The Voice of a Pioneer: William Weller Curtner

Mabel Mattos, Steve Munzel, and CatherinePelizzari, spent several weeks this summer listening to and editing the previous transcript of an interview made on cassette tape in 1971 with (William) WellerCurtner, (1894-1972). This recording was made into a digital file and enhanced by member Bill Hare, which made it clearer and easier to understand

Weller Curtner and his wife, Ruth Long Curtner
Weller Curtner and his wife, Ruth Long Curtner, at their Scott Creek Ranch
Weller Curtner, as well as being a prominent local rancher, was the grandson of two Milpitas pioneer settlers, Joseph Weller and Henry Curtner.

The Hon. Joseph R. Weller, (1825-1916) was a prominent landowner and civic leader who, after working as a teacher in New York State and a try at the California gold fields, filed a preemption claim to land on Rancho Tularcitos in 1853. In 1855, he organized the Milpitas School District on land owned by his brother, Abraham, and was appointed one of its trustees, a position he filled for the next 24 years. He was a Justice of the Peace (1856-1878) and was one of the Associate Judges of Santa Clara County. In 1878, he was elected as a member of the State Constitutional Convention and assisted in framing the California State Constitution.

Weller Lane
Weller Lane is named for J. R. Weller, as is Weller Road, in the hills behind Milpitas, and Joseph Weller Elementary School.

Henry Curtner (1831-1916) migrated from Indiana in 1850 and after farming in the Alvarado area moved with his family to Warm Springs, and the property came to include 7,000 acres from Warm Springs south to Jacklin Road. He was noted for supporting benevolent and educational institutions.

Curtner Road
Curtner Road, on the northeast side of Milpitas, was named after Henry Curtner and Curtner School honors the Curtner family who carried on his legacy of civic responsibility.

In the taped interview, Weller Curtner remembers the area as all farms, when the locations of markets and depots were determined by how horses could manage the roads; he remembers the stern-wheelers and scow schooners that took the produce up the bay to San Francisco. He describes the various tanneries, black-smiths, and wagon makers that were so important to the farmers then. He tells how and when the different crops that made the Santa Clara Valley famous were introduced, and he reminisces about all the people from different lands who came here to work. The Society’s collection of oral histories give an amazing window into the history of our community