You are here:   Home About Howard Hot Springs' History: Part 1

Howard Hot Springs' History: Part 1

Monday, 14 February 2011 13:35
Print PDF

The History of Howard Springs [the land now known as Avalon Springs]

from The Historical Architecture Report
by Charles M. Mobley

Part One: How it became Howard Hot Springs

For over 130 years, Avalon’s hot and cold springs were known as Howard Springs.  The land that became Howard Springs is said to have been purchased in 1863 by J.M. Collins, who lived there for one year.  It’s not known who claiming ownership would have sold the springs to Collins; as Ellen Klages points out in regard to James Harbin’s “purchase” of Harbin Springs in 1856, early land title was largely a matter of possession.  Legal entitlement and recording were in force by 1861, when the Clear Lake district detached from Napa County to become Lake County.

1863 J.M. Collins purchases springs property that will become Howard Springs Palmer (1881:225)
1869, Dec. 4 James W. Howard purchases Cushman farm, Seigler Valley (excludes springs) Deeds Book 2:54
1870, Sept. 12 James W. Howard files patent claim on Cushman farm Patents Book 1:60
1870, Sept. 14 James W. Howard files homestead claim on Cushman farm Homesteads Book1:106
< gap >
1872, Feb. 29 Proposed Mills Toll Road map shows trail to “Howards Springs” Articles of Incorporation, Lake Co.
1876, Mar. 13 Howard’s first advertisement for Howard Springs appears The Lake Democrat: Mar. 13, 1876
1878, Jan. 28 James W. Howard sells 160 acre Howard Springs to August Heisch Miscellaneous Records Book 2:8
1879, July 12 August Heisch files homestead claim on Howard Springs Homesteads Book 1:351
1881, April 4 August Heisch files patent claim on Howard Springs Patents Book 3:240
1882, Aug. 28 Widow Caroline Heisch obtains homestead of August Heisch (deceased) Homesteads Book 2:43
1887, Oct. 13 Caroline Heisch sells Howard Springs to Philip and (wife) Margaretha Sieben Deeds Book 19:128
1891, April 30 Philip Sieben sells Howard Springs to Charles L.A. Scott Deeds Book 23:343
1892 Howard Springs becomes home of Putah Post Office Feltman (1993:39)
1892, Oct. 31 Estate of Margaretha Sieben (deceased) yields rights in Howard Springs to Deeds Book 24:525
C.A. Scott
1896, April 9 Charles L.A. Scott sells Howard Springs to Lizzie H. Beeby Deeds Book 28:471
1898, Aug. 1 Lizzie H. Beeby files to protect Howard Springs from bankruptcy Deeds Book 30:249
1900 Howard Springs loses official Putah Post Office Feltman (1993:39)
1904 Howard Springs resort stops canceling mail under name “Howard Springs” Feltman (1993:39)
< gap >
1906, Mar. 29 J.W. Laymance and two associates incorporate Seigler Mining Company Cal. State Articles of Incorp. 45862
1907, Aug. 8 J.W. Laymance and E.E. Laymance incorporate Howard Springs Company Cal. State Articles of Incorp. 51363
1907, Oct. 29 Minnie W. Laymance sells Howard Springs to Howard Springs Company Deeds Book 39:613
1907, Oct. 29 E.E. Laymance and wife Minnie sell Howard Springs to Howard Springs Co. Deeds Book 41:40
1909, May 8 Howard Springs Co (J.W. and E.E. Laymance) sell Howard Springs to C.M. Deeds Book 42:211
1909, July 22 C.M. Miller sells Howard Springs to J.W. Laymance (not recorded until Mar. Deeds Book 46:445
18, 1912)
1912, Oct. 12 Widow of C.H. King sues C.M. Miller, J.W. Laymance et al., prompting Lake Deeds Book 50:442
Co. to auction Howard Springs, purchased by J.H. King for $11,880.26;
recorded Dec. 22, 1913
1913, Dec. 22 J.H. King sells Howard Springs to M.J. Laymance and William J. Laymance Deeds Book 50:444
1921, May 11 M.J. Laymance and William J. Laymance sell Howard Springs to Harold W. Deeds Book 61:56
< gap >
1926, July 26 J.P. Francisco has Howard Springs advertisement in Middletown Times Star Middletown Times Star 1(22):4
1929, Oct. 26 Mary I. Clancy sells 40 acres of the core 160 acre parcel to George J. Hatfield Official Records Book 58:285
1929, Nov. 10 Howard Springs resort burns down. Lake County Bee 58(24):1
1929, Dec. 5 George J. Hatfield issues $10,000 mortgage to J.P. and Cora Francisco on Official Records Book 61:183
other 120 acres of the core 160 acre Howard Springs parcel to rebuild resort
1936, Aug. 31 Western Title Insurance issues mortgage document of $15,500 on Howard Deeds Book 112:462/463
Springs to J.P. and Cora Francisco
1943, April 15 Mortgage now between Bank of America and J.P. and Cora Francisco Deeds Book 147:456
1945, Oct. 6 J.P. and Cora Francisco pay off [1943] 1936 Bank of America mortgage Deeds Book 164:367
1945, Oct. 6 J.P. Francisco and Cora Francisco sell Howard Springs to George Pappas, Deeds Book 164:369
James and wife Julia Pappas, and Bill and wife Dina Pappas
1972, July 19 Upon 1969 death of James, wife Julia Pappas obtains Howard Springs interest Deeds Book 735:5
1973 Bill and Dina Pappas sell Howard Springs interest to Elio and Gerda Giusti Elio Giusti interview
1976, July 1 Julia Pappas sells interest in Howard Springs to Elio and wife Gerda Giusti Deeds Book 837:580

