Pacific Beach Notes – 1895

The community of Pacific Beach was founded on then-vacant land north of Mission Bay in 1887. In 1888 the San Diego College of Letters opened on a campus that is now the site of the Pacific Plaza shopping center and its faculty and students, and their families, became some of the first residents of Pacific Beach. When the college closed in 1891 a few of these families chose to remain and hoped to prosper through fruit cultivation, primarily lemons. The Pacific Beach Company, developers of the subdivision, encouraged the transition to an agricultural economy with a new subdivision map in which most of the area south of Reed Avenue and north of Diamond Street (then Alabama Avenue) was divided into ‘acre lots’ of about ten acres. After this map was recorded in early 1892 a number of these acre lots were acquired by ‘easterners’ and were ‘plowed, piped and planted’, mostly with lemon trees. By 1895 lemon ranching was well established in Pacific Beach.

Amended Pacific Beach subdivision map 697, filed Jan’y 8, 1892 at 9 AM, staked out much of the community as agricultural ‘acre lots’ of about 10 acres

During the 1890s and the early years of the twentieth century the San Diego Union featured periodic ‘notes’ or items of news from outlying suburbs like Pacific Beach. In 1895 the Union’s Pacific Beach Notes column appeared nearly every week, reporting notable events and activities in the seven-year-old community and among the few dozen families living there. Over the course of a year these news items provide a comprehensive record of life in early-day Pacific Beach.     

The first Pacific Beach column for 1895 appeared in the Union’s January 1 edition and noted some of the community’s leading residents as well as its main gathering place and favorite activities: The Christmas tree at the college building was an emphatic success and people had come all the way from La Jolla to ‘attend’ it, Mrs. R.H. Thorpe had issued invitations for a fancy dress party to be given her daughter on New Year’s evening, Dr. Havice was out on Christmas and the Scott brothers gave a marshmallow bake at the residence of F. Barnes. There were now two mails a day, easterners continued to buy property and the Gridley’s had moved into the Wilson house.

In 1895 the original College of Letters building from 1888 still stood on the former college campus, about where the FedEx office at 1834 Garnet Avenue is now located (Garnet was originally called College Avenue). Most of the community’s residents lived in the vicinity of the college (the ‘college settlement’) and the large unoccupied building was the perfect spot for community social activities, like a Christmas tree during the holiday season.

The former College of Letters building about 1895

Mrs. R.H. (Rose Hartwick) Thorpe was the community’s best-known resident; a world-renowned poet, author of Curfew Must Not Ring Tonight, perhaps the most popular poem of its time. She had originally come to Pacific Beach to assist with the college, where her daughter Lulo had also been a student. Franklin Barnes had also been attracted to Pacific Beach by the college, where his sons Edward (E.Y.) and Theodore had been students.

The Thorpe home at Lamont and Emerald

The Thorpe and Barnes families were among those who turned to lemon ranching after the college closed, although Mr. E.C. Thorpe was also a carpenter and contractor who built some of the early homes in Pacific Beach and La Jolla. The Thorpe and Barnes families lived on opposite sides of Lamont (then 11th) Street, just north of Emerald (then Vermont Avenue). The Thorpes lived on the east side of Lamont in a home that Mr. Thorpe had built himself on block 167, south of Diamond Street and west of Morrell (12th) Street. They had previously lived three blocks to the south, on Hornblend Street (then California Avenue), the ‘old place’ Mr. Maxwell was said to have purchased. The Barnes ranch was west of Lamont on acre lot 64, east of Jewell (10th), south of Diamond and across Emerald from the college campus (streets and avenues separated blocks and acre lots in Pacific Beach but were not graded or otherwise improved at the time).

Franklin and Phoebe Barnes in their yard across Emerald Street from the college campus, with the original college building and Stough Hall in the background

The Scott brothers (Theophilous, Frances, Harold and Henry) were recent arrivals who had been camping in Pacific Beach while considering the acquisition or development of a lemon ranch. They apparently socialized with their prospective neighbors by hosting activities like marshmallow bakes at their homes (marshmallows were a novel confection in the 1890s).

Mr. Havice was a member of the San Diego Board of Delegates and the brother-in-law of Harr Wagner, a director of the former college and the prime mover behind its establishment in Pacific Beach (Mrs. Jennie Havice was Harr Wagner’s sister). The Havices had been living in the Wagners’ former home in Pacific Beach, still standing at 2104 Diamond Street, and also owned a lemon ranch on block 213, between Garnet Avenue and Morrell, Hornblend and Noyes streets. He had apparently been ill but was able to be out Christmas night, presumably to attend the Christmas tree.

The Wilson house was the house built in 1893 for R.C. Wilson, co-owner of the largest lemon ranch in Pacific Beach. When acre lots first went on sale in 1892 Mr. Wilson and G.M.D. Bowers, business partners and brothers-in-law from Tennessee, had jointly purchased three adjacent lots, 33, 34, and 50, which met at the intersection of Lamont and Chalcedony streets (then Idaho Avenue). In 1893 they added another acre lot to their ranch; lot 51, east of lot 50, between Diamond and Chalcedony streets and west of Noyes (then 13th) Street. They had laid over 4000 feet of irrigation pipe, planted lemon trees and built ranch houses for their families, the Bowers family on acre lot 34 and Wilsons on acre lot 33. The Bowers home still exists, although in 1912 it was moved a short distance to its current location at 1860 Law Street; the Wilson house lasted until 1947 and is now marked by the Moreton Bay fig tree growing between 1904 and 1922 Law Street that once stood in its yard. In late 1894 Mr. Wilson had returned to Tennessee to ‘look after business interests’ and it had been ‘rumored’ that his family would follow for an extended visit.

