Winter Wonderland

Now that we have officially entered winter, it seems apropos to relate Cabot Yerxa’s 1900-1901 experience of wintering in Nome, Alaska. As you read the excerpts below, you should feel quite content to be in the Southern California desert where even the shortest days of the year bring us light and warmth. Nome was unbelievably cold during stormy weather. The …

Merry Hearted

While walking to Morongo one day, Cabot Yerxa came upon a man leading a small black burro. The man had purchased the animal specifically to carry his belongings to the railroad. Judging the burro to be intelligent, Cabot spent $10 to buy it for help on his homestead after the man completed his trek. He named the burro Merry Xmas …

A Weighty Problem

Featuring burros in this month’s newsletters, we turn to an amusing story Cabot Yerxa told that begins with Orr Sang, a fellow homesteader. The retired policeman from Los Angeles not only had the desert’s first bathtub, but also a burro carriage with a fringed canopy and one cushioned seat. His two burros were Molly (“white, strong, and willing”) and Fanny …

Tales of Tails and Trails

Now that December is upon us, it seems like a good time to pay tribute to Merry Xmas: Cabot Yerxa’s first burro. This month, we’ll present Cabot’s story of how he acquired the animal that became his companion and confidante. But first let’s establish how burros, including Merry Xmas, fared in the desert. The following comes from the museum’s book …

The More Important Things

Most of Cabot Yerxa’s writings comprise his recountings in journals, letters, and newspaper articles about his life and the lives of people he encountered. But a person with his flair for narrative and observation surely needed another creative outlet of expression. And so it was that he dabbled in creative writing: poetry, short story, play. The text below, which comes …

Saving the Legacy: Cole Henry Eyraud

By the time of his death on March 5, 1965, Cabot Yerxa had hand-built a 35-room pueblo with 150 windows, 65 doors, and 30 rooflines. As noted in last week’s newsletter, Portia Yerxa helped her husband operate the pueblo as a museum offering tours and a trading post. When her health failed and she entered a nursing home, the property …

A Woman of Spirit: Portia Fearis Graham Yerxa

After his first marriage ended in divorce, Cabot remained on his own for some 20-plus years before wedding again at the age of 62. The following profile of his second wife, Portia, comes from Cabot Yerxa’s Family Circle. That book, published by Cabot’s Museum Foundation, contains a more in-depth reconstruction of Portia’s life based on research by the foundation’s history …

A Woman of Character: Mamie Katherine Yerxa

Our knowledge of local history is blessed by the fact that Cabot Yerxa was an astute observer and prolific writer. Much can be gleaned from his personal journals, letters, and newspaper articles. To develop an even deeper understanding of his life and legacy, Cabot’s Museum Foundation History Committee delved into and organized the pueblo museum’s trove of archives. Additional investigation …

Ways and Means

With all the time we’ve had to spend in our homes for some eight months now, our abodes can seem small to us, even with thousands of square feet under a roof. In Desert Hot Springs’ homesteading days, cabins encompassed something like 120 square feet. Cabot Yerxa described the early 1900 dwellings in his 1962 presentation to the Desert Hot …

Land Marking

Our recent newsletter about Los Angeles-based developer L.W. Coffee mentioned his finding his way to Bill Anderson’s homestead by following a map that Cabot Yerxa gave him showing the landmark of Two Bunch Palms. In a 1962 speech to the Desert Hot Springs Improvement Association, Cabot talked about how that spot had guided him and others to their homesteads.  When …