Can You Help Find Photos of the Nusbickel Ranch in San Dimas, California?

I have written previously about Frederick Henry Nusbickel and that is how Charlene Wire found me.

As it turns out, the family of Charlene’s husband Dick knew the farm well. They worked on the farm many years ago. In fact, Dick’s maternal grandfather, Leonard Starner managed the ranch for more than thirty years.

I am trying to help Charlene and Dick Wire locate some photos of the Nusbickel citrus ranch. Dick spent the early years of his life on that ranch, just as his mother had before him. He rode on the tractor driven by his grandfather Leonard Starner through the orange groves and as a result, Dick has many fond childhood memories from that time.

More importantly, Dick is now an extraordinary watercolour artist. He is currently working on a series of paintings depicting buildings and scenes from the Nusbickel ranch. As you can see from the two examples below, Dick’s talent is extraordinary but he needs some help. There are more ranch buildings and scenes to be painted in order to complete his series.

NUSBICKEL Frederck Henry - Orange Grove Pump House - watercolour by James Richard Dick WireNUSBICKEL Frederick Henry - Orange Grove Barn San Dimas California - watercolour by James Ricard Dick Wire

“The Pump House” and “The Barn” by James Richard ‘Dick’ Wire, depicting buildings from the Nusbickel Ranch, San Dimas, California. Photos privately held by Charlene and James Richard ‘Dick’ Wire. Used with permission.

Leonard Starner with his wife Essie lived on the farm and raised their children there, including Dick’s mother Millie. The 1930 U.S. Federal Census shows the two families living on Foothill Boulevard ranch in San Dimas, California.

NUSBICKEL Frederick Henry household 1930 US Census - Copy

I’m not sure how Frederick Henry Nusbickel got into the citrus growing business. Frederick, you see, was born in Lyons, New York in 1881 and Lyons, New York, a small town located about half-way between Rochester and Syracuse on the south side of Lake Ontario isn’t exactly citrus growing territory. Frederick Henry Nusbickel came from a well-to-do family, his father also a Frederick Nusbickel was a successful hardware merchant. As a result, Frederick Henry was able to attend and graduate in 1903 from the prestigious Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts.

In 1905, Frederick Henry married Maisa Parker, soon after starting his career in the California citrus business. Following Maisa’s death in 1922, Frederick Henry married Marjorie Bixby Herlihy (nee MacPherson), the widow of Dr. John Stephen Herlihy. Frederick Henry, my wife’s second cousin twice removed, passed away in 1951.

STARNER Leonard and Essie with children Glenn Mildred Earl and lower Kenneth and Don abt 1942 from Charlene Wire

The Starner Family at the Nusbickel Citrus Ranch, San Dimas, California about 1942(bottom row (l-r): Kenneth and Don; Upper row (l-r): Glenn, Mildred, Earl, Essie and Leonard). Photo privately held by Charlene and James Richard ‘Dick’ Wire. Used with permission.  

If you have, or know someone who has, or even someone who might have, photos of the Nusbickel ranch that was located on Foothill Boulevard in San Dimas, California, please contact me by leaving a comment below, by email at ian.hadden@rogers.com, or through Facebook. Let’s help Dick Wire complete that series of paintings!

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