The Havilah Herald

Official Publication of the Havilah Centennial Group, Inc.

aka The Havilah Historical Society and Museum

Havilah California – January 2019

A recognized 501 C 3 non-profit Historical Organization (all donations are 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.


                   The Prez Sez for January 2019


Happy New Year everyone!  Boy what an interesting year we had in 2018. You really missed out if you weren’t around for the 4th and 5th graders from the South Fork School giving their historical character presentations. Maybe we can get some of them to our History Day in Havilah in October.

We had a really good turnout for our Christmas Party on Dec. 8th. There were also several new members and a couple of older members who made it there for the very first time. C’mon back! We also collected many great toys for the children up here in the mountains who wouldn’t otherwise have a Christmas. THANK YOU EVERYONE! And a special thank you to everyone who came and helped us decorate the School House for Christmas, and to Wes and Janet for supplying us with an additional string of mini-lights so we could finish decorating the windows. We came up about 20 ft short. I think somehow some of the bulbs missing from last year got put on the Christmas tree. The School House really looked nice all lit up. People were stopping and taking photos at night after the lights came on.

The holiday seasons are always busy. Jayne and I had to shuffle off right after our holiday pot luck on the 8th so we could attend the S.A.R.G. (Sequoia Amateur Radio Group) dinner and holiday party at the Elks Lodge in Wofford Heights by 6 pm. I was debating whether to go or not, but after paying the $50 per couple for dinners, we went. Lucky thing that we did too. Jayne won the Door Prize, a new Yaesu Ham Radio for her truck, about a $280 radio, and I also won a money prize. I don’t know how much it was. It was either $75, $50, or $25, but whatever it was, I donated it back to the club. They are a 501 C 3 non-profit too, and I know how precious money can be to a non-profit.

We know we’ll have a lot of good times in Havilah again this year. Our first monthly meeting will be at the Havilah School House, 3 pm, on Saturday, Jan. 12th.  See you there!

—– Prez Al

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                  JUDGE BENJAMIN BRUNDAGE and the industrial Cowboys:

                             THE WATER WAR OF KERN COUNTY

(from Bakersfield Life Magazine, Sep. 2018)

When Benjamin Brundage moved to Havilah in 1865 he had no clue he would preside over California’s first water war.

Originally from McCutchenville, Ohio, Brundage made his way to the West Coast shortly before the end of the Civil War in 1864.  Although he originally settled in San Francisco, Kern’s gold rush lured him to Havilah.  Once there he set up a small law firm and within a year, he helped establish Havilah as the seat of Kern County,  When the seat was moved to Bakersfield in 1874, Brundage; his wife, Mary; and their three sons, Ben, Frank, and George, settled into cottage where the Padre Hotel now stands.

The Dec. 15, 1871, Kern County Weekly Courier described Brundage as “one of those men who carry with them an important influence and was always a true and faithful friend.”  He was a well liked and respected member of the community in both Havilah and Bakersfield.  His reputation as a fair and judicious man earned him a spot as a member of the 1878 Constitutional Convention. and he was subsequently chosen as the first Superior Court judge in Kern County.

It is said that wars are fought over water and on April 15, 1881, one of the most important cases regarding water rights in California started in Brundage’s courtroom.

The battle between Lux v. Haggin was the first and greatest water suit to take place in California and had a lasting effect on Kern County.  Although commonly known as Lux v. Haggin, the suit actually included nine plaintiffs and 86 canal corporations as the defendants.  The case was a fight between these industrial cowboys over what determined the ownership of water – riparian rights or prior appropriation.

Riparian rights are one of the oldest established laws regarding water access.  The old English law held that owners of land adjacent to a water source are entitled to reasonable use of that water.  Both the plaintiff and the defendants had amassed large quantities of land throughout Kern County.  A battle then ensued over the rights to the water of the Kern River.

Henry Miller and Charles Lux, the plaintiffs, argued they had the right to the water on their land through riparian rights.  James Ben-Ali Haggin, the defendant, argued that the law of appropriation had been used from the days of the Gold Rush in the placers.  His side further argued that the land-owners adjacent to the rivers could appropriate the water and carry it through ditches to the land below the level of the streams, as he and the other defendants had done.   The rule of prior appropriation also means the first user had the right to the water.  Brundage ruled in favor of the defendants on Nov. 3, 1861, as “no continuous or defined channel” existed on the plaintiffs’ land, therefore, riparian law did not apply.

Brundage’s ruling would not be the final word on the case.  Miller and Lux eventually prevailed in 1886 after a series of appeals overturned Brundage’s initial ruling.  When Brundage passed away in 1911, his friends and colleagues honored the man who presided over the “most important case of its kind, in point of magnitude and legal question, ever tried in any court in California.”

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                                              ANOTHER VERSION OF THE

                                                   HARLEY MINE STORY

(And in MY opinion, is closer to the truth….Al Price)

I retired in 2008 and moved up to the Kern River Valley.  Another few years went by and I paid a visit to the Museum in Kernville.  I had purchased and read all of the Bob Powers books about local history.  Museum Docent and Kern River Valley Historical Society officers, Vicki & Rod Middleworth were on museum duty that day, and before I left I had volunteered to become a member and museum docent (museum tour guide) myself.

