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Cawston Ostrich Farm Papers: Finding Aid
mssCawston Ostrich Farm Papers  
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Collection Details
 
Table of contents What's This?
  • Overview of the Collection
  • Access
  • Administrative Information
  • Historical Note
  • Edwin Cawston Family Tree
  • Vatcher Family Tree
  • Scope and Content
  • Arrangement
  • Indexing: Subjects
  • Indexing Terms

  • Overview of the Collection

    Title: Cawston Ostrich Farm Papers
    Dates (inclusive): 1898-1952
    Bulk dates: 1909-1935
    Collection Number: mssCawston Ostrich Farm Papers
    Creator: Cawston Ostrich Farm.
    Extent: 1,156 items in 6 boxes and one oversize folder.
    Repository: The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. Manuscripts Department
    1151 Oxford Road
    San Marino, California 91108
    Phone: (626) 405-2129
    Email: reference@huntington.org
    URL: http://www.huntington.org
    Abstract: This collection contains correspondence, manuscripts, documents, and ephemera of the Cawston Ostrich Farm of Southern California chiefly reflecting financial, business, and legal affairs of the company and one of its owners, the Vatcher Family, as well as the ostrich feather industry in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
    Language: English.

    Access

    Open to qualified researchers by prior application through the Reader Services Department. For more information, contact Reader Services.

    Administrative Information

    Publication Rights

    The Huntington Library does not require that researchers request permission to quote from or publish images of this material, nor does it charge fees for such activities. The responsibility for identifying the copyright holder, if there is one, and obtaining necessary permissions rests with the researcher.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item]. Cawston Ostrich Farm Papers, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.

    Provenance

    Gift of South Pasadena Public Library, November 20, 1968. Gift of South Pasadena Public Library, April 14, 1975. Gift of Cathy Ferree, July 24, 2009.

    Historical Note

    The Cawston Ostrich Farm was established in 1886 by Edwin Cawston, a native of England. The farm was originally located in Norwalk, California. Cawston moved his ostriches to South Pasadena in 1896 along the banks of the Arroyo Seco and marketed the enterprise as a tourist attraction. The farm was the first ostrich farm in the United States, thus South Africa’s first competitors in the ostrich feather industry. Cawston also took on the Germany feather dyeing monopoly and opened his own operations in California. The feathers and dyes produced at Cawston Ostrich Farm won medals in fairs throughout the world between 1904 and 1920. The farm was famous for being both a tourist attraction, bringing in thousands of visitors, and a premium feather manufacturer.
    In 1906, Cawston incorporated the company which was valued at $1,000,000. In 1909, Cawston purchased 119 acres in Perris Valley and moved the breeding stock to the new farm. The expansion gave the farm its own supply of feed and better soil for the birds. He sold the company two years later to a local syndicate for $1,250,000 and moved back to England. The syndicate was mainly comprised of businessmen who had been long associated with the farm. The most notable of these, in terms of the collection, was Herbert J. Vatcher Jr.
    Herbert J. Vatcher Jr. and his wife, Lillian, had been associated with the company for many years. Vatcher Jr.’s father was a manager and let Vatcher Jr. work on the farm when he was a teenager doing various jobs. When Cawston organized the Bank of South Pasadena he gave Vatcher Jr. a position. Vatcher Jr. was made director and manager of the Cawston Ostrich Farm in 1906 and after he brokered the sale of the farm, he was elected secretary and managing director. In 1909, Vatcher opened offices as an investment broker and was involved in real estate ventures and oil investment.
    When Cawston left the ostrich farm, he took all of its available funds, leaving the company without capital. In 1914, they were deeply in debt and looked to sell the farm. Vatcher Jr. resigned in 1914, but the new management did not have any financial success either. There was a revived interest in feathers in the late 1910s and early 1920s, but ostrich was never as fashionable as it had been during the farm’s early years. Herbert and Lillian Vatcher took over the company in the early 1920s, but even this did not turn the company around. After a couple of decades of decline, failed farms and failed stores the Great Depression dealt the final blow. Assets were sold off in 1934 and the farm was closed in 1935.

