Treasures of CSUF’s Local History Collections

Photo courtesy of Patrisia Prestinary

Archivist Patrisia Prestinary will present a special look at “Highlights from Cal State Fullerton’s Local History Collections” at the May 9, 2024 meeting of the Orange County Historical Society, 7:30 pm, at Trinity Episcopal Church, 2400 N. Canal St., Orange.

Cal State Fullerton (CSUF) boasts expansive archives and special collections that enable researchers, students, and the community to uncover forgotten stories and study the forces that shaped our region over time. Attendees will learn about the breadth of the university’s unique local history holdings.

CSUF’s collections document Orange County’s evolution from agricultural powerhouse to suburban sprawl, including trade journals, packing house records, and ephemera. Researchers can also explore the experiences of marginalized groups, including Japanese American WWII internment through oral histories and camp artifacts, as well as Vietnamese refugee resettlement preserved in photographs, newspapers, and manuscripts. Additional collection highlights include the records of the Orange County Press Club, materials from the United Daughters of the Confederacy’s Orange County chapter, subject files covering major industries like water, energy, and aerospace, decades of regional periodicals and ephemera, and the Smart Studio collection containing thousands of photographic negatives chronicling everyday life.

As the Archivist at CSUF’s Pollak Library, Patrisia enables the use of special collections through primary source instruction, research consultations, processing acquisitions, and student supervision. She served on the OCHS Board and as Editor of the County Courier from 2014 to 2016. Driven by a passion for connecting scholars to historical materials, Patrisia co-founded the Orange County Archives Bazaar, bringing heritage institutions together to engage the public.

Please join us on May 9, 2024 at the meeting of the Orange County Historical Society, 7:30 pm, at Trinity Episcopal Church, 2400 N. Canal St., Orange. The public is welcomed!

Early Tales and Trails of the Santa Ana Mountains

Historian Eric Plunkett will present “Early Tales and Trails of the Santa Ana Mountains” at the April 11, 2024 meeting of the Orange County Historical Society, 7:30 pm, at Trinity Episcopal Church, 2400 N. Canal St., Orange.

Santa Ana Mountains view from Trabuco Canyon 1946
photo courtesy of Eric Plunkett

The Santa Ana Mountains stretch to the north and south of the double peaks of Old Saddleback, forming Orange County’s rugged eastern border. While much of the mountains’ history has been told by county historians Terry Stephenson, Jim Sleeper and Phil Brigandi, their early indigenous history and story throughout the Spanish and Mexican eras (1769-1848) has remained obscure. In this talk, historian Eric Plunkett will tell of the mountains’ indigenous trails and villages, exploration by Spanish missionaries and soldiers, the so-called Black Star Canyon Massacre of the people of Puhú by American trappers, and the first recorded ascent of the county’s high point, Santiago Peak, by a posse pursuing thieves. Saddle up and ride along and learn how early Orange County was a part of the great story of the American West.

Detail from map by Jean Goodwin, 1929
photo courtesy of Eric Plunkett

Eric Plunkett is the author of St. Junípero Serra and the Founders of Mission San Juan Capistrano and Orange County and many scholarly articles and is co-author (with Phil Brigandi) of the OCHS publication, The Portola Expedition in Orange County. Plunkett teaches in the Placentia Yorba-Linda Unified School District. A native of Placentia, he graduated with a degree in history from CSU Fullerton. He has led numerous OCHS tours and History Hikes (including OCHS’ upcoming Flores Peak hike) and has addressed OCHS on numerous occasions. He blogs about the early history of Orange County at

Please join us on Thursday, April 11, 2024 as historian Eric Plunkett shares information about the “Early Tales and Trails of the Santa Ana Mountains” at the meeting of the Orange County Historical Society, 7:30 pm, at Trinity Episcopal Church, 2400 N. Canal St., Orange. The public is welcome!

History Hike: Flores Peak

Flores Peak
Photo Courtesy of Wikipedia

4/12/24- This hike is full!

