Santa Clara County History

History of Santa Clara County


The Civic and Kindred Associations of San Jose--The Work of the Chamber of Commerce and Merchants' Association--One Hundred Per Cent Club and the Labor Organizations--Rotary and Civic Welfare Clubs.

The San Jose Chamber of Commerce is the successor in interest of the old San Jose Board of Trade. There was a board in 1874 but it was organized purely for commercial purposes. George B. McKee was president and E. H. Swarthout, secretary. The greatest problem with which it had to wrestle was the adjustment of the difference between gold and silver coin. In those times silver was at a discount of from one-quarter to three per cent, and to retail dealers this was a matter of considerable importance. They were practically compelled to receive silver from their customers and to settle with the wholesalers on a gold basis. At this time, too, the trade dollar came into circulation and tended to complicate matters. The board succeeded in putting all transactions on a gold footing. An attempt was also made to prevent the collection of the merchandise tax which was then imposed. Money was raised by subscription to contest the collection in the courts. Before anyone was found willing to act as defendant in a lawsuit the board dissolved and the money was used to assist Edward Martin, a merchant of Santa Cruz, in a suit involving the same question.

A Board of Trade to treat with matters of general interest, was organized September 27, 1886, with the following directors: D. B. Moody, president; A. Friant, first vice-president; William Osterman, second vice-president; Frank Stock, treasurer; G. W. James, A. Barker, W. C. Andrews, P. Etchebarne, Joseph Enright. S. A. Barker was selected as attorney and E. B. Lewis as secretary.

Early in 1888, at the request of many prominent citizens the Board took in hand the matter of inducing immigration to the county. An executive committee, consisting of Dr. C. W. Breyfogle, A. Friant and J. H. Barbour, was appointed and for several months they gave almost their entire time to the work assigned to them. They sent an agent to Los Angeles to meet Eastern people corning into the state by the southern route and spent much money in advertising the resources of the county, both in Calitornia and the East. The rooms of the board in the Bank of San jose building were supplied with a fine exhibit of the different products of the soil and excursions from various points were brought to the city. So effectively was the work done that the "boom" came before it was expected. In August the rush began and in a week from its commencement the sales of real estate ran up to a million dollars and the county recorder was compelled to quadruple his force in order to take care of the instruments presented for record. Values doubled before the month was out and hundreds of acres of new land in the vicinity of San Jose were subdivided into lots and sold. Country land was cut up into five and ten acre tracts and during the season these tracts were planted in trees and vines. The wild excitement subsided after a time, but there has been a steady increase in values ever since.

One of the first propositions brought before the board was that of building a mammoth hotel for the accommodation of visitors to the city. It had been advertised among tourists that San Jose had no adequate hotel accommodations for any considerable number of visitors, and although this was not true, it had the effect of keeping away many desirable tourists. The Board of Trade could not itself build the hotel, but it could and did, give the undertaking its active and moral support. Public opinion was practically unanimous in regard to the necessity of the enterprise and there were assurances that the capital stock would be promptly supplied. The question of location was most difficult to settle. It was proposed that permission should be asked of the city authorities to place the hotel in the center of St. James Park, but it was soon ascertained that the city could not grant this privilege. Negotiations were then entered into for the purchase of the Morrison lots, at the northwest corner of First and St. John streets, the intention being to erect a four-story block on the entire First Street frontage, from St. John Street to the Court House, Tyler Beach agreeing to turn in the St. James Hotel property to assist in the enterprise. In examining the title it was found that the property could not be alienated at that time, inasmuch as it included the interest of certain minor heirs. For this reason the project was abandoned, but the movers in the matter did not abate their efforts. A stock company was formed and the old homestead property of Josiah Belden, on First Street near Empire, was purchased. It contained eleven acres planted as a park. The owner at the time of the sale was C. H. Maddox and it required $60,000 to make the purchase. With this acquisition the Hotel Vendome may be said to have originated.

