A Tale of Three Sisters in Old Chatsworth

Early history reveals family ties to the Iverson Movie Location Ranch.

J. R. Williams married Caroline Vaugman and came to California from Kansas. They lived in Los Angeles near Westlake Park until J.R. decided he needed more room for his cows and settled on land that later became the Manson Ranch and is now a part of the new Santa Susana Pass State Historic Park.

When Caroline was pregnant she asked her sister Augusta Vaugman to come to California to help her.   Augusta came, helped her, and stayed. She liked the area and began homesteading the property next to her sister Caroline and her husband, J. R.  A young Norwegian named Karl Iverson came traveling through the Santa Susana Pass and met Augusta. He stayed a while and got acquainted.  A romance blossomed and the two were married.  

Augusta and Karl “proved up” on the land that later became known as the Iverson Movie Location Ranch.  The rock-strewn property proved to be invaluable much later when it was adapted to the changing scenery for the movie industry which came along about 1912.

Another sister from Sweden soon arrived.  Emma Vaugman Peterson came to California to visit her two sisters. Although she liked California she never gave up her Nebraska farm. However her daughter, Hildur Peterson Berkemeyer, stayed with her Aunt Augusta until she got a job in downtown Los Angeles.  In the early 1940s Hildur lived in Glendale but moved to Chatsworth bringing along her daughter Betty Berkemeyer Summers, a long-time member of the Chatsworth Historical Society and one of the docents at the history museum.

Many pictures of the Iverson Family are on display at The Homestead Acre.  There are postcards, correspondence and even report cards from their children. Also on display are pictures that show the combined families enjoying social events held on the Iverson property.  One of the pictures actually shows baby Betty in a picnic basket at an outdoor event surrounded by family members at a picnic table.

Augusta and Karl Iverson had five children-including two sets of twins.  They are Carl and Anna, the two oldest.  They were born in September, 1889, and Aaron who was born in 1892.  The final set of fraternal twins was Sena and Joseph born in June, 1896.  The children attended Chatsworth schools and helped the family keep up the farmland.

Aaron Iverson had one son.  He is Edwin Iverson and he grew up on the Iverson Ranch, meeting movie stars and enjoying all the activities of the movie companies.  He has hundreds of pictures taken with movie stars who were in between scenes at the ranch.

Carla and Edwin married and lived on the ranch helping with the work on the movie location. In the past Carla and Edwin have shared their memories of the movie ranch years, showing films and information at the history museum about the exciting times.  But now Edwin has had several strokes and is bedridden in his Simi Valley home.  These days, Carla is his caretaker.      

If you would like to learn more about other people and events from the past you may visit the local museum at The Homestead Acre, 10385 Shadow Oak Drive, within Chatsworth Park South at the west end of Devonshire Street.  The museum is open the first Sunday of every month from 1-4 p.m.  There is no charge and plenty of free parking.                                              

Adena Conway April 19, 2011 at 04:14 PM
I lived in Chatsworth from 1960 to 1996. My sons hiked and played with no fear or threat for all their childhood. To this day they recall their day hikes with lunch and canteen. Stony Pointe was a favorite. I found out later - much later when they were adults - they also explored the train tunnel. At night, I could be in bed and know the time by the trains traveling thru; and, by the sound, if they were coming down from the pass or heading up. I'm now (at 80 yrs) on a semi-working 50 acre ranch in the Sierra foothills near Sacramento. My sons are also here, but we often recall our years living in Chatsworth. Thanks for the remembrances. Adena Conway


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