View from the Saddle: J.H. Oeste Ranch
By Aaron Wedra
The views are pleasant along Roads 98 and 99, between West Covell Blvd. and Road 29: there is a patchwork of well-tended farmland, including plain tilled dirt, grassy areas, and a variety of orchards. As I traveled, I noted some of the orchards were flooded with the bottoms of the trees completely under water from January storms in 2023.
It’s not easy to ride your bike on the county roads surrounding the Oeste Ranch area, since there are no shoulders or bike lanes in most places, but if you’re used to biking county roads, you’ll have no problem: please venture out for a ride.
This area caught my attention in 2022. I noticed a metal sign for “J.H. Oeste Ranch” on the corner of West Covell Blvd. and County Road 29 at the edge of Davis. I was already aware that Oeste (rhymes with toasty) is the last name of a well-known family with roots from our Davisville days. Also, as most locals know, Oeste Drive in Davis is named after the family.
Knowing little beyond that, I felt compelled to investigate. My first find was that J.H. stands for John Henry, also known as Johann Heinrich (1837-1913), son of Jacob William Oeste and Annie Catherine Voigt Oeste.
Davisville ‘68, published by the Davis Historical and Landmarks Commission in 1969, says: “Jacob William Oeste, the father of two sons [including John Henry Oeste] who became prominent Yolo County farmers, came to California in 1868… Shortly thereafter he purchased 320 acres of land southwest of County Roads 96 and 31.” In addition, “the original Oeste home, remodeled on several occasions and no longer owned by the family, still stands” (Davisville ‘68, 1969).
Furthermore, “in 1870, two years after [John’s] arrival in Sacramento, he married Mary Marie Elizabeth Strippel (1853-1935), also a native of Germany, and established a home on ranch property one mile south of the Plainfield farm center. Her brother, Heinrich Strippel, farmed in Yolo County in partnership with John H. Oeste from 1876 until his retirement, in 1905” (Davisville ‘68, 1969). At the time Davisville ‘68 was published in 1969, “the family home stands southeast of the Plainfield Road (98 and Road 30). It is owned by a grandson, Laverne Oeste, of Davis. For the past one hundred years, extensive farming operations have been conducted by John Oeste and his descendants. Several residential subdivisions in the western section of Davis were formerly part of the Oeste farm properties.”
I also found a modern resource in order to get more up-to-date information. According to a neatly organized website, oestefamily.com (2023), “Sharlene Oeste Stahl (1941-2021)… was the last born Oeste, one of Laverne and Ethel Oeste’s two daughters, and a fighter for her family’s farm heritage and legacy. Her family still owns property in a partnership that continues to produce crops near Davis along W. Covell Blvd. between County Roads 98 and 99.”
I hope to continue to learn about the Oeste’s and their properties. I still need to verify if the two aforementioned family homes still stand as of today, since the source was published in 1969.