Monday, November 11, 2013

There Was A Chinatown Here: Objects and Stories from Downtown San Jose

We are pleased to announce the launch of our new digital archaeology exhibit, “There Was A Chinatown Here: Objects and Stories from Downtown San Jose.”

“There Was a Chinatown Here” uses artifact-based interpretation to tell the story of San Jose’s first Chinese community, the Market Street Chinatown (1866-1887). The exhibit is a collaboration between local Chinese Americans, archaeologists, educators, and museum staff.

The digital exhibit is linked through QR codes to artifact displays in the Chinese American Historical Museum in San Jose’s History Park. On-site museum visitors can scan the QR codes with their smartphone or tablet to be instantly linked to the videos, photographs, and stories in the digital exhibit. Off-site, the exhibit can be accessed through any web browser.

This digital exhibit was produced by the Market Street Chinatown Archaeology Project, a collaborative research and education program among Chinese Historical and Cultural Project, History San Jose, Stanford University, and Environmental Science Associates. Financial support was generously provided by the Stanford University Office for Community Engagement, the Stanford Archaeology Center, and the Department of Anthropology.

Friday, November 8, 2013

A Prescription for Medicinal Liquor

Google “Prohibition,” “medicinal” and “California” today and you’ll get information about California efforts to legalize medicinal marijuana. But in 1928, when this prescription was filled, prohibition meant alcohol, and its “medicinal uses” were widely interpreted.

The National Prohibition Act (the 18th amendment to the Constitution, or Volstead Act) banning the manufacture, sale or transportation of intoxicating liquors, had taken effect in January 1920. Two years before, San Jose politicians shut down the city’s 78 saloons. Excluded from the law was “medicinal alcohol,” dispensed by specially-licensed physicians using forms like this one, regulated by the US Treasury Department’s prohibition commissioner.

We have no idea why the bearer of this certificate, Father Joseph R. Crowley, pastor of St. Joseph’s Cathedral in San Jose, went to a San Francisco doctor for this remedy in November 1928. Lest we make assumptions about his character, whisky and brandy had been widely used by doctors for centuries as a tonic and stimulant to digestion for patients of all ages. It was used to treat everything from anemia, high blood pressure, and heart disease, to typhoid, pneumonia and tuberculosis. This ancient therapy was increasingly called into question during the 1920s by medical research, but doctors also bridled at government interference with their professional judgments regarding treatment. Nevertheless, the consumption of “medicinal alcohol” jumped dramatically during Prohibition, and many doctors and drug stores doled out the medication without asking many questions.

Had Father Crowley been merely thirsty, alcohol was readily available in San Jose in 1928 (though not quite as “wide open” a city as San Francisco). The pages of the San Jose Mercury that year provide plenty of evidence of the consumption of alcohol, usually in stories about the careless who became noticeably drunk in public or who were involved in shoot-outs between bootleggers (or spouses) along Monterey Road. Close by St. Joseph’s was Joe Locutos Place on San Carlos, or Henry’s on North First Street. At 65 Post Street, former saloon-keeper Billy Finley (William Fenerin) thinly camouflaged his notorious speakeasy behind a three seat barbershop in the front of his building while supplying the thirsty citizens in the back. In 1929, Northern California’s Prohibition Administrator E. R. Bohm allegedly complained that there were more stills in operation in Santa Clara County than in any other county in the state.

If Father Crowley had needed sacramental wine for St. Joseph’s, this too was excluded from the Prohibition list and was available at government warehouses (the nearest was in San Francisco.) Or he could visit to the Jesuits at the Novitiate of the Sacred Heart above Los Gatos, who had been making sweet sacramental wine from their vines since 1888. Many commercial Santa Clara Valley wineries survived Prohibition by producing communion wine, while local breweries, like Fredericksburg along the Alameda produced “malt extract syrup,” for home baking and “beverage” purposes. (For more on prohibition in Santa Clara Valley, see Traci Hukill’s “California Drinkin’ : An Account of Santa Clara Valley’s Slow Waltz with John Barleycorn,” Metroactive Features, at

Always ahead on such things, Californians voted 3 to 1 to repeal the ban on alcohol in 1932, a year before the Volstead Act was repealed. This left the federal government to enforce prohibition without state help. The 18th amendment was repealed in 1933.

- by Roxanne Nilan

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

History San José Hosts Heritage Holiday Tea and Tour at the Fallon House

High Tea on the Lower Level of the Fallon House at San Pedro Square Market
Former Manny’s Cellar to Serve Up Holiday Festivities - Saturday Dec. 7

San Jose, CA -- October 8, 2013 --- The tradition of History San José’s annual Heritage Holiday Tea and Tour will be held again this year in the area of the San Pedro Square Market at the Victorian-era Fallon House. The lower level, formerly Manny’s Cellar, and will again be transformed into a holiday tea room for the Saturday, December 7 event.

The Heritage Holiday Tea and Tour continues the annual tradition of tea and this year includes champagne and tours of the Fallon House, built in 1855. Located just a stroll across the street from San Pedro Square Market, there will be two seatings of tea, at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.

Satori Tea Company will present special blends of tea especially for the Heritage Holiday event: English Breakfast, Sugar Plum, and Candy Cane Dream.The teas will accompany a gourmet catered light luncheon, also by Satori. Guglielmo Wines will provide the champagne served by Shady Shakespeare in the garden, and guests will be greeted by strolling carolers, who will also provide entertainment.

The $45 ticket price, (HSJ members $40) will include tours of the Fallon House, and validated parking will be provided. Guests will be eligible to win a ‘Tea for Two’ door prize, among other interesting gifts.

The Fallon House was built in 1855 by one of San José’s earliest mayors. The Victorian mansion showcases 15 fully-furnished rooms typical of the Victorian period. Thomas Fallon was a frontiersman in the John C. Fremont expedition, and Carmel Fallon was the daughter of one of the most prominent Mexican landowners in California. The Fallon House Historic Site is located at 175 West St. John Street in downtown San José.

Tea times are at 11 a.m. and at 2 p.m. Ticket price includes tours of the Fallon House. Make checks payable to History San José and mail to 1650 Senter Road, San Jose, CA 95113 or call Juanita at 408 918 1045 or email her at

The Heritage Holiday Tea at the Fallon house is sponsored by Silicon Valley Community Newspapers, Guglielmo Winery, and Satori Teas.

The holidays at History Park will continue as usual, and a Children’s Heritage Holidays at History Park will be Saturday, December 14 from noon to 4 p.m. Santa will be on-hand for photo opportunities. Children can ride the trolley with Santa Claus, and operate the hand car. There will be live music and entertainment of the winter season, holiday crafts for kids, and story time with the Snow Queen. History Park partners will host culturally diverse crafts.

Visit for more details or call 408 918 1047.

As always HSJ members are free with a membership card. Non-members: admission is $8 per family of up to a total of four, $2 per additional person;

# # #

About History San José:
History San José is a non-profit organization that collects, preserves and celebrates the stories of diversity and innovation in San José and the Santa Clara Valley. HSJ manages one of the largest and most comprehensive regional history collections in the State of California, from 1784 Spanish governmental records to twenty-first century Silicon Valley technology.
History San José 1650 Senter Road San José, CA 95112 408.287.2290

Facebook: /historysanjose
Twitter: @historysanjose
History Park at Kelley Park is located at 1650 Senter Road, between Phelan & Keyes in San Jose. For GPS mapping use 635 Phelan Avenue. City parking is available for $6. For more information visit or call 408 287 2290.

