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The Saint Paul globe. (St. Paul, Minn.) 1896-1905, June 26, 1904, Image 5

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Persistent link: http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn90059523/1904-06-26/ed-1/seq-5/

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Country Villages*
Whose Inhabit*
ants Live the
Same Life They
Lived Over Sea
THE Californian does not have
to travel to see the peoples
of foreign countries and to
study their ways of living.
He may find samples of foreign life,
whole towns of it. within a few hours'
j ney of his home.
California is the State of foreign
colonies; not foreign quarter> in large
cities, as in New York, but country
villages whose inhabitants do not
often see American?, and whose chil
dren grow up, speaking English with
ong accent, if they learn to speak
it at all.
Three miles outside San Francisco
■i a colony of Italians of several
thousand population. Within the last
few years the city has spread out
ward and taken this colony within its
suburbs, but not long ago you could
stand in the middle of this settle
ment and you could see no house that
was not Italian. But even now the
settlers refuse to be absorbed.
Going over the low hills that sepa
rate San Francisco from San Miguel
county, a stranger is greeted with a
view strikingly unusual. The flat
valley below is speckled with hundreds
of huge windmills, rapidly revolving
on a breezy day— not American wind
mills, but "the windmills of old Italy,
made of wooden frames and canvas
sails. So close together are the^e
whirling crosses that the whole valley
seems in motion.
Among the windmills are scattered
small, red and green cottages, sur
rounded by big garden patches laid
out in the systematic Italian style.
The field? are separated by ditches of
running water, kept full by the count
less windmills.
A Cabbage Producing Village.
Descending into the village you find
the houses laid out along streets and
lanes. These are t^e homes of the
Italian vegetable gardeners who sup
ply all San Francisco with carrots,
turnips, cabbages, lettuce, pumpkins—
every kind of vegetable. There are
square miles of radish beds, and you
may see cabbage heads as far as the
eye can reach.
Every morning, just at sunrise, a
string of wagons half a mile long may
be seen creeping out of the settlement,
much like the old emigrant trains of
the early fifties. They hang together
as though afraid of attack from In
dians. In this way San Francisco
markets are supplied with vegetables.
If you were to address one of the
villagers in English, he might be able
to answer you "yes" or "no," but be
yond that English would be a foreign
language to him. The women above
a certain age never speak English, al
though the settlement is thirty years
old. Lately a school has been estab
lished in the community, so now the
children are learning English with the
rudimentary studies of a country
Not much farther from San Fran
cisco than the Italian settlement, but
ten times more inaccessible, on a
small island across the bay, is the
most foreign colony in California.
Few San Franciscans even know of it.
The writer was out sailing on San
Francisco Bay one day with a friend.
We were coasting along the hilly
shore of Contra Costa, when suddenly
a strange craft lumbered out from be
yond a point of land ahead of us. It
was nothing less than a Chinese junk,
just as it is pictured on tea chests.
As we drew near we could see that
she was the genuine thing, even to
the shaven-headed coolies aboard.
A Chinese Fishermen's Village.
We knew then that we were near
the Chinese fishermen's village of
which we had only vaguely heard, al
though we were both San Francis
can?. We determined to visit it.
iudging that the settlement must be
somewhere in the inlet whence the
junk had come.
We rounded the point and entered
a shallow bay. Further in rocked the
peculiar mat sail of another junk, and
along the shore were a score of bare
legged coolies running about with
baskets. As we approached, the roofs
of a group of small huts appeared
above the rib of a hill, then gradually
we saw several dozen of half board,
half bamboo shacks on stilts.
Our boat touched shore below the
crowd of jabbering coolies, and we
landed. The sail of the junk dropped,
and the Chinamen hauled it in, almost
up to the beach.
Our appear
ance, while caus
ing them no
alarm, seemed to
arouse their cu
riosity. They
stared at us and w
then shouted to one another in 'that
wild gibberish peculiar to% Cantonese
coolies, but when we addressed them
in English none answered.
The village was a bare three hun
dred yards inland. Just outside the
first group of houses a driftwood fire
was going, over which hung two big
caldrons. As we came up two coolies
unslung one of the pots and dumped
its contents on a huge screen. We
should have recognized boiled
shrimps by the smell if not by sight.