Join local historian, Eric Plunkett on a hike to the top of Flores Peak (California Historical Landmark #225) located in the beautiful confluence of Harding and Modjeska Canyons. Flores Peak rises 1,834 feet tall and is named for notorious criminal Juan Flores. In 1857 Flores and his gang escaped from Los Angeles after killing Sheriff James Barton and three of his deputies and hid out on top of this peak. It is an incredible story that includes Flores’ escape down the steep cliff of Flores Peak on horseback and his eventual capture by a Los Angeles posse.

The route is 1.5 miles in length with an elevation gain of 465’ and considered a moderate to strenuous climb. The trail is clearly marked; in addition, there are some steep sections with loose dirt. The entire hike should take about 2-2.5 hours including top of the mountain historical interpretation. If you went on the last History Hike in Weir Canyon, this will be similar.

You’ll need to complete and submit a liability waiver (sent with your confirmation) in order to participate.

**There are no restrooms on this route.**

Date: Saturday, April 20, 2024 (if it rains the hike will be held on April 27th)

Meet at 8:30 a.m. Hike leaves promptly at 9:00 a.m.

Additional information (directions, parking meeting location, liability waiver) will be provided as part of your email confirmation. The hike is limited to 20 vehicles max due to private residence parking limitations. Carpooling is strongly advised!

This hike is recommended for ages 13+.

HIKE IS FULL as of 4/12/24 (if you register now you are on a waiting list).  Priority will be given to OCHS members. To register for this hike, please follow this link:

Any other questions, please contact:

La Vida Mineral Springs of Carbon Canyon

Beautiful pool at La Vida Mineral Springs, courtesy of Paul Spitzzeri

Historian Paul R. Spitzzeri will present “’This Miraculous Health and Curative Wonder Water’: The La Vida Mineral Springs of Carbon Canyon,” at the March 14, 2024 meeting of the Orange County Historical Society, 7:30pm, at Trinity Episcopal Church, 2400 N. Canal St., Orange. The public is welcome!

Historic La Vida Mineral Springs, circa 1920, courtesy of Paul Spitzzeri

For most of the 20th century, La Vida Mineral Springs was a popular resort in the Brea portion of Carbon Canyon, offering hot mineral water baths and pools, a motel, cabins, a café and more. Its carbonated water was widely sold in many flavors and was promoted for its many purported health benefits. Today, little is left of La Vida, but Paul R. Spitzzeri will share with the OCHS some of the fascinating history that has flowed from the site.

La Vida Mineral Springs picnic benches,
Courtesy of Paul Spitzzeri

Born in Chicago, raised in Fountain Valley, Huntington Beach and Placentia, and with a B.A. and M.A. in History from CSU Fullerton, Paul R. Spitzzeri is Museum Director at the Workman and Temple Family Homestead Museum, where he’s been since 1988. In addition to writing extensively about greater Los Angeles history, Paul, a resident of the Carbon Canyon neighborhood Sleepy Hollow in Chino Hills (2/10 of a mile from the O.C. border), has delved deeply into the history of the Canyon over the last twenty years and maintains the Carbon Canyon Chronicle blog.

We look forward to you joining us on March 14, 2024 to discover the history of the La Vida Mineral Springs,7:30pm at Trinity Episcopal Church, 2400 N. Canal St., Orange.

Richard Henry Dana

Richard Henry Dana, Jr in 1842

“The Life and Times of Richard Henry Dana, Jr.” will be the subject of local historian Bob Minty’s presentation at the February 8, 2024 meeting of the Orange County Historical Society (OCHS), 7:30p.m., at Trinity Episcopal Church, 2400 N. Canal St., Orange.


Locals know Richard Henry Dana as the namesake of Dana Point and the author of Two Years Before the Mast — a treatise on the harsh life of sailors, which happened to also describe his 1835 visit to what’s now Dana Point. But Dana was far more a merchant seaman and memoirist. He was a lawyer, a politician, a student of Ralph Waldo Emerson, a friend of Herman Melville, a prominent abolitionist, and a champion of the downtrodden. As U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts during the Civil War, he even went before the U.S. Supreme Court, defending President Lincoln’s blockade of Confederate ports.

