Nathalie Rübel (left) and her older sister Shirley celebrate their April birthdays together in their Rancho Camulos Adobe home, circa 1931. 2¼x2¼-inch print.
Shirley, nicknamed "Pete" (b. April 16, 1927), and Nathalie, nicknamed "Boo" (b. April 26, 1928), are two of the five surviving children (3 girls, 2 boys) of
August and Mary Rübel, who purchased Rancho Camulos in about 1924. (A sixth sibling, August Jr., was born in December 1925 and lived one month.) We'd like to say
Pete and Boo were born at Camulos, but technically they were born in a Los Angeles hospital while the family lived at Camulos.
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.