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Fort Hunter Liggett hears about influential women of South Monterey County

San Antonio Valley Historical Association members give presentation on area's historical figures

San Antonio Valley Historical Association guest speakers Karen Jernigan, Susan Raycraft and Patricia Ashe-Woodfill receive flowers as a token of appreciation from the Fort Hunter Liggett Command Team. (Ivan Garcia/FMWR)

JOLON — San Antonio Valley Historical Association provided an insightful presentation on some women who made a positive impact to the community during Fort Hunter Liggett’s second Women’s History Month celebrations on March 21.

Guest speakers Karen Jernigan, Susan Raycraft and Patricia Ashe-Woodfill took turns to provide information on seven women of Southern Monterey County.

Some highlights include Dr. Emma Hersom, who was the first female doctor in South Monterey County. Her “doctor bag” was on display, and can be viewed at the Monterey County Rural Life and Agricultural Museum in San Lorenzo Park in King City. 

A more than 100-year-old bag that belonged to Dr. Emma Hersom is displayed during the March 21 event, and can be viewed at MCARLM in San Lorenzo Park. (Ivan Garcia/FMWR)

Rachel Dayton Gillett was one of the founding members of the San Antonio Valley Historical Association, and was part of an effort to get many historical buildings in Jolon listed on the National Historical Register. 

Ramona Duck Sutfin and her family were prominent figures in the Lockwood community. She and her father both served as postmasters, and operated the Lockwood Store until the 1970s, which was a mainstay for the community as well as soldiers from Hunter Liggett Military Reservation.

Other South Monterey County women featured in the presentation included: Perfecta Encinales, Frances Rand Smith, Anne Hadden, Beatrice “Tid” Casey, Mabel Sans Plaskett and Eva Taylor. The event video is available on the FHL Facebook page.

Karen Jernigan speaks during Fort Hunter Liggett’s second Women’s History Month celebration on March 21. (Ivan Garcia/FMWR)

Jernigan was a King City Council member from 2012 to 2016, and is the membership chair for SAHVA. She has lived in King City since 1977 and was a reporter for The Rustler newspaper for four years when she first moved to town. 

She and her husband John operated the family business, King City Glass, for decades until their recent retirement. Last year they worked with Howard Strohn of Priest Valley to write an Arcadia Book about the history of King City for their Images of America Series, which should be published in July.

Raycraft has been a Lockwood resident since 1977, and is an author and activist. One of her many passions is to educate the community about Belva Lockwood, of whom Lockwood is named after. 

Susan Raycraft, a Lockwood resident, author and activist, talks about Belva Lockwood, the town of Lockwood’s namesake and one of the very first female lawyers in the country. (Ivan Garcia/FMWR)

Raycraft self-published her play, “Belva Speaks,” which debuted in the Lockwood Centennial celebrations, and collaborated with Ann Beckett to write “The San Antonio Valley” book. She was also the guest speaker for the FHL March Coyote Community Connection, speaking about Mrs. Lockwood.

Ashe-Woodfill has been a resident of Lockwood since 1972. She worked at FHL from 1986 to 1995 as a contractor with the Scientific Support Lab as a real-time computer operator, then onto to Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo as a database administrator. 

She joined SAVHA when she retired in 2010, and started writing a local natural history, plants and wildlife column for the organization’s newsletter. She is also one of the newsletter editors, and manages SAVHA’s Photo Archive Database.

Patricia Ashe-Woodfill, a Lockwood resident who worked at Fort Hunter Liggett from 1986 to 1995 as a contractor with the Scientific Support Lab as a real-time computer operator, speaks during Fort Hunter Liggett’s event on March 21. (Ivan Garcia/FMWR)

All three speakers have been active participants of the FHL Public Outreach Group, providing valuable feedback to keep FHL informed of community information. 

SAVHA is a nonprofit organization with the primary goal of preserving the history of the San Antonio Valley and Southern Monterey County. For more information on the organization, activities and archives, visit savha.org.

Books and documents on display from the San Antonio Valley Historical Association. (Ivan Garcia/FMWR)