The Double Cone Quarterly
Window to the Wilderness
Spring Equinox 2000 || Volume III, Number 1

John Klumpke's "Homestead" on Pine Ridge
by David Rogers © 2000

The south slope of Pine Ridge, with remnants of its Ponderosa Pine forest, as seen from the summit of South Ventana Cone.
Photograph © Thom Carson
In 1853 the Congress of the United States granted to the State of California the 16th and 36th sections of each township within the state in order to "provide colleges for the benefit of agriculture and the mechanical arts." The California State Lands Commission was authorized, by various statutes issued by the state legislature, to sell such properties if it were deemed to be "in the best interests of the State." One of these sections within what is now the Ventana Wilderness (section 16 of Township 19 South, Range 3 East, Mount Diablo Meridian) encompasses Pine Ridge, the upper (southern) portion of Bear Basin (inclusive of Bear Basin Camp) and the summit of South Ventana Cone. In May of 1892 John Gerard Klumpke, a wealthy San Francisco realtor, filed a preemptive claim to all 640 acres of section 16, and received a patent to the property in September of 1908.

Section 16 T19S R3E as depicted on the USGS 7.5 minute
Ventana Cones quadrangle
What motivated Mr. Klumpke to purchase this remote and rugged wilderness property is a mystery. Not only was it located four linear miles from the nearest wagon road (Tassajara Road, which is still a very steep and winding dirt surfaced road), but Klumpke was 68 years old when he filed the preemptive claim and 84 when he received the patent. It is also possible that Klumpke was not even sure of the exact location of the property. The mostly fraudulent original plat of the 1880s and the first detailed map of the region (the 1909 Forest Service map, which was based on the plat) would have made it very difficult, if at all possible, for Klumpke to locate the property. Perhaps Klumpke thought of the property as an investment in a cheap one square mile parcel of land that would, with increased accessibility, become more valuable in the future. In any case, Klumpke's property did include some potentially exploitable natural resources. Prior to the Marble-Cone Fire of 1977 Pine Ridge was graced with a beautiful old-growth Ponderosa Pine forest, and section 16 also includes the largest serpentine outcrop in the Salinian crustal block (serpentine can be a possible source of [often toxic] minerals, such as mercury and asbestos).¹ To the best my knowledge, the only use to which Klumpke's property was subject to was rangeland for cattle, for it was part of a former Forest Service grazing district that also included the Pine Valley and Church Creek areas. The land probably remained part of this grazing district until at least 1937, when section 16 became part of the Ventana Primitive Area.²

Sheet two of the Forest Service map of 1909. Section 16, T19S R3E is highlighted in blue.
John Gerard Klumpke was born in Hanover Germany in February of 1824, and while in his mid-twenties he joined the multitudes rushing to California after the discovery of gold. He arrived in San Francisco in 1850, where he became one of the city's most prominent realtors (at the time of his death in 1916, Klumpke owned 71 properties in the San Francisco metropolitan area (mostly in San Francisco), plus two former state school land sections-the one addressed in this text and another in an equally remote area of the southern Sierra Nevada in Kern County.

Mr. Klumpke and his wife, Elizabeth Catherina Bernardina, a noted linguist, were the parents of eight children, but only six were alive at the time of Klumpke's death. Because of the fame that four of their daughters achieved in academic and artistic fields, Mr. Klumpke's obituaries in the San Francisco Chronicle and the San Francisco Examiner were mostly comprised of information about their careers.

The caption of John Klumpke's obituary in the December 15, 1916 edition of the San Francisco Chronicle.
Dorothea Klumpke Roberts (1861-1942) was an astronomer, mathematician, natural philosopher and the author of several books on mathematics. Her work is commemorated by the Astronomical Society of the Pacific's Klumpke-Roberts award for outstanding contributions in communicating astronomy to the public (by the way, the ASP was founded by the group of professional and amateur astronomers who participated in the construction of, and observation from, an astronomical station on the summit of Junipero Serra Peak, from which the total solar eclipse of 1880 was observed).

