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Cuddeback, the name's familiar...

The Spirit of Tehachapi


October 12, 2019

Pat Gracey

Pat's notes: In 2017 I wrote about the pioneer family; the Cuddebacks. Recently, someone pointed out to me that I had a couple of ancestors listed incorrectly. You have to watch me, I'm liable to have someone being their own "grandpa." I would like to present to you a corrected version which includes the two incorrect names. Then, I will present the corrected copy to the local Heritage League Museum. Laura Weltin, also a member of the Heritage Leaguea and a direct descendant of the Cuddeback family, has been kind enough to give me the two corrections.

I grew up hearing the name, Cuddeback; that of an old Tehachapi pioneer family. As a child I knew only one person by that name. Recently, the local Museum assembled a historical display of the Cuddeback family. Information was put together by Laura Weltin who is a direct descendant of those early pioneer, more specifically, Grant Price Cuddeback. I now realize that many people I have known all of my life have a place on a branch of the Cuddeback Family Tree. They were there all along and I just did not know. It is a French name, originally spelled Caudebec. They came to this country in 1626 from France where a member of the family had been knighted by royalty for a brave act. They first settled on Manhattan Island, New York. It didn't take long for the name to be anglicized to Cuddeback. The family eventually moved to a small settlement by the Hudson River which ended up being called Cuddebackville, New York. It's still on the map!

Grant Price Cuddeback was born on July 1, 1820, the son of Peter Cuddeback. As a boy, Grant was put to work as a tow boy on the Erie Canal. The work was hard and the pay very little so he ran away to join a wagon train destined for California. He was reputed to be one of the earlier Americans who began arriving at El Monte, California which would become the terminus for future settlements in California.

In 1850, he traveled north to the San Joaquin River area, hoping to mine for gold. In 1848 and 1849, California had put the word out of a large gold strike at Sutters Mill. The San Joaquin Indians were not friendly at that time and he returned to the Southland minus any gold.

In 1852, he married Ohio born Almira Hale, who was a descendant of Nathan Hale, an American Revolutionist who was hanged as a spy by the British in 1775. Twenty-year old Hale's last words were, "I regret that I have but one life to give for my country." (I just had to add that!) Grant and Almira's first child, Moses Clinton Cuddeback, was reputed to be the first white child born in El Monte.

Later in the same decade, Grant and Almira arrived in Tehachapi where Grant began a career in the cattle business running cattle in Oak Creek Pass, the Tehachapi Valley and Tehachapi Creek. The couple took up land next to Tehachapi Creek and built a home for their family. Grant became active in regional politics, both in Tehachapi and El Monte, and in 1861 was appointed Judge of the Plains by the Board of Supervisors with jurisdiction in Los Angeles as well as the Tehachapi area. At that time, Tehachapi was included in Los Angeles County. He was also friendly with the local Indians, the Kawaiisu, also known as Nuwä (the People). They made him their blood brother, an act that would extend to his descendants as well.

In 1874, Almira died and their eight children would end up being cared for by Mr. and Mrs. Moses Hale, Almira's brother and his wife, who lived near them on their ranch in Tehachapi Creek area. The two older children, Moses Clinton and Clarissa, were of adult age by this time. Their father, Grant, was to return to El Monte and would remain there until his death in 1905.

Moses Clinton, the eldest of the eight Cuddeback children, stayed in Tehachapi and engaged in farming and cattle raising. The other children, Clarissa, Bertha, George, William, Mary, John and David, all have stories that would fill many pages. It must be said, though, that throughout the Tehachapi Valley and even out into the desert to the Randsburg area, one could find land owned by a member of the Cuddeback family.

In order to focus on the branch of the tree where Laura Weltin's family shows up, I am skipping to Jesse Price Cuddeback, son of Moses Clinton Cuddeback and Tehachapi native. Jesse and his wife, Frances Tungate Cuddeback, were to have five children, only three of whom were to survive. Their father would farm, ranch, work at the Cinnabar mine near Broome Road, and even ran a saloon in the Mojave area as well as a brewery business in Tehachapi. Jesse said he was the first person in Tehachapi to own an automobile, a 1900 Packard. He said he bought it to save horse flesh but most times he had to pull it by horse to get it started. A favorite saying for bystanders of those days to auto owners was, "Get a horse!"

Finally, Jesse, moved his family to the desert town of Randsburg to follow a boom in gold mining. It was in the town of Randsburg, in the barren Mojave Desert, that daughter Ola Dell Cuddeback met and married a young miner named John Ford. She and her husband moved to Tehachapi. They raised three children, Leatta, born in 1920, Jack, in 1922, and George in 1927.

Ola Dell Cuddeback Ford is the grandmother who Laura Weltin remembers with great love and affection. Working the farm located northeast of Tehachapi near the Eastside Cemetery, she raised chickens and rabbits to sell to local stores, as well as butter and eggs. Galinger's Food Market was one of the sources for her products. This was still not enough money to raise a growing family, so husband John secured employment at the legendary Yellow Aster mine in Randsburg, coming home on weekends.

When Ola was about ten years old, the family lived in Mojave. She would ride the train to the railroad section at Cameron Canyon Rd. and the train would stop and let her off where she would walk to the home of Babe Monroe where she had piano lessons. There is no information as to how she got back to Mojave but it is presumed the train coming through was signaled for a stop and she was able to ride back.

As Leatta, always known as "Tootie," grew up, she met a young man, Lester "Hooks" Anderson, who came calling. John Ford, a typical father of that day, was not pleased with any young man interested in his daughter. Hooks would visit Tootie but if Dad showed up, he'd leave by the back door to avoid any bad feelings. Tootie and Hooks would marry and buy property on Cherry Lane where their children, Della and Laura, would grow up.

Of those days with Grandma Ola, Laura remembers Ola telling her that rabbits cannot stand much heat and it was important to keep the cages cool. To accomplish this, she would wet gunny sacks to cover the hutches. The Tehachapi breeze would provide the coolness needed. One drawback, however, were rattlesnakes also being drawn to the area. For that reason Laura was never allowed near the cages.

Ola and John continued living at the farm selling their homemade food products but the time had come for them to retire. They sold their ranch and moved to Bakersfield. Then, as the years passed, John and Ola came to live next to Tootie and Hooks on Cherry Lane. Laura was able to have close contact with her beloved grandparents. John would die in 1969 at age 85, but Ola would live to age 91.

Laura met and married a young Ohio man, who had come to Tehachapi to be employed at the Correctional Institution. She and her husband, Roman Weltin, have made their home in Tehachapi. Reaching back through the centuries it's nice to think about those many generations of pioneering folk who came before them preparing the way.


I climbed out onto another limb on the Cuddeback tree in order to bring you a Kawaiisu story once told by Kawaiisu Elder, Andy Greene, about Bill Cuddeback's son, Charles "Bead" Cuddeback. Charles had a horse that would run as soon as he got on him. Someone suggested he tie the horse before mounting him. Bead tied him but when he mounted him the horse reared and fell over backward crushing Bead and killing him. He was twenty-two. Not all stories are happy.

Andy stated that the family buried him and had a tombstone placed on his grave. Later though, they exhumed the body and had it cremated and the ashes scattered over Sand Canyon. The reason he was called Bead was because he searched for and collected Indian beads.


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