Stone House and its surrounding lands was owned by the Frank Hartmann family from 1942 until the property was purchased by Boise- Cascade Corporation in the mid-1960s. His parents, Anton and Helen, had come to California from Germany in 1902 when Frank was but four years old. The family moved from the Marysville area through San Francisco to Watsonville and eventually to Lake County in 1923. They farmed a full section of property so successfully that they soon added an adjoining 80 acres, and eventually the Young property with the Stone House. Thus it is that a major entry into the Hidden Valley Lake subdivision was laid out via Hartmann Road, which had all those years led to the Hartmann farm.
Frank and Elly Hansen, an adventurous 23-year-old who had recently emigrated from Germany to Petaluma, were wed in a hugely attended ceremony in Middletown in 1927. Ensuing celebrations at the farm lasted through the night with sleepovers by assorted partygoers in the various barns and sheds. Our Stone House collection of antiques includes a buffet and china cabinet that were among the couple's wedding gifts. Their 50th wedding anniversary photo, at left, graced the cover of the 2004 program when the revamped bridge over Putah Creek on Hwy 29 was renamed in their honor.
Their daughter Madeline, who now lives in Clearlake, arrived in 1928 and a son, Frank Jr., six years later. Madeline recalls riding her pony to the one-room schoolhouse located near the banks of Putah Creek, when sometimes it was necessary to ride through the waters of the creek when it stretched far beyond its banks.
The family was well-known throughout south Lake County and Frank Hartmann was highly respected among agriculturists, garnering a statewide award for excellence in 1949. Their "new, modern" home, built in 1940 to replace the old homestead, still stands not far inside the HVL gate to Mtn. Meadow North. Shortly thereafter Frank purchased the Stone House property from Wirt Young, eldest son of Charles Marsh Young, bringing the Hartmann's total holdings to nearly 1600 acres.
Like the Youngs before him, Hartmann rented Stone House. Wirt Young had been leasing the property for a number of years. Longtime residents, the Charles Poston family, leased from the senior Young shortly after he became active in the founding of Middletown. They raised watermelons much-sought-after for their size and flavor, as well as other produce, grains and livestock.
As was the custom in those early days, the local schoolmarm was "put up" by a nearby family, so Mildred Pearson took up residence in the wooden attic at the Postons. Pearson, in addition to teaching at Coyote Valley School, was an avid collector of historical artifacts.
For a time, Stone House was a mini-museum with her collection of American pioneer, Indian, Chinese and Spanish household items. Quoting a contemporaneous account: "Fine porcelain dishware, elegant pewter dishes and teapots, Indian basketry and arrowheads mingle with feminine finery of a bygone era. "Silver brooches, cameos of ivory and pincushions bespeak the white woman's clinging to the culture she had left behind in the east. The presence of Chinese workmen is evident in the Chinese porcelain pots and dishes, opium pipes and soy sauce mugs."
There are many rumors but no hard evidence of what might have happened to Ms. Pearson's collection. With luck, it is represented among the wonderful exhibits in the Lower Lake Schoolhouse Museum.
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