Anna Klumpke was a noted artist and the partner of Rosa Bonheur (1821-1899), one of the most successful painters of the 19th century, who specialized in the portraits of animals. Bonheur was also noteworthy for her lifestyle, which was rather shocking for Victorian times. She smoked cigarettes in public, rode astride on horses, and wore her hair short. To study the anatomy of animals, Bonheur visited slaughterhouses, and for this work she favored men's attire; she was thus required to obtain an official authorization from the police to dress in trousers and a smock. After Bonheur's death Anna Klumpke inherited her fortune and chateau near Paris, which Klumpke converted into a Red Cross hospital during World War One.

The other famous Klumpke daughters were Augusta Dejarine, a noted physician of Paris who specialized in the study of cancer and rheumatism, and Julia Klumpke, a well known violinist and instructor of music. As for Klumpke's sons, in 1916 one was serving at the western front in World War One (it is presumed that he died in the war, for he was not alive at the time when Klumpke's estate was divided), and the other was a resident of Berkeley, California.

After his death most of John Klumpke's estate (excepting for gifts to non-family members who were dear to him) was divided between his five remaining children, and although their interest in the Pine Ridge property was undivided, I was not able to find any information about inter-family conveyances of the property. In any case, in March of 1948 Julia Klumpke and Dorthea Austin (a granddaughter of John Klumpke) granted to Yvonne Sorrel a one-fifth interest in the property, and in September of 1953 Julia Klumpke granted full ownership of the property to Sorrel, apparently as a gift. At that time both Klumpke and Sorrel were residents of San Francisco.

In April of 1958 Yvonne Sorrel sold the Pine Ridge property, for $9000, to G. Raymond and Rosalie Cornelius. Mr. and Mrs. Cornelius were residents of Solvang, Santa Barbara County, who later purchased two properties in nearby Miller Canyon. The Cornelius' retained the Pine Ridge property until April of 1961, when they sold it, for $12,500, to the U. S. Forest Service. According to the Land Status Book of the Monterey Division of Los Padres National Forest (T19S R3E, line 21), the transaction also included a land exchange. The property is now part of the Ventana Wilderness.

In conclusion I want to mention that many years ago someone told me that they had found the remains of a foundation near the spring at Pine Ridge Camp, but I can no longer recall who my informant was. I have subsequently made many inquires about this subject to other aficionados of the region, but thus far without success. If this lead is correct, I would suspect that the cabin was built by either Yvonne Sorrel or Mr. & Mrs. Cornelius, or perhaps by someone who used it for their own recreational needs. Any information about this subject will be greatly appreciated by the author.


1. Although serpentine is relatively common in the eastern and western Franciscan crustal blocks that lay on both sides of the Salinain block, it is extremely rare in the Salinian block, and occurs only in the Ventana Wilderness region.

2. The permittee for grazing rights to this range (number 6) was William B. Lambert, who at that time owned properties in the Church Creek area. In the same year that section 16 was included into the Ventana Primitive Area (1937), Lambert sold his Church Creek properties to Bruce Church, who transformed the ranch into a summer home for his family.


1926 Grazing District map of the Monterey Division of Los Padres National Forest.

Death certificate of John Klumpke.

Deed Book 1468: 290-304.

"John G. Klumpke, Pioneer of 1850, is Dead, Aged 92" in the San Francisco Chronicle, 12.15.1916.

"John G. Klumpke, 92, Dies at Home" in the San Francisco Examiner, 12.15.1916.

Land Status Book of the Monterey Division of Los Padres National Forest, T19S R3E, line 5.

Monterey County State Patent Book 1: 196

Official Records 1158: 338.

Official Records 1477: 340.

Official Records 1862: 72.

Official Records 2156: 593.

Reminiscences of Rosa Bonheur, Theodore Stanton, ed. D. Appleton and Co., New York, 1910.

San Francisco Deed Book 1079: 191 onward.

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