This photograph, c. 1912, shows the Cram General Merchandise Store in the background as the third building from the left.
Homesteader and early Antelope Valley pioneer Charles H. Cram (1863 – 1924) played an important role in the development of the community. Originally from Chicago, Charles came to California to homestead in the Fairmont area of the western Antelope Valley. His immediate family also came to California and established a ranch about 30 miles from his property.
Charles married Ysabel “Belle” Del Valle (1868 – 1936), a daughter of the prominent Del Valle family, in 1896 with her joining him in the Antelope Valley. Belle became heavily involved in the community as well, participating in Women’s events and leading the women’s and children’s rabbit hunting festivities.
While living in the Fairmont area, Charles owned and operated a small merchandise store from around 1895 to 1904. When Charles left this store for other endeavors, his brother became the manager. From 1904 to 1912, Charles owned and operated the Cram General Merchandise Store in Lancaster, which was located on present-day Lancaster Boulevard and Sierra Highway. Charles and Ysabel lived just above the shop, on the second floor of the building. Charles was heavily involved in promoting the construction of the Los Angeles Aqueduct as well, selling a significant amount of supplies to the project’s workforce.
The Cram General Merchandise Store burnt down in 1912 during one of the most destructive fires in Lancaster history. They could not manage to rebuild, forcing the family to move to Los Angeles and stay with Ysabel’s sister, though they continued to visit Lancaster. Charles passed away on one visit to the Antelope Valley while staying at the Palmdale Inn in 1924.
"Gurba, Norma H. Legendary Locals of the Antelope Valley. Arcadia, 2013.
Photo courtesy of MOAH Collections"