Summer, San Diego County, 120 Years Ago

You can learn a lot about local history from reading the columns of old newspapers. Ranging from local gossip to hard news and points in between, these columns offer snapshots of local life in San Diego County.

Come to think of it, can we, in this digitized age, still talk about “snapshots?” Hey, it’s my blog. So here are a few snapshots of life in San Diego County, gleaned from newspaper columns in late July and early August, 1894, 120 years ago.

In the Poway Valley:

“Niles Nelson hopes to harvest about 2 ½ tons of peaches, ½ tons of prunes, and 25 tons of raisin grapes.”

“J. C. Kear took a load of barley hay to San Diego last Saturday and brought back a load of flour and sugar.”

“B. F. Fickas is deepening Rev. H. C. Abernethy’s well, it having failed to do its duty at a depth of 42 feet.”

Meanwhile, over in the El Cajon Valley:

“Geo. A. Telford was in Tuesday from Nuevo [that’s Ramona today] and sold 3 tons of barley hay to Bascom & Co. for $15.50 a ton. Mr. Telford has considerable more baling yet to do.”

“Judge J. T. Cox’s deciduous trees are making a fine showing—apple and pear trees being loaded with choice fruit. Irrigation, through cultivation, and good soil are prime factors in profitable horticulture.”

Some samplings from Encinitas:

“Figs are ripening.”

“Harvesting beans has begun.”

“A steam thresher has been at work on the Metcalf ranch.”

“Sweet corn is in roasting ears.”

“The Derby house has been beautified with a new coat of paint.”

And this from a Poway Progress column titled “Busy Jamul”:

“The name Harmony was given to the new precinct in Jamul by Supervisor Nason. From all available evidence the general harmony that has prevailed in Jamul for the last year has given occasion for this unique and not altogether inappropriate name.”

The column goes on to describe a number of different farms “busily engaged in drying and preserving fruit,” and closes with this other hint of why Jamul might be so “busy”:

“E. S. Babcock is going to run a branch of the water line from Mount Tecate through Jamul. Those who wish to buy land in this garden spot of San Diego county should apply at once, as a consequent raise will be made as soon as the water is brought in.”

Then we swing back to the coast, where, according to the August 2, 1894 San Diego Union:

“Quite a number of families from the interior valleys are camping at Oceanside, enjoying the sea breezes. Most of them pitched their tents along the bluff.

The pleasure wharf is completed to low-water line. The iron to build it to 450 feet to deep water is expected here next week…”

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History Happenings-Upcoming Events in the Local History Community

Rancho Bernardo Historical Society presents the 4th annual RB Tastings Festival Saturday, August 2, 1-4 pm at the Bernardo Winery. Your ticket gets you live music, local wines, craft beers, food tastings, a fabulous silent auction, a classic car show, and a free logo wine glass! Tickets $25 per person in advance, $30 at gate. Advance tickets available at www.rbtastings.com . Further info at www.rbhistoricalsociety.org .

The Escondido History Center and the City of Escondido Recreation Department present summer Movies in the Park at Grape Day Park on Saturdays. Next up: Despicable Me 2, August 2. For further info, visit http://www.escondidohistory.org/movies_2014_flyer.pdf .

Vista Historical Society presents their Summer Barbecue at the Vista Historical Museum Saturday, August 16, 4-7 p.m. Good food, live music and free silhouettes by Sweet Silhouette. Tickets $30 per person, $50 per couple, $10 for kids 12 and under. For more info call 760-630-0444.

The San Marcos Historical Society offers tours of the historic Cox and Bidwell houses Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays at 2 and 3 p.m. or by appointment. For further info visit http://www.smhistory.org/historic-home-tours .

 

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The “All Saints River”

 Bernardo River

From the book, Picturesque San Diego, published in 1887. Caption reads, “San Pasqual Valley–Bernardo River.”

The above photo is interesting in part because it provides a view typical of a lot of northern San Diego County at the time it was taken. For today’s purposes, however, please focus on the caption, particularly the reference to the “Bernardo River.”

Now note this entry from a legal notices column in the San Diego Union on December 24, 1896: “William Roesling yesterday filed notice in the county recorder’s office appropriating 10,000 inches of water in the San Dieguito River, sometimes known as the Bernardo, to be used for irrigation purposes…”

That item pertained to irrigation needs in the area we know today as Rancho Bernardo, but if you peruse the local press of the period you find the San Dieguito River flowing under a number of “aliases,” depending on the particular area it happened to be passing through.

One man who summed it up nicely was Ed Fletcher, who knew something about rivers, especially exploiting them for irrigation and development purposes. Fletcher’s life and works could fuel many stories for the History Seeker, but for today’s purposes let’s just say that he, along with William Henshaw and the Santa Fe Railroad, had a hand in many if not most of the dams and irrigation systems built in San Diego County in the first two decades of the 20th century.

In his memoirs, published in 1952, Fletcher talks about a point early in his career as a land and water developer when he was surveying an area of the then Pamo Ranch near Ramona.

“The water in the mountains running through the Pamo Ranch was known as the Pamo River,” wrote Fletcher, “ and as the water continued running down hill and entered the San Pasqual Valley, it was known as the San Pasqual River; then as it continued to the sea it was known as the San Bernardo River, running through the San Bernardo Ranch; thence it entered the San Dieguito Spanish grant and again it was marked on the U. S. Topographical maps as the San Dieguito River until it entered the ocean just north of Del Mar—all one river and should have been named the ‘All Saints River.’”

Hmm, “All Saints River.” In addition to land and water, this guy knew something about marketing. Too bad the cartographers didn’t take him up on it.

