June Break: I am an Etta James Fan

In the 198os I loved Etta James‘ song “Jump into My Fire,” and I found her address in Southern California. Thats how I  bought  her album called “Seven Year Itch.” Ms. James was so gracious that she not only sent the album but an autographed photo, as seen below. 



The SF earthquake/fire Moved A lot of buildings in HMB

{Image below: Here’s one shot of what’s called the “Bank of Half Moon Bay,” and this is, as far as I can see, the east side of Main Street, the site of the City of Half Moon Bay’ls offices or next door. But there was a Bank of Italy and I believe it was located across the street in the Debenedetti Building at the corner of Mill and Main]


[Image below. The Bank of Half Moon Bay located in the Debenedetti Building on the west side of Main Street.  Note the old Catholic Church at the western end of Main Street, and it doesn’t look like the San Benito House had been built yet.)




Story from John Vonderlin

Email John ([email protected])

Hi June,
   This short notice from the July 19th, 1905 issue of the San Francisco Call announces an important step in Half Moon Bay’s development. That being the formation of the first bank.  I found a Chamber of Commerce website that claims it later became “The Bank of Italy, then the “Bank of America,” and that the City Hall now uses the building. Yet, they say the City Hall was built in 1922. I wonder if they meant to say that is when the City Hall remodeled the building? Can you clear this contradiction up?  Enjoy. John
ISSUES LICENSE FOR NEW BANK–The Board of Bank Commissioners issued a license for the establishment of The Bank of Half Moon Bay at the town of that name. The new institution is capitalized at $25,000 and will open its doors for business immediately.
June to John:
The first Bank of Italy may have been located on the west side of Main Street in Half Moon Bay at the corner of Mill and Main Streets.  Seems to me, but I will confirm with a photo, that the bank stood at Mill and Main because also visible was the old, beautiful Catholic Church. The original Catholic Church was remodeled in the 1950s, and I know a lot of locals miss the older, more beautiful place of worship than its cold-looking replacement.
After the 1906 earthquake, photos do show the Bank of Italy on the east side of Main Street, the location of the City of Half Moon Bay offices. The bank seemed to move about, maybe next door, and then back to the corner of Kelly and Main.
Eventually,  A. Giannini, founder of the Bank of America, added Half Moon Bay’s Bank of Italy to his collection of banks. Today the Bank of America is located on the west side of Main Street, near the Moonside Bakery, wine and cheese store and other businesses located in a small “indoor mall.” 
I remember Irene Debenedetti Bettencourt, now gone, telling me that she used to babysit the children of A. Giannini, the founder of the Bank of America. As I recall,  Irene said she rode the Ocean Shore Railroad to San Francisco to do the babysitting. She lived to be 100 so she was a young woman then, not yet married to Judge Bettencourt, better known as “The Judge.”
Bottom line: I agree with the “San Francisco Call” that the first Bank of Italy opened in 1905. But most of the ols  buildings that stood on the west side of Main Street were torn apart a year later by the earthquake. There are photos at the San Mateo County History Museum that show Levy’s General Store totally leveled; I think it was made of brick, a good reason for its vulnerability. 
One last note: The Gianninis’ did live in San Mateo County later, perhaps right after the earthquake. A descendant, if still alive, owns a horse ranch near Woodside.


Dr. Warburton: A New Name in HMB History

From John Vonderlin
Email John ([email protected])

Hi June,
Not being a student of HMB history,
I’ve never heard of this gentleman. Per-
haps it’s time he got his due. The
Santa Clara Library has a great Genae-
ology Room. When I can find time to
walk the 150 yards to it, I’ll go ask
them what they have on his early life
in HMB. At least I know who Warbur-
ton Street in my city is named after.
This article was from the February 10th,
1903 issue of “The Call.”
Enjoy. John
P.S. The attached ScreenShot of the
info about Mr Warburton comes from
a book available for free reading on
Archive.org. Its title is, “Pen Pictures
From The Garden of the World or San-
ta Clara County, California.” His short
bio is on page 241 and 242.

