Patrick Kinevan

Question: Can you tell me about Patrick Kinevan and his
stagecoach stop? — Louise Turne Irish-born Patrick Kinevan
was, for more than 30 years, a familiar sight to stagecoach
passengers in Santa Barbara County. His Summit House was a stop for
those stages plying their way over San Marcos Pass and few were the
visitors who would forget the delicious meals served up by
Patrick’s wife Nora.

Pat Kinevan was born in 1837 and as a young man worked as a coal
miner in Ireland. The horrific potato famine, which devastated the
country, began in the mid-1840s and, like so many of his fellow
countrymen, a teen-aged Kinevandecided to forsake his homeland and
set sail for the U.S. in the early 1850s. He worked for a time on
the East Coast and then, responding to his wanderlust, he became a
cowboy, driving cattleon the famous Chisholm Trail. When the Civil
War broke out in 1861, Kinevan enlisted on the Union side and
served as a lieutenant in the army of General George Meade, who is
best known as the victor at Gettysburg.

After the war, Kinevan stayed on in the cavalry and was involved
in several skirmishes with Indians down in Texas. In one clash he
was caught by a Comanche arrow, whose head remained embedded in his
shoulder for the rest of his life, causing pain from which he would
never escape.

In the late 1860s, Kinevan made his way to California. While
riding on the stagecoach out of San Diego, he was informed that
there was a position opening up for a stagecoach station agent on
the new Santa Ynez Turnpike Road in Santa Barbara County. Kinevan
applied for and got the job. Originally the station was adjacent to
Chalk Rock, near today’s Lake Cachuma, but was soon moved to the
west side of San Jose Creek, just south of the San Marcos Pass
summit. In 1870, Kinevan married Nora Mangan. The couple would have
10 children, eight of whom would survive into adulthood.

Kinevan’s main responsibilities were twofold. He supervised the
change of horse teams when the stage pulled in and saw to the
horses’ care, and he was to collect the tolls at the bridge that
crossed San Jose Creek. The tolls were supposed to help pay off the
road and to hopefully enrich stockholders. This part of Kinevan’s
duties could prove difficult, because it was not uncommon for
ranchers to run their livestock quickly across the bridge, foiling
Kinevan’s attempts to get an accurate head count. With cattle herds
often numbering in the hundreds and the toll being 25 cents a head,
disputes could involve some substantial amounts of money. Kinevan
had a 160-acre homestead at the station and his land soon blossomed
with vegetables, fruit trees, grain fields, and pasture land. Over
the years his wife and then his adult children obtained more
property and the Kinevan ranch spread soon grew to some 640 acres.
Nora utilized the farm-fresh resources of the ranch to create her
famous meals.

The toll road became a public thoroughfare in 1898 and the
stagecoach era came to a close in 1901. Still, the family stayed on
to run the ranch. With the death of Patrick in 1912 and of Nora
seven years later, it fell to later generations of Kinevans to keep
the place up. Granddaughter Lois Jean Kinevan was overseeing the
place when, in September 1972, the historic Summit House burned to
the ground; the fire was caused by the carelessness of some tenants
at the house. With the destruction of the house and its contents
went the Kinevans’ dreams of transforming their family home into a
museum, which would have been a fitting tribute to Patrick and Nora
Kinevan and the bygone stagecoach era in Santa Barbara County.

Michael Redmon, director of research at the Santa Barbara
Historical Society, will answer your questions about Santa
Barbara’s history. Write him c/o The Independent, 122 West Figueroa
St., Santa Barbara, CA 93101.

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