If perchance you attended the Atascadero Chamber of Commerce Business Showcase a couple of years ago and viewed the Historical Society's exhibit, you may have noticed an elderly gentleman pictured holding some gigantic vegetables. That gentleman was Dr. J. E. Littlefield, one of Atascadero's earliest settlers. Dr. Littlefield truly embraced the pioneer spirit that E. G. Lewis envisioned for our community.
The following article is excerpt from the Atascadero Historical Society's February 13, 1928 bound copy of the Atascadero News.
The Story of a Pioneer
by DR. J. E. LITTLEFIELD
I came to Atascadero in 1913 and selected my land. In 1914, I opened the first business (optical and photographic) on the Estates. In 1915, I became the first President of our Booster Club. I built my home, planted the first family orchard, garden, grapes and berry patch. I brought in the first baby chicks, rabbits and pigeons. For five years my place was known as the “Show Place” of Atascadero.
With this statement as a foundation, I feel that I am qualified to speak as a real Pioneer Settler of Atascadero.
After forty years of business activity in the East and Middle West, I came to Atascadero because of its fine climate and natural beauties. I consider that nature here has produced her masterpiece. These beautiful hills and valleys, giant oaks and sycamores, springs and running streams, cannot be duplicated in any other part of the world. With never a hot night in summer or a cold day in winter, three hundred and fifty days of sunshine each year, it is a veritable Paradise, wherein one finds the real joy of living.
It has been my pleasure to experiment with everything that could be produced on a one-acre garden farm that I might assist other settlers coming later. I have conducted a private information bureau and answered countless letters of inquiry. My answers were based upon my own personal experience.
Hundreds visited my place and saw with their own eyes the largest cabbages, cauliflower and other vegetables, raised anywhere. My fruits, berries and grapes would win the most skeptical to the fact that this is the place to build their ideal home.
In the pioneer days Atascadero was greatly handicapped. I had to go fifteen miles by train to buy my groceries and feed. Today one can buy everything in Atascadero, in modern stores.
I had no home market that first year and I shall never forget the thrill I got when I carried my first pail of beautiful white eggs to our new store and traded them for groceries. My cockerels found a ready market among the new residents as I dressed them and delivered them wrapped in parsley from my garden...
Today, with our present market facilities, I consider that Atascadero offers the greatest inducement for home-building and the opportunity to produce food for our California cities. One can obtain the highest cash prices any day in the year for all he can produce. Feed prices and other overhead expenses are less here than in any other part of the State...
Abraham Lincoln once said and it is recorded in stone on our beautiful Civic Center Building, “The most valuable of all arts will be the art of deriving a comfortable subsistence from the smallest area of soil.” Nowhere in this world can this be more easily done than in Atascadero, California. His prophecy is being fulfilled before our very eyes...
I came to Atascadero to end my days. I feel that I have added at least twenty years to my span of life during my fourteen years' residence here...
Enough said; Make your home in Atascadero the Beautiful. A long and happy life awaits you here. Atascadero will welcome you with a glad hand and happy smile.
James Wilkins is the president of the Atascadero Historical Society. The Colony Museum is located at 6600 Lewis Avenue, mailing address: P.O. Box 1047, Atascadero CA 93423. For more information, visit the website, www.atascaderohistoricalsociety.org or call 805-466-8341.