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Quotes From The Past

John Rico

Quite often in this column I have made reference to Vacaville’s past fame in the fruit growing industry, and this is no exaggeration. Vacaville at one time was perhaps the most pronounced fresh fruits growing area in all of the United States, and easterners referred to the small community much in the same way as they referred to the gold fields of the Klondike. But that was in our yesteryear.

It will be of interest to many of the older residents of the community, and some of the newcomers to review what some of the prominent fruit growers in Vacaville’s past had to say about the physical aspects of running a fruit ranch:

From the late W. P. Buckingham: “I should say that $750 would equip a 20 acre place with animals and implements; much less if an inferior article was used. It is a poor fruit farm which will not net $150 per acre when in full bearing.”

0. Garlichs: “A 20 acre place can be worked with two horses, which can be bought for $100 each.”

J.W. Gates: On a 20 acre place one span of horses can do all the work. Such a team would be worth from $200 to $300; set of harness, $25; one wagon, $150; two plows, $20; one barrow, $15. Our peach orchard brought us $165 per acre this year.” That was back in 1888.

THE RUNAWAY — Not too many people know that the famed poet Edwin Markham spent his boyhood days in the Vacaville area, and by his own writings to a Vaca High student, Miss Edith Bassford back in 1931, he told of some of his exploits here. He did say he attended the Hesperian College at Vacaville, and he went to and from college on his bucking bronco.

Although Markham lived a long life, he too in his boyhood wanted to see the world. As famed as he became, he may have been arrested as a cattle rustler back when he was a boy. It is told that Markham and a boy friend, John Huckins, decided to see the world so they jumped on to the back of an old white horse and off they went.

They headed up Pleasants Valley and into the Monticello area of Napa County. When Markham’s mother found the two runaways, they had shot a calf, dragged it into a thicket and were engaged in cooking some of the meat.

History records that Mrs. Markham scolded the youngsters for their act, but young Huckins said his father was a lawyer, and that “I know my cattle, and the one we killed was a maverick.”

Mrs. Markham convinced her son Edwin to come back home, but young Huckins was off to see the world. He did go to Alaska, to South America, and to other places of interest. He studied, and later became a doctor.

Edwin Markham departed the Vacaville area as a young man, and during his lifetime wrote many poems, outstanding of which is “The Man With the Hoe.”