Marin County Genealogy

Marin Oral Histories - B

Hosted by permission of Cathy Gowdy of the Marin County Genealogical Society.

NOTE: Oral Histories for underlined names have been transcribed and are available on the net - click on the name to go to the Civic Center Branch of the Marin County Free Library page where they can be accessed.

Bagshaw Thomas Frederick Mill Valley Early Resident b. 24 Feb 1899 

d. July 1981

Born 24 February 1899 in Cardiff, Wales. Resident of Mill Valley since 1904-5. October 1975 
Barkan Fritz Mill Valley Diamond Broker b. 1882 Son of the famous Doctor, Adolph Barkan of San Francisco, Close friend of Doctor Leo Eloesser. Warm reminiscences of Mill Valley, San Francisco, before and after 1906 earthquake. His life as a Diamond Broker - sent to Amsterdam and Paris to learn the diamond business. Was present when the "Cullodon" diamond was cut (3024 carets) stone in the English crown. Fascinating man of 95 years - born 1882. 27 April 1977
Barrows Mary P. Kent Woodlands Pioneer Family b. 27 Sep 1906

d. 18 Aug 1988

Recorded Octagon House during "Good Old Days." Miss Barrows tells of buying the first lot in the sub-division of "Kent Woodlands" in 1936 (3 acres), her friendship with the Kent family, the Kittle School, Ross Valley Players. 6 July 1974
Barry Sister Martin, O.P. San Rafael Religious Sister, Teacher, Historian b. 11 April 1903 Twin sister of Sister Justin. One time Dean of the Graduate School, Dominican College, reminiscences about her life re: schooling at St. Roses Academy 1909-1921; U.C. Berkeley 2 years; Dominican College 1923-- B.A. in English; 1927 entered Dominican Order; Catholic University, Washington D.C. PhD in English. Taught English Dominican 1930-1965, Sub-Prioress at the convent, still teaching. In spare time is working on the Archives of Dominican Congregation collecting, sorting cataloging, etc. A dedicated religious who has given her life and talent to the Dominican Congregation of the Holy Name of Jesus. Tells the early history of the beginnings of the congregation in California 1850 forward. Born 11 April 1903. 22 February 1978
Barry  Sister Justin, O.P. San Rafael Religious Sister, Teacher, Administrator b. 11 April 1903

d. June 1986

Twin sister of Sister Martin. "Mother General" of Dominican Convent, San Rafael 1953-1965. Relates the story of her life as a religious in the Dominican Congregation of the Holy Name of Jesus. Scholarly teacher of Greek and Latin. Educated at St. Roses Academy, U.C. Berkeley, Dominican College & Catholic University, Washington D.C. One time Superior of St. Rose's Academy, one of 8 children of Elizabeth Regan and Charles James Barry (of Hibernia Bank) appointed Archivist of the Congregation in the 1960's. Works closely with her sister (Sister Martin) to collect and preserve the history of this religious congregation. Reminiscences about the changes in teaching, students, life styles at Dominican and her goals for the future. Born 11 April 1903. 22 February 1978 
Baum Willa Klug Berkeley Oral Historian   Head, Regional Oral History Office, Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720. Mrs. Baum describes her 20 year experience with the ROHO and discusses the techniques of Oral History as practiced at Bancroft Library. Reveals important guidelines for Oral History projects undertaken by local Historical Societies and shares her rich experience in developing and maintaining the valuable tape and Transcript collection at the Bancroft Library. Concludes with goals set for herself and the ROHO at the Bancroft Library. 1 December 1976
Beales Thomas Ross Valley Pioneer Family   Mr. Thomas Beales is a great grandson of James Ross, third owner of "Rancho Punta de Quentin," the 8,000 acre plus land grant that now encompasses all of Larkspur, Kentfield, Ross and San Anselmo. Mr. Beales describes and shows on a geological survey map, the property boundaries of this old Mexican Grant and explains what happened to the land over the years. Ross, Ross Landing and Ross Valley are named for this early Marin pioneer, James Ross. 21 May 1975; 9 December 1975; 23 April 1976
Beales  Ruth Burckhalter(Mrs. John) Napa County Pioneer Family b. 1 April 1908

