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History of San Luis Obispo 8History of San Luis Obispo 8 Joseph A. Carotenuti City Historian/Archivist July 2013 As the population continued to expand in the former mission settlement, merchants also grew to service the growing needs. The first newly-built store (at least according to available records) opened in an adobe at the corner of Chorro and Monterey Streets by two enterprising young men: William Beebee and Samuel Adams Pollard. The grand opening brought the landed gentry and was remembered for years afterwards. More than simply another store, it represented the beginning of commercial development (aka “progress”) to the secluded valley. Both men (worthy of further discussion) continued to contribute significantly to local history. Beebee Street remembers the first, but Pollard’s extraordinary career is all but forgotten. By the early 1850s, attorney William J. Graves had married into the prominent Pico family. Serving in the State Assembly as well as on the bench, Graves was the revenue master in Avila. In the latter capacity, he met one of the most important men ever to live in the County… Charles H. Johnson. Both will continue to contribute to the evolution of the community until their deaths in 1884 and 1915 respectively. Along with a few others, governance resembles a loose association of men, following State mandates, seeking ways to avoid expenses while conducting community and personal business. Through the 1850s, however, the emphasis is more centered on personal safety and not community enrichment. Piecing together the history of these pioneer years requires diligence and doggedness as the earliest land petition dates from 1859, the first preserved letter from 1864, the first newspaper from 1868, and the municipal Minutes from 1870. Certainly, some “guesstimates” are inevitable. Thus, while all history is an approximation, adherence to accuracy is essential. Legislatively, few statutes were addressed to the growing community. Certainly, a key piece was declaring San Luis Obispo as a Town in 1856. This does not mean the locals simply ignored their municipal status…but were unsuccessful in convincing the State that, indeed, the mission settlement was a pueblo under the Mexican regime. If it were a pueblo as was San Francisco, town boundaries would greatly exceed the standard 160 acre square measure. Beebee Brand Samuel Pollard Charles H. Johnson For San Luis Obispo, one early traveler briefly described his impressions. Henry Miller began his adventure in the north in early 1857, traveled south sketching the Missions and surroundings. Arriving here in late June, he wrote: Henry Miller Sketch “Early in the morning I arrived at the Mission, which is metamorphosed into a little town at present of about 150 houses, inhabited principally by natives and Mexicans; however quite a number of Americans have also settled here.” Henry Miller Sketch There must have been some form of municipal governance. However, it seems to have been minimal. Next time: What was “municipal governance” in the Mission town? Contact: jacarotenuti@gmail.com An informative collection of various impressions of San Luis Obispo is available online at www.heritageshred.org. In “SLOSnippets”, Hilliard Wood has collected an interesting array of recollections to the mid-1870s.