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duane rossi
Duane Rossi

Squawbuck Joe
by Duane Rossi
squawbuck joe

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The following excerpt is from Duane Rossi's book Squawbuck Joe. I encourage all of my Owens Valley History readers to purchase Duane's book (click on the Squawbuck Joe link above). Duane has written a wonderful piece of Owens Valley History which deserves reading by everyone. You will recognize many of the names so familiar with Owens Valley and be enchanted by a family who not only made Manzanar their home but by the Native American Paiutes who lived by and became their trusted friends, long before Manzanar became a symbol of United States government mishandling of Japanese American citizens. This is a MUST READ about a pioneer family who called Owens Valley their home.


Owens Lake
(Excerpt from Squawbuck Joe)


The road was good, but the grade was steep, as Joe and Katy [Baker] Dunmovin. Minnie [Stewart]watched through her telescope as they slowly made their way up the grade. When Al [Stewart] came in for lunch she told him, "Well, they made it to the top. Those are sure good teams they have. Soon they're going to stop for lunch."

After the noon stop, Katy noticed the cattle satarting to go out ahead. She called to Joe and said there must be water ahead, the cattle are picking up the pace.

"Yes," he said, "there's a large lake. We'll be seeing it befoe long and it's called Owens Lake."

"Is there a town there?"

"Yes, two towns, Olancha and Cartago. Mr. Stewart advised me to get another dog, I'll see if I can buy one there."

Just before they got to Owens Lake Joe and Katy met two cowboys bringing cattle out of the foothills. They were the Carrascos who lived in Olancha and ran cattle in the summer in Monache Meadows in the mountains to the west. They had two dogs herding the cattle and Joe asked if he could buy one. The Carascos told him [he] could have one of those, but, if he would stop by their ranch, they had a litter of pups that had been weaned and they'd be glad to sell him one.

Katy and Joe foud the Carrasco Ranch and bought two pups, then continued their trek north. They came to a creek flowing out of a large canyon to the west. They made camp for the night under the large cottonwood trees growing along the bank of the creek. The next morning, while they were loading the wagons, they saw men using ox teams to pull Jeffre Pine trees down to the lake. Joe asked what they were doing and was told that they had large kilns where they turned the trees into charcoal and sold it to mines to run their smelters. The drovers wanted to catch up on the news, but they were in a hurry to get a load of charcoal on the Bessie Brady to be shipped across the Owens Lake to the smelters at Swansea and Keeler. So, they said goodbye, wished them good luck, and cracked their whips and the oxen slowly started down to the lake.

They were making good time and Joe and Katy enjoyed the Owens Lake to their gith and the most beautiful and highest mouintains they had ever seen on their left. They passed by the north end of the lake and met a man with a loaded wagon. It was John Lubkin who had a ranch two miles up a small canyon to the west. He told them they would soon be coming to a lake by the name of Diaz Lake and, then, they would come to a town with a large pine tree growing by the creek. They call the town Lone Pine.

As Katy and Joe rode into the small town, they were amazed at the activity. Wagons pulled by both mules and oxen were traveling east, west, north, and south. Blacksmiths were busy shoeing horses and mules. Merchants were selling and trading on every corner. By the creek, a man had seven tied mules packed with large barrels. He had two young boys filling the barrels with water. Joe walked over and introduced himself. The man's name was Olivas. Joes asked him where he was taking the water and he replied, "I'm taking it to the mines."

"How much do you charge for water?"

"It depends, If I haul it to the top of the mountain, it's a lot. If I haul it to the base of the mountain, it's not so much."

Joe walked back to the wagons. "Did you hear that Katy? The water is free for the taking and he makes a living just hauling it to the mines. I'm starting to like this coiuntry more and more."

Katy looked at the peak there to the west. "They say its 14,996 feet high and call it Mount Whitney. What are thos funny looking hills? They look like a pile of rocks."

"Those are the Alabama Hills. Thery were named by Southern Sympathizers that have told mines up there."

Joe and Katy met two cowboys riding into town. Joe asked if they knew of a place that he could hold his stock for the night.

"Sure. We're the Elder brothers. Our ranch is just on the edge of town. We have a 40 acre field that you are welcome to use. It'll [be] on the right hand side, straight ahead."

Joe thanked them for their generosity, found the field without a problem, and turned their stock loose for the night. There were large shade trees where they could spend the night. As they were unharnessing the teams Katy said, "Joe, I noticed the sign as we came through town advertising the Spanish Gargen Cafe. I could sure use a meal I didn't have to cook myself."

"Okay, Katy, let's clean up and ride into town and have dinner."

When the couple walked into the Spanish Garden, thery were greeted by Mrs. Gamboa. She introduced the Bakers to her family, as they were all working there. Joe and Katy had a wonderful dinner and a pleasant evening. They rode back to the Elder field and retired for the night, ready or an early stgart in the morning.

A couple of hours after starting out, Joe and Katy came to an area with a few Paiute encampments and a large apple orchard and Joe said, "This is Manzanar."

"That's a strange name," Katy commented.

"Yes. I'ts Spanish for where the apples are."

They were pulling onto the land that would become their new home when Katy looked up at the Inyo Mountain range and asked, "What is that strange formation?"

"That's Winneduma. The natives have a lot of legends and stores about it. How do you like your new home?"

"I love it, but after that trip, anyplace would look like heaven." ]



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paiute teepee
Paiute Teepee
[Photo courtesy of the Braun Research Center Autry National Center
]

paiute mother
Young Paiute girl with baby
[A. A. Forbes photo]

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This page was last updated on 28 February 2017