Jump to Content

Collection Guide
Collection Title:
Collection Number:
Get Items:
Guide to the Colonel Ed Fletcher Collection MS 135
MS 135  
View entire collection guide What's This?
PDF (120.18 Kb) HTML
Search this collection
Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Conditions Governing Access
  • Conditions Governing Use
  • Preferred Citation
  • Processing Information
  • Biographical / Historical Notes
  • Arrangement
  • Scope and Content
  • Separated Materials
  • Related Archival Materials
  • Comments

  • Title: Colonel Ed Fletcher Collection
    Identifier/Call Number: MS 135
    Contributing Institution: San Diego History Center Document Collection
    Language of Material: English
    Physical Description: 13.5 Linear feet (29 boxes)
    Date (inclusive): 1881-1965
    Abstract: This collection contains papers pertaining to Colonel Ed Fletcher’s business in real estate, water development, and other commercial ventures in San Diego County in the late nineteenth to mid-twentieth centuries, as well some of his personal papers.
    creator: Fletcher, Ed, 1872-1955

    Conditions Governing Access

    This collection is open for research.

    Conditions Governing Use

    The San Diego History Center (SDHC) holds the copyright to any unpublished materials. SDHC Library regulations do apply.

    Preferred Citation

    Colonel Ed Fletcher Collection, MS 135, San Diego History Center Document Collection, San Diego, CA.

    Processing Information

    Collection processed by Samantha Mills on January 16, 2013.
    Collection processed as part of grant project supported by the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) with generous funding from The Andrew Mellon Foundation.

    Biographical / Historical Notes

    Ed Fletcher was born in Littleton, Massachusetts on December 31, 1872. He came to San Diego in 1888 and first found work selling produce in the city and surrounding countryside. He opened his first commission business with Omer C. Smith in 1894, and subsequently organized the Ed Fletcher Company. In 1896 he married Mary C. Batchelder and they had ten children: Catherine (Fletcher Taylor), Edward Jr., Charles, Lawrence, Willis, Stephen, Ferdinand, Mary Louise (Pitts Mack), Eugene, and Virginia.
    Ed Fletcher and his business associates were responsible for developing a great deal of real estate in San Diego County, including lands in the San Luis Rey Valley, Grossmont, Fletcher Hills, Mount Helix, Del Mar, Pine Hills, Cuyamaca Lake, Lake Hodges, and Solana Beach. He was instrumental in developing all state and national highways leading into San Diego County, as well as the road from Mountain Springs to Imperial Valley, the plank road from Holtsville to Yuma, the Yuma highway bridge, and the highway from Gila Bend to Casa Grande.
    In addition to his real estate work, Ed Fletcher was instrumental in developing the majority of San Diego County’s water systems, including the Cuyamaca Water System on the San Diego River (supplying the La Mesa Irrigation District and City of San Diego), the Volcan Water System (including Lake Henshaw Dam), the San Dieguito Water System, and the Lake Hodges and San Dieguito Dams (supplying San Dieguito and Santa Fe Irrigation District plus part of the City of San Diego).
    Ed Fletcher’s civic work included service with the Finance Committee, the Y.M.C.A., the San Diego Club, and the California National Guard (from whence the nickname “Colonel” stuck). He was a director of the 1915 Panama-California Exposition, and in 1917 he successfully raised funds to save the Exposition buildings from destruction. He was later a director of the 1935 California Pacific International Exposition. He served as California State Senator from 1935-1947, during which time he authored the law creating the San Diego County Water authority and the law transferring Mission Bay Park lands to the City of San Diego.
    Though he was a monumental figure in San Diego’s land and water development, Ed Fletcher’s activities did not proceed without conflict. Through the Cuyamaca Water Company he was embroiled in decades of lawsuits with the City of San Diego regarding rights to the water of the San Diego River.
    Ed Fletcher passed away on October 15, 1955.


    Collection is arranged into 33 series:
    Series I: Deeds and Mortgages
    Series II: Real Estate: Avocado Acres
    Series III: Real Estate: Camp Kearny
    Series IV: Real Estate: Lake Hodges
    Series V: Real Estate: Lake Hodges and Del Mar Road
    Series VI: Real Estate: Lockwood Mesa / Solana Beach
    Series VII: Real Estate: Mount Helix
    Series VIII: Real Estate: Poway Ranch
    Series IX: Real Estate: San Dieguito
    Series X: Real Estate: Ed Fletcher Company
    Series XI: Real Estate: Miscellanea
    Series XII: La Mesa, Lemon Grove, and Spring Valley Irrigation District
    Series XIII: San Dieguito Irrigation District
    Series XIV: Santa Fe Irrigation District
    Series XV: Cuyamaca Water Company
    Series XVI: Cuyamaca Water Company: James A. Murray Estate
    Series XVII: Cuyamaca Water Company: San Diego River Rights
    Series XVIII: Pamo Water Company
    Series XIX: San Diego County Water Company: San Pasqual Ranch Issue
    Series XX: San Dieguito Mutual Water Company
    Series XXI: Sherman Water Company
    Series XXII: Volcan Land and Water Company
    Series XXIII: Water Projects: La Jolla – Del Mar Pipeline
    Series XXIV: Water Projects: Mission Gorge Dam Site #3
    Series XXV: Water Projects: Santa Ysabel Creek and Black Canyon Creek
    Series XXVI: Water Projects: Sutherland Reservoir
    Series XXVII: Water Projects: Sweetwater System
    Series XXVIII: Water Projects: Yuma Mesa Grapefruit Project
    Series XXIX: Water Projects: Miscellanea
    Series XXX: Grossmont Studios
    Series XXXI: San Diego Independent Publishing Company
    Series XXXII: Personal Papers
    Series XXXIII: Catalog Cards
    Items within each series are arranged by subject.