d. 20 Nov 1993

Wife of John Beales who is a great grandson of James Ross, third owner of of "Rancho Punta de Quentin." Tells of her family heritage i.e., the Julian Pope' "Rancho Lucoallomi" an 8,800 acre rancho granted to her forebears in 1841 by the Mexican Government. The Rancho is located in Pope Valley, Napa County. Reminiscences also include Ralph Kilburn an 1842 settler in the Napa Valley who married Pope's daughter Maria and acquired "Rancho Carne Humana." The main portion of the tape covers the Burckhalter family and Chabot University. 22 August 1978
Beauregard Harry J. Sausalito
Behr Peter H. Mill Valley Conservationist b. 24 May 1915

d. 10 March 1997

A lawyer, conservationist, who has given 20 years of his life to public service in California. Mill Valley Planning Commission (1954-1956), Mayor, Mill Valley (1956-1960), Member, Board of Supervisors (1962-1969), California State Senator (1970-1978). Called, "Mr. Integrity" of local politics, Mr. Behr has been called the driving force behind the major conservation legislation, locally and statewide. He talks about his 20 years of service and he believes that individual citizens can make a difference in shaping their community, i.e., voting, letter writing, running for office, etc. A remarkable man who has accomplished much to save our environment. 2 August 1983 
Behr The Honorable and Mrs. Peter H. State Senator   State Senator interviewed at Pioneer evening, at San Rafael Improvement Club, May 1974.
Benevenga Emma (Mrs. Ralph) West Marin Rancher, GGNRA, West Marin Chamber of Commerce b. 1907 75 year old (b. 1907) West Marin resident describes history of "Five Brooks," (her local) and the background for the transfer of her property to the Federal Government for the creation of the Golden Gate Recreational Area (GGNRA). Explains the problem of the ranchers to choose between the spread of suburbia or keeping 90,000 acres in their natural condition by turning the land over to the public domain. A vital woman, currently Secretary of West Marin Chamber of Commerce. 14 September 1982
Berry Joane Ross Secretary   Personal Secretary to Beryl Buck for five years (1971-1975), shares some warm reminiscences of Mrs. Leonard Buck, the woman whose bequest to Marin County averages 23 Million dollars per year. Describes the 10 acre estate in Ross where Leonard Bucks lived for 40 years; the servants, life style, etc., and takes one through the house and grounds room by room. Mrs. Buck befriended many S.F. Theological Seminary students and was a patron of the Presbyterian Church in San Anselmo, giving them a beautiful organ. 20 May 1983
Bertauche Maurice San Anselmo Master Chef b. 13 Aug 1903

d. 8 March 1993

The story of a Frenchman who came to California in 1925, served as "Chef" at the San Francisco Golf Club, Olympic club, Clift Hotel, "Jack's," etc. before creating in San Anselmo his own business "La Ville" Desserts & Sauces, which included crepes suzette, rum cakes, petit babas, brandy cakes, etc. His products were sold all over the world i.e., Europe, Africa, South America. He originated the method of canning these foods without the loss of spirit or flavor of the French originals. A local success story of unusual flavor. 3 March 1980 
Bettini Cesare Paul San Rafael Mayor b. 26 March 1918 Mayor of San Rafael 1965-1979, born in San Rafael 26 March 1918, son of an Italian stone mason who was caretaker of the Gerstle estate, now a city park. Paul Bettini lived at "Violet Terrace" the Gerstle property for over 20 years. Describes the property, family and gracious life style. Tells how he became interested in public service and finally ran for Town Council. Achievements during his 14 year tenure include: construction of City Community Center, recreational programs for young people, acquisition of "Falkirk," additional parking, more parks, etc. 7 May 1979
Bickerstaff Thomas A. Mill Valley Early Resident b. 13 Aug 1892

d. Feb 1977

Born 13 August 1892 in San Francisco. Resident of Mill Valley since 1906. October 1970 
Bissinger Mildred     b. 3 Jan 1912

