Down By The Ocean’s Side

Andrew_Jackson_Myers

A. J. Myers, Oceanside pioneer. Credit: Wikipedia

A little background about the evolution of a city, gleaned from the columns of a long-defunct newspaper.

An item in the “Rays” column of the San Diego Sun (“Rays,” “Sun,” get it?) on April 21, 1883 included this item: “A. J. Meyers, of San Luis Rey, brought into market five dozen chickens yesterday. He says the business is a very profitable one.”

Andrew Jackson Meyers was a storekeeper who’d applied for a homestead grant in the San Luis Rey Valley, near the old mission. Poultry wasn’t the only business he found profitable. Subsequent “Rays” columns report this “merchant from San Luis Rey” dealing in real estate. Along with some business partners including Cave Couts and J. Chauncey Hayes, Meyers set about developing a new town. In the process, they developed a new name, suitable for their location by the sea.

Meyers sought to make the new name legal by applying for regular mail deliveries to the new community. In the meantime, he and his partners were already using it, and the local media of the day picked up on it.

“Oceanside, the new seaside resort of Southern California, at San Luis Rey depot, will be subdivided next week, and town lots placed on the market,” announced the Sun on April 28, 1883. “A first-class hotel, livery stable and general merchandise store will be established at once.”

On May 28, 1883, the U. S. Postal Department granted Meyers’ application, designating him the first postmaster of Oceanside, California.

The rest, as they say, is history.

Sources for this post included historic San Diego newspapers, the website for the city of Oceanside, and the books City of San Diego and San Diego County: The Birthplace of California, by Clarence Alan McGrew, and San Diego County Place Names A To Z, by Leland Fetzer.

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History Happenings-Upcoming Events in the Local History Community

Join the Escondido History Center for their 4th annual Adobe Home Tour, Sunday, October 5 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. This year’s tour includes a ranch house (Bandy Canyon Ranch) and suggested finale at Hacienda de Vega restaurant, which was originally one of the first mid-century adobe homes in the area. Tickets $25 in advance, $30 day of tour. For further info visit http://www.adobehometour.com/ .

Escondido Public Library will host Escondido’s Surprising Connection to Balboa Park’s 1915 Panama-California Exposition, presented by Dr. Michael Kelly on Tuesday, October 21, 2014, at 6:00 p.m. in the Turrentine Room of the library, 239 South Kalmia Street, Escondido, California 92025. Kelly, President of the Committee of One Hundred and editor of Balboa Park and the 1915 Exposition, will also reveal the surprisingly significant and historic role the City of Escondido played in the planning of the 1915 Exposition.

Sponsored by Escondido Public Library’s Pioneer Room Friends, a support group dedicated to preserving and promoting Escondido Public Library’s local history and genealogy archive. Talk is part of the Friends’ annual meeting and will appeal to all local history enthusiasts. Library programs, events, and services are free and open to the public. For info contact Librarian and Archivist, Helene Idels at 760-839-4315 or visit http://library.escondido.org/ .

 

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Hosmer and Fannie McKoon: 19th Century Power Couple

Hosmer P McKoon Land of Sunshine page

Excerpt from tribute to Hosmer McKoon on his death, published in June 1894 issue of the magazine Land of Sunshine.

 

For the week of September 8, I wrote a post called “Raisins and Real Estate” which talked about efforts in the late 19th century to promote San Diego County. It described the county’s exhibit at the California Midwinter Exposition in San Francisco in 1894 which included displays of the county’s produce and distribution of free samples of raisins as an added incentive.

One of the movers behind San Diego’s exhibit was Hosmer P. McKoon. The San Diego Chamber of Commerce was a prime sponsor of San Diego’s exhibit and McKoon was chamber president. He was also elected president of the “County Commissioners Club,” an organization of representatives of the various exhibiting counties.

Hosmer McKoon appears to have been a real go-getter, which is why he was chosen to lead various civic groups like the chamber and to represent the county at various conferences on development-related subjects in the late 1880s and early 1890s.

McKoon was a practicing attorney, having earned a law degree in his home state of New York before moving to San Francisco in 1876, where his clients included the Southern Pacific Railroad. He must have done pretty well because when he moved to San Diego County in 1885 he was able to purchase 9,500 acres in the El Cajon Valley. He named his spread Fanita Ranch, in honor of his wife Fannie. She, also a college graduate and native of New York State, married Hosmer in 1873. Two sons, Hosmer, Jr., and Henry, were born to them while they were living in San Francisco, and came south with them in 1885.

Like many movers and shakers in the county back then, Hosmer was serious about real estate. He regularly ran large ads offering parts of his ranch for sale. “I have sold within the last 30 days four tracts of ten acres each,” he wrote in an ad October 13, 1885 issue of the San Diego Union, “upon which four houses have been built and are now occupied by the purchasers. I will sell four other tracts of the choicest bottom lands in El Cajon Valley at $50 per acre to purchasers who will improve the same this season.”

