Monday, June 25, 2018

A Little More About the Verlaques

Regular readers (all three of you, ha) may recall my long day trip to the backcountry town of Ramona, which boasted two French families - the Verlaques and the Etcheverrys - among its initial settlers.

I recently made a return trip to Ramona. Before I could even walk through the Woodward Museum's gate, something caught my eye.

Like most people of French extraction, I LOVE public art. And like most Angelenos, I love a good mural.

The town of Ramona boasts 17 murals paying tribute to its history. Mural #12 recalls the Verlaque family's store.

Wait, what?! 

The last time I visited, I asked the docent on duty if she knew anything else about the Verlaque family (there wasn't much in my notes). Perhaps she was unaware that the old wooden building right next to the museum grounds had been a business owned by the Verlaques. Or that the far side of the building had a mural honoring its history.

No matter. This time I saw the mural.

Family patriarch Theophile was a sheep rancher, but Jeff Verlaque was a shopkeeper.

The store doubled as a post office and stagecoach stop (shades of the Garnier brothers at Rancho Los Encinos). Crucially,  it was on the way to the town of Julian, which had a minor gold rush of its own. 

Artist's rendering of the store's merchandise.

The building, now with the address of 629 Main Street, hasn't changed much (it currently houses the Reds Whites and Brews wine bar and an antique store). Just don't expect to see a stagecoach parked out front.

One little discrepancy is gnawing away at my mind. The Verlaques' adobe house, built in 1886, is said to be the oldest permanent structure in Ramona. Yet the store was supposedly opened in 1884. I will need to contact the historical society about this...

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