It's Not Too Late for Yard Sale in the Park

History San José to Host Yard Sale in the Park
Partners with Goodwill of Silicon Valley
Free Admission to History Park
This Sunday, October 13, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

San Jose, CA – October 8, 2013 --- The Yard Sale in the Park is Sunday, October 13, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and History San José, in partnership with Goodwill of Silicon Valley, will host a park-wide yard sale. The best bargain at the Yard Sale in the Park is free admission to History Park.

Goodwill of Silicon Valley will be on hand throughout the event. The unsold items that don’t go home with their owners have the option of being donated to those people who may be able to use them.

"We're delighted to be a part of Yard Sale in the Park this Sunday," said Mike Fox, CEO of Goodwill of Silicon Valley. "We appreciate the opportunity to partner with History San José in this family friendly and fun event."

The public can browse of other people’s stuff: used lamps, grandma’s china, toys, and anything else taking up space at home, can be sold. History San José will also be offering history books, as well as other items.

"We are always thrilled to have History Park filled with people, but to include other nonprofit partners who do good works like Goodwill of Silicon Valley is an honor," stated Alida Bray, President and CEO of History San José.

Trolley rides will be available, and of course, San Jose’s own Treat ice cream is available for purchase in O’Brien’s Ice Cream Parlor.

For more information call 408 287-2290 or visit

Monday, September 30, 2013

Haunt History Park is Not Scary

San José, CA – September 30, 2013 --- What’s scary about Halloween? Have no fear at Haunt History Park, on Saturday, October 26 from 1 to 4 p.m. Children will be able to trick-or-treat throughout San José’s History Park at Kelley Park in a fun, safe, family-friendly environment.

This scare-free annual event has become a tradition, with trick-or-treating, family-friendly events and arts and crafts activities. Trolley and hand car rides, games and crafts, will provide family festivities.

“This year the entire family can celebrate this historic holiday in a fun yet old-fashioned Halloween atmosphere,” said Barbara Johnston, Director of Education at History San José. “There will be plenty of activities for all ages.”

Trick-or-treating stations will be set up at the historic homes in History Park and are sponsored by the History San José Education Department, History San José docents and History San José’s affiliates.

There will be games around the plaza along with Halloween crafts. The Costume Parade will be around the Plaza at 2:30 p.m. and the ‘wrap-a-mummy’ contest will take place on the Plaza at 3:30 p.m.

Speaking of treats, the tradition of trick-or-treating is very well known for handing out sweets. Dead Dog Hotdogs will be on hand, and popcorn is available for purchase. O’Brien’s Ice Cream Parlor at History Park serves San José’s own Treat ice cream. Treat Ice Cream Company has been in business in San José since 1951 and produces gourmet ice creams, sherbets, and sorbets.

Admission is only $5 for children age 3 and over; adults free with a child. For more information, visit or call 408 918 1047.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Dig Into the Past at History Archaeology Days

San José, CA – September 22, 2013. On Saturday, October 19 from 11 AM to 3 PM --- Archaeology Day at the Peralta Adobe at San Pedro Square Market will offer children an opportunity to be junior archaeologists.

Stanford Archaeology Center students will be at the Peralta Adobe historic site conducting a mock excavation, screening, artifact identification and artifact reconstruction.

"This program gives Stanford students a chance to share our research," said Barbara Voss, Associate Professor of Anthropology at Stanford University. “The hidden history of San José's early Chinatowns is not well known, and it's exciting to give our youngest residents a chance to learn about archaeology and about the legacy of San José's 19th century Chinese pioneers."

This free family educational program will allow individuals to collect stickers for each activity to place in Archaeology Passports and become 'certified' as a Junior Archaeologist.

The oldest home in San Jose, the Peralta Adobe, serves as a perfect archaeological location. It is the centerpiece for San Pedro Square Market at 175 West Saint John Street in downtown San Jose. It is just across the street from the Fallon House, a mid-19th century Victorian home.

The public archaeology activities are free. While at the Peralta Adobe, visitors can also take tours of the Peralta Adobe and the Fallon House, which are $8 for adults, $5 for seniors (62 and older) and students with a valid school identification card; and $5 for children who are accompanied by an adult.

Tours for adults and children ages nine and older will be held through the Peralta Adobe and the Fallon House at 12:30 p.m., 1:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. These historic buildings are not wheel-chair accessible. As usual, members of History San José receive free admission.

The Fallon House was built in 1855 by one of San José's earliest mayors. The Victorian mansion showcases 15 fully-furnished rooms typical of the Victorian period. Thomas Fallon was a frontiersman in the John C. Fremont expedition, and Carmel Fallon was the daughter of one of the most prominent Mexican landowners in California.

The Peralta Adobe is San José's oldest address. Built in 1797, the Peralta Adobe is the last remaining structure from El Pueblo de San José de Guadalupe. See the Adobe’s horno, an outside working oven, or venture inside the home and see two rooms furnished as they might have been when they were occupied by the Gonzales and Peralta families. It is now surrounded by the new San Pedro Square Market.

For more information or to make reservations for a tour, call 408.918.1047 or visit

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

History San José to Host Yard Sale in the Park October 13

Free Admission to History Park Sunday, October 13, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

San Jose, CA – September 16, 2013 --- Everybody loves a good bargain. And where else would one find a good book but at a museum? On Sunday, October 13, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., History San José will host a park-wide yard sale. But the best bargain at the Yard Sale in the Park is free admission to History Park.

The public is invited to host their own table and sell their wares. Booths of used lamps, grandma’s china, toys, and anything else taking up space at home, can be sold. Booths of wares will be positioned inside the park. Proceeds from the Yard Sale in the Park will benefit all nineteen affiliates that call History Park their home.

"History Park is a great venue for a ‘yard’ sale because we have a 14-acre ‘yard’ --- said Alida Bray, President and CEO of History San José. “The Yard Sale in the Park offers a sense of community, helping each other out, and just having fun. And it is better than a garage sale, a block sale, or sitting in your own driveway."

There will be an HSJ book booth, offering duplicate and deaccessioned books for sale, as well as an assortment of other items.

Registration must be received by October 11; booths for non-members are $20 each; booths for members and affiliates of HSJ are free. Entrants must register to sell, and provide their own equipment, tables, chairs, canopies, etc. Register by contacting Juanita at or calling 408 918-1045.

Memberships are available from $50 by contacting Dayna Grabkelis at or 408-918-1049.

For more information call 408 287-2290 or visit

Monday, September 16, 2013

History San José Honors Volunteers at Annual Dinner

San Jose, CA - September 13, 2013 - Each year, History San José hosts a dinner at History Park to honor the dedicated volunteers who help keep HSJ running. Last week HSJ honored those volunteers.

"At the dinner, the staff wait on the volunteers and try to show them how much we appreciate their help seven days a week! We absolutely could not operate the Museum without them," enthused Alida Bray, President and CEO of History San José.

The Volunteer Recognition Dinner, held on Thursday, September 12 at History Park, brings together volunteers from every service area: retail and events, collections and archives, education and outreach, gardening and facilities -- even window washing!

Many of the volunteers contribute their time in more than one area of service. Many have been instrumental in developing new programs and activities for our visitors.

