lives by the land, is the only independent man.

He then asserted that within thirty minutes of the city plaza this kind of a generous livelihood awaited thousands of families if they possessed the will to take it. Furthermore, all over the United States people were turning to the Little Lands movement, for it had been proven that "on as little as one acre of land an industrious family can make a good living if they proceed in the right way." Modern intensive cultivation of small areas lifted agriculture from manual drudgery to a highly skilled craft which attracted the most intelligent of our citizenry. In contrast the routine, specialized labor tasks in factories appealed to the dullest of minds. San Diego county offered ideal conditions to embark on a Little Lands program since it offered all year round green house weather so that every day could be harvest day. The joy and profit of outdoor life was here supreme. "San Diego should become the capital of an empire of Little Landers."

The speaker, however, did not ask them to accept this promise of a new life without further evidence. He referred to the Bolton Hall book, A Little Land and a Living for testamentary evidence of success back east. He also recounted numerous cases of residents of San Diego who were making a part of their entire living from city vegetable plots at their abodes. Town lot gardening, in fact, had become a part of that city's way of life as real estate and investment people ardently championed such efforts.17 Smythe even drew from his extensive knowledge of Mormon history and described the success of their intensive irrigated agriculture which had brought prosperity to the Beehive State. For San Diego this program he was outlining was not philanthropy, as some were hinting, but a "broad gauged business aiming to build up the city and its back country and to pay reasonable rewards to the capital and ability required for its execution."

The second Little Lander public meeting at the Garrick again drew a capacity crowd in August as Smythe sought to answer questions and quiet apprehensions about the venture. He decried the traditional view that San Diego county offered few agricultural prospects. He drew upon his recently acquired knowledge of local history garnered in the preparation of his History of San Diego to remind his listeners that the California's famed mission agriculture began close by on these same soils under Father Serra's direction.18

The preliminary planning stage engaged the abilities of a number of prominent business men in the City of the Silver Gate. Formal incorporation of the Little Landers Corporation occurred on August 1, 1908.19 The capital stock of the company was $100,000 and ten thousand shares of stock were authorized. Included among the names of the eight directors were William E. Smythe as president, Henry H. Mills as secretary and John B. Osborn. George P. Hall, former chairman of the California State Board of Horticulture and author of a gardening column in the San Diego Union became the chairman of the advisory board for the Little Landers. It was largely at Hall's suggestion that the San Ysidro site was determined upon.20 Also active at the headquarters of the corporation in the Sefton Block downtown was John Scott Mills, Secretary of the Chamber of Commerce. The local press built up interest in these developments and reported that hundreds of families had enrolled in the program to get back to the soil and develop new institutions to improve country life.21

The announcement of the choice of site was made by President Smythe to the assembled supporters of the movement at a meeting at the Little Landers city club house on December 15, 1908. Smythe alluded to the nay-sayers who repeatedly asserted that there really was no satisfactory location for such a colony in the county. They were the ones who raised "upon every flagstaff the white flag of surrender to the excellent Chinese and the admirable Japanese who have been good enough to come here and raise something for us to eat."22 An ideal location had been selected at the site of the old Belcher Ranch in the Tia Juana River Valley fourteen miles south of San Diego where fertile soil was combined with ample sources of water and proximity to the city. While San Diego awaited the much sought after transcontinental railroad line, augmented commerce, naval base etc. the plain people of San Diego were about to develop the agricultural resources of the interior in a manner that would enrich everyone. Again Founder Smythe reiterated the principles of the colony: small land holding under intensive cultivation, expert agricultural tutelage, a system of marketing of colony produce directly to the consumer, and finally, a concentration of the colonists in a townsite separate from agricultural acreage where improvements would equal that of the finest city residence districts. Already the Little Landers project had performed a great service for San Diego in discovering the Tia Juana River and its little kingdom of rich agricultural land. The village had been given the appellation San Ysidro by the directors of the company because it was the name of the original rancho grant along the Tia Juana River and appropriately honored the "Plowman Saint," the Bishop of Seville of seventh century Visigothic Spain.23

Distribution Day, according to Smythe's ingenious nomenclature, January 11, 1909, marked the formal inauguration of Little Landers Colony No. 1 at San Ysidro. The first purchase on the old Belcher Ranch by the corporation was later expanded to 550 acres with a total cost to the company of $15,000. The valley floor contained about 150 acres and the remaining 400 acres lay along the hill side where modern day San Ysidro is located. The colony lands, starting with the foothills that bounded the northern side of the valley sloped gradually across a mesa and down to the alluvial bottom lands of the lower valley. The bottom lands were valued for their rich fertile soil and for the stream of water which underlay them and assured success for the colony.24 In January, 1909, there were but two people who lived on the tract and the upper portion of the site was covered with sagebrush and the mesa with grain stubble. The valley floor supported a stand of willow and sycamore trees. Streets and parks of the San Ysidro townsite were marked out by plow furrows and both lots and acres by stakes. The three carloads of Little Landers and friends arrived at the appointed place near the Belcher homestead and after welcoming speeches by Smythe and George Hall drew numbers from a hat and then selected their town site lots and acre tracts. J.W. Lewis who received the contract to build the first house in San Ysidro luckily had first choice in picking his acreage. Little Landers scrambled over the terrain for hours making their selections.25 Building lots, 50 feet by 120 feet, in the townsite sold for $250 and acre tracts were priced from $350 to $550 depending upon location and quality of soil. Smythe disclosed the intention of the company to push ahead rapidly with the grading, the sewage and water lines, the park and other improvements and their determination to begin a campaign in Los Angeles to divert incoming colonists to the Little Landers settlement at San Ysidro.

Interest in the colony ran high during the following spring and summer. Smythe, after all, was a past master at promotional work and saw to it that the local press had an interesting series of events to record for Little Lander publicity purposes. Thus, in May the House of Little Landers was opened in the old Hubbell mansion in the city and the grounds were converted into an exhibit of intensive agriculture as practiced at San Ysidro.26 One of the larger rooms in the building had been set up as a lecture hail for the display of slides and as a center for the lectures of Founder Smythe, George P. Hall and others. In subsequent weeks the citizens of San Diego learned that fifty families had enlisted in the enterprise, that twenty families were living at San Ysidro, that the original nucleus was made up of San Diego residents but that a Little Lander Society of Los Angeles had been formed and that families were arriving from that city.27 The Spreckels Company promised to electrify the National City and Otay interurban line that ran to San Ysidro. The old ranch adobe was converted into headquarters for the company and the Belcher homestead became the San Ysidro Inn.

One of the first houses constructed was for Harold Champ, Smythe's son-in-law. It was a frame cottage with a massive cobblestone fireplace and chimney, overhanging eaves, long hall and front porch. Other houses were already built by contractor J.W. Lewis who also assumed the role of general manager for the colony. Lewis had the contract to build the depot when the site was determined. Five floored tents had been erected to serve as dormitories while homes were built.28 The Redwood Hall community building was being planned. The Smythe family removed their place of residence from El Cajon to San Ysidro and had a house warming on July 4, 1909. By today's standards it was not much of a house, consisting of but a single large room with adjoining tents serving as sleeping rooms and kitchen with covered passageways connecting them. The housewarming attracted most of the colonists who were up at dawn and had celebrated the nation's birthday by raising the American flag and setting off fireworks. Then, they came dressed in their Sunday-wear to welcome the First Lady of the community in her new home. Thenceforth it became customary for Mrs. Smythe to entertain San Ysidro wives and mothers with a regular Thursday afternoon social get-together. It was her earnest endeavor to level the social barriers, and with music, conversation, games, flowers and refreshments to prove that gracious living could elevate what otherwise appeared as a drab existence.29 The community school, church and library, all established during this eventful first summer, gave promise of cultural advancement, a key feature in the Little Lander design for community living. Within the year the Smythe house was completed and served as a model San Ysidro residence. 30

The national press commented on these events. The Brooklyn Standard Union wished the enterprise well, but doubted that many city dwellers could afford such an undertaking. At Portland, Oregon, editorial writers were impressed and suggested the formation of a Little Lander colony in their own environs in order to solve the high food prices, relieve congestion in their city and improve the surrounding countryside.31 Smythe responded with information about San Ysidro settlers of the first year. Many had come in order to realize an old American ideal of individual independence. All had some capital to start their acre homes. There were few who did not have some practical experience in farming, or at least gardening. Many wanted to remove themselves from the tensions of American urban living and all were attracted to the benign San Diego climate.32 Ever on the lookout for eye-catching events, Smythe sensationalized the raising of a special Little Landers flag on July 24. He explained the symbol in the flag of his design which had a white star on a field of blue. This was the star of hope pointing the way to refuge for those thirsting for the old American ideal of self sufficiency. This was best spelled out as "A home of our own. A job of our own. A life of our own. A roof from which no landlord can dispossess us and a reliable answer to our prayer, 'Give us this day our daily bread.'"33 He went on to say that this old ideal had been largely nullified by silent forces which had gradually changed the face of industry and society until, for great numbers of worthy people, there is no light in the sky save for the glitter of the star in the colony's standard. He wanted the emblem to be fashioned into a pin and worn by the friends of the movement throughout the nation.

