Pioneers of San Luis Obispo County & Environs

This tome, compiled by Annie L. Morrison and John H. Haydon, was originally entitled History of San Luis Obispo County and Environs and was published by the Historic Record Company of Los Angeles in 1917. It consisted of a 182 page History of San Luis Obispo County written by Morrison, a short, 22 page History of Santa Maria Valley by Haydon and several hundred brief biographies of important people who were living or had lived in San Luis Obispo County.

Until fairly recently this book was only available as a reference in most county libraries. However, in 2002, The Friends of the Adobes reprinted the volume and made it available to the general public. The Friends of the Adobes is an organization founded in 1968 and dedicated to the restoration and maintenance of the Rios-Caledonia Adobe in San Miguel and the Estrella Adobe Church in Paso Robles.

In printing the new version of this volume, The Friends of the Adobes was forced to exclude the two valuable historical articles included in the original version. However, they were able to add a detailed index greatly enhancing the value of the collection of biographies. This index alone runs to nearly 60 pages of fine print which allows quick and easy access to the vast quantity of information contained between these covers. The index includes subject matter as well as the names of those whose biographies are incorporated. Some of these biographies are accompanied by excellently reproduced images of the subjects.

While there is a wealth of information about the history of San Luis Obispo County in this book, the reader is advised to consider the criteria used to determine whose biographies would be included. In short, those who paid had their biographies, or those of their precursors, included. This means that many historically important individuals have been omitted and searches for information about the pioneers of San Luis Obispo County are often disappointing. It is also important to remember that the biographies that are included were generally written by the subject himself or by one of his descendants. This means that information is sometimes inaccurate and positive aspects of the individual’s life are often embellished while negative aspects are diminished or entirely absent.

In spite of this major flaw, Pioneers of San Luis Obispo County and Environs is still an outstanding reference and anyone seriously interested in the history of the county or any part of it should own a copy. Thanks to The Friends of the Adobes, it is available for purchase at The Rios-Caledonia Adobe.

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