"All of the volunteers’ contributions – large and small – make it possible for History San José to preserve the Valley’s history and bring it to the public," added Bray. "They are our unsung heroes and appreciated more than they know." 

This year the following volunteers are being saluted by HSJ for their many years of service:
  • 35 years of service to HSJ: Nancy Martin, Education and Portraits of the Past (POP); 
  • 30 years of service: Ida Raby, and Darlean Slack, Retail; Dave Robison, Printer; 
  • 25 years of service: Judy Borcherding, Education; Mike Brownlee, POP and Trolley Barn; Nancy Peters, POP;
  • 20 years of service: JoAnn Renk, education; Barbara Shaeffer, Collections; Jack Stallard, Trolley Barn; 
  • 15 years of service: Martha Champion, Education, POP; 
  • 10 years of service: Steve Demkowski, Education, Bee-keeping; Stuart Hansen, Collections; Will Jensby, Collections; and Joan Shepley, Education;
  • 5 years of service: Becky Barber, Printer; Larry Larson, Trolley Barn; and Ray Paik, Collections.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Recent Acquisitions and Online Guides at HSJ’s Research Library & Archives

The staff at History San Jose's Research Library and Archives have been busy over the summer months processing new donations, and making guides available online to parts of our collection that have been hidden to most researchers. Here is a summary...

Recent acquisitions:

  • Tapestry in Talent records (10 linear feet). Institutional records from a major annual arts festival held in San Jose. Begun as a project to celebrate the nation's Bicentennial in 1976, Tapestry in Talent eventually drew as many as 250,000 attendees over the course of a single weekend. Eventually decreased funding forced the group to cease sponsoring the event in 2011. The collection includes organizational records, promotional materials, photographs, press clippings, and related documents.
  • Shirlie Montgomery Papers and Photographs (4 linear feet). Montgomery was a well-known press photographer in San Jose, noted particularly for her candid photographs of the local wrestling scene as well as many important news events.
  • IBM RAMAC Collection: Between 1952 and 1956, IBM developed the first magnetic disk file system at its facility on Hedding Street near downtown San Jose. By the time production ended in 1961, over 1000 RAMAC (Random Access Memory Accounting System) machines had been produced, each weighing more than a ton, and with a capacity of 5 megabytes. The RAMAC collection consists of posters documenting RAMAC's development that were displayed in the IBM facility prior to its closing. Also included in the gift are a control panel and vacuum tube and a partial disk from the RAMAC machine.
  • KTAO Radio Collection: KTAO Radio was an "alternative" radio station with a studio in Los Gatos. It was on the air for about five years in the early 1970s. The latest accrual to this collection consists of program guides, a CD of a broadcast air check, and photographs of broadcast and technical staff and of a recent 40th anniversary celebration of the station's staff.

Newly available online collection guides:

  • Kasia Ekstrand Photographs of San Jose (2002): Photographic prints and negatives documenting the storefronts and streets of downtown San Jose, California, taken by Kasia Ekstrand in 2002.
  • Benjamin F. Gilbert Papers (1940-1985): Research materials focusing on local history by San Jose State University professor Dr. Benjamin F. Gilbert.
  • Pacific Neighbors Inc. Records (1957-1967): Records and photographs of San Jose's Pacific Neighbors Sister City Program, primarily related to activities with sister cities Okayama, Japan, and San Jose, Costa Rica.
  • Donald B. Harris Spiritron Tube Research (1956-1959): Notebooks, patent invention disclosure files, patent photographs, and other assorted papers related to Donald B. Harris's work on the Spiratron tube at General Electric Company. Part of the Perham Collection of Early Electronics.
  • Esther Walker Papers (1958-1984): Personal papers and photographs of San Jose Mercury journalist Esther Walker, including expense account records, correspondence, news copy, research notes, clippings, and publicity photographs of fashion designers circa 1978-1980.
  • Soroptimist International of San Jose Records (1925-1987): Includes the membership rosters, by-laws, programs of activities, event programs, newsletters, minutes, scrapbooks, photograph albums, and other assorted records of the Soroptimist Club of San Jose, also known as Soroptimist International of San Jose.
  • Budde Family Papers and Photographs (1880-1980): Personal correspondence, travel journals, and family photographs of the Budde family of San Jose.
  • William Harrison Photographic Collection (1893-1900): Collection of portrait photographs by local San Jose, California, studios; portraits of State Normal School at San Jose graduates; a family photograph album including scenes from Yosemite National Park; personal photographs taken at Grand Canyon, Zion, and Bryce Canyon National Parks.
  • San Jose-Santa Clara Water Pollution Control Plant Records (1946-1990): Records of the San Jose/Santa Clara Water Pollution Control Plant in Alviso, California, including documentation regarding the transfer of Zanker House to History Park in San Jose, California.
  • Harry Farrell Papers (1940-1997): Material accumulated by author and journalist Harry Farrell during his research for books Shallow Grave in Trinity County (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1997) and Swift Justice: Murder and Vengeance in a California Town (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1992) as well as personal correspondence and mementos from service during World War II.
  • Fredrick W. Hill Photographs (1892): Digital images and original negatives of the stagecoaches on Mount Hamilton, Lick Observatory telescope and buildings, and the Hotel Vendome (San Jose, California), taken by Fredrick W. Hill in 1892.
  • Hayes Family Collection (1946-1990): Assorted scrapbooks, research material, preservation records, manuscripts and television programs related to Mary Hayes Chynoweth, the Hayes Family, and Hayes Mansion in San Jose.
  • Pathfinders Club of San Jose Records (1926-1963): Club records and photographs documenting the women's group Pathfinders Club of San Jose, especially outdoor recreational outings around the San Francisco Bay Area.
  • San Jose Planning Commission Aerial Photographs (1967-1977): Aerial photographs of road intersections and neighborhoods in San Jose, California, taken by the San Jose Planning Commission.
  • Douglas M. Perham Clippings on Early Radio History (1900-1930): Newspaper clippings compiled by early electronics collector Doug Perham on the history of wireless telegraph and radio, with a focus on the U.S. Pacific Coast. Part of the Perham Collection of Early Electronics.
  • Thorn Mayes Sound Recordings (1965-1980): Sound recordings created by Thorn Mayes as part of his research on early wireless telegraph and radio in the Western United States. Includes one-on-one interviews conducted by Thorn Mayes and Warren Green, talks to the Antique Wireless Association both by Mayes and by other speakers, recordings of historic radio broadcasts, and re-creations of spark transmissions at U.S. West Coast wireless stations.
  • In addition, Staff and volunteers have completed the indexing of nearly 23,000 case files from the Santa Clara County Court system (Bulk dates 1850-1920). These files are searchable by plaintiff, defendant, date, complaint, or case number.

Collection-level guides and inventories are available through the Online Archive of California ( Item-level records are searchable through PastPerfect Online at For more information, or to make a research appointment, contact: Jim Reed, Curator of Library & Archives at or 408.521.5026.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Thorn Mayes' Interviews on Early Radio Now Transcribed

Thorn Mayes, born April 19, 1903, graduated from the University of California in 1927 with a B.S. in Electrical Engineering. He was an avid amateur radio operator, working W6AX, W9AX, 6BDQ, 6AX, K6BI, K2CE, and W1CX under the handle “Thorn.” His first 2-way wireless contact was in 1921, and he was member #229 of the Old Old Timers Club. After retiring from his managerial position at General Electric Company, Mayes became a serious collector of antique gear (prior to 1922), books and magazines, as well as an historian of early wireless in the United States. In his own words1,

"after spending about 38 years with the General Electric Company, I retired in 1963. The last 20 years with the company was in the East, so in ‘63 we moved back to California and I set up my machine shop, electronics laboratory, and became interested in recreating the history of the three main, early, commercial wireless stations on the West Coast. KPH, which I think is by far the most important of all; KFS who was a competitor, and NPG, which is sometimes called the NAA of the West Coast because of the similarity in transmission equipment used at NPG and also at NAA."

