View of Viejas Mountain from The Willows Ranch.
From The Willows Collection donated by
Don Walker, Jr.
by Albert Simonson
As you drive out of Alpine toward the east, just past the top of the hill, you may notice an old road to the right which runs nearly parallel with Alpine Boulevard. It is the old road past Dutch Fred’s place. Dutch’s place was near the big old oaks in what is now a horse ranch.
Stone chips near the oaks indicate that Indians long used the place to fashion weapon points. In the late 1850’s, the Jackass Mail passed through here with mail and passengers from San Antonio. Later stages used to rest in the shade of the big oaks.
Dutch Fred Schappelle homesteaded this choice land in the 1870’s. His name suggests Alsatian origin.
Jim Hinds of the Alpine Historical Society has been cataloging old newspapers and he came upon the following historical account in the “Alpine Echo” of April 19, 1962:
“Dutch Fred had a vineyard and made some wine. One of the old winos got a jug there and met up with a bad Indian off the Conejos reservation and got the Indian drunk, too. The Indian went back to Fred for more wine. Fred refused him and the Indian shot and killed Fred, then got drunk and went to sleep under the bridge. All the other Indians used to say he was a very bad Indian. All the evidence was circumstantial so he got out (of jail) in a few years.”
Drunks have been a part of the local scene since at least Cockney Bill’s rancho days in the 1850’s. This is thirsty country, and early Alpine was more vineyard than town. Aerial photos from 1928 still showed extensive vineyards, especially on the hill just west of Alpine’s post office.
Of course, that was during prohibition, so the grapes must have been for raisins or “medicinal wine.” Right?