What is The Homestead Acre? That is the name that the Chatsworth Historical Society has given to the 1.3 acre chain link-fenced Hill Property at 10385 Shadow Oak Drive within Chatsworth Park South.
It is all that is left of what was once a 230-acre ranch settled in 1886 by James David and Rhoda Jane Hill. Most of the land that belonged to the Hill Family is now Chatsworth Park South.
Hill was a Civil War veteran, a Union soldier from Iowa who had met Rhoda Jane Enlow when he was stationed in Arkansas. They married in Arkansas and eventually came to the Los Angeles area in about 1885.
They settled in Los Angeles and were invited to visit an acquaintance on a ranch in Chatsworth (but it hadn't been named Chatsworth yet!) They liked the area and looked for property. They acquired 90 acres and then added land until they had 230 acres and applied for a homestead.
Minnie Alice Hill was their seventh child and she was born in the fall after they settled on the property in the spring of 1886. Later in 1890 another daughter was born, their eighth and final child, whom they named Calla Lilly.
Both girls grew up on the ranch attending The Santa Susana School, a grammar school that was on the same property where the Chatsworth Park Elementary School is today on Devonshire Street at the intersection of Topanga Canyon Boulevard.
Their son Lovell, 10 years older than Minnie, became the co-owner of the Graves and Hill General Store and served as postmaster from 1912-15. Some of their other children homesteaded surrounding ranches but they didn't stay in Chatsworth. The Hill Family retained the family ranch continuing to live there as the family grew and changed.
James David drove a dynamite wagon and was a fruit peddler, Rhoda Jane washed and ironed for the men who built the railroad tunnel and their children helped.
They planted a garden and fruit trees, farmed, and lived a peaceful life.
Minnie Hill Palmer spent almost her entire life on the ranch, returning after she was married with her family. She and her husband Alfred Palmer raised their two children there and after her husband's death Minnie continued to live there keeping up her chores, gardening, and becoming known for her longevity. She joined the Native Daughters of the Golden West and participated in their activities and later enjoyed the Cherry Blossom Garden Club.
In the 1960's she became a member of the newly formed Chatsworth Historical Society and was pleased when the Chatsworth Historical Society saved and preserved the remaining 1-1/3 acres of the family homestead as an historic monument.
She lived to see her property become Los Angeles City Cultural Monument No. 133 and to know that her home was named to the National Register of Historic Places in 1979. And later on May 4, 1980, she attended the dedication ceremonies, when her home was opened to the public for the first time.
The Homestead Acre or the Hill Palmer House is open as an historic monument and there is a local museum on the property. It belongs to the Los Angeles City Department of Recreation and Parks with the Chatsworth Historical Society as conservator.
If you would like to learn more about other people 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.