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Bonsall fulfills fashion desire in the 1880s; Ostrich farm was known for providing plumes internationally for ladies' hats


Last updated 4/15/2016 at Noon

Ostriches owned by E. J. Johnson in the 1880s stand on his ranch in Mt. Fairview (now known as Bonsall). Photo courtesy of San Diego History Center

Those who view Fallbrook and Bonsall as towns where residents are most comfortable in casual clothing may be amused to hear that back in the 1880s, a highly desirable fashion accessory was cultivated here and shipped internationally. Almost as precious as gold at the time, ostrich plumes were in demand by milliners in order to make fanciful hats for milady.

In the early 1880s, a man named E.J. Johnson purchased 23 young ostriches and brought the flightless birds via ocean voyage to the United States. After completing his journey, he settled the flock on 80 acres that he purchased in Mount...

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