MS 254 El Cajon Horticultural Society Records

Summary Information

San Diego History Center Document Collection
El Cajon Horticultural Society.
El Cajon Horticultural Society Records
MS 254
Date [inclusive]
1889 July 10-1909 November 13
0.5 Linear feet (1 box)
The collection contains a ledger of the El Cajon Horticultural Society from July 10, 1889 through November 13, 1909.

Preferred Citation

El Cajon Horitcultural Society Records, MS 254, San Diego History Center Document Collection, San Diego, CA.

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Biographical / Historical Notes

The El Cajon Horticultural Society was formed in July of 1889. The original 18 members met in the El Cajon school house and were comprised of local ranchers and farmers. G.H. Bowers was the temporary secretary for the Society’s first meetings, with George M. Hawley adopting the role officially. W.H. Somers served as president, C.B. Richards as vice-president, and H. Culbertson as treasurer. The goal of the society was to unite the growing community of farmers to discuss agricultural topics and methods.

In the late 1800s, El Cajon was a thriving agrarian community, though like the rest of San Diego County, the city lacked a consistent water supply. In 1889, the San Diego Flume Company completed a 33.5 mile aqueduct that ran from the Cuyamaca Mountains down through the El Cajon Valley with the intent to help irrigate San Diego as a whole. The Horticultural Society took great interest in the construction of the irrigation system and even met with representatives from the San Diego Flume Co. to discuss the city’s interests and negotiate water rights. The society changed their name to the El Cajon Valley Improvement Association in 1909.

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Scope and Content

The ledger contains records of the El Cajon Horticultural Society from July 10, 1889 through November 13, 1909, including a constitution, by-laws, elected officers, members, and meeting minutes. The ledger records meeting minutes from July 10, 1889 to December 27, 1902, with no entries from 1903 through 1908; this 5 year hiatus is left unexplained. Meeting minutes record the date as a heading above the meeting notes and are signed at the end by the secretary or the secretary pro tem. In most cases, the meetings consist of a call to order, a reading of the last meeting minutes, reports of the officers and committee members, unfinished business, new business, open discussion, and meeting adjournment, though the detail of each record differs from meeting to meeting.

The meetings are concerned primarily with the discussion of different agriculture techniques and what can be done to improve conditions in the valley community. Horticultural methods like grafting and budding are discussed in detail. Society members debate specific cultivating methods of citrus trees, grapes, flowers, and fruit. Several of the meetings are primarily concerned with water development and what can be done to increase water efficiency in their farming endeavors. An entire meeting is devoted to the topic of fertilizer and another on the topic dairy farming. One meeting notes different methods for deterring rabbits and squirrels.

The Society also notes their concern regarding the well-being of their community as a whole. On occasion they divert from agriculture topics to societal issues, such as how to diminish the number of drinking and gambling establishments in town. It appears they desired to establish an agricultural library, which would have been the first of its kind in San Diego County. It is unclear if this library was ever actually established.

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Pages of bound ledger are arranged chronologically.

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

San Diego History Center Document Collection February 2, 2012

1649 El Prado, Suite 3
San Diego, CA, 92101

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

The San Diego History Center (SDHC) holds the copyright to any unpublished materials. SDHC Library regulations do apply.

Processing Information

Collection processed by Lauren Rasmussen on February 2, 2012.

Collection processed as part of grant project supported by the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) with generous funding from The Andrew Mellon Foundation.

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Controlled Access Headings

Corporate Name(s)

  • El Cajon Horticultural Society.
  • El Cajon Valley Improvement Association.
  • San Diego Flume Company.

Geographic Name(s)

  • California — History, Local
  • El Cajon (Calif.)
  • San Diego (Calif.)

Personal Name(s)

  • Bowers, G. H.
  • Chase, Levi
  • Culbertson, H.
  • Furber, Harry E.
  • Hawley, George M.
  • Shepherd, George C.
  • Somers, W. H.


  • Agriculture — California
  • Clubs
  • Farm produce
  • Horticulture
  • Local history
  • Societies
  • Societies — History, organization, etc.
  • Water rights — California

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Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

Some pages are torn. Others are partially or completely detached from binding. Edge of ledger is warped.

Loose materials in ledger removed, but retained in the same folder with notations of original location for each item. (February 14, 2012)

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Collection Inventory

El Cajon Horticultural Society Records (ledger), 1889 July 10-1909 November 13

Entries of Interest:

July 10, 1889: First meeting of the Society, includes constitution, bylaws, election of officers, and “List of Members.”

November 23, 1889: Negotiates with the San Diego Flume Company about the construction of artesian wells and water rates.

January 2, 1897: Meeting discussion includes methods for deterring squirrels and rabbits from gardens.

February 2, 1898: Meeting discussion regarding dairy farming methods.

April 16, 1898: Meeting devoted to discussion of fertilizer.

May 12, 1900: Meeting discussion discusses the gardening method of budding and grafting. Members also discuss the need to diminish the number of drinking and gambling establishments in El Cajon.

June 9, 1900: Discussion on budding and grafting continues. Members also discuss citrus gardening methods.

April 14, 1909: In depth discussion of water development and forest preservation.

August 14, 1909: The Society renames itself the “El Cajon Valley Improvement Association.” A typewritten copy of the newly adopted by-laws and constitution is attached to pages 96-98. Society indicates their new goal is “the improvement of horticulture and agriculture, the highways, home adornment and the mutual interested of its members.” In article 7, section 2 of the new constitution (page 97), the members indicate their desire to establish an agricultural library.

November 13, 1909: Last recorded meeting. The Society discusses the possibility of increasing trade with other California cities, such as San Francisco. It is agreed by the society members that cooperating with other buyers from throughout the state will help improve local market conditions.


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