Archive for the ‘People’ Category

Cambria Pines Lodge/Harry Jones

Tuesday, July 15th, 2014

Don Julian Estrada received the grant to the Rancho Santa Rosa on January 18, 1841. In the 1850s he got into financial difficulty due to the declining prices for beef, hides and tallow, bad weather, surveying costs, and increasing property taxes. Using the rancho as security, he borrowed $7,900 from Domingo Pujol, a merchant from San Francisco, but he was unable to repay the debt. On May 17, 1862, Pujol and Estrada struck a deal in which Pujol gave Estrada an additional $12,000 and took possession of the rancho. (more…)

Joaquin Soto

Thursday, June 9th, 2011

Joaquin Modesto Soto, better known as “Jack” was born in Adelaida in 1886. His father, Yrculano Soto, was born in Monterey and later settled near Adelaida where he raised cattle and goats butchering them right there on the ranch. Jack’s mother was Delores Grijalva. (more…)

Winfield Scott Whitaker

Sunday, January 30th, 2011

Winfield Scott Whitaker, son of John M. Whitaker, was born in Indiana on February 18, 1832. His father, who was born on February 11, 1801, was a member of the Legislature of Iowa for twenty years off and on, and had the honor of selecting the State University lands. He married Mrs. Jane Phillips, a native of Ohio, and daughter of William Phillips. They had six children, five sons and one daughter. (more…)

John Wilson

Tuesday, December 14th, 2010

John Downes Wilson, better known as Captain John Wilson, was born in Dundee, Scotland in 1798. By the time he was 30 he was master of the Thomas Nowlan, a ship trading in hides and tallow on the California coast. From 1828 to 1843 he was captain of several ships in this trade including the Ayacucho, a ship described in some detail by Richard Henry Dana in his book Two Years Before the Mast. After his sailing days he became a land holder and cattle rancher, ultimately becoming one of the biggest land holders in California. Although he was born a protestant, he converted to Catholicism in order to conform to Mexican law which restricted land ownership to Catholics. To this end he was sometimes known as Juan Wilson or even Juan Huilsons. (more…)


Friday, December 10th, 2010

Captain Lorin Vincent Thorndyke was the head keeper at Piedras Blancas Light Station for twenty-seven years from August 19, 1879 until August 22, 1906. Though not the first head keeper, he certainly had the longest tenure in that position.  “The Captain”, as everyone called him, was born in West Camden, Maine on January 28, 1839. Before coming to Piedras Blancas, he was in the Merchant Marine for many years and claimed to have been around the world five times. He also served at several lighthouses along the California coast including Santa Cruz, Half Moon Bay, Yerba Buena in San Francisco Bay, and, lastly, Point Hueneme, prior to being assigned to Point Piedras Blancas at the age of forty. (more…)

The Bianchini Family

Sunday, November 14th, 2010

On April 22, 1916, Sarah E. Guthrie sold her house, now the home of the Cambria Historical Museum, to Eugenio Bianchini for the token amount of $10. The deal was witnessed and notarized by W. M. Lyons, father of Wilfred Lyons. (more…)

Thomas Evans

Saturday, November 13th, 2010

Tom Evans was the son of William J. Evans  and was born in Aberystwyth in Cardiganshire, Wales (United Kingdom) in 1832. He had come to America with his family ten years later and lived in Waukesha, Wisconsin. (more…)

Art Beal- Nitt Witt Ridge

Sunday, November 7th, 2010

Arthur Harold Beal, also known as Captain Nitt Witt or Der Tinkerpaw, built what is perhaps the oddest structure in Cambria which has no shortage of odd structures. In 1928, Art was working as a garbage collector in Cambria and he began collecting what others would call junk – pieces of driftwood, discarded car parts, wood pieces, pots, beer cans, abalone shells, hub caps, toilet seats and other treasures. His property, now located at 881 Hillcrest Drive, was, at that time, located in a remote section of forest. So, using pick and shovel and (it is rumored) occasionally dynamite, he began to level portions of the site and to build a series of one-room shacks from the materials he collected.  Eventually, his “castle” on Nitt Witt Ridge included many rooms and covered 250 vertical feet of cliffs. (more…)

Phil Dike

Thursday, September 23rd, 2010

Phil Dike, an eminent California artist, was born in Redlands, California on April 6, 1906. After completing high school there, he received a scholarship to the Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles where he studied with E. Tolles Chamberlin and Clarence Hinkle from 1924 to 1928. It was here that he first worked in water colors becoming a member of the California Water Color Society in 1927. During 1928 and 1929, Dike studied with George Bridgman, Frank Vincent DuMond and George Luks in New York, returning to teach at Chouinard from 1929 to1934 except for a brief tour of Europe during 1931. It was during this period that Dike became one of the first artists to develop what became known as the California Style of watercolor painting. (more…)

George Proctor and George Davis

Tuesday, September 14th, 2010

On December 26, 1867, Samuel A. Pollard sold a 31.5 acre portion of his land to George W. Proctor and George S. Davis for $410. Although this was a tiny portion of the 1010 acre parcel which Pollard owned, it contained much of what eventually became Cambia’s East Village. (more…)

Wilfred Lyons

Monday, September 6th, 2010

One of the founding members of Cambria Historical Society, Wilfred Lyons once held the unofficial title of “Historian Emeritus” because he knew more about the history of Cambria than practically anybody. This is no surprise considering that he lived in Cambria for 97 years. (more…)

