Agnes Black dies at age 94

December 05, 2002 12:00 am

Tuolumne County native Agnes (Harvey) Black, a longtime community volunteer, historian and dairy farmer, died Tuesday at a Sonora care home. She was 94.

Mrs. Black was born on the family ranch on Wards Ferry Road to English immigrants Charles and Henrietta (Williams) Harvey.

Her parents originally settled near what is now Jupiter, but later bought a 120-acre dairy ranch on Wards Ferry Road, because they wanted to be closer to a school. The doors from their Jupiter cabin were hung at the new ranch house.

In addition to the cabin doors, Mrs. Black's home continued to be a testament to the past until recent years, housing a wood-burning stove, an oak table her father bought for $5 and an iron bed where she slept most of her life.

After spending more than 50 years milking cows, watering clover fields and raising her children, Mrs. Black sold the dairy operation to her son, and the land was gradually parceled and sold.

Once the children were grown, Mrs. Black began a 17-year career at Millard's Nursery on Mono Way, working for owner Ed Wright. She was responsible for all the bedding plants in the shop.

She continued to live on 1.5 acres in the century-old house where she grew up until about 18 months ago, when she entered a care home.

In 1996, the Tuolumne County Historical Society awarded a Heritage Home Award to Mrs. Black's lifelong residence as part of its annual awards banquet.

She was a longtime member of Standard Community Church, which, at the request of her mother, was built by the Standard Lumber Co. in 1914. The church opened in December 1915.

When the church was renovated in the 1990s, Mrs. Black donated the church bell in honor of her mother.

She also attended Curtis Creek Elementary School in Standard. The lumber company constructed it shortly before the church was built.

A straight-A student in high school, she walked to Standard to catch the passenger train to the Hales and Symons lumber yard in south Sonora. From there, she walked to Sonora High School.

When she was 13, her mother died of pneumonia, leaving her with the chores of cooking, cleaning and tending to her five siblings. At 15, she quit school to work at home.