The Havilah Herald

                           FOR July 2018

                                                  Official Publication of the Havilah Centennial Group, Inc.  aka The Havilah Historical Society and Museum

                                                                           Havilah, California 

                                      A recognized 501 C 3 Historical Organization (all donations are 100% tax-deductible)

                                                   Dedicated to the preservation of the history of Havilah, The First County Seat of Kern County, CA


 Our Purpose:

The purpose of this corporation is educational.  The organization has been formed and is maintained to research, document, preserve, and share the historic legacy of the town of Havilah, California, and of Kern County, California.  Included in this purpose is the objective to provide for the advancement of education about the history of Havilah and early Kern County to the local community at large and to any and all visitors to the community.


ROSTERS:  The 2018 Havilah Historical Society Rosters are now available.  You may get one from your President, Al (when he gets them), or Secretary, Janet; or a roster can be emailed to you at your request.  Or, better yet, come to the next meeting and receive one!  The next regularly scheduled meeting will be Saturday, July 14 at 3 pm at the Havilah Schoolhouse.  Refreshments will be provided thanks to recently renewed member, Ted Brummer.





When visiting or passing through Havilah, have you noted the old broken safe displayed in front of the courthouse and wondered about the history of it?


According to an old newspaper clipping from The Bakersfield Californian, dated August 14, 1965, this safe was discovered by Cleone Shaw on her and husband, Frank’s, property in Havilah. 


This safe with its door blasted away had been uncovered in the basement of a building that once housed a blacksmith shop and livery stable.


Cleone was looking for artifacts on her property when her shovel struck a metallic object.  It turned out to be the door of the safe.  Her husband, Frank, was a miner by trade and some quick work with a pick and shovel uncovered the rest of the steel strong box.


He dug up a lot of other things, too.  Most of these objects, such as a cap and ball pistol, a bullet mold, spurs, and an assortment of horseshoes, were not out of place in a building that served as the village smithy.  But some others, including perfume vials, whiskey bottles and patent medicine flasks hardly fit the picture in a generation used to television’s portrayal of the western blacksmithing establishment.


Some bones were found near the safe, but whether these belonged to a long-dead safecracker or his accomplice is not known.  That there was a fire which was hot enough to damage much of the glass found nearby is certain.  The bones were partly charred and a quantity of paper and wood ash was found in the interior of the safe.


From the damage to the safe’s door, it is evident that blast that knocked it off its hinges was no small one.  An official at the scene conjectured the safe burglar may have been too enthusiastic in setting his charge and could have been fatally injured in the explosion.  This could account for the pistol and spurs found at the scene.


Present at the raising of the blasted safe from its resting place were several county officials.  Among them were Supervisor LeRoy Jackson; Alan Pettit, Board of Trade president; Joe Gannon, a Board of Trade director; James Radoumis, Board of Trade executive vice president; Richard Bailey, Kern County Museum director, and Herbert Evans, superintendent of Kern County Parks and Recreation Department.  The safe was raised from its ancient burial place in the old basement by use of a winch and skid system.


If a crime was involved in the events that led to the blasting of the safe, investigators say it would be difficult to trace without extensive research.  However, despite the deep rust over most of its steel surface, easily discernible manufacturer’s marks and patent dates are present.                                                                                                        *  *  *  *  *




I’m baaaack!  And I want to thank our V.P. Larry for filling in for me for the last few meetings.  It’s been pretty busy already since returning.  The lock on the front door of the Court House broke, and guess what?  There was no other way in.  The side door has two slide bolts on the inside and was not keyed the same as the front door (couldn’t be keyed alike because they were Schlage locks, while the front door is a Qwikset).  Luckily, I used to be a Locksmith and still have some of the tools.  So, V.P. Larry and I met at the Court House museum on Monday, drilled out the old front door lock, and replaced it with a new Qwikset lock that I rekeyed to the same old key that all the docents have, then we took off the side door slide bolts and installed two new Qwikset locks, and also rekeyed them to the common key we all have.


