The adobe is like a step back in time. This building was used as a way station for the horse and mule drawn freight wagons that needed blacksmith work or wanted to trade for fresh animals. It was also used as a home for several families and as a building to store hay.
This is a “packed adobe” wall building, posts were set apart and the adobe mud and rocks were packed between them to the desired thickness. After the adobe set (dried), the post was removed and re-set to the desired distance for the next phase of the wall. This style of building is rarer than those built of adobe bricks. This can be viewed through a view port on the west outside of the Adobe building. It is similar to an adobe building style used in France.
The Living Room
As you enter through the front door you come into the Adobe’s first room, the living room. We know the Adobe’s two-room building was here in 1898 (front room). The old timers in our area claim that the first room in the adobe dates to around the 1870s, built shortly after the old stage roads to the mountains were set in the early 1870s. Some claim it pre-dates the 1849 gold rush.
The living room is furnished as it might have been as a stage stop. The fireplace probably is not original, but we do know it existed prior to 1926. Rooms were often multipurpose, as houses were much smaller back then. Look at the fireplace and see if you can see the cooking pot and kettle in front of it. These would be placed close to the fire and used for boiling water and cooking. The cooked meal could be eaten at the table and afterwards the way station keeper could crawl into the bed for a good nights sleep.
The sink sideboard and refrigerator are originally from the kitchen of the Picayune School House. The kitchen was removed from the school when it was moved to this property in 1993 and is set up here in the second room of the Adobe. In the Kitchen you will find many interesting items that have been used through time for preparing and storing meals. Look around and notice the apple cider press, the ice-box that used real blocks of ice for cooling, the scrub board for cleaning laundry, the rope line for drying clothes and the hand pump next to the sink for drawing water.
The Wooden Add-on
The adobe had a wooden section added but we are unable to verify the date of this addition. We do know it was on the building as early as 1912, as grandparents of one old-time family lived in the adobe at that time, and the wooden section was used then. The wooden part was at one time two stories, but it caved in and was rebuilt in the late 1940s as a one story with two bedrooms. A third bedroom was added later. We have been told that the floor in the present wood building came from the old Gayman Dance Hall, near Road 415 (Raymond Road) and the Fresno River Bridge.
The first room we enter on the Wooden Add-on is The Military Room: There is signage throughout the room explaining most of the items. Be sure to note the Rationing Stamps framed on the wall and the Army, Navy, and Air Force old military uniforms. The next room to your right will be The Bedroom: Information about the lovely furniture is located on the wall. Be sure to read about the lovely lady in the chair and her husband (in the school house). The room to the left of the bedroom is the Johnny Jones Room: Saddles and hats in this room belonged to Johnny Jones, a legendary mountain man and mule-packer who lived in Coarsegold and in the mountains of eastern Madera County. The Letters to Johnny Jones: One letter was sent to him while Ronald Reagan was Governor of California, thanking Johnny for the pack trip to the high country. The second letter was sent by Reagan when he was President, using White House stationery. This letter was sent expressing condolences because Johnny was in a terrible accident on Deadwood. He was critically injured, and his brother died. Go out from the Johnny Jones room back through the Bedroom and Military room and into the Children’s room: Check out the scraps of wallpaper in the closets as well as the old toys and dolls. Also look at the old vintage typewriters against the table on the wall. This room has an assortment of items. It is the “catch-all” room. The knitting machine on the lower shelf is from the 1940s. Most items are labeled. Enjoy.
As with most historic building in the Sierra Nevada’s the Adobe building had gone through different phases and usages over time. The following are a few that we are aware of. The museum has a Land Patent on this property granted to a John McGinity, dated June 2nd, 1904. He is listed in the Voters’ Register of 1906 as a blacksmith. We are inclined to believe, based on what we have been told, that McGinity built the first phase of the adobe house – the front or living room area, as a “squatter’s shack”. The addition of the “kitchen” was probably a later date because the two rooms of the adobe section have different ceiling heights, different room lengths and widths, and if you look at the “window” section on the outside of the south wall, you will see that the back of the front room has a finished surface.
McGinity established a blacksmith business on the south side of the building, thriving on the horse and mule drawn freight wagons that passed his business on the stage road that ran between the adobe and the barn (that was added in 1950). To the north, on the neighboring property, were the remains of the adobe corral and bam, destroyed in early 2008. It should be noted that between the old adobe barn and this adobe stood the corrals, so the men hauling freight could get fresh teams. Teams were generally changed about every eight to ten miles. The Hannagans, who lived in the adobe from 1926 to 1941, told us the mules that were used to pull the heavy-laden freight wagons had a very short life span, and when one died, it was dragged across present-day Hwy 41 and buried alongside Coarsegold Creek.
The Hannagan family also had a blacksmith business here at the adobe. When Hwy 41 was built in the 1930s, traffic ceased passing by, the blacksmith business failed, and Mr. Hannagan committed suicide on the property. Mrs. Hannagan worked briefly in a nearby cafe, then moved away. The Hannagans made a drawing of their freight stop. Among the four buildings was a shed. When the State of California decided to build Hwy 41, the highway workers suggested moving the shed down alongside the present highway. They helped carry it down, and it was converted to a bar- coffee shop called the Old Coach Stop. The building burned down sometime between 1936 – 1940 and was rebuilt; the second building was on the north side of the museum gate. (Note: The Hannagan family is one of the stories in As We Were Told, Volume II.
The other people who have lived on the property farmed and raised cattle. (See list above the desk in the main room)