Painted Rock Pictograph Collection, MS 041
Mary Brumley (also spelled Bromley) Noyes was born in New York in 1857, the daughter of Chester Rude Brumley and Margaret Humphrey Brumley. She moved to San Francisco, California, with her family in the 1860s as her father pursued new business opportunities in the West.
In the early 1870s, the family (father, mother, and their youngest three children, Chester J., Mary, and Helen) relocated to the extremely isolated Carrizo Plain in eastern San Luis Obispo County, nearly 300 miles to the southeast of San Francisco. They left their oldest daughter Margaret, a teacher, behind in the cosmopolitan Bay Area as they headed out to pioneer on the remote El Saucito Ranch southwest of Soda Lake, where Mr. Brumley ran cattle on his own land. In addition, he served as an employee for San Francisco investors James and Richard McDonald, supervising sheep-grazing leases on their large tracts of the plain. The McDonalds were one of several large land speculators who owned much of the acreage in the region at that time.
As a teen and a young woman, Mary spent several years living on the El Saucito Rancho with her family, where they built one of the first permanent houses on the isolated plain. Nearby was the Painted Rock, a local landmark, rising dramatically from the surrounding flat plains of the Carrizo. Native Americans—primarily Chumash Indians—drew the original drawings on the sacred, ceremonial site. The Brumley children explored the valley and played near the Painted Rock. These drawings of the rock art were sketched by Mary Brumley Noyes in the 1870s. In the intervening years since Brumley's sketches were made, the rock art has been vandalized and has deteriorated due to human use and weather conditions.
Mary married the bookkeeper for their family's ranch, Frederick R. Noyes, on 17 May 1881; they had three children. Mary died soon after giving birth to the last child in 1886. After her death, the sketches had been kept in the family of her younger sister, Helen Brumley Latimer. Helen married the owner of a drugstore in San Luis Obispo, Benjamin G. Latimer, and unlike her older sister, lived a long life.
Today the Painted Rock and surrounding area is included in the 250,000 acre Carrizo Plain National Monument, designated on January 17, 2001, in an effort to promote the long-term conservation of the vanishing San Joaquin Valley flora and fauna found in this relatively undisturbed locale.
Angel, Myron. The Painted Rock of California: La Piedra Pintada, a Legend. San Luis Obispo, CA: Padre Productions, 1979.
Angel, Myron. Facsimile Reprint of History of San Luis Obispo County, California: with Illustrations and Biographical Sketches of its Prominent Men and Pioneers. Fresno, CA: Valley Publishers, 1979. [Reprint of the 1883 ed. published by Thompson & West, Oakland, Calif., with introd. and index added.]
California Death Index: 1940-1997, ancestry.com
Eichel, Marijean H. The Carrizo Plain: a geographic study of settlement, land use and change; a thesis presented to the Faculty of the Department of Geography, San Jose State College. [San Jose, CA]: n.p., 1971.
Family correspondence, 1990, 1994.
Tognazzini, Wilmar N. 100 Years Ago: Excerpts from the San Luis Obispo Morning Tribune: 1891. [San Luis Obispo, CA]: n.p., 1988.
Tognazzini, Wilmar N. 100 Years Ago: Excerpts from the San Luis Obispo Morning Tribune: 1892. [San Luis Obispo, CA]: n.p., 1988.
"An Undeveloped Region." San Luis Obispo Tribune. 26 Dec. 1884: 6.
U. S. Census, 1870-1930, ancestry.com