By Carey McWilliams
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Extra info for Factories in the Field: The Story of Migratory Farm Labor in California
The troubles of the colonists date from this announcement. In the last days of the I 890 session of Congress, a bill was introduced and hurriedly passed creating the Sequoia National Park out of the lands embraced within the filings of the original Kaweah colonists. The act was based upon the assumption that there had been some technical deficiencies in the filings. In response to the outcry of the colonists, United States Commissioner Lewis A. Groff was sent West to investigate. His report, filed in Washington, February 25, 1891, vindicated the colonists in every respect.
William S. 25 an acre. In I871 it was revealed that ex-State Surveyor General Houghton had emerged from office with 35o,ooo acres of land. Ex-United States Surveyor General Beale had about 3oo,ooo acres, a large part of it being the famous Tejon Ranch now owned by Mr. Harry Chandler, publisher of the Los Angeles Times. Miller and Lux, of whom more later, owned 45o,ooo acres in I87I. , 2oo,ooo acres; George W. , uo,ooo acres; Isaac Friedlander, IOo,ooo acres; Throckmorton, I46,ooo acres; the Murphy family, in Santa Clara, I5o,ooo acres; John Foster of Los Angeles, LAND MONOPOLIZATION 21 uo,ooo acres; Thomas Fowler, 20o,ooo acres in Fresno, Tulare, and Kern Counties; Abel Stearns, of Los Angeles, zoo,ooo acres.
Mter 186o, and for years, residents complained of a "general stagnation" which had set in, robbing the great decade, 18so-z86o, of its exceptional promise. Had there been any measure of democracy in land settlement, the brisk movement of '49 would have continued through the century. But a kind of dry rot set in after I86o. "The whole country is poverty-stricken," wrote one observer; "the farmers are shiftless, and crazy on wheat. I have seen farms cropped for eighteen years with wheat, and not a vine, tree, shrub or flower on the place.