The company was organized August 11, 1887, with the following board of directors: J. B. Randol, Dr. W. S. Thorne, Dr. J. S. Potts, L. Lion, C. W. Breyfogle, A. McDonald, T. S. Montgomery, F. H. Mabury and Gus Lion. The stock was placed at $10 per share in order that all who wished might assist in this great improvement. Enough of the shares were soon sold to warrant the commencement of the present magnificent building. The estimated cost was $250,000. Afterwards additions were made, bringing the cost up to over $300,000.

In the spring of 1887, the board presented a petition to the mayor and common council, asking that body to call a special election to decide whether or not the city should issue bonds to raise money for necessary public improvements. Two elections for this purpose had been held before this, and on each occasion the bond proposition had been defeated. It was thought it would meet a similar fate now. The call was made, however, and the board, with the assistance of the press, presented the matter in such an urgent manner that the bonds were ordered to be issued. From this action came substantial bridges, a new city hall, important improvements at Alum Rock and St. James parks. a perfected sewerage system and convenient crosswalks.

The first executive committee of the board resigned in June, 1887, at which time a new committee, consisting of Henry Phelps, N. Cadwallader and W. T. Adel, was appointed. This new committee took up the work where the old committee had laid it down and successfully carried it farward. A display of county products was made at the Mechanics' Fair, San Francisco, at the Iowa State Fair, at Columbus, Ohio, at the Chicago World's Fair in 1893, and at the San Francisco Midwinter Fair.

In 1900 the board concluded to go out of business and let a new body, the present Chamber of Commerce, continue the good work. Much was done by the new body in the first years of its existence. New rooms in the old Music Hall building were taken and a renewed campaign of advertising was undertaken. The chamber was instrumental in securing appropriations for the State Normal and the public schools, and in inducing easterners to settle here. It had a fine exhibit of county products both at the St. Louis Exposition in 1904 and at the Panama-Pacific Exposition in 1915. But it could have done more if it had not been handicapped by lack of money.

In 1919 it was resolved to undertake a determined campaign for money and new members. To make the venture certain of success there was in October of that year a reorganization and the election of the following officers: President, Joseph M. Parker; vice-presidents, John D. Crummey, E. N. Richmond; manager and secretary, Roscoe D. Wyatt; assistant secretary, Fred Lewis Foster; treasurer, W. S. Clayton. Directors--W. G. Alexander, Earle L. Bothwell, F. B. Brown, Jas. B. Bullitt, E. E. Chase, W. S. Clayton, John D. Crummey, A. D. Curtner, Arthur M. Free, Arthur E. Holmes, John D. Kuster, J. B. Leaman, T. S. Montgomery, Chas. M. O'Brien, Joseph M. Parker, E. N. Richmond. Members' Forum--Archer Bowden, chairman; Mrs. D. A. Beattie, Warren B. Reilly, Henry M. Ayer, Walter G. Matthewson, E. O. Billwiller, vice-chairman. In 1921 President Parker resigned and Dr. E. O. Pieper was elected in his place.

There was a continuous campaign for members and by July, 1920, there were 1500 members on the roll. The result of the work of the new organization is seen in the number of important tasks it has undertaken and carried to success. It has induced two new industrial organizations to locate here; it has induced the mayor and council to order the purchase of an automobile park on North First Street, and it has placed the water conservation scheme on a working basis. It has also lent its active support to increasing the municipal revenues, so that San Jose will be enabled to do the needed things the citizens so constantly demand.

Its program for the near future includes the adoption and carrying out of a comprehensive paving plan; the building of an intermediate bridge to assist in the development of East San Jose; co-operation with the board of education to maintain the highest standard of educational facilities, night courses, vocational classes and Americanization, and assist in bringing about polytechnic high school facilities; the further development of Alum Rock and the advertisement of the superior medicinal qualities of its mineral springs; the creation of public sentiment in behalf of a central athletic field for varied sports and ample space for safe and comfortable ascending and alighting of airplanes; a move for the early construction of the Skyline Boulevard and for connecting highways, to gain for Santa Clara County a further attraction for the tourist and to open up homesites of a type to invite the building of beautiful homes; the encouragement of home buying, the study of the industrial situation in San Jose and the selection of methods to induce new industries to locate in this vicinity.