Mayes published numerous papers in the amateur radio press, as well as several publications, including:
  • The Federal Telegraph Company, 1909-1920 ([Rochester, N.Y] : Antique Wireless Association, c1979)
  • Brief history of the Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company of America: 1899-1919 (1972)
  • Wireless communication in the United States : the early development of American radio operating companies, prepared for publication by Arthur C. Goodnow, Robert W. and Nancy A. Merriam (East Greenwich, R.I. : New England Wireless and Steam Museum, c1989).
Mayes was able to draw on his many friends and contacts within the amateur radio and electronics community for his research. As part of his work, he recorded a large number of interviews with names familiar to students of early electronics, particularly in the Western United States, including Ralph Heintz, Haraden Pratt, Richard Johnstone, and Robert Palmer. Mayes also recorded many of his talks at amateur radio associations. These recordings are part of the Perham Collection of Early Electronics, and the majority of these interviews and talks have been transcribed by History San Jose. A full list of recordings is available below, and copies of transcripts can be requested through the Curator of Library and Archives (

List of Thorn Mayes Sound Recordings

More about the Perham Collection of Early Electronics

1Interview of Thorn Mayes by Ray Meyers, January 20, 1968 (Thorn Mayes Sound Recordings, 2003-38, History San Jose Research Library & Archives)

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Fandango by History San José

San Jose, CA – July 30, 2013 ‐‐‐ Celebrate early San Jose and the heritage of the Californios who settled along the Guadalupe River. History San José is hosting a Fandango on Sunday, August 25 at the Peralta Adobe Historic Site from noon to 4.

“Fandango is a fun way to celebrate the heritage of what we know today as Silicon Valley,” said Alida Bray, President and CEO of History San José. “ So much of our language, foods, and aspects of our daily lives have been influenced by Spanish and Mexican culture. Come see how it all started!”

Typical of that era, there will be music and dancing, as well as a descendant of the original horses that were brought by the Spanish explorers. Children will have the opportunity to make sombreros, corn husk “pocket buddies”, candles, rope a steer named ‘Fernando’ and learn more about the original settlers, the Ohlones, and the rancho period of California.*

In the true meaning of Fandango, which is a Spanish dance, live music will be performed by Los Arribeños.
Special horse, ‘Stone Shield’ will make her appearance at Fandango.  She is a paint mare, 18 years old with blue eyes, whose ancestry can be traced to horses ridden by Spanish settlers as they came to the new world. By 1492 Spain planned the expansion of their power, including into North America. It was the Spanish horses that carried the DeAnza party to settle Alta California and today provides the framework for thoroughbreds, standard breds, and the Morgan and quarter horse. Only 2,000 of the Colonial Spanish horses remain and are critically endangered.

At the Peralta Adobe historic site, located in the heart of what is today San Pedro Square Market, Luis Maria Peralta was one of the original residents. He was the Californio who lived in the Peralta Adobe with his family, and was one of the first Alcades (mayors) of Pueblo de San Jose de Guadalupe. Home tours of the Peralta Adobe, as well as the Fallon House across the street, are $8 for adults, $6 for seniors, and $6 for children ages 12 to 17.  As usual, members of History San José receive free admission. Adult tours of the Peralta Adobe and the Fallon House will be held at 12:30 p.m., 1:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m.

Tours especially created for children ages 4 to 11 will be at 1 p.m., 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. and cost $5.
These hands‐on tours will allow children to dress in period costumes while learning about life in the early 1800’s. Reservations are suggested for the tours by calling 408 918 1040.

* Activity tickets are one dollar each or six for $5. HSJ members earn six free tickets when presenting membership card.  Visit to print four free tickets. Activities will cost between one to four tickets.

The Peralta Adobe – Fallon House Historic Site is located at 175 West Saint John Street, in downtown San Jose, CA 95110. For more information call 408 918‐1047 or visit

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Thirteenth Annual Antique Autos at History Park in San José

San José, California – July 23, 2013 ‐‐ Thirteen is a lucky number for the annual Antique  Autos at History Park event. This is the first year that featured automobiles will be Rolls Royces and Bentleys. At History Park for the Thirteenth Annual Antique Autos at History Park event on Sunday, September 8 will be the usual 200 antique autos and then some.

“This year’s Antique Autos will be one of the best ways to top off the summer events at History Park,” said Alida Bray, President and CEO of History San José. “The park comes alive with people, activities, and the cars certainly enhance the atmosphere of the historic buildings.”

Presented by the Santa Clara Valley Model T Ford Club and History San José, The Antique Autos at History Park afternoon is filled not only with antique autos, but also vintage fire equipment, bicycles and motorcycles of all makes from the late 1800’s to 1945.

The featured vehicles this year are 100‐plus‐year‐old ‘orphan autos,’ those cars whose manufacturer no longer exists. Think Studebaker, Packard, Stanley Steamers. But there are approximately  1,800 other companies that built cars from 1900 to 1945. Only those that are at least 100 years old will be shown in a special area.  Other special features this year will be Rolls Royce and Bentleys, and there will be a
special presentation near the historic light tower at 2 PM.

“Antique Autos in History Park is much more than an antique car show,” said Allan Greenberg, coordinator of the event.  “We attempt to combine the best of all things automotive, with cars, culture, entertainment and education in the beautiful setting of History Park.”

Also located on the grounds of History Park will be the Early Day Gas Engine and Tractor Association to provide more ‘putt, putt, putt’ engine sounds reminiscent of days gone by.  The Toot Sweet Jazz Band will provide music from noon to 1:30 PM.

Portraits of the Past members stroll through the 14‐acre site in 1900s costumes. Other activities include free trolley rides. Arts and crafts demonstrations and antique collectibles will be on display. Family and children’s activities will be provided.

Food and beverages will be available for purchase from Peggy Sue’s Restaurant and  O'Brien’s Ice Cream Parlor, which features San Jose’s own Treat Ice Cream.

Also at History Park at Kelley Park, 1650 Senter Road between Keyes and Phelan, docents will guide visitors through many of the 27 historic buildings. The exhibit Shaped by Water: Past, Present & Future will be on display in the Pacific Hotel Gallery. The Leonard and David McKay Gallery will feature Bear in Mind: The Story of the California Grizzly.

Admission is free and sponsored by the Santa Clara Valley Model T Ford Club. Parking is $6.  For more information about the event contact Allan and Lucy Greenberg, coordinators of the event, at or call 408 997 0879.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

How we restored our Apple 1 to working condition…

History San Jose's Apple 1 computer (courtesy Ralph Simpson)
…and then got Steve Wozniak to power it up for the first time!

by Ralph Simpson, History San Jose volunteer

The Apple 1 was first sold in May, 1976 and was the first personal computer as we recognize it today. Before the Apple 1, personal computers used toggle switches for input and lights or printers for output. The Apple 1 brought the innovation of a keyboard for input and a TV screen as output. The original sales price of the Apple 1 was $666.66, which included a motherboard with the chips already installed for an operational system. The TV monitor, keyboard, transformers for power supply, mounting board, cassette tape player and interface board were all provided by the user. Later, the cassette interface board was made available from Apple for an additional $75. 200 Apple 1s were manufactured and 175 were sold. Of these, only 46 were known to still exist and only 6 had been reported as operational. (This list would quickly change in June).

