The Havilah Herald

Official Publication of the Havilah Centennial Group, Inc.

aka The Havilah Historical Society and Museum

Havilah California – December 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 December 2019

 

HO, HO, HO and a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all!  As you know, we don’t normally have a regular business meeting in December but will hold our annual holiday party in its place on the second Saturday (Dec. 14th) at the School house at 3 pm.  Please bring an UNWRAPPED CHRISTMAS GIFT for the local children toy drive and some munchies for us big kids at the party.

 

Nobody decided to run against us, so you are stuck with your same crew of officers that you had last year, and for most of us, for the last three years (or more):

 

 

President                                                                        Al Price

Vice President                                                                Larry Grafius

Chief Financial Officer/Treasurer                               Jayne Hotchkiss-Price

Secretary/Recorder                                                      Roy Fluhart

Director                                                                         Lana Grafius

Director                                                                         Wes Kutzner

Immediate Past President/Newsletter Editor          Janet Kutzner

 

Seriously, it is an honor and a pleasure to represent such a fine group of hard-working people.  It is amazing all that has been done to and for Havilah by its members and officers over just the last few years.  THANKS TO YOU ALL (you all)!  Our Treasurer has asked me to remind everyone that it is time to renew your membership in just a few more days, so won’t you please bring us, or send us, your $25 renewal by Jan 1st?  See you at the holiday party on the 14th. Thanks again for all of your support.

 

                                                                                                                                                                                        — Prez Al

 

 

What Gems we find when we look through old newsletters! Jayne has a stack of old “Historic Kern, Quarterly Bulletins” from the Kern County Historical Society.  While doing some other research I happened upon an article about Havilah — that never mentions Havilah!                                                                                                                                                                           — Prez Al

 

 

WHEN THERE WAS NOT A KERN COUNTY

(From the September 1978 edition of the Historic Kern

Newsletter of the Kern County Historical Society

….. without even a mention of Havilah!)

 

“Kern County was created in April 1866 out of territory that was previously Tulare and Los Angeles counties.  Until then, Keyesville was in Tulare County, and Fort Tejon was in Los Angeles County.  For some of the residents in the Kern River country the county seat was at Visalia, and for others it was at Los Angeles.  Before Kern County was created there were premature efforts to form Buena Vista County in the late 1850’s and Tejon County in the early 1860’s.  Since there were no federal census schedules for Kern County as such until the one in 1870, anyone doing work on the schedules for the Kern River country of 1860 should consult the schedules for southern Tulare County and northern Los Angeles County.

                                                                                                                ”  *  *  *  

 

The following article was written by Bill Hesse of Walker Basin.  He was present at the History Day at Havilah recently and brought examples of his home-made soap.  This article describes the process (thank you, Bill):

 

SETTLEMENT OR HOMESTEAD SOAP

 

Soap is a salt of a fatty acid used in a variety of cleansing and lubricating products.  Household uses for soaps include washing and other types of housekeeping where soaps act as surfactants, emulsifying oils to enable them to be carried away by water.  In industry, they are used as thickeners, components of some lubricants, and precursors to catalysts.  Soap making history goes back many thousands of years.

 

The most basic supplies for soap making were those taken from animal and nature; many people made soap by mixing animal fats with lye.  Today, soap is produced from fats and an alkali.  The cold process method is the most popular soap making process today, while some soap makers use the historical hot process.

 

In the United States, by the beginning of the 19th century, soap making was one of the fastest growing industries.

 

Rural Americans made homemade soap using a process developed during Colonial times.  They would save ashes from their fire for months.  When they had enough fat left over from butchering hogs they would make soap.

 

Old fashioned lye was made using hardwood ashes, a barrel or ash hopper, and rainwater.  Holes were drilled in the bottom of a barrel.  The barrel was placed on a grooved stone slab which rested on a pile of rocks.  A layer of gravel was placed over the holes.  Then a layer of straw, twigs, and sticks was placed on top of the gravel as a filter to prevent the ashes from getting in the solution.  After filling a barrel with hardwood ashes, rainwater was poured through the ashes to leach out the brown lye liquid which would then flow into the groove around the stone slab and drip down into a container.

 

Some soap makers used an ash hopper for making lye instead of the barrel method.  Using the same basic process, the lye dripped into a container located underneath the hopper.

 

The most difficult part of early soap making was determining if the lye was the correct strength.  The “lye water” was considered the proper strength to make soap when an egg or small potato placed in the solution floated about halfway beneath the surface. If the egg or potato floated on top, the lye was too strong. If it sank quickly, the lye was too weak. 

