A Homestead Headlines Article by Chuck Oldenburg
On the La Verne Heights subdivision development map of 1915, the long main east-west road from Montford Ave. to Janes St.. is Marin Ave. A side street leading up to Edgewood Ave. is Seymour Ave. Elinor Hunsinger lived at #10 Seymour Ave. [now #305 Seymour Lane] from 1939 until her death in 1961. She is famous for having changed the name of Marin Ave. to Pixie Trail. Neighborhood children called her “Hunsie” and often tagged along on her daily walks. They loved her stories, especially the one about pixies coming out at night to have their parties. The evidence for this activity was the carpet of pixie caps on eucalyptus nuts.
One of Hunsie’s neighborhood children named Barry lived down the hill in Mill Valley at 383 Molino Ave. until 1951 when he was 11 years old and the family moved to Occidental. Two boys named Johnny and Jim lived two doors away from Hunsie on Seymour Lane until 1958 when they were 11 and 10 years old respectively and the family moved to 48 Catalpa St. in Mill Valley. All three boys spent a lot of time visiting Hunsie where they would enjoy her cookies and admire her treasures. There were colorful prints of British Military Officers on horses with regimental flags. A large reed basket was full of lances, spears and swords. There were carvings and bells that kids could touch. A drawer contained unusual stones and sea shells. There was a binder full of feathers in wax paper packets, each one labeled with the bird’s name. She had a huge stamp collection — Barry later took up the hobby.
Who was the remarkable Hunsie? In 1883, Captain Reginald Walker was at the garrison field hospital in Bengal, recovering from a lance wound he had received in a recent skirmish with rebels. While there, he met an adventurous young nurse from Australia. They were married and their daughter Elinor was born on December 14, 1884.
Children born in the colonies were often sent to boarding schools in England while still quite young. Elinor’s mother would have nothing to do with shipping her daughter off for someone else to raise. She said, “I will teach her!” and she did! But in 1900 when Elinor was 16, her mother decided to send her to England to complete upper schooling.
During the war of 1914-1918, Elinor nursed the wounded. She was soon recognized as a leader and innovator in field surgery under the trying conditions of battle. In1919, as an experienced nurse, she returned to her family in India and subsequently worked and traveled for several years throughout India, Southeast Asia and the Pacific. With such an adventurous background, it is understandable that she would have lots of stories and lots of souvenirs that would fascinate children.
Fast forward to 1936 when Elinor and her husband Charles Hunsinger bought a house on Catalpa St. in Mill Valley. Charles, a retired certified accountant, died a year later after several months of ill health on November 21, 1937. He was 61 years old. In 1939, Elinor, a 55 year old widow, purchased the house at #10 Seymour Lane. It had been built in 1914 on a 5600 sq. ft. lot and had 1376 sq. ft. of living area, three bedrooms and two bathrooms. It has been reported that Elinor was known to be a great cook, and because she was not financially well off, friends invited to dinner would quite often bring the food for her to cook. Several Homestead residents remember her as a delightful lady that children adored and the person responsible for naming the street Pixie Trail. Elinor Walker Hunsinger died on November 30, 1961 at age 74.
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.