Old and New: The Kirkhams - Hard Times and Good Times

Old and New: The Kirkhams – Hard Times and Good Times

The Kirkham family arrived in Powai in 1891, settling on 160 acres in the Buehler Valley (present-day Beehler).

They had left Fruita, Colorado, because of Mr. Kirkham’s health. He obviously had tuberculosis and doctors hoped the move would prolong his life by two years. The family of six includes father Benjamin, mother Frederica and four sons, including twins Andrew Stabbino (Andy) and Isaac Newton (Ike).

Mary Shepardson

(photo courtesy)

Somewhat proudly Andy was uneducated. Although – or perhaps because – he probably became the main narrator of Powai history at the turn of the last century.

In the 1890s Andy, intermittently, attended Stowe School, located near Godan Ranch Reservation, south of Garden Road.

“By the way,” he remarked with a touch of exaggeration, “I was in sixth grade for three years and the school trustees were planning to get the school out from under me to get me out.”

Fortunately, he left several pages of handwritten memories, which were later written for the Poway Historical Society by charter member Earl Rollins.

Benjamin died in 1903, leaving Andy and his brothers to do whatever work they could find to support the family. Powai, after the railway failed to arrive in the 1890s, dwindled to a sleepy village where there was little in the way of employment. They often looked to Santee, El Cajon, Ramona, Escondido and San Diego. The brothers also continued to run the family farm in Powai.

Andy became involved in road construction, adding poles for the first telephones in 1915 and a host of other activities as Poway came of age. Despite the hard work, there was time to relax, some of which are listed below:

Fun near home

Every Sunday we went to Sunday school…at the Baptist church at Judge Luce’s Place, in what is now near the corner of Oak Knoll Road and Pomerado. When church was over, we started going home, but every Sunday we’d off for the rest of the day with the E.G. Flint family. Their place was at the lower end of the Beuhler Valley and we also had the Literary Society Club which was held every Saturday night at the Stowe School house.

Every three months they offer a social gathering for those who wish to come. We didn’t want to sign up for the basket, so the ladies would make badges instead of baskets and one badge would be sold from each pair… to the highest bidder. The ladies then install the badge that matches the badge that was sold. Then everyone sits at a long table with waiters to serve everyone. Families in the neighborhood donated food.

We will have discussions on various topics, such as “Which has more value, fire or water?” They held mock courts and appointed officers for the mock evening. And we’ll have spelling bees. We were lucky to have a guy in our neighborhood named William Hoyt. If it wasn’t for him, we wouldn’t be able to get to first base.

Mr. Hoyt and the school teacher were the main people in our activity. In the debates, Mr. Hoyt was the winner. In the spell bee, Mr. Hoyt and the teacher will be the last two and – Pop Went the Weasel – Mr. Hoyt, will be the winner. (Unfortunately, we cannot find other records of the amazing Mr. Hoyt.)

beach parties

We had beach parties on weekends three or four times in the summer. To the beach on Friday afternoon, Sunday afternoon. It was the last party I had three girls and three boys, all redheads, and the escort. Had to travel by horse, cart, and team. This was before automatic time….

Then and now the picture

(Courtesy of Mary Shepardson)

hunting parties

Fishing parties are very different from moonlight beach party. When you’re at a hunting party, it makes no difference if it’s moonlight, moonlight, or midday. Stand in the waves up to your waist waiting for a lollipop to get the bait out of your line. The head of the colleague should be examined. The last time I was surfing was around 1914.

go fishing

The county had a lot of small animals – rabbits everywhere, and quails next to the big birds. There were no limits for rabbits or quails. Once I got 22 quails in one shot.

Andy Kirkham writes that there are no limits to hunting rabbits or quails.

Andy Kirkham writes that there are no limits to hunting rabbits or quails.

(Courtesy of Mary Shepardson)

Today, we tend to think of quail as endearing. However, there was a reason behind sport fishing for them. Andy noted:

Mr. Buehler owned more than 10 acres of vineyards. He was lucky if he got 10 percent of the crop. He had scarecrows sitting in the vineyard to scare the quails, and he would go with his gun to scare the quails by shooting them, but as soon as he was gone, the quails would come back.

Eventually restrictions were imposed on fishermen.

Initially the maximum was 125 birds per day and it was cut less and less. And now, at this point in 1961, there are 12 birds, and in a year’s time you are lucky to see 12 quails now.

Andy and Ike Kirkham in their later years.

Andy and Ike Kirkham in their later years.

(Courtesy of Mary Shepardson)

Andy and Ike, along with other members of the Kirkham family, are buried in Dearborn Memorial Park in Tierra Bonita.


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