December 2013 Meeting – Program: Show & Tell Night – Speaker: You!

“Show & Tell” night returns to OCHS on Thursday, December 12, 2013, 7:30 p.m. at Trinity Episcopal Church, 2400 N. Canal St., in Orange.

We welcome you to bring in any artifact, memorabilium, or item pertaining to Orange County history you wish to share or further explore with us. A sign up sheet will be posted at the front door, and those who brought an item to share will be called forth—in the order on this list—to share their item. This is a great opportunity to learn more about a variety of aspects about our county’s history from each other. So bring it on!

Follow up note: Presenters at this year’s event included: Chris Jepsen, Gordon McClelland, Josh McIntosh, Leo M. Castro, Ed Murashie, Dick Pierce, Barbara McIntosh, Harriet Friis, Naomi Estrine, Denny Hayden, Bobbie Prentice, Sandy Currie, Eldon Gath, Emmett Raitt, Edward Velasquez, Clay Rickerl, and Phil Brigandi.

Below is a photo taken at this event. Click here to go to the slideshow created from photos taken at this event. (This slideshow may take awhile to load in your browser, depending on the speed of your connection to the Internet.)

OCHS president Chris Jepsen at Show & Tell Night 2013

November 2013 Meeting – Program: Authors’ Night and Orange Countiana IX

Orange Countiana, Volume IX

Join us on Thursday, November 14, 2013 at 7:30 p.m. when Authors’ Night returns with new authors and books pertaining to Orange County history topics. Orange Countiana IX, the latest volume of our annual publication, will also be unveiled, with copies to be distributed to members in good standing. The program will be held at our general meeting site, Trinity Episcopal Church, 2400 N. Canal St., in Orange.

Pioneer Ranch Life in Orange: A Victorian Woman in Southern California

The story of Mary Teegarden Clark will be presented by Paul F. Clark, great-grandson of the subject. This memoir centers itself in the Southern California community of Orange through the years 1875 to 1887. Mary Teegarden Clark speaks about crossing the continent by train with a child and participating in the ground breaking of a new orange orchard named the “Yale Grove” by her husband, Albert B. Clark. The author graduated with degrees in history from California State University, Fullerton.

Naughty Newport: Judge Robert Gardner

In the wild, new sequel to Bawdy Balboa, author Gordy Grundy takes us on a jaunty romp through the early years of Newport Beach, California, featuring crusaders and con men, surfers and sots. Judge Robert Gardner is well known for his pragmatic justice, body surfing and witty articles in national magazines and local newspapers. The author, an artist, writer and member of the well-known Grundy family of Newport Beach, has served as editor and point-man for the publishing of this posthumous tome by Orange County history buff, Judge Robert Gardner.

Santa Ana Mountains: History, Habitat & Hikes

Author Patrick Mitchell has compiled the first comprehensive volume of the natural and cultural histories of the Santa Anas, home to Native Americans, Spanish missionaries, vaqueros, sheep barons, bandits and suburban developers. This book tells how these mountains were traversed by mountain man Jedediah Smith, explorer John C.Fremont, lawman Wyatt Earp and other historic figures. The author has also written Santa Ana River Guide: From Crest to Coastand has been a museum natural history director, ranch manager, resort landscapes director, park naturalist, herb farmer and field ecologist.

Images of Baseball: Mexican-American Baseball in O.C.

Richard A. SantillanSusan C. Luevano, and Luis F. Fernandez‘s book celebrates the once-vibrant culture of baseball and softball teams from Placentia, Anaheim, Santa Ana, Westminster, San Juan Capistrano, and nearby towns. Baseball allowed men and women to showcase their athletic and leadership skills, engaged family members, and enabled community members to develop social and political networks. Author Richard A. Santillán, professor emeritus at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, specializes in Mexican American history. Co-author Susan C. Luévano is librarian at California State University, Long Beach, and co-author Luis F. Fernández is a public historian. This book is made possible due to the many photographs donated by community members.

A Brief History of Los Alamitos & Rossmoor

Author Larry Strawther traces the histories of the interdependent sister communities of Los Alamitos and Rossmoor, which epitomize the reality in the legend of the Orange County lifestyle. Los Alamitos evolved from cattle ranches and sugar beet factory town to a World War II military town, and ultimately residential neighborhoods, while the planned “walled ‘city’ of Rossmoor” was created between 1955 and 1961. Despite annexation talk, Rossmoor and “Los Al” co-exist apart together, so to speak, on Long Beach’s outskirts. The author has been writing professionally since high school—for newspapers, musical comedy groups, television, movies, and local history articles.

