The Ogan house

The Ogan house that now sits along the edge of Ogan Road was originally built, as pictured above, near Carpinteria Community Church on Vallecito Road.

Well deserving of the tree-lined road named in their honor, the Ogans are written into history as one of the original Carpinteria pioneering families. Their arrival stretches back to 1869, when James Simeral and Elizabeth Ogan led their ox teams into the valley. The couple had left their home state of Missouri in 1853, settled in the San Jose area for several years, then made their way into the wilds of Carpinteria.

The Ogans first lived in a house near Foothill Road and owned a vast piece of property that spread through the area that now contains Canalino School, Vallecito and Star Pine roads. Like any good pioneers, the Ogans parented nine children. These kids grew up in an undeveloped valley full of adventure. Late in life, James Simeral told his grandchildren that upon his arrival in Carpinteria, the oaks and sagebrush were so dense and the marsh so expansive that none of the creeks flowed directly out to the Pacific. Only after the early ranchers and farmers cleared the land did the creeks widen and pour out to the sea.

James Simeral’s son James Washington Ogan married a woman named Ada in 1878 and built a house near today’s Carpinteria Community Church. James W. and his brother constructed the house, building the walls out of 1-inch thick redwood boards shipped into Serena Pier. Ada delivered all six of her children in the house. Later in James W.’s life, the building was removed from its foundation and relocated near Linden Avenue. A few years after that, it was moved again, just about 150 feet, to its current location, just steps away from Ogan Road (which did not exist at the time).

When James W. and Ada passed away, their four remaining children divided the family’s five-acre property. The daughter claimed a tract closest to her husband’s land to the south, and the sons drew straws to see who would inherit the plot with the family house. As luck would have it, Rolland Ogan drew that straw.

Born in 1886, Rolland was a Jack of all trades. Over his long life, he worked as a carpenter, plumber, electrician, blacksmith and farmer. He moved his wife, Myrtle, and their children to Cuyama Valley and Moorpark before returning to Carpinteria in 1924. In 1966, Rolland died in the same little house where his mother had given birth to him 80 years prior.

Rolland’s son Reginald kept the family tradition alive. Born in the little house in 1917, he taught school in different cities throughout California before retiring to Carpinteria and moving back into the family home in 1986. Reginald passed away in 1991—also in the same home he was born in. Donna May Ogan, Reginald’s widow, passed away in January this year at the age of 97.

To learn more about Carpinteria’s unique and interesting past, visit the Carpinteria Valley Museum of History, open Tuesday through Saturday from 1 to 4 p.m. at 956 Maple Ave.

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