The Havilah Herald

Official Publication of the Havilah Centennial Group, Inc.

aka The Havilah Historical Society and Museum

Havilah California – April 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.




APRIL 2024



The Prez doesn’t have much to say this month except for some announcements and reminders:

  • The Prez will be gone from March 30 to April 5, but still available by cell phone.
  • All of the required filings for our 501 C 3 status have been completed, so we are good for another year.
  • April 6 is our first open day this year at the Courthouse/Schoolhouse.
  • The memorial service for Lana Grafius will be on April 20 with the time to be announced.
  • Also Saturday, April 27 for Havilah Days/Mining Expo. Hours will be 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM.
  • The Kern Valley Historical Society will host its history Days on May 18.
  • Don’t forget our regular meeting on April 13th at 3:00 pm in the Schoolhouse.

Happy Easter!

Roy Fluhart, President



“It’s An Old California Custom ….” a 1948 book by Lee Shippey,

Chapter twelve “…. To Believe What Is Not True”

(by Al Price)


It’s an old California custom to create romantic legends and to have the people believe them after they have been around a while and have gained in popularity. Such is the case with this story about an Indian Curse, and this one affected so many superstitious people that actions had to be taken.

“When a Mexican Land Grant was made for a great estate in San Diego County, it provided that the local Indians, who for generations had buried their dead near the hot springs there, and who had bathed in the healing waters there, should have that part of the ranch “perpetually.”

When the ranch came into American hands later, the Indians were ordered off, and a company of soldiers was sent to make sure they were escorted off. The Indians agreed to leave the following morning, but spent the whole night in ceremonies which invoked retribution on the new white owners of the land.

  • The first American manager of the ranch was riding over the property, when his horse stumbled in a gopher hole and he was killed.

  • His successor also met with an accident and was killed, as was the third man who had been placed in charge.

That caused so many persons to repeat the story of the Indian curse that few wanted any part of the ranch. They had trouble hiring or keeping employees. Many were in constant fear of chuck holes, rattlesnakes, falling trees, and other natural ‘booby traps’ that they avoided the property as much as possible. This went on for decades until a real estate developer, Colonel Ed Fletcher, in San Diego County, and who was friendly with the local Indians, brought about a compromise.

This was:   the owners of the ranch agreed to return the Indian’s burying grounds to them, and to allow them to hold their annual encampments around the hot springs, in return for their promise to hold another solemn conclave — AND REVOKE THE DECADES-OLD INDIAN CURSE!”


*                      *                      *                      *                      *                      *                      *


(Submitted by retired local vet, Doc Lange)

You Know It’s A Small Town When….

  • Third Street is at the edge of town.
  • The airport runway is terraced.
  • The two-step is more popular than disco on Saturday Night.
  • Every competitive sport is played on dirt.
  • The editor and publisher of the local newspaper carry a camera at all times.
  • You speak to each dog you pass by name and it wags its tail at you.
  • You dial a wrong number and talk for 15 minutes anyway.
  • You are run off Main Street by a combine.
  • You write a check on the wrong bank and it covers it for you.
  • You miss Sunday at church and receive get-well cards.
  • The biggest business in town sells farm machinery.
  • The pickups on Main Street outnunmber cars three to one.
  • Someone asks how you fell, and then listens to what you say.
  • You don’t use your turn signal because everybody knows where you’re going.
  • You unthinkingly reveal a family secret on the party line, and the whole county is discussing it within an hour.
  • You’re born on June 13, and your family receives gifts from local merchants because you’re the first baby of the year.
  • You can’t walk or jog for exercise because every car that passes offers you a ride.
  • You drive into a ditch five miles out of town and word gets back into town before you do.

Thank God for small towns…and the people who live in them!  *  *  *  *  *

The following article is from “The Old Timer’s Column” published in the Wofford Heights Kern River Valley Review by The Ghost Writer (Edith Long, whose parents were Jim and Pearl Bechtel) dated March 26, 1970:

Easter vacation was always looked forward to by the kids in the Old Kernville School, as it meant five days of freedom, or so they thought.  The parents usually had other ideas!  It was a well known fact the parents saved up all the jobs they didn’t like doing, and saw to it the kids fell heir to them during their Easter vacation.

For the girls, spring house cleaning started, along with Easter baking and the hand-hemming of napkins and tablecloths or other sewing.  The reward for all these tasks were new clothes they could select themselves, providing they were good, durable clothes and passed the inspection of the parents.  These were from Sear’s or Montgomery Ward catalogs.  The girls spent hours poring over these catalogs, and were warned to be very careful not to tear the pages so that they could eventually be used to cut up for paper dolls.

The boys were put to work in the yard getting the ground ready for spring planting of the vegetable gardens as almost everybody grew their own vegetables.

It seemed mothers could always come up with more errands that needed running “right away” than you could shake a stick at.  After a few trips to the store for things that were forgotten on the previous trips, one could contact a pal on the way and make plans to sneak off and go fishing or skip rocks on the river, and do whatever else came to mind – just anything to get away from “all that work” their parents saddled them with.  The kids figured their parents had never been young so they couldn’t know how much fun it was to get with their friends and play marbles, spin tops, play hide-and-go-seek, or build trucks from blocks or wood, or do any other things kids found fun to do.

However, they all managed to survive their week-long ordeals, and on Saturday were allowed to color hard boiled eggs.  Sunday morning when the church bell rang, calling them to Sunday school, the girls would be decked out in their new clothes with ribbons and bows and told to be very careful and not to get dirt on their best dress.  The boys were dressed in their new “Easter Duds” and couldn’t care less.  They were told very definitely no fighting, and no games, and to come straight home from Sunday school and change their clothes.  That evening found them again “dressed in their best,” and going to church with their parents….So…how many of you Old Timers can remember those days?  *  *  *  *



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.