gmhTODAY 02 gmhToday May June 2015 - Page 43

One of local history ’ s unsolved little mysteries is whether the “ good ” iron kettle used for soap making belonged to Thomas Oliver Larkin , or whether it was the cracked one belonging to a man named Garcia . We may never know , but in any case , one of them ended up at Soap Lake being used in a soap factory run by Jose Maria Sanchez .

What historians do tell us is that there were two iron cauldrons used at alternate intervals for local soap making . Larkin ’ s , possibly purchased from a whaler passing through Monterey , was apparently loaned out to various regional soap manufacturers . The other cauldron , also borrowed , belonged to the man simply known as Garcia .
The old iron cauldron that sits behind the Gilroy Museum today represents a period in our local history , when , for local landowners , soap manufacture meant the same thing as currency . The lucrative sudsy product was sent to Larkin ’ s store in Monterey , where it was purchased and taken aboard ship by English and American sailors . They said it lathered in salt water , thus worked well for doing their laundry at sea .
The infamous cauldron ended up at San Felipe Lake , known to locals as Soap Lake . The shallow body of water is situated along the south side of Pacheco Pass Highway between Bloomfield Avenue and San Felipe Road . Flat and unremarkable during dry spells , it belonged to Jose Maria Sanchez as part of his 16,016-acre Rancho Llano de Tequisquite , granted to him in 1835 .
Llano de Tequisquite , which means , “ Plain of Alkali ,” was named for the ionic salt of an alkali metal , used in soap making , that occurs in the dry lakebed and in surrounding soil deposits .
Several area landowners profited from their alkali deposits . Most notably , John Gilroy , his two brothers-in-law , Quintin Ortega and Julian Cantua , also Francisco Pacheco , and early pioneer Mathew Fellom all engaged in soap making either at San Felipe Lake , or on their own nearby properties .
In Monterey , Thomas Oliver Larkin was both the region ’ s United States Consul and a successful Yankee merchant . Today , tourists can visit the Larkin home , an example of the Monterey Colonial style , as part of the California State Parks system in historic downtown Monterey .
At Sanchez ’ Llano de Tequisquite lakeside soap factory , the iron cauldron was placed upright , then encased in an adobe base . To make the soap , a mixture of tallow and alkali were placed into the vessel . After being boiled for six to eight hours , a thick froth was skimmed off on the surface to make soft household soap . Salt was added for a hardened version , and then the mixture was poured into wooden molds to solidify . It was then stored and turned regularly to “ cure ,” before being sent to market .
A reliable stream of soap orders to Monterey was not always the case . Larkin ’ s business agent , Talbot Green , spent the summer and fall of 1842 overseeing accounts at John Gilroy ’ s Rancho San Ysidro . Besides soap , Larkin had also ordered grain , flour and hides . Green wrote to Larkin on July 12 , 1842 that he wasn ’ t receiving the right orders of wheat and flour from area ranchers . Instead Larkin received 2,308 pieces of soap . “ Most of them think that soap ought to be the only currency ,” Green complained .
Larkin himself complained to Francisco Pacheco , who owned four local ranchos : San Justo , Bolsa de San Felipe , Ausaymas de San Felipe and San Luis Gonzaga . Besides the soap , Pacheco also owed him a quantity of hides . Larkin wrote “... you appear to think you will send me only Soap and that whenever you see fit … Your next excuse I suppose will be that it is a dry season and you will have no tallow . You must remember you told me 3 or 4 times that you had all your soap ready for cutting so the dry season can make no difference .”
Agent Green , in his own spelling , brought up the borrowed iron cauldron issue in a September 26 , 1842 letter to Larkin , “ I asked Sanches if he wanted the pot the last of the month . He said yes but Graceia is not willing to let him have it until 15th October . I told him if he must have it I would order Graceia to give it up .”
Finally forced to give up the extra pot he ’ d borrowed from Larkin , Garcia returned it with a crack . Unable to determine whether he ’ d received Garcia ’ s bad pot instead of Larkin ’ s good one , a perplexed Green wrote to Monterey , “ Sanches might not take it if cracked .”
Sanchez did end up with one of the cauldrons , the one moored along the edge of Soap Lake . He apparently signed a contact with Thomas Larkin to manufacture soap in 1845 , two years after the wrangle over pot ownership .
But not for long . Within three years , the once profitable soap manufacturing ended at Soap Lake . In 1848 , after news of the Gold Rush swept through the region , laborers quickly left tedious , low-paying local jobs and headed for the Sierra gold country seeking more profitable venture . Today , the Soap Lake cauldron of mysterious ownership now sits behind the Gilroy Museum , where visitors can make up their own minds whose pot it was .
