Monday, December 8, 2014

Yosemite Winter Club History


In 1927, the Ahwahnee Hotel (above) was completed in Yosemite National Park.

Near the hotel California's first ski school opened the following year with Jules Fritsch -- a Swiss ski expert -- as instructor.  In those days Fritsch led six day snow excursions in Yosemite from the Ahwahnee Hotel to Tenaya Lake to support and strengthen the ski school.


Also in 1927, the Curry Company completed a four-track toboggan slide near Camp Curry in Yosemite National Park. 


About the same time Dr. Donald Tresidder, the first president the Yosemite Park & Curry Company, formed the Yosemite Winter Club.  The rare and highly collectible watch fob (above) is part of my collection.

In 1928 the Yosemite Winter Club built small ski hill and ski jump near Tenaya Creek Bridge.

In 1933, a ski lift was built at Badger Pass and the first slalom race in California was held that year.  While in high school about 1958, I learned to ski at Badger Pass.


Today Badger Pass is still a popular ski area for both downhill skiers and nordic skiers.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Reel Cowboys of the Santa Susanas -- Jack Hoxie


Jack Hoxie (1885–1965) was an American rodeo champion and Western motion picture star whose career began in the silent film era and thrived through the 1930s.

Jack Hoxie's limited Santa Susana locations filmography includes:


Outlaw Justice (1932) starring Jack Hoxie, Dorothy Gulliver, Donald Keith (Iverson Ranch) Majestic


Gun Law (1933) starring Jack Hoxie, Betty Boyd, Mary Carr (Iverson Ranch) Majestic

Monday, November 24, 2014

Reel Cowboys of the Santa Susanas -- Brian Donlevy


Brian Donlevy (1901 - 1972) was an Irish-born American actor who was best known for his tough-guy roles in Westerns and dramas between the 1930s and the 1960s.

His Santa Susana locations filmography includes:


When the Daltons Rode (1940) starring Randolph Scott, Kay Francisand Brian Donlevy - Universal


Impact (1949) starring Brian Donlevy, Ella Raines and Charles Coburn (Corriganville) United Artists


Slaughter Trail (1951) starring Brian Donlevy, Gig Young and Virginia Grey (Corriganville) RKO


Escape from Red Rock (1957) starring Brian Donlevy, Eilene Janssen and Gary Murray - 20th Century-Fox


Waco (1966) starring Howard Keel, Jane Russell and Brian Donlevy (Iverson Ranch) A.C. Lyles Prod.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Great Granddad Was An Ironmonger


An Ironmonger was a term originally used to describe someone -- usually a blacksmith -- who made and sold iron products.  

Over time the term has been expanded to include other materials such as steel, aluminum, brass, copper, tin and even plastics.

In Great Britain, the word "ironmongery" still has this meaning, but in the United States, the term "ironmongery" has been replaced by "hardware."

Following the industrial revolution some Ironmongers dealt specifically with architectural ironmongery such as door handles, locks, hinges, lamps, etc.  Other Ironmongers might have manufactured items for ships and boats such as anchors, pulleys, cleats etc.  And, still others might have crafted items for the horse and carriage trade such as stirrups, buckles, bits, spurs, etc.

By the Victorian era an ironmonger's shop was the nineteenth-century equivalent of the modern department store and many offered a vast array of goods -- everything from knife-cleaning powder, candles and saucepans to kitchen ranges, gas-fittings, bell-fittings or even wallpaper. 

Many tradesmen such as the carpenter, boat-builder, gardener, grocer and undertaker depended on the ironmonger for their tools and materials.


If you'd like to learn more Victorian Ironmongers in Great Britain I can recommend reading: The Victorian Ironmonger (Shire Library), by Cecil A. Meadows (Author) available on Amazon.

David Austine 1781 - 1850

Not a great deal is known about my 3rd great grandfather David Austine.  We know he was born about 1781 in Dumfries, Scotland, and served in the Royal Navy from 1818 to 1827.  At the time of the marriages of two of his daughters in 1844, he was identified as an Ironmonger.