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History Happenings-Upcoming Events in the Local History Community

The San Marcos Historical Society offers tours of the historic Cox and Bidwell houses Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays at 2 and 3 p.m. or by appointment. For further info visit http://www.smhistory.org/historic-home-tours .

 

The Escondido History Center and the City of Escondido Recreation Department present summer Movies in the Park at Grape Day Park on Saturdays. Next up: The Lego Movie, July 26. For further info, visit http://www.escondidohistory.org/movies_2014_flyer.pdf .

 

 

 

 

 

McCormick Field

The intersection of South Bent Avenue and San Marcos Boulevard is home today to a Fry’s Electronics store as well as other commercial and retail development. But from 1945 until the early 1960s the site was the location of McCormick Field, a privately-owned and operated airport that included a flight school, Almand Air Academy.

The airport and school were the dream of George Almand. On his discharge from the Navy in August, 1944, Almand, who had run training programs for pilots and mechanics as part of the war effort, returned to his then-home in Carlsbad and began looking for land on which to build an airport. He found what he was looking for at the intersection of what was then Encinitas Avenue and Bent Avenue in San Marcos, purchasing 60 acres.

The airport was a family project between Almand, his wife Jane, and his mother-in-law Faith McCormick, for whom the airport was named. Their application for a permit from the federal Civil Aeronautics Administration was granted on November 5, 1945. McCormick Field opened for business on November 11, 1945.

In the beginning the airport consisted of just a runway without any buildings and one war surplus airplane. A Plymouth coupe served as the office and maintenance shop. Gradually more planes were acquired and a 50-by-90-foot hanger was erected with a 40-by-40 foot quonset hut attached.

Almand Air Academy taught flying, aircraft maintenance and other ground crew functions. In the years immediately after the war, a number of students took courses under the GI Bill. The academy also flew charter flights and offered sales and maintenance services to local and out-of-area flyers.

Almand also founded a flying club, the Palomar District Flyers, which among other activities did a cross-formation flyover each year at local Easter sunrise services, as well as charity work.

Over the years the airport was also host to a Civil Air patrol unit and the San Marcos Sky Divers, a group of Camp Pendleton Marines who came out to sky-dive in their spare time.

Among the pilots who utilized McCormick Field in the 1950s was TV and movie star Bob Cummings. Cummings, whose comedy series “Love That Bob” ran from 1955 to 1959, frequently visited an Escondido health spa. Cummings used an Aerocar, a plane with foldable wings which could also be driven like a car.

The opening of Palomar Airport in 1959 drew business away from McCormick Field, and its operations were gradually phased out in the early 1960s. George Almand eventually subdivided and sold off the land for development. In 1989 he moved to the state of Washington, where he died in 2006 at the age of 93.

Sources for this post include the archives of the San Marcos Historical Society and a 2006 interview with an Almand family member.

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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.

History Happenings-Upcoming Events in the Local History Community

The San Marcos Historical Society offers tours of the historic Cox and Bidwell houses Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays at 2 and 3 p.m. or by appointment. For further info visit http://www.smhistory.org/historic-home-tours .

Vista Historical Society is holding an Ice Cream Social Saturday, July 19 from 1:30 – 3:30 p.m. at the Vista Historical Society Museum. $5 for adults, $3 for children under 10 gets you unlimited ice cream, root beer floats and drinks. Please R.S.V.P. by calling the museum at 760-630-0444 or email Jack at vhm67@1882.sdcoxmail.com .

The Escondido History Center and the City of Escondido Recreation Department present summer Movies in the Park at Grape Day Park on Saturdays. Next up: The Lego Movie, July 26. For further info, visit http://www.escondidohistory.org/movies_2014_flyer.pdf .

 

Fourth of July, 1914

The July 4, 1914 issue of the San Diego Evening Tribune called the Independence Day parade “the greatest in San Diego history.”

It had a special meaning for one particular parade marcher, according to the article by Tribune reporter George White.

“Fifty years ago today in the battle of Helena, Arkansas, Captain Jack Winscott, of the Thirty-third Missouri Infantry, was shot down with wounds in his jaw, one arm and a leg. He survived and marched today in the parade, carrying the flag for which he fought in the Civil War.”

James C Winscott civil war muster roll card

The article went on to point out that Winscott, then 76, “has lived in San Diego twelve years,” and served as “color bearer for the G.A.R. post.”

G. A. R. stood for Grand Army of the Republic, a fraternal organization for union veterans of the Civil War.

That wouldn’t be the first or the last time that James Clayton Winscott would appear publicly to commemorate his service and that of his civil war comrades. A notice in the May 1912 Tribune on planned Memorial Day addresses by G. A. R members at city and county public schools included this entry: “Logan Heights—Arthur E. Vest, Jerome Hopkins, James Winscott.”

Winscott was also among Union veterans onstage for a commemoration of Abraham Lincoln’s birthday at the Strand Theater in February 1918.

Winscott, James C pension card 33rd

A copy of an index card from the National Archives showing Winscott’s pension history.

That card seems to show that he actually never rose above private. But the fact that he received a pension in 1887 affirms that he was injured while in service, because only injured veterans could qualify for pensions at that time.

Embellishment of his rank might perhaps reflect a somewhat itinerant family background. While he was born in Missouri, his family lived in Iowa and Illinois in his youth. After his war service, young James went on to live in Texas for a time.

We do know that after coming to San Diego in the early 1900s Winscott periodically had to be admitted for treatment at the local branch of what were then called National Homes for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers.

San Diego newspaper accounts show Winscott working at carpentry and other odd jobs at least into his mid-seventies. He died in San Diego on February 24, 1928 at the age of 82.

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