Kewen Dorsey Collection

Finding aid prepared by Sara Chetney, MA
Special Collections, Honnold/Mudd Library
800 North Dartmouth Ave
Claremont 91711
© 2018
Claremont University Consortium. All rights reserved.

Descriptive Summary

Title: Kewen Dorsey Collection
Dates: 1735-1933 and undated
Dates: 1879-1933 and undated
Collection number: H.Mss.0272
Creator: Dorsey, Kewen
Extent: 1.5 Linear Feet (3 document boxes)
Repository: Claremont Colleges. Library. Special Collections, Honnold/Mudd Library. Claremont, CA 91711
Abstract: This collection contains the diaries of early California resident Kewen Hilliard Dorsey. Born in El Monte in 1857, Dorsey grew up in the town of Spadra with his grandfather, W.W. Rubottom, and later lived in Los Angeles and Fontana. Dorsey was active in his community, a member of a Masonic lodge and pioneer groups. The bulk of the materials in this collection consists of Dorsey's diaries, though it also contains account books, various writings, record books, and a day book belonging to Dorsey's mother Civility Rubottom.
Physical Location: Please consult repository.
Language of Material: Languages represented in the collection: English.

Administrative Information


Collection open for research.

Publication Rights

All requests for permission to reproduce or to publish must be submitted in writing to Special Collections.

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Kewen Dorsey Papers (H.Mss.0272). Special Collections, The Claremont Colleges Library, Claremont, California.

Provenance / Source of Acquisition

Gift of Kewen Dorsey, 1932.


No additions to the collection are anticipated.

Processing Information

Items were placed in archival housing, and arranged into chronological order.

Biographical / Administrative History

Kewen Hilliard Dorsey (1857 - 1933) was a member of one of Southern California's first pioneer families. Born in El Monte, Dorsey became a resident of Spadra, a small town that was eventually absorbed by surrounding cities. He moved to Los Angeles in 1878, before making his residence in Fontana towards the end of his life. He was the son of Mexican War veteran Hilliard P. Dorsey and Civility Rubottom. He was also the grandson of William Wiley "Uncle Billy" Rubottom, an infamous settler of the Pomona Valley known for his violent streak. Rubottom had gone west from Arkansas after killing two men, and was responsible for the shooting death of his son-in-law, Dorsey's father. Kewen’s mother had fled her husband and sought refuge at her father’s home. When Hilliard arrived to claim her, Rubottom killed him with a shotgun. As both men had reputations for dueling and fighting, the townsfolk accepted that there was no fault in the death and Rubottom did not face consequences for Hilliard’s murder. Despite these events, Kewen was loyal to and cared for his grandfather until the old man’s death.
Later in life, Kewen Dorsey was repeatedly honored as one of the oldest residents of the area. In 1930 governor of California James Rolph gave Dorsey a silver cup award in honor of his status as the area’s oldest “native son.” Hilliard Dorsey had started the first Los Angeles Masonic lodge in 1852, and Kewen followed in his father’s footsteps by becoming an active member of the Masons, including holding various leadership positions. In 1932 Dorsey was awarded a silver trowel recognizing him as the oldest mason in the San Bernardino Valley. Dorsey kept extensive diaries throughout his life, and donated them to The Claremont Colleges Library in the year prior to his death. Dorsey passed away in Fontana on July 12, 1933.
Brackett, Frank Parkhurst, and Historic Record Company, Los Angeles. 1920. History of Pomona Valley, California: With Biographical Sketches of the Leading Men and Women of the Valley Who Have Been Identified with Its Growth and Development from the Early Days to the Present. Los Angeles, Cal: Historic Record Company.
DORSEY RITES SET FOR TODAY. 1933. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File), Jul 13, 1933. (accessed March 9, 2018).

Scope and Contents

The Dorsey Collection of twenty-five hand-written diaries illuminates the years 1879-1933 in the life of Kewen H Dorsey, who was born in El Monte in 1857. The collection also contains various record books, account information, writings, and a day book belonging to Dorsey's mother, Civility Rubottom.

Organization and Arrangement

Materials are arranged by type, and chronologically within each type. The bulk of the collection is made up of Dorsey's diaries.

Indexing Terms

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

Subject Terms

California, Southern
California -- History -- 1850-1950
Frontier and pioneer life -- West (U.S.)
Los Angeles (Calif.) -- History
Pomona (Calif.)

Genre and Form of Materials


Box 1, Volume 1

Diary - Account and memoranda information 1879 January-December

Box 1, Volume 2

Diary - Account and memoranda information 1880 January-December

Box 1, Volume 3

Diary - Some account information and sketches 1881 January-December


Brief and missing entries for September 21 to November 15.
Box 1, Volume 4

Diary - Some account information 1882 January-December


Brief and missing entries for September 21 to November 15.
Box 1, Volume 5

Diary - Account information and mathematical calculations 1883 January-December

Box 1, Volume 6

Diary - Some account and billing information and mathematical calculations 1884 January-December

