Preserving History: Exploring the Bushyhead House in Heritage County Park

Among the stately homes of Heritage County Park, the Bushyhead House stands as a testament to the city’s rich history and cultural diversity. Built in 1887 by Edward Wilkerson Bushyhead, a prominent figure in local law enforcement and media, this Italianate-style residence has witnessed the transformation of the city over the decades. With its distinctive features and vibrant history, the Bushyhead House serves as a tangible connection to San Diego’s past, reflecting the enduring spirit of its inhabitants.

The Bushyhead House, formerly located at 232 Cedar Street, exudes an inviting charm with its cheery yellow facade. Designed in the Italianate style, the house boasts several characteristic elements that define its architectural aesthetics. These include double doors with glass panels, tall protruding bay windows, regularly spaced brackets, and a low-pitched roof. Such features were popular during the late 19th century and lend a unique character to the house.

Edward Wilkerson Bushyhead, affectionately known as Ned, played a significant role in shaping early San Diego County. Born of Cherokee descent, he endured the Trail of Tears as a young child, a harrowing journey that relocated his family from Tennessee to Oklahoma. In his early twenties, Bushyhead ventured west to San Diego, where he established himself as a prominent figure in the community.

Initially, Bushyhead focused on the media industry, publishing the local newspaper, the San Diego Union, from an office in Old Town’s central plaza. However, his interests expanded beyond journalism. He went on to serve two terms as the county sheriff and achieved the remarkable distinction of becoming the chief of police in 1899—the only individual to have held both positions. Bushyhead’s commitment to public service exemplified his dedication to the welfare of the San Diego community.

Alongside her husband’s accomplishments, Helen Bushyhead, Ned’s wife, also left her mark as an active community leader. She frequently hosted community meetings in their home, fostering dialogue and camaraderie among San Diego residents. The Bushyheads’ combined efforts in various spheres of influence contributed to the growth and development of the city during their era.

Although Edward Wilkerson Bushyhead passed away in 1907, his legacy lives on through the Bushyhead House. While his remains were taken back to Tahlequah, Oklahoma, to rest within Cherokee lands, the house continues to remind us of San Diego’s diverse cultural past.

The Bushyhead House stands as a testament to the remarkable journey of Edward Wilkerson Bushyhead and his contributions to San Diego. From his roots in the Cherokee Nation to becoming a prominent law enforcement official and newspaper publisher, Bushyhead’s impact on the city is deeply woven into its fabric.

Today, as visitors pass by the cheery yellow façade of the Bushyhead House, they glimpse San Diego’s vibrant cultural tapestry and the individuals who shaped its history. By preserving this architectural gem, we honor the legacy of the Bushyheads and gain a greater appreciation for the diverse and resilient community that thrives in San Diego today.

Hours – Daily, sunrise to sunset

Phone – (877) 565-3600 & (858) 565-3600

Address – 2454 Heritage Park Row, San Diego, CA 92110