Scope and Content
Title: Benjamin Davis Wilson Collection
Bulk Dates: 1847-1894
Collection Number: Consult
Wilson, Benjamin Davis,
The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens
The Huntington Library
1151 Oxford Road
San Marino, California 91108
Phone: (626) 405-2203
Fax: (626) 449-5720
Abstract: Collected business and personal
correspondence relating to southern California landowner Benjamin Davis Wilson and
his family. The collection also includes account books, diaries (kept by Wilson's
wife Margaret and their daughters Annie and Ruth), and assorted ephemera. The Shorb
and Patton families are also heavily represented in the correspondence.
Language of Material: The records are in English.
Collection is open to qualified researchers by prior application through the
Reader Services Department. For more information, please go to following
In order to quote from, publish, or reproduce any of the manuscripts or visual
materials, researchers must obtain formal permission from the office of the
Library Director. In most instances, permission is given by the Huntington as
owner of the physical property rights only, and researchers must also obtain
permission from the holder of the literary rights. In some instances, the
Huntington owns the literary rights, as well as the physical property rights.
Researchers may contact the appropriate curator for further information.
[Identification of item], Benjamin Davis Wilson collection, The Huntington
Library, San Marino, California.
Purchased from Mrs. C.J. McClung in November 1933 (WN 1-1138).
Gift of Anne W. Patton in 1959 (WN 1139-1926).
Gift of David and Peter W. Patton, August 5, 1971 (WN 1127-2292; 2412-2419).
Gift of Mrs. James W. Totten, April 19, 1971 (WN 2293-2303).
Gift of Anne Totten, October 26, 1972 (WN 2304-2403).
Gift of Doyce Nunis, August 21, 1974 (assorted items).
Benjamin Davis Wilson (1811-1878), a native of Tennessee, was a pioneer California
rancher and businessman who came to California from New Mexico in 1841 as a member
of the Rowland-Workman party. He purchased the Jurupa Rancho (Riverside, Calif.) in
1843. In 1851-52 Wilson was elected the second mayor of Los Angeles, in 1852 he
served as U.S. Indian Agent under Superintendent Edward F. Beale, and in 1855-57 and
1869-72 he served as state senator. He purchased Rancho de Cuati and adjacent land
to develop his Lake Vineyard Ranch (part of present-day San Marino) and with John S.
Griffin purchased Rancho San Pascual (which later became the city of Pasadena).
Wilson planted vineyards and citrus groves and became active in business circles. In
1844 Benjamin D. Wilson married Ramona Yorba, daughter of Bernardo Yorba, a
well-known land owner during the Mexican period. Their daughter, Maria de Jesus
Wilson, known as Sue, married James DeBarth Shorb (1842-1896). They also had a son,
John B. Wilson, who later committed suicide. After Ramona's death, Wilson married
Margaret S. Hereford (d.1898) in 1853. Margaret had a son, Edward Sublette Hereford,
also called “Judge,” from her first marriage. Together Wilson and Margaret had two
daughters, Anne (d.1931) and Ruth (d.1928), who married George S. Patton, Sr.
(1856-1927). Ruth and George’s son was General George S. Patton (1885-1945). They
also had a daughter, Anne W. Patton (1887-1971). The Pattons and Wilsons were also
related to the Banning family through George Patton Sr.’s half-sister Anne Smith,
who married Hancock Banning, the son of Phineas Banning.
Scope and Content
The collection consists of letters, manuscripts, documents and maps related to the
life and business affairs of Benjamin Davis Wilson. Subject matter includes business
and social life in California (1850-90), Indian affairs in Southern California
(1852-56), the wine industry, the Santa Fe trade, the estate settlement of Solomon
Sublette, and the early history of Pasadena, San Marino, and Wilmington, California.
There is also a great deal of personal correspondence from Wilson’s wife Margaret S.
Hereford Hereford Wilson, his daughters Maria de Jesus Wilson Shorb, Ruth Wilson
Patton, and Annie Wilson, his son John B. Wilson, Ruth’s husband George S. Patton,
Sr., and many of Margaret’s Hereford relatives. Also included are diaries kept by
Margaret, Ruth, and Annie Wilson. Other individuals represented in the collection
include Phineas Banning, Edward Fitzgerald Beale, Joseph Lancaster Brent, Cave
Johnson Couts, Stephen Clark Foster, John Charles Frémont, John S. Griffin, William
McKendree Gwin, Benjamin Hayes, Henry Edwards Huntington, George S. Patton, Jr., and
Jonathan Trumbull Warner.
The collection is arranged chronologically in 41 boxes. This includes 33 boxes
of correspondence; 2 boxes of account records; 3 boxes of account books,
letterbooks, school exercise books, and diaries; and 3 boxes of miscellaneous
manuscripts and ephemera. There are also four rolled maps and a deerskin trunk.
Addenda series received after the acquisition of the original papers in 1933
have been integrated into the collection, with the exception of the Patton
Papers (also called Wilson Addenda II), which have been cataloged as a separate collection.
A detailed container list is available through the Manuscripts Department.
Couts, Cave Johnson,
Foster, Stephen Clark,
Fremont, John Charles,
Griffin, John S. (John
Patton, George S.
(George Smith), 1856-1927.
Patton, George S.
(George Smith), 1885-1945.
Wilson, Benjamin Davis,
Indians of North America--California,
Land tenure--California--Los Angeles
Southern--Social life and customs--19th century--Sources.
Southern--Social life and customs--20th century--Sources..
Account books -- California -- 19th
Diaries -- California -- 19th century.
Ephemera -- California -- 19th century.
Letters (correspondence) -- California
-- 19th century.
Receipts -- California -- 19th century.