Preserving the Legacy of Historic Bowman Ranch Olivenhein

Richard Bowman wrote in his book on the history of Bowman’s farm in Olevenhein: “I have received the stories handed down by the generations and are now a narrator for the following generations.” “If I am not successful, a lot of what happened will be lost.”

In July, a bronze plaque to celebrate the farm’s acceptance was finally installed on the California Register of Historic Resources and the National Register of Historic Places.

After a two-year delay, family members celebrated during a reunion with the living members of Hermann Friedrich and Emma Bowman.

As a child, Richard would help his father, George Theodore, with household chores on the 480-acre Bowman Ranch that once housed the German family and dozens of children.

Now, the grandson is the guardian of her stories and tasked with preserving the family’s legacy.

The structures at Bumann Ranch have lasted for more than a century due to primary care and maintenance from Herman Charles Bumann, and later Richard and Adeline Bumann.  Photo by Jacqueline Covey
The structures at Bumann Ranch have lasted for more than a century due to primary care and maintenance from Herman Charles Bumann, and later Richard and Adeline Bumann. Photo by Jacqueline Covey

The history of Bowman’s farm

Richard and Adeline Baumann “Twink” moved to the farm in 1985, nearly a century after Hermann F. Baumann arrived with the first German settlers in Olevenhein.

Hermann Friedrich was born in Groszgarz, Germany in 1862 into a family of tailors. When he was 21, H. Friedrich and his father immigrated to America, after an uncle who settled in Denver 12 years earlier. The father and son duo would soon find, just two blocks from the Larimer Street tailor shop where they worked, that German citizens were forming a colony with eyes bound for Southern California.

Colonists purchased 4,431 acres of a former Mexican ranch, Rancho Las Encinitas. Everyone was entitled to a small portion of the land, and everyone invested their life savings in a land they had never seen before.

Friedrich and his father were in the first group of colonists to arrive in late 1884. The shelter was awkward, and consisted of several mud structures – known today as Stagecoach Community Park – but there was a chance.

Showing his Uncle Hermann’s clothes, Richard Bowman explains that the ranchers wore the typical uniforms shown in the movies, but – on occasion – ragedey work clothes. The farmers did what they could to prevent the purchase of new pairs, as he said, “their patches have patches on them.” Photo by Jacqueline Covey

In March 1885 H. Friedrich acquired the first five acres of land near Escondido Creek. However, the settlers soon became uncomfortable after earnest accusations from community leaders regarding the commissioning of the land sale. (These problems in the community led to an 80% decline in the colony of 300 people by 1887.)

However, H. Friedrich cleverly took advantage of the rush to get out of Olivenhain and – on good advice – bought the house of a former Olivenhain Colony for $50 while trying to escape the turmoil.

By mid-1885, H. Friedrich owned 160 acres and continued to acquire land from neighboring dwellings until the 1920s, eventually totaling 480 acres.

In 1893 H. Friedrich, now a well-established farmer, found Emma Marie Juncker. By 1914, the couple had 12 children to help them work in the crop fields and care for animals.

Tribute to Hermann Charles

Visitors can feel the intrusion, as they walk through the one-bedroom house that was once the family home.

The self-written composition intended by Hermann Charles for violin—stored among his collection of phonographs—remains in the corner of the 110-year-old living room on Bowman’s farm. Portrait of H. Charles, Bowman’s seventh child and second son, playing alongside Bing Crosby in a small band that hangs on the wall above the sheet music.

The land on which he worked was divided. Friedrich acquired it over several decades for children after his death in 1926, and Emma followed 10 years and 10 days later.

Bags of grain are on display at Bowman's Farm showing materials that were used in the farm's early days.  Photo by Jacqueline Covey
Bags of grain are on display at Bowman’s Farm showing materials that were used in the farm’s early days. Photo by Jacqueline Covey

One child will have the series of barns built from 1886 until the last structure was erected in 1911. Charles later got 120 acres from his brothers plus 40 acres from an inheritance. By the 1930s, H. Charles alone works in the family land.

His shoes, one pair plus an extra shoe, still sat under his personal affairs desks and in front of his hanging clothes. As his uniform sits, stalls and name tags of four horses await them in the old barn. Prince, 30, last worked in the fields in the 1970s.

The breeding of H. Charles, as evidenced by the state of the farm, would help in the unanimous recommendation and admission of 2020 to the National Register of Historic Places.

In the years when Olivenhain primarily supported agriculture, termites were the bane of barns, barns, and other structures.

“Over time, they just fell,” Richard said of the wooden buildings. “One day, they were there, and the next, they were gone.”

Transporting milk from Encinitas to San Diego was largely done by rail.  Conductors stamped milk pans with the name of each farm to prevent the mixing of hundreds of different families.  Photo by Jacqueline Covey
Transporting milk from Encinitas to San Diego was largely done by rail. Conductors stamped milk pans with the name of each farm to prevent the mixing of hundreds of different families. Photo by Jacqueline Covey

But not at Bowman’s Farm, which Richard attributes to his uncle.

Richard explained his uncle’s decisions as an early farmer: “He started spraying diesel, and he kept termites away from the wood.”

H. Charles was born in 1905 and died in 1994. But according to Richard, in the 1930s his interest in technology “sort of” ceased and he “continued to live into the 30s for the rest of his life.”

Or so, on his way.

Charles – one of two children of the Bowman family who had neither running water nor electricity – still helping Bowman’s current residents take care of the land.

Driving on the private road in the old neighborhood of Encinitas may be the closest way to detour. Richard and Adeline’s modern home overlooks 20 original buildings, originally preserved, on the remaining 10 acres of Bumann Ranch.

Today, Richard operates a tractor purchased in 1990. Adeline uses a century-old hay cutter, many of which will help feed her cows.

Richard Bowman takes a familiar walk on Bowman's once 480-acre ranch.  He and his wife, Adeline, moved in the 1980s to the remaining 10 acres of land that included the barns and the century-old home.  Photo by Jacqueline Covey
Richard Bowman takes a familiar walk on Bowman’s once 480-acre ranch. Richard and his wife, Adeline, moved in the 1980s to the remaining 10 acres of land that included the barns and the century-old home. Photo by Jacqueline Covey

Richard, who took care of his father’s older brother until his death in 1994, has overseen the farm alongside his wife since 1985, but he knew much earlier that his family had something special.

In the 1970s, Richard began a historical project that is now the published history of Bowman Farm with H. Charles as its primary source.

In 2016, Richard and Adeline, the fourth member of the Bowman family to live on the estate, felt that the farm was worth preserving permanently.

The property hills a moment in time. While the Olivenhain teacher’s future is something that will be sorted out among the family, her history stretches deeply into the community and across the county.

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