History – 1900s

Milpitas in the 1900s

On January 26, 1954, faced with getting swallowed up by a rapidly expanding San Jose, Milpitas residents incorporated as a city that included the recently built Ford Auto Assembly plant. When San Jose attempted to annex Milpitas barely seven years later, the “Milpitas Minutemen” were quickly organized to oppose annexation and keep Milpitas independent. An overwhelming majority of Milpitas registered voters voted “No” to annexation in the 1961 election as a result of a vigorous anti-annexation campaign.

Main Street, Milpitas, CA

Main Street, Milpitas, CA

EFF “Legal Cases – US v. Thomases – Amateur Action (AABBS), Memphis” Archive
July 1994. Robert and Carleen Thomas, operators of Amateur Action BBS in Milpitas, California, were tried and convicted of sending “pornography” across state lines by a Memphis jury.

New Mustangs on the line, 1964.
The Great Mall holds a great Ford secret
The huge 1.4 million square-foot facility often served as Ford’s outpost to produce the most popular models for distribution along the west coast. By 1962, the busy factory churned out 135,963 vehicles annually. Over the years it was home to Falcons, Escorts, Rancheros, F-Series pickups, Pintos, many Mercury vehicles, and of course, Mustangs. But as competition increased throughout the 1970s and 80s, this boomtown went bust.

Police Department History
The City’s first Police Chief was Thomas Letcher. Letcher had just one fulltime Sergeant under his command, while patrol duties were handled by Auxiliary Police Officers working on a part-time basis.


The Milpitas Monster was filmed in 1975 and 1976 and released to market in 1980, 80 Minutes, Color, Rated PG. Starring: Douglas A. Hagdohl, John “Pop” Kennedy, Scot A. Henderson, Daniel G. Birkhead, Scott Parker, Priscilla House, and William C. Guest. Screenplay by David E. Boston. Music by Robert R. Berry, Jr. Produced and Directed by Robert L. Burrill. Based on a story by David R. Kottas and Robert L. Burrill. Watch the trailer:

Milpitas’ top stories over a 60-year span
Overview of stories posted in the Milpitas Post since 1955. “Milpitas received a look at its new community newspaper. The Milpitas Post was born with a 2,000 press run with most of the copies distributed to workers at the gates of the new Ford plant, where the assembly lines were due to roll Feb. 21.”


River’s Edge
In 1981 a Milpitas High School student killed his girlfriend, then brought his buddies to see the body. No one told the cops. We’d prefer to forget this crime, but it was made into a movie in 1987. Our “river” here being but a small creek, the film was made up on the American River.

River’s Edge – About the Actor
Daniel Roebuck used flash to try to win the role, dike the flow of “ridiculous sitcom ‘fat guy’ parts,” and scrub away the taint of “Cave Girl.” He entered the audition room with a Tollette-like getup – fatigue jacket, slicked hair, beer can in hand. He downed a brew in his character’s style: full gulp, nerveless, apathetic. Site includes comments about the film versus what really happened.

Teens saw slain girl but didn’t tell police
Scanned news story behind “River’s Edge.” Not our proudest moment. Story hit papers even as far away as Milwaukee!

Silicon Valley

Bernal-Gulnac-Joice Ranch
A visit to the Bernal-Gulnac-Joice Ranch in the Santa Teresa County Park Historic Area immerses you in the realities of living and working on a family ranch more than 100 years ago. A self-guided walk around the park takes you back in time, through a historic ranch house, gardens and barn, all restored and equipped with furnishings and tools typical of California farm life in the early 1900’s.

Disturbing Facts About The 1933 Bay Area Kidnap And Murder Of Brooke Hart
Brooke Hart was the young, good-looking, and athletic heir to his family’s department store fortune. Which is what made him a prime target in the depression of 1933. In November of that year, Hart was kidnapped and murdered and his captors were publicly lynched in California’s last ever public lynching. The Brooke Hart kidnapping shook the nation and is a horrifying glimpse of justice gone wrong in American history. The escape route of the kidnappers went along Piedmont and Evans Road in Milpitas.

Campbell Historical Museum and Ainsley House
The Ainsley House is the 1926 home of canning pioneer John Colpitts Ainsley. It showcases life in Santa Clara Valley during the 1920’s and 1930’s.

Fabulous Fifties
Photographic views of various Silicon Valley landmarks in the 50’s, when this was a very rural area.

Frontier Village
This here website is dedicated to the memory of a mighty fine little family amusement park that existed from 1961 to 1980.

Palo Alto: The First 100 Years
A special project of the Palo Alto Weekly, an official sponsor of Palo Alto Centennial 1994.

Palo Alto Historical Association
We present programs the first Sunday of the month October through December and February through May. The programs are free and open to the public. Held at the Lucie Stern Community Center, they feature a speaker or speakers on subjects of local interest. Our annual banquet, with a speaker, is held in early June.

Sunnyvale Collection
It is the mission of the Sunnyvale Collection to preserve and share a record of the evolution of our community, past and present.

Swift Justice: Murder and Vengeance in a California Town
by Harry FarrellIn 1933, a couple of losers kidnapped and killed the son of a department store owner in San Jose, California. Little did they know of the fury they would unleash. The men were captured, and then, just hours after the victim’s body was found, a mob stormed the city jail and held “a necktie party” (lynching) in a nearby park. Harry Farrell is a superb writer who researched this case so thoroughly that he has the details to produce an unnerving degree of suspense.

Thomas Foon Chew: Founder of the Bayside Cannery
In 1906, Thomas Foon Chew took over his father’s Precita Canning Company, renaming it The Bayside Canning Company, and turning it into the third largest cannery in the world. Using a technique to can asparagus while retaining crispness and freshness, Chen became known as the Asparagus King.

Valley of the Heart’s Delight
Asks new questions about San Jose’s crime of the century – and whether a lynch mob murdered two innocent men in St. James Park. Hart’s abandoned Studebaker was found in Milpitas.

Velma Lucille Bernal Mendoza
An obit with lots of history both of the 1900’s and earlier eras. Born in San Jose, California on December 13, 1901, she is a direct descendant of Juan Francisco Bernal who came to Northern California with the de Anza expedition of 1776.

Victorian Preservation Association of Santa Clara Valley
A non-profit organization for those who share an interest in the older buildings of our community, especially turn-of-the-century homes.

Bay Area

The October 17, 1989, Loma Prieta, California, Earthquake-Selected Photographs
This publication contains 103 digitized color 35-mm images from Open-File Report 90-547 (Nakata and others, 1990). Our photographic coverage reflects the time and resources available immediately after the event and is not intended to portray the full extent of earthquake damage. USGS photos.

Neal Cassady
‘The bus came by and I got on, that’s when it all began; There was Cowboy Neal at the wheel of the bus to Nevereverland’ -Cassady, the genius behind the Beat Generation, settled in Los Gatos.

Story of an Eyewitness
Collier’s, May 5, 1906. Jack London went to the scene of the San Francisco Fire & Earthquake and wrote the following dramatic description of the tragic events he witnessed in the burning city.

Who’s Who of the Haight-Ashbury Era
This is a list of short (thumbnail size) biographies of people who were somehow involved with this event.

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