The plain clapboard building with a barber and tailor shop standing at the NE corner of E. Mission Road and Vine Ave is recognized by the Fallbrook Historical Society as one of the oldest buildings in Fallbrook with a commemorative plaque. Built in 1885, this structure at 208 E. Mission Rd. was once was the home of the large Watkins family of the Watkins Bros Livery Stable.
There are several former residences along today’s E. Mission dating from the mid to late-1880s that are still in use today. Mission Road, then called Juniper Street, was an early residential area of early West Fallbrook.
This section of land was originally homesteaded in 1875 by Albert Hayward and his son after the U.S. government survey moved the boundary of Rancho Santa Margarita a couple thousand yards west, opening up the land that is today’s Fallbrook. The Hayward homestead at the top of the canyon roughly stretched between today’s Dougherty Street to Kalmia St.
With the arrival of the train in 1882 down in the Santa Margarita Canyon, homesteaders and land speculators competed for the available land above the train station, and a building boom ensued. William Scott, a businessman from Minnesota, opened a lumber yard and a hardware store. James H. Bush, who had homesteaded here in 1879, built a livery stable next to Scott’s hardware store. Scott’s son-in-law Francis W. Bartlett bought the Albert Hayward homestead for $5,500. In February 1885, Bartlett contracted to have San Diego County Surveyor Oliver N. Sanford survey 75 acres of his land. The Bartlett Survey laid off the West Fallbrook Township into 56’ by 132’ lots, and the township was recorded with San Diego County in May 1885.
William Kinsey Watkins was a farmer. Although he and his wife Berthena were both from the Midwest, they met and married in Napa, California in 1859. All 12 of their children were California born in the vicinity of Napa or Fresno. The Watkins family was farming in today’s Valley Center in the early 1880s when Watkins’ oldest son Joseph Ewell became engaged to James Bush’s daughter Daisy and they learned about an opportunity with her father’s livery stable in West Fallbrook.
Watkins, with his four grown sons, acquired Bush’s livery stable at the corner of Alvarado & Vine Streets. They bought a house from Bartlett on Juniper Street just a short walk from the livery stable.
The number of the Watkins family living under the one roof became fewer. Two of the elder Watkins daughters, Emma and Ella, had already married the Reed brothers and they were living in their own homes in Fallbrook. Ewell, and his wife Daisy, with their three small boys had their own home on E. Juniper, just a few doors west of the Watkins house. Their brother John went to San Francisco where he and his wife became dentists. John and his wife, Dr. Annie, would one day return to San Diego County to practice their dental profession. Their brother Bill left to be a miner in Idaho. He only returned to be buried in the Fallbrook Odd Fellows Cemetery after a mining accident in 1913.
After their father’s death in 1899, James Cunningham (J.C.) Watkins was the remaining brother living in this house with his widowed mother, three younger sisters, and his maternal grandmother. Cunningham had become the family patriarch and the sole proprietor of the Watkins Bros. livery stable. Cunningham Watkins married in 1906. He sold the old house on E. Juniper the same year and moved the family into a larger home nearby on Vine St.
Ewell and Daisy would later divorce. Ewell was living in Fresno In 1908,  close to where he grew up. His three sons would grow up in Fallbrook with their mother.
The arrival of the automobile caused the livery stable business to decline rapidly. In 1911, J.C. Watkins’ Fallbrook Garage, as it was now named, still offered traditional livery services and sold horse feed. Watkins was also an agent for Studebaker automobiles. A new 1911 four passenger Studebaker Roadster with a one-year full guarantee could be had for $825.  The following year, in March 1912, J.C. Watkins sold the barn and his business.
1) Elizabeth Yamaguchi notes on file at Fallbrook Historical Society
2) San Diego Union February 24, 1885
3) 1880 U.S. Census for Bear Valley, San Diego County. Valley Center was known as Bear Valley in the 1880s.
4) Escondido Times 4 Oct 1894. The Watkins-Bush marriage took place on October 1st 1894, the same month their new livery business in West Fallbrook was announced.
5) Fallbrook Observer 27 Oct 1893. Initially the business was called Fashion Stables, Watkins & Sons proprietors. Newspaper ad said it was located at the old Bush Stand.
6) Fallbrook Historic Resources Inventory #92 for San Diego County by Susan Carrico and S. Kathleen Flanigan, Sept 1991. The dwelling pre-dates the Watkins taking possession. The building appears on an 1890 Sanborn Fire Map of West Fallbrook. It is believed to have been built in 1885.
7) 1900 U.S Census for Fallbrook.
8) Fallbrook Historic Resources Inventory #92 for San Diego County by Carrico and Flanigan.
9) Fresno City Directory, 1908.