Fawnskin History: William Henry Cline & Clinton Ellis Miller

Above: Early Downtown Fawnskin

Fawnskin’s development was unique in the mountains. At the time the town was constructed, the trend in mountain development was to buy tracts, subdivide and sell the lots. However in Fawnskin, the developers William Cline and Clinton Miller instead focused on creating a community.

The Cline-Miller development consisted of a resort complete with cabins and a tearoom. They also donated the land for use by the Theater of the Stars. The goal was to create a community that would endure the test of time.

Above: William Henry Cline (Born: 2-5-1864 Died: ?)

William Henry Cline was the son of John A Cline (the son of John C. Cline who was a very famous and controversial Los Angeles Sheriff (1893-1894, 1915-1921).

At the young age of five, William Cline traveled to San Diego on one of the first transcontinental trains. He attended public schools and lacked specialized training for any particular career. However, at age nineteen he became a Los Angeles Sheriff and remained in that career for over forty-five years.

Cline was also appointed to the Los Angeles Park Commission in 1919 and served until 1923. He had a deep lover for nature and this is perhaps why he agreed to become Clinton Miller’s partner in purchasing the tract of land (later known as Fawnskin) from the Southern Pacific Railroad.

Above: Clinton Ellis Miller (Born: 12-22-1877 Died: 6-22-1942)

Clinton Ellis Miller was more than the co-developer of Fawnskin; he was considered by many of the time to be the very heart of Fawnskin. He helped finance the Theater of the Stars, purchased and built the local grocery store, park, recreation hall and helped support the local school. He also worked to make Fawnskin a year around resort to support the local residents who depended on the tourist dollars to survive.

Clinton Miller was the son of Agnes Ellis Miller whose father was Dr. Thomas Ellis, the private physician of the Governor of California, Pio Pico.

Unlike his partner, Mr. Miller attended the University of California at Berkeley and held a and held a BL degree (known today as LLB or Bachelor of Laws). However he served as a school principal for six years and resigned when he moved to Los Angeles in 1906 to go into the real estate business.

Miller married Georgiana Kendall, who was the daughter of wealthy A.G. Kendall, the San Bernardino County Highway Commissionaire. It is speculated that he discovered the tract of Fawnskin through his father-in-law’s knowledge of exactly where the new Rim of the World Highway would end (right at the entrance to his new town, Fawnskin).

Cline and Miller were both members of the Jonathan Club (read more about the Jonathan Club at Wikipedia) and created a town that attracted their wealthy and influential friends in Los Angeles. Perhaps this is why so much effort went into the development of services and entertainment for the Fawnskin residents.

The testimony to the success of the two partners is the fact that famous artists, bank presidents, movie stars, writers and the social elite all came to their tract, purchased their lots, built cabins and became Fawnskin Folks.

Author’s Note: Mr. Miller’s supportive community actions have become part of Fawnskin’s legacy, as evidenced today by current town residents who care and love their mountain community.

Clinton Miller was known for his kindness and for his support of the businesses, residents and guests of Fawnskin. When outlining his list of accomplishments, he always listed the development of Fawnskin as one of his important undertakings.

Miller’s legacy seems to be that Fawnskin remains one of the favorite “hidden gems” in the mountains of the San Bernardinos.

About the Contributor: Eileen Downey bought a home in Fawnskin as a retreat from the fast pace of the big city. Living here she has found inspiration, a renewed spirit, an endless amount of creativity and curiosity. Off the mountain, Eileen is an elementary teacher for children with autism but for the last three years, her passionate hobby has been to collect, read, and sort through the history of Fawnskin and its founding settlers. She hopes you will enjoy her series and be inspired by the first Fawnskin residents who called themselves “Fawnskin Folks.”

If you have any additional information you would like to share, or have questions about the history of Fawnskin, please comment below.

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This entry was posted on Friday, May 30th, 2008 and is filed under Fawnskin Folk, Fawnskin History, Mountain Lake Resort.

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