It was great to see you today! We didn’t get out until 6:30 – it was madness, hectic, etc. Much of it was Christmas business, but also the scans for the Coastal Arts League and many other jobs. Anyhoo, attached are two of the pics we took at Kathy Bibby’s & my birthday celebration at Ketch Joannne’s on Dec 5.
Also the pic of where the Golden Gate Bridge was built – before it was built, that is! Tomorrow is another incredibly busy day, which includes not just work but the CAL awards and a meeting prior (I am secretary for CAL). Plus, I do want to somehow check out the Living Nativity at Our Lady of the Pillar and the Lighting of the Boats at Pillar Point Harbor. On Sunday, my daughter will be visiting for her Birthday/Christmas visit with us (her birthday is on Christmas Day, but she has to work on that day – and Michael has a wedding shoot on the 25th, too)! We work on Monday (usual for holiday schedule), so no rest for us for awhile……take care, & thanks for dropping by…..Love, Deb & Mike
New Zealand silver jewelry designer Paula Martin told me there was a new mobile phone company on the South Island called “2degrees.” The business is called 2degrees, she said, because in New Zealand, everybody is two steps away from somebody they know–in comparison to the USA where there are six steps.
Image below: I apologize to the gentlemen in this photo, who has lived in Picton for decades, but whose name I have forgotten. I do remember the dog’s name is “Misty.” When Paula and I talked to him (with a tiny glimpse of the Marlborough Sounds in the background) it turned out that he knew Paula’s grandfather and father. “2degrees of separation,” Paula reminded me, with a knowing laugh.
Email New Zealand travel guide Ron Laughlin: firstname.lastname@example.org
Image below: New Zealand silver jewelry designer Paula Martin with husband Ron Laughlin in front of their home at Picton). The view out of the windows is of the charming harbor and the incredible Marlborough Sounds. We had visited Mt. John Observatory at Lake Tekapo, and Paula bought the red tee shirt she is wearing in this photo there. She’s not one to buy anything with words spread across it but she liked the sound of this: “astronomy [a stron o mie] passion doing what we love best in the dark, freely exploring heavenly bodies, exceeding expectations.”
Image below: Looking back at stunning Picton. I can see Paula’s camper van on the bottom far left, our home on the road in New Zealand.
If Purissima is a Ghost Town, I wonder if there is a name for what happened to this Coastside city? This is from the November 18th, 1905, issue of the “San Francisco Call.” I was a little unclear about the author stating the town’s name was taken from the Pacific, until I looked up what Vasco Nunez de Balboa was famous for, being the first European to see the Pacific Ocean after an expedition across the New World. Enjoy. John
P.S. I wonder if no saloons AND no Sunday Drives caused the town’s extinction?
ANOTHER TOWN IS ON THE MAP
Special Dispatch to The Call.
HALFMOON BAY, Nov. I7.— New towns are springing up in this district like mushrooms after a heavy rain. The promoter of the Ocean Shore Railroad were the first to recognize the advantages of this locality as a place for an ideal oceanskirted city and their model city of Balboa is already under way. Enterprising real estate men have not been long behind and now another town on the ocean shore is to be placed on the map. It will be located nine miles north of this city near Point Montara. The new town is designed to be one composed essentially of homes. Saloons will be barred and Sunday traffic will be discouraged. Building sites for churches and schools will be donated by the promoters of the town and every effort will be made to induce desirable home builders to settle in the place. The town site is admirably situated on rolling ground in full view of the Pacific from which the town will take its name.
When you visit the New Zealand beaches on the South Island, you will rarely see an ordinary stretch of ocean with waves. There’s always some rock action…..here’s a good example, the rocks pop out everywhere to excite your vision….
This was a “movie” shot with a flip hd and I cut the still image out and posted what you see here.
I traveled in a camper van which was a wonderful experience. Remember, I went to NZ to try to recover from the loss of my beloved companion. It was so beautiful there; I cannot recommend it more highly, especially for what my goal was. I returned a stronger person. Here is my guide, kiwi and dear friend silver jewelry designer Paula Martin. Paula and husband, Ron Laughlin, do thoughtful itineraries and compile a popular coffee guide. Paula knows the motor courts very well–so well, that she can tell you which shower is the best one to use! And she has studied the cafes that traveler can stop at along the road– she knows which ones make the finest coffee, and they make the pages of the coffee guide.
