Tag Archives: ranching

HARD WON – Cowboy Wisdom

coe_brothers_smallPeter Coe Verbica carries many torches of tradition that are uniquely Evergreen in nature.  Mr. Peter Verbica is a member of the Revolutionary War fighting, Valley of Heart’s Delight rumor creating, dried apricot perfecting, cattle ranching, beautiful poetry writing, longtime Evergreen family, the Coes.  Today, Mr. Peter Coe Verbica is a successful businessman and a Silicon Valley author and poet, deriving inspiration from his long held family traditions.

P1310184Don’t worry if you feel a little confused about where the Coes actually come from.  You did see the Coe name in Willow Glen.  Coe Avenue runs right past Henry W. Coe’s home in “the Willows”, a town which became Willow Glen some time later.  Henry Coe, Sr., would move out to Evergreen in the 1860’s as the Yerba Buena land disputes starting settling.  After a poor year of farming in Willow Glen, Henry W. Coe would move the homestead to Evergreen, buying large tracks in Halls Valley and San Felipe Valley.  His sons would extend the grazing land further.  This cattle ranching track stretched all the way out to Morgan Hill, to Henry W. Coe State Park.

Winnifred Coe Verbica, who died on March 31, 2013, in the early 1950sP1300723This large Evergreen ranching property raised not just cattle, but generations of ranchers, or more specifically Cowboys.  It’s been rumored that Peter’s mother, Winnifred Coe Verbica, was bitten by a rattle snake as a baby on the Evergreen Ranch.  San Felipe Ranch, the main homestead, would be located at the Southern tip of Rancho Yerba Buena.  Various other homes and outposts are dotted throughout the ranching property because you’d be miles and miles away from home on a cattle run with men, dogs and horses to feed.  Mr. Verbica would be born on San Felipe Ranch, like his mother before him.  Cowboy Wisdom is something Mr. Verbica is well-versed in.

1888616_10152084007824902_1583107476_nMr. Verbica obtained his BA in English at Santa Clara University, and received his JD from Santa Clara University’s School of Law.  Though clearly well versed in city life, Peter Coe Verbica spent some time disseminating pearls in his book HARD-WON: Cowboy Wisdom.  This latest book from Peter Coe Verbica is short bursts of common sense uncommon to city-slickers.  Because of the brevity of the clips, it’s a perfect read for a busy person on the go to pick up in spare minutes.  Some of his passages made me laugh out loud in a crowded, busy place.  His snippets are in no particular order.  Mr. Verbica gives tips on cattle running, hunting, and ranch owning.  A simple kind of intelligence from self-sufficient, hardworking farmers can be gleamed throughout HARD-WON.  I highly recommend this book to anyone who has ever daydreamt about being a cowboy and lassoing their little brothers.

image1Here are some of my favorite snippets from HARD-WON: Cowboy Wisdom:

“15.  Don’t wear too big of a buckle unless you’ve earned it.”

“60.  Rides your fences.”

“78.   If someone doesn’t believe in his heart that the West is the Best, don’t trust him.”

“137.  When in rattle snake country, wear high boots.”

“193.  Don’t make fun of a ‘C’ student.  You may have to work for them someday.”

“213.  Unfenced mine shafts are the bane deer and curious children.”

“252.  Finish what you can start, but think first about what you’re starting.”

“292.  Give a horse’s hind end an appropriate distance so that you don’t get kicked.”

“300.  Eat the game you kill.”

“305.  Don’t be too proud to copy what you neighbor does, but try to make it better. – Courtesy of Barry Swenson

“370.  Don’t pen horses with barbed wire.”

“449.  There are lots of ways to skin a cat, but the easiest way is to let someone else do it.”

“476.  Think twice before trying to save your dog from a grizzly.”



Winnifred Coe Verbica – A Cowgirl paving the way

P1310154Evergreen is rich with ranching heritage.  Generations of ranchers would come out of Evergreen, but there are a couple individuals who have crossed over into the City Slicking lifestyle who have caught my attention.  These are individuals who have changed with the times, which must be difficult.  I even find it hard at times.  I’m addressing that change and that difficulty with this project.  We’ll be discussing an inspiring lady with this mural.

images3RYA942YWinnifred “Winnie” Hannah Coe Verbica (1935-2013) was the granddaughter of Henry W. Coe, California Pioneer.   Before we tell you about Winnie, let’s tell you about where she came from.

coe_brothers_smallThe Coes were descendants of Colonial and Revolutionary Americans.  Henry Coe came out West first when he was 16 years old, 1836, making him a pioneer cross the Great Plains.  Henry returned to New York to prove himself as a businessman.  He was successful but had pitfalls, dusting himself off and starting over.  Due to economic stability resulting from a presidential election in the 1840’s, Mr. Coe parted his property to his New York debtors.  In 1847, the Coe Brothers, all successful businessmen, decided to go into business together and out West.  The brothers stopped in Oregon, but Henry made his way down into California.

