Tag Archives: business

Redundant Theme – Orchardists

10688125_10153388158008316_4870909524103337438_o An overwhelming motif of Evergreen is our orchards.  You’re going to see a lot of trees in rows portrayed throughout the Evergreen Mural Walk.

My parents would tell tales of moving in across Stevens Lanes from apricot orchards.  In creating the artwork for this project, everyone asked why there weren’t more apricots and prunes.  This theme is plain as day to those of us who remember fruit stands and vineyards.  Our newer residents may not understanding what was here before we moved in.

1848Our Evergreen entrepreneur and agriculturalist, Luis Pellier, hatched a plan in 1847 while gold panning to bring the seeds, plants and clippings from his native France and forever change the fruit industry of California.  The cost of a single apple was $1.50 at the time, which in 1849 dollars was cost prohibitive.  Without our guy, there wouldn’t be the awesome economy in San Jose during the 1800’s.  He’s really the father of California’s wine and fruit industries.  The Pellier family still lives in Evergreen today.

Evergreen treesGunless lawman and California statesman, Charles White, came to America in 1833, but his son was a popular orchardist and businessman.  These are Charles E. White’s orchards to the right.

John Tully would own and operate many orchards throughout Evergreen, as would H.L. Stevens.  From the 1850’s forward, Evergreen would blossom with orchards.

EastSideFruitGrowers-smThe East Side Fruit Growers Association opened in 1893 off Tully Road and McLaughlin Road, serving as a trade association for local farmers across Evergreen and East San Jose.  They would join a larger sales organization in 1899.

19621220710745410.jpg_w900Otis B. Whaley would also make our list of well-known, well-liked orchardists of Evergreen.  Also having served on the Evergreen Elementary School Board of Trustees for 27 years, he would cultivate his orchards in Evergreen from 1911 until he passed in 1947.  The third school opened in the Evergreen School District would be named in his honor in 1963.

240px-Fruit_exchange_labelWhen railroads off Monterey Road became popularized in shipping fruit back east, the fruit industry would shift focus downtown towards the rails.  The East Side association, like others in the Santa Clara Valley, would be acquired by the Santa Clara County Fruit Exchange, a dried fruit co-op opened in 1892, once known as the California Prune and Apricot Growers Association.  The plant was located across the street from Del Monte’s Canning Plant.  California Prune and Apricot would become Sunsweet and can here until 1915.  The Fruit Exchange wouldn’t disband until 1916 after the plant burnt down while leased.

s-l225Popular companies like Sunsweet, Del Monte, Sun Garden and Valley of Hearts Delight, Richmond-Chase, would ship Evergreen fruit, dried and canned, around the world.  Railroads and later Reid-Hillview would play major roles in exporting Evergreen’s produce.  Santa Clara County as a whole was known as the Valley of Heart’s Delight, but Evergreen owns the copyright as its owners still live in town.  The town and community of Evergreen would identify as an agricultural hotspot well into the 1950’s.

Untitled-2 I have a personal relationship with Evergreen orchards picking fruit and pumpkins from the Cortese fruit stand and orchards.  My mother and I made a habit of getting cherries there that never made it home, being snacked on between stoplights.  Vincent Cortese would immigrate from Sicily in 1917, and work in the orchards.  Vincent would eventually marry an Italian-American lady, purchase his own farm in Evergreen and raise his family with an orchardist tradition and one of civil leadership.  The orchards in Evergreen would give way to Evergreen Valley College, but John Cortese, also a lawyer, maintains orchards today.  This is a tradition that still bears fruit today.

1476380_10201283641709104_1152500910_nP1310515My continued affections for orchards existed in the various fruit trees in my own backyard as a kid.  A love of blossoms and blooms enchanted my childhood.  Pies and jams of all kinds came out of our Evergreen kitchen.  Apple sauce is a tradition.  Our backyard gave us peaches in the Spring, Plums in the Summer and Apples all Fall and Winter long.  Lemons, and therefore lemonade, are in abundance at my house.  To say I’m drawing from experience would be an understatement.

Orchards have always been in my life as a native of Evergreen.  Below are pieces that have and haven’t made the cut, but all include our redundant theme of orchards.

a 1945

evergreen fruit label

a 1925

a 1945 - Apricots

a 1917



Flying through Evergreen

images1118Evergreen in the southeast corner of San Jose has a long legacy of ranching, agriculture and entrepreneurship throughout its timeline, creating continuity and inspiration throughout this collection of murals that I have planned for our Evergreen Gateway.  Another legacy Evergreen has had over time is a love affair with flight and the sky.

