Tuesday, June 7, 2011

San Francis Ranch

Inyo County, August 30, 1993

Just 2 miles from the previous landmark site we come to the site of San Francis Ranch and its relatively new plaque dedicated in 1985 by the ever vigilant Slim Princess Chapter 395 of E Clampus Vitus. With unobstructed views of the White Mountains to the east and the Sierras to the west, it’s easy to imagine this region just as Samuel Bishop did,  as excellent grazing land for cattle and thus much closer access to supply beef to the thriving mines to the north. Ultimately the practice of raising free range cattle didn’t take into consideration the delicate eco-balance of subsistence foods for the Paiute people and despite earlier agreements, a war broke out.

Bishop was already well established in the grapevine region as a landowner, cattleman, and even justice of the peace, presiding over disputes and rodeos. A rodeo back then was when range cattle were rounded up and then divided by brand. Sam apparently was an earthy, get things done kind of guy, as described in his Fort Tejon days by Captain Gardner: “I have here a Justice of the Peace on my hands, who I sent for on some public business. I have given him an intelligent soldier for a clerk, and he, the Justice, is now preparing himself by reading a thick volume of California laws. His appearance is not very judicial. He is in his shirt sleeves, with a hat considerably the worse for wear, a huge pair of Mexican spurs, with buckskin leggings, and of course, what no Californian travels without, a revolver in his belt." Sam married Frances Ella Young, an early settler in Los Angeles, an namesake of the ranch site. Somehow the spelling of her given name evolved from the female ‘Frances’ to the male ‘Francis’ and for the time being we’ll lay this error on the Slim Princess Chapter 395.

You’d think the Bishops would have stayed put, having a good thing going in the Owens Valley, but they packed up the kids and move to San Jose, where Sam developed the street car system. 

Owens Valley about 1907 - OAC Photo

NO. 208 SAN FRANCIS RANCH - In 1861, Samuel A. Bishop, his wife, and party left Fort Tejón for the Owens Valley driving 650 head of stock. On August 22, Bishop reached a creek later named for him and southwest of this spot. San Francis Ranch was established there. At the site a peace treaty was signed by the settlers and the chiefs of the Paiute Indians.
Location: 3 mi SW of Bishop at intersection of Red Hill Rd and State Hwy 168
Google: 37.360897,-118.454665

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