The Gridleys, Orrin, Fannie and their children Ella, Frank and Kate, had a lemon ranch on the east half of acre lot 48, north of Diamond Street and the Barnes ranch and south of Chalcedony and the Scott ranch. In early 1895 Mr. Gridley was away in Buffalo, New York, where he had joined his brother for work, and Kate was a student at the Pacific Beach grammar school. The Gridley ranch still lacked a ranch house so Mrs. Gridley and the children stayed wherever they could until one was built (in March 1896). With the Wilson family in Tennessee on their rumored visit the Gridleys had moved into their vacant house.      

USGS map of Pacific Beach from 1903, with features existing in 1895 overlaid in red and green

‘Rain and roses!’ was the opening line of the next note from Pacific Beach, a week later on January 8 (it had rained over two inches in December 1894 and would rain another 7 inches by the end of January 1895). Possibly due to the rain ‘every lemon tree in the orchards resembled a huge bouquet, the older growth so richly dark tipped with the new leaves in tints of reddish brown’. Also, the Packards had visited their ranch on Thursday.

Ira and Mary Packard had been the first to record the purchase of a Pacific Beach acre lot, on the same day that the amended subdivision map creating the acre lots had been filed (January 8, 1892, at 9 a.m.). The Packards paid $930, $100 an acre, for acre lot 35, north of Chalcedony and south of Beryl (then Georgia Avenue) and between where Jewell and Kendall streets run today. On this Thursday the Packards may have been showing their ranch to the Scott brothers, who would purchase it for $2000 the following month (earning the Packards a 115% return).        

By January 15 students who had come home to Pacific Beach to spend the holidays with their families were on their way back to their schools. The Union reported that Theodore Barnes had left for San Francisco on the steamer Santa Rosa on Saturday evening, returning to the State University at Berkeley. Miss Mabel Rowe left for school in Los Angeles on Saturday and Miss Evangeline Rowe had returned to her school there the week before. The Rowe sisters had also been students at the College of Letters and when it closed their mother Mary had followed the lead of the Thorpe and Barnes families by developing a lemon ranch on acre lot 49, north of Diamond, south of Chalcedony and west of Lamont streets, between the Barnes and the Wilson and Bowers ranches.

Before their Saturday departures Theodore and Mabel had presumably been among the ‘young people’ who went to a ‘unique and very delightful’ party in La Jolla on Friday evening where, according to the Union’s note, all things had conspired to render their happiness complete; the winter air was balmy and the full moon made the ride most enjoyable (the moon was full on Friday, January 11, 1895, and the temperature in San Diego at 5 PM was 75 degrees). This note from Pacific Beach also added that there were maiden-hair ferns in the hollows, the Maxwells had moved into their new home (Mr. Thorpe’s ‘old place’ on Hornblend) and a number of strangers had been wandering about looking over the place and their verdict was the college settlement was one of the most delightful locations in Southern California.

January 15, 1895, was also the day that heavy rains led to devastating flooding in Southern California, including Pacific Beach. According to the Union’s storm report on January 17 all local railway lines and the Santa Fe line to Los Angeles had been ‘flood-bound’ since noon on the 16th and the 8:40 a.m. train to Los Angeles only got as far as Sorrento. In Pacific Beach, the ‘creek running into False Bay from Rose Canyon’ was a ‘roaring river’ and ‘large quantities of ties, lumber, building material and live chickens’, the remains of a chicken ranch, came down with the flood and were ‘swallowed up by the bay’. The country adjoining the Pacific Beach Driving Park, the racetrack near the mouth of Rose Creek, was a ‘vast lake’ and the tracks of the Pacific Beach railroad, which passed around the racetrack and crossed Rose Creek on what is now Garnet Avenue, were ‘nowhere to be seen’ and in many places were ‘wiped out of existence’.

A note from Pacific Beach on January 25 reported that the sun had come out ‘in all its splendor’ on Tuesday (January 22), a week after the storms began, and ‘several of our ladies improved the opportunity between showers to pay their calling debts’. Miss Thorpe had walked into Old Town and taken the train from there to the city in order to be at her school on Monday (Lulo Thorpe was a kindergarten teacher in Middletown). Mrs. Thresher had taken advantage of her enforced vacation to become better acquainted with her neighbors (Isabella Thresher, whose daughter Marian had also been a student at the College of Letters, apparently chose not to walk to Old Town to catch a train to her job as a stenographer at the courthouse downtown). Other residents of Pacific Beach were congratulating each other on their fortunate escape from loss during the recent heavy storms, other than the ‘inconvenience of interrupted transportation’ and the ‘shifting of soil from one ranch to another’.

On February 4, the Pacific Beach column in the Union noted that Mr. and Mrs. Raiter were out to look over their new ranch a few days ago; ‘Now that they have come to California it is hoped they will conclude to build and make their home on their fine lemon ranch’. C. H. Raiter was a bank director from Alexandria, Minnesota, who had spent the winter of 1891-1892 in the area and had purchased a ten-acre tract of land in Pacific Beach, acre lot 61, before returning home in April 1892. On a subsequent winter visit his wife Anna Raiter bought the adjoining acre lot 62 in February 1894. Together their property covered what is now the Pacific Pines subdivision, between Pacific Beach Drive, Reed Avenue, and Jewell and Lamont streets. They were apparently on another winter visit to inspect their ranch, but despite the hopes expressed in this note they never did build or make their home there. This note also mentioned that Mr. Bowers had sold a wagon-load of lemons in the city and ‘His returns for the first lemons marketed from this place are very satisfactory and other lemon growers are encouraged’. The Wilson and Bowers lemon ranch was one of the first to be developed on Pacific Beach acre lots, in 1892, and apparently the first to bring its product to market, in 1895.

