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v. 3 


John Edwin Adams 

Dr. John Edwin Adams, a re 
nowned ncurosurgcon at the Uni 
versity of California at San Francis 
co Medical Center and an 
internationally known expert on ce 
rebral palsy, epilepsy and Parkin 
son's disease, died May 18 at the DC 
San Francisco Medical Center. He 
was 85. 

Dr. Adams was among the first to 
use radioisotopes to help unlock the 
riddle of brain functions. And he 
assembled an interdisciplinary team 
at UC San Francisco to develop a 
pioneering program in stereotaxic 
surgery for the treatment of Parkin- ; 
son's disease, cerebral palsy, epilep 
sy and intractable pain. 

A descendant of the Adams presi 
dential family, Dr. Adams was born 
on April 18, 1914, in Berkeley, 
where his father, George Plimpton 
Adams, was a philosophy professor 
at the University of California and a 
founder of the Berkeley Academic 

Dr. Adams attended Milton Acad 
emy in Boston and graduated from 
UC Berkeley in 1935. As an under 
graduate, he was a member of the 
varsity crew team. He continued 
rowing throughout medical school 
at Harvard, rowing with the Union 
Boat Club in the Henley Regatta in 
England in 1936. 

As a member of the Lake Merritt 
Rowing Club, Dr. Adams rowed 
again at Henley at the age of 80. 

He received a master's degree 
from Harvard in 1939 and was surgi 
cal house officer at the Brigham and 
Children's Hospital in Boston when 
his postgraduate training was inter 
rupted by World War II. 

A combat Marine parafrooper, 
Dr. Adams served in the Pacific The 
ater as a battalion surgeon with the 
Marine Corps parachute troops on 
the battlefields of Guadalcanal, Vel- 
la La Vella and Bougainville. In 
1945, he was aboard the first Ameri 
can ship to enter Tokyo Harbor after 
V-I Day. v- 

Dr. Adams resumed his postgrad 
uate training at UC San Francisco in 
1946. In 1948, he was appointed an 
instructor in the newly formed De 
partment of Neurological Surgery, 
rising rapidly to associate professor 
and then chairman of the depart 
ment in 1957. 

His innovative programs prompt 
ed the University of California re 
gents in 1970 to dedicate his labora 
tory as the Howard C. Naffziger 
Institute for Neurological Research, 
named for Professor Adams' men 
tor, and to name him director and 
Guggenhime professor of experi 
mental neurological surgery, a posi 
tion he held until his retirement in 

Dr. Adams married a Berkeley 
classmate, Sally Patterson, the 
granddaughter of a pioneer Califor 
nia settler, in 1935. 

Dr. Adams continued after retire 
ment to remain an eminent pres 
ence on the UC San Francisco neu 
rological surgery faculty. 

He was a member of the Harvey 
Gushing Society and the American 
College of Surgeons. He was also a 
board member of the Avery-Fuller- 
" Welch Children's Foundation in 
San Francisco, which provides 
grants to handicapped and disabled 

In 1968, Dr. Adams was elected 
president of the Neurosurgical Soci 
ety of America. He was co-founder 
of the Epilepsy Research Group at 
UC San Francisco. And in 1986, the 
Adams endowed the annual John 
and Sally Adams Neurosurgery Lec 
ture at UC San Francisco, which 
continues to this day. 

Dr. Adams is survived by -two 
daughters, Abigail Adams Campbell 
of Woodside and Susan Adams Engs 
of Reno; a son, Henry Patterson Ad 
ams of Camarillo; his sister, Corne-' 
lia Adams Lonnberg of Noce, 
France; eight grandchildren; and 12 

Dr. Adams' wife of 60 years, Sally, 
died in 1995. 

Contributions in Dr. Adams' 
memory may be made to the Epi 
lepsy Research Fund, Department 
of Neurosurgery, Box 0520, UC San 
Francisco, San Francisco, Calif. 

Regional Oral History Office University of California 

The Bancroft Library Berkeley. California 


Volume III 


Interviews with 

Donald Patterson 
William Volmer 
Jeannette Korstad 

Marilyn Price 
Sally Patterson Adams 

John E. Adams 
David G. Patterson 

Robert Buck 

Leon G. Campbell, Jr. 

Wilcox Patterson 

George Patterson 

Bruce Patterson 

Abigail Adams Campbell 

Interviews Conducted by 
Stanley Bry 

Ann Lage 
Knox Mellon 
Donald Patterson 
in 1964, 1977. 1986. 1987 

Copyright (c\ 1988 by the Regents of the University of California 

Since 1954 the Regional Oral History Office has been interviewing 
leading participant! in or well-placed witnesses to major events in the 
development of northern California, the West, and the nation. Oral history 
is a modern research technique involving an interviewee and an informed 
interviewer in spontaneous conversation. The taped record is transcribed, 
lightly edited for continuity and clarity, and reviewed by the interviewee. 
The resulting manuscript is typed in final form, indexed, bound with 
photographs and illustrative materials, and placed in The Bancroft Library 
at the University of California, Berkeley and other research collections for 
scholarly use. Because it is primary material, oral history is not intended 
to present the final, verified, or complete narrative of events. It is a 
spoken account, offered by the interviewee in response to questioning, and 
as such it is reflective, partisan, deeply involved, and irreplaceable. 


This manuscript is made available for research purposes. 
All literary rights in the manuscript, including the right to 
publish, are reserved to The Bancroft Library of the University 
of California, Berkeley. No part of the manuscript may be quoted 
for publication without the written permission of the Director of 
The Bancroft Library of the University of California at Berkeley. 

Requests for permission to quote for publication should be 
addressed to the Regional Oral History Office. 486 Library. 
University of California, Berkeley 94720. and should include 
identification of the specific passages to be quoted, anticipated 
use of the passages, and identification of the user. 

It is recommended that this oral history be cited as 

To cite the volume: The Patterson Family and Ranch; 
Southern Alameda County in Transition, Volume III, "The 
Patterson Ranch, Past and Future: The Family's 
Perspective," an oral history project of the Regional Oral 
History Office conducted in 1964, 1977, 1986-1987, The 
Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley, 1988. 

To cite individual interview: Abigail Adams Campbell. 
"Summers at Ardenwood with Grandparents Sarah and Henry 
Patterson," an oral history interview conducted 1987 by Ann 
Lage, in The Patterson Family and Ranch; Southern Alameda 
County in Transition, Volume III, Regional Oral History 
Office, The Bancroft Library, University of California. 
Berkeley. 1988. 

Copy No. 


The Bancroft Library, on behalf of future researchers, wishes to thank the 
following organizations and individuals whose contributions made possible 
this oral history project. 

Alameda County Water District 

Brooks Family Foundation 

City of Fremont 

East Bay Regional Park District 

Oliver De Silva Company 

David and Joan Patterson 

Dorothy Patterson 

J. B. Patterson Trust 

Regional Oral History Office 
The Bancroft Library 

University of California 
Berkeley, California 




Dairying on the Patterson Ranch, 1924-1950 

ELVAMAE ROSE BORGHI Girlhood in a Patterson Ranch Farm Family, 1931-1948 



Observations of a Ranch Worker's Son, 1918-1950s 

Working for Henry Patterson, 1930s-1950s 

The Logan Family in Alvarado 

A Neighboring Farmer Recalls the Early Days 

The L. S. Williams Company: Farming in Southern 
Alameda County, 1930s-1980 

Fanning on Fremont's Northern Plain in the 1980s: 
Agriculture's Last Stand 


MATHEW P. WHITFIELD General Manager of the Alameda County Water District, 




The Pattersons and the Incorporation of Fremont 

Consultant to the Patterson Family: Master Planner, 
Developer, and Politician 

History and Politics: The Creation of Ardenwood 
Regional Preserve 

LAURENCE W. MILNES Ardenwood Regional Preserve and the City of Fremont 
WILLIAM D. PATTERSON The Alameda County Water District, 1914-1955 


PATTERSON Overland Journey. 18A9 

DONALD PATTERSON Family Lore: The Pattersons and Their Land Since 

the 1850s 

WILLIAM VOLMER Whipples. Beards. Ingalls. and Pattersons: Looking 

at the Havley Family Tree 


and Havley Family Memories 


SALLY PATTERSON ADAMS Growing Up at Ardenwood 

JOHN E. ADAMS A Son-in-Law Remembers Henry Patterson and Assesses 

Ranch Development 

DAVID G. PATTERSON Overseeing the Transition from Ranching to Property 


ROBERT BUCK Patterson Property Management. 1970s-1980s 

LEON G. CAMPBELL Balancing Agriculture and Development. Family and 

Public Interests 

WILCOX PATTERSON Donald Patterson and Patterson Ranch Management, 


GEORGE PATTERSON Recalling the Pattersons' Past: The Family. Land. 

and Historic Homes 

BRUCE PATTERSON Youth on the Patterson Ranch. 1950s-1963 

ABIGAIL ADAMS CAMPBELL Summers at Ardenwood with Grandparents Sarah and 

Henry Patterson 

TABLE OF CONTENTS Volume III: The Patterson Ranch, Past and Future: 

The Family's Perspective 


INTRODUCTION by Leon G. Campbell v 


OVERLAND JOURNEY, 1849, by George Washington Patterson, 1872 1 


Reflections from the Older Generation 

DONALD PATTERSON Family Lore: The Pattersons and Their 

Land Since the 1850s 3 

WILLIAM VOLMER Whipples, Beards, Ingalls, and Pattersons: 

Looking at the Hawley Family Tree 28 


and Hawley Family Memories 61 


SALLY PATTERSON ADAMS Growing Up at Ardenwood 82 

JOHN E. ADAMS A Son-in-Law Remembers Henry Patterson 

and Assesses Ranch Development 107 

DAVID G. PATTERSON Overseeing the Transition from Ranching 

to Property Management 127 

New Leadership from the Younger Generation 

ROBERT BUCK Patterson Property Management, 1970s-1980s 160 

LEON G. CAMPBELL Balancing Agriculture and Development, 

Development, Family and Public Interests 199 

WILCOX PATTERSON Donald Patterson and Patterson Ranch 

Management, 1950s-1980s 239 

GEORGE PATTERSON Recalling the Pattersons' Past: The 

Family, Land, and Historic Homes 278 

BRUCE PATTERSON Youth on the Patterson Ranch. 1950s-1963 338 

ABIGAIL ADAMS CAMPBELL Summers at Ardenwood with Grandparents 

Sarah and Henry Patterson 378 

APPENDIX Ardenwood Forest-New Town Development 

Plan. 1981 399 



The Patterson Ranch 

The historic George Washington Patterson home and ranch in Fremont. 
California, provides the focus for this oral history project which explores 
changing patterns of land-use in southern Alameda County over the past 130 
years. George Washington Patterson was a forty-niner from Lafayette. 
Indiana, who left the gold fields to settle on the rich alluvial plain 
created by Alameda Creek, on the southeastern shore of San Francisco Bay. 
He accumulated properties to form a 4.000-acre ranch in this area known as 
Washington Township and an additional 10,000 acres inland in the Livermore 
Valley. In 1877, he married Clara Hawley and added on to his home to create 
the Queen Anne style mansion that now is the centerpiece of the Ardenwood 
Regional Preserve, a historic farm operated by the East Bay Regional Park 
District on former Patterson ranch lands. 

Since George Patterson's death in 1895, three generations of his 
descendants have continued to oversee the ranch operations, sharecropped in 
the earlier years by tenants who grew vegetable crops on family farms and 
later leased to larger-scale and more modernized agricultural operations. 
Agriculture continued to flourish on Patterson ranch lands while surrounding 
lands succumbed to the pressures of urbanization from the burgeoning Bay 
Area metropolis in the post-World War II population explosion. 

The rapid urbanizations of the area brought with it inevitable political 
changes. The several small unincorporated towns of Washington Township 
Alvarado and Decoto; Irvington, Mission San Jose. Niles, Centerville, and 
Warm Springs; and Newark incorporated into the three cities of Union City, 
Fremont, and Newark in the 1950s. The Alameda County Water District, formed 
to conserve the ground water for the area's farmers, expanded its operation 
and its water supplies to deliver water to suburban customers. The Alameda 
County Flood Control District channelized Alameda Creek, putting an end to 
rich alluvial deposits, but making year-round farming and, most 
significantly, housing development possible on the northern flood plain. 

By the 1970s the Patterson family succumbed to development pressures and 
began selling off major portions of ranch lands for housing development. 
Their sale to Singer Housing of the lands surrounding the historic mansion 
and its landmark eucalyptus trees precipated the controversy that, after 
several years of lawsuits and negotiations, resulted in the creation of 
Ardenwood Regional Preserve. In the 1980s, the family has organized into a 
corporation with professional management from family members and has managed 
the development process in accordance with a master plan that emphasizes 
planned development and preservation of open space. Three regional parks 
are on former Patterson lands: in addition to Ardenwood, the Coyote Hills 
and surrounding marshlands are preserved, and in Livermore, the Del Valle 
Regional Park stands in the middle of Patterson cattle lands. Adjacent to 


the industrial park and the suburban housing tracts, lands still held by the 
Patterson family are leased to a modern truck farm growing cauliflower, 
lettuce, and specialty vegetables for Bay Area gourmets. 

The Oral History Project 

With a series of twenty-six interviews, the oral history project 
explores the transformation of the Patterson ranch as a case study of the 
complex evolution from agricultural to urban land use. The idea for the 
project came from the collaborative thinking of Knox Mellon and Leon 
Campbell. Dr. Mellon, former director of the California State Department of 
Historic Preservation and professor of history, was assisting the Patterson 
family to place Ardenwood on the National Registry of Historic Places. He 
saw the potential for an oral history project and found ready support among 
the Patterson family, particularly his friend and fellow historian. Leon 
Campbell, who was part of the management team for Patterson Properties. 
David Patterson, who has a keen interest in tracing family history, also 
took a supportive role. 

Dr. Mellon came to the Regional Oral History Office with his idea, has 
worked steadily with us to formulate and direct the project, and has 
served as interviewer and consultant throughout the three years to the 
project's completion. Leon Campbell was instrumental throughout in 
arranging funding and serving as advisor. Because of his ability to look at 
the story of the Patterson Ranch with a historian's eye. as well as his 
first-hand knowledge as a family member, he was asked to write the 
introduction to the project, which places the twenty-six interviews in 
historical context. 

As the planning for the project evolved, three main themes emerged, and 
these are reflected in the organization of the interviews into three 
volumes. Volume I focuses on agriculture and rural life on the northern 
plain of Washington Township in the prewar years and on the agricultural 
operations of the L.S. Williams and Alameda and Sons companies, the two 
outfits which farmed on the ranch during the transitional period from the 
mid-fifties to the present. 

Volume II tells the tales of water, development, planning, and historic 
preservation in the area topics seemingly diverse which are seen to be 
closely interrelated in these histories. Volume III focuses on the 
Patterson family, past and present. Two generations of family members 
combine nostalgic looks back to rural childhoods with insight into the 
processes of present-day property management by a family corporation. 

Each volume has been enhanced with interviews completed on previous 
occasions for other purposes, but ones which added so centrally to our 
project that we requested permission to include them here. These include, 
in Volume II. the interviews with William D. Patterson, son of George 


Washington Patterson, on his work with the Alameda County Water District; 
and Larry Milnes. assistant manager of the city of Fremont, on the city's 
role in the negotiations leading to the establishment of Ardenwood. 

Volumes I and III have interviews which were recorded in 1975 and 1977 
by family member Donald Patterson for the family archive at the Society of 
California Pioneers. These include the interview with neighboring farmer 
William McKeown in Volume I and cousin William Volmer in Volume III. Donald 
Patterson also recorded his own recollections on tape and later was 
interviewed for the Society of California Pioneers by Stanley Bry. 
Transcriptions of these tapes are included in Volume III. The project was 
further enriched by the volunteer assistance of Bill Helfman. a Fremont 
resident who recorded two interviews for the project. His interview with 
Donald Furtado is in Volume I. 

To enhance the reader's understanding of the interviews, illustrative 
materials have been included. Maps of the southern Alameda County area in 
1956 and 1987 are in the introductory pages for each volume. Family trees 
of the Patterson and Hawley families are included in Volume III (pages 2 and 
31). The 1981 town development plan for the Patterson Ranch is in the 
appendix to Volume II. In addition, interview histories preceding each 
memoir give specifics on the conduct and content of the interviews. 

All of the tapes for the project interviews are available in The 
Bancroft Library. Society of California Pioneer tapes are in their archive 
in San Francisco. In addition to the transcribed interviews included here, 
three interviews recorded for background information are available on tape 
only. These are interviews with Dorothy Wilcox Patterson, wife of Donald, 
and Eleanor Silva and Mary Dettling, former housekeepers for the Henry 
Patterson family. 

Research Resources 

Many resources exist for research on the subject matters of these 
interviews. The Society of California Pioneers has papers and business 
records and photographs of the Patterson family. A guide to these papers, a 
useful bibliography, and other information exists in Faces in Time; An 
Historic Report on the George Washington Patterson Family and the Ardenwood 
Estate prepared for the East Bay Regional Park District by Susan A. Simpson. 
1982. The local history collection and the Grace Williamson collection in 
the Alameda County library in Fremont is another valuable source. Their 
collection includes many untranscribed oral history interviews with 
individuals prominent in Fremont's history. The library of California State 
University at Hayward also includes works on the history of the region. A 
CSUH master's thesis in geography gives specific information about the 
history of land use on the Patterson Ranch; it ie based in part on a 1971 
interview with Donald Patterson (Jerome Pressler. Landscape Modification 
through Time: the Coyote Hills, Alameda County. California. 1973). 


Research Use 

The diversity and the universality of themes explored in this series of 
oral history interviews insure that they will be consulted by a wide 
variety of researchers. They are intended to be of use to the East Bay 
Regional Park District in planning and interpretation. They provide 
information on the history of agriculture, particularly the loss of 
agricultural lands to urbanization and the problems of farming in an urban 
setting. They discuss the process of land planning from the perspectives of 
city officials, developers, and property owners. They give an indepth 
history of the Alameda County Water District and illuminate the role of 
water in development. Finally, they provide a candid look at a family 
business over four generations and give insight to the dynamics of 
personalities and intra-f amily, inter-generational conflicts in shaping 
decisions in family businesses. 

Ann Lage 
Project Director 

September. 1988 

Regional Oral History Office 

The Bancroft Library 

University of California at Berkeley 


INTRODUCTION by Leon G. Campbell 

The three volumes of interviews prepared by the Regional Oral History 
Office of the University of California. Berkeley, dealing with the Patterson 
family and ranch between the years 1851-1988, constitute a case study of 
changing land use in southern Alameda County from the days of the first 
Califomios to the present. George Washington Patterson (1822-1895) came to 
California with the Gold Rush but remained to found an extensive farming and 
ranching enterprise in Alameda County. Originally known as Rancho Potrero 
de los Cerritos (Cattle Ranch of the Hills), the 4.000-acre Patterson Ranch 
has remained in family hands as an agricultural and livestock enterprise to 
the present day. Under the ownership of George Washington's sons, Henry 
(1878-1955) and William (1880-1961). the Patterson Ranch became a dominant 
economic institution in southern Alameda County and the family an integral 
part of the emergence of Fremont as a major Bay Area community. 

Situated between the eastern terminus of the Dumbarton Bridge, which 
connects Alameda County with the West Bay, and Highway 880, the Patterson 
Ranch is a prominent feature of the East Bay landscape. Today known as 
"Ardenwood-New Town" in honor of the Shakespearean title sometimes used to 
describe the ranch. Ardenwood serves as the western gateway to Fremont and 
the entire South Bay. Despite the fact that the planned district of 
Ardenwood is less than four years old, the size and scope of the changing 
land-use patterns on the Patterson Ranch resemble those taking place on the 
Irvine and Bixby Ranches in southern California, where uninterrupted family 
ownership has retained influence over time and throughout change. 

Several important themes emerge from the various interviews contained 
within the three volumes. Volume I, Agriculture and Farm Life on Fremont's 
Northern Plain, chronicles the transition of the Patterson Ranch from a 
family farm in the nineteenth century to a large-scale agricultural 
enterprise operated by the L. S. Williams Company during the 1950s. The 
several interviews of tenant farmers and Patterson Ranch workers covering 
the period from approximately 1900-1950 constitute an excellent social 
history of farm life in Fremont's Northern Plain. Collectively, the memoirs 
of farmers and ranch workers not only inform about the Pattersons as owners 
but as well provide a third-party perspective upon changing public vises 
including the development of the Nimitz Freeway (1953), Alameda County Flood 
Control Project (1965-70), and the dedication of Coyote Hills Regional Park 

The oral histories in Volume I hint at subjects which Volumes II and 
III treat more centrally, namely the immense changes taking place in the 
area during the lifetimes of the individual interviewees, particularly 
during the period following World War II. During the fifties and sixties, 
southern Alameda County shifted from a rural to an urban orientation, 
resulting in the incorporation of cities and the initiation of water and 
flood control projects, as these new municipalities began to debate the land 
and water use issues which had prompted their incorporation. 


Volume I; Agriculture on the Ranch 

The initial interviews contained in Volume I represent a broad sample 
of ranch workers and tenant farmers who were closely associated with the 
Patterson family during the postwar. As a group, they reflect the value of 
family and neighbors and of traditional virtues associated with farming and 
farm life. Quite apparent is the fact that these attitudes ran as deep in 
rural Alameda County as in more traditional agricultural areas outside 
California. Indeed, the Pattersons considered many of these individuals as 
their extended family, sharing with them an ethic of hard work and 
perseverance in the face of drought, flooding, poor crop years, and economic 
uncertainty. The interviews also cover the transition from cattle ranch to 
farming and provide important data on the presence of Chinese laborers, 
Mexican braceros, and migrants of all nationalities who came to comprise the 
ranch work force. Also recollected are recreational activities from horse 
racing to duck hunting, the introduction of the tractor to Ardenwood. and the 
life of the mind in a farming environment, particularly within the context 
of the development of Stanford University and the University of California 
at Berkeley where many of the early Patterson family members matriculated. 

The second section of Volume I covers the more recent history of the 
larger-scale L. S. Williams and Alameda family farming operations on the 
ranch. In addition to providing an excellent overview of the agricultural 
basis of the Patterson Ranch, this section chronicles the decisions to grow 
various crops and the reasons for so doing, particularly the ability of 
various crops to withstand increasing salinity levels as a direct result of 
the ranch's location on San Francisco Bay and saltwater intrusion into the 
underground aquifers. 

These interviews also reflect the rapidly changing agricultural 
orientation of northern California as East Bay farmland was converted to 
housing and industrial uses and agricultural operations relocated into the 
Salinas Valley, which in turn reoriented transportation and marketing 
networks. Increasingly isolated from the large growers and packers in the 
Salinas Valley, agricultural operations in southern Alameda have been forced 
to either transship their produce to the Midwest and other areas by means of 
refrigerated trucks or to diversify and reorient their production towards 
local markets. Since 1984. the Alameda Company has shifted from 
agribusiness to more of a diversified local farm operation. The Alameda 
family operates at Ardenwood for only half the year, relocating to Arizona 
and northern Mexico to grow cauliflower and lettuce during the winter months 
on a more convenient and large-scale basis. These growers' interviews 
provide an important case study of the decisions required when farming in a 
community which is making a rapid transition to urbanization in a precarious 
agricultural environment. 


Volume II; The Context for Rapid Postwar Development 

Volume II, Water, Development, and Preservation in Southern Alameda 
County, provides a more in-depth study of the dynamic tension between 
development, preservation efforts, and the water projects which have all 
impacted Alameda County during the period after 1945. The first-hand 
account of Mathew Uhitfield, general manager of the Alameda County Water 
District during the years 1953-1977, provides a case study of this process 
of change in the East Bay. Whitfield's vivid recollections, the longest 
interview in the history, offer a fascinating study of family, water and 
South Bay politics during the postwar period. Whitfield's oral history may 
well be the most important single contribution to the project, for the 
actions of the Alameda County Water District in the 1950s provided the 
foundation for the subsequent growth of Fremont and the Northern Plain. 

Whitfield was a close associate of W. D. Patterson, himself a director 
of the Alameda County Water District from its inception in 1914, whose 
recollections, based on a 1955 interview on the subject, are also included 
in this volume. Whitfield's perspective on the 1950s, the period in which 
the water district took a central role in planning for controlled growth, 
provides a context for assessing the subsequent changes which would alter 
Fremont and the Patterson Ranch thereafter. His reflections also touch upon 
an important aspect of Patterson family history not treated in this project. 
namely the events leading up to and including the creation of the Del Valle 
Regional Park in Livermore. which was created as the result of state 
condemnation of Livermore ranch land for the Del Valle reservoir. At one 
time the Patterson Livermore Ranch in Alameda County complemented the 
Fremont Ranch in an integrated farming-livestock operation. The Livermore 
operation is not treated herein in any detail, but is an important component 
of the history of the East Bay Regional Park system. 

In addition, Whitfield provides an important perspective on the State 
Water Project South Bay Aqueduct, which linked both Patterson ranches to the 
future of water transportation projects. These decisions to import water 
for groundwater recharge and the subsequent Aquifer Reclamation Program of 
1974 to counteract saltwater intrusion were determining factors in the 
continued agricultural development of southern Alameda County in general and 
the Patterson Ranch in particular. This interview thus provides an 
important complement to the Regional Oral History Office's series of oral 
history interviews on California water issues and relates changes on the 
Patterson lands to statewide water issues. 

Another pivotal interview contained within Volume II is that of John 
(Jack) Brooks, an important developer in southern Alameda County from the 
postwar to the present and the primary planner of Ardenwood. Brooks's 
recollections, because of his long association with the Patterson family and 
his central position as a political force in Fremont, offer an invaluable 
look at the city as it has emerged to become the fourth largest municipality 
in the Bay Area. As Brooks makes clear, with the five communities making up 
Fremont, the Northern Plain was always anticipated to be a sixth or "New 
Town," its name today. 


Whether this concept of an urban area on the North Plain was 
acknowledged by Henry and William Patterson before their deaths as Brooke 
contends, it vas apparently supported by William's oldest son. Donald 
Patterson (1905-1980). who, as the oldest surviving Patterson son. assumed 
management responsibilities on the ranch after 1961 under an informal 
primogeniture (Henry Patterson's children were both daughters). Brooks 
holds that Henry and Will Patterson had virtually agreed to enter a 
development plan just before Henry's death in 1955. Subsequently, he 
recollects that the city of Fremont had begun to insist upon cancelling the 
Williamson Act. which had protected the Patterson family from future tax 
increases as an agricultural enterprise, so that the Pattersons would in the 
future 'pay their fair share of taxes. 

Although Brooks understates his role in the process, under his guidance 
and with Fremont's cooperation, Ardenwood was brought out of Williamson in 
1981 and substantial parts of the Patterson Ranch were sold, initially to 
the Singer Company and later to Kaiser Development Company and to Brooks 
himself. No less important are Brooke's recollections concerning the advent 
of a planned district concept and the complicated series of negotiations 
which led to the creation of Ardenwood Historic Park and the preservation of 
the George Washington Patterson House at its present location adjacent to 
Highways 84 and 880. Brooks's interview also describes in some detail why 
particular land-use decisions were made as they were and how a series of 
urban villages were created to establish a residential new town and a 
commercial and high technology center amidst a traditional farming 

The interview of Dr. Robert Fisher also provides valuable background on 
the politics of preservation involving Ardenwood. Fisher, the leading light 
in the Mission Peak Heritage Foundation, describes from his viewpoint how 
various interested local historical associations including the Washington 
Township Historical Society, Patterson House Advisory Board, and Ardenwood 
Regional Park Advisory Committee were all drawn into the question of who was 
to control and implement what had belatedly been recognized as an important 
historic and civic asset, namely, the Ardenwood Historic Farm and attendant 
Victorian mansion which formed its centerpiece. 

The recollections of Fisher and of Larry Milnes, assistant city manager 
of the city of Fremont, provide a balanced view of how municipalities become 
involved in the process of acquiring valuable assets for future 
preservation, how these assets are administered, in this case through the 
aegis of the East Bay Regional Park District, which also operates Coyote 
Hills Regional Park adjacent to the site. Besides corroborating Brooks' s 
reflections on the Ardenwood process. Milnes's interview describes how 
decisions were reached over the often controversial questions of deciding 
the focus and implementing the historical theme. Milnes also depicts, from 
the city's perspective, the evolution of the Patterson Ranch from 
agriculture to mixed use. 


Following the gift of forty-six acres, including the family home, to 
the city of Fremont by the Patterson family in 1981. the city consulted the 
State Office of Historic Preservation in Sacramento to verify Ardenwood's 
historic value. This in turn led to the city and the Patterson family 
petitioning the National Trust for Historic Preservation in Washington. 
D.C., to have the ranch placed on the National Registry of Historic Places, 
which was accomplished in 1985. Since then, the historic farm has become an 
increasingly popular tourist attraction featuring demonstration farming and 
the recreation of nineteenth century farm life. 

In sum. this volume treats the interrelated themes of water projects, 
municipal formation, planned district development and historic preservation 
within the context of Fremont politics, 1950-1988. It would be naive to 
contend that the issues delineated have all been resolved or to deny that 
choices forced upon the various groups involved have not produced bitter 
disputes. Nevertheless, these interviews, offered by the primary surviving 
decision-makers in each area, provide basic data about the campaign which 
transformed the Patterson Ranch from a sprawling agricultural enterprise 
beset by regular flooding and other natural hazards into a Planned Urban 
District (PUD). 

From the Patterson's perspective, however, a view no doubt shared by 
Fremont and EBRPD, pride is taken in the fact that a large portion of the 
Patterson Ranch has been converted to public use. first for the Nimitz 
Freeway in 1952, then for the flood control uses proposed by Alameda County, 
and later by the dedication of large tracts of permanent open space, 
including both the Coyote Hills Regional Park and the Del Valle Reservoir 
and Park in Livermore as well as the most recent dedication of the Ardenwood 
Historic Farm now operated by the Park District. The Patterson family's 
strong advocacy of open space preservation is reflected in the creation of 
no fewer than three East Bay Regional Parks on Patterson family lands and a 
substantial portion of the acreage within the planned district being 
dedicated to public use. This distinguishing feature of Ardenwood, like the 
better known Irvine and Bixby Ranches in southern California, for example, 
is intended to provide for the needs of future generations and is a part of 
the continuing stewardship of the Patterson family management group. 

Volume III: The Family Recalls the Past and Confronts the Future 

Volume III, The Patterson Ranch. Past and Future; The Family's 
Perspective, is devoted to the reflections of the third and fourth 
generation of Patterson family members. The variety of these interviews 
reflect the quite different personalities and temperaments of George 
Washington's two sons. Will and Henry, who apparently contemplated a 
division of their undivided landholdings prior to their deaths, a decision 
which was never consummated. It was traditional in most large landowning 
families for the eldest son to assume management responsibilities following 
his father's death. This was true in the case of George Washington's eldest 

son. Henry, who succeeded him in 1895 at seventeen years of age and 
subsequently with Will Patterson's oldest son. Donald, who assumed 
responsibility for ranch management in the period after 1961. Donald 
Patterson's interview, taped by the Society of California Pioneers prior to 
his death in 1980, provides interesting observations on both his father and 
grandfather and the nature of their lives at Ardenwood. 

Perhaps the most insightful observation corroborated by many others in 
these volumes was the respectful and cooperative relationship between Will 
and Henry Patterson, who "never had a disagreement* 1 and consulted one 
another on every major decision to be made concerning the ranch. Although 
the two sons differed in temperament and personality and were not what one 
might call close, they accommodated these differences pragmatically, with 
the quieter Henry running the ranch and his more outgoing brother Will 
dealing with the public. Their mutual respect and deliberate way of 
reaching consensus decisions in addition to their division of labors, both 
running the ranch and defending the ranch's interests in the South Bay. 
resulted in a profitable landhold. Ardenwood dominated the regional 
agricultural economy through the production of row crops (lettuce, 
cauliflower) and other high quality produce. Will and Henry were excellent 
farmers, good businessmen, and outstanding citizens, who extended and 
consolidated their father's agricultural presence in southern Alameda County. 

The interview of David Patterson. Will's youngest son. who assumed 
management responsibilities for the ranch following the death of his older 
brothers, Donald and John (known as Jack), provides a frank assessment of 
the difficulties which a family agricultural enterprise faces when it 
suffers the loss of its patriarchs in a period of transition. During the 
period in which Donald Patterson ran the ranch, Henry's daughters. Sally 
Patterson Adams and Marjorie Patterson, were not actively involved in 
decision-making, this role having been assumed largely by John Brooks, a 
real estate developer who was close to Donald Patterson and both anticipated 
and orchestrated the development process. 

The interviews with Donald's sons. George and Wilcox. provide 
considerable information concerning the ranch and their father. None of 
these memoirs, however, sheds additional light on the process of decision- 
making between the city, the Pattersons, and John Brooks, although it is 
likely that the public records of the period (1980-1984) would be helpful to 
historians interested in understanding the development process. The next 
stage of land use clearly mandated turning over of substantial portions of 
the ranch for residential development as rising land values and the shortage 
of available land for homes resulted in a new Fremont and a transformed 
Northern Plain. 

Following Donald Patterson's death in 1980, David Patterson continued 
to manage the family farm as the city entered into a development agreement 
with Brooks. Despite serious rifts within the family, which included an 
abortive attempt by two of William Patterson's grandchildren to bring suit 
against their family to obtain the value of their undivided interest in the 
ranch property, the family held firm against this challenge. When the two 


young people hired the nefarious Kelvin Belli to sue the Patterson family 
and were defeated in court (1981). it prompted the Pattersons to move 
rapidly to incorporate as Patterson Fremont Management. Inc., (PFM) and to 
set up a series of limited partnerships to manage the land in order that one 
or more minority family members could not. through undivided ownership, lay 
waste to the family's plan for future ownership and management of the 
property. It was this incident which convinced the Pattersons that the days 
of consensus decision-making as it had existed with Henry and Will had 
ended. By 1982 the Patterson Ranch had converted to a true business 

Interviews of Sally Patterson Adams and her husband. Dr. John E. Adams, 
shed light not only on the personages of Henry and Sarah Patterson but also 
provide an alternative recollection on how decisions were reached during the 
1960s and 1970s, as the transition was made from agriculture to development 
by individuals and forces outside the family. Sally Adams provides an 
intimate portrait of growing up at Ardenwood. John Adams, an ardent 
preservationist, casts a skeptical eye on the chain of events which led to 
the ultimate transformation of the ranch, contending that the demand for 
change was orchestrated by a prevailing coterie at City Hall rather than by 
population dynamics or other inexorable forces. Adams clearly believes that 
the ranch could have continued in farming had the family been given the 
opportunity to make this choice through timely dissemination of information 
and discussion of alternatives to development. 

Interviews by the fourth generation of Pattersons are informative for 
their explanation of the transition from ranch management by individuals 
towards a corporate form of business organization. Bruce Patterson provides 
insights about his father. Jack, as well as the strongly independent natures 
of the W. D. and H. H. Patterson families. In this regard, interviews by 
the fourth generation of Pattersons make clear that the testamentary 
dispositions of their grandfathers, William and Henry, as well as their 
parents, has resulted in a current generation of Pattersons spread 
throughout the state and country, of different economic means and lacking 
common objectives for Ardenwood. This, in turn, has resulted in growing 
differences of opinion stronger than those developing during the tenure of 
the third generation. The implications of land being sold to outside 
developers and the first cash distributions to family members both raised 
expectations and produced further disputes, rather than silencing them. 
Certain limited partners began to question the decisions of those family 
members serving as general partners and to urge a liquidation of remaining 
ranch assets. In general, these disputes follow family lines. 

Interviews with other members of the PFM Board include those by former 
president Robert Buck, a Patterson son-in-law and attorney who currently 
serves as PFM's legal counsel. Buck provides yet another perspective on the 
events leading to the Ardenwood development, particularly the Kaiser land 
sales and the creation of the Patterson Properties business enterprise 
during the 1980s. 


Leon Campbell, another son-in-law serving as FFM's executive vice 
president, recounts how he and Buck were called upon to assume management 
and investment responsibilities for the Patterson family. As the vast, 
undeveloped acreage appreciated in value, situated within one of the most 
rapidly growing parts of the Bay Area, they completed tax deferred 
exchanges, putting the family into income-producing properties which PFM 
managed and operated. As they assumed their posts in 1985. Buck and 
Campbell were increasingly called upon to mediate between decisions which 
had been made prior to the Pattersons' complete awareness of a political 
process which had developed apart from them and future policy issues which 
loomed ahead, such as those of wetlands, the subsidization of agriculture, 
and the Town Center development. 

These business recollections are paralleled by those of Donald 
Patterson's other son. George Patterson, who provides a sensitive internal 
history on the family at Ardenwood. and Abigail Adams Campbell, daughter of 
Sally Patterson Adams, on her grandparents. Sarah and Henry Patterson. 

Taken together, the several interviews by the fourth generation of 
Patterson family management underscores the dichotomy of events which have 
transpired in Fremont's North Plain during the period since 1980 and 
particularly since 1984. when the initial land sale to Kaiser Development 
Corporation was instituted. Hardly conclusive in their entirety, these last 
interviews restate the younger generation's perspective on their fathers and 
grandfathers, as well as their own perceptions about the rapidly changing 
nature of the real estate which they have been requested to monitor in the 
future. These changes have rendered the personal managerial tradition of 
the Patterson family largely unworkable, although considerable nostalgia for 
the "old ways" still exists, which often precludes certain limited partners 
from adhering to a general partnership organization. In many ways the 
family runs each other rather than running a business, a not uncommon aspect 
of organizations with strongly paternal origins. The challenge ahead will 
be to forge a new consensus to accommodate an era promising even greater 
alterations in the Patterson Ranch and the East Bay. 

Conclusion and Acknowledgements 

In conclusion, this oral history of the Patterson family and ranch. 
1851-1988. has much to contribute to the general history of southern Alameda 
County and is particularly informative on the transitional years between 
1945 and the present, which are largely omitted in the historical 
literature, by drawing on the reflections of those who were the primary 
actors during those years. 

The Regional Oral History Office of The Bancroft Library at the 
University of California. Berkeley, has provided an ideal method for 
understanding the linkages between the Patterson family, its agricultural and 
ranching enterprise, and actions taken by city, county and state 


organizations in response to the pressures of rapid urbanization occurring 
in the East Bay during the postwar period. These interviews with the 
surviving senior members of the Patterson family and key individuals 
associated with the family agricultural and business operations over the 
past fifty years not only underscore the enormous changes taking place in 
the area during the lifetimes of those interviewed, but they also indicate 
how and why these changes were implemented. Often it appears that matters 
of great significance were reached by informal agreement rather than formal 
debate both within the family and perhaps outside of it. These interviews 
reflect a simpler time, prior to the advent of citizen-sponsored initiatives 
and environmental impact reports, a period when many leaders shared common 
assumptions concerning the value of growth and development to 
municipalities. Few could have comprehended the scope of growth which was 
to transform the Bay Area so dramatically during the postwar period and the 
reactions which it would produce. 

