By Mark Gutglueck
By late 1913, the California Land Company was marketing property touted as suitable for growing all order of fruit as well as alfalfa for $5 to $25 per acre. That year, farmers with mature apple and pear trees were netting as much as $1,000 per acre in produce sales. Produce merchants in Los Angeles were paying from $5 to $10 more per ton for apples grown in Apple Valley and Hesperia than from other apple districts of southern California.
In 1914, a train wreck stranded the world famous pianist Ignacy Jan Paderewsky in the Victor Valley, whereupon he repaired to the Hesperia Hotel and there gave a concert in the parlor of the famous red hotel. Hundreds of residents crowded into the hotel to hear the master
Roy Walters, who was the Hesperia Postmaster, recalled that his father, George F. Walters, ran the Hesperia Hotel until 1912. It was later managed by Miss Harriet C. Welch, but was closed in 1926 when it was announced that the town would be by-passed by Hwy. 66.
In 1914, Carl Leonardt began work on the Southwestern Cement Plant.
In November 1914 Stanley Mussell, a young attorney formerly practicing in Los Angeles, relocated his practice to Victorville. Sixteen years later he would be elected San Bernardino County district attorney.
In 1914, a high school for the city of Victorville and the surrounding area was opened in the home of the Richardson family.
Sometime in 1914 J..L. Watts of Los Angeles began working a mine at Black Mountain, an elongated and isolated butte southwesterly from Gray Mountain and El Mirage dry lake. Some of the rock Watt unearthed contained as much as $2,000 per ton in gold and chromium, with osmium and platinum present in the ore as well. Watts uncovered a vein estimated to be 1,200 feet wide, located between walls of granite that also contained abundant copper ore. The mine was still being worked in 1929.
On March 27, 1915, a Saturday, an election was held to determine whether the community would back the creation of a public high school. The measure passed 284 to 17.
In June, three of the students who had been schooled at the Richardson home, graduated with non-accredited diplomas.
In June and September, votes were then held with regard to the issuance of bonds to build a high school, passing overwhelmingly 199 to 27 and 169 to 9.
In November 1915, there were over 400 functioning water wells in the Victor Valley.
In September 1916, Carl Leonhardt’s Southwestern Portland Cement Plant began operation.
In March 1917 , the Victor Union High School, a modified Mission type structure located on a 20 acre site, was completed. Classes began at the school on March 13. The building featured ample room for up to 150 students, with four classrooms, a science lecture and laboratory hall and an assembly hall as well as an office for the principal, all lighted by electricity. The basement contained a furnace and heating plant. W. W. Green was the principal.
On May 26, 1917, the First National Bank of Victorville opened. By the end of that day’s operations, 188 individuals had made deposits totaling over $10,000.
On June 15, 1917, Ruth Sanborn became the first graduate of Victor High. She was the only member of the Class of 1917.
In July, the selective draft list for Victorville and its adjacent precincts was released, showing 142 young men listed in Victorville, 46 from Hesperia, 25 from Lucerne Valley and 30 from Oro Grande. Later that month, following a lottery, the number of those to be subjected to actual draft pursuant to physical examinations was down to 28 from Victorville, six from Lucerne Valley, five from Hesperia, eight from Oro Grande and two from Phelan. In August another 32 men from Victorville, four from Hesperia, six from Oro Grande, one from Lucerne Valley, two from El Mirage and one from Adelanto were called in for physical examinations to be held in Barstow. At the end of August, it was announced that 17 total from Victorville were called into the service; along with one man from Hesperia, two from Lucerne Valley, two from Adelanto, one from Oro Grande, one from Lugo and one from El Mirage. From throughout the Victor Valley 23 were granted draft exemptions and 24 were physically rejected.
The first full school year at Victor High started on September 3, 1917
On September 4, 1917, sixteen months before the Eighteenth Amendment was ratified and 26 months before the Eighteenth Amendment went into effect, the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors passed a countywide prohibition ordinance that had been submitted by district attorney T. W. Duckworth.
