Donna Friess and Janet Tonkovich were the recipients of a rare gift of a oral history of one of the longest running private, chartered residential communities in California. Desperate to preserve that history, Donna and Janet continued their research to bring the story of Weesha Country Club, an historic recreational enclave nestled in the San Bernardino Mountains, which becomes a microcosm of the exciting pioneering legacy that is Southern California’s.

The Weesha story becomes the story of the settling of Southern California, from the serene days when the Serrano and Gabrieleno Indians inhabited the area and fished from abundant waters of the Santa Ana River, to the arrival of Spain’s Portola Expedition, to the invasion of gold seekers, to the boom of the citrus industry, and finally to the emergence of Southern California as a world leader in agriculture, technology, and entertainment.

Donna and Janet are both descendents of early Southern California Pioneers. Their family stories overlap with those they researched. In 1865 Ed Ball was one of the first European-Americans in the Redlands area. He and wife, Jennie, were a part of the very backbone of the settling of that area. Ed Ball helped lay out the city of Redlands. He was a deputy sheriff, game warden and rancher, while his wife, Jennie, owned and operated the first restaurant/hotel known as Pioneer House. Ed and Jennie also homesteaded a lush parcel of land along the headwaters of the Santa Ana River where they planted an apple orchard. That land would one day become the Weesha Country Club, Inc. founded in 1910 by some of the most important pioneers of Orange County, including Charles Wagner, Albert Bradford, John R. Gardiner, Peter Weisel, John Tuffree, and others.