“Mr. Cambron has been very busy the past week putting his orchard and vineyard in apple pie order. With working his ranch and taking care of the roads we think friend Tom must have his hands full.”
From the “Poway Points” column in the Poway Progress newspaper, March 23, 1895.
Thomas Jerome Cambron was a busy man indeed. He’d been farming and raising livestock in the Poway Valley since arriving from Illinois around 1873. By the 1890s he was farming some 300 acres and apparently doing pretty well.
“T. J. Cambron last year had some 1,200 pounds of dried peaches, and he anticipates having about the same quantity this year,” proclaimed the Poway Progress on July 21, 1894. “His principal crop of peaches comprises the early and late Crawfords, and they are among the best raised.”
A week later that same paper reported Cambron taking 2,300 pounds of hay over the Poway Grade into San Diego, where he sold it “a the rate of $16.50 a ton.”
Early in 1895, Cambron was appointed a roadmaster. The San Diego County government appointed local citizens to do road maintenance in unincorporated communities. Remember, at that time the Poway Valley and its immediate environs were still considered “the back country.” Locals were hired and paid a nominal wage to grade and clear the then-unpaved roads.
There are a number of accounts in Poway and San Diego papers from the mid-1890s to around 1904 that describe Cambron working to repair various roads, sometimes in the company of one or two others, at other times with what is described as “a force of men.”
“T. J. Cambron and A Danielson have repaired the worst break in the road to Stowe, an improvement which is appreciated by the mail carrier on that route,” read an account in the Progress of August 3, 1895.
He also managed to find the time to participate in the civic life of his community.
“T. J. Cambron and Adams Chapin have been named as deputy county clerks in this township,” announced the “Poway Notes” column in the San Diego Union of January 29, 1903.Cambron’s name also appears in jury lists and as a polling official in Poway during elections.
He wasn’t as well known as some other San Diego pioneers, but he certainly did his civic duty, while also tending a farm and raising two children with his wife Martha.
Here’s to Good Citizen T. J. Cambron!
Sources for this post included historic Poway and San Diego newspapers, the 1880 and 1900 U. S. Censuses, and the archives of the Poway Historical and Memorial Society.
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