Photos by Steve Knight
The OCTA CA-NV Chapter held its annual Spring Symposium in San Jose on May 6th and 7th, 2006. Mary Mueller, symposium chairperson, started things off Saturday morning at the Holiday Inn Silicon Valley by introducing Greg P. Smestad who spoked about the 1775-76 DeAnza expediton. Accompanying Greg in song and music were the Calicanto Associates, dressed up in early California costumes.
The next speaker was Russell Skowronek, professor of Anthropology at Santa Clara University. Russell gave a presentation on the prehistoric and mission-era Santa Clara. Then John Slenter, Santa Clara County Park interpreter, talked about the New Almaden Quicksilver mines and the Califonia Gold Rush.
After lunch attendees got to decide on a few choices of tours. Some followed Russell Skowronek on a walking tour of Mission Santa Clara. Others went to the Casa Grande Quicksilver Museum at New Almaden for either a van tour or hiking tour of Quicksilver Park. Still others chose a self-guided tour of the Peralta Adobe (San Jose’s oldest structure) or a visit to San Jose Museum Park.
About half of the attendees followed Pat Loomis and Virginia Hammerness to the Pioneer secton of Oak Hill Memorial Park. Here is a memorial to all of the early Pioneers who came to California in the 1840s and settled in the San Jose area. Among therm were Dr. John Townsend of the 1844 Stephens-Townsend-Murphy Party. Townsend and his wife both perished while attending to victims of a cholera epidemic in San Jose in 1850. Other important graves pointed out by Pat and Virginia were: James Frazier Reed, who was banished from the Donner Party, reached Sutter’s Fort and arranged the relief party to rescue his family after serving as a soldier in the California Rebellion; little Patty Reed from the Donner Party (remember the doll at Sutter’s Fort); George Donner, Jr., son of Jacob Donner; Moses Schallenberger, brother-in-law of Dr. Townsend and a member of the Stephens-Townsend-Murphy Party, who stayed behind all winter to guard the wagons left behind at Donner Lake — his cabin was later used by the Donner Party survivors; Samuel S. Young of the Harlan-Young Party that was ahead of the Donner party; and William Eddy of the Donner party, leader of the Forlorn Hope Party. Eddy is also famous for completing the first survey of San Francisco.
The Three Flames restaurant in San Jose was the site of the Awards Dinner Saturday evening. Mark Wilson (remember John Charles Fremont at the Eureka Symposium?) entertained the diners with stories about Moses Milner, aka “California Joe,” a colorful Wild west figure who led wagon trains to Caifornia and Oregon and made a lot of money in the gold fields. He also was an Army scout for General Custer and Bill Hickok’s best friend.
Fran Taplin, Awards Committee Chairperson, presented awards after dinner. Lifetime Achievement Award: Frank and Mary Anne Tortorich; Senior Trail Boss Award: Tom Dougherty; Certificates of Appreciation: Herman Zittel (trail mapping), Anne-Louise Bennett (past Awards Committee Chairperson), Jim McClain (40-Mile Desert Trail Tour), Dave Palmer (Fernley Swales Photomonitoring Program), Hugh March and Dave Stone (the chapter’s Risk Management Program). Mary Anne and Frank Tortorich were unable to attend the symposium. Tom Fee read a letter of appreciation from Frank.
Sunday morning’s activities were devoted to San Jose’s Quicksilver Park and tours of the New Almaden quicksilver (mercury) mines. Attendees had a choice of three guided walking tours or a repeat of Saturday’s van tour. The walking tours consisted of Historic Homes and Hacienda Cemetery, Casa Grande Gardens and History, and the New Almaden Quicksilver Museum. The day’s festivities concluded with a plaque dedication followed by a picnic lunch at the Casa Grande picnic area. The OCTA Plaque describes the connection between New Almaden Mines and the Gold Rush of California. Participating in the plaque dedication were Kitty Monahan, president of the Quicksilver Association; Bev Hesse, president of the Argonauts Historical Society; Virginia Hammerness, editor of Quicksilver Newsletter (as well as Trail Talk); and Mary Mueller, representing OCTA. Some of the symposium attendees spent Sunday afternoon at one of the self-guided tours that they missed on Saturday. Others visited Mission San Jose in nearby Fremont.
Next year’s Symposium will take place in Yreka on April 20-22, 2007. Bob and Cherie Evanhoe will be our hosts.