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Rose (Leonard John) Papers
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Access
  • Publication Rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • Provenance
  • Separated Materials
  • Processing Information
  • Biographical Note
  • Scope and Content
  • Arrangement
  • General

  • Contributing Institution: The Huntington Library
    Title: Leonard John Rose papers
    Creator: Rose, L. J. (Leonard John), 1827-1899.
    Identifier/Call Number: mssRoselj
    Physical Description: 2.4 Linear Feet (4 boxes)
    Date (inclusive): 1813-1953
    Date (bulk): 1858-1953
    Abstract: This collection relates to Southern California rancher and horse-breeder Leonard J. Rose (1827-1899) and his family and chiefly consists of drafts of the memoirs and descriptions of 18th and 19th century California social life and customs created by Rose's son Leonard John Rose, Jr. (1862-), an amateur historian. In addition there is some family correspondence, printed material and ephemera, Leonard John Rose's account of leading a failed California-bound emigrant train from the Midwest, and the diary of Martha True Fargo, L.J. Rose Jr.'s mother-in-law. The diary provides a social history of women in Portage, Wisconsin in 1864.
    Language of Material: English.


    Open to qualified researchers by prior application through the Reader Services Department. For more information, contact Reader Services.

    Publication Rights

    The Huntington Library does not require that researchers request permission to quote from or publish images of this material, nor does it charge fees for such activities. The responsibility for identifying the copyright holder, if there is one, and obtaining necessary permissions rests with the researcher.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item]. Leonard John Rose Papers, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.


    Gifts of Rose Sanderson, 1941, Leonard John Rose, Jr., 1942, Hinda Amanda Rose, 1958-1967, Mrs. Markel W. Gallagher, 1959, and Mrs. and Mrs. John P. Gallagher, 1959-1979.

    Separated Materials

    Photographs from this collection were transferred to the photograph collection in the Rare Books Department: Leonard J. Rose Family Photograph Collection, 1888-1979 (bulk 1888-1941): photCL 156.

    Processing Information

    Finding aid prepared by Gustavo Licon and Brooke M. Black, December 5, 2008 and updated by Brooke M. Black, April 6, 2013, following the incorporation of additional materials that had been received from Mr. and Mrs. John Gallagher (housed in Box 4). Original finding aid converted into PDF document by B. Black, 2013-04-06. In 2016, Huntington Library Staff replaced the HDL version and published an EAD-encoded version of the finding aid in the Online Archive of California.

    Biographical Note

    Leonard John Rose (1827-1899) was born in Bavaria, Germany, in 1827. His family moved to the United States in 1839, where they lived in New Orleans, Louisiana, and then moved to Waterloo, Illinois. Rose attended Shurtliff College in Alton, Illinois. He became a mercantilist, trading goods up and down the Mississippi River, and opened his own general store. Rose married Amanda Markel Jones, daughter of Elizabeth and Ezra Jones, in Keosauqua, Van Buren County, Iowa, in 1851. They had ten children: Annie (Sanderson), Nina R. (Wachtel), Daisy (Montgomery), Maud (Easton), Mabel (Pike), Harry Ezra Rose, Leonard "Leon" John Rose Jr., Guy Rose, and Roy Rose. After a child died in the 1850s, Rose took advantage of his economic success and pursued his dream of establishing a horse breeding ranch in California. He sold his store and organized an emigrant train of ox driven wagons. The Rose Party, as it came to be known, set out for California from Iowa in 1858. They took the southern route to avoid Utah, passing through the territory of New Mexico instead. Native Americans assaulted their party by the Colorado River, forcing the emigrants to retreat. The Rose family spent close to two years in Santa Fe, where they bought a small inn called "La Fonda." They made their way to Los Angeles, California, in 1860 and Rose bought an estate in the San Gabriel Valley. He named it Sunny Slope and it came to encompass approximately 2,000 acres. At Sunny Slope, Rose grew grapes, oranges, walnuts, and manufactured wine and brandy in the thousands of gallons a year. Rose used his economic success to pursue his interests in breeding trotter horses and racing them in harness races across the country. He bred several record setting horses and sold them individually and in a series of record breaking auctions in New York. Rose also made a large profit from selling Sunny Slope to an English company in 1887, which he used to pay off debts, buy Rose-Meade ranch, which is now part of the city of Rosemead, and build a lavish home in downtown Los Angeles. Rose began a term as a California State Senator for Los Angeles in 1887. In the following decade, he made a series of bad investments in California and Nevada that ruined him financially. In 1899, mounting financial duress drove Rose to commit suicide in his Los Angeles home. He was survived by his wife, Amanda Rosa, and eight sons and daughters. His son, Guy Rose, became an internationally renowned impressionist landscape painter.