In 1876, one of California’s wealthiest citizens, James Lick, put aside the funds for the most powerful telescope ever and world’s first mountain top observatory.  It couldn’t be done without the County of Santa Clara building the windy road that same year.  James Lick Observatory nearby Evergreen began construction in 1880 and completed in 1888.  Located on Mount Hamilton, horses brought materials up a series of switchbacks to reach the summit beyond the paved road, now Highway 130.  There is a whole list of discoveries and research coming out of the observatory.  But…. this is just outside of Evergreen.  People would have stopped in Evergreen on their way to East San Jose, Smith Creek and James Lick Observatory.

blog-john-j-montgomery-evergreen-glider-4822116017_ec9321cdf5_oAround the same time the observatory was being built, John Joseph Montgomery(1858-1911) was looking up at birds flying through the sky.  The engineer and physicist set out to invent a glider that mimicked their wings.  Montgomery would move to Evergreen with his family, and continue his experiments by running off the slope of the hills.  His flight experiments would predate that of the Wright Brothers and become the first heavier than air vehicle to take flight.  These flying machine designs would be inspired by the coastal gulls and Evergreen indigenous Turkey Vultures, articulating and guiding the air.  His inventions would go to the World Fair and make him famous all over the country.  Later becoming a professor at Santa Clara University, both he and his assistant, Daniel Malohney, would loose their lives in aviating accidents in the early 1900’s.  Their work made the Wright’s Brothers flight possible.

1977In the Evergreen neighborhood, there are city parks, residential streets, statues and  monuments, an elementary school and an observatory at Evergreen Valley College named after inventor, John J. Montgomery.  His machines made later innovations within Aviation possible, testing different configurations of wings and mechanism through his work.  The Montgomery family were long time residents of Evergreen.

vinfiz_harrietHarriet Quimby(1875-1912) would move to Evergreen in the 1890’s, when Montgomery’s experiments began.  Harriet would become a journalist and Hollywood movie screenwriter.  She also became a pioneer lady aviator breaking gender barriers and world records.  In the midst of Montgomery’s death, she became the first licensed female pilot.  Harriet was the spokeswoman for a grape soda company because of her famous purple flight suit.  She broke many borders for women in her field and died in an aviating accident in 1912.  Unfortunately, Quimby Road is not named after Harriet, but likely one of her distant family members.

2010_rhv_ad1Bob and Cecil Reid, World War I veterans, built Garden City Airport in 1935, near present day McLaughlin and 101.  Garden City Airport would have to move for the construction of the Highway in 1938.

The Garden City Airport would move to Reid Hillview Airport in 1939 northwest of Hillview Golf Club.  This NASA research starting at Moffet Field, commercial flights had to go elsewhere.  Though the runway wouldn’t be paved until 1946, it was an efficient way to ship fruit out of the Valley of Heart’s Delight.  Before that time, fruit had to be shipped by train to the rest of the country and dried fruits were all the rage.  Veterans were also enjoying the excitement of flight during peace times.

dcb760eede6326284571dac04a0ad0b9The airport expanded in 1965 with  the construction of a second runway and the control tower.  Over time, the County Fairgrounds and San Jose Speedway would also be located at Evergreen’s Hillview Airport until its expansion.  Today, San Jose State University’s Aviation program flies out of Reid Hillview.

Our_hanger_largeAmelia Reid, Cecil’s daughter-in-law, was another famous woman pilot.  The Evergreen flyer earned her commercial pilot’s license and had a fondness for vintage aircrafts herself.  Amelia operated a flight school out of Reid Hillview, empowering the next generation of pilots and flight enthusiasts.  Amelia’s flight career would last over 60 years.

Evergreen’s fascination with flight wouldn’t end there.  Montgomery Hill Observatory opened at Evergreen Valley College in 2003 and holds star gazing events open to the public today.

Evergreen’s love affair with the flying is still alive and well at Reid Hillview Airport today.  Below is the artwork that ties some of this amazing Evergreen history together.




Pellier Roots

Louis%20Pellier%20from%20HSJ(1)The Pellier family and their descendants have been long time Property and Business Owners in San Jose and Evergreen since the late 1840’s.  Though one of the murals is designed specifically for the descendants of the Pelliers, I have another mural for what I’m calling the “Pellier Contribution” to San Jose and the Santa Clara Valley.

