Starting in 1914, news articles mention Fruitland Hall as a popular venue for community gatherings. “The big masked ball on Thanksgiving night at the new hall at Fruitland was attended by a large crowd from far and near. On Friday evening December 4 there will be a benefit dance given at the new hall for the aid of the Vaughn School, Monday evening December 7 there will be a moving picture show which is given under the auspices of the Agricultural Demonstration train.” [Tucson Citizen 12/3/1914]. Yet Fruitland cannot be found on maps of the time. What and where was Fruitland?
Fruitland was a community conceived by two Elgin homesteaders, Leonard W. Klene and Isaac P. Fraizer. At a November 1914 Nogales Chamber of Commerce meeting “L.W. Klene of Elgin was introduced as the founder of the new town of Fruitland.” [Tucson Citizen, 11/19/1914]. Leonard and his wife Katharine had started a dairy farm on a 320-acre homestead located north of today’s Highway 82, east of Sonoita, and west of Rain Valley.
“A map or plat of Fruitland townsite, according to survey of H. Gordon Glore, was presented to the board for their acceptance and approval, by Mr. I. P. Frazier and Mr. Leonard W. Klene. Upon motion duly carried, said plat was approved and accepted, and ordered filed in the recorder’s office, as required by law. [The Border Vidette, 6/12/1915]. Isaac (Ike) Fraizer was a trained civil engineer who probably provided the technical planning expertise for the project.
The plat map for Fruitland turns out to be the very first “subdivision” map filed in Santa Cruz County. Fruitland Townsite was in Section 24 of Township 20S, Range 17E. The total area of the townsite was 9.77 acres divided into thirty (30) 38’x120’ lots (.10 acre per lot) and thirty (30) 38’x137.82’ lots (.12 acre per lot). The south edge of town was 160 ft. from the railroad tracks. The north edge of town bordered a county road. Coincidentally, Ike Fraizer had filed a homestead claim on 160 acres in Section 24, so it is likely that the townsite was located on the southernmost edge of his 160-acre parcel. To use current day location descriptors Fruitland was located north of Lower Elgin Road, at approximately Shady Lane.
South of Lower Elgin Road, in Section 25, right across from Shady Lane, is Fruitland Lane. Its name may have derived from the planned townsite. Also in Section 25 is a 245’ square where the private Fruitland Cemetery is located. The cemetery appears to have been established in 1917 and is today owned by Sonoita Bible Church. Look for an article about the cemetery in next month’s PRT.
There is no mention of Fruitland in local papers after 1915 so we can only speculate about why the township was never established. Perhaps selling such small lots proved difficult when it was possible to homestead 160 acres instead. The developers may have hoped that the railroad would establish a stop at that location and would need housing for its workers – that did not happen. The coming of WWI could have also been a factor.
Author’s note: Special thanks are due to Santa Cruz County Recorder, Suzie Sainz, for her assistance in locating the Fruitland plat map and providing a copy for this article.