Saturday, May 22, 2010

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Thanks for visiting Historic Happenings! If you are not on the email list yet, and would like to be notified via email when a new posting of this newsletter is made, please email Terry Ommen at I will add you to the list. I will not share your email address with anyone without your permission.

Well, Marian Shippey Cote was Johnny on the Spot and the first to get the last mystery spot correct. Good job, Marion. It obviously was the little landing, with wrought iron on the top section of the Fox Theatre. So many of you got it right!

Maybe it was too easy but just in case, here’s another easy one for you. Where is this building? Here are the clues:
1) This building at one time was the temporary church for Christ Lutheran Church.
2) The Women’s Club sold the building in 1998.
3) It is now home to some good food—much of it is on the go.
4) Sylvia Johns led the fundraising effort to build and furnish this building.
Where is it? Good Luck.

Mooney Bottle Dug Up and Passed On
Kate Gibson-Cates tells me she inherited a great old Visalia bottle. According to what was told to her by her grandmother who actually found it, it came from “underneath the stage of a theater that was being demolished,” presumably in Visalia. I don’t know but maybe it was the old Theatre Visalia on the northeast corner of Court and Acequia. These old Mooney bottles are very rare and highly prized. They were used by Michael Mooney (pictured here) in his brewery operated in the late 1800s. They are aqua in color and have raised lettering that says M. Mooney Visalia. It is kind of squatty and stands only about 7” high. It’s really a nice piece of Visalia history. Kate, you’ve got a good one here, so keep it safe.

Wingfields Probably on Hudgins Wagon Train
Jill Graham has been in contact with me, and she believes some relatives of hers that traveled West were with John Hudgins…on a wagon train that headed west from Missouri in 1849 and has been mentioned in the last few issues of HH. Jill lives in Washington State and enjoys family genealogy. She is writing a short biography of Charles R. Wingfield, one of her relatives, and who was very likely on the Hudgins Wagon Train. Here, he is pictured on the right with J. Tatman on the left, and P. Parker in the center. By the way, Charles Wingfield was the Tulare County Sheriff from 1873-1877. A great old photograph here, and Jill believes she acquired it from Laura Heberling. Looking forward to your Wingfield biography, Jill.

Old Photograph Came Out of the Wall
As you know the buildings on the north side of Main between Bridge and Santa Fe are being demolished. Losing our old buildings is painful, but unfortunately these old timers have been structurally damaged and compromised over the years by unstable ground. The Mangano Co. owns the property and has some exciting plans for the old block, hopefully that will include some historical component. Craig Mangano shared that during their work on the site they found this old unmarked photograph in the wall of the old Larson Hotel, which by the way was called the Ramona early on. No one pictured here is identified nor is there any identification as to where it was taken. Recognize anyone? There’s got to be a story here. Thanks, Craig, for sharing.

Old House Found On Old Photograph
In the May 2010 issue of Direct Magazine, I wrote an article about the Visalia Volunteer Fire Department. It can be found in the magazines regular local history section called From Out of the Tules. The article called “Visalia Fire Volunteers Lose Their Jobs” drew Alan George’s attention. The article contained a photograph (circa 1908) showing the old firehouse which was located on the southeast corner of Church and Acequia, with firemen standing in front. On the right side of the photograph, you can see a white house setting on the southwest corner of Church of Acequia, directly across the street from the engine house. Alan contacted me and said that the house in the picture is still in Visalia but had been moved to 1307 W. Center. I went by the address (now Jazz Productions-Day Spa) and boy, it sure does look like the same house. Apparently, it was moved in the 1960s to make way for the Visalia convention center. Lisa Surroz, the current owner of this old Victorian home and business, was pleased to get a copy of the photograph showing her house by the old firehouse. She had heard the house was built in about 1890. It is a beautiful building both inside and out, and it proudly displays a brass preservation plaque on the front. Thanks Alan for adding another piece to our understanding of Visalia’s past. If you would like to read the Volunteer fire department article from Direct Magazine, go to:

Visalia Water Works and the California Water Service
Phil Mirwald, Manager of the California Water Service in Visalia, shared some Cal Water history recently. Some of the documents indicate that Visalia Water Works sold their operation to California Water Service in 1927. I’d sure like to confirm that date Phil, can you help? Visalia had had a number of early residential water systems during the years prior to that, some starting very early. Early pumping stations were located throughout the city. This 1897 photograph, shows the Visalia Water Works headquarters on the left. Located on the northeast corner of Santa Fe and Main streets, and the early water company can be seen next to the ice plant.

Goshen Avenue is obviously named after the little community of Goshen just a few miles west of Visalia. The town was established in 1872 by the Southern and Central Pacific Railroads after they laid track from the north and from the south. Basically, where they met, the town of Goshen was established. Negotiations to get the railroad to go through Visalia failed, so Goshen was established. The name has a Biblical origin and generally has come to mean “land of plenty.” Goshen Avenue, by the way, follows the railroad spur line that connects Visalia and Goshen.

***Susan Mangini says she has had several offers of a new home for her old musical instrument that was highlighted in the last HH. Now how do you choose just one?

***George Reece recently shared some old family photographs and documents. The focus on the collection was on members of the Pennebaker family. George is really connected to early Visalia families.

***Kim Gunter is wondering about the rock or stone base that sets empty near the entrance to Mooney Grove Park. On that base once stood The Pioneer statue and she wonders if there will ever be a statue there again. The base has been without The Pioneer for about 30 years. Anybody ideas for a new statue on this base?