The Patterson family is proud to have its history included in The 
Bancroft Library's treasury of interviews with major figures in the history 
of California and the West. The three-volume oral history project 
represents a substantial historiographies! advancement towards the 
development of a comprehensive history of the East Bay and its progenitory 

I should like to thank the staff of the Regional Oral History Office at 
Berkeley, particularly Division Head Willa Baum and Project Director Ann 
Lage, for the dedicated effort which they have made in bringing this project 
to fruition through the recording, transcription and editing of these 
interviews. The trained oral historians on the ROHO staff, whose careful 
research and sensitive interview techniques are clearly manifest throughout 
the project, have clearly set the tone for the entire project. My long-time 
friend, Dr. Knox Mellon, former head of the State Office of Historic 
Preservation in Sacramento, who skillfully directed the nomination of the 
Ardenwood Regional Preserve to the National Register of Historic Places, has 
also been pivotal in finalizing this project. Dr. Mellon's liaison as a 
consultant to the Regional Oral History Office and ROHO's strong ties to 
state and local historical groups both assure that the project meets 
specific needs as well as serving the larger scholarly community through the 
questions it raises and the information it preserves. 

This oral history project substantially advances earlier studies 
carried out by the East Bay Regional Park District, which were designed to 
analyze the property exclusively in terms of its archaeological 
significance. By recording the reflections of two generations of Patterson 
family members about life and work on the Patterson Ranch, the project also 
relates centrally to the history of Fremont and to the entire East Bay which 
otherwise might be lost forever. 

Through the incorporation of interviews with members of the Patterson 
Ranch labor force, water district officials and a broad spectrum of Fremont 
city officials and politicians, as well as interviews with other key 
individuals now deceased, recorded earlier by the Society of California 


Pioneers, and interviews with individuals charged with the stewardship of 
the remaining lands of Patterson, this oral history project anticipates a 
full history of the Patterson Ranch and the South Bay. The subject should 
be of future value to scholars interested in urban planning, land use 
decision-Baking, agricultural history, the process of municipal formation 
and water issues, matters related to conservation and historic preservation 
as they pertain to the East Bay and. of course, the political matrix in 
which these issues are situated. In this regard, this project, which deals 
with life, land and politics on the Patterson Fremont Ranch, exceeds the sum 
of its parts. 

The personal and financial support of several individuals and groups 
also made the project possible. Financial sponsorship of the project has 
been provided by the East Bay Regional Park District, the Brooks Family 
Foundation, the City of Fremont, the Oliver De Silva Company, the Alameda 
County Water District, and various members of the Patterson family, 
especially David and Joan Patterson. Dorothy Patterson, and the J. B. 
Patterson Trust. David and Joan Patterson have been steadfast in their 
determination to preserve the history of the Patterson family over time and 
have supported this work at every juncture. 

The present project goes well beyond the Pattersons to focus upon the 
Patterson Ranch during the years in which it was transformed from a rural 
agricultural enterprise to the Ardenwood planned community. A "New Town" 
both in concept and in fact. Shakespeare's idyllic Ardenwood may be an 
elusive metaphor masking the difficult choices that changes in land use 
inevitably bring. 

Leon G. Campbell 
Executive Vice President 
Patterson Fremont Management. Inc. 

May. 1988 

Fremont. California 



from the 1956 Alareda County map 
California State Automobile Association 



from the 1987 Alameda/Contra Costa map 
California State Automobile Association 


G. W. Patterson home and ranch, from the Offical and Historical Atlas 

Map of Alameda County, Thompson and West, Oakland, California, 1878 

PREFACE Overland Journey, 1849 

by George Washington Patterson 

In 1872, the founder of the Patterson family and ranch in California, 
George Washington Patterson, was asked by historian Herbert Howe Bancroft to 
write his recollections of his overland journey from his home in Indiana 
across Mexico to the gold fields of California. The following manuscript is 
a thoughtful and stirring account of his trip, undertaken in 1849 with a 
twenty men, "from fiery youth to vigorous middle age," from Lafayette and 
Americus, Indiana. 

Patterson, who is remembered in the oral histories in this project as 
being a reserved, perhaps dour, no-nonsense businessman-rancher, displays in 
this letter to Bancroft sensitivity, a colorful style, and good humor. He 
describes the group's gala departure on March 13. 1849, as they set out on an 
unknown route in high spirits. Several of the company were members of a 
brass band; they played for the group of well-wishers and carried their 
instruments along with them, only to have them later "dashed to pieces on 
bucking mules and tumbled over precipices in the Corderlas Mountains." On 
the arduous journey across Mexico, the company suffered severe privations: 
"That men from the Wabash the land of pork and corn should be limited in 
their eating was not to be endured." Despite the hardships, he was able to 
appreciate the beauty of the Sierra Madre as they traveled along their 
eastern base, a sight that was "to us, never having seen a mountain before, 
exceedingly grand." 

The depth of his emotions is revealed as he describes the loss of a 
young, favored member of the company to cholera. He breaks off his account 
of the journey after describing the youth's death, leaving the company in 
Durango and referring Bancroft to other members of the group who might 
furnish more information. His account is so lively and reveals so much of 
an unknown side of George Washington Patterson that the reader deeply 
regrets he was unable to continue at this point, "for want of time." 

It is fitting that this oral history project on the Patterson Family 
and Ranch, undertaken by The Bancroft Library's Regional Oral History 
Office, should include this letter from George Washington Patterson to 
Herbert Howe Bancroft. Bancroft was a regional historian from San Francisco 
who collected vast quantities of written documentation about western North 
America. In addition, he might be considered the father of oral history, 
for, recognizing that many pioneer westerners would not commit their 
recollections to paper, he hired a team of assistants to interview and 
record their autobiographies in a series of "Dictations." 

After publication of his thirty-nine volume history, Bancroft's vast 
collection went to the University of California in 1905. This collection 
became the nucleus of the university's Bancroft Library. A half-century 


later, when the advent of the tape recorder made recorded interviews a good 
deal more feasible. Bancroft's "Dictations" became the inspiration for the 
establishment of the library's Regional Oral History Office. 

The G.W. Patterson letter is included here with the permission of the 
Patterson family and the director of The Bancroft Library. It may not be 
copied without the permission of the library. Readers should note and 
follow Patterson's page numbers as they read. Because he was writing on 
sheets of folded paper, the pages as presented here are not in numerical 

Ann Lage 
Project Director 

September. 1988 

Regional Oral History Office 

The Bancroft Library 

University of California at Berkeley 


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LEFT: George Washington 

BELOW: Clara Hawley 

LEFT: William 
(left) and Henry 
Patterson, ca 

BELOW: Henry, 
Clara, and William 
Patterson, ca 1895 

Regional Oral History Office 
The Bancroft Library 

University of California 
Berkeley. California 


Donald Patterson 

Family Lore: The Pattersons and 
Their Land Since the 1850s 

A Narrative Recorded 
in 1964 


An Interview Conducted by 

Stanley Bry 

in 1977 

Copyright (c) 1988 by the Regents of the University of California 


TABLE OF CONTENTS Donald Patterson 



Journey West 6 

Acquiring Land in Southern Alameda County 7 

A Hard-Driving Operator 7 

Patterson Landing and the Changing Landscape 8 

Clara Hawley Patterson, a Magnetic Personality 8 


Father and Uncle, a Remarkable Relationship 10 

Will's Stanford Days 10 

Will's Interest in Mining and Travel 11 

Reclaiming the Salt Marshes 12 

Will's Home. Garden, and Autos 13 


George W. Patterson and His Family in Lafayette. Indiana 14 

Supervising and Feeding the Hired Men 15 

Chinese Truck Farming 15 

Native Grasses and Artesian Wells 16 
A Boyhood Memory of the Winter Flood of 1911 

Acquiring the Pope Ranch in Livermore 18 
Family Stories: Eucalyptus Trees. Oranges, and Shooting 

the Steer 18 


The Hawley Family and George and Clara's Marriage 20 

Clara's Remarriage to William Lay son 22 

Additions to the G. W. Patterson Hone 23 

Memories of the House and Milk Room 24 

Search for Buried Gold 24 
George's Interest in Republican Politics and Lincoln School 25 

The Flamboyant Andrew Patterson 26 



George Washington Patterson, grandfather of Donald Patterson and the 
founding member of the Patterson family in California, was an early member 
of the Society of California Pioneers. His son William was also an active 
supporter of the Society; he gathered and preserved in the attic of his home 
old ranch records, account books, dairies, family letters and photographs. 
William's eldest son. Donald, continued this historical interest and the 
involvement with the Society of California Pioneers, serving as president of 
the Society in 1966 and 1967. 

Donald donated the collection of family artifacts and records to the 
Society and arranged to have it organized and catalogued. At the same time, 
Donald began to fill in the gaps in the written record by tape recording 
his own recollections of Patterson family history, as well as conducting 
interviews with an elderly cousin and a nearby rancher. When the Regional 
Oral History Office embarked on its documentation of the Patterson family 
and ranch, the first step was to transcribe these interviews to make them 
accessible to researchers by including them with this project. The original 
tapes are available at the Society of California Pioneers in San Francisco. 

The first two chapters of the following transcription were recorded in 
narrative form by Donald Patterson on October 10, 1964. The third and 
fourth chapters are the transcription of an interview of Donald by Stanley 
Bry of the Society of California Pioneers. Both sections were clearly seen 
as a supplement to the Patterson papers at the Society. Donald recalls 
family stories about his grandfather, presenting him as a "hard-driving 
operator" whose acquisition of land in southern Alameda County and 
Livermore and careful management of the farming and ranching operations 
provided the basis for the family's success. He recalls his grandmother. 
Clara Hawley Patterson, whom he knew as a child and remembered well, as a 
"magnetic personality". His narrative/interview also gives a first-hand 
picture of his father and his uncle, Henry, and their remarkable 
relationship in managing the ranch after their father's death. 

Donald, the oldest son in the Patterson family, took over the 
management of the ranch after his father's death. Two of his sons. Wilcoz 
and George, have been interviewed for this project and their oral histories 
in this volume give additional information about Donald, his many interests, 
and his management of the ranch. 

Ann Lage 
Project Director 

September. 1988 

Regional Oral History Office 

The Bancroft Library 

University of California at Berkeley 


Journey West 
[Date of Narrative: October 10. 1964] ## 

Donald P. : I am doing this in the hope that it will tie together some of 

the historical material which is available on my grandfather and 
my father. As you know, this material has all been deposited at 
the Pioneer Society in San Francisco and can be found there. 

My grandfather, George W. Patterson, came to California in 
1849. He came by way of the Mississippi River, across Texas, 
down into Mexico, and out at a port which was important then but 
has practically disappeared now the Port of San Bias. 

One of his companions, that is out of the four, died in 
Mexico. The three of them, arriving in San Bias, sold their 
horses, waited for the next ship, and got aboard because there 
had been such a mortality on the ship coming up from Panama that 
there was plenty of room. They went on up to San Francisco 
without any special happenings, as far as I know. 

Upon arrival in San Francisco, he went to the American 
River. We don't have very much information as to just when he 
went or exactly how long he stayed. The story is that he stayed 
a year, was moderately successful, but that he had found that 
the exposure and work was undermining his health. And, for that 
reason, came back to Mission San Jose in 1850. 

I know that he must have been moderately successful because 
among his papers you will find where he was loaning money to his 
associates. Much of this he never collected. 

## This symbol indicates that a tape or segment of a tape has 
begun or ended. For a guide to the tapes see page 26. 

Acquiring Land in Southern Alameda County 

Donald P. : When he arrived in Mission San Jose, it would appear that he 

went immediately to farming, probably as a partner with Viejo. 
It would seem from the stories that I've heard that he probably 
actually acquired the first land in Alameda County around 1852. 
The usual method in those days was to make a verbal or 
unrecorded contract to buy a piece of land and then pay it off 
from the proceeds. The first deeds which we can find are from 
around 1856. But I believe that he had taken possession of the 
land and started to work it in about 1852 and was able to pay 
off in about ' 56. 

He made a policy of acquiring adjacent pieces of land (and 
this can be checked out from the legal records of the time). 
But if you'll notice, after the home piece, that is the willow 
field, as we call it, adjacent to Jarvis Avenue, he added 
progressively, piece by piece, out in all directions. Sometime, 
I guess it was in 1870 or so, he did buy, around Decoto, 
additional land which was not connected. Then in 1875 or '80, 
he acquired the Livermore ranch, which has a story (I don't know 
whether the story is accurate or not), but the story is that he 
got word that the piece would be available, that Mr. Pope was 
tired of cattle ranching and had expressed a desire to sell out. 

George got into his buckboard, went immediately to the 
bank, drew out in gold coin what he thought would cover the 
purchase, went up to Livermore, and talked to Mr. Pope. He was 
the first one to talk to him and, with the cash in his hand, was 
able to make a good purchase of the piece. He then, in later 
years, added to it, piece by piece, until it assumed its present 
acreage. This certainly was a characteristic of George, that 
first, he acted promptly, and second, he had the cash. 

A Hard-Driving Operator 

Donald P. : He appears to have been a very hard-driving operator, because as 
a boy, I talked to neighbors who had known him. Their stories 
would indicate that, for instance, he would follow around in his 
buckboard when the grain was being harvested, and if any of the 
grain was left on the ground, he would immediately stop the 
operation and make them adjust the machine, or whatever was 
necessary. He would do the same thing when they were bailing 
hay. If there was hay left on the ground, he would make the 
baler go back and pick it up, simply as an incentive to better 
work in the future. 


Donald P. : There is a story which we have not been able to substantiate 
that when the Central Pacific Railroad wanted a right-of-way 
through the ranch, he not only refused to allow it, but he 
stood, gun-in-hand, at the border to see that they didn't come 
on his property. The story goes on further that he was about to 
be married; therefore, he couldn't guard his property. He hired 
somebody to stand with the gun while he went off to get married. 
But the railroad, through some devious method, either bribed or 
threatened this man, and he went off and got drunk. When my 
grandfather came back, the ties were laid across his property 
and he was not able to get them removed. I say again that this 
is an apocryphal story and probably is a better illustration of 
his character than it is a matter of fact. 

Patterson Landing and the Changing Landscape 

Donald P.: All of the produce from the ranch in the very early days was 
shipped to San Francisco by boat from what was known as 
Patterson Landing (just below what is now Newark Boulevard, 
where it crosses the slough). In my grandfather's day, this 
slough was nearly a hundred yards wide at the warehouse. It 
gradually narrowed by silting, so that in my father's day, it 
was probably half that width. My father used to keep his yacht 
at the Patterson Landing and sail up to San Francisco. To be 
able to tack out of the slough, it must have been at least one 
hundred and fifty feet wide. I can remember, as a bey, when it 
was still perhaps seventy-five feet wide, and easily navigable 
at half- tide or higher. At the present time, the slough has 
been almost completely obliterated by the progressive silting, 
to a point now where it's not five feet wide and you have to 
search carefully through the grass to find it. This indicates 
the change which has taken place since the early days. 

Clara Hawley Patterson, a Magnetic Personality 

Donald P. : My grandfather, of course, did not marry until late in life, and 
when he did, it would appear that it was somewhat precipitous. 
His great friend, James Hawley, who lived next door, and who had 
also come in 1849, had four daughters and one son. One of them, 
Clara Hawley, was apparently a very lovely girl. She was raised 
on her father's ranch near Centerville but apparently went to 
school in Oakland. You will find among the records some very 
interesting documents and comments on her education. She lived 
in the home of a, an apparently, doctor-friend. 

Donald P. : The wedding is somewhat obscured in mystery, in that it took 

place very suddenly and apparently came as a complete surprise 
t the countryside. I think that research on this subject would 
be very rewarding. Perhaps locating some written records in the 
papers of the time we don't have anything. It was apparently a 
very happy marriage, though my grandmother was very much younger 
than my grandfather. I think that it was at least twenty years. 

He built a very beautiful addition to his house, at the 
home place, presumably as a wedding present for her. May I say 
that the original house, as we understand it, was built in 1856, 
but that it was added to, to a point where there is none of the 
original house showing. Additions have been made from all 
sides, so that the original house is contained inside of the 
present house. 

When my grandfather died, my father and my uncle were in 
their teens. My grandmother remarried, and it's a subject which 
has never been discussed in the family, and there is no good 
reason for it. Mr. [William] Layson. or, I believe, Dr. Lay son, 
from all accounts was a very fine man. He was a distinguished 
linguist, and, I believe, was proficient in six languages. He 
was a churchman and, as far as I can determine, a very upright 
person. But for some reason or other, the marriage was net 
successful, partly because the teenage boys resented another man 
so completely different from their father. Their father was a 
two-fisted operator, a dynamic person, whereas Mr. Layson was 
purely a scholar. After a year or two, it would appear that Mr. 
Layson simply disappeared from the scene, lived his own life, 
and he died some ten or so years later. There seems to have 
been no misunderstanding or no bitterness involved. 

My grandmother was a remarkable person whom I remember very 
well. She was very gregarious, in the my point being, that she 
had a great many friends, was active in good works, was a 
leading citizen in the community, a philanthropist, and, as I 
remember her. a very magnetic personality. And she was very 
handsome, even in her later years, and had a very charming 
personality. She had done a good deal of traveling. In fact, 
she spent most of her later years in traveling, her two sons 
handling the ranch affairs while she was gone. 

LEFT: Four Generations ,ca 1910, 
left to right: Mrs. James 
Hawley, Clara's mother; Clara 
Hawley Patterson; William 
Donald, Jr.; William Donald, Sr. 

BELOW: May Bird Patterson, 
wife of William Donald 
Patterson, Sr. 



Father and Uncle, a Remarkable Relationship 

Donald P. : My father and my uncle operated the ranch as equal partners 

during their lifetimes. It was a remarkable relationship, and 
one that would be hard to duplicate. I always had a deep 
interest in the ranch. I spent a good deal of time, after I was 
not living at the ranch, there on weekends with my father, and 
there in holidays and summer vacations, so that I saw a great 
deal of the relationship between the two. They met on the ranch 
at some point almost every day and would sit down and talk over 
the day's problems. They would then come to a common decision, 
and that would be acted upon. And in all the years that I was 
associated with them in this manner, I never heard a basic 
disagreement. It was unusual because you would think that there 
would be times when there would be a perfectly natural 
disagreement, but at least in my opinion, it never occurred. 

They both spent as much time as possible right on the 
ranch, watching all of its activities. I think that is one of 
the secrets to the success of their operation. They were there, 
personally, on the job, and never delegated their 
responsibilities to anyone else. 

Will's Stanford Days 

Donald P. : You will find a great deal of information and memorabilia of my 
father, during his school days, in the collection. Apparently, 
he was a man who had a great many interests from the time he was 
a boy. He was an excellent athlete, an indifferent scholar, a 
very gregarious individual who had many friends and enjoyed 
seeing them. He had a yacht during the time he was at college 
and apparently was quite a man- on- cam pus. His football activity 
was somewhat remarkable, in that he played on the Stanford 


Donald P. : freshman team when he weighed only 150 pounds; he was the 

lightest man on the team. He told me that the reason that he 
made the team was that he had studied the rules of the game so 
carefully committed them to memory and when the coach was 
asking questions in the preseason training periods, that, in one 
case, he was the only man on the squad who could answer the 
question. He was a first-class drop-kicker, and it was his 
function to kick goals from drop kick. He told me that he 
hadn't missed a drop kick in the games prior to the Big Game 
with the University of California, at which time he stepped on 
the field and overconf idently missed the goal; however, Stanford 
won, nonetheless. 

Will's Interest in Mining and Travel 

Donald P. : After college, he. of course, came back to the ranch and 
operated with my uncle. However, he very early became 
interested in mining. His greatest interest in activity outside 
of the ranch, during everything except the last of his life, was 
in mining. He was conspicuously unsuccessful. He always told 
me that he realized that he should stay out of it* but that he 
felt it was, in a manner of speaking, his hobby; therefore, the 
money that he lost was really what he might have been spending 
on ether hobbies. And. I think, within reason that is true. 

He first became interested in Alaska. He went in 1900 on 
an exploring and also mining trip into the interior and 
claimed to have been the first man to come out from the interior 
of Alaska over the Taku Glacier in winter. This, I think, is 
probably true because he was a first-class explorer and 
out door sm an. 

He then became interested in other mining ventures; you 
will find most of the data on them in his business files [at the 
Pioneer Society]. There must have been a dozen. It was very 
interesting; as I became old enough to understand it. around ten 
or twelve years old. I went with him on many of these trips to 
the mines; I followed it closely. This is the reason 1 took 
mining engineering in my undergraduate work. 

The people he dealt with were mainly his college friends 
engineers, people he had known in college and it was on a 
personal basis. He liked these people, he trusted them, and 
therefore, he went into these ventures. There were a few that 
were successful. The Eight [? ] Oil Company paid very well. He 
also went into a non-mining venture; he and three others 
financed the originators of the Magnavox Electronics Company. 
That was quite successful, and he made a handsome profit out of 


Donald P. : it. However, overall, the business program outside of the ranch 
was a very considerable loss. However, looking back on it, the 
fun that he had, I think, was worth it. 

Another aspect of my father's life which is worth 
mentioning is that he enjoyed travel very much. In 1913, he 
took my mother and my grandmother and myself to Europe for 
almost a year. Then, I believe, en two later occasions (I 
didn't go along) he took my mother and also my brothers. And 
both my father and mother enjoyed Europe to a point where, if 
they had felt it were possible, I think they both would have 
lived abroad. My father was a great skier, and Switzerland 
meant a great deal to him. My mother enjoyed Switzerland very 
much, and she would have lived there in her later years if she 

Reclaiming the Salt Marshes 

Donald P. : I think it is worth pointing out the basic policy ef land use on 
the ranch. My grandfather bought the ranch as a grain farm. 
But as he got into it, he found that there was a very lucrative 
market for vegetables in San Francisco. And as an ex-farmboy, 
there was a fresh vegetable operation on the ranch in the very 
early days, and they then shipped them up by sailing scow to San 
Francisco. My father and my uncle, when they became active in 
the ranch, decided that some of the lower country, which is salt 
marsh, could be reclaimed. They put up a series of levees, 
starting about 1912 or 1913, which cut off the salt water and 
allowed the floods to deposit sediment in the lower country. 
They carried this on and actually diverted the Alameda Creek by 
plowing in the overflow channels in the summer and letting it 
wash out in the winter, until the full flow ef Alameda Creek 
came through the ranch. This greatly increased the deposition 
of sediment and was instrumental in filling up the tidal 
channels, as well as making new land behind the levees. 

In this manner, the entire lower salt marsh of the ranch 
has been reclaimed to a point where, at the present time, we are 
going to be able to farm intensively practically the entire old 
salt marsh. This reclamation has come about naturally, but it 
has taken at least fifty years to accomplish. 


Will' s Home. Garden, and Autos 

Donald P. : My father built a house soon after he was married, which was 

quite large, even for the times. I can remember when we had a 
gardener full time on the lawns. There must have been an acre 
of lawns. We had a cook and. at one time, an upstairs nurse. 
The house was impractically large, and always was. until it was 
finally disposed of after my father's death. 

I can remember when the house stood in the middle of the 
open fields and you could see out on all sides. My father was a 
great tree planter, and he must have planted forty acres of trees 
around the house. These have grown into a large forest. He 
also planted an extensive orchard, and always was very interested 
in it. He spent a lot of time, particularly in his earlier years, 
grafting, putting new varieties in, watching them He was also 
interested in the garden, as my mother was. My mother was a 
good gardener (understood it), and we always had a large garden. 

My father was interested in automobiles, as well. He had a 
very early model in, it must have been, 1905 of the Brush car, 
which has since disappeared. He then got White Steamers. And I 
can remember, as a small boy. seeing him under the car, making 
some kind of an adjustment, when he started a gasoline leak, which 
then caught fire from the pilot light and enveloped the car in 
flames. He came out from under the car, scrambled out. and 
jumped into a horse trough, which was conveniently nearby, and 
then quickly got out, dripping with water, got into the car and 
drove it away from the barn, or garage, so that it wouldn't burn 
the place down. The car was a loss, but the barn was saved. 

He then went on and bought the gasoline car put out by the 
White Company, which was never very satisfactory, in my opinion, 
but he was very proud of it. We also had one of the very early 
Hupp roadsters, which we used to take up into the Sierras on 
our camping trips and trips to the mines. It was a fine car, 
but underpowered. On the steep grades, it was my job to jump 
out and help push it up the grade. At one time, we also had 
horses and buggies, but that didn't last very long. As soon as 
the cars became effective. Dad got rid of the horses. 

My father's most important contribution to the community 
was his work in originating and carrying on the work of the 
County of Alameda Water District. He was on the board, or was 
president, for over forty years and saw it develop from a very 
small beginning into an important factor in the community. It 
was mainly concerned [with] and started for the conservation of 
the underground water supply. Water was always a problem on the 
ranch and was my father's particular field of interest. 



George W. Patterson and his Family in Lafayette, Indiana 
[Date of Interview: May 20, 1977] ## 

Bry: What do you knew of George W. Patterson's youth, that is, his 

life before he left for California in March of 1849? 

Donald P. : I don't have very much information on George's life back east 
before he started for California, except that I know that the 
family lived in the little town their house was in the little 
town and they were farmers [in Lafayette, Indiana]. So they 
must have been farming somewhere adjacent, and I would suspect 
that they rented seme of the land and didn't own it. I'm sure 
that they didn't own any large amount of land. I know that they 
were relatively poor, had a hard time making ends meet. There 
were, as I recall, five children four boys and one daughter. 
The daughter, Sarah, seems to have taken the lead in the family, 
as far as helpfulness and decisions [that] were made. The 
mother, Lydia Patterson George's mother, seems to have been in 
rather poor health. Now, I can't tell you whether his father 
(George's father) was alive just before he left for California 
or not. I don't knew. 

From what I've heard, most of the acquisition of the 
Patterson Ranch was from early American owners, rather than from 
the original Spanish grant. I think this can be explained by the 
fact that, when George Patterson started farming in 1850, he didn't 
own any land. His early acquisitions of parcels were done by mak 
ing an arrangement with the owner that he would buy a piece of 
land with a small down-payment and pay for it over a period of 
years out of the produce. Thus, the passing of title would take 
place when it was finally paid for, and would show on the records 
as being relatively late. For instance, land which he started te 
farm in, say, 1851, he probably did not take title to for perhaps 
ten years later. This would explain, I think, the relatively 
late acquisition of some of the early parts of the ranch. 


Donald P. : He went step by step in his acquisitions and had a basic policy 
f buying adjacent land, rather than pieces which were in ether 
parts of Washington Township. This was based on a very sound 
economic theory that an efficient farming property should all be 
in one piece, so that there wouldn't be the lost time and prob 
lems of supervision of separate pieces. Later in the acquisition 
of the ranch, there were cases where this policy was not 
followed; but, in general, he would pay high prices for adjacent 
land but was not interested in picking up independent pieces. 

Supervising and Feeding the Hired Men 

Donald P. : Some of the small items that I have heard my father tell about 

my grandfather are such as when they were threshing grain, which 
they did on quite a large scale (they raised wheat in the early 
days, and then a little later they also raised barley and oats), 
he would follow, in his blackboard, the threshing that was taking 
place. If the hired men dropped any of the unthreshed material, 
or if they let any grain go onto the ground, he was right there 
to find it and immediately took drastic action to see that 
nothing was wasted. He was a very hard-fisted operator, but as 
far as any comments I've heard, he was very fair. 

They had a large group of men who were hired on the ranch 
in the early days perhaps as many as thirty or forty. They 
lived in what they called a bunkhouse, near the residence. Of 
course the feeding of these men was an important factor. They 
had a Chinese cook who lived in a small house by the main 
bunkhouse, and occasionally they would send one of the men out 
with a buckboard into the grain fields in the fall with a ten- 
gauge, double-barrelled shotgun and a barrel to put on the back 
of the buckboard. He would drive through the fields, and the 
wild geese were so thick in those days that in a couple of 
hours, he would come back with a barrel full of geese. They 
would be used as meat in the bunkhouse. 

Chinese Truck Farming 

Donald P. : One of the reasons that land was far more valuable and sold for 
higher prices than many people realize in the very early days 
in the 1850s and early '60s was that southern Alameda County 
was the source of fresh vegetables for San Francisco. Milk and 
cheese and butter came down from Marin County, but most of the 
onions, potatoes, and cabbages were raised in southern Alameda 
County and were shipped up to San Francisco by sailing scow. 


Donald P. : The actual raising of these crops on the Patterson Ranch was in 
the hands of the Chinese. The Chinese apparently came from an 
area in China where they had similar crops, or perhaps they 
learned quickly when they came here. But they were considered 
to be the best truck farmers that we had. They used long, 
square spades not the type of shovel you often see now, but 
spades which would turn the soil fairly deeply. 

They farmed in what we called the Willow area, the swamp 
area of the ranch, which was (and still is) the lower 
elevations. This was a black peat soil, extremely rich and 
productive, but difficult to work because, if it was too wet, it 
was sticky; if it was too dry, it broke up into large clods. So 
the Chinese would follow the drying of the soil in the spring, 
and turn over by hand, with these spades, just the soil which was 
in the right condition for the growing of vegetables. My father 
has told me that the yields that they got per acre were probably 
larger than we've ever had since on the ranch. 

These vegetables would then be taken down to Patterson 
Landing, put on the sailing scow, and would sail up to San 
Francisco with the tide. They would go from the landing down 
the slough, out into the bay, and up to San Francisco, and then 
come back the next day. The records of some of these shipments 
have been retained and we have them in the documents, and they 
are very interesting in showing what was raised, in what 
quantities, and the prices that were paid for it. 

Native Grasses and Artesian Wells 

Donald P. : A small point that I believe was told by my grandfather to my 

father, and which he then told me, was that it's hard to realize 
how tall the native vegetation (the grass and weeds in that part 
of Alameda County where the ranch is situated) was in the early 
days, in the Spanish days, just before my grandfather came. 
They say that a man on horseback, riding across through the 
trails and the open fields there (before they were cultivated) 
you could only see the upper part of his body. Whether this is 
a true statement which has been passed down, or whether it has 
grown in stature during the years, I don't know. 

But I do know that in the early days the area on which the 
ranch is situated now was what they call subirrigated, in that 
it was artesian. The pressure of the water in the aquifers was 
such that, if you drilled a well, it would become artesian and 
flow under pressure. There were springs on the ranch which ran 
all year round. The old what we called Pacheco Ditch, which 
shows on the early maps, and which ran just back of my 


Donald P. : grandfather's house, and of which there are still remnants to be 
seen, was a slowly flowing marshy area year round. This fact, 
that there was so much moisture underground, is probably the 
explanation of why the vegetation in the area was so heavy, and 
why they were able to get such very heavy yields both in grain 
and vegetables. It was an important factor in the economy of 
the area and is one of the reasons that the land values in 
southern Alameda County, in the very early days, ran as much as 
four or five hundred dollars an acre. It took almost a hundred 
years for land values to equal these ef the fifties. 

A Boyhood Memory of the Winter Flood of 1911 

Donald P.: Another factor in the agricultural economy, which is of prime 
importance in this area that we are speaking ef, is the effect 
of the winter floods which came down through Niles Canyon and 
spread out on what they call the Niles Cone, which was, in 
general, the area of the Rancho Petrero Los Cerritos. It did 
two things. It irrigated the land, so that the moisture lasted 
well into the summer, without any further addition of water. It 
also deposited a fine silt ever the entire area, which is 
another explanation of the very productive nature of the soil. 

In my grandfather's time, and in my father's time as well, 
they depended on the winter floods for both these factors, and a 
dry winter, where there was no flooding, meant that the ranch 
productivity would be substantially less than in the wet years. 
The magnitude of the floods is hard to realize now because the 
tributaries to Alameda Creek have been dammed up and the creek 
itself has been confined within banks due to the various flood 
control procedures. But. in 1911, which is about the first of 
my memories of the ranch, we had a very wet winter, and I can 
remember that my father put me in a five-gallon washtub. tied a 
rope to the handle, and towed me (he was in rubber hip boots) 
from our home to my grandfather's home, which was about a 
quarter of a mile away. I can very well remember the slowly 
flowing water of the backed-up flood, and the wildlife 
(particularly rabbits) which had been isolated on patches of 
driftwood. The animals, such as small mice, rabbits, even 
snakes because of the, I suppose, traumatic experience 
appeared to be perfectly tame in that you could go up to one and 
just pick it up. I remember picking up one of these wet rabbits 
off floating debris, putting it into the washtub, and then 
taking it home and taking care of it. 


Acquiring the Pope Ranch in Livennore 

Donald P. : Going back to the acquisition of property, my grandfather 

acquired the cattle ranch south of Livermere around 1870-1880. 
Again, he picked it up piece by piece, buying adjacent pieces, 
until he had developed the entire ownership. One of the stories 
which my father told me illustrates the way my grandfather 
operated. He heard that there was a piece known as the Pope 
Ranch that would come up for sale. He got word of this, went 
immediately to the local bank, drew out what he thought would be 
the asking price in gold coins, got into his buckboard, and 
went, posthaste, up to Livermore, which was a drive of thirty 
miles. He got there late that afternoon or evening and went 
into Mr. Pope's cabin and sat down to buy the place. Because he 
had gold coin in hand, [he] was able to buy the property for a 
good price and before anybody else had been able to even bargain 
for it. This was a good illustration of his business methods. 
He was very aggressive, he knew what he wanted. Later in his 
business career, he had the capital to operate with, and he used 
it to the best advantage. 

Family Stories; Eucalyptus Trees. Oranges, and Shooting the Steer 

Donald P. : The story on the eucalyptus trees on the ranch that's come down 
in the family, and, again, I have no proof of its accuracy, is 
that the eucalyptus trees which are now adjacent to the old 
house (my grandfather's house) were the second planting in 
California. I don't know where the first planting was, but my 
grandfather had a ship captain friend who brought seed back from 
Australia on one of his trips, gave it to my grandfather, and he 
is reputed to have planted them. Now, these are the same trees 
now well over a hundred years old. This is in character because 
he was always interested in new crops, new trees, shrubs, fruit, 

Another story which has come down in the family is that in 
his interest for exotic plants, trees, and so forth somebody, 
perhaps his friend the ship captain, gave him an orange. This 
was in I don't know the date, but I know it was early. His two 
boys were very anxious, of course, to taste the orange. But, 
instead of allowing that, he planted the whole orange. And, of 
course, oranges in the first place don't grow from the seed, and 
in the second place, you wouldn't plant the whole orange. So, 
nothing ever came up, and the two boys still remembered, even in 
my time, how disappointed they were that they didn't get a 
chance to taste that first orange. 


Donald P. : Because ef the amount of food necessary for the men that worked 
on the ranch, they depended n their own beef. Every week or 
two it was necessary to kill a steer. One of the men, and his 
name was Andy Logan (worked for my grandfather), had a rifle I 
believe it was a A5-70. I think that's one ef the early rifles, 
heavy rifles and he would go out and shoot one of the steers in 
the field. Then it would be brought in and butchered and the 
meat used both for the family and for the men in the bunkhouse. 
They tell the story ef . I believe that someone else had 
borrowed the rifle and changed the sighting. In those days, 
with those rifles, they didn't shoot very flat; therefore, you 
had to raise the sights if you were going to shoot long 
distance. Somebody had raised the sights without his knowledge. 
He went out, shot the animal, and, instead ef killing it, he 
just wounded it. It started charging around the field. He then 
changed his sights. He shot it several times, which would 
normally have killed the animal if it had been cool and 
unexcited. but it kept raging around, and it took an unusual 
number ef lethal shots to kill the animals because it was 
already excited. 



The Hawley Family and George and Clara's Marriage 

Donald P. : I've said elsewhere that my grandfather had a reputation ef 

being a rather stern and hard individual. My father has told me 
that, when he and my uncle were small boys, they were not 
allowed to speak after dinner in the living room without being 
spoken to. I think that the discipline in the family must have 
been very, very strict if this is an example of it. My 
grandmother, whom I knew as a small boy, was just the opposite. 
She was a very outgoing, very pleasant person, and I'm sure that 
the strict discipline was imposed by my grandfather and not by 
my grandmother. 

Bry: What can you tell us about the relationship between your 

grandfather and James Hawley. the father of dara Hawley? 

Donald P. : George came to San Francisco in about August of 1849. James 

Hawley also came about the same time. They didn't meet in San 
Francisco. My grandfather went to the mines and my other 
grandfather, James Hawley, went to Mission San Jose. George 
spent almost a year on the, I think it was the, American River 
(it's in the records, somewhere), then went up to Siskiyou 
County, spent. I guess, a few months there. [He] was not too 
successful in Siskiyou County and came down with some kind of a 
fever, which made him quite ill. So, he came back to Mission 
San Jose to recuperate and met my other grandfather there. They 
became friends. They both did some farming, though not 
together. James Hawley was a carpenteer and later a contractor, 
and built a hotel in Mission San Jose. He then brought his 
family out from the East a few years later, and they settled 
there. He owned a small piece adjacent to my grandfather's 
ranch and built a house there. They continued their close 
friendship through the years. James Hawley had, I believe it 


Donald P. : was. four daughters and one son. The youngest daughter. Clara.* 
was really a strikingly beautiful girl and went into Oakland to 
complete her high school education and lived with a family 
there a doctor. My grandfather seems to have fallen in love 
with her about this time; but for some reason, [he] had kept his 
feelings to himself and te Clara. We know that they were 
anxious to get married, but for some reason. George didn't want 
it known ahead of time among his friends. It may be that he 
felt a little reticent about marrying the daughter of his best 
friend because of the age difference. (There was a difference 
of almost twenty years between them.) So, they arranged to go 
to Sacramento and be married there, which they did. and then he 
brought her back to his house on the ranch. 

There is no evidence that there was any objection on the 
part of James Hawley in fact, quite the contrary. It seemed to 
have been a very happy arrangement, and it developed into a very 
happy and outstanding marriage. It [his reticence] seems 
strange because in those days it was quite usual for an older 
man to marry a younger girl, because the feeling was that one 
should be able to take care of one's wife in the best possible 
manner. There seems to have been no reason for this reticence, 
but nevertheless, that's the case. 

My grandfather lived in a modest house. He brought his 
bride back to this house, and they lived that way for quite a 
while, while he was building up his land holdings. I have heard 
it said that he might be called a stingy man, and it's been said 
in the family through the years that he would not allow his wife 
to have her own carriage. However, this changed because, by 
1883, the house had been enlarged and had become, one might say. 
a modest mansion. And I know that my grandmother had her own 
carriage by that time because we still have the carriage. 

One of the reasons, perhaps, that the marriage was 
successful, is that the two personalities were entirely 
different. My grandfather was extremely able, hardworking, 
aggressive, and far-seeing. My grandmother was very charitable, 
had many friends, many interests, and a very outgoing 
personality. She belonged to local organizations; she was 
interested in travel; she did a great deal of reading. So she 
complemented the character of her husband. 

* James and Hettie Hawley had five daughters and a son. Clara 
was the third-born. She was born in 1853 and married to George 
Washington Patterson in 1877. 


Clara's Remarriage te William Layson 

Bry: What do yeu know of your grandmother's remarriage, after the 

death of George Patterson? 

Donald P. : My grandmother, after her husband's death, ran the ranch with 
the two boys, who were now in their teens. They formed, 
apparently, a very effective management group because the ranch 
continued to prosper. They made additions to it. The records 
show that it was very successful. 