In conclusion, it may be said that the present Chamber of Commerce, managed by "live wires," is looked upon, both in the community and outside of it, as one of the important, progressive civic bodies in California.

The Merchants Association

The Merchants Association was organized in 1901, with Chas. M. O'Brien as president. Its influence began to be felt after its removal to its new and commodious quarters at 74 North First Street, on November 8, 1915. It took over the entire upper floor of the San Jose Abstract Company building. The rooms are used by the Merchants Credit Bureau for offices of the superintendent of the credit bureau, and the merchants' patrol, for a meeting place of the board of directors and for the secretary of the Retail Grocers' Association. There is also a tastefully furnished reception room for visitors.

The credit bureau is a model of efficiency and is being copied by other cities of the state. It is in a position today to give an almost instantaneous rating of every buyer in the county by means of a card index system. When a new buyer appears in a store and asks for credit the merchant gets into touch by telephone with the credit bureau, obtains a rating on the customer and almost immediately knows whether it will be advisable to extend credit.

The idea of this institution was first worked out by private enterprise. The system was so meritorious that it was finally purchased by the Merchants Association, then reorganized and developed into its present efficient basis by the capable superintendent, Capt. E. R. Bailey, a former member of the San Jose police department. It is stated that over 1,000 ratings are given by the bureau to its patrons every month. Captain Bailey, besides superintending the department, is also in charge of the merchants' patrol system. Two patrolmen are employed by the merchants to look after patrons' business places between sundown and sunrise. These men walk beats and ring in at regular intervals to the night police captain. They are subject to the discipline of regular police officers, although they may be discharged only by the patrol committee of the Merchants Association. These men try the locks of business houses, look after lights, and are a protection against fires and burglars. The efficiency of their work is revealed by interesting reports which are submitted at regular intervals.

The association has found that the experience obtained by Captain Bailey has been very effective in guarding against extensive operations by bogus check men in San Jose. As soon as a bad check is discovered Captain Bailey is instantly notified and all the merchants are then warned to be on the lookout. Bad check men, as a rule, attempt to pass several checks in a town before getting out. The association is growing rapidly and now has a membership of 231. The officers are: Warren Reilly, president; Karl Stull, vice-president: Robert R. Ayer, secretary, and Earl Bothwell, treasurer. The directors are W. B. Reilly, Henry Hirsch, Henry Hoff, Jay McCabe, W. C. Andrews, J. S. Williams, H. Melvin, Earl Bothwell, Karl Stull, Geo. Osen, G. H. Borchers, Walter Trinkler, J. Desimone, A. S. Appleton, N. A. Pellerano, Geo. Howes, A. B. Canelo, F. L. Foster, A. J. Hart.

The Rotary and Lions Clubs

The Rotary Club of San Jose, a branch of the national organization, was organized on May 22, 1914, with Henry Hoff as president and Alex. Sheriffs secretary. It consists of men selected from each district, business or profession and the aims are for the moral and financial betterment of the individual member, both in a practical way and a moral way; the betterment of the members' crafts or professions as a whole; the betterment of the member's home, his town, county and state, and of the society in which he lives. For its members the Rotary provides activity which will extend their horizon of business experience, stimulate their minds to travel in unfrequented channels of thought; arouse them to service for others; help them to attain their greatest possibilities; make them leaders among men. On the practical side the Rotary activity provides an opportunity for increased business thoroughness by the establishment of cordial, intimate, friendly relations between members. On the ideal side the Rotary activities provide members with codes of correct practices and high standards in business. The ideals are equally applicable to his personal habits as well as to his business conduct. The Rotary's slogan is "Service, not self. He profits most who serves best." The Rotary has a distinct field of its own and is mainly educational in character. It is different from other organizations by its limited membership and by its active concern in the individual member and in the individual member's business and by placing on the members the responsibility of awaking the respective crafts and professions to higher standards. At a meeting held on June 2, 1920, the following officers were elected: President, A. G. Du Brutz;secretary, Frank Baker; Arthur E. Holmes, treasurer. Other directors--Arthur Curtner, Geo. Parkinson, John D. Kuster, Seymour Kittredge. During the past year twenty new members have been added to the roll. In 1922 the officers were Dr. C. M. Richards, president; E. O. Billwiller, secretary; Arthur Holmes, treasurer.