Gold Rush - Public DomainLike many pioneers from Evergreen during the 1840’s, the Gold Rush played a major part of their lives before settling in their Evergreen “dream homes”.  Luis Pellier took advantage of the lacking fruit industry.  Henry Coe would import mining equipment from New York to San Francisco just in time to make it rich.  It’s said that Henry knew San Francisco when it had a population of 500.  Later, Mr. Coe would return to New York State to marry his high school sweetheart and long lost love, Hannah Smith.

P1310184The couple returned with their fortune to the quiet countryside of San Jose, California.  The Coes were known for their hospitality and kindness.  Henry Coe would export hops, tobacco and silks grown in from his Willow Glen 150 acre homestead for 15 years.  Henry utilized his New York connections.  After poor luck consecutive years farming in the Willows, Henry W. Coe bought large tracts of land from Rancho los Huechos at the Mt. Diablo foothills.  Its said his exports were the reason San Jose was designated as “the Garden City”.

hqThe Coe Family first moved into Evergreen in the 1860’s.  The family bought a cattle ranch in San Felipe Valley and Henry would retire there.  There, the Coe’s raised cattle, sheep and Arabian Horses.  They would hunt on their ranch.  The well liked, highly regarded Henry Coe Sr. passed in 1896.  Henry Coe’s family would continue to add to their land holdings stretching continuously through Halls Valley and the Mount Diablo Mountain Range to Morgan Hill and present day Henry W. Coe Park.  His son Charles and his wife once owned the famed Naglee Mansion.  Both sons had a hand in expanding the grazing lands.

sada_coeWinnie’s aunt and Henry Jr.’s daughter, Sada Sutcliffe Coe, generously donated the land, 12,320 acres, complete with historic buildings, to the State of California.  Now, the natural beauty is protected for future generations by the State of California and by some friends of Winnie’s.  With 90,000 acres, it’s the second largest state park in California.  “She had a sense of pride and gratitude towards her aunt.  I never heard an unkind word spoken about her. She [Winnie] supported the decision,” said her son, Peter Verbica.  It would be the largest land donation made.

winnieWinnie, daughter of Sada’s brother Henry, grew up in Evergreen, in the San Felipe Valley.  She would attend Evergreen Elementary School in the middle of town, then graduated from James Lick High School in 1952.  Winnifred was raised around steer and rattlesnakes.  Winnie rode through the Evergreen hills and roped cattle.  She, like her aunt Sada, wrote beautiful poetry inspired by the wilderness around them in the San Felipe Valley.

From the Ranch to the lecture hall, Winnie later attended Stanford University, serving as Treasurer in 1952, making friends with Hewllett and Packard founders, and graduating in 1956.  Winnie would become one of two ladies to be accepted to the Stanford Law that year.  Winnie Coe would work in Boston for Harvard Professors before marrying Mr. Verbica and coming home to the San Felipe Valley Ranch.

P1300723Winnifred Coe Verbica would write books and poetry from her San Felipe Valley ranch.  Winnie had a deep Christian Faith which shines through her writings.  Winnifred felt as though the majestic wilderness around her was God’s creativity.  I can’t say I haven’t felt that feeling a couple times, that such stunning wicked oak trees speckle those striking hills.  It’s easy to be overwhelmed by its natural splendor.  Evergreen is a pretty spectacular place.

image1Winnifred would eventually leave her Evergreen home, allowing it to be preserved in a Nature Conservancy owned by friends of hers.  She moved to Oklahoma to be closer to her daughter and grandchildren in her later years.  Her son, Peter, would continue to be inspired by the ranching lifestyle he was raised in, writing poetry and books himself.  Peter Coe Verbica received his BA in English from Santa Clara University, a JD from Santa Clara University School of Law, and an MS from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Descendant of Revolutionary soldiers and Pioneers, Winnifred was an inspirational woman, crossing over and adapting to the changing world around her.  Women didn’t commonly go to college during this time and weren’t encouraged to pursue a career.  Winnie struggled an accident during law school and still persevered.  She was able to wrangle a career along with a family.  Winnifred broke barriers for women in the Silicon Valley.