    Edwin Cawston Family Tree

    • Edwin Cawston ([1866]–1920) 1895 m. Frances Routh (1871-?)

      Children of Edwin and Frances Cawston:

      • Arthur H. Cawston, 1896
        • m. Helene Hartman in 1913 and divorced 1914
        • m. Edna Mae (d. 1965)

          Children Arthur and Edna Mae Cawston:

          • Beverley m. William L. Thomas
      • George Cawston (1898–1918)
      • Edwin Cawston, Jr. (born [1900])

        Children of Edwin Cawston, Jr.:

        • Edwin Cawston III (born [1923])
        • Second son (born 1925)
    • Second marriage of Edwin Cawston 1901 m. Edith Doran

      Children of Edwin and Edith Cawston:

      • John Cawston, 1908
      • Daughter

    Vatcher Family Tree

    Herbert J. Vatcher, Jr. Family Tree

    • Herbert J. Vatcher, Sr. (1859–1931), b. Dorsetshire, England, m. Mary Hyde Vatcher

      Children of Mary and Herbert Vatcher, Sr.:

      • Herbert J. Vatcher, Jr. (1884-[1910]) m. Lillian Claire Craig (born [1885])

        Children of Lillian and Herbert Vatcher Jr.:

        • Herbert J. Vatcher, III
        • Lillian Claire (born 1912) m. Thomas Van Einburgh in 1935
    • William H. Vatcher (1888–1960)
      • Three children: Jane, Marjorie and William
    • Ernest G. Vatcher (died 1961) m. Mary L.

      Children of Ernest and Mary:

      • Joan Elizabeth m. Charles E. Taylor in 1946
    • Mary Elizabeth Vatcher (goes by Elizabeth)

    Other Vatcher family

    • Charles E. Vatcher, Herbert J. Vatcher’s brother
    • Bessie Daffurn, Herbert J. Vatcher’s sister
    • Rose Craig, Lillian Craig Vatcher’s sister
    • Elizabeth Rowe, Lillian Craig Vatcher’s sister

    Scope and Content

    This collection contains correspondence, manuscripts, documents, and ephemera of the Cawston Ostrich Farm of Southern California chiefly reflecting financial, business, and legal affairs of the company and one of its owners, the Vatcher Family, as well as the ostrich feather industry. The collection is semi-catalogued and consists of 1,156 items in six boxes. There are 322 manuscripts and documents, most of which pertain to the legal and financial dealings of Cawston Ostrich Farm. There are a few items pertaining to the Atlanta Ostrich Farm and the California Zoological Society. There are also some documents of the Vatcher family and Herbert J. Vatcher, Jr.’s other business interests.
    The correspondence consists of 499 items, the majority of which deal with the financial and legal affairs of the Cawston Ostrich Farm and its affiliates. This includes ostrich feather stores in New York and the operation of the Atlanta Ostrich Farm located at the Atlanta Fair Grounds in Georgia. The correspondence from E.V. Edmonds includes five cartoons of an ostrich inspired by the artist’s trip to the Cawston Ostrich Farm. The correspondence also includes the private letters of the Vatcher family and their friends, including the business endeavors of Herbert J. Vatcher, Jr. These projects include the California Zoological Society, various land deals, and investment in oil exploration in Southern California. The letter from W.K. Kellogg is an inquiry to the Cawston Ostrich Farm regarding ostrich leather products. There are several letters written in 1914 between Frederick L. Lewton of the Smithsonian Institution and Herbert J. Vatcher, Jr. regarding the creation of an exhibit on ostrich feathers for the Division of Textiles. Letters pertaining to the Atlanta Fair Association discuss the relationship between the association and the Atlanta Ostrich Farm and the possibility that the association would buy the farm.
    The ephemera consists of 335 pieces regarding the ostrich feather industry, the Vatcher Family and businesses Herbert J. Vatcher, Jr. was involved in. Included are a 1920 edition of In Atlanta this Week, three editions of The City Builder and other materials related to the Atlanta Fair Association and the Atlanta Ostrich Farm. There are various brochures, catalogues and pamphlets from ostrich feather dealers and sellers and newspaper clippings regarding the industry. The collection also includes materials relating to the California Zoological Society such as a brochure, insurance map, a photo of Louise Ward Watkins with a lion, and blueprints of the grounds. Material related to Jonathon S. Dodge’s 1920 campaign for Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.
    Subjects include: Al G. Barnes Wild Animal Circus; alligator farming in Florida; animal trainers; Atlanta Chamber of Commerce; Atlanta Fair Association; Willis H. Booth; California and Los Angeles County politics and government; Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors; oil fields in California; Pacific Electric Railway Company; San Francisco Zoo; Smithsonian Institution exhibitions; Union Oil Company of California; and zoos.