History San Jose is fortunate to possess a rare Apple 1 computer as part of the Perham Collection of Early Electronics. The collector interest in the Apple 1 was always high but seemed to skyrocket after Steve Jobs’ death in October of 2011. The three most recent auctions of a working Apple 1 shows a dramatic rise in prices: November 2010 for $210,000, June 2012 for $374,000 and Nov. 2012 for $640,000. Meanwhile, in October 2012 there were no bidders for a non-working Apple 1 with a starting price of “only” $80,000. Apparently, collectors placed a very high value on whether the Apple 1 was operational. We did not know if the museum had a working machine but now finding the answer to that question became more than an academic exercise.

May 23, 2013

Another working Apple 1 was scheduled to be auctioned on May 25, 2013, which had wide press coverage and speculation on the final auction price. It was in this setting I had asked Jim Reed, History San Jose’s Curator of Library and Archives, for permission to power up the Apple 1. On May 23rd he agreed and two days later the auctioned Apple 1 set a new record price of $671,000.

May 24, 2013

To power up our Apple 1, I wanted to enlist the help of some experts, so I emailed the owner of the Apple 1 registry, Mike Willegal, for his advice. Also, the museum’s Apple 1 was not included in the registry, so I sent some pictures to verify our Apple 1 as the 47th known Apple 1 in the world. Mike recommended two Apple 1 experts, Dr. Wendell Sander and Daniel Kottke. After contacting them by email and phone both agreed to help and suggested we include Allen Baum in our project. We scheduled our first meeting for May 30th.

May 30, 2013

Allen Baum and Wendell Sander working on
the Apple 1 (Courtesy Ralph Simpson)
We had our first meeting at History San Jose to examine the Apple 1 and plan for the testing, restoration and press release of the Apple 1. The 3 Apple 1 experts surpassed my wildest dreams, both technically and historically.

Dr. Wendell Sander was Apple employee #16, with 97 patents to his credit and counting. He is one of only 2 original owners of an Apple 1 and his was one of the 6 working examples. He also had an Apple 1 replica, which was invaluable in testing the components of the museum’s Apple 1 and having known working parts to swap with suspected faulty parts.

Allen Baum is a microprocessor architect with 26 patents to his credit and a high school friend of Steve Wozniak. He is also an owner of a non-working Apple 1 he received from his father, who was Apple employee #34. Allen brought his Apple 1 to the museum to do testing and repairs while we worked on the museum’s Apple 1, often using his computer as the guinea pig for our testing.

Daniel Kottke was a college friend of Steve Jobs who was employed by Apple in the summer of 1976 to plug in and test the chips in the Apple 1s, along with Steve Wozniak, Steve Jobs and sister Patty Jobs. He joined Apple full-time in 1977, becoming Apple employee #12.

We set a lofty goal for our project, which was to demonstrate a working Apple 1 by powering it up for the first time in a press event. We needed to come up with a plan to test as much as possible without turning on the entire system, while minimizing any chance of damage to the Apple 1. I certainly did not want to be responsible for frying our Apple 1!

The first thing we did was to examine our Apple 1, noting some of the unique items and any obvious problems. The HSJ Apple 1 was originally owned by Winston Gayler, who later wrote a book on the Apple II circuit design, so he was obviously quite a technically advanced user. His Apple 1 was evidence of his expertise, which included several user modifications. He seemed to be very cautious of heat on the motherboard, adding a homemade strip of metal to the surface of the 4 eproms as a heat sink. He also added a rectifier bridge with a huge heat sink off of the motherboard. His transformer and fuse set up was also unusual and was identified as a possible problem area, since this would be one of the few things that could cause real damage to the Apple 1.

The museum’s Apple 1 did not have the “NTI” logo on the motherboard, which means it was made from the first batch of 100. It had the white ceramic 6502 microprocessor with a date code of 1576, meaning it was manufactured in the 15th week of 1976 or the first week of April, which was coincidentally the same date as the incorporation of Apple Computers. More rare was the white ceramic Peripheral Interface Adapter (PIA) or 6820 chip. There is only one other known Apple 1 with this chip made of white ceramic, and it is owned by Liza Loop. Liza’s Apple 1 was the very first Apple 1 manufactured. Liza was a school teacher who wanted to use the Apple 1 in her classroom, so Steve Wozniak paid for it personally and gave it to her. She still owns this Apple 1, making her the only other original owner of an Apple 1 along with Wendell. The original advertising photo of the Apple 1 also shows a white ceramic PIA chip, but there is no record of what became of this computer. Another unusual feature of this Apple 1 was the two 7400 logic chips, which were military grade rather than commercially available chips. The military version is normally very expensive, but this may have been supplied by the distributor at the time because they were available to fulfill the order from Apple Computers.

So the first important decision to be made was what to do with the unusual power supply. One option was to remove the entire power arrangement and restore the board to the way it was originally shipped. This way we could install a known, working transformer to ensure clean power and minimize the risk of damage to the motherboard or any chips. While this would be the safest approach, our guiding principle was to keep the board as it was originally donated to the museum, including all the user mods. The Apple 1 was a hobbyist machine and most were modified in some fashion, so maintaining that history is important. So we decided to test the motherboard with the user modified power set up but after the removal of all the chips.

Our test plan was to remove all the chips, cleaning each one with contact cleaner. We then would test the power for the correct voltages, which are ą12V and ą5V, without any chips on the motherboard. We would then test the chip individually, using Wendell’s Apple 1 replica. After testing the motherboard as much as possible, we would then test the Radio Shack keyboard, cassette interface and a TV display from correct time frame.

We also discussed which applications we should display for the press event. The Game of Life and Star Trek were selected as two games popular at the time. So we concluded our first meeting without any testing but had a good plan of attack for the testing and power up of the Apple 1.

June 4, 2013

We had our first hands-on work, removing all the chips, placing them on a foam board in the same physical position as on the motherboard and meticulously cleaning the legs of each chip with contact cleaner. Some were coated with a film of corrosion, which is a commonly reported problem with the Apple 1. Usually, removing and re-seating the chips would fix this problem but we took the extra step of thoroughly cleaning each chip. We then tested the power, which looked good, so we powered up the naked motherboard. There were no problems and the right voltages were at the correct contacts, so our fears of problems with the power supply were relieved.

Allen did the same with his Apple 1 and then inserted the top 2 rows of chips which control the display and his display worked immediately. After we repeated his test, our display did not work. Instead of a matrix of at signs “@” on the display, we got a series of alternating white and black stripes. We swapped a few chips which were obvious candidates for this type of failure, using chips from Wendell’s Apple 1 replica, but these did not fix the problem.

After Allen’s Apple 1 displayed correctly it then ran into problems when he installed the remainder of his chips. So we ended our first day of testing with both Apple 1s inoperable and some research and study to do before our next test.

