Friday, March 27, 2009

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A Visalia Mystery Spot – How Observant Are You?
Historic Happenings is full of mysteries, but I thought it might be kinda fun to add another—but with a new wrinkle: we will know the answer to this one. We will give you a chance to solve it with some clues. So here is the first “Mystery Spot” in Visalia. It is a weathervane on a building. Which building is it on? Here are some clues:

1. The weathervane is on top of a building that was built the same year the Baseball Hall of Fame was founded in Cooperstown, New York.
2. The weathervane is surrounded by original Gladding, McBean roofing material.

3. The building is situated between 3 signs, each of which identifies 3 varieties of trees.
4. The building is a stone’s throw away from a church that was built in the year the Brooklyn Dodgers moved to Los Angeles.

Okay, enough hints. What is the building on which this weathervane sets? The first person to email me or call me with the correct answer will be acknowledged in the next HH. I know, not much of an incentive here, but maybe down the road we can offer a prize. I will offer a new “Mystery Spot” from time to time. In the next posting of HH the building with the weathervane will also be identified.

Visalian Needs Ride Back Home
For the last couple of years, Helen, a lady living in Southern California, has been trying to donate a miniature/doll house named “The Visalian.” I had never heard of it, but I have found out with the help of Judy Lewin, who owns Mill Creek Miniatures, that a miniature house kit named “The Visalian “ was created some 30 years ago by a man named Howard Hill, who owned the One-of-a-Kind Woodshop. In his kit he replicated the beautiful Hilliard home that was located east of Visalia adjacent to Highway 198 on the south side of the road. It was a beautiful Victorian house built in 1902 and stood there until 1983 when it burned to the ground.

Now, this assembled miniature, “The Visalian,” measuring about 4 feet x 4 feet, is setting in Temecula waiting for a ride back to Visalia, its new home. The City of Visalia apparently has found a home for it, but the city is looking for a way to get it back here. If you can provide any help in getting the miniature back to Visalia, please contact Jaye Tee with the City of Visalia at (559) 713-4314.

Marble Tombstone Unearthed
A couple of weeks ago a man was digging in his garden on Road 148 just outside of Visalia when he hit a block of marble. He dug it up and discovered it was the double headstone for Mary McKowen (born June 19, 1841 in Hartley Pool, England and died July 13, 1884) and her husband Phillip (born August 3, 1839 and died July 9, 1910). It stands about 37” high and has a carving of a man’s head on top, which to me, is very unusual. The finder of the headstone called the Visalia Cemetery and it was picked up. According to Visalia Cemetery personnel, the headstone is not from cemeteries in Exeter, Farmersville, Woodlake or Visalia, and the name McKowen is so far nowhere to be found in the records. Who were the McKowen’s and how did the headstone get in the area?

Civil War Burial Survey – Yankees and Rebels Identified
In the fall of 2002, Bill Melton (on the left) of Porterville, working with the Sons of the Union Veterans began a project to identify and make sure all of Civil War Veteran burial sites were marked in Tulare County cemeteries. Since he started, Bill has recorded at least 216 Confederate and Union soldiers buried in Visalia, Three Rivers, Exeter, Farmersville, Porterville, Lindsay and Strathmore. Bill works with other Civil War groups and individuals like Jim Chance (on the right), a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. Bill and his friends are continuing their research and adding to what we know about these soldiers. They share their material with the appropriate cemeteries including the Visalia Cemetery. The material they have gathered fills several large binders and thanks to Bill and his friends we know a lot more about the Civil War veterans buried in our cemeteries. What a great project! Thanks Bill and friends.

{{}} New photographs keep surfacing. Peter Cowper and Marian Cote discovered some Main Street parade photos showing buildings from vantage points that I’ve never seen before. Great detail too! Thanks guys for sharing.

{{}} Charles Loffland found a photo of Mearle’s Drive-In restaurant in a book called America A to Z – People, Places, Customs and Culture – a Reader’s Digest publication from 1997. It’s amazing how often Mearle’s comes up as an historical icon.

{{}} The Robin Fountain is almost complete so stay turned for the announcement of the Rededication.

{{}} After the last HH, Jim and Shirie Drath, former Visalians now living in Alaska, read the story of the Visalia Olive Oil Company and went to their cupboard and found a container marked: Visalia Pride Pure Olive Oil. Jim speculates that Shirie must have bought it at a garage sale years ago when they lived here. Sure seems like olive oil in Visalia was a hot item back in the earlier days.

{{}} On March 12th about 25 lovers of good food experienced the Historic Progressive Dinner organized by Erin Capuchino of the Visalia Convention and Visitor’s Bureau. All that took part ate well and had fun, all in great historical settings.

{{}} Regarding the tunnels at Redwood High, Jim Drath, former Redwood High School graduate and now Alaska resident, said, “When I was at Redwood High School, 1957-1961, those tunnels were in the auditorium. As curious kids, the only time I was involved in opening the doors, was swiftly met with a stern direction from a teacher to shut that door, it’s dangerous in there. At that time, you could not get into the passageway due to debris and dirt. After that one time, I never tried to look in there again.”

“The street sweeper, which this city has on trial was given its first trial early Saturday morning. It seemed to clean the street alright but the dust it raised was stifling, the entire business portion of town having an appearance of being enveloped in a dense fog. All of the buildings were covered with a coat of gray, and wherever there happened to be an open window, the room was given a thorough covering of dust.”
Excerpt from an article in the Visalia Morning Courier, July 7, 1907.

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