John's Silicon Valley Page


Ever wonder who....

This is the start of the list of names.

ADAMS- John Hicks Adams was an interesting character. He was elected Sheriff and Supervisor in 1863 and 1876. He tracked the bandit Vasquez for over a year before arresting him. He was famous for riding for weeks at a time to track criminals. Saywer quotes Adams great, great, great nephew as saying "In 1879 Sheriff John H. Adams and former County Clerk Cornelius Finley were murdered by bandits in Arizona. They were on their way to Tuscon from their mine when they were murderd by Mexican bandits. Both of the murderd men held office at the court house in San Jose when Vasquex was tried." Many thanks to Dave Finlay for the additional information.

AGNEW- Anyone who has lived in The Valley for any amount of time knows about "Agnew". If you are a more recent arrival, I am talking about what used to be the Agnews Development Center, and before that Agnews State Hospital. The old place was split in two. What was called the "West Campus" is in Northern Santa Clara, off of Layafette Street. Most of the site is now home to a campus of Sun Microsystems, and the Rivermark development. The City of Santa Clara managed to get a new park, library, school and police station. Did you ever wonder where the name came from? Abram Agnew was born in 1820 in Ohio. He came overland to Oregon in 1846, where he worked as a rail splitter. He moved to Santa Clara in 1873, where he engaged in mining, blacksmithing and cattle raising. He owned 116 acres on what was then Santa Clara-Alviso Road, near the current day State Route 237. (I also have some information on the Agnew's development on another part of the site.

ALMADEN- Did you ever wonder about the area of San Jose called Almaden? The area is named for the first workable quicksilver mine in North America, it was also the first mine of any kind in California. The mine has a long and colorful history. There is some information on the park surrounding the mine here.

ALUM ROCK- Alum Rock Avenue is named for the 200 foot high rock of alum that is at the entrance to the park. In 1882 eucalyptus seeds were bought by ship from Australia and planted along the avenue. The last of these were cut down in 1960 when the road was widened.

ALVISO- When I was in high school the kids who lived in Alviso went to Peterson, where I spent four years. I never knew that Ygnacio Alviso was born in 1772 in Sonora, Mexico. Or that he spent 29 years as a soldier at the Mexican San Francisco Presidio, or that when he retired in 1838, he was granted 6,352 acres called "The Rancho Rincon de los Esteros" which was most of what is present day Alviso.

ARGUELLO- A famous Santa Clara family from the Pre-Mission Days. Luis Antonio Arguello was the first Mexican Govenor of California in 1825. His son, Don Jose Ramon Arguello built a mansion in Santa Clara, which was destroyed by fire. He also bought Rancho Quito in 1859.

ARAM- Captian Joseph Aram was born in New York in 1810. He arrived in the valley during the Mexican war in 1849. He was instrumental in fortifying the Santa Clara Mission during the Battle of Santa Clara. He was a nurseryman and was one of the first legislators in 1849 at San Jose, the first state capitol.

ASBURY- Asbury street was named for a Methodist bishop and he never saw the street that bears his name. The story goes like this: What is now called The University of the Pacific was started in Santa Clara as Californian Wesleyan College in 1851. By the early 1860's the school needed money. The trustees decided to take drastic action, they purchased 435 acres of the old Stockton rancho, set aside 20 acres in the middle of the tract, and subdivided the rest to sell. This tract is still called College Park. The boundaries of the tract were the Guadlupe River on the east, The Alameda on the west, Newhall street on north, and Polhemus street on the south. (In the 1960's Polhemus street's name was changed to Taylor street.) When they had to lay out streets they took the names of six Methodist bishops: Asbury, Emory, Hamline, Hedding, McKendrie and Morris (Morris was changed Vermont because there was concern that people might confuse it with the Morse Street.)

AUZERAIS- John L. and Edward Auzerais were French brothers who came to the valley in the early 1850's. They built a hotel on West Santa Clara called the Auzerais House which was by all accounts "magnificent". It stood there for more than 80 years.

Recently, Karen Rodgers visited the site. She provided the information shown below.

I came across your history pages online and was very interested. I am working on a Gordon family and John H. Gordon worked on the Auzerais House back in 1865. He came from England, to New Orleans as a LDS missionary, then up the Mississippi to St. Louis, where several of his children were born. He then traveled to Paxton, Utah, then to San Fransico, ending up in San Jose in 1863 to do the plumbing on the Auzerais House. A fellow worker (and another relative), a plumber by the name of James Monroe Carson helped put the plumbing in this House. James ended up marrying John's daughter, Isabelle (a) Jane Gordon and in 1870 they moved back to his home state of Pennsylvania. The story goes on with James murdering Isabelle's lover in 1877, divorcing her in 1878 and his life goes on. Isabelle went back to San Jose, died in her fathers house on San Augustine street in 1885. If you ever find anything on the Gordons or Carson, please let me know. And if you want any other information on this interesting family, I will be glad to share!!! She can be contacted at this address.