October 2013 Meeting – Program: “Last of the Wild West”—Los Alamitos Lawman Gunned Down, Forgotten – Speaker: Phil Brigandi

Los Alamitos’ main street with the “Old West” look in 1910
Orange County Historical Society

Join us on Thursday, October 10, 2013 at 7:30 p.m. as our guest speaker, local historian and author, Phil Brigandi, uncovers lost history about the final days of the Old West as evidenced in Los Alamitos in 1907. The program will be held at our general meeting site, Trinity Episcopal Church, 2400 N. Canal St., in Orange.

Our engaging guest speaker will tell us the true tale of Deputy Juan Orosco who was the first law enforcement officer gunned down in the line of duty in the final years of Orange County’s “wild and wooly” pioneer era when bandits, horse thieves, saloons, and shoot-outs were as much a part of our towns as any other place out West.

Brigandi, an avid researcher who has penned more than 20 books about local history, tells us he uncovered these facts about Orosco a couple of years ago and then realized the story was forgotten in time because there are no longer “constables… or any successor agency to keep a list of their own fallen officers.”

Phil Brigandi

This will be the first time Brigandi has delivered this presentation. The program is open to the public.

Follow up note: Phil Brigandi is still researching the mystery of Deputy Juan Orosco’s life and death. If you have any photos or information about him, please contact Phil at

Member Year 2013-14 Kick-Off Meeting – Program: Dana Point Harbor – Speaker: Alan Hess

Dana Point Harbor on its dedication day, July 31, 1971
Courtesy Orange County Archives

Architect and historian Alan Hess will discuss Dana Point Harbor’s architectural design and development at the Orange County Historical Society’s season kick-off meeting on Thursday, September 12, 2013 at the Sherman Library & Gardens, 2647 E. Coast Highway, in Corona del Mar. The event will begin at 6:30 p.m. with an optional appetizer and dessert potluck, followed by the program at 7:30 p.m. (Everyone participating in the potluck is asked to bring a dessert or appetizer for six people.)

Dana Point Harbor is one of the most successful mid-century master-planned developments on the West Coast. Alan Hess will speak on “why it is such an important example of 1970s architecture, how it captures a unique time in Orange County history, and why its integrity is worth preserving.”

Hess is the architecture critic for the San Jose Mercury News and a contributor to The Architect’s Newspaper. He has written nineteen books on Modern architecture and Urbanism in the mid-twentieth century, the most recent one being Frank Lloyd Wright: Natural Design, Organic Architecture. Hess was a National Arts Journalism Program Fellow at Columbia University and has a M.Arch degree from the Graduate School of Architecture and Urban Planning, UCLA.

Alan Hess

This program will be followed with a related lecture and a self-guided tour of Dana Point Harbor on Saturday, October 5th, sponsored by Docomomo Socal.

Related topic: Read Alan Hess’ article about Dana Point Harbor: 
“The Beauty of Authenticity”
 from Orange Coast Magazine.

May 2013 Meeting – Program: Clara Mason Fox, O.C. Pioneer – Speaker: Lorraine Passero

Clara Mason Fox

Lorraine Passero, author of Clara Mason Fox: Pioneer, Painter, and Poet of Orange County, will present the story of the O.C. pioneer on Thursday, May 9, 2013, 7:30 p.m., at Trinity Episcopal Church, 2400 N. Canal St., in Orange.

More than 50 years after Clara’s death, a box found in an attic helped to piece together the narrative of this remarkable woman. Clara’s story, expressed through her art, poetry, and writings tells us that the Mason family left Illinois in the 1880s and were among the first settlers of Silverado Canyon. A true pioneer of her era, Clara served as perhaps the first schoolteacher in the canyon, and became an early Laguna Beach artist. She eventually travelled alone to New York City to study art at Cooper Union. After marrying local rancher George Fox and moving to El Toro, Clara was the first to write a book chronicling the history of that town.

Lorraine Passero’s book offers readers insights about Orange County’s homesteading days, life during turn-of-the-century New York City, and a young woman’s personal challenges. Excerpts from Clara’s letters and poetry, as well as her art, give us insight into her talents and observations of life.

In 2010, a serendipitous discovery of more than 150 of Clara’s botanical watercolors—some dating back to 1894—were discovered in cabinets filled with plant specimens at the Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden in Claremont, California. These watercolors are currently part of the exhibit “When They Were Wild: Recapturing California’s Wildflower Heritage” (March 9 – July 8) in the MaryLou and George Boone Gallery at the Huntington Library in San Marino. The exhibit also includes work by other artists, including Alice Brown Chittenden (1859–1944), Ethel Wickes (1872–1940), and Milford Zornes (1908–2008).

