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Guide to the Pleasants Family Papers
MS-R044  
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Collection Details
 
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  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Collection Scope and Content Summary
  • Related Collections
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Pleasants family papers,
    Date (inclusive): 1856-1973
    Date (bulk): (bulk 1860-1869, 1920-1940)
    Collection number: MS-R044
    Creator: Pleasants family
    Extent: 2.9 linear feet (8 boxes and 1 oversize folder) 231 digitized objects
    Repository: University of California, Irvine. Library. Special Collections and Archives.
    Irvine, California 92623-9557
    Abstract: This collection comprises the personal papers of J.E. Pleasants and his first and second wives, Mary Refugio Carpenter Pleasants and Adelina Pleasants, and includes diaries, correspondence, manuscripts, negatives, and photographic prints. J.E. Pleasants' long association with the Santa Ana Mountains and Santiago Canyon, cattle ranching, and beekeeping are all documented. The diaries and correspondence of Mary Refugio Carpenter Pleasants provide a glimpse into life in Southern California in the 1860s. Adelina Pleasants' work as a writer of Southern California and Orange County history in the early 20th century is also represented. The collection contains some tintypes, cabinet cards, and a carte-de-visite album documenting a number of Southern California pioneers, including members of the Carpenter and Wolfskill families.
    Language: English.
    Selected digitized images from this collection.

    Administrative Information

    Access

    Collection is open for research. Access to fragile originals is restricted when preservation photocopies are available.

    Publication Rights

    Property rights reside with the University of California. Literary rights are retained by the creators of the records and their heirs. For permissions to reproduce or to publish, please contact the Head of Special Collections and Archives.

    Preferred Citation

    Pleasants Family Papers. MS-R44. Special Collections and Archives, The UC Irvine Libraries, Irvine, California. Date accessed.
    For the benefit of current and future researchers, please cite any additional information about sources consulted in this collection, including permanent URLs, item or folder descriptions, and box/folder locations.

    Acquisition Information

    Acquired, ca. 1966-1996, as part of the Don Meadows Papers (MS-R01). Meadows acquired the Pleasants Family Papers as part of William McPherson's files in the early 1960s and held them as a distinct entity within his larger collection of Orange County and Southern California research and ephemera files.

    Processing History

    Processed by Phil Brigandi, 2001.

    Biography/Organization History

    Biographies

    J.E. Pleasants

    Joseph Edward Pleasants, known to his friends as Ed, was born in Missouri in 1839, the son of James and Lydia Pleasants. His mother died in 1848 and in 1849 he traveled with his father across the continent to the California gold fields. In 1851 the family moved to Solano County, settling in what is still known as Pleasants Valley. In 1856 J.E. moved to Los Angeles County to attend a private school taught by H. D. Barrows on the William Wolfskill ranch. From 1861-1866 he served as Wolfskill's foreman on the Rancho Lomas de Santiago in the Santa Ana Mountains, where he made his headquarters in a small wooden building in what is now Irvine Regional Park. He married Mary Refugio Carpenter in 1868 and settled in Aliso Canyon. Following the discovery in 1874 that their first home site was located on the Rancho Cañada de los Alisos, the Pleasants family moved to upper Santiago Canyon.
    After the death of his wife in 1888, he sold his ranch to Helena Modjeska, a noted Shakespearean actress, and the upper part of the canyon became known as Modjeska Canyon. Modjeska incorporated the Pleasants cabin into Arden, her new home, which still stands as of 2001. J.E. married Adelina Brown, a schoolteacher who had been boarding at his house, in 1890 and, after living briefly in Silverado Canyon, they moved to nearby Williams Canyon in 1892.
    Beginning in the 1860s he raised cattle, horses, Angora goats, and kept bees. He seems to have abandoned the cattle business in the 1880s and turned more and more of his attention to beekeeping as the years went on. He was active in the early years of the Orange County Fair, beginning in 1890, and often officiated at horse races, which earned him the honorary title of "Judge." In 1902 he was appointed the first Orange County Bee Inspector, a position he held until 1927. By the early years of the 20th Century, he was recognized as an important link to the early history of Southern California and his recollections often appeared in print, sometimes under his own name and sometimes in articles written by others. He died on June 13, 1934, at the age of 95.

