This past Saturday [May 20, 2006] I attended the 7th Annual Rancho
Nipomo Heritage Day
which was held at the historic Dana Adobe in
Nipomo. [here] is a slide show of photographs taken at the event. See
Local photo archive for 21 interpreted photos (with permission by photographer)
Kodak Link for all 160 photos; (You may have to
sign in to the Kodak site to see the photos there, and they may not persist
after some point in time]
or click this button
Just for background, construction of the Dana Adobe began in 1839 and was
completed in about 1851. It was the home of Captain William G. Dana of
Boston who was a Yankee Sea Captain who traded with and married into a
Californio family, Capt. Dana is sometimes confused with his cousin,
Richard [Henry] Dana, who wrote the famous novel
"Two Years Before the Mast"
. Captain John C. Fremont was a guest at the
Rancho and from the 1850's to the 1890's stagecoaches traveling north and
south stopped at the Rancho to change horses.
Captain Dana's wife, Maria Josefa Carrillo was the daughter of Carlos
Carrillo of Santa Barbara, a one-time governor of California under Mexico.
She was also the niece of General Jose Castro who commanded California
troops against the American takeover of California in 1846 and '47. The
Dana's had thirteen children who were raised not only in the traditions,
religion and language of Mexican California, but in their father's native
language, values and customs as well.
In my opinion, the Rancho Nipomo Heritage Day is the finest reenactment of
1850's Rancho life anywhere and a must see for anyone interested in early
California history. Many historical reenactors were on hand who recreated
historical figures including Capt. Dana and "The Pathfinder", John C.
Fremont. Vaquero horsemanship and roping was demonstrated as well as period
music and dancing performances.
My very Bueno Amigo, Ian McKnight, and his girlfriend Jeanne attended the
event with me. Jeanne took the excellent digital photographs in the
attached slide show, while Ian joined me in wearing period-correct clothing
and manning the Native Son's of the Golden West display. Our
weapons and accoutrements used by the 1850 decade San Luis Obispo Lawmen and
Vigilantes who battled the infamous Jack Powers Gang and ended their reign
of terror on June 12th, 1858 in a shootout on Captain John Wilson's Rancho
Canada de Los Osos. We also distributed historical information handouts to
guests at the festival.
One surprise we had was a visitor to our booth, a gentleman who allowed
us to handle and photograph a double-edged dagger he found at the Dana Adobe
as a youth some forty years ago. The gentleman, who requested that his
identity be kept anonymous, stated he found the dagger protruding from a
broken adobe brick. I examined it and it is an authentic dagger produced by
"Woodhead, Sheffield" [England] and having bone or ivory scales and silver
cross guard and escutcheon plate. These knives were very popular during the
California Gold Rush period and were imported in large numbers. In a period
in which everyone went armed and handguns were scarce and expensive, Bowies
and daggers such as this provided an economical means of self-defense. These
double-edged blades were especially desirable because they offered the user
two edges. Typically, one edge was kept keenly sharp for fine work while
the other was abused for rough, day-to-day utility work. One can only
conjecture how the knife came to be sealed in an adobe brick, possibly
dropped unnoticed into the mud by someone toiling at forming bricks.
Anyway, I thought I would forward this information and photograph slide show
to you in case you wanted to add them to the Morro-Bay.com historical page.
I want to also pass on that I received compliments from a member of the
D.A.N.A. group on the web page you assembled.
gentleman said that the historical articles posted on the site were very
useful to him. It was very rewarding to know that this information is
finding its way into the community, and the thanks belongs completely to you
for your outstanding talent and effort.