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Notes from Interview with Edward Toney, Agua Dulce Pioneer.


Ed was one of two children in his family. His Father, Ray Alvin Toney, had a twin brother, Alvin Ray who usually went by the name of Roy. Ed has a sister, June Wolff living in Long Beach, Calif. His mother's name was Ida Rose Toney, and one of his grandmother's was Ida Krieg Faubert, sister of Henry Krieg, the one who homesteaded Vasquez Rocks.

The Toneys actually lived in what is known today as the Ranger's house. As movie companies left the park and many of their movie sets behind, Ed and his father, Ray Alvin Toney, known by his friends and the community as Ray Toney, built the house they lived in from these left over movie sets. Ed and Ray Toney would pull out the nails, saving the boards and to re-use them. The majority of the wood used in the Ranger's house came from these sets. Ed recalls exactly how poor they really were. Everyone out there was poor. Ed graduated from Agua Dulce Elementary School in 1941. The friends he remembers most as children were the Hanawalt kids — Howard, Ray, Charles and a girl whose name has been forgotten — she was much younger than his playmate friends. Ed's playmates were Ray and Charles Hanawalt. The only entertainment for children in those days at the Rocks was playing with homemade rubber guns that shot rubber bands. Hunting was also an activity that Ed enjoyed as a boy. He caught rabbits, quail and deer that were eaten at the family dinner table. Leftovers (a good deal of the deer) were given to the family dog, Bruce.

At school, the kids played baseball for the school team. Ed was the pitcher and Marilyn Shaeffer played first base. One of Marilyn's hands had gotten caught in the gears of a pump jack. As a result she lost a couple of fingers as a child. When she caught the ball and it hit the ends of her fingers — it hurt her a lot. She was still an excellent first baseman.

There are four burial sites in the rocks overlooking the park: Henry Krieg (Ed's great-uncle); Ida Krieg Faulbert (Ed's grandmother); her second-husband, Joseph Faulbert. Ida Faulbert's first husband was Albert Toney, who died in a coal mine when Ed's father was two years old. Lastly, buried below Mr. Faulbert was Earl Casey, who owned one of the cabins at the Rocks with his wife before the county purchased the property. The Casey cabin was taken down by the County of Los Angeles. [Refer to photo — cabin located on ridge to the east of the big rock.]

Ida Amman married Ray Toney. Ida's grandmother was Rosina Weir Wagner. She had two kids with Mr. Wagner, John and Charles. When Mr. Wagner was killed in a gold mine accident in Cripplecreek, Colorado. She then married Mr. Amman, with whom she had three children more, Adolf, Ida and Mary. Taking from a carefully kept file of papers, Ed casually opened Krieg's homestead deed — or at least a deed to one of the properties Krieg owned in Agua Dulce. The deed was recorded "August 16, 1919 at 16 minutes past 11 a.m., Book 16, page 12 of Patents, Recorded Patent Number 692323. Recorded Los Angeles County, Calif., C.L. Logan, County Recorder by G. Maylar." A fee was noted on the document $1.05, which was a lot of money in those days. Document: Patteson; Book Fitzmier. The deed is signed by Woodrow Wilson and affirmed by E.D. Gouldin, Assistant Secretary.

Henry Krieg was a former miner, who dressed in khaki's and a blue shirt. He worked for putting timber supports in the Borax mine for several years before homesteading the Rocks. Ed thinks he came to Agua Dulce in 1909 from Cripplecreek/Victor, Colorado. Ed recalls the wall from the smelter and the black dump at the Borax mine. They can still be seen today. To prove up his homestead claim, in the flat area south of the peppertree area slightly down from the parking lot today, Krieg planted apples and pear trees. Henry found a natural spring. There he dug a tunnel into the mountain burrowing into solid rock. In tunneling, he intercepted several springs. That's where Henry got his water. Later, Ed's father and Uncle Adolf (a welder) ran a pipe from the spring to water the field of trees.

One time, Henry Krieg went to Mohave with a wagon to buy supplies. He stopped at Reno's Bar to have a drink. While he was there, someone came up behind him, slapped him on the back and said, "You're buying drinks for the house." Krieg looked down and saw the bar was full and he had to buy drinks because the man was packing lots of guns. It turned out that the man who slapped Henry on the back was the Mohave Kid. Henry came home without supplies.

