Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Reel Cowboys of the Santa Susanas -- Dennis Morgan

Dennis Morgan (1908-1994) was an American born film and television actor and singer.  Dennis is on the right in the photo above -- a promotional still for The Gun That Won the West (1955).  The still was taken on the upper Iverson Ranch in Chatsworth, CA.

His best known Santa Susana locations film is God Is My Co-Pilot.

Dennis Morgan's Santa Susana locations filmography:

Bad Men of Missouri (1941) starring Dennis Morgan, Jane Wyman, Wayne Morris (Iverson Ranch) Warner Bros.

God Is My Co-Pilot (1945) starring Dennis Morgan, Raymond Massey, Dane Clark (Iverson Ranch) Warner Bros.

Gun That Won the West, The (1955) starring Dennis Morgan, Paula Raymond, Richard Denning - Columbia

Friday, January 24, 2014

Horse Themed Watch Fob -- Woodbury Whips

This Woodbury Whip Company advertising watch fob included a horseshoe to suggest good luck if you used their whips and crops.

The Woodbury Whip Company is listed in the History and commerce of Rochester illustrated, (1894), by A.F. Parsons New York, publisher.  A paragraph on page 94 (below), and gives the following description and history of the company:

Woodbury Whips could be obtained from sales representives across the country as is evidenced by the postcard (above) from 1913.  The signage on the hood of the car clearly states Woodbury Whip Company.

The reverse side of this postcard reveals the sales representative is located in Omaha, Nebraska.

Sometime after 1910, the Woodbury Whip Company moved from Rochester, New York to a new home in Westfield, Mass. as is discovered on another postcard from around 1920.

•  •  •

Vintage Woodbury Whip Company watch fobs sell for between $25.00 and $200.00 depending on condition.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Great Granddad was a Cheesehead

John Galway Brown, my 2nd great grandfather, was born 8 Aug 1833 in Philadelphia, Jefferson County, New York.

He was still living in Philadelphia, Jefferson County, New York during the time of his marriage to Lucy Passino (Pinsonneau) on 23 Jan 1861.

John Galloway Brown was a Cheesemaker

In 1863 -- according to the U.S., Civil War Draft Registrations -- we learn he is exempted from service because he is handicapped with poor vision (near and cross sighted -- very bad).  We also learn his trade is that of a Cheesemaker.

Sometime before 1867, he removed to Bradford, Rock County, Wisconsin (Post Office Clinton).  We know a son named Harvey was born there in 1867.

Cheesemaking in Wisconsin

Most of the earliest commercial dairy operations in Wisconsin made cheese because it kept longer than milk or butter at a time when storage and transportation was limited.

Wisconsin dairy operations experienced a revolution of industrial development between 1860 and 1890, moving out of the farmstead and into the factory, due to the increased demand for dairy products and the move from wheat to dairy.  

Factory organization of cheesemaking grew out of the conscious effort to improve the production of cheese.  Almost all of these early factory men were New Yorkers who brought their talents with them to Wisconsin (source:

On to Montana

John Galloway Brown and his wife Lucy ultimately homesteaded near their sons in Montana before 1910.  John died 28 Mar 1915 in Creston, Flathead County, Montana.

Judging from this photo of John's daughter-in-law Neva Plympton Brown the family continued to own dairy cows and engage in cheese-making.

Neva's daughter -- my grandma -- sold fruit and home packaged butter from her farm in Lewiston, Idaho until the 1930s.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Reel Cowboys of the Santa Susanas -- Ken Curtis

Ken Curtis (1916 – 1991) was an American born Country and Western singer and B-Western actor.  He was best known for his role as Festus Haggen on the long-running Gunsmoke television series (1955 - 1975).  Before becoming an actor Curtis performed with the popular Sons of the Pioneers from 1949 to 1953 as well as singing with the Tommy Dorsey band.

