A St. Patrick’s Day post from the Santa Barbara View Vault
Had it not been for the imminence of the American takeover, it is possible that Santa Barbara might have become part of a plan to establish a large-scale Irish colony, subsidized by the London capitalists with an ultimate view to British annexation of California, Walker A. Tompkins wrote in Yankee Barbarenos.
In 1845, Eugene McNamera had petitioned the president of Mexico for a $71 million grant of land in Alta California on which to establish three, tax-free Irish colonies – one in Santa Barbara. His plan would have transplanted shamrocks amid California poppies and promised to bring 10,000 Irish emigrants to the colonies.
The grant was signed by Pio Pico, the last Mexican Governor of California, but once the Yankees planted their flag in the California soil for good, the grant was declared invalid.
José Antonio Julian de la Guerra y Noriega was born on March 6, 1779, at Novales in Santander, Spain. De la Guerra, commandante of the Royal Presidio, was considered the most influential Spanish-born resident of Santa Barbara at the time of the American take-over of California. He retained ownership of five of the choicest ranch grants in Southern California, and his home, Casa de la Guerra, is today the best known Spanish-era residence in Santa Barbara, California.
The last time that the U.S. mainland had been attacked by a foreign power was during the War of 1812. But on the evening of February 23, 1942 — just two months after Pearl Harbor — a Japanese submarine shelled oil fields off the coast of Santa Barbara’s Ellwood Beach. Although no one was injured and damage was minimal, the attack would serve as a catalyst in the internment of more than 100,000 Japanese Americans.
“No event in Santa Barbara history, with the possible exception of the 1925 earthquake, created more excitement at the time, or evoked more discussion in its wake, than the abortive shelling of Ellwood on February 23, 1942,” wrote Walker A. Tompkins. “According to Japanese military records seized after V-J Day, Captain Nishino went down with his sub when it was destroyed by Allied planes off New Caledonia on August 19, 1943. He took to his watery grave the details of why he chose to attack Ellwood or what actually took place on the evening in 1942.”
On this Presidents Day Weekend, here’s a look back at local history… on May 9th, 1903, President Theodore Roosevelt visited Santa Barbara, California. Roosevelt was the second President to visit Santa Barbara, Benjamin Harrison was the first 1891, and after the stop noted in the excerpt, he toured the historic Old Mission. Below is a brief summary from the newspaper.
Santa Barbara’s famous giraffe with the crooked neck died seven years ago today. Gemina was a 12-foot-tall Baringo giraffe who captivated Santa Barbara Zoo goers for over 20 years. She was born without any deformities but her neck soon took on a pronounced zigzag – a near ninety degree curve so unusual that scientists had not seen anything like it since 1902. Despite her rare deformity, Gemina lived six years longer than the average life for a giraffe. She came to Santa Barbara Zoo at the tender age of one.
Happy 7th annual Herb Peterson Day! In honor of the man who invented the Egg McMuffin in Santa Barbara, the six local franchises will be selling the popular breakfast sandwich for only $1 today. Mr. Peterson created the Egg McMuffin in 1971 and the first sandwich was served on State Street. Peterson passed away in 2008, but his legacy lives in the form of eggs, grilled Canadian bacon, cheese, and a toasted and buttered English muffin.
As we ring in 2015, here’s a historical view of Santa Barbara in January, 1835…
“Lie the mission and town of Santa Barbara, on a low plain, but little above the level of the sea, covered with grass, though entirely without trees, and surrounded on three sides by an amphitheater of mountains, which slant off to the distance of fifteen or twenty miles. The mission stands a little back of the town, and is a large building, or rather collection of buildings, in the center of which is a high tower, with a belfry of five bells,” Richard Henry Dana, Jr. wrote is his classic, Two Years Before the Mast.
“The town lies a little nearer to the beach – about half a mile from it – and is composed of one-story houses built of sun-baked clay, or adobe, some of them whitewashed, with red tiles on the roof. I should judge that there were about a hundred of them; and in the midst of them stands the Presidio, or fort built of the same materials and apparently but little stronger. The town is finely situated, with a bay in the front, and an amphitheater of hills behind,” Dana Jr. concluded in his 1835 voyage around the California coastline.
On New Year’s Day of 1874, all of Santa Barbara County which lay east of the Rincon broke away to become Ventura County. This was brought about by the Ventura district supervisor, Thomas R. Bard, who later became a State Senator.
Within a few years, according to Walker A. Tompkins, the people in Lompoc also decided that it would be handier for them if Lompoc could also be a county seat. “It takes all day by horse or stagecoach to reach the courthouse in Santa Barbara,” complained the Lompoc farmers. “That is too far to go every time we need to transact business. If Ventura can be a county seat, why can’t Lompoc?” Continue reading…
The Congress, by Public Law has designated December 7 of each year as “National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day;” but, did you know that the first Japanese attack on the United States occurred in Goleta? Hawaii was not a state at the time of the Pearl Harbor attacks and on February 23, 1942, a Japanese submarine shelled the Ellwood Oil Field west of Goleta, triggering an invasion scare along the West Coast.
Although only a pumphouse and catwalk at one oil well were damaged, Captain Nishino Kozo radioed Tokyo that he had left Santa Barbara in flames. No casualties were reported and the total cost of the damage was estimated at approximately $750.