Krieg's cabin was near the peppertree. Ed describes the cabin as interesting and also strange. Inside the cabin, furniture was sparse. Ed recalls a wood stove and a kitchen table. The legs from the table were placed in tin cans filled with water. Krieg claimed this kept the ants from crawling up onto the table. He also had an old wood stove. The cabin sat on boulders, but was built out of board and bat. According to Ida Toney, Krieg "walked like a bear." He was a wild man. Ed said except for the fact that he owned the Rocks, Krieg probably would have followed his friends to Alaska. Krieg operated his own still at the Rocks with grapes supplied by Tall Bello. Krieg owned a press to press the grapes into wine. Toney still makes a facial expression when he recalls the smell of the still room.

Eaking out a living was not easy at the Rocks. During the days of the depression, the family made money wherever they could. Toney's uncle, John Wagner used to sit with a car at the entrance to the Rocks charging twenty-five cents a car for a look at the Rocks. Ed and his father also had a mine at the end of Darling Road. They were mining for gold. The mine went 140 feet down into the ground until World War II intervened and dynamite was no longer available. They had a dry washer and mined for gold along the creek.

Ed recalls finding an arrow straightener below the big rock. The Toney family still treasures that artifact. His daughter has it. He shared a photo of his pony Bonnie taken at the Rocks.

On Hubbard Road in Acton were some old Spanish mines. The Mexicans had left behind some old arrastras. Ed and his father in their search for gold dismantled the rock-bound arrastras to extract the gold trapped in the cracks. The Toneys pried the rocks apart and panned for gold. They made $30 an ounce back then with some money subtracted for impurities. Ed recalls entering tunnels that were hand dug — where no drill holes marked the walls. He doesn't recall where his father sold the gold.

Mattie Fox is also buried at the Rocks. Her gravesite is marked by an elaborate rock monument. She and her family lived in the Fox cabin. Ed remarked that the cabin was "fairly nice." He said people used to call her "Nellie." They had a beer garden and people would come from all over to visit their garden and drink beer. The Foxes abandoned the site when Mattie Fox died.

Ed Toney recalls some of the neighbors his uncle rented to, among them Ray and Myrtle Smith. Frank "Bunt" Dyer lived across the street and made a living in those days delivering water to local neighbors. He also recalls The Pheasant Club across from the Rocks. Ed had a fence built with chicken wire fencing at the bottom to hold in his rabbits. The pheasants would stick their heads through the fence. Ed remembers catching at least four of them through that fence without ever firing a shot.

Ed also recalls Claude Ellis. He worked for a famous brand paint company. Ellis tested various brands of paint at Vasquez Rocks. He used to camp out across the street until Ray Toney gave him a one-acre spot. The Indian paintings are the site of Mr. Ellis' cabin. Ed says he painted not only on rocks but on tree stumps too. Eye holes were painted in rocks. The monster rock visible today only by its eyeballs was a much more elaborate painting. The monster had hair and it was very well defined. The monster rock and the paints of the bandit are all near the front of the park. The so-called Indian paintings are located in an area that Henry Krieg named "the Devil's Punch Bowl."

Hollywood came, not only to make movie pictures — but some came to stay. One who came to stay and rented one of cabins owned individually at the Rocks. Henry Krieg would sell small, subdivided one-acre portions to people. One site was owned by Ray Rademaker, who sold the property to actor Cy Young and his wife. On the left side of Escondido Canyon Road, just north of the entrance to Vasquez Rocks was Ben Trueax's home. Trueax was the engineer for the local narrow guage train that ran between the borax mine at Tick Canyon and Agua Dulce.

The area where the entrance road is today, Toney purchased from a man named Mr. Schreiber. When the Toneys sold the property to the park it was because the taxes made the property unaffordable. Edward Toney received $90,000 for the portion of land he had purchased from Mr. Scribner, and his mother, Ida Toney, received $260,000. They leased the land to the County in 1965 and when the SKAG program was developed, the County of Los Angeles purchased the property in 1967. Toney is glad that the County ended up with the property. He says one developer who approached his family wanted to paint all of the rocks white and re-name the place, "Moon Valley." Toney felt the County was a better choice.

EDWARD TONEY
• Vasquez Rocks
• VP, Newhall Land

• Residents of the Rocks
• Interview Notes 2002
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Obituary 2002

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Toney Home 2009

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