H. E. Serbaroli

Sunday, July 11th, 2010

Anecdotes of an Artist’s Life in Cambria in the 1920s
by Joseph A. Serbaroli, Jr., Yonkers, NY

My grandfather, the artist Hector E. Serbaroli, was contacted in 1924 by the architect Miss Julia Morgan. She was looking for someone with broad-ranging artistic abilities to do decorative work on William Randolph Hearst’s magnificent castle in San Simeon. Grandfather was ideally suited to the task, because he had in-depth knowledge of European architectural detailing, which was precisely what Hearst and Morgan had in mind for the castle’s construction. He also had extensive experience doing original ornamental art in churches and buildings from Rome to Mexico to San Francisco. (more…)

Thomas Clendenen

Monday, May 17th, 2010

Thomas Clendenen only lived in the Cambria area for about 11 years. However, this is longer than he lived in almost any of the places he moved to.

Thomas Hamilton Clendenen was one of eleven children born to John Clendenin and Margaret Hamilton, John’s second wife. Thomas was born in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania and the family later moved to a farm near Sweetland, Iowa not far from Davenport, where both of his parents died. (more…)

Samuel Pollard

Wednesday, February 17th, 2010

As soon as he acquired the Rancho Santa Rosa from Don Julian Estrada, Domingo Pujol immediately hired a Mr. Ward to divide the rancho into smaller parcels and he sold them to many of the first settlers in the Cambria area. One of Pujol’s first customers was George E. Long, a farmer who was born in Georgia around 1829. In a single deal for $4348, Long purchased three parcels from Pujol totaling 2094.6 acres on October 12, 1866. One of these parcels was a triangular property at the mouth of Leffingwell Creek at the north end of Moonstone Beach amounting to 18.5 acres. The second parcel consisted of 1066.1 acres which ran along the south side of Santa Rosa Creek for about two miles beginning at a point in today’s East Village behind Cambria Tax and Financial Services. The third parcel, 1010 acres, included virtually all of what would become East Village, West Village, West Lodge Hill, Happy Hill and Liemert Estates. (more…)

The Guthries

Friday, February 5th, 2010

Though he is not generally considered one of Cambria’s pioneers, Samuel Guthrie played an important part in the town’s early history. Guthrie was born in Scotland in 1840. At the age of fourteen he went to Australia, where, for seventeen years, he was engaged in the mercantile business in Melbourne. In 1871 he traveled from Melbourne to San Francisco, and remained in California for the rest of his life. (more…)

Dr. John Roberts

Friday, January 22nd, 2010

Although Dr. John L. D. Roberts never lived in the Cambria area, he was very important to its history. It was he who first conceived the idea for a year-round scenic highway from Carmel to San Simeon.

Born in Osceola, New York on January 16, 1861, Roberts attended Hamilton College in Clinton, New York and Union College in Schenectady and then earned a medical degree from the University of the City of New York. In 1887 he moved to California at the suggestion of his uncle, David Houghton, who owned a 160 acre ranch where Seaside and Sand City are currently located. Once he had established a practice, he sent for his fiancé, Edith Maltby, and they were married on October 25, 1887. Dr. Roberts eventually bought the ranch from his uncle for $5,000 and planned a town on the site which became the city of Seaside. He founded the Seaside post office in 1890 where he and his wife served as postmasters until 1932. In 1892 he was elected to the Monterey School Board where he served for 36 years and in 1908 he became a county supervisor, an office he held for 20 years including four years as chairman. (more…)

Julian Estrada

Sunday, December 6th, 2009

Don Julian Estrada was the first of many individuals to own the property on which the Village of Cambria presently stands. He was born into the wealthy and powerful Estrada family in Monterey in 1813. The Estradas married into such prominent families as  Carrillo, Lugo, Vallejo and Arguello. The Estrada family owned twelve ranchos amounting to 37.5 leagues which is about 166,000 acres or 260 square miles. Between Don Julian, his brothers and brothers-in-law alone, the family controlled eight ranchos amounting to more than 90,000 acres. One of his brothers, Jose Ramon Estrada, owned the Rancho San Simeon and his first cousin, Jose Joaquin Tomas Estrada, owned the Rancho Santa Margarita. (more…)

Benjamin Franklin

Tuesday, December 1st, 2009

Although he was not one of the “founding fathers” of Cambria, Benjamin Hubes Franklin was an important figure during the 1880s. He was born in Philadelphia on September 1, 1856, and was the eldest in a family of nine children. He was a son of Colonel William H. Franklin, a native of New Jersey. His grandfather was Benjamin Franklin, also a native of New Jersey, and his mother was Morgiana R. (Hubes) Franklin. (more…)

Elmer Rigdon

Monday, September 21st, 2009

Elmer Scott Rigdon was the third of four sons born to Rufus Rigdon and Indiana (sometimes called India) Scott Rigdon. Scott Rock was named for Greenup Scott, Indiana’s older brother. In the 1860s, Rufus and Indiana homesteaded a 145 acre parcel on the north side of Santa Rosa Creek just east of Cambria’s east village. Today, Fog’s End Bed and Breakfast stands in the southwest corner of the property. Elmer was born there on July 16, 1868. (more…)