Starting with a 160-acre purchase in the late 1860s, Fred William Fickert, along with his wife, Mary Fickert, over time built their cattle ranch into an empire of nearly 23,000 acres by the mid-1960s. Located in Bear Valley Springs, the ranch was was sold in the mid-1960s, and then a few years later resold to a land development company known as Dart Industries.
Dart developed the ranch into one of California's first gated communities with small ranch sites, a golf course, a lake or two, all designed for family recreational purposes, “with second home or cabin sites for sale,” stated sales brochures.
Throughout its building process, Dart purposely maintained the land in a rural atmosphere with horse trails and nature activities. During the passage of time for nearly 90 years, the Fickert family cemetery, located on a nearby hill, a short walk from the Fickert ranch house, has stood as a marker to a family dynasty.
Through the efforts of many individuals and organizations including the Tehachapi Heritage League, the cemetery site became a Bear Valley Springs community open space and available for all to view. Walking up to the top of the hill reveals a fenced cemetery among large old oak trees with almost a 360-degree view of the entire Bear Valley Springs community spread out below. It's reported there are 17 burial sites. Along with Fred William Fickert and his wife, Mary, are 10 of their 11 children, one son-in-law, and four others (ranch hands and/or native Americans).
A ceremony was held this past weekend and a plaque was presented for placement at the cemetery site. Receiving the plaque and speaking of his days as a child and young man living on the ranch was Fred Wallace Fickert, who spoke on behalf of the Fickert family.
“As a child and young teenager some of my happiest memories were the yearly cattle round-ups, haying, and branding time,” said Fred Wallace Fickert. “It's with appreciation I accept on behalf of my family this honor today.”
Prior to speaking at the ceremony, Fred Wallace and his wife, Ann Fickert, were guests of the Tehachapi Heritage League’s at their Errea House museum. The house in Tehachapi contains a room dedicated to the Fickert family’s history, with photographs and artifacts, including some original furnishings from the Fickert ranch house.
The cemetery site can be viewed in Bear Valley Springs. A sign and roadside turnout is located on Deertrail Drive just west of Rand Court. The Tehachapi Heritage League has established the Fickert Legacy Fund to cover expenses on behalf of the cemetery site. Donations can be made directly to the Tehachapi Heritage League.