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 www.visionsofcalifornia.blogspot.com.

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 www.drdonnafriess.com.

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!