It is assumed David Austine passed away about 1850.  His wife Elizabeth Reeves Austine was still alive and living in Montrose, Scotland in 1851, but she too is gone before 1861.  


Perhaps the carpenter's tools in this chest (that I collected in 1970s) were purchased from a Victorian Ironmonger.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Reel Cowboys of the Santa Susanas -- James Brown


James Brown (1920-1992) was an American film and TV actor best known for his role as Lieutenant Ripley "Rip" Masters in "The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin" TV Series (1954-1959) on ABC.


James Brown's supporting and starring roles at Santa Susana filming locations include: 


The Fabulous Texan (1947) - Bill Elliott, John Carroll and Catherine McLeod (Iverson Ranch) Republic


The Gallant Legion (1948) - Bill Elliott, Lorna Gray, Joseph Schildkraut (Garden of the Gods) Republic


The Younger Brothers (1949) - Wayne Morris, Janis Paige, Bruce Bennett - Warner Bros.

"Sky King" TV Series (1952) 

"The Lone Ranger" TV Series (1952)

The Man Behind the Gun (1953) - Randolph Scott, Patrice Wymore, Dick Wesson (Bell Ranch)(Iverson Ranch) Warner Bros.


"The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin" TV Series (1954-1959) as Lt. Rip Masters


Five Guns to Tombstone (1961) - James Brown, John Wilder, Walter Coy (Iverson Ranch) Kent Prod.


Gun Street (1961) - James Brown, Jean Willes, John Clarke (Corriganville)(Iverson Ranch) United Artists

"Have Gun - Will Travel" TV Series (1962)

"Gunsmoke" TV Series (1963)

"Daniel Boone" TV Series (1964)

Black Spurs (1965) - Rory Calhoun, Linda Darnell, Terry Moore (Corriganville) Paramount

"The Virginian" TV Series (1962-1966)

Monday, October 13, 2014

Great Granddad Was A Great Lakes Sailor


William Allan MCNEIL, my great grandfather, was born 31 July 1865 in Goderich, Huron Co., Ontario, Canada.  He was the son of Duncan McNeil who emigrated from Scotland and Margaret McDonald who was born on Prince Edward Island to Scottish parents.

He married Adaline PROCTOR, daughter of William Proctor and Ellen Sturdy (Irish emigrants), on 31 Oct 1887 in Sarnia, Lambton Co., Ontario, Canada.

In the mid 1890s Allan (the name he went by) became a sailor working on the Great Lakes between Canada and the United States.

His wife Adaline died 25 Nov 1908 in Detroit, Wayne, Michigan, USA.

The children of Allan and Adaline Proctor are:

i. Alan W.  MCNEIL born 12 Apr 1891 in Sarnia, Lambton Co., Ontario, Canada
ii Hugh Sturdy MCNEIL born 7 Sep 1894 in Detroit, Wayne Co., Michigan, USA
iii Annie Margaret MCNEIL born 8 Nov 1892 in Detroit, Wayne Co., Michigan, USA.

Alan died young and does not appear after the 1901 census (Sarnia, Lambton).

Hugh Sturdy McNeil turns up in an orphanage (Good Will Home) in Fairfield, Somerset, Maine, USA in 1910.

Annie was living in Port Huron, Wayne Co., Michigan in 1910, with Anthony Beale and his wife Mabel Colwell (Annie's cousin).  Mabel Colwell (Annie's cousin) was the daughter of John Colwell and Anna McNeil.   This Anna McNeil, born 1863 in Ontario, was the daughter of Duncan McNeil and Margaret McDonald and sister of William Allan McNeil.  

The life of the Great Lakes sailor was difficult.

In 1900, working conditions for a sailor were arduous and hazardous with poor compensation.  Seasonal unemployment complicated their already difficult personal finances and living conditions aboard vessels were deficient, lacking any comfort for common seamen.