The pot was quickly refilled with wa
ter, then a basketful of live, kicking
shrimps were dumped in and the pot
reining from the long gas pipe over
the fire. All about stood baskets of
live shrimps and crabs, big as human
heads, and lobsters such as are never
seen in the Eastern States. There
seemed to be tons and tons of these
Crustacea in willow baskets, in vats,
in barrels, and a few hundred square
yards of screens were devoted to dry
ing shrimps. The dried shrimps were
to supply Chinatown over in the city,
the rest was for the white population.
We had struck the source of San
Francisco's shrimp supply.
Up in the streets of the village we
met children and women. Some small
boys were playing and skylarking as
American boys do. but the women
were all at work. Each house had a
small porch and the walls were liber
ally pasted over with red papers, in
scribed with Chinese characters. From
inside came the smell of incense
sticks, or punks, as San Franciscans
call them. From one house came the
sound of music and song—the high,
falsetto piping which Chinese call
singing. Everything was characteris
tically Chinese, even to the soy jugs
and the blue rice bowls on shelves
outside the doors.
The Village Joss House.
In the middle of the village was a
more ambitious edifice, two stories
high, whence came the music. From
the upper windows were suspended
huge lanterns of oiled paper and
plants in baskets. This was the joss
house. A gorgeously silk clad China
man came out as we approached, a
very prince of mandarin in appear
"Gentlemen," said he in English
quite faultless, save for a smoothing
over of the r's, "are you here to see
me on business, or are you merely
here as sightseers? In either case I
am enti'ly at yo' disposal."
There was something seductive in
his Oriental courtesy. He was head
man, or mayor, of the colony, also
sales agent. The community was run
entirely on socialistic principles—
every man, from the Mayor himself,
down to the youngest coolie, had
shares in the business. Each junk
made a daily trip to the city with a
load of shrimps, crabs and loWsfers,
and returned with such things as the
colonists needed to make their lives
comfortable from a Chinese point of
view; rice, roast pig. incense sticks
and the Chinese newspaper published
in the city.
The striking thing about all these
foreign colonies in California is that
the inhabitants follow the same pur
suits that the villagers in their own
native lands principally follow. It is
quite natural that a Swiss colony up
in Sonoma county should be in the
dairy business.
Those who have read Stevenson's
"Silverado Squatters" will know the
country north of the railway terminus
up m the wild foothills about Mt. St.
Helena. It is rough, mountainous.
just tne country in which a Swiss
would feel at home. I visited this set
tlement quite as accidentally as I dis
covered the Chinese town.
I left Calistoga. the last outpost of
civilization, as it were, early one
morning, and traveled to *he foot of
the mountain by the stage road. Here
I turned up a winding trail, called a
toll road. It was past noon when,
from a precipice, across the face of
which ran the road. I saw a cluster of
red roofs in a valley far below. It
was a small, flat, grassy plateau, over
which were scattered several hundred
heads of cattle. A year before there
had been nothing there, so curiosity
took me down.
Through nearly a mile wide maze <>f
fenced in corrals I came to the houses,
over a dozen in number. A big. blue
eyed, fair-haired man met me. 1
greeted him with:
"How do, sir?"
'Vas ist?" was his only answer be
side a shrug of his shoulder.
Less Than a Dozen Spoke English.
Several more big men came out.
but none could do more than smile
pleasantly. Finally, the foreman ap
peared, and lie spoke a broken Eng
lish. Strangers came there very sel
dom, and the whole population of
nearly a hundred men. women and
chilldren were glad to see me. even if
less than a dozen of them could un
derstand what I said. They showed
all of that primitive hospitality pecu
liar to people in remote countries, and
I didn't get away until next day.
These people also worked on the
communistic plan. Every week they
sent butter and cheese to Calistoga.
the wagons going one day and re
turning the next.
Five miles away from them was a
colony of Italians established by a
well-known painter of San Francisco,
where grape raising and wine making
was the common occupation. The
Swiss colonists also spoke Italian to
a certain extent, and sometimes they
exchanged visits, and cheese, and
milk, and butter for wine with their
Italian neighbors.