On February 14 the Union’s note from Pacific Beach reported the rumor that Mr. Havice had bought the ‘boys’ dormitory’. The boys’ dormitory, at the northwest corner of Lamont and Hornblend, a block southeast of the college campus, was where male students had lived when the college was open (female students had boarded in the main college building). There was also the news that the Maxwells were building an addition to their cottage and the Marshalls, ‘who own twenty acres of fine lemon ranch at this place’, were preparing to come to California; ‘They intend to build on their ranch and make their home here’.

In March 1894 Frank Marshall of Kansas City had bought acre lots 30 and 53, between Diamond and Beryl and east of Olney (14th) streets and had set out 1400 lemon trees as well as prune, orange, peach, pear and apricot trees and a hedge of Monterrey cypress (as a windbreak). He had returned to Kansas City leaving Ed Barnes in charge of the ranch but planned to return in the fall with his brother, both of whom would build ‘handsome residences’. They had apparently missed their fall departure date but were still preparing to make the move. This note ended with the information that there was the highest tide on Saturday ever seen by the oldest residents of this place.

The Pacific Beach note from February 20 again alluded to the wet winter; ‘Poppies galore! Grain is looking fine.’ And the railroad, damaged during the recent storms, had been repaired; ‘This convenience will be fully appreciated by those who have been obliged to spend a whole day in the city or do their shopping by proxy’ (after circumventing the race track on today’s Garnet and Balboa avenues the railroad ran through Pacific Beach on Grand Avenue to a station near the beach where it turned north toward La Jolla). The Scott brothers, who had been ‘camping on the ridge for several months’, had bought the Packard ranch and would locate there.

There was also ‘some talk’ of moving the schoolhouse to the college settlement, a ‘more central location’ that would ‘better accommodate the children from Eureka and Rose Canyon’. In 1895 the one-room Pacific Beach school was located at the northeast corner of Hornblend and Everts (5th) streets, an area with few residents compared to the area around the former college campus and even more distant from the Eureka Lemon Tract, another lemon ranching area east of Rose Creek whose children attended the Pacific Beach school.

Mr. Raiter was piping his entire tract, the Ladies’ Aid Society met at Mrs. Frost’s, the Christian Endeavor society held a business meeting at the church and the young people attended a most enjoyable party at Mrs. Ash’s according to Pacific Beach notes from March 11, 1895. Mrs. Mary Frost and her husband Charles operated a grocery store at the southeast corner of Grand Avenue and Haines (8th) Street. Their store was also the post office and Mr. Frost was the postmaster. The Ash family, William, Rebecca, and their children Willie and Ruth, owned a lemon ranch on block 205, east of Lamont between Garnet Avenue, Felspar (then Massachusetts Avenue) and Morrell streets. Also, Mrs. Robertson made a birthday party for little Irene and 23 of her little school friends enjoyed the happy event (Irene Robertson was 9 years old in 1895 and the 23 guests must have included the entire student body of the Pacific Beach school, which had numbered 22 in 1892 and would be 17 in October 1895).

There had been a stereopticon exhibit of views of the Hawaiian Islands at Stough Hall for the benefit of the church, presented by the Hawaiian consul at San Diego, according to a note on March 14, 1895. The Union correspondent added that ‘through his kindness have we been permitted to enjoy this treat, and our people unite in thanking him for the courtesy’ (Queen Liliuokalani had been deposed in 1893 and in 1894 Hawaii became an independent republic under President Sanford Dole; it would be annexed to the United States in 1898). A stereopticon was essentially a slide projector with two lenses that could be used to ‘dissolve’ one photographic image into another; ‘fading out’ the first while ‘fading in’ the second, adding a sense of motion to a sequence of still images. Stough Hall was built in 1890 as an annex to the College of Letters. Next to the original college building, facing Kendall Street across Garnet Avenue, it was named for Oliver Stough, president of the Pacific Beach Company, who had funded its construction. It was also vacant and available for community activities after the college closed.  

Stough Hall about 1895

‘Lemon trees never looked finer nor made a better growth’ was the note from Pacific Beach on March 28, 1895. Mr. and Mrs. Honeycutt, whose residence was in the city, were spending a few days at their cottage on Eleventh Street, looking after the interests of their fine lemon ranch. E. Y. Barnes was building a $1,200 cottage on his five-acre tract north of the college campus and Mr. Holliday, of Oregon, had purchased ten acres north of the church and would move there in October, bringing with him thirty head of Jersey cows and some horses. The ladies of Pacific Beach met at Mrs. Thorpe’s and formed a reading club for the purpose of studying ancient history, the leading topics of the day and of receiving mutual benefit. The ‘normal excitement’ had attracted attention to this ‘loveliest spot in all California’ and several new settlers were ‘preparing to make their homes here between the ocean and the bay’, but the college buildings would ‘take another siesta’.

