Falconbury Drive is found in England in the East Sussex sea-side resort of Bexhill-on-Sea and is named for Falconbury School. Bexhill-on-Sea is located south-south-east of London and lies on the southern coast. It is just a few miles west of Hastings where William the Conqueror, defeated King Harold of England in 1066. Bexhill-on-Sea is also well known as the site of the first international automobile race on British soil in 1902. See it on the map or in this aerial photograph.
Falconbury Ltd. is a publishing company located at 10-12 Rivington Street, London, England. I asked Matthew Whyte, who is connected with the company, for whom the company was named. In an e-mail, dated February 26, 2002, Mr. Whyte wrote:
Falconbury is owned by my boss Neil, who also owns a magazine publishing company in Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk. A few years ago, the company moved to new premises, an old schoolhall. After that it was discovered that the school used to be called Falconbury school (or some such variant); having previously had companies called Crown Eagle and Hawksmere, this was kind of a coincidence and so Neil adopted the name for his new company.
Falconbury SchoolMy initial attempts to discover the origin of Falconbury School were unsuccessful but an e-mail from Colin Redfern not only provided that information but also revealed that Falconbury Drive and the building occupied by Falconbury Ltd are connected to the school. Mr Redfern, a student at the school from 1946 through 1951, wrote that the school "was a 'preparatory' boarding school, accomodating about 70 boys between the ages of 8 to 13."
The school was founded in 1899 by G. M. Faulkner at Bury St. Edmunds which is the current location for Falconbury Ltd. The school relocated to Purley but eventually settled in Little Common near Bexhill-on-Sea, Sussex around 1927. Mr. Redfern sent pictures of the impressive looking school building, which was located on a ten-acre estate, the dining hall and the outdoor "swimming bath". The school's prospectus (cover, page 1, page 2) provides an interesting look into the studies and activities that occurred in the early, private, preparatory schools. Unfortunately, the school was unable to survive economically and closed sometime in the 1970s.
Falconberry Peak, Ranch and Lake
Falconberry Peak [map, picture] is a 9,465 foot high mountain located in Lemhi County, Idaho, near the border of Custer County (see map below). Nearby is Falconberry Lake [map, picture] which sits at an elevation of around 8,600 feet. To the south of Falconberry Peak is the old Falconberry Ranch and, next to it, Falconberry air strip (altitude of 4,808 feet). The ranch and airstrip sit on the west bank of Loon Creek about ten miles up from where it flows into the Middle Fork of the Salmon River.
All of these geographical points are contained in an area that is protected from development by the Central Idaho Wilderness Act (CIWA), passed in 1964, which set up the National Wilderness Preservation System. In addition, the United States Congress passed the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness area (FCRONRW) in 1980 and the United States Forest Service acquired the property in 1980.
At some point in the past a small, private airstrip was built to the west of the ranch property which is now known as Falconberry air strip, but it is currently unused. In March, 1998, the Board of Directors of the Idaho Aviation Association adopted a resolution calling for the reopening of the Falconberry airstrip. I originally found the resolution proposals at the web site http://www.flyidaho.org/pages/forest/idfsart.html, but that web page is no longer active. Basically, some of the small airstrips contained within the FCRONRW were closed to protect the wilderness environment after the passage of CIWA. However, the Idaho Aviation Association, using statements taken from the papers of Frank Church regarding the need to place limits on any restrictions of aircraft and airfields, argues that the closure of the airstrips was not the intention of the CIWA and that they are too important and, potentially, of life-saving value to remain closed.
The following excerpt from the book The Middle Fork, A Guide gives the early history of the ranch:
With mining and military activity, Loon Creek became the major canyon trail used by the communities of Custer, Bonanza, Oro Grande, and later, Challis and Stanley. (Renewed mining interest in Loon Creek accompanied the Thunder Mountain boom in 1902, which was located thirty miles northwest.)
In 1902 Jack Ferguson settled on Loon Creek, ten miles up-creek from the mouth, and in 1908 filed for seventy-three acres, most of it on the west side of the creek. He sold his squatter's rights, along with the sizeable log cabin that he built in 1904 - complete with porch and stone chimney - to Lynn Falconbery who visited in 1907.
