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The life of a local pioneer farmer

Natural Perspectives

July 06, 2006|By VIC LEIPZIG AND LOU MURRAY

Luke William Gallup lived in Westminster more than a century ago. Coming here from Springville, Utah, this disillusioned ex-Mormon spent the last few years of his life farming southeast of present-day Beach Boulevard and McFadden. He died in 1891 and is buried in Good Shepherd Cemetery in Huntington Beach.

I (Lou) am remotely connected to Luke Gallup. A distant cousin of mine, Ron Gallup of Sacramento, is a great-great grandson of Luke Gallup by Luke's first marriage. I'm related to Ron through his mother's side of the family.

Luke left behind a remarkable farm journal that detailed his life back in those days of horses, wood stoves and kerosene lanterns. On July 4, 1888, Luke Gallup's fourth wife, Augusta, and their children went to a celebration in Santa Ana while Luke "kept house at home and was busy as a bee" in his garden. Later that week, Augusta went to "Balsas P.O." and got a basket of fruit ? pears, apricots and plums ? that she undoubtedly canned or turned into jam. On July 8, a weasel got into their chickens, so Luke made a coop to keep the chickens confined.

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As urbanization replaced farmland, food sources and suitable habitat for short-tailed weasels declined. One hasn't been seen in Huntington Beach since the 1970s. However, a weasel was live-trapped this summer at San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary in Irvine, so they're still in Orange County.

In addition to tending his own land, Luke Gallup made extra money by working for others. He cut ditches to help drain away the fresh water that plagued early local farmers, put up fence posts, worked on a schoolhouse for the Oceanview School District and erected privies. Augusta went to church revival meetings at Gospel Swamp here in Huntington Beach.

In August of that year, Luke spent six days looking for lumber. Since there were no phones, looking meant physically going to find it with horse and wagon on deeply rutted and dusty dirt roads. He found some in Santa Ana and built a pigpen. In September, he dug up "a mess of sweet potatoes" and received two pigs in exchange for some services that he performed for another farmer.

Luke spent 10 days in October digging and sacking 8,700 pounds of potatoes for Israel Brush at 12 ½ cents per hundred- pound sack. This work netted him the princely sum of $10.87. He spent part of it on overalls (65 cents) and two cloth hats (2 for 25 cents).

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