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Early Valley Days

Boonville, Way Back When.

Many events of the earlier days of Anderson Valley and its stories are fast becoming only memories and faint ones at that. One story that was recently revived was that of the Mason and Dixon line in the Valley.

Two youthful scions of influential families at either end of the Valley had a fight and some hard feeling was caused in each family. Outwardly no more was said and the matter was seemingly dropped. But there was a certain remembrance.

Some of the younger people of that day with their ingenious ways of description, thought of the Mason and Dixon dividing line of historical fame and the name caught on. The line was at the Denmark Canyon where Dr. Fleishner's office was. It was a good location because it marked the north and the south portions of the Valley and also made a separation of the properties of the two clans and their friends and relatives. Those north of the line tended toward Philo and those to the south went to Boonville.

Many years ago the matter had some local importance and a certain political influence. To the credit of those involved, all worked together when the good of Anderson Valley was concerned and for a great many years the matter has only been mentioned in rare instances and then in a jocular manner.

In earlier days the ranchers of the valley were quite prosperous. All were more or less diversified and were run with economy and hard work. Of course, now we can look back and see where a lot of prosperity was caused by the utilization of the natural resources at hand and there for the taking. We can see by reading that all the valleys in the county were pretty much the same. Feed was good, land was fertile, and taxes were very low.

Living at the time was cheaper not only because prices were low along with wages, but most every family had a garden and a cow or two. There were sheep, cattle and hogs and every family had their own poultry flock. Feed was cheap and plentiful besides the natural grass and the acorns and pepperwood nuts in the fall. Game and fish played a very important part also in the livings of many families.

Teaming was a source of income in the summer and fall and of course there had to be hay and grain for the teams. That took up most of the farming land. Then when the sawmill was started in Navarro (Wendling) many Valley people found employment there. Another industry of benefit to the early local people was the tanbark industry which made a year's grubstake for many. Early in the history of the Valley was the raising of grain for feed for livestock and most places would have some thrashing equipment. Grain was cut by a binder and stacked in round stacks to wait for the thresher.

Nearly every ranch had a granary or the some big bins for grain storage. Some might be sold but mostly it was fed on the farm and enough was held over for seed.

It must not be forgotten that the crew had to be fed at the ranch house and that was a big job for the women folks for there was a big crew of hungry men. The cooks took great pride in putting out good food and lots of it especially at threshing time.

Threshing was a hard, usually hot job and was a great place to separate the men from the boys.

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