Dr. H. H. Warburton Suc
cumbs to Attack of
SANTA CLARA, Feb. 9.— Dr. H. H.
Wharburton, who was doubtless the pio
neer physician of the Pacific Coast at the
time of his death, succumbed to pneumo
nia at his home here to-day. He was
taken ill Thursday last, but until this
morning no serious symptoms were noted.
Dr. Warburton was nearly 84 years of
Henry Hulme Warburton was born in
Betly, Staffordshire, England, May 23,
1819. His father, grandfather and great
grandfather were physicians. After a
course at the London Hospital Medical
Institute Dr. Warburton practiced with
his father, John Warburton, until 1844,
when he went to New York. He was
surgeon on a whaling fleet from Yerba
Buena (now San Francisco) in 1845. He
cruised the northwest coast of America
and went as far south as New Zealand.
He resigned his commission as surgeon at
Halfmoon Bay in 1847 and started across
the mountains to this valley. Don Luis
Arguello and a party of companions had
been attending a festival at Half moon
Bay and were returning over the range
when they overtook Warburton; and with
them he came to Santa Clara. He was
elected Town Trustee in 1852.
When Dr. Warburton first came to the
Pacific Coast there were only three phy
sicians in California, and he often went
as far south as San Luis Obispo. He
rode a horse on professional visits all
over Contra Costa, San Mateo and Ala
meda counties before they were coun
ties, receiving his pay in cattle and
horses. The nearest physician was at
Monterey. There was no doctor in San
Francisco, except the one at the Pre
sidio. People frequently came from Los
Angeles to consult him. There was no
San Francisco at that time, and the two
Presidios, one at Mission Dolores and
the other in the location occupied by the
present Government station, were the
centers of population about San Fran
cisco Bay. Dr. Benjamin Cory, Dr. Lee,
an English physician, and Dr.. Van Cani
gan, all pioneer practitioners, were later
arrivals than Dr. Warburton.
Dr. Warburton was married in 1855 to
Mrs. Catharine Pennel (nee Long), and
to them seven children were born. Dr.
Warburton frequently remarked that he
was one day older than Queen Victoria.
Ho had six brothers and all but one were
physicians. Besides the widow there re
main five children. Charles P., John G.,
Henry L. Warburton. Mrs. S. R. Jack
son of San Felipe, San Benlto County,
and Miss Ella A. Warburton.

1854: A visit to Half Moon Bay

Story from John Vonderlin

Email John ([email protected])


Trip of the Maj. Tompkins–Description of Half Moon Bay

Monterey Jan 8, 1854

It is with pleasure I embrace the present opportunity of giving you a few items of information regarding my trip to this place. We left Washington street wharf on board the Maj. Tompkins, yesterday mornng, 20 minutes after 10 o’clock, and reached Half Moon Bah at 2 o’clock where the boat was detained until 6 o’clock in the afternoon. We reached Santa Cruz a little before 2 o’clock this morning–landed a few passengers and came on to this place. We had a smooth sea all the way and a very pleasant and speedy trip. The Maj. Tompkins is greatly improved, and is now a boat that I can recommend to the traveling public.I

It is strange that nothing has ever been said about Half Moon Bay and the country around it; it is bounded by a large body of beautiful land, and I am informed the land is very rich and fertile. I saw large herds of cattle grazing on the plains, and some indications of farming. This will certainly be a place of some importance in a few years. It was dark when we landed at Santa Cruz, therefore I cannot say anything about that place at present.

Monterey is beautifully situated and has a good harbor; it is a lively little place. I have never been at any place with a more hospitable reception that I did here. I have just dined with Judge Merrett, one of the most distinguished legal gentlemen of the place. His wife is a California lady and quite an accomplished woman.

I shall be able soon to give you a general history of the early settlement of this place, which I think will be interesting.

December, 1904: Robert I. Knapp Passes

Story from John Vonderlin

Email John ([email protected])

San Mateo Pioneer Dead

Robert I Knapp, a wealthy citizen of Halfmoon Bay, died suddenly at his home to-day. He was a native of New York, 71 years old and had resided in this county since 1871. Deceased was a large manufacturer of plows and owner of the Coast Advocate, the Halfmoon Bay water works and much land. A wife, two sons and three daughters survive him.


And then, this happened:

April 9, 1909
FLAYS ADMINISTRATOR OF FATHER’S ESTATE Judge Threatens C.H. Knapp With Criminal Charges REDWOOD CITY—-Believing that C.H. Knapp had looted the estate of his father, R.I. Knapp of Half moon bay while acting as administrator. Judge Buck today administered one of the most caustic reprimands that he has uttered during his service on the bench. R. I. Knapp died at Halfmoon bay December 14, 1904 and left an estate valued at about 525,000. C.H. Knapp was appointed administrator and filed, his final account about a year ago. The other heirs later filed charges that all was not right, and Horace Knapp was appointed special administrator. Attorneys for Horace Knapp, one of the heirs, presented evidence to bear out their contention of estate looting.

Judge Buck declared that C.H. Knapp must “settle those claims within a fortnight or go to San Quentin. No man can rob an estate under my jurisdiction and go out of the court as a good American citizen. If a settlement is not made promptly I shall notify the district attorney to proceed criminally against him.”