June 6, 2013

Dr. Wendell Sander and Ralph Simpson working on
the Apple 1 (Courtesy Bill Durfey)
This was an exhilarating day of major progress and success. We got Allen’s Apple 1 working today, making it the 7th working Apple 1 on the planet. The debugging effort took several hours of swapping known, working chips until the defective chips were identified. Two memory chips and a 74154 decoder chip were replaced, after which his Apple 1 worked flawlessly.

We also debugged the museum’s Apple 1 display problem and after testing several chips discovered the faulty chip. It was the 9316 chip in position D8 on the board. We replaced it with a correct date code chip (7706) which was donated by Wendell and the display worked. We then tested the rest of the board, but using the microprocessor and PIA chip from a known working replica and that worked correctly also. At this point we felt we could have swapped in all of the original chips and make two Apple 1s operational in one day, but kept to our plan of waiting to power up the museum’s Apple 1 on press announcement day.

We also tested out the cassette interface board, using a Panasonic Slimline model RQ-2102, which was a common cassette player used with the Apple 1 in the late 70s. The cassette tape was notorious for having problems, but we found it worked correctly by setting the volume level just below the highest volume. We then tested the original white ceramic microprocessor chip and PIA chip in Wendell’s replica and that was also successful. Since the legs of these chips are very fragile, we set these aside and did not use them or test them further until we plugged them in for the final power up. At this point we had everything working except for the Radio Shack keyboard, which did not work at all. We elected to call the day a success and come back another day to work on the keyboard.

Since we were close, we also discussed ideas for the press announcement. We decided to have 3 Apple 1s at the event, Allen’s and Wendell’s both work and if the museum’s powered up successfully, we would have 3 of the now 8 working Apple 1s on display. We decided that Wendell would run Star Trek, Allen would run Game of Life and the museum would run an application that simply displayed a rolling set of images, starting with Woz, Steve Jobs, the Apple logo, the Apple II, etc. We also thought this would be significant enough to interest Woz in coming to the event, so Allen called him to make the invitation. Woz immediately accepted and we arranged a date to meet with his schedule. We now had a set date for the announcement, June 18th.

We invited Mike Cassidy from the San Jose Mercury News and Peter Jon Shuler from KQED radio for the press event. Other museum staff and invited guests added up to a guest list of about 40.

June 11, 2013

One week before the press announcement and the keyboard is still not working. We tested the motherboard using a replica keyboard and this worked correctly, so we knew we had a fallback plan if we were not successful with the original keyboard, but the original keyboard with the homemade clear/reset button and pine wood board definitely had the coolness factor. This keyboard had an unusual and extra plug arrangement, with an extra-long keyboard cable. The usual Apple 1 keyboard connected directly into a chip on the motherboard.

After cleaning up this plug and the plug going into the board on the keyboard, we were finally able to make the keyboard work, with 2 exceptions. One problem was that the first key entered from the keyboard was ignored. This was more a nuisance, but the second problem was a real issue. Pressing the “Cntl / M” keys was supposed to create a carriage return, but this did not work. Through trial-and-error we discovered that “Shift / M” worked. So now we had a working keyboard. After some more testing, we found the keyboard worked for a while then would intermittently fail. After re-seating the plugs and once re-seating a chip, we got it working again but felt the problems were too intermittent to rely on for the press announcement. Instead, Wendell decided to fabricate a new connector which would go directly from the keyboard to the chip on the motherboard, bypassing the extra keyboard plug and long cable. This way we could use the original keyboard and have a more reliable connection.

Up to this point we had done our testing with a modern LED monitor, which worked well, but we wanted to use a 9-inch black and white television from the mid 1970s instead. We tested several monitors, including an Apple II monitor, but they all had problems with the vertical hold. This problem only occurred after the screen became full.

June 13, 2013

We tested several monitors but continued to have the same problems. We also exercised the keyboard, cassette tape player and the rolling image application to make sure they still worked properly. Everything seemed to work well except for the display. Even the keyboard worked well with the new plug arrangement. Remember, we still have not connected the microprocessor or PIA chips into the motherboard. We decided to come back for final testing with an Apple III monitor, if that didn't work we would be forced to use a modern, flat screen LED monitor with this ancient Apple 1.

June 14, 2013

We tested the Apple III monitor, and it seemed to work a little better but still had the vertical hold problem with a full screen. Wendell knew the Apple 1 was susceptible to this type of problem because of a rather weak resistor in the display circuitry. This was a 3K ohm resistor which we piggybacked with another 3.3K ohm resistor, giving it a better chance to work with a variety of monitors. After testing out this new additional resistor, everything worked flawlessly. We tested the rolling screen application and everything worked as planned. At this point we left the Apple 1 set up on the table, not to be moved until the press announcement.

June 18, 2013 – Press announcement and Apple 1 power up by Steve Wozniak

Ralph Simpson, Allen Baum, Dr. Wendell Sander, and
Daniel Kottke with HSJ's working Apple 1 (left) and
Allen Baum's working Apple 1 (right) (Courtesy Owen Brydon)
Today is the big day. We arrived early to set up the 3 Apple 1s and test out the applications on Allen’s and Wendell’s machines. We did not test out the museum’s Apple 1 but finally installed the original microprocessor and PIA chips for the first time since we started this testing. One of the guests, Andy Jong, surprised us by bringing his working Apple 1. We did not have time to set it up with a keyboard and monitor, but displayed it on the same table. Then Steve Wozniak and his wife Janet arrived on their Segways, and Woz decided at the last minute to bring along his Apple 1. We now had 5 Apple 1s on display!

Woz agreed to power up the museum’s Apple 1 but wanted to do it jointly with Wendell Sander. First the Apple 1 “@” matrix displayed, showing that the display monitor worked, which included about half the chips on the Apple 1. Next, the carriage return was entered and the Apple 1 prompt was displayed, showing that the microprocessor was working. This was a huge relief. Next, the cassette tape was used to load the rolling image demo, which worked and was displayed for the rest of the event. The other two working Apple 1s were also successful in displaying Star Trek and Game of Life. Watch as Woz and Wendell power up the Apple 1:

The 3 working Apple 1s showed the varied history of these machines. Allen’s machine was completely unmodified and appeared to have never been mounted on a board. This may have been one of the 25 unsold boards that his father acquired while working at Apple. As described earlier, the museum’s Apple 1 was heavily modified by Gayler in the 1970s and early 80s. As Woz later pointed out, the Gayler unit was “personalized,” as it was meant to be. It had remained as is since its donation, however, until we began testing. Wendell’s Apple 1 was continuously used through the years with updates bringing it into the 21st century. It has a flat screen LED display, an iPod interface instead of the cassette tape, and a custom-made clear acrylic case.

This was an historic day. Not only did we have Woz start up the museum’s Apple 1 for the first time in decades, we had 5 Apple 1s on display on one table. At this point our Apple 1 became the 8th working example, which also means we had exactly half the world’s supply of working Apple 1s on display. Ironically, the only Apple 1 not working belonged to Woz. He wisely left it with Wendell to do his magic and restore it to working condition.

Woz and Wendell signed and dated the Apple 1 for the museum and for Allen Baum. Wendell’s Apple 1 was previously signed by Woz, with the inscription, “To Wendell, a most incredible engineer! Apple would not have happened without you!”