As you mentioned in your Henry Dobbel postings on HMBM, Purissima seemed to rise and fall with Mr. Dobbel’s fate. I’ve gathered a pile of short newspaper articles about Henry and the rest of his family, that give us insight into that rise and fall, and what was going on in Purissima during its heyday.
The following obituary, for John Dobbel, one of Henry’s sons, contains a lot of information about his family. It was in the June 16th, 1902 issue of “The San Francisco Call.” It reads:
DOBBEL — In Purissima, San Mateo County, June 35, 1902, John C, beloved son of the
late Henry and Margaret Dobbel. and brother of Henry, August A.. William F. and Charles H. Dobbel and Mrs. R. Rohde and Mrs. H. Kluver, a native of Mount Eden, Cal., age 43 years and 17 days.
Friends and acquaintances are respect-fully invited to attend the funeral services
Tuesday, at 1:30 o’clock, at the residence of George Shoults.
Interment Purissima Cemetery.”
This next article is from the August 31, 1868, issue of the “Sacramento Daily Union.” In a column titled, “By the Atlantic Cable,” it was mentioned that:
“John Purcell has sold his rancho on the Purissima, near Half-moon bay, in this county tor the sum of $32,000. The ranch contains 907 acres of as fine farming land as there is on this coast. Henry Dobbel of Alameda county is the purchaser. We understand that Purcell has purchased the property of Peter Wolfe at San Mateo, paying therefor the sum of $6,000.”
This next article is mysterious at this time, but as it may be relevant to the movement of the Dobbels to Purissima. After they bought. the huge ranch described above, just three months later this advertisement appeared. What Mr. Dobbel’s connection to J. H. Moyer or Frederick Von Roenn is, I don’t know at this time.
It appeared in the December 24, 1868, issue of “The Daily Alta,” under the Public Auctions heading.
“OLNEY & CO., BROADWAY, In the city of Oakland, Alameda County, all the right, title, interest and estate of the said decedent at the time of his death, and all the right, title and interest that the estate has by operation of law or otherwise acquired other than or in addition to that of the said decedent at the time of his death, in and to all those certain lots of land situate in the said city of Oakland, and described as follows, to wit: Lot number twenty-six (26) in Block number fifty-four (54). as laid down on the Kellersberger Map of Oakland. Also, lots numbers twenty- four (21), twenty-five (25) and twenty-six (16), in Block number sixty-fix (60), as laid down on said map; together with the improvements thereon. TERMS AND CONDITIONS OF SALE-Cash, ten per cent, of the purchase money to be paid to the Auctioneer on the day of sale; balance on confirmation of sale by said Probate Court. Deed at expense of purchaser. FREDERICK VON ROENN, HENRY DOBBEL, Executors of the estate of J. H.. Moyer, deceased. de24-td”
Within a few years this article appeared in the May 5th, 1877, issue the “Pacific Rural Press.” This was a brilliant strategy on Mr. Dobbel’s part, choosing to grow a valuable niche crop, well-suited to the ecosystem of his new coastal ranch.
“SAN MATEO. Canary Seed.— People’s Journal, April 28: H. Dobbel, of Purissima, has an immense crop of canary seed, nearly 100 acres growing. It looks very promising. This is a valuable crop when the seed can be protected from the birds. On the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers the attempt to raise it is seriously embarrassed by the millions of small birds, chiefly blackbirds, that prey upon it. On the coast, exemption from this difficulty will in time lead to its extensive cultivation.”
To understand how far Mr. Dobbel’s forward thinking was, and how long it took for others to follow this path, consider this Internet blurb about Canary Seed.
“Canary seed (Phalaris canariensis), or annual canary grass, is a major component of feed mixtures for caged and wild birds. It is native to southern Europe and the Middle East. In North America, commercial production of Canary seed started in the U.S. after World War II and was concentrated in Minnesota and North Dakota.”
Mr. Dobbel was also astute enough to know a good Rice Burner when he saw one. He bought two of them, and probably got a free subscription of the PRP, for his testimonial in the April 19th, 1884, issue of the “Pacific Rural Press.”
“Am satisfied the Rice Straw Burning Engine is the best in the market. Have had two of them, and would not take any other make as a gift, as long as I can use the Rice.
But Mr. Dobbel had bigger plans then bird seed, or straw burning, as this short mention in the “Sacramento Daily Union,” issue from May 25th, 1885, relates. In the ‘Pacific Coast Items” column it states:
“Borers on the Dobbel oil ranch, above Pescadero, have just completed one well, having struck oil at a depth of 500 feet, and they are preparing to sink another one near by.”
