Pasadena’s Pioneer Families LIKED Archery in 1891!

Our previous post pointed to a 1943 Los Angeles Times news article, which mentioned relevant details about field archery and Pasadena’s field range dating back to the earliest years of the sport. An even older Los Angeles Times article from 1891 — just five years after Pasadena’s incorporation as a city — documents how deeply the sport of archery has been ingrained in Pasadena’s history. The article (again, behind a paywall) is available here.

The 1891 article comes from the Times’ society pages. It recounts “the social event of the season for the young people” held at the home of Mr. and Mrs. C. D. Daggett on a Tuesday evening in June. Charles Daniel Daggett was a pioneer citizen of Pasadena, a prominent businessman who was active in the social and cultural life of the city, serving as one of the first presidents of the Tournament of Roses and as Grand Marshal of the Rose Parade three times. Among the distinguished guests at this event were Prof. Charles F. Holder and Dr. Francis F. Rowland, the two members of the Valley Hunt Club who founded the Tournament of Roses just one year earlier in 1890. The “young people” at this party included “Master Sobieski Lowe” and “Miss Alice Eaton,” children of even more illustrious Pasadena pioneers, Thaddeus Lowe and Benjamin Eaton.

At this summer party 123 years ago, the four Daggett children “entertained their young friends” and “the evening’s pleasure, however, was not confined to the young people, for a number of their friends more advanced in years were fortunate enough to secure invitations, and none more fully entered into the spirit of the affair than they.” The Times article reports that, shortly after the guests arrived at 5 o’clock, an archery contest was entered upon. Almost everyone present participated, and those who did not, enjoyed the proceedings from the east piazza. Some very creditable scores were made…” and prizes were won by both boys and girls.

There are three striking points relevant to today’s debate that can be inferred from this brief mention of archery in a 123-year-old newspaper article:

  1.  Archery in 1891 was a sport that could be practiced in the backyards of Pasadena’s landed gentry such as the Daggett family’s estate, but this was decades before the City provided any archery facility for the general public.
  2. The Times article does not report any concern for the safety of the archery contest participants or the onlookers from the east piazza or the Daggetts’ neighbors, who were not protected by a 120-foot hillside. Even in 1891, those who engaged in the sport knew that archery was inherently safe.
  3. Archery in 1891, as it is today, was a sport enjoyed by boys and girls, men and women. Archery has always been a sport of equal opportunity for all ages and both genders, long before Title IX and other legislation mandated such equal opportunities in other sports.

Even though archery was inherently enjoyable by all, it took an enlightened Pasadena city government to open the sport to the general public. The City permitted archery to take root in the Lower Arroyo in the 1920s and 1930s, first at the Target Archery Range and later at the Field Archery Range, always insisting that these ranges be open and available to the public at large. Due to continued support by Pasadena’s city leaders, all members of the public have been able to practice archery in the Lower Arroyo Park for nearly a century. Pasadena has remained committed to the principle that archery should be accessible to all, not only the landed gentry and their guests, and not only the private archery clubs who established and maintained the Lower Arroyo ranges.

In today’s debate, a small segment of the landed gentry is resurgent, seeking to roll back nearly a century of progressive city policy by drastically restricting or eliminating the general public’s opportunities to practice archery at the Lower Arroyo range. Ironically, one of their proposals is to restrict archery in the Lower Arroyo to events conducted by a private club, the Pasadena Roving Archers (PRA), a group whose aims they otherwise oppose.

Pasadena’s present-day leaders should resist this pressure from powerful interests. The City Council should not roll back a century of progressive city policy toward archers and their sport. The Lower Arroyo Field Archery Range should be kept open to the public for archery seven days a week.

(Reference: “YOUNG AND OLD Alike Enjoy Themselves on Tuesday Evening,” Los Angeles Times, Thursday, June 25, 1891, p. 7.  )

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