Sterling and Nancy Honeycutt had purchased their ‘fine lemon ranch’ in the summer of 1893 on the four blocks south of the college campus, surrounded by Grand and Garnet avenues and Lamont and Jewell streets. Before 1900 the streets in Pacific Beach, those running north and south, had been numbered beginning with 1st nearest the beach and extending to 17th near Rose Creek, with a somewhat wider street, Broadway (now Ingraham), between 8th and 9th. The numbered streets, as well as the avenues named after states, were renamed in 1900 to end the duplication of street names within San Diego, so the location of Honeycutt’s cottage is now Lamont Street, at the southeast corner of Garnet Avenue, across Lamont from their lemon ranch. At the time the Honeycutts were living in University Heights and staying at their Pacific Beach cottage while looking after the ranch, but a few months later they sold their other home and moved into the cottage.

E.Y. Barnes’ five-acre tract was the west half of his parents’ ten-acre lemon ranch on acre lot 64, across Emerald Street from the college campus. The elder Barnes’ home was at the southeast corner of this acre lot, the northwest corner of Lamont and Emerald streets. The younger Barnes’ $1,200 cottage was being built at the southwest corner of the lot, the northeast corner of Jewell and Emerald streets, a house he named El Nido.

El Nido, the home built for E.Y. Barnes in 1895

The ten acres north of the church acquired by J.L. Holliday in 1895 were Blocks 183 and 202, between Garnet Avenue and Ingraham, Emerald and Jewell streets (now a shopping center and parking lot with a Trader Joe’s, Staples and Rite Aid).  Although Mr. Holliday may have brought a herd of cows and horses with him from Oregon that property in Pacific Beach was turned into a lemon ranch. A year later, in September 1896, the Union’s El Cajon Notes column reported that J.L. Holliday of Pacific Beach, who came here from Halsey, Oregon, had leased a large stock ranch and would start an extensive dairy with about 100 head of cows.

The ladies’ meeting at Mrs. Thorpe’s home on March 23, 1895, was the origin of the Pacific Beach Reading Club, later the Pacific Beach Woman’s Club, which still exists and still honors its lemon ranch heritage with a lemon tree for a logo. The ‘normal excitement’ around Pacific Beach in 1895 was a visit by a committee who had come on a special train to inspect sites being offered for a state normal school, or teacher-training college. The committee got off the train at the ‘college station’ (at Grand and Lamont) and was transported to various points in the vicinity, then to the former College of Letters where they were offered the 16-acre campus and its buildings. The state declined the offer and opted instead for a site in Normal Heights (and later Montezuma Mesa) for what has become San Diego State University. The Union’s correspondent regretted that the college buildings would remain dormant but believed that excitement over the visit had attracted new settlers and ‘real estate continues to boom’.

The Pacific Beach Notes series resumed on April 18, 1895, with a report that Miss Nellora Rowe was visiting Los Angeles for fiesta week but that her sister Mabel had returned from Los Angeles to care for her sick mother. E.C. Thorpe had contracted to build several cottages at La Jolla and had taken with him every available carpenter from this place to speed the work along. C. H. Turner was piping his lemon tract and contemplated building and moving to Pacific Beach soon.

Nellora (Nellie) Rowe was the youngest of the Rowe sisters, 15 years old in 1895. Her sisters Evangeline and Mabel lived in Los Angeles where they attended school. The Fiesta de Los Angeles was a parade and festival held at Fiesta Park in downtown Los Angeles that had originated in April 1894 and continued until 1916 (Mabel Rowe may have had to skip the end of the fiesta when she returned to care for her sick mother). E.C. Thorpe had developed a thriving home construction business, primarily in La Jolla, and the cottages he contracted to build in 1895 may have been in addition to those he reportedly contracted for in November 1894.

Calvin H. Turner and his wife Eliza had acquired blocks 249 and 272, between Grand and Reed Avenues, Kendall and Lamont streets and between the Honeywell lemon ranch north of Grand and the Raiter ranch south of Reed. The Turners may have piped their property but they never did build on it or move from San Diego, where he was listed as manager of the Pacific Beach Land Co. with an office at Sixth and Broadway. Their son Marcus Turner, however, did become a major player in the Pacific Beach real estate scene after the turn of the twentieth century, along with Madie Arnott Barr, who later became his wife.

Pacific Beach Notes in the May 1 Union noted that the Scott brothers were completing the piping of their ten-acre ranch, Mrs. Rowe was having a good many new trees set out on her place, Mrs. Thresher was having a commodious barn built and hundreds of acres of grain were being harvested and the yield was good. Also the grounds about the building known as the boys’ dormitory had undergone great improvements since Mr. Havice purchased the property. Theodore Barnes would start for the east May 2 as one of the athletes of the state university at Berkeley.

While the Scott brothers, Mrs. Rowe and others were developing ten-acre lemon ranches in the area around the college campus ‘hundreds of acres’ in other parts of Pacific Beach were still vacant land suitable for growing grain and hay crops. Gangs of men and teams of horses seeded crops in the fall and harvested in the spring, and after a wet winter in 1894-1895 yields in April 1895 would have been good. The rumor that Mr. Havice had purchased the boys’ dormitory property at Lamont and Hornblend streets had turned out to be true. The Havices acquired the entire southwest quarter of block 214 in April and were already making improvements.

Theodore Barnes was a sprinter on the University of California track and field team. During their successful tour of Midwest and Eastern universities in 1895 the team displayed a banner with the state symbol, a golden grizzly bear, and Cal’s athletic teams have been known as the Golden Bears ever since.

