History of Pauma Valley

Pauma: an Indian word meaning “I bring water” or “a place where there is water”
(references to the San Luis Rey River which flows through the valley).


Early history:

The area known today as Pauma Valley has been home to Indians for centuries. Early Spanish maps identify the Pauma region as an Indian rancheria. In 1795, an exploration party from the San Diego Mission, led by Fra. Juan Mariner, was the first group of white men to visit the area.

Rancho era:

In 1844, a Mexican Land Grant of three square leagues (13,310 acres) was given by Governor Manuel Micheltorena to Jose Antonio Serrano. He called it Rancho Pauma. Serrano, said to be a splendid horseman who regularly took part in bullfights, built an adobe home and stocked the ranch with cattle and horses. Adobe walls of the original house were 24 inches thick.

Historic designation:

The Serrano Adobe was declared a California Historic Landmark in 1971 and a road marker was installed near 15067 Pala Road, approximately 700 feet off the west side of the roadway. It was the first San Diego County landmark designated by the California Historical Landmarks Commission. For a time, tours were offered. In 1998, new owners expanded the adobe by adding 1,700 square feet in two stories. The property, at 52 acres, was sold in 2003 and is owned by TY Nursery.

Pauma Reservation:

In 1892, much of the original Serrano ranch site was designated as part of the Pauma-Yuima Reservation, home to the Pauma-Yuima Band of Mission Indians, the historical name for the tribe generally known as the Pauma Band of Luiseno Indians. The architecturally distinctive Pauma Indian Chapel was built about 1878. The Reservation today covers 6,000 acres.

Pauma massacre:

Rancho Pauma’s place in history is marked by an event in 1846 in which more than 100 persons were killed. The attack, which began at Serrano’s adobe home, was to become known as the Pauma Massacre. The killings occurred during the transition from Mexican to U.S. jurisdiction of California.

P.S. Sparkman and the Rincon Store: 

This was the first general store serving Pauma Valley and was operated by Philip Stedman Sparkman from 1884 until his murder in 1907. The store was at the southwest corner of Pala and Rincon roads (present-day Valley Center Road and State Route 76). Sparkman, however, was best known as an ethnologist who studied Luiseno culture and published a dictionary of the Luiseno language. His definitive work, “The Culture of the Luiseno Indians was published after his death. Sparkman’s original manuscript is in the archive of the Valley Center Historical Society.

Historic stage stop:

A contract operator for the famous Butterfield Overland Stage Line made a regular stop at the Rincon Store in the late 1800’s. A watercolor of the stage and the store was painted by famed Western artist Marjorie Reed. It is on exhibit at the Valley Center History Museum. The store was acquired in 1920 by William C. Clark who opened Pauma’s first gasoline station and installed the first public telephone. After Clark’s death, the property was sold to Thomas Colby who operated Rincon Springs cafe until 1962. The restaurant, whose roots were said to date to 1889, was destroyed by fire in 1976. An adjoining adobe, originally owned by Sparkman, fell into disrepair and was abandoned. The property at the time was owned by John Hankey.

 Kellogg Store: 

The general store and cafe commonly called Pauma Store was started about 1920 by the Kellogg family (Daniel Preston and son Ralph) who also purchased and lived in the original Serrano adobe. Their property covered 100 acres planted in walnuts. The store is at 15035 Pala Road.

Ralph Kellogg married Eugenia Weimer in 1930. After his death in 1945, she married Milton L. Cheney (divorced 1960) and later married Edward Miller. As Genie Miller, she operated the Pauma Store for more than half a century. At the end of Prohibition in 1933, the store was issued one of three original liquor licenses in San Diego County.

School houses:

A one-room redwood structure known as ‘the little red schoolhouse” served Pauma Valley from 1917 to 1937. It replaced an earlier school that was swept away in the floods of 1916. Some 30 children generally rode horses to the K-8 school located near 14715 Pala Road. It closed when the new Pauma School opened on Cole Grade Road. Efforts to save and restore the former little red schoolhouse in the mid 1980’s failed, and neglect and winds eventually toppled the building.

Lazy H: 

Originally a working ranch started in 1920, the Lazy H became a private resort in 1950 known as the Lazy H Sky Ranch and attracted local celebrities. It was operated by Thomas Colby. Lazy H operates today as a motel and restaurant at 16787 Pala Road.

Wilderness Gardens and Sickler Grist Mill:

Although this 737-acre property has a Pala address, it has been more closely associated with Pauma Valley. Horticulturist Manchester Boddy purchased the parcel in 1954 and developed a major botanical garden. In 1973, the garden was turned over to the County of San Diego to be operated as an open-space preserve. A century earlier, in 1881, the Sickler brothers operated the region’s only Grist Mill on this site. Farmers would bring wagons filled with corn, wheat and barley to be ground. The grist mill’s original foundation still stands. The preserve is at 14209 Pala Road.

Rancho Cuca:

Adjoining Rancho Pauma to the east was a one-half square league parcel (2,174 acres) given by Mexican Governor Pio Pico in 1845 to Maria Juana de los Angeles, an Indian. Among the more prominent owners of the Cuca Ranch in later years was the Mendenhall family which called it Potrero Ranch. Today, the property is surrounded by the La Jolla Band of Luiseno Indians.