At the same time, he also farmed. An article in the Union of September 5, 1889 on the first major exhibit of the newly-formed El Cajon Horticultural Society included this entry: “Hosmer P. McKoon exhibits some fine products of his famous Fanita Rancho. Among them are Boston Field….Black Wax, Mohawk and Marble beans, some splendid early Rose and Peerless potatoes of thirteen weeks’ growth, without irrigation; also some Southern Queen (sweet) potatoes. Two samples of the soil of Mr. McKoon’s ranch attracted attention for its great fertility.”

Hosmer led an active life, but a sadly short one. He died of Bright’s disease at the age of 49 in 1894. His widow Fannie recovered from her own illness and grief, raising her two sons and also taking over the business interests that her husband left behind, including property in the city of San Diego as well as Fanita Rancho.

She also was active in the local movement for women’s suffrage. In 1896, at an Equal Suffrage event, asked the question “Why should mothers want to vote?” Fanny gave this eloquent response to a Poway newspaper: “Mothers need the power of the ballot to protect their children after they have grown out of her arms and beyond the reach of their hands. For ages ‘mothers influence’ has battled with ‘effects.’ With the power of the ballot in her hand she can reach ‘causes’…”

During the last years of her life she lived in the city of San Diego, where she died in 1917 at the age of 66.

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History Happenings-Upcoming Events in the Local History Community

Author Carol Fitzpatrick will speak on “Meriwether Lewis- Debunking the Myths of His Suicide,” at the next meeting of the Temecula Valley Historical Society, Monday, September 22, 6 p.m. at the Little Temecula History Center. Free and open to the public. For details call Rebecca Farnbach at 951-699-5148.

Rancho BEERnardo Festival at the Sikes Adobe Historic Farmstead, Saturday, September 27 from 3-6 p.m. Enjoy tastings choices from some of San Diego’s best craft breweries, live music food, and tours of the historic farmstead. 15 tastings for $30. Proceeds benefit local charities supported by the Rancho Bernardo Sunrise Rotary plus the Sikes Adobe Historic Farmstead. For further info visit http://ranchobeernardofestival.com/ .

Join the Escondido History Center for their 4th annual Adobe Home Tour, Sunday, October 5 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. This year’s tour includes a ranch house (Bandy Canyon Ranch) and suggested finale at Hacienda de Vega restaurant, which was originally one of the first mid-century adobe homes in the area. Tickets $25 in advance, $30 day of tour. For further info visit http://www.adobehometour.com/ .

“STRANDED ON THE DESERT”

That was the headline on an article in the Poway Progress of November 30, 1895. That’s how the article began as well.

“Stranded on the desert, within twenty miles of Banning, is where J. Chilson of Fallbrook, has found his son-in-law, Bud Russell, and family,” stated the article, which attributed the story to a Fallbrook newspaper.

Russell and his family were part of a wagon train that left Oklahoma (then Oklahoma Territory) a few months previously, headed for California, the article said. They ran into some trouble, not specifically described other than to say their journey “has proved a most disastrous one to the whole party.”

“Just how nearly destitute they are is now known,” the article continued, “but on Saturday Mr. and Mrs. E. C. Shipley and J. Chilson left Fallbrook with two teams [of horses], to assist their relatives and bring them to Fallbrook.” The members of the stranded party were said to be “in good health, though their horses are broken down.”

The Shipleys, Chilsons and Russells were all part of the same extended family, descended from Oliver Cook and his wife Clarissa. They were also somewhat used to traveling together, if their family history is any indication.

After over 20 years as a successful farmer in Kansas, Oliver Cook, then in his late sixties, decided to pull up stakes and move to California in 1885. With Kansas in a recession and train fares reduced due to railroad price wars, Cook convinced most of his extended family to come with him. Arriving on the same train that day at the Fallbrook depot were Oliver and his wife Clarissa, daughter Clarissa and husband Elmore Shipley and their two sons, and daughter Mary Elizabeth and husband Joseph Chilson and their three children. Oh yes, and one of the Chilson’s children, daughter Mary Alice, came with her husband, Allen “Bud” Russell, and two sons.

The Russell branch of the family wasn’t quite finished with traveling, migrating to what is now Oklahoma in 1892. Although that didn’t work out too well, the Russells would re-establish themselves successfully in Fallbrook.

You can find out more about this very enterprising—and mobile—clan in my book, Valleys of Dreams, available for sale through this website.

Sources for this post included the archives of the Fallbrook Historical Society and the research of Susan M. Hillier Roe, third great-granddaughter of Oliver Cook.

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History Happenings-Upcoming Events in the Local History Community

Art Animates Life and San Marcos Historical Society present a live train ride thriller, “Passage Into Fear,” September 19-21 at Heritage Park. A historical stage thriller in the tradition of Hitchcock and Christie, the play is set during World War I in recognition of the war’s 100th anniversary. Proceeds support the San Marco Historical Society’s educational programs at Heritage Park. Tickets $9 for adults, $5 for 15 and under. For tickets or further info call 760-716-0107 or visit www.smhistory.org .

