Saturday, December 6, 2014

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Congratulations go out to Peggy Bragg who was the first to get the October mystery spot identified correctly. The "spot" was the plaque location commemorating Visalia's first store built in 1854 by Nathan Baker. The plaque is mounted in the sidewalk in front of the Enchanted Playhouse Theater at Main and Garden streets. Nice work, Peggy.

Here's the next one. This one is very unusual and I believe it's going to be a tough one, but I've paid attention to this site for a long time and I'd like to see if anyone else has. Here are your clues:

1) This wooden pole is permanently mounted in the sidewalk.
2) I've wondered whether it could have been connected in some way to the Visalia Electric Railroad?
3) It has a wooden appendage at the top which was used to hold an "insulator."
4) From the top of this pole one gets a birds eye view of a Tulare County Corrections Department.

Where is this pole? Bonus question: Why is it still standing?

Floods of Visalia – Own Some History
Here is an opportunity for you.  On Monday, December 8 from 7:00-8:30pm, I will present a program on the historic floods of Visalia with lots of interesting historic photographs. The 210 Café (Locust and Center streets) will host the event and the evening will include a live
auction of 11 poster size enlargements of classic Visalia flood pictures. Thanks to the generosity of Costco in Visalia, one or more of these 20" x 30" enlargements could be yours for the winning bid. And by the way, they are suitable for framing. Carl Switzer, a Visalia native, will be the auctioneer and although he is not a professional auctioneer, he is good, really good. All the proceeds from the auction will go to the 210 Café and their outreach effort. Hope to see you there. It should be fun! I will also have a few of my books there as well for sale.

Yancy Stokes Comes to Visalia
Recently Lee Coats, son of George Coats, contacted me and passed along this story. Yancy Stokes, Lee's great great great grandfather, was born in Kentucky in 1814. He lived in what was Tulare County at the time (now Kings County) and when Yancy died in 1885, he was buried in the Tagus Ranch Cemetery. On his grave was an
ornate obelisk shaped headstone. Sometime, probably in the 1940s, the cemetery was abandoned and became ag land. The headstones at the cemetery disappeared. Sometime later a ditch tender found Yancy's discarded and damaged headstone, and gave it to George Coats knowing he was a relative. Lee inherited the headstone and made it his mission to get it repaired and back in a cemetery. Visalia Cemetery was accommodating, so today the obelisk headstone is in the Stokes section of the Visalia Cemetery, of course without the body of Yancy. By the way, before coming to California, Yancy fought in the Black Hawk War in the upper midwest in 1832—the same war that young Abraham Lincoln fought in. Just curious, how does a cemetery just disappear?

The Wells, Fargo Co.  Express—A Long Visalia Tradition
Dustin Smith recently discovered some historic Visalia photographs. In the collection were some interesting old timers. One was the Wells, Fargo & Co. express office here in Visalia believed to have been on the east side of Court Street between Main and Acequia.
Zane Steuben, shown standing in this circa 1890 photograph, was the local agent and several Steuben family members had worked for Wells, Fargo over the years. Notice the wooden boardwalk. The Wells, Fargo envelope shown here originated at the Visalia Wells, Fargo office as you can see. Notice the Visalia cancellation. Thanks, Dustin, for making Wells, Fargo part of Historic Happenings.

Fox Marquee Gets Upgrade—Stays in Character
Thanks to the generosity of Visalia Heritage, Inc. and San Joaquin Valley College, Visalia's Fox Theatre has a new marquee. The old replaced one was not the original, and had been installed years after the building was built. It was somewhat modern looking, and it did not fit the character of
the 1930 building. In my opinion, the upgraded new one looks more like the original and has taken advantage of modern features, for example, LED light bulbs. To me the new one has maintained the character of the old movie house. The amazing talent of volunteer, Rich Manley and the leadership of committee chair, Dana Berry, helped make it possible. So many other people and companies had a generous hand in making this upgrade a reality. My compliments to all who recognized the importance of keeping, the original "feel" of the old theater. To see what I mean, take a look at the marquee in this 1932 picture and compare it to the new one (black background, white letters.)

George W. Stewart and His Delta Office
For many years, the Visalia-Delta newspaper was in the heart of Visalia. This ornate building sat on the eastside of Church between Main and Center streets. Proud of its newspaper's beginning, the top of the building advertises its start as "1859." The upstairs was occupied by Dr. J. J. Gussenhoven, physician and surgeon. George W. Stewart, owner of the newspaper, is the man standing in the doorway fourth from the right. By the way, Stewart is called the Father of Sequoia National Park. Thanks again go to Dustin Smith for reminding us of this important building that was torn down in the late 1960s.

Harvey House – Could it be a Fred Harvey Original?
For over six decades, Visalia was home to the Harvey House. Built about 1904 on the northeast corner off Garden and Main streets, it was a Spanish style, ornately decorated structure. Later it had a name change and it became the Hotel Harvey. It had quite a past, including rumors of ladies of the evening occupying rooms
there. Built over Mill Creek it was vulnerable to high water, and in January 1956, after Mill Creek became plugged, water bubbled up into the interior of building. I have often wondered if this old lodging house could have been one of the famous hotels in the Fred Harvey chain. Fred Harvey hotels tended to be close to the Santa Fe Railroad and our Harvey House was only about two blocks from Visalia's Santa Fe Depot. The architectural style seems to fit the Fred Harvey hotel design. This building was torn down in 1971. Could this have been a Fred Harvey built hotel? Share your thoughts.

***Still looking for more information on David Bice James, a Tulare County man and Visalian who reportedly died in Fallon, Nevada in 1907.

***In the October HH, Debbie Harland asked for information about what she remembered as the Allen Way Market by Highland School. Several of you responded including Jim Drath who wrote, "I used to ride my bicycle past there every day while attending Houston and Green Acres Schools. Allen Way runs between Stevenson, north of Grove, westbound to Turner Street, where it actually ends at the east gate to the Visalia Cemetery. The Allen Way Market was located on the north side of the road between Stevenson and Conyer. It was attached to a residence where the owners lived. When you walked into the store, they would literally walk out of their house into the market and help you. The store was a great place to get a 5 cent Snickers bar for a guy's lunch bag."

***Does anyone remember the Sunset Apartments in the 1400 block of West Main? In 1929 I learned that Dr. Lipson traded property on East Main Street for the apartments. I went by the area, but did not see anything that looked like apartments.

"The pretty school marms have captured the town." Visalia Morning Delta, December 2, 1896.