The Historic Bumann Ranch of Olivenhain – Encinitas Magazine June 2017 – Words & Photos by Kyle Thomas (Encinitas Magazine)
A Living Encinitas Historical Treasure
If you’re a fan of early Encinitas history, and if you take advantage of the upcoming chance to travel back in time over 100 years, you will discover a visit to the Bumann Ranch off Lone Jack Road in Olivenhain will give you an unprecedented live view through a window into the past. The Bumann Ranch is special because it has been preserved and unchanged by time making it truly unique to all of North County San Diego as a living tribute like no other, to the earliest days of our Encinitas heritage. Continue reading this story and you’ll learn how you can make this visit.
Today the Bumann Ranch is the home of Richard and Adeline Bumann, but the story begins in October of 1884 when the original Olivenhain Colony founders purchased a 4,431 acre former Mexican Ranch called Rancho Las Encinitas. One month later the first colonists arrived including Herman Bumann, his father Fredrick, and his uncle John Bumann. Herman remained with the colony for about one year, but due to problems within the colony, which caused it’s quick demise, and with the support of his new friend Adam Wiegand, and with the encouragement of his uncle John Bumann, Herman negotiated the purchase of a 160 acre homestead claim close by for $50.
Richard Bumann on Bumann Ranch- 2017
Herman supported himself in those early years doing work for other nearby ranches, and as far off as Rancho Guejito located 20 miles to the northeast on the eastern edge of Escondido. He would return to the homestead on weekends to make improvements, living in a 10×12 foot shanty that he built. His shanty is still intact on the property today.
One of the biggest challenges for ranching and farming in the area was access to water. Fortunately for Herman, Escondido Creek bisected the property. Though it took several years of non-stop hard work and improvements, the homestead became increasingly self-sustaining. Herman built a 14×20 foot barn, cleared, plowed and planted crop fields, purchased two work horses and several cows
About 1892, Herman with the help of his neighbor Bernard Reseck built a 24 x 28-foot house, which included a wash area, kitchen, sleeping area and living area. The house was built over a 5,000-gallon cistern, allowing for an indoor water supply.
Now, all Herman need was a wife to share his life with. In early 1893, while attending a German social event in San Diego, Herman met Emma Marie Junker, and their mutual attraction led to their courtship and eventual marriage on December 20, 1893.
The first two years that followed Emma’s arrival to the ranch were marked by good and bad times based on the rainfall essential for the growth of the crops needed to feed the livestock. 1895 to 1900 were a favorable period with a good harvest and increased livestock. During this period additional buildings were added, including a granary, reaper barn, a bee house and a corncrib.
Cattle, poultry, and pork became the main source of income for the ranch and most of the crops that weren’t grown specifically to feed the family, were grown to feed the animals. 200 to 250 chickens and the 120 eggs they produced daily accounted for 40% of the ranch’s income. The 20 to 28 milk cows the ranch maintained eventually gave way to being replaced by Hereford beef cattle beginning in 1918. Other income producers were pigs, honey from 35 bee boxes and wine produced from a half-acre of Grenache grapes.
1937 – Fred Coutts Seated with his Hunting Dogs at Bumann Ranch. Left to right: Herman Bumann, Mr. Bell and Bing Crosby. Bing is Shown Here Singing “Rancho Grande”
Next to rainfall, the next most important asset to a working ranch would be the children. Five boys and seven girls were all born and raised on the Bumann homestead ranch, with their first, Marie Emilie being born in April of 1895. Herman constructed a bunkhouse to house them all, adjacent to the main house, with the south wing for the boys and the north wing for the girls.
The Bumann Family in about 1918. 3666 Bumann road, Olivenhain, California.
Family historian Richard Bumann sums up life on the ranch stating that “Growing up on the homestead ranch was an adventure and hard work. From childhood, everyone had chores. Idle time was an infrequent luxury.” The daily chores give a good insight into the workings of the ranch. “Cleaning the corral, collecting firewood, laundry, herding cattle, getting water, milking cows, making bread and collecting eggs, were some of the things the children were expected to help with or do completely on their own” reports Richard.