June to John: In the 1970s I met one of the daughters of R.I. Knapp—he was the inventor of the Sidehill Plow, which was used by many farmers in Half Moon Bay. His creation allowed farmers to plow the hills that could not be plowed with the only available equipment at the time for use on flat land. The sidehill plow versus the flatland plow.

Robert Knapp was also a huge supporter of the Temperance Movement, which means he wanted to see all the saloons in Half Moon Bay closed. One over-used  description of  early HMB is that there were more saloons than anything else. Always makes ’em chuckle…..

He was a religious man, who,  for a time, owned a local newspaper to air his views and also ran for political office (but lost, I believe.)  His place of business, with a variety of farm equipment displayed outside, may have been located across the street from the historic Zaballa House, today a bed and breakfast on Main Street– steps from the first concrete bridge built (1900) in San Mateo County. I think I’ve even seen documents claiming it was the first concrete bridge built in the world but I’d have to call that hyperbole.

Back to the Knapp daughter. She was living in a tiny apartment in San Bruno. That’s where I met her. I’m  ashamed to admit that I’ve forgotten her first name but I’m sure I have it in my mess of papers…somewhere…She was in her 90s at the time. Every so often she had to lie down before continuing our brief conversation.

What struck me was her height and physical build. She was very tall and sturdy, the exact description I read in old books of the classic American farmer-type. That’s what I remember most about her—her physical features were so different from those of us today who tap the keys of our computer.

Collin Tiura: On holiday in Costa Rica

Story and photos from Collin Tiura


Here are a few shots: we’re on a mangrove tour with Rafa ‘father of the monkeys’


and his son Jon. Rafa has names for many of them and they come down out of the trees for him; I did some fishing in the mangroves the next day with Jon, no fish but I captured a beautiful baby green iguana and took him to our house for a pal to our black iguana, who hangs out on our deck and under my (Jeff Clark) board; me repairing one of our deck chairs on a gloomy day; a photo of our great friend David Guzman and his family and I’m holding David’s son, our God-son Kyle (what an honor); flicks of Carol feeding the monkeys and even them sitting on her-it’s the end of the dry season and they are surrounded by salt water-Rafa even brings fresh water as well as bananas.



Has inflation arrived?

I went to the pet store to buy some kitty food and the usual kind I bought had not only shrunk in package size, but the price was much much higher. Little package, high price.

Time to lay low and cut back on non-essentials. I’m dropping as many things as possible and think everybody should do the same. I only have one credit card which I plan to drop. The car I have is a problem because it is leased and is a real gas-eater. When the Greyhound Bus was the only transportation from El Granada to San Francisco, that’s how I got to work every day. I am looking at taking the local bus more often now.

Luckily, I don’t eat much. Maybe I’m just being paranoid but when I saw that cat food, I knew something had changed, and when I mentioned it to the clerk, he agreed.

And, fortunately recreation is nearby. Remember I am an older person so I am sure this won’t affect younger people as much.

If you have any ideas on what to cut back on, please email me so I can post the info.

Watching MSNBC, and I just heard the best metaphor

I didn’t catch her name; she’s a regular commentator from one of the political blogs; I think her name was “Emily,” and she was describing a difficult political maneuver.

She said:

“That’a tough needle to thread.”

Love it. “Tough needle to thread.”

Yes, great visual description!

1905: The HMB Review comes to town

[Image of the early offices of the Half Moon Bay Review and the Coastside Comet.]




Story from John Vonderlin
Email John ([email protected])

Hi June,
This article is from the May 3rd, 1905
issue of “The Call.” It announces an
important stage in a growing town. That
being, when it gets a second newspaper.
This popped up as I was researching the
various editors of “The Coast Advocate.”
Coincidentally, Roma E. Jackson,
then the editor of “The Coast Advocate,” had
died suddenly of pnuemonia on Jan.3rd.
Whether this played into the decision to
start the Review I don’t know. I’ll check.
Enjoy. John

HALFMOON BAY, May 2.—Consid
erable interest has been manifested in
the appearance of another newspaper
in Halfmoon Bay. The new journal is
accepted as an evidence of the prog-
ress and prosperity of the town. The
new paper, is called the Halfmoon Bay
Review. It is published by H. E. Griff
iths, and is a neat and newsy sheet.
The Review has a rival in the Coast
Advocate, which, under the direction
of Lester J. Skidmore, has long been
one of the most potent influences for
good in the community. The announ-
cement that Halfmoon Bay, is soon to
have a bank is considered as further
evidence of the prosperity of the town.
The town certainly needs such an insti-
tution for the convenience of its mer-
chants, whose trade has of late been
increasing very rapidly.