A New Source for History Seekers

The photo below shows the first page of the first issue of Bernardo Brandings.

When that issue came out in February 1962, Bernardo Brandings was the first newspaper for the then-new community of Rancho Bernardo. It was so new that the first edition was printed in Encinitas. For that matter, there were no residents to read the paper yet in Rancho Bernardo.

Just a few months previously, developers Harry Summers and Fritz Hawn had signed an agreement with Lawrence and Donald Daley to turn 6,000 acres of ranchland into a planned urban community. The agreement they signed created a joint venture called Rancho Bernardo, Inc. which was the original publisher of Bernardo Brandings. That paper was distributed across California and the rest of the United States to draw people to come and settle in the new community.

So those first issues of the paper offer fascinating visual and narrative insights into Rancho Bernardo when it was just taking shape. And these insights are now available to the general public, thanks to the efforts of the Rancho Bernardo Historical Society.

The society’s museum had been collecting copies of the newspaper for years for the museum archives. More recently several volumes were digitized for museum visitors and researchers. This past week five years’ worth of those digitized copies were placed on the society’s website, making them accessible to the online public. Just go to the society’s website, https://rbhistory.org/ , click on the tab for “museum” and scroll down the page. Check it out!

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From Raisins to Grapes

Gustavus French Merriam came to San Diego County from Kansas in 1874. He acquired a homestead of 160 acres in what is today San Marcos. He christened his property Twin Oaks Ranch after two joined oak trees on the grounds.

Merriam at first intended to specialize in raisins, a popular crop in the area at the time. But he had trouble drying the grapes successfully and switched to wine and brandy production. That worked out a bit better.

“G. F. Merriam shipped a carload of grape brandy from Twin Oaks to Los Angeles,” reported the Poway Progress newspaper of January 13, 1894.

Two months later the same paper reported: “G. F. Merriam of San Marcos has made over 60,000 gallons of wine this season, and is now making grape brandy by the carload.”

That’s railroad carloads, just to put it in historical perspective.

Here’s an undated portrait of G. F. Merriam, courtesy of the San Marcos Historical Society:


The Major, as he preferred to be called, would leave his mark on county history in many ways.  You can find out more about him in my book, Valleys of Dreams, on sale on this blogsite.

In the meantime, Happy May Day to All!

Sources for this post included the archives of the San Marcos Historical Society and the San Diego History Center, along with historic county newspapers.

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You can get weekly updates of San Diego History Seeker automatically in your email by clicking on the “Follow” button in the lower right corner of the blog page. You’ll then get an email asking you to confirm. Once you confirm you’ll be an active follower.