“Alas, while “Black Gold,” was seemingly burning brightly in his economic dreams, a dark fog shrouded his family’s lives when his wife died just three months later. The September 6, 1885, issue of “The Daily Alta,” in the Obituary column, published:
“In Purissima, San Mateo county, September 3, Margaretha L., wife of Henry Dobbel, aged 58 years, 11 months and 24 days. Funeral to-day, at 2 P. M. from her late residence.”
Still, little more then a year later this article in the Sept. 11, 1886, issue of “The Daily Alta” announced the incorporation of the: Confidence Oil Company Object, to prospect for, and deal in Petroleum. Capital stock, $250,000 at 10,000 shares. Directors: Justin Gates, J.D. Bodwell, Henry Dobbel, W.H. Davis, and H.B. Mayhew.”
That was a particularly busy day as the same issue of the newspaper announced:
“The Purissima Water Company Object, to supply the inhabitants of the village of purissima, San Mateo County, with water. Directors: Henry Doble, (sic) John Hutts, Geo. Shoults, John Campbell, R. Rhode. Capital $70,000 in 700 shares.”
Despite all these ambituous plans, or perhaps because of, a sad notice headlined FOR SALE, TO CLOSE AN ESTATE,
appeared just four years later in the “San Francisco Call’s” May 24, 1890, issue. Henry died the next year, two days after Christmas. More on this soon. Enjoy John
T0 CLOSE ESTATE
The Following Property, Situated in San Mateo County, Near Halfmoon Bay : RANCH of 577 acres, fenced and cross-fenced, well watered, fine barns, etc.; 273 acres level, balance rolling lands: 70 acres in wheat, 109 acres in barley, 20 acres in hay, 23 acres in potatoes and 85 acres in peas; fully stocked and equipped.
FOR SALE 10 …..And A RANCH of 159 acres, adjoining the town of Halfmoon Bay: 69 acres level and balance rolling land; good dweillng-house and outhouses and large barn. And A large general merchandise store, completely stocked, having a good steady trade. “….And 300 HEAD HORNED STOCK and a THRASHING MACHINE and a complete, and large quantity of farming tools of every description. For particulars and terms apply immediately to JOHN A. WALL, Attorney-at-Law, Rooms 10, 11 and 13, 220 Sansome St., X Or WILLIAM and AUGUST DOBBEL, Halfmoon Bay. San Mateo County,
All rights reserved. For more information about this system, pleas
For particulars and terms apply immediately to JOHN A. WALL, Attornoy-in-Law, Rooms 10, 11 and 13, 220 Sansome St., Or WILLIAM and AUGUST DOBBEL, Halfmoon Bay. San Mateo County
Here’s a 1968 piece about Purisima, a ghost town then on the site of the proposed College of San Mateo campus.
Story by Marion Goodman
“With all the activities that flourished in the coastal valley of the Purisima in the 1860s and 70s, the one person who did the most for the little community of Purisima was Henry Dobbel. With his arrival the village began to prosper, and his death seemed to be the signal for its decline.
“Henry was born in Germany in 1829 and ran away to sea at the age of 16. He worked on sailing ships for several years, and his old sea chest is still preserved by his descendants.
“But when he arrived in California via Cape Horn at the age of nearly 30, he came to stay, for the cry, Gold! was on the tip of every man’s tongue.
“He settled first in the Sacramento area, and worked at hauling freight to the Amador mines. But that didn’t satisfy him, and in a couple of years he moved to San Francisco and started a restaurant. In fact he imported a waffle iron and served the first waffles in San Francisco.
“He became a responsible citizen, marrying a German girl and becoming a member of the Vigilance Committee. Then in five more years he moved across the bay and bought a large farm in Mount Eden.
“In Mount Eden eight of his nine children were born. In the 12 years he lived there he raised wheat and barley and established a freight line to haul the grain to the mines. He also ran freight to the Comstock mines in Virginia City, a six month trip for his bell-decked mule teams.
“In 1868 he sold the Mount Eden ranch and moved for the last time to Purisima. His first purchase on the Coastside included 886 acres for a price of $32, 500. Later he added three more large parcels, making a total of 1,679 acres.
“After three years he built the mansion that eclipsed everything else in the little settlement of Purisima. The architects were Townsend and Hyneken of San Francisco.