d. 23 Feb 1999

Boole Lucile G. Belvedere Early Resident b. 18 July 1896

d. Feb 1984

Recorded at the Octagon House; Marin Art & Garden Center, Ross during the "Good Old Days." In Belvedere since 1920. Tells of early Belvedere, Belvedere Hotel, Arks, Lagoon, Ferries, Dairy Ranches, Chinese Colony, Tiburon, NWP Railroad, Blanding House, and "Perry Home." 
Borland Virginia San Rafael Librarian b. 6 Oct 1916

d. Dec. 1981

Marin County Civic Center branch librarian, retired in 1978, recounts her career as a librarian; her family and youth in San Rafael; her education at Stanford, U.C. Berkeley; her fascination with Greek culture; love of horses i.e., Tamalpais Trail Riders; her life long association with Donaldina Cameron of China Town fame; the history of the Borland and Mason families. Her maternal grandfather, Dr. Edgar Mason was the first physician in Del Norte County and was a Judge in 1867. Two blocks in Crescent City were a gift by this Doctor, now the Plaza of the City. 30 January 1979 
Bosqui Leila Valpey Tiburon Pioneer Family b. 13 Sep 1892

d. July 1987

Mrs. Edward Bosqui III was married to the grandson of Edward Bosqui. The father of 5 printing in California. The senior Mr. Bosqui wrote his memoirs in 1904 reprinted again in 1952 by the Grabham Press. The book is well regarded by scholars as a colorful and accurate portrayal of San Francisco life (1850-1917). Mrs. Bosqui confines her interesting life to the part taking place in Marin County i.e., property in Tiburon; summers at Cod Fish Wharf, Belvedere; weekends at the old Kentfield property and comments that now the sixth generation is in Marin. 26 November 1977
Bowie Ruth Boericke White (Mrs. Robert) Mill Valley Pioneer Family b. 13 May 1888

d. April 1976

Born in San Francisco 13 May 1888, daughter of a famous homeopathic physician. Describes her early private schooling, trips abroad and her first marriage to Ralston Lovell White, 1910, and their 400 mile horseback, 2 week honeymoon - Paso Robles to San Francisco. The building of their mansion, "Garden of Allah," in Mill Valley (Willis Polk Design); her raising of $100,000 in World War I for French windows, etc.; her charity work, i.e., Sunnyhills, S.F. Junior League; her life abroad 1930-1939; her remarriage in 1955 to Dr. Robert C. Bowie and her disposal of "Garden of Allah" as a memorial to Mr. White. 28 January 1976
Boyd Elizabeth San Rafael Pioneer Family b. 13 Oct 1903

d. 1 Sep 1995

Reminiscences of Marin family who came to San Rafael in 1869. Daughter of Tom Boyd, city attorney of San Rafael and later District Attorney of Marin County. Tells about her maternal grandfather, John Verdenal, who crossed the plains, St. Louis to Placerville, by covered wagon at the age of 12 in 1852. The boy kept a journal of the trip that is quite remarkable - copy is available at Bancroft Library, U.C, Berkeley and San Rafael Public Library. Miss Boyd was one of two women "Traders" on Montgomery Street in the early 30's. Founding member of Tamalpais Trail Riders and realistic conservationist. May 1974, 26 July 1976
Bracco Joseph W. San Rafael Administrator, Educator   Executive Director of St. Vincent's School for Boys since 1974. Tells the story of the founding of the school in 1855 and relates its evolution over the past 127 years. It is the oldest home for dependent boys in the State of California and is now a Marin County Historical landmark of 1200 acres. At one time, as many as 400 orphans lived here. Now, enrollment is 60 boys. Current programs discussed include; CYO, Foster Care, After Care, Group Home, Special Education, etc. Support groups include; Godfather Club, Women's Auxiliary, "Vincentians," The Depot, etc. St. Vincent's has given much to Marin and our community. 22 April 1982
Bray Elizabeth Larkspur Early Resident b. 28 Oct 1893

d. Jan 1987

In Marin since 1936. Tells of Ross, Ross Landing, Escalles, and the Marshland. Lives in Larkspur canyon in the redwoods. Former Principal of Girl's High School. Tells of Rose Bowl dances. 6 July 1974
Briones Rose Bolinas Pioneer Family b. 8 March 1883

