Monday, October 31, 2011

Book Report: ***Manteca; Selected Chapters from its History

This book was published 31 years ago by the Manteca Bulletin and it written by Evelyn Prouty who is a docent at the Manteca Historical Museum.  I checked it out from the Manteca library.  It presents the prehistory, Native American history first, and then important persons in the history of Manteca, emigrants and founders.  It isn't until chapter eight that it presents the history of the city of Manteca.  However it is a great book to imagine what the area was like long ago.  It actually covers most of the area, rather than just Manteca, talking about Lathrop, French Camp, Mossdale and Atlanta.  It mentions that one of the oldest buildings still standing is the Zinc House barns at Wagner and 120.  This is well East of town. 

In a brief synopsis, Manteca was first populated by persons who turned from farming after the gold rush, and some he served in the transportation industry for those in the gold mines or farming--hotels, stage station managers etc.  However farming was the main industry.  There was also transportation via the river, taking wheat to Stockton.  The first manufacturing industry was a creamery.  Here they extracted the cream from milk for shipping, returning the milk product to the farmers for feeding cattle etc.  The fat was made into butter and ice cream. 

This book talks about many little things.  I now know that the first sewage plant is off of union where the park and gold course are now.  At a railway restaurant in Lathrop.  By chance, two feuding men where on the same train.  Judge David Terry had previously threatened to kill Judge Stephen J.Field. When Judge Terry discovered the presence of the other man, he approached him and hit him a couple of times.  Judge Field's body guard, David Neagle, drew a pistol and shot Judge Terry twice, killing him.  The two men then boarded the train and continued on their way.  They were arrested and brought back  for trial but where found not guilty.

The area was hampered by floods for many years, one of the most tragic was in 1950.  It talks about the response to the flu epidemic of 1920, which in a different part of the country killed a couple of my father's siblings, before my father was born.

This book gives a very good background history of e area.  I would recommend it for those seeking out local history.  However there is a lot of history which has taken place since it was written.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Movie Review: ***^The Crossing

This is the crossing of the Delaware by the troops of George Washington on Christmas of 1776.  This movie is a made for t.v. movie and stares Jeff Daniels as General Washington.  I must admit I had not realized how desperate the plight of General Washington was at the time.  He had just barely escaped into Pennsylvania as he retreated form New York, and had put the Delaware River between he and the pursuing British, supported by Hessian mercenaries.  He had gone into winter quarters at Valley Forge, and everyone expected him to sit out the winter there.  However the British were just waiting for the river to freeze over so they could continue their pursuit.  At this time there were 20,000 British, compared with Washington's 2000, who were poorly armed, and lacked munitions and food.  It was a desperate time, and in short, the fate of the federal army depended on the outcome of this battle.

General Washington was able to keep his movements a secret from the Hessian forces at Trenton, and they did catch them by surprise Christmas morning.  The result was the elimination of a force of 1200, with 300 killed and 900 captured, with no casualties on the par of the federals.  It was truly a miracle, and the cannon and arms taken from the fort there, resupplied the federal forces, so they could live and fight another day.  Never would the federal forces be as depleted again.  Even though the was would continue for seven more years, this was a turning point that changed history.

I enjoyed this movie, but I love history, as well as love to watch Jeff Daniels act.  It was fun the play he had with his generals as well.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Manteca Historical Museum

I visited the historical museum, and found a treasure of information.  They have old artifacts from the local schools and churches, and an area that has old pictures depicting the history of Manteca.  However where I found the most information was talking with the docents.  Amongst them were many historians, including one who wrote a book about the history of Manteca.  I learned about the Native Americans of the area, and a place just north and east of us where there is a stone which was used as an Indian grinding stone, similar to one in the South Bay.  I also learned about the early pioneer settlers, and heard of stories of New Hope.  I also learned about gold in the area, and how it is still panned for.  You can find gold as low as the area of San Joaquin and Stanislaus Rivers, but this is difficult.  However gold sometimes gets caught under stones, and then in a high moisture year as this has been, it will washed down stream. 

My only complaint about the museum is the hours they keep.  For a commuter their week day hours do not work.  And for a church going man their weekend hours do not work as they are not open on Saturday but only on Sunday.  The day I did visit was a day I had taken off from work.

But if you can visit the museum do so, and be sure to ask questions because if the person you ask doesn't know they will refer you to another docent who does know.