Scene from "Ramona"

Rancho Camulos

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Postcard shows a photograph of a scene from Helen Hunt Jackson's 1884 novel, "Ramona," playing out at the Del Valle family's adobe home at Rancho Camulos. The printed text reads: "7410. When Don Felipe was near to death at Ramona's old home, Ventura, Cal."

The original photograph was made in 1886 by John Calvin Brewster (Dec. 31, 1841 - Feb. 24, 1909), a pioneer photographer who established a studio in Ventura in 1875, visited Rancho Camulos in 1886 and made a number of photographs that were subsequently published by the San Francisco Chronicle.

The postcard is undated, but it was published 15-20 years later, sometime between 1901 and 1907. We know this because there is room for a message on the front (bottom and right margins), with "Post Card" and "This side is for the address only" on the back (see below), along with the denominations of 1 cent domestic and 2 cents foreign.

Prior to July 1, 1898, it cost 2 cents to mail a letter or postcard with a personal message. On that date, the postcard rate fell to 1 cent but the message had to appear on the front, and publishers had to print "Private Mailing Card" on the back (see example here). The back could be used for the address only, and there were additional restrictions. On December 24, 1901, some of those restrictions were relaxed, and "Private Mailing Card" changed to "Post Card." Personal messages were still limited to the front. On March 1, 1907, new regulations created the "divided back," with the message on one side and the address on the other.

So, our postcard was published between December 24, 1901, and March 1, 1907. The publisher is M. Rieder, who was in the postcard publishing business in Los Angeles from 1901-1915. Most of his cards were printed in Germany.

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John Calvin Brewster: Biography During Life
From "Pen Pictures" for Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo and Ventura Counties, 1891

J.C. Brewster, a well known and highly esteemed citizen of San Buenaventura, who has been connected with the growth of the place and interested in its moral and business welfare, and now the proprietor of the art gallery, was born in Wayne County, Ohio, December 31, 1841. His father, Calvin Brewster, was born in Canterbury, Windham County, Connecticut, in 1787, a descendant of Sir William Brewster who came to the New World on the Mayflower in 1620. He (Sir William) was the father of Love Brewster, and the generations in succession were Wrestling, Jonathan, who came to Windham, Connecticut, in 1729, Peleg, born in 1717, who must have removed to Canterbury when quite young, for his oldest son, John — who made the sixth generation — was born in that town in 1739. Peleg was Mr. Brewster's great-grandfather. Jedediah, a younger son of his, was Mr. Brewster's grandfather. The record of Jedediah's birth was lost; but the town records show that he was married to Prudence Robinson May 19, 1773. According to the good-fashion in those good old times, they had a good large family, and about every two years there was a record of a birth in the family. The names on the record are as follows: Elizabeth, Silas, Anson, Florina, Sarah, Calvin and Jedediah, Jr. Elizabeth, Sarah and Jedediah died in childhood, and January, 1789, the good wife Prudence died, and the next autumn Jedediah married for his second wife Miss Asenath Hapgood, to aid in the care of the family. He removed a few years later to Berne, Albany County, New York. In 1808 he sold some of his land to Silas Brewster and the deed descends to him as living at Berne. The same year he sold his homestead to Deacon Barnabas Allen, whose son still owns it. It is about four miles from the village of Canterbury. A descendant of the Brewsters was recently there and was shown around by the proprietor. She drank from the old well that had been in uninterrupted use for more than a century. The farm is considered one of the best in that sectiion, although a Western farmer would consider it very poor land. The old burying-ground was about a mile from the house. It was given to that part of the town by one of the Brewsters, and has been used by four or five generations and about a dozen families. Here are the names of Prudence Brewster and the children alluded to. In the lot are some stones so old that the inscriptions have become completely defaced, and some have sunk so deeply in the ground that only their tops are visible. The graveyard, however, is kept in excellent condition by a Miss Winchester, whose ancestors have been buried there for several generations. She is a spinster of eighty-five years — the last of her family. She has made provisions in her will to have the graveyard kept in condition after she has gone. She remember old 'Diah Brewster, as she called him, and said her mother used to go over there on certain occasions.

Mr. Brewster's mother, whose maiden name was Harriet Cramer, was a native of Strausburg, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, and was born in 1813, of Dutch ancestry. The parents were married in 1837 and had a family of six children, of whom the subject of this sketch was the second. He was eight years old when the family moved to Iowa. Before he was of age he taught two terms of school, holding a first grade certificate both in Iowa and Missouri. He began to learn the art of photography in 1860, in Warsaw, Illinois, and since then has devoted his entire attention to it. In 1862 he came to California and for a short time taught a select school in Sacramento city. Soon afterward he engaged in partnership with Frank M. Stamper, and subsequently he sold to his partner and took charge of a photograph gallery on J street, that city, and continued in its charge until the proprietor sold it. Then he went to Virginia City, Nevada, and took charge of the gallery of R. H. Vance, of New York, who was a pioneer photographer of the coast. Next he had charge of a gallery at Carson City, for the same party.

In the spring of 1865 he went to Idaho with a Concord wagon and four bronchos, for Sutterly Brothers, and opened business at Ruby City. They had good success there, and his salary was $50 a week, and board without room $16 a week. In the fall they went to Placerville and also to Centerville; thence to Salt Lake City. There Mr. Sutterly built a gallery and Mr. Brewster continued to run the tent at Douglas, three miles east. In the spring of 1866 they moved into the new gallery and did a large business, the receipts sometimes reaching $200 a day. Soon after this Mr. Brewster went to Helena, Montana, and opened a gallery for himself. In the fall of 1868 he sold it and returned to Salt Lake City, and continued in business there and at several other towns in the vicinity, with fine success, until the next spring. He then went to Nevada, and was there until 1871, with his brother-in-law as partner. They had a large gallery and fine building. Thence he went to Visalia and to San Francisco, where his mother then resided. His health had failed, but soon after returning home he recovered, and began work for William Shaw, on Kearny street; but at length he was discharge because he would not work on Sunday. He then worked for Bradley & Rulofson until he decided to begin on his own account. He had a nice trade at San Luis Obispo until 1874, when he came to San Buenaventura and opened a gallery near the mission church. A year afterward he moved between Oak and California streets and built a gallery, with the privilege of moving it. In the spring of 1877 he bought his present location on Oak street and moved the gallery there, building additions to it, and has since then conducted his business with brilliant success. His gallery is splendidly equipped, and is filled with samples of his work which reflect great credit upon his skill. He was among the very first to adopt the dry-plate method, so superior to the old method.

He has recently built a nice two-story residence on Santa Clara street, surrounding it with choice flowers and young trees and shrubs. In 1875 he married Mrs. Mary O. Sinclair, widow of J. S. Sinclair; her maiden name was Mary Oberia Hadley. They have had two children, but lost the little son. Their daughter, Pansy Augusta, was born in Ventura, August 15, 1880. Mr Brewster was elected one of the School Trustees of the city; he is a Prohibition Republican, a business man of talent and a citizen without reproach. He is an Elder in the Presbyterian Church, of which denomination his family are also members. He is treasurer of the Young Men's Christian Association, and has been made an honorary member of the Women's Christian Temperance Union. He is also Treasurer and Depositary of the American Bible Society at Ventura.

LW3736: 9600 dpi jpeg from original postcard purchased 2020 by Leon Worden.
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