Up in Mendocino county, a hundred
miles north of San Francisco, there
are many Scandinavians, but in one
place, especially, in the mountain?,
where spruce is plentiful, there is a
large lumber camp composed entire
ly of Swedes and Norwegians. I call
it a. lumber camp, because the popula
tion is in the lumber business, but the
settlement has all the permanency of
a regular town.
The houses are picturesquely built
of logs, and on the banks of a moun
tain stream that runs close by is a
sawmill of solid lumber and run by a
big thumping steam engine. There
you can see scores of red and blue
shirted giants, rolling logs and beams
about as though they were broom han
dles. The air is full, of oaths and
ejaculations, such as the Vikings let
loose centuries ago, when they strug
gled with the timbers to build their
pirate ships.
But here English is not so rare an
accomplishment as in the other colo
nies. Nearly all of these big work
men and their strapping wives can
exchange greetings with you. even
though it is with a Yon Yonson ac
cent, and just outside the town is a
real school in which there is a real
Yankee schoolmarm.
"Ye vants eddication." says the su
perintendent, "an' ye vants it in de
latest style, vid de real Boston sling
to it."
The Old Spanish Communities.
There is another foreign element in
California country life—at least th»
American population call it foreign.
They are people wlin can hardly be
called colonist?, for they consider all
Americans foreigners, not themselves
These are the communities of old
Spanish Californians, still found in
out-of-the-way nooks of the foothills.
Beyond San Jose, up in the hills
or mountains, where the Lick Ob
servatory stands, there are still sonu
of these old Spanish haciendas left,
where the elders of the families call
us "gringos," and shake their heads,
unless we address them in old Castii
The younger generation drawls nut
a pretty fair English, but even the
children prefer the language which
was official in California sixty year?
The Distinguished Curtis Family
THE name Curtis is spelled in
sixteen different ways. It
probably began as Kurteis,
an old spelling of the word
"courteous," which Chaucer writes
"curtei-" and which in "Perry's Rel
iques" is "kurteis." The name is
thus one of the class indicative of
mental or moral qualities.
The first form, Kurteis, Curteis, Cur
tois or Corteis, changed to Curtyce,
Curteys, Cartys or Curtoys, became
Curte«. Curtys or Curtoys, became,
then Curtius, Curtice or Curtics. and
finally Curttiss, Curtiss or Curtis. The
last two are the only forms now used.
Metius Curtius, the hero of iwo le
gend.", and Quintus Rufus Curtius. the
biographer of Alexander the Great,
are among the celebrities of the fam
ily, and there are others. The Brit
ish Museum contains manuscripts re
ferrring to the Curtis family. One is
a letter to Noah Curtis, lord of the
manor of WooKtrop, respecting the
escape of Charles I. from the Scot
tish army in 1646. About a hundred
v" % —; -j*
Curtis <
years later the. Lord Mayor of Lon
don wa> William Curtis. Sir Roger
Curtis. Admiral of the Red, was
knighted for heroism at the siege of
Gibraltar and was granted arms which
displayed, in chief, the rock of Gib
raltar, with a sword erect, entwined
with a palm branch for crest.
The arms, said to have been brought
to this country by the settler, William
Curtis, are azure, a fesse dancette, be
tween three ducal crowns, or crest,
a lion .supporting in his right paw a
shield azure. Both the crown and
the lion are emblematic of distinguish
ed ancestry.
The arms reproduced are ermine, a
chevron sable between three fleurs
de-lis, or. Crest, an arm embowed,
habited in mail, holding in the hand
a scimeter, hilt and pommel or.
Stratford, Connecticut, is said to
have been named by William Curtib,
or Curtiss, as he spelled it, from his
old home, Stratford-on-Avon, where
he lived until he came to America on
the Lyon in 1632 with his wife and
four children. As Shakespeare gives'
the name Curtis to one of his char
acters in the "Taming of the Shrew,"
it is probable that he was a friend
or acquaintance of the family.