    Arrangement

    Manuscripts and documents arranged alphabetically by subject; the correspondence arranged alphabetically by author and the ephemera arranged alphabetically by type.
    • Al G. Barnes Wild Animal Circus
      • Subject in John T. Benson letter (1923, Dec. 24) to Herbert J. Vatcher, Jr. Box 2 (20).
      • Subject in Celeste Manning letters, telegrams, and notes (1919-1928) to Herbert J. Vatcher, Jr. Box 3 (28).
    • Alligator farming—Florida
      • Subject in Ephemera: Miscellaneous (1919-1934). Box 6 (2). Subject in Postcards: Florida Alligator Farm [undated]. Box 6 (17).
    • Animal trainers
      • Subject in Ephemera: California Zoological Society [1935]. Box 6 (1).
    • Atlanta Chamber of Commerce
      • Subject in Herbert J.Vatcher, Jr. letters and telegrams (1919-1920) to Lillian Craig Vatcher. Box 4 (67).
      • Subject in "The City Builder" (1919-1920). Box 5 (38).
    • Atlanta Fair Association
      • Subject in C. Bradley letters and telegrams (1920-1921) to Herbert J. Vatcher, Jr. Box 2 (25).
      • Subject in Herbert J. Vatcher, Jr. letters (1921) to T.W. McDevitt. Box 4 (46).
      • Subject in Herbert J. Vatcher, Jr. letters (1920-1921) to George H. Mosely. Box 4 (49).
      • Subject in Herbert J.Vatcher, Jr. letters and telegrams (1919-1920) to Lillian Craig Vatcher. Box 4 (67).
    • Booth, Willis H., 1874-1958
      • Subject in Charles Ewing letter (1914, Oct. 12) to Herbert J. Vatcher, Jr. Box 2 (57).
    • California—Politics and government
      • Subject in Jonathon S. Dodge letters, telegrams, and postcard (1919-1932) to Herbert J. Vatcher, Jr. Box 2 (46).
      • Subject in Jonathon S. Dodge letter (1920, June 14) to unknown addressee. Box 2 (50).
    • Los Angeles County (Calif.)—Politics and government
      • Subject in Jonathon S. Dodge letters, telegrams, and postcard (1919-1932) to Herbert J. Vatcher, Jr. Box 2 (46).
      • Subject in Jonathon S. Dodge letter (1920, June 14) to unknown addressee. Box 2 (50)
      • Subject in Henry W. Wright letter (1928, June 25) to Herbert J. Vatcher, Jr. Box 5 (18).
      • Subject in Political Campaign Material: Jonathon S. Dodge (1920). Box 6 (15).
    • Los Angeles County (Calif.). Board of Supervisors
      • Subject in Jonathon S. Dodge letters, telegrams, and postcard (1919-1932) to Herbert J. Vatcher, Jr. Box 2 (46).
      • Subject in Jonathon S. Dodge letter (1920, June 14) to unknown addressee. Box 2 (50).
      • Subject in Henry W. Wright letter (1928, June 25) to Herbert J. Vatcher, Jr. Box 5 (18).
      • Subject in Political Campaign Material: Jonathon S. Dodge (1920). Box 6 (15).
    • Oil fields—California—Maps
      • Subject in Robert E. Diggens letters and telegram (1921-1922) to Herbert J. Vatcher, Jr. Box 2 (42).
    • Oil fields—California—Kern County
      • Subject in Benjamin F. Wollman letter (1919, Oct. 1) to E.P. Vernon & Co. Box 5 (15).
      • Subject in Benjamin F. Wollman letters (1919-1920) to Herbert J. Vatcher, Jr. Box 5 (16).
      • Subject in Black and White Negatives: California Oil Mining Sites [undated]. Box 5 (33).
      • Subject in Photographs: California Oil Mining Sites [undated]. Box 6 (11).
    • Pacific Electric Railway Company
