Sunday, April 23, 2006

They Came to San Diego in 1887

It's amazing what details you can find about your ancestor's lives when there are treasures in the closet. For instance:

Henry Austin Carringer was always known by his middle name, Austin. This may have been a Carringer family tradition, or perhaps from a traditional German naming pattern. He was born in Mercer County, Pennsylvania. His parents moved in 1858 to Columbus City, Louisa County, Iowa and then moved in 1873 to Caribou, Boulder County, Colorado. He met Della Smith in 1884; the Carringer and Smith families had tracts of land in Ellsworth, Cheyenne County, Kansas (on the Republican River in the northwest corner of Kansas). The Smith's resided in McCook, Red Willow County, Nebraska. Both families had invested in "ranches" in Ellsworth at some point in time and were there for part of the year. Wano is now a ghost town.

Mr. Austin Carringer and Miss Della Smith were performers at the playhouse built in Wano in Cheyenne County, starring in plays such as "Lady Audley's Secret", "The Dairyman's Daughter", "My Cousin Joe", "My Neighbor's Wife", and "The Secret; or, A Hole in the Wall". Della Carringer's scrapbook has many notices of these plays and other activities in St. Francis and Wano.

After three years of courtship, they sold their land there and were wed in Wano, Cheyenne County, Kansas by Rev. Emanuel Richards (their wedding certificate is on my picture wall in my home). A month later they traveled by train to San Diego, California on their honeymoon with $20 in their pockets. Austin went to work as a carpenter in the lumber mills in National City. In 1890, they resided on 3rd Avenue between 16th and 17th in National City. Austin was an active member of the National City Fire Department Active Hose No. 1 during this period.

The San Diego Union announced in the August 24, 1889 edition that:

"Mr. and Mrs. H.A. Carringer rejoice in the arrival of a bright faced boy, who tips the scales at nine pounds."

Devier David Carringer (named after his grandfathers, Davier Smith and David Jackson Carringer) was born on August 19, 1889. The joy turned to sorrow when Devier suddenly died on May 10, 1890. A remembrance card with gold lettering on a black background reads:

"One less at home, The charmed circle broken -- a dear face missed day by day from its usual place. But cleansed, saved, perfected by grace, One more in heaven.

"One less on earth, its pain, its sorrow, and its toil to share. One less the pilgrim's daily cross to bear. One more the crown of the blessed to wear, At home in heaven."

The family archives include several letters from the extended Smith family in Kansas and the extended Carringer family in Pennsylvania that try to reassure the family that it was God's will. The death of baby Devier apparently caused Austin to renounce his Christian faith.

Lyle Lawrence Carringer was born 2 November 1891 in a house at 16th and H Streets in San Diego. There are several letters to the Carringer family in Colorado describing Lyle's childhood. An 1895 family picture shows the family in front of a hat shop with Lyle sitting in a wagon, Austin with a bicycle, Abigail (Vaux) Smith, and Edgar Carringer (austin's bachelor brother).

In 1893, the family lived at 28th Street and Logan Avenue in San Diego. In 1895 Della was an art teacher in a studio at 29th and Logan.

In 1894, Della Carringer bought a lot of land in San Diego for $450. The lot was bounded by Ella (now 30th Street), Watkins Avenue (now Hawthorn Street), Horton (now Ivy Street) and Fern Street in the Brooklyn Heights neighborhood of San Diego. Her mother, Abbie (Vaux) Smith also bought a lot on the same block. Austin built a house on the southwestern corner of the block at Ella and Watkins Streets (now 30th and Hawthorn Streets) facing Watkins Street. They occupied the house by 1898 until their deaths in 1946 and 1944, respectively.

A photograph taken in 1900 shows the house with Austin, Della, Lyle, Austin's parents D.J. and Rebecca, his brother Edgar, Della's mother Abbie (Vaux) Smith, and the family horse. After the house was built, they used a horse-drawn surrey to transport themselves and their neighbors to the nearest streetcar line at 16th and Broadway.

Austin continued working at the Russ Lumber and Mill Company until at least 1903. He worked as a carpenter or machinist until 1917, when he became an aviation mechanic at the U.S. Army Aviation Station at Rockwell Field (now North Island Naval Air Station) in Coronado. He was the foreman in the wood and fabric section of the airplane repair shop for ten years, and retired on his 79th birthday with 15 years of service in 1932. His coworkers gave him a letter of appreciation and a big, easy chair.

The family home was moved to the middle of the block as 2115 30th Street in about 1927, and the house front porch was modified so that it faced south. A second story flat was created by adding to the existing rooms, and an external staircase was built to 2119 30th Street. The structure was then stuccoed over so that the original frame of the house could not be discerned.

The San Diego Union of September 11, 1937 has an article headlined "Honeymoon Trip to S.D. Extends Half a Century", with a picture of Austin and Della entitled "True Vowers View Letters on Golden Wedding Day". In the article, Della says "We have lived here on this corner for 39 years. We built this house. On our lot we have planted and grown most every kind of fruit and vegetable that grows in California. Flowers always have been my hobby."

Della designed some of their furniture, and was a painter. She was quoted on their philosophy of life: "We have worked hard as partners and tried always to be kind and helpful to others. After all, we are of the opinion that this is the best religion to make a happy and successful life." The article says that Austin did all of the finishing on their home and also built some of their beautiful furniture.

Austin died in 1946 and is remembered by Betty (Carringer) Seaver as being tall and very demanding in his old age. Della died in 1944 and is remembered as being small and wrinkled. They are inurned in Cypress View Mausoleum (Bronze Corridor, Niche 61) in San Diego.

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