Meetings: 2012

Old Laguna Schoolhouse:
November 14, 2012

Laguna School Now
Laguna School Now

The Milpitas Historical Society will hold its next meeting on Wednesday, November 14, at 7 pm in the Community Room (Auditorium) at the Milpitas Library, 160 N. Main Street, Milpitas, CA. We invite our community to a presentation about the Old Laguna Schoolhouse.

Bill Hare, Vice-President of the Milpitas Historical Society, will talk about the 147-year-old Laguna Schoolhouse, which still sits in its original location on Mr. Hare’s property in the foothills.

 JohnCovoMuch of the story will be told by the late John Covo, via a videotaped interview (see below) with Bill Hare in 2001.

Mr. Covo, who attended the Laguna School as a child, lived in the Milpitas hills his entire life and is remembered fondly by many Milpitans.

Laguna School in the 1970’s
Laguna School in the 1970’s

Whether you knew John or not, you won’t want to miss this tour he gives of the Laguna School of his childhood. This program is free and everyone is welcome to attend.

November 8, 2012 by mhs

Roger Skuse: October 10, 2012

The Milpitas Historical Society will hold its monthly meeting on Wednesday, October 10, 2012, at 7 pm at the Milpitas Library, 160 N. Main Street. This month our meeting will be held in the Milpitas Library’s Activity Room, not in the auditorium. Signs inside the door will show the way

Roger Skuse, long time Historical Society member, will share his experiences on his recent travels across the western states. He and his wife Shirley did their own antique road show tour and will be bringing in some of their recent finds to share.

Roger will also share some of their travel experiences, such as meeting Alan Hirschfield, (former CEO and savior of Columbia, 20th Century Fox and Warner Brothers Studios) at an upscale antique store in Wyoming, meeting the nephew of outlaw Butch Cassidy, and speaking with the last living carver of the Mt. Rushmore monument.

The public is invited to come hear about their interesting experiences on the road free of charge. For further information on the Historical Society, call 320-9587.
October 3, 2012 by mhs

Trisha Crowder: September 12, 2012

John Sinnot SchoolAt the next meeting of the Milpitas Historical Society, on Wednesday, September 12, 2012, at 7:00 pm, our speaker will be Trisha Crowder, a descendent of the Sinnott family, after whom the John Sinnott Elementary School on Yellowstone Avenue in Milpitas is named.

John Sinnott
John Sinnott

Ms. Crowder is the great-great-great granddaughter of John Sinnott, who emigrated from Ireland to North America from Wexford, Ireland in 1831. In 1851 he brought his family to California, becoming one of the leading farmers in the Santa Clara valley with over 1,000 acres of land.

The Sinnott family is also connected to the Martin Murphy family in Sunnyvale, because John Sinnott and Martin Murphy married the Bolger sisters, John to Elizabeth Bolger and Martin to Mary Bolger.

Ms. Crowder has many family stories connected to our local history which she will be sharing with us.

Meetings are held in the Community Room (Auditorium) of the Milpitas Library. All are welcome to attend free of charge.
September 4, 2012 by mhs

New Almaden History: June 13, 2012

The New Almaden Quicksilver Mine and Museum will be the subject of the next presentation at the Milpitas Historical Society meeting on Wednesday, June 13, 2012, at 7:00 pm in the Community Room (auditorium) of the Milpitas Library.

Doug Bergtholdt will be our speaker on the New Almaden Quicksilver Mine and its background, geology, and the fascinating social history of the town of New Almaden, with photos and stories that make the area come alive. A film about the New Almaden Quicksilver Mines will also be shown.

The New Almaden Quicksilver Mine, which is 12 miles south of San Jose, was first developed in the 1820’s by the Robles family, who were trying to mine the cinnabar (mercury) ore for silver, but not having any success. In 1845, Andres Castillero recognized the ore for what it actually was, due to familiarity with the Almaden Mine in Spain, and filed the first mining claim in California. His claim ran into trouble after the Mexican War, because he was a Mexican Army Officer, so he sold his shares to Eustace Barron and Alexander Forbes, who operated the mine until 1863, when as a result of another claims dispute, The Quicksilver Mining Company took over and ran the mines until it went bankrupt in 1912.

The first mine manager, Henry Halleck, built the Casa Grande, completed in 1858, as the manager’s residence. He lived there until 1861, when he left for the Union Army, where he eventually became general-in-chief.

Subsequent managers lived there and entertained many distinguished visitors, including Abraham Lincoln.

Various other companies continued mining at the site until 1976, when the price of mercury dropped so much that it was no longer be feasible to continue mining, as well as the EPA declaring mercury to be hazardous. In 1978 the County of Santa Clara purchased over 4,000 acres of land for the park.

In 1997 the County obtained the mining museum that Constance Perham had begun in 1949. The museum was moved into the Casa Grande, where it is today, it, and brought up to code. Local groups, including the DAR, obtained donations of furniture and décor for the 1895- era rooms and the beautifully refurbished museum reopened in 2011.
June 2, 2012 by mhs

Once-Mysterious Mountain: May 9, 2012

The next Milpitas Historical Society meeting will be held on Wednesday, May 9, at 7:00 pm in the Community Room (auditorium) of the Milpitas Library.