On the eve of San Ysidro's first anniversary Smythe explained what the Little Landers meant to the city of San Diego. Its impact would be to add to the prosperity of the city. San Ysidro's first year of operation had proved the efficacy of intensive agriculture on small tracts under favorable climatic conditions.34 The only unsolved problem was that of marketing produce on profitable terms. The greater urban area's support was solicited by the company's management with an anniversary convocation at the Garrick Theatre on July 28, 1909. A special car brought colonists into town. The audience was treated to a lantern show which featured the colony and construction work on the John Spreckels Company's San Diego and Arizona Railway which crossed the Mexican border at San Ysidro with Yuma as an ultimate destination. Smythe outlined plans to develop marketing facilities in the city. He also urged approval of the "Good Roads" county bond proposal featured in the next election. Included were plans for a highway connecting National City with San Ysidro. Smythe's address titled "A Nation of Little Landers" developed his plan for multiple colonies throughout the nation. The leading bankers in the city visited San Ysidro in August and praised the colonists' efforts at developing the back country and growing produce for the residents of San Diego.35

While the year, 1909, had been one of good beginnings, 1910 proved to be almost a blank in terms of forward movement.36 It was not that Founder Smythe had failed in vision or preparations. The timing was right. The fall of 1908 found the nation's attention drawn to the work of President Theodore Roosevelt's Country Life Commission. It was gathering evidence to dramatize the degradation of rural social living.37 Smythe's answer to the problem of rural isolation was the Little Lander village with its closely-knit community activities based on a mutual respect for human dignity. Proximity to the metropolitan area of San Diego brought cultural opportunities as well as economic sustenance for the Little Landers. The first and, apparently, only issue of a promotional periodical titled Little Landers Library, edited by Smythe and George P. Hall, appeared at this time and reinforced the themes lifted up by the Country Life Commission. It also served as a brochure of the Little Landers Corporation as it outlined the aims and methods of the colony. Especial attention was paid to the promise of a San Diego market for colony produce and the expected rise in realty values expected at the settlement. Certain services assured success such as the board of expert farm advisors retained by the corporation, the availability of demonstration farm acres and the constant care and oversight of the Little Landers Corporation "which frankly and deliberately aims to perform a paternal function."38 Evidence that the company's purposes were more directly tied to real estate profits instead of social uplift was the plan by which a ten dollar certificate of Little Landers membership entitled one to stock ownership in the corporation and might serve as a down payment on a San Ysidro lot.

Financing and management by the corporation became the source of community problems in 1910. One hundred families had been involved in the colony but only thirty-eight families survived the vicissitudes of Little Lander existence by the fall of 1910. No new homes had been added and the parent corporation faced bankruptcy in November when the salaried employees collected debt judgments for arrears in pay. The company's liabilities were assessed at $14,000.39 Several explanations were advanced to account for these reverses. Smythe later recalled that many of the original purchasers of land were speculators who refused to carry out the terms of their contracts and actually never lived in the village. Two other members of the colony who played an important role in the reorganization of management which followed were the Reverend Josiah Poeton and a former professor at Vassar College, Mr. H. Heath Bawden. They agreed that many of the first colonists were novices at gardening and simply did not know how to obtain a livelihood from their acreage the first year. The basic problem, however, was lack of capital. They indicated the difficulties that had faced Smythe from the beginning: "with inadequate backing, this intrepid man with the idea proceeded to found the colony by the sheer force of his dream and to carry it over the hard places by the brilliant sustaining power of his oratory."40 Although the company had not made good on all of its promises respecting roads, sidewalks, sewers and street lighting, the greatest hardship resulted from the failure of the corporation to provide water. A hole was dug for a reservoir, piping was laid but proved defective and the second-hand gasoline engine proved balky and ineffective so that the settlers were lacking irrigation. All their money had gone into building their homes so they did not have the means to install their own wells and pumps as had some of the colonists who were located on the bottom lands. The aggrieved San Ysidrans also voiced their discontent with the absentee management of the corporation. What was needed was a resident manager who could meet problems as they arose at the site.

Relief came in December, 1910, with the formation of a new corporation, Little Landers, Incorporated.41 At the same time the former company, Little Landers Corporation, won a release from immediate payment on their mortgage on the Belcher Ranch property. The stockholders, who for the most part lived in San Diego, agreed to the formation of the successor corporation. The Little Landers Corporation was dissolved November 30, 1912. This transfer of realty title to the new company was arranged in the San Diego courts to protect the property interests of the original share holders and their creditors, while assuring management would be in the hands of the colony residents at San Ysidro. It also cleared the way for organizing an irrigation district under state law and opened up possibilities of financing an up-to-date irrigation system.

The incorporators of the new business association lived at San Ysidro and were vitally interested in the success of the colony. They included such prominent Little Landers as George P. Hall, who would serve as the first president, William E. Smythe, vice president, Josiah Poeton, secretary and general manager, and H. Heath Bawden, J.M. Mills, J.G. Campbell, Ernest Hosmer and C.F. Young. Smythe's influence was made manifest in the somewhat unique operating procedures laid down by the association's By-Laws.42 The principles of the famed New England town meeting became operative. All persons over twenty-one years of age and belonging to land-owning families at San Ysidro who paid an annual membership fee of a dollar belonged to the association. They could participate in Monday night business meetings and help elect a board of trustees and other officers. Besides the president a general manager was in charge of the property and operations of the colony. The secretary-treasurer was bonded to the amount of one thousand dollars. The auditor examined the books of the corporation quarterly. The January annual meeting was devoted to the financial operations of the concern.

An ingenious financial institution was devised called the Improvement Fund which carried out Henry George's Single Tax theories. The Ebenezer Howard Garden City movement then developing in England incorporated the same principles.43 As market values in Little Lander real estate increased, this "unearned increment" was captured by the community and diverted to the Improvement Fund. The board of directors had authority to appropriate sums from the "Fund" for civic improvements such as streets and sidewalks, sewers and public buildings. The "Fund" also, in time of need, could be used to undergird the marketing system and grant loans to individuals. The novel feature of the device was that it obviated Little Lander taxation. The electoral machinery included initiative and recall provisions, devices soon to be adopted statewide by the Progressives under the leadership of California's Governor Hiram Johnson. These Little Landers also reflected the prevailing majority's racist sentiments, for the By-Laws were later amended to exclude Orientals and Negroes from owning property in the colony.44 Thus these reformers fell considerably short of establishing their stated ideal "to establish our institutions upon a basis of democratic equality."

The new order of things was inaugurated with a celebration in the best Smythe mode. The loyal remnant of the colony marched down the hill to San Ysidro through an avenue of red fire on New Year's Eve and unveiled the new charter.45 Smythe read the charter to the assembled group at the Old Adobe. George Hall, the newly elected president of the association, and Professor Heath Bawden made speeches explaining the hopes of the colony. They placed particular stress on the cooperative principle in marketing their surplus in the reorganized community.46 New sales practices were to be put into effect. For instance, the rule of the first years that a family must buy both a lot in town and farm acreage separate from the townsite was abandoned. Now purchasers were encouraged to limit their selection to the farm tract if they intended to cultivate the land. A family could buy as many acres as it could handle without hiring additional labor. This action made town lots available for others who merely desired a residence at San Ysidro.47 Beyond everything else, emphasis was placed on the need for a new pumping system which would distribute an ample quantity of domestic and irrigation water to the colonists. The community must organize an irrigation district under state law. This special governmental body would be able to raise revenue and float a bond issue under district authority. Then San Ysidro would be able to finance the purchase and installation of the much coveted pumping system. Smythe's public career, which he pursued at the same time he lavished paternal attention on the premier Little Lander Colony, enabled him to expedite the formation of the San Ysidro Irrigation District. He had been elected to the largely honorary post of vice president as he was busy with his newspaper work on the San Diego Sun. He also would soon launch a second Little Landers community in the Los Angeles area and wanted to be free from immediate management responsibilities at San Ysidro. The year 1911 saw Smythe on the national campaign trail in behalf of Senator Robert LaFollette's presidential ambitions. Then he accompanied Interior Secretary Walter Fisher on his newsworthy Alaskan inspection trip.48 It was well that Smythe had numerous political contacts because he had occasion to draw on his personal friendship with Governor Hiram Johnson to win approval for the certification of the San Ysidro Irrigation District bond issue. The application was made by Secretary Josiah Poeton to the newly created Commission on Irrigation Districts.49 Investigation then followed to determine the assets and facilities of the district so as to secure commission approval of the bond issue subsequently to be registered by the state controller. It was this action that Smythe urged Governor Johnson to expedite because: "This district is very small, but very precious. It is the home of the colony of Little Landers who are demonstrating the highest form of rural life ever undertaken in the world. They are menaced by one danger only-inadequacy of the water supply. The approval of their bonds by the state Commission will solve their financial problems and enable them to put their water system in perfect shape.50