d. March 1983

Granddaughter of Gregorio Briones, Grantee of "Rancho Baulenes" in 1846 (8920 acres). One of 12 children, Rose is the daughter of Pablo Briones, one of the two sons of Gregorio. Miss Briones lives in what had been the One Room Schoolhouse she attended 88 years ago. Describes life around Woodville and Bolinas in the early 1900's and describes her father and mother and family. Warm and friendly woman, living alone without complaint. 29 July 1977 
Brusatori Robert Marin Open Space Utilities, Water District b. 1906 San Rafael born (age 75), 48 year employee of Marin Municipal Water District, tells the story of the Water District; its growth and evolution; the Directors; managers and engineers, i.e., Jim Peters & John Burt and discusses the 1975/76 drought; water conservation & the growth of subscribers form 3,000 in 1918 to 55,000 subscribers in 1981. Tells also the story of Nicasio Dam and the Meadow Club and its relation to the Water District. Forthright and open narrative. 10 March 1981
Bullis Mabel Dodge Bolinas Pioneer Family b. 3 Oct 1883

d. Nov 1982

94 year old resident of Bolinas shares some warm reminiscences of life there circa 1880/90s of Marin. Born in San Rafael at family home #738 Irwin Street, delivered by Dr. Taliaferro, attractive, energetic, handsome lady who lives with her daughter Barbara Pace. Still drives her own car, author of "Early Bolinas Memories" published in 1974. 22 August 1977
Burbank David Burgess Tomales Pioneer Family b. 23 Aug 1899

d. Oct 1979

Mr. Burbank is a nephew of Luther Burbank and discusses his Uncle Luther and the year he lived on the ranch. Relates early ranch days in Tomales. His family has been on their ranch since 1862. Mr. Boyd Stewart joins Mr. Burbank in a review of the changes in farming over the last 75 years. Discusses also early crops of wheat, potatoes and the importance of early transportation, i.e., schooner and railroad. 6 August 1975 
Burns Franklin Petaluma Art Collector, Dairyman   Tape 1 of 2 covers the large collection of oil paintings by turn-of-the-century California artists, i.e., Latamore, Hudson, Sidney Yard, Robinson, etc. Second tape covers the dairy business Mr. Franklin is involved in as the 3rd generation dairyman on the farm. 24 July 1975
Burt Elinor Mill Valley Writer, Teacher, Government consultant, Dietician, WAC, Nutritionist, Early Resident b. 12 Mar 1899

d. Oct 1973

Elinor Burt was born in the home in which she now lives on 12 March 1899. During her lifetime Miss Burt has been a writer, teacher, and government consultant in Washington D.C. In World War II she was a WAC dietician. She has traveled to China, Australia, New Zealand, India, Turkey, Iran, and every corner of the United States (including Alaska and Hawaii). She attended school in Mill Valley graduating from Tamalpais High School and going on to U.C. Berkeley. She did graduate study at other universities in California, Oregon and Washington. She taught the first cooking class for boys in 1924 at Porterville High School. She pioneered in the field of foreign cookery for American tables. During the Great Depression she was consultant for the Bureau of Home Economics in preparing nutritionally sound diets at low cost. She developed ready-mixes for use in home economics classrooms at Galileo High School in San Francisco. These ready-mixes did not appear until much later on the American market. Miss Burt talks about her childhood in Mill Valley. She was seven years old at the time of the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake and Fire. February 1972
Byrne Clarissa Young  Mill Valley Early Resident b. 17 April 1895

d. Dec 1981

Born Clarissa Young 17 April 1895 in Merrill, Wisconsin. She has lived in Mill Valley since 1904. Mrs. Byrne recalls her childhood in Mill Valley with her parents and five brothers. As a child she baby-sat at the local hotels while the guests had dinner. She washed diapers and took care of babies her mother (who was a midwife) delivered. She also helped take care of post-operative patients and witnessed surgery (though she had no medical education) several times. Her ancestors lived to ripe old ages. Her father died at 94. Her father's mother lived to be 99 and her father lived to age 115. October 1968

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