1700's EvergreenMini-History lesson: The Spanish Missions ran the agricultural business and mostly did business with the local naval bases that protected them.  The Indians were the farmers and the monks participated as well.  However, when California became Mexican Territories, the missions closed down and the Indians were displaced.  The vineyards and orchards went dry and much of the valley turned to cattle pasture.

images8NKXGYYQLouis Pellier (1817-72), son of winemakers outside of Bordeaux, had plenty of experience keeping the family farm.  At the age of 32, Louis left France during the French Revolution and traveled around Cape Horn to arrive in San Francisco in 1847-8.  Louis sent for his brother, Pierre, and they found success gold mining in Weaverville.  Pierre served in the French Army during the revolution and came to California in 1849.

Louis quickly realized that there were going to be a flood of people coming to California for the Gold Rush and American Dream.  The price of the limited produce was extremely high.  With family in France and experience he gained on the family farm, Louis could get into that business.  Pierre came to California in 1849 in search of gold, but the Pellier brothers returned to their native country several times in search of a different kind of gold.

imagesTKY9RJ9XInterior-FirstGeneration-PierrePellierOn their 1850’s journeys, Pierre brought back his long lost sweetheart, Henriette Renaud.  Louis realized his business plans.  Louis, Pierre and Jean, the Pellier brothers, stretched out across France, looking for fruit and vegetable varieties to repopulate the rich soil of the Santa Clara Valley.  Not all of the plants would arrive alive when traveling by boat.  There was a fair amount of learning taking place in the process.  In steamer trunks and barrels, the brothers brought seeds, small potted plants and clippings to propagate once back in California.

HMS%20FuriousThe brothers improvised when water ran low, presumed to be due to underestimation on the first journey.  They kept the clippings alive by inserting them into potatoes for moisture, which worked well.

The Pellier brothers brought some other notable names, the very young Delmas brothers, to California with them.  The brothers made considerable amounts of money and bought large plots of land in San Jose and east of San Jose.  Unfortunately, the Pelliers sold all their stock of seeds off the dock of Alviso, which meant they had nothing to plant for themselves after the first voyage.  This created the necessity of return trips to France, possibly crossing through Panama by train on their way back to California.

pl_pellier_city_gardens_crhl434Louis Pellier founded City Gardens Nursery in 1850 with Pierre, at the present day corner of St. James Street and San Pedro Street.  The Pellier prune clippings were grafted on to wild Californian prunes, and arranged into rows making the first California prune orchards in 1856.  City Gardens was open to the public for picnics and for the nuns to pick freely.  The prune was a success, and City Gardens was a cultural hub of Downtown San Jose.  The California Prune Industry and Valley of Heart’s Delight radiated outward from the Downtown Pellier orchards.  This, however, will be a forgotten garden.  The Pellier’s other pride lies east of San Jose in the 1860’s.

books1Louis and Pierre bought land in Evergreen, which was once part of the Chaboya Land Grant or Rancho Yerba Buena.  When Louis sold his portion to Pierre, it became one of the largest ranches in the township of Evergreen.

Louis Pellier had a spat with his brothers, presumed to be due to the sale of all the plants or the neglect of their orchards on one of his journeys to France.  Pierre took his horticultural skills and expertise to his ranch and vineyards in Evergreen.  Louis stayed downtown.  Louis took a wife, a woman of French heritage,  who wasn’t well suited for him.  She quite possibly drove him mad, possibly creating the wedge between brothers.

Don’t worry.  There was a lot of love there between the Pellier brothers, even towards the end.  Pierre even named his first son after his brother.  In 1872, Louis died in a state hospital, due to a nervous breakdown after the separation with his wife.  He and his wife had no children.  His brother, Pierre, took care of the estate, and the family decided to pay-off the widow with proceeds of the Downtown property.  There was a Will in place, but the greedy widow kept coming back for more until a cash settlement was reached.

booksOE4IRI16Louis’s amazing business venture wouldn’t reach its height for many years.  In 1929, California would cultivate 171,330 acres of prune orchards.  The La Petite D’Agen from France grafted onto the wild prunes proved to be perfect for California.  It was fruitful or meaty enough to be dried, making the prune easy to export all over the country.  The growth of the railway system made the export possible.  Pierre Pellier brought back the Black Burgundy, French Colombar, Chasselas, Fontainebleau, Pinot Noir, Madeline and others from France.  With these new varieties, Louis and Pierre Pellier founded the Valley’s French wine industry at City Garden Nursery.

