Volume 2 Number 4July 1997

The Patterson House.....An Update
   The Patterson House was built in 1891 by John Patterson a prominent businessman and farmer. The family were very involved with activities in the community from the day they arrived in 1882 until Tilla Patterson Hudsons death in 1967. Each family member is mentioned many times over the years in newspaper dispatches from Winchester. As most know the house was donated to the Winchester Historical Society a short time back along with over 2 acres of grounds by Ed and Mary Kinney.  Sadly over the years the house has been neglected and is in need of major repairs. As we have mentioned before the house is in great need of a new roof to prevent rain from entering inside. Also most of the windows have been broken out over the years. Our hopes have been to secure the house from the elements. Last month we announced the formation of a special fun to restore the roof on the Patterson house. This month we can tell you further details on the fund and what has been raised to date.
    Again as in the past the Patterson family and the Domenigoni family members have come to impact the efforts to restore the Patterson house. The relatives of the Patterson family have spread far and wide over our country but have united to help in this effort. Local members of the Domenigoni family have also joined. As of the end of June we have raised $800 towards re-roofing the house.
   Now, today we are in need of two very important additional items. One of course is additional funds. The other is a reliable roofing contractor to give us an estimate on the cost of fixing the roof. If you know of anyone interested or if you would like to help financially please contact the historical society.
   As we were about to go to press another donation from a person we mail our newsletter arrived. Again we thank all who are helping in this endeavor.
Winchester and Valle Vista .....The Final Chapter
   By the middle of 1894, the elation witnessed in Winchester had turned to gloom in the town of Florida, partly because of the onset of a drought. Repeatedly Griffith and Van Pelt complained that they could not sell the lands because they could get no water. On August 16, 1895, Griffith and Van Pelt conveyed their option to sell the lands back to the Fairview Land and Water Company. At least they accomplished one thing, a name for the small town of Florida.
   As the drought continued and the Great Lake Hemet Dam was climbing to 122 ½ feet, holding back precious South Fork waters which were not to be shared with anyone, the San Jacinto and Pleasant Valley Irrigation District slowly deteriorated. Without water the Irrigation District Directors could not sell any of their bonds, the people refused to pay assessments and taxes for district expenses, the dirt ditch was too long and more like a sieve after gophers invaded it, and it was discovered that W J Haslam's stock was eating part of the wooden flume.
   Added to all of this was the beginnings of animosity between the people living in Winchester and Valle Vista. The 3/20ths were being forced to pay all the district's expenses to protect their water rights and accused Haslam and his brother-in-law, W J McEwen, of making as much trouble as possible by keeping control of the Florida Water Company. Eventually, the Fairview Land and Water Company regained control of its water scheme and system, but it was in a very sad condition when rescued in 1899.
   On July 11, 1899, a Riverside County Superior Court judge declared that the San Jacinto and Pleasant Valley Irrigation District had been illegally organized on August 3, 1891. In 1905, the Lake Hemet Water Company Directors purchased the Fairview Land and Water Company and the Florida Water Company and proceeded to supply Valle Vista residents with South Fork waters during the hot summer months. Consequently, Florida/Valle Vista became the "Orange Centre" of the San Jacinto Valley.
   And finally, by the year 2000 and on into the 21st century, much of the land comprising Pleasant Valley/Winchester will be covered by a huge reservoir, the water brought to the lands from hundreds of miles away by tunnels, cement ditches, and pipes.

Hemet, California
February 1997


  An Illustrated History of Southern California. Chicago: The Lewis Publishing Company, 1890.
  A A Bynon and Son. History and Directory of Riverside County 1893- 4. Riverside: Historical Commission Press, 1992
  Hudson, Tilla Patterson, "Pleasant Valley." Hemet Public Library Winchester Files.
  Letter to Charles L Chandler, Esq. from W J Williams. "Regarding Citizens Water Company of San Jacinto." June 20, 1911. Eastern Municipal Water District Files
  Letter to Title Insurance Company of Riverside from F W Hells. "Regarding San Jacinto Valley Water Company," September 22, 1920. Lake Hemet Municipal Water District Files.
  San Jacinto Valley Register, August 13, 1885, June 18, 1888, January 17, 1889, July 1, 1889, October 17, 1889, January 19, 1890, February 13, 1890, June 19, 1890, March 24, 1892, April 7, 1892, April 14, l892, February 11, 1895, and February 28, 1895. Microfilms at Hemet Public Library.
  "Statement of the Affairs of the Florida Water Company and the Fairview Land and Water Company and their Relations with the San Jacinto and Pleasant Valley Irrigation District." September 15, 1899. Lake Hemet Municipal Water District Files.
  Winchester Recorder. October 17, 1889 through August 17, 1893. Microfilms at Hemet Public Library.
  Whitney, Mary E. Fortune Favors the Brave. San Jacinto: Alphabet Printers, Inc., 1982.

    Once again we at the society would like to thanks Mary E. Whitney for this article and her support of our and the general history of the area.

Wanted: Trees, Shrubs, and Lots of Seeds
   Being an avid reader of two local newspapers to gather anything of historical significance and closely watching legal notices we came across an interesting one in the notices. It was a request for landscaping material for the Domenigoni Valley Project being built for MWD. It seems they need 40,000 trees, 33,500 shrubs, and 44,180 pounds of seeds. One of the key phrases of the notice is that they wish them to be native vegetation to the area. In studying the areas history it appears the trees will be oak and cottonwood since by all accounts there was not a tree in sight for early pioneers when they arrived. Now the shrubs will most likely be sagebrush and that should make for an interesting landscape. I have a strong feeling they may have to look at the whole of southern California to find appropriate  landscaping that is both fitting for native and beauty. One thing is sure that is probably more trees and shrubs then in the whole of some local cities. One more thing this is just to grow the materials and not the planting of the vegetation. We wish MWD good luck and we will be watching for the outcome.

Old Garbani Homestead to be Restored
   As many of you are aware of since the beginning of the planning of the recreation areas of the reservoir project we have pushed for the recognition and the preservation of local history on the site. Recently in receiving the recreation committee update we were happy to see the response to our question in this regard. Our question to them was "What are your plans for the Garbani house and other interpretation on the west side?" The response from MWD was as follows, "We intend to nominate the Garbani House to the register of historic places, hoping to obtain grant funding for its restoration. We will improve the home site to interpret Native American life ways, early European settlement of the valley, and natural resource values. Along with there work in the beginning  and continuing effort to save prehistoric bones, Native American artifacts, and modern materials we look forward to the preservation of so much of our local history. We are also told that they will preserve the "Rock House Post Office" site and other special sites. We would like to commend MWD for this effort.
Click at left to continue the story