As the officers of the colony embarked upon the prolonged and tedious process of winning approval for their irrigation district, business leaders and citizens of neighboring San Diego were apprised of the steps which were being taken. Smythe addressed the Wide Awake Club in town on April 12, 1911. He stressed that nothing was more important for the growth of San Diego than the close settlement of its environs by prosperous agriculturalists.51 The leaders hoped to market their irrigation securities in San Diego. A former city engineer, C.S. Alverson now became interested in the San Ysidro community and contracted to draw plans for its new water system designed to deliver water to each lot. A forty horse power engine and centrifugal pump were to lift water to a small reservoir of eighteen acre feet capacity on the bluff above the town from which point distributing pipe would carry water to the mesa acreage and to the concrete distributing system in the valley floor. The cost of the new system was estimated to be $25,000.52

The bond proposal thus set at the $25,000 figure and submitted to the state Commission on Irrigation Districts faced innumerable obstacles as it was caught up in the administrative apparatus designed to safeguard irrigation district bonds. When the Commission met in June it decided to move cautiously as this application was the first one received under the stringent new law of March 9, 1911.53 A decision was made to send a representative of the State Engineer's office to inspect the facilities of the district. Smythe again intervened with Governor Johnson to secure reduction of the $500 inspection charge because of the miniscular scope of the undertaking.54 Speed was essential in getting the new water works installed to assure crops so vital for the colony's survival that year. Thus the Little Landers of San Ysidro were delighted to greet Assistant State Engineer Norboe when he made a detailed reconnaissance of their facilities. He reported that a number of small farms were scattered over the district, that the "farmers" had successfully grown vegetables, berries, fruit trees of both citrus and deciduous varieties and found that they had effectively demonstrated the productiveness of the soil. Their present water problems were related to their inadequate old gasoline pump and to small distributing pipe. There were 485 acres in the district of which about 30 acres were non-irrigable. These included the right of way of the interurban and the San Diego and Arizona railroad as well as the Tia Juana Boulevard being constructed by the county to the Mexican border. He found the proposed new pump and distributing system to be adequate though perhaps taxed to the limits in delivering water to the uplands and the reservoir. The water supply constituting the underflow of the Tia Juana River was more than ample for district use. District land values increased by an average of $100 an acre when water was supplied. He agreed that the cost of the irrigation works would not exceed $25,000 and demonstrated how this sum could be paid back through operating and financing charges of $12.60 per acre.55

Delay followed delay and it was not until September, 1912, when the Commission finally approved San Ysidro irrigation bonds.56 In the meantime the board of directors: Josiah Poeton, John M. Mills, C.F. Young and Heath Bawden made a personal appearance before the Commission in San Francisco. The Commission members received the documentation prepared by the colony's attorney and engineer as well as special clippings of illustrated success stories appearing in the journal, Little Farms Magazine. One of the commissioners, Ulysses S. Webb, Attorney General, later commented to W.R. Williams, Superintendent of Banks, who, with the State Engineer, constituted the Commission: "I have read and return, herewith, the literature concerning the Little Lander Colony. Such facts as are here shown make that colony grow on me."57 Both Smythe and Poeton kept the Commission informed of the critical state of affairs as month followed month with no action. They were worried because some of the residents had let two planting seasons go by and now another would be lost if they were unable to get water for tree and orchard planting. Some of their best people had abandoned their holdings and the plans to annex a new tract had to be given up. "Since all this profit is to be used only for the public good, it seems too bad that the community should suffer longer."58 State Engineer Ellery came to San Ysidro in January, 1912. Finally problems relating to the valuation of San Ysidro realty and to the exclusion of the San Ysidro District from the property within the Otay Irrigation District were settled. The Commission found that the market value of land included within the boundaries of the San Ysidro project came to $42,000. It approved the proposed $25,000 bond issue on September 12, 1912.59 The colony then had to go through the formality of an election to ratify the bond proposition. This election on December 17 found 90% of the district's inhabitants favoring the bonds.

The banking community of San Diego were not as enthusiastic as the Little Landers colony in subscribing for the full $25,000 issue. The John Spreckels Companies and other firms had shown interest in part of the issue but only Isaac Irwin, president of the Citizens Savings Bank, took up the whole issue. Fittingly, Mr. Irwin was presented to the colony at a celebration at the Little Landers Club House. Smythe reminded the audience how Irwin had saved the day when bids were requested. The Citizens Savings Bank subscribed to the full amount because the bank believed in the future of the Little Landers as one of the important factors in the future of San Diego.60 This faith in the colony would be demonstrated again when the Flood of 1916 nearly destroyed San Ysidro. Then, Isaac Irwin would be in the forefront of the San Diego campaign to raise relief funds for the flood victims.61 Smythe summed up the feelings of the Little Landers at the successful outcome of their money raising efforts.

After years of struggle we stand today on solid ground. We are now assured of a perfect water system as rapidly as it can be installed, and this means not only abiding prosperity for hundreds now here but opens the way for hundreds more to come. I predict that on the day the San Diego Exposition opens its doors we shall present an interesting exhibit of a thousand people living on less than 500 acres with a more intensive cultivation not only of soil, but social, intellectual, and spiritual life than ever known in the history of civilization and this will be the lasting achievement of San Ysidro. Its real glory will consist in its nation-wide, world-wide influence in behalf of a refined life upon the soil.62

First, however the Little Landers had to establish the viability of their San Ysidro colony and efforts went forward in 1911 and 1912 to swell the number of inhabitants. Improvements were carried on at the town site inspired by their intrepid seventy year old leader, George P. Hall, whose birthday was celebrated at the colony's Redwood Hall in April.63 It was he who contributed the land for the park, landscaped it, and purchased the more than life-sized statue of General Ulysses S. Grant from the city and had it erected on a handsome concrete pedestal in the San Ysidro Park. Hall unveiled the statue at a ceremony which brought the colonists, members of the G.A.R. post and an Army detachment from Fort Rosecrans to present a salute and hear the dedicatory remarks of Founder Smythe. Undoubtedly the Grant statue was selected for more than patriotic and sentimental purposes. It must be remembered that the general's son was an influential San Diegan citizen who had inspired the construction of the city's magnificent chief hostelry recently dedicated. The San Ysidro leaders were determined to maintain cordial relations with the important city fathers. At the end of 1911 there were about sixty-nine families located in the community. The next year brought the construction of forty-seven new houses at San Ysidro so that 116 families and about 300 people were living in the colony.64

A nation-wide publicity program was launched in order to attract settlers and carry out the dreams of the charter members at San Ysidro. This was particularly necessary at this time. The onset of the Mexican Revolution and, more especially, the outbreak of the so-called I.W.W. Revolution across the border and centering in the towns of Mexicali and Tiajuana in April and May of 1911 represented a threat to the community's future. Refugees from the fighting at Tiajuana, a mile away, were put up in a tent camp at San Ysidro and others bought town lots in San Ysidro as the violence continued in Mexico.65 Assurances of border safety were advanced for future settlers in the colony. The publicity releases and literature also disclosed that the Little Landers held traditional views with regard to property holding. A prospectus was prepared for use by the San Diego Chamber of Commerce. The colony promoted no social fads or fancies. The land was not held in common and each purchaser had clear title to his own tract. Participation in cooperative marketing agreements was purely voluntary. Village lots sold for $200 and acre lots ran from $300 to $550 with one half of the payment to be advanced in cash and the rest in eight quarterly payments with a 6% interest charge. Smythe, Poeton and Bawden all wrote articles for eastern land lookers. The familiar themes in the traditional California promotional literature were stressed and pictured San Ysidro as a haven for those with ill health, for those who desired a salubrious climate, for those who sought an escape from crowded Eastern cities. They capitalized on the theme of the Back-to-Nature enthusiasts who waxed eloquent over living in a tent in the out-of-doors and gaining one's sustenance from a tiny parcel of Mother Earth. The unique qualities of the Little Lander experience were highlighted in the so-called "social individualism" of community life and the financial independence associated with the San Ysidro experience to be kept in mind. Implicit was the promise that this colony was but the first of a nation-wide string of Little Landers colonies. It was essential, therefore, that Little Lander Colony No. 1 survive financially. This is why the leaders welcomed, especially, those settlers who brought savings. The "people of the abyss," the very poor of Eastern cities would be the responsibility of future Garden City land colonization measures financed by the federal government.