“Women who love their husbands are happy and at rest. Those who do not are disturbed and restless; they are always seeking for some means of killing time; they are ready to flirt at any moment; their children are, according to their means, either hidden in nurseries under the care of French bonnes, or handed over to Sally, the slatternly nurse, to shake, to slap, and stuff with sugar, as her wisdom dictates, while society and amusements of all sorts occupy the mother’s time.” Visalia Weekly Delta, March 17, 1882

Thursday, May 6, 2010

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Thanks for visiting Historic Happenings! If you are not on the email list yet, and would like to be notified via email when a new posting of this newsletter is made, please email Terry Ommen at I will add you to the list. I will not share your email address with anyone without your permission.

Congratulations go out to Carl Switzer who was the first to correctly identify the location of the fire department marker. This marker was taken from one of the old fire department buildings and now is mounted near the site of the old fire station near Church and Acequia. The nice old marker has been preserved over the years and now is on a wall of the Convention Center near the old fire station site.

For those of you ready to tackle a new mystery spot, here is a much easier one. You probably don’t need many clues, but I’m going to provide some just in case. On what building can this architectural feature be found?
1) The building fronts a street that was once called Cottonwood Street
2) The building’s architectural style is called Spanish Colonial Revival
3) The building is located across the street from the site of the old Carnegie Library.
4) There is a large herd of elephants inside this building.

Old Home Photograph Disappears
Melanie Nelson owns a Victorian home at 614 S Court Street and passed along that some years ago she obtained an old photograph of her house taken in the horse and buggy days. She proudly framed the photograph and displayed it on a shelf in her front porch. Recently, she discovered the old photograph was missing—apparently someone had taken it. She put a note on the front gate encouraging the person who took it to return it to her, but no luck, so now she’s asking if by any chance anyone has another old copy of her house photograph. She knows it is a long shot but she is proud of her home and would like to get another copy. Email me, if you can help and I will pass it along to her. The photograph shown here is one taken out of the Visalia Heritage book when the house was photographed about 20 or so years ago.

Home Needed for Old Musical Instrument
Susan Mangini, recently mentioned her grandfather, Glenn A. Stanton, who was the leader of the American Legion Drum and Bugle Corps in Lindsay, and her father, Glenn Jr., a member of the Corps. They passed down this instrument to her. She calls it a xylophone and she is looking for a home for it. Her hopes are to place it in a school or museum or with some musical instrument buff that appreciates this type of instrument. If you have an idea for it, please contact Susan directly at Susan wonders if this could have been used on a wheeled cart and played in a marching band. If that’s the case, maybe it even rolled along Main Street in Visalia, who knows? Or maybe, just maybe, Professor Harold Hill used this when he was organizing the River City Boy’s Band. (I added this for all of you Music Man fans?)

Feast Your Eyes on this Beauty
JM and Peggy Bragg surprised me the other day with a real treat. They had an original TAD’s menu. TAD’s as you know turned into Mearles. TAD’s, a name formed from the first initials of the 3 brothers who opened the famous restaurant in 1940. Ted, Abe, and Dick Beshwate owned the restaurant until about 1946, then it became “D’s”. So this menu dates back to that period. Take a look, New York steak dinners $1.35 or a milkshake for 20 cents. Amazing keepsake here. Thanks to the Braggs for being such packrats and sharing the loot with all of us.

Eleanor Bergthold recently shared that her grandfather, Orlando Moore, was one of the early residents of the area just north of Tulare Ave and Giddings. Orlando obviously owned considerable property in the area and as the streets developed he was given naming rights on at least one existing street. Raymon was one of Orlando’s sons, became the namesake for the Visalia street named Raymon. It is a short street, 2 blocks long, and runs east off of Giddings to Sowell. By the way, when Raymon was born there was discussion within the family as to whether his name should have a “d” on the end. Orlando thought that by leaving the “d” off, it would “save a lot of writing over the years.”

Historic Visalia Walking Trail Brochure
In 2005, Edmund “Eddy” Gubler completed his Eagle Scout project called the “Historic Visalia Walking Trail.” He identified many of Visalia’s historic locations, marked and described them, then created a self-guided brochure, allowing Visalians as well as visitors a way to enjoy Visalia’s historic points of interest. Jostens did a very professional job of printing the brochure and the supply of brochures was quickly exhausted. Now Leslie Caviglia, Visalia Deputy City Manager, has announced the good news, “Jostens recently reprinted the Historical Walking Tour that Ed Gubler did. We have some at our office [ Visalia City Hall ], and the Downtown Visalians have some. It’s a great brochure and I wanted to let you know that it’s available again. Ed is coming to the May 17 council meeting to announce that it has been reissued.” That is good news and those of you who don’t have a copy, make sure you stop by and get one. I’m sure they will have them at the council meeting on the 17th, so stop by then and you can get Ed’s autograph on it at the same time.

***Speaking of the Visalia Airport during World II, and by the way we have been doing a lot of that in the last postings of HH, but its all interesting and Carl Switzer shared the following: “I was about 11 years old and my father had the contract to deliver gas and oil to the contractor that built the air base and the large dirt areas where they housed the planes. The planes were night fighters. I used to ride on the gasoline truck with father as they had to deliver oil and gas to keep the big carry alls and bulldozers running twenty-four hours a day as they were in a hurry to complete the project and get the airbase operational. It was during the winter and the guards at the gate were cold as they had to stand duty around the clock. The guards dug a hole in the ground and my dad would give them some stove oil that they would pour in the hole, then toss a match in, and they would have a warm fire for a few hours. I believe Gordon Ball was the construction company.”

***Also about the airport, Dana Lubich shared a website that lists all the aircraft that flew out of the Visalia Airport during the war. Other interesting information also. Here is the website.

“H. Sumida & Co., General Merchandise—Center & Bridge sts. Wood, General Fuel Supplies—explosives a specialty—Call Main 217 prompt delivery.” Advertisement in the Visalia Morning Delta, February 5, 1915. (Editorial comment: You just don’t find outlets for explosives that much anymore!)