What’s in a name? It can get complicated.

Take George A. Cowles, whose name today is marked by the highest mountain in the city of San Diego. That honor, however, would come decades after his death.

Born in 1836 in Connecticut, George Cowles was by the age of 33 a wealthy cotton broker and mill owner. But poor health led him to seek milder climates. He and his wife Jennie first visited San Diego County in the early 1870s, and they apparently liked it. In 1877 Cowles purchased 4,000 acres in the El Cajon Valley He was soon a successful grower of muscat grapes, olives, and other crops, as well as a cattle rancher. He got into banking and railroad development as well.

Not surprisingly, Cowlestown was the name of the post office and then a town that grew up around George’s ranch. But not for all that long. George Cowles died in 1887 at the age of 51. Three years later his widow Jennie remarried, taking as her new husband a realtor and surveyor named Milton Santee.

The rest as they say, is history. At least George’s name lives on in the mountain.

Sources for this post included the 1888 book, The City and County of San Diego Illustrated, and Containing Biographical Sketches of Prominent Men and Pioneers, by T. S. Van Dyke, San Diego County Place Names A To Z, by Leland Fetzer, and the website of the City of Santee.

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A post office named…Weed?

From 1880 to 1886 the list of official United States post offices in San Diego County included one called Weed. Readers needing proof can see it below in an excerpt from the register of U. S. Post Offices in the records of the U. S. National Archives:

Weed post office entry

Credit Appointments of U. S. Postmasters, National Archives and Records Administration

You’ll see that the name had nothing to do with vegetation, but rather the name of the postmaster, whose home also happened to be the location of the post office. In this case the postmaster was William Seaman Weed, who owned a 330-acre ranch in an area than known as Cordero in San Dieguito Township. It’s part of an area we call Sorrento Valley today.

Weed’s farm was located along the California Southern railroad tracks, “conveniently located” for his position of postmaster, according to an article in The San Diego Sun of August 18, 1883. The article also noted that “Mrs. Weed is celebrated as a good newspaper correspondent, many interesting letters from her facile pen having appeared occasionally in the columns of The Sun.”

As the register shows, Mrs. Georgia Weed in fact succeeded her husband in running the post office in April of 1883.

The register also indicates that the Weed post office went out of business in November of 1886, when service for the general area was transferred to a location a few miles north and east. It was a location in a newly developing resort town with a catchier name: Del Mar.

Sources for this post included the U. S. National Archives, historic San Diego newspapers, and the book, San Diego County Place Names A To Z by Leland Fetzer.

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