Carlson Farm

This photo appeared in the Fort Bragg Advocate on March 27, 1981. It showed a farm at the north end of the Pudding Creek Trestle.

Research about the family living in there culminated with an interview with a family member by a member of the local genealogical society which elicited the following:

The undated photograph appeared in the Fort Bragg Advocate-News of March 27, 1981 and was attributed to Everett Racine. The immediate subject of the picture was the railroad trestle apparently newly constructed as there is no vegetation in the foreground, the now-familiar sand dune east of the trestle is not present, and the water barrels for fire protection do not appear on the timbers projecting from the bridge deck meant for their support. The bridge timbers have a raw, newly cut finish. Since the trestle was built in 1915-1916 (the first train of logs came across it January 3, 1917), the picture was taken probably in late 1916.

In the background appear a number of structures on the headlands above Pudding Creek. Most of these buildings comprised the Carlson homestead. The history of the Carlson family was traced using genealogical records from the newspaper and a personal interview with a surviving member of that family on March 29, 2001.

The Carlson family

Charles Jofs Carlson, aka “Carl” Carlson, was born in Sundom, Finland, in 1863, married Marie Adelina Mannfolk in Grand Island, Sacramento, California September 22, 1894. Called “Lena” she was born at Lappejard, Finland, September 12, 1873. They came to Fort Bragg and settled on the land north of Pudding Creek where he constructed the buildings and fences in the photograph (except numbers 82 and 97). The language used in their home was Swedish despite their Finnish origins. They had twelve children. Charles “Carl” Carlson was a carpenter by trade. He died in Fort Bragg January 30, 1921. “Lena” Carlson died in Fort Bragg on April 11, 1951.

On March 29, 2001 in a personal interview with Violet Carlson Kostick, age 85, she confirmed that the buildings shown in the photograph were indeed her family’s and that she grew-up there. She did not remember her father as he had died in 1921 when she was five years old.

Violet answered questions but volunteered little. She remembered living there, the long walks to school, the carpenter work her brother Bill did in the little workshop (#31), the bunkhouse (#36) where the boys lived as there was no room in the house, the use of kerosene lights, heating irons on the stove, the pig and the cow they kept, the bath house where water was heated (behind #36), the privy (not in view, behind #31), and the cypress trees her mother planted. The trees are still there as this picture -taken before the trestle was restored – shows.

Violet recalled that in stormy weather that foam would sometimes be blown from the ocean onto her mother’s garden. One of the older brothers was a blacksmith at Camp 1, Ten Mile (see section on Camp 1).

The railroad was not a big factor in their life; the trains ran by in a regular manner. Sometimes when the train carrying the women of Camp One home with their groceries, someone would throw an orange to Violet standing near the track. But the Carlson children never crossed Pudding Creek on the trestle when going to town; they always crossed the track and used the county wagon road bridge (now Highway 1, Main Street). The family never maintained a horse for transportation and did not have an automobile for many years.

After father Carlson’s death, the family hung on for another ten or more years before moving into town. Violet recalled that her mother sold the place to a woman from Sacramento in the mid-1930s. In turn the property was sold to The Union Lumber Company which then burned the structures.
Our diorama will use buildings reminiscent of those in the picture.

Thanks to Denise Stenberg we have the following additional info and photos about the Carlsons:

A brief biography, by Don Carlson

Born on Feb. 12th, 1909, in Fort Bragg. Ca. Son of Charles Jofs Carlson, born 1863, and Maria Adalina (Mann-Folk) Carlson, born Sept. 15, 1873, of Sundom, Finland — near Vaasa, Finland. Both were Swedish and spoke Swedish. Married Sept. 22. 1894, in Sacramento. Ca.
Walter was 11th of 12 children. Father Charles died 1/9/1921 and Mother Maria died 4/11/1951.
Dad’s family lived on the North bluff of where Pudding Creek empties into the ocean west of the Union Lumber Company tracks. He often said that during a strong storm the ocean waves would sometimes splash over the bluff onto their yard.