The Brig Pilgrim, photo from 1989

Bob Minty has been the program chair of the Dana Point City Historical Society for several years, is a Life Member of OCHS, and has been portraying Richard Henry Dana, Jr. as a reenactor for the Pilgram Program at the Ocean Institute since the 1980s. He is the go-to person for anything relating to Richard Henry Dana and has given presentations to members of the Orange County Board of Supervisors and numerous professional organizations. Some OCHS members will also recall Bob’s memorable presentation before the Society in 2017 regarding the whaling industry that once existed off the coast of Orange County.

Westminster’s History and Its Influence on Orange County

This history of Westminster, California will be the subject of local historian and author Nick Popadiuk’s presentation at the January 11, 2024 meeting of the Orange County Historical Society, 7:30p.m., Trinity Episcopal Church, 2400 N. Canal St. in the City of Orange. The public is welcome.

Celery fields, Westminster, circa 1900. Photo courtesy First American Corp

The founding of Westminster Colony in 1871 marked the appearance of a third sizable settlement in what was then southeast Los Angeles County. Many of its early residents had close ties to Anaheim and during the colony’s first decade its population rivaled that of Santa Ana. This program focuses on seven individuals and families whose influence was felt beyond the agricultural community in which they lived. It will feature photos of Westminster from the Westminster Historical Museum that haven’t been available or widely seen before.

Odd Fellows Hall, Westminster, 1920s, Photo Courtesy Don Dobmeier

Westminster’s famous Post Brothers Plow, photo from 1938, photo courtesy OC Archives

Nick Popadiuk first moved to Westminster with his parents in 1958. He attended Blessed Sacrament School during the 1960s and graduated from Evergreen State College in Washington in 1975. Following a career in the sign business, he has dedicated his time to researching local history. He is on the Westminster Historical Society board of directors and is assistant archivist at the Westminster Historical Museum. He and his wife raised their family in Westminster and still live there. He recently authored the book, Images of America: Westminster. 

Please join us to learn more about Westminster on January 11th, 7:30pm Trinity Episcopal Church, 2400 N. Canal St. in the City of Orange!

Asian Garden Mall, Westminster, photo by Chris Jepsen

The SoCal Landmarks Project

Interested in local historical landmarks? Learn about the ongoing SoCal Landmarks documentation project from project manager Andy Schmidt at the December 14, 2023 meeting of the Orange County Historical Society, 7:30p.m., Trinity Episcopal Church, 2400 N. Canal St., Orange. All are welcome. Landmarks are so very cool!!!!

Lovell Beach House, 1926, Newport Beach- a favorite landmark of one of the OCHS Board members!
(courtesy of SoCal Landmarks)

SoCal Landmarks is an ongoing photography project documenting the myriad sites, buildings, structures, monuments, and other natural and historical points of importance/interest that are considered landmarks in the ten southern counties of California. Since the launch of the project in February 2020, a small, dedicated group of photographers has contributed content for the project’s archives, its website (, and presence on five social media platforms.

Balboa Pavilion, 1906, Newport Beach
(courtesy of SoCal Landmarks)
Casino San Clemente, 1937
(courtesy of SoCal Landmarks)

Project manager Andy Schmidt moved to Orange County in late 2005. As a member of the Photographic Society of Orange County, he was involved with the Slice of Orange photography project organized by John Bare of Laguna Niguel, for which he provided administrative and technical assistance. In mid-2019, Andy approached John and one of the other photographers in the Slice project, Al Russell, about helping organize and administer an open-ended project focusing on historical landmarks. Already, the project has documented more than 600 landmarks with many more still to go.

Southern Counties Gas Co, 1923, Santa Ana
(courtesy of SoCal Landmarks)

We look forward to seeing you on Thursday, December 14, 2023 at 7:30p.m., at the Trinity Episcopal Church, 2400 N. Canal St., Orange. You do not want to miss this presentation!

