Tag Archives: civil war

A Tribute to Wehner Mansion

5985327859_3f314741f2_bHeritage Room azules.pdfThis guy once painted Civil War scenes on a panoramic scale in Chicago. Wonderful William Wehner, German born, American famed artist, moved to Evergreen in the 1880’s and built one of the most beautiful structures in Santa Clara County.  The Blue Hills Estate, Wehner Mansion or Cribari Mansion, whichever you prefer, has been a longstanding gem of Queen Anne architecture hiding in Evergreen.

IMG_0214IMG_0206Behind locked gates, this historically designated but almost uninhabitable building has seen better days.  There’s a questionable title and legal loopholes being used to keep the home out of the bank’s hands exclusively, rendering it unable to be sold, preserved or renovated.  Wait a second, there is life here.  I felt it all around me when I took these photographs.  It’s just not human life.  The Mansion is quickly being reclaimed by nature, and a territorial young buck.  Read the above post for that story.

Wehner, Albert Haentz, Cribari and Mirassou families all utilized this stunning home and its expansive vineyards.  Until the 1970’s, this mansion was storage and winery for some of the world’s most famous vines.

I know it’ll be some time before you make older friends who’ll let you snoop around their homes looking for nuggets of Evergreen gold.  Here’s a reimagining of the Wehner Mansion.

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Here’s the progression of the drawing for your art buffs

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Who was Cunningham?

P1310197We have a giant Lake in Evergreen, showing up in every map throughout time.  Lake Cunningham wasn’t always a lake but rather a large marshland.  This was where Silver Creek, Ruby Creek, Flint Creek and Thompson Creek emptied into.  Also remember that many other creeks empty into Thompson, like Fowler and Norwood Creeks.  Our Evergreen area was also known as the Lagunitas for the multiple creeks and run off steams in Evergreen.  The Lake was initially called Laguna Seca or Socayre.  In the late 1800’s would become known as Silver Lake.  Velma Million would initiate the campaign and follow through on her passion to create Lake Cunningham.  So, who was Cunningham?

CAM09068velma_interiorLake Cunningham’s Champion, Velma Million, explained to me that the name of the park was the person who owned the property last before seized by the City of San Jose for flood control measures that would stabilize and help the entire Evergreen watershed known as lower Silver Creek.  James F. Cunningham wouldn’t be a pioneer or impressively long term resident of Evergreen, but he was quite a remarkable character on his own.  Truth is Cunningham would only come to Evergreen and San Jose in the later years of his life.

new orleansjf cunninghamBorn in Canada, Queens County, New Brunswick, in 1844, James F. Cunningham worked on the family farm before apprenticing for a merchandise store when he was thirteen.  Cunningham would then travel to Maine and enlisted in the United States Army to fight in the Civil War when he was seventeen.  James “Jim” Cunningham would be apart of the battle taking back New Orleans.  He saw battle quite a few times and was a well decorated soldier, serving in the GAR as a veteran.  After serving in the Gulf of Mexico through the Civil War, Cunningham would go to Brooklyn, New York, and open up shop.  If you can’t make it there…. Make it, Cunningham would.

]Jim Cunningham was wounded in while serving twice, and as a result, his health suffered even at the age of 25.  A young James Cunningham would close down his New York merchandise store and move South.  Cunningham would open another store in Missouri looking for warmer weather at the behest of his doctors.

james_f_cunninghamJames F. Cunningham then traveled in San Francisco in 1869 again for his health and again engaged in the merchandising business.  Cunningham would deposit all of his money from the Army, New York and Missouri into the bank and shortly after the San Francisco bank collapsed.  In 1870, Cunningham would loose all of his savings and need to be creative in his endeavors.  James Cunningham would get knocked down a couple times and manage to get back on his feet.

Cunningham Mill - Staff PosingJames’ brother would live in Santa Cruz County and be the closest family penniless James had.  Jim Cunningham would take advantage of homesteading laws and open government land in Santa Cruz County, in the Felton and Boulder Creek area.  James Cunningham would get his start making tanbark and shingles for roofs.  In just a few months, Jim cut and sold lumber, saving up $1,000.00 to open another store with a partner, H. W. McCoy.  Cunningham would become a part of many successful business ventures in Santa Cruz County between the multiple lumber mills and general stores.

Cunningham Mill - 1892 Sanborn MapIn 1873, James would marry Sarah Glynn but the couple never had children.  James Cunningham would later be elected to Santa Cruz County office and represent Santa Cruz in the State Assembly in 1878.  The lumber business became very competitive in the 1880’s and Cunningham, being away so often, allowed himself to be bought out by partners.  He was too old to work on the Mill anymore, although Jeremiah may have managed for sometime after.  This print from the Lumber Mill is from 1901.

books cunninghamP1310186 (4)Don’t worry.  The force of nature that was James F. Cunningham never gave up even though he had enough money to retire into the sunset.  Cunningham’s sunset was the East San Jose farm and it wasn’t retirement.  The Cunningham’s ranch would be off of Cunningham Avenue and King Road, extending into Evergreen.  Cunningham may have hunted at the Lake named in his honor.  I found James F. Cunningham in the 1890 edition of Polk’s San Jose City Listing with his brother, Jeremiah.  Cunningham & Co. owned a general store off Market Street.  James would develop this land and sell a portion to his brother as seen in this 1902 map.  Jeremiah’s residence would be labeled JWC here.