    Mary Refugio Carpenter Pleasants

    Mary Refugio Carpenter, known throughout her life as Refugio, was born in Los Nietos, California (near Whittier in Los Angeles County) on July 4, 1845, the daughter of Lemuel Carpenter and Maria Dominguez Carpenter. Her father, an early American settler and landowner in Los Angeles County, eventually lost his land to debt and committed suicide in 1859. Mary Refugio and J.E. Pleasants began a long courtship in the early 1860s, culminating in their marriage on July 15, 1868. Refugio's brother, Francisco (Pancho) Carpenter, was a partner with J.E. in some of his earliest ranching ventures. Mary Refugio often suffered from poor health, and she eventually died of tuberculosis on January 26, 1888, at just 42 years of age. The Pleasants had no children. Her diaries, written between 1860 and 1865, provide a personal glimpse into the Pleasants' lives, and portions of them have been published by Frances Meadows, along with her extensive research notes.

    Adelina Pleasants

    Mary Adelina (or Addie) Brown was born in Petaluma, California in the 1850s, and came to Los Angeles County at an early age. From 1886-1888 she taught school in Silverado Canyon, boarding with J.E. Pleasants and Mary Refugio in their home. Following Mary Refugio's death, Adelina and J.E. were married in the fall of 1890. Adelina was devoted to her new husband and wrote most, if not all, of the articles that appeared under his by-line over the years. She also wrote extensively under her own name, specializing in Orange County and Southern California history and natural history. In 1931 she wrote the principal historical sections for a three-volume History of Orange County, California (Los Angeles: J.R. Finnell & Sons), but sales were poor during the Depression years and she received little compensation for her work. Most of her later writings appeared in various Orange County newspapers, including the Santa Ana Register. She was active in the Orange County Historical Society and the Native Daughters of the Golden West. Following her husband's death, Adelina made her home in Orange, where she died on May 10, 1943.

    Chronology

    1839 J.E. Pleasants born in Missouri.
    1845 Mary Refugio Carpenter born on July 4th in Los Nietos, California.
    1849 J.E. Pleasants crosses the continent to the California gold fields.
    1850s Adelina Brown born in Petaluma, California.
    1851 The Pleasants family settles in Solano County, California.
    1856 J.E. Pleasants moves to Los Angeles County to attend a private school on the William Wolfskill ranch.
    1859 Overburdened with debts, Lemuel Carpenter (father of Mary Refugio Carpenter Pleasants) commits suicide.
    1859 J.E. Pleasants makes his first trip into the Santa Ana Mountains.
    1861 J.E. Pleasants moves to Santiago Canyon to serve as foreman of the Rancho Lomas de Santiago.
    1864 Trying to escape the drought, J.E. Pleasants spends almost a year on the Mojave Desert herding cattle and horses.
    1865 Mary Refugio Carpenter is granted a teaching certificate.
    1868 J.E. Pleasants and Mary Refugio Carpenter marry on July 15th and settle in Aliso Canyon. J.E. Pleasants begins keeping bees about this time.
    1874 Learning their homesite is actually on the Rancho Cañada de los Alisos, a neighboring rancho, the Pleasants move to upper Santiago Canyon. J.E. Pleasants begins raising Angora goats about this time.
    1879 J.E. Pleasants serves as president of the Los Angeles County Beekeepers Association.
    1880 J.E. Pleasants elected president of the Southern California Beekeepers Association.
    1884 J.E. Pleasants goes to New Orleans to supervise the California bee exhibit at the World's Industrial and Cotton Exposition.
    1886 Adelina Brown begins teaching school in Silverado and boarding with the Pleasants.
    1888 Mary Refugio Carpenter Pleasants dies on January 26th.
    1888 J.E. Pleasants sells his ranch to Helena Modjeska and moves to Silverado Canyon.
    1890 J.E. Pleasants helps to found the first Orange County Fair Association.
    1890 J.E. Pleasants and Adelina Brown marry.
    1892 The Pleasants move to Williams Canyon.
    1902-1927 J.E. Pleasants serves as Orange County's first Bee Inspector.
    1920 J.E. Pleasants elected president of the California State Bee Keepers Association.
    1920 J.E. Pleasants made an honorary member of the new Orange County Historical Society.
    1930 J.E. Pleasants' recollections published by Touring Topics magazine.
    1931 Adelina Pleasants publishes her three-volume History of Orange County (Los Angeles: J.R. Finnell & Sons).
    1932 Adelina Pleasants publishes a series on "The Old Spanish Families of Orange County" in the South Coast News.
    1934 J.E. Pleasants dies on June 13th.
    1934 Adelina Pleasants moves to Orange.
    1937 Adelina Pleasants publishes a series of historical features in the Santa Ana Register.
    1943 Adelina Pleasants dies on May 10th.