That being done, I also noticed someone has removed the light bulb and bulb cover that we just installed above the side door a few months ago. I’ll get those replaced later on this week (Done, 07/02/2018).


Have you seen the new construction going on at the Old Havilah cemetery?  Well, as most of you know, we contacted the Catholic Diocese in Fresno in 2015; they searched their records and found out they still own the cemetery and the property in front of it and behind it.  Carlos Rascon, the Diocese cemetery manager for all the Catholic cemeteries around here has brought a crew in, and is putting up new fencing, plus doing a little re-leveling and other maintenance work at what is really known as the Saint Joseph cemetery, but we call it the Old Havilah cemetery.  Carlos is planning on putting up a replica Catholic Church on the property, and says he even has some old stained-glass windows he plans on using. He says he’s planning on an aluminum inner structure but would like to find some old wood that he can use on the outside to make it more authentic looking.


Jayne has been in contact with the folks who are working on the Isabella Dam project.  There were a few old structures over there that the Corps of Engineers were scheduled to take down very shortly, and Jayne got approval from one of the Engineers for us to get a crew together to go over and pick up some of that old wood and take it over to Wes & Janet’s ranch to store until Carlos needs it.  Well, just like most things governmental, the right hand didn’t know what the left hand was doing.  We got a work party together (Jayne, myself, Roy Fluhart, Manfred Ochsner, Red Bolt, Larry and Lana Grafius).  We all went to the site, expecting to find the buildings gently pushed over so we could salvage the wood, but as I said, the right hand didn’t tell the left hand that the wood was to be salvaged, so the demolition crew “demolished” the old buildings really well and only left splinters of wood.  Truthfully, we were able to get a few pieces, but not much.


Anyway, another Engineer showed up, wanting to know who we were, and what we were doing there.  This guy, Lee, was the man in charge of all the demolition work.  He said the other Engineer didn’t tell him about our plans, but if we wanted the wood from the remaining two shacks that are still standing, he will have his guys “be gentler this time”, and simply knock the buildings over, then he will call us and have us come out to see if there is anything that we can use.  He said he can’t knock them down right now because there are some birds living in at least one of them, but they should be gone in about a week.  I don’t know how he knows that, but we will await his call.  Thank you, guys and gals, for showing up the last time to offer your help.  We may have to call you again.  Carlos and the Diocese appreciate the help too!  How about that, one more replica for Havilah!


See you all at the meeting on the 14th. It will probably be too hot to stay for a PowerPoint program afterwards, but I’ll have the equipment with me just in case.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             See you there, Al


Following is another article  from the Old Timer’s Column published in the Wofford Heights Kern River Valley Review by Ghost Writer Edith Long (parents: Jim and Pearl Bechtel) on September 18, 1969:


…I remember the huge sheep drives that used to set out through the Valley every Spring.  Old Timers, can you recall getting caught among thousands of sheep while driving your car to South Fork or perhaps when you were coming to old Isabella from Onyx or Weldon?  Either way you had to inch your way through these huge flocks of baaing sheep with the clouds of dust billowing into the air by their hooves on the unpaved road.  In addition to the thousands of sheep there would be goats (of which one was a lead-goat), and pack burros that carried the sheepherder’s supplies and gear along with several well trained sheep dogs.  The herd was healthier with goats in it, which also provided food for the herder.  The burros could be found anywhere among the sheep, patiently carrying their loads from the time they were packed in the morning until camp was made before sundown.  As a rule, the dogs had been with the herd since they were pups, as their training began early.  One herder was in charge of these huge herds grazing on the hills around Bakersfield.  When that grass was gone they began their long drive up what is now the River Road, and through the Kern Valley, on over Walker’s Pass and out into the desert.


In the early days of these drives the River Road was not generally used by cars coming into the Kern River Valley.  The main road was over Caliente, Havilah, and Bodfish grades.  The only road cars had trouble getting through these herds was after leaving Old Isabella and heading towards Weldon or Onyx.  The driver could always tell when he was going to find sheep ahead by the huge dust cloud hanging over the road.  In those days this was strictly cattle country with barbed wire fences lining the narrow dirt road that was really just a lane.  So the thousands of sheep restrained between these roadside fences caused them to be stretched out for several miles.  It was a time-consuming job to get through them.  After traveling at a snail’s pace with many stops, but with the help of the sheepherder and the wonderful sheep dogs, one finally made it through, but covered with dust.  Closed-in cars were unknown in those days!