A minister came to the I believe it was Presbyterian 
church about, I guess, five years after George's death. My 
grandmother was very much interested in the church always had 
been. They met. He was a rather exceptional man in that he 
was a scholar, a linguist of almost national reputation, had a 
very good background. They became engaged and married [in 
1900]. It would seem that it should have been very successful; 
however, for some reason, it did not work out. One, perhaps, 
factor was that the two boys were, by this time, almost men. 
They had taken a lot of responsibility for the ranch. They were 
constantly involved with my grandmother, and tension developed 
between the boys and the second husband. This is understand 
able, I think, because he was so entirely different in background 
and interests from what the boys and my grandmother were doing. 

They did take a trip to the Holy Land. I think it was very 
successful; I think they enjoyed it. But they gradually drifted 
apart and, presently, they separated. Dr. Layson went on in his 
profession in Oakland and was highly regarded. I don't think 
there was a divorce. I think it was merely a separation. We do 
have papers which show that he renounced any claim to her 
estate, so that it seems to have been an amicable [tape ends] 


Dr. Layson died sometime after 1900. We have his obituary, and 
by that time, there seemed to be no communication between them.* 

* William Layson died March 8. 1909. At the time he was living 
with his sister, Mrs. H. L. Todd, in San Francisco. 


Additions to the G. W. Patterson Home 

Bry: What can you tell us about the Patterson house when it was 

built, when the additions were made. when, perhaps, the family 
moved into it? 

Donald P. : We have always thought that the original house was built in 
1856. Dr. Robert Fisher, the local historian, has almost 
convinved me that the house which we think is the original 
house, may net have been it at all. and that the first part of 
the present, so-called, old house was built at a considerably 
later date. It was a small, square house with a kitchen, dining 
room, living room, stairway up to the upper story, and I'm not 
sure how many bedrooms. It probably could be worked out by 
studying the attic configuration; but. anyway, it was a very 
modest house. 

Over the years, four different additions were made. I am 
not sure just the sequence of the additions, but one was made 
fairly early, where they built an enclosed office, you might call 
it. and the front door and a porch. The front doer apparently 
opened right out into the yard, but then that was moved and 
enclosed. Then there was some kind ef an addition put en the 
rear of the house. Then there was a main addition in 1883. 
which is the major part of the house now, and is a very fine 
job of carpentry, construction, and particularly the paneling. 

This addition was made under the supervision of James 
Haw ley, who had become a contractor. It seems, in some of the 
documents, that he built, or was involved in the building of. 
one of the early lighthouses on the coast. He also was involved 
in a mine and construction project in Alaska. We don't have any 
details of this, except we know that he went to Alaska and was a 
partner in the project there, that the other partners were lost 
at sea. and that the project then was discontinued when he came 
back home. But at any rate, that addition, which is the most 
interesting part of the house, was built in 1883 under his 

The last addition was made in about 1920 when my uncle and 
my aunt were raising their family of three girls and needed more 
space. That was the fourth addition. I have been told by 
architects that the house is of interest because it was typical 
ef that period when the early settler built a modest house, and 
then as his family grew, additions were made, so that it is a 
mixture architecturally, but from a sociological standpoint, it 
was typical of the development of early California homes. 


Memories of the House and the Milk Room 

Donald P. : As a small boy, I can remember the bowling alley in the attic. 
(There are three stories and a completely finished attic.) In 
rainy weather, I was sent up to keep me out from under foot. I 
can remember the fun it was bowling, though it was noisy and the 
noise could be heard downstairs. 

An incident of some [laughs] interest is that, when I was 
quite small, I can remember going over to my grandmother's house 
and seeing my mother and my grandmother carefully pulling a sofa 
apart that is, the fabric piece by piece, and going through 
the stuffing. My grandfather had three diamond studs in his 
shirt-front. These were rather handsome gems. They were, I 
think, somewhat over three carats apiece. This was a common 
practice in the early days to put your money into negotiable 
jewelry of that type because the banks were not well developed 
and this was a safe place to put some of your money. At any 
rate, there were the three diamonds. One was given to my mother 
when she was married; one was given to my aunt when she was 
married; the third one was never found and the supposition was 
that it had been hidden somewhere in the house. In those days, 
they very often put jewelry into the upholstery of furniture 
because, again, there were no banks and safe deposit boxes. So, 
this sofa was pulled apart, but they did not find the gem. But 
as a small boy, it made quite an impression on me to see the 
stuffing all over the living room floor. 

The stone structure [in] back of the house was known, when 
I was a boy, as the milk room, and I'm sure that it was used for 
that in my grandfather's time because there was no refrigeration 
then, and they had to have a place which was cool in the 
summertime. And it was specially built: half underground, and 
half above ground, heavy stone construction, and a heavy roof. 
This is still standing, and I can remember, as a boy, the flat 
milkpans that were left there for the cream to rise to the 
surface and then be skimmed off. And the remainder was either 
taken out and fed to the chickens or allowed to sour and then 
turned into cheese. 

Search for Buried Geld 

Donald P. : Somewhere along the line, in the early days, my grandfather took 
a leather pouch that contained fifty-dollar gold slugs and 
buried it back of his house. When he went to dig it up again, 
it was not there, and of course, he dug extensively looking for 
it. My father and my uncle, as boys, also dug extensively. 


Donald P. : When I was a boy. I went out and dug for it. And my sons have 
also gene out with metal detectors and tried to find it. but 
it's never shown up. It would be quite valuable now because. I 
believe, there were forty er fifty gold slugs, presumably, and 
they would be not only intrinsically valuable, but extremely 
valuable as numismatic treasures now. But I suppose that 
somebody was watching when they were buried and quietly went and 
dug them up when nobody was looking. 

George's Interest in Republican Politics and Lincoln School 

Bry: What can you tell us about the political activity of George 


Donald P. : Not very much, except that, as far as I know, his only outside 
interest (outside of business) was politics. He was a streng 
Republican. He belonged to a group of his associates who had 
come in the Gold Rush and apparently was active with them. But 
beyond that, I don't know. They had a wasn't it a Tippecanoe 
dub. or something of that nature? That's correct. There was a 
club that he belonged to by that name. He also had some 
interest in education. His friend on the adjacent ranch gave 
the land for the Lincoln School. And he organized either a 
party or some sort of an affair that is, George did to raise 
money for the school building. And he did take considerable 
interest in the local school. 

This school was first to eighth grade. My father went 
there, and I went there when I was a boy for a couple of years. 
It was an interesting experience because the school had changed 
practically net at all since my grandfather's time. All eight 
grades were in the one room. There was a wood stove with a pile 
of wood to keep it warm in wintertime. The teacher sat on a 
raised dais in front. The girls came in one door, and the boys 
came in the other door. The big boys brought the wood in. The 
type of education, I think, was very good because you heard what 
was going on in the grade above you. so that you absorbed some 
of it, and you helped with the grades below you. which gave you 
practice. I think that there were only twenty children in the 
entire eight grades, but I think that we probably got a pretty 
good basic education. We certainly had excellent social 
training and the discipline was outstanding. 


The Flamboyant Andrew Patterson 

Bry: What de you know of Andrew Patterson, who also came to 

California? He was George Patterson's brother and also was in 
farming and ranching. 

Donald P. : I believe that as George Patterson became successful in farming, 
he sent back home to his brother Andrew and suggested that he 
come out, which he subsequently did. [He] went into farming in 
what's now Union City but was then Decoto and acquired 
substantial area. The piece that he had there was at least four 
hundred acres, and I think he had more than that. He also 
acquired the Black Ranch, near Livermore, which is the basis of 
our present cattle ranch. That was, I think, twenty-seven 
hundred acres, so he was a substantial operator. He must have 
had help from his brother, George, to set him up in business to 
this extent, but I don't have any direct data on that point. 

Now, Andrew was an entirely different character from George. 
Andrew was apparently a rather flamboyant operator. The story 
which had come down in the family is that his problem was that 
his women were toe fast, and his horses were net quite fast 
enough. I know the horse part of it must be true because we 
have an old lithograph showing his farm with a racecourse en it 
and a racehorse standing there with a blanket, on which is the 
name "Clara." The supposition is that this racehorse was named 
for his sister-in-law, CLara Patterson. Later en, he failed in 
his business and the property was taken over by George. We do 
know that he died in George's house, I believe, just before 
George was married.* So he was living with George at that time. 

Andrew did marry. He must have married a widow because 
there's a daughter with a different name, and this lady and the 
daughter are both buried in the family cemetery. But, exactly 
the details of his family life, I've never heard. In fact, the 
reason that we know so little about Andrew is that it was not a 
subject for conversation in the family when I was a child. When 
Andrew's name was mentioned, there was always a significant sil 
ence around the table; but I'm wondering if, perhaps, Andrew was 
the only member ef that early Patterson group that really had 
any fun. The other people were all working hard, apparently. 

* Andrew Patterson died en November 2, 1895. He was 66 years eld. 

Transcribed by Katie Stephenson 
Final Typed by Shannon Page 


TAPE GUIDE Donald Patterson 

Narrative of Donald Patterson, October 10, 196A 
tape 1, side A 

Interview of Donald Patterson by Stanley Bry, May 20, 1977 14 

tape 1, side A 
tape 1, side B 22 


Regional Oral History Office 
The Bancroft Library 

University of California 
Berkeley, California 


William Volmer 

Whipples. Beards, Ingalls, and Pattersons: 
Looking at the Haw ley Family Tree 

An Interview Conducted by 
Donald Patterson 
in 1977 


1988 by the Regents of the University of California 




Hawley Family Tree 31 

James Hawley, First Generation in California 32 

The Volmer Family and Business 34 

Bertha Faull. Niece of dara Patterson 36 

V aimer's Memories of the Patterson House 37 

Clara's Good Works. Second Marriage, and Travel 38 

Scows. Warehouses, and Duck Hunting. 1900s-1910s 40 

Family Quarreling over Alaskan Mines 42 

Recalling Early Ranch Structures 44 

Tracing More Hawley Cousins 47 

Andrew Patterson 51 

Pattersons and Hawley s: Mutual Assistance 52 

Hawley Family Gatherings 55 

The Hunting Lodge and Deer Park 57 




As part of his effort to preserve his family's history. Donald Patterson 
recorded this interview with his cousin, William Volmer, on August 12, 1977. 
The interview was recorded at the Society of California Pioneers in San 
Francisco. To refresh memories, the two men looked over photographs in the 
Patterson family archive at the Society and referred to the Hawley family 
tree, a copy of which is included on page 31. 

William Volmer was related to Donald Patterson through the Hawley 
family. His grandmother. Charlotte Hawley Whipple, was the eldest sister of 
Donald's grandmother, CLara Hawley Patterson. Volmer was eighty in 1977, 
when the interview was recorded, about eight years older than Donald. His 
memories of the Hawley family reunions go back further than Donald's, and 
his knowledge of the Hawley family's several branches is more extensive. 
Still, they had enough experiences in common for interview to become an 
occasion of shared reminiscence, which gives us a fuller picture of Donald's 
recollections of his grandmother and of his interest in family history. 

This interview was transcribed with the permission of the Society of 
California Pioneers. The original tapes are available at the Society. 

Ann Lage 

Proj ect Director 

September, 1988 

Regional Oral History Office 

The Bancroft Library 

University of California at Berkeley 





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James Hawley, First Generation in California 
[Date ef Interview: August 12, 1977] ## 

Donald P. : Bill, let's review, for a moment, the family relationships. 
James Hawley, then, was our great, our grandfather. 

Volmer: Yes, our great-grandfather. 

Donald P. : Great-grandfather, that's right. So, we're, in effect, the 
fourth generation in California. 

Volmer: That's right. 

Donald P. : Now, he came to San Francisco, I know, in 1849, and I have 

copies of some of the letters that he wrote home. They are very 
interesting and they are in the collection here [at the Society 
of California Pioneers]. 

Volmer: You let me read them before you 

Donald P. : That's correct, yes. Then, he went to Mission San Jose in 1850, 
and I believe built and operated a hotel there. He was a 
contractor; did you know that? 

Volmer: Well, I took it from his letters that he arrived here in 1849 

with a tool set. 

Donald P.: That's right, yes. 
Volmer: Or, a box of tools. 

Donald P. : Yes, and we have those downstairs, too, that's right. Then he 
sent east for his wife. His wife came out. And they had was 
it, am I right? five daughters. 

Volmer: Well, yes, let's see. There was The oldest was your grandma, 

d ara 

Donald P.: Oh, she was the oldest. This I didn't know.* 

## This symbol indicates that a tape or segment ef a tape has 
begun or ended. For a guide to the tapes, see page 60. 

* Clara was the third Hawley child. Refer to Hawley family 
tree, p. 31. 


Volmer: I think. And then, well. I can't give you well. I'll give you 

the names. Now, whether they're in order. I don't know. Lizzy, 
Elizabeth Hawley, who became Elizabeth Beard. Aunt Lizzy Beard. 
Aunt Em Ingalls, Emily Emily Hawley. who became an Ingalls. My 
grandmother. Charlotte Hawley. who married a Whipple. 

Donald P. : Which Whipple was that? Was that John Whipple? No, that was 

Volmer: No. that was Charlie Whipple, John Whipple's brother. You see, 

John Whipple was a bachelor well, the old man. you see. And 
then, next was May Hawley [May was the last child], who was an 
old maid till, oh And then, she finally got married to a man 
by the name of Paterson 

Donald P. : That was Uncle Billy. 
Volmer: Uncle Billy, yes, right. 

Donald P. : Yes. Now, did you ever hear that he's the man who invented the 
Fresno scraper? 

Volmer: I heard something about it I'm not quite sure. 

Donald P. : Well, that was the story that I heard. I knew him quite well. 
Did you know him? 

Volmer: Oh, very well. 

Donald P.: Yes, he was a jolly fellow, with a red face 

Volmer: Yes. yes, typical Scotch. [laughter] 

Donald P. : Yes, that's right. And he spelled his name was one "t". 

Volmer: Yes, one "t", that's right. And then, there was Ed Hawley, the 

only son that I know of. 

Donald P. : Yes, I see where that fits in. Well, that makes four daughters, 
then, and one son five children. [Actually five daughters and 
one son. ] 

Volmer: [thinking] Yes, I think that's right. 

Donald P. : I think that's right. Because I remember the five, but I forget 
the boy. 


The Velmer Family and Business 

Donald P. : Well, now, tell me where the Volmers come into the picture. 

Volmer: Well, my grandmother, Charlotte Haw ley, became a Whipple. And 

that family there were five children, I believe and my mother 
was the oldest. 

Donald P. : And what was her name? 

Volmer: Luella Whipple. And she married Rudolph Volmer. So, there 

you've got the Volmers. 

Donald P. : Now, did they live down in that area when they were first 
married, or did they come up to San Francisco? 

Volmer: You mean the Volmers? 

Donald P. : Yes. 

Volmer: Yes. My father started the warehouse in Decote in 1888, say. 

And the name of the firm was Lowry, Steller, and Volmer. 

Donald P. : Which Lowry was that? 

Volmer: Well, that was a San Francisco Lowry Will Lowry. No, not a 

local Lowry. And Steller got out very early. I don't know 
which, I think around 1900, something like that. Or maybe 
before. And then the firm became Lowry, Volmer, and Perry. 

Donald P. : What Perry was that? Was that a local Perry? 

Volmer: That was a local Perry that lived on the Well, they had a 

place right The corners, there, where you go down to your 

Donald P. : Sure. 

Volmer: You [have] any ideas that Perrys lived there. 

Donald P.: Yes, because I'll tell you why I'm so interested. We've just 
purchased the Brown ranch. And Joe Perry is farming it. So, 
he'll keep on as a tenant of ours now, and it's the same family, 
and he's related to the one that you're talking about. But, 
whether it's probably, it's the third generation. 

Volmer: Oh, it probably is. But, there were three brothers in this 

Perry family. Charlie was one, and another Perry lived in San 
Francisco, and the third lived on the ranch. 

Donald P. 

It's the same outfit. 


Volmer: Yes. the same outfit. And that firm went on till 1903. when 

they sold out to Sauls. 

Donald P.: Oh, that's where the connection came in with Sauls. 

Volmer: That's right. And that's how Sauls got the old iron-clad 

warehouse. Sauls used to have the other warehouse on the other 
side of the 

Donald P. : Now, is your family home still in Decoto, or ? 
Volmer: No, that was torn down, maybe, fifteen years ago. 

Donald P. : I see. Do you have any of the early records anywhere of either 
the business or the family any letters or documents? 

Volmer: All I have is a letter to my father from Stanley Moore's father 

that owned the ranch on Mission Creek. Well, I suppose this 
is... My father went broke in the warehouse in the grain 
business. He was broke in 1930 [sic] and Mr. Moore was his 
attorney, and he advised him not to go through bankruptcy. So, 
he and Charlie Perry came down to San Francisco and started the 
firm with Volmer and Perry in 1903. And I have a letter that 
from Moore In other words, [he] cleared my father with his 
credit piece. And I still have that 

Donald P.: Was that A. A. Moore? 

Volmer: Well, that was Stanley Moore's father. That was the A. A, Moore 

who was well, [inaudible] married into the Moore family, that 
was the same family. 

Donald P. : Yes, same one. 

Volmer: So. I have that letter now, if it's any use to the historical 

society. They can have it, but I don't imagine they'd be 

Donald P. : Well, I think we could you could loan it to us to put with the 
heard down here, [laughter] When did your family leave 
Fremont, which was then Decote? 

Volmer: The Velmer family? 

Donald P. : Yes. 

Volmer: 1903. 

Donald P. : Came to San Francisco? 

Volmer: In 1903. 


Bertha Faull. Niece of Clara Patterson 

Donald P. : Now, let's get to the Faull family. Bertha Faull was who? Now 
where did she tie in? 

Volmer: Bertha Faull was 

Donald P. : the daughter of 

Volmer: Well. Bertha Faull was my mother's sister. So. she must have 

been a Hawley, too. That's why we're missing 

Donald P. : Yes, sure, that's right. That's where it ties in. Now, she was 
apparently very close to my grandmother. Did you ever hear of 

Volmer: Yes. Your grandmother practically educated her. 

Donald P. : Now, why was that? 

Volmer: Well, your grandmother always picked somebody in the family to 


Donald P. : Yes. But why did she need help? 

Volmer: Well, I don't know. Maybe your grandmother just took a liking 

to her. [See interview with Jeanette Korstad and Marilyn Price.] 

Donald P. : Now, there's a story in the family that, at one time, my 

grandmother was going to give her a part of the ranch. Did you 
ever hear that? 

Volmer: Yes, I heard something of that. 

Donald P. : Apparently, it never went through. 
Volmer: It never went through. 

Donald P. : But, she was very, I know they were very close. And, as I 

remember, I can remember her as Bertha Faull. And, she was a 
very nice person. My memory when she was very 

Volmer: Now, let's go back. I think we made an error here. Bertha 

Faull was my mother's sister, SG she wasn't a Hawley. She was a 
Whip pie. 

Donald P.: You're right. Her grandmother was a Hawley. That's right. 

That straightens it out. Now, then her daughter the one that I 
saw so much of because she's about my age 


Volmer: Virginia. 

Donald P. : Virginia. 

Volmer: Yes. I imagine she's about your age. 

Donald P.: And, so she's now living then in Alameda. 

Velmer: Alameda. yes. 

Donald P. : And she would probably remember quite a few things. 

Volmer: No doubt. 

Donald P. : You'll have to talk to her sometime about She probably would 
have memories of my grandmother, too. 

Volmer' s Memories of the Patterson House 

Donald P. : Did you ever hear a discussion as to when George Patterson's 
original house was built, or where it was? 

Volmer: No. I couldn't 

Donald P. : We haven't been able to 

Volmer: No, that was back before my time. 

Donald P. : Oh. yes. It would be before that. In thinking back when you 
were a boy. around the old house (the old Patterson house), do 
you recall whether there was a little well, you might say. 
quarters for the help back of the kitchen, a little house 

Volmer: I have some recollection of that. yes. 

Donald P. : You do. Then, beyond that was the whatever you call it the 
stone house, where they kept the milk. 

Volmer: Yes. that's right. 

Donald P. : But. you think there was a little wooden house. 

Volmer: I can remember something of that. 

Donald P. : Well I can remember, back as far as I can remember, it was 


Volmer: Yes. 

Donald P. : Did you ? You probably Oh, another question. You remember 
some of the big gatherings. 

Volmer: Yes. 

Donald P. : We have some pictures of those and I want to, sometime, have you 
look at them and see if you can identify some of the people. 
Some of them are identified, but many of them are not. You see, 
that was I can j ust barely remember the gatherings, let alone 
the people. 

Clara's Good Works, Second Marriage, and Travel 

Volmer: Well, when your grandmother was alive, she had quite a few 

gatherings, as I remember. 

Donald P. : Yes, I think so. Do you know, did she tend to was she sort of 
the center of the family, and she'd gather the family together? 

Volmer: Oh, yes. She would Well, I'm trying to find a good 

description. She was, I would say, a leader of the family. I 
mean, she your grandmother did a lot of good. 

Donald P.: Yes, I think that's right. 

Volmer: She did a lot of good. 

Donald P. : She must have been fairly strong-willed. 

Volmer: She was. She did a lot of good. And she helped a lot of 

people, including Bertha Faull. And I know she also Another 
member of the Whipples, Jim Whipple I think she put him through 
the university. 

Donald P. : Now, he made quite a record in the university. 

Volmer: Why, yes, he was a football, yes he was captain of the team, 

and later coached in 1904 or 1905. 

Donald P.: No, I didn't know that. It's a sensitive area, but have you any 
idea of why my grandmother's marriage to Layson didn't work out? 

Volmer: Well, I don't think your father and your uncle really approved 

of it. Now, that's the impression that 

Donald P.: I'm sure you're right. You think that's what broke it up? 


Volmer: Well, [it] had something to do with it. I can just remember Mr. 

Layson he was a very nice gentleman. I can remember one time 
when we had dinner there, and your Uncle Henry was there (that 
was before he was married) and I think, my father and mother I 
forget who was there. But I can remember Layson was there. 

Donald P. : Is that so? 

Volmer: Yes. 

Donald P.: Oh. that's interesting. Well, you know 

Volmer: He was a kind of a nice-looking person, rather mild-looking. As 

I can recall, a kind of sandy complexion, you know, I mean 

Donald P. : You know he was quite a scholar? He was a linguist spoke five 
languages and was well regarded scholastically. 

Volmer: Wasn't he a minister? 

Donald P. : Yes, he was the minister of a local church there. Yes. he came 
to the, I think, a Presbyterian church. Well, I think you're 
right. From what I've been able to dig out of the records, to 
an extent that was it. The boys, of course, were older. Here 
was a stranger coming in. and I think they made it difficult for 
him. I've always wondered why my grandmother, who was a strong 
character and quite self-sufficient, would have remarried. 
There didn't seem to be any reason for it. She had a, you know, 
happy family. She was happy with the boys; she was busy with 
the running of the ranch. I never could resolve in my own mind 
why I suppose she was lonesome. 

Volmer: Well, she was always Aunt CLara Patterson. She never was Aunt 

Clara Layson, as far as my end of the family was concerned. I 
always referred to her as Aunt Clara Patterson I never could 
get to call her 

Well, she was a very fine person and, you know, what she 
would do on some of her trips, oh, like And I guess she did 
it for the whole family. One of her trips, she came back, and I 
was just a little, young boy, I guess, maybe, I don't know, 
thirteen, fourteen, and she brought a stick pin back. I believe, 
from Egypt. You know how you used to wear stick pins in your 
neck ties, or cravats, or whatever you want to call them? Those 
are the things she did. She never forgot anybody. And, of 
course, she traveled a lot. You know that. 

Donald P. : Yes. Shortly after my grandfather's death, as soon as the boys, 
apparently, could take over on the ranch, she traveled. And, it 
must have been much more of an undertaking then for a women 
alone to travel the way she did all around the world. 


Volmer: Yes. I don't know whether she took anybody or not. I can't 

Donald P. : No, she went with her husband. Layson. to Egypt and the Holy 

Land, and she took the boys east to the, I guess it was the mid 
winter fair, or something like that. But, outside of that, her 
trips were apparently alone. She'd go alone on these long 

Scows, Warehouses, and Duck Hunting, 1900s-1910s 

Donald P. : Do you remember anything about the shipping of produce from the 
ranch? Do you remember discussions about the ship Broadgauge? 

Volmer: Just slightly. I know it used to come up to Mr. Patterson's 

landing, there. 

Donald P. : But that was really before 

Volmer: Well, that was about the time that there were a couple of scow- 

schooners coming up to the Jarvis landing, too. It was about 
that time. 

Donald P. : Do you remember those ? 

Volmer: Yes. They were the Murray Fernandez and the George Washington. 

Donald P. : Now, the George Washington. I've run across that name. That 
wasn't the Patterson boat 

Volmer: No. Those are the ones that brought to Jarvis, Jarvis Landing. 

Donald P. : That's correct, yes. Well, do you remember Patterson Landing 
and the warehouses there? 

Volmer: Oh, yes. 

Donald P.: I guess they weren't still using it, though, when you 

Volmer: Well, I really don't know, but I knew they were there. But they 

were using the Jarvis Landing warehouses up till, oh after you 
were born, I know that. Past 1906, I know that. Just about 
that time. 

Donald P. : Now, when did you first go duck hunting down there, do you 



Volmer: Well, the first time I ever shot ducks I'm right now. let's 

see. you can figure it out. I'm eighty years old and I was 
sixteen when I shot ducks there. 

Donald P.: That would have been about 1910 or 1911. 
Volmer: Yes. along in there. 

Donald P. : And you went to what we call the old shooting lodge, with the 
little house by the lake. 

Volmer: Yes, that was the Yes, the house was right on the lake, 

wasn't it? 

Donald P. : Yes, I think it was. 

Volmer: [laughs] Do you want to hear a funny story about that? My 

father always liked finnan haddie, and we always brought a 
finnan haddie, and he was supposed to soak it just before 
overnight. So my dad, the next morning, went out and had a hold 
of the fish by the tail, and he had a hold of the pan. and he 
threw the water out into the slough, and he only was left with 
the tail. [laughter] So we ended up by having eggs for 

Donald P. : The slough must have been pretty close 

Volmer: Well, you could, just like you come out on a balcony, look over 

it. Whether it was the main slough, or what it was. it might 
have been a smaller slough 

Donald P. : Did you shoot there, or did you go down ? 

Volmer: Oh. no. We had to go quite a ways. 

Donald P. : To the Indian mound. 

Volmer: That's right, the Indian mound. 

Donald P. : See. I got in a little bit later on that. But they were still 
shooting for a few years there when I started. Now. at that 
time, were they still raising grain down in that below what we 
called Marsh Road? Or would that have gone into vegetables and 
field crops, sugar beets, and that sort? 

Volmer: I think, mostly, as I remember, sugar beets. I don't remember 

so much grain. Maybe there was some grain. It might be so. 
But. I 

Donald P. : You remember the sugar beets. 


Volmer: I can remember the sugar beets and the cattle coming down from 


Donald P.: The beet tops. 

Volmer: The beet tops. And twisting off the beet tops and turning the 

cattle over to Hellers over there in Alvarado. In [inaudible], 
I think. 

Donald P.: Yes, that's right. 

Family Quarreling over Alaskan Mines 

Donald P. : Can you think of any track that we haven't pursued? How did all 
of this group get into mining? When the hell did that start? 

Volmer: Well, you mean I think it started with Jim Whipple when he 

went up to Alaska. 

Donald P. : I see. And, he went up on the, what, the Alaska Do you know? 

Volmer: Well, I guess he was with the yes, that was part of Alaska and 

what was the name of that other mine, now? 

Donald P. : Kensington. 

Volmer: Kensington. 

Donald P. : Was your father in on the Kensington ? 

Volmer: No, he wasn't. No, my dad was never in on any of that stuff. 

Donald P.: Oh, he wasn't? He was lucky. 

Volmer: Yes. It was just your father and your uncle. Will and Henry 

Patterson. Now, maybe Fred Morris was mixed in there. 

Donald P. : Yes, he was. And I wonder if it must have grown out of their 

college association, I think. Morris, you know, was a geologist. 

Volmer: Yes, Fred Morris was a mining graduate. Fred Morris and Jim 

Whipple and your Uncle Henry Patterson all went to [the 
University of] California at the same time. 

Donald P. : I've got a mass of correspondence and diaries and papers and so 

forth on those mining I think Dad must have kept a lot of the 

correspondence. It was a lot of fun. They had a lot of fun out 
of it. 


Volmer: They had some trouble, toe, if you remember. Do you want to 

bring that up? 

Donald P. : They lest money en it. What trouble do you mean? 

Volmer: Well, Jim Whipple died, you know, in 191 A. And there was a 

lawsuit going on at that time. Don't you remember anything? 
Have you ever heard anything about ? 

Donald P. : I probably no, between whom? 

Volmer: Well, between the Whipples and Jim Whipple and, I don't knew, 

and Bart Thane was in on it. 

Donald P. : Now, Bart Thane I know. They would never speak to him. 
Volmer: Jim Whipple married Bart's sister, Laura Thane, you know that. 

Donald P.: That's right, sure. Yes. 

Volmer: And. it was my father that settled that claim. He went in and 

they all it was really settled just before Jim Whipple died. 
And, of course. Jim Whipple died there in Niles it was the same 
place. And I was going to school at that time at the university 
in Reno University of Nevada. But, I've heard afterwards it 
was my dad that settled the thing. The lawyers couldn't settle 
it, and my father went up there and Now, whether it was his 
friendship with your father and your Uncle Henry what happened, 
I really couldn't say. 

Donald P.: There's nothing in the record. 

Volmer: But. from then on. my dad wouldn't speak to Laura Thane, and I 

don't think that your Uncle Henry would neither. I think your 
father relented, finally. 

Donald P. : Yes. But the real, the fellow that they were really mad at, was 
Bart Thane. 

Volmer: Well, probably. 

Donald P. : Because he was the big operator. 

Volmer: Yes. 

Donald P. : He was the fellow in the Kensington and Alaska gold. And, he's 
the fellow that went over to England. He was going back and 
forth, and he was the organizer No, I that's all I know 


Volmer: Yes, well I'm just quoting from what I've heard my father say. 

And I know my mother was very, very upset with my dad because he 
would have nothing to do with Laura Thane. If there was a 
family picnic, and Laura Thane was there, my dad wouldn't shew 
up he'd have an excuse. 

Donald P. : I wonder why they were so bitter about Laura because I wouldn't 
think that she would have gotten into the business end of it at 
all. I suppose it was just 

Volmer: That I couldn't say. I don't know how much influence Laura 

had I don't know. She was pretty sharp, like Bart Thane, too, 
you know. 

Donald P. : I only knew her, of course, when she was very young. 

Volmer: The last time I saw her, she was very, very old Well, that's 

about all I can tell you, Don, on that side of the family. 

Donald P. : Well, now, tell me. The Ingalls are there descendants of the 
Ingalls family left, now? In the area? 

Volmer: Oh, I think so. I think there are some younger people. 

Elizabeth Ingalls is There were three Ingalls girls, I know 
that. Maybe the youngest one is still alive. I don't know, I 
could find out. One of the boys one of the younger Ingalls 
have you heard about that fight between your brother, Jack, 
and ? 

Donald P. : Yes. [laughs] 

Volmer: That was one of the Ingalls. That was quite a show. That was a 

family gathering. Your father and mother were there that day. 

Donald P. : Yes, I missed that for some reason. 

Volmer: Yes, I think you were away at school, or something. 

Recalling Early Ranch Structures 

Donald P. : You remember, as you go down to the Coyote Hills, you turn off 

Marsh Road and go down Coyote Hills, there where the dairy is on 
the left-hand side, and there was a little house on the right- 
hand side 

Volmer: A little white house, yes. 


Donald P. : And that we always called the Parish house because the Parish 
family lived there. Did you ever know any of the Parishes? 

Volmer: No. 

Donald P. : That was before your time. You never heard any discussion of 
when that house was built? 

Volmer: No. 

Donald P. : We can't find out. It was built in the sixties. It's one of 
the very oldest houses in that whole area. The only house 
that's older is the [inaudible] place. And we can't establish 
when it was built, and there is none of the Parish family left. 
They went to Los Angeles, and then we lost the trail again. So. 
we're left we just don't know. But. I'd like to know because 
about ten years ago you remember Captain Thompson and Mrs. 
Thompson, who were the keepers for the Pheasant CLub, there, 

Volmer: Yes. I do. 

Donald P. : His wife was very energetic and she was an antique dealer before 
she went down there and retired. She took that house and 
completely restored it to its original condition and decorated 
it inside and everything. And. it's really a very good 
replica not replica it's the actual house with the furnishings 
that you would expect in the sixties and seventies. But. we 
can't establish when it was built. 

Volmer: There's no record? Well, of course, that one would be part of 

the old Briggs ranch. 

Donald P. : No. The old well, I've forgotten the name, but I've checked 

the eld maps of the sixties. The maps of the fifties don't show 
any house. The maps of the seventies show a house. 

Who were the dairy people that were there, before Marchy? 

Volmer: They also had a place up on the mountain, opposite the Masonic 


Donald P.: I can't recall at this time. 

Volmer: Well, yes. I was trying to think of that name when you were 

mentioning this country it's a funny name 

Donald P. : That was very well operating as far back as you can remember. 
So, they must have come pretty early. 


Yes... Zwissig. 


Donald P. : No. before the Zwissigs. 
Volmer: Oh. before the Zwissigs. 

Donald P.: Now, the Zwissigs took over from these people that I can just 
barely remember, and then they bought the place up at Decoto. 
Then they left, and then Marchy came right after. But there's 
one before that 

Volmer: No. I couldn't remember. 

Donald P. : You don't remember? I guess you remember the little station, 
the Arden Station. 

Volmer: Oh, yes, Arden Station. 

Donald P. : You didn't go to the play, down there, did you, where it got its 
name Midsummer Night's Dream? [As You Like _It was the 
Skakespeare play which takes place in the forest of Arden. Ed.] 

Volmer: No, no, I think that was very early in your grandmother's time, 

wasn' t it? 

Donald P. : No, it would have been because Dad was Yes, I guess it would 
have been 

Volmer: Yes, I've heard about that place. 

Donald P. : Do you remember the deer park? 
Volmer: Oh, very well, very well. 

Donald P. : You heard the story about the 


up into the tree. 

Volmer: Yes, yes. And I remember they used to go out and feed the deer. 

Yes, I remember the deer park. 

Donald P. : Now, do you remember there used to be a bunkheuse and a kitchen 
where they fed the men? Do you remember that? 

Volmer: Oh, yes. That was down by the stables, there, you know, where 

your stables were. Yes. yes, I remember that house. I know it 
wasn 1 t a barn. It was a house there. 

Donald P. : And wasn't there a low building that was the bunkhouse? There 
was some kind of a house there and then a 


Volmer: And then wasn't there a shed on one side of it. or something? I 

think where your dad used to keep his old Knox there, to cool a 
little. 1906. [laughter] 

Donald P.: I don't knew, you've got me there. 

Volmer: Yes. I remember that Knox. you know, with the you had a folding 

seat in front that folded down. 

Donald P.: This I don't remember. 
Volmer: You don't remember. 

Donald P. : No, no. 

Volmer: That was alongside of the bunkheuse. 

[tape turned off temporarily] 

Tracing Mere Hawley Cousins 

Donald P. : Well, you take over. now. 

Volmer: Well. no. you just ask me questions. 

Donald P. : Well. now. let's see. Let's take the Meyer branch. Did they 

have the ranch and the lady just died and gave the ranch to the 
park, didn't she? 

Volmer: No, that's the maid. Oh, now, wait a minute. Annie Meyer was 

my mother's sister. She married Fred Meyer. Annie Whipple she 
married Fred Meyer. And they had that little piece of property 
up on Dry Creek, which, I think, Fred Meyer originally owned, 
and then he went broke or something. And the Pattersons your 
grandmother. 1 guess took it over and they rented that for 
years. You know that piece of property. 

Donald P. : No, no, this is news to me. 

Volmer: Well, it's Mission Boulevard, now. You know where you cross the 

bridge there? Well, you know where Dry Creek comes down. 

Donald P. : Yes. sure. 

Volmer: Well, do you know where the cemetery is? 

Donald P. : Yes. 


Volmer: Well, it would be. I guess, west of the cemetery, wouldn't it? 

Donald P. : Yes. 

Volmer: Well, there was a piece of land right around Dry Creek and ran 

as far as the railroad track. And it went down the other 
boundary was Whipple Road. 

Donald P. : Oh, yes, I know where that is, sure. 

Volmer: You know the corner there? And Dry Creek went through the 

middle of it. Well, they lived there for years. That was 
another one of your grandmother 1 s 

Donald P. : Well, now, is any of them left? 

Volmer: Yes. There is, of my generation, there's one left: Harold. 

Donald P. : Where does he live? 

Volmer: He lives in Oakland. 

Donald P. : Well, now, we've followed the Ingalls and we've followed the 
Meyers. Now 

Volmer: You want the Mays? 

Donald P.: Yes. That was August May, wasn't it? 

Volmer: No, no. This was Henry May. August May's brother married Clara 

Whipple. There's three of my generation left in the May family. 
There's Henry May, and Marj orie and Gertrude. Now, Gertrude 
married Kennedy, and had a ranch further towards Hayward on the 
same side of the road there. Oh, I guess you never knew the 

Donald P.: No, I don't think so. 

Volmer: Well, they were farmers, and then young Kennedy, he And they 

had also a ranch en the Bell ranch, down, I believe, Alameda 
Creek. Now, there's three of them left. There's Henry, 
Gertrude and Marj orie. And they're all around my age. I mean, 
Harold is a couple years older than I am Harold Meyer. 
Gertrude Kennedy is Harold Meyer's age. Marj orie Kennedy is my 
age, and Henry is four years younger than myself. And they're 
still alive. And Henry lives on the old place out on Dry Creek. 

Donald P.: He's still there? 

Volmer: He's still there, yes. He was married a second time. 


Donald P.: I didn't notice his name on this 

Volmer: No. 

Donald P. : I wonder if he should be taped. I wonder if these folks 

Volmer: Well. Henry is not too well. Gertrude lives in Hayward. and 

Marj orie lives up she married a fellow by the name of King, who 
has got a ranch up on the You know Niles Canyon where 
Fernbrook Park is? And, you know the road that goes where you 
turn to the left and go on up to the Palomares, isn't it the 

Donald P. : Palomares? Or is it now Stonybrook? 

Volmer: Well, it's Stonybrook, but yes up Stonybrook. I think they 

call it the Palomares, something like that. 

Donald P. : Well, I'm going to make a note of this 
Volmer: And her name is King. now. 

Donald P. : Do you know her first ? 

Volmer: Her first name was Well, her first name was Marj orie. Her 

maiden name 

Donald P. : Now. but who is the oldest of that group? You said 
Volmer: Mrs. Kennedy is the oldest. 

Donald P.: Oh. she's the eldest. I see. 

Volmer: Marj orie comes next. And Mrs. King comes next, and Henry May 

comes he's the younger one. 

Donald P. : Okay, now, you say Ed Hawley did he have any descendants? 

