The Yankee Barbareños home page The Yankee Barbareños book cover1
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Walker Tompkins
Text and Photos
flower Excerpts from Barbara H. Tompkins’ preface to The Yankee Barbareños

In the fall of 1990 . . . publisher Paul Fletcher and I approached Santa Barbara Public Library Director Carol Keator with an offer to publish The Yankee Barbareños. The original 800-page manuscript, written in 1964 and 1965 for the Samuel B. Mosher Foundation, had been in the library’s reference section for twenty-five years.... Technological advances ultimately made the project feasible, and in May of 1991 we received permission from the City of Santa Barbara to proceed.
. . . To edit and update the material, it was necessary to review the author’s later works for his revisions and to pursue new avenues of research. Many Santa Barbara County historians and history buffs, who in the intervening years had uncovered facts unavailable to Tompkins in the 1960s, generously offered to participate in the editorial work. . . .

Norfolk Island (Star) Pine planted in 1878 on NW corner of Carrillo and Chapala became Santa Barbara's "Tree of Light" that is illuminated each Christmas.

. . . In his writings, Tompkins made corrections based not only on his own research but also on information from his readers and radio listeners. In this text, we have endeavored to incorporate as much of his continual updating as possible.
. . .Tompkins often turned to the reminiscences of old-timers and to traditionally accepted folklore, but not all references were cited in the text. We have supplied a bibliography that includes as many sources as were found among his papers, adding names of reference books we consulted in our editorial research.
Throughout the years it has taken to make The Yankee Barbareños available to the general reader.... I have often wondered if my husband would have wanted us to leave his old manuscript alone and let his subsequent books suffice. Personally, I have appreciated the continuity this volume affords. For the first time I have had a chance to glimpse the overall history of Santa Barbara County, albeit from the particular standpoint of Americanization. Now I see how it began, straight through to how it began again. With occasional lack of restraint, I have added a few comments about the county’s continuing efforts to renew itself.

Barbara H. Tompkins

flower Excerpts from David F. Myrick’s introduction to The Yankee Barbareños.

The recorded history of Santa Barbara commenced in 1542 when two small ships entered the Santa Barbara Channel. It was only fifty years after the first voyage of Columbus, and already the Spanish Kingdom was reaching into new territory hoping to add even more treasure to the royal vaults. Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo, leader of this expedition, died while his ships paused here, but his grave, believed to be on San Miguel Island, has never been found.

[Myrick summarizes the intervening years leading up to the 1700s and briefly takes the reader through that century, touching on the establishment of the Santa Barbara Mission and Presidio.]

“Indian Dam,” Santa Barbara Botanic Garden (courtesy Tompkins Collection). . . Walker Tompkins has focused his historical review of Santa Barbara County on that period of time after the mission and presidio ceased to be functioning enterprises. His book spans approximately 125 years to end with the calamitous earthquake of 1925 that changed the city and surroundings in so many ways.
Walker Tompkins, a warm, congenial person, introduced local history to Santa Barbara residents through his newspaper column and radio talks. Walker was a good listener and gathered many choice colorful items from his audience.
Stories of the life and times of the people during the 1830s and 1840s—the “splendid idle 40s”—have left an impression that life in Santa Barbara, particularly for large ranch owners, was the closest thing to nirvana. Yet, in reading the chapters in Tompkins’ book, we learn about highway robbers, Indian uprisings, and the fear of a repetition of pirate attacks such as the one in 1818 that terrorized the defenseless community.
. . .Future authors have the advantage of Walker A. Tompkins’ The Yankee Barbareños as a chronological starting point. They are also fortunate to be able to call upon the resources and the knowledge of dedicated people of the Santa Barbara Historical Society, the Santa Barbara Public Library, the University of California Library, and other places to complete their works.

David F. Myrick

The Yankee Barbareños book cover3

Photo Gallery

Forerunner of Mattei’s Tavern, Los Olivos

Atterdag College, Solvang, c. 1914

Pleasure pier and bathhouse, early 1900s

Early view of Carpinteria Valley

Rincon Causeway, c. 1913

Joseph Sexton family, 1894

Gaviota Pass, looking south

First Presbyterian Church, 1875

White steamer, 1900

Casa de la Guerra, 1880s

John Stewart Bell’s residence, Los Alamos

College Hotel, Santa Ynez, 1890

Ranch and residence of Buellton’s founder, Rufus T. Buell, c. 1870s

Lompoc Record’s first office, 1880s

First post office box at Ballard, 1880

Class in session, St. Vincent’s Orphanage

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