San Diego County’s Farming Heritage

The above item is from the Poway Progress newspaper’s May 4, 1894 issue. Its report on the hay and grain crop in Merle (now part of Leucadia) offers a glimpse of local agriculture during that period. A few years earlier, in December of 1888, the San Diego Union reported that “barley, oats and wheat are growing with great rapidity in Merle,” and that “grass and grain are over fifteen inches high” and reaching twenty inches in some places, insuring “plenty of feed for stock.”

One finds similar reports about communities all over San Diego County in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, a time when the livestock population literally outnumbered the people, and barley and grain hadn’t yet given way to citrus and avocados.

You can find out more by attending my Oasis class, More Livestock Than People: San Diego’s Agricultural Heritage, in April at the Grossmont Learning Center.

If you’d like to sign up or just find out more, go to the Oasis website, https://www.oasisnet.org/San-Diego-CA , click on “Take A Class,” and type in 416.

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He came for the climate, then started a city.

 

 

 

Photo of Frank Kimball from the 1908 book, “History of San Diego 1542-1908”, by William Smythe.

Frank Kimball and his three brothers came to San Francisco in 1861 from New Hampshire, where their family had a business as building contractors. They started the same business in San Francisco and did quite well. However, Frank’s health began to deteriorate and his doctor urged him to seek a warmer, drier climate, so he and his brothers packed up and moved to San Diego County. The move did wonders for Frank’s health and also for his worklife. He and his brothers bought a former Mexican rancho just south of the city of San Diego. Originally called Rancho del Rey in homage to the king of Spain, the ranch was renamed Rancho de la Nacion when Mexico won its independence from Spain, reflecting the shifting of loyalty from kings to the newly independent nation of Mexico.

The Kimballs improvised on that name, seeking to develop their new town as National City. The rest, as they often say, is history.

Frank Kimball’s story is one of the topics covered in To Your Health! Tourism Comes to San Diego, a talk I’m giving on March 27 for San Diego Oasis at the Grossmont Center. To register for the class, visit https://www.oasisnet.org/San-Diego-CA/Classes and type in the class name.

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What’s In A Name? You never know…

Below is a good example of the varied origins of place names in San Diego County. It’s part of a column from the San Diego Union of August 25, 1886.

 

Nestor A. Young was elected to the state assembly from San Diego County from 1887 to 1893. He also served as a member of San Diego’s first harbor commission. By the late 1890s he’d moved on to the Los Angeles area where, among other things, he sold real estate. But his time living in the area near San Diego’s border with Mexico led to the creation of a community that took his first name. Nestor was an independent ranching town until it was annexed by the city of San Diego in 1957.

James Peebles Marshall Rainbow didn’t get elected sheriff in that 1887 campaign, but he did serve two terms on the county board of supervisors from 1882 to 1884 and from 1891 to 1895. He also was a fruit grower and leader of the little community that grew around his ranch in the valley near Fallbrook which still bears his name.

Sources for this post included historic San Diego and Los Angeles newspapers, the 1890 book An Illustrated History of San Diego County, by the Lewis Publishing Company, and the 2005 book, San Diego County Place Names A to Z, by Leland Fetzer.

Announcing My New Book!

Hello Blog Followers,

Announcing the publication of my newest book!

Once Upon A Town represents my further research into San Diego County’s “lost towns,” towns and villages that once thrived, but then disappeared. Building on my previous book, The Lost Town of Bernardo, Once Upon  A Town adds the stories of two neighboring Poway Valley towns, Merton and Stowe. Through photos and anecdotes gleaned from my research in county museums and archives, I offer a picture of people and places from another time in county history.

I’m offering it right now for $12.00, tax included, plus $3.00 for shipping. Just send a check or money order for $15.00, made out to StorySeekers. Mail it to StorySeekers, PO Box 27343, San Diego, CA 92198-1343. I’ll get the book right out to you. I’ll also be setting up this site for PayPal orders soon.

If any of you happen to be attending the annual meeting of the Heritage Ranch this Sunday at the Olivenhain Town Hall, I’ll be speaking on Bernardo and offering Once Upon A Town for sale afterward, along with a previous book, Valleys of Dreams.

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MLK in San Diego-1964

“You can’t legislate integration, but you can legislate de-segregation. Morality can’t be legislated, but laws can regulate behavior. Laws can’t make you love me, but they can keep you from lynching me. The law can change our habits, and then our hearts will change.”

Excerpt from a speech by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to over 4,000 people at San Diego State College (now San Diego State University) on May 26, 1964.

Source: Article by Seth Mallios and Breana Campbell in the Spring 2015 issue of  Journal of San Diego History, “On the Cusp of An American Civil Rights Revolution: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s Final Visit and Address to San Diego in 1964.”

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“…virtually the home of alfalfa ..”

Escondido’s first commercial creamery went into operation around 1900.  Alan McGrew’s 1988 book, “Hidden Valley Heritage,” states that the creamery was located in a red wooden building “on Nutmeg Street [now Escondido Boulevard], about a block and a half north of Grand Avenue.”

Farmers would bring their fresh milk to the creamery, where cream would be separated and some of it churned into butter.

Here’s a photo of the creamery, taken around 1905, courtesy of the archive of the Escondido Public Library’s Pioneer Room:

The man standing by the doorway is creamery manager Arthur E. Watrous. Watrous took over as manager in 1905, and was actively soliciting more customers. Apparently the dairy business was a good one back then.

“More butter wanted,” was the title of an article in the Escondido Times of August 25, 1905. “The advertisement of A. E. Watrous of the Escondido Creamery should furnish food for reflection to the ranchers not only of the Escondido valley, but of this whole region of country.”

The article quoted Watrous that “twelve carloads of butter were shipped into Los Angeles since June 1.” Calling that “a very striking statement,” the Times said “It does not require any figuring to see that there is an opportunity to sell Los Angeles alone as much butter as can possibly be produced in this whole region of country.”

“It is now well known,” continued the Times article,” that this section of country is virtually the home of alfalfa, and it is equally well known that there is nothing better for cows, so the only question is, will the ranchers in Escondido, San Pasqual and other localities where the necessary water for irrigation is at hand put out a few more acres of alfalfa and keep a few more cows for milking purposes?”

If you’re interested in finding out more about the creamery, there’s a chapter on it in my book Valleys of Dreams, which can be ordered through the book tab on this website.

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A Little Perspective on Travel Times

Those readers who may be facing some holiday driving time over the next week can take some comfort in an item from the San Diego Union back in June of 1880. It announced that “Two new stations have been created on the route of the Coast Line Stage Company” which provided service from San Diego to Anaheim.

One of the new stations was at Forster, the other near San Juan Capistrano. The article stated that this would increase the number of stations on the line from three to five.

Forster was a town on the northwest edge of Rancho Santa Margarita, along the San Onofre River. We know Rancho Margarita today as the site of Camp Pendleton.

The Union article said the addition of these two stations would actually serve to reduce the travel time from San Diego to Anaheim “a half hour or more” and that further arrangements were soon to be made “whereby the time will be reduced still further by four hours,” which would get it down to “a schedule of eighteen hours.”

Distance from San Diego to Anaheim: 96.6 miles.

Happy Travels and Happy Holidays, everyone!

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