A native of New York City, Lorraine Passero earned her elementary education degree at Long Island University. While attending San Diego State University she met her future husband, Jon Seeman, a sculptor and a great-great nephew of Clara Mason Fox. Lorraine received a master’s degree at Mount Saint Mary’s College in Los Angeles. During the course of her teaching career, Lorraine was the recipient of numerous awards including the Japan Fulbright Memorial Fund and The New York Historical Society National Teachers Institute Award. The Orange County resident is currently developing a second career as an artist and author.

April 2013 Meeting – Program: Saving Orange County, A Preservation Roundup – Speakers: Ilse Byrnes, John Linnert, Jeannie Gillett, Mary Adams Urashima

Furuta Home of Wintersburg Courtesy Chris Jepsen

Learn about grass-roots historical preservation efforts currently underway throughout Orange County at our next meeting on Thursday, April 11, 2013, 7:30 p.m., at Trinity Episcopal Church, 2400 N. Canal St., in Orange. Pictured left is the Furuta home of Historic Wintersburg, photographed in 2011 by Chris Jepsen.

Speakers will include Ilse Byrnes (SDG&E Station, San Juan Capistrano), John Linnert (Mariners Medical Arts, Newport Beach), Jeannie Gillett (Old Orchard Conservancy, Santa Ana), and Mary Adams Urashima(Historic Wintersburg, Huntington Beach).

This program will not only shine a light on a variety of important grass-roots campaigns, but will also serve as an unofficial introduction to preservation for those who may wish to attend the 2013 California Preservation Foundation Conference, which will be held in Garden Grove in May.

Isle Byrnes

Ilse Byrnes has worked diligently and successfully to preserve San Juan Capistrano’s historic sites since the early 1970s, when she became involved with the San Juan Capistrano Historical Society. She has been instrumental in placing 13 sites on the National Register of Historic Places, and is currently working to make the first school site in L.A./O.C. an official California Point of Historical Interest, and to save the threatened 1917 San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) power station north of Downtown.

John Linnert

Architect John Linnert is a third generation City of Orange native and has practiced architecture throughout Orange County for more than 20 years. Recently he has become involved with the preservation efforts for Mariners Medical Arts—an architecturally and culturally significant medical office complex at 1901 Westcliff Dr. in Newport Beach. This complex, designed in 1963 by world-renowned modernist architect Richard Neutra, has been threatened in recent years with demolition and/or terribly incompatible alterations and expansions. Mariners Medical Arts consists of three structures connected by serene gardens and covered walkways.

Jeannie Gillett

Jeannie Gillett, President of The Old Orchard Conservancy will tell us about her group’s efforts to purchase, restore, renovate, and operate for public benefit. She will also share the history of the Sexlinger Home and orange grove at 1584 E. Santa Clara Ave. in Santa Ana. Although the five-acre property is on the city’s Register of Historical Properties, the current owners plan to demolish the Craftsman-style farmhouse and 230 Valencia orange trees for new development. Gillett, a certified pediatric nurse at CHOC, is an Associate Board Member of the Santa Ana Historical Preservation Society.

Mary Adams Urashima

Mary Adams Urashima, author of, researches oral histories, old newspapers and documents to find and share stories relating to Historic Wintersburg, now threatened with a zone change and demolition by the current landowners. As the most prominent figure driving preservation efforts for the historic community, she will provide us with an update on the current status of the situation, as well as a brief overview of the site’s history. Wintersburg came to greater public attention two years ago after OCHS held a panel discussion on the fate of the remains of the historically significant Japanese-American community (now part of north Huntington Beach). Still standing on the five-acre property is the original barn and 1912 bungalow of Charles Mitsuji and Yukiko Furuta—a rare, Japanese-owned property, purchased before California’s Alien Land Law of 1913; the Wintersburg Japanese Presbyterian Mission (founded 1904, constructed 1910)—the oldest Japanese church in Southern California; the 1910 manse (clergy home), and the Depression-era 1934 Church.

March 2013 Meeting – Program: “Orange County—Cooler Than It Knew How to Be” Rock, Folk, and Popular Music in Orange County – Speaker: Jim Washburn

The Golden Bear

Come learn about popular music groups and artists who got their start in Orange County, and the clubs and venues (like the Golden Bear—pictured left; click image to view it larger—and the Prison of Socrates) that helped launch them. OCHS will present “Orange County: Cooler Than It Knew How To Be,” on Thursday, March 14, 2013, 7:30 p.m., Trinity Episcopal Church, 2400 N. Canal St., Orange.

