Now it is our turn to make a living here - and to continue to tend the land well. When Joe Hurst returned form Vietnam in 1968, the family's centennial ranch in Southern California was being crowded by urban sprawl. It was time for a change so he went to work for a large corporation, Albers Milling Co. After four years working as a manager, he started his own business, McHenry Feed, on McHenry Avenue in Modesto, in 1972.
Ten years later, we knew we needed to expand and found our opportunity here in Tuolumne County. With our family numbering five, we moved into a little 900 square foot house that was already here. Building the store and hay barns, and building up our business took all of our time for the next 30 years. We carry a full line livestock feed, dog and cat food, and vet products. Fencing, gates, posts, panels and corral boards, garden compost, top soil, planters and wine barrels are also a large part of our inventory.
Grizzly Adams - A.K.A John Adams, was born in Massachusetts in 1807 and arrived in California in 1849. He lived on the Hurst Ranch Property during the early years of the Gold Rush.
Magazine cover from Leslie's home ranch in Eastern Washington.
Grizzly Adams lived right here! Once a shoe-maker in Boston, then a cattle rancher turned miner and trading post owner on this property, at Woods Creek Crossing. Adams earned fame as a fearless grizzly bear handler and for his ability to tame and train the bears. Grizzly left here in 1853, "sick of the world...disgusted with its treachery and hypocrisy." He headed for the wilderness and captured grizzlies and other wild animals. His Mountaineer Museum on Clay Street in San Francisco's financial district was a popular attraction for three years.
After the Grizzly Adams Era, this property was part of a 640 acre ranch owned by George App - who was married to Leanna Donner, one of the youngest survivors of the ill-fated Donner Party. Their home is the white house across Highway 108 from our driveway. In the first half of the 20th century, we have been told that this was a popular place to "bed down" cattle herds on the drives to the high Sierra summer ranges. Around 1950, Mr. Ed Shell lived here. He had a great reputation for the hot peppers he grew.
Original 1898 auction poster from the Hurst Ranch in Dover, Ohio, before the move to California.
Hurst Ranch Supply
Leslie Hailey Hurst grew up on a cattle and wheat ranch in the high desert of eastern Washington. That ranch has been in her family for four generations and recently passed their centennial year. The wind mill (below) and well on the ranch supplied all of the water for the property until the Grand Coulee Dam was completed in the 1950s. Now the ranch raises corn and potatoes in addition to the cattle and wheat.