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An Early California Farmer

Contributed by Luene Corwin

My grandfather, Harlan Cate, showed walnuts as the source of his income when the first income tax was implemented. His father, at the age of 9, had come to California in a covered wagon in 1864. With only one other wagon, they came to So Cal to farm, having separated in Denver from the people that were headed to the gold fields.

I remember patronizing Knotts Berry Farm in its early days with my grandparents. My grandfather always wanted to go to the diorama showing a wagon crossing the desert that had a young child saying “Mama, I’m thirsty!” My grandfather said his dad didn’t want to talk about the hardships of the trip.

While my grandfather grew walnuts at first, by the time I remember him, his major crop was oranges. I remember that he let me play in the irrigation ditches as he watered his trees in the summer. Early on he had started the “Cate Ditch Company.”

Two years before he died he visited but didn’t stay long because he needed to be home to “plant the peas.”

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