A New Source for History Seekers

The photo below shows the first page of the first issue of Bernardo Brandings.

When that issue came out in February 1962, Bernardo Brandings was the first newspaper for the then-new community of Rancho Bernardo. It was so new that the first edition was printed in Encinitas. For that matter, there were no residents to read the paper yet in Rancho Bernardo.

Just a few months previously, developers Harry Summers and Fritz Hawn had signed an agreement with Lawrence and Donald Daley to turn 6,000 acres of ranchland into a planned urban community. The agreement they signed created a joint venture called Rancho Bernardo, Inc. which was the original publisher of Bernardo Brandings. That paper was distributed across California and the rest of the United States to draw people to come and settle in the new community.

So those first issues of the paper offer fascinating visual and narrative insights into Rancho Bernardo when it was just taking shape. And these insights are now available to the general public, thanks to the efforts of the Rancho Bernardo Historical Society.

The society’s museum had been collecting copies of the newspaper for years for the museum archives. More recently several volumes were digitized for museum visitors and researchers. This past week five years’ worth of those digitized copies were placed on the society’s website, making them accessible to the online public. Just go to the society’s website, https://rbhistory.org/ , click on the tab for “museum” and scroll down the page. Check it out!

Get Updates Automatically-Become A Follower of the San Diego History Seeker

You can get regular updates of San Diego History Seeker automatically in your email by clicking on the “Follow” button in the lower right corner of the blog page. You’ll then get an email asking you to confirm. Once you confirm you’ll be an active follower.

Advertisements

From Raisins to Grapes

Gustavus French Merriam came to San Diego County from Kansas in 1874. He acquired a homestead of 160 acres in what is today San Marcos. He christened his property Twin Oaks Ranch after two joined oak trees on the grounds.

Merriam at first intended to specialize in raisins, a popular crop in the area at the time. But he had trouble drying the grapes successfully and switched to wine and brandy production. That worked out a bit better.

“G. F. Merriam shipped a carload of grape brandy from Twin Oaks to Los Angeles,” reported the Poway Progress newspaper of January 13, 1894.

Two months later the same paper reported: “G. F. Merriam of San Marcos has made over 60,000 gallons of wine this season, and is now making grape brandy by the carload.”

That’s railroad carloads, just to put it in historical perspective.

Here’s an undated portrait of G. F. Merriam, courtesy of the San Marcos Historical Society:


The Major, as he preferred to be called, would leave his mark on county history in many ways.  You can find out more about him in my book, Valleys of Dreams, on sale on this blogsite.

In the meantime, Happy May Day to All!

Sources for this post included the archives of the San Marcos Historical Society and the San Diego History Center, along with historic county newspapers.

Get Updates Automatically-Become A Follower of the San Diego History Seeker

You can get weekly updates of San Diego History Seeker automatically in your email by clicking on the “Follow” button in the lower right corner of the blog page. You’ll then get an email asking you to confirm. Once you confirm you’ll be an active follower.

Two Views of El Cajon

A couple of views of El Cajon from the previous two centuries.

The 1890 book, Illustrated History of Southern California stated “The largest and most beautiful valley in San Diego County is the El Cajon, and, if not the best, it is certainly equal to any.”

The valley at the time was most famous for its raisins, which were being shipped by the railcar load across the country. Hay and grain were also being grown, and cultivation of other fruits and vegetables was taking hold.

Historian Samuel Black, writing in 1913, wrote that “El Cajon valley, beautiful and as yet not half developed, commands attention as the next in order in the march of progress eastward from San Diego city.”

“The level lands in the valley,” wrote Black, “are in use in grain fields, vineyards, deciduous and olive orchards and for dairying and stockraising. In the foothill lands around the edge of the valley are the citrus orchards and berry fields and there some of California’s finest showings in lemons and oranges can be seen. The citrus men, in addition to flume water, all have good wells.”

“From the Santee section milk and cream from the dairies and granite from the quarries are the main products…” The products of El Cajon valley can be greatly increased by closer settlement. There is much available land, both in the level section and in the foothills, and prices as yet have not reached to anything like those called for in similar districts elsewhere in the state.”

Sources:

The Lewis Publishing Company, An Illustrated History of Southern California Embracing the Counties of San Diego, San Bernardino, Los Angeles and Orange, and the Peninsula of Lower California from the Earliest Period of Occupancy to the Present Time together with Glimpses of their Prospects, also Full-Page Portraits of some of their Eminent Men and Biographical Mention of Many of their Pioneers and of Prominent Citizens of to-day, Chicago, 1890.

Black, Samuel F., San Diego County, California: A Record of Settlement, Organization, Progress and Achievement, Chicago, S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1913.

Get Updates Automatically-Become A Follower of the San Diego History Seeker

You can get weekly updates of San Diego History Seeker automatically in your email by clicking on the “Follow” button in the lower right corner of the blog page. You’ll then get an email asking you to confirm. Once you confirm you’ll be an active follower.

Birth of the Lake Hodges Dam

A century ago in this county, in the fall and winter of 1918, the Lake Hodges Dam was nearing completion. The project was undertaken by the San Dieguito Mutual Water Company under the leadership of Ed Fletcher, William Henshaw and the Santa Fe Railroad Company. Its goal was to harness the waters of the San Dieguito River to promote the development of lands owned by the railroad, primarily in Rancho Santa Fe. But ultimately it would serve to promote the development of a good chunk of northern San Diego County as well as the city of San Diego, which would eventually become the owner of the Lake Hodges Reservoir.