    Scope and Content

    This collections contains papers pertaining to Colonel Ed Fletcher’s work in real estate, water development, and other business ventures in San Diego County in the late nineteenth to mid-twentieth century, as well some of his personal papers.
    Fletcher’s real estate papers include numerous deeds, mortgages, correspondence, maps, and other business papers regarding his management of lands around Encinitas, Camp Kearny, Lake Hodges, Del Mar, Solana Beach, Mount Helix, Poway, San Dieguito, and the City of San Diego. The Camp Kearny papers relate specifically to Ed Fletcher’s dispute with the United States Army after he leased them the land during World War I. Additionally, this collection contains some financial documents, business agreements, and publicity for the Ed Fletcher Company.
    Fletcher’s water development papers include deeds, correspondence, financial documents, maps, and project plans generated by his involvement with the La Mesa, Lemon Grove, and Spring Valley Irrigation District, the San Dieguito Irrigation District, and the Santa Fe Irrigation District, as well as the Cuyamaca Water Company, the Pamo Water Company, the San Dieguito Mutual Water Company, the Sherman Water Company, and the Volcan Land and Water Company. There are also legal papers from several of his court cases: the settlement of the James A. Murray estate, lawsuits with the City of San Diego regarding San Diego River rights, and a lawsuit by John Treanor regarding the purchase of the San Pasqual Ranch property. Additionally, this collection contains correspondence and research notes accumulated by Ed Fletcher for several more water projects such as the La Jolla-Del Mar Pipeline .
    This collection also contains meeting minutes, stocks, and financial papers regarding film productions by Grossmont Studios (previously S&L Studios), as well as minutes, financial papers, stocks, and business ledgers from the San Diego Independent Publishing Company.
    Ed Fletcher’s personal papers include correspondence, financial papers, brochures and pamphlets, and numerous photographs of his family, his friends, his San Diego properties, and some of his travels.
    At the end of this collection, a set of catalog cards has been included that was produced by an earlier collection processing project (see Comments).

    Separated Materials

    Map of "Aerial route of the United State - U.S. Army Air Service April 1919" previously separated to the SDHC Map Collection.

    Related Archival Materials

    Colonel Ed Fletcher Family Collection (C051) in SDHC Photograph Collection.


    The collection was donated in 1970 and initial processing began in 1978 through a grant-funded project. Collection materials were organized into file groups based on subject matter, material type, and time frame. A set of catalog cards was produced to record and describe the collection. The first box of catalog cards contains subject cards listing the file groups where relevant documents for those subjects can be found. This box also contains overview cards describing the general contents of each file group. The remaining four boxes of catalog cards contain individual cards describing each item in each file group. All five catalog card boxes are included in this collection.
    The collection was reprocessed in 2012/2013 as part of the CLIR grant-funded project. Collection was rearranged to best reflect the subject relevance of the collection's materials. Penciled notes, identifying the file group and document number from the first processing project, remain on each document in the collection. The identifiers link the document to its original file group and document number for cross-referencing in the catalog cards.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Canfield, C. A.
    Crouch, C. C.
    Cuyamaca Water Company.
    Ed Fletcher Company.
    Fletcher, Ed, 1872-1955
    Fletcher, Mary
    Grossmont Park Co..
    Grossmont Studios.
    Haldorn, Stuart
    Harbell, C. O.
    Henshaw, William Griffith, 1860-1924
    Hodges, W. E.
    La Mesa, Lemon Grove, and Spring Valley Irrigation District (Calif.).
    Morse Construction Co..
    Murray, James A.
    Murray, Mary H.
    Pamo Water Company.
    Salmons, Frank
    San Diego Athletic Club.
    San Diego County Water Company.
    San Diego Independent Publishing Company.
    San Dieguito Irrigation District (Calif.).
    San Dieguito Mutual Water Company.
    Santa Fe Irrigation District (Calif.).
    Santa Fe Land Improvement Company.
    Sherman Water Company.
    Stern, Charles
    Treanor, John
    United States. Army.
    Volcan Land and Water Company.
    War Department Claims Board.
    Account books
    Actions and defenses
    Administration of estates
    Black Canyon Creek (Calif.)
    Camp Kearny
    Carlsbad (Calif.)
    Carroll Dam (Calif.)
    Del Mar (Calif.)
    El Cajon (Calif.)
    Encinitas (Calif.)
    Evidence (Law)
    Fletcher Hills (Calif.)
    Flood dams and reservoirs
    Hodges, Lake (Calif.)
    La Jolla (San Diego, Calif.)
    La Mesa (Calif.)
    Land companies
    Land grants
    Land titles
    Lockwood Mesa (Calif.)
    Mission Gorge Dam (Calif.)
    Motion picture studios
    Mount Helix (Calif.)
    Municipal bonds
    Murray Dam (Calif.)
    Oceanside (Calif.)
    Poway (Calif.)
    Publishers and publishing
    Rain and rainfall
    Rainfall data
    Ramona (Calif.)
    Real estate development
    Real property
    San Diego (Calif.)
    San Dieguito (Encinitas, Calif.)
    San Juan Basin (N.M. and Colo.)
    San Luis Rey Valley (Calif.)
    Santa Ysabel Creek (Calif.)
    Solana Beach (Calif.)
    Sutherland Reservoir (Calif.)
    Water development, supply, and management
    Water rights
    Yuma (Ariz.)