Smythe also had an opportunity to carry the Little Lander story to the National Irrigation Congress meeting at Chicago in December, 1911. He found a sympathetic audience and a national press service to headline his community's progress. With typical oratorical flourish he advocated a federal governmental Bureau of Little Farms which would provide capital funding for a belt of garden acre homesteads surrounding every large city. Only thus could the social and economic wastes of the urban wilderness be reclaimed through the Little Lander ideal.66 The colony directors had already agreed to have an exhibit of three one acre model farms at the San Diego California-Pacific Exposition of 1915.67 Smythe had gone on to Washington from Chicago and there sent back a congratulatory message to be read at the annual banquet and business meeting in San Ysidro's Redwood Hall, January 4, 1912. He demonstrated his friend Senator Francis Newlands' interest in the colony with a shipment of agricultural bulletins and the senator's allotment of garden seeds.68

Community life at San Ysidro was centered in a structure called Redwood Hall. Located in the landscaped park donated by George Hall, it was erected to replace the former adobe where the regular Monday night business meetings and weekly social events took place. A dream in 1913 was to replace the rustic Redwood Hall with a combined school house and auditorium set in an adjoining garden area enclosed by adobe walls. Alas, this enlarged community center remained but a dream. Redwood Hall became the civic center of the community. Later an auditorium tent was added as a "north annex." Here on Sundays Reverend Josiah Poeton and other ministers conducted Protestant church services for the Federated Church, Sunday School exercises for the fifty children in the settlement and Christian Science services for members of that faith. Above the huge cobblestone fireplace were placed mottoes of Walt Whitman: "I loaf and invite my soul" and "For the dear love of comrades." The spiritual meaning of the colony seemed enshrined in the plaque along one wall with its message:

The Hope of the Little Lands

That individual independence shall be achieved by millions of men and women, walking in the sunshine without fear of want.
That in response to the loving labor of their hands, the earth shall answer their prayer: 'Give us this day our daily bread'.
That they and their children shall be proprietary rather than tenants, working not for others but for themselves.
That theirs shall be the life of the open-the open sky and the open heart-fragrant with the breath of flowers, more fragrant with the spirit of fellowship which makes the good of one the concern of all, and raises the individual by raising the mass.69

The piano in one corner and the circulating library furnished by the San Diego Public Library evidenced the choral work and special classes in Spanish, philosophy and practical gardening carried on at Redwood Hall. Growers and water committees of the association met here to plan community improvements. A county Farmers' Institute met at Redwood Hall in August where cooperative marketing practices were discussed.70 The business meeting at the clubhouse confirmed the fact that San Ysidro was a voting precinct in the county and that a justice of the peace and a constable had been appointed for San Ysidro.71 The elementary school was located a couple of blocks away in San Ysidro but high school students had to go to the National City High School about five miles distant.

Smythe's travels, political campaigning and important associations in public life brought interesting visitors to the town. The Minister of Lands for Australia's New South Wales, Miel Nielson, and land developer, George Girling of Chicago and the Irrigation Age journal were guests of the Smythes in March of 1912.72 Then Smythe was caught up in a vigorous political campaign that saw him organizing support for LaFollette in the spring. He actively campaigned against Governor Hiram Johnson in the primary election during the summer and launched his own candidacy for Congressman for the local 18th district in September.73 Smythe, however, was persuaded not to endanger the chances of the regular Democratic candidate, William Kettner, and retired from the contest. The local press featured a story that the San Ysidro precinct cast an overwhelming vote for the I.W.W. candidate for judicial office, Harry M. McKee. The purpose was to embarrass Smythe during his brief Congressional race. He also accepted the position of president for a state-wide Wilson Republican Progressive League of California. His efforts on behalf of a Wilson victory were acknowledged by the President-Elect.74 Senator Robert LaFollette spent many hours at San Ysidro during his campaign tour of Southern California and was said to have started a Little Landers experiment in Wisconsin as a consequence.75 A. Aaronsohn, head of an experimental station for the Zionist colony in Palestine, also was impressed with what he saw at San Ysidro and said they were meeting the problem of land waste in America.76 Later, the secretary of the Socialist party of Oklahoma talked at Redwood Hall. Smythe and his followers also proved their loyalty to local capitalistic enterprise. He urged the colonists to subscribe to the bond issue enabling San Diego to purchase the South Mountain Water Company and the Moreno Reservoir, properties of the Spreckels interests. This was a part of the local effort to s hore up John Spreckels' financial empire and assure completion of the San Diego and Arizona Railway to its Yuma destination.77

Representatives of the Spreckels' associated companies helped the Little Landers pay tribute to Smythe on Founders Day, June 21, 1913. This gala event marked the colony's high water mark in morale and achievement as a corporate body. It was no longer considered an experiment by the city fathers of San Diego. On this occasion the clubhouse was filled with the local citizenry and their guests including state senator, L.A. Wright. The senator felt moved and in tribute to Smythe, declared: "I would rather have the distinction of founding this Little Landers colony than writing the greatest work of literature."78 A testimonial by William Clayton, John Spreckels' business manager, described the epic battle waged by Smythe in winning over the support of the San Diego business community:

I have had interviews with you on behalf of the Little Landers, when you were urging your cause with all your ability and enthusiasm, when, from my point of view, you appeared to be "Walking on your Uppers," but I never heard from you one complaint, nor did I ever hear a single suggestion urged by you on your own behalf, to take care of your own interests. I do not know what the Little Landers think, but I think and know that the whole idea was given birth in your own mind, and against odds you swept away opposition and carried your point, and I know also from inquiries...you must have made many sacrifices over a period of years to launch the Little Landers as an object lesson to the world, and as a haven of hope to those who, tired of the competition and adversities they had met within their lives, sought the Little Landers as a harbor of refuge.79

Word was circulated among the group by the secretary of the Little Landers Corporation that Founder Smythe had received exactly $47.50 as his full compensation for five years of hard labor on behalf of the colony. It was no wonder that Smythe had to resume his former calling of journalist with the San Diego Sun. The Founder's speech of acknowledgment expressed gratitude, satisfaction and hope: "No danger menaces San Ysidro today. Her fundamental principles are demonstrated, and already her example is beginning to color the thought of the world."

Success, indeed, did seem to typify the accomplishments of the Little Landers experiment at San Ysidro in 1913. For one thing, the testimonial of long time colonists evidenced satisfaction with a new way of life that brought them economic security for a number of years and a life style that paid off in dividends of improved health and joyous social participation. George Hall ascribed its success to the "herculean work for years" of its manager-secretary, Josiah Poeton, as well as to the eloquent appeals and timely consideration of Smythe. He credited the rank and file with an equal contribution to the positive growth of the settlement.80 In recruiting settlers it was the intent to encourage those who had had previous farming or gardening experience. In actual practice those who came to take up San Ysidro acres were elderly city dwellers who had a rural childhood or a sentimental attachment for the soil and sought refuge from the eastern cities because of retirement, ill health or economic adversity. Little Lander promotional literature featured success stories. Included were folk with ample cash reserves to tide them over the critical years. John M. Mills, having grown up on a farm, was attracted to the Little Landers experiment. He retired at the age of 54 as an accountant in a business firm in Omaha and came to California. He and his family bought three acres on the benchland, later selling one acre to tide them over during the first years and to diversify their activities. Mills spent $300 on the one acre he farmed, $250 on the cottage which he built and another $50 on rabbits, chickens, nursery stock and seed. Although they had to haul water in barrels the first two years they finally became self sufficient in 1913. They were able to sell their peaches, eggs and live off their garden produce, vegetables being served at meals every day in the year.81 John Colan, formerly a telegrapher, came in March, 1912, with a total capital of $800. He spent most of this buying his acre, clearing, grading and building a house. He planted cabbage, spinach, cauliflower, celery until he had five different crops within eight months. By the fall of 1912 he had an income of $300 from the sale of his produce. He and his wife bought another acre so as to rotate crops. Colan was an enthusiastic Little Lander and accompanied Smythe on promotional visits to Northern California to set up a San Francisco Bay area colony.82 The first settler on colony ground was H. Heath Bawden. He determined from the first to develop a model garden so as to experiment with maximum yields per acre. He built a cloth covered "green house" which included a heating unit. He also experimented with an overhead irrigation sprinkling system which caught the eye of colony president, George Hall, who was former agricultural commissioner for San Diego county. Bawden's profits came from selling winter produce at premium prices in the city market. Professor Bawden was one of the pillars of the community, one of the founders of Little Landers Incorporated, of the cooperative marketing association and the irrigation district. He best personified the social uplift aspect of Little Lander society. After the disastrous flood of 1916 he moved to Carmel and there penned essays for Smythe's journal, Little Lands in America dealing with the new era of mutual aid which would be ushered in after the frightful slaughter of the Great War came to an end.83

The elderly and the invalid were over represented at San Ysidro. L.E. Scott, former journeyman shoemaker from Massachusetts was in his early sixties when he arrived at the colony. He decided that he wanted to cultivate only a sixth of an acre. His average expenditures came to $15.61 a month broken down into payments of $3.77 for groceries, poultry feed at $7.00, water charges of $2.60, for laundry, $1.60 and 64c for fuel and light. He easily balanced his accounts with income from the sale of his garden produce.84 C.J. Young also in his sixties when he arrived in August of 1909 brought a cash reserve of $350 with him. He bought his acreage on time for $500 and in five years was out of debt and estimated his land was worth $2,500. He did some carpentry in San Diego but prided himself on his good health and financial independence derived from his Little Lander acreage.85 Mr. and Mrs. Sawyer came to the colony in October, 1911, from Chicago where he had been an expert machinist. They had been attracted to the colony by the Smythe promotional literature. They paid $350 for an acre of land and then built a house for $600. They decided on chickens and a garden plot and within a year the 125 laying hens paid their entire grocery bill. They lived off their garden and were able to put a third of their acreage into alfalfa, grain and fruit trees. The experimental period was over by 1914 and Sawyer had recovered his health, a real question when they arrived in Southern California.86