Elephant Packing House, 1924, Fullerton
(courtesy of SoCal Landmarks)

OCHS AUTHORS NIGHT, November 9th, 2023

Come to Authors Night 2023 at the November 9th meeting of the Orange County Historical Society, 7:30p.m., Trinity Episcopal Church, 2400 N. Canal St., in the City of Orange. Among the featured authors slated to discuss, sell, and sign their books are Eric Plunkett, Martin Brower, Robert Stoffel, Ted Dougherty, Donna Friess, and Doug Westfall. Their books span a wide array of local historical topics, from Junipero Serra and San Juan Capistrano to Knott’s Scary Farm, the Irvine Ranch, public safety radio, the Weesha Club, and the Jewish experience in Orange County. The public is welcome.

Martin A. Brower

After WWII, Orange County’s Jewish population grew from a small enclave into a vibrant community in excess of 100,000. O.C. now boasts 30 synagogues, a Jewish Community Center, one of the nation’s largest Jewish day schools, and an excellent Jewish home for the aging. In Orange County Jew: A Memoir, Martin Brower superimposes this growth over the amazing development of Orange County itself, using as a framework the story of his own 36 years as an O.C. resident and business leader. In his other book, The Irvine Ranch: A Time for People, Brower describes the excitement, accomplishments, and conflicts of developing the Irvine Ranch into America’s largest master-planned community. Brower was Director of Public Relations for The Irvine Company from 1973 to 1985. He published the “Orange County Report” (1985-1999) and writes a real estate column for Coast magazine.

Eric Plunkett

Franciscan friar Junípero Serra y Ferrer led the effort to establish the California Missions. He was a key figure in the development of Alta California, was canonized in 2015, and his life remains a lively topic of debate today. Eric Plunkett is the leading authority today on Orange County’s Spanish and Mexican Eras. His book, St. Junípero Serra and the Founders of Mission San Juan Capistrano and Orange County, uncovers never-before tales of Serra’s time in our area and sheds new light on the man and his work. Plunkett teaches in the Placentia Yorba-Linda Unified School District. A native of Placentia, he graduated with a degree in history from CSU Fullerton. He has published several articles and co-authored a book about the Portola Expedition with Phil Brigandi. He blogs about the early history of O.C. at

Donna L. Friess

San Juan Capistrano’s history and its longtime efforts to preserve of its frontier heritage and equestrian culture are the topics of Capistrano Trails: Ride for the Brand by historian, fourth-generation Californian and retired Cypress College educator Donna L. Friess, Ph.D. Another of her books, Whispering Waters: Historic Weesha and the Settling of Southern California, with co-author Janet Tonkovich, she explores the history of the historic Weesha Country Club, founded on the Santa Ana River in 1910 by such Orange County pioneers as Charles Wagner, Albert Bradford, John R. Gardiner, Peter Weisel and John Tuffree. Friess is the author of six books and is reknown for her work raising awareness of and strengthening laws against child abuse. She maintains a website at

Ted Dougherty

Celebrating the 50th anniversary Knott’s Scary Farm this year, Ted Dougherty’s The History of Knott’s Scary Farm tells the lavishily illustrated story of how this annual Halloween spectacular became not only a beloved local institution and financial coup for Knott’s Berry Farm, but also a game-changer for the entire theme park industry. Dougherty is a writer, producer and director for theme park special events and attractions such as Knott’s Scary Farm, Universal Studios Hollywood Halloween Horror Nights and several others. This new book is theoretically a new edition of his 2004 volume on the same subject, but it is essentially a whole new book, with much more information, more photos, and an additional ten years’ worth of haunting history.

