The Deep Roots of the Diamond B
The Diamond B Ranch is rooted in Warner Springs and goes back almost as far the town itself. It all started when Thomas Taylor, came to the gold fields in Grass Valley California from Belfast Ireland. His goal was to build a fortune, and with his wife Ann Jane, they would start a family. Thomas and Ann Jane started their family with the birth of their first child, Sam Taylor. Sam was the oldest of five children, all born in Grass Valley. Eventually Thomas was recruited by the Stonewall mine in Cuyamaca to be an amalgamator. With the families move to Julian California, the Taylor ranch legacy began..
As Sam grew older it became clear that mining was not in his blood. Ranching on the other hand was. He joined up with the Vail Cattle Company in Warner Ranch. While working he caught the eye of a very beautiful local gal, Mary Jane Helm. Mary Jane was the daughter of Turner Helm and Maria Jesua. Turner Helm came to California from Missouri in the 1840s with his brothers. Maria Jesua was a native hailing from the local tribe. Sam and Mary Jane wed in 1892 as Sam continued his career with Vail Cattle Company. Sam advanced to be the cattle boss for the Little Rincon section of the cattle operation. Little Rincon is located at the foot of Palomar Mountain. The first five of his eight children were born in Little Rincon. When Sam again advanced his career he was promoted to cattle forman. With this promotion the family moved from Little Rincon to the Warner’s Ranch main house. The main house still stands today located on San Felipe Road (S2) and is now a museum. While living in this house, Sam’s last three children were born, including Banning Taylor in 1905. Sam was often gone for days at a time, herding the cows from Warners Ranch to Vail Ranch in Temecula where the train intersected with the stockyards.
By 1922 Sam and Mary Jane were ready to purchase a ranch of their own. Just a short ride away from Warner’s Ranch, they purchased the 160 acre homestead in Warner Springs, near the current resort, where the ranch remains today. Sam and Mary Jane thrived on this ranch producing orchards, gardens, horses, chickens, and of course cattle.
Their son, Banning Taylor and his wife Nelda (Campagnolii), lived on the ranch with them until their passing.
Banning and Nelda Campagnoli were wed in April of 1931. Nelda was the daughter of Frank Campagnoli, an immigrant from Italy, and Sarah Cota, a native from Mesa Grande. In 1945 Banning and Nelda purchased the family ranch from Sam and Mary and the Diamond B Ranch was born. (The B is for Banning) Banning and Nelda were active on their ranch, community, and neighboring indian reservation. The ranch was a bustling place filled with extended family members as neighbors and of course lots of cattle. Banning and Nelda had two sons, Banning “Skip” Taylor and Frank “Pug” Taylor. Frank Taylor and his bride of 60 years, Janet (Stevenson) still reside on their ranch today. Frank grew up on the ranch and recalls many stories from his younger years helping Banning move the cows from the neighboring reservation back the ranch. Frank needed the have all the gates opened and positioned just right, before Banning charged down the hill with the herd and into the corrals.
Later in life, in 1958, Frank garnered the attention of Janet, who is one of the four Stevenson sisters of Ramona. (Her sister Nancy married neighboring rancher Marco Moretti, but that’s another story for another edition) Frank and Janet have 4 daughters. Ann Baay, Debbie Moretti, Sheri Smith and Shirley Taylor. Frank and Janet’s eldest daughter, Ann, married Elmo Ostrander and along came the next generation of Diamond B with the births of Elmo Jr., Luke, and Thad Ostrander in the 1980s. Along with their cousins, the boys spent most of their childhood raising livestock and entering junior rodeos with much help from their uncle, Ken Smith and their grandfather Frank Taylor.
All three Ostrander boys are still deeply rooted in the ranch, but have gone on to start their own families. Elmo Jr. married Katie (Bylczynski) of Escondido (That’s me!) in 2009. We’re living on the ranch passing on the Diamond B legacy to the latest generation of ranchers Alexis, Morgan, and Reina. Luke married Jessica (Bartkowski) of Pauma Valley in 2007 and reside in Ramona with their children Donovan and Danika. Thad married Lindsay (Dreyer) of Ramona in 2016 and reside in Ramona with their daughter, Suede.
Today the ranch is still just as busy as it was in the generations past and continues to evolve as time goes on. In addition to cattle, the ranch also producing whole processed chickens, Thanksgiving turkeys, and wide variety of other handmade items. Knowledge and love for ranching is still passed through the generations.
Being and advocate for agriculture and connecting people to their food continues to be a driving force for Diamond B. It’s my responsibility as a rancher to educate consumers about how our animals are raised, food safety, and more importantly why small family ranches still have a place in today’s society. Not only do I represent the San Diego Cowbelles, I’m also an active member of California Women for Agriculture and San Diego Farm Bureau where I take on many public speaking and outreach opportunities. In in effort to further our commitment of connecting people to agriculture, in 2019 the ranch is expanded with a new, direct to consumer beef program.
Sam Taylor at the Warner Springs ranch house.