Earthquake Refugees

A Homestead Headlines Article by Chuck Oldenburg

May, 2002

Ninety-six years ago, the earthquake of April 18, 1906 and the subsequent fire left many San Franciscans homeless. Some sought refuge in Homestead Valley. Lillian Ferguson moved to her secondary residence at Three Groves. Fred Stolte moved to his weekend cabin across the street. Alexander Eells moved with his wife and 2 daughters to their farm (now at 424 LaVerne). Others were temporarily housed by friends in Homestead Valley.

The Heckman family had a big house to share with their friends. In 1903 Herman Heckman and his wife lived with their eight children in a small town in the middle of Wisconsin. Mrs. Heckman’s brother, John Yost, who had a lumber yard in Mill Valley, got Herman to come out here and look around. Herman, a carpenter and cabinet maker, decided to stay. He built a mill at 77 Miller (now Vogue Cleaners) and manufactured doors, windows, cabinets and other wood products. In 1904 he sent for his wife and family.

Herman bought the triangle of land bounded by Evergreen, Ethel and Linden Lane, site of the original Homestead. The barn with its distinctive cupola was the only building on the site. The old Homestead had burned down in 1900. The property was covered with thistles six feet high that had to be cut down before Herman could begin construction of their 13-room house. They kept two cows for milk and cream, but no horses. They would rent a horse and buggy when they needed one. After the earthquake, the Heckmans invited their San Francisco friends to stay with them until they could make more permanent living arrangements.

In 1905, John Bone, head of maintenance for the San Francisco School District, and his wife Lillian bought a large parcel of land running the full length of the west side of Hawthorne. Early in 1906 he built a small house on the corner of Evergreen and Hawthorne. After the earthquake the Bones invited their San Francisco friends to stay in tents they set up for them in their large yard. The Bone’s well survived the earthquake and served as the source of water for several neighbors whose wells had collapsed.

Homestead rapidly gained several new permanent residents when San Franciscans who were made homeless by the earthquake came out to Homestead Valley, bought property and built houses.


If you have comments or questions about this article or other topics
pertaining to the history of Homestead Valley,
please feel free to e-mail Chuck Oldenburg.