Almeda Mudget Frakes (1839 – 1934) was an early Antelope Valley pioneer, originally settling in the Del Sur area in the 1860s. She was born and raised in Texas until she was 10 years old. In 1849, Almeda and her family began their journey west, leaving Texas for California by way of the wagon train. The only education she ever received was informal and was provided to her from a fellow female traveler that was also along on the wagon train journey.
This journey proved challenging for the Mudgets, with both of her parents passing away due to accidents. Her mother’s health deteriorated along the way, and her father died of a grizzly bear attack. Orphaned, she and her three siblings were taken in by a family they had met while traveling west.
At age 16 in 1854, Almeda married local cattleman Samuel H.T. Frakes, who was responsible for hauling lumber used to build the neighboring Fort Tejon. They sold their Central California home and set out for Arizona via Elizabeth Lake. Their original plans were curtailed after hearing of the escapades and dangerous raids of Chief Geronimo, and they decided to settle in Del Sur instead. When a severe drought hit, the Frakes moved and homesteaded in Elizabeth Lake with their nephew, Frank Frakes.
Due to Almeda’s own lack of education, she vowed that if she were to have children, they would fare better and would be formally educated. When she and Samuel did have children, she remembered her childhood vow and set out to provide the best opportunities for her kids.
In 1869, Almeda and Samuel donated land and established the area’s first school with the help of neighbors. This first school was an adobe structure and acted as the only school between Newhall and Bakersfield. The Frakes ranch would host three different schools over time.
During the Mudget’s initial journey westward in 1849, they brought with them a pump organ, carried by a covered wagon. This pump organ is still housed in the Western Hotel Museum and has been in the Antelope Valley since 1856 – before the development of Lancaster itself as a settlement.
"Gurba, Norma H. Legendary Locals of the Antelope Valley. Arcadia, 2013.
Photo courtesy of MOAH Collections"