San Diego County
Coming to Southern California in 1869, Herbert Crouch remained a resident of San Diego County to the time of his death, which occurred at Oceanside in June, 1927, when he had attained the advanced age of eighty-seven years. He was born in Lambourn, Berkshire, England, January 15, 1840, and received a common school education in his native shire. Upon setting out to make his own way in the world he sailed on the Black Wall from London to Melbourne, Australia, where the ship cast anchor after an uneventful voyage of one hundred and twelve days. Mining engaged his attention and he met with fair success. In 1862 he returned to England on the Orwell after a voyage of one hundred and twelve days. A year later he returned to Australia on the Star of England, which landed at Brisbane after a voyage of one hundred and twelve days. In addition to the coincidence in the length of the three voyages, he also felt interested in the fact that each time he sailed on Monday and landed on Monday. His next voyage brought him to San Francisco, March 24, 1868, on the barque Camden, after sixty-nine days on the ocean. For about one year he remained on a ranch near Stockton. On the 25th of February, 1869, he arrived at San Diego, and on the 25th of March he came to San Luis Rey, San Diego County. He embarked in the sheep business in partnership with Major Utt, now deceased, and herded his flocks upon the ranges in this part of the country. In 1873 he entered and proved up on one hundred sixty acres on the San Luis Rey River, where in addition to enduring all the hardships of frontier existence, he had the further trouble of a contest in the courts covering a period of more than four years, in which the settlers were involved with the claimants of the Peoiche grant of twenty-six leagues. The settlers eventually won and Mr. Crouch was then free to take up the work of improvement. In 1874 he moved from the river to a location three miles from Oceanside, in the San Luis Rey Valley, where at one time he had fifteen thousand head of sheep divided into different flocks. He imported a number of bucks and bred to secure the highest type of Merinos. Not only were he and his partner the largest sheepmen of their day, but also, when they sold out in 1887, their flock was said to embrace the finest Merinos in the whole country. After discontinuing the raising of sheep Mr. Crouch began to cultivate grain and raise cattle and at one time had charge of more than eighteen hundred acres, of which fourteen hundred eighty acres were in the home place, extending to the corporate limits of Oceanside. At one time he owned river land and devoted it to the raising of alfalfa, but this he sold, and also in 1905 he sold seven hundred sixty acres of his ranch. He had a four-hundred-acre ranch at Ballena and a thousand-acre ranch in the Laguna Mountains.
In 1876 Mr. Crouch married Miss Martha Avenell, a native of Wiltshire, England. They were the parents of three children, as follows: Lucy Jane, who now makes her home with her sister, Mrs. George Sawday; Emily Elizabeth, the wife of George Sawday, whose biography appears in another part of this work; and Joseph Lloyd, who owns and resides on a ranch at Winters, California. Joseph L. Crouch is married and has a son, Herbert, named for his paternal grandfather.
Mr. Crouch was an Episcopalian in religious faith and a Republican in politics, having become a naturalized citizen of the United States. An earlier biographer wrote of him: “Notwithstanding all the hardships he endured and the obstacles he was obliged to overcome, he was always loyal to his county, for it was here he reaped his greatest success, becoming the largest landowner and orchardist in San Diego County. Through his successful work in fruit raising he stimulated others to enter this occupation.”
Transcribed by V. Gerald Iaquinta.
Source: California of the South Vol. III, by John Steven McGroarty, Pages 377-379, Clarke Publ., Chicago, Los Angeles, Indianapolis. 1933.
© 2012 V. Gerald Iaquinta.