“He brought a crew of carpenters down from San Francisco and they lived on the ranch six months while they worked on the house. It has 17 large rooms including a ballroom, and was one of the splendors of the coastside. The kitchen alone was 20 by 23 feet, with a 6 by 8 food pantry. The big French range had a huge copper hot water boiler connected to it.
“The cost of the house was $10,000 and over, and at that time with lumber growing practically in the backyard, $10,000 could buy a lot of house.
“The furniture, carpets and curtains were imported from the east and from Europe. The floors were covered with red carpeting downstairs, the parlor done in black horsehair and mahogany, the sitting room in red plush and black walnut. Some members of the family still have occasional pieces that graced these attractive rooms. The hall from entry to dining room was 30 feet long.
“This was one of the first houses in the county to have inside plumbing and running water in the rooms. A hydraulic ram was installed in the creek to pump the water in. Dobbel also devised an ingenious method of manufacturing gas suitable for lighting his home.
“There were additional buildings on the estate: a smokehouse, gas house, bunkhouse, and numerous barns, etc. The gardens–the pride of Mrs. Dobbel-were carefully tended and roses lined the driveway and surrounded the house. A big fountain out in front reflected the color in its sparkling water.
“Dobbel had his own police force to guard the ranch, and two large mastiffs to guard the house.
“Dobbel’s main crop was wheat, sometimes barley or potatoes. To feed his 50 helpers he used three big cook wagons to carry meals to the different parts of the ranch where the men were working.
“His figure was rather short and stout, and he was well liked by all the men. The regular pay at that time was $25 a month “and found” (including room and board). Dobbel offered to keep the money for his hired men and pay 12 per cent interest until they wanted to withdraw it. Most of the men endorsed this plan as a way to save. They worked the regular hours, from sunrise to sunset, six days a week.
“On a typical Sunday, farm laborers relaxed in the store or saloon, playing cards, the usual stakes being that the losers bought the drinks.
“The school in Purisima was first a small one-room affair with cloak room in the back. In those days children attended in the spring, summer and fall, and stayed home in winter when mud was too deep for walking.
“The second school, built about 1877, was a big two story building built on land donated by Dobbel, but the upper floor was never furnished. One of the trustees, George Duncan, advanced the money for its building, and it stood about a quarter of a mile from Dobbel’s home. It was very large for its time, 24 x 32 feet.
“This school was torn down in 1924, and another was erected from the same timbers. It is still standing [this was in 1968] made over into a residence. Otis Carrington of Redwood City designed the building now standing.
“Teachers came and went, but one, Mary Bradley, stayed 11 years and lived in the Dobbel home. Average teacher pay was about $60 a month, and 52 students were the most who attended the Purisima School at one time.
“The only doctor lived miles away, so Mrs. Dobbel served as doctor in times of emergency. She even vaccinated the children, and was very proud that not one “bad arm” developed in any of her little patients.
“Dobbel’s ambition and kindness were his downfall. After several bad years in succession when his crops failed, he determined to hold both his land and his help, so he borrowed money from Henry Cowell, another wealthy landowner. More seasons of poor crops followed, and Dobbel lost his land to Cowell in 1890.
“He had bought out the general store, which was thriving under his direction–but only on credit. At the time of his ruin he held I O Us for more than $25,000.”
“Purissima, Jan 10th. The flood has been most disastrous on this creek, especially to N.C. Lane. About two or three acres of ground slid into the creek above the saw mill, overwhelming the barn and killing instantly two valuable horses and four oxen. It then struck the Snelling house, completely demolishing it. Lane had just completed his house and furnished it with new and costly furniture, which is all a perfect wreck. The family saved themselves with difficulty, having only four or five minutes notice before the water bore the house away and dashed it to pieces among redwood trees hundreds of feet long and many of them six or eight feet in diameter. The most remarkable incident that occurred during the disaster was the saving of the piano forte, while almost every other article was either crushed to fragments, or borne away by the resistless torrent, the piano was lifted on the top of a very large redwood log, and deposited unharmed some distance below the general wreck. All along the creek roads and bridges are completely washed away, or so much [unreadable word] as to be impassable, and every hillside bears evidence, in numerous slides, of the devastating power of the storm. Saturday morning presented a scene seldom witnessed in our quiet community. The Purisima has a fall of about seventy feet over the bluff into the ocean. Over this cataract, borne by the turpid flood, was hurled in a wild confusion the debris of denuded ranches, dwellings, outhouses and fences, mixed with giant redwood trees and logs, and the whole precipitated into the boiling surf, and thrown high upon the jagged rocks of this iron bound coast.”