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The Madera County Historian
Madera County Historical Society Quarterly
(Used by permission)

By Doris and Clyde Foster

Volume I, Number 4, October 1961

     History is only made by people.  Rarely do we find an object, or event, that has created history within itself unless a person has been involved.  Thus the pioneers have given us much interesting data concerning their lives while they were developing the country that we now enjoy.

     Here we record some of the facts surrounding the lives of the people who made history for the famous Foster' s Hogue Ranch.

     The first man, who turned the wilderness area of this ranch into a home was Jesse B. Ross, who had the courage to match his dreams.  As a young man he migrated from Missouri sometime in the very early 1850's, with his younger brother, Cal.  His first recorded activity was packing supplies from Hamptonville, now known as Friant, to the several stores located at Logan Meadow, who, in turn, supplied the many miners in the adjacent areas.  He camped overnight at the present Hogue Ranch site, which at that time was also a favorite camping site for the Mono Indian Tribes, and for the miners and prospectors traveling into the placer diggings on the upper San Joaquin River and other tributary streams. From the ranch these distances varied from twelve to thirty miles, and more.

     At this time there was no road into the ranch.  The nearest road came into North Fork and ended about where Buck Horn Lodge is now located.  This road was built sometime soon after 1854 and was the end of the road until the early 70's.

     In 1877 Charles E. Strivens extended the North Fork road to what is now Cascadel Ranch.  The following year Jesse Ross, with his brother, Cal, built a very cheap road north from Cascadel Ranch up the mountain to what later became the site of the original Peckinpah Sawmill.  The Rosses also built a road east from Cascadel Ranch to the Ross Ranch (Hogue), This was the end of the road until about 1934 when it was extended by the Civilian Conservation Corp (C.C's) to Rock Creek.

     On November 15, 1879 Jesse B. Ross granted John S. French the right to use Ross's road running from the ranch of Charles E. Strivens (Cascadel Ranch) to the Ross Ranch (Hogue).

     John S. French was a mining promoter operating out of San Francisco, and developing mines in the Mammoth area.  He needed a trail to reach his mining activities as the Old Indian Trail was not suitable for heavy packing.  So he started building a trail beginning at Ross's Ranch.  The trail crossed Ross Creek and Indian Creek (Fish Creek) and then continued on to Rock Creek from a point near what is now the Wissman Mine.  From Rock Creek it followed a very even grade to a point near the present Mammoth Dam, and continued up the San Joaquin River and ended at Rainbow Falls, which is due south of Devils Postpile.  Such a trail was surveyed by D.H.L. Orr, and this survey was filed on August 14, 1880, It was called the Madera and Mammoth Saddle Trail, but for many years now it has been known only as the French Trail.

     Ross became very fond of the ranch site and when his packing activity lessened, he located there around 1858 and called it Ross Ranch.  He planted about five acres of apple trees, and about 1860 built his home some three fourths of a mile from his orchard.

     The main block of this first orchard was planted to Red Pearmain apples, with some Snow apples on the fringe areas.  It is believed Jesse Ross purchased his trees from Stark Brothers in Louisiana, Missouri, as the latter company had been in existence since 1816.  Having come from Missouri Ross was no doubt familiar with apples and their growing tendencies and needs.  The spacing of the trees and their early shaping proved his knowledge of fruit culture.

     Ross was a man of slight build who stood about five feet eleven inches tall.  He had thick dark hair.  Old timers have described his as a very genteel person and a true pioneer, who shared the hardship, the danger, the work, and the glory. He made shaked, constructed roads, engaged in cattle and hog raising, in farming and whatever else was to be done he did his part.

     Soon after his log home was completed, Ross married a native American named Mary Waspi, whom he had met during his many overnight camping visits to the ranch.  Mary was somewhat of a leader in her tribe and was affectionately called 'Captain' by many of the Indians.  She returned to her people sometime around 1885 and never lived on the ranch again. Her death occurred in1949 in North Fork at an age nearing 109 years.