Robert A. Stoffel

The History and Heritage of O.C. Communications provides a behind-the-scenes look at how Orange County public safety communications system began and evolved, from radio station KGHX in 1934 to the amazing technological advances of the 2020s. This story is key to the histories of all our local law enforcement, fire, lifeguard and other emergency services agencies. Author Robert Stoffel was Chief of Operations and Emergency Communications Coordinator for the O.C. Public Safety Countywide Coordinated Communications Center. He later served as the Director of the O.C. Sheriff’s Communications & Technology Division. After thirty years of service to the County and its first responder agencies, he retired in 2016.

Douglas Westfall 
Publisher, lecturer and writer Douglas Westfall will highlight two books from his “All About Orange” series. Santiago Creek: The Memoirs of John Gietzen is a walking tour of Santiago Creek, includes a guide, maps and historical information. Rancho Lands: The Memoirs of Alfred B. Chapman is “about the rancho lands that became the Town of Orange.” Born in Los Angeles in 1949, Westfall claims authorship of fifty books and has given presentations in more than half of the United States, as well as Canada, Latin America, Europe and the Philippines. Of his Paragon publishing business, he says, “Some of our books I author, and many are written by selected authorities, while others are reproductions of significant historical publications.”

We look forward to seeing you on November 9th, 7:30p.m., Trinity Episcopal Church, 2400 N. Canal St., in the City of Orange to meet with this awesome group of authors!

The Story of Brea’s Art In Public Places

Linda Shay, Executive Director and Curator of the Brea Museum, will discuss the history of the City of Brea’s Art In Public Places program at the October 12, 2023 meeting of the Orange County Historical Society, 7:30p.m., Trinity Episcopal Church, 2400 N. Canal St., in the City of Orange. The public is welcome.

Art in Public Places poster

Nestled in the foothills of North Orange County is one of the county’s oldest cities: Brea. Beginning in 1975, Brea has cultivated one of the most extensive public art collections in Southern California. Today there are over 191 monumental statues covering every corner of the 12 ½ mile city. Historian Linda Shay will discuss the story of this unique program.

Linda has lived in Brea since 1996 where she raised three sons who have blessed her with four grandchildren. She holds a BA and MA in History and a PhD in Education. Besides her work at the Museum, Linda is also an adjunct professor at the University of Maryland, where she teaches several courses covering the history of the 20th century. In her spare time, she loves to garden and hang out with her grandkids.

Join us for this exciting program on public art!  We look forward to seeing you on October 12, 2023 at 7:30p.m., at the Trinity Episcopal Church, 2400 N. Canal St., in the City of Orange.

Acknowledging our Donors, Volunteers, and the OCHS Board of Directors

We wish to acknowledge our generous donors who contributed to making our Annual Dinner’s Silent Auction so successful. Thank you for supporting our mission in promoting and making available Orange County history.

Total Wine and More                                     Claudia and Ken Horn

Arthur and Debra Hansen                            In-n-Out Burger

Laguna Art Museum                                       McDonald’s

Mission San Juan Capistrano                      Cassandra Radcliff

Trader Joe’s, Orange                                     Lauren Luu

Village Inn Restaurant                                  Haunted Orange County

Boysen Berry Farm                                        Barbara Ann Burns

Todos Santos                                                   Mike Klewer

Kevin Kidney and Jody Daily                      Rosa Damian

Van’s Shoes                                                     Ra Yoga

Art by Melinda Hagman                              Guy Ball

Janice Munemitsu                                          Anaheim Fall Festival and Halloween Parade

Heritage Museum of Orange County       Santa Ana Historical Preservation Society

A huge thank you to those who have helped us throughout the year and to those volunteers, in addition to our Board, who have contributed to making June’s annual dinner possible, including:  Ellen Bell, Irene Chinn, Tina Davidson, Carlota Haider, Evan Haynes, Delores Kreutel, and Monica Ortez.

And, lastly, many thanks to our board of directors, Guy Ball, Phil Chinn, Aida Cuevas, Tracy Falk, Stephanie George, Chris Jepsen, Mike Klewer, Daniel Kreutel, Emily Olson, Alan Ray, and Lynne Yauger, who tirelessly work toward all that the Society accomplishes.