Below is a page from the list of registered voters in San Diego County for the year 1873. It shows the listing for Zenas Sikes. The columns to the right of his name show that he was 39 years old at the time, and had been born in Massachusetts. His occupation was “farmer” and his legal residence was San Pascual (Pasqual), meaning then the area served by the San Pasqual post office, which included the San Pasqual Valley and immediately adjacent areas.
Below that list is the 1880 voter register. Zenas Sikes is still on there. He is now 50 years old but he continues to be a farmer. Right above him is Harry Sikes, 21 years old and also a farmer. Harry is Zenas’ son, born in Michigan when his father and mother briefly visited that state on the journey that would eventually bring them to California. Zenas and Eliza Sikes and their six children moved to San Diego County in 1868.
Courtesy California State Library, Sacramento.
In the “Legal Residence” column Harry is listed as living in “Bernardo,” where Zenas is listed as residing as well. Had Zenas Sikes moved since his name appeared on the 1872 voter register?
Not at all. The Sikes family’s address changed but they were all living on the same place, a 2,400 acre farm that had formerly been part of the former Mexican land grant Rancho San Bernardo. Zenas’ purchase was the beginning of the subdivision of the great rancho, which sprawled over 17,000 acres 23 miles north of San Diego city.
By the early 1870s, references to “Bernardo Valley” or “the Bernardo” or “San Bernardo tract” had begun appearing in local newspapers. A sizable enough community had formed to require their own post office. The Bernardo Post Office was officially established on December 3, 1872. The first postmaster of Bernardo was Zenas Sikes, and the post office was in his home.
Bernardo would eventually have a stand-alone post office building, along with a blacksmith shop and several other buildings. Those buildings are all gone but the Sikes house still stands, now part of the San Dieguito River Park. It’s open to the public for tours and for special events. To find out more, go to http://www.sdrp.org/projects/sikes.htm .
To find out more about The Lost Town of Bernardo, you can order my book by going to the website https://sandiegohistoryseeker.com/ and pressing the “My Books” tab.
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