More comings and goings of Pacific Beach residents were reported in a May 5 Notes column. F. W. Barnes was expected home from Nebraska (the Barnes family came from Madison, Nebraska, where F. W. Barnes had been a banker, and he occasionally returned to Nebraska on business). A church entertainment at Stough Hall was well attended and a decided success, in part because a ‘free train ran down from La Jolla bringing an enthusiastic audience from that charming resort’ (the railroad extension between Pacific Beach and La Jolla would be a year old on May 15). The receipts for the evening were over $12. Also, the Maxwell family moved into the city and would return to Iowa in the fall (the earlier note that the Maxwells had purchased the Thorpes’ former home turned out to be incorrect, and the Thorpes sold it to another newcomer shortly after the Maxwells left).

Also in the May 5 Note, Rose Hartwick Thorpe had been requested to write a patriotic song for the occasion of the dedication of a bronze and granite monument in Hillsdale, Michigan, to the memory of the soldiers who died during the war. Mrs. Thorpe had complied and the words would be sung to the tune of ‘Marching Through Georgia’. This would have been the Lorado Taft Statue of 1895 on the campus of Hillsdale College, recognizing the more than 500 Hillsdale College soldiers who answered the call of their country during the Civil War, said to be more than any college in America other than West Point. Mrs. Thorpe had lived in Hillsdale as a child and had received an honorary degree from the college in 1883.

The May 16, 1895, Pacific Beach Notes announced that the bathing season had opened, and ‘a stingaree was at the opening’ (i.e., a sting ray). The Sunday-school children were preparing for the Children’s Day exercises, Miss Evangeline Rowe was home from Los Angeles where she had been attending college and F. W. Barnes reached home having been in Nebraska on business. Also the Pacific Beach Reading Club met at Mrs. Robertson’s on the beach. This might have been the first regular meeting of the Reading Club after its founding a few weeks earlier. ‘Mrs. Robertson’s on the beach’ was presumably the Hotel del Pacific, near the beach at the foot of Grand Avenue. The Union had noted the Robertsons moving into the hotel building in October 1894.

Hotel del Pacific at the foot of Grand Avenue

Pacific Beach Notes on May 23 exulted (again) that ‘the orchards never looked finer, nor made a better growth’. Theodore Barnes, who was in the east as one of the athletes of California, was ‘winning laurels for himself and state’. Thorpe & Kennedy, contractors who had several cottages in course of erection at La Jolla expected to bring a part of their force of men to Pacific Beach to work on the Barnes’ cottage this week (the E.Y. Barnes cottage, El Nido, was being built at Jewell and Emerald streets; Mr. Thorpe may have been anxious to complete it in view of upcoming events). Also, Mrs. Johnson was contemplating building a two-story cottage on her block opposite the post office. Mrs. Allice Johnson owned the southwest quarter of block 218, the northeast corner of Hornblend and Haines streets. The post office, where Mr. Frost was postmaster, was a block south, on the other side of Grand Avenue and the railroad tracks that ran on Grand, but in 1895 there was only vacant land between Mrs. Johnson’s property and the post office (several years would pass before Mrs. Johnson built her cottage in 1898).  

The next Notes column, on May 28, announced that summer irrigation had commenced (the lemon groves were irrigated by water that originated in the mountains and flowed through a flume to San Diego, where it entered the municipal water system that included a water main to Pacific Beach). The P. B. Reading Club met at Mrs. Thorpe’s and Mrs. Fairchild contemplated a visit to Alpine in hopes that the climate away from the coast would be beneficial; ‘The heaviness of the coast atmosphere during the spring months had been detrimental to her health’. Also, the Marshalls were expected to have their arrangements completed for ‘removal to this place’ shortly. Their 20-acre ranch was ‘looking well’.

A lengthy Pacific Beach Notes column on June 7, 1895, reported that the Ladies’ Aid Society met at Mrs. Gleason’s, the Christian Endeavor Society was ‘progressing finely’ (and the young people at the Beach were ‘interested in the work’), and the P. B. Reading Club would meet at Mrs. Johnson’s. Rev. Furneaux had given a most eloquent and interesting sermon the previous Sunday. Miss M. Thresher, the ‘belle of the Beach’, had a sweet voice and charmed one with her singing. To see a beautiful place one should visit that of Mr. Barnes; ‘Everything shows careful management and prosperity’. Mrs. Rowe was daily improving her place and ‘the society of her daughters was much sought for on account of their many charming qualities’. Mrs. Thorpe was interested in arranging her beautiful selections of poems with the intention of giving them to a publishing house and Mr. Frost was contemplating the purchase of another tract of Pacific Beach property (this Mr. Frost was not the PB postmaster but real estate operator Abel H. Frost, who did buy the tracts that became the Congress Heights and North Shore Highlands subdivisions in 1896).

Pacific Beach lemon ranches and ranchers dominated the Notes from June 15, 1895. The Holliday tract was being piped, the Bowers family was going to the mountains for an outing during vacation, the Scott brothers gave a most enjoyable party at Mrs. Rowe’s home and Mr. Marshall and family would reach Pacific Beach about the 20th and would board with Mrs. Gridley while building.

The Scott brothers’ ranch on acre lot 35, next to Mrs. Rowe (lot 49) and the Wilson and Bowers ranches (33 and 34), did not have a ‘commodious’ ranch house like their neighbors (improvements on their lot were assessed at $60 compared with $450 for Mrs. Rowe and the Wilsons and $500 for the Bowers’ home), so when the Scotts hosted parties they were at their neighbors’ homes. Frank Marshall’s family was on the way from Kansas City and expected to be in Pacific Beach within a few days. They were expected to join the Gridley family in the Wilson ranch house on acre lot 33 while building on their own ranch on acre lot 30, a few blocks east.

