By Hattie Kaufman
On June 10, 1885, we moved out to Alpine from Old Town, where we had stayed temporarily after our arrival from Missouri. My mother’s oldest brother, H.J. Whitney, had a general merchandise store and the post office at Alpine and my brother, Willis J. Hurd, was in partnership with him.
Whitney & Hurd had feed barns also, for the teams that stopped up and down between the Stonewall Mine and San Diego. There was a road from Alpine to the mine that went over Viejas Mountains through Descanso, right to the Stonewall, which they now call Cuyamaca. I guess it went up through Green Valley because it went to Descanso and they could go on over to Julian from there much the same as they do now, but the road was right up over the Viejas Mounains out of Viejas Valley, just above Alpine. Later there was another stage line, that went up through Ramona to Julian.
Joe Foster had the stage line, and we fed and changed his horses. The stages were wood, with thoroughbraces, and had cross seats and top, with the driver seated up in front and the baggage behind in “boot.” They were driven with four horses. They changed horses at our place, and we always kept one team ready; they stopped there on he way up, and on the way back. John Coombs had a place at Descanso where, I believe, they changed horses again.
There was a hotel where the passengers had dinner, and rooms or the drivers who would stop, up and down. We also had a kind of sanitarium there with lots of tents with beds in them — we had ten or twelve tents at a time. We never had less than ten or fifteen people there, with tuberculosis; they were sent up there as early as 1885. These people had been sent out from the east for their health. As there were no facilities to take care of them in San Diego and as there was so much fog there, the doctors would send them on up to Alpine, where there was no fog. The tents were all alike, with wooden floors and sides, and canvas tops.
Charlie Emery bought the place from my uncle, when he finally sold out; the Emerys lived in one of the valleys right above Alpine, id owned part of it. Emery married one of the Buckman girls who lived out at Soda Springs, or Buckman Springs. They had a hotel at Buckman Springs, with tents like ours, and an adobe house; there were lithia water springs there.
They used to bring gold from the Stonewall Mine down through Alpine to San Diego. They would send it down in a freight wagon, an old sack; some times they would leave it with my uncle over night. Waldo Waterman, the son of Governor Waterman, was general manager at the mine. He and his driver would drive down through Alpine like mad, so that people would think that they had the gold with them, in case of a hold-up. The gold was melted down from the high grade ore into little bricks called bullion. After the freight wagons got to San Diego, they would load up with supplies for the me, and haul them back up to the mine. The road through Alpine is the only one I knew that went up that way. They didn’t go around through Julian to get to the Stonewall.
About the first time we ever saw Governor Waterman, he had sent an order on ahead that he wanted breakfast for himself and his driver and some of the other men that he was taking up to the mines, and he wanted ham and eggs. We hadn’t seen an egg since we got into this part of the country; no one had any chickens. So my brother and my uncle got on horseback and went up to Descanso, and over the country, to find some eggs. I remember that they got home with three dozen eggs for the breakfast and they were 75 cents a dozen; back in Missouri where we came from, we had been getting eggs for 8 and 10 cents. My mother thought there was no use trying to make any money on that meal, but at least we had enough eggs for the governor’s breakfast. Waterman’s freight teams were all mules. He had two 10-mule teams, driven with a jerk-line, and one was coming down and going up, all the time.
When they drove cattle herds through Alpine to San Diego markets, they had to go right between the hotel and the barn because the road was so narrow. A number of hours before they were going to come through, we would be warned to get out of the way, and have everyone stay in the house so that nothing would frighten and stampede the cattle,
Captain Brabazon, who owned the big ranch just below us, had been an Irish lord. He made wine, and he used to have the Indians come down and tramp out the grapes; my mother and I used to think it was awful, seeing men in those vats, tramping the grapes in their bare feet. But something like it used to go on in the flume, which brought the water down from Cuyamaca to San Diego. The flume was a wooden trough with boards on each side, and open on top. Men were employed to walk along this flume with their bare feet in the water, to keep it clear of rabbits, quail and snakes. They would walk five or ten miles down and back; they were Mexicans and Indians. One day when my brother and I were going home we were driving along when I got very thirsty. He said “Well, you know, right over there you can get a drink of water out of the flume.” He said I would have to scoop the water up with my hands, so I went over and stooped down to get my drink. Right where I was going to dip, there was the print of a man’s bare foot, and I let out a squawk; I didn’t want any of that water. He laughed and told me that it probably would have been a dead snake or something, if the flume-walker hadn’t been by there.
