South County Historical Society
San Luis Obispo County
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Story of the Arroyo Grande Creek
Robert Brown
(Soft back, 101 pages, 5 ½ x 8 ½ )

This book is literally about the Arroyo Grande Creek; its origins east of the town, the watershed, floods and drought, Lopez Lake (where the creek originates), the path to the ocean, steelhead trout, bridges, and includes maps, graphics, data charts and photographs. Although there are historical references, especially the community of Arroyo Grande, and there is mention of folks who lived along the creek, respecting and utilizing it, the focus of the book is on the effect the Creek has had on the land and the people.


According to Madge
Madge Ditmas
(Soft cover, 314 pages, 5 ½ x 8 ½ )

Madge began writing for the Arroyo Grande Herald Recorder in 1922 and her book consists of many interviews as well as her personal comments about life during the first part of the 20th century.  She covered many topics, most as short anecdotes, and the book includes illustrations and photographs. There are many references to events, places and specific families from the south county covering roughly the first half of the 20th century.   $18.95


Avila Beach, Glimpse of Yesterday
Janet Farris
(Soft cover, 160 pages, 5 ½ x 8 ½ )

Janet Farris is a fourth generation Avila Beach resident. With a long time interest in the people who lived in Avila Beach during her grandmother’s lifetime, Janet  interviewed many of the “old timers” and she and her husband (also from Avila Beach) collected many photographs and documents about the history of the town.  In the early 1990's, Janet wrote a series of articles for a small local newspaper based on her interviews and the collected materials. The book was expanded from the base of those articles.   $15.95


The Blond Ranchero
Rocky Dana and Marie Harrington
(Soft back, 142 pages, 5 ½ x 8 ½ )

 This book is as told to grand son, Rocky, by Juan Francisco Dana, son of Captain Wm. Dana, born at the Dana Adobe in Nipomo in 1838.  An accomplished story teller, Juan shared anecdotes about his youth, focusing on adobe life, his adventures and pioneer families. He was nicknamed, El Huero, the fair haired one.


Dune Mother’s Wildflower Guide
Malcolm McLeod
(Soft back, 91 pages, 5 ½ x 8 ½ )

This publication is the work of the local chapter of the CA Native Plant Society.  It is a compilation of photographs and descriptions of plants that one encounters on the dunes of south San Luis Obipso County and north Santa Barbara County.  Divided into sections based on location within the dunes; shore, foredunes, stabilized dunes, open dunes, glades and wetlands, it is a mini encyclopedia of information about the hundreds of native plants found along the coastal area.  $12.95

‘To Discourage Me is No Easy Matter’
Joseph Dana

This book recounts the life of William Good­win Dana: as   pioneer, adventurer, entrepreneur, a person who overcame childhood adversity, a public servant, even an author of some capti­vating letters. During the course of his 60 years Dana went from being a New England Yankee to sea faring adventurer  to land grantee in Mexico California, and to  citizen of the
United States again.   $19.00


Gallant Lady
Ruth Paulding
(Soft back, 117 pages, 8 ½ x 11)

Written as a journal, Ruth lovingly tells the story of her mother, Clara Edwards Paulding, sharing the adventures of an opinionated, lively and adventuresome young woman as a young girl, an educated teacher, wife and mother.  The family home, The Paulding History House on Crown Hill in Arroyo Grande, is now a museum with many of the families furnishings on display.


Journey of Justice
Gary Hoving
(Soft back, 118 pages, 5 ½ x 8 ½ )

A history of the Sheriff’s Department in San Luis Obispo County including the many changes over the years, anecdotes about crime fighting in the county,  humorous stories, infamous local characters and data about each of the sheriffs.  Photographs and charts illustrate the text.


