Duncan, Rena Lavalette

Birth Name Duncan, Rena Lavalette
Gender female
Age at Death 91 years, 11 months, 2 days


Event Date Place Description Notes Sources
Birth 1877-04-12 Potrero Valley, San Diego, California, USA Birth of Duncan, Rena
Death 1969-03-14 San Diego, San Diego, California, USA Death of Duncan, Rena


Relation to main person Name Relation within this family (if not by birth)
Father Duncan, Rush Floyd
Mother Fuquay, Leila Margaret
    Brother     Duncan, Baby
         Duncan, Rena Lavalette
    Sister     Duncan, Leila Revie
    Brother     Duncan, Elmo Floyd
    Sister     Duncan, Mabel
    Sister     Duncan, Cora Lee
    Brother     Duncan, Rush Fuquay
    Brother     Duncan, William K.
    Sister     Duncan, Ruth Alma
    Brother     Duncan, John Hammond
    Sister     Duncan, Elizabeth


    Family of Woolliscroft, Jesse Allen and Duncan, Rena Lavalette
Married Husband Woolliscroft, Jesse Allen
Event Date Place Description Notes Sources
Marriage 1910-06-29   Marriage of Woolliscroft, Jesse and Duncan, Allen
  1. Woolliscroft, Rena Ellen
  2. Woolliscroft, Mabel Ruthena
  3. Woolliscroft, Mae Elizabeth
  4. Woolliscroft, William Duncan
  5. Woolliscroft, Jesse Allen



According to a report in the Union Tribune, San Diego, Jesse and Rena acquired what is now known as the Witch Creek Hotel and adjoining redwood cottage and the surrounding 10 acres from Clarence and Cora Wood in 1915.

The cottage became the home of Jesse and Rena's grandson, Marvin, son of Mabel Ruthena. However, the hotel itself was torn down in 1948.

Although Jesse and Rena did not operate the building as an hotel, boarders and visitors were always welcome. And often a tired traveler would find a hot meal and a place to stay.

According to Mabel, Rena:

"... boarded all the men when they put the paved road through ... Then, when they put Sutherland Dam in, she boarded the men again."

Rena remembers climbing trees and catching pollywogs in the creek that ran behind the hotel. She says:

"We had lots of company ... There was always someone to play with. There were a lot of relatives and a lot of friends that came ... On weekends we'd be so crowded, we would wind up in hammocks on the porch and cots in the yard."

When Jesse died, his widow continued to live in the hotel building, raising their children and growing fruit and vegetables. She later moved into the cottage when the children were grown and lived there until 1959. She continued to run the service station her husband had built next to the hotel in the 1920s.

Rena reminisces:

"My mother raised a huge garden and everything that we needed. She canned fruits and jams and sold them at the service station. She sold vegetables and fruit and lilacs."

Marvin carried on his grandmother's tradition by selling lilacs in the spring.

As for the hotel itself - it served the backcountry for more than four decades, first as a saloon and later as a fashionable inn.

The original adobe building was built in 1870 as a saloon to attract the throngs of men on their way to Julian City in search of gold. The saloon was 12 miles northeast of Ramona and three miles southwest of Santa Ysabel, along the dirt road that later became state Route 78. The building also served as a stage stop on the Butterfield line between San Diego and Julian.

The saloon was sold in 1891. The new owners added a second story to provide rooms for overnight guests, and it became known as Fisher's Hotel.

When it was sold to the Woods in 1903, the name was changed to Witch Creek Hotel, and it soon attracted the elite of San Diego.

Ulysses S Grant Junior and his family signed the book in 1907.

Other prominent names from San Diego history (Scripps, Fletcher, Marston, Klauber and Jessop) appear often in the hotel's registers.

Guests arrived often at Witch Creek from around the county. It was not unusual for Cora to serve at least a dozen people every night.

A brochure from the hotel during the time that the Woods owned it states:

"The hotel grounds are of exceptional beauty, containing well-placed shade trees, California shrubs, and large rose bushes and vines."


  1. Duncan, Rush Floyd
    1. Fuquay, Leila Margaret
      1. Duncan, Baby
      2. Duncan, Rena Lavalette
        1. Woolliscroft, Jesse Allen
          1. Woolliscroft, William Duncan
          2. Woolliscroft, Jesse Allen
          3. Woolliscroft, Mabel Ruthena
          4. Woolliscroft, Mae Elizabeth
          5. Woolliscroft, Rena Ellen
      3. Duncan, Leila Revie
      4. Duncan, Elmo Floyd
      5. Duncan, Mabel
      6. Duncan, Cora Lee
      7. Duncan, Rush Fuquay
      8. Duncan, William K.
      9. Duncan, Ruth Alma
      10. Duncan, John Hammond
      11. Duncan, Elizabeth