Here’s the artwork I’ve come up with for the Winnifred and the Coe Family Ranch.


The Legacy of Antonio Chaboya

Screen Shot 2015-11-02 at 5.59.57 PMAntonio Chaboya’s name isn’t really well known throughout San Jose but his land holdings certainly are today.  Rancho Yerba Buena, parts at least, stayed in the Chaboya family for over a hundred years.  From all accounts, they were exemplary citizens predating the European or American immigrants.

hb896nb4gd-FID3Antonio Chaboya, born in Mexico in 1803, obtained one of the first land patents from the Mexican Government, post-Spanish rule.  Antonio and family probably came to the Santa Clara Valley with father, Marcos Chaboya, to colonize the area during the late Spanish Period.  With Mexican Independence shortly after, the Spanish Missions were decommissioned and their large land tracts were up for grabs.  The Missions once were the source of agriculture for the Spanish.  Antonio Chaboya enjoyed one of the largest tracts of land afterwards.

Screen Shot 2015-10-29 at 11.30.55 AMRancho Yerba Buena raised a huge herd of cattle, hundreds horses and various crops.  Antonio Chaboya and his family enjoyed a fairly untouched version of Evergreen, not being able to cultivate it all.  Rancho Yerba Buena’s rolling hills were populated with grasslands, creek beds, spearmint and oak trees.  Yerba Buena translates to spearmint in Spanish.  Rancho Yerba Buena was over 25,000 acres, making it a high maintenance property.

P1310223Antonio Chaboya was granted the land originally in 1833 by the Mexican Rule, but had to fight to keep it through the 1860’s in the United States.  The Chaboyas and their ranch hands even fought and killed bears on their property.  The family hosted an annual rodeo at Rancho Yerba Buena for the young horsemen they employ and of the pueblo.  The Chaboyas traded a lot of cowhides with Americans and enjoyed a wealthy lifestyle.  The property was left to Antonio’s descendants in his passing in 1865.

Screen Shot 2015-11-02 at 6.06.18 PMAfter the Mexican American War, Antonio Chaboya again was granted Rancho Yerba Buena by the US Government in 1858, one of the first real estate cases heard over “squatters’ rights”.

Antonio’s brother, Pedro Chaboya, served as one of the first lawmen in the area under Mexican Independence.  Pedro Chaboya lead the fight when under Spanish rule to defend the ranchos of the Santa Clara Valley from Native Americans and create some peace for the ranchers.  He would maintain a much smaller land patent west of Rancho Yerba Buena, near the present day fairgrounds.

1855We will discuss Evergreen’s land fights, though we didn’t focus much on it within the artwork itself.  Rancho Yerba Buena was over 25,000 acres and hard to scout and watch at all times.  As cattle grazed throughout Evergreen, it might have been years until someone came upon a new farm or Native camp popping up.  The Chaboyas had to part with Rancho Yerba Buena in sections to provide newcomers the opportunity of the American Dream.  With this realization, Downtown Evergreen on San Felipe Road and Aborn Road was the first area densely populated with new farmers.

P1310198The Chaboya family would maintain homesteads off of Quimby Road in the center of the former Rancho.  Chaboyas would have the last names Shobolo, Shabolla, Chabolla and Chaboya, all being pronounced the same way.  Chaboya orchards were a source of pride.  The family would marry into other prosperous Mexican and American families.  They were a well-liked, hard working bunch in Evergreen into the 1940’s.  Then, the trail goes cold.

Evergreen PoppyLittle trivia: Yerba Buena and Evergreen are trying to communicate the same things about our community and land.   Spearmint is super green, and again  the forever green inspires the same.  If you get a little mint in your yard, watch out.  It’s a nuisance and a weed after a while.  Spearmint will make itself quite comfortable in your Evergreen flowerbed, as I know from experience.

The Chaboya/Chabolla story is a crucial one in our timeline because it spans our Native American Evergreen to early California Statehood Evergreen into the 20th century.  It wasn’t until the late 1800’s that Americans started purchasing large lots of land from Rancho Yerba Buena.  We find them so important, we’ve featured them several times in the Mural Walk.  Here’s what I’ve designed to honor the Chaboya Legacy.