Memories of the Land
Place Names of San Luis Obispo County
Mark P. Hall-Patton
(Soft back, 160 pages, 5 ½ x 8 ½ )

A collection of names of places, communities, streets and land marks in the county, it provides links to the early settlers of the area.  Also included are definitions of the many places with Spanish/Mexican names in the area.  The book includes an extensive bibliography for those who wish to do further research of place names.   $8.95


Pozo Diaries
Compiled and edited by the Folklore Committee
South County Historical Society
(Soft back, 131 pages, 5 ½ x 8 ½ )

The receipt of a molding and stained diary by the Committee led to research identifying the writer, Joseph Bettencourt,.  His diary was about himself and the families he knew who lived and worked in Pozo.  The book continues the story after the diary ends, providing a comprehensive history of Pozo.  $12.00


Rails Across the Ranchos
Loren Nicholson
(Soft back, 197 pages, 8 ½ x 11)

Prior to the turn of the century, railroad builders were eager to link San Francisco with Los Angeles.  Of note are the political and economic factors determining the route to be taken by the large railroad companies.  The Pacific Coast narrow gauge railway that went from San Luis Obispo to the Harford Pier in Avila and was gradually extended south, while the Southern Pacific Railroad was heading inland, getting as far as Bakersfield before any lines extended due south of Salinas.  The book is the story (with photographs, charts, drawings, graphics) of the building of the railroad along the coast and the long term impact it has had on the area.  $18.95


Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow  - Volume 4

This book is a potpourri of events and stories about the south part of San Luis Obispo County, CA.  There are interviews, photographs, bits and pieces of genealogy, community events, poetry and excerpts from diaries.  Many locals wrote articles that are included.  The book was compiled between 1979 and 1981. $5.00


Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow - Volume 5

This book is more or less a continuation of Volume 4, but it focuses more on the people  from each of the communities in the south part of San Luis Obispo County.    Each article stands alone as a mini history  with information about families who settled in the area.  Many of the anecdotes were written by local folks who shared personal experiences and are told conversationally.  This book was compiled between 1981 and 1989.  $20.00


Terrible Tragedy
The booklet is about an unusual local story. .  Peter Hemmi and his son Julius were arrested for the murder of their neighbor, Mr. Walker and the wounding of his wife and were being held in lock-up.  That same night, March 31, 1886,the guards were tied up and both father and son were hanged from the Pacific Coast Rail Road bridge in Arroyo Grande, CA.  The courts declared the hanging was done by "persons unknown", though local stories indicate the responsible parties were some prominent local citizens.   $2.80


Touring Rural Arroyo Grande
Compiled by the
Book Committee South County Historical Society

 To help like the past and the present, the Book Committee created a tour book. The book serves several purposes; to provides historical informa­tion, to share anecdotes written by those who live or lived in the area, and to provide a map for the short county ride, allowing a driver and pas­sengers to enjoy the lovely countryside. This book was funded by a grant from the San Luis Obispo Community Foundation.  $6.50



The second book of the trilogy tells about the new life Blanco must adopt to after being retired from his job pro­tecting a herd of sheep. Through an exciting event, the community learns that his protective skills are still useful.   $14.00


Emily Decides

Emily joins Sara and Blanco at the Adobe. When the gate is left open, they decide to walk into town, visit several businesses and check out some back yards. Af­ter adventures and encounters with some people and vehicles, they are rescued and returned to the Adobe.   $14.00


Norman Hammond

The CA central coast became a haven for a small group of unrelated people who, for whatever their personal reasons, chose to live in the dunes at Oceano in the early 1900’s. Many were loners; a few were famous; some were artists; some in hiding and many wrote of their experiences. Author Norman Ham­mond has written a captivating account of their life on the dunes with details about specific “Dunites”.    $12.00


Norman Hammond

Author Norman Hammond compiled the book from documents, papers, interviews and memorabilia collected by local his­torian Harold Guiton. This history of the town of
Oceano includes detailed descrip­tions of places and people, including the multi cultural heritage of the area, personal observations, anecdotes, photographs and information from newspaper articles. Harold’s dedi­cation to the preservation of the Oceano Depot is noted.   $20.00


Old Days
Gordon Bennett and John Loomis 

Growing up in Arroyo Grande between 1939 and 1944 was full of adventures for both       Gordon and John who tell their childhood sto­ries. With photographs to accompany the many adventures they had, the book is full of local in­formation, names people they knew as boys and provides lots of history of the town from their viewpoint. If you grew up in a small town, you may relate to their activities that they were convinced were never known to their parents.   $23.30

Sister Sara, The Adobe Burro

This book is about Sister Sara’s adventures in becoming ad­justed to her new home.
Sara is a burro with
an attitude.  $14.00

More Books and Easy Paypal Ordering Coming Soon!  For any questions or to order books, please phone 805.489.8282 or email,

or write to us at:

Attn:  Book Orders
South County Historical Society
Post Office Box 633
Arroyo Grande, CA 93421


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