    Scope and Content

    This collection relates to Southern California rancher and horse-breeder Leonard J. Rose (1827-1899) and his family and chiefly consists of drafts of the historical writings of Rose's son Leonard John Rose, Jr. (1862-). In addition there is some family correspondence, printed material and ephemera, and manuscripts on California pioneers and emigrant narratives. Leonard John Rose, Jr. was an amateur historian and this collection contains drafts of his memoirs and descriptions of 18th and 19th century California social life and customs. In "A Serial in Three Parts," L. J. Rose Jr. thoroughly describes the livestock management practices and horsemanship of Mexican cowboys in 18th and 19th century California. In Gringos grandees, he further illustrates the social life and customs of Mexicans and Native Americans living in a small village in the San Gabriel Valley. In this manuscript, L. J. Rose, Jr., narrates his and his father's life stories, with accounts of his family's move west, success in wine production and horse breeding, but it is also a local view of Los Angeles and California history in the second half of the 19th century. The writing in this collection of Leonard John Rose is limited to his accounts of leading a failed California bound emigrant train from the Midwest. The third section contains short biographies of L. J. Rose and Calvin F. Fargo, narratives of the Rose Party, and the diary of Martha True Fargo, L.J. Rose, Jr.'s mother-in-law. The diary provides a social history of women in Portage, Wisconsin in 1864. The ephemera section of this collection revolves around newspaper and magazine clippings about the Rose family, their homes and estates, their prize winning horses, and their wine production. Some of the newspaper articles are from the Los Angeles Times and the Illustrated Los Angeles Herald, while the magazine articles include a 1950 three part series entitled, "Pastime of Millions" by Carleton F. Burke in The Thoroughbred of California. Additions to the collection, received from Mr. and Mrs. John Gallagher, includes correspondence: one letter by L. J. Rose, Sr. to his wife Amanda (1853); a letter by John V. Wachtel to Nina Rose before they were married (1879); and several letters between Wachtel, the firm Britton & Gray and California Senator Frank P. Flint regarding Bill S. 1038, an "act to provide for the adjudication and payment of claims arising from Indian depredations" (1909). There are also several pages from a scrapbook and four artifacts belonging to the Rose family. The scrapbook contains clippings regarding Los Angeles, the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, the death of L. J. Rose, ephemeral items belonging John V. Wachtel and his life in Baltimore, ephemeral item belonging to Nina Rose Wachtel, and two handwritten letters (one by Harry Rose and one by L. J. Rose, Jr. to their sister Nina). There is also a bill of freight from 1813-1814. This correspondence is arranged chronologically. This collection contains references to several notable individuals such as: Guy Rose, Jean Louis Vignes, Leland Stanford, Tiburcio Vasquez, Robert Bonner, William Henry Vanderbilt, Edward Fitzgerald Beale, Stephen Watts Kearny, and Henry Tifft Gage. Items in this collection touch upon several aspects of California history from the 18th and 19th centuries such as: agriculture, gold discoveries, Californios, capitalists, Chinese Americans, droughts, harness horse breeding and racing, Kearny's Expedition, land grants, livestock, the San Gabriel Mission, Mohave Indians, Anglo-American pioneers, railroads, ranches and ranch life. This collection also contains items on 19th century New York auctions and culture, horse breeding and racing in the United States, overland journeys to California, and women in 19th century Wisconsin.


    Organized in the following 4 series: Series 1. Manuscripts by Leonard John Rose, Jr.; Series 2. Manuscripts by Leonard John Rose, Sr.; Series 3: Going West Accounts, manuscripts on California pioneers and emigrant narratives; Series 4. Ephemera; and addition to papers.


    Individual call numbers included in the collection: mssHM 70723-70754, mssHM 79231-79240.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Agriculture --California, Southern
    Auctions -- New York (State) -- New York.
    Capitalists and financiers -- California
    Chinese Americans -- California
    Droughts -- California
    Harness racehorses -- United States
    Harness racing -- United States
    Horse racing -- United States
    Indians of North America -- West (U.S.)
    Kearny's Expedition, 1846.
    Land grants -- California
    Livestock -- California
    Mexican American cowboys.
    Mexicans -- California
    Mohave Indians.
    Overland journeys to the Pacific.
    Pioneers -- California
    Railroads -- California -- Los Angeles
    Ranch life -- California, Southern
    Ranchers -- California, Southern
    Tourism -- California, Southern
    Wine and wine making -- California, Southern
    Wine industry -- California
    Women -- Wisconsin.
    California -- Gold discoveries
    California -- History -- 19th century -- Sources
    Los Angeles (Calif.)
    New York (N.Y.)
    San Gabriel River Valley (Calif.)
    Clippings (information artifacts).
    Manuscripts-- California ---- 19th century
    Manuscripts-- California ---- 20th century
    Memoirs-- California ---- 20th century
    Bonner, Robert, 1824-1899
    Flint, Frank P. (Frank Putnam), 1862-1929
    Kearny, Stephen Watts, 1794-1848
    Rose, Guy, 1867-1925
    Rose, L. J. (Leonard John), 1862-
    Vanderbilt, William H. (William Henry), 1821-1885
    Vasquez, Tiburcio, 1835-1875
    Mission San Gabriel Arcangel (San Gabriel, Calif.)
    Palace Hotel (San Francisco, Calif.)