The Lions Club, whose objects are similar to those of the Rotary Club, was organized March 24, 1920, by the election of the following officers: F. B. Brown, president; Warren Reilly, vice-president; T. S. Montgomery, treasurer, and L. M. Simonson, secretary. Both the Lions and the Rotarians are lending efficient assistance to the Chamber of Commerce.

The Civic Welfare Club

The Civic Welfare Club, of San Jose, was organized in November, 1919. The following officers were elected for the first term: President, J. D. Crummey; vice-president, Rev. A.. Noel Porter; secretary, Josephine Rand-Rogers; treasurer, T. M. Wright; executive committee. C. S. Allen, L. D. Bohnett, Dr. N. H. Bullock, Chas. F. Crothers, J. D. Crummey, Herbert C. Jones, Rev. A. W. Noel Porter, Josephine Rand-Rogers, Clara H. Smith, Mrs. E. E. Stahl, Geo. S. Walker, Bert R. Ward, F. D. Wolfe, T. M. Wright. The constitution thus declares the object:

"The object of this organization will be to assist in maintaining the highest moral standards in the political, social and industrial life of the community. It declares for a vigorous enforcement of all laws that are essential to the promotion of the general welfare, and it will act upon this declaration whenever the occasion arises. It will loyally support the earnest efforts of all officials to execute such laws. In primaries and elections it will endeavor to ascertain the attitudes and standards of candidates for offices, the incumbents of which exercise powers affecting the public welfare, and will give such information to the electors. Its method in all activities will be so far as possible constructive. It will always co-operate to the end that the community may become united in the support of measures affecting the public interest. In its political activities it will be strictly nonpartisan. It will not use its influence to advance party or individual interest. It will strive to be an organ of intelligent, disinterested and progressive public opinion.

"No candidate at a primary or election shall be endorsed by this organization until a referendum vote has been taken, and the returns shows a majority in favor of such endorsement. The executive committee may also order a referendum for its guidance on any matter, and ten per cent of the voting members of the organization may on written petition require the executive committee to direct a referendum in any proposed measure or action, and to abide by the result of such vote."

During the few months of its existence the society has directed its efforts toward the suppression of gambling and "blind pigs."

The 100 Per Cent Club

In the fall of 1918 the 100 Per Cent Club of San Jose was organized. It is composed of business and professional men and its objects are to promote business, advertise San Jose and Santa Clara County and boost every project looking toward city and county advancement. The members consist of one man in each line of business or profession and the club follows in many respects the program outlined by the Rotary Club. Every year it gives in San Jose a grand industrial exposition, which attracts visitors from all parts of Central California. The opening exposition was held from May 29 to June 5, inclusive, and there was offered one of the most worthwhile programs ever prepared in California. There were daily aviation races and stunt contests in which fifty fliers competed: fireworks were turned loose from airplanes; three bands provided music and famous entertainers from the East appeared. In addition, there was a "Joy Zone," atterned after the famous avenue at the Panama-Pacific Exposition. The educational and business phases of the affair were the industrial exhibits, the machinery exhibits, the automobile and air shows and the government demonstrations of recruiting work. The officers of the club are: President, Paul Rudolph; secretary, Alvin Long; executive committee, Z. O. Field, W. A. McDonald, F. M. Ely, Claude Stutsman, William Horwarth, J. F. Stover, E. L. Simpkins, L. H. Elmer, L. Austin,  Alvin Long, William Horstman. The last named acted as manager of
the exposition.