Join members of the Santee Historical Society for their annual Barn Bar BQ and General Meeting Saturday, September 20 at 11 am at the society’s headquarters, the historic Edgemoor Barn, 9200 Magnolia Avenue. Speaker will be yours truly, the San Diego History Seeker, speaking on the lives of pioneer residents Hosmer and Fannie McKoon. $2.50 a plate for members, $5 a plate for non-members (you can join on the spot). RSVP by calling 619-449-2024.

Author Carol Fitzpatrick will speak on “Meriwether Lewis- Debunking the Myths of His Suicide,” at the next meeting of the Temecula Valley Historical Society, Monday, September 22, 6 p.m. at the Little Temecula History Center. Free and open to the public. For details call Rebecca Farnbach at 951-699-5148.

 

Raisins and Real Estate

In the first few months of 1894, San Diego County newspapers ran a number of articles about “the midwinter fair” and the county’s participation in it.

Its official name was the California Midwinter International Exposition, and it ran in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park from January 27 to July 5, 1894.

A San Diego Union reporter, writing from San Francisco on the opening ceremonies, described perfect weather and throngs of people.

The fair covered 130 acres, with a grand court featuring “an electric tower over 250 feet in height,” surrounded by five main exhibition buildings dedicated to the state’s business, agriculture and art. Surrounding this main court were special buildings “erected by the different states, counties and concessions (erected at the cost of the states, counties or individuals) for their exclusive exhibits.”

Here’s a shot of the fair illuminated at night:

Fair picture

San Diego County was one of the prime exhibitors.

The February 3, 1894 Poway Progress, started its “CHAMBER OF COMMERCE AND MIDWINTER FAIR BULLETIN” by quoting from the San Francisco Chronicle:

“San Diego County has erected a model warehouse of dried fruits. This is the central figure of its display. Oranges, lemons, limes, raisins, olive oil and every variety of deciduous fruits are contained in this exhibit. The most southern county in the state vies with Siskiyou on the north in the display of apples…”

A miniature model of San Diego’s harbor was also part of the exhibit, according to the Progress, which also stated that a “Los Angeles resident” who’d visited both his city’s exhibit and San Diego’s pronounced San Diego’s “away ahead” of LA’s.

The San Diego Chamber of Commerce was a prime sponsor of San Diego’s exhibit. Chamber president Hosmer P. McKoon was also elected president of the “County Commissioners Club,” representing the various counties exhibiting at the fair.

The March 31 edition of the Poway paper noted that “April 10 will be San Diego day at the midwinter fair. Director Norcross of the chamber of commerce will go up the first week in April to assist Mr. Frisbie in setting up the big triumphal arch and completing other arrangements. President McKoon will deliver an address, there will be band music and several thousand packages of raisins bearing the compliments of San Diego County, will be given away.”

The free produce was obviously meant to accomplish more than satisfying visitors’ sweet tooths.

In early May 1894 a San Francisco newspaper reported that “The number of homeseekers who have studied the resources of the State on the fair grounds is incalculable.” The article went on to say that the fair “has been the means of attracting a great many actual purchasers and will attract a great many more. The best satisfied among those connected with the fair are not those who have come to sell goods, but the representatives of California’s counties, who at a big expense arranged exhibits to attract settlers.”

Some two million people passed through the fair’s gates during its run. That’s a lot of raisins.

 

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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

Open house at the Vista Historical Museum, 1-3 on Sept 13. Learn about the history of the museum, the former Rancho Minerva, and a little Greek culture. Hosted by three Girl Scouts earning their Silver Award. This is a community event and anyone can join. $7 donation includes tour, snack, presentation and patch. For further info call 760-630-0444.

Phil Goscienski, MD, the Stone-Age Doctor, will present a lecture on the health benefits of wine and chocolate followed by wine and chocolate tasting at the San Diego Archaeological Center, Saturday, September 13, 11 am – 2 pm. Admission: $25 for members  $35 for non-members (21 and over only). Space is limited and you must register in advance. Purchase tickets online at www.sandiegoarchaeology.org. To register for the event or for more information, please contact Cara Ratner at cratner@sandiegoarchaeology.org  or by telephone: (760) 291-0370.

Come help the Poway Historical and Memorial Society celebrate their 50th anniversary Sunday, September 14 from 9 am to 4 pm in Old Poway Park. There’ll be a museum open house, rummage sale, musical entertainment and speakers including yours truly, the San Diego History Seeker. I’ll also have a book table there. For details go to page 2 of the latest edition of the society newsletter, http://www.powayhistoricalsociety.org/newsletter/newsletter_14_fall.pdf .

Join members of the Santee Historical Society for their annual Barn Bar BQ and General Meeting Saturday, September 20 at 11 am at the society’s headquarters, the historic Edgemoor Barn, 9200 Magnolia Avenue. Speaker will be yours truly, the San Diego History Seeker, speaking on the lives of pioneer residents Hosmer and Fannie McKoon. $2.50 a plate for members, $5 a plate for non-members (you can join on the spot). RSVP by calling 619-449-2024.