In the June 26 edition of Pacific Beach Notes the ‘Red and White’ cream festival at Stough Hall on Friday evening under the auspices of the Ladies’ Aid society was a most enjoyable entertainment. A special train from La Jolla brought a large attendance from that charming resort and receipts of the entertainment were $19.20. On June 30 the news was that apricots had ripened earlier than anywhere in the state and ‘the flavor of those grown here is exceedingly fine’. It was vacation for the school children, and Charles Fairfield and Eddie Sue Bowers had graduated from the grammar grade and would attend the high school next term. Theodore Barnes had returned from his eastern trip as one of the athletes of the State University at Berkeley. And Mr. Marshall and family had reached Pacific Beach on Wednesday. They rented the Wilson house until they could build on their lemon ranch and had come fully equipped for business and pleasure, with no less than four vehicles and an abundance of home-making necessities. They would have the Wilson house to themselves in the meantime; it was also noted that Mrs. Gridley and family had moved into the ‘Thorpe cottage’ (presumably the Thorpes’ original home in Pacific Beach, on Hornblend Street, recently vacated by the Maxwells, not their home at Lamont and Emerald where the Thorpes would have been busy preparing for an event the following week).

During that week, the Union first reported on July 2 that a marriage license was issued to Edward Y. Barnes, age 22, and Lulo May Thorpe, aged 23. On the Fourth of July, two days later, the paper reported that the most interesting event at Pacific Beach was the marriage of Miss Lulo Thorpe and Edward Y. Barnes. The bride was the daughter of ex-Councilman E. C. Thorpe and Rose Hartwick Thorpe, the authoress. The groom was the son of Mr. and Mrs. F. W. Barnes of Pacific Beach. The ceremony was held at the home of the bride’s parents and a lovelier bride could hardly be imagined. The happy couple were escorted to their handsome home El Nido, recently built by the groom (and his new father-in-law’s construction crew), a block from the homes of both parents.

On July 14 it was the peaches’ turn to be ripe. Also the Holliday ranch north of the church was being set to trees and the young people’s school at Stough Hall on Friday evening was an enjoyable entertainment and well attended. A good program was given, after which cake, coffee and lemonade were served. Also Mrs. Weddican and daughter of National City were occupying the Rowe cottage on the beach for a few weeks (Mrs. Rowe’s beach cottage was at the west end of Felspar Street).  

The note on July 22 reported that Mr. Gandy had a fine garden at his place near the ocean (on Thomas Avenue between Bayard and Cass, then 2nd and 3rd streets, one of the few residences in Pacific Beach outside of the college settlement), the Saturday afternoon bathing parties were as popular as ever and Mrs. Fairfield and son Charles would start for the mountains in a few days to spend a week or two away from the coast. The note went on to explain that this was the time when the inhabitants of the ‘back country’ and those of the beach exchanged places; several of ‘our people’ were already ‘rusticating’ in the mountains. Those who started for a two-week ‘camp out’ on Saturday were Mrs. Frost and four children, Mr. and Mrs. Bowers and five children, Miss Jessie Fairfield, Miss Kate Gridley, Miss Nellie Rowe and Percy Rowe (the Rowe sisters’ younger brother). Mr. Frost, Frank Gridley and Ben Colvin took the party to their destination and would return for them at the end of their outing.

The schoolhouse would not be moved this year, according to Pacific Beach Notes from August 10. The school board had received a petition asking that the Pacific Beach schoolhouse be removed to a more central location (‘toward the race track’) but it had been referred to the building committee to act in conjunction with the judiciary committee, effectively ending the option of moving it before school resumed in a few weeks (the schoolhouse was moved in 1896 to a site on Garnet Avenue next to the community’s church, kitty-corner from the college campus). The ice cream party at Mrs. Barnes’ on Tuesday evening was a most enjoyable event. Mr. Mathewson, whose home was near the old club house in the Eureka lemon tract, died on Wednesday (the ‘old club house’ had been built eight years earlier, in 1887, for the Pacific Beach Driving Park, the race track east of Rose Creek; the Eureka Lemon Tract extended east of the race track site along Brandywine, Bunker Hill and Ticonderoga streets, and Mr. Mathewson had owned lot 29).

View from the Eureka Lemon Tract of the former race track, Rose Creek delta, Mission Bay and Crown Point from about 1906. The ‘old club house’ is the large ornate building in the center.

An entertainment would be given by the Roseville orchestra in Stough Hall on Saturday evening and the annual Pacific Beach picnic took place yesterday and as usual the destination was ‘The Pines’ near Del Mar (i.e., Torrey Pines). Mr. and Mrs. Honeycutt had sold their residence on University Heights and moved into their ‘cottage at this place’ (at the corner of Lamont Street and Garnet Avenue). The campers had returned and would endeavor to worry along through the rest of vacation with such amusements as picnics, surf bathing, parties, socials, etc.

On August 16 the notes from Pacific Beach were that Mr. Corey and family had gone to Hot Springs, Warner’s Ranch, our young people enjoyed ‘high tea’ at Mrs. Bowers’ on Thursday evening and Mr. Honeycutt was having his house painted and making other improvements. Mrs. Rowe contemplated renting her house and residing in Los Angeles during the winter in order to be with her daughters while attending school in that city.  