When we first came out to Alpine, you couldn’t buy any butter. It was too hot, and nobody had any. There were lots of cows, but no one ever made more than a pound. My mother wouldn’t use margarine because it came in a wooden tub and was made out of beef suet (so they claimed) and it was funny-looking stuff, not at all like it is today. We never had any ice. They would bring a half or a quarter of beef down from Descanso several times a week. They had a big pole that went ‘way up in the air and they would pull it up there with a pulley, where it would dry on the outside and keep fresh until it was used up. They would bring it down and cut off their steaks and whatever they wanted, and then haul it back up with the pulley, until it was used up. We had ollas for the water, and everyone I knew around Alpine had a barrel of olives, with a dipper hanging on it, so that anyone who came along could get a handful of olives. You don’t see anyone giving away olives these days!
A man named Foss had a ranch in Alpine, over on the mesa, and he shipped some pears to St. Louis. This was before we came to California, and my mother bought some of these pears at a stand in St. Louis, because they came from Alpine where my grandfather and uncle and all of mother’s folks lived. We thought he was a big pear-grower, but when we got here, I think we found he had only three pear trees; the whole crop must have gone to St. Louis.
Up in the Viejas Valley, Harbison, the “Bee King,” had a lot of bees that fed on tar-weed. No one would eat any of the tar-weed honey for honey, but he made a lot of money by selling it to a company that made Honey & Tar Cough Syrup. I wonder how many people knew that that favorite old remedy came from right here in San Diego County.
In November, 1890, 1 was married in Ramona, and we lived there for eight years. Wagons and teams were our only transportation to San Diego, and a shopping trip took three days -a day to go down, a day to do any trading in San Diego, and a day to get back. Then they got trains as far as Foster, and that was wonderful. By getting up at 4 o’clock in the morning we could catch the morning train to San Diego, and by taking the evening train back we could get home by 12 o’clock at night. So you could make the round trip to San Diego in only one whole day, by leaving the team at Foster. My husband, J. E. Maydole, had settled in Ramona in 1885, the same year that we came to Alpine; he was the road overseer, and helped build the Mussey Grade, which they started in the spring of 1891. I met him at a dance.
My brother and I and the whole crowd of us just about lived from one dance to the next one. We went to Julian, or Ballena, or Ramona, or Escondido, on the Fourth of July and other times when they had dances. At Ramona we would start dancing in the old brick schoolhouse at 7 o’clock or so, and dance until daylight. We didn’t think it was very far, going from Alpine to Ramona for a dance. We generally went in a buggy for that trip, although I have been across on horseback. There was a horseback trail that went down the canyon where El Capitan Lake is now, and then down the river to Lakeside; they didn’t run teams through there.
At the Ramona dances, we would have a big dinner at midnight at the Adams House, which had been a wonderful hotel for years. Later Mrs. Kearney bought the Ricker Hotel and named it the Kenilworth Inn. She ran it for many years and it was famous for its Sunday and holiday dinners. Her son, George Roches, took it over eventually and ran it until it burned down just a few years ago.
Going in to town from Ramona, before the railroad came, we usually went through El Cajon. The Knoxes had a hotel there, and that was where everyone would stop for meals. Lots of times we would have to stay there over night, if we hadn’t got started early enough.
Going on in toward San Diego, we made a final stop to water our horses out on “The Mesa,” which is so well built up now, and is called East San Diego. The watering cost us 25 cents a head.