      • Subject in Cawston Ostrich Farm: Pacific Electric Railway Company Agreements (1912- 1921). Box 1 (19).
      • Subject in Cawston Ostrich Farm: Receipts, Statements, Invoices, Cancelled Checks and Promissory Notes (1906-1934). Box 1 (21).
      • Subject William Ellis Lady letter (1932, Mar. 29) to B.A. Garlinghouse, O.S. Roen, and Horace E. Vedder. Box 3 (19).
      • Subject in Herbert J. Vatcher, Jr. letter (1935, July 20) to Donald O. Welton. Box 4 (70).
    • San Francisco Zoo (San Francisco, Calif.)
      • Subject in John T. Benson letter (1923, Dec. 24) to Herbert J. Vatcher, Jr. Box 2 (20).
    • Smithsonian Institution—Exhibitions
      • Subject in Frederick L. (Frederick Lewis) Lewton, 1874-1959 letter (1914, Feb. 25) to Cawston Ostrich Farm. Box 3 (24).
      • Subject in Frederick L. (Frederick Lewis) Lewton, 1874-1959 letters (1914) to Herbert J. Vatcher, Jr. Box 3 (25).
      • Subject in Herbert J. Vatcher, Jr. letters (1914) to Frederick L. (Frederick Lewis) Lewton, 1874-1959. Box 4 (42).
      • Subject in Ephemera: Miscellaneous Cawston Ostrich Farm (1913). Box 6 (3).
    • Union Oil Company of California
      • Subject in Robert E. Diggens letters and telegram (1921-1922) to Herbert J. Vatcher, Jr. Box 2 (42).
    • Zoos
      • Subject in California Zoological Society Documents (1938-1939). Box 1 (2).
      • Subject in California Zoological Society letter [undated] to unknown addressee. Box 2 (26).
      • Subject in Kenneth F. Douglas letter (1938, Oct. 19) to unknown addressee. Box 2 (51).
      • Subject in Irving H. Hellman letter [after 1935] to unknown addressee. Box 3 (6).
      • Subject in William Ellis Lady letters (1939-1940) to George W. Vogel. Box 3 (21).
      • Subject in Herbert J. Vatcher, Jr. letter [after 1935] to "Greetings Junior Member." Box 4 (37).
      • Subject in Herbert J. Vatcher, Jr. letter (1936, Jan. 29) to George W. Vogel. Box 4 (69).
      • Subject in Ephemera: California Zoological Society [1935]. Box 6 (1).

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the Huntington Library's Online Catalog.  

    Subjects

    Booth, Willis H., 1874-1958.
    Vatcher, Herbert J., Jr.
    Watkins, Louise Ward, 1890-1974.
    Al G. Barnes Wild Animal Circus.
    Atlanta Chamber of Commerce.
    Cawston Ostrich Farm -- Archives.
    Los Angeles County (Calif.). Board of Supervisors.
    Pacific Electric Railway Company.
    San Francisco Zoo (San Francisco, Calif.)
    Smithsonian Institution -- Exhibitions.
    Union Oil Company of California.
    Alligator farming -- Florida.
    Animal trainers.
    Oil fields -- California.
    Ostrich farming -- California, Southern.
    Ostrich feather industry.
    Zoos.
    California -- Politics and government.
    Los Angeles County (Calif.) -- Politics and government.
    South Pasadena (Calif.) -- History -- Sources.

    Forms/Genres

    Business records -- California, Southern -- 19th century.
    Business records -- California, Southern -- 20th century.
    Letters (correspondence) -- United States.
    Photographs -- United States.
    Finding aids.

    Additional Contributors

    Kellogg, W. K. (Will Keith), 1860-1951.
    Vatcher, Herbert J., Jr.