James Cunningham would also known a large ranch in Mountain View, located at present day Moffett Field.

80492586_133783552796James F. Cunningham would pass away in 1907 at the age of 63, having a military honor at his burial.  His East San Jose farm would be worked by his brother for another twenty years after.  His brother, James F. Cunningham, was a warm, well-liked guy from many sources.  The Santa Cruz Surf said on November 25, 1907:

“For one who had made his way in the world from the bottom up by personal force and aggressiveness, ‘Jim’ Cunningham was a remarkably lovable man, and to him the people in his employ and of his neighborhood were notably loyal.”

Women’s Relief Corps Evergreen Home

This this project, pathwaysI 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.

CAM10475There 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.

wrc-badgeMr. 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.

CAM10476Evergreen’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.

P1320743Another place where the Women’s Relief Corps Home reoccurred in my research was looking into well-known Evergreen families.

P1320744Mineola 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.

P1320746The 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.

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Evergreen of the Mexican Period

1750Evergreen was home to Ohlone Natives before Franciscan Missions would disassociate them from their lands.  This vacuum created room for new residents without hesitation.

The first explorers of Northern California, or Alta California, were the Spanish.  In 1542, less than a year after Columbus’s voyage, exploration of California would begin.  Spanish would explore and conquer Mexico and an explorer and conquistador would pass the “Baja Point” into uncharted waters.  Cortes sent Francisco de Ulloa to explored the coastline in 1539.  In 1542, Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo would do some more extensive investigation and like Monterey for a naval base and well-suited to sustain itself.

300px-Franciscan_missionaries_in_CaliforniaSpanish and English vessels would reach the Coast of California but only the Spanish would begin colonization from a Mexican base.  It was believed that Baja California was an island.  California was named after a mythical Amazonian island.

cabrillo_mapIn 1602, Spain would begin developing naval forts at Monterey and San Diego.  Serious colonization would begin as missionaries and soldiers explored California over land.  This route would become the El Camino Real, Monterey Road and the Alameda through modern San Jose, marked with Mission Bells.  Missions would begin to appear in Modern Day Mexico in 1519, however the threat of Russian settlements would hasten the efforts to colonize New Spain.  The Spanish Empire would control the coastline for over 300 years.

New Spain would be separated into two parts, Alta California, modern day California, and Baja, modern day Mexico.  Gaspar de Portola, in 1768, would lead settlers of New Spain with a land and naval campaign, looking for Monterey but establishing Southern California Missions.

anza_mapJuan Bautista DeAnza would lead two expeditions into California.  New Spain and the Spanish Empire expanded into New Mexico and Arizona, naturally.  DeAnza left Tucson on this first journey and encountered agitated native populations.  This made for a short trip to LA and home.  Another expedition into Alta California in 1768 established the port at San Francisco and would introduce the Spanish intimately with the Santa Clara Valley as the route to San Francisco from Monterey over land.  The chain of Missions would lengthen through the 19th century but not in order.  It would not extend in the a numerical, chronological order.  Santa Clara de Asis would be the 8th Mission opened and the Pueblo of San Jose would be founded in 1777.  Mission de San Jose wouldn’t open until 1797 and the latest Mission would open in the Mexican Period.

tf0w1007sn-FID3Mexican Independence would be won in 1819, and include all territories of New Spain.  A couple of things brought on the revolt.  Napoleon would conquer France and invade Spain.  The Spanish Empire didn’t want to be ruled by another monarchy.  New Spain had Old Rome’s, the Roman Catholic Church, approval to break away from the Spain crown.  The War for Mexican Independence would end with the signing of the Treaty of Hidalgo in 1821.  Mexico would set up its own monarchy, but opt for a republic constitution less than 2 years later.  With 3,200 settlers at the time California, Alta and Baja, would need settlement to create growth.

bay%20drawingIt’s this California that Antonio Chaboya would move to in 1821.  Native Americans coming to Missions would make up a lot of the economy in the Spanish Period of California’s History.  Mexico would inherit these struggles.  Mexico had a lot of problems in the upcoming years stabilizing the government and economy.  Alta California wasn’t well settled and had no tax revenue coming in.  Mexico was able to step up trade out of California by 25%, doing business with Russian on the West Coast for the most part.  Monterey was the only port at the time and the capital of the Alta California Territoy.  The Mexican Government applied at 100% tariff to pay for the Territory’s expenses.  What does that look like?  One for trade and one for the government.  Tariffs like these made up approximately 90% of government income at the time, no matter where you lived.  In 1827, the Mexican Government would dismiss their Spanish born residents.  The Government would change formats too many time to really stabilize the area.

