Remembering When

by Jerry Person
Huntington Beach City Historian


Dedicated to the people of Huntington Beach


Four Special Ladies of Wintersburg

 

Wintersburg, that oasis of culture and refinement surrounded by lush fields as far as the eye could see is vastly different today than it was in its past that kids today cannot imagine or even comprehend what life was like before the automobile, television, internet or even indoor plumbing.

But before we remember three other ladies that help shape the little community of Wintersburg, lets remember one present day lady who spent the majority of her last years of life trying help to  preserve a small bit of the history of that small community.

Just recently I learned of the passing of Mary Adams Urashima, 62, on November 20, 2022 and who had been working tirelessly to save the structures on a 4 1/2 acre plot of land at Warner Avenue and Nichols Lane that formed the historical hub of an early Japanese community.

Wintersburg Japanese Presbyterian Church on Warner Avenue

 

Mary work with the national organizations, state organizations and county organizations to make sure that it qualified as a National Historic Site. She also had a booth at the popular Cherry Blossom Festivals held in Central Park where she would educate the visitors in the unique cultural heritage that would be lost if something isn't done soon.

Mary Urashima at one of our annual Cherry Blossom Festivals

 

Unfortunately she lived to see a fire this year destroy a couple historic structure on that property that she worked so hard to save.

Truely she is one of four remarkable ladies of the Wintersburg historic community that we should always remember.

But now lets remember Wintersburg before the 1920s when times were far different and the mode of travel was by horse as few farmers there could afford the price of an automobile and radio was still in the future and the only entertainment the people had came from traveling vaudeville shows or by listening to gramophone records.

But in spite of the lack of what we take for granted today, the little farming community was a wonderful place to raise a family. Wintersburg, located west of Beach Boulevard and Warner Avenue would sport many small businesses including a grocery store, blacksmith shop, a Methodist church, library, a telephone exchange, just about all that was necessary to a community of the time.

But still life was difficult and hard work was the norm to the people of Wintersburg.

The nearby school would teach the children to read and write and the church looked after the spiritual needs of its people. But it fell to the ladies of the community to bring culture to Wintersburg, something only a woman’s hand and heart could bring.

This week we’ll remember the lives of three other women who were instrumental in bringing that need to the people of Wintersburg just before the decade of the roaring twenties would change the way of life forever.

Our first historical lady of Wintersburg would raise her family of six children here before she finished her earthly pilgrimage here on August 25, 1919 for It would be on December 5, 1855 that Minerva Jane Dixon was born in Kentucky and while still a baby, her parents moved to Arkansas to settle in the small community of Russellville.

In 1872 at the age of 17, she married Mr. B. Easter and from that union a daughter Ella was born, but within a very short time she had lost her lover and after waiting six years she married William H. Taylor and from this new union came five children; Oscar, George, Aston, Otis and Dora.

In 1900 she again married, this time to Isaac Barton and the family would move to California and to Wintersburg to live, but  unfortunately Isaac died in 1909 and Minerva would have to raise her family alone.The Taylor boys would exemplify her teachings and they would become prominent citizens in the Wintersburg community especially Oscar.

Dora went on to marry E. Ray Moore, who was not only a prominent rancher, but was an important figure in establishing Farmers Insurance.

Our second Wintersburg lady was a well-educated woman and the wife of Wintersburg only doctor, Amanda Johnson Huff was born near Marlborough, Ohio, way back on August 26, 1854, one of three children.

A great part of her life was spent growing up in Alliance, Ohio before coming to California in 1908 to live and on August 15, 1909 she married Dr. Samuel G. Huff and they would make their home in what is today part of Central Park West.

Amanda would be very active in the temperance movement that was popular during this time and she joined the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union to fight for a dry town.

But her first love after her family was the church. she belonged to the First Christian Church of Huntington Beach and had an intense interest in its missionary work before her passing on July 2, 1919.

Our last lady had been the first schoolteacher at Springdale elementary school.

It was in Butler County, Nebraska that Bonnie Clay was born on October 2, 1880, but shortly thereafter her family moved to Kansas to live. Her parents, two sisters and two brothers moved again, this time in 1893 when they moved to California where they would all attend school in Los Angeles and Bonnie would attend State Normal and from there would go on to teach school.

While teaching school at Springdale elementary school here, she met a young and handsome man by the name of William Slater and it would not be long before the two would wed in a church service in Los Angeles on August 5, 1908.

In December of 1908 Bonnie was elected to the Methodist church’s Arbamar Epworth League and became an active member in the Wintersburg Women’s Home Missionary Society.

At first they would make their home in a ranch house on the McGuirk ranch where their three children; Fred (1909), June (1912), and Homer (1915), would be born.

Bonnie was active in the Wintersburg Methodist church where each Sunday she would teach in its Sunday School and like Amanda Huff, Bonnie was against the drinking of alcohol as both she and William were both active in the temperance movement

In 1919 William had started planning to build a new home for his family at the corner of Gothard Street and Cedar Avenue,but on Sunday, August 5, 1919, their 11th wedding anniversary, while she was attending church services that Bonnie fell ill and just two days later William lost his bride.

These are just four of the special ladies that had brought culture and influenced the lives of the families that would call Wintersburg their home and to you Mary, God bless you and may you rest in peace knowing that others will thke up your cause that you started to protect that comminity's history and to educate newcomers of today of the fastonating history that the Wintersburg historical area holds.