Santa Clarita Valley History In Pictures
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Charlie Rycroft, Ranch Foreman
Rancho Camulos


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Charlie Rycroft, Camulos Ranch foreman.

We tend to think of Rancho Camulos as a scenic and historic place, but it's also a 2,000-acre agribusiness with hired help to plant and bring in the crops, among other things. The ranch foreman in the 1920s-40s was Charlie Rycroft, who lived on the property.

And as an isolated family farm during the lifetime of owners August and Mary Rübel, additional employees were hired to handle certain household and related chores. The Rübels built a schoolhouse on the property in 1930 for their five surviving children and hired a schoolteacher who lived on site. Two other non-resident teachers came once a week to provide specialized instruction, such as French, according to daughters Shirley and Nathalie Rübel (interview 11-26-2013). Shirley and Nathalie said the Rübel kids were the school's — and the resident teacher's — only pupils.

They said after their father died in 1943, there was friction between Charlie Rycroft and their mother's new suitor, resulting in Rycroft's departure.


According to Triem & Stone (1996) and to his two surviving daughters in 2013 — Shirley Rübel Lorenz and Nathalie (Rübel) Trefzger — August A. Rübel was a New Yorker born in Switzerland while his parents were traveling there. (Despite the umlauts, he didn't speak German, according to his daughters.) He grew up on the East Coast and served with the American Field Service during World War I, driving an ambulance in France from the fall of 1917 until 1919.

Rübel attended Harvard University and came to Ventura County in 1922, first living in Aliso Canyon near Santa Paula where he and his bride, the former Mary Colgate McIsaac, ran a dairy called Billiwhack (pronounced Billy Whack). According to family tradition, after their prize bull died, the dairy went broke and they purchased Rancho Camulos (pronounced kə-MOO-lōs) from the heirs of Ygnacio del Valle in about 1924. They moved to the property in 1925 and raised five children there.

The AFS ambulance service was reactivated in 1939. American volunteers drove ambulances in France, North Africa, the Middle East, Italy, Germany, India and Burma, carrying more than 700,000 casualties by the end of World War II. August returned to the AFS in 1942 and was killed in Tunisia on April 28, 1943, when the ambulance he was driving hit a German land mine. He is buried in an American military cemetery in Carthage, now a suburb of Tunis. (After the war, in 1947, AFS transitioned into a student exchange program.)

Mary Rübel married Edwin Burger in 1946, who continued as the resident manager of Rancho Camulos after Mary's death in 1968. Subsequently the ranch has been managed by descendants of August and Mary Rübel.

The Rübel family continues to own the ranch. In fact, only two families — the Del Valles and the Rübels — have owned Rancho Camulos since 1839, when it was granted by Gov. Juan B. Alvarado to Mexican Lt. Antonio del Valle as part of the Rancho San Francisco.

Today it makes a lovely setting for a wedding. The historic buildings are operated by the 501c3 nonprofit Rancho Camulos Museum, and they're open for tours on weekend afternoons. Rancho Camulos is located located just 10 miles west of Interstate 5 on scenic Highway 126. For more information visit RanchoCamulos.org.


NT1005: 19200 dpi jpeg from 2x3½-inch print | Nathalie (Rübel) Trefzger collection.
RUBEL FAMILY of RANCHO CAMULOS

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HABS Survey Photos 1934 x17 thumbnail
HABS Survey Diagrams 1934/36 x17
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Prince Aaggie 1920s

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Shirley with Bulldog ~1928

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Fountain at Cocina ~1920s-30s

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Shirley & Nathalie Birthday ~1931

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Del Valle Stagecoach 1938

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Rübel & Carey Kids ~1940

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Foreman Charlie Rycroft

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August Rubel at Desk

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Johnny Dingtoes

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August & Gerald 1942

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August Rübel 1940s

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August Rübel Grave Marker

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Double Wedding 1950s

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Peter Rubel 1935-1957

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Grave Marker, Baby August ("Little Boy") 2013

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