Rupert Lynn "Beargrease" Falconbery was born in 1867 in Indiana. In the summer, 1889, while working as a cowman in Nebraska, he stopped at an ice cream parlor and became entranced by an Oregon Short Line railroad map that boasted the Middle Fork Country.
Falconbery traveled by horseback to Blackfoot, Idaho, then across the desert to Mackay, then to Challis, doubled back to Clayton, Custer, Yankee Fork, Mayfield and finally Loon Creek - all with pack stock. Before he acquired Ferguson's spot, he worked as a trapper in the area for several years, establishing a line with a dozen cabins, and taking bear, fox, lynx, bobcats, marten, and coyotes. Billy Wilson recalled that Falconbery averaged about twenty cougars a season, collecting a $50 bounty on each.
He made a homestead entry on the site in 1911, but left temporarily the next summer to work for the Forest Reserve. By 1930 he had thirty acres under cultivation, half of it in hay. He added a root cellar, bunkhouse, storeroom, blacksmith shop, stable, chicken house, and corrals. Willis Jones brought him produce from Grouse Creek a half-dozen times a year.
(The Middle Fork, A Guide, by Johnny Carey and Cort Conley; Third Edition, Backeddy Books, 1992; pages 181-182. Reprinted by permission of Cort Conley. Also, my deepest thanks to Irene M. Lawson for finding and contributing the information from this book)
Rupert O. Leonard Falconberry lived for nearly 40 years on the spot by Loon Creek which is now known as Falconberry Ranch and is the person for whom the peak and lake were named. This undated picture of Falconberry Ranch was taken from the book The Middle Fork, A Guide. See more pictures of Falconberry ranch taken in 1955 and 1979, in 1991 and 2003 and fire photos taken after the fire of August, 2003.
George Cole, who has hiked through this area on several occasions, sent his observations about the ranch. It is interesting to learn that much of the information found in The Middle Fork, A Guide is supported by what Mr. Cole found. There are several old farm implements left lying in various spots around the ranch many of which appear to have been horse-drawn although a few might have been tractor-drawn. The equipment consisted of a bailer, a mower and some rakes which were probably used to cultivate hay. The book mentions that Rupert had thirty acres of cultivated land, half of which was used for hay. Mr. Cole also reports that there are remnants of irrigation canals and sluices and the older remaining buildings appear to have been used as a milking barn, blacksmith's shop, harness shop, a general work shop and a tack shed. In the book it is mentioned that Rupert added a root cellar, bunkhouse, storeroom, blacksmith shop, stable, chicken house and corrals to the ranch.
Mr. Cole also noted that the ranch was probably a guest ranch some time during the 50s, 60s or 70s. The guest cabins were log buildings set up as bungalows with a larger building that served as main lodge for dining and other purposes. Some of the guest buildings had running water and showers. The crumbling tennis court also indicates that the complex may have been a guest ranch in the path. A member of a United States Forestry Service trail crew, who Mr. Cole met, confirmed that he had heard that the ranch was once a guest ranch.
By the tack shed is a barn that has been undermined by Loon Creek and has collapsed into the creek. Near it is a concrete slab that Mr. Cole believes served as the foundation for a water tower. Carved into the slab are the initials "M.H. 1958". The ranch appears to have been owned at one time by a man whose last name was Hatch, but I have no knowledge of when he may have purchased the ranch. According to a newspaper article in the Challis Messenger dated October 18, 1939, Rupert sold his property around 1936 or 1937, but it does not state who purchased the property. I have not learned if the property changed hands again between then and when it was sold to the government.
Schuyler Falconburg (1865-1944) was the son of James W. and Sarah (Burton) Falconbury. In the early 1900s he was the owner of S.C. Falconburg & Company located in Bourbon, Indiana. The company sold coffee under the name "Falconburg's Special Coffee". Alan and Linda Little were kind enough to send a picture of one of the labels.
Cedarvale School was the local school in Ellis where the grandchildren of Jacob Baker Falconbury attended classes. Jacob was the director of the school and, in 1908, six of the twelve students were his grandchildren. Denis Vine has provided an image of a school card from that year (front, back). Jacob's grandchildren were Marie and Mary Falconbery (daughters of Wilbert Perry), Orville and Helen Wickham (children of Geraldene Elbertie) and Dorothy and Orpha Hinkle (daughters of Mary Lucinda). Another student, Wesley Vine, was Orpha's future husband.
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