Snapshot of A Ranching Family’s Roots

Below is a close-up of part of a page from the 1880 United States Census for the Julian area of San Diego County:


It shows the entry for the family headed by Frederick Sawday. The data on the form tells us that he was 30 years old then. His wife Sarah, listed immediately below Frederick, was 29. They were both immigrants, born in England. Frederick’s occupation is listed as “grocer,” while Sarah’s is listed as “Keeping House.” But other historical accounts list them as both running a general store was well as keeping a flock of sheep.

Tending to livestock would come to be a predominant occupation for the family. Son George, three years old at the time of this census, got into sheep and then cattle ranching on a large scale. How large? A ranching history compiled for the state parks department in 2009 includes this quote from one of George’s nephews: “There is a story they used to tell about Uncle George that he could drive from the Riverside County line to the Mexican Border and never get off the land he either owned or leased.”

Sources: 1880 United States Census; and the book 240 Years of Ranching: Historical Research, Field Surveys, Oral Interviews, Significance Criteria, and Management Recommendations for Ranching Districts and Sites in the San Diego Region, by Sue A. Wade, Stephen R. Van Wormer, and Heather Thomson, 2009 California State Parks Department.

Get Updates Automatically-Become A Follower of the San Diego History Seeker

You can get regular 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.