Antelope Valley homesteader, William Peter “the Dutchman” Helfrich (1876 – 1939), immigrated to the Antelope Valley from the Netherlands. When he arrived at the Antelope Valley, he claimed and homesteaded over 300 acres of land between Quartz Hill and Leona Valley. He never married, remaining a life-long bachelor. This allowed him to pursue his wide variety of interests, as he worked as a wheat farmer, almond rancher, cattleman, astronomer, meteorologist, linguist, and botanist.
Helfrich worked as a clerk at the Belleview school as well, with part of his responsibility being to haul drinking water for the students and other staff members since the school lacked running water. He was considered an integral part of his community and was well-liked by all those who knew him.
He became known for his work as a meteorologist in the 1930s, gaining recognition for his success in accurately forecasting the weather months and even years in advance. He reportedly claimed that he based his forecasts on astronomy, gauging the relative positions of the Earth and other planets and their respective gravitational influence.
Helfrich’s little wooden house can still be found on Roger and Frances Lane Hughes’s property.
"Gurba, Norma H. Legendary Locals of the Antelope Valley. Arcadia, 2013.
Photo courtesy of MOAH Collections"