Some of the colony were ardent Little Landers from the start and became long term practitioners of Lilliputian soil science. Mr. and Mrs. William Hevener came in the fall of 1909, and with their initial investment of $600, bought an acre of land and an additional house lot. They paid half down on the total cost of $500 for their real estate. They specialized in poultry and soon bought another lot to branch out with turkeys, rabbits, ducks and garden produce. The rabbits provided fresh meat for their larder, and in 1914 they cleared $100 in cash sales. Founder Smythe was especially taken with the industry and ingenuity of the Heveners and used their landscape and planting designs. These were published in Little Lands in America, a new journalistic venture which Smythe undertook in January, 1916, to further promote Little Lander colonization.87 The Heveners followed Smythe to Hayward Heath in 1915 and ultimately moved on to rabbit culture and garden home farming at Walnut Creek. In 1954 William Hevener was still alive and in retirement at Chula Vista.88 The one Little Lander who kept livestock on his acreage was Philip Sanger who specialized in raising goats. He had been in the construction business in San Diego and had worked on the U.S. Grant hotel before moving to the colony in 1911. He and his partner grazed as many as 2,000 goats on the upland pasture adjacent to his tract. He was the first to sell goat milk in San Diego and marketed it through the colony store. He apparently was the last surviving member of the colony still living in the San Diego area in 1959.89

Some of the colonists wondered if every tourist who surveyed the Little Lander settlement on their way to Tijuana pitied them for putting out such enormous labor at such great odds.90 San Ysidrans gloried in their endeavor, however, because they were producing practically all the food they consumed. The high cost of living was no problem to them who paid no rent, cultivated vegetables, berries, fruit and raised poultry for the table. Smythe encouraged the colonists at San Ysidro, the Little Landers colonies near Los Angeles and Hayward to develop planting tables and apply the most scientific techniques to improve the productivity of their intensive agriculture.91 Easterners, especially, seemed to revel in the cultivation of specialty "crops". A Mr. Nichols planted one fifth of an acre to spineless cactus; others raised strawberries, guavas, grapes, peaches, lemons, oranges, apricots, plums, etc. The experiment of gaining a livelihood from a little land apparently was working. Some said there would be a thousand in the colony by the time of the Exposition and others predicted a population of 20,000 in the San Ysidro valley ultimately.92

The Little Landers never conceived of their operations as subsistence farming. They wanted to cultivate their acreage intensively but they aimed at a surplus which would bring in cash income. This feature was a factor in the location of the colony just twelve miles from San Diego. In the early years one of their number picked up garden produce with a wagon and cart that visited each homesite and then carried the daily output to the city where it was peddled from house to house. By the fall of 1912 the new city market had opened and Little Lander produce was dispensed at three stands at that location. By October 21, 1913, the Little Landers Market was incorporated as a non-profit cooperative.93 The directors included important leaders of the community such as H. Heath Bawden, John W. Gottsch and others. The Market soon had two operations going, a store called the Little Landers Market at 6th and B Streets in downtown San Diego and a cooperative at San Ysidro where merchandise bought at wholesale prices was available for the colonists. Some sixty-seven householders in the community agreed to support the financing of the cooperative enterprise and the medium of exchange for carrying on transactions was a coupon system. Coupons which the grower received for his produce shipped to San Diego were redeemable in merchandise at the San Ysidro cooperative store. The problem in this pioneer effort to elimate the middleman was the variation in quality of the produce. A Growers' Bureau of Little Landers Incorporated Association with Bawden as president met weekly to work out plans for grading and standardizing the different items scheduled for the city market.94 It was with the marketing system that the first serious dissension developed in the colony. The vegetables of better quality came from the fertile river bottom lands at San Ysidro but the producers on the upper lands whose products were inferior expected the same return on their sales and so the dispute was precipitated. Nor were they able to attract truck gardeners from the Tia Juana valley generally to participate in marketing arrangements in the city. Ultimately many who were not being paid adequately, according to their thinking, withdrew from the community market and sold independently in San Diego. The cooperative store at San Ysidro then ran into debt and was turned back to private enterprise to manage. The Little Landers Market corporation was suspended finally in February, 1915.95

Other problems surfaced in 1914 to trouble the Little Lander leadership. Francis Christy wrote to the State Engineer in January that some of the taxpayers of the San Ysidro Irrigation District believed the entire bond issue of $25,000 had been expended negligently because the water system was defective. They could get no accounting of the administration of the district and asked for a state investigation.96 In March, another complainant brought a lawsuit to force an accounting of the corporation's financial transactions. He had to pay assessments on his lots but had received no water though the benefits of irrigation were included in the purchase warranty.97 The problems relating to the water system appeared to be traceable to corroded pipes caused by the alkali soil and to the settling of one of the reservoir embankments.98 Furthermore, the colony was receiving unfavorable publicity in the East from the popular leading national farm journal, the Country Gentleman. The magazine's roving reporter on a tour of California seemed bent on a campaign to pan every thing in West Coast agriculture that seemed incongruous or unusual by Eastern standards. He refused to take the Little Landers seriously; he insisted that the colonists needed supplementary income to match their agricultural returns. He saw Smythe as a beguiling prophet of a new way of life who, in actuality, was just another slick real estate promoter. And finally, he noted that the promotional rhetoric in use, pitched to the Utopian theme, was necessary to attract gullible Eastern Americans to a form of intensive agriculture better practiced by the despised Orientals. Smythe countered by asking friends of the colony to write to the Country Gentleman so the truth would be known. Then in September the Little Landers assembled at Redwood Hall to hear Smythe talk further about countering this unfavorable national publicity. There was plenty of testimony as to the distortion and half truths indulged in by eastern agricultural journals concerned about the migration of farm families to the Golden State. Smythe concluded with the statement that "San Diego has mothered a movement which, founded five years ago, will march around the world in another five years, changing the face of our times and always infinitely for the better."99

Perhaps Eastern agricultural journalists and editors had discerned an aspect of Smythe's Little Lander movement that needed public airing. The commercial dimension of colony building was an essential ingredient in the founding of two new Little Landers colonies. In March, 1913, the Little Lands or Los Terrenitos colony was estabished in the suburbs of Los Angeles at a spot north of Glendale in the Monte Vista valley that would later be called Tujunga.100 Smythe and a realtor, M.V. Hartranft organized the Western Empire Suburban Farm Association which sold acre tracts and organized this colony with 208 settlers choosing locations during the first spring. Then a Bolton Hall clubhouse was built and a town meeting organized to govern the enterprise. All the familiar Smythe trappings were in evidence. By 1915 there were nearly 500 settlers and 200 homes were constructed. A cooperative, organized from the inception of the community, was modelled after San Ysidro's mercantile enterprise.101 The colony continued to flourish as a residential site long after poor soil conditions blocked achievement of the ideal, "a little land and a living."

The peripatetic Smythe took time off from his editorial chores at the San Diego Sun in the spring of 1914 to assist Rudolph Spreckels in the organization of a Woodrow Wilson Republican Progressive League.102 Apparently Smythe was jousting with Goveror Hiram Johnson and trying to win over his Progressive Republican supporters to support a Democratic candidate for governor.103 He also toured the San Francisco Bay area during the summer months seeking a new site for another Little Lander colony.104 This campaign led to the creation of a third Little Lander colony, this one called Hayward Heath. It reached a degree of maturity in 1916 with some sixty families on a tract of 2300 acres near the San Francisco (East) Bay town of Hayward. The Modern Homestead Association backed by some prominent businessmen in San Francisco was the sponsor of this colony. It had many of the same characteristics as the prior communities and featured acreage tracts, a town meeting form of government and a club house with planned activities so as to make a meaningful social life in the new surroundings. Mr. and Mrs. William Hevener, who had been Smythe's favorite colonists at San Ysidro, bought property at Hayward Heath and provided a model for Little Lander husbandry there.105

In the summer of 1916 Smythe was enlisted as the main speaker in a campaign to sell garden homes in the colony of Runnymede developed by a well-known Palo Alto poultryman, Charles Weeks, and the land owner, Peter Faber.106 He spoke of the "New Life of the Land" and illustrated his remarks with stereopticon slides taken from colony life at San Ysidro and Little Lands. He stressed the advantages of financial independence and community social life associated with intensive agriculture on small tracts: the Little Lander gospel. Gardening, of course would be supplemented by poultry raising under Weeks' tutelage. Smythe never did persuade Weeks and Faber to include him in their partnership. Untoward circumstances prevented Runnymede from becoming Little Lander Colony No. 4. At the time a state land commission was investigating the economic feasibility of Little Landers colonies as a part of a statewide survey of speculative practices in the sale of California farm tracts. The visit of Stanford University Professor M.S. Wildman to the Runnymede colony led Peter Faber to denounce "handkerchief farming" and to state that he would "not permit any dear old lady with $500 or $600 to settle upon a stone pile at Runnymede and try to make a living upon it."107 The supposed allusion to San Ysidro was patent. Faber and Weeks subsequently protected themselves by constituting a board of experts to screen all applicants for land purchase at their settlement.

The report of the State Commission on Land Colonization and Rural Credits was one of the factors that undermined the San Ysidro experiment in Little Lander agriculture. It was ironic that the colony should be pilloried by this commission as an object lesson in commercial exploitation of the indigent and ill-informed elderly. After all San Ysidro started out under idealistic auspices and its cohesiveness and loyalty persisted through much adversity. It was doubly ironic because the commission was the handiwork of Elwood Mead, formerly a close friend of Smythe dating back to Irrigation Congress days starting in 1891. Also Smythe had contributed to Mead's pathbreaking Report of Irrigation Investigations in California when Mead headed the irrigations agency of the U. S. Department of Agriculture.108 By 1915 Mead was Professor of Rural Institutions at the University of California and had become the prime mover in a program to investigate the sale of agricultural acreage in California. He wished to foster a model state land colony where speculative land profits could be eliminated and the ordinary farm family would be assisted in making a start in California agriculture.109 Mead's chief complaint was that speculators commanded large promotional and brokerage commissions during the height of the land boom between 1906 and 1912. To continue with these profits they were forced to subdivide their land into forty, then ten, five and even one acre tracts in order to maintain sales to persons of small capital.