Santa Susana location filmography includes:

Don Daredevil Rides Again (1951) [serial] starring Ken Curtis, Aline Towne, Roy Barcroft and Lane Bradford (Iverson Ranch) Republic

Escort West (1958) starring Victor Mature, Elaine Stewart, Faith Domergue and Reba Waters (Iverson Ranch)(Corriganville) United Artists

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

Pony Express Rider (1976) starring Stewart Petersen, Henry Wilcoxon and Buck Taylor (Iverson Ranch) Doty-Dayton

"The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp" (TV Series) -- episode: Warpath (1957)

"Wagon Train" (TV Series) -- episodes: The Colter Craven Story (1960) and The Horace Best Story (1960)

"Have Gun - Will Travel" (TV Series) -- episodes: Pandora's Box (1962), Soledad Crossing (1961), Love's Young Dream (1960), The Naked Gun (1959) and The Posse (1959)

"Death Valley Days" (TV Series) -- episode: Graydon's Charge (1964)

"Gunsmoke" (TV Series) -- 304 episodes as Festus / Festus Haggen / Festus Haggin (1959 - 1975)

Monday, January 6, 2014

Great Granddad was a Victorian Coachman

William Avery (1819-1902) was my 2nd great grandfather.  His occupation was that of a Coachman, and historical records suggest he was most likely employed by a wealthy family in Lee Park, Manor Park, or Lee Road in the London suburb of Lee, Kent, England during the the victorian era between 1844 and about 1875.

At age 20, he was listed on the 1841 census as a servant employed at the Chatham Barracks in Gillingham, Chatham, England.  Perhaps he was a stable-boy, groom or even an apprentice coachman.

Three years later, at the time of his marriage in 1844, he was identified as a Coachman on his marriage banns.  Later on Lee and Lewisham, London, England census records for 1851, 1861 and 1871 he is listed as a coachman.

Victorian London Travel

In Victorian London (1837-1901) most people got around on foot.  In fact, a distance of five or six miles -- one way -- was often traveled daily to work, the marketplace, or to church.  Only the wealthy upper class had the means to travel by horse.  Coach travel was not only expensive, but it was sometimes dangerous and almost always uncomfortable.  Roads were poor, streets were crowded, highwaymen roamed the countryside and the costs to own a carriage and horses was excessive. 

The actual price of a carriage was not prohibitive, but when you add in the cost of horses, feeding them, a place to stable horses in London, along with wages for a coachman, outriders, and grooms the cost becomes prohibitive for all but the landed gentry and aristocracy.

Duties of the coachman in private employ

The coachman was in charge of the stables in the manor house.  He would possess great skill in driving, and a good general knowledge of horses.  He was responsible for the purchase of feed and grain, and he made sure the horses are properly fed and regularly groomed.  He was required to watch over condition of horses, apply remedies for ailments as necessary, and would report more serious symptoms when he did not have the skill to treat them.  He has expected to clean the coach himself, or see that the stable-boy did it properly.  The coachman was expected to have horses and coach ready to travel within twenty minutes of notice.

The Coach

A coach is a large, enclosed, four-wheeled carriage with two or more horses harnessed as a team, driven by a coachman.  Coaches generally had a front and a back seat inside, and a small, elevated, seat for the driver in front called a coach box.  A coach might have a built-in compartment called a boot, and a luggage case for the top of a coach called an imperial.  A coach with four horses was called a coach-and-four, and weighs a ton.  Horses were changed every ten miles.  A coach together with the horses, harness and attendants is a turnout.  

There were many different types of coaches including the private 'Road coach', the 'Hackney coach', the 'Clarence coach' (also known as the the “growler” thanks to the noise its wheels made on the cobblestoned streets), the Hansom cab (a fast and nimble transport for gents), and of course the highly romanticized 'Royal Mail Coach' which was used for carrying the mails.  

Mail coaches also carried a few passengers, and traveled 100 to 120 miles in a day stopping only to change horses and drop off mail.  Outside passengers (exposed to the weather) paid half the fare of inside passengers.

In driving a coach, the coachman used a coachwhip, usually provided with a long lash.  Experienced coachmen never used the lash on their horses. They flicked the whip near the ear of the leaders to give them the suggestion to move on, or cracked it next to their flank to ask for increased speed. 

Coachmen and coach passengers might have worn a box coat, a heavy wool overcoat with or without shoulder capes, they were used when riding on the box seat, exposing them to all kinds of foul weather.