Upon becoming a docent, Vicki handed me a booklet, “Museum Tour” — and guess what, I still have it.  Pages 9 and 10 of the 12-page booklet are about the Harley mine.  In November’s publication of The Havilah Herald you heard the story as written: in Historic Legends of the Kern River Valley…Bi-Centennial Series. (1975).  Now I’m going to give you the KRV Historical Society’s version, right out of their museum handbook.  And folks, I’d sooner believe this version over the other one since you can see the “tailings” of the Harley Mine from the front yard of the museum!  Here goes:  (Sorry, but the editor in me makes me add some clarification or corrections periodically.  My useless/useful remarks will be in BLUE.  I’d rather use RED, ‘cuz I’m a Clamper, but red always indicated to me “a mistake”.  I’m not saying here that these are mistakes … just my own opinions or observations.  Heaven knows I don’t want Vicki mad at me!)


The Harley Mine can be seen from the corner of the yard, but the view is better from the front of the Museum. The mine can be pinpointed by looking through the groove of the Bull Wheel where the mountain and the sky intersect (in the V of the bull wheel).  There is a PVC tube mounted in the V of the bull wheel at the front of the museum that you can look through to see the tailings quicker.  Just an FYI, a Bull Wheel is the main driving wheel mounted up at the mine that the cable is wrapped around to transport the mining buckets up and down the mountain – also called the MAIN Wheel.  The yellow material seen in the small valley directly below is the tailings (leftover mining trash) of that mine. Charles Harley (not John), in the late 1800’s got into a bar room brawl in “Whiskey Flat” one night.  During the altercation he shot the town Bully, and, thinking that he killed him went to the mountains to hide.  While he was up there he discovered gold, so he went back to Kernville (how did he get to Kernville if he was in Whiskey Flat?  Yes folks, I know Kernville was the new name for Whiskey Flat in 1864 — but he left Whiskey Flat, I don’t think it became Kernville while he was up on the mountain — but, let us continue….) to face the music and found out the Bully was only slightly wounded, and all was forgiven.  The two became friends, and as the story has it, the Bully became his foreman.  They both worked the mine, and a mule trail was built up the steep and rocky terrain.  Incidentally, the trail – over 100 years old – is still in excellent shape and leads directly to the mine.  But even then, bringing the ore from the mine to the mill at Camp Owen by way of the mule train was too labor intensive.  (Oops — I’m sure you mean “where Camp Owen is today”, it wasn’t around in the mid 1800’s)  So, Charlie went to San Francisco and engaged the services of an engineer called Halliday.  Halliday was the designer of the cable car system in San Francisco.  Here he engineered a 3-mile continuous loop cable system that went from the Harley Mine to what is now Camp Owen Boys Camp (see, I told you!).  There was a large Bull Wheel up at the Harley Mine and one down at Camp Owen.  Every so many feet was an ore bucket, which, when filled with ore, would move from the Harley down to Camp Owen, automatically dumping the ore next to the Stamp Mill.  The weight of the buckets of ore coming down provided the power to move the empty buckets, men, and supplies back up to the Harley Mine.  Because of the rugged terrain, the cable supports were always suspect.  After only a few years of operation, the cable snapped, killing several miners and the Harley operation was shut down forever.  The mine is still open and can still be reached by the mule trail which starts behind the James Market and snakes its way uphill to the mine.  The trail has been maintained and marked by the Kern Valley Hiking Club.  It can be reached in two and a half very tough hours.

Up there you will find the cleared and flattened area where the old machine shop was, the remains of the Harley cabin, and the old chimney still standing.  It can be found about 100 yards beyond the Harley mine.  The mine itself, its tailings, and the incredible view make the trip worthwhile.  It is recommended that only experienced hikers and persons in excellent shape attempt the climb. (Special permission of the land owner is required to use this trail.)


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The following sign hangs in the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, MI.  The lack of Women’s Rights in the 1800’s does resemble the lack of rights of Muslim women today.  (Editor’s note:  “We’ve come a long way, baby!):


                                            WOMEN’S RIGHTS DENIED

In the 1880’s, American women had fewer rights

than a male inmate in an insane asylum.


  • VOTE



  • Sign a Contract
  • Own or Inherit Property
  • Keep or Invest Her Own Earnings
  • Have Automatic Rights to Her Children


  • Center Their Lives Around Family and Home
  • Obey Husbands in all Matters
  • Not Voice Strong Opinions in Public
  • Behave in a Refined, Polite Way


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President:         Al Price                          661/867-2414         email

Vice President  Larry Grafius                 661/867-2579

Secretary          Roy Fluhart                    928/308- 1863        email

Treasurer          Jayne Hotchkiss-Price    661/867-2414         email

Directors (2)         Lana Grafius               661/867-2579

                               Wes Kutzner              760/379-2636

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

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.  They 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