Marcus Golsh, chief of the Rincon Indians in the 1940s, was a pioneer in moving Riverside and San Diego County tribes toward economic self-sufficiency.
As an irrigation specialist and a mentor, Golsh taught local Indians how to generate money for their tribes by farming and selling products such as alfalfa, walnuts, tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, squash and melons.
His family background was interesting.
Golsh was a descendant of the Hapsburg dynasty, which ruled central Europe from the 13th to the 20th century, but his allegiance was to his mother's Diegueño heritage.
Golsh's grandparents, Alfred and Josephine Golsh (a.k.a. Golaszewski), came from Austria to the United States after the Civil War, according to the family historian, Donald Jamison.
Jamison, now in his 80s, is a nephew of Marcus Golsh.
Jamison said the Golsh family came to the United States seeking religious freedom. They settled in San Francisco, where they founded the Diamond Match Co.
Alfred Golsh eventually moved his family south, first homesteading in Bonsall and later in Pala.
Alfred's son, Ami, met his wife-to-be, Claudina Duro, at a fiesta in Pala. Her father was Santiago Duro, the last chief of the Mesa Grande Indians.
Their son Marcus was born May 18, 1890.
At age 6, Marcus Golsh was kidnapped by relatives who sought to return him to Europe to the life of privilege they thought he deserved, Jamison said. According to family legend, Jamison said, young Marcus jumped from the moving buggy and found his way home on foot by following the San Luis Rey River.
In the early 1900s, Alfred Golsh sold his ranch in Pala to the U.S. government, which used it for a reservation for Indians who were moved there from Warner Hot Springs, according to his 1988 obituary in The San Diego Union-Tribune. Later his son, Ami, bought land that became the Lazy H Ranch in Pauma Valley.
Marcus Golsh attended Indian schools in Pala, Perris and Riverside.
He went on to study engineering at a school that was then called Haskell Indian Institute, in Lawrence, Kan. There, he met and married Elsie Barada, a member of the Potawatomi tribe, Jamison said. They had two children, Marcus Jr. and Marge.
Marcus Golsh worked for 25 years for the U.S. Department of Interior as an irrigation specialist on Indian reservations, Jamison said.
He divorced his first wife and married Genevieve Vaughn. They built a home on the Rincon reservation where the medical clinic on Golsh Road now stands.
"They used to have big parties," Jamison said of Marcus and Genevieve. "Uncle Mark was the best dancer of anybody, always winning prizes for waltzes at fiestas.
"Uncle Mark was also a passionate hunter. He could read tracks like Daniel Boone."
Golsh also was a celebrated beekeeper.
But he was probably best known for his strong views on Indian self-sufficiency.
"Uncle Mark made use of the land through his knowledge of irrigation," Jamison said. "He was always pushing everyone to go to school. He prepared the tribe for what it is today."
Golsh died at 97. He is buried on the Rincon reservation.
Jamison went on to became director of economic development for the Intertribal Council of California in the late 1960s. He also served on the Southern California Indian Planning Organization. In that capacity, he advised the Viejas, Barona and Sycuan tribes on generating revenue by offering bingo, and later slot machines, on reservations.