Our 2018 Fall Luncheon paid tribute to Elizabeth Blum Billet and her ancestors
George Blum and Magdalena Greutman were both born in Beggingen, Switzerland. In 1880, George came to the United States, later returning to Switzerland with stories and tales of the new land. In March of 1887, he acted as a guide for a group of people traveling to America. Magdalena was one of that group, intent on visiting her brother in Chicago and returning to Switzerland. Instead, she married George on February 6, 1889, in Chicago, traveled west by train, settling in Los Angeles. George was a stonecutter and worked on the original Los Angeles County Courthouse, other buildings and churches in Santa Barbara. George was getting disenchanted with the stonecutting trade, as the unions were becoming involved. He set out by train looking for a place to keep bees, farm, and to raise his family. He got off in Acton, where the saloon keeper loaned him a shotgun to hunt rabbits. He also shot some ducks on a little lake in Acton. He followed the stream into Aliso Canyon where the water was flowing in the summer. This is where he decided to file homestead papers in 1891 on 160 acres, later turning back 120 acres, with 40 acres left to build a home and farm. Magdalena and George had 6 children, George J., William (Bill), Frieda and Alma, born in Los Angeles; Emma and Bertha born in Acton. These first years were very hard for the family. Cutting stones for a house (2 rooms with dirt floors), clearing brush, hauling rocks off the land, hand digging wells, raising feed for cows and horses, raising chickens, hogs, fruit trees, vegetables, and grapes for wine. George commuted mostly by train to Los Angeles to earn enough money until the farming could support the family. Water rights were obtained in Aliso and Gleason Canyons. Underground dams were built to bring water to the surface, then piped to the ranch in 6” and 8” cement pipes that they made. The first orchards of 1,200 pear and apple trees were planted in 1910 and 1911. Nine hives of bees in 1893 started the production of comb honey. By 1915 they had up to 500 hives. A good comb honey crop in 1915 resulted in enough money to finish the large rock house they had started in 1912. In 1916 the family moved in and had a large party to celebrate. In the early 1900’s, George J. homesteaded 150 acres adjoining the original property, and Bill homesteaded property south in the canyon. They stayed on the ranch planting more pears, apples, and later lilacs, while continuing with the bees and honey. By 1931, Rubey Kingsbury came to Acton with her brother to go deer hunting. She bagged a dear, marrying George in September 1932. They had 2 children, George Jr. and Elizabeth. Elizabeth married her high school sweetheart, Ray Billet, in 1953. They were blessed with 3 children: Richard, Terry and Donald, plus 10 grandchildren; Daniel, Joseph, Kimberly, Michiko, George, Sonnia, Yancy, Jesse, Laura and Angela, the 5th generation. They continued working the ranch, harvesting peaches, pears and lilacs until Ray’s death in 2016. Elizabeth sold to Chris and Barbara Ziegler in January, 2018. They plan to continue the farming with plans of expansion for events, weddings, filming, etc., continuing a tradition started over 127 years ago.