As a part of this investigation sponsored by the state legislation and San Francisco's famous Commonwealth Club, a special inquiry was made of the Little Lander colonies by Professors M.S. Wildman of Stanford University and R.L. Adams of the University of California. When Smythe was interviewed by the eperts from the universities he noted how San Ysidro started out: "(We) had no land, no colony, no capital-nothing but the message of a little land and a living."110 Not speculative wealth but poverty was the hallmark of their effort. Despite adverse conditions a good many people had made a livelihood from their holdings. Later Smythe expanded on these comments in a brief statement to San Francisco's Commonwealth Club where Mead was presenting a summary of the state commission report. He wished to clear up some misapprehensions. Each family was not limited to one acre of ground. A family could occupy as much acreage as it could work without hiring outside labor. The principle was that men work "lovingly for themselves, but most do not do so for other people." He emphasized what he called the principle of the New Life of the Land. "The idea calls for housing our people, for having them instructed in the art, first, of feeding themselves, so that they can have a generous table, and then of concentrating upon poultry and many other things for their cash income, and having their homes, and being of the great city itself though not in the great city."111 The supreme advantage of this intensive form of agriculture was that no large capital investment was required. Smythe was in effect defending his program from charges of commercial aggrandizement. He never had felt comfortable in the role of real estate huckster. In December, 1915, he wrote to his close friend of Irrigation Congress days, George H. Maxwell, "just as far and as fast as possible I intend to separate my work entirely from the sale of land, although I expect that the influence of the movement will naturally and necessarily be favorable to the sale of vast amounts of land in time. Indeed, there is no other way in which people can have homes that I know of."112

The report of the commission and attendant publicity had a negative effect on the public opinion which Smythe had courted so many years. It reinforced the idea that from the commercial point of view the colony program was unsound since an acre of land was insufficient to provide a living for a family. The promotional literature was condemned for mixing up residence social values with productive values. Prospective colonists were sold on the prospect that the new life would be independent and easy. Such colonies would have been a success if settlers were required to have an outside income of at least $500 a year.113 Smythe recognized the body blow rendered by this report to his aspiration for making the Little Lander movement a national one. He still advocated the abiding principle of his form of colonization as late as the summer of 1917 through the pages of his journal, Little Lands in America. He spoke through the words of Bailey Millard, agricultural editor of the San Francisco Examiner:

Some of our academic economists do not approve of the little-land movement, which is gaining ground in these bellicose days. They do not agree with Lincoln that the most valuable of all arts is the art of deriving a comfortable subsistence from the smallest area of soil. But the spirit and need of the times are in favor of the small farm of only a few acres. Nobody will ever get rich by little landing, but it is now seen to be the solution of the bread and butter problem for vast numbers of people, a road to independence in old age and the stay of the nation in troublous times like these.114

In the meantime life at the San Ysidro colony proved to be eventful. The residents were troubled by the renewal of fighting across the border when bandits raided the town of Tecate in March, 1914. The postmaster was killed and looting occurred. The elderly leader of the settlement, George Hall, was in constant communication with the commanding officer at Fort Rosecrans asking for the stationing of a company of troops to protect the Little Landers. Although the request was rejected on the grounds of economy, leadership at the colony continued anxiously to await an invasion by bandits.115 George Hall, now in his seventy-fourth year did not take kindly to Major Davis' suggestion that his Civil War military experience would help him to organize a militia committee to protect the settlers at San Ysidro.116 The following year some 500 residents were afforded the protection of a military encampment of some 600 cavalrymen. By January, 1916, the Lower California Jockey Club opened its famed horse racing track at Tiajuana just a few miles south of the border. Some of James W. Coffroth's 300 race track employees lived at San Ysidro. Finally, Hall, the indomitable leader and agricultural expert at the colony, succumbed to the rigors of old age in May, 1915. He was active to the last with his writing in the San Diego Union under the heading of Horticultural Notes. This column, offering general gardening advice to the public, kept San Diegans informed of the achievements at San Ysidro.117 Professor Bawden succeeded as president. The San Ysidro Irrigation District was in a flourishing condition in 1915. The district's assets came to a little over $9,000 despite the fact that the directors had installed their elaborate pumping system three years earlier at a cost of $6,000. The income from monthly water tolls and assessments helped the district meet interest charges on the $25,000 bonded indebtedness.118 Although it was estimated at that time that about half of the families supplemented their income from outside employment, it seemed apparent to most that Smythe's Little Lander Colony No. 1 had safely surmounted its pioneer trials. The colonists had faith in their social ideal and San Ysidro was well on its way to becoming a permanent fixture in the San Diego suburban firmament.

The so-called Hatfield Flood in January, 1916, changed all this. In a matter of an hour or two early in the morning of January 18, one hundred families at the colony lost their homes, their livestock and household possessions. Indeed, two of this number, Mrs. Max Kastner and her sister-in-law, Miss Anna Kastner, drowned while being evacuated by boat from their home. The flood victims sought safety at the homes of the remaining colonists on the mesa lands. They had been located on about 110 acres of bottom land along the Tia Juana River. The river had swollen rapidly from the run-off of heavy rains near its source. Some people attributed the deluge to the "rainmaking" activities of Charles and Paul Hatfield near the Morena Reservoir.119 Twenty-five houses were totally destroyed along with the prized pumping plant, cement water mains and other parts of the distributing system. Needless to say, the crops were a total loss. John Calan, one of the leaders of the colony, phoned the San Diego Union asking for immediate assistance since the flood victims were without food, clothing and other necessities such as coal oil for lamps. C.P. Scriven set up a distribution center for these supplies at the town site. Then at this critical point in the fortunes of his colony Smythe arrived in San Diego to dramatize San Ysidro's plight before the Directors of the Chamber of Commerce. He explained that original plans had barred settlement on the valley floor as the leaders well knew the damage wreaked by the disastrous flood of 1895. In the meanwhile Southern California Water Company had diverted creeks upstream which gave the colonists a false sense of security. The people at San Ysidro were in desperate circumstances because they had no capital to purchase relief supplies. Most of them had paid for their homes but their money was in the land and this was all awash. He emphasized that the colony was determined to begin all over again. They wished to regain their livelihood, of course, but they also sought to p reserve "a system of life on the land which means much to the entire world."120 He started a Little Lander Relief Fund at the Spreckels Theatre building. His daughter, Mrs. Harold Champ, became custodian of the food and clothing offerings and Isaac Irwin, president of the Citizens Savings Bank and long time friend of the colony, was in charge of cash contributions.

San Diego's response was heartening and continued even after renewed downpours and the washing out of reservoirs brought widespread flood damage in the county generally. When Irwin visited the colony on January 22, he noted that some of the flood victims would require assistance for a month or two. He considered San Ysidro a great asset to San Diego; it should be preserved and extended. The San Diego Union editors backed up Irwin's plea for contributions. The city needed thrifty colonies such as San Ysidro since it was so dependent upon the surrounding agricultural districts.121 Several days after the onset of the flood there were 135 homeless settlers at San Ysidro. Visitors noted the courage and unselfish behavior of the colonists during this time of testing. By January 29 the refugee camp was ministering to a great many more families who had been washed out up and down the Tia Juana Valley as the rains resumed with increasing fury.122 San Diego contributions to the relief fund had swelled to about $2,000 and it was reported that E.W. Scripps had given the fund a check for $5,000. Katherine Tingley's pupils from the Raja Yoga School at Point Loma put on a benefit performance of Shakespeare's "As You Like It" at the Isis Theatre. Also James Coffroth, president of Lower California Jockey Club sponsored a vaudeville at the Spreckels Theatre for the Little Landers.123 Smythe was here, there and everywhere as he exerted every ounce of his energy on behalf of the stricken colony. Finally when the emergency was past he removed from the scene to Los Angeles in a complete state of exhaustion. There he remained under doctors' care suffering congestion of the lungs.124 Friend George Maxwell brought him resolutions of sympathy from the Little Landers Colony No. 2 at Tujunga and offered him advice on the future reconstitution of San Ysidro.

