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Synopsis

Days of Vintage, Years of Vision is the living, breathing story of one of the most important periods in American history. This three-volume series records the development of the State of California from its admission into the Union in 1850 to the turn of the 20th Century. It is a family narrative that chronicles both the personal and political lives of those who settled the southern section to bring in railroads, build harbors, and establish “a world commercial centre” that would one day send “favorite sons” to the White House. The author skillfully presents this family within the context of the times of not only the State, but the country and the world.

The story evolves with the lives of Benjamin D. Wilson and his sons-in-law, George Smith Patton, Sr.— father of the famous General—and James De Barth Shorb, whose San Marino Ranch—once the “queen property” of Southern California—is today the site of the Huntington Library, Art Galleries and Botanical Gardens.

Volume I narrates the Los Angeles arrival of Wilson in 1841, a former Indian trader who became the new community’s first elected mayor and was twice-elected State Senator. Quiet, unassuming, committed to “honor and duty,” Wilson established a harbor, railroad facilities, a university and other advancements to secure his city’s place on the world map as a cultural and commercial center. Mt. Wilson was named for him in appreciation and recognition of all that he did for the State.

James De Barth Shorb arrived in San Francisco in 1864 with the first “oil excitement” and joined Wilson to manage his 14,000-acre San Pasqual ranch that extended from the foothills of Mt. Wilson to what is today the City of Alhambra. He became a member of Wilson’s family by marrying his first daughter, Sue. He began a relentless political career, plunging into every major aspect of the State’s development after the death of Wilson in 1878.

Volume II continues the Shorb narrative in 1879. He could have become Governor of the State, had he only accepted the nomination, but he, himself, admitted that his hands were full. Not only was he the father of nine children, but he was busy with his many business and civic endeavors. He built the “largest winery in the world,” helped develop water and irrigation projects, and was very influential in the establishment of laws governing such in the agricultural State of California. Shorb also pioneered an interurban railroad, the forerunner of Huntington’s network throughout Southern California.

The Patton family is also introduced in Volume II. They arrived in 1865 as Civil War refugees. George Patton grew up in Los Angeles, became the city’s district attorney, and developed a reputation as an explosive, fiery orator, who could hold a political convention of “The Democracy” spellbound for two hours. He married Wilson’s daughter, Ruth, in 1884, and their son, George Smith Patton Jr., born November 11, 1885, was destined to become the famous World War II General.

Volume III continues the narrative of this unusually vigorous and visionary family in 1889. Times were hard in the fin de siécle of the 19th Century, and they faced an awesome political battle to keep Los Angeles Harbor at San Pedro. The opposition? Collis P. Huntington, determined to establish the harbor at Santa Monica.

This battle, recorded in national headlines, would call forth all of Patton’s political energy.
However, Volume III begins with more than hard times. While retaining the “reverent spirit,” the celebration of Thanksgiving Day in 1889 included a remarkable event. Heralded as “the great Valley Hunt,”—a wildcat and fox hunt—it consisted of a hunting party of nearly 50 prominent members, and featured Shorb’s famous hounds, the Australian “blues.” As a result of this successful activity, December 12, the president of the Valley Hunt Club wrote an article in the Los Angeles Times suggesting:

“A tournament

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