Volmer: Yes. he had and I think he's still alive Kenneth Hawley, who 

would be your cousin. He would be your second cousin. And I 
don't know where Kenneth is; I can find out. Now. there's 
another one that your, either your grandmother or your Uncle 
Henry, sent up to the University of Nevada. That's another one 
of the family, [laughs] Because, he came up there when. I 
think. I was either, let's see. I was a sophomore, and he was 
a They sent him up there for me to kind of look out after 
him. And he was a tough monkey to look after. [laughter] 

Donald P.: A real job. huh? 


Volmer: Well, you haven't covered the Beard family, which 

Donald P.: No. by golly, that's right. 
Volmer: The Beard family now, uh 

Donald P. : Elias Beard came in the forties, before the Gold Rush, and 

settled in Mission San Jose. That, I guess, was the original of 
the whole bunch, wasn't it? 

Volmer: I imagine so. 

Donald P. : Yes. 

Volmer: Now, Aunt Elizabeth which we called Aunt Lizzy well, it was 

Elizabeth Hawley, she married this I forget this Beard. I 
forget his first name [John Lymon Beard]. I knew, at one time, 
that he was a member of the California legislature, whether that 
means anything to you, or not, I don't know. 

Donald P. : Now this, we'll be able to spot this on this genealogy. 

Volmer: Oh, yes. 

Donald P.: It'll show there. 

Volmer: Oh, it shows up there. 

Donald P. : Now, did they have children, and have they got relatives? 

Volmer: Oh, yes, they had four [who lived], and I think they had two 

that passed away. And you'll find this on this family tree. 
Well, the oldest one was Jessie she never married. And she 
became a nurse. And she did a lot of work. I think she even 
went to do her work in Bellevue in New York. Isn't that they 
call it Bellevue that hospital? 

Donald P. : Yes. 

Volmer: Oh, yes, John Beard, oh, yes. He was named after his father. 

This was John Beard that married Elizabeth Hawley. John Beard 
became a doctor, and he passed away about, it seemed to be a 
heart they all had heart attacks John Beard. And then there 
was Hawley Beard. 

Donald P.: These names are all familiar to me, but I don't know 

Volmer: And he's passed away passed away about, oh, in his thirties, 

sometime. John Beard passed away. And then, Clara Beard, who I 
think is still alive and married now (I don't know what her 


Volmer: married name is), but she lives in Lone Pine. California, or she 

did. Now. John Beard had a son; he did have a son. Now. I 
don't know what happened to him. That's beyond me. 

Donald P. : Then, as far as you don't know any of that Beard group who live 
around here, then? 

Volmer: No. Now. where John Beard's sen is. I don't know. I think the 

last time I heard of John Beard the father, now I'm talking 
about he was practicing medicine in. I believe, Martinez. This 
younger Beard might be up there in Martinez. Now, whether dara 
Beard has any offspring, I can't tell you. 

Donald P. : Now, some of your family, then, are probably at the same 
cemetery the family plot up there. 

Volmer: Oh, yes. They're all up there. 

Donald P. : All of them? 

Volmer: Practically all of them, except my mother. She's not there. 

She's down in Colma, and my father isn't there. My brother 
isn't They're all 

Donald P. : I see. 

Volmer: Yes. But all the rest of them are up there most of them. 

Donald P. : Do you know, were they in the same plot in that same ? Or did 
you have an area of your own? 

Volmer: Well, there's a Whipple plot. And the Patterson plot. 

Donald P.: They're doing quite a nice job up there. Have you been up there 

Volmer: Last time I was there was at Jack's funeral. 

Donald P.: Oh. yes. They're taking good care of it. 

Volmer: Like I told you before, I took Sally up there and had to 

explain I pointed out all of her relatives. [laughter] 

Andrew Patterson 

Donald P. : This is going way back. You never heard any discussion of 
Andrew Patterson and his marriage, did you? 


Volmer: No. no. I just knew of an Andrew Patterson, that's all I knew. 

Donald P. : Because he's one of the most colorful figures in the whole 

bunch, you know, because, as the story that came down, he's the 
fellow whose women were too fast and his horses were not quite 
fast enough. [laughter] But he did marry. And his wife's 
grave is there, and a daughter but it was not his daughter. 
Apparently, it was her daughter, and he married her she must 
have been a widow. 

Volmer: Well, is his grave there too? Andrew Patterson's grave? 

Donald P. : Oh, yes. I haven't been able to find out when he came to 
California, either. And this ties in, as I say, with the 
history of the Livermore ranch, which is I haven't been able to 
find very much about. I really don't Did you ever hear that 
my father, when he first got out of college, went up there to 
learn the cattle business? 

Volmer: Just a little bit. I heard something of it, yes. 

Donald P.: You think that's correct then? 
Volmer: I think so. 

Donald P. : Because I run across pictures of him, which apparently were 

taken up there in their cowboy outfits. Well, let's see, can 
you think of anything now that I'm beginning to run dry. 

Volmer: Well, I think you've about covered everything, Don, that I can 

remember. There might be some small incidents 

Donald P. : Well, let's do this, then. We'll stop now, and maybe after 
we've thought about it, sometime we'll have another session. 

Volmer: Fine. 

[tape turned off and on again at some later time] 

Pattersons and Hawleys; Mutual Assistance 

Donald P. : We're talking about 

Volmer: The little ranch that Grandpa and Grandma Hawley lived on. 

Donald P. : Oh, well. I know where that is because their house was there 
until a few years ago, and then it was yes. 


Volmer: Yes. that's right. 

Donald P.: It was adjacent to our present property. 

Volmer: Yes. Your property bordered it. say, property on the west. 

Donald P. : Right. But. Bill, I was thinking of the wrong area. Now. let's 
go over this again, because I never knew this connection. In 
other words, that little piece, you say, was given by my 

Volmer: I don't know whether it was given by your But, after your 

Grandma Hawley died and Aunt May wasn't married then, you know. 
May Hawley it was arranged between your father and, I guess, 
your grandmother and your father and your uncle, that Now, 
whether they gave it to May Hawley I have 

Donald P. : I think so. 
Volmer: I think they did. 

Donald P. : Yes, I think so. 

Volmer: And then she lived there till this Uncle Billy came along 

Uncle Billy Paterson. 

Donald P. : Right. 

Volmer: And now, what became of the property after that, I really don't 


Donald P. : Well, now, did Uncle Billy live there? 

Volmer: I don't think so. 

Donald P. : No. Where did he live? 

Volmer: They lived in Oakland. 

Donald P.: Yes, that's right, you're right. They used to come down. Okay, 
well, then, that's good, because that gives me the history of 
that piece ef property that I had always wondered about. 

Volmer: After Uncle John Beard died, or John Beard died the original 

Beard the ranch was in trouble. 

Donald P. : Which ranch? 
Volmer: The Beard ranch. 

Donald P. : Oh. yes. 


Volmer: That was across the road from where the Hawleys lived, you know. 

Donald P. : Oh, yes. I know where that is, yes. 

Volmer: And your family helped Aunt Lizzy Beard out to what extent, I 

don't know. Because I remember there was a lot of discussion in 
the family, and Aunt Lizzy was. well, she wasn't exactly 
strapped, but she was not in too good a shape. 

Donald P. : This I didn't know. 

Volmer: And it was through the goodness of your grandmother and your 

father and uncle that took care of her. I don't know how they 
did or what they did, I don't know. 

Donald P. : We're now talking about the acquisition of the Briggs ranch. I 
think it was in 1916, wasn't it? 

Volmer: No, no, I think it was long after that, I'm pretty sure. 

Donald P. : Well, whenever it was, go ahead. 

Volmer: So your father and your uncle's kindness that helped my dad in 

1903 He was very proud that he was able to lend him the 
money, some amount of money, I forget which. It was close to 
fifty thousand dollars, I think, to buy the Briggs ranch. 

Donald P. : No, that I didn't know. 

[tape turned off and on again] 

My grandfather was at least twenty years [thirty] older than my 
grandmother, and apparently my grandmother was a very lovely- 
looking young girl. 

Volmer: That's right. 

Donald P. : And her father was the contemporary of my grandfather. They 
came to San Francisco in 1849 and knew each other in 1850 in 
Mission San Jose. I think that the old fellow was a little bit 
ashamed ef himself because in the first place, apparently, he 
married, he took her off to Sacramento, where they were married. 
And his friends didn't know what had happened until it was all 
over. This is just an inkling on my part that, from some of the 
notes and correspondence, what took place. But, beyond that, I 
don' t know. But, as far as I know, it was a very happy 

Volmer: Yes. Well, her father knew your grandfather very well and, I 

think, did quite a lot ef business with him, too. I think they 
got along very well together. 


Donald P. : New, I've also heard the story that my grandfather. George 

Patterson, was a very hard. well, not hard, but a very yes. I 
guess I'd say a hard man that he had the reputation of being 
very business-like. And they say that he would follow the 
thresher around through the field, and if there was grain left 
on the ground where it shouldn't be. he'd make them go back and 
pick it up. 

Volmer: Well, that's a typical Scot. [laughter] 

Donald P. : Well, you can't blame him too much, 
else, though, since 

You haven't heard anything 

Volmer: Well, the only time I've ever heard that my father always had a 

very high regard for this. I guess he went up there as a fairly 
young man well, they got along well together. He spoke very 
well of him. 

Donald P.: That's interesting. Well, that's about all 

Hawley Family Gatherings 

Donald P. 


Donald P. 

We are discussing some of the old pictures that we've found in 
the Patterson collection. I'm going to ask Mr. Volmer, now, to 
tell us about this picture of his family. 

Well, this picture taken on May 21, 1905, the sixtieth 
anniversary of the marriage of Mr. and Mrs. James Hawley On 
the steps are the oldest representatives of the four 
generations. The first generation, Mr. and Mrs. Hawley, the 
second generation, Mrs. Emily Hawley Ingalls. Mrs. Ingalls was 
the oldest daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Hawley. Mrs. Luella 
Volmer the eldest of the third generation, the daughter ef 
Charlotte Hawley. Miss Charlotte Meyer the oldest generation 
of the daughter of Annie Meyer, who was the daughter of 
Charlotte Hawley. 

This photograph, taken about 1908, is a group picture of 
the first of the five generations of the family of Mr. and Mrs. 
James Hawley, taken at the tennis court of the George Patterson 

Now. tell us a little bit about those gatherings, 
be a lot of big family gatherings. 

There used to 


Volmer : 

Donald P. 
V ol mer : 

Donald P. 

Donald P. 


Donald P. 

Donald P. 

This is one of the many family gatherings that had taken place 
during this period at different places, including the Beard 
residence which was across the street from the Hawley residence. 
And also, later on in the years, family gatherings [were] at the 
Ingalls 1 place down in Berryessa. Mrs. Ingalls was the daughter 
of Mr. and Mrs. James Hawley. Does that sound all right? 

Did you have plenty to eat? Did they have it out in the open? 

At these gatherings, generally, everybody brought something 
along, and there was ample food for everybody and most of the 
neighbors. [laughter] 

Well, at most of these gatherings, and pretty well most all 
of them, no hard liquor was served. It was mostly coffee and 
milk and soda pop for the kids. Practically no liquor was 
served, to my knowledge. 

Well, you should know because you were there, 
right. That's what I remember, too. 

I think that's 


How long did they last? 
you leave? 

When did you get there, and when did 

Well, these affairs generally started a little before noon and 
probably lasted until about five or six, up to seven o'clock at 
night, all depending on the length of the day and the period of 
the year. 

Now at that time, did you come in automobiles, or was it still 
buckboards and surreys and ? 

Well, in the early days in the earlier pictures, I've described 
the first picture, here generally, people arrived with horses 
and buggies. Later on, after World War I, and just prior to 
World War I, mostly everybody arrived by automobile. 

New, when they came with horses, what did they do with the 
horses while you were at the party? Did they unhitch them and 
put them in somebody's barn, or what happened? 

Well, the horses were always pretty well taken care of. Most of 
these places had ample places large barns and so forth, and 
plenty of room. Generally the horses were unhitched. 
Sometimes, they were tied up to hitching posts 

Donald P.: and left in the harness. 


Volmer: Yes. But, regardless of all that, everybody seemed to have a 

very fine time. [laughter] 

Donald P. : This was kind of a means ef communication among the family 
people. I suppose. 

Volmer: Yes. Well, generally these gatherings were generally about once 

a year or once every two years, and were generally in the spring 
or the summer. Mostly, [they] were outdoors and the weather 
around the bay region was generally nice weather. Never too hot 
and never too cold. 

Donald P. : I remember the story they used to tell about was it a codfish 
that your father got mixed up in at the duck club? 

Volmer: No. it was a finnan haddie. My dad wasn't a very good cook, but 

he prided himself for bringing this finnan haddie to the duck club 
for the early breakfast. After soaking this finnan haddie all 
night long, he decided that he'd have to throw the excess water 
away. Instead of taking the finnan haddie out of the pan. he walk 
ed out onto the porch, which overlooked a little slough, or ditch, 
full ef water, and. hanging onto the pan with one hand and the 
tail of the finnan haddie in the other, he gave a swish to throw 
the water out. and he ended up with the pan and the tail ef the 
finnan haddie, the rest of which sailed out into the ditch, 
[laughter] We ended up by having bacon and eggs for breakfast, 
[more laughter] 

The Hunting Ledge and Deer Park 

Donald P.: This is the old duck club [looking at photograph], before it was 
moved up onto the Coyote Hills. I was only seven or eight years 
old at that time, and I wasn't invited down there very often, 
but when they were not shooting. Dad occasionally went down to 
see what was happening at the old building. So I remember it, 
and I remember particularly that there was an artesian well 
behind the little house, which ran continuously. This ran into 
a ditch, and down on into the marsh. As the pumping in the 
valley get heavier, water level dropped, and I would think that 
the artesian flow stopped sometime around, perhaps, 1915. These 
wells have never flowed since. 

About 1921 or 1922, this hunting lodge was abandoned, and 
went up onto, what we called. Coyote Hills (which was the Briggs 
place and was bought at about that time). I'm sure that they 
took part of this building and moved it up onto the Coyote Hills 
and then, later on. it was added to to make the second shooting 
club, which would sleep about ten people, which was larger than 
the original club. 


Donald P. : Bill, you remember the deer park, but it was a little bit before 
my time. I think I can just barely remember it. They had quite 
a few deer there at one time, didn't they? 

Volmer: Yes, Don, they had quite a few deer. 

Donald P. : Do you remember what a dozen or so? 

Volmer: Oh, I imagine close to it all the way, maybe, from eight to 

twelve deer. 

Donald P. : You never heard where the deer came from? 
Volmer: No, that I never 

Donald P. : Do you remember how high was the fence? How did they keep them 

Volmer: Well, I would say that the fence was at least fifteen feet in 


Donald P.: They're great jumpers. 

Volmer: Yes. But, to my knowledge, I have never heard of any deer 


Donald P. : Yes, well that sounds about right. Did they feed them, or did 
they have natural food? 

Volmer: Well, I think there was plenty of natural feed in there. But, 

as I recollect, they were fed every evening I would say maybe 
about four to six o'clock, about that time. I can remember them 
bringing stuff in there. Now, whether they were fed every day, 
that, I can't say. 

Donald P. : Were there any bucks among them? 

Volmer: Well, there was one buck, in particular, that was supposed to be 

very mean, and outsiders weren't supposed to go in there. They 
were warned to keep out, especially us kids. [laughs] 

Donald P. : Bill, I think that's right because I can remember the story my 

parents told about a Chinaman taking a shortcut through the park 
once. The buck ran him up a tree, and he was there all night. 
They had to get him out from the 

Volmer: Well, yes, Don, I think I heard that story, too. And I know 

that they're very particular to have outsiders kept out of 
there. Perhaps the deer, if they knew they were being fed, they 
were probably quite tame. 


Donald P. : 

Volmer : 

Donald P. 


Donald P. 

I wonder why my grandparents had chat deer park. That wasn't 
usual at that time. Did you ever hear any reason why they had 

Well. I think it was more your grandmother's idea. She was a 
very remarkable woman and she loved the outdoors, she traveled a 
lot, and maybe she got this idea once with her travels in 
England, or something. 

Yes. I'll bet that's it. I think that's a good suggestion, 
[tape turned off, briefly] 

We have a genealogy, here, on the back of a picture, which shows 
two generations back of Hettie Munn and James Hawley, who were 
my great grandfather and great grandmother. Bill Volmer is 
here, and he has a comment about this, which we're not sure of. 
but we'd like to get it into the record. 

Well, it's I'm not quite sure of this, Don, but, somehow, in 
the back of my mind, the reason James Hawley left his family in 
New Jersey to come out to California was there was a mortgage 
on the farm, and he evidently figured that he could come out 
here and make enough money during the Gold Rush to clear the 
mortgage. As I remember, in a letter that he had written back 
home, he tells of his arrival in San Francisco in 1849 (or 
thereabouts) and described his landing here and his first job as 
a carpenter in San Francisco in August of 1849. The daily wage 
at that time for a carpenter was between fifteen and twenty 
dollars a day. 

And that was big money, then. 

That was supposedly big money, but it wasn't so big barrel of 
flour cost twenty dollars, or so. So he was making fair wages, 
[both laugh] 



TAPE GUIDE William Velmer 

Date of Interview: August 12, 1977 
tape 1 . side A 

tape 1. side B 46 

tape 2, side A 55 


Regional Oral History Office 
The Bancroft Library 

University of California 
Berkeley, California 


Jeanette Korstad and Marilyn Price 

Hawley Family Memories 

An Interview Conducted by 
Ann Lage 
in 1987 

Copyright (c) 1988 by the Regents of the University of California 


in 1880s decent costume, Patterson House, 



TABLE OF CONTENTS Jeanette Karstad and Marilyn Price 




Hawley Family Connections 66 

Clara Hawley Patterson and Her Sisters 68 

Proper Manners and Educated Women 69 

Clara's Travels to Japan and Europe and Her Marriages 71 

Chinese Families in Washington Township 73 

Hawley Family Roots in England: The Shakespeare Connection 74 

Good Works and Church Membership 75 

The Arderweod Decent Program 76 


APPENDIX Letter of January 17. 1988 80 


INTERVIEW HISTORY Jea tte Korstad and Marilyn Price 

An interview with Jeanette Koretad was suggested to us by David 
Patterson, who knew of Mrs. Koretad' s interest in Hawley family history. 
Mrs. Korstad is the granddaughter of Elizabeth Holt Hawley. the younger 
sister of Clara Hawley Patterson. To give us a fuller picture of the Hawley 
sisters. Mrs. Korstad invited to the interview session Marilyn Meyer Price, 
the great-granddaughter of Charlotte Hawley. Clara's oldest sister. Both 
women were steeped in Hawley family history, learned as children and young 
adults listening carefully at family gatherings: Mrs. Korstad tells of 
visiting her grandmother: "you just sat and listened, and you heard the 
family story any time you listened." Mrs. Price's grandmother, Annie Hawley 
W hippie Meyer, had traveled with Clara Hawley in the 1890s and shared some 
of those experiences with her granddaughter. (See the Hawley family tree on 
page 31.) 

Together these two descendents of the Hawley family are able 
to give a picture of the women in Clara Hawley's generation: reserved, well- 
mannered, cultured, church-going, and precise, they "never tolerated 
anything but ladylike behavior and speech." Most of the Hawley sisters 
married into prominent families of Washington Township; Mrs. Korstad' 6 
grandmother married the son of E.L. Beard, the man who gave George 
Washington Patterson his start in farming in 1850. 

Mrs. Korstad and Mrs. Price continue the Hawley family interest in 
their family history, evidenced by the geneological research Clara undertook 
in 1907. Mrs. Korstad serves as a docent at the Ardenwood Regional 
Preserve, where her knowledge of the family and of Washington Township and 
her skills as a retired teacher are put to good use. 

The interview was held on April 8, 1987, at Mrs. Korstad's home in 
Castro Valley. Portions of our conversation which were not as pertinent to 
the project's interest in Patterson family and ranch history were not 
transcribed but are briefly summarized in the transcription. Mrs. Korstad 
returned her transcript with a very informative letter responding to some 
questions raised by the editor and expanding on several topics. This letter 
has been included as an appendix. The tapes of the interview are 
available at The Bancroft Library. 

Ann Lage 

Project Director 

September. 1988 

Regional Oral History Office 

The Bancroft Library 

University of California at Berkeley 

Regional Oral History Office 
Room 486 The Bancroft Library 


University of California 
Berkeley, California 94720 


(Please write clearly. Use black ink.) 


Your full name 

Date of birth^ 

Father's full name 


Mother's full name 

Your spouse 

Your children 

Where did you grow up? 



Present community 
Education ^3* 


. - 




Areas of 

Other interests or activities 

Organizations in which you are active 


Regional Oral History Office 
Room 486 The Bancroft Library 

University of California 
Berkeley, California 94720 


Your full name 

(Please write clearly. Use black ink.) 
7/Lnt-i ?-iL<2 J, 

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Date of birth 



Father's full name 

<.' /7. 

Occupat ion yC^L-c c C^Ji 

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Mother's full name 

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Occupation iJLt&t-tL fat c 
Your spouse 



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Your children 

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A,'' J&S^'Lt' (- 

Where did you grow up? 
Present community 



Occupation (s) 

/* < 


Areas of expertise 

>^ '. *- J. 

Other interests or activities 

*-<L^ t l^td *Z '?*- C /./ 


Organizations in which you are active_ 

>..: ' 


Hawley Family Connections 
[Date of Interview: 4/8/87]## 

Korstad: What we're doing is taking the family tree, which was compiled by 
CLara Hawley Layson. When Patterson passed away, she married a 
Presbyterian minister by the name of Layson. and then he passed 
away, and then she passed away five days after I was born, 
Anyway, CLara traced the family tree way, way back to the 
Staffordshire Underbills in England. 

Lage: Before we begin, I want you to give me your names and tell me what 

branches of the Hawley family you are descended from.* 

Korstad: I am Jeannette Beard Korstad. I am the granddaughter of Elizabeth 
Hawley, who was often called Lizzie and who was the sister of 
CLara Hawley Patterson Layson. I am the daughter of John Beard, 
who became an M.D., and we lived in Martinez, California. I became 
interested in tracing the family history more or less at the 
urging of the family and meeting David Patterson recently he 
spurred us on to finding out more about the Haw leys. 

Lage: He is very interested in tracing his family. 

Korstad: Yes. He knows a great deal about the Pattersons but very little 
about the Hawleys. The Hawleys seemed to intermarry with the 
southern Alameda County residents, including the Whipples and my 
father's side, E. L. Beard and John Beard, Sr. 

The connection with E. L. Beard and George Patterson was that 
both came from Lafayette, Indiana. They must have known each 
other there. E. L. Beard came out in February 1849, and George 
came out by July or August. Of course he went immediately to the 
gold fields, but E. L. Beard was more interested in farming. He 
settled on the mission lands of Mission San Jose and established 
his home right in the mission buildings. After two years, George 
Patterson called it quits on looking for gold and came down to 
Mission San Jose and worked for E. L. Beard, who by that time had 
quite a bit of acreage. And so George Patterson encumbered 
himself to work for E. L. Beard, and he acquired his land from 
Beard at, I think it was, six dollars an acre. So that was the 
beginning of his land purchase. 

## This symbol indicates that a tape or segment of a tape has 
begun or ended. For a guide to the tapes, see page 81. 

* See Hawley family tree, page 31. 


Lage: Are these facts that you have searched out yourselves? 

Korstad: No. these are in other sources. This is what the story is at 

Ardenwood when we tell the story of George Patterson. Both he and 
Beard knew farming; it was only natural that they would become 
interested. So the shoe is on the other foot now; the Pattersons 
have the land and the money, and we have nothing. [laughter] 

Lage: Well, they kept theirs intact for a long time. 

Korstad: And the Stevensons, too. Stevenson was the ranch manager of the 
Beard ranch. Look at the Stevensons today. 

Lage: [to Price] Let's get your family history. 

Price: I am Marilyn Meyer Price. My father was Earl Whipple Meyer, the 
fourth of Annie Hawley Whipple Meyer's children. Her mother was 
Charlotte Hawley. who married Charles Whipple. Charlotte Hawley 
died after giving birth to her last child. Bertha, who was taken 
by the eldest child, Luella, to live with Grandma and Grandpa 
Hawley. They were parents of dara Hawley Patterson Laysen. 

Lage: And Bertha's daughter is still living in Alameda. 

Price: Yes, Bertha is the one I said had the pictures of the Haw leys and 
all. She was the baby that was taken and raised by James and 
Hettie Hawley. Her mother died a year after she was born so she 
was taken by the eldest to live with grandma. Then my grandmother 
was the next in age; she stayed on and raised the rest of the 
children. But baby and big sister went to live with James and 
Hettie. She's the one whose daughter. [Virginia Faull Sargent], 
lives in Alameda and has the pictures and would be thrilled to 
death to talk with you. 

Lage: I would love to talk with her, but I am supposed to be sticking 

with the Patterson-Clara Hawley side of the family. 

Korstad: Well, they all tie together because Clara and her mother were 

very, very close, and her mother was over there all the time. I 
have some pictures here showing Clara with her two boys and her 
mother. They were a very close family, and we have kept in close 
contact up until Aunt May's death, I guess, most of us. 

[Price shows maps from old books showing the various properties of 
the old families from History of Washington Township. Discussion 
of Price's family and other old families in the area. The statue 
at the University of California at Berkeley commemorating the 1898 
football team is of James Whipple and friend Bart Thane. Whipple 
married Bart's sister, Laura Thane, who was active in the 
community. She established the auxiliaries of the Children's 
Hospital. Thane's mother was a Tilden. and her uncle was the deaf 


sculptor. Douglas Tilden. who did the football statue and the 
Mechanics statues in San Francisco. Edith Harmon Whipple's family 
donated Harmon gymnasium to Gal. Lots of intermarriage among old 
southern Alameda County families.] 

Clara Hawley Patterson and Sisters 

Lage : Let's focus now en dara. Neither of you knew dara, but were 

there family stories? 

Korstad: We knew the family stories because my grandmother was very close 
to Clara. 

Lage: [to Price] Did you know this generation of Clara's sisters, too? 

Price: I knew Aunt May, the younger one, and I think I remember Edwin 
Hawley. Uncle Ed. Didn't he bicycle? I remember him as an old 
man bicycling along. He was sort of eccentric. Aunt May is the 
one I remember. She was a typical spinster-type aunt. 

Lage: Now, which one is Aunt May? 

Price: This one [points to a family tree]. She was my grandmother's 
aunt. She married at the age of fifty to a Paterson, with one 
"t", Uncle Billy. 

Lage: I understand that she was raised, in part, by Clara or came to 

live with her. 

Korstad: Yes, she did. And she helped raise my father and family. I guess 
wherever there were small babies, she took residence. 

Price: She was just a Norman Rockwell- maiden aunt-looking lady, erect, 
with skinny little legs. 

Lage: And you remember her? 

Korstad: Oh, yes. In fact, wasn't the last family picnic down at Dry Creek 
for her ninetieth birthday? 

Price: That's what it was for. It was after the war. Aunt May was a 

Korstad: Yes, and very precise. I used to go over there when I was going 
to Cal and stay overnight. For breakfast, if I cut the butter 
wrong, she would reprimand me, "You cut the butter straight." And 
when she came up to Martinez, when our oldest daughter was born, 
Kirsten was crying and I let her cry. Aunt May bawled me out, 


Korstad: "You never let a baby cry!" She had raised most of her nieces and 
nephews. I know that she lived with my grandmother when my father 
and his brother and sister were young. 

Price: When I was first married I had a flat in my grandmother's home 

Annie Hawley Whipple in Oakland. She was a very modern, charming 
lady. She was telling me once that she went on a trip back East 
with her aunt. Clara Hawley Patterson Layson. They were supposed 
te go by way of Grand Canyon because the Fred Harveys always had 
good food and the family were always good eaters; they enjoyed 
good food. But. she said, "We couldn't go that route because that 
old Indian was on the warpath." I said. "What do you mean, Nana?" 
And she said, '^eronimo." And I looked at this lady that had been 
giving me marriage advice the moment before, and it was hard to 
realize that this charming lady had not been able to travel the 
southern route because Geronimo was on the warpath! 

She went back East with Clara Hawley in the late 1890s, when 
CLara was a widow. They met the Lenox brothers, one of whom 
became quite enamored with CLara. and they had made presentation 
porcelain pitchers and gave one to my grandmother and one to Aunt 
CLara. but hers was very special. Nana had both of them, and my 
Aunt Charlotte got Aunt Clara's and I don't know who has it new. 

1 have a set of demitasse spoons Aunt May gave me as a 
wedding gift that she and Aunt CLara Layson got on a trip back 
East in 1896. 

Korstad: Clara Patterson was a great one for liking spoons. 

Proper Manners and Educated Women 

Lage: You told me on the phone that that generation. Clara's sisters, 

were very proper. Could you tell more about what kind of a manner 
they had? 

Korstad: They were raised very well. They were very cultured and very 
precise. My grandmother never tolerated anything but ladylike 
behavior and speech you had to measure up. 

Price: And always, tea was served correctly. You always addressed 

everybody "aunt" and "uncle." I once slipped and called Charles 
Whipple s wife "Carrie" I was about twenty-four and she reared up 
and said, "Aunt Carrie." She was just lovely, but there were 
manners, and we always conducted ourselves in a mannerly way. 

Lage: What about education? Do you know where they were educated? 


Korstad: I think some of them vent on to San Jose Normal. 
Lage: Even in Clara's generation? 

Korstad: Perhaps it was Clara's nieces who went to San Jose Normal. My 
grandmother taught school for six years before she was married, 
and I know that Clara Hawley Patterson, I think, was going to 
business school at the time that she eloped with George Patterson, 
so the story goes. 

Lage: Somehow that surprises me that they would be getting this 

practical education. 

Korstad: I guess they went to Washington High School. 

Price: There was a private academy. Anderson Academy was in Irvington. 

It was a private girl's academy, and my mother's aunts went there. 
So they did educate the women. 

Lage: I found reference to Clara being educated somewhere in Oakland. 

Korstad: That's what I thought. This is what I heard from being a decent. 
But they had a good education, and their manners and all were 
instilled by their parents. The Hawleys had very little money, 
but they had the proper English background. There was none of 
this folksy business. That's why I dislike this new guide to 
Ardenwood, which has CLara coming out and saying, "Howdy, folks." 
Why, she would never do that 1 

Price: No, I don't think so. My father was raised with one sister and 
all the rest boys, active men, and never was there any swearing, 
cursing, anything neverl Everyone was very proper, and I don't 
think that was that uncommon in that era. 

Korstad: Why does Frank Jahns have that in the Ardenwood brochure? I told 
Frank, "This is not how CLara Patterson would have spoken at all 
because she would have been very proper. She would have welcomed 
people but in a formal manner." This "Howdy, folks" is out of 

Price: There was always a great gathering of the clan, a very close and 
warm family. My memories are more of my grandmother and her 
sisters and the one brother who survived. The sisters would get 
together; they were great for having teas and playing bridge. 
Summer gatherings too, and all the family would make a great 
effort to attend and keep up with all the family gossip and 
information about who married whom. 


Clara's Travels to Japan and Europe and Her Marriages 

Korstad: We spoke about traveling. In 1911, Jessie, accompanied by Qara 
Patterson Layson. traveled to Japan. And this is her scrapbook. 
[Jessie was a niece of Clara's, and Korstad's aunt.] They visited 
with Hideo Nakagaki who had lived with the Beards and studied 
horticulture on the Beard ranch.* 


At Ardenwood there was the Japanese pavilion. Most families 
had Chinese help, but Hideo had come over to learn viticulture, 
and then when he went back, he started his winery. Then Qara and 
Jessie Beard stayed with Hideo and his family. I have this 
booklet in Japanese that tells all about the winery. And here is 
a letter from Hideo. And this is one reason why I hope they can 
rebuild the teahouse and finish it, because I think this is what 
Clara would have liked to have had. She died in 1917. Shortly 
after the 1915 Exposition [The Panama- Pacific International 
Exposition] closed, she purchased this teahouse and had it brought 
over to the ranch at Ardenwood. She had it set up but never 
completed; it still had a dirt floor. It wasn't completed because 
she became ill and passed away before completion. I think this 
would be a great thing to have this rebuilt. They do know what it 
looked like, and they know where it was they found the 
foundation. Perhaps the United Motors [a joint Toyota-General 
Motors company in Fremont] might be interested. 

Lage: She seems to have had a cosmopolitanism that you wouldn't expect 

on a kind of isolated ranch. 

Price: They had a private railroad car with a spur into the ranch so she 
was a well-traveled woman, but I didn't know about this Japanese 

[information about the life of Jessie, Korstad's aunt, who 
received the letter from Hideo in 1939. Korstad has the letter 
and many of Jessie's mementos.] 

Lage: Were there any family stories about Clara's eloping with George 

Patterson, who was thirty-one years older than she? 

* See Korstad letter following this interview for further 
information on Clara's interest in Japan. 

Above : 

Japanese tea house, 
moved from the 
Panama -Pacific 
Exposition to the 
Patterson Ranch, 
ca. 1916 


Clara Hawley Patterson 
in kimono, ca. 1916 


Korstad: We were told about that in our decent training, and I don't have 

any other information from the family. Evidently, George was very 
well received because he was very close to James Hawley. They 
lived right across the read, and George Patterson most likely knew 
all the sisters very well. [See Korstad letter following this 

[Korstad tells about her grandmother, Elizabeth (Lizzie) Hawley, 
who was especially close to dara. When she was married to John 
L. Beard, dara and George Patterson were the witnesses to the cere 
mony. And her grandmother traveled with dara. Tells story of 
Lizzie's marriage at the deathbed ef her father-in-law, E. L. Beard.] 

Price: That famous ermine coat by Worth, who was the designer in Paris 
for all the debs and the ladies. That must have been made when 
dara Patterson Layson was on a trip to Europe about 1904 or 1905. 
There was always an ermine coat in the family that had been Aunt 
dara's. This is what's left of it; now it's brown. My Aunt 
Charlotte ended up with it and her last request was that Clara 
Talbot should get the Worth ermine. I think maybe Charlotte had 
it dyed. But it was made for dara Patterson and she passed it on. 

Korstad: And when dara Talbot passed away, I received it. 

Price: I wonder who went with her on that trip? When did Layson die? 
[March 8, 1909] 

Korstad: She could have gone with him because they were married about that 
time. [dara and the Reverend William Layson were married January 
1, 1900.] 

Lage : Is that marriage something that was talked about on the Hawley 

side of the family? Apparently, the Pattersons never spoke about 
that marriage. 

Price: When I was a youngster, she was always referred to as Aunt dara 
Layson, and I finally got it straight that this was a second 
marriage. He was a minister. 

Lage: Was he a local minister, or someone she met on a trip? 

Price: I have had the impression that he was sort of a traveling 
minister. I really don't know. 

Korstad: I think he was from Santa Barbara. I think she heard him speak or 
give sermons here. I'm not certain how they met or got together, 
but after her marriage to Layson, I know that she moved away from 
Ardenwood because Henry by that time was running the farm. By the 
time she passed away in 1917, Henry's three daughters were born. 
So dara must have had her residence elsewhere. [See letter 
following interview.] 


Korstad: [shews a picture of the burning of Will Patterson's house] Will's 
heuse was familiar to me because Clara and I went down to visit 
Will not too long before he passed away, and he had his rocking 
chair and sat on the porch, and we visited there. 

Lage: How well did you know Will and Henry Patterson? 

Korstad: Not very well because I lived in Martinez and it was only when my 
Aunt Clara would come up to the East Bay from Bishop once or twice 
a year, then she would sometimes take me along on her visits with 
the family. 

And this is a Patterson wedding [showing scrapbook with 
pictures of a 1957 wedding, discussion of pictures of Pattersons 
in scrapbook] 

[tape interruption] 

Chinese Families in Washington Township 

Lage: We were talking about the Chinese and some of the old family 

retainers when the tape was off. 

Price: Well, this was in the thirties when my sister and I and my cousin 
would go down to the tomato field and have tomato fights. The 
Chinese farmers treated us royally. We would all get acquainted. 
Once my mother said, "Well, did you meet your namesake?" 
Apparently, the young Chinese brides would have their babies, and 
Dr. Grimmer and some of the old-time doctors out in Centerville 
would help the women deliver. They would give them a Chinese 
name and then say. "Now, we have to give them an American name." 
I think Dr. Grimmer had several sisters, and there are little 
Chinese children named after all of his sisters. Then they 
started naming them after my mother's children, and one was named 
Marilyn Lee. My mother then went to visit Lee; her children went 
to Cal and are teaching and are very prosperous. They have come a 
long way. Mother says she remembers Mrs. Lee coming as a picture 
bride and her mother teaching her how to cook because she didn't 
know how to cook or shop or anything. 

This was very common. All the ranches had Chinese. They 
weren't often household help, although there were household hired 
help, but these were tenant-farmers. They had been there when my 
mother was a girl, because her younger brother had an old Chinese 
gentleman who was his best pal. Woo. My uncle would call Woo. and 
the old Chinese gentleman would come up and visit him. 


Korstad: Because of the Chinese Exclusion Act, at that time they could not 
buy property and they worked for the various families. My father 
was always very fond of the Chinese. It was just part of his 
growing up. 

Price: We went te Chinese funerals out in Irvington and the christenings. 
They were so elaborate it would practically impoverish them. A 
month after the baby is born they celebrate the baby's birth. 
This would be done in a very fancy San Francisco restaurant and 
for just poor farm folk it would be elaborate. 

Lage: How were the living conditions for the Chinese families? 

Price: The ones that I remember were not very great. They cooked in a 
charcoal brazier, inside, as I recall. It was kind of one-room- 
with- a- lean-to situation. A dirt floor, and they had kind of 

Lage: Would they be responsible for building their own house? 

Price: I don't know. It was kind of down in a hollow, and we would 

always go down and visit because they would usually be cooking and 
it tasted great. And they would give us something. They must 
have thought we were starving; we'd go down there and eat their 
food. But it was good. We'd sit and visit. They spoke terribly 
broken English, but we children seemed to understand them. 

Lage: What about the children? 

Price: Oh, we played with the children. They went to school out there. 
This would have been in the mid-thirties that I am remembering. 

Korstad: Martinez had their counterpart with the Japanese. 

Hawley Family Roots in England; the Shakespeare Connection 

Lage: We were talking off the tape about the name, Ardenwood, and I 

wanted you to put those memories on tape. We've heard about the 
tie to Shakespeare's As You Like It [which takes place in the 
forest of Arden], but you also said that the Hawley family in 
England sold Newplace, a home, to Shakespeare in 1597. 

Korstad: That's where I think the name came from. 

Price: Clara Hawley Patterson had this researched when she was preparing 
the family tree in 1907. I'm sure that the researcher coming 
across that would have dwelt on it quite heavily. Now this may 
have been passed on in the family as rumor prior to that. 


Korstad: She might have known abou. that before. Her father perhaps knew 
that. If the family was like my grandmother, you j ust sat and 
listened and you heard the family stery anytime you listened. 
Whenever I visited my grandmother at the Hotel Semerten where she 
lived her last twenty years, she would sit in her little rocking 
chair and recite the family story. Of course. I kept both ears 

Lage: Did the family stories go way back to England? 