These poor working conditions coupled with the loneliness during long sailing stood in stark contrast to most working class men during the early part of the 20th century.

1913 Great Lakes Storm Shipwrecks

Weather related shipping disasters were commonplace in the late 19th and early 20th centuries on inland seas.  The height of shipping on the Great Lakes occurred in the late 1800’s into the first half of the 1900’s.   

Ships that sailed on the Great Lakes carried a wide variety of cargo and people.  They carried everything from grains, livestock, iron, coal, lumber, cement, stone and even Christmas trees. 


After Adaline's death in 1908, Allan McNeil spent the rest of his life working as a sailor, and died 07 Mar 1927 in Detroit, Wayne Co., Michigan, USA at age 62.

Allan's life was one of great sadness… his parents and several siblings perished from consumption during the 1880s, he lost his eldest son before he reached adulthood, and his young wife died in her 40s.  While I cannot be sure -- it appears that he may have sailed the world spending long periods away from home.  My father, his grandson, only remembered meeting him one time.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Reel Cowboys of the Santa Susanas -- Andy Devine


Andy Devine (1905–1977) was an American born actor and comic cowboy sidekick best known for his distinctive raspy voice.

He is best-remembered for his role as "Jingles", Guy Madison's sidekick in "The Adventures of Wild Bill Hickok" TV series.

Andy's Santa Susana locations filmography includes:


Noah's Ark (1928) - Dolores Costello, George O'Brien, Noah Beery (Iverson Ranch)  Vitaphone Corp


Stagecoach (1939) - John Wayne, Claire Trevor, Andy Devine (Iverson Ranch) United Artists


Geronimo (1939) - Preston Foster, Ellen Drew, Andy Devine (Iverson Ranch) Paramount


When the Daltons Rode (1940) - Randolph Scott, Kay Francis, Brian Donlevy - Universal


Trail of the Vigilantes (1940) - Franchot Tone, Warren William, Broderick Crawford (Iverson Ranch)(Corriganville) Universal


The Vigilantes Return (1947) - Jon Hall, Margaret Lindsay, Andy Devine, Paula Drew (Iverson Ranch) Universal


Slave Girl (1947) - Yvonne De Carlo, George Brent, Broderick Crawford (Iverson Ranch) Universal


On the Old Spanish Trail (1947) - Roy Rogers, Trigger, Tito GuĂ­zar (Corriganville) Republic


The Fabulous Texan (1947) - Bill Elliott, John Carroll and Catherine McLeod (Iverson Ranch) Republic

Old Los Angeles (1948) - Bill Elliott, John Carroll, Catherine McLeod (Iverson Ranch) Republic

Under California Stars (1948) - Roy Rogers, Trigger, Jane Frazee (Chatsworth) - Republic


The Gallant Legion (1948) - Bill Elliott, Lorna Gray, Joseph Schildkraut (Garden of the Gods) Republic

Grand Canyon Trail (1948) - Roy Rogers, Trigger, Jane Frazee (Iverson Ranch) Republic

The Far Frontier (1948) - Roy Rogers, Trigger, Gail Davis (Iverson Ranch) Republic

The Last Bandit (1949) - Bill Elliott, Lorna Gray, Forrest Tucker (Brandeis Ranch) Republic


The Traveling Saleswoman (1950) - Joan Davis, Andy Devine, Adele Jergens (Iverson) Columbia

New Mexico (1951) - Lew Ayres, Marilyn Maxwell, Robert Hutton (Corriganville) Irving Allen Prod.

Around the World In 80 Days (1956) - David Niven, Cantinflas and Finlay Currie (Iverson Ranch) UA


"Adventures of Wild Bill Hickok" TV Series (1951-1958) 

"Wagon Train" TV Series (1959) 

"How the West Was Won" (1962) - John Wayne, Henry Fonda, James Stewart (Corriganville) MGM

"The Virginian" TV Series (1967)

"Bonanza" TV Series (1968)

"Gunsmoke" TV Series (1969)