Ann Elizabeth Covington Dearborn (1846 – 1910) was one of the first non-Hispanic women to settle in the Antelope Valley. She was born and raised in Indiana before her family set out to cross the plains in an ox-drawn prairie schooner. During this long trip, she met and married William Covington. They settled in Salt Lake City, Utah, shortly after. William wanted to take a second wife, and Ann attested to this by running away with their six children.
Ann settled in Nevada with her children and opened a rooming house. This didn’t last long, however, as they soon set out for the Los Angeles area which ultimately led them to the Antelope Valley. While in Los Angeles, she operated another rooming house and rented out freight teams.
Once her divorce from Covington was finalized, she married Elias Marquess Dearborn and moved to the Antelope Valley in 1869. Elias began cattle-raising at Indian Springs, just east of the Rosamond area. While staying here, they had many friendly encounters with local Native Americans. The family eventually moved further out toward Mojave, where Elias built a stage station called Cactus Castle. They later also relocated to Twin Lakes and Rincon. After Elias passed away in 1907, Ann moved to Mojave where she stayed until her death.
Ann once reported that while Elias was out on a business venture, their home was visited by the notorious Tubercio Vasquez and his gang of bandits as they searched for a place to stay overnight. Originally denying them access to her home, Ann begrudgingly let them stay after confiscating their weapons.
Ann was a successful pioneer woman, making her own soap to last for extended periods of time, as well as making her own candles and knitting socks, mittens, scarves, and more for herself and her family. She also milked cows, made cheese and sold butter. She grew potatoes in her garden that were sold in Bakersfield, Mojave, Lancaster, and the community that would later become Palmdale.
One of her daughters, Mary, married the would-be famous Borax miner John Searles, while her other daughter, Nancy, married Eben Skillings, Searles’ friend and business partner. Ann is also the great-great-great-grandmother of another well-known Lancaster figure, Dorene Burton Settle.
"Gurba, Norma H. Legendary Locals of the Antelope Valley. Arcadia, 2013.
Photo courtesy of MOAH Collections"