He spoke fondly of his childhood and his brother and sisters. No Television in those [his childhood] days — but I don’t think he would’ve had time to watch anything anyway. He was very busy hunting. fishing and trapping as well as avoiding the game wardens. He made a few dollars trapping although I never how much. It seemed like he made enough to have spending money. He would have a little smile when he mentioned the game wardens — I guess they met many times. In warmer weather there was swimming. I think there was an indoor pool somewhere in Fort Bragg — YMCA ? . But, there was always Pudding Creek — auk ! A few things Dad excelled at were getting along with people (a survival tactic with all the older siblings) projecting a pleasant and positive attitude. a gift of small talk (he called it BS) and Baseball.
By the time he entered high school his talent as a baseball pitcher was showing. In his first year his team did not lose a game -he pitched most of the games. Same thing the next year and the next year. Three years and his team never lost a game (that’s the way he told the story.. ). He was very proud of that accomplishment. The Fort Bragg High School team was well known in Northern Cal. He told me a number of times how little Fort Bragg Hi beat the big city Berkeley Hi team (my old school) and he pitched the game. The late 1920s team played other schools from all over Nor. Cal and never lost.

In a small town like Fort Bragg, business people in town notice a winning high school sports team. As the team’s best pitcher and being left handed, he was no longer known as Walter — now it was Lefty. This will be the first of a few times he will be noticed for hard work and talent. While all of his older brothers worked either for the Union Lumber Co. in the lumber yards or for the Union Pacific Railroad, he briefly worked in the lumber yard but was moved into the Union Pacific General store and about a year after high school he was the store manager. He wasl8 or 19 and had the store keys — he was responsible to lock up the store on Saturday nights …. He kept track of the store inventory and some of the other accounting duties. he was amazed of the high regard they held him in.

Soon he and 8 others from Fort Bragg, Leo Galli and dad’s best friend Kit Pennetenti, left for San Francisco. Dad went to Heald’s Business College (worked his way thru – sweeping floors at the school and other jobs the school had for him … that’s what he told me). He was the first in our family to graduate from a college until his grandson (my nephew Tony) graduated from San Jose State. San Jose State is a major school and not to take anything away from my nephew — Tony worked very hard, never gave up and finished well enough to graduate (yes. I am proud of him) but, in the middle of the great depression working your way through any college is a major accomplishment — I don’t how many of dad’s friends also made it all the way through.

All this time he was still playing baseball for various teams in San Francisco. Played with the DiMaggio brothers, Dom & Vince. He told a younger DiMaggio — Joe — he was too young to play for his team ….. 000PS.

A few years later, the Detroit Tigers invited him to try-outs for their team. They liked what they saw and wanted to sign dad to a contract. He refused !! They wanted to send him to Georgia. He did not want to go and he told me his arm was giving out — he had pitched so many games he didn’t feel he could pitch many more games. The end of baseball for Lefty.
After finishing school, dad was working for the

Jewel Tea Company. They were a door to door sundries and grocery delivery company. There were many of those types of companies and one the better known was the Jewel Tea Co. They had established customer routes and were a very reputable business. Later he was working for the Safeway Grocery Stores across the bay in Richmond and his next important break was about to happen. About two years later one of the bread salesman for the Remar Baking Co. suggested dad talk to the salesman’s supervisor. So, dad goes to work for the bread company as a route salesman. Dad’s big advantage over the other companies salesmen was his knowledge of the grocery business and what the grocery companies were looking for in a bread company. Dad was adding so many stores to his route the bread company had to hire more salesmen and split-up his routes. They made him a supervisor so he would still have some contact with the stores he added and to teach the salesmen his methods of attracting new customers (stores). He had meetings with the owner of the bread company. That was the big break.

I was born on 11/5/1941. 12/7/1941 was the day Pearl Harbor was destroyed by the Japanese. Every able-bodied man was about to be drafted in the armed services. The owner of the bread company was a member of the local draft board. When it was dad’s turn to be drafted, the owner stepped in and gave dad a deferred status. Dad was the only one in the company that knew all of the salesman’s routes, knew almost all of the customers and was an indispensable part of a vital business to the local community. It was true and it worked ! ! Dad was not drafted and was not in the war. James Burke’s Connections would have shown how playing baseball well, had kept dad out of the war.

Another lucky thing happened to dad in the mid 1930’s. He met Lillian Hoffman. Who are the lucky ones now? My sister, Julie and I had them for parents.

Donald Walter Carlson 7/16/2004″

Along with the new info we were pleased to receive three more photos:a>