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Kewen Dorsey Collection

Identifier: H-Mss-0272

  • Staff Only

Scope and Contents

The Dorsey Collection of twenty-five hand-written diaries illuminate the years 1879-1904 in the life of Kewen H Dorsey, who was born in El Monte in 1857. The collection also contains various record books, account information, writings, and a day book belonging to Dorsey's mother, Civility Rubottom.


  • 1735-1933 and undated
  • Majority of material found within 1879-1933 and undated


Language of Materials

Languages represented in the collection: English.


Collection open for research.

Publication Rights

All requests for permission to reproduce or to publish must be submitted in writing to Special Collections.

Biographical / Administrative History

Kewen Hilliard Dorsey (1857 - 1933) was a member of one of Southern California's first pioneer families. Born in El Monte, Dorsey became a resident of Spadra, a small town that was eventually absorbed by surrounding cities. He moved to Los Angeles in 1878, before making his residence in Fontana towards the end of his life. He was the son of Mexican War veteran Hilliard P. Dorsey and Civility Rubottom. He was also the grandson of William Wiley "Uncle Billy" Rubottom, an infamous settler of the Pomona Valley known for his violent streak. Rubottom had gone west from Arkansas after killing two men, and was responsible for the shooting death of his son-in-law, Dorsey's father. Kewen’s mother had fled her husband and sought refuge at her father’s home. When Hilliard arrived to claim her, Rubottom killed him with a shotgun. As both men had reputations for dueling and fighting, the townsfolk accepted that there was no fault in the death and Rubottom did not face consequences for Hilliard’s murder. Despite these events, Kewen was loyal to and cared for his grandfather until the old man’s death.

Later in life, Kewen Dorsey was repeatedly honored as one of the oldest residents of the area. In 1930 governor of California James Rolph gave Dorsey a silver cup award in honor of his status as the area’s oldest “native son.” Hilliard Dorsey had started the first Los Angeles Masonic lodge in 1852, and Kewen followed in his father’s footsteps by becoming an active member of the Masons, including holding various leadership positions. In 1932 Dorsey was awarded a silver trowel recognizing him as the oldest mason in the San Bernardino Valley. Dorsey kept extensive diaries throughout his life, and donated them to The Claremont Colleges Library in the year prior to his death. Dorsey passed away in Fontana on July 12, 1933.


Brackett, Frank Parkhurst, and Historic Record Company, Los Angeles. 1920. History of Pomona Valley, California: With Biographical Sketches of the Leading Men and Women of the Valley Who Have Been Identified with Its Growth and Development from the Early Days to the Present. Los Angeles, Cal: Historic Record Company.

DORSEY RITES SET FOR TODAY. 1933. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File), Jul 13, 1933. (accessed March 9, 2018).


1.5 Linear Feet (3 document boxes)


This collection contains the diaries of early California resident Kewen Hilliard Dorsey. Born in El Monte in 1857, Dorsey grew up in the town of Spadra with his grandfather, W.W. Rubottom, and later lived in Los Angeles and Fontana. Dorsey was active in his community, a member of a Masonic lodge and pioneer groups. The bulk of the materials in this collection consists of Dorsey's diaries, though it also contains account books, various writings, record books, and a day book belonging to Dorsey's mother Civility Rubottom.

Organization and Arrangement

Materials are arranged by type, and chronologically within each type. The bulk of the collection is made up of Dorsey's diaries.

Physical Location

Please consult repository.

Provenance / Source of Acquisition

Gift of Kewen Dorsey, 1932.


No additions to the collection are anticipated.

Processing Information

Items were placed in archival housing, and arranged into chronological order.
Kewen Dorsey Collection
Finding aid prepared by Sara Chetney, MA
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the 01 - Special Collections, Honnold/Mudd Library Repository

800 North Dartmouth Ave
Claremont CA 91711 United States