Barefoot – Taken on July 26, 1916. From left is Alta, Emil, Mollie, William and George Bumann. 3666 Bumann road, Olivenhain, California.
Up until their teens, the children all went barefoot. They had shoes, but they were usually worn just for special occasions. School was a two-mile walk, but even on school days, the children had chores before and after school. Sometimes the children were allowed to take a horse and wagon to school, and occasionally they would also bring a shotgun to bag a few rabbits on the way back home.
Herman Bumann’s Original Shanty (left) was Constructed in 1885. The Main House (right) was originally constructed in 1892.
Nobody ever went hungry on the ranch. Meals were served three times a day. George Bumann, one of the youngest children of the clan recalls, “Most meals consisted of things grown, raised or caught on the ranch property. Lots of milk, eggs, and chicken. Pork was a staple with smoked bacon, ham sausage and brined pork, which were all stored in the cellar. Onions, cabbage, and potatoes were fried in a big pan over the wood stove. They were often supplemented with fish from the creek, also, rabbits and quail.”
The ranch expanded over the years by purchasing two neighboring 160-acre homesteads; the August Schmidt homestead to the east in 1909 for $600, and the Pape homestead to the north in 1918 for $1,000. The Bumann Ranch now occupied 480 acres.
On February 20, 1926, Herman F. Bumann passed away at age 63. The ranch operation continued under the leadership of the older boys, and the 1920’s through the early 1930’s were productive years. The great depression had little effect on the ranch. A drought that lasted from 1932 until 1935, however, produced major hardships resulting from scarce pasture grasses and crop failures. Ten years after Herman’s passing, Emma Bumann passed away on February 10, 1936, at age 65. Emma was buried next to her husband in the Olivenhain Cemetery.
The estate divided the property among the twelve children. Herman Charles Bumann inherited the 40 acres that contained the ranch buildings and the farm equipment and he would be the only child to remain on the ranch. Over time he began purchasing the land inherited by his siblings and by 1949 owned all of the 160 acres of the original homestead. Herman C. remained on the homestead ranch and continued the crop and cattle business. In the late 1950’s Herman began to sell the ranch property to pay property taxes. By 1971 only 10 acres, with the houses, barns, and buildings containing the ranching equipment remained.
In September of 1985, after the completion of their new house, Richard Bumann, grandson of Herman F. Bumann and his wife Adeline, moved onto the ranch. Electricity arrived for the first time ever, six months later.
In April of 1986, the Ranch celebrated its 100th anniversary with a party that was attended by several hundred people, many of which were friends of the family through the generations.
Richard Bumann Showing a Visitor, Casandra Thomas the 5,000 Gallon Water Storage Cistern.
Richard Bumann sums up the story of the ranch best saying, “I belong to the last generation to remember the ranch when it was 480 acres. When it was farmed by horses and helped with the last grain harvest. Even though the ranch has remained unchanged, the surrounding area has not.” Surrounded by very large and expensive developments, Richard laments that, “The ranch property became an island, surrounded by a sea of wealth. Herman Bumann could never have imagined the cost of these homes.”
Though the Bumann Ranch is not open to the public, the Encinitas Preservation Association will be giving a bus tour on September 9th, 2017, of dozens of historic Encinitas sites, which will include a rare opportunity to visit the Bumann Ranch.
I reached out to Richard Buman to get an answer to inquiries about how one can arrange to visit the Buman Ranch and received this response from Richard:
So good to hear from you. I still enjoy the wonderful article you did on our ranch.
Ever since the designation was announced, there has been a flood of tour requests. We’re not sure how to handle all this. In years past, we have allowed several non-profit groups to have public tours of the ranch as long as they purchased a temporary insurance policy. These included several annual bus tours by the Encinitas Preservation Association, The Garden & Studio tour, visits from the San Dieguito Heritage Ranch, the North Coast Calvary art day and several other art groups. Possibly their best bet is to contact the Encinitas Preservation Association or the Garden & Studio and get on one of there upcoming tours. At present we lack the insurance and other requirements to just open it up to the public. We have and continue to invite individuals we have met or already know, but opening it up to the general public is a huge step which at present we are not prepared for.