Gateway to Yosemite
Exact Center of California
The Madera County Historian
Madera County Historical Society Quarterly
(Used by permission)
HISTORY OF FREMONT WESTFALL FAMILY
By Arch Westfall
Volume I, Number 2, April, 1961
Fremont Westfall came to California from West Virginia the year of 1882. He worked for Joe Westfall (no relation) on his ranch near Darrah, Mariposa Co. He later worked for the Sugar Fine Co. patrolling a section of flume to keep the lumber moving freely to Madera. There were times when the trains of lumber would get caught enroute and cause a jam. He also worked for an ice company in San Francisco delivering ice with a two-horse team.
In 1895 (the year he and my mother were married) he purchased a place in Bailey Flat from a couple named Greenwood. As it was then unsurveyed land, they had not homesteaded. He paid them $350.00 for what property they had: a three-room house, small barn, two horses, a cow, and two donkeys. They also had a number of producing fruit trees,
The first two or three years my father was on the place, he packed fruit and vegetables on the donkeys to Grub Gulch (about five miles) to sell. Later he built a road and hauled produce in a light wagon with two horses. The sale of fruit and vegetables was the only, income for some time bringing in $400 or $500 annually.
About 1900 some orange trees were planted on the place and are still bearing with 18 left. Three fig trees and an olive tree of the orchard planted by Greenwoods are still living and bearing. Estimated age is 85 years.
My parents bought a cow or two to add to the one purchased with the place. They increased this start into a herd (about 125 head) in from 15 to 20 years. They then kept about that many over the years making a living that way, as by that time the sale of fruit and vegetables had about ended.
My father homesteaded the place and over the years purchased adjoining land until he had accumulated about 1500 acres. The average rice of land, at the time, was $5.00 per acre.
1898 they tore down the original house on the place building a five room house which is still being used as a dwelling place.
The first 15 or more years my parents got their mail at the small mining town named Grub Gulch located about 14 miles north of Raymond on the road to Ahwahnee. At the time it consisted of a Post Office, two stores, two hotels, one saloon, and a few private homes. All the buildings are now gone, as the residents left after the mines closed.
My mother, Isabelle Smither, was a native of the Darrah district in Mariposa County (about 12 miles north of Bailey Flat).
Fremont Westfall passed away the year 1940 at the age of 79; Isabelle Westfall, 1949, at the age of 84.
I purchased the home place consisting of 320 acres from my mother in 1947, and live in the old ranch house raising cattle as a means of livelihood.
Last update: April 6, 2001
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