I always think of the ranch in Visalia when I think of the old Homestead, but I guess that was not an accurate title for it. I started searching online for the Visalia Plat map that would show the original configuration of the old home place. My siblings remember when our grandparents lived on the other side of the property (East side) and there was apparently a “prune orchard” between our house and Grandpa Ike’s place. It was called a prune orchard by the family because the plums where used to make prunes.
This plat map is 1913 (click on image to enlarge). That was a year after my father was born. Highway 99 runs through the west side of the parcel shown as owned by J.F. Putnam (my great grandfather) ( in section 5) and highway 198 is at the north section line of section 32. Section 4 & 5 are in Township 19S, Range 24E The piece next to JF Putnam (a little less then a quarter of a section) looks like it could be I.B. Putnam (it looks like he has a little less then a quarter of a section) and then W.H. Putnam (with a little greater then a quarter of a section). You can see the Oak Grove school district outline in red. If the Oak Grove school is in the north west corner of section 34, which is where I remember it being located, then the property was smaller than I had imagined. My father and Aunt Babe attended Oak Grove School. It was not that far of a walk but I do remember the pictures of dad at school without shoes. Later my older sister and brother also attended the same school, until Veva Blunt School was built.
By 1920 W.H. Putnam had sold out to what looks like Elmer N. Black. I have placed a red box around section 4 & 5. I. B. Putnam (Grandpa Ike, my father’s father) has the same parcel and J.F. Putnam (Grandpa Joe, my dad’s grandfather) property has remained the same. I do not know what year Grandpa Joe divided his piece between three of his children, but I had seen an article in the Visalia Times about when he gave property to the airport, which must have been around 1920. J.F. Putnam died in 1932.
The photo above is probable taken on the I.B. Putnam property about 1932. Due to Ike’s illness by 1948 he had sold off his parcel to a Mr. Swearanger and built a new home on the middle section of what had been Grandpa Joe’s parcel. Aunt Lena (Ike’s sister) had the acreage to the north and their other sister (Aunt Blanche) had the acreage to the south. For as long as I can remember Aunt Blanche lived in Los Angeles and she always had renters on her property in Visalia. It seems to me her renters, the Matos’s, kept a dairy. Aunt Lena maintained her property with help from various hired hands. After the “Dance Hall” burned down I remember Aunt Lena kept cattle in the field between her place and ours. Then the cattle were gone and she had watermelons growing in that field. I did not like stepping in cow dung or on rotten melons. I also remember her growing alfalfa.
I.B. Putnam (grandpa Ike) died in 1948. After he died I remember the fields east of our house had cotton for a long time. My grandmother (Ike’s wife, Gay) always had milk cows. In the early 1950’s the State of California bought more right-of-way along Hwy 99. My Dad had lost any interest he might have had in the Ranch and in 1956 we moved away. But the property there by Hwy 99 and the airport was always home to me.