Coffee with Joan graphic

Coffee With Joan

Coffee With Joan

Joan Sullivan is a Artist, Historian & Author. She is a classically trained artist who discovered a love of history through painting who produced “Picture the Past,” a monthly show featuring local ranches and other areas of historical interest which aired locally for over 10 years. Find out more at

November 6, 2020

When viewing the road from a Los Osos Valley Road vantage point, it’s hard to believe that Clark Valley Road is strewn with ranches dating back to the 1800s. Several of these ranches, I was privileged to visit and paint on over the years with the Thursday Painters.

Recently I revisited the O’Brien Ranch, a wholesale nursery. Thanks to David O’Brien, who gave me permission to paint on the ranch. Once again I was taken back in time to the day I enjoyed in the same place, but in 1979. The barns, built in the 1800s, were still in place but a bit more weathered and enhanced by time.

Dr. Floride Frost got the permission for us to visit and paint on the Welsh ranch in 1979. Floride was a local dentist and friend of mine at that time. She was born on the ranch in 1900 and said that Clark Valley was named after Joseph Clark Welsh, her grandfather.

She related, “He was a true Irish gentleman who left Ireland, crossed the ocean by boat, then the Isthmus of Panama by horse and wagon. When traveling in search of a ranch for he and his wife, he reached Los Osos Valley and saw the green hills in spring. It so resembled the green hills of Ireland he knew it would take away his wife’s home sickness.” And so the Irish Hills were named.

Joseph Clark Welsh paid $6,000 for the 1,066 acre ranch in 1869. After Floride’s grandfather died of the flu in 1918, the family sold the 1000 acre ranch to the Gulartes for $30,000, and when the Gulartes sold it for $5,000 an acre they made a $500,00, Floride said.

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