The Corwin Ranch
When the Nations had lived in Santa Clara, according to Louvinda, word had circulated up and down the state about homestead land available in the Apple Valley area and elsewhere. The news had reached her husband through a Mr. Decker, who, she said, later owned some acreage near what is now Navajo Road and Highway 18. This was probably Henry C. Decker, who received a government patent in that area in 1915.
Word also had reached Elmore Corwin in Los Angeles. Elmore was anxious to find some cheap property in the desert where he and Harriet could retire, so he grabbed his son-in-law Herbert, and with a map obtained from the General Land Office, the two went on the hunt for a good piece of land.
Many prospective homesteaders used the services of a "land locator," an individual familiar with available government land, but Elmore wanted to find his on his own. Spending three days on his quest, he found just the piece he was looking for. Harriet said he raved about it when he returned home.
He quickly presented himself at the Government Land Office to apply for a homestead. His entry form is dated May 15, 1909. On the document he agreed to comply with the legal requirements as to settlement, residence and cultivation.
He declared that he was not an agent of a person, corporation or syndicate for the purposes of speculation, but that he was obtaining the property for use as a home. Yes, he further attested, he had personally inspected the land, and to the best of his knowledge there was no vein or lode of quartz or other rock containing precious metals such as gold, silver, cinnabar, etc., or even such base minerals as cement, gravel and salt. The final requirement was that the land was "not occupied and improved by any Indian."
Elmore had selected a 160-acre parcel, a square with sides of one-half mile, south of today's Apple Valley Airport in an area referred to as the Bell Mountain District. His son George filed on a similarly sized parcel adjacent on the north.
Elmore's easterly boundary was present-day Central Road, and the southerly boundary Waalew Road, a street named years later when the Corwins' neighbors Elroy and Lorraine Waas subdivided their property in 1948. The Waas family coined the name "Waalew" by combining the first three letters of their last name with Lorraine's initials, "L. E. W.," and they probably had in mind that it had a Native American ring to it, in keeping with the theme being used by Apple Valley Ranchos.
The "older settlers" originally derided the Bell Mountain area as being an arid wasteland. Many of them had chosen parcels along the Mojave River south of today's Bear Valley Road, some settling even south of Rock Springs Road, and others even further south up into mountainous canyons.
Louvinda Nation said the people who lived along the river scoffed at the idea of finding water in the northern part of the valley, but her husband was quite stubborn and persisted until he proved himself in the right. She claimed he "brought in" the first well in the valley. Louvinda had the opportunity here to be derisive herself, as some of those early homesteaders who had quickly snatched up claims on the bottomland near the Mojave River later discovered that the normally gentle flows of this water course could be transformed into a raging torrent. Much of this flood plain is still undeveloped to this day, proving the race does not always go to the swift.