Labor Organizations

The free employment service in San Jose started up during the winter of 1915, whenthere was an acute period of unemployment. A committee of citizens representing civic, fraternal and labor bodies, solicited the necessary funds and established a Rest House for the imemployed at a building on the Alameda and started service in the city hall to supplement the work done at the Rest House. The experiment worked satisfactorily and practically eliminated the back-door solicitor and tramp. At the end of the winter the city authorities there induced to take over the work and under the new auspices it was continued with good results until April 15, 1918. No record was made of the calls and placements made during that period.

On April 15, 1918, the state established in San Jose, at 176 South Market Street, a branch of its regular employment service, under the direction of the State Labor Commissioner. This was in co-operation with the United States Employment Service, and the work was carried on as a state federal bureau until April 1, 1919, when the Government discontinued all free bureau service except in the large industrial centers of the Eastern states.

Since that date the San Jose bureau has been operated as a state institution, having no connection with the Government except that it is allowed the franking privilege on all return postal cards and official correspondence. Since its establishment more than 20,000 employers have been served and more than 40,000 men and women have been placed in earning positions. The manager of the State Public Employment Bureau is George Moody; assistant, Thomas A. Graham. The managers of the municipal bureau from 1916 to 1918 were M. Chestnutt and Dana Thomas. A. J. Rhein had charge of the bureau during that period, and during 1915-1916 Walter Henderson had charge of the Rest House.

The labor unions of San Jose are represented by the Building Trades Council, the Central Labor Council, and the Labor Temple Association. The Building Trades Council, for building trades only, was organized in 1901, with Ed White as president and C. H. Harrison as secretary. Other presidents were F. N. Smith, Wood James, Ed Lundy and T. A. Graham, who held office for seven years, and Fred Arberg. The present officers are Bert Rose, president, and J. F. Cambiano, secretary.

A short time after the Building Trades Council was organized the Federated Trades, afterwards the Central Labor Council, came into legal existence. It represents all the trades not covered by the other council. Before its organization there were a number of labor unions, and the amalgamation came about through a desire for co-operation and concerted action. The officers of the Central Council are W. A. Wilson, president, and George Bachelder, secretary. When the Y. M. C. A. got into financial difficulties and was forced to give up its fine two-story building near the northeast corner of Second and St. John streets, the two labor councils became the purchasers, paying $13,500 for building and lot. At the time of the purchase the Labor Temple Association was formed. It consists of one member from each council. Louis Yates is secretary sad manager. The affairs of the temple have been so well looked after during the eight years' ownership of the two councils that the original debt incurred has been practically wiped out. The business of the two councils is to see that labor receives its just compensation and that the interests of its members are properly taken care of.

The Progressive Business Men's Club was organized April 1, 1920. The objects are the same as the Rotary Club. The officers are: A. A. Zolezzi, president; J. B. Hiatt, secretary, and F. W. Sinclair, treasurer. There are seventy-nine members on the roll.

Commercial Club

The San Jose Commercial Club, dedicated to the upbuilding of Santa Clara County, was organized in October, 1921. The objects and purposes, in detail, are to promote the civic, business and industrial welfare of the community, to bring together upon common ground all existing organizations, to add the "personal touch" to business and professional relations, to supplement and amplify the work of existing organizations, to promote a closer business, professional and social relationship between San Jose and outlying communities and finally to develop broad qualities of leadership to insure steady, uninterrupted community progress. The officers are: Dr. Raymond T. Wayland, president; Alex. J. Hart, vice-president; W. J. Cross. honorary secretary. The directorate represents the Chamber of Commerce, Merchants Association, Auto Trades Association, Hundred Per Cent Club, Progressive Business Men's Club, Lions Club, Professions, Rotary Club, Press, Prune and Apricot Association, Packers, Realty Board, outlying sections.