William Curtis was brother-in-law
to John Eliot, the apostle to the In
dians. Relationship may also be claim
ed with the Washington family. The
sister of John Washington, who set
tled in^ Virginia in 1657, married
Philip Curtis a few years before.
Another settler, Ephraim Curtis,
who built the first house in Worcester,
was the hero of many blood-curdling
adventures, in which he usually came
off with honors and flying colors. He
has left many records. In one he
complains of the "rude behavior" of
the Indians.
Obadiah Curtis kept a shop in Bos
ton, and with other merchants agreed
not to buy goods of certain Tory
merchants. Some were supposed to
have violated this agreement, and
Mrs. Curtis published an indignant
denial that she or her husband had
done so. In the Boston Weekly news
letter of May 24, 1770, appeared this
"Mr. Draper—Please insert the
"If the piece in Messrs. Edes and
Gills paper, called a 'Hint to the
Wise,' had one lisp of truth it might
be kindly taken, but I do declare it
a groundless, malicious falsehood, and
I challenge the author to produce
one person to say that I or my hus
band visited the McMasters, or have
had any dealings with them.
During the war, pins, which were
made in England, became very scarce,
and Curtis, who held the whole stock
in Boston, made great profits. It
soon became the fashion, or a neces
sity, for women to use thorns for
The honor roll of those members of
the Curtis family who served their
country includes Captain William
Curtis, in King Phillip's war. and
Eliphalet Curtis, who was with Wash
ington during his retreat through New
Jersey in December, 1776.
Biblical names have always been
favored by the family, from Abel.
Noah. Aaron, Gideon and Ichabod to
Zachariah. Hezekiah, Jeremiah and
Nehemiah. Maidens were given more
fanciful names—Rejoice. Diana, and
the like, although Nabby and Mehit
able were also prime favorites.
Where the Illness Came In.
Major Burke, one of the advance
men for a well-known circus, is very
fond of horse racing. One day, „in
Louisville, he felt that he must build
up some sort of an excuse to get out
to the races, so he telephoned to his
associate that he \va> ill, and that he
would not be able to go with him
that afternoon to fix up an advertising
deal with one of the newspapers.
Tlie associate also was fond of the
race's, and after the business was fin
ished he went out to the track. That
night he met the Major at the hotel.
"I thought you were ill, Major," he
said, "but I saw you were well enough
to go to the races. You must have
recovered pretty quickly."
"Well," replied the Major, "if you
had seen me just after that second
race you would have telephoned for
the coroner."
Are The Veddahs The Missing Link?
There is probably no race on earth
lower in the scale of civilization than
the "rock Yeddahs"' of Ceylon. Yet
they can hardly be called savages, for
they are mild and gentle people.
They live in a civilized British col
ony much like the apes of the forest.
They live in the deepest recesses
of the jungle, avoiding all contact with
the English tea-planters and the civi
lized natives, and seek shelter in the
rocks—whence their name of "rock
Veddahs"—or in the branches of
trees. Although their diet principally
consists of fruits and roots, they will
eat carrion, vermin, bats, and owls
with relish. Yet they will not touch
the flesh of thy wild animals, which
roam in their forests.
"Their language is limited to a few
words," said Professor Ricalton, an
American traveler who recently visit
ed these strange people. "Indeed,
they scarcely have any language, and
they communicate largely by grimaces
and guttural signs."
"They have no idea of time or dis
tance, no name for days or hours or
years. They have no games, no
amusement, no music, no education.
They are unable to count, even on
their fingers. They have no religion
or conception of a religion; no tem
ples, no charms, no wdrship, except a
slight tendency r toward devil wor
ship to avoid storms or lightning.
They have no doctors and no knowl
edge of medicine.
"Yet, in spite oi all this, they live
to a green old age, their death rate is
low, and grave crimes are scarcely
known among them. In appearance
they are unsightly, with prominent
teeth and projecting mouth, and a
tangled mass 'of coarse, black hair
that would libel the broom of a chim
ney sweep."
Justifiable Madness.
There was a man named Grandpa
Who lived up Boston way.
He had a precious heirloom clock.
And wound it every day.
Sometimes he woke up in the night,
And it gave him quite a shock
To think that maybe he had not
Wound up that precious clock.