Korstad: She would talk about her early life, running the farm, or about 
the children, and about the Beards, the lineage and all. They 
were very determined that they pass on some of their stories, some 
of their history. 

Lage: Did she talk about Clara? 

Korstad: I knew that they were close and that they traveled together, but I 
don 1 1 have any. . . 

Price: My father could tell the most interesting stories. We were 

without radio and television, and we would get reintroduced to the 
family and the family stories at these gatherings that we remember 
as youngsters, and this was much more common in our parent's 
generation. This was part of how you were raised you heard this 
story about this one and that one and if you were a wise enough 
little child you listened. 

Korstad: And if you asked too much, you were told very promptly to keep 


Good Works and Church Membership 

Lage: One thing that comes up again and again with Clara is sort of the 

tradition f good works hospital work, and helping families on 
the farm, and all. Is that something that you 

Korstad: Well, this is generally what you did. You did your volunteer 
work; you gave to organizations; you helped sponsor 

Price: They were all church-going people. 

Korstad: They were Presbyterians. 

Lage: The Hawley family was Presbyterian? 


Korstad: Right. 

Price: I know my grandmother founded the church in Decoto; Bhe was one of 
the signers, a Congregational church, My grandmother. Annie 
Hawley Whipple Meyer, was the signer to start the church there. 
So they all were active in the church at the time, which was part 
of the social mileau at the time. You attend church, and you 
attend family gatherings, and this was their social life. What is 
interesting to me is that they traveled daily quite a distance, 
several miles. As I say, in my grandmother's diary that she kept 
when she was fifteen or sixteen, she would go down to grandma's to 
see baby and come home and wallpaper the dining room and then go 
skating that night in Saltz's barn, or something. They were very 
active for the times. 

[discussion about other Hawley family members James's sister, 
their diaries, other artifacts, some given to Robert Fisher. 
Discussion about one-hundredth anniversary of the Congregational 
Church in area.] 

The Ardenwood Do cent Program 


Lage : 



[to Korstad] 

How do you like being a decent? What does that 

I love it. You take tour groups through the house. 
How often do you do it? 

You are supposed to put in eight hours a month. We all wear 
costumes of the 1887 time. You provide your own costumes, which 
are supposed to be as authentic as possible. I was recommended to 
a seamstress who makes costumes, and she fashioned a jacket and 
skirt to be of the 1887 style, with a bustle and all. So all of 
us are trying to be as close to the period as possible. 

And what kind of training do they give you? 

We had ten sessions. We had different speakers. Dr. Fisher 
showed slides one time. One of the Pattersons, I think it was 
Abigail, came one time. Someone came up from San Jose from the 
historical society in Kelly Park and told us about ^heir program. 
Another one from the decent s who is into fashion design showed us 
pictures of the 1887 clothes, and from that we tried to choose 
patterns that could be modified to look like that period. 

Do they focus in your training, and in what they want you to tell, 
on the family or on the 1880s? 


Korstad: Well, you greet them in front ef the house, and you tell about 
George Washington Patterson coming out here, how he came, and 
going up to the gold fields, and then, after two years of being 
disappointed with gold, he decided he was a farmer and settled 
down here. 

Lage: So you have a set speech that you are supposed to give? 

Korstad: I think each decent has her own little way of talking, but you are 
given guidelines and what to point out in the house, the nature 
motif all around and the different types of wood that were used, 
the doorknobs. 





Price : 


The architecture of the home. 

Right, the Queen Anne style, and the furnishings in the different 
rooms. I have all of this training material here, and each time 
we are given a few sheets to read and memorize. So we have about 
the same patter, but I notice that each of us seems to go in a 
slightly different direction as we go through. 

I like to take children through and ask them, "No television, 
no radio, what did they do?" [more on tours for children] 

Children nowadays don't have an opportunity to go to grandma's and 
grandpa's and feed the chickens and so forth... We took it for 
granted everybody had a ranch to go to. 

This is one of the best things that could have ever happened to 
preserve Ardenwood as a historic preserve because those children 
just romp around and jump in the hay and they can see the 
blacksmith at work there, and they can see the barrelmaker making 

Of course, all the farms had a blacksmith. They were an important 
item for self-maintaining, repairing hubs and so forth. The 
farmers were often j acks- of -all- trades in wheel repair and taking 
care of animals. 

[seme discussion of Marj orie Patterson and her running the ranch 
for a time. Discussion of decent material and of Ardenwood farm 
brochure. Talk about gift given to Price's relative when she was 
an attendant in a Patterson wedding in the early 1900s all the 
bridesmaids were given a fitted leather traveling case from 
Shreve' s.] 

Did the Pattersons stay in touch with the Haw ley family? 
either one of the brothers have a closer tie? 


Korstad: I think Will was always more friendly than Henry. 


Lage: We need to wind up now. I have taken toe much of your time. Are 

there any other Patterson-related memories that you can share? 

Korstad: Most ef these pictures of [Hawley family] picnics were taken at 
Berry essa. I don't believe I have pictures of any at the 
Patterson house, [shows pictures of May Paterson and Uncle Billy 
and other Hawley s. Discussion of Hawley family reunions. Last 
picnic was Aunt May's 90th birthday, 1951 or 1952.] 

Transcriber: Ann Lage 
Final Typist: Shannon Page 


TAPE GUIDE Jeanette Korstad and Marilyn Price 

Date of Interview: April 8. 1987 

tape 1. side A 66 

tape 1, side B 

tape 2, side A 75 


17917 Beardsley Street 
Castro Valley, CA 9*4-546 
January 17, 

Dear Ms. Lagej 

Thank you fcr sending the transcript of the Oral History of the iiawley 
family. I pencilled in some comments and corrections; otherwise, it is 
all right as stated. 

On pge 7 I added the note about Clara Patterso'* Layson taking her 
niece, Miss Jessie Beard (ny aunt) or. a trip to Japan in 1912. I.i checking 
the scrapbook, they sailed on the J.J. Manchuria on March 12, 1912, for 
Yokor.ama, Japan, nfhile there they were guests of liideo .akagaki, who had 
lived with the Beards on their near the Pattersons in the early 1900's. 
He had come from Japan to study viticulture and upon his return to Japan 
started his own winery. The Beards had an early-day wiiery, called aarciana (?) Hideo learned winemaking there. According to records, Hideo's winery was 
very successful. Also, while in Japan, these women (and I imagine the tour 
group, but I have no record) were invited to a Cherry Blossom Garden Party 
by the Emperor Xeiji and the Enpress. The invitation ^i; the scrapbook) 
reads April 26, 191^, at 2:30 p.m. . ikewise, Jessie dinner with 
friends, including -.he -iev. a-id Arx . Johr. .'lills, a Presbyterian miss^n^ary. 
(it might be noted that Clara's second husband, the :<ev . .villiam Layson, was 
a Presbyterian minister. ::e passed away i:i 1909- ) 

At tne close of the Pan-Pacific Jxpositicn in 1915. Clara .'.ayson had a 
Japanese tea house dismantled and brought over to Arie-iwood where it was 
rebuilt near the Patterson House. I believe that It was destroyed by fire 
snortly before the outbreak of ,<W II. I remember .'.e tea house - it had a 
pagoda- type roof. I was told that it had a dirt floor and was never finished. 
jomething most interesting happened this summer. D 1 ". Robert Fisher dis 
covered a set of blueprints - architectural drawings by Julia Morgan - for 
a Japanese-type house commissioned by Clara Patterson Layson in 1917i shortly 
before her death. Jhe wanted a Japanese-type house to be built adjoining the 
tea house. I am not too surprised that she was interested in Oriental arts. 
Her sister, Lizzie, my grandmother, had Oriental objects around. Also, Clara 
must have wanted to return to the ranch and have a smaller house of her owr. . 
dill and Henry both lived there and had their homes and families, so it was 
o^ly natural - Jhe must have been sixty-four years of age 'n 1917. io not 
know the cause of her death, but it must have been unexpected. Z/o cr.eck with 
IT. Fisher about the architectural drawings. 

The mention of Chinese help brought back the memory of my grandmother 
having a Chinese houseboy when she lived in an apartment on '.-lashingto.i .>t., 
3ar. Francisco. I remember some of the tales my fa*n?r told ibout t-.c Chinese 
help. There was always a good rapport with the Chinese. One of the .".cries 
we deceits tell is that George Patterson's favorite tennis partner was his 
Chinese cook. The tennis court was next to the house and the asphalt remains. 
ile always point this out on our house tours. 

On page d - the story of the elopmer.t of Clara and Georre. In our docent 
notebook, there are some pi:> sheets telling the history of Arder.wooaLa.nd the 
Patterson family. Included are two letters written oy George to Clara telling 
her to "disguise ner handwriting so as to deceive them there" (referring to 
Centerville). Clara was living in Oakland (with relatives, I believe) and 
attend IT g business school and these letters were addressed to her there. 
If you can get a copy of these decent notes, it will shed some interesting 
light or: George and Clara, and also the newspaper articles on her marriage 
to Layson. 


Marilyn was at ir.y home on Friday arid we went over the notes and made a 
few corrections, rfe laughed about the ermine cape that Clara bought in 
Paris and has passed on down in the family - first to Clara's niece 
Charlotte, who when she passed away asked that it be given to her cousin, 
Clara Talbott, my aunt. And, when my Aunt Clara passed away I received 
the cape. Believe it or not, it is still in excellent condition. I have 
worn it with my costume at Ardenwood - and on other occasions. Clara 
Beard Talbott was the niece and namesake of Clara Patterson. Clara Talbott 
lived in Bishop, California, and made several trips to the Bay Area each 
year. I accompanied her several times on visits to Will Patterson. 

After her marriage to the Hev. Layson, Clara Patterson went by the 
name Clara Hawley Layson, or Mrs. C. h. Layson (as it appears on the 
S.S. Manchuria passenger list). I could check her headstone at the 
Chapel of Chimes Cemetery where she is buried in the Patterson plot - 
I think there her name appears as Clara Patterson. (This is in answer 
to the last question 01 page 8.) The Patterson family has a big plot 
in the pioneer section of this cemetery on Mission Boulevard in south 
Hayward (Decoto) 

On page 9> the question "/ias he (Layton) a local minister..." 
The copy of the newspaper article about the marriage states 

"Mr. Layson, who is a few years Mrs. Patterson's junior, is a 
graduate of the Jan Anselmo Theological Seminary. His first charge 
was at Newark, in this county, and it was whle preaching there that he 
met Mrs. Patterson. ater he removed to 3a.;ta Ana, where he is now 
pastor of the Presbyterian church." I assume that they made their home 
in ~>anta Ana. (l really do not know) 

I mentioned that Clara and my grandmother, i:-zie Beard, were very 
close in age as well as being together. George Patterson had been a close 
friend of E.L. Beard (my grandmother's father-in-law). Both came from 
Lafayette, Indiana, in 1349, Beard settled in Mission San Jose and owned 
considerable farming land when George Patterson quit his railing venture 
and went to work for Beard. He then acquired his first laid holdings 
from Beard at $6.00 an acre (This was the beginning of his holdings at 
Ardenwood.) It was E. L. Beard's request that Lizzie Hawley and his 
son, John Beard, get married before his death. It was a small wedding 
with only close relatives present. George and Clara Patterson signed 
the marriage certificate as witnesses. (l have a copy). 

James Hawley, the father of Clara and Lizzie, was also a close friend 
of George Patterson in the early days before George married his daughter. 
James and George were exactly the same age (born in 1622). James was a 
carpenter and built the original farm house for George. I do not know 
whether James Hawley helped with the Quean Anne addition. 

You might be interested that John L. Beard was graduated from the 
College of California (forerunner of U.C.) in 1666 and later was the 
first alumnus to be appointed a regent of the University of California. 
He was a otate Senator, was instrumental in establishing the State 
Agricultural Fair (forerunner of the State Fair), a farmer, vintner (some 
prize wines - Chicago 1692, and Calif. State Fair), member of the Bohemian 
Club, and traveler. His father, E. L. Beard, was one of the earliest 
farmers in Southern Alameda County and had extensive holdings (which he 
lost in later life) His first home was in the mission buildings (Mission 
San Jose) which was later taken back by the Catholic Church. He then 
built a lovely home across the road, which he called Palmdale. He was 
a friend of John C. Fremont, and with him built the fortification in 
St. Louis during the Civil War (cause of claim against the U.S.) - I could 
go on, but this has nothing to do with Patterson. 


Regional Oral History Office 
The Bancroft Library 

University of California 
Berkeley. California 


Sally Patterson Adams 

Growing Up at Ardenwood 

An Interview Conducted by 

Knox Mellon 

in 1986 

Copyright Q 1988 by the Regents of the University of California 

TABLE OF CONTENTS Sally Patterson Adams 



Schooling. Family, and Family Friends 8 & 

Remembering the House and Gardens 

Sunday Parties. Outings. Holidays 96 

The Ranch Grounds and Outbuildings 



INTERVIEW HISTORY Sally Patterson Adams 

The interview with Sally Patterson Adams was conducted by Dr. Knox 
Mellon on July 2. 1986, in Mrs. Adams's home in Piedmont, California. Mrs. 
Adams is the daughter of Henry and Sarah Patterson. She lived in the George 
Washington Patterson house on the Patterson Ranch from her birth in 1913 to 
age eight or ten, when the family moved to Piedmont to put their children in 
Piedmont schools. Henry Patterson continued to work at the ranch daily, and 
the family lived there during summer vacations. 

Mrs. Adams's interview gives a picture of growing up at Ardenwood 
(which was not called Ardenwood during her youth), of childhood pastimes on 
the ranch, and relationships with the William Patterson side of the family. 
Mrs. Adams reviewed her transcript for accuracy and clarity and responded to 
additional inquiries of the editor. The interview tape is on deposit at The 
Bancroft Library. 

Ann Lage 

Proj ect Director 

September. 1988 

Regional Oral History Office 

The Bancroft Library 

University of California at Berkeley 

Regional Oral History Office University of California 

Room 486 The Bancroft Library Berkeley, California 94720 


(Please print or write clearly) 

Your full name 

Date of birth UtL j, / 4 /7 Place of birth QuJfJ^f.4iJ/ . C- A~ 

full name ^ S /? / /g . /) /-{ 6 >"~< 
/ Birthplace 


full name ft* -;L 


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/ fi 
Where did you grow up ? .LL-{j<J^L4i (,UcC d.-f 

Present community // /_' <-k /^c^ * (_ ^T". 

Education/1/6S K ;'/ n s/;;?? S vVJ>/-^/ . l/V? / L^ LL^-J^^ii^/ 


L/r l K. : &s If /" 


Special interests or activities 

-J/t.'!^'! \ (.<. C^' 


Schooling, Family, and Friends 
[Date of Interview: July 2, 1986] 

Mellon: Mrs. Adams, could you tell me something about your early life, 
where you were born, where you grew up? 

S. Adams: I was born in Oakland, California at the Fabiola Hospital, on 
December 2, 1913. 

Mellon: How long did you live in the George Washington Patterson house? 
S. Adams: Since right after I was born, until I was married. 

Mellon: Why did you leave, was one of the questions, and you left when 
you got married. 

S. Adams: Right. But before that the family moved here to Piedmont, and I 
received part of my education here. 

Mellon: That would be your father, Henry Patterson, and your mother, 
Sarah. They moved to Piedmont; when would that have been, 

S. Adams: But they still had the ranch. My father went out every day to 

the ranch, but we lived in Piedmont, just for us to go to school. 

Mellon: When would that have been, roughly, when they moved to Piedmont? 
S. Adams: I guess I was eight or ten years old. 

Mellon: So in the early twenties. Can you tell me about your early 
education as a child and as a teenager? Where did you go to 

S. Adams: I went to public school in Newark. There were eight grades in 
one room. 

## This symbol indicates that a tape or a segment of a tape has 
begun or ended. For a guide to the tapes see page 105. 


Mellon: One-room school house. After you finished that, where did 
you ? 

S. Adams: I only went there for two years. Then the family decided they 
better move that wasn't adequate. 

Mellon: That's when you moved to Piedmont. 

S. Adams: Yes. 

Mellon: Did you then enter the Piedmont school system? 

S. Adams: Yes. 

Mellon: And did you stay in the Piedmont school system through high 

S. Adams: No, I went to private school Miss Ransom's school. Miss 
Ransom's Bridges School here in Piedmont. 

Mellon: Did you graduate from there? 

S. Adams: Yes, I graduated. 

Mellon: Then did you go on? 

S. Adams: I went to the University of California for two years. 

Mellon: Do you recall your grandmother, Clara Hawley Patterson, at all? 

S. Adams: Yes, just vaguely. I can remember probably one of my first 
memories I sat on a swing with her on the porch there at the 
ranch. That waswhere she was living. She used to come over, I 
was told. I have a faint memory of her. 

Mellon: In your grandmother's letters, she comes across as a lady of wide 
interests in culture, the arts, music, current events, women's 
suffrage, travel, friends, etc. Even though you didn't know her 
well, was this the kind of image handed down of her by your 
mother, Sarah? In other words, how was Clara Hawley Patterson 
projected in the Patterson family tradition? How did they talk 
about her, or how did they describe her? Or did they? 

S. Adams: I don't think they did, not to my memory. 

Mellon: There's not much reference in the archives to your mother, Sarah. 
Could you tell me something about her, where she was born, where 
she grew up? 

S. Adams: She was born in Los Angeles, and when she married my father she 
was married there they came up to the ranch. 


Mellon: Do you know how she met your father, Henry? 

S. Adams: At a party when she was going to the University of California. 
One of the neighbors at the ranch had a party, and he met her 
there. They met twice and then they were married. 

Mellon: Did your mother have interests beyond the home? She belonged to 
the Garden Club of America, Childrens Hospital of the East Bay, 
Book Club, played golf, and took extension courses at U.C. 
Berkeley. Did she take any role, for example, in the running of 

the ranch? 

S. Adams: No. 

Mellon: You had two sisters Georgia and Marjorie. Were you the eldest? 

S. Adams: Yes. 

Mellon: Did you and your sisters all attend the same schools? 

S. Adams: Yes. 

Mellon: By the turn of the century, the Pattersons were probably the most 
important family in southern Alameda County. Do you think this 
affected you at all as a child? Do you think you had a normal 
kind of childhood? 

S. Adams: Oh yes. I didn't even know that they were that important. I 
don't think they were. 

Mellon: Were there other children on the ranch? 

S. Adams: Just cousins, that's the William Patterson family. 

Mellon: Did you play with them? 

S. Adams: Yes. 

Mellon: Where did the children play, all over the ranch? 

S. Adams: Oh yes, in the barns. 

Mellon: What types of play and games did you engage in, do you recall? 

S. Adams: King of the mountain. Hide-and-go-seek. You know, children's 

Mellon: Were reading and music part of your upbringing? 
S. Adams: Reading was. 


Mellon: What kind of relationship did you have with your cousins the 
children of William Patterson: Don, Jack, and Dave. 

S. Adams: Well, Donald was older so he didn't play. He was always off at 
school. Jack was just like a brother. David was younger; we 
used to tease him. 

Mellon: Your father, Henry, is described by some as being reserved and 
rather taciturn. Is this accurate? 

S. Adams: Yes. 

Mellon: What was he like? 

S. Adams: I would say he was shy. 

Mellon: The letters and photographs of your Uncle William depict him as 
an outdoor type who loved sailing, camping, hunting, ranching, 
mining and oil ventures, and travel. Did your father share any 
of these interests? 

S. Adams: I'd like to come back to that. 

Mellon: Did your father talk much about his mother or father? Did he 
relate stories about them? 

S. Adams: No. 

Mellon: Was there a sense of pride in the achievements of George W. 

Patterson, even by his own sons who were only second generation- 
has that feeling of pride continued down to the present time. 

S. Adams: No. We almost call him a scalawag. They'll love that, won't 

Mellon: The Pattersons were well-to-do, and their success was based in 
large measure on the hard work of your grandfather and his sons. 
Was there a work ethic among the Pattersons that included the 
children as well? 

S . Adams : No . 

Mellon: Was thrift stressed in the family? 

S. Adams: Oh yes. 

Mellon: Could you say something about the political and religious views 
of your mother and father? Was politics ever discussed much in 
the family gatherings? 


S. Adams: Oh yes. Quite a bit. They were both strong Republicans, as 
farmers were. My mother was maybe a little on the fence. 

Mellon: What about church affiliations? 

S. Adams: None whatsoever. I never went to Sunday school or church. 

Mellon: Can you describe your mother and father physically were they 
large, small, tall, short? 

S. Adams: My mother was tall, and she was a large woman, I'd call her. 

Mellon: What about your father? 

S. Adams: They were supposedly the same height. 

Mellon: Were you an athletic family? There was a tennis court at the 
George Washington Patterson house. Was it used a lot? 

S. Adams: We used to use it when we were young. My mother and father both 
played with us as children. It was built, of course, by my 
mother and father when we were young. 

Mellon: Someone reported that Helen Wills Moody was a friend of the 
Pattersons is that accurate? 

S. Adams: Yes. Dr. Wills was a friend of my father's, and he lived out 
there in Newark or Centerville in the vicinity. And his 
daughter, of course, was Helen Wills. He used to bring her over, 
and I can remember bringing us tennis rackets that were 
autographed to us as presents. 

Mellon: Did she ever play on the court? 

S. Adams: Oh, she used to hit a ball back and forth to us. 

Mellon: There appears in the records to be an almost continual push by 
your grandfather and his two sons to improve the soil of the 
ranch by the removal of salt water and other impurities. Do you 
recall discussions by your father or uncle on this subject? 

S. Adams: My father, I remember, was always concerned about salt in the 
wells, but I don't know any more than that. 

Mellon: In a letter to your grandmother in June, 1897, her son, William 
Patterson, talks about making ice cream and root beer and 
gathering blackberries. Do you remember doing these things as a 

S. Adams: No. I remember making apple cider and ice cream. 


Mellon: Dorothy Patterson and her husband Don talked about cider parties. 
Do you remember these and can you describe what took place? 

S. Adams: Yes. They just made cider. 

Mellon: They came in the morning, and they made it 

S. Adams: And then they drank it, obviously. They took some home. It was 
their friends who did this Donald and Dorothy. 

Mellon: Was alcohol consumed at all at the ranch in the early days? 
S. Adams: No, never. Not my early days. 

Mellon: Was the deer park still functioning when you were growing up at 
the ranch? 

S. Adams: I have a faint remembrance of the deer park, but it wasn't used 
as a deer park. I just remember where it was, and it was fenced 

Mellon: In letters to their mother, both Henry and William Patterson 
seemed close to, and concerned with, one another. Did this 
sentiment continue in later life? 

S. Adams: Yes. 

Mellon: . How did they share the job of running the ranch? What was the 
division of labor? 

S. Adams: It was more management than labor. I believe my father, when he 
was alive, did all the management, though my uncle was interested 
in the water. 

Mellon: Yes, I remember he did a lot of work in the early days at the 
water district. 

S. Adams: I think he was one of the founders of the water district out 

Mellon: Clara Hawley Patterson left $5,000 in her will to Lottie Whipple. 
Do you know who she was? 

S. Adams: Was it Laura Whipple? 

Mellon: Lottie, I believe. Was there a Laura Whipple? 

S. Adams: Yes. It could have been. She was a cousin. 


Mellon: Because there was a wedding held at Ardenwood, at the ranch, and 
I think it was a May Whipple who was married there right after 
the turn of the century. It may have been a cousin. 

S. Adams: I think that was probably Laura. I don't recall any Lottie. 

Mellon: According to a newspaper article at the time, Clara Hawley 
Patterson's marriage to the Reverend W. H. Layson in 1900 
"stirred Washington Township to its depth." Was there ever any 
discussion of Mr. Layson by the family in subsequent years? 

S. Adams: Oh my, yes. My mother never knew him. He died before she 

Mellon: He died 1909. 

S. Adams: Mother didn't arrive until 1913. It was with great trial and 
tribulation my father, I think, didn't even speak to him. 

Remembering the House and Gardens 

Mellon: Was the George Washington Patterson house a site for any family 
weddings that you recall? 

S. Adams: John and I were married there. 
Mellon: Were they indoor or outdoor? 

S. Adams: Outdoors. The indoors is sort of cut-up so it wouldn't be . 
And Sue, our daughter, was married there. 

Mellon: Is this Abby's sister? 

S. Adams: Abby's older sister. 

Mellon: Were they large weddings? 

S. Adams: Three hundred. 

Mellon: Did your father or uncle take an active role at all in local 
politics or state politics? 

S . Adams : No . 

Mellon: Did any of the Patterson women get involved in civic or political 

S. Adams: No. 


Mellon: Did the furniture in the George Washington Patterson house remain 
fairly consistent during the period that you lived there, or were 
new pieces added? 

S. Adams: Oh yes. It was always done over. 

Mellon: A number of photos show lots of flowers around the house in your 
grandmother's day. Was this the case when you were growing up, 

S. Adams: Yes. 

Mellon: There were a lot of exterior plants. 

S. Adams: Right. 

Mellon: Your father and uncle seemed, in the letters at least that 

remained, quite interested in horticulture, planting, eucalyptus 
trees, things of this nature. 

S. Adams: My father had a vegetable garden. He liked that. Mother had her 
flower garden. 

Mellon: A number of photos show a piano. Was it played by the family? 
S. Adams: The rosewood piano, you mean, in the parlor? 
Mellon: In the parlor. 

S. Adams: Yes. We took piano lessons, but my mother's sister used to play 
the piano for us on that piano. She sang and played the piano to 
entertain us. 

Mellon: So music did play a role. 
S. Adams: Slight, yes. 

Mellon: When you were a child, were there certain rooms in the house that 
were more or less off-limits to the children? 

S. Adams: No. 

Mellon: You had a free run of the house? 

S. Adams: Yes. 

Mellon: In photographs, the downstairs rooms of the house always looked 
spotlessly clean was this always the case? 

S. Adams: Yes. They always had help. 


Mellon: That's my next question. Did your grandmother or mother have 
much help? 

S. Adams: Yes. 

Mellon: How many servants did it take to run the house in their day? 

S. Adams: Well, a couple, and an upstairs maid. When we were little I can 
always remember a nursemaid. 

Mellon: Can you identify any of the servants by name? 

S. Adams: Ellen Logan was . I remember her. How far back do you want to 

Mellon: As far as you can remember. 
S. Adams: Always a Chinese cook. 

Mellon: I was going to ask you about nationalities. So you had 

S. Adams: And Japanese and Portuguese. 

Mellon: There were a lot of Portuguese in that area so some of the maids 
may have been Portuguese. 

S. Adams: Joe Brown was one of course, he changed his name from something 
Rodriguez or something Portuguese. He had a daughter and she 
used to work for the family. My mother became intrigued with her 
and sent her through the University of California. 

Mellon: Was this Inez? 

S. Adams: Yes. Do you know anything about her life? 

Mellon: No. 

S. Adams: She married a colonel whom she met in the ROTC at the university 
at that time. 

Mellon: Was the attic always used as a playroom for children? 

S. Adams: No. 

Mellon: How far back in time does the bowling go? 

S. Adams: It was way before my time. I don't remember any bowling up 

Mellon: Did you play up there as a child? 


S. Adams: Hide-and-go-seek, or spooks, or something. 

Mellon: There's some story that circulates in the family that you climbed 
out on the roof. 

S. Adams: Yes, I did. I can remember. But I couldn't get back because I 
was scared. 

Mellon: Do you recall ongoing maintenance on the grounds surrounding the 
house were there gardeners regularly working? 

S. Adams: Oh yes. And extras when it was needed; during the summers 
especially with irrigating, the watering. They used to use 
irrigation pipes. 

Mellon: Do you remember when the pool was installed? 

S. Adams: Yes. 

Mellon: Was it there in your day? 

S. Adams: Oh my, yes. My mother and father installed that. I must have 
been fifteen years old. 

Mellon: Did you use it a lot? 

S. Adams: Lots. We always went there in the summer. 

Mellon: Even when you were living in Piedmont? 

S. Adams: Oh yes. They closed the house here In Piedmont during summers. 

Mellon: As a youngster growing up, did you and your sisters play a lot in 
the fields surrounding the house? 

S. Adams: No, not too much. 

Mellon: How far away were you from neighbors who had children? Did you 
play with any of the neighbors' children? 

S. Adams: No, they were miles away. 

Mellon: They were too far away. So it wasn't easy to get back and forth 
from the ranch to some other house? 

S. Adams: The closest place we ever played and it was a treat was to go 
to the Shinns. I remember playing little girls' games. 


The Shinn house that's a historic structure now, you know. 


Sunday Parties, Outings, Holidays 

Mellon: Do you recall your mother holding large family gatherings or 
other social functions? 

S. Adams: No. We used to go to family gatherings way back at the Hawley 
place, which was... I don't know where. 

Mellon: Your grandmother's family. 

S. Adams: Yes. But the Sunday parties there were lots of those, 

practically every Sunday. But that was when I was in college, or 
in high school, I guess. 

Mellon: Were those luncheons? 

S. Adams: Luncheons. 

Mellon: Would there be family and friends? 

S. Adams: Family and friends and their children. It would be an all-day 
family affair. 

Mellon: Could you describe the children would obviously be playing, and 
the adults would be talking back and forth. Was there lots of 

S. Adams: Loads of food. There would be tennis tournaments, that sort of 

Mellon: Was there any croquet? 

S. Adams: Croquet tournaments. And they used to pick the corn, and dig a 
great pit, and cook the corn. 

Mellon: Bury it on coals. Did they barbeque? 

S. Adams: No. My father didn't like barbeque. 

Mellon: The food was done in the kitchen and then brought out? 

S. Adams: Yes. 

Mellon: Was most of your travel local travel to Oakland and San 
Francisco by car or train? 

S. Adams: Train. 

Mellon: Did you use the Arden Station? 


S. Adams: Yes. 

Mellon: Was the trip to San Francisco considered a special outing? 

S. Adams: Oh, very special. 

Mellon: How long did it take? 

S. Adams: It was a full day. Sometimes we'd spend the night in San 

Francisco and come back the next day. There was a regular train 
that left something like 9:30 in the morning and got back at 
5:30, but it would take at least two hours. 

Mellon: You'd take the train up to Oakland and then catch the ferry 

S. Adams: Yes. 

Mellon: Did you spend most holidays at the ranch? 

S. Adams: Yes. 

Mellon: Were there family gatherings at Christmas or Thanksgiving down 
there, or were they pretty much up to the individual family 
members to have their own? 

S. Adams: They had their own. But we spent ours at the ranch. 

Mellon: Was the house decorated in any special way for these gatherings? 

S. Adams: No. Just the Christmas tree. It was always done in those days 
the night before. You didn't see it until the next morning. 

Mellon: That was the way, when I was growing up. I rather liked it. 

Did your father conduct business in the house, or was it 
only used for family living purposes? 

S. Adams: He had an office. That was one place we were not allowed to go 
or play in. 

Mellon: As a child, do you recall guests staying often at the house? 

S. Adams: Mot often, but occasionally, yes. 

Mellon: Did you have children friends stay with you? 

S. Adams: Oh yes. We'd bring our school chums. 

Mellon: Were you aware of the house requiring much maintenance in terms 
of repairs, painting, etc., inside and out? 


S. Adams: No, just normal. 

Mellon: Were there any additions that you recall being made, while you 
were there? 

S. Adams: Not while I was there. 

Mellon: What was the nearest town when you were growing up? 

S. Adams: I guess Centerville. 

Mellon: Did you ever feel isolated as a child on the ranch? 

S. Adams: No. 

Mellon: What was the mailing address of the ranch? 

S. Adams: Box 46 R.D., Newark. The telephone was Centerville, the mail was 
Newark. I remember the mailman. He drove a funny little old 
Ford his name was Mr. Lax. He got a present from the ranch a 
sack of walnuts every year. I always wondered how he ever got 
through a gunny sack of walnuts in a year. 

Mellon: When you were born, were there telephones in the house? Or did 
they come later? 

S. Adams: I don't remember the house ever without a telephone. I can 
remember the first use of the telephone somebody called my 
father, and we were going to bed. It was a friend of his in 
Centerville to tell him that Harding had been shot was he shot? 

Mellon: Harding, I believe, died of poisoning over here in San Francisco 
at a party at the Palace Hotel. 

S. Adams: I know that was the first. 

Mellon: Do you remember the phone number? Sometimes those numbers were 
quite short. 

S. Adams: Centerville 673. 

Mellon: Was there a sleeping porch upstairs in the house? 

S. Adams: Yes. 

Mellon: Did you and your sisters use it? 

S. Adams: Yes. 

Mellon: Do you recall discussions about your Uncle William's Alaska trips 
and mining adventures? 


S. Adams: Not really. 

Mellon: There are a number of photos of your father hunting. Was this 
something he took pleasure in most of his life? 

S. Adams: Yes, he always liked it. 

Mellon: Did you or your sisters ever get to go on a hunting trip? 

S. Adams: Just duck hunting, or deer hunting up in Livermore. 

Mellon: Do you recall family visits to Ben Loraan in Santa Cruz County? 

S. Adams: Yes. 

Mellon: Could you describe a little bit? 

S. Adams: My grandmother had a house near Ben Loman, but I don't remember 

Mellon: That's how I came across the reference reading through your 
grandmother's diaries and correspondence. 

S. Adams: I can remember taking the train at Ardenwood, and riding to Santa 
Cruz. And who met us and how we got to Ben Loman, I don't 

Mellon: Where did you take vacations, do you recall? 

S. Adams: We used to drive around the country, like to Yosemite, Tahoe. 

Mellon: This would be with your mother and father? 

S. Adams: Yes. 

Mellon: Did you go abroad with them at all? 

S. Adams: Not until I was in college. 

Mellon: Your Uncle William appears to have been interested in camping, 

travelling and trips. He was also a yachtsman. Was your father 
interested in sailing? 

S. Adams: No, and I wouldn't call Uncle Bill a yachtsman. He used to have 
a little rowboat, maybe, and he did have a boat that Donald sank 
for him, with my father's guns on it. 

Mellon: I was thinking of the Starlight. There are pictures in the 

archives of that boat sailing across the San Francisco Bay. That 
was about an eighteen to twenty foot sailboat. He also had a 
power cruiser in the twenties did you ever go out on that? 


S. Adams: I was never invited. 

Mellon: Your Uncle William appears to have been active in the Bohemian 
Club. Was your father interested in that? 

S. Adams: He was not a bit interested in it. 

Mellon: Was your father a joiner of fraternal groups? 

S . Adams : No . 

Mellon: Did you ever spend much time at the cattle ranch in Livermore. 

S. Adams: Yes. On summer vacations, I can remember my mother used to take 
us up there. 

S. Adams: We would go with another woman Mrs. Whipple with her family, 
and the husbands would come maybe every other day to bring food 
or to see how we were doing. 

Mellon: Was Mrs. Whipple a cousin? 

S. Adams: No. 

Mellon: Could you describe your relationship with May Patterson. 

S. Adams: Which May Patterson? 

Mellon: This would be Uncle Will's wife? 

S. Adams: There was also a May Paterson who was May Hawley, and she married 
a Paterson with one "t." That was my grandmother's young 
sister. She used to come out to the ranch. 

Mellon: Did you know Mrs. Louise Koons , who took a trip to Seagross 

Island with your Uncle William's wife? She is referred to as 
Aunt Louise Koons. Now she may have been an aunt of May 
Patterson 1 s. 

S. Adams: She must have been. 

Mellon: Did you play a lot as a child in the deer park area? 

S. Adams: Yes. In the eucalyptus grove it was. 

Mellon: You remember those trees quite well? 

S. Adams: Oh yes. 


Mellon: Did you ever go out to the old duck club by Indian Mound Pond? 

S. Adams: I don't think so, not by Indian Mound Pond. There was an old 
duck club there, but I was too young then. 

Mellon: Do you recall if your mother ever went up to Eagle River Mine in 
Alaska, or your father? 

S. Adams: I can remember my father took us all up to Alaska, but I don't 
know the name of the mine. He was going up looking at mines. 

Mellon: Apparently, reading through the sources, your Uncle William 
engaged in a lot of oil ventures and mining ventures. 

S. Adams: Yes, fly-by-night things. 

Mellon: According to his son, Donald, none of them very successful. 

S. Adams: Very unsuccessful. 

Mellon: Did your father do that kind of thing? 

S. Adams: No he didn't, except my uncle got him interested in oil wells in 
Wichita Falls, Texas. 

The Ranch Grounds and Outbuildings 

Mellon: Were there always eucalyptus trees around the ranch as long as 
you can remember? 

S.Adams: Yes. 

Mellon: Do you remember the water pump for the George W. Patterson house? 

S . Adams : No . 

Mellon: When you were growing up in the house, was it illuminated by 

S. Adams: Yes. 
S. Adams 

Did the house keep warm or cool? In winter or summer? 
Yes. We had all open fireplaces or stoves for heating. 

In photographs, your father Henry appears different in looks and 
physique from his brother William. Is this accurate? 


S. Adams: Later on, I think it was. He was heavier, my father was. But, I 
think, when they were young they were about the same physique. 

Mellon: A number of photographs show Patterson family women and others on 
bicycles. Was this a popular sport with the famiy? 

S. Adams: I wouldn't know. 

Mellon: There's one, for example, with your grandmother, Clara Hawley 

S. Adams: I don't remember. 

Mellon: What outbuildings do you remember that surrounded the ranch 
house? There was a barn, wasn't there? 

S. Adams: Blacksmith shop, the granary, carriage house, garages, stables, 
also where the help stayed the cook. 

Mellon: Was he the only live-in help? 

S. Adams: No, it used to be couples. Then the big barn. 

Mellon: Do you remember the old Arden railroad station? 

S. Adams: Yes. 

Mellon: Was it used a lot? 

S. Adams: Not too much. It was used by the family and a few neighboring 
people. They would park their cars there. 

Mellon: Would the train automatically stop, or would you have to signal 
to it? 

S. Adams: You'd just walk up and it'd see you. Or you'd signal. 

Mellon: Were there always cats and dogs at the ranch? 

S. Adams: Oh my, yes. 

Mellon: Do you remember some of their names? 

S. Adams: Hiram. 

Mellon: Was that a cat or a dog? 

S . Adams : Dog . 

Mellon: Did you have much contact with the William D. Patterson house? 
Did you visit there regularly? 


S. Adams: We used to go over, yes. 

Mellon: Could you describe that house a little bit? How would you 

contrast it or compare it with the house in which you grew up? 

S. Adams: It was built much later, and there was a porch all the way 

Mellon: Was it impressive? 

S. Adams: No, it was dark. It was sort of depressive. 

Mellon: Did the Depression in the 1930s have an adverse effects on the 
family ranching operations? 

S . Adams : No . 

Mellon: Your grandmother took an interest, as I indicated earlier, as 

shown in her diary, in the women's suffrage movement in the 1890s 
and the first decade of the twentieth century. Was your mother 
interested in this at all? 

