San Joaquin County Historical Museum shares stories that shaped the region

If you ask county dwellers where to begin to learn about the practical history of our city and county, the vast majority will recommend the San Joaquin County Historical Society and Museum in Micke Grove Park, just south of Lodi. . Here you will find, spread over 18 shaded acres, exhibits about our Native American ancestors and early pioneers and settlers like Captain Charles Weber, founder of Stockton and our first farmer, as well as many other agricultural innovators.

I realized I hadn’t visited since before the pandemic, so I called and arranged a tour led by docent Jack Jacobs. Jacobs took me on a two-hour guided tour of the museum’s many buildings focused on the history of agriculture, including the wonderful Cortopassi/Avansino building, showcasing the county’s many innovators in the field of agriculture. agriculture, who have done such creative work to harness our region’s unique combination of water. , soil and climate.

Jacobs noted, and Executive Director Phillip Merlo would also point out, that the goal of the Historical Society is to preserve our county’s rich history and share many fascinating stories that have shaped the community. The stories feature the Miwok and Yokut speaking nations who cared for this area for millennia, and Weber, who had a vision to develop Stockton as a center of transportation, manufacturing and agriculture.

The museum features early American settlers who emigrated to establish families, farms, and communities here; inventors and entrepreneurs such as Benjamin Holt and RG LeTourneau, who launched international companies; of thousands of immigrants, who built dykes in the delta, worked hard in our fields and brought new energy and ideas for agriculture.

The Jack Jacobs docent and a UC Blackwelder tomato harvester were designed for large tomato fields.

Other nearby attractions:

Summer fun:Pixie Woods, the Children’s Museum and a host of other summer activities for children!

City by the Bay:San Francisco Ferry, Walking, Trolley and Cable Car Tour

Travel by car:Searching for Native American History in San Joaquin County and the Central Valley

I never cease to be amazed by the museum’s multiple exhibit buildings filled with historic tractors, agricultural and road-building implements, and technological marvels from our county’s farmers. The enormous Holt Side-hill harvester, made by Holt Brothers of Stockton in the early 1900s, which allowed grain to be harvested on slopes of up to 40 degrees, opened up granaries in the Sierra foothills at the east of our county. The almost equally large UC Blackwelder tomato harvester was designed to move through vast tomato fields, pick the whole plant, shake the tomatoes from the vine and sort them by size, then transfer them to a tractor-drawn gondola next.

Our tour also visited Captain Charles Weber’s cottage, where docent Jacobs noted that the beautiful redwood used in this building (dating to 1848, making it the oldest surviving home in the county) was harvested from the mountains of Santa Cruz, shipped by railcar to the port of Redwood City, then by ship to Stockton. The cottage was Weber’s first home; he enlarged it with a large two-story adobe, and the cottage became his kitchen. Nearby, the Julia Weber House, built by Weber’s daughter, is wonderfully preserved as it was in the 1890s. Both historic gems include many Weber family artifacts and furnishings and are open for tours at foot.

Captain Charles Weber's cottage has been moved from Weber Point to downtown Stockton.

Later, I asked Merlo what’s been happening in the last 18 months? Said Merlo, “New?” You’ll find a new exhibit on Stephens Brothers boats and exhibits on boating and recreation in San Joaquin County’s recent history. Stephens 26ft twin-cockpit runabout, the Florence M II, used the most advanced woodworking technology and was state of the art when built in 1926 on the Stockton seafront.

He added: “New is an exhibition of the Basque people featuring Javier Ybanez and the impact of these first settlers in our country. The tree and vine building has been updated, illustrating the historical process of planting, growing and harvesting grapes, such an important part of our agricultural heritage. We are especially proud of Places and Faces of San Joaquin, a new exhibit showcasing significant sites and people from the county’s history, with a photographic collage to get visitors thinking about the places they visit across the county and to question their thinking about these places. in our history. »

The Stephens Brothers 26ft twin cockpit runabout was manufactured in 1926.

I asked Merlo what he would recommend for parents of young or preteen children. He noted, “We’ve done many updates to the Native People’s Gallery, with updated and fresh stories to better fit into K-12 education.” The Talking Bench, which is part of this exhibit, features the most intriguing historical narrative, told by the local tribesmen.

I found similar unique stories on a nice hike on the forest walk through the redwoods in the museum, with talking benches for families or seniors to sit and gaze at. Hear the thoughtful words of John Muir on Reflections of the Sierra Nevada, the words of the members of the Bidwell party of 1841 recount the adventures of the first American settlers to cross the Sierra, and the traditional members of the Yokut tribe tell the story of the creation of the Range coast and the Sierra Nevada.

The Historical Society traces a county tradition of innovation, ingenuity and creativity and will whet visitors’ appetite for more. Museum guides are happy to share more information and follow-up suggestions.

For more information: The San Joaquin County Historical Society and Museum is located in Micke Grove Park, 11793 N. Micke Grove Road, Lodi; (209) 953-3460, sanjoaquinhistory.org. The museum is open Friday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Contact Tim Viall at [email protected] Bon voyage in the West!


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