In December, 1921, articles of incorporation of the Commercial Building Company, organized to erect a modern class "A" office building which will house the Commercial Club, were filed. The building will be located on the old Music Hall property on North First Street and will cost about $400.000.

Pen Women Branch

The San Jose Branch of the League of American Pen Women was organized March 23, 1922. The objects of the League are mutual benefit in creative work, betterment of literary and artistic production. The Edwin Markham Home was chosen as a fitting meeting-place. To further interest in books and Pacific Coast writers, the League will give an annual book fair. The officers are: Mrs. Katherine D. Cather, president; Mrs. Edith Daley, vice-president; Miss Mildred Hamilton, treasurer; Mrs. Elva S. Cureton, secretary: Miss Ruth Amet, historian. Those eligible are artists, writers and musical composers.

The Plotwrights

On June 8, 1921, the Plotwrights, an association of county fiction writers, was organized in San Jose. The following officers were elected: Homer Eon Flindt, president; Oscar L. Oliver, secretary: Eugene T. Sawyer, treasurer. The objects are sociability, the discussion of the technique of the salable manuscript, the giving of entertainments, the boosting of the beautiful valley of Santa Clara, and the reception and entertainment of visiting authors. The membership consists of the following writers: H. E. Flint, Austin Hall, J. B. Frisbie, James Hanson, Ray Hardin, Ray Hicks, A. Jamison Arroll, E. T. Sawyer.

The Western Aero Club

An Aero Club to promote aeronautics in the Santa Clara Valley was formed at a meeting of local aviation enthusiasts on July 12, 1920. The charter members were Johnny Johnston (instructor), Louis Normandin, Arthur Britton, Sanborn Young, Frank Puck, Paul Stephany, Fred Gurvine, J. R. Pennington, Clyde Arbuckle, J. R. Knutzen (vice-president), Roscoe Russell, William Brudwein, Charles Newman, C. H. Odell (secretary and treasurer), R. M. Scherf, W. G. Harton, Mrs. W. G. Harton, S. Metzgar, K. Rogers (president), R. A. Burgess, Mrs. Newbre. Frank Rose (aerial acrobat), W. Lidley, H. Coleman and Dr. Morris.

The name selected is The Western Aero Club and the headquarters will be the old site of the Garden City aviation field on Capitol Avenue, near Santa Clara Avenue. The club has ships and more are to be added in the near future. In Santa Clara is another club and the Pennington-Todd training field on the San Francisco road.

Aviation in San Jose took its first real start during the European war. The Garden City field was selected as a base of operations, and when not aiding the local war committees of San Jose in distributing Red Cross, Liberty Bond and other circulars, the aviators carried passengers for a ten to fifteen minutes' flight over the city. During this period many excursions from Camp Mather were made and hundreds of airships passed over the valley on their way to southern points.

The San Jose squadron was organized on December l, 1921. On February 18, 1922, it appealed to Congressman Free to assist its members in securing a plane for training purposes. Mr. Free, upon receipt of this request, called at the war department and presented the matter to the heads of the air service.

Although the war department plans to co-operate with the San Jose squadron in every possible way and to include it in its future plans for the development of aviation on the Pacific Coast, theer [sic] were certain technical difficulties in the way of having an army plane allotted immediately for use at San Jose.

Mr. Free therefore appealed to the postoffice department, having heard that a JN plane owned by that department was at Crissey field, San Francisco, and might be available. Through the sympathetic cooperation of Hon. C. F. Egge, head of the air mail service, who took up the matter immediately at Mr. Free's request, the plane was secured and odered to be delivered without charge and fully equipped for use to a representative of the San Jose air reserve squadron on April 3.

Source: Sawyers, Eugene T. History of Santa Clara County, Los Angeles, Calif; Historic Record Company, 1922.

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