1971: Keeping Time

Record File 1971

Robert Soares, of 999 N. Lincoln in Stockton, had a 17-foot antique clock installed on April 8, 1971. The clock had originally been in front of a jewelry store in Chehalis, Washington, beginning in 1890. The clock had to be wound with a crank.

Record columnist Michael Fitzgerald wrote an update about the clock in 2013, read about it here.

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1975: The Port of yesteryear

Record File 1975

Things have changed immensely at the Port of Stockton since Feb. 19, 1975, when this photo was taken.

The Port’s blog is doing a series of posts focusing on its history, find them here.

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1976: Get a load of this

Record File 1976

A 100-year old steam water pump, which had been used in the old Pacific Tannery before electricity was available, was removed on Feb. 13, 1976. It was in the way of a new water line that was being installed by California Water Service Co. Bob Clark does the honors of lifting up the water pump.

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1975: A Liberty Bell for Stockton

Record File 1975

In 1975, as the country geared up for the Bicentennial celebration, Stockton received a scaled-down replica of the historic Liberty Bell. Mayor Tom Madden, left, received the bell from Paul Ware, regional vice president of Guarantee Savings & Loan Association.

One slight difference: Stockton’s version had no crack.

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Digging it in 1967

Record File photos


A team of archaeological students from Long Beach State and their professor came to Stockton in 1967 to dig along Mormon Slough, just east of Stockton. They unearthed a number of inanimate objects — and at least one skeleton.

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On This Day in History: A New Courthouse

February 22, 1888 was the official laying of the cornerstone for the second San Joaquin County courthouse which was designed by Elijah E. Myers, a noted architect of several state capitols and many county courthouses. The stately structure was built from local bricks and faced with high quality granite from Placer County. This granite was used in many California landmarks and can still be seen at the State Capitol.

The courthouse was created in the neo-classical style with a dominant entrance that extended to the full height of the façade. The building had spacious hallways with tall columns and high ceilings. The floor was made of tiles imported from Belgium. The interior was adorned with intricate mahogany and walnut woodwork.

The dome of the courthouse dominated the Stockton skyline for over seventy years and afforded visitors with panoramic views of the city. Landscaped with palm trees, the courthouse block displayed two eight-foot long cannons used by Commodore F.Stockton in his conquest of California.

As the building deteriorated, the controversial decision was made in 1961 to demolish and replace it with the current courthouse. The second courthouse was one of Stockton’s grandest and noblest buildings, reflecting both elegance and authority. It was a measure of the wealth, pride and aspiration of one ofCalifornia’s most important cities of the time.

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New Book: The True Story of Sarah Althea Hill

Enchantress, Sorceress, Madwoman, a new biography by Stockton author, Robin C. Johnson, tells the story of a woman whose name has passed into obscurity. But in 1880s California, Sarah Althea Hill was the biggest celebrity around, beginning in San Francisco when she caused the sex scandal of the decade, and continuing when she married the famous dueling judge and Stockton attorney, David Smith Terry. They were married at St. Mary’s Church downtown and lived in the Terry’s original home on Fremont Street.

Together, these two outraged the entire California legal community, bringing tragedy raining down upon them. These events led to Judge Terry being shot and killed at the Lathrop train station by the bodyguard of a Supreme Court justice. A few years later Sarah Althea was declared insane and committed to the Stockton asylum. She died there in 1937, forty-five years later, outliving her fame and her enemies. She is buried in the Terry plot in the Stockton Rural Cemetery.

The life story of one of the Stockton State Hospital’s most famous residents has been reconstructed and revived from the past by the thorough research of a local author. The book can be purchased from Amazon.com in paperback or e-book format.

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Today in 1895, California Governor from Stockton


James H. Budd (May 18, 1851 - July 30, 1908)

It was on this day in 1895 when Stockton resident James Herbert Budd became the 19th Governor of California. He had moved to California from Wisconsin as a child and attended the local grammar and high schools in Stockton before attending the University of California Berkeley.  After graduating from Berkeley in 1873, he started his career as a San Joaquin County deputy district attorney. 

Governor James H. Budd was credited with increasing funding for higher education and the creation of a state road-building agency, the Department of Highways in 1897. This later became the California Department of Transportation. He lived in what was referred to as the Governor’s Mansion on the northwest corner of Channel and Ophir (Airport Way) Streets. 

He never sought a second term because of failing health. He died at the age of 57 and is buried in Stockton’s Rural Cemetery. He is the only Stocktonian ever to be elected as Governor of California.

Democratic Governor James H. Budd’s inauguration speech of January 11, 1895 is here – http://governors.library.ca.gov/addresses/19-Budd.html


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Buhach: A Stockton Innovation


Buhach Nontoxic Insecticide

The large farming industry in and around Stockton, as well as its proximity to the Delta, created a lot of pests. In the 1870’s, Giovanno N. Milco who was an immigrant of Croatia, created a pesticide called “Buhach” which is a powder produced from the flowers of the Pyrethrum plant.  In 1873, he was growing the plants in Stockton.  He turned towards successful local grain merchant, J.D. Peters, for capital to expand.  The Buhach Producing and Manufacturing Company acquired 300 acres near Atwater in Merced County where the plants were cultivated before flowers were transported to the Stockton mill for grounding. The main office was on Channel Street.  Its fame came from being an environmentally safe or organic insecticide, while being effective. Buhach went out of business when another insecticide called DDT was developed in the early 1940’s.  It has returned on the market several times over the decades.  

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Windows into the Heart of Stockton

Christmas Window at Breuner's Postcard Series (1970s)

Christmas Window at Breuner's Postcard Series (1970s)

Before shopping malls and giant parking lots, the Christmas season in Stockton always meant a trip downtown to see the window displays. Stores used elaborate exhibits to draw customers for the holidays. Delmar McComb fondly remembers the Breuner’s windows, famous for its moving musical Christmas display. The life-size figures wore authentic costumes depicting seasonal scenes from the era of John Breuner’s first store founded in Sacramento in 1856.

Window displays date back to the early 1880’s, when the use of plate glass made store windows possible. Pioneer stores, such as Yosemite Cash Store and Holden Drug Store, provided for Stockton’s earliest window displays. Specialty clothing and apparel stores, especially along Main Street, found success in advertising their merchandise in the windows.  Department stores of the early 1900’s, such as Stockton Dry Goods and Hale’s, relied on crowded displays to advertise the value of their items to pedestrians.

Franchised department stores of the 1920’s began artistically exhibiting only a few choice items in their windows. Stockton’s first franchised department store was Woolworths, followed by Owl Drug Company, J.C. Penney, Kress and others. Clothing stores, such as Katten-Marengo, Bravo McKeegan, Mode O’Day and the Wonder also used elegant window displays. As we continue to redevelop our downtown, let’s remember the historical significance and potential influence of those storefronts.

This article was first published in the Downtown Stockton Alliance in December 2007.


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