The topic of the meeting will be Mt. Umunhum, the second highest peak you see looking south in the direction of Santa Cruz. The history of Mt. Umunhum and its current status will be presented by Basim Jaber, a life-long South Bay native and free lance photographer.

Mr. Jaber has researched the history and geography of Mt. Umunhum and the Almaden Air Force Station since 2006. In 1957 the Air Force opened a radar station on the second highest peak in the Santa Cruz Mountains. There were 120 service members and their families living there at one time. In 1980 the Air Force closed down the facility, leaving a deserted ghost town that slowly deteriorated. In 2009 Congress approved the site for clean-up after 50 years of being off limits to the public. Once the site is cleared, the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District plans to open it to the public with hiking trails and vista views.

Mr. Jaber’s unprecedented photo documentary work of the entire site has proved to be invaluable to preserving the history and memories of Almaden Air Force Station.

The public is invited to attend, meet Mr. Jaber and learn the history of this fascinating place.
May 1, 2012 by mhs

Bandido: The Life and Times of Tiburcio Vasquez: April 11, 2012

The next Milpitas Historical Society meeting will be held on Wednesday, April 11, 2012, at 7:00 pm. Our presenter at this meeting will be John Boessenecker, a writer, attorney, and charismatic speaker, who will tell the story of the famous California outlaw Tiburcio Vasquez, the subject of his latest book, Bandido: The Life and Times of Tiburcio Vasquez.

Tiburcio Vasquez Book Cover

He’ll also tell us about some banditry that went on in our very own area in those Wild West days.

Vasquez (1835-1875) grew up in Monterey, robbed and romanced his way through much of California for 20 years after the Gold Rush, and was finally captured in Los Angeles, tried and hanged in San Jose, and buried in Santa Clara.

Special Note: Once again, our meeting will not be held in the Community Room (Auditorium) of the Milpitas Library, but in the Library’s cozy Children’s Activity Room in the children’s wing, where we met in January. We will set up signs to show you the way.

The public is invited, no charge. Light refreshments will be served. See you there!
April 1, 2012 by mhs

1930s Dust Bowl Film: March 14, 2012

Our next Milpitas Historical Society meeting, will be held on Wednesday, March 14, 2012, at 7:00 pm, in the usual place, the Community Room (Auditorium) of the Milpitas Library.

Our speaker will be John Kimball, a history fan, Valley resident since 1950, and the presenter of two historical films to the Society last year. He will show a film about the Dust Bowl years in the 1930’s and demonstrate, with other films, some words of John Steinbeck, and music of Woody Guthrie, how that era affected our own Santa Clara (now Silicon) Valley.

The public is invited, no charge. Light refreshments will be served. We hope to see you there!
March 2, 2012 by mhs

Gala Dinner and Installation of Officers and Directors: February 16, 2012

On Thursday, February 16, the Society held its annual installation dinner at the Omega Restaurant and heard fascinating tales from keynote speaker Richard Santos, District 3 Director of the Santa Clara County Water District. Mr. Santos told about growing up in Alviso, his family history, and the family connection to Alviso, going back over a hundred years. Mr. Santos’ brother, sister, and nephew and family were present for the occasion. Mr. Santos was introduced by Santa Clara County Supervisor Dave Cortese, our Installation keynote speaker last year.

Milpitas Mayor Jose Esteves then conducted the swearing-in ceremony for the 2012 Society Officers and Board of Directors, as pictured below: From left to right, Mareile Ogle, Historian; Bill Hare, Vice- President; Mabel Matos, Membership; Catherine Pelizzari, Secretary and Publications; Kraig Bunnell, Treasurer; Joann Souza, Hospitality; Steve Munzel, Archives and Landmarks; Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Resources Commission Liaison;, and Thelma Bridges, Special Events.

After the keynote speech, Bill Hare presented Lifetime Membership Awards for outstanding service to the Society to Mabel Mattos, Harriett McGuire, and Steve Munzel.
March 1, 2012 by mhs

Valley of Heart’s Delight to Silicon Valleyin Post Cards

Old post card view of the first Milpitas school
Old post card view of the first Milpitas school, which burned down. It was located where Milpitas Grammar school, now part of our Milpitas Library, is located.
At our next meeting, on Wednesday, January 11, at 7:00 pm, Historian Darlene Thorne takes the audience on a tour of “The Valley of Heart’s Delight” over the last 100 years, using postcards from her extensive collection. Starting with two missions, the valley became one of the major agricultural centers in California. As one of the first capitals of California, the Valley has always been at the forefront of innovation. With the coming of railroads and the founding of a great university, the Valley fully blossomed into a high tech center.

Darlene has long-time ties to Milpitas. She managed the Milpitas Chamber of Commerce, helped found the Historical Society and was one of the first women to join Milpitas Rotary. She is currently on the board of directors of the Cupertino Historical Society and is part of the Historical and Library Collaborative in Cupertino. She was the presenter of our Society’s October program about Women’s Suffrage.

An additional activity at the January meeting will be the presentation by Harriett McGuire, speaking for the Public Art Commission, of three sculptures, one of which will be chosen for display in front of City Hall. You will have the opportunity to vote for the one you like best!