The Star-News


Fictional tale captures girl's reality

Sat, Nov 27 2010 12:00 PM Posted By: Susan Walter

How interesting are the lives of my relatives! This relative is my husband's father's sister's daughter's husband's grandmother! Her name was Carrie Lincoln Floyd Harbison, and a book was written about her experiences as a child, in 1876, when she came here to live in National City.

The story begins with a description of her family's train travel across the country from Boston, to San Francisco. Railroads hadn't yet made it to Los Angeles, let alone San Diego.

The next leg of their journey was by steam ship. Early in the voyage, they watched with trepidation as passengers debarked onto small lighters (rowboats) to be taken to shore. Luckily, they were spared that as there was a wharf in San Diego.

At their destination (what would eventually become San Diego), most of the family boarded a surrey.

Their luggage followed in a spring wagon, a two-seated wagon where the seats are removable, with Carrie riding with the rather eccentric driver. The family moved into a small house - borrowed - until the owners returned.

The next morning Carrie glumly found out she was the only child living in National City.

The story tells about many of the experiences of Carrie's life that are of great local interest.

For instance: Father Horton was on the steam ship; wild Indians chased the spring wagon; the family constructed a barn which became their abode until they built a house; she received a gold nugget from a couple from Campo; she met Frank and Flora Kimball and Frank's parrot Poll; she befriended a Spanish speaking girl and went to a fandango in the Estudillo home in San Diego Old Town; her first horse ride was to the mission that had become a ruin; she was friends with an emigrant girl who alerted the community to the presence of horse thieves; Carrie's family went on jaunts to Monument City, at the border by Mexico, and into the back country on a camping trip, and she lived through a flood.

This all really happened! Carrie kept a diary, and these events were recorded in it. Later, in 1952 Carrie's niece, Marion Beckler, turned these events into a charming little story called, appropriately, "Carrie." Caveat to y'all, the story is geared towards children and in telling it as a tale, parts and names were changed so it's not a strict history, it is a story, but based on facts.

A prized copy of this book -autographed by Carrie Harbison and Marion Beckler - was loaned to me by my husband's father's sister's daughter's husband. But there is another copy of it at the Kile Morgan Local History Room in the National City Public Library. You should read it.


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