Some early soap makers used goose or chicken feathers to test their lye.  If a feather inserted in the lye water began to dissolve in it, then the lye water was at the right strength.

 

If soap was being made from grease saved from cooking fires, it was also rendered to remove all impurities that had collected in it.  Soap making was an outside activity.  The smell from rendering the fats was too strong to wish in anyone’s house!

 

Soap made with wood ash lye does not make a hard soap, but only a soft soap.  When the fire was put out and the soap mixture allowed to cool, the next day a brown jelly-like substance was revealed that felt slippery to the touch.  It made foam when mixed with water. This is the soft soap the colonists had done all their hard work to produce.  The soft soap was then poured into a wooden barrel and ladled out with a wooden dipper when needed.

 

To make hard soap, common salt was thrown in at the end of the boiling.  A hard cake of soap then formed in a layer at the top of the pot.  As common salt was expensive and hard to get, it was not usually wasted to make hard soap. Common salt was more valuable to give to the livestock and for the preserving of foods.  Soft soap worked just as well as hard, and for these reasons the colonists did not make hard soap bars.

 

In towns and cities where there was soap makers making soap for sale, the soap would be converted to the hard soap by the addition of salt.  As hard bars it was easier to store and transport.  Hard bars produced by the soap maker were often scented with oils such as lavender, wintergreen, or caraway, and were sold as toilet soap to persons living in the cities or towns.

 

Hard soap was not cut into small bars and wrapped as soap is sold today.  Soap made by the soap makers was poured into large wooden frames and removed when cooled and hard.

 

The amount of soap a customer wanted was cut from the large bar.  Soap was sold usually by the pound.  Small wrapped bars were not available until the middle of the 19th century.

 

Soap making was generally a task the women did.  This was essentially the method used by all soap makers of the period.  Soap making was always considered to be one of the most difficult jobs on the farm or homestead. 

                                                                                                                *  *  *  *  *

 

MORE COWBOY HUMOR:

 

Q.  Which cowboy could always start a campfire?

A.  Flint EastWOOD.

 

Q.  Where do cowboys go to think things over?

A.  The PONDER-osa.

 

Q.  Where do cowboys go to feed the herd lunch?

A.  The CALF-eteria.

 

Q.  What lesson do cowboys teach their children?

A.  Never squat with your spurs on.

    

                 *****************

Membership Application:

 

Havilah Centennial Group, Inc., dba

Havilah Historical Society & Museum

6789 Caliente-Bodfish Road, Havilah, CA 93518

www.havilahmuseum.org  Fiscal Year from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31

 

$25 Annual Dues for an Individual or a Family Membership (a family is 2 adults for voting purposes), will entitle members to receive notices via monthly newsletter, The Havilah Herald, of meetings, functions, and events.

 

Name________________________________________________________________________

Mailing Address_______________________________________________________________

Phone________________________________email___________________________________

Deliver newsletter (check one) by email______ or by snail-mail______

Date Application Submitted___________________________________

 

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Membership Renewal:

Havilah Centennial Group, Inc.

Havilah Historical Society & Museum

6789 Caliente-Bodfish Road, Havilah, CA 93518

www.havilahmujseum.org  Fiscal Year from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31

 

$25 Annual Dues for an Individual or a Family Membership (a family is 2 adults for voting purposes), will entitle members to receive notices via monthly newsletter, The Havilah Herald, of meetings, functions, and events.

 

Name________________________________________________________________________

Mailing Address_______________________________________________________________

Phone________________________________email___________________________________

Deliver newsletter (check one) by email______ or by snail-mail______

Date Renewal Submitted___________________________________

 

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                           *                           *                           *                       *                    *

THE CURRENT HAVILAH HISTORICAL SOCIETY OFFICERS AND DIRECTORS:

President:         Al Price                              661/867-2414         email   havilahmuseum.org

Vice President  Larry Grafius                    661/867-2579

Secretary          Roy Fluhart                       928/308- 1863        email   rflu408@gmail.com

Treasurer          Jayne Hotchkiss-Price    661/867-2414         email   havilahmuseum.org

Directors (2)         Lana Grafius                661/867-2579

                             Wes Kutzner                  760/379-2636       email   kutznerwes@gmail.com

Past President &/Editor    Janet Kutzner   760/379-2636    email   kutznerwes@gmail.com

 

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.

HAVILAH HISTORICAL SOCIETY & MUSEUM

6789 Caliente-Bodfish Road

Havilah, CA 93518