A lengthy note on August 25 mentioned that Mr. Corey and family had returned from their trip to Warner’s Ranch, Mr. Robertson would remove his family to La Jolla shortly, it was rumored that a private kindergarten would be opened for the little ones about the time that school commenced and the Ladies’ Aid society had finished paying the old church debt and had several dollars in the treasury towards necessary improvements on the building. Professor E. Snyder of Illinois, who had been stopping at La Jolla for several months, had purchased Mr. Thorpe’s place on California avenue (Hornblend Street, the place where the Gridleys were then living). He had arranged for improvements to be made on the place and expected eventually to make his home in ‘this charming locality’ (in the meantime the Snyders returned to Illinois and the Gridleys remained in the house). The ‘wave-jumpers’ had increased their membership to such an extent that extra bath houses were needed. On Wednesday and Saturday of each week every available vehicle was called into requisition for the purpose of conveying the ‘jumpers’ and those who watch the sport from the beach, to the scene of festivity. Mr. Marshall and Mr. Barnes paid a visit to the lemon orchards of Chula Vista on Tuesday for the purpose of comparing the prosperity and success in lemon culture of ‘that delightful settlement’ with ‘our own’. After exchanging experience and theory with lemon growers of that place they were very much encouraged with the prospects of Pacific Beach.

The September 15 Note confirmed that Mr. Robertson had moved his family to La Jolla (Mr. Robertson was an engineer for the San Diego, Pacific Beach & La Jolla railroad which had moved its base from Pacific Beach to La Jolla when the line was extended there in 1894; he was still working for the railroad in 1908 when he and his fireman were killed in a train wreck). Mr. Marshall’s new house ‘makes a fine showing against the hills’. Mr. Bowers took a load of lemons to the city on Thursday. The entire bathing party will be photographed on Saturday for an engraving for letter-heads and Gen. Stearns of Duluth, Minn., ex-United States senator, has purchased the Wilson place and will occupy it about the 1st of November. His family consists of a wife and two daughters. A son would remain in Minnesota.

Ozora P. Stearns had been a Union Army colonel during the civil war, leading a regiment of U.S. Colored Infantry at the Battle of the Crater in 1864. He had served about six weeks in the U.S. Senate in 1891, filling a vacancy caused by the death of the sitting senator, and had been appointed a judge in Duluth in 1874. His wife Sarah was a founder and the first president of the Minnesota Woman Suffrage Association.

A Note on September 25 reported that Mr. Holliday’s family arrived from Oregon (Mr. Holliday had purchased the ten-acre tract north of the church and ‘set it to trees’ last spring). Franklin Barnes, E.Y. Barnes, E.C. Thorpe and F. J. Marshall went on a two days’ trip into the back country last week to obtain all possible information concerning orchards and fruit culture. Professor E. Snyder of the Illinois State university who had recently purchased property at this place writes that the weather is so hot and sultry in the east that he and his wife are sighing for a breath of ‘our cool ocean breezes’. They anticipate spending the remainder of their lives here. The Snyders had purchased most the east half of block 214, between Garnet and Hornblend streets west of Morrell, from the Thorpes on September 13. After his retirement from the University of Illinois in 1896 they did return to Pacific Beach and built the house that is still standing at the northwest corner of Hornblend and Morrell. And he did spend the rest of his life there, although his widow Mary Stoddard Snyder moved on to La Jolla after his death in 1903.

Pacific Beach Notes for October 3, 1895, again echoed the sentiment that ‘at no place are orchards looking finer or making a better growth than at Pacific Beach’. Judge Stearns was ‘domiciled at his new home’, Miss Evangeline Rowe returns to school at Los Angeles on Monday, and Mr. Marshall’s brother and brother-in-law were making arrangements to come to California and ‘will locate at this place’. The two families expected to reach Pacific Beach before winter (Frank Marshall’s brother was T.B. Marshall and his brother-in-law was Victor Hinkle; May Marshall and Carrie Hinkle were sisters). The Pacific Beach Reading Club met at Mrs. Barnes’ on Friday afternoon with a good attendance; ‘These meetings are becoming quite an important feature of our social life’.

Mr. Corey was having the Woods house moved to his ranch. It was his intention to use it as the foundation for a pleasant home; ‘It will occupy the most sightly location of any building at this place’. Lucia Powers Woods had been professor of Latin and Greek and her daughter Eulalie a student at the College of Letters, but in 1895 Mrs. Woods was a teacher at the Russ School, living on 17th Street downtown. Her Pacific Beach home had been on Thomas Avenue, between Jewell and Kendall streets, and would be moved to the Corey ranch on acre lot 19, the northwest corner of Beryl and Lamont streets, where it would command a sweeping view.

The Marshall lemon ranch on acre lots 53 and 30, seen from the east about 1906

The Marshalls were moving into their new house, Judge Stearns was having a barn built on his place and a number of other improvements made, and B. Colvin has bought the Bowers & Wilson peach orchard and would build upon it after the holidays, according to Pacific Beach Notes on October 13. The Marshalls’ new home on acre lot 30 is no longer there but a Moreton Bay fig tree from its yard is still growing near the intersection of Donaldson Drive and Chalcedony Street. The ‘peach orchard’ was the west five acres of acre lot 51, which Mr. Colvin purchased from Wilson and Bowers for $1000. In pioneer days this tract was a favorable environment for deciduous fruit trees because it was watered by runoff from Mount Soledad that now flows under Academy and Noyes streets in storm drains.