Steve Wozniak poses with the Apple 1s at
History San Jose (Courtesy Ralph Simpson)
Steve Wozniak poses with the Apple 1s at History San Jose (Courtesy Ralph Simpson)

Woz spent the next couple of hours at the museum, reminiscing about the Apple 1 and the early days at Apple Computers. Although he had designed many personal computers on paper, he had never built one because of the cost. When he started designing what later became the Apple 1, he did not plan on it being a computer at all. He was designing a terminal to be used with DARPANet, the predecessor to the internet. He wanted an inexpensive way to use a keyboard and TV as the display for use as a computer terminal. Then MOS Technology startled the industry with a $20 microprocessor, the 6502. At the time, the Intel 8080 was priced at $400 if you were an individual buying just one chip. So Woz bought this MOS chip and redesigned his terminal to become a personal computer. He said his motivation was better than any salary or stock option, it was a passion to have his own personal computer.

His original plan was to have a PCB manufacturer build a batch of 100 board at $20 per board. He and Steve Jobs planned to sell them for $40, so the break even point was only 50 boards. They went to the Byte Shop to see if they were interested in selling these boards, but the Byte Shop insisted on selling the boards complete with chips already installed, so Woz set a price of $666.66. The rest, as they say, is history….

Read Mike Cassidy’s Mercury News story about the event.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Celebrating the Sempervirens Story — More than 100 Years of Conservation

San Jose, CA – May 6, 2013

On May 18, 1900 the Sempervirens Club was founded by photographer and painter Andrew Putnam Hill of San Jose to save the old-growth redwoods in the Santa Cruz mountains. The Sempervirens were pioneers in the conservation movement, and the home of Andrew and Florence Hill is now located in History Park.*

In order to celebrate Sempervirens’ 113th Anniversary, History Park will host a family day focused on trees, photography, painting and conservation. Andrew P. Hill, founder of the the Sempervirens who helped to save the Big Basin Redwoods, documented his studies with paintings and photography, which will be featured inside his home, open in History Park for the festivities on May 19.

Mountain Charlie McKiernan will be on hand at 2 PM with his story of a fight with a grizzly bear, and how he lived to tell about it. Mountain Charlie will be available for photo opportunities, as will Portraits of the Past characters dressed in attire of the period.

Children are invited to go on an edu-trek, which focuses on the trees of History Park, while the entire family will learn through fun activities.

Sunday, May 19 is also Archaeology Day.

Fun for children includes Dig San José: Public Archaeology Day with Stanford Archaeology Students providing guidance and an opportunity to dig and become a junior archaeologist.

The Print Shop will be open to learn about printing before computers. The Printers Guild will demonstrate by giving away souvenir bookmarks printed on an 1884 platen letterpress.

Plein Air Painters will be painting throughout the Park and hosting a beginner’s workshop from noon to 3 PM.

Hill was also known for his documentation of nature, so those who bring their cameras may follow Master Photographer John Paulson from 1 – 3 PM on a photographic trek of the Park.

Live music will be performed in the bandstand at History Park and the trolley will be available for rides throughout the park.

Refreshments will be available for purchase from O’Brien’s Ice Cream Parlor and Tony’s Popcorn Cart.

Admission is free for HSJ members, or $5 per person, 4 years old and older. City parking lots are $6. History Park is located at Senter Road at Phelan, in San Jose, CA. (for GPS purposes, use 635 Phelan Avenue, San Jose, CA).

Buildings Open on Sunday, May 19:
  • Pacific Hotel Galley & the Leonard & David McKay Gallery 
  • Trolley Barn with California Trolley & Railroad Corp. 
  • Print Shop with the Printers Guild 
  • Hill House with the Victorian Preservation Association 
  • Paulson House with the California Pioneers of Santa Clara Valley 
  • Chinese American Historical Museum with Chinese Historical and Cultural Project 
  • Portuguese Historical Museum with the Portuguese Heritage Society of California 
  • Dashaway Stables 
  • Stevens Ranch Fruit Barn 

*About Andrew Putnam Hill and the Sempervirens: A selection of photographs by A. P. Hill, as well as portraits of the Hill family, can also be found in History San Jose’s Photographic Collection and the Leonard McKay Collection.

Guide to the Sempervirens Club of California Records
Search the History San Jose online catalog
Purchase prints of A. P. Hill’s photographs through History San Jose’s PrintRoom gallery

Bear in Mind: The Story of the California Grizzly

San José, CA – May 7, 2013 — Does a bear walk through the woods? We don’t know, but the California Grizzly will be touring through History San José beginning in May.

Opening to the public on Sunday, May 25 at the Leonard & David McKay Gallery at the Pasetta House in History Park, the touring exhibition, Bear in Mind: The Story of the California Grizzly, brings ecology and history together.

“It is this type of historic exhibit that makes the History San José partnerships so significant,” said Alida Bray, President and CEO of History San José. “Grizzly bears, nature, science, art and photography — all of these monumental stories are what evolves the Santa Clara Valley into today’s Silicon Valley.”

Over the centuries, the relationship that Californians have had with the grizzly bear is one of dualities -– expressed in fear and fascination. Although now extinct in the state, the grizzly has long been a central character in California’s history. Illuminating the story of the grizzly bear, this exhibition will run at History Park through December, 2013.

Scientists estimate that 10,000 grizzlies once lived in California, perhaps the densest population of brown bears on the continent. However, through increased human settlement, loss of habitat, and hunting, by the early 1900s the California grizzly had vanished and could only be seen on the state flag.

It is through exhibits and artifacts, some from the collection of History San José, that Bear in Mind provides an in-depth look at the history and science of one of California’s most revered and feared animals.

The exhibition is produced and toured by Exhibit Envoy and was developed in concert with The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley and Heyday Books, and supported by the William Randolph Hearst Foundation with additional funds from the Bank of the West.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

San Jose’s First Piano

Martha "Patty" Reed Lewis in Capitola,
circa 1910 (History San Jose)
(Part of our “From the Piano Bench” series, reprints from the San Jose Historical Museum archives)

By Anne-Louise Heigho

An article in the San Jose Mercury of December 22, 1941, traces the history of the first piano in San Jose: it was a rosewood square grand, made by an Albany builder named Burns in 1849. Purchased by a Mr. and Mrs. Wilson, it then made the voyage by ship around the Horn to San Francisco. Mrs. Wilson insisted that the instrument be accessible for playing, not consigned to the hold for ballast [what effect do you suppose that had on its tune and condition?], and that was her last chance to enjoy it. Upon arrival at Yerba Buena (as the fledgling city was still called], her husband pawned it to the newly rich James Frazer Reed for $1000. If the Wilsons were successful in the diggings they could redeem the instrument; otherwise, another $500 would give Reed absolute ownership. [This, in a time when you could build a large house for about $100...] The piano was moved to San Jose by wagon — why not by water, when there were no responsible roads? Again, we question the effect on the hapless instrument.

James Frazer Reed, survivor of the infamous Donner-Reed overland party, had himself struck a Golconda in the goldfields and returned to San Jose to buy up much of the downtown property between the SJSU campus and route 280. Local streets are named for his family: Margaret, Martha, Virginia, Reed, etc. He wanted the piano for his daughter, Virginia, to use, and contracted with a local Frenchman named Love for a series of piano lessons for $175. Another kind of love interfered with that project, for Virginia soon quit and got married. The rest of the lessons were snapped up by younger sister Martha [nicknamed Patty], who was apparently more receptive to music, for she persisted in the art. Patty’s succeeding teacher, Jessie B. Winlack, was luckless enough to be returning to her Scottish family by way of the steamer Jenny Lind when it blew up at Alviso in 1858, killing her and most of the other passengers.

