“Normal School”

A hundred years ago, teachers colleges were called “normal schools.” You had to get approval from the state and as of the early 1890s, San Diego County did not yet have such a school.

“The movement to secure a State Normal School for San Diego was undertaken in 1894,” according to William E. Smythe’s A History of San Diego: 1542-1908. That movement was “due primarily to the great expense and inconvenience experienced by San Diego families in sending their children to the State Normal School at Los Angeles and other institutions throughout Southern California. This expense was estimated at $2,750 per month, and it was obvious that such conditions could not continue indefinitely.”

The first San Diego Normal School opened in May 1899 in a stately building in University Heights. Below is a photo from Smythe’s  book:


Growing enrollment would eventually result in movement to a new campus in Mission Valley in 1931, along with a new name, San Diego State Teachers College. We know it today as San Diego State University.

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What’s in a name? A lot of history.

That’s a favorite theme for me, as I’ve found there’s a lot of history in San Diego County place and street names. Here’s an example.

Bougher Road and Helen Bougher Memorial Park salute two members of a family that resided in San Marcos from 1917 to 1984.

In a 1983 article in the San Marcos Outlook newspaper, longtime resident Louse Fulton Hard wrote that in the days when San Marcos was a small farming community, “Roads were known by their description or the name of the people who lived on them.” It was the latter case with Bougher Road, which today connects Mission and Rock Springs Roads.

Bougher Road was named in honor of William Bougher, who came to San Diego County in the 1880s from Ohio, according to documents in the archives of the San Marcos Historical Society.

Among those documents are a biographical data questionnaire filled out by William’s son Alvin in 1981 for the historical society and the transcript of an oral history interview Alvin gave the same year. Among other things, Alvin Bougher noted that before his birth in 1909, his family had lived for a time on Palomar Mountain, where they were neighbors and friends with Palomar Mountain pioneer Nate Harrison. Boucher Hill and Boucher Lookout Road on that mountain are in fact named for William Bougher. According to Leland Fetzer’s 2005 book, San Diego County Place Names A to Z, the different spelling “probably reflects the pronounciation of the family name,  [as in “bu-ker] adding that “mapmakers seem to have obtained their place name information from interviews, not from printed sources.”

Alvin Bougher continued farming on Bougher Road until 1984 when, in his mid-70s, he moved to Oregon to be closer to his sons.

Helen Bougher Memorial Park is named after Alvin’s wife Helen, who died in 1980.

You can find out more about the Boughers and their place in San Marcos history in my book, Valleys of Dreams, for sale on this blogsite.

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