Devil Canyon

The canyon lying directly behind the new California State College site received its name very early in San Bernardino Valley history. Daniel Sexton, who arrived here in 1841, was working for Colonel Isaac Williams on the Chino Ranch. Williams told Sexton he was tired of eating meat, and craved vegetables.1 He sent Sexton and two of his Indians to survey a road so that they might get up to timber lands, and there cut trees for fencing, so that he could keep cattle out of a vegetable garden.

Sexton had not gone far when one of the Indians was bitten by a rattlesnake and died. The two remaining members of the party continued up the canyon, and found a feasible route for the proposed road. As they returned, the second Indian was also fatally bitten by another snake, and he shrieked "El Diablo", as he died. Sexton recounted the story to Col. Williams, and so the Canyon received its name.

Daniel Sexton arrived in San Bernardino before the Lugos. The Indians at that time had full and entire possession of all the country. Sexton hired some of them to cut and saw timber in San Gorgonio Pass, for which he paid them 25 cents per day. Horses and cattle could be acquired for fifty cents each; one hide was worth two living animals. Sexton acquired great influence over the Indians and could have raised five hundred warriors in a few hours. He married the niece of the Indian Chief Solano. It was Sexton who built a sawmill near the foot of Mt. San Bernardino in Mill Creek Canyon - known to historians as the Sexton-Vignes Mill. To Sexton is ascribed the discovery of tin at Temescal Mines - though Sexton said Solano showed him the location.2

Sexton claimed the honor of raising the first United States flag in San Bernardino County. He said in 1842 the Indians asked him if the Americans had any feast days, and he responded by telling them about the Fourth of July. He himself made an American flag, and hoisted it over a camp north of San Gorgonio Pass, and with the Indians celebrated July 4th, 1842.

Image of William Lester
William Lester
(A later owner of Devil Canyon)

1 Brown and Boyd, op. cit., p.683.
2 Ibid.

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