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A. R. Finley Letter

Letter from A. R. Finley to the Mt. Zion church in Lincoln Co. Missouri in 1894.

Messrs. Editora. You ask for letter from Southern California and an explanation how I chanced to wander away out here. you will look back on your subscription books, twenty four years ago, you will find that the A. R. Presbyterian was being sent to me at Auburn, Mo. and that in the latter part of 1870 I had the address changed to California where the paper has been coming ever since.

My home for 40 years prior to coming to California was within the bounds Mount Zion congregation your church, where Rev. Dr. Ralston ministered for fifteen years, and where Rev. J. G. Miller was preaching when we left.

Owing to the rigorous climate Missouri, we felt the necessity for making some change and spent the winter 1869-70 at Starkfille, Miss. where we worshipped with Rev. David Pressley's Seceder congregation that place. Being satisfied that the climate there was not what we were in search we returned to Missouri in the spring, and in October, 1870 moved to Salinas, Cal. where there was an United Presbyterian Church. After spending one year there we, together with Richard Gladney and family, also Mount Zion congregation moved to Roseville and organized a U. P. mission. With the assistance the Board we managed to keep up the organization seven years when, seeing the hopelessness continuing the work among the people there, who were the old California type., 49ers almost entirely, the Board finally gave up the field.

In 1878 we made another move, and the last one we hope, to where we are not located, Santa Ana, Orange Co., Cal. Here there was an active U.P. congregation of 80 members presided over by Rev. T. J. C. Webster, from that time until quite recently, when owing to failing health he was compelled to give up the work. We are present without any regular pastor.

At the time of coming to this valley, Santa Ana was but a small village and the surrounding country sparsely settled. In common with all sections of Southern California, this country has made a rapid growth in population and wealth. Santa Ana, the County seat of Orange County, being surrounded by the most productive section of this portion of the state, passed through the boom of '87 and felt no bad effects but has continued to grow until now it is a city of 4500 inhabitants with a church of nearly every denomination. The lawless element is small and well controlled. Educational facilities are of a high order, including a High School, preparing its graduates for entering the State University and colleges.

Gas and electric light, telephone exchange, street car lines and excellent public water works system supplied from artesian wells, are among the conveniences that we enjoy. Three lines of railroad connect us with the outside world- the Southern Pacific, Santa Fe, and Santa Ana and Newport. The last named connecting us with Newport a sea port nine miles distant where the largest coast steamers receive and discharge freight and passengers. Los Angeles is thirty-three miles distant and San Diego, ninety.

Our products include almost everything in the line of grain, fruit vegetables, nuts and live stock; the lands being devoted principally to raising corn, alfalfa, and vegetables and stock; the uplands, capable fo being irrigated, to oranges, and all kinds of fruits, and lands where irrigation is impracticable to barley, wheat and small grains.

Irrigation on the uplands is carried on with water conveyed to the valley through large canals from the Santa Ana river. On the low lands irrigation is unnecessary but domestic water is furnished by artesian wells of which there are 700 varying in depth from 40 to 400 feet. Owing to our varied products I think we do not feel the present prevailing hard times as most other places. Large numbers of tourists and health seekers make this their temporary home and distribute large quantities of the coin of the realm that assists in keeping business moving.

This country is sadly deficient in manufacturing industries but they will come in time as the population increased and our industries and business methods become fixed.

After spending 76 years in various parts of the United States, I am satisfied to spend the remainder of my allotted time here, knowing of no other place where the moral and physical conditions are more Pleasant.

                                  Yours truly,

                                  A. R. Finley

last updated 21 Mar 2001