Sunday, May 8, 2011

California Mutual Benefit Colony of Chicago

Written by Diane Beauton

Cindy and I have started a new chapter in the book of our lives. What started out as a walk for health three times a week has metaporphosed into a new hobby for fun and fitness.

Exploring off the beaten paths, dirt trails and historical points of interest has led us to a more exciting journey down the corridors of history and a growing interest to capture it in the view of our lens.

Our first venture was the oldest cemetery in Simi Valley, where the last remnant of the 1889 settlement also know as 'Simiapolis' are laid to rest. A small graveyard with a portion of it fenced off to cradle some of the oldest citizens of Simi Valley. This group of adventurous pioneers headed West across prairie, mountains and desert to reach a promised paradise filled with honey, wild tobacco, wheat fields, lush farm land and artesian springs; a place in 1889 known by some as The Simi and The Tapo.

A group of business men and Doctors who called themselves the California Mutual Benefit Colony of Chicago was responsible for painting the picture of this western utopia into a promise land to which some heeded the call. The California Mutual Benefit Colony of Chicago moved 12 prefab houses by train to the Simiapolis. To this date one house has been restored, historically known as the Strathern House and another is still occupied bya local resident.
Back at the cemetery we found a lone Civil War Veteran belonging to the NYHA (New York Heavy Artillary Regime), who fought in the War of the Great Rebellion. But for now our interest was awakened for two women in the Old Pioneer part of the cemetery. While many families are scattered about, Jamima Vose and her daughter Hester lay side by side. Cindy being the awesome genealogist and relentless snope has already begun to dig up little to unknown morsels of information on mother and daughter.

Their story begins as a puzzle of a few pieces, yet we already have enough to give us a glimpse into the past lives of these two courages pioneer women.

Hester Sophia Vose and her daughter Edith left Pennsylvania and settled in the new Simiapolis circ. 1893, 4 years after the first settlers arrived. It appears Hester was a widow when she ventured out to make the treacherous journey West with her daughter. It's not yet known how she arrived here, but if anyone can find out it will be my sister.

We do know that Hester served as The Simi's postmistress and telephone operator in the little community from 1893 until 1903 in one of the oringal 'Colony Houses' railed in from Chicago in 1888.

As for Jamima, it looks as if she joined her daughter sometime circ. 1897 to 1900 after her husband F.D. Vose, high constable in the city of Wilkes-Barre, died.

As more information unfolds on Jamima Vose this article will up edited and updated.


  1. Hi Di, what a great read. I will put you on my blog roll so that I can come back regularly, and I have also become a follower. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment.

  2. Just checked and it was Cindy who popped by. Sorry about the mix up. Just read about your husband being from the UK Cindy. Always interesting to hear about a fellow Brit over here. We used to live in San Diego over 20 years ago.

  3. Diane speakin... No problem, I sent you an email. I'm a novice when it come to 'blogging', but I'm learning. Stop by anytime!


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