Notes from Our Milpitas Past: Early Homicides

Among the many historical resources at our County Archives is the History of Santa Clara County, published in 1882. We in Milpitas are fortunate to live in one of the few counties in California with an official archives.

In that book is a list of early homicides including the earliest murders I’ve found in Milpitas. The first was the stabbing death of Francisco Hernandez in 1859 that took place on what was then called the Milpitas-Alviso Road (today Highway 237) near the Barber ranch, located just east of Coyote Creek. Today, Barber Lane is named for that ranch family.

The second was the killing of Bernada Zunaga in 1865 at Rathbone’s Saloon. Augustus Rathbone had bought the saloon from Richard Greenham in 1856. It was located at the corner of Mission Road and Milpitas- Alviso Road. Today this intersection is Main Street and Serra Street and the early saloon (later Smith’s Corner and then Campbell’s Corner) was most recently the site of the Taste of India restaurant.

Unfortunately, both murderers escaped.

by Steve Munzel, October 2011