I finally got over to the 29 Palms Historical Society archive, which is only open on Wednesday mornings. It's a warm room full of old filing cabinets and bookshelves. There were about 10 people there, researching and chatting, lively! I spoke with several lovely women who helped me find information on "the dairy." When I gave them our address they just laughed--nothing is computerized and nothing has addresses. You have to know the family or the business. But we found a file and here's what was in it:
Frank and Mildred DeMent
Frank and Mildred DeMent homesteaded in 29 Palms in 1926-1927. 160 acres near the dry lakes on Mesquite Springs Road and Indian Trails. They were among the first to come here with World War I vets for their health.
After prooving their homestead they had two children, Jacquelyn born in 1930 and Don in 1939 at the 29 Palms Hospital.
(transcribed and edited by me)
I was so glad to hear from you, asking about my parents, Frank and Mildred DeMent.
They homesteaded in 29 Palms about 1926 or 27 I think. I wasn't born till 1930. My brother was born in 1939 in the first hospital in 29. It used to be a motel by the oasis. He was the first child born there.
My parents did a lot for 29 Palms and no one has ever recognized it.
They were the only ones who every grew anything. They were completely self sufficient. My father dug his own well, bucket by bucket, before that we got water from the spring at the Palms. We grew oranges, grapefruit, dates, grapes, peaches, apples, and all the vegetables. Also had hives of bees, chickens, turkey, 12 dairy cows, bull, calves and a team of horses. We used the horses to plow the fields for alfalfa and grain.
After more people moved there they would live at our house: well drillers, homesteaders, even the school teachers.
My dad would deliver milk to others as they moved to 29 Palms. Both my parents were sherifs for San Bernardino County and worked with Jack Cones, the constable, after he came to the town.
After the Bagleys moved to the desert, my mother took care of the kids when they started the store. She also cooked at Joshua Tree restaurant on Saturday nights at the 4 Corners.
My father was also a carpenter and he built most of the houses around there, like the Donnell Hotel and a lot of businesses that started up, he also was in on building the first swimming pool. Dad was the weather man for the U.S. Government, till the years we moved to Beaumont. When the war started he worked at the bases they built on the dry lake.
Our house was really nice with large shade trees, shading the whole house, 2 barns, chicken house, etc. The yard was full of trees (fruit) and vines and lots of beautiful roses and other flowers with hedges of oleander bushes all around. Down by the well we had alfalfa, vegetables, grain, and watermelons.
When they started a school the kids would come to our house on field trips. My dad would show them how to make cottage cheese, ice cream, feed the calf and and milk cows, ride the horse, etc. We never had phone or electricity, and only inside plumbing the last few years that we lived there.
When my father passed away, my mother had to sell the property. My father did not leave a will.
I have so many wonderful memories of 29 Palms, my kids tell me to write a book. But as you can tell, I'm not a good speller. It hurts me so much to see all the people that came later seem to take credit for all their work.
I have no information on neighbors. They are all dead now, they were my parents' age.
I didn't get any information on the brick around the flagpole. Please send the information as soon as possible.
Thanks for caring,
Jacquelyn (DeMent) Holloway
Anna does most of the writing. Ted does most of the photos. But sometimes we switch. We are repairing a distressed property in 29 Palms, California, and eventually hope to run an artist residency there.