Picture of the Corwins
Elmore and Harriet Corwin
The Corwin Ranch

Page 9

Appendix I


Elmore Howard Corwin and Harriet Elizabeth Corwin are the patriarch and matriarch of the Corwin Family in the Victor Valley area. Elmore was born in Mansfield, Ohio, on June 29, 1847, the son of James Corwin and Margaretta Barchus Corwin. He was the second of seven children.

The following brief biography appeared in William G. Cutler's History of the State of Kansas, published in 1883:

E. H. CORWIN, photographer...emigrated to Canton, Ill., in 1855. He enlisted at the age of sixteen years in Company K, Seventh Illinois, and was one of the youngest soldiers in the army. At the battle of Nashville, Tenn., December 16, 1864, he received a severe gunshot wound in the left thigh, and was mustered out in the fall of 1866.

The subject of our sketch first gave his attention to photography in 1869, and has followed it continuously for thirteen years. Besides having a natural ability for lighting and posing, he has received the superior instructions of some the best photographers and artists in the United States. In November, 1879, he established himself in this business at Ottawa, Kan., and in the short time he has been here has built up a reputation for the fine artistic work, and his splendidly finished photographs are known throughout the State.

Mr. Corwin's reputation as an artist, etc., in this business is second to none in Kansas. He takes pride in his profession, for which he has an ardent love. His gallery is located in the Opera House Block. Here he has a suite of rooms handsomely furnished and decorated with some of the specimens of his skill. He has the faculty of making you feel at home, and is popular throughout the community. (Reference: History of the State of Kansas)

In 1894 Elmore sold the studio to William H. "Dad" Martin, who became quite successful in publishing "The exaggeration or tall-tale postcard, depicting larger-than-life crops, animals, insects, etc. (Reference: Kenneth Spencer Research Library, #22 For examples of Martin's postcards, see: American Museum of Photography

Elmore's first marriage was to Bernice Coykendall on June 6, 1869. There were two children from this union, Catherine Margaretta Corwin and Charles Corwin. Not much is known of Catherine. She was born July 10, 1875, in Ottawa, Kansas, and did not stray far from her birthplace, being a resident of Kansas City, Missouri. She attended a 1923 Corwin Family reunion at El Hoco Ranch, and was listed as "Miss Katie M. Corwin of Kansas City" in the newspaper coverage of the event.

Charles was born November 6, 1871 in Illinois, and died February 23, 1942, in a San Bernardino hospital. His obituary said he was a retired banker, and listed as survivors a son, Everett Corwin, and a grandson, Everett Corwin, Jr.

Photo of Elmore, Everett,  
Everett, Jr., and Charles
Photo courtesy of Betty Halbe

Elmore's second wife was born Harriet Elizabeth Stinebaugh in Ohio on April 11, 1859. Her parents were Henry Stinebaugh and Elizabeth Lininger. Elmore and Harriet married in Ottawa, Kansas, on May 28, 1884. This marriage also produced two children, George Stinebaugh Corwin and Elma Howard Corwin.

George was born October 9, 1885, in Ottawa, Kansas, and Elma was born December 20, 1887, also in Ottawa. He later joined the service in World War I, and afterwards became a member of the American Legion. He was killed in a car accident in Los Angeles on December 13, 1935.

It was the Corwin's daughter Elma and her descendants, however, whose long residence in Victor Valley has helped leave the family's mark on the history of the area. Elma had married her distant cousin Herbert M. Stinebaugh in 1907, and thus was living apart from her parents when they came to Apple Valley.

In 1924 she and her family moved to Victorville to be near her folks, so she is a pioneer of Victor Valley in her own right. She lived in Victorville until she passed away on December 17, 1985, just three days short of her 98th birthday.

Elma had a terrific memory and was a good subject for reporters looking for feature stories, one appearing in the October 15, 1975, issue of the Daily Press, and another in the October 22, 1982, issue. The latter, celebrating five generations of Stinebaughs living in Victorville, was written by Ellsworth A. Sylvester. He did an outstanding job in the interview, and writes of their early days in the area:

The Stinebaughs -- husband, wife and four kids -- drove up to Victorville in a seven-passenger Mitchell touring car bought from an undertaker in Alhambra. Then went over to the Corwin Ranch and after two weeks came to Victorville and rented a two-room clapboard house on E Street.

Herbert Stinebaugh hung metal frame cots from the walls to provide beds for all six. There was no water in the house, just a faucet out in the yard. They lived there for several months then bought a lot on 10th Street from Mr. Richardson, a pioneer merchant of Victorville.

They started to build and as soon as the walls and roof were up, moved in. Elma remembers the bare open stud walls and stepping from one floor joist to the other. This was in early 1925 and they got the home finished in 1927. At the time, it was the largest home in Victorville with four bedrooms, living room, dining room, kitchen and a breakfast room.

Photo of Elma and descendants

Herbert bought an existing blacksmith shop on Sixth Street just off of E Street, around the corner from the old jail. He was an excellent metal worker, making things of practical value but with an artist's touch.

He made wrought iron fences and railings, ornamental lamps, and he did a lot of work for the Yucca Loma Ranch. Horses were still used to a certain extent, especially on the farms, so that brought the business some work. He ran the shop from 1925 until he retired in 1943. He died two years later.

Elma also had a job, she told Sylvester, working as a postal clerk at the old Victorville Post Office. In her spare time she attended the meetings of the Apple Blossom Club, which she joined shortly after moving to the area. She and her mother Harriet both belonged and often hosted the gatherings. It was a social club made up primarily of women from Apple Valley, but ladies from as far away as San Bernardino were regular members, and probably drove up the hill to enjoy some of the dances put on by the group.

Elma remembered some of the early businesses in Victorville. She arrived at the time J. C. Turner was building the Smith Hotel, later called the Pioneer Hotel (since destroyed). The Odd Fellow Hall was built on Seventh Street, "way up" by A Street. "My goodness," she exclaimed at the time, "no one will ever go to that...it is too far out of town." She also recalled the day they brought in a large crane and moved the Santa Fe Depot on Sixth Street from one side of the tracks to the other.

Elma and Herbert had four children: George Stinebaugh, Marian Cain, Elizabeth Prahm, and Catherine Barnes. All four graduated from Victor Valley High School, beginning with George, who was in the class of 1925; Marian, the class of 1931; and the two youngest daughters also graduated in the 1930s. Marian is the only one still living as of this writing (2002), and she resides in her Baldy Mesa home where she has lived for many decades.

Betty Halbe, Elizabeth Prahm's daughter, was born in San Bernardino but has lived most of her 63 years in Victorville. She is well known for her work in recent years as office manager of the California Route 66 Museum on D Street.

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