At last that wondrous clock it proved
An ejght-day piece to be;
And a madder man than Grandpa
I never wish to see.
The Umpire's Revenge.
'No. Mr. Wilson," said the beauti
ful girl, coldly, "I realize that you are
good and kind and true and noble:
that your prospects are bright, and
that there would be no objection on
the part of my family. I think I might
make you a good wife, and I know
that you would be kind to me. I have
a little money saved up, and with that
and your salary for the season we might
live comfortably in a little cottage
somewhere, where, after the games,
you could come home and mow the
lawn and work in the garden. It
would be pleasant. 1 admit, but I can
never be yours—never, never!"
"Look here, young lady," said the
baseball umpire, calmly, "one more
such bunch of back talk and I'll tine
you ten dollars for delaying "The
Then he called '"Time!" and went
Work and Prayer.
Praying for things and working for
them bring results. Work bring* re
sults which are at least satisfactory,
•for prayer may be answered in a way
that is unexpected.
»— =— ; *
I The Reformer's
! Task in Asia
HUSBAND, the leader of the
"British expedition into Tibet.
has had considerable experi
ence trying to reform the Gov
meat of Asiatic States. He was the p< >-
litical agent of the Indian Government
in the protected native States of Gil
git, Htmza, Chitral, Haroati an I
Tonk. He was able to make less head
way even than the average reformer
in American cities.
"In one of the native States of Raj
putana over which I held political
charge," he said, "my predecessors for
thirty years advocated the construc
tion of a single metalled road, and it
was only when the old chief died that
the road was made. Throughout his
lifetime he contended that what was
good enough for his forefathers was
good enough for him; they had al
ways ridden horses, and not driven in
carriages, so he would ride, too, and
no road was, therefore, necessary.
"But even when the leading men
in a native State are progressive, it is
a task of tremendous difficulty to in
troduce reforms along the lines of
Western civilization, for there is no
other conservatism comparable to the
conservatism of Asia. The Prime
Minister of another native State in my
political charge was most intelligent
and progressive. He was an uncle of
the chief; he had been Prime Minister
for twenty-five years; no man had
greater power or influence in the State
than he had; he could speak English;
he read the English papers every
day; he realized the backwardness of
the State; he saw most clearly where
reforms were needed; he ardently de
sired to see those reforms effected,
and he knew he could count on the
support of the British Political Agent
—myself—in carrying them out. At
the same time the Political Agent
because the State had run hopelessly
into debt, had absolute control over
its finances.
"\et even under such favorable cir
cumstanc«s as these, reforms have
been very, very slowly effected. One
of the most urgent was the reform
wLi aJ my ' a llseless an<* expensive
rabble, for whose maintenance there
is absolutely no necessity now that
the British keep the peace in India
let to this day that army remains al
most as useless an encumbrance as ever
to the State. The dignity of the chief
is hurt by any reduction in its num
bers. The officers and men consider
that they hold their positions by pre
scriptive hereditary right; and, if it : >
suggested to them that they should
do some useful work and replace the
police, not only do they themselves
protest against being used for such
an ignoble purpose, but the police
omcers also beg that such worthless
men may not be put in their charge "
Dr. Parkhurst Guided the Guide.
The Rev. Charles H. Parkhurst goes
to bwitzerland every year for his
summer holidays. and climbs the Alps
He has maify friends among the Swiss
guides, whom he warmly admires
"Only once did I know one of these
men fail m his duty," he said to a
friend the other day. "I took him to
guide me on an ascent, and was much
surprised that he did not insist on my
carrying a big flask' of brandy for tlv
party, as the guides usually do.
■ ' But T soon found out the reason
He was hopelessly drunk already an<!
after he had staggered half a mile up
the slope he sat down on' a rock,
looking utterly bewildered, and con
fessed^ that he didn't know where he
was or where to lead me, He had
t-mi °r\ Tt! ound a thousand
times %) but I had to guide the guide
home. ■ ■ ■
A Short-Tailed Limerick.
An Irishman down in X. V
Was engaged in the packing of p
We said, "What's your name?"'
He replied, "Just the same
As my^ather's—it's Patrick OR "

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