BASCOM- In 1849, Dr, and Mrs. Bascom came overland from Kentucky and settled in San Jose. It appears that the doctor's practice may not have been as robust as hoped. To help out, "Grandma Bascom" opened a boarding house. By all accounts, it was a huge success. Many of the big names of the day (Branham, Belden, Hester, Murphy and Reed to name just a few) stayed in her place. In 1852, the Bascoms moved to a 100 acre ranch in southern Santa Clara. (I am still looking for any remains of the home, and will put up anything that I find.)

BEAR VALLEY- Bear Valley Lane was named for the place where the Johnson Ranch was located. It was here that the ill fated Donner Party was hoping to take refuge.

BEE- Harry Bee helped John Gilroy settle the area that is now Gilroy. He was a blacksmith by trade, but expanded his skills to include mining, cattle raising and ultimately as a landlord.

BELDEN- First mayor of San Jose, and opened first "General Merchandise Store" in town. He came to California in 1841 with the "Bidwell-Bartleson Party" which landed in Montery. He ended up in New York, where he was a director of the Erie Railroad.

BENNETT- Mary Bennett was known as "The Strong Woman of Santa Clara". My sources tell of her colorful past. My connection would be to the old Bennett elementary school on Halford in Santa Clara, now the site of Miramar Plaza condos. She met an untimely end when she was shot by her second husband. It seems that she was accused of being unfaithful.

Since writing the above I have had correspondence from Alice Ellis, who has done much research on the Ben Lomond area. She pointed out that "Mrs. Mary Bennett Love testified at the inquest hearing in to the death of Harry Love." To have testified, she must have been alive.

BENTON- I have researched high and low and can not determine the origin of this street name. During the "Q&A" following Lorie Garcia's talk she was able to assure us that it was in use in 1866, but she did not know its orgin either. I will have to work on this one a little more.

BERNAL- Joaquin Bernal was one of the valley's famous Dons. In 1834 he was granted Rancho Santa Theresa, which was suppose to be 4,412 acres or one league. When he surveyed the property he discovered that he had 9,647 acres. He also had the first swimming pool in the valley.

BERRYESA- We all know about the Flea Market, but did you ever wonder about the name. (I always have!) The family dated back to the 1770, "Pre-Mission" days. By all accounts Nicholas Berryessa was a good, if unlucky man. He suffered a life of misfortune; plagued by American squatters, his cattle stolen by Fremont's men and his brother, Jose Berryessa owner of the Rancho Vicente, allegedly was shot by Kit Carson on Fremont's orders. Nicholas was granted the Rancho Milpitas, 1835, 4,457 acres, by a San Jose Alcalde but Govenor Castro promptly re granted it to Jose Maria Alviso. Small wonder that a few years later, Nicholas died, mentally unbalanced. Other family members were more successful and left a line of prominent citizens.

There is a connection to Santa Clara. About 150 years ago the Galindo family built an "adobe" on the grounds of what was then "Mission Santa Clara de Asis". In 1861 the house was sold to Maria Zacarias Bernal de Berryesa. In the early part of this century the family of Helen Loboa, the current owner bought the home. On September 4, 1996 the Santa Clara City Council purchased the property. It will be preserved. If you want to see it, it is at 373 Jefferson Street (behind the cemetery). If you want more information on the house you can check out Lorie Garcia's article in the February 13, 1997 Mission City Gazette.

While we are on the subject of current locations; Do you know where the Battle of Santa Clara occurred? If you do, you are one up on several people. In his book, "Pionner Blue Book" Ralph Rambo says that it was near the intersection of what today roughly is Lawrence Expressway and Bayshore. (It is important to remember that what we call El Camino Real was "Bayshore" up until the early 1950's.) The Native Sons of the Golden West have put a plaque in the parking lot of the Save Mart, at Bowe and El Camino ,commemorating the event. (For those who don't know this area, the two sites are about five miles apart.) I also have a vague memory of some sort of plaque located in the parking lot of the K-Mart at Lawrence and the El Camino commemorating the battle. On the day that I wrote this I went to look for it, but could not find it. During her talk on 10/19/97 Lorie Garcia put it at El Camino and Pomeroy. I think that it must have occured in what is now the parking lot for Save-Mart.

There are some things that everyone agrees on. It was the Northern most battle of the Mexican War, and as a matter of fact the only battle fought in Northern California. It was fought on January 2, 1847, and there were no dead or wounded. There was one man reported missing. It seems that in his excitement to get in to the battle, he forgot to remove his ramrod before firing. He went off to look for it, and missed the rest of the battle.

BING- The name appears on four streets in the county. It came from the cherry.