Box 1, Volume 7

Diary - Very little account information 1885 January-December

Box 1, Volume 8

Diary - Account information 1886 January-December

Box 1, Volume 9

Diary - Memoranda, cash accounts, and bills payable 1887 January-December

Box 1, Volume 10

Diary - Cash accounts and bills payable 1888 January-December

Box 1, Volume 11

Diary - No account information 1890 January-December

Box 1, Volume 12

Diary - Memoranda, some other notes and account information 1891 January-December

Box 1, Volume 13

Diary - Some memoranda, addresses, and other notes 1892 January-December

Box 1, Volume 14

Diary - Memoranda, addresses, and accounts 1893 January-December

Box 1, Volume 15

Diary - Some memoranda, addresses, and notes 1894 January-December

Box 1, Volume 16

Diary - Notes, memoranda, and some account information 1895 January-December

Box 1, Volume 17

Diary - Notes, memoranda, and some account information 1896 January-December

Box 1, Volume 18

Diary - Memoranda, addresses, bills payable, and some notes 1897 January-December

Box 1, Volume 19

Diary - Some notes and account information 1898 January-December

Box 1, Volume 20

Diary - Memoranda, accounts, and bills payable 1899 January-December

Box 1, Volume 21

Diary - Memoranda, accounts, and bills payable 1900 January-December

Box 1, Volume 22

Diary - Addresses, notes, and accounts 1901 January-December

Box 1, Volume 23

Diary - Accounts, addresses, and memoranda 1902 January-December

Box 1, Volume 24

Diary - Addresses, notes, and accounts 1903 January-December

Box 1, Volume 25

Diary - Addresses, memoranda, and accounts 1904 January-December

Box 2, Volume 1

Diary - Some memoranda and accounts 1906 January-December

Box 2, Volume 2

Diary - Some notes 1907 January-December

Box 2, Volume 3

Diary - Addresses, memoranda, cash accounts, and notes 1908 January-December


Items included in pocket.
Box 2, Volume 4

Diary - Memoranda, notes, addresses, and some account information 1909 January-December


An unbound diary.
Box 2, Volume 5

Diary - Addresses, memoranda, and cash accounts 1910 January-December


Included in the pocket are approximately 25 items such as: correspondence, notes, receipts, and news clippings.
Box 2, Volume 6

Diary - Addresses, memoranda, and account information 1911 January-December


News clipping also inserted.
Box 2, Volume 7

Diary - Addresses, memoranda, and accounts 1912 January-December

Box 2, Volume 8

Diary - Addresses, memoranda, and accounts 1913 January-December

Box 2, Volume 9

Diary - Addresses, memoranda, and accounts 1914 January-December

Box 2, Volume 10

Diary - Addresses and notes 1915 January-December

Box 2, Volume 11

Diary - Addresses, memoranda, and some accounts 1916 January-December


Includes two news clippings.
Box 2, Volume 12

Diary - Addresses, memoranda, and accounts 1917 January-December


Includes two news clippings.
Box 2, Volume 13

Diary - Addresses and some account information 1918 January-December

Box 2, Volume 14

Diary - Addresses, notes, and some accounts 1919 January-December

Box 2, Volume 15

Diary - Addresses and some notes 1920 January-December


Includes one news clipping.
Box 2, Volume 16

Diary - Addresses and notes 1921 January-December

Box 2, Volume 17

Diary - Addresses and notes 1922 January-December

Box 2, Volume 18

Diary - Notes, memoranda, and some addresses 1923 January-December

Box 2, Volume 19

Diary - Addresses and notes 1924 January-December

Box 2, Volume 20

Diary - Addresses, accounts, and notes 1925 January-December


Includes classified news clippings.
Box 2, Volume 21

Diary - Addresses and accounts 1926 January-December


Includes news clippings for rabbits.
Box 2, Volume 22

Diary - Addresses and notes 1927 January-December

Box 2, Volume 23

Diary - Addresses and some accounts 1928 January-December

Box 2, Volume 24

Diary - Addresses and some accounts 1929 January-December


Includes news clippings, receipts, correspondence, and miscellaneous items.
Box 2, Volume 25

Diary - Addresses and notes 1930 January-December


An unbound diary.
Box 2, Volume 26

Diary - Addresses and notes 1931 January-December


An unbound diary.
Box 2, Volume 27

Diary - Addresses and notes 1932 January-December


Includes two news clippings.
Box 2, Volume 28

Diary - Some addresses and notes 1933 January-March

Box 3, Folder 1

Work in progress of "Crossing the Plains," correspondence, and miscellaneous 1849-1932

Box 3, Folder 2

Account book and some notes 1913-1916, 1924-1925, and 1928-1933


Forty four pages removed.
Box 3, Folder 3

Account information


Information possibly for the Masonic Lodge.
Box 3, Folder 4

Correspondence, notes, and a picture

Box 3, Folder 5

Scholastic loose-leaf notebook 1857-1879

Box 3, Folder 6

Record book 1849-1888


Contains writings of Kewen H. Dorsey and extracts from his diaries. Also contains inserted typewritten material.
Box 3, Folder 7

Record book 1735-1932


Contains writings of Kewen H. Dorsey and extracts from his diaries. Also contains inserted typewritten and published materials.
Box 3, Folder 8

Civility Rubottom day book 1852-1932


Includes correspondence, notes, a handwritten and typewritten manuscript, and two deeds.