This note also stated that the benefits of windbreaks for lemon trees had been practically demonstrated by the remarkable growth of those thus sheltered; ‘The example of the few who led in this respect is being followed by others’. The young folks enjoyed a ‘strawride’ on Friday evening of last week and a pleasant surprise awaited them at La Jolla on the ‘rocks by the sea’. One of the largest of these they found lighted by Chinese lanterns, beneath which, on the natural table of the rock, was spread a feast of ice cream and cake.

The Note from October 20 included the news that Mr. Rutherford’s men and teams were at work putting in grain (Phil Rutherford leased much of the undeveloped acreage in Pacific Beach and hired a force of men to sow grain and hay crops in the fall to be harvested in the spring). Also, the Pacific Beach Reading Club met at Mrs. Furneaux’s in the college building on Friday. Mrs. Furneaux was the preacher’s wife and the Furneaux family was following the precedent of the church’s first preacher, Rev. C.S. Sprecher, who was also a founder and director of the college. Rev. Sprecher and his family had lived in the college building while it was open and his successors at the church continued the practice even after the college closed.

The October 20 note also reported that Mr. Bowers was disposing of his property here with the intention of returning to Tennessee in the spring. The 10-acre tract known as ‘block 50’ had been sold to Mr. Coffeen, ‘who is recently from Michigan’ (Lewis and Elizabeth Coffeen had paid Wilson and Bowers $3000 for acre lot 50 on October 19). ‘Mr. and Mrs. Coffeen will reside at this place while building a fine cottage on their new possession’. In other news, George Corey was having the Will Wagner place repaired. He had a tenant for it as soon as it was ready for occupancy (the ‘Will Wagner place’ was on Diamond Street between Noyes and Olney on property owned by Elizabeth Dunn, sister of his wife Martha Dunn Corey).

Mr. Honeycutt was having a cement walk laid about his home, according to the October 27 note. Mrs. M. Trumbauer and mother from University Heights spent Monday and Tuesday with friends at this place. Mr. Coffeen was out from the city on Thursday. He expects to move here as soon as the only available house can be made inhabitable. A village improvement society having for its object the welfare of the community in the supervision of sidewalks, street trees, graded streets and all matter of general interest is about to be formed by the land owners of this place.

On November 3 the news was that Judge Stearns’ family would arrive from Duluth on Monday, Mr. Coffeen and family moved out from the city Monday morning and the young people participated in the Halloween festivities at the home of Mr. and Mrs. E. Y. Barnes.

In a November 17 Note, Miss Mabel Rowe had returned from Los Angeles, surf bathing continued with unabated interest, and Mr. Coffeen had ordered the lumber for a very substantial and roomy barn to be built on his new tract. Harold Scott was building a neat little cottage on his lemon tract. Mr. Drury from the city was at work on it. It has either rained or sprinkled five Mondays in succession; ‘If this continues through the winter we may expect abundant wild flowers’ (again). Mr. Davis and family from Marquette, Mich., were out from the city on Thursday. They are very much pleased with this place and contemplate purchasing property here (the Davises did purchase acre lot 34 for $5500 from Wilson and Bowers on November 20).

Real estate activity was the main topic of the Union’s Pacific Beach Notes for December 10. B. Colvin was building a cottage on his five-acre tract (the western half of acre lot 51, the ‘peach orchard), Mr. and Mrs. Coffeen had moved into their new house on the adjoining acre lot 50 (still standing at 1932 Diamond Street), and Mr. and Mrs. Davis and sister were now residing in their new home (also still standing at 1860 Law). These three properties, and acre lot 33, acquired by Ozora Stearns, had been the Wilson and Bowers lemon ranch until Wilson and Bower sold them off over the preceding few months and returned to their former homes in Tennessee (the Stearns family moved into the home vacated by the Wilsons and the Davises moved into the former Bowers home). Also, Mr. and Mrs. Hinkle had moved into the Will Wagner cottage (recently renovated by George Corey). According to this note, Pacific Beach was also keeping step with the times in the way of societies for intellectual, social and philanthropic advancement; ‘There is in this small settlement four prosperous societies, viz.: The Ladies’ Aid society, the Pacific Beach Reading club, the Village Improvement Association and a new literary society composed of young people which promises to be an intellectual and entertaining factor of this place’.

In the final Note from Pacific Beach in 1895, on December 29, Mr. Davis was having a commodious barn built, the young folks had spent a very pleasant evening with Mr. and Mrs. E. Y. Barnes on Friday and Miss Evangeline Rowe was spending the holidays at home, although she would be returning to Los Angeles the next week. Also, the young people gave a most enjoyable Christmas entertainment on Tuesday evening, consisting of pantomimes in shadow, readings, recitations, music and a Christmas tree for the little folks. If history is any guide, the Christmas tree would have been in the college building and would be an emphatic success.

1895 had been a good year for Pacific Beach, and particularly for its emerging lemon industry. Three years after the groves were planted the first lemons were marketed in the city with ‘very satisfactory’ returns. More prospective lemon ranchers had arrived, some acquiring developed lemon ranches and others buying undeveloped tracts and planting new groves. More homes were built and more households established, including one uniting the scions of two pioneer families, both former students at the College of Letters.  

Good times continued in 1896, and news coverage from Pacific Beach was enhanced when the San Diego Evening Tribune also began featuring notes from Pacific Beach after its establishment in December 1895. The first telephone was installed at the home of Mr. Barnes, the college campus was sold (again), the schoolhouse moved, and even more houses were built, including some that have survived to the present day. And, even in these early days, the ‘young people’ enjoyed bicycle rides on Grand Avenue.

To be continued . . .