The complete title of this book, written by Myron Angel, is History of San Luis Obispo County, California with Illustrations and Biographical Sketches of its Prominent Men and Pioneers. It was originally published by Thompson and West in 1883 and is often referred to as “Thompson and West “. It has been republished most recently by Word Dancer Press in association with Friends of the Adobes in 1994 and is currently available from the Rios-Caledonia Adobe in San Miguel here.
Myron Angel was the premier historian of San Luis Obispo County. He was hired to come here in 1881 to write this book which he completed in two years. Perhaps the biggest drawback to this 400-page volume is the lack of a detailed index. The index included was written by Paul T. Adalian for the 1979 edition but it omits many names and places. This defect is partly compensated by an extensive and detailed table of contents.
The forty-seven chapters trace the county’s history in exquisite detail from the Native Americans through the missions and the Mexican period to the establishment of the State of California and county governments. There are extensive, multi-chapter discussions of the political and financial history of the county, fraternal orders and nine chapters in which each town and settlement is discussed in detail. Angel also devotes entire chapters to topics normally omitted from history books such as schools, geology, meteorology, mines, newspapers and even crimes.
This book contains an amazing amount of detail gleaned from county records including names of individuals holding county offices and election results showing how many votes they and their opponents received. Here you will find taxation records and tables showing expenses paid by the county in its early years as well as records of production of various commodities.
One of the things which makes this book such an excellent source is that, when it was written, most of the county pioneers were still alive so that Mr. Angel is often writing about them in the present tense. This means that most of the information is factual and reliable with very little “folklore” introduced by several repetitions of events.
A number of biographies of pioneering citizens are included along with 61 pictures of some of these individuals and their residences. When reading the biographies it is well to bear in mind that people paid to have themselves and their pictures included in this book so the biographies may not be entirely accurate and the collection may not include some very important people who chose not to expend their funds for the purpose.
Myron Angel’s book is clearly the most important single volume pertaining to the history of San Luis Obispo County.