This this project, I have met some amazing, exemplary women from the Evergreen Community. In fact, they have been the silent hands that guide this artwork and this narrative. Colleen Cortese inspires this work with her series of articles “Evergreen Pathways” published by the Evergreen Times, her curation of the Heritage Room at Evergreen Valley College, her historical work with St. Francis Asis Catholic Church on San Felipe Road and with her own kindness and time. Jennifer DiNapoli helped me find contemporary exemplary Evergreen individuals. Winnifred Coe Verbica is an awesome lady who had one foot in the city and one in the countryside. DeEtte Richmond Sipos is helping us look into Women in the workforce and one of the first Childcare services in regards to her great Grandfather’s business. Evergreen Elementary School District’s Superintendent, Kathy Gomez, is one of this projects and this narrative’s strongest allies. Denise Belilse runs a well-known Evergreen business in Evergreen Village Square, the Evergreen Coffee Company. Our Vice Mayor and councilwoman, Rose Herrera, continues a legacy of women leading the way in Evergreen. Women have been making Evergreen amazing, whether these ladies let me sing their praises or not.
There is a Woman’s organization whose been apart of Evergreen’s identity through the years which is undeniably a symbol of Evergreen, though it has long been forgotten. The Women’s Relief Corps Home in Evergreen can be found in publications and books published on landmarks of the Santa Clara Valley as far back at the 1890’s. This historical home on Cadwallader Avenue, then downtown Evergreen, was burnt now so it is an easily overlooked piece of Evergreen’s narrative. That having been said, the WRC is where women really show their leadership in early Evergreen.
Mr. Nirum Hart Cadwallader donated the 5 acres land for the Evergreen schoolhouse on San Felipe Road and Evergreen Road as early as 1860. Cadwallader aslo donated over 5 acres of land for the Women’s Relief Corps, which was funded by the Grand Army of the Republic following the Civil War. The GAR was made up of Civil War Veterans of the Army and Naval forces beginning in 1866. Women’s Relief Corps, recognized in 1883, were established across the United States of America to house veterans, widows and orphans of the Civil War. As time passed, they became hospitals for the chronically ill.
Evergreen’s Women’s Relief Corps Home was opened in 1889 off of Cadwallader Avenue near present day Thompson Creek and Keaton Loop. It was the only hospital of its kind in Santa Clara County. Though Mr. Nirum Cadwallader originally from Ohio continues to be a mystery, his contributions made to township of Evergreen, then a farming community, made it a more connected, hospitable, praiseworthy place. Mrs. Bayington was once of its earliest Matrons. Evergreen’s WRC would take on patients from around the country, seeking sanctuary from the devastation and injuries of the American Civil War.
Mineola Wheeler Hassler (1874-1958), pictured here to the left was the Home’s manager in 1899. Miss Mineola Wheeler married German immigrant and Evergreen land owner John Hassler in 1902 at her parents home. The Hasslers, after buying up land from Rancho Yerba Buena with the Kettmanns following land disputes, would come to own the ranch which is now known as “The Ranch Country Club” and Hassler Parkway area. The Hassler family’s bright red barn was very notable and even a point of tourism in the 1920’s.
Mineola would be employed with the Evergreen Home in 1896 and then become Matron of the Women’s Relief Corps in 1899 until 1902 when she married Mr. Hassler. She would raise her family where the now vacant fire station stands on Aborn Road.
The Women’s Relief Corps home would burn down in 1920 flames being seen as far as Norwood Avenue. It’s suspected that an ill patient lit the fire that seized the home. With California’s famed Golden Girl, Mrs. Geraldine Frisbie, the Evergreen patients were then transferred to Osborne Hall in 1921 in the township of Santa Clara. Santa Clara’s Osborne Hall, established by Dr. and Mrs. E. A. Osborne, would later develop into Angew Hospital. It would be one of the first hospitals for the feeble-minded, as Dr. Osborne pioneered the field from the 1870’s forward. With the GAR dissolving in the 1950’s, as Civl War veterans, widows and orphans were passing away, it repurposed the valuable sanctuary/hospital hall.
The artwork, in kind, for this piece of Women’s History in Evergreen, has done some developing as the leads get followed and the story becomes clearer. Here are the pieces we’ve worked up for the WRC with the last being the latest.