The Del Valle family is known as being one of the wealthiest, oldest, and most respected families in Southern California. In 1839, Antonio Del Valle was granted the 48,000-acre Rancho San Francisco-Francisquito. After his death, his son Don Ygnacio Del Valle, who was serving as the alcalde (mayor) of Los Angeles, became the owner of the ranch. Gold was discovered on the ranch in 1842 by Francisco “Cuso” Lopez. In 1843, the California government granted the Antelope Valley Rancho Tejon to Ygnacio for his extensive military service under Gov. Jose Figueroa.
The Del Valle family was also affiliated with the well-known Rancho Camulos adobe near Piru and Fillmore, as it was originally part of the Rancho San Francisco. In 1896, Ygnacio’s daughter Ysabel “Belle” Del Valle (1868 – 1936) married Charles H. Cram (1863 – 1924) at Rancho Camulos. Together they had one daughter, also named Ysabel.
Cram was originally from Chicago but became a homesteader out in Fairmont. He became a prominent Antelope Valley merchant, with his first general merchandise store in the Fairmont area. He also planted 45-acres of some of the Antelope Valley’s first apple orchards.
From 1904 to 1912, Charles owned and operated the Cram General Merchandise Store in Lancaster near the northwest corner of present-day Lancaster Boulevard and Sierra Highway. Charles and Ysabel lived on the second floor of the building with their daughter, just above the storefront. While in Lancaster, Charles strongly promoted the construction of the Los Angeles Aqueduct system by selling supplies to the project’s workers. Ysabel was heavily involved in the community, engaging in and leading several local events. She was often in charge of the women’s and children’s portion of the local famed rabbit drives.
Unfortunately, the Cram General Merchandise Store burned down in the devastating fire of 1912. The family decided against reopening and instead moved to Los Angeles to live with one of Ysabel’s sisters. Despite this move, they maintained close ties with the Antelope Valley and continued to visit regularly. It was on one such visit that Charles passed away at the Palmdale Inn in 1924.
This 1912 photograph shows the Cram General Merchandise Store, the third building from the left, located behind the posing cowboys.
"Gurba, Norma H. Legendary Locals of the Antelope Valley. Arcadia, 2013.
Photo courtesy of MOAH Collections"