S. Adams: Not to my knowledge. 

Mellon: Do you remember Chinese workers on the ranch, either indoors or 

S. Adams: Yes. 

Mellon: The Patterson ranch remained in agriculture when property around 
it was being subdivided and developed. Was there division in the 
family toward development, as opposed to remaining in 

S. Adams: Oh, I think so, yes. 

Mellon: Do you recall if you did any other taped interview, beside the 
one with Dave Lewton, which didn't turn out? Some people said 
that they thought that perhaps a young woman named Susan Simpson 
may have talked to you at one time. 

S. Adams: No. 

Mellon: So this, then, may be the only tape that we have. Do you feel 
that there was a close relationship between your father, Henry, 
and his brother, William? 

S. Adams: They were very close. 


Mellon: It seems to come through that they were close. There was at one 
point, when I was talking to Mrs. Dorothy Patterson, when she 
said in the late fifties her husband Don felt that the time had 
come when his father and his uncle your father probably needed 
some assistance. That's when he gave up the job with the bearing 
company and came back and took over the management of the ranch. 
It's the intention of Leon, and obviously with the consent and 
cooperation of you people, he would like to bring the oral 
history interviews down to the present when the company became a 
corporation and was making the transistion from purely 
agriculture to subdivision and things of this nature. Talk a 
little about this transition. This would be from 1960 to the 

S. Adams: I think John is the one to talk to about this. 

Mellon: I appreciate very much your talking with me today. [interruption] 

Mrs. Adams is going to add a couple of things that she 

S. Adams: The old ranch house, where the ranch hands stayed, and they used 
to live there during the week. They had a Chinese cook there, 
also, who cooked for the ranch hands. Then when Manuel Martin 
and Joe Brown came, the house was cut in half, and one moved to 
the house and the other one down at the corner, where they lived 
and got married and raised their families. But the ranch house 
has anyone told you about that? We were never allowed to go 
there because of the men that was their place. I can remember, 
though, the old Chinaman used to come out and bring us cookies. 

Mellon: Stories are really important on these tapes. 

S. Adams: Well, I'll have to think about them for a while before I can . 

Editor: Was the ranch called Ardenwood during your youth? 

S. Adams: No. But the station was called Arden. 

Final Typist: 

Maria Wolf 

Maria Wolf and Catherine Winter 


Tape Guide - Sally Patterson Adams 

Date of Interview: July 2, 1986 

tape 1, side a 86 

tape 1, side b 100 


Regional Oral History Office 
The Bancroft Library 

University of California 
Berkeley, California 


John E. Adams 

A Son-in-Law Remembers Henry Patterson 
and Assesses Ranch Development 

An Interview Conducted by 

Knox Mellon 

in 1986 

Copyright (c) 1988 by the Regents of the University of California 





Making the Rounds of the Ranch with Henry Patterson. 1930s 111 
Early Discussions of Developing the Ranch 

Henry. Sarah, and the Family Heritage 115 

Relations with the William Patterson Family 116 

Donald Patterson's Management of the Ranch 120 

Loss of Patterson Agricultural Lands A Disaster 121 

The Family Corporation in the Eighties 122 

Jack Brooks and Donald Patterson Working Hand and Glove 123 





As the husband of Sally Patterson Adams, the son-in-law of Henry and 
Sarah Patterson, and a member of the board of directors of the Patterson 
Properties management corporation, John Adams has been in a position to 
observe the transitions in the management of the Patterson Ranch since the 
1930s. Although a practicing physician whose career centered at the medical 
facility of the University of California in San Francisco. Dr. Adams visited 
the ranch frequently, was close to both Henry and Sarah Patterson, and was 
involved in decisions regarding ranch management over the years. 

His interview, conducted at his home in Piedmont. California, by Dr. 
Knox Mellon on July 14, 1986, contributes a fresh perspective to the series 
of family memoirs. He includes sympathetic portraits of Henry as a ranch 
manager with a great deal of foresight and of Sarah as a woman with a keen 
intellect, an open and inquisitive mind, and a somewhat irreverently 
humorous attitude toward the family past. 

Dr. Adams recalls discussions of ranch development dating back to the 
1940s, the opposition of Henry and Sarah to development at that time, and 
Henry's plan, as early as 1937, to divide the ranch between the two branches 
of the family, presumably because he foresaw the diverging interests between 
his and his brother's families. Dr. Adams places these first discussions of 
ranch development earlier than any of the other interviewees in the series. 
During his review of the transcript, he clarified dates and elaborated on 
these important early discussions. His comments have been integrated into 
the interview transcript. 

Dr. Adams is an environmentalist voice in Patterson Property 
management. He is concerned about preservation of farm lands and open space 
around the heavily urbanized Bay Area and considers the loss of Patterson 
agricultural lands a "disaster." His perspective is a vital one for this 
series of interviews on the Patterson family and management of their ranch 
lands in southern Alameda County. 

Ann Lage 
Project Director 

September, 1988 

Regional Oral History Office 

The Bancroft Library 

University of California at Berkeley 

Regional Oral History Office 
Room 486 The Bancroft Library 


University of California 
Berkeley, California 94720 


(Please print :>r write clearly) 

Your full name 

Date of birth '.,'l-.J 


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Father's full name 

Birthplace ' 


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Mother's full name 

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Where did you grow up ? 

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Special interests or activities 

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Making the Rounds of the Ranch with Henry Patterson, 1930s 
[Date of Interview: July 14, 1986]## 

Mellon: Dr. Adams, could you tell me when you first became involved with 
the Patterson family and under what circumstances? 

J. Adams: It was when I met Sally, Mrs. Adams, and that was when we were 
both in college. The year was 1932. 

Mellon: Where were you in college? 

J. Adams: At the University of California, Berkeley. We were in the same 

Mellon: Prior to meeting your wife, had you known about the Patterson 

J. Adams: No. 

Mellon: Could you tell me something about Henry Patterson what he was 
like, and something of your relationship with him? 

J. Adams: I got to know Henry very well over the years. He wasn't an easy 
person to know, but as one saw more of him he became more 
outgoing and more communicative. We had, ultimately, a very 
close relationship. His essential characteristic, I think, was 
one of reserve, to the point, at times, of shyness when one first 
initially met him, but fundamentally he was an extremely warm, 
open person. 

After Sally and I were married, and I was in medical 
school the first two summers we came out here and stayed on the 
ranch. I would go around the ranch with him every morning. He 
had an old car, and he would drive around to inspect the ranch. 
It was his custom, as we would call it in medicine, to make 
rounds, where he would visit all of his tenants and farmers, look 
at the water situation, that is, who was using the water. We 

##This symbol indicates that a tape or a segment of a tape has 
begun or ended. For a guide to the tapes see page 125. 


J. Adams: would often meet fellow farmers from adjacent farms. We would 
have lots of long talks. So it was a very enjoyable, warm 

Mellon: Henry Patterson has been described as less of a social mixer than 
his brother William. Is this assessment accurate? 

J. Adams: Yes. Henry, although he enjoyed friendships with many close 
friends, was not what you'd describe as a joiner. He enjoyed 
social events, but he was not given to going to such things as 
the Bohemian Club. He did not belong to any clubs to my 
knowledge. If he did, he certainly did not go to any meetings. 

Early Discussions of Developing the Ranch 

Mellon: Did you continue to see much of Henry Patterson through the 

years? Were those relationships both social and business? Did 
you discuss operation of the ranches in southern Alameda County 
and Livermore with him? 

J. Adams: Yes, many times, as I've indicated, we would discuss the whole 

farming operation. I made a good many trips up to Livermore with 

him, when he would go up to see what was going on up in the hill 

As I say, we would discuss the farming operation below, in 
Fremont, particularly the problems of salt intrusion in the 
water table and the possible future of the ranch. I can recall 
one in particular: the last summer that we came out, which would 
have been 1937. It was that summer the possibility of 
development began to rear its head. The Will Patterson family 
was interested in the development, and at the same time Henry 
Patterson developed a proposal to change the whole format and 
structure of the ranch from that of what it had been namely an 
undivided half interest to actually dividing the ranch between 
the two families and he had maps drawn to accomplish this, 

I was mentioning the fact, in answer to your question about 
business operations, that Henry had thought for a long time that 
it would be better, if agreeable with the other family, to 
actually divide the ranch into separate ownerships, because of 
the diverging interests between the two families. As I've 
indicated, he thought about it a great deal. He had several maps 
made about what he thought would be suitable, equitable division. 
This was then broached to the other family. The Livermore ranch 
was to be kept as it was namely an undivided half interest but 
this represented the lower southern Alameda County ranch. 


We discussed this a great deal. This was not acceptable to 
the other family, so it was dropped. In retrospect now, I think 
that many of our present problems would have been avoided if this 
had gone through. I don't know, and I never did know, what the 
reasons were which the other family gave for their failure to 
accede to this. But that was quite an undertaking. 

Editor: Are you sure of this 1937 date? No one else has placed 
discussions to divide the ranch so early. 

J. Adams: Yes. The discussion to divide the ranch did run in 1937. 

The second relationship, businesswise, was of interest, and 
it was in the summer of 1947, right after the war, when the other 
family began to express an interest in developing the ranch. A 
developer who later on became very prominent in development, 
namely Mr. Wayne Valley, came out after, I'm sure, getting an 
appointment. I can remember spending a whole Sunday in the living 
room with Henry, and I think Sarah was there--in and out--and Mr. 
Valley was talking about the possibilities of developing 
agricultural land in general and, specifically, portions of the 
ranch. He showed us maps, brochures of all the development that 
was taking place in Houston, Texas, which was one of the earliest 
places to be developed, apparently. He was trying to persuade 
similar developments to take place on the southern Alameda County 
Patterson properties. 

I think, although this is somewhat of a guess, that he had 
talked previously to Will and to Donald. Although it was not 
known to me at the time , he had a partner named Jack Brooks , who 
subsequently has been very intimately involved with the Patterson 
family in the development of the land. Again, I did not meet Jack 
Brooks at that time, but it's apparent now that he was involved 
also from the start. 

In any event during that summer, Henry asked me what I 
thought of it, and we had many discussions, and actually Valley 
gave us a proposal- -a very informal "contract." I went over it in 
detail. We discussed it, and both Henry and I reached the 
conclusion, and I'm sure that Sarah, his wife, shared in this, 
that at that point we felt that development was a great mistake 
for the ranch and it should remain in agriculture. 

Editor: Can you recall any more specifically what Henry Patterson's 

objections to developing the ranch were at that point? Did he 
wish to keep farming? Did he think farming would be viable for 
some time? Was he concerned about the fate of his tenant farmers? 
Who did he think would take over the running of the ranch after 
his death? What were your own and Sally's specific objections to 
development at that point? 

J. Adams: Henry certainly wanted to keep the entire ranch operation in 

agriculture during his lifetime, and always looked out for the 
interests of his tenant farmers. These discussions did take 


J. Adams: 


J. Adams: 


J. Adams: 

J . Adams : 

place in 1947 after the war. I presume that Uncle Will would 
have been his choice to run the ranch after his death, although 
he did ask me several times if I could give up medicine and 
become part of the ranch. Sally and I really did not consider 
the advisability of development then, as we were too involved in 
our own (medical, etc.) affairs. However, we did 
deliberately turn down the development of her portion of the "big 
field" (which had been deeded to her by her father sometime in 
the late thirties). The other family went ahead and developed 
their half of the big field (with Jack Brooks, I believe, but am 
not sure). 

How would you describe Henry Patterson as a businessman? 
really run the ranching operations or was it a shared 
responsibility with his brother William? 

Did he 

Well, I think that since the Pattersons were sort of a 
traditional family in terms of their structure, that the concept 
of primogeniture was very much in evidence, and the management of 
the ranch passed down to the older son, namely Henry. He 
actually did run the ranch in every respect. I described the 
rounds he would make. I don't think there were any real written 
agreements with the farming tenants; it was all done by word of 
mouth and by a handshake. But he made the decisions, although 
there's no question that he and Will consulted and agreed upon 
everything, and it was a mutual decision. To put it another way, 
I don't think Henry would have ever made a decision contrary to 
the wishes of Will, in terms of ranch management, because theirs 
was a very close relationship also. 

In reading through the records that exist in the Society of 
California Pioneers, for example, I find that William Patterson 
travelled a great deal. Was this true of Henry Patterson as 
well, or did Henry tend to remain pretty much on the ranch? 

No, Henry, by the time I knew him, did very little travelling. 
He had done travelling in his earlier days when he was in 
college. He went to Alaska, and I've seen letters that he wrote 
to his mother. But by the time I'd met him, he stayed pretty 
much at home. He would go to San Francisco occasionally. He 
made a weekly trip to San Jose, where he had a concrete pipe 
manufacturing plant, which of course was in great use in those 
days, for it represented the irrigated pipe that they buried. I 
think it did well, and he was the sole owner and sole manager of 
that plant; Will was not involved in this at all. Henry usually 
would make a weekly journey to San Jose. I went with him a 
couple of times, but I don't know much about that business. 

Is that business still in the family? 

No, it was sold after both Henry and Sarah's death. 


Henry. Sarah, and the Family Heritage 

Mellon: Do you recall Henry talking much about the achievements of his 
father, George Washington Patterson? 

J. Adams: Not a great deal. Henry really didn't have a great deal to say 
about his father, at least I cannot recall much that was said 
about George Patterson. I think most of what I recall is that 
Sarah used to talk about George. She would joke about him, 
primarily. He was the object of a good many jokes in the family, 
most of which emanated from Sarah. And Henry would just sort of 
giggle and laugh after Sarah would joke about him. 

Mellon: Did Henry Patterson ever convey that he saw himself as somebody 
special, because after all "he was a Patterson."? 

J. Adams: Not in the slightest. That would be the last way I would 

characterize Henry. He was a very modest person very quiet. I 
think he had a tremendous sense of pride in the ranch. He loved 
the land and it was certainly his life much more so than I think 
it was Will's. But I don't think he had any sense of ancestral 
heritage at all. 

Mellon: What about William? 

J. Adams: I think William had more, but again, I really don't recall ever 

hearing discussions about their ancestry other than the fact that 
they came from somewhere in the Midwest Indiana. That's about 
the extent of my knowledge of it. 

Mellon: What was your relationship with Sarah Patterson? Can you 
describe her? What was she like? What were some of her 
particular interests? 

J. Adams: Well, Sarah was a very interesting woman. She had a very keen 
intellect. I don't know if you know, but she actually got a 
master's degree in astronomy at Berkeley and wrote a thesis, if I 
recall, a mathematical analysis of the orbits of asteroids. She 
had a fine intellect. My relationship was a close one with her 
also. I was very fond of her. 

As an aside, we used to have a lot of political discussions. 
This was during the days of the Depression, and Franklin 
Roosevelt had been elected. Henry had no use for Franklin 
Roosevelt because he was very conservative politically, and I was 
a great supporter of Franklin Roosevelt. So we used to have 
interesting discussions never acrimonious and I would 
essentially support the concepts of the New Deal, and Henry was 
opposed to them. But Sarah often sided with me. She was much 
more, what we would call today, liberal than Henry was. She had 


J. Adams: a very free mind, an open mind, and an inquisitive mind. She 
loved her garden and spent a great deal of time in her garden. 
It was an exquisite, beautiful garden that she nurtured. 

Mellon: Did she read a good deal? 
J. Adams: She read a great deal. 

Mellon: Do you recall Henry Patterson talking much about his mother, 
Clara Hawley Patterson? 

J. Adams: Again, I don't recall him talking about his mother, but Sarah 
once again talked a great deal about his mother. She would 
often, again, make little jokes, and he would appreciate them and 
laugh about them. But she talked a great deal about Clara. 

Mellon: I had the feeling, in reading through the records, that Clara was a 
very bright lady too. 

J. Adams: I guess so. I really cannot say anything about that in terms of 
what I've heard from either Sarah or Henry. What I recall about 
the remarks about Clara were just sort of passing remarks. They 
weren't anything in depth at all. 

Mellon: Do you recall any mention ever being made of Clara Hawley 
Patterson's marriage to the Reverend Lay son? 

J. Adams: Oh, yes. That was the subject often, again, of discussion, and it 
was always in a humorous way. Sarah would make jokes about 
Clara's second husband. At times, she would do this just to 
tease Henry, and he would accept it gracefully, because he had no 
use for Mr. Lay son. 

Relations with the William Patterson Family 

Mellon: Did you have much contact with William Patterson over the years? 
How did William contrast with his brother Henry? 

J. Adams: It was only during the two summers when I was out there after 
1937 I was so involved in medicine that I could not spend any 
time at the ranch and did not to any degree that I used to see 
Will several times a week because Henry and I would bump into 
Will during our morning rounds around the ranch. And I also used 
to see Will occasionally when he would come out to shoot ducks, 
and I happened to be out shooting ducks on the Hill Pond. 

Mellon: Was there a duck club out there? Did they have a club house? 


J. Adams: Yes. The pond was on the site where the present park [Coyote 
Hills Regional Park] is, and they had a very nice little club 
house halfway up the hill toward the summit. This had been there 
for a long time I don't know when they first started out there 
it was many years before I knew anything about it. Henry, and 
there was a regular duck club, mostly of Piedmont businessmen: 
Mr. Volkman, Mr. Hardy, Mr. Stuart Rawlings; Earl Warren used to 
come out and shoot ducks; Mr. Allen Chickering who was a lawyer 
for the Southern Pacific Railroad. I guess there were eight or 
ten of them. They would get out there Friday night, have dinner, 
quite a few drinks, and they'd shoot ducks in the morning. 
Usually they didn't stay over, they just shot that one Saturday 
morning. Sometimes I would go out Sunday and shoot with Sally, 
or sometimes during the week. I would often bump into Uncle 
Will because he would be out there shooting. Uncle Will was also 
a member of the duck club. 

Editor: Were these Henry or Will's friends, or both? 

J. Adams: Both, but more Henry's because of the Piedmont house, etc. 

Mellon: Were there any other of the Patterson women, in addition to 
Sally, who shot? 

J. Adams: Marjorie occasionally shot Sally's sister and no others. 

Mellon: Henry and William Patterson worked together on business matters 

during the period when you knew them. Did they mix together much 

J. Adams: Not a great deal, surprisingly, and I suspect this is because of 
the relationships of their respective wives. Henry and Sarah 
would have frequent Sunday lunches. They would bring out a long 
table from the attic I usually had to help carry it out. Then 
they would have a lot of their friends. They would have a 
wonderful lunch of cold corned beef, all local produce, 
vegetables from Henry's garden. But I don't remember ever seeing 
the Will Pattersons at those lunches. Because most of Will 
Patterson's friends were over in Palo Alto and in that area. 
Most of the Henry Patterson friends were in the East Bay and 
Piedmont or Berkeley. 

Mellon: Was any alcohol served at these lunches? 

J. Adams: Oh yes, indeed. 

Mellon: There was no heavy temperance feeling among the Pattersons? 

J. Adams: No, I don't think either family had any feelings about the 
"evils" of alcohol. 


Mellon: It's been stated by some observers that the William and Henry 

Patterson sides of the family were not always close, especially 
as new generations arrived on the scene. Are the two sides of 
the family different, and if so, how? 

J. Adams: I think anything I might have to say about this has to be viewed 
as representing a certain amount of bias in terms of these 
relationships. Yes, I think they were close in some respects and 
not close in other respects. All I might give you are some 
examples. Certainly Sarah and Aunt May Will's wife were not at 
all close, and, I don't think, really liked each other very much. 
They were cordial, but there was no warmth in their relationship 
at all. 

As far as the next generation is concerned, the relationship 
between Sally and her cousins, namely Donald, Jack, and David, 
were not at all close, except at least in my observation when I 
got to know them, they were in their early twenties. The 
relationship between Donald and Sally was not close. Donald was 
a very difficult person. He was secretive. Henry used to say 
this many times: Donald's left hand doesn't know what his right 
hand was doing, and that was just exactly the best way to 
characterize Donald, in my opinion. 

Jack, on the other hand, was very warm and outgoing. Sally 
was extremely fond of Jack, as I was. Although Donald got along 
with Jack, I think Donald disapproved of Jack in many ways. And 
David was just too small. Although when David was in college and 
when I came out in the summers, I would play tennis with David 
occasionally. But I don't think Sally really saw anything of 
David again from the time I knew the family. 

Mellon: Don Patterson, on the tapes he did in the sixties, refers to his 
brother Jack as being somewhat of a high liver. 

J. Adams: That's an unfair characterization. Jack liked to drink, but I 

never saw him in any way not handling alcohol very well. I think 
one of the occasions for this might have been the fact that Jack 
did have lady friends. For instance, one summer he had a young 
woman he lived with up on the hill ranch. But Will accepted this 
quite well, although I think it bothered Will, but I suppose 
Donald disapproved of it knowing Donald. 

Mellon: The Pattersons were well-to-do and their success was based in 
large measure on the early efforts of George Washington 
Patterson and his two sons. Did you ever observe a particular 
work ethic among the Pattersons, including the children? Was 
thrift stressed in the family? 


J. Adams: I cannot answer that insofar as the Will Patterson family is 

concerned. I think Jack spent money freely. I don't think he 
spent it recklessly, but I don't think he pinched pennies in any 
way. But I think Donald probably was sort of a penny pincher 
from what I could observe. I can't tell you anything about 
David. As far as the Henry Patterson side of the family, I think 
thrift is not the proper expression. Both Sarah and Henry of 
course when I knew them v this was during the Depression and things 
weren't all that favorable but they did not withhold spending 
money. But they didn't throw it around by any manner or means. 
But I think management would be a better term than thrift. 

Mellon: Did you have much contact with William's wife May? What was she 

J. Adams: I saw very little of May. All the times that I was at the ranch, 
living there, both prior to my marriage and after my marriage, I 
don't think I ever saw May Patterson come to the George Patterson 
house where Henry and Sarah were living. So the only times I 
ever saw May was when I went to the William Patterson house for 
one reason or other to see Jack. I went there maybe twenty-five 
to thirty times. I would see May then and then just briefly 
discover that she was a very sort of, she was a hypochondriac, I 
think. Many things, physically, she would complain about. She was 
sort of like Donald. She wouldn't say very much. And Donald was 
very much like May, on the basis of a casual observation. That's 
the best way I can characterize it. 

Mellon: Did your children have much contact with the children of Don, 
Jack and Dave? 

Adams: No, none at all. Our children when we were out there, they were 
little. [Sue, b.d. October 12, 1936; Abby, b.d. October 18, 
1940; Henry, b.d. May 30, 1946.] Then by the time we got back 
after the war, when we would go out to the ranch occasionally on 
weekends, they were all spread around. So they really never saw 
each other. 

Mellon: Do you recall spending time at the ranch for festive, social 

occasions? Were these usually held at the Henry Patterson house? 
Did the William Pattersons give social gatherings that everyone 
in the family attended? 

J. Adams: No, I don't recall any social occasions. Maybe they've slipped 
my memory but I can't recall any social occasions where the two 
families participated together. There were many social 
occasions, as I've described, at the Henry Patterson house, but I 
can't recall the William Patterson family as a whole 



J. Adams: 


J. Adams: 


J. Adams: 

J. Adams: 

Do you have any feeling about the George W. Patterson house as 
being imposing or ornate? What are your impressions of it? 

Well, I think it's a perfectly beautiful house. I've always 
loved it. It's an extremely well built, solidly Victorian house. 
The wood inside is perfectly beautiful wood it was brought 
around the horn. As far as I know, I don't think an architect 
was responsible for building the house, but I consider it 
perfectly set in the garden. It fits in beautifully with the 
landscape. So I have great fondness for the house, and I think 
it is a lovely building. 

Did Henry Patterson or Sarah Patterson comment from time to time 
on the house? 

Yes, they did comment. I do remember them talking about the 
house, but it was just their home. I don't think I ever heard 
them say anything about what it represented in terms of 
historical significance it was just their home. 

What were your impressions of the William Patterson house? Do 
you remember the circumstances surrounding its destruction by 

I don't remember because we were not there. 

I don't know if it was before Henry died, or after he died, I 
think it was before, that we were discussing what the future 
might hold for the ranch and the houses and so forth. I remember 
Sarah saying that Will had either put in his will, or said 
definitely that after he and May died, he wanted to have the 
house burned. Then I remember very well I wasn't there a 
picture in the newspaper of Sarah sitting in a chair watching the 
house burn when they did it. It was in the Oakland Tribune I 

Donald Patterson's Management of the Ranch 

Mellon: In the mid-to-late 1950s, Don Patterson began to take over 

leadership in running the ranch. Did you have much contact with 
him then? 

J. Adams: No, I had essentially no contact or minimal contact with him then 
for several reasons. The first reason, I was very busy with my 
own medical affairs at the university. I rarely got out to the 
ranch. Donald, I would say, true to character, ran things 


J. Adams: completely with little communication certainly with us, and I 
think probably also with other members of the family, which by 
that time was Jack and David. So Donald really ran the ranch 
single-handedly. He would call us up and tell us about a 
decision that had been made, particularly if it required a 
signature in terms of a negotiation of some sort or other. 

Mellon: You're answering part of the question I was going to ask, and 

that is, how would you characterize the years of his stewardship 
of the Patterson properties? 

J. Adams: Well, it's just as I've described. Donald did, and wanted to, 

control things pretty much the way he saw it. I can remember, as 
a matter of fact, I think Donald visualized and this is from 
discussions with him later, a little bit later the development 
of the ranch. I think he wanted to see a good part of the ranch 
developed, though I never discussed the pros and cons of it 
because the decisions were made. Donald worked very closely with 
Jack Brooks, who I mentioned before, and all these plans for the 
subsequent development and subdivision of the ranch were made by 
Donald and Jack Brooks, to the exclusion of the rest of the 
family, certainly to the exclusion of us. In retrospect, I have 
regrets about this. If I had really thought about it at the 
time or had been more involved, I would have liked to have been a 
part of that, and objected to it. 

Loss of Patterson Agricultural Lands A Disaster 

Mellon: That leads in to my next question. You've been described by some 
as being the most ecologically and conservation-minded member 
of the family. Is this accurate? Have you been supportive of 
the movement by the company toward development? 

J. Adams: I'm pleased to think that they think of me as conservation- 
minded. I have strong interests in conservation, particularly 
not only of open space, wilderness, but also, specifically, I have 
strong feelings about the need to preserve agricultural lands in 
the area. I might .just put in a plug in this regard there 've 
been good studies done. Something like three dollars out of 
every ten dollars that is accrued by agricultural efforts in this 
country, is accrued by agricultural lands very close to urban 
lands, so that the lands around large cities still in 
agriculture are very important. They should be maintained, and 
I considered the loss of the Patterson agricultural lands, as far 
as I'm concerned, an ecological disaster not ecological, but in 
a sense a disaster, although I'm sure it's inevitable. 


J. Adams: Certainly by the time the zoning had been done by the city and 
Brooks, who had at that time access to the city council and 
planning commission in Fremont, which was very pro-development 
and very pro-growth these things were all done. At the time I 
became aware of it, it was too late. Yes, I think the 
development on the whole was too bad. 

Mellon: There has been an effort, I understand, on the part of Patterson 
Properties, to retain for a fairly protracted length of time some 
land that will remain purely in agriculture, with one of the 
families that has worked for the family for many years. 

J. Adams: Yes, the western-most portion, which unfortunately is also the 
poorest portion from an agricultural standpoint, 450 acres are 
still in agriculture. They have been labeled by the city 
planning commission as "urban reserve," which connotes an ominous 
tone, as far as I'm concerned. But I think it's the intent of the 
family, at the present time, to maintain this in agriculture as 
long as it can be done. 

The Family Corporation in the Eighties 

Mellon: George W. Patterson built the ranch and his two sons ran it down 
until the late 1950s. Can you describe briefly the changes in 
leadership that occurred after Henry and William's death, and 
what new directions came along with new leadership? Who 
followed, for example, Don Patterson's leadership years? 

J. Adams: Don, as I've indicated, when he was living, ran the ranch single- 
handedly. I don't know how much David had to do but I think 
David had little or nothing to do with running the ranch and was 
also excluded. Jack, of course, was dead by this time. Sally 
and Marjorie were not involved at all other than the placement of 
signatures on documents. 

When Donald died, which happened very quickly, then David 
assumed direction. By this time, of course, the development was 
getting started, and shortly thereafter the plans at least were 
developed very rapidly, with Jack Brooks dominating that. We 
would have family meetings at this house, our own house, most of 
them. They would be comprised of David, Jack Brooks, Sally, 
myself, and the attorney that was representing Marjorie. These 
meetings primarily had to do with the development of what was 
going to be done and where it was going to be done. We didn't 
really discuss much about the running of the agriculture itself. 
Wilcox was also at these meetings Donald's oldest son 
representing his family. 


J. Adams: The actual management of the ranch at that time was Wilcox would 
spend some time dealing with the Livermore tenant, the cattle 
people in Livermore, the Bankes . He and David sort of 
cooperated. Then ultimately I think at the instigation of 
Brooks to some extent but David was the driving force then to 
form a family corporation, which was done. 

Mellon: Are you supportive of the direction the company is taking at the 
present time? 

J. Adams: Well, I think I've expressed myself clearly on that although 
it's too late, I think. The family corporation now is being 
managed by my son-in-law, Leon Campbell, and David's son-in-law, 
Robert Buck. The ultimate responsibility rests with the board of 
directors on which I sit, with David, Wilcox and Jack's son, 
Bruce. On the whole I think the management is being well done. 
There are differences of opinion, as you might expect, but 
everything seems to be managed well, so I really have no thoughts 
beyond that. 

Jack Brooks and Donald Patterson Working Hand and Glove 

Mellon: Could you say anything further about Jack Brooks 's relationship 
to the Patterson family and Patterson properties? What kind of 
person is Jack Brooks? 

J. Adams: Jack Brooks is a very shrewd, very smart, essentially developer. 
I remember when he first started to develop the ranch. I don't 
know whether Wayne Valley was involved or not, but I know Jack 
Brooks did a development with Donald and David what was the "big 
field" and that was the first development on the ranch [in the 
early 1950s]. I can remember him then as a younger man. Just as 
a curiosity, which I don't remember, but Jack Brooks has told me 
that, right after the war, I operated on him in the Veterans' 
Hospital in San Francisco took a little tumor off his skull. 
But I don't remember it. 

But Jack is an extremely shrewd and very successful 
developer. He, I think, for a long time really ran the city 
council and planning commission in Fremont. He could do pretty 
much anything that he wanted to do, which from the standpoint of 
ranch development, obviously, was advantageous if you were 
interested in developing the ranch. He and Donald, I think, 
worked hand and glove. I can remember, for instance, going out 
there on a weekend one time after the war it was after both 
Henry and Will died, probably late sixties or .early seventies. 


J . Adams : 


J. Adams: 


Sally and I drove around with Donald. Donald said, now this is 
all going to be houses, and this is going to be industry. This 
was the first I knew of that. By that time it was too late. 

Following up a little on something you said a week or so ago when 
I was interviewing Mrs. Adams, looking at it in retrospect and 
knowing a lot about the Patterson family, why do you suppose 
George Washington Patterson succeeded as well as he did in 
building a small empire in southern Alameda County? 

This has to be pure speculation, obviously. From the history of 
the area, from what I have heard or in terms of what Sarah and 
Henry might have said, I suspect George Patterson came out, and 
like so many other people you might say white Americans they 
were adventurers, fortune seekers. They came out and acquired 
land from the native Californians , namely the Spaniards. This 
has happened over and over again. I suspect George Patterson was 
shrewd. He acquired this land by some means or other. I don't 
think dishonestly, but he drove a hard bargain every time. Then 
he was industrious, and the time was ripe for the raising of 
wheat and the markets for wheat back East. Then subsequently he 
raised produce. I'm sure it was well managed it was extremely 
well managed when I saw it under Henry, and this was during the 
Depression, but it was functioning, and well done. 

Thank you very much Dr. Adams, 
opportunity to interview you. 

I appreciate very much the 

Final Typist: 

Maria Wolf 

Maria Wolf and Catherine Winter 


TAPE GUIDE - Dr. John Adams 

Date of Interview: July 14, 1986 
tape 1, side a 
tape 1, side b 120 


Regional Oral History Office 
The Bancroft Library 

University of California 
Berkeley. California 


David G. Patterson 

Overseeing the Transition from Ranching 
to Property Management 

An Interview Conducted by 

Knox Mellon 

in 1986 

Copyright fc) 1988 by the Regents of the University of California 



TABLE OF CONTENTS David Patterson 




Education in Palo Alto and Centerville 131 

Service in the Air Force in World War II 132 

Patterson Family Traditions 134 

The Two Family Homes 135 

Remembering Father Will and Uncle Henry 136 

Mother May and Aunt Sarah 138 
Will Patterson's Interests in the Outdoors. Sports. Travel. 

and Agronomy 139 

Brothers Don and Jack 141 


Sales and Development in the 1950s 144 

Burning of the Family Home 145 

Management by Eldest Son and by Trustee Company 146 

The Agricultural Operations and Open-Space Uses 148 

Jack Brooks, Consultant to the Family 150 
Ranch Lands for Coyote Hills Park and Alameda Creek Flood 

Control Channel 152 

Family Incorporation and Professional Management 153 

Current Role Overseeing Policy Decisions 155 




The following interview with David Patterson was conducted by Dr. Knox 
Mellon at Mr. Patterson's home in Alamo, California, on November 3. 1986. 
As the youngest son of William Patterson, David Patterson brings his own 
unique recollections of life on the ranch and of his father and his uncle, 
Henry. Educated at Stanford University, with a master's degree in business 
administration, he was well prepared to assume a leadership role in 
Patterson family business upon the death of his elder brother, Donald, in 
1980. Development of the ranch lands was underway, and pressures for 
further development were intense. David Patterson was instrumental in the 
family's subsequent incorporation, which allowed an orderly management of 
properties and led to development guided by a master plan. 

In his interview, as well as in his role as Patterson family advisor. 
David Patterson stresses the family's commitment to seeking a balance in the 
development of ranch lands. He notes that a significant portion of the 
lands have been dedicated to public use, at Ardenwood Regional Preserve, 
Coyote Hills Regional Park, the Alameda Creek flood control channel, and. in 
Livermore, at Del Valle Regional Park. Other lands are to remain in 
agriculture as long as possible. 

David Patterson and his wife, Joan, have a keen interest in Patterson 
family history. They have traced the family in East Berlin, Pennsylvania, 
where George Washington Patterson was born, and Lafayette, Indiana, where he 
grew up. We are grateful to them for their support of this oral history 
project and their assistance in locating family photographs to include in 
the interview volumes. 

Ann Lage 

Proj ect Director 

September. 1988 

Regional Oral History Office 

The Bancroft Library 

University of California at Berkeley 

Regional Oral History Office 
Room 486 The Bancroft Library 

University of California 
Berkeley, California 94720 



(Please print or write clearly) 

Your full name David George Patterson 

Date of birth August 13,1920 Place of birth Oakland, Calif 

Father's full name William Donald Patterson 


Alameda County, Calif. 

Occupation Rancher 

Mother's full name 

May Bird Patterson 

Birthplace Yreka, Calif 



Where did you grow up ? Southern Alameda County, Calif 

Present community 

Alamo, Calif. 

Education B_. A. -Engineering (Stanford Univ.);MBA (Stanford Univ.) 

Occupation(s) A PP rox 12 years in engineering and production nana.vsir.ent; 

Approx 25 years in business management( investments; raal 
estate;as individual and as Trustee) 

Special interests or activities/c*vrxV)yV. 

Community service; leadership positions , financial and hands-on support 
of U.S. Air Force Veteran's Memorial library & support organization, and 
of local emergency communications services; substantial financial suppor 

local and national char itias , Business ; active in business management 
of family assets and trusts, -Recreation; active pilot/airplane 
owner;active tennis player ,skii2r, hiker/mountain recreation" 

ivities, boating/water skiing(have small boat), -Home; married, have 7 
children/stepchildren(all now adults, some with children of their 
own) .Wife Joan and I enjoy above recreational activities , plus travel 
and social activities connected with local community and organizations. 

Above: David and Joan Patterson, 1987. 

Below: Left to right, David Patterson, age 8; May Bird Patterson, mother; 

rson. older brother, aee 17. in 1978. 


: to right, David Patterson, age 8; May Bird Pati 
John Patterson, older brother, age 17, in 1928. 




Education in Palo Alto and Centerville 
[Date of Interview: November 3, 1986] ## 

Mr. Patterson, could you tell me something about your early life; 
where you were born and where you grew up? 

David P: I was born in Oakland August 13, 1920, at Fabiolo [now Kaiser] 
Hosiptal, and for the first two years of my life I lived in 
Piedmont in a rental house. Then we moved to the house at the 
Patterson Ranch, the W. D. Patterson house. That would have been 
about 1922. I lived there until my college years, when in 1938 I 
started my studies at Stanford University. 

Mellon: Could you tell me a little bit about your early education, prior 
to entering Stanford? 

David P: Yes. When I was still pre-school, my father spent quite a bit of 
time each day in the evening teaching me to read and write. This 
started when I was probably four or five years old. After that I 
went to a Palo Alto school [Castilleja] for my first two grades, 
and then the Peninsula School in Palo Alto for the third and 
fourth grades. During this time, my family rented a house in Palo 
Alto, so that during the school year we lived in Palo Alto, and 
during the rest of the year we lived at the ranch. My father, of 
course, went back and forth daily. 

Then I went to public school in Palo Alto for the fifth grade 
[Walter Hays School], and the sixth grade [Addison School]. In 
the sixth grade, which would have been about 1932, I contracted I 
think it was scarlet fever anyhow, it led to a serious illness 
and subsequently to a critical mastoid operation. I was quite 

## This symbol indicates that a tape or segment of a tape has 
begun or ended. For a guide to the tapes, see page 158. 


David P: ill. I spent my time of illness at the ranch, then, and because 
of that my parents wanted me at a school close to home. So, the 
seventh and eighth grades were spent in the Centerville Grammar 
School, and I lived at the ranch. Then, from there, I went to 
Palo Alto High School for four years, and then Stanford for four 
years after that, prior to the war. 

Mellon: When you lived at the ranch and went to school, how did you go? 
Were there buses did you take a bus, or did you walk, or ride a 

David P: In the beginning, at high school, the first two years of high 

school, I took the local Peerless Stage Bus, which traveled fairly 
close, on Jarvis Road, and my parents would take me out to the 
road and then I would pick up the bus, and it would take me to 
Palo Alto. And then in my junior year, they got me a little car, 
and from then on I commuted from the ranch. 

Mellon: Why don't you finish up on your education? 

David P: The balance of my education I was at Stanford from '38 until "42. 
My graduating class should have been 1942; however. I needed a few 
units to finish up in engineering school when World War II 
started. So in the early part of 1942 I went into the service, 
and I served until the end of the war. When I returned. I was 
given credit by Stanford for having gone through flying school and 
with the army, air corps to finish up my engineering credits that I 
needed. My engineering [B.A. ] diploma was awarded me in 1945. 

So then I started the Graduate School of Business at 
Stanford that would have been in 1946 and 1947 and earned an MBA 
degree from Stanford in 1948. Prior to that time. I had attended 
UCLA one summer school to make up some credits, and that was in 
1939, I believe. But that consisted basically of my education. 

After that time I was employed at U.S. Steel, and. in the 
early sixties, I went to the University of California [at 
Berkeley] to their evening school certificate program in real 
estate, and finished a two-year program there, earning their 
Certificate of Real Estate. That pretty well wrapped up my 
educational experience. 