The colony survived the disastrous flood, but it would never be the same again. By the end of February, 1916, a new pumping plant was installed to supply domestic and irrigation water for the mesa dwellers at San Ysidro.125 The population of the settlement was sorely reduced in numbers but the irrigation district continued in being. The leaders made no immediate effort to reestablish the water system in the river valley since the settlers on these lands had all moved away after the flood had washed them out. The soil on the bottom lands was waterlogged and ruined for cultivation. A member of the San Ysidro Irrigation District Board summarized the situation: "This irrigation district is slowly growing out of a condition which two years ago was all but hopeless but it still requires careful nursing and close figuring to make both ends meet".126 The old wells in the valley were recovered and cleaned out and, by the summer of 1920, new land in the community was being taken up for families engaged in the commercial poultry business. Continued growth came in 1922 with twenty new places being built.127 Some 140 acres were irrigated and it was proposed to bring 355 more acres under water. Finally, in 1922 a new pump and high powered motor were installed to replace the pump destroyed in the 1916 flood.128 The settlers were concerned about the attempt of the Coronado Water Company to file water rights to the Tia Juana River. To offset this F.S. Cahill who had owned an acre tract in the colony since the organization of the district in 1911 originated a prior appropriation claim for San Ysidro water rights.129 Another long term settler, Lorenzo Judd, was secretary for the local irrigation at least until 1951.130 It was in the decade of the 1920s however, that San Ysidro definitely began to lose its agricultural character. The appearance of wide open gambling across the Mexican border at Tijuana increased the number of houses in the town. An engineer's survey carried out in anticipation of expansion of district water mains noted the work would chiefly provide fire protection for what had become largely a residential community.131 The distinctive Little Landers town meeting government was a casualty of the flood. The chartered entity, Little Landers Incorporated, was extinguished for failure to pay the state franchise tax in 1917. The next year, however, settlers were still making payments on their tracts and a complaint was raised that some of this money was being used by the corporation to buy emergency pumping equipment instead of clearing title to the land purchased.132 Probably the year 1918 can be safely fixed as the last year of the Little Lander experiment at San Ysidro.

In conclusion, one might ask how and why the San Ysidro colony came to an end. Contemporary witnesses and later observers are in agreement that it was the catastrophic flood of 1916 that finished off the Little Landers community experiment based on "a little land and a living."133 Other eroding forces have been noted. The violence and disorder across the border ensuing from the Mexican Revolution and persisting for many years beyond 1911 discouraged settlement. The report of the State Commission on Land Colonization, although unwarranted in its conclusions about Little Lander colonies, proved harmful to Smythe's promotional campaign. World War I has been blamed for unsettling employment conditions in San Diego county so that youth left San Ysidro for opportunities elsewhere.134 It has been charged, of course, that an acre was an insufficient size of agricultural holding. Since it imposed the necessity of intensive hand labor, native Americans as distinguished from Orientals, could not be attracted to this kind of livelihood despite putative social and cultural benefits.135 Smythe's concern was manifest at the time of the 1916 flood. He was willing to depart from the basic principle of "a little land and a living" to sanction supplementary income for his colonists and continued to give personal advice and lend encouragement to Little Landers through his journal, Little Lands in America, until the war came. Then his wife died and Smythe withdrew from California in 1918 to help Mead and others promote Interior Secretary Franklin Lane's abortive soldier homestead colony program. Subsequently he removed permanently to the East and launched another land settlement program. This time it was to help working men secure suburban garden homes through his American Homesteaders Society. Smythe died in New York City, October 6, 1922. 136 Some believe that his absence from the state at that juncture in the declining fortunes of all three Little Lander colonies was significant in their failure. What was more important, probably was the eclipse of both the homestead ideal and the back-to-the-land movement with the advent of World War I and the decade of the 1920s. Even Mead's heavily financed state agricultural colonies at Durham and Delhi could not succeed with public opinion so opposed to the agrarian way of life.137 Smythe could not recognize the incongruity of Little Lander intensive farming and the urban-industrial transformations of twentieth century America. He could little envision today's traffic snarls as millions cross into Mexico at the site of his "San Ysidro dream."138

 


 

NOTES:

1. Lee, Lawrence B., "William E. Smythe and San Diego, 1901-1908," Journal of San Diego History, XIV (Winter, 1973), 10-24.

2. Smythe, William E., City Homes on Country Lanes (New York, 1921); San Diego Union, July 29, 1908.

3. Smythe, Harriet H., "Biographical Sketch," Irrigation Age, XIV (October, 1899); 3-5.

4. Smythe, William E., "Real Utopias in the Arid West," Atlantic Monthly, LXXIX (1897), 605-609.

5. Smythe, William E., "One Irrigated Acre," Bureau of Reclamation Records, R. G. 115, National Archives.

6. Macfayden, Dugald, Sir Ebenezer Howard and the Town Planning Movement (Manchester, England, 1933); Arnold, Joseph L., The New Deal in the Suburbs (Columbus, Ohio, 1971).

7. "What this Magazine Stands For," Country Life in America, I (November, 1901), 24-25.

8. HaIl, Bolton, A Little Land and a Living (New York, 1908).

9. Maxwell, George H., "Get an Acre and Live from it" (October 30, 1904), R.G. 115, National Archives; Maxwell's Talisman, VI (August, 1906), 7, 21-22.

10. William E. Smythe, then busily engaged in writing the History of San Diego, became interested in the rebuilding of Old Town and sought to establish his Little Lander Colony at that site. After talking to prominent citizens, however, he found the land title search going back to Spanish days would make the land too expensive for his project. San Diego Union, June 23, 1913.

11. Destler, Chester M., Henry Demarest Lloyd and the Empire of Reform (Philadelphia, 1963), 424-434; Smythe to Maxwell, February 19, 1907, Maxwell's Talisman, VII (April, 1907), 126.

12. San Diego Union, February 19, 1907.

13. Ibid., October 6,1906; November 4,1907; February 15,1908; June 25, 1908.

14. Lee, "William E. Smythe and San Diego, 1901 -1908," 18-22.

15. San Diego Union, July 29, 1908.

16. Ibid.

17. San Diego Union, October 11, 1908.

18. Ibid., August 21, 1908.

19. "Articles of Incorporation of Little Landers Corporation," Corporation Files, California State Archives, Sacramento.

20. Hensley, Herbert C., "The Little Landers of San Ysidro," (typescript, no date), San Diego Public Library.

21. San Diego Union, December 15, 1908.

22. Ibid., December 16, 1908.

23. Pourade, Richard F., Gold in the Sun (San Diego, 1965), 110.

24. Assistant State Engineer Norboe who inspected the site in 1911 preliminary to approval of the San Ysidro Irrigation District operation found the soil "a fine sedimentary loam, very friable and easy to cultivate also very productive when irrigated but requiring more frequent application of water than firmer soil above the bottom land. The mesa soil was distinctive from the valley floor, firm and reddish in color, easy of cultivation and has calcareous matter included." California Water Resources Department, Sacramento.

25. San Diego Union, January 10, 12, 1909; Smythe, William E., "Quest of the Fortunate Life," West Coast Magazine, XIII (June, 1913), 3-8.

26. San Diego Union, May 16, 1909.

27. Ibid., May 18, 22, 23, 1909.

28. Ibid., June 18, 1909.

29. Smythe, City Homes on Country Lanes, 3-4.

30. Cowan, John L., "The Hope of Little Landers," World's Work, XXIII (November, 1911), 96-100.

31. San Diego Union, May 22, 1909; August 10, 1909.

32. San Diego Union, May 23, 1909.

33. Ibid., July 25, 1909.

34. Ibid., July 27, 28, 1909.

35. Ibid., August 22, 1909.

36. Smythe, "Quest of the Fortunate Life," 4.

37. Bowers, William L., "Country Life Reform, 1900-1920: A Neglected Aspect of Progressive Era History," Agricultural History, XLV (July, 1971), 211-221.

38. Smythe, William E. and Hall, George P., ed., Little Landers Library, I (1908), 8.

39. San Diego Union, October 29, 30, November 9, 1910; Poeton, Josiah, "Story of the Little Landers," Little Farms Magazine, I (October, 1911), 10.

40. Bawden, H. Heath, "A Nation of Little Landers," Little Farms Magazine, I (October, 1911), 11.

41. "Articles of Incorporation of Little Landers, Incorporated," Corporation Files, California State Archives, Sacramento.

42. "By-laws of the Little Landers, Incorporated, San Ysidro, California," (typescript, no date), San Diego Public Library; Hensley, Herbert C. "The Little Landers of San Ysidro."

43. Macfayden, Sir Ebenezer Howard and the Town Planning Movement, 27.

44. San Diego Union, January 1, 1914.

45. Ibid., June 23, 1913.

46. Hensley, Herbert C., "The Memoirs of Herbert C. Hensley," San Diego Public Library.

47. San Diego Union, April 26, 1911.

48. Smythe to W. R. Williams, State Superintendent of Banking, October 28, 1911, Correspondence File--San Ysidro Irrigation District, District Securities Division, State Treasurer, San Francisco.

49. Josiah Poeton to Commission on Irrigation Districts, May 9, 1911, ibid.

50. W.E. Smythe to Hiram Johnson, April 7,1911, Hiram Johnson Papers, Box 31, Bancroft Library, Berkeley.

51. San Diego Union, April 11, 13, 1911.

52. Norboe to N. Ellery, State Engineer, July 8, 1911, Correspondence File, District Securities Division, State Treasurer.

53. W.R. Williams to Hiram Johnson, June 7, 1911; California Statutes, 1911, ch. 157, pp. 322-324.

54. Smythe to Hiram Johnson, June 3, 1911; W.R. Williams to San Ysidro Irrigation District, June 21, 1911; Smythe to W.R. Williams, June 13, 1911; Josiah Poeton to Commission on Irrigation Districts, June 8, 1911, Correspondence File, Districts Securities Division. State Treasurer, San Francisco.