The photo below was taken in December 1918 at the dam site. It’s from the privately published Memoir of Ed Fletcher. Fletcher is standing on the far right. The man farthest left is W. E. Hodges, who was then the vice president of the Santa Fe Railroad and the man for whom the dam and the lake would ultimately be named. Next to Mr. Hodges is E.P. Ripley, president of the railroad. To the immediate right of Ripley is Mrs. Mary Fletcher, wife of Ed. To her right stands Mrs. Caroline Hodges, followed by Mrs. Frances Ripley.

Sources for this post, in addition to the abovementioned Fletcher memoir, included historic San Diego city and county newspapers and the city of San Diego’s website.

Tent City

For almost forty years, from 1900 to 1939, Coronado was home to a resort called “Tent City.” Readers today may think only of the Hotel Del Coronado when Coronado comes to mind, but Tent City was owned and run as a resort by the same people who owned the Del, the Coronado Beach Company.

John Spreckels, who’d acquired the Coronado Beach Company in 1889, a year after the Del opened, established Tent City in 1900. Here’s a photo from a promotional booklet published by the beach company in 1903:


In his 1908 book on the history of San Diego, historian William Smythe paid tribute to Tent City as “one of [Coronado’s] most attractive features. On the narrow peninsula east of the hotel, several hundred tents and palmleaf-covered cottages are erected early each summer, where a large number of people go to spend a few weeks beside the ocean…It is one of the coast’s most popular resorts, especially with those who seek to escape the summer heat of the warm interiors.”

Here’s another photo from 1903 of some of those bathers cooling off.


 

Tent City drew 10,000 residents during its June-through-September season in 1914. It would continue as a destination until 1939, when it closed to make way for highway construction.

Here’s a link to the 1903 booklet, which is in the UCSD archives:

https://library.ucsd.edu/dc/object/bb7784398w/_1.pdf

In addition to the abovementioned book and website, sources for this post also included historic San Diego County newspapers and the website of the Coronado Historical Association.

Get Updates Automatically-Become A Follower of the San Diego History Seeker

You can get weekly updates of San Diego History Seeker automatically in your email by clicking on the “Follow” button in the lower right corner of the blog page. You’ll then get an email asking you to confirm. Once you confirm you’ll be an active follower.

March, 1894

I offer one of my periodic snapshots of life in San Diego County in past times, courtesy of the weekly Poway Progress newspaper’s edition of Saturday, March 3, 1894.

The paper’s Encinitas correspondent noted that on the previous Tuesday, “J. W. Bond took his fine cow to San Diego to sell.”   And the day before that, “W. L. Hannah hauled a load of hogs to the city” as well.

Over in the Poway valley, “Dry weather still holds on,” the paper stated, “and everybody is becoming anxious as to the outcome of the season. Instead of six to ten inches of growth by this time as a rule, the grain is but barely visible on most of the ground.”

So as not to keep you in suspense, I can report that in the issue of the following week, the paper’s Poway-datelined entry reported: “We have had a fine rain.”

On more up to date matters, I will be giving my talk, “Homefront San Diego in World War Two” this coming Saturday at 11 a. m. at the Rancho Bernardo History Museum. My talk slides include period photos and newspaper articles as well as newsreel footage. I’ll be offering my book, Valleys of Dreams, for sale too.

Come join us at the museum in the Bernardo Winery at 13330 Paseo Del Verano Norte.

Get Updates Automatically-Become A Follower of the San Diego History Seeker

You can get weekly updates of San Diego History Seeker automatically in your email by clicking on the “Follow” button in the lower right corner of the blog page. You’ll then get an email asking you to confirm. Once you confirm you’ll be an active follower.

 

Remembering Camp Vista

A section of Vista off Sycamore Avenue that’s known today as Green Oak Ranch was, from 1935 to 1941, the location of Camp Vista. The camp was part of a nationwide network of facilities operated by the Civilian Conservation Corps. The corps, known more familiarly as the CCC, was one of the first programs instituted by the administration of President Franklin Roosevelt to relieve massive unemployment in the depths of the Great Depression.

At its height the camp was home to 200 enrollees, unemployed young men between the ages of 17 and 28 who were put to work on projects involving soil conservation, tree planting, preservation of wildlife habitat and road building.

Here’s a photo of Camp Vista’s enrollees taken around 1940, courtesy of the Vista Historical Society:

It wasn’t just “busy-work” that those young men performed. One report published in the pages of the Vista Press newspaper in March 1936, just five months after the camp had opened, noted that enrollees had constructed  “47 permanent dams, over 4,500 feet of diversion ditches, one mile of terraces, and 70 permanent terrace outlet structures” on local ranches. During that same period, the camp workers planted “over 2,600 soil-holding, drought-resistant trees…to protect gully banks and eroding hillsides.”

That’s some history worth remembering.

Sources for this post included the archives of the Vista Historical Society and the book, The Tree Army: A Pictorial History of the Civilian Conservation Corps, 1933-1942.

Get Updates Automatically-Become A Follower of the San Diego History Seeker

You can get weekly updates of San Diego History Seeker automatically in your email by clicking on the “Follow” button in the lower right corner of the blog page. You’ll then get an email asking you to confirm. Once you confirm you’ll be an active follower.