BIRD- Isacc and Calvert Bird were hops farmers in what is now Willow Glen. They were called "California Willow Grove" hops were of high quality and brought good prices in New York.

BLABON- Walter Blabon was born in Maine in 1830. He arrived in this area in 1849 and in 1864 bought 130 acres on Saratoga-Sunnyvale Road. He was among the earliest settlers in the Cupertino area.

BOLLINGER- Andrew J. Bollinger, as a boy, drove an ox team to California around 1852. This family group settled mainly along the current Stevens Creek Blvd. His father purchased 160 acres in 1854 fronting on the present road that bears the family name, the price was $1500.00

BOWE- Today the street that bears this name replaces the driveway to the former Moonlite Drive-in. In an article in a recent edition of The Santa Clara Vision I learned about Earl Bowe who moved here in 1939, The street is named for him. He did a great deal for the city, and was missed by many people.

Recently I received a message from Tony Smith, Earl's Grandson. His Grandmother, Ave Maria Burns-Bowe had lived in the family home at Katherine and Isabelle in Santa Clara, after Earl's death. She died on May 27, 2002, at the age of 101. Tony works for a local company and Jacqi Bowe is the resident cartoonist of The Santa Clara Vision.

BROWN- George M. Brown was born in England and came to this country in 1862, arriving in San Francisco. He remained there for about two and a half years, until he went to Vancover Island with his brother James Miller Brown. He returned to this area in 1866. He owned 78 acres, 2 1/2 miles north of Santa Clara. He was one of the pioneer planters of pears and other fruits. And of course has a street named for him in Santa Clara.

He also still has living relatives. I had a message from Donald C. Norris who lives in Canada with updates that have been included above. He also provided the following information. James Miller Brown was an even earlier addition to California having come over the California Trail.

James had heard about the California gold strike in 1849 and came over with his mentor Mr. Goden and his two sons in 1850 on the sailing ship "Excelsior" and landed in NY.

From there by train and canal boat to Pittsburgh, Louisville, and Evansville- the later in Indianna. Here Mr. Goden Sr. and one son died of "yellow fever". The remaining son returned to England leaving James Miller Brown.

He then took up with a John Kennedy, a contractor on the Wabash and Erie Canal who was putting together a party for California. They left Evansville with 275 head of cattle, 16 head of horses and 10 wagons.

The journey took 7 months and he finally arrived at Placerville, California where he made a "tidy sum."

He left California for Panama and returned briefly to England.

In 1862 he came to Esquimalt on Vancouver Island. He arrived ill with a mild case of smallpox. Then on to the Cariboo gold fields as far as Richfield. He was acquainted with Cariboo Cameron and Ned Stout.

He returned to Vancouver Island and married Leah Westwood--a daughter of William Joseph Westwood and Elizabeth Tilley. The Westwoods had come over the California Trail from St. Louis in 1853 to Vallejo, California where they had farmed. Until Joseph Westwood had heard about gold on Vancouver Island near Victoria at Goldstream.

All in all an interesting story.

Don Norris

Don has graciously allowed me to use this information. He can be contacted at at this address.

After posting the information above, I was contacted by Glenda Barr, who is the great grand daughter of James Miller Brown. (One of the joys of this page is that I frequently get what Paul Harvey would call the rest of the story.) Glenda's input was:

My chapter of the family was not included, as I am a product of the second marriage, in 1893, when James married his daughter -in-law's sister. He was 63, and his new wife, Louisa Rumming was about 22. They had 11 children, the last being born when James was 80! Amongst a collection of family papers was a copy of the death notice of George Brown in California, and I have a copy of this. I was especially interested to read on your page about George's fruit growing, since this is also my passion.

BUBB- Benjamin T. Bubb was 12 years old in 1850 when he helped drive an ox team across the plains. He bought 168 acres in West Side, which is now Cupertino.

BURNETT- Peter Hardeman Burnett was born in Kentucky. He came to California in 1849 in search of gold. He built a home near Alviso and later a mansion on North First Street. He was also the first American Govenor of California.

CAHALAN- Mike Cahalan was born in Terryglass, County Tipperary, Ireland in 1790. His people had farmed the "Golden Vale" for years, but he ran afoul of the English in 1820 and escaped to America. He was more than 60 years old when he decided to move to California. He farmed in The Valley for more than 20 years. He amassed a large ranch (more than 1000 acres) and a larger family (14 children). There is a large marble altar that he donated still in use at Saint Josephs Cathederal in San Jose.

CAMBRIAN PARK (Village)- This area is well known in the valley. The name comes from the ancient name for Wales. The area has been known as Cambrian Park and Cambrian Village. Freeway 85 cuts through the center of the neighborhood, but it is still a great place to live.

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1998 to 2007 by John D. Casey Jr.