Patty had later connections with the Pacific Conservatory, whose faculty member J. M. Moody wrote a series of “Nine Songs,” and dedicated one to Patty, now designated as Martha Reed Lewis. She had married and moved to Capitola, where she was one of the founders of St. Johns’ Episcopal Church. According to the newspaper article, the “first piano” had come with her and was still in the family home in 1941.

Read more about History San Jose’s Music Collection.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Gems from San Jose’s Historic Music Journals

(Part of our “From the Piano Bench” series of reprints from the San Jose Historical Museum archives)

By Anne-Louise Heigho

San Jose was a vibrant participant in the turn-of-the-century music scene. Local music publishers, and branches of larger West Coast firms, were located on San Jose’s South First and Second Streets. They issued their own music journals of information and advertisement. A survey of History San Jose’s collection of these journals, published between 1880 and 1900, produced these gems:

From Sherman & Hyde’s Musical Review (March, 1877): “Last Wednesday morning, Mr. Morton of San Jose sold two Weber pianos, a Standard Organ, and a very fine guitar, all before lunch.”

From the Musical Circular of Wiley B. Allen (March, 1880). (The store was next to the Post Office, then located in the Hensley House on Santa Clara at 2nd Street). “More people came to the recital of Professor King’s pupils, at the College of the Pacific Conservatory [uptown on the Alameda, now Bellarmine Prep], than there were street cars to take them home — the transport system should be more alert and responsive to such demands.”

Editorial headline in the same issue: “Why Can’t We Have a Normal Music Department?” The San Jose Normal School, later Teachers College, was the nucleus of today’s San Jose State College; its music department is the sole survivor of four major music conservatories operating downtown from 1876 through the mid-1920s.

From the Musical Journal of the Music Hall Store (C. H. Maddox, proprietor, September 1882): “There are 125,000 music teachers in the United States.” San Jose’s city directories from 1885 to 1893 listed about 50-60 each year.

In the same issue: “a Miss Griswold (Bret Harte’s niece) has won the first prize for singing, and a second for operatic singing, at the Paris Conservatoire competition, the first occasion on which first prize for singing has been taken by an English-speaking pupil.”

Also in that issue, a portent of things to come: “Music performed in Harrisburg, by the aid of appliances for transmitting sound, was heard in Philadelphia, a distance of some 105 miles. The notes were said to be perfectly distinct, even to those who stood 25 feet from the receiver!”

One of the first publications printed in San Francisco after the great earthquake and fire of 1906 was the New San Francisco Magazine, “dedicated to the development of the State of California and the rebuilding of a new and greater San Francisco.” The first issue, called the “Salamander Number” in imitation of the salamander which emerges from the mud and thrives after forest fire, observed the local street scene: “Then, too, there is music. In some way a piano was saved from a ruined mansion on Nob Hill. Every night there are wags who gather around it and jangle merriment on its keys. Also there are phonographs. Many of these were saved from the ruins, and in the parks and squares where the homeless are located their strange melody is going on day and night.”

In the back pages of a song collection of that era is an advertisement by the Ruff Organ Co. of St. Louis, presenting a new instrument “guaranteed to be dust and mouse-proof.”

Read more about History San Jose’s Music Collection

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

CLIR Grant Work Successfully Completed at History San Jose

Staff and volunteers at the History San Jose Research Library and Archives have recently completed processing five manuscript collections from the Perham Collection of Early Electronics under a 2012 grant from the Council on Library and Information Resources’ Cataloging Hidden Collections and Archives program. Series through item-level catalog records, as well as many digital images, are now available through PastPerfect Online.

The project provides access to more than 100 linear feet of the largest manuscript portions of the Perham Collection, previously unprocessed, and to some extent unknown even to our Curator:

  1. The Lee and Marie de Forest Papers comprise the largest collection documenting this award-winning radio and motion-picture inventor. They include not only de Forest’s early Yale University, American DeForest Wireless Telegraph, and DeForest Phonofilm scrapbooks of correspondence, ephemera and news clippings, but also extensive correspondence between de Forest and his peers during the 1940s and 1950s that sheds light on the complex man behind his sometimes controversial inventions; 
  2. Professional and personal papers of 1916 Stanford engineering graduate Harold Elliott contain extensive materials on his work with Federal Telegraph, Galvin Manufacturing, RCA-Victor, and Hewlett-Packard, and his radio clock-tuner inventions. In addition, Elliott was a talented photographer, and his papers include more than 1000 photographs from his early days at Stanford University (1911-1916), hiking and camping trips in the Sierras and Arizona (circa 1915-1930), early automobiles, and later photographs of the Pacific Coastline and Portola Valley foothills, many of which were displayed in photography exhibits in the 1950s and 1960s; 
  3. Rare materials from Federal Telegraph Company (1909-1929), one of Silicon Valley’s earliest successful startups, including Douglas Perham’s scrapbooks of photographs, blueprints, and technical reports documenting Federal’s radio installations in San Francisco, San Diego, El Paso and Kansas City between 1909 and 1912; 
  4. Research notes and correspondence of Jane Morgan, author of “Electronics in the West” (1967), a treasure trove of information on early electronics pioneers on the West Coast. Although written in a popular style, Morgan’s work was meticulously researched and documented, and her research files include correspondence and notes detailing interviews with many key individuals; and 
  5. The Perham History Files, a collection of ephemera, notes, manuscripts, and other items pertaining to hundreds of people, companies, and technical developments. 
The Perham Collection of Early Electronics preserves rare books and ephemera, trade manuals, personal papers and archives, along with some 1200 photographs, and 2500 electronics devices from some of the earliest commercial ventures in electronics in the Western U.S. and a nascent Silicon Valley, from the 1890s to 1960. Douglas M. Perham, who began this collection, spent his career with many of these firms, from Federal Telegraph in 1909 to the highly successful post-war Varian Associates. He and his colleagues avidly collected material documenting what they saw happening around them over a seven-decade period. Originally displayed at Perham’s New Almaden Museum, the collection became part of the Perham Foundation’s Electronics Museum at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, California, in the late 1960s. After the Museum’s closure in 1991, the Collection went into storage, and was eventually donated in 2003 to History San Jose.

The Collection, received largely unprocessed, has now been almost entirely re-housed and cataloged, thanks to the dedication of a hardcore band of semi-retired engineers who have logged thousands of hours over the past ten years identifying and researching the over 2500 objects within the collection; and thanks to this CLIR grant, without which we could not have dedicated the time and resources to process this primary source material invaluable to anyone interested in early Bay Area commercial history. The grant has also allowed us to create an in-house processing manual, available to all volunteers and staff, that fully integrates PastPerfect museum and archives software into an archival workflow process, resulting in a more consistent and efficient approach to processing collections and submitting EAD guides to the Online Archive of California.

As part of this project, we have created a website to document the people, companies and products that comprise the Perham Collection at The site will continue to grow, and highlights some of the more compelling stories found in the manuscript collections over this past year. We also anticipate researchers and collectors will benefit from the richer insight provided by these materials into the personal and professional lives of the engineers responsible for many of the inventions that are the foundation of today’s telecommunications and computer industries.