A coach horse or coacher is used or adapted for drawing a coach, as it is typically heavier and of more compact build than a road horse.  They were stylish and showed wonderful action.  Coach horse breeds included the Breton, German Oldenburg, Hanoverian, Holsteiner Warmblood, and the Yorkshire Coach Horse.

Sometimes an extra horse, called a cockhorse, was led behind a coach so that it could be hitched before the regular team to assist in passing over steep or difficult terrain.

Coaches were sometimes accompanied by a Dalmatian dog (also known as a coach dog or carriage dog).  They would discourage highwaymen and chase off loose animals.

A coach house was a building for keeping a private carriage in and it often also included stabling for the horses and accommodation for coachman, groom or other servants; it was usually an outbuilding on an estate or adjacent to a large house. 

A coaching inn, also called coaching house, located along a route followed by horse-drawn coaches, served coach travelers and offered stabling for the horses of stagecoaches and a place to change horses.

Help from a Riding Master?

William had an older brother that was the Riding Master at Hastings St Mary in the Castle in Sussex.  Perhaps he was responsible for helping William become a coachman.

Eastdown Park, Lee, Kent

From sometime before 1861, and after 1871 William and his family lived in Eastdown Park very near the Lee Manor House and other English 'Country Houses' in Lee, Kent (the map above is dated 1872).

Perhaps my interest in driving a horse has been passed down in the family genes.  The photo above is Biggs, our miniature horse, with his Meadowbrook Cart.


Paintings by Charles Cooper Henderson and James Pollard are in the public domain.
Definitions and historical material are from Wikipedia.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Reel Little Cowboy of the Santa Susanas -- Tommy Ivo

Tommy Ivo (1936 - ) -- also known as "TV Tommy" -- is an American film and television actor who was also a drag racer active in the 1960s racing community. 

Between the mid 1940s and the early 1960s Tommy was a child actor who won roles in many B-Western films and television shows lensed in the Santa Susana Mountains.

Tommy's Santa Susana locations filmography:

Song of Arizona (1946) starring Roy Rogers, Trigger, George 'Gabby' Hayes (Iverson Ranch) Republic

Trail to Laredo (1948) starring Charles Starrett, Jim Bannon and Virginia Maxey starring Columbia

Laramie (1949) starring Charles Starrett, Fred F. Sears and Tommy Ivo (Fort Apache)(Silvertown)(Corriganville) Columbia 

Outcasts of the Trail (1949) starring Monte Hale, Paul Hurst, Jeff Donnell (Iverson Ranch) Republic

Feudin' Rhythm (1949) starring Eddy Arnold, Gloria Henry, Kirby Grant, Isabel Randolph starring Corriganville

Horsemen of the Sierras (1949) starring Charles Starrett, Smiley Burnette, T. Texas Tyler (Iverson Ranch) Columbia

Trail of the Rustlers (1950) starring Charles Starrett, Gail Davis, Tommy Ivo (Iverson Ranch) Columbia

Al Jennings of Oklahoma (1951) starring Dan Duryea, Gale Storm, Dick Foran (Iverson Ranch) Columbia

Snake River Desperadoes (1951) starring Charles Starrett, Don Reynolds, Tommy Ivo (Iverson Ranch) Columbia

"The Hills of Utah" (1951) starring Gene Autry, Pat Buttram, Elaine Riley (Iverson Ranch)(Corriganville) Columbia

"The Rough, Tough West" (1952) starring Charles Starrett, Jock Mahoney, Carolina Cotton (Iverson Ranch) Columbia

"The Gene Autry Show" (TV Series) episode: The Doodle Bug (1950)

"The Range Rider" (TV Series) episode: The Secret Lode (1951)

"Hopalong Cassidy" (TV Series) episode: Marked Cards (1952)

"The Lone Ranger" (TV Series) episode: Heart of a Cheater (1955)

"Adventures of Wild Bill Hickok" (TV Series) episodes: Blake's Kid (1955); episode: Johnny Deuce (1951); The Dog Collar Story (1951)

"The Adventures of Jim Bowie" (TV Series) episodes: Outlaw Kingdom (1956); Jim Bowie Comes Home (1956)