55. Norboe to Ellery, July 8, 1911, ibid.

56. In re San Ysidro Irrigation District, September 12, 1912, Correspondence File, District Securities Division, State Treasurer. San Francisco.

57. Poeton to Commission on Irrigation Districts, August 8, 29, 1911; U.S. Webb to W.R. Williams, September 15, 1911, ibid.; Little Farms Magazine, I (October, 1911)1-17.

58. Williams to Smythe, September 21, 1911; Smythe to Williams, September 27, 1911; Poeton to Williams, December 5, 1911; C.F. Young to Williams, February 9, 1912, Correspondence File, Districts Securities Division, State Treasurer.

59. Ellery to Commission on Irrigation Districts, January 25, 1912; E.B. Powers to W.R. Williams, February 15, 1912; C.F. Young to Williams, August 1, 1912; Edgar A. Luce to Williams, August 13, 1912; Williams to San Ysidro Irrigation District, August 22, 1912, Correspondence File, Districts Securities Division, State Treasurer.

60. San Diego Union, December 18, 1912.

61. Ibid., January 27, 1916.

62. Ibid., February 12, 1913.

63. Ibid., April 26, 28, 1911; Hensley, "The Little Landers of San Ysidro."

64. Smythe, "Quest of the Fortunate Life," West Coast Magazine, XIII (June,1913), 4.

65. Blaisdell, Lowell L., The Desert Revolution: Baja California, 1911 (Madison, 1962); Hensley, ibid.; "Little Landers Colony Prospectus, 1911"; "1912-1913," San Diego Public Library.

66. Smythe, William E., "For a Nation of Little Landers," Proceedings of the Nineteenth National Irrigation Congress, 1911, (Chicago, 1912), 176-180; San Francisco Call, December 15, 1911.

67. San Diego Union, October 18, 1911.

68. Ibid., January 5, 1912.

69. Smythe, City Homes on Country Lanes, 269.

70. San Diego Union, August 23, 1911.

71. Ibid., January 5, 1912.

72. Ibid., March 15, 1912.

73. Ibid., September 8, 1912; Los Angeles Record, March 22, 1912.

74. San Diego Sun, December(n.d.), 1912.

75. California Garden, IV (May, 1913), 5-6.

76. Smythe, "Quest of the Fortunate Life," 4.

77. San Diego Union, August 13, 1912; April 22, 1914; Pourade, Gold in the Sun, 175.

78. San Diego Union, June 23, 1913.

79. Ibid.

80. San Diego Union, January 1, 1914.

81. "Success with $600," Little Farms Magazine, I (October, 1911), 7.

82. Smythe, William E., "The True Arcadia" (typescript, no date), San Diego Public Library.

83. Hensley, "The Little Landers of San Ysidro."

84. Ibid.

85. Ibid.

86. Ibid.

87. "The Well Provided Life of an Acre," Little Landers in America, IV (August, 1917), 45-47.

88. San Diego Evening Tribune, August 6, 1954.

89. San Diego Union, August 30, 1959.

90. "Valiant Fight Made by the Little Landers," California Garden, IV (May, 1913), 5-6.

91. Smythe to Maxwell, December 4, 1915, Bureau of Reclamation Records, R.G. 115, National Archives, Washington, D.C.; Smythe, City Homes on Country Lanes, 96-102.

92. California Garden, IV (April, 1913), 6.

93. San Diego Union, September 17, 1912.

94. Ibid., September 7, 1913.

95. "Articles of Incorporation of the Little Landers Market," Corporation Files, California State Archives, Sacramento.

96. Francis Christy to State Engineer, January 15, 1914, Central Records, California Water Resources Department, Sacramento.

97. San Diego Union, March 22, 1914.

98. John W. Lawson to State Engineer, February 4, 1915, California Water Resources Department, Sacramento.

99. Dean, William H., "How Many Acres," Country Gentleman, (October 25, 1913), 1562-1563; Strothmann, F., "Out West: Swinging Round the Big Farm Circle," Country Gentleman (December 6, 1913), 16-17; San Diego Union, January 1, 1914, September 12, 1914.

100. Anderson, Henry S., "Some Phases of Land Colonization in California: The Little Lander Land Colonies, Proceedings of the Tenth Annual Pacific Coast Economic Conference (1931), 14-17; Ashby, Frederick M. "Little Landers of Los Angeles," in William E. Smythe, Hayward Heath: World's Fair Colony, 1915, Little Landers (San Francisco, 1915).

101. "Articles of Association of Little Landers Stores, Inc.," Los Terrenitos, Los Angeles County, June 7, 1913, Corporation Files, California State Archives, Sacramento.

102. San Diego Union, February 8, 1914.

103. "Address by William E. Smythe," Fresno, California, February 27, 1914, Hiram Johnson Papers, Box 31, Bancroft Library, Berkeley.

104. San Francisco Examiner, July 6, 1914, September 13, 1914.

105. Little Lands in America, IV (August, 1917), 45-47.

106. Palo Alto Times, July 15, 17, 1916.

107. Ibid., July 24, 1916.

108. Smythe, William F., The Conquest of Arid America (Seattle, 1969) (Reprint) xxxvii.

109. Commonwealth Club of California, Transactions, X (January, 1915), 83-87; Ibid., XI (December, 1916), 397-418.

110. Palo Alto Times, July 24, 1916.

111. Commonwealth Club, Transactions, XI (December, 1916), 425-426.

112. Smythe to Maxwell, December 31, 1915, Bureau of Reclamation Records. R.G. 115, National Archives, Washington, D.C.

113. California, Senate and Assembly, Report of the Commission on Land Colonization and Rural Credits, 42d Session, 1917, Journal, II, Appendix, 6-87.

114. "Little Landing the Stay of the Nation," Little Lands in America, IV (July, 1917), 9.

115. San Diego Union, March 18,1914.

116. Commonwealth Club, Transactions, XI (December, 1916), 425-26.

117. San Diego Union, May 18, 1915.

118. San Ysidro Irrigation District, Annual Report for 1915, Lorenzo Judd to State Engineer, March 9, 1916, Central Records, California Water Resources Department, Sacramento.

119. San Diego Union, January 18,19,1916; Pourade, Gold in the Sun, 208, 210-211.

120. San Diego Union, January 20, 21, 1916.

121. Ibid., January 22, 23, 24, 1916.

122. Ibid., January 29, 1916.

123. Ibid., January 25, 27, 1916; Pourade, Gold in the Sun, 217.

124. George Maxwell to H.F. Hatch, January 26, 1916; Maxwell to Fred Ashby, February 1, 1916, Maxwell to W.E. Smythe, February 2, 1916, Bureau of Reclamation Records, R.G. 115, National Archives, Washington, D. C.

125. San Ysidro Irrigation District, Annual Report for 1915.

126. San Ysidro Irrigation District, Annual Report for 1917, John W. Goftsch to State Engineer, March 1,1915, Central Records, California Natural Resources Department, Sacramento.

127. John Gottsch to State Engineer, February 17, 1919; Lorenzo Judd to State Engineer, February 1, 1921, Division of Water Rights, Central Records, California Natural Resources Department.

128. John Gottsch to State Engineer, January 30, 1923, Central Records, California Natural Resources Department.

129. F.S. Cahill to H.A. Kleugel, Division of Water Rights, Central Records, California Natural Resources Department.

130. L. Judd to California Districts Securities Commission, September 8, 1951, Central Records, California Natural Resources Department.

131. T.H. King to Board of Directors, San Ysidro Irrigation District, January 9, 1924, Central Records, California Natural Resources Department.

132. Anderson, Henry S., "The Little Landers' Colonies: A Unique Agricultural Experiment in California," Agricultural History, V (October, 1931), 139-150.

133. Hensley, "The Little Landers of San Ysidro"; Freeman, Larry, "Last Little Lander Recalls Area Farm Colony," San Diego Union, August 30, 1959; McCracken, Floyd, "Little Landers, San Ysidro Colony Incorporated 46 Years Ago Today," San Diego Evening Tribune, August 6, 1954; Hine, Robert, California's Utopian Colonies (San Marino, 1966), 147-148.

134. Hensley, "The Little Landers of San Ysidro."

135. Anderson, "The Little Landers Colonies," 144.

136. Smythe, William E., The Conquest of Arid America, (Seattle, 1969) Reprint, xli-xlii.

137. Griswold, A. Whitney, Farming and Democracy (New York, 1948); Conkin, Paul, "The Vision of Elwood Mead," Agricultural History, XXXIV (April, 1960), 88-97.

138. Grant, Richard, "The San Diego and Tijuana Basin," Cry California IX (Winter, 1973-74), 26-29.


Lawrence B. Lee is Professor of History, San Jose State University. He received his Ph.D. in History at the University of Chicago (1957), and has taught at Fort Hays Kansas State College, the University of Detroit and Northwestern University. He has been at San Jose since 1957. Professor Lee's specialty is Western American and Agricultural History, and he has written numerous articles in these fields. His article entitled "William E. Smythe and San Diego, 1901-1908," appeared in the Journal of San Diego History, Vol. XIX, No. I (Winter, 1973).