What’s in a name? The four Stowes.

Portion of table of contents of 1918 San Diego County Brand Book showing the livestock brand registered to W. J. Stowe (misspelled Stone here). Courtesy of History Office, San Diego County Department of Parks and Recreation.

“Los Angeles man buys ranch near Bernardo,” was the headline of an article in the San Diego Union of August 3, 1918.

“W. J. Stowe of Los Angeles,” the article began, “who has bought 3,000 acres of the ranch of the Eucalyptus Culture Company, four miles southeast of Bernardo, and who has rights on 325 additional acres, has taken possession of the property and is lending his personal supervision in the making of important improvements.”

In addition to growing hay and grain, Stowe intended to keep a large herd of cattle. Livestock was big business in San Diego County at the time. Like all other livestock ranchers, Stowe had to register a brand for his livestock with the county. Below is an excerpt from the page of the county brand book for October 1, 1918 recording Stowe’s appearance:

The brand he chose represented the four Stowe family members living on the ranch and helping to run it: William J. Stowe, his wife Ada (who was listed as the official purchaser) and his sons Perry and Gardner. William’s elderly mother and mother-in-law were also in the household, but not involved in running the ranch.

The Stowe family would sell the ranch within a few years, but their “brand” remains on 4S Ranch to this day.

I’m grateful to Ellen L. Sweet and Jennifer A Grahlman, intrepid history detectives at the History Office of the San Diego County Department of Parks and Recreation. They mentioned the origin of the 4S name in their recently published book, San Diego County Parks: Over 100 Years, The 1918 brand book is happily preserved in the History Office archives.

Other sources for this post were the websites Genealogy Bank and Ancestry.com.

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2 thoughts on “What’s in a name? The four Stowes.

  1. Such a great article. O one who lives in 4S knows why it’s called that. In fact, Lucy Berk and I had thought it was named after some early movie types from LA. Of course I had heard if Tiwecbut never the connection. Next time I meet someone from 4S , I will continue this dialogue! Thanks, vince Susan

    Sent from my iPad


  2. Great article Vince. Did the Ralph’s Family later purchase this property. In the 30’s before WWII
    my dad drove for Texaco and delivered fuel for these outlying ranches because they had holding tanks for their farm equipment. The ranch home is still there and can be seen from Del Dios Hwy and I-15. He went to Ramona and Julian also. He became a Marine and handled fuel at Camp Pendleton.

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