Iris of Roberts Ranch

Copy of Blog - Photo - Iris of Roberts Ranch - Apr 2017

There was an older photo or two of the iris plants, planted by my mother. I had done several shots of them in black and white with a 35mm Argus. Most people will not know or care that I shot those with Tri-X and Plus-X and experimented with using several different Wratten color filters. The plants were in an isolated corner of the fence on the west side of the house, near a strip of half dry Bermuda lawn. There was a bit of barbed wire on one side and white boards on the other side, of the clump of four or five bulbs in flower. My guess is that it was around 1962 that I made that study.

We had moved there in 1959, to the 1880s era farm house of the grain ranch. I left for college in September 1964 and never moved back. The folks were there until 1972. The address was then 24245 Raymond Road, and the property has a great Madera County history and is now in ruin. It was quite an operation with large chicken coops and a new feed barn on the north edge of the ranch group, a granary barn, a bunkhouse, blacksmith shop. A dairy and stock barn was on the east edge of the place, which barn was “the shop” when we were there. That’s where I began welding and doing metal sculpture. I witnessed that barn burning down at the end of harvest in August 1964. Mom liked violets, and is perhaps why she liked iris. I never discussed that with her, but perhaps it was because of the pre-World War II Madera High School colors of being Purple & White. So, here it is Easter and iris seems right. Iris always reminds me of The Roberts Ranch.


Timothy J. Desmond
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Madera Local Authors Day

Madera Local Authors Day is on Saturday, February 28, 2015 at Madera County Library at 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM.

Those authors to be there are: Glenna Jarvis, J. Guibor, “Paul & Marcia,” Carol Wolf, K. Adler, Joe Ozier, Lucille Apcar, Marilyn Meredith, Jennifer Moss, L.G. Flores, Doug Hansen, Tim Desmond.
If there are others there also, I did not get the information. These dozen are supposed to be paired at six tables. Too, there is unfinished construction on the main entrance, so the side street door may be the location to enter.
I was told by another author that this is a good gig.

If you have more questions, please contact Ellen Mester, Madera County Librarian.

Ellen Mester
County Librarian
Madera County Library
121 N. G Street
Madera, CA 93637



Tim’s book also:

THE DOC ~ Revised Edition
Copyright © 2014 by Tim Desmond
Cover Design by Jackson Cover Design
All cover art copyright © 2014
All Rights Reserved
Print ISBN: 978-1-626941-44-1

Rifling Of Old Cannon, View On The Inside

Timothy J. Desmond
Amazon author page at:
The Doc page and Writing at:
Art at:

Borden Station

Pictures from Phone camera 198

It is one of the towns that Catherine Rehart had written that “faded away.” It was so named in 1872 by Leland Stanford as he visited the Central Pacific railroad construction at the switch of the line near Avenue 12 at Cottonwood Creek and the later Highway 99. During the visit, Stanford had been hosted by Dr. Joseph Borden. The location was the Alabama colony which was founded in 1868 in what was still Fresno County. The name Arcola was not to be. Two years later in 1874, Borden was on the ballot as a choice for the new Fresno County Seat.
When one reads the accounts of the history of the place, there is also the Chinese community and the Borden Chinese Cemetery. There is much history at this link:
My affinity for the place comes from the family stories of farming there. The Justice family had migrated from Lawrence County Tennessee to Fresno County in 1928, then to Borden in early 1930s. The town had long since vanished, but there was still a packing shed on the switch on the east side of the tracks. My grandmother Winona told me of packing peaches there. I had visited several times the farm on Avenue 12 of a great uncle Allen Roberts and great aunt Sadie Justice Roberts. Other Justices owned or leased land there.
Mom told me of living on the west side of the highway 99, near the Casa Grande Motel. Her sister Sarah Zoe Justice Todd painted a picture of the tank house and tree. Long lost, the painting looked something like this one.

Art - Tankhouse at Borden 2013

Another sister, Opal Florene Justice Root and her husband “Pete” farmed cotton there.
If there is a photograph of the Borden Station building, it has not been found. The station building was destroyed in a fire.
Lost in much of the conversation are the histories of the folks who established the Alabama Colony after the Civil War. Many were Confederate veterans. As supposed that they were seeking a new life in a new state, a new county, a fresh start, one wonders if they wanted to diminish their past as Confederate soldiers. Local historians gloss over this, as if it is not important. In 2005, the Sons of Confederate Veterans’ local General Tyree Harris Bell Camp 1804 conducted a memorial event at the grave of Joseph Borden. He is buried at Arbor Vitae Cemetery. He was a Sergeant and then became 1st Lieutenant in Company D of the 5th Alabama Infantry. There are ten other Confederates buried at Arbor Vitae, and there may be others. Another Alabama Colony rancher, George Mordecai was a Private in the 2nd Richmond Howitzers of Virginia. He is buried on his private property and home on Madera Avenue just south of Cottonwood Creek.
There is much construction going on now at Borden. The “High Speed Rail” project is going ahead. And while there are still political, financial and logic arguments over the “train to nowhere” I was amazed, as many others, that the starting place is at Borden. It may be fitting that Borden Station may have a resurrection.
By the way, before it was demolished I photographed the brick building that was a landmark for many years. Do any of you railroad experts know what these buildings housed along the rail line? They were typical along Southern Pacific tracks.

Pictures from Phone camera 197

Timothy J. Desmond
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Memorial 4

Andrew Firebaugh Marker Memorial Day 2013 is approaching and many of us will be going to certain memorial events around the area. Fresno County has had its share of veterans and one that stands out is an early pioneer named Andrew Firebaugh. Many west side folks and City of Firebaugh residents in particular know of his history. From his migration from Virginia to Texas, being a recruit in the army there that went into Monterey during the Mexican war made him a veteran of two flags, Texas and United States. His later migration to California is no less remarkable and he was a member of Major James Savage’s regiment that was the first to enter and discover Yosemite Valley in modern history.
Andrew Firebaugh’s burial place in the foothills east of Clovis, California, is worthy of a visit on Memorial Day as he is a true old veteran of a remarkable era. I doubt any will look up his place of rest. The grave site is on private property, and visible from Tollhouse road and about a mile from Humphreys Station. The remarkable thing, also, is that the grave site is marked on the USGS topographic map titled Humphreys Station Quadrangle. However, if one goes to any memorial on that day, one honors all of the veterans.
Timothy J. Desmond
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