As South Fork Valley was a strict cattle domain, it was quite a surprise to see cattle ranches with sheep grazing in their fields near the ranch houses after the sheep drives were over in the Spring.  However, the explanation for cattlemen having sheep is that some of the lambs were not strong enough to keep up with the flock, and these were found by the ranchers and taken home to be fed and cared for.  Sometimes the older sheep would crawl under the bottom wire of the fences and be left behind as the herders did not have time to round them up.  He had to keep the herd moving and into open grazing land to bed down for the night. *  *  *  *




Jake, the rancher, went one day

to fix a distant fence.

The wind was cold and gusty

and the clouds rolled gray and dense.


As he pounded the last staples in

and gathered tools to go,

the temperature had fallen,

and snow began to blow.


When he finally reached his pickup,

he felt a heavy heart.

From the sound of that ignition

he knew it wouldn’t start.


So Jake did what most of us

would do if we were there.

He humbly bowed his balding head

and sent aloft a prayer.


As he turned the key the last time,

he softly cursed his luck.

They found him three days later,

frozen stiff in that old truck.


Now Jake had been around in life

and done his share of roaming.

But when he saw Heaven, he was shocked –

It looked just like Wyoming!


Of all the saints in Heaven,

His favorite was St. Peter,

So they sat and talked a minute or two,

or maybe it was three.

Nobody was keepin’ score –

In Heaven, time is free.


“I’ve always heard,” Jake said to Pete,

“that God will answer prayer,

But the one time I asked for help,

well, he just wasn’t there.


Does God answer prayers of some,

and ignore the prayers of others?

That don’t seem exactly square –

I know all men are brothers.


Or does he randomly reply

without good rhyme or reason?

Maybe, it’s the time of day,

the weather, or the season.


Now I ain’t tryin’ to act smart,

It’s just the way I feel.

And I was wonderin’, could you tell me,

what the heck’s the deal?!”


St. Peter listened very patiently,

and when Jake was done,

there were smiles of recognition,

and he said, “So you’re the one!!”


That day your truck, it wouldn’t start,

and you sent your prayer a flyin’.

You gave us all a real bad time,

with hundreds of us tryin’.


A thousand angels rushed

to check the status of your file,

but you know, Jake, we hadn’t heard

from you in quite a while.


And though all prayers are answered,

and God ain’t got no quota,

He didn’t recognize your voice,

and started a truck in Minnesota!!”


                   The above ‘Cowboy Poetry’ poem was written by Dan Horn, and submitted by ‘Doc’ Lange of Kern Valley Veterinary Clinic.  Thanks, Doc.



                                            BUT KEEP IN MIND WHAT MY OLD BOSS TOLD ME — COMPLAIN TOO MUCH, AND THE JOB IS YOURS !




President:                                                 Al Price                  661/867-2414         email

Vice President                                         Larry Grafius         661/867-2579

Secretary                                                 Janet Kutzner         760/379-2636         email

Treasurer                                       J         Jayne Price             661/867-2414         email

Directors                                                 Lana Grafius          661/867-2579

                                                                 Mark Mutz             661/867-2808         email

Immediate Past President/Editor      Janet Kutzner         760/379-2636         email


Annual membership is $25.00 per individual or family. Membership year is from January 1 to December 31. The Courthouse Museum and Schoolhouse are open from April 1 through Sep. 30 on weekends from 11 am until 3 pm, and by appointment.  We are located at 6789 Caliente-Bodfish Road, Havilah, CA 93518.

Admission to the museum is FREE, but donations are cheerfully accepted, (and 100% tax-deductible!). The monthly general meeting is at 3 pm the second Saturday of each month at the Havilah Schoolhouse.




6789 Caliente-Bodfish Road

Havilah, CA 93518