Service in the Air Force in World War II 

Mellon: Could you comment just briefly about your service during World War 
II in the air force? 


David P: Yes. I went into active duty in June of '42. I was commissioned 
in army ordnance through the ROTC program at Stanford. There was 
a tremendous need for Signal Corps personnel, as the Signal Corps 
was expanding rapidly in 19A2. So they transferred me immediately 
into the Signal Corps, and I went to Fort Monmouth, New Jersey 
[the eastern Signal Corps School] for three months of retraining. 
From Fort Monmouth, I went to Desert Training Center, out in the 
area east of Indio, and worked maneuvers with the 4th Armored 
Corps. That would have been the late summer and fall of '42 and 
the spring of '43. Just prior, General Fatten and the 2nd Armored 
Corps had been training at Desert Training Center. He went on to 
Africa with his corps, but our unit wasn't trained soon enough and 
well enough, so we stayed back. Thereafter we would have gone 
overseas with the 4th Armored Corps, but the African campaign 
started to wind down. Our desert training was tailored to service 
in the African desert, so our 4th Corps desert training was no 
longer needed. 

A bunch of us young fellows were very eager to get into the 
fray and decided we wanted to get into something more exciting. 
One time when we had some days off, ten of us went into San 
Bernardino to the army air base there. It was called the San 
Bernardino Army Air Base, I guess, in those days; it's now Norton 
Air Force Base. We processed the paperwork and passed the 
physicals and applied and were eventually accepted for air corps 
training. I went through pilot training. Class 44f was my class, 
and I graduated from advanced twin engine pilot school at Pampa, 
Texas, June 1944. After that, I went through flying transition 
schools ended up flying B-24 Liberator bombers in combat with the 
8th Air Force, 445th Bomb Group, based in England. I stayed with 
them and flew a number of missions over Germany. I was shot down 
once (on a mission over Berlin) and was rescued by the Russians 
and got back to my base. I flew a few more missions, and then the 
war was over in Europe. During this period of combat flying over 
Europe I was awarded the air medal, three battle stars, and my 
group received a unit citation. 

We were scheduled to transfer into B-29 training and go to 
the Pacific theater [Japan]. However, first we came back to the 
U.S. and were given a month of leave, and then by this time this 
would have been July and August of '45 we got back to our new 
training bases and got ready for training. Why, fortunately, the 
Japanese war ended suddenly with the dropping of the atomic bomb, 
which saved an awful lot of us from any further possible 

So at that time (later 1945), I got out of the active service 
as soon as I could, because I did have this strong desire to go 
back to school and finish my education. 


Patterson Family Traditions 

Mellon: The Pattersons were certainly one of the most prominent and 

affluent families in southern Alameda County. When you were 

growing up, did the realization that you were a Patterson have any 
special effect on you? 

David P: No. My parents were very much two feet on the ground, and were 
very much part of the community. I didn't personally have any 
feeling that I was any different from anybody else. I guess, at 
the time, I didn't realize that I was getting education in better 
schools in Palo Alto. I played with kids locally although, being 
isolated, raised en a farm as I was, it was difficult to find 
playmates. That is one of the main reasons why my parents had me 
in the Palo Alto schools and moved there during the school year 
into a community where there were neighbors nearby, where I did 
have kids to play with. I think this was very important in their 
reasoning, that I needed to have friends that were nearby to play 
with. But I never felt any distinction. It was just that it was 
more fun after school, to be able to play in a vacant lot nearby 
with a bunch of kids, play baseball or football, as against being 
out on the farm and being lonesome and by myself. 

Mellon: Of course, the Pattersons were well-to-do, and their success was 

based in large measure on the hard work of your grandfather and his 
two sons. Was there ever a work ethic among the Pattersons that 
included the children as well? Was thrift stressed in the family? 

David P: Absolutely. My father set up a pattern of hard work. 1 knew, as 
I grew up, that every day he was managing the ranch properties. 
Typically, he would leave in the morning to make his rounds of the 
farming and direct the various operations along with my uncle. 
Many times, as a youngster, my father would take me along after 
school or on weekends, and we'd first stop at my uncle's house. 
My uncle had an office (which was the sun porch at the G. W. 
Patterson house), and my father and 1 would go in and I would sit 
down in the corner, and my father and my uncle would discuss the 
current problems on the farm. Then we would continue to make the 
"rounds" ef the farm lands. I was very definitely raised with the 
idea that work was the way to go. My mother was very busy running 
the home, and that was the whole context. 

There was no question in my mind that I was going to go on to 
higher education. It didn't even enter my mind that I would do 
anything except continue on and get a degree and learn some 
profession. My father and my mother always pointed out to me that 
I should have a prime profession, which steered me towards 
engineering, even though the other, ranch property management, was 
there in the background. They felt that I should have a separate 
profession, as a safety valve. 


The TWo Family Homes 

Mellon: What are your first remembrances of the G. W. Patterson house? 
Were you a regular visitor to the house your grandfather built? 
Who lived there at the time? 

David P: From the age of two, I grew up in my father's home nearby to the 

G. W. Patterson house. My father's house was about a quarter of a 
mile away from the G. W. Patterson house, which was occupied by my 
uncle and aunt and cousins. In those days, it was typical that 
the older brother occupied the family home, and the younger 
brother built a home for himself. So my uncle, being older than 
my father, took over my grandfather's house when my grandparents 

My early recollections of the house were very fuzzy. You 
must remember that I was youngest of the six children in the two 
families. My brother Jack, who was closest to me in age, was six 
years older than I was. My oldest brother, Don, was some fifteen 
years older than I, and cousins Sally and Marjorie were of that 
same vintage. The younger daughter, Georgia, I really didn't ever 
know. She was killed when she was fairly young. 

So I was kind of the "little kid on the block." I did go 
over to their house occasionally they had a swimming pool that we 
were all invited to use and used quite often. I would join 
swimming parties with my cousins and my older brothers, but again, 
I was the little kid. I was kind of there because there was no 
other place to put me, I suppose. But I did enjoy the swimming 
pool. (We did not have one at our house.) 

In my two years when I was living at the ranch and attending 
school in Centerville, in the seventh and eighth grade years, I 
got quite involved in playing tennis. They had a tennis court at 
my uncle's house, and we didn't. My aunt and uncle invited me to 
use the court anytime, and that is where I really learned a sport 
that I'm still playing, at my age of 66, and I'm very thankful to 
have had that wonderful opportunity to start. My father started 
with me, showing me how to play. My brother Don, when he was down 
from college or work, would play with me. We had a gardener and 
cook on the premises at our house almost all the time I could 
remember; and the gardener (several of the gardeners) really loved 
to get out and exercise after work, and they would play tennis 
with me. So that's where my tennis got started. It's been a 
wonderful thing for me. It has helped me maintain excellent 
health and a sound physical condition throughout the years. (Many 
of these gardeners eventually owned their own homes and businesses 
and enjoyed tennis in their later years too.) 


Mellon: Some of the sources describe the William Patterson house as being 
almost the equal of the G. W. Patterson house very fine 
construction and a lovely home. Is this your recollection? 

David P: Oh, I loved it. It was huge by today's standards. Again, in 

those days, a farm house was typically where a family lived and 
worked together. It was a different world than it is now. It was 
roomy; each of my brothers, even though they weren't there all the 
time, had rooms; I had my own bedroom. And baths oh, I forget 
how many baths now. 

But I remember the two floors, plus a basement and an attic. 
All had facilities. It was just a very comfortable house. I can 
remember as a child in the wintertime, for instance, going up into 
the attic, which was big but unfinished, and there were storage 
trunks and all kinds of things like that that you read about in 
stories, where little kids go up and play during the rainy days. 
I remember doing the same thing. All in all, my home was just a 
very comfortable place to live and grow up. 

Remembering Father Will and Uncle Henry 

Mellon: What kind of contacts did you have with your father, William 
Patterson? What were your early impressions of him? 

David P: I knew my father as a very kind person who loved people little 

people as well as big people. He was very gregarious; he was very 
well-liked. As I said earlier, when I was very, very small pre 
school I can still remember after dinner looking forward in the 
evening to running into the front room and getting out my reading 
book and sitting down on the couch. My dad would come in and sit 
down, and he'd teach me to read. I still remember that as a 
wonderful experience. He taught me basic writing and arithmetic 
too the "3 Rs". 

As I get older, why, he spent time with me in teaching me not 
only school work, but to camp, to fish, to hunt. He took me on 
backpacking trips, he taught me to ski. He was a great 
outdoorsman. He loved the outdoors. He taught me and, I'm sure, 
before me he taught my brothers too. I know my brother Jack was 
young enough so that he would accompany us on skiing trips and 
that type of thing. 

So my dad was my teacher and was my companion in many ways 
through the early years. He was very active in community affairs 
himself, too, and in the managing of the ranch. 


Mellon: Did your father discuss the operation of the ranch with you; and 
if so, when did he begin to do this? 

David P: I believe right from the beginning. I said earlier that whenever 
I was off from school he would take me in his car and drive around 
and point out the various things to me. His attitude was always 
that I should understand and learn but that I should always look 
forward to another profession, and I believe that had a lot to do 
with the fact that I was the littlest kid and there were a lot of 
older ones that would come before me regarding management of the 
family's ranch businesses. I think that they (my father and my 
uncle) were operating under the old philosophy of family 
management wherein the oldest was the first in line, and I, of 
course, was the youngest. 

Mellon: Did you have much contact with your uncle, Henry Patterson? What 
were your impressions of him what kind of a man was he, what kind 
of an uncle? 

David P: Well, Uncle Henry was a very quiet person but a very kind person, 
as I remember him. He and my father would chat about business; as 
I mentioned earlier, we'd go over to the ranch office, which was 
in my uncle's house the G. W. Patterson house. He was always 
kind to me and always pleasant a man of few words but a 
comfortable person to be around. His kindness, for instance, 
showed in one specific example. When I came back from the war, 
after the end of the war, I had a little airplane. I was still 
flying out of Hamilton Field with the U.S. Army Air Corps Reserve, 
and I had a small plane of my own that I would fly over to 
Hamilton Field, land, and spend my weekend tour, and then come 

My uncle, unbeknownst to me, had an airstrip just a dirt 
airstrip, but a useful landing strip graded out back of the ranch 
houses in a field that was used as a roadway. Lo and behold, he 
let me know one time that "we have an airstrip for you; anytime 
you want to use it and anytime you want to come down, you just go 
ahead." And I thought that was a wonderful thing so thoughtful. 
It was a kind thing he was a man of not many words but nice 
thoughts. And that was a really nice thought, and I did use that 
airstrip from time to time. 

Mellon: In the written records, your father comes through as more of a 
gregarious, out-going person, and your Uncle Henry as more 
taciturn and reserved. Is this accurate? 

David P: I would say yes. I would say that the two complemented each 

other. Uncle Henry and my father were both, in my estimation, 
very kind people and very compassionate people. Uncle Henry 
showed it in a different way. As I've explained, my father was 
more outgoing, more of a joiner. When I really knew them, of 


David P: course, they were along in years, as Uncle Henry was born in 1878, 
and my father was born in 1880 and by the time I was fifteen (that 
would have been 1935) they were already in their mid-fifties. 

My father put aside one day a week (when business allowed him 
the time) wherein he would join his men friends at the Bohemian 
dub in San Francisco. The Bohemian dub was a highly regarded 
men-only club, much like the exclusive men's clubs found in 
England. This was a regular thing. He went each Thursday 
afternoon, when the club had special programs. I remember my mom 
always said, with approval, 'Veil, Father's going to the Bohemian 
dub for their weekly get-together." He also attended the 
Bohemian dub's annual one-week "retreat" at the Bohemian Grove, 
where the club invited well-known opera and stage stars to 
perform. (I believe the great singer Enrico Caruso performed 
there, for instance.) This was just the way he was, whereas I 
really don't know about Uncle Henry because I wasn't as close te 
him, but I don't believe he was as active socially. 

My father also was very active in community affairs. For 
instance, he was on the Alameda County Water District Board of 
Directors for, oh, more than forty years, and he was president for 
almost that period of time. As these were elected offices, it 
reflected the fact that a lot of people in the community knew him 
and respected him and obviously voted for him. 

The Bohemian dub people I know they and other people he 
knew would often gather at the ranch. We had two flooded ponds 
that we used for duck-hunting. We had a duck shack hunting 
lodge and he would have quite a few of his friends down for 
weekend duck shoots regularly during duck hunting season. 

And Uncle Henry was included and shot and socialized with 
them, but I feel that it was more my father's acquaintances that 
my uncle enjoyed than truly just my uncle's acquaintances. 

Mother May and Aunt Sarah 

Mellon: What was your relationship with your mother. May Patterson? What 
kind ef a person was she? Do you recall her taking any role in 
the running of the ranch? 

David P: Well, my mother was not involved in the business itself. Again* 
at my age, she was alreadyby the time I knew what was happening 
businesswise, she was already in her fifties. But I remember my 
feeling that she was very good with household budgets and a very 
thrifty person. I know that she watched over the household's 
finances, but not the business finances. 


David P: Again. I felt she was gregarious. She had a lot of friends in the 
Centerville and in the Palo Alto areas. She was quite a bit 
involved in charities such as the Children's Hospital of the East 
Bay, the Episcopal Church at Centerville, the Garden (Hub in 
Washington Township. But basically, she was a homemaker and a 
family person, and she did those things that a homemaker- wife 
would do in the community and in the home to make for a well- 
balanced home, I'd say. She was a wonderful mother to me. 


David P: 

Did you have much contact with your aunt, Sarah Patterson? 
were your impressions of her? 


Aunt Sarah I don't remember too well. I saw Uncle Henry because 
he was involved in the ranch business, but Aunt Sarah as I 
remember, she was involved in helping with the ranch books, but I 
wasn't involved in that part of it, so I don't really know again, 
she was kind enough to invite me to use the tennis court and the 
swimming pool, and she was always kind to me and pleasant. But I 
didn't have a close relationship with her, personally, outside of 

She had her own kids to raise, and I guess like my mother, 
she was concentrating on raising her family. Her children were 
much older than I was, though. I didn't really have a close 
relationship with Aunt Sarah. 

Will Patterson's Interests in the Outdoors, Sports, Travel, 
And Agronomy 

Mellon: The written records depict your father as being interested in the 
outdoors, in hunting and camping and travel. Is this accurate, 
and did you participate with him in these activities? 

David P: I'd say that was very accurate. He, as we were talking about 

before, took me hunting and fishing and taught me skiing. Again, 
before my time, I heard about the fact that he made quite a few 
trips up into the Yukon and the Peace River area of Canada, and 
into Alaska, the Lake Bennett area. Much of it was the excitement 
of going into areas that were wilderness, on his own or with a 
guide. For instance, he had great aspirations to be the first 
person to ever climb Mount Whitney in the wintertime. He and a 
fellow named Dennis Jones, who was an alternate on the American 
Olympic Ski Team back in the thirties, prepared one summer with 
caches of food that they placed on the trail up to the top of 
Whitney. I suppose this would have been in the early thirties; I 
can't remember now really. But they were going to be the first 
people to ever climb Mount Whitney in the wintertime. 


David P: As it turned out. they got part way up. and Dennis Jones had been 
a ski jumper, and he had a bad ankle, and his ankle went bad and 
they had to turn around and come back. But this illustrates the 
type of person my father was. He loved the wilderness; he wanted 
to do things that were unusual, that tested his skill. I suppose, 
for survival in the wilderness, and just to enjoy the beauty of 
the wilderness, too. This was his type of thing. 

In addition to that, in 1928 he took our family to Europe. 
He (and my mother) felt that my brother Jack and I should have the 
educational advantages of such an experience. We were in Europe 
for, I would say, almost a year. We attended Swiss schools and 
spent time touring and sightseeing in England. France, Italy. 
Switzerland. One of the main reasons that I believe he wanted to 
go was also because he wanted to ski in the Alps which he did do 
extensively and taught Jack and me how te ski. Mountaineering, 
skiing, and outside activities were important recreational 
activities for my father. He continued to ski and enjoy the 
wildernesses and mountains well into his sixties, which for that 
generation was very unusual. I still ski and enjoy backpacking in 
the mountains, but our generation's a little different. 

Mellon: Would you describe your father as an environmentalist; and if so, 
would you describe some examples of this? If 

David P: I believe he was more of an agronomist rather than an environment 
alist. He was a person whose business life was dedicated to 
agriculture. He was always experimenting with trying to raise 
something new. We had in our backyard a large farm area that was 
dedicated just to raising small amounts of many different types of 
crops. We also had an orchard in which he experimented with 
grafting of various types of fruits. He was intensely interested 
in improving the agriculture as it pertained to the ranch 
agricultural business. He had exotic trees that he tried for 
instance there was a papaw tree that he tried to raise from seeds 
from Mexico it didn't work well. He had oranges and lemons, and 
grapefruit, which in those days, in our cold climate, was quite 
unusual. But I would say that his major thrust was agriculture. 
He enjoyed gardening too, as a hobby which of course is related 
to agriculture. He also was involved in the water district, 
because that had to do with agriculture, and the preservation of 
water for agriculture was very important to him. 

Mellon: Did your father keep in close contact with his college classmates 
after graduation? Did he take an active interest in Stanford? 

David P: Again, by the time I became aware of his activities, he was in his 
fifties. I understood that he was active in his class at 
Stanford, was a fraternity man and a good athlete. He played 
football at Stanford and earned his freshman numeral in his class 
of 1904. He prided himself (when I knew him) that he never missed 


David P: a Stanford-Gal football game all through the years. In fact, as I 
remember, he didn't come over to Europe until right after the Big 
Game, just to keep his record perfect. [laughter] 

He taught football as a volunteer after he got out of 
Stanford. He was a volunteer football coach for the local 
Centerville high school it was called Washington Union High 
School. He was a fraternity man at Stanford (I can't recall right 
now the fraternity), but as far as keeping in contact with his 
Stanford classmates, I couldn't tell you about it. It could very 
well be that a lot of these people that were duck hunting with him 
and that were at the Bohemian dub in San Francisco could have 
been Stanford people, but I don't really know. 

Brothers Don and Jack 

Mellon: Your brother Don has been called the historian of the Patterson 
family. Is this accurate? 

David P: No. I think custodian is a better word than historian. Don was 
an entomologist by hobby, a good one. He had a moth named after 
him that he discovered. He collected data from the ranch 
business, historical data, and he took it to the Pioneer Society 
[the Society of California Pioneers in San Francisco], and it was 
just put there. He did some taping of some of the events, but it 
was more of a custodial function taking the data and putting it 
in custody for future reference rather than actually developing a 
history of the family. 

My wife and I have done more of the true family history in 
the last few years. We have been to East Berlin, Pennsylvania, 
where my grandfather, G. W. Patterson, was born and his parents 
and grandparents lived. We've been to Lafayette, Indiana, where 
he and his sisters and brothers grew up. I remember years ago 
when we mentioned East Berlin, Don said, "Well, no use going 
there, you wouldn't find anything." In contrast, we did find much 
of Patterson history there. So what that is saying is that Don 
was collecting data and storing it so that it wouldn't be 
destroyed, but actually, as far as developing a history, no, I 
don't believe that he did that, outside of just the data that he 
had at his fingertips. 

Mellon: What kind of relationship did you have with your brother Jack? 

What was he like? Did you have much contact with him through the 


David F: Jack was six years older than I. which is quite a bit of age 

difference when you're little. So my contact with Jack in the 
earlier years wasn't much. But as time went by. we became closer 
and closer. Jack was definitely not a scholastic person. He did 
not do well in school whatsoever. But on the other side of the 
coin, he was unusually good at what he liked to do. For instance, 
he studied history and French, and I can remember when he was in 
high school and I was in grammar school, he would sit at home and 
read French history books, French novels, and French magazines 
instead of doing his homework in school. He just wasn't 
interested in following the school curriculum. 

He was a very gregarious person. He was very much like my 
father. People liked him; he got around socially a lot; he had a 
lot of friends. But he didn't pay attention to his school work. 
Where he really shone was in what he enjoyed doing. When World 
War II started, he displayed a very, very strong loyalty to his 
country. He was the kind of person that just believed in America; 
he believed in our way of life; he believed that he and all of us 
should be supporting that. So he went into the military service, 
he volunteered, and he excelled in his duties in the service. He 
had been doing some work on the cattle ranch prior to the war not 
very well, but he loved horses and he had tried his hand at 
cattle ranching and hadn't done very well. But he did like 
horses, so when he volunteered for army service when the war 
started, he went into the cavalry. He worked hard and eventually 
became an officer. 

Then he went into paratrooper school and became a para 
trooper. Then he went to commando school and became a commando, 
and he ended up in Europe in the OSS, which was an undercover unit 
of the U.S. Army, in which he was very outstanding. Among his 
awards, he earned a silver star, which is one of the highest 
awards that the United States gives for gallantry in action 
bravery in action. He also earned many battle stars. He did an 
outstanding job in that field and, again, I would say that he was 
intensely patriotic. I felt also that he was a devoted family 
man. He was married to Joan Meek before he went overseas. When 
he was serving overseas. I met him at one time when I got back 
from being shot down. I met him in Paris (he was on a rest leave 
from the front lines) and we spent two or three days together, and 
he was always talking about his family at home. He just was that 
kind of guy; just really a nice person. 

But the academic life, the mundane life of an ordinary 
business person, as a farmer or a rancher, wasn't exciting enough 
for him, I'd say. And yet he had a good business mind. He had 
good common sense when it came to business. 


Mellon: Did your brother Jack ever take an active role in the running of 
the ranch? What kind of relationship did your brother Jack have 
with Don Patterson? 

David P: Jack tried his hand at cattle ranching on part of the Patterson 

Ranch. That was in the late 1930s. He was net a manager for the 
family but was on his own. He didn't do very well at it. He also 
tried farming on Patterson lands, on his own, and he didn't do 
very well at it either. I feel one of the problems that Jack had 
was that Don was a very domineering person, and Don was the oldest 
in the family. I believe Don was raised to be the leader of the 
families, in the old feudal system where the oldest son of the 
family is the one that is supposed to carry on the family 

I do believe that was instilled in Don. I remember my 
mother, when I was a kid, always pointing out that Don was, you 
knew, the person to follow, and so forth. I was so young that 
there was no competition between me and Don, but Jack was close 
enough in age so I think that he felt it, and I think that Don's 
domineering whether it was because of Don's nature or because he 
was forced into the spot caused Jack to back away. They always 
had good relationships, but I think that Jack was subdued by Don's 
position, really, and that indirectly affected his performance. 

Mellon: Some people have asserted that the Henry and William sides of the 
Patterson family were polite and communicative, but never close. 
Is this true? 

David P: I have in recent years heard this, and I have stated to Sally 
[Henry's daughter] and John [Dr. Adams, her husband] that that 
could have been, but it surely isn't any more. Whatever happened, 
I didn't know anything about it. I remember, as I said earlier, 
going over to Sally's house, Uncle Henry's house, to use the pool 
and use the tennis court which were open to me to use anytime. I 
didn't see the alleged differences, and yet I've heard of this 
allegation. But I wasn't involved in it, nor did I ever see 
evidence of it. Maybe I was too little, you know. Maybe I was 
fortunate but they certainly were communicative; they certainly 
were polite and very nice to me. I saw my brothers and my cousins 
playing together. As they grew older, they grew apart, but that's 
understandable; everyone has their own direction. 



Sales and Development in the 1950s 

Mellon: Mr. Patterson, what was the date of the first Singer purchase of 
Patterson Ranch acreage? Were there two purchases one in 1965 
and one in 1972? 

David P: Well, let's go back. In the 1950s, some big changes took place in 
what is now the Fremont area in the location of the Patterson 
Ranch. The Nimitz freeway was constructed through the ranch 
property. The cities of Fremont, Newark, and Union City 
incorporated. Master plans were designed by these cities, shewing 
plans for industrial, commercial, and residential areas in the 
agricultural lands. The whole area started to change its image 
from a strictly rural farm area to a potential urban /sub urban 
area. Seeing the potential changes in planned land uses, our side 
of the family in the 1950s made a sale of about 300 acres to a 
developer. That was followed very shortly, in the early sixties, 
by my Uncle Henry's side of the family, with a sale of about the 
same amount of acres. So, really, both sides of the family made 
similar moves, both recognizing the land-use trends that would 
eventually affect farming. 

Moreover, in 1955, I remember that my father and my uncle 
were very desirous of dividing up the rest of the lands and 
selling more for development. These first 600 acres that had been 
sold had already been divided (they were on the northeast side of 
Jarvis Road). Then, continuing in the 1950s, my father and uncle 
began a program of dividing other portions of the ranch into two- 
family ownerships. The beginning tracts are what we now call the 
K tracts. 

About this time, in the mid-fifties, Wayne Valley and John 
[Jack] Brooks, principals in a very successful development company 
called Besco, approached my father and uncle about a sale of some 
additional 350 acres of our tract 0, which included much of the 
lands surrounding the two family homes. I know from listening to 


David P: my father and visiting with my uncle that they were on the verge 
of making that sale then. My uncle died suddenly, and that shut 
down the whole process, and nothing more was done at that time. 
Eventually, in 1971, the same property was sold to Singer Housing 
Company, a division of the Singer Company of sewing maching fame, 
for residential development. 

In the meantime, in the 1950s, the city of Fremont was 
organized. Our property became part of Fremont, with a small part 
in Newark. Fremont commenced master-planning the whole area, as I 
stated before, changing the whole land-use concept from 
agriculture to eventual suburban/urban uses. I felt my father and 
uncle, although basically agriculturalists, were good businessmen 
and wise enough to recognize these trends and align their business 
actions to suit the inevitable changes. 

Burning of the Family Home 

Mellon: What was your reaction, and the family reaction, to the burning of 
the W. D. Patterson house? Could anything have been done to delay 
or avoid it? 

David P: My father's will stated that any of the three boys, myself, or 
Don, or Jack could have the house if we would live in it and 
maintain it. Otherwise, my father wanted it destroyed because he 
was well aware of the potential problems of vandalism. This was a 
huge house by today's standards, a huge farm house, that had had 
quite a bit of years of use. It was built around 1905, so the 
plumbing was on its last legs, really. The roof needed repair, 
the wiring was the old style single-wire, rather than romex cable, 
and its safety was questionable. It was just, for our generation, 
impossible to afford to keep in repair to live in or to own. So 
we opted not to try and live in it. It would have been too much 
of a financial and physical burden for any of us. 

In the meantime, while we were settling his estate, for the 
few months that that took, disposing of his personal things and so 
forth, the house was left during the evenings and time when we 
weren't there, and even though it was locked, it was broken into 
several times. Fixtures were torn off the walls leaving exposed 
wires. The walls were destroyed, just by wanton vandalism. Cans 
of paint were splattered throughout the interior. Certain wall, 
floor, and ceiling areas were torn out. F^/en bricks from the 
patio and fireplaces were removed, and big piles of debris left. 
It was an awful thing for us, who had grown up in this home, to 


David P: So finally, we my brother Don was in charge arranged with the 
Newark Fire Department to have them use the house for fire drill 
practice. So the fire department used it for that purpose. They 
would light it. and then they would have their fellows training to 
put the fire out. and then they would light it again, and so 
forth, as I remember the story, until it was finally all burnt 

The only attempts at preserving it would have come from 
anyone who could have afforded to keep that size of home, and it 
was way outside of our ability financially. There were people who 
called and said, "Can't we preserve it?" The answer was. "Well, 
do you have the money to do it?" The bottom line became, "No. the 
expense is too great." And in the meantime, the vandalism was 
going on. So, in my estimation, it was a godsend that it was 
burned down because vandalism was destroying not only the physical 
structure, but tearing at our feelings concerning our home. 

Mellon: Was there ever any talk of tearing down the G. W. Patterson house? 

David P: I don't ever remember of anything like that. It was sold to 

Singer in 1971, and the contractual agreement was that it would be 
preserved and someday it would become, hopefully, a historical 
building. There were other buildings in Fremont there's one 
close to the hub and there's the Shinn house which have been 
preserved in that way, and that was our hope, and that was our 
understanding with Singer. The fact that all during the years 
that Singer (and later Citation Homes) owned the property and they 
were having a dispute with the city, they maintained it, they kept 
a caretaker there at the property to preserve it, to make sure 
that it wasn't vandalized, I think points up the fact that there 
was no feeling that it should or would be destroyed. 

Ma na gem ent by Eldest So n and by Trustee Committee 

Mellon: When did you begin to take a role in managing the family ranching 
business? What had been your business relationship with Don? Had 
he kept you informed, and did he seek your advice about decisions? 

David P: My father died in 1961. my uncle died in 1955, and my Aunt Sarah 
died in 1965. My father's health started deteriorating in the 
late 1950s, and it was pretty obvious that there had to be 
somebody to step in to take care of the affairs. Don was the one 
who stepped in to do it, again, he being the oldest son. After my 
father died, he worked with my Aunt Sarah, who kept the books, and 
eventually, because she was getting along in years, the ranch 
books were turned over to a CPA organization. Don ran the day-to- 


David P: day ranch management himself. He talked periodically to brother 
Jack and myself. I don't believe he asked our opinion so much as 
he used us as a sounding board. 

Don liked to run things his own way. He did a good job of 
it; he kept things running well. But he was pretty much a one-man 
show. The rest of us felt that this was his way of working. I 
attempted to get involved, and I did some small projects under his 
direction. For instance, we had a horse-boarding operation for a 
short period of time, and under his direction I did some work on 
that. I did a few other small jobs. But Don was in charge, and 
there was no question that he was in charge. That was it. 

Mellon: Did you take over after Don's death? 

David P: After Don died, which was in 1980, we had by that time due to the 
programs of gifting of properties by my father and my uncle we 
had, oh, some eighteen to twenty separate owners of undivided 
ownerships in some thirty-five parcels, including both ranches. 
These were all tenant s-in-common. and they all had a right to 
dictate to anybody else, regardless of their percentage of 
ownership, what they wanted to do with any particular parcel. 
When Don died, we had a "rudderless ship." I immediately wrote to 
my cousin Sally, who was the eldest member of the Henry Patterson 
side of the family, and said, "We have to get together and do 
something. " 

So we got together, as trustees, because the majority 
ownerships were in two trusts, one administered chiefly by Sally 
and the other by myself and Wilcox Patterson. We formed a trustee 
committee to do the management. For the first time since my 
father's and uncle's deaths, we had agendas for meetings, and we 
met regularly and kept meeting minutes. The committee consisted 
of representatives of the major owners: Sally and Dr. Adams, her 
husband; an attorney [Dick Rahl] representing Marj orie Patterson, 
Sally's sister; Wil Patterson; and myself. We asked Jack Brooks 
to come in as a consultant because he had worked with the family 
since the early 1950s. 

So we worked as a committee. I was chairman of the 
committee, but I was not manager per se. We were managing the 
property jointly. And this was a new breath of fresh air for the 
family because instead of one person running it pretty much, why, 
now it was a group action, representing the owners. 

Mellon: It is said that Wayne Valley came to the Pattersons in the 1930s, 
with talk about land development on the ranch. What was the 
earliest discussion of development that you remember, with whom, 
and what was the outcome? 


David P: Wayne Vail.., could not have come in the 1930s because he isn't 

much elder than I am snd he would have only been a teenager then. 
I think that maybe that should have been the 1950s, and that goes 
back to what I referred to before, around the mid-fifties, just 
before Uncle Henry's death, wherein Uncle Henry and my father had 
discussions with Wayne Valley and Jack Brooks together they were. 
I believe, principals in the Besco Company at that time about a 
purchase of some 350 acres of what we called Tract 0. As I said 
earlier, this fell through because of the fact that my uncle Henry 
died. They had a final contract drawn up, they were en the verge 
of signing it. and Uncle Henry died suddenly. Otherwise, as I 
remember, it was a foregone conclusion; it was all worked out and 
ready to go. 

Mellon: Have there been differences between the two branches of the family 
over development decisions, and if so, how have they been resolved? 

David P: From what I've said about Uncle Henry and my father, they seemed 

to be in unison in their feelings. I think that in our generation 
we have a good balance in our ownership, in the fact that we have 
some who are very conservation-minded and want no development; 
then we have some who are conservationists, but very much realists 
toe, and recognize that we need to preserve a balance between open 
space and development; and we have some of the younger fellows in 
the family who might want to see "wall-to-wall" development. But 
I don't think the division is between the two families. I think 
it's division among the various members that are owners and are 

And I think it's great to have a balance. I think it would 
be terrible if we were all developer-minded or all conservation- 
minded, because, as an example, a sole position of conservation 
would be great if, for instance, our lands were rural, remote, 
with no population growth of consequence in the foreseeable future 
(as with our Livermore ranch range lands). But in Fremont our 
property is surrounded by ever- increasing urban growth, and we 
must yield to the needs of a population which requires places to 
work, to shop, to live. 

The Agricultural Operation and Open-Space Uses 

Mellon: Did you deal with tenant farmers on the ranch? Who were they, and 
what did they grow, and what kind of business arrangements did you 
have or do you have with them? 

David P: Well, starting when my uncle and my father became older and 

declined in health (that would have been in late 1940s and in the 
1950s) the hands-on farming that they did through their own crews 


David P: gave way to renting the property out. The Livermore property was 
rented out to what is now the W. P. Cattle Company. Later, in the 
sixties, the herd of cattle were sold to them, so we are now 
basically just lessors in that area. 

In the Fremont area the same thing happened, with a 
transition from the time when I was growing up, when my father and 
uncle managed the farming of large crops of grain, tomatoes, and 
peas and sugarbeets, etc. As time progressed, this property was 
progressively rented out to others, and now there is basically one 
company, the Alameda Company, that rents from us, and their main 
crops are cauliflower, lettuce, some cucumbers, etc. As far as 
the relationship with these people, it has been as part of our 
committee, our organization, representing the family interests 
with these people. The Fremont people, the Alameda Company, are 
on a year-to-year lease, which we renegotiate each year, and the 
Livermore people are on a four-year lease, which is renegotiated 
every four years. #tf 

Mellon: Is it currently the intent of the family to maintain agricultural 
operations on the ranch, and how extensive? 

David P: Yes. There, again, we believe in a balance. Of course, in 

Livermore, the cattle business is progressing, even though these 
are tough times for cattle. Nevertheless, we have operators up 
there that are doing a good job and want to continue operating a 
cattle ranch, and will, as far as we know. If they were to drop 
out, we would definitely find other cattle people to operate that 

As far as Fremont is concerned, when the city ef Fremont 
started their intense program in the late 1970s to rezone the 
north plain of which the Patterson Ranch is part, they had some 
twelve or fourteen various plans presented for review, all the way 
from 100 percent open space to 100 percent development. We were 
able, through brilliant work by our consultant, Jack Brooks, to 
convince the city of Fremont planners to strike a happy medium 
wherein the property was divided into two parts, half of which 
would be developed and is now under development and the other 
half of which would remain in agriculture. I think we were very 
fortunate because many of the real estate and business people in 
Fremont and the pro-growth city council wanted to see everything 
developed, and we felt that balance was the best for the community. 

So, out of that (we had eleven hundred acres by that time), 
approximately 450 to 500 acres will remain in agriculture for as 
long as we possibly can maintain it. Again, we are in Fremont, 
and the Fremont area the Bay Area is going to be eventually 
urban, and we can't help it. but we will hold agriculture as long 
as we can. 


David P: I would like to point out that, in all the Patterson's property, 
which included lands in Livermere and Fremont, approximately two- 
thirds f all that property has already gone into open-space uses. 
Up in Livermere. the Del Valle Reservoir and park, which is some 
thirty-five hundred acres and was part of the Patterson lands, is 
open space and used for a green belt. And in Fremont are the 
Ardenwood Park and the Coyote Hills Parks, both of which were, at 
one time Patterson Ranch property. In addition, much of the 
Alameda Creek flood control lands with their hiking trails were 
also part of the Fremont Patterson Ranch. 

So overall, taking the entire thirty-five hundred acres that 
was owned by my father and my uncle back in the 1940s before the 
big change occurred in the Bay Area land uses, almost two-thirds 
of it is going to remain in open space. Of this, as I say, about 
four or five hundred is in agriculture; we will keep in agriculture 
as long as it's possible. But I'm afraid that that part is 
subject to the pressures of population growth in the Bay Area. 

Mellon: Were the open-space areas acquired from the Pattersons by 

David P: By purchase and condemnation for the most part; but much was also 
by dedication. 

Jack Brooks, Consultant to the Family 

Mellon: What has Jack Brooks's role been in relation to the Patterson 

Ranch business? When did he come into the picture? What plans 
did he present? How did the family receive his ideas? 

David P: Mr. Brooks came into the picture in the early 1950s, when the 

Fremont area started to change from agriculture to urban/suburban 
uses. He was a World War II navy engineer, started after the war 
in real estate, and got his contractor's license, and got into 
building. He started with very meager means and built himself up 
through the years, through his abilities. During this time he 
also earned a law degree and an engineering degree while he was 

He got involved with us in the 1950s. He has worked with the 
family all through the years. He is presently a partner in 
ownership in some of our Fremont properties. He was a consultant 
for my father and for my uncle and for Donald. Before I got into 
the picture, he was a close consultant with Sally and Dr. Adams. 
He met with them many times at their home to discuss what was 
going on in Fremont, and so forth. He is no longer a developer or 
involved directly in the real estate business, having retired from 


David P: these active businesses. He is strictly a consultant, and we 

still heed his advice as far as things in Fremont are concerned. 
He really has been almost "Mr. Fremont", in the development work 
that has gone on to build Fremont as it is today: housing, 
shopping centers, industrial complexes. 

Mellon: How did you view the long lawsuit involving ranch development and 
the settlement process in the mid-1970s?* Did the family take a 
political role in influencing city decisions? 

David P: No, the family took no role whatsoever. We stayed strictly out of 
it, and I would say that the family position would have been that 
we don't care, either way is fine. I think we were very fortunate 
that way. I, personally, don't recall any feelings. The lawsuit 
involved the city of Fremont versus Singer Housing Company, over 
development of Singer lands. 

Mellon: How did the land exchange following settlement of the lawsuit work 
out? Was land owned by the family as a group, or were there 
individual plots owned by individual family members? 

David P: Singer and the city of Fremont settled their court case on the 

basis that Singer gift to the city the G. W. Patterson homesites, 
with surrounding acreage, for a park now Ardenwood Park. (Of 
course, we and Singer had already planned for this in their 
purchase contract with us.) The agreement also specified that 
Singer could then build a residential development on certain 
adjacent lands, more to the city's liking, which belonged to the 
Pattersons, if the Pattersons were willing to exchange with 
Singer, to continue the Pattersons' farming operation. The 
exchange lands we were to receive were much higher quality, and in 
addition. Singer offered in trade more acres than we were to give 
up. This proposal was very beneficial to us, and we proceeded to 
consummate the transaction. 

At that time [the Singer- Fremont lawsuit was settled in 1978] 
the land was owned by some eighteen to twenty individual owners, 
owning a small percentage as tenants- in- common in many different 
plots. However, most of these owners were children or 
grandchildren of the principals, who were my father and my uncle, 
and these peripheral owners were still young enough so that they 
really didn't have any business thrust of their own. Their 
desires were pretty well taken care of by the older generation 
pointing out that this is the best way to go, and there was no 
problem as far as getting them to join together. 