    Bibliography

    J.E. Pleasants

    Published Biographies

    Armor, Samuel. History of Orange County, California (Los Angeles: Historic Record Co., 1911), 112-114.
    Armor, Samuel. History of Orange County, California , 2nd ed. (Los Angeles: Historic Record Co., 1921), 218-219.
    McPherson, William. "Joseph Edward Pleasants, '49er," Orange County History Series 3 (1939): 41-50.
    Pleasants, Mrs. J.E. History of Orange County, California , Vol. 2 (Los Angeles: J. R. Finnell & Sons, 1931), 154-160.

    Related Material

    Meadows, Don, ed. The Cattle Drives of Joseph E. Pleasants from Baja California in 1867 and 1868 (Los Angeles: Dawson's Book Shop, 1965).
    Pleasants, William J. Twice Across the Plains, 1849 & 1856 (Fairfield, Wash.: Ye Galleon Press, 1981).
    Sleeper, Jim. A Grizzly Introduction to the Santa Ana Mountains: A Boys' Book of Bear Stories (Not for Boys) (Trabuco Canyon, Calif.: California Classics, 1976).
    Stephenson, Terry. "Old Hunter Series," Santa Ana Register (1919 May 24 and 31). Articles available in Orange County Newspaper and Magazine Clippings Collection (MS-R81).

    Mary Refugio Carpenter Pleasants

    Related Material

    Meadows, Frances M. "Diary of a Young Girl in the 1860s," Downey Historical Society Annual 3 (1968-1969): 39-67.
    Meadows, Frances M. "Diary of Mary Refugio Carpenter for the Year 1861," Downey Historical Society Annual 4/5 (1969-1971): 29-78.

    Collection Scope and Content Summary

    This collection comprises the personal papers of J.E. Pleasants and his first and second wives, Mary Refugio Carpenter Pleasants and Adelina Pleasants, and includes diaries, correspondence, manuscripts, negatives, and photographic prints. J.E. Pleasants' long association with the Santa Ana Mountains and Santiago Canyon, cattle ranching, and beekeeping are all documented. The diaries and correspondence of Mary Refugio Carpenter Pleasants provide a glimpse into life in Southern California in the 1860s. Adelina Pleasants' work as a writer of Southern California and Orange County history in the early 20th century is also represented. The collection contains some tintypes, cabinet cards, and a carte-de-visite album documenting a number of Southern California pioneers, including members of the Carpenter and Wolfskill families.
    The collection is organized in the following four series:
    • Series 1. Biographical material, 1857-ca. 1979. 0.6 linear ft.
    • Series 2. Correspondence, 1855-1946. 0.8 linear ft.
    • Series 3. Manuscripts and research notes, ca. 1901-ca. 1939. 0.6 linear ft.
    • Series 4. Photographs, ca. 1860-ca. 1949. 0.8 linear ft.

    Related Collections

    The Don Meadows Papers (MS-R01) in Special Collections and Archives, UC Irvine Libraries, include Frances Meadows' complete handwritten transcriptions of the Mary Refugio Carpenter Pleasants diaries and her extensive research notes on the people and events mentioned in the diaries and correspondence. The Orange County Newspaper and Magazine Clippings Collection (MS-R81) contains copies of a number of articles by Adelina and J.E. Pleasants.

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.

    Subjects

    Pleasants, Joseph E. (Joseph Edward), 1839-1934--Archives.
    Pleasants, Mary Refugio Carpenter--Archives.
    Pleasants, J.E., Mrs.--Archives.
    Carpenter family--Archival resources.
    Wolfskill family--Archival resources.
    Ranching--California--Orange County--Archival resources.
    Bee culture--California--Orange County--Archival resources.
    Santa Ana Mountains (Calif.)--History--Archival resources.
    Santiago Canyon (Calif.)--History--Archival resources.
    Orange County (Calif.)--Archival resources.

    Genres and Forms of Materials

    Photographic prints--California--Orange County--19th century.
    Photographic prints--California--Orange County--20th century.
    Cartes-de-visite--California--Orange County--19th century.
    Cabinet photographs--California--Orange County--19th century.
    Cabinet photographs--California--Orange County--20th century.
    Tintypes--California--Orange County--19th century.
    Card photograph albums--California--Orange County--19th century.
    Diaries--California--Orange County--19th century.
    Negatives--California--Orange County.
    Artifacts--California--Orange County.

    Occupations

    Historians--California--Orange County.
    Ranchers--California--Orange County.

    Other Index Terms Related to this Collection

    Pleasants, Joseph E. (Joseph Edward), 1839-1934.
    Pleasants, Mary Refugio Carpenter.
    Pleasants, J.E., Mrs.