The Havilah Herald

Official Publication of the Havilah Centennial Group, Inc.

aka The Havilah Historical Society and Museum

Havilah California – June 2024

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.





Some items on my to-do list is to get our fire extinguishers inspected and order the projection screen, both of which I should have done by our next meeting.  It pays to review meeting minutes to remind ourselves what we’re supposed to be doing.  One other item I’ll be working on is to review the files in the back room of the Courthouse.  I will probably discover items that we can dispose to make more space available.

That’s all of the wisdom I can muster, so I’ll see everyone at our next meeting on June 8th.

Roy Fluhart, President









Excerpts from “Desert Bonanza” by
Marcia Rittenhouse Wynn, Chapter 2
“Big Time Desert Mining”, pgs 32-33
(Borrowed, “stolen,”  by Al Price)


Now students, for educational purposes —– I was rereading Desert Bonanza the other day, and spotted a cute little story involving Havilah:


At Salt Lake (Kane Dry Lake), at the bottom of the Rand Mountain grade, borax recovery had already commenced, and this deposit made its way into The Los Angeles Evening Express newspaper on March 26, 1873:

“A very extensive borate deposit has been found in Kern County, at a distance of about 120 miles from this city. The deposits discovered by Mr. H.J. Lent lie about 3 miles off the Owens River Road, near H. Ball’s station at Desert Springs …”

The editor of the Havilah Miner went down from the mountains to investigate this not-too-far-off borax excitement. Returning, he learned a little about borax, and a great deal about the disappointing menus he’d been forced to subsist on during his several-days-stay at Desert Station.  The editor, we are led to believe from his diatribe, lived very well at home, and was a frontier gourmet of no low degree.     From the April 19, 1873, Havilah Miner he wrote:

“…The springs are white sulphur but the taste of the sulphur is not objectionable; they are on the west side of the (Kane) lake. Four miles north of Ball’s station (this station was just south of the dry lake) is the proper place and will be the site of the new town of ‘BORITANA.’”  Here, Mr. Chapman proposes erecting his works for the reduction of borate …

He saved his real editorial zeal for his dissertation upon the food and liquid shortcomings of the station:

“With the exception of a clean bed, Desert Springs station is the biggest bilk of a place that we ever struck.  Everybody with whom we came in contact entertained ideas of this character and expressed them in very fiery terms. That is, they coupled the infernal regions in their remarks. The bar was well stocked with NOTHING except bad whiskey and stale, highly watered claret, which was modestly dispensed to gentlemen who were accustomed to having the genuine article …”

And so throughout the article a good portion was taken up with the terrible experience of having to eat pork, in its various manifestations, three times a day, every day.  Evidently a beef man, himself, the editor felt he’d had enough pork to last him a lifetime.  He did suddenly recall his duty to his subscribers at the end of this article, in a postscript, in which he mentioned he and his party had met some ‘boraters’ from Death Valley, and mentioned their names.

(The article never mentioned the Editor’s name – Hope you enjoyed it! — Al)


The following article from The Old Time’s Column was published in the Wofford Heights Kern River Valley Review by The Ghost Writer (Edith Long, whose parents were Jim and Pearl Bechtel), dated July 1, 1971:

Some years ago the Kernville Chamber of Commerce hosted the “Liar’s Contest” during the Whiskey Flat Days celebration.  Following are three winning entries:

Number one winner by C. A. Lance of Bakersfield entitled DAM CREATION:

‘Twas back in the year 1849 that the feudin’ started between the Whiskey Flat boys and the Isabellians.  The Whiskey Flat boys threw so many rocks at Isabella that by 1948 the government stepped in and proclaimed a rock dam in the name of the Corps of Engineers.

Now, all the Isabellians knew that a dam is not worth a darn without water, so, all the townspeople got brooms and went down to Bakersfield and started sweeping all the surplus water eastward towards Isabella.  Fact is, they swept this water 47 miles up the Kern Canyon, then over the top of the dam and thus created Lake Isabella.  *  *  *

The Second prize went to James (Nick) Maroney of Bakersfield for his entry:

Not too many years ago a wealthy Englishman came to this country on a hunting trip, and upon inquiring about the best hunting area, was advised to try near the town of Whiskey Flat, CA.  Not being familiar with the animals native to this country, he enlisted the aid of the local sheriff to identify the animals he shot.

The first day he shot an animal with two long ears and a round fluffy tail and was advised by the local sheriff that he had shot a jack rabbit.  The next day he shot a small animal with a long bushy tail and was told he had shot a ground squirrel.

The next day he came into the sheriff’s office and described his latest victim as being of a large size, very, very dirty, and smelled so bad he had to get up-wind from the critter before he could observe it.  The sheriff sprang from his chair with alarm and cried…“My Gosh, you have just shot the mayor of Whiskey Flat!” *  *  *

The Third prize went to Ray Peeks of New Cuyama:

One hot August day I was hoeing weeds in my garden.  I ran across a big rattlesnake lying under some pea vines, so I started to tease the snake with my hoe handle.  Suddenly the snake struck the hoe handle and almost immediately the hoe-handle began to swell.

Within two hours the handle had swelled to such proportions that there was no equipment large enough to remove the hoe from my garden, so I built a saw mill on the spot, sawed the handle up and built a six-bedroom house, a two-car garage and some out-buildings.

Everything was fine until the next spring.  I went out of town for a few days and when I returned the swelling had gone out of the lumber and all I had left was a bunch of nails sticking up in the air.  *  *  *



President –                                Roy Fluhart

Vice President –                        Larry Grafius

Secretary –                                Vicki Porter

Treasurer –                                Jayne-Hotchkiss-Price

Directors:                                 Bob Porter

Wes Kutzner

Immediate Past President          Jayne Hotchkiss-Price

Newsletter Editor –                    Janet Kutzner



Annual membership is $25.00 per individual or family when monthly newsletter is emailed.  If newsletter is snail-mailed the membership fee is $35.00.  The 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.