In October 1917, the Victor Valley Irrigation District was organized.
In November 1917, the California Highway Commission voted to construct a concrete highway fifteen feet wide from Cajon Summit to Victorville and an oiled gravel road the same width from Victorville to Barstow. Actual improvements to the road would not come for another four years.
On May 30, 1918 two students – Georgia Margaret Richardson and Joseph Fred Turner, graduated from Victor High.
On September 12 1918, 142 new draft registrants from the Victor Valley complied with the provision of the new military manpower bill.
In December 1918, John Christenson, agricultural inspector for the Victor Valley, reported that 89 train carloads of fruit from the local area were shipped out of the county in 1918.
In June 1919, there were three graduates from Victor High.
In July 1919 a labor dispute at Golden State Portland cement plant at Oro Grande resulted in the facility’s closure for nearly eight months.
In September 1919, Victor High School had 43 students and six teachers. The elementary school started with 74 pupils and three teachers.
That month Charles H. Fuehrer was appointed constable of Hesperia township.
In its October 10, 1919 edition, the News-Herald reported the resources of the First National Bank of Vicrtorville amounted to $148,818.98.
In November a school census at Victorville’s elementary school and high school, conducted by Reverend M. K. Stone, showed 132 boys and 107 girls of school age, ages 6 to 16, of whom “33 were Mexicans, 15 colored, and 10 Indians. There were 78 children under school age and 101 families counted, all of these being in the Victor school district and most of the population in Victorville,” the Victor News-Herald reported.
In March 1920, the Golden State Portland Cement Plant in Oro Grande resumed operations.
In March 1920, San Bernardino County Assessor E. J. Gilbert announced a new policy of assessing homesteaders on the land they were occupying but which they had not yet patented. The homesteaders, known as entrymen before the homesteads were officially recorded, protested this new process. The entrymen argued that until they completed the improvements to the property required under the Homestead Act the property in fact represented a liability to them and that it had no real worth. Moreover, the homesteaders claimed, the title to the property in question was not held by them, but by the federal government. Possessory rights on homestead lands were not assessed in other counties, although a state law seemed to uphold such assessments. Other counties proceeded on the theory that the settlers on dry homestead lands had enough expenses without the government adding more. No relief was offered by the assessor’s office. Those who did not pay found the records in the county showing taxes due against the property, and to clear the title they had to pay the taxes or enter into an expensive suit to quiet title.
Beginning in March, electric lines were being extended to Apple Valley, Rancho Verde, Hinkley and Wild.
On April 3, 1920, an election was held within the Mojave River Irrigation District, resulting in the issuance of $5.6 million worth of bonds for the purpose of purchasing land and water, water rights, reservoir sites and for constructing canals and reservoirs.
In April 1920 N. W. Weidrick began operating a creamery in Victorville, putting out “Victor” brand cream, butter, and ice cream.
In May of 1920, the First National Bank’s books showed that institution had resources of $236,000.
In June five young women composed the entirety of the 1920 Victor High School graduating class.
In July, The Southern Sierras Power Company extensions were completed to Apple Valley and juice was turned on there for a number of ranchers.
After complaints, petitions and a hearing, it was determined in July that the possessory rights of homesteaders on land should be assessed $1 per acre
In August Clarence S. Crane, of Victorville; Dr. C.E. Stauter, of Needles; John T. Bennette, of Oro Grande; and A.B. Mulvane, the incumbent, were candidates for supervisor of the First Supervisorial District. At the August 31 polling Bennette captured 122 votes, Crane 750 Mulvane 285 and Stauter 362.
In September Bert L. Lunceford opened a meat market in a building formerly occupied by a co-operative store.
On November 2, in the run-off election between Crain and Stauter, Clarence S. Crain bested Dr. Stauter 9,399 to 3,163 the same day Warren Harding was elected U.S. president.
Victor Valley History 1914-1920
By Mark Gutglueck