Saturday, April 20, 2013

Talented Tuesday: The Abbates in the California Desert

In 1938, the United States Bureau of Land Management Small Tract Act allowed citizens to homestead five acre tracts of land in the California High Desert under the condition that they built inhabitable structures on the land within three years. The desert was billed as a great place to seek relief from the crowded urban conditions of Los Angeles and a place for recreation and renewal. 

Here's a quote from the Desert Magazine in 1950 that sums up the conditions that these homesteaders were facing:

Jackrabbit homesteads are only for folks who have a bit of pioneering blood in their veins. The land generally is rough, no water is immediately available, more or less road building has to be done. But fortunately there are many Americans who find infinite pleasure in doing the hard work necessary to provide living accommodations on one of these sites—and cabins are springing up all over the desert country.”
–Desert Magazine 1950

Some of those "many Americans" just happened to be my paternal grandparents. Victor and May Abbott (Abbate) and Victor's siblings Agnes and Frank built weekend getaways in the Yucca Valley on land they acquired through the Small Tract Act. Yep, my grandfather, the plasterer from Sicily, built his own desert getaway. 

Bureau of Land Management records show that Agnes was the first to acquire land in the Yucca Valley on October 4, 1957.  Frank's land was awarded on October 1, 1956 and Victor's on February 9, 1959. *

Here are some of the Abbate ladies celebrating the groundbreaking
of one of the cabins!

Pictures show Agnes,  Frank, Victor and their families enjoying weekends at their cabins hanging out, eating, playing games and getting away from it all for awhile. 

A little research revealed that some of the areas where these cabins were built have been abandoned and the structures are in disrepair.  There are still structures on the lots where both Victor and Frank's cabins stood.  Check out this link to Google Maps to see how the lots look more recently.

Early progress on Victor's cabin on Kickapoo Trail.
Look closely and you can just make out my talented grandfather
 sitting on the porch of his place!

Water and electricity!

A carport!
The completed cabin!

Croce Scalisi, Louisa Abbate, May Abbott and Victor Abbott

May Abbott on the cabin property.
Check out that interesting tree branch above May.
Angie Abbate Mood and Victor
Yep, looks like that's the same Joshua Tree!
Hey there, welcome to my homestead!
Victor Abbott
Hey there, my grandpa built this place!
Angie Abbate Mood, 1965

*Follow these links to view the original Patent details for the land acquisitions.
Frank Abbate
Agnes Abbate
Victor Abbate

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