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Guide to the Pleasants Family Papers
MS-R044  
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Collection Overview
 
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Description
This collection comprises the personal papers of J.E. Pleasants and his first and second wives, Mary Refugio Carpenter Pleasants and Adelina Pleasants, and includes diaries, correspondence, manuscripts, negatives, and photographic prints. J.E. Pleasants' long association with the Santa Ana Mountains and Santiago Canyon, cattle ranching, and beekeeping are all documented. The diaries and correspondence of Mary Refugio Carpenter Pleasants provide a glimpse into life in Southern California in the 1860s. Adelina Pleasants' work as a writer of Southern California and Orange County history in the early 20th century is also represented. The collection contains some tintypes, cabinet cards, and a carte-de-visite album documenting a number of Southern California pioneers, including members of the Carpenter and Wolfskill families.
Background
Joseph Edward Pleasants, known to his friends as Ed, was born in Missouri in 1839, the son of James and Lydia Pleasants. His mother died in 1848 and in 1849 he traveled with his father across the continent to the California gold fields. In 1851 the family moved to Solano County, settling in what is still known as Pleasants Valley. In 1856 J.E. moved to Los Angeles County to attend a private school taught by H. D. Barrows on the William Wolfskill ranch. From 1861-1866 he served as Wolfskill's foreman on the Rancho Lomas de Santiago in the Santa Ana Mountains, where he made his headquarters in a small wooden building in what is now Irvine Regional Park. He married Mary Refugio Carpenter in 1868 and settled in Aliso Canyon. Following the discovery in 1874 that their first home site was located on the Rancho Cañada de los Alisos, the Pleasants family moved to upper Santiago Canyon.Mary Refugio Carpenter, known throughout her life as Refugio, was born in Los Nietos, California (near Whittier in Los Angeles County) on July 4, 1845, the daughter of Lemuel Carpenter and Maria Dominguez Carpenter. Her father, an early American settler and landowner in Los Angeles County, eventually lost his land to debt and committed suicide in 1859. Mary Refugio and J.E. Pleasants began a long courtship in the early 1860s, culminating in their marriage on July 15, 1868. Refugio's brother, Francisco (Pancho) Carpenter, was a partner with J.E. in some of his earliest ranching ventures. Mary Refugio often suffered from poor health, and she eventually died of tuberculosis on January 26, 1888, at just 42 years of age. The Pleasants had no children. Her diaries, written between 1860 and 1865, provide a personal glimpse into the Pleasants' lives, and portions of them have been published by Frances Meadows, along with her extensive research notes.Mary Adelina (or Addie) Brown was born in Petaluma, California in the 1850s, and came to Los Angeles County at an early age. From 1886-1888 she taught school in Silverado Canyon, boarding with J.E. Pleasants and Mary Refugio in their home. Following Mary Refugio's death, Adelina and J.E. were married in the fall of 1890. Adelina was devoted to her new husband and wrote most, if not all, of the articles that appeared under his by-line over the years. She also wrote extensively under her own name, specializing in Orange County and Southern California history and natural history. In 1931 she wrote the principal historical sections for a three-volume History of Orange County, California (Los Angeles: J.R. Finnell & Sons), but sales were poor during the Depression years and she received little compensation for her work. Most of her later writings appeared in various Orange County newspapers, including the Santa Ana Register. She was active in the Orange County Historical Society and the Native Daughters of the Golden West. Following her husband's death, Adelina made her home in Orange, where she died on May 10, 1943.
Extent
2.9 linear feet (8 boxes and 1 oversize folder) 231 digitized objects
Restrictions
Property rights reside with the University of California. Literary rights are retained by the creators of the records and their heirs. For permissions to reproduce or to publish, please contact the Head of Special Collections and Archives.
Availability
Collection is open for research. Access to fragile originals is restricted when preservation photocopies are available.