9ee89fc729d94679e4a4e7792a02a795Pierre Pelliers’s vineyards and orchards a few miles east of San Jose would get passed down to his five children, who later became vineyard owners and winemakers themselves, following in the Pellier’s footsteps, even through Prohibition.  The descendants of the Pellier brothers would, in fact, become one of, if not the, most famed business out of Evergreen.  The family still has living descendants in family house in the neighborhood.  They deserve their own mural in my humble opinion.

Here’s a look at the artwork I have planned for the “Pellier Contribution.” 1848

Down White Road

So, there’s a main artery of Evergreen North to South down White Road.  In fact, a couple locations I scoped out were on White Road.  One of my quests was for “White”.  Why this name for an important road?  Why on my maps from the 1850’s forward?  This was an important person back then and today.

Some of my historical references mention a C. E. White in the 1870’s and 1880’s.  Was this my Mr. White, namesake of White Road?

hb267nb0kh-FID7Turns out no.  I searched property grants and maps from the area checking for the first occurrence of the name.  That wasn’t that hard.  It was actually one of the first grants in the area and one of the first European names that occur in Evergreen.

Gold Rush - Public DomainCharles White – C. E. White’s father – came to Santa Clara Valley in the 1840’s.  Chas. White bought Rancho Pala, just Northeast of Rancho Yerba Buena.  His wife, Ellen, and children were granted the properties later on.  Rancho Pala is actually a very small part of Evergreen.  What White accomplished during his short life was incredible.  And the manner in which he died was rather fantastic as well, though I chose not to use it within my artwork.

Charles was born in 1808 in Ireland.  He came to the United States with his wife  and two kids, and crossed over land through Missouri, Oregon Trail style.

san_jose_2The White Family quickly became some of the most well liked people in the Pueblo de San Jose.  Mr. White served many years as an aclade, or magistrate, similar to a modern day judge.  Mr. White was critical part of California’s Statehood and then participated in the “Legislature of a Thousand Drinks”, which made California’s first State Capitol Pueblo de San Jose.

Charles White was also a crucial player in San Jose’s creation of downtown, by selling smaller plots and raising funds for the City treasury.  Charles White died on board Steamboat Jenny, which exploded after leaving port at Alviso in 1853.

P1300866C. E. White, a well-known businessman and orchardist, was Charles White’s son.    Through the early 1900’s.  Ellen owned Rancho Pala until she passed away in 1887.

They are no known direct relatives of this branch of the White Family.  The only way I was able to verify that this was the same Charles White in all the different accounts was through another related White family.  Charles and White are both pretty popular names.  Charles White referred to in every possible configuration.




The Quest for John Tully

So, my research takes me far and wide.  A lot of it is as easy as Googling the right names and places, but not all of it.  I have a few sepia toned photos of John Tully and his wife, Rose, Irish immigrants by way of Illinois.  The Tully’s owned a considerable amount of land in Santa Clara Valley in the late 1800’s.  They left large charitable gifts.  I wanted to see if I couldn’t find a more personal tact to the Tully’s Tales.

1997300231 15823

I visited the Genealogy Museum nearby where I thought I’d find plenty applicable things.  But no.  I had entered a time warp.


This is a Microfiche something or other.  No, not for looking at little fishies.  But it’s like an original zoomy thing and a manual mouse.  It was like if a computer and a Ouija board got married.  The Microfiche was simple and intuitive to use.

But back to the Tully’s from Evergreen.  Quite a popular last name and without a middle initial, I’m a little lost.  Some references I knew were to my man, but I’m looking for pictures, not written documents.  Specifically, I’d love to find portraits of my key players.

These items and references are in a bigger museum in Sacramento, so it’s just as well.  I’m going to photograph their old residence, but it’s not in Evergreen.  I called publications and sites that referenced them in articles to request a contact, but to no avail.  The Tully trail has gone cold for now.

I may end up there at the Genealogy Museum in Sac, but I’ll have to settle for the imagery I already have for the Tully’s, pictured in the upper right with their Evergreen Eucalyptus trees on their ranch off Tully Road.  It was already an artistic piece of photography.