Table 1. Time line of Howard Springs property events, mostly from Lake County records.


Charles Davenport Cushman was a 49-year old farmer from Massachusetts when he registered to vote on October 30, 1868.  His farm took up much of southern Seigler Valley.  On December 4, 1869, two months after Cushman’s wife died, James W. Howard paid him $1,500 for 360 acres stretching almost two miles from the southern Seigler Valley northwest far up the mountainside north of Bonanza Springs.

As early as 1881 it was erroneously reported that C.W. Howard was the first owner of the springs that came to bear his name.  That source -- the first comprehensive “History of Napa and Lake Counties, California” -- has been cited often in the history of Howard Springs, repeating the error.

James Washington Howard was a 35-year old mechanic from Indiana in August of 1866, when he registered to vote in Lake County.  To solidify his entitlement to Cushman’s Seigler Valley property, he not only had the sale document recorded but also filed homestead and patent claims on the land.  His purchase of Cushman’s farm included a house and a building labeled “C.D. Cushman’s Barn,” according to the state township survey of July 7th, 1868; its mapped location corresponds to that of a very old barn on Big Canyon Road today, and they are probably the same building.

The Cushman farm abutted the Howard Springs property to the south but didn’t include it; how and from whom James W. Howard purchased the 160 acres containing the springs has not been determined.  A fire at the Lake County Courthouse in Lakeport on February 15, 1867, destroyed all the County’s records except for one of the Treasurer’s Books, so perhaps the records of an earlier purchase were destroyed.  Howard must have possessed the land by 1872, because the 1872 map filed with the Lake County Recorder for the proposed Mills Toll Road shows an existing trail from Adams Springs around the east side of “Sigler” Mountain, with a short fork “to Howards Springs.”  J.M. Collins could have sold the springs property directly to Howard; he continued to reside in Lake County, listing himself as a 45-year old farmer with a 30-year old wife Elizabeth and children William (age 14), Edward (age 12), Robert (age 10), Annie (age 7), and a six-year old daughter who’s name is indistinct, according to the 1880 Middletown Precinct Census.

According to a 1959 interview with Hubert Borchelt (probably Hubert Jr.) of Cobb Valley, a Mr. Ely owned the south end of Seigler Valley including what became known as Howard Springs, and J.W. Howard married Ely’s daughter and thereby received the land as a gift.  The Mr. Ely was probably Thomas Benjamin Ely, a 41-year old farmer in September of 1877 when he registered to vote in Lake County.  No archival sources were found confirming Borchelt’s account.  James W. Howard did have a family, listing himself as a 29-year old “stock raiser” in the 1860 Vacaville Township census at the Putah Post Office with a wife Sarah (age 24), two daughters Nancy J. (age 6) and Marian H (age 3), and a four-month old infant.

Click to continue reading

Last Updated on Wednesday, 12 October 2011 10:08

News Letter

Subscribe to our mailing list:
We take your privacy very seriously. We will never share your contact information.