7314695aa182d79feff3ee9377d8dca3So California, as we know it today, was expensive to operate without the strength in numbers to hold it steady. 87,000 indigenous people would be baptized by the Missions in 1800.  Outbreak of disease in 1805-6 would decimate Native populations across California’s Missions.   The Native American coverts would be treated like free labor, though they were promised land after a certain amount of service.  Soldiers would retrieve people who fled the Missions.  Those who hadn’t died due to new diseases were difficult to contain.  In 1826, the Governor of Alta California would release the indigenous people of their commitment to the Missions, working the land for food and shelter.  The Mexican Government would find lessening Native populations also making the Missions a burden also now that they had to provide them land like other citizens and no one stayed to operate the Mission farmlands.  The indigenous people would leave and assimilate to their new surroundings.  The emancipation would make California a sympathizer and welcome member of the Union Army during the Civil War, 1861-1865.  In 1833, the Missions would be secularized by the Government.  In 1832, less than 18,000 survived.  Mexico couldn’t afford to fund the churches.  Acres of Mission lands would be sold off and granted to others.

ranchosMapThere were thirty preexisting ranchos granted by the Crown of Spain to friends and families of Government leaders, but none in Santa Clara County by Mexico’s Independence.  Land Regulations would open up in 1824, allowing Mexican citizens to petition for land pretty easily and inviting Catholic immigrants to create new homesteads.  In 1827, Spanish born citizens, including priests, would have to leave the Mexican Territory.  This is when Mexican born Antonio Chaboya would’ve begun making his way to the Santa Clara Valley and eyeing the land.

hb896nb4gd-FID3In order to obtain your land grant in California of the 1820’s-30’s, you would need to work your land for 5 years so you had a claim to it.  The grants were often untracked with conflicting boundaries.  The disorganized manner in which grants were issued is the reason why this land grant to the right has a rectangular shape like the paper and no outlines.  The land was cheap and there was practically no tax or dues on the property.  Ranch owners would enjoy a barony type status, providing work and limited land to rand workers.  Without the Missions farming the land, Ranch owners would step in, fill in that gap and reap the profits.  Through the Mexican Period, forty-one grants would be made in Santa Clara County alone.

Screen Shot 2015-11-02 at 5.59.57 PMIn 1831, the Missions would record over 24,000 inhabitants of California- native, immigrant and Mexican.  Rancho Yerba Buena would be granted to Chaboya in 1833.  Santa Clara County’s first Ranchos would be granted in present day Gilroy, closer to Monterey.  Chaboya’s would be the first recorded in present day San Jose.

hb267nb0kh-FID7Neighboring Rancho Santa Teresa would be granted to the Bernal Family in 1834.  The Higuera Family would be granted Rancho Pala in 1835, selling it shortly afterwards to Englishman, Mr. Charles White.  Rancho Milpitas would be sold to the Alviso Family.  The Berryessa Family would be granted land in East San Jose in 1842.  Are we recognizing any of these names?

Screen Shot 2015-11-02 at 6.06.18 PMAntonio Chaboya would’ve heard about cinnabar in the hills, but probably didn’t mine even after hearing about nearby Almaden quicksilver mines.  The Chaboyas enjoyed vast grazing lands on Rancho Yerba Buena.  The largest of Santa Clara Ranchos, Rancho Yerba Buena was over 24,000 acres.  The Mexican Period was an awesome time to be Mexican landowner in Santa Clara Valley.

The beginning of the end of the Mexican Period was a land grant made to a Catholic American immigrant, John Sutter, in 1839.  Colonization is what Alta California needed and asked for.  However, American immigrants to California would begin making their dissatisfaction with the Mexican Government known by 1840, staging various incidents.  By 1844, Californios, native born Mexican citizens, would also revolt against disorganized Mexican Rule.  By 1846, California as we know it has approximately 12,000 inhabitants.

Gold Rush - Public DomainCalifornia’s Statehood would get underway a little before that discovery of gold, but the Gold Rush allowed California to become a State from a Territory very quickly.  Before Gold, Texas broke away from Mexico in 1836 and didn’t want to be a part of the United States until 1846.  War between Mexico and the United States would ensue over these territories with Americans, Catholics invited by the Roman Church, living in them.  That same year, California would rise under the Bear Republic, neutralizing Mexican garrisons without violence or bloodshed.  Less than a month later with the capture of Mexican Presidios, Alta California would succumb to US governance.  John Sutter’s grant near present day Sacramento would discover gold in 1848.

san_jose_2The end of the Mexican American War in 1848 would see the United States paying $15,000,000.00 for the territories of Alta California – present day California, Arizona, Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico and Texas.  This would essentially wipe out the Mexican Government’s debts with the colonization costs.  The Compromise of 1850 would see California to Statehood.  The Pueblo of San Jose, New Spain’s first non-secular settlement, would become the first State Capital with the help of some Evergreen players.  Other Evergreen notables like the Pellier Family and Coe Family would move into Evergreen shortly thereafter.  By 1850, there would be over 100,000 people living in California.  That’s quite a boom.  Here’s our artwork discussing this period of time.

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