G M H T O D A Y M A G A Z I N E MAY / JUNE 2015 gmhtoday . com
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O ne of local history’s unsolved little mysteries is whether the “good” iron kettle used for soap making belonged to Thomas Oliver Larkin, or whether it was the cracked one belonging to a man named Garcia. We may never know, but in any case, one of them ended up at Soap Lake being used in a soap fac- tory run by Jose Maria Sanchez. What historians do tell us is that there were two iron cauldrons used at alternate intervals for local soap making. Larkin’s, possibly purchased from a whaler passing through Monterey, was apparently loaned out to various regional soap manufacturers. The other cauldron, also borrowed, belonged to the man simply known as Garcia. The old iron cauldron that sits behind the Gilroy Museum today represents a period in our local history, when, for local landowners, soap manufacture meant the same thing as currency. The lucrative sudsy product was sent to Larkin’s store in Monterey, where it was purchased and taken aboard ship by English and American sailors. They said it lathered in salt water, thus worked well for doing their laundry at sea. The infamous cauldron ended up at San Felipe Lake, known to locals as Soap Lake. The shallow body of water is situated along the south side of Pacheco Pass Highway between Bloomfield Avenue and San Felipe Road. Flat and unremarkable during dry spells, it belonged to Jose Maria Sanchez as part of his 16,016-acre Rancho Llano de Tequisquite, granted to him in 1835. Llano de Tequisquite, which means, “Plain of Alkali,” was named for the ionic salt of an alkali metal, used in soap making, that occurs in the dry lakebed and in surrounding soil deposits. Several area landowners profited from their alkali deposits. Most notably, John Gilroy, his two brothers-in-law, Quintin Ortega and Julian Cantua, also Francisco Pacheco, and early pioneer Mathew Fellom all engaged in soap making either at San Felipe Lake, or on their own nearby properties. In Monterey, Thomas Oliver Larkin was both the region’s United States Consul and a successful Yankee merchant. Today, tourists can visit the Larkin home, an example of the Monterey Colonial style, as part of the California State Parks system in historic downtown Monterey. At Sanchez’ Llano de Tequisquite lake- side soap factory, the iron cauldron was placed upright, then encased in an adobe base. To make the soap, a mixture of tallow and alkali were placed into the vessel. After being boiled for six to eight hours, a thick froth was skimmed off on the surface to make soft household soap. Salt was added for a hardened version, and then the mixture was poured into wooden molds to solidify. It was then stored and turned regularly to “cure,” before being sent to market. A reliable stream of soap orders to Monterey was not always the case. Larkin’s business agent, Talbot Green, spent the summer and fall of 1842 overseeing accounts at John Gilroy’s Rancho San Ysidro. Besides soap, Larkin had also ordered grain, flour and hides. Green wrote to Larkin on July 12, 1842 that he wasn’t receiving the right orders of wheat and flour from area ranchers. Instead Larkin received 2,308 pieces of soap. “Most of them think that soap ought to be the only currency,” Green complained. Larkin himself complained to Francisco Pacheco, who owned four local ranchos: San Justo, Bolsa de San Felipe, Ausaymas de San Felipe and San Luis Gonzaga. Besides the soap, Pacheco also owed him a quantity of hides. Larkin wrote “...you appear to think you will send me only Soap and that whenever you see fit…Your next excuse I suppose will be that it is a G M H T O D A Y M A G A Z I N E MAY / JUNE 2015 dry season and you will have no tallow. You must remember you told me 3 or 4 times that you had all your soap ready for cutting so the dry season can make no difference.” Agent Green, in his own spelling, brought up the borrowed iron cauldron issue in a September 26, 1842 letter to Larkin, “I asked Sanches if he wanted the pot the last of the month. He said yes but Graceia is not willing to let him have it until 15th October. I told him if he must have it I would order Graceia to give it up.” Finally forced to give up the extra pot he’d borrowed from Larkin, Garcia returned it with a crack. Unable to determine whether he’d received Garcia’s bad pot instead of Larkin’s good one, a perplexed Green wrote to Monterey, “Sanches might not take it if cracked.” Sanchez did end up with one of the cauldr ۜHۙH[ܙY[ۙHYHو\ZKH\\[BYۙYH۝X]X\\[›X[YX\H\[ N KYX\Y\Hܘ[Hݙ\ۙ\\ ]܈ۙˈ][YHYX\HۘHٚ]XH\X[YX\[™[Y]\ZK[ N  Y\]قH\\YHY[ۋXܙ\]ZXHYY[\\^Z[›[؜[XYY܈HY\H[HYZ[[ܙHٚ]XH[\K^KH\ZH][ۈق^\\[\ۙ\\]Z[B[H]\][K\H\]ܜ[XZB\Z\ۈZ[H]\˂Z^KB