     Mary and Jesse Ross had one daughter, Julia Belle, who was born in 1870.  She was a strong robust girl with high cheek bones and raven black hair. She was attending Rachel Ward School in Fresno when she met and married George Francis (Frank) Hallock in 1891.  He had migrated from New York the same year.  Hallock was a short heavyset man, schooled in law and was several years the senior of Julia Belle Ross.  Of this union was born a son, Homer, who still resides in North Fork and who will reach seventy years this year (1962). He is a veteran of World War I and saw service on all the European Battlefields.

     In the 1890's Ross engaged in the raising of wheat and in a rather extensive operation of raising pink beans.  He cleared much of the area that is now planted to apple orchard and raised wheat and pink beans on the many acres.  Some thirty to forty tons of beans were harvested every year and sold in Fresno.  About 1895 William A. (Bill) Ellis, who was elected a Madera County Supervisor in 1902, hauled a large load of beans to the Fresno market from the ranch.

     Many Indian women worked at the ranch during the wheat and bean harvests.  The beans were evidently threshed with a flail or a round willow pole, and then the Indian women used their native winnowing baskets to separate the chaff from the beans.  They used sticks to thresh the wheat and then winnowed it out in the baskets.

     Hard work and rugged living finally took their toll on Jesse Ross and he was a very ill man when he died in 1899.  He was buried on the ranch which he loved so much.

     Homestead Application No. 6466 on Ross Ranch was filed at the proper time.  After meeting the necessary requirements, Ross "proved up" on the homestead and Patent (Homestead Certificate No. 3172) was signed by President William McKinley on November 12, 1900.  This was after Ross's death so he never knew of the result of his many labors.

     Ross Ranch officially passed into the hands of Julia Belle Ross Hallock on February 28, 1902, but about this time she was having health problems.  Suffering with a kidney infection from which there seemed no cure, Julia Belle deeded the ranch to her husband, George Francis (Frank) Hallock in August of 1904, and she died the same year.  She was buried beside her father on the ranch.

     About this time Hallock planted a few additional apple trees, mostly near the log house.  The variety was King of Tompkins County, from Tompkins County, New York, the birthplace of Hallock.  He continued to raise beans and also evaporated many tons of apples and sent them in large wooden boxes to Fresno markets.  This venture was apparently successful for a time.  Distances and road conditions in those days ruled out the transportation of fresh apples to the market.

     On November 15, 1910 Hallock sold Ross Ranch to Samuel L. Hogue, who had come from Illinois in 1872.  He was the first school teacher in the Selma schools and also served as a Justice of the Peace in that city and in Fresno.  In 1881 he married Effie H. Brown of Yolo County, California.  They had two sons and two daughters; Lassen E., James T., E. Lucile and Evelyn H. Lucile Hogue Williams, widow of Dr. Charles C. Williams of Fresno, is the only one now surviving.

     The Hogue family came to Ross Ranch to make their home and the name was changed to Hogue Ranch.  They lived in the log house that had been built by Ross.

     About 1912 Samuel Hogue planted an additional twenty acres to apple trees.  These varieties were Red Delicious, Winter Banana, Arkansas Black, Lawver, Spitzenberg and Jonathon.  Sometime later he purchased a few Golden Delicious trees from Stark Brothers, Missouri; the same company who had supplied Ross's first plantings.  Hogue used these trees as a base for grafting some of the Lawver trees.  He, also, continued to raise pink beans, planting them in them in the orchard rows until the apple trees became too large.

     Progress arrived at the ranch about this time when Hogue purchased a fanning mill to clean the beans, and this method replaced some of the Indian women with their winnowing baskets,

     Hogue and his two sons also engaged in the raising of hogs.  They did extensive fencing for this operation, but the venture was not a very successful one. Another venture was a small sawmill built on the ranch near Ross Creek, It was operated by a wooden water wheel for the purpose of making box shook for the apples.

     Mrs. Effie Hogue passed away in 1921.  In 1930 Hogue sold the ranch to Joseph E. Foster and his son, Clyde T. Foster.

     After retiring from ranch life, Samuel L. Hogue worked in the Fresno County Auditor's office and was active in lodge and church work. His death, resulting from a heart attack, occurred July 3, 1935 at his summer home at Camp Sierra.

     So in 1930 the owners of the historic Hogue Ranch were Joseph E. Foster and his son, Clyde T. Foster.