Jim Washburn

Longtime O.C. journalist and cub historian Jim Washburn will look at O.C.’s musical past to explain how, “despite prevailing perceptions, culture wasn’t hurtin’ behind the Orange Curtain.”

For more than 30 years, Jim has written about music and popular culture in the O.C. Register, the L.A. Times, the OC Weekly and other publications, as well as curating several exhibits about same at the Fullerton Museum Center.

February 2013 Meeting – Program: Huell Howser in Orange County, A Valentine to California – Panel: Rand Boyd, Phil Brigandi, Linda Jennings, Stephen M. Rios, Cynthia Ward

Huell Howser and Madame Modjeska, Anaheim

Our monthly program, a tribute to the late Huell Howser, will be delivered on Thursday, February 14, 2013, 7:30 p.m., at Trinity Episcopal Church, 2400 N. Canal St., in Orange. (Photo at left from the Anaheim Historical Society Flickr site shows Huell Howser posing with the statue of Madame Modjeska at Pearson Park in Anaheim. Click the image to view this page at Flickr.)

This event will feature a panel of local historians who will share experiences of giving the enthusiastic public television host a tour of their community in a “California’s Gold” episode: Cynthia Ward (Anaheim), Phil Brigandi (Orange), Linda Jennings (Tustin), and Stephen M. Rios (San Juan Capistrano). Also included in the panel will be Rand Boyd, Special Collections & Archives Librarian at Chapman University’s Leatherby Library, where Huell donated his notes and digitized collection of “California’s Gold” episodes filmed between 1991 and 2001.

On this special evening, we’ll not only find out what the personable show host was like off camera, but we’ll also view never-before-seen footage of Huell in Orange County, and perhaps revisit a few “golden” moments from local episodes we watched on t.v. years ago.

Among the places explored in the “California’s Gold” series were: Tustin, San Juan Capistrano (twice), Laguna Beach, Newport Beach, Garden Grove, Huntington Beach, Orange, Anaheim, Madame Modjeska’s home in Modjeska Canyon, Knott’s Berry Farm in Buena Park, the Irvine Ranch Land Conservancy, and the Starr Ranch Conservancy in southeastern Orange County.

So join us on Valentine’s Day, on a trip back in time to remember Huell and his contributions to our own history, and to revisit places in Orange County that will always be a part of “California’s Gold.”

January 2013 Meeting – Program: Yorba Linda Native Richard Nixon, A Century in Perspective – Speaker: The Reverend Canon John H. Taylor

Join us the day after Richard M. Nixon’s 100th birthday for a thoughtful discussion of his life and legacy by The Reverend Canon John H. Taylor. The program will be held Thursday, January 10, 2013, 7:30 p.m., at Trinity Episcopal Church, 2400 N. Canal St., in Orange.

Richard Nixon – one of the most fascinating and controversial figures of the 20th century – was born January 9, 1913 in the small town of Yorba Linda. Today, the area’s rolling hills, unassuming downtown, occasional patches of open land, and tinges of rural roots remind us of the agricultural Orange County of Nixon’s youth. Nixon’s favorite menu items are still marked at Mexican restaurants like El Adobe in San Juan Capistrano and Olamendi’s in Capistrano Beach. Surfers still point out Nixon’s “Western White House” in San Clemente. And of course, the Nixon Library and Birthplace is the primary place where researchers and the general public come to better understand the 37th President of the United States. Although he moved back East in 1980, Nixon’s imprint on Orange County is everywhere. (Pictured above is a recent photo of the Nixon Library and Museum taken by Chris Jepsen; click the image to view it larger.)

Our guest speaker John Taylor joined the staff of former President Richard M. Nixon in 1979, becoming his chief of staff in 1984. He traveled with Nixon to the Soviet Union, China, and many other countries, helped with six of his books, and assisted in planning the Nixon Library in Yorba Linda. Named the library’s director in 1990, Taylor oversaw President and Mrs. Nixon’s funerals in 1994 and 1993. As co-executor of Mr. Nixon’s estate, he helped pave the way for the opening of the Nixon White House tapes and other historical materials. And in 2007, he coordinated the library’s entry into the federal government’s system of presidential libraries.

Taylor received his Master of Divinity degree in 2003 from the Claremont School of Theology. He was ordained to the diaconate in 2003 and to the priesthood in 2004, and is now the full-time vicar of St. John Chrysostom Episcopal Church and St. John’s Episcopal School in Rancho Santa Margarita. For the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles, he currently serves on the Commission on Ministry, Commission on the Middle East, and Committee on Constitution and Canons. He is chair of the Committee on Resolutions.

Christmas with Nixon