     The father of Joseph Foster was Overton H. Foster, who was born in Missouri on April 3, 1825.  He arrived in California in 1846 when he was about 20 years old and, almost immediately, he joined General Fremont's army and served through many skirmishes.  Sometime later he met a young widow, Nancy Marinda Dickey Bailey.  She was born, also, in Missouri on November 26, 1930 and came to California in 1847.  She married Adison Bailey on September 10, 1849 but became his widow when Bailey died about 1854 while crossing the Isthmus of Panama.

     Overton Foster and Nancy Marinda Bailey were married in Martinez on September 25, 1856.  They became the parents of four sons and three daughters.  Joseph was their third son.  Overton died May 6, 1907 and was buried in Dunlap. Nancy Marinda passed on December 28, 1914 and was buried by Overton's side in the Dunlap cemetery.

     Joseph E. Foster came to Mussel Slough, near Hanford, with his parents and were living there at the time of the historic Mussel Slough Tragedy.  When Joseph was thirteen years old he moved with his parents to Dunlap.  After his schooling he engaged in a variety of activities, including farming and team driving.  On July 15, 1894 he married Ida Cornelia Turner of Dunlap.

     Ida Cornelia Turner was born May 1, 1876 in Dunlap and was one of fifteen children.  Her parents were Peter Q. and Emily Keener Turner, the latter having crossed the plains by ox team with her parents when she was ten years old. She was the first white woman to have made a home in the Dunlap area.

     Joseph Foster homesteaded a ranch eight miles east of Dunlap in 1898 and planted an apple orchard, one of the first in the district.  Joseph and Ida Foster were the parents of nine children, eight of them living today (1961).  Their eldest son was killed in World War I. There were five sons and four daughters.  Their fourth son was Clyde T., who was born in Dunlap.

     When Foster and his son, Clyde, acquired the Hogue Ranch in 1930 they made many improvements.  Extensive grafting was done, including the grafting of the original Red Pearmain apples, planted by Ross, to Starking (Delicious), and a large block of the Lawvers, planted by Hogue, to Golden Delicious. Another improvement was the building of a seven foot deer fence to enclose the orchard.  They did not engage in other farming but concentrated on the apples.

     Clyde T. Foster purchased his father' s interest in the Hogue Ranch on January 26, 1944 and continued to develop and improve the ranch.  He has been actively engaged in apple raising for over forty years.

     Joseph Foster died on July 8, 1949 and was buried near his parents in Dunlap.  It is an interesting note that all four grandparents of Clyde Foster are buried in the Dunlap Cemetery.

     On March 23, 1949 Clyde Foster married Doris Elizabeth Madison, a widow, In Monterey, California.  Doris was a Missourian, the daughter of William G. and Nellie Elizabeth Kimball Parks.  In 1910, when a very small girl, Doris came to California with her parents and brother.  They settled in Fresno where Doris was reared, schooled, married and widowed. She was employed with the United States Forest Service in North Fork just prior to her marriage to Clyde Foster.
The same year of their marriage, 1949, Clyde and Doris Foster planted about ten acres of new orchard at the Hogue Ranch.  These varieties of apples were Red and Golden Delicious.  The next year, 1950, they built a home and came to the ranch to live permanently.

     Through the years the marketing methods of apples from Foster's Hogue Ranch have been changed.  In the 1930s apples were stored in Fresno and deliveries made directly to Valley merchants. In more recent years almost the entire crop has been retailed at the ranch.

     The last twelve years have revealed much progress at the historic Hogue Ranch.  Long ago this now famous ranch was the end of the road.  But today (1961) there is a high standard road reaching from the ranch to some forty miles beyond.  Where once the apples were sorted and packed under the large cedar trees now stands a neat apple shed built by Clyde Foster.  Even the one hundred year old log house has been reinforced, re-strengthened and re-roofed and stands as an interesting landmark of the past. Down through time have come a series of improvements of the lighting facilities at the ranch.  From open bonfires to candles, then kerosene lamps, Coleman lamps, the Foster's own light generator, and now commercial power.  A year ago (1960) logging operations were undertaken by Clyde and Doris Foster on the ranch to supply building material for an addition to their home, which has been accomplished only through their own efforts.

     So progress goes on for this modern pioneer couple who love what they are doing and where they are living.

Last update: April 6, 2001
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