* Singer Housing Company sued the city of Fremont when, after 
Singer purchased Tract of the Patterson Ranch, Fremont rezoned 
the northern plain area to exclude residential development. See 
interview with Jack Brooks in this series. 


Ranch Lands for Ceyote Hills Park and Alameda Creek Flood Control 

Mellon: Were you involved in the process by which the East Bay Park 
District bought land for Coyote Hills Regional Park? 

David P: I wasn't, no. Again, my brother Don pretty well dominated the 

management process, and the rest of us because we were owners or 
trustees, were told about it maybe even asked our opinion but 
the answers were already made for us. 

Mellon: In the Ceyote Hills purchase, there was apparently disagreement 
over pricing. What was your view? 

David P: I think that, generally speaking, the family members always felt 
that our property for farming was worth more than what the 
government agencies wanted to give. I guess I've always felt that 
this is a negotiating process; that any buyer comes in low and any 
seller wants more, and I think it's just a natural process that, 
when you grow up on land that you work and farm and own. you feel 
it's worth more than some outside concern coming in and wanting to 
use it and take it from you. 

Mellon: Could you discuss the relationship between the Alameda County 
Flood Control District and the development of Patterson land? 

David P: Yes. In the old days, when we were strictly in agriculture, much 
of our land flooded periodically. That was a real advantage for 
agriculture because it brought silt into the lands. It brought in 
new soil, but it also impeded the process of around-the-year 

In the old days, they only raised one crop and that would be 
during the drier season. As time went along, we got more and more 
involved in winter crops as well as summer crops and fall crops. 
The flooding then became a detriment rather than a plus. So when 
the Alameda County Flood Control Project was started, they 
condemned lands of ours, as well as lands of other people, to run 
the flood control channel to harness the Alameda Creek waters so 
they no longer would flood. That then brought our land out of the 
flood plain and made it not only better for winter crops but also, 
potentially, would then make it more likely to be a target for 
development in the future. 


Family Incorporation and Professional Management 

Mellon: Did the Kaiser sale play a role in the decision to incorporate? 
When was the decision to master plan the property made? 

David P: The Kaiser transaction had nothing to do with the incorporation of 
the family. The incorporation of the family really was triggered 
in 1980 with my brother's death, when we started a family 
management instead of a one-person management. We recognized the 
fact that, with all these individual, undivided owners in many, 
many tracts, any one person could have a dictatorial power over 
everyone else, even if he only had a small percentage interest. 
Under tenants-in-common law, with undivided interests, even a one- 
or two-percent owner could say, "No, I don't want that crop 
planted on that property," or, "I want to do something different 
with it," and he had the right to do that. 

We recognized that this would be disruptive. We had owners, 
for instance, who lived and worked nowhere near the property. As 
an example, one of the owners lives in Idaho. She hasn't seen the 
property for ten or fifteen years; really cared less about what 
the property is doing; and yet, because of her minority interests, 
she could have written a letter and said, "Don't do that to that 
property. Don't put that well in, don't plant that crop," and so 
forth. This was the way the family was. Many lived out of the 
area, and even though they had ownerships, they had no knowledge 
of the property. 

We recognized that we had to do something in the way of 
making a viable management, so we got together, and through 
attorneys and a lot of work, we put together a corporate form with 
limited partnerships. This gave us good strong, centralized 
management, and it provided a legally regulated business structure 
that everybody could understand, including the business community. 
It increased the values of the properties because now we had 
unified management and we had unified control by majority vote, 
instead of by the whim of any one minority owner. We also then 
had the provision through the corporate form of limited liability, 
and continuity and orderliness of the management team. 

Also, the other thing that triggered this was we did have two 
minority owners whose ownership in total was somewhere around two 
percent, and only in certain tracts, who hired the Melvin Belli 
law firm to disrupt the rest of the family's ownership interests 
and management. They were my son, Scott Patterson, and Don's 
youngest daughter, Eden neither of whom had worked on or for the 
properties; both lived out of the area. It was an attempt to 
disrupt and try to squeeze more than their share from the other 
owners. I had to personally go to court against them, and we put 
them down. The court ruled in our favor and put an injunction 


David P: against what they were doing. But we recognized that if one or 

two could do that, ethers out there could, too, unless we all got 
together. So. we did just that; we got together to provide unity. 

Mellon: Are there still divisions en the board of directors? 
David P: What do you mean by divisions? 
Mellon: Disagreements, and 

David P: Oh, I think that we have a very good board of directors. We now 
have eight. We have representatives from the younger generation 
and my generation. We have differences of philosophy, which I 
think is wonderful. We have people who believe in conservation 
completely, and we have people who, particularly in the younger 
generation, are gung ho for development. I think in a board like 
this, we come out with a great answer because we find compromises 
that satisfy not everybody's hundred percent wishes, but enough so 
that we come out with a good end product. 

I have never seen any arguments, any lest tempers. I've seen 
strong presentations, which I believe we all admire and take into 
account. I've always had the feeling, and have expressed it. that 
if we have a strong difference ef opinion, really strong, we'll 
back away, and we won't just have a vote, a majority vote. But 
we'll back away and work to find a compromise. We'll restudy 
we'll find a compromise so that everybody gives a little and 
nobody loses a lot, but everybody comes out with something that 
they can live with. That is the way it has always worked out 
since we began in the early 1980s. 

Mellon: Has the Patterson ranching operation made any use ef the 

Williamson Act? Has it been beneficial to their interests at all? 

David P: Yes. Starting about 1965, the taxes, the property taxes, went up, 
up, up. And we were actually running seriously in the red. We 
didn't have plans for converting out of agriculture, but we knew 
it was going to happen eventually. Agriculture was our only 
business in 1969 when the act was enacted, so we put practically 
all of our property Livermore and Fremont under the Williamson 
Act because agriculture was what we were doing and what we 
expected to do for the foreseeable future. Of course, it brought 
our tax bills down into line so that agriculture became 
profitable, instead of running in the red as it had been for 
several years by that time. 

Mellon: Were you influential in bringing Bob Buck and Leon Campbell into 

the running of the ranching operation? What changes, if any, have 
they made in the direction the corporation is taking? 


David P: Our board of directors appoined a subcommittee to study the idea 
of bringing in a full-time staff from within the family. On that 
subcommittee were Dr. Adams, myself, and Stuart Engs. who is one 
of Dr. Adams' sons-in-law. We recognized that the properties were 
all going to go to the younger generation at our deaths, and we 
wanted to make sure that this generation in the family understood 
the property and would get experience in managing the property, 
which would someday be theirs. Also we wanted to develop a strong 
family management team that would gain experience in the local 
area, the local politics, and in the business world, too. And 
also would be able to handle the problems of the minority partners 
who, again, had ownerships through partner ship- owner ships but net 
the knowledge of the land itself or of the local problems. 

Out of that, we felt that the best people that we had in the 
family, and who were available, were Leon Campbell, who was one of 
Dr. Adams' sons-in-law, and Bob Buck, my son-in-law, who was a 
practicing attorney. Leon had had a number of years of experience 
as a professor and had proven himself to be intelligent and hard 
working and a good businessman with no experience in real estate, 
however. Bob Buck had proven himself through the years as a fine 
attorney, but again with very little experience in real estate. 
We also had available Wil Patterson, who had a business career; he 
could not devote much time to Patterson business, but he 
contributes as a member of our board of directors. 

We determined that these people, if they were available, 
would carry forward the needs of the family to get the younger 
generation involved and knowledgeable. So I was one of those who 
was involved in this determination. 

Current Role Overseeing Policy Decisions 

Mellon: Mr. Patterson, what is your current role in the running of the 

David P: My current role is as a cochairman of the board of directors, 
along with Dr. Adams. Our management position is one of 
overseeing the overall policy decisions of the people who are 
doing the day-to-day work Leon Campbell, and Bob Buck, and Leon's 
wife Abby, who is Dr. and Mrs. Adams' daughter. We also have a 
part-time secretary at the office. My job, then, is really to 
oversee the general philosophy of management and the directions 
they're going, along with John. In addition, we direct our 
special attention to significantly large management problems that 
may occur from time to time. 


David P: For instance, now we have before us a sizable problem that we're 

working on. The local improvement district that was formed by the 
city ef Fremont to put in the major streets, the Paseo Padre 
Parkway extension, and the Newark Boulevard extension has resulted 
in an assessment against our property of several million dollars. 
That is a debt that we owe. We are quite concerned about the size 
of the debt because the Pattersons through the years have always 
kept the property as free and clear as they could, so that they 
could weather the ups and downs of the business cycle. We are 
concerned about funding that and paying that down to a manageable 
level, and are working with the board and the staff to design a 
financial plan to reduce this debt to manageable size. 

Another item of sizable proportions that we are working on is 
a method of distributing, by deeds, the various properties that we 
are obtaining through exhanges of the ranch properties as the 
ranch properties are disposed ef to developers. The partnership 
is in the process of making exchanges and as those occur, the 
individual owners then, as partners, obtain title to exchange 
properties. We would like to follow the philosophy that my uncle 
and my father started, back in the fifties, of then separating the 
ownerships to the individuals so that we don't have this mish-mash 
of ownership, so that each person can have his own property, in 
his own name. But we do want to continue the ranch management, so 
when the properties are dispersed we are trying to work some kind 
of a method of management contract or agreement, so that the ranch 
office the Bob-Leon combination will continue to manage 
properties even if they are no longer directly owned by the 
partnership and the corporation. 

So these are examples of the overall types of policy problems 
that we as board members get involved in, but as far as the 
details of the day-to-day work, we don't get into those, unless I 
guess it's management by exception. If something unusual that 
affects the well-being of the owners comes up, we will do in-depth 
study, review, and recommendation. 

Mellon: What does the future hold for the Patterson family business 

David P: The future will lie in management: first in managing some five 
thousand acres of Livermore property, with a park in its midst, 
which someday will have to also, as in most California properties, 
go from cattle ranch range land into something of higher and more 
intensive uses. Second, in Fremont, a diverse management: we are 
in the process now of exchanging some three hundred acres with a 
developer for other properties, which latter properties will need 
management. We still have some four to five hundred acres of farm 
land in Fremont that will require farm management. We have some 
fifty-five acres zoned for shopping center and apartment 
development. Management is going to be required because we are in 


the midst, in Fremont, of rapid development, from Union City. 
Newark, the Fremont area itself. We have to eventually face up to 
the fact that on the remaining property changes in land uses will 
be inevitable. Our family management team must be involved in 
watching trends, influencing them where they can, to preserve 
property uses and values. 

So, in the end result, I see the Patterson Ranch management 
handling present properties for a number of years, and eventually 
then those properties that are exchanged for these which may be 
warehouses or shopping centers, here and there managing these. 

Transcribed and Final Typed by Shannon Page 


TAPE GUIDE David Patterson 

Date of Interview: November 3, 1986 

tape 1, side A 131 

tape 1, side B 140 

tape 2. side A 149 

tape 2, side B not recorded 


Regional Oral History Office 
The Bancroft Library 

University of California 
Berkeley, California 


Robert Buck 

Patterson Property Management, 1970s-1980s 

An Interview Conducted by 
Ann Lage 
in 1986 

Copyright (c) 1988 by the Regents of the University of California 





Family. Education, and Legal Training 163 

Management of Buck Family Business in Kern County 164 
Changing City Plans for the Patterson Ranch Lands. 1979-1980 165 
Land Sale to Singer Housing: Suit, Court Decision, and 

Settlement Agreements, 1970-1979 166 


Consulting Agreement with Jack Brooks 171 

Family Differences Complicate Planning 173 

Legal Entanglements: Mel Belli and Family Dissidents 174 

Forming a Family Corporation 177 
Philosophical Objectives: To Continue the Farming Operation 180 
The Master Plan: Residential, High- Technology Park, Open 

Space, Urban Reserve 182 
Marketing the Ranch Land: Sales to Kaiser and Ardenwood 

Development Associates 185 


Need for Professional Management 190 

Jack Brooks as Master Politician and Long-Range Planner 192 

Ardenwood Park: Economic Considerations 193 

Working to Preserve the Value of Urban Reserve Lands 195 




Robert Buck is one of the younger generation of Patterson family 
members who has taken an active role in the management of Patterson 
properties. As a lawyer with a background in the management of Buck family 
agricultural properties in Kern County. Buck was a natural advisor to his 
father-in-law. David Patterson, as the Patterson family began to grapple 
with the pressures of development and the problems of a disparate family 
ownership of ranch lands in the 1970s and 1980s. In 1984. when the family 
decided to hire family members as a professional management team. Buck's 
experience and previous involvement in the family business made him a 
logical choice. At the time of this interview, he divided his time between 
his law practice in Carmel, California, and the Patterson Properties office 
in Fremont. 

In this interview, recorded on October 6. 1986, at the Patterson 
Properties office in Fremont, Buck discusses the incorporation of the family 
and the transition to professional management of ranch lands. His account 
reveals the subtle influences of family interrelationships and differing 
philosophical outlooks on decision making within the family group. It gives 
a clear account of the master-planning process, the marketing of ranch 
lands, and the role of Jack Brooks as consultant to the family. 

Bob Buck reviewed the interview transcript, making minimal changes. 
Tapes of the interview are available in The Bancroft Library. 

Ann Lage 

Project Director 

September. 1988 

Regional Oral History Office 

The Bancroft Library 

University of California at Berkeley 

Regional Oral History Office University of California 

Room 486 The Bancroft Library Berkeley, California 94720 


(Please print or write clearly) 

Your full name PORFRT R 

Date of birth July 4, 1945 place of blrth Berkeley, California 

Father's full name Frank H. Buck III 

San Francisco, California 
Birthplace [ 

Investment Counselor 
Occupation . 

Mother's full name Corinne Hellier Buck 

Birthplace Virginia City, Nevada 

Occupation housewife and mother 

Where did you grow up ? Alamo, California 

Present community CflrniQl , California 

Education B.A. Dartmouth College 1967; J.D. Hastings 

College of Law 1970 

Occupation(s) Attorney 

Special interests or activities 

PFM BOARD OF DIRECTORS- Left to Right: Bob Buck, Stu Engs , 
Abby Campbell, Wil Patterson, Sally Adams, Leon Campbell, 

Dave Patterson. 

PTLM BOARD OF DIRECTORS-Lef t to Right: Bob Buck, Stu Engs, 
Abby Campbell, Wil Patterson, John Adams, Leon Campbell, 

Dave Patterson. 


[Interview 1: October 6. 1986]//# 

Family, Education, and Legal Training 

Lage : We are going to start with some brief personal background about 
yourself and how you became involved with Patterson Properties. 

Buck: I was born in 1945 in Berkeley and grew up in the East Bay out in 

Alamo. My father was, and still is, a licensed investment counselor. 

Lage: When did your family move out to Alamo? 

Buck: Before I was born. I was just dropped off in Berkeley but raised 

in Alamo. After living in Alamo and going to San Ramon High School 
in Danville, I went to Dartmouth College in New Hampshire and 
graduated from there in 1967 with a bachelor's degree, history major, 
cum laude, various other blue and gold ribbons, and so forth. Then I 
came back to the West Coast to go to law school at Hastings Law 
School in San Francisco. 

Lage: Why Hastings? 

Buck: At that point, I knew I wanted to go to law school, and since it 

appeared I was going to be practicing law or working with my family 
in California, it would behoove me to go to law school here rather 
than Yale or Michigan or Harvard, where I had thought about going. I 
was somewhat bored with school at the time so I chose Hastings 
because you could go to school half a day and work half a day. 

##This symbol indicates that a tape or a segment of a tape has begun 
or ended. For a guide to the tapes see page 198. 


Buck: That's what I did for three years; I worked for various law firms 

part time. I worked for Joe Alioto's firm first; that was before he 
became mayor of San Francisco. He was an antitrust lawyer at the 
time. Then I worked for an Oakland law firm, part time, run by 
Clayton Orr. In my third year of law school. I went to work for 
Crosby, Heafey, Roach, and May in Oakland as a law clerk. After I 
took the bar and passed it in 1970, I went to work there as an 
attorney, an associate attorney. 

Management of Buck Family Business in Kern County 

Buck: I stayed there until 197A when I left that firm, and we moved to 

Bakersf ield because over the period from 1970 to 1974 I became more 
and more involved in managing the Buck family business operations in 
Kern County. Commuting back and forth by car and by air was just not 
working out, so I wound up moving to Kern County in 1974. I was in 
the farming business and the oil business there until 1979. 

Lage: What kind of farming business was it? 

Buck: We grew cotton, alfalfa, mostly row crop farming, although through a 
family company we also had tree crops. 

Lage: Did you lease land like the Pattersons did here? 

Buck: No, we farmed everything that we had directly. We started doing that 
in 1972. I farmed directly about a thousand acres. The family 
operation had about twenty-four thousand acres, I think, by the time 
we developed everything the family had. That was in addition to the 
oil business that we were running at the time. 

So I stayed in Bakersf ield long enough to know better. The 
climate is not the best, but it was an interesting place to be, and I 
certainly learned a lot. I did some legal work while I was there but 
not too much. Then in 1978 it became apparent that the Buck family 
was going to sell about everything it had down there, so I decided I 
didn't want to stay in Bakersfield. We looked around for a place to 
move and decided to move to Carmel. I've been in the Carm el- Pebble 
Beach area, since. 

Lage: Are you in a law firm there? 

Buck: I have a law firm in Carmel, very small and really not very active 
anymore because I'm not there very much now, but from '78 until '82 
or so I was there quite a bit. It was a slow transition out of Kern 
County and into other areas. 


Buck: In 1972 I get married to Leslie Patterson, the oldest daughter 

of David Patterson. She was an employee of the Crosby law firm when 
we met. We married in '72, and we have three children: Jeremy, who 
is now thirteen; Alex, who is ten; and Lindsay, who is eight. That 
about brings us up to date. 

Lage: Up to the time of your involvement with managing the Patterson 

Buck: That was another gradual thing. Over the years, both Dave Patterson 
and Don Patterson would chat with me about what they were doing. One 
time they came down to Kern County to see what we were doing down 

Changing City Plans for the Patterson Ranch Lands, 1979-1980 

Buck: In 1979 or 1980, after I had relocated to the Monterey area, a couple 
of things had happened in Fremont which changed the rules. 

The first thing that happened was that the city decided to do a 
new general plan, I think for the city as a whole, but one of the 
things they were going to look at was the North Plain in Fremont, 
which included the Patterson Ranch properties. As part of that 
process, various people had various agendas for that area. Some 
people wanted all farming forever. Some people wanted all wetlands 
and open space forever, and other people wanted wall-to-wall houses. 
Some people wanted a mix of the two. I think there could have been 
as many as ten or twelve different scenarios drawn up by various 
participants in the process. The Fremont Chamber of Commerce had 
their version, and the Sierra CLub people had their version, and the 
debate went on and en and on. 

But the bottom line to Don Patterson and to Dave Patterson, who 
were sort of running the family operation, was that the city was 
going to change the rules. They were going to insist that that area 
be developed. It was going to be master planned for that, and they 
probably were going to cancel the Williamson Act on the property, 
which could result in an immediate tax increase.* 

*The Williamson Act [California Land Conservation Act, 1965] keeps 
taxes lower for land owners who contract with their local government 
to keep their land in agricultural use for at least ten years. Lands 
under this provision are assessed on their value for agricultural use 
rather than their development potential ed. 


Buck: At the time, that would have made it impossible for the Pattersons to 
continue holding the land because the taxes would have far exceeded 
the income, and at the time, the family was really what we call land 
peer. They had a lot of land out there, but nobody really had any 
cash. Of course, the family trusts and some of the major family 
members had cash, but they weren't favorably inclined to write a 
check back to the family operation. 

This was a small operation. It was a very simple farm. It was 
all leased. The family did nothing at all active other than collect 
the rent check, and it grossed maybe $100.000 a year. So on the scale 
of things it was a pretty small operation, fairly simple to manage. 
The asset base was very large, but that didn't appear anywhere on the 
books or in terms of income tax reports or cash flow or anything. 

Anyway, the city decided to change the rules so the Pattersons 
sort of had to get their act together and decide to master plan their 
own property or participate in the process; otherwise it was going 
to be done for them. So they, through Don Patterson and with some of 
Dave Patterson's input. . . 

Lage: When did Don Patterson die? 

Buck: I think it was 1979 or 1980. Somewhere in that process he passed 

away. Dave then sort of became the family leader, and he much more 
actively consulted with me about what to do and how to do it after 
Don passed away. Before Don passed away, Dave wasn't very actively 
involved. Don pretty much ran everything by himself. 

Land Sale to Singer Housing; Suit. Court Decision, and Settlement 
Agreements, 1970-1979 

Lage: Now. there was the big decision made in 1974 to sell the four hundred 
acres to Singer Housing. 

Buck: That was in 1971, I believe, because the closing of that was in 1972. 
That decision was made primarily because that land that was sold 
to Singer was not under the Williamson Act. That land was for some 
reason left out of the Williamson Act. and the taxes were going up. 
and it wasn't economic to hold that land, so a deal was made to sell 
that land to Singer. I can't recall the price. At any event that 
occurred, and the sale closed in 1972. 

Lage: And then there was a let of trouble with the city about developing 
that portion of the land. 


Buck: Yes, after that closed there was a no-growth city council that came 
into pewer. I think that before the election of that city council. 
Singer had gone down to the city and gotten a building permit or a 
zoning approval or something to allow them to build houses out there 
adjacent to where the eucalyptus groves are now. I think the 
eucalyptus trees were always going to be put into a park. And the 
home was going to be put into a park. But Singer bought the whole 
thing, including the land that is now the park. 

Singer had approval from the city, and then when the election 
occurred and the city council changed its mind and decided that this 
approval was going to be rescinded, there was Singer Housing having 
closed basically for cash, having had a permit, and ready to go, and 
all of a sudden the city council changed its mind and said they 
couldn 1 t. 

The president of Singer Housing at the time happened t be a 
fellow named Jack Brooks who the family had used before as a buyer of 
property. This was only the latest in a long series of sales. 
The family had been selling property out there for years and years 
and years. The first one I was aware of was '72, but long before I 
came along every time someone needed money or they had a buyer for 
something, they would sell some off. 

Lage: In kind of an unplanned fashion. 

Buck: Yes, it was sort of a haphazard thing, usually dictated by somebody 
else coming along and indicating they wanted to buy the property, or 
the taxes getting to the point where they exceeded the income from 
farming. There didn't seem to be much organization or much long- 
range planning in these decisions. 

And you had to have the agreement of everybody to make any 
decisions then. I don't know hew many owners they had then, probably 
ten or twelve, but unless everybody agreed, nobody could do 

Lage: Is that a standard way for a family trust to operate? 

Buck: It often happens that way due to lack of planning, because when 

somebody dies owning a hundred acres, and in their will they split it 
up to three children, the three children end up with an undivided 
one-third interest in the hundred acres. And unless you do something 
else, that's the way it happens, and it happens a lot, unfortunately. 

So we come up to '72, and the latest in the series of sales was 
this four hundred acres. Brooks, as president of Singer, decided 
that Singer was going to sue the city and not put. up with their 
changing the zoning rules. He also was instrumental in getting some 
legislation passed in Sacramento which authorized these things 
called development agreements, where cities can agree with real 


Buck: estate developers that certain things shall happen and certain things 
shall net happen, and as long as everybody performs their contract, a 
later city council cannot come along and change its mind. 

In fact, the court decision in the Fremont case with Singer 
Housing was lost by the city. The court decided that because the 
city had already approved whatever it was that Singer had planned, 
they could not come along and just change their mind because there 
was an election and a different city council came down the road. So 
the city of Fremont lost the decision, state law changed, and that 
all wrapped up probably in '76. maybe, or '77. It took three or four 
years for the dust to settle. 

Then the family traded with Singer, which. I think, by that time 
had decided it didn't like the housing business and lest a lot of 
money in it. Singer sold its residential construction business to a 
company called Citation Homes. That was basically Wayne Valley and 
some of his former associates. 

Because of the way development was working out there and where the 
sewers were and where the roads were, it became obvious to Valley and 
Citation that the logical place for them to build housing, if they were 
going to do so. was not at the south end of that open space along the 
Nimitz Freeway near the eucalyptus trees, but at the north end up by 
the Alvarado overcrossing. So the family traded land it held by the 
Alvarado overcrossing in the northeast portion of the ranch for the 
land that Singer had originally acquired from them in 1972. So the 
Pattersons wound up reacquiring ownership around the park. 

Lage: In land that wasn't protected by the Williamson Act? 

Buck: There were some interesting maneuvers made there, fortunately for the 
family; the Williamson Act contract was transferred with the 
exchange from the land at the northeastern end of the property to the 
land which had never had the Williamson Act on it at the southern 
portion of the property. So we wound up with the acreage surrounding 
the eucalyptus grove and the eucalyptus grove itself as Williamson 
Act property, and the development began up at the northeastern corner 
and began to work south. That's where Citation. I think, built 1660 
homes or thereabouts, north of the Deep Creek flood control channel. 

Lage: Did the family get involved in all this maneuvering? 

Buck: No, the family had absolutely nothing to do with any of that. Once 

the deal closed in 1972. they were spectators. They had no say in it 
at all. 

Lage: Even though so much of it affected their interests? 


Buck: They took no active role at all, as far as I knew. I think Don kept 
himself informed of what was happening, but they just continued to 
rent the properties that they had left and let things happen. 

Lage: Jack Brooks or somebody must have been looking out for things. 

Buck: Well, Jack was looking out for Singer, and later in the seventies 

when the trade occurred there were some logical decisions that were 
made and carried out by Brooks at no expense to the Pattersons. You 
have to keep in mind that at no time during those years were the 
Pattersons spending any money on future planning or on future 
development of their property. First of all, they didn't have any 
cash. Second of all, they didn't have support of the family for 
doing that because that involved real estate development activity, 
which was not popular among most of the family members. They wanted 
to be farmers, not real estate developers. 

But certain things did occur, mostly road planning, sewer 
planning, capacity planning, water planning. Jack Brooks did most of 
those things, I think pretty much on his own account. He talked to 
David, and he talked to Don, and just went ahead and did them. There 
was no formal understanding at all, but if those things had not 
occurred during those intervening years this project that you see out 
here now probably would not have been possible. You might not have had 
adequate sewer capacity, or street capacity, or water supply. 

Lage: But Brooks wasn't retained by the family at that time? 

Buck: Not then, not until actually it was probably late 1980 before a 
formal agreement was reached with Brooks. 

Lage: He was planning ahead. 

Buck: He planned ahead, and he did it, I don't suppose, out of altruism but 
he was actively involved in the area as a developer, and I think 
clearly he saw what was going to happen out there in the future. I 
think because of the long tradition of cooperation between Brooks and 
the family he had bought a lot of land from the family over many, 
many years, and he worked well with Don and other family members I 
think he just felt that it was something he needed to do, and if he 
hadn't done it nobody would have. That's pretty clear to me. 

So that would bring us up to 1979 now, when Fremont came along 
and decided to master plan this area. 

Lage: I had asked if you had any knowledge of William or Henry Patterson, 
but I see you came along well after their deaths. 


Buck: No. I didn't even know the Pattersons until 1971. The old William 
Patterson house was gone by then; even my wife has very little 
knowledge of them. She remembers her grandfather, but she was very 
small when he died. 

Lage : Did the family, do you know, have much interest in saving the George 
Washington Patterson house? They sold it to Singer Housing. 

Buck: I don't think there was a let of interest on the family's part in 

preserving that house, at least from what I could tell. I think that 
was the Henry Patterson home, and they may have been more interested 
on the Henry Patterson side of the family than on William's side of 
the family. With Dave's family and Don, it never seemed to be a big 

Lage: But the house wasn't owned only by the Henry Patterson family? 

Buck: No. it was owned by everybody together. I can't tell you just what 
percentage because those weren't constant across the property. You 
had different tracts owned by different people in different 
percentages, and there was no unity among any group or any tract. It 
was different in nearly every one. How that happened I don't know, 
except, I guess, when they laid the land out years ago they would 
follow creeks and natural gullies and tree lines and whatever, and you 
would wind up with tract X owned by four people, and then tract Y 
next to it with six acres would be owned by eight people. It was a 
real hodgepodge. But the old Henry house that is now preserved was 
owned by everyone together, I think. 



Consulting Agreement with Jack Brooks 

Lage : Let's get into the master planning aspect. You said that the city 
was going to master plan the area. What made the family get more 

Buck: Well, they were scared because it would appear that if the Williamson 
Act got cancelled, they couldn't afford to hold the land at all, and 
of course, if the city master planned it for open space, that would 
have a big financial effect on the family. So that concerned some 
family members. Other family members were concerned because they did 
not want to see any development and wanted to stay in farming 

So the family got quite agitated. Don, I believe, began the 
process with Brooks by asking Jack to take a more active role on the 
family's behalf to protect its interests through this master-planning 
process. An agreement was signed, I believe, in December of 1980 
after Don passed away, between Brooks and the family. It took months 
and months and months to negotiate. It had to be signed by each and 
every family member who had an ownership interest in the property. 

Lage: This was simply a contract to have him as an advisor and 
master planner? Did it commit the family to anything? 

Buck: The deal was really pretty simple, but it took about eighteen months 
to negotiate because you had so many people to deal with, so many 
people who either hadn't been following what was happening and 
thought it wasn't necessary or had been and were concerned about 
small and large problems that they saw in the deal. Although I 
wasn't active in negotiating it, I remember being asked by Dave in 
particular, frequently, to give him my input as to what I thought 
should be done. 


Buck: But the deal with Brooks was really pretty straightforward. He would 
do the planning work for the family, represent the family with all 
the city agencies that were involved, see to it that an environmental 
impact report got performed, do the site planning that was necessary 
so that you would have not just a general plan for the area but a 
precise development plan for the property that could be followed in 
the future. It would have a development agreement attached to it so 
that the city politics wouldn't cause a change. 

He was going to advance all the hard-dollar costs out of his own 
pocket for doing that a fairly expensive piece of work, with the 
environmental impact report, traffic studies, other consultants, and 
so forth. You are looking at several hundred thousand dollars, which 
the family could not, and/or would not. advance. So Brooks said he 
would put that money up. and the family would pay it back under 
different scenarios either out of sales, if there were any, or if 
there weren't any sales there was a provision as to how he would be 
paid and when, over quite a long period of time. 

He also was to be compensated by being given a fee in the amount 
of five percent of any sales that occurred. If there weren't any 
sales, he wasn't going to get paid. So that was the deal in essence. 

Lage : Would he present alternative plans to the family? 

Buck: He would consult with the family and present various alternatives, 
which the family could approve or disapprove. Of course, the city 
had the ultimate say over what the plan was going to be in any event. 

The key provision in the whole contract, which took the longest 
to negotiate and was the hardest stumbling block, was that there was 
a provision inserted that if eighty-five percent of the ownership in 
the property agreed on something, that would carry the day as to all 
matters, including sales. That was a very significant departure from 
what you had before because before, if you didn't have 100 percent 
agreement on everything, nothing happened. You couldn't sell 
anything, you couldn't borrow any money, you couldn't develop any 
property, you couldn't even lease the property to a farmer without 
100 percent agreement from everybody. 

Lage: Maybe that's why the Pattersons stayed in farming for so long. 

Buck: That's probably one of the reasons you couldn't get everyone to 

agree on everything. Anyway, the only way Brooks would do this would 
be to have some provision for majority, or even supramaj ority, rule. 
He felt concerned at the time, as I recall, that an undivided owner 
with 1/2 percent interest could hold up the entire project just 
because he didn't like it. It might have been different if the 


Buck: fellow had a valid objection, but what he was concerned about was the 
invalid objection or the frivolous objection from a real tiny owner, 
giving that one tiny owner a disproportionate say in what was going 

I think they settled on eighty-five percent, and the deal 
finally got signed by everybody, and the master-planning process went 
forward. After Don died, they instituted a series of family 
meetings, which had never occurred before. The family would try to 
get together once in a while, usually at one family's house or 
another, and have a business meeting to discuss what was going on. 

Lage: How many generations would get together? 

Buck: Initially, it was just Dave and John or Sally Adams. I would show 
up. Wilcox Patterson would show up. Marj orie Patterson's lawyer 
would show up. Sometimes Jack Brooks would show up, and that was 
about it. There was no formal structure because there was no 
structure, no legal entity. They called them trustee meetings, so 
basically the trustees of the key trusts of the family would get 

Lots and lots of decisions were made during this process. It 
took all of '81 and '82 to do the planning. 

Family Differences Complicate Planning 

Lage: Were there lines of cleavage in the family that could be identified 
points of view that divided among generations or branches of the 

Buck: At that time, I think, you had a philosophical difference between 

John Adams, being basically an environmentalist, and Dave Patterson, 
who was basically looking out for the bottom line as a businessman. 
So you have that division, and those two fellows were really the 
dominant people in the family. John Adams didn't really control 
anything; his wife, Sally, did, but he had a major say ever what 
happened on the 50 percent interest that the Henry Patterson branch 
had. The W.D. [William] side of the family was much more splintered. 
There were lots and lots of people involved, with little ownerships. 
But Dave pretty much had his input heard on that side of the family. 


Buck: One of the things that occurred during this time was the petition to 
cancel the Williamson Act. It was filed with the city, prepared by 
attorneys that were employed by Jack Brooks, probably in 1981, maybe 
as early as 1980. 


Lage: Now this is something, you have said, that the city was instigating. 

Buck: The family had to file that petition. But the city, if we hadn't 
filed that petition in connnection with the development plan, 
probably would have initiated a cancellation petition on its own 
account and cancelled the Williamson Act. Both parties to that 
contract can cancel under those old rules. It is not the case any 

So the decision was made to go ahead and cancel, to go into a 
program to develop this property and sell off I think at that time 
we wanted to sell it all, or at least the portion that was 
master planned for development. Various people in the family needed 
cash for liquidity purposes, estate planning purposes. As I said 
earlier, everybody was land poor, really, with too much raw land real 
estate assets in ratio to what else they had. 

Legal Entanglements; Mel Belli and Family Dissidents 

Buck: When that petition was filed, a couple of people in the family took 
exception to that. One was a young lady by the name of Eden 
Patterson, who was one of Don's daughters. Eden was living in a 
commune in Tennessee. The commune leader employed counsel in San 
Francisco, ostensibly for her. The Dinkelspiel office was the first 
to get involved, basically asking a lot of questions. The bottom 
line always seemed to be. "We'd like to get some money out of this 
property now. Yesterday would have been better than today but 
certainly not any longer than next week." 

Of course, anything they could do to get someone to write a check 
for the property seemed to be paramount. The problem that Jack Brooks 
and others in the family had foreseen in the Brookmat consulting 
agreement that was signed in 1980 was coming to pass. You had a very 
small owner. Eden Patterson, who had, I think, maybe 1 percent or 
less, maybe 1 1/2 percent of the total ownership, and there were some 
portions of the property where she had zero ownership, and her people 
were saying, "Hey. you can't do this." 

Lage: But yau had put through the 85 percent rule in the Brooks contract. 

Buck: True, but that didn't make any difference. They still felt that they 
were being taken advantage of. There were threats to partition the 
property. Despite the Brooks contract, any one of these owners could 
file an action to partition the property, have the court divide it up 
and sell it, or divide it in kind, or whatever. Anything like that, 
of course, messed the project up and brought everything to a 
screeching halt and caused major problems for everybody. 


Buck: Another young fellow in the family named Scott Patterson took a 

similar tack, except I think he was possibly even mere interested in 
getting money yesterday than Eden was; the motivations were similar. 
Scott went down and had a little chat with Mel Belli, who obviously 
saw a no-lose case here and decided he would take it. 

The first thing Mel did was to take out an ad in the Wall Street 
Journal advertising the entire property for sale. That was received 
with great interest by the other family members because one of the 
ways you can sacrifice your non-dealer status when you own a lot of 
real estate is to do a lot of advertising for sale. 

Lage: Now, explain the non-dealer status. 

Buck: The dealer versus non-dealer status was a very important thing to the 
Pattersons back in the early 1980s. The family had been selling 
property over a long period of time. They had always been able to 
take capital gains tax treatment if they took cash for a sale f 
property, which was more favorable than being taxed at ordinary 
income tax rates. One of the ways you are able to do this, if you 
sell a reasonable amount of land, is to avoid becoming a dealer. The 
IRS always said that if your business was selling property en a 
regular basis, your profits from the sale of real estate would be 
taxable at the ordinary income tax rate, not at the capital gains 
rate. So under the tax laws at that time there was a big advantage 
to not becoming a dealer. If you became a dealer, you were out of 

Anybody who is in the business of selling raw land runs this 
risk. So we were being extremely careful at that time to maintain 
our "wholesale" status, to not become dealers, not to record 
subdivision maps, not to put up "for sale" signs, not to hire 
brokers, or advertise in the newspaper, or sell a lot of little 
parcels of land. All of those things had to be done very carefully. 

Lage: Who was watching out for all that? 

Buck: Dave Patterson was pretty much watching out for that, and Jack Brooks 
was. That was one f the things that he did as our development 
consultant. Marjorie's attorney was doing the same thing. It was 
dene on an informal basis. There was nobody formally in charge of 
doing all this. 

Anyway, Belli hits the Wall Street Journal with this great ad. 
Scott Patterson maybe had 1/2 of 1 percent of a few little tracts ef 
the ranch, and he was going to sell the whole thing. Mel Belli wrote 
a wonderful letter to all the members of the family explaining how 
they were all going to get nailed by all these sharpies in Fremont, 
and they all better sign on with him. He would get their highest and 


Buck: best price, and he would get cash right away. In fact, he had 

several cash buyers. All they had te do was call his office, and he 
would take care of everything. 

The response was that Belli had jeopardized the family's entire 
program. Eden Patterson decided to join the bandwagon, and she 
signed up with Belli. Nobody else did. but everybody's confidence 
was shaken. This was unheard of a Patterson family member going to 
see a lawyer and threatening to sue. I think Belli said that to take 
the property out of the Williamson Act would take a Houdini. It was 
impossible; it couldn't be dene. It was a very ill-advised thing to 
do. You should not take the property out of the Williamson Act. 

There was a lot of scrambling around. Dave's recommendation. 
Brooks's recommendation, and my recommendation at that time was to 
immediately go to court and get an injunction restraining Belli and 
his two clients from advertising the property for sale, among ether 
reasons because they didn't own it. 

We did go to court, filed a request for a restraining order in 
Alameda County Superior Court, and that action was successful. 
Belli's office was restrained. It was a rather dramatic defeat for 
the Belli office. They spent about a half a day in court. The 
family hired my old law firm. Crosby. Heafey. Roach, and May. and 
got in Ed Heafey. Jr., who is an excellent trial attorney and did a 
very good job. He really did his homework and did a wonderful job of 
bringing everything to court at the right time. 

By one o'clock in the afternoon it was clear te Belli and his 
crowd David Sabih, who was Belli's associate that they were going 
to lose, bad, so they settled up. Jack Brooks agreed te buy eut 
Scott's interest and Eden Patterson's interest, and Belli's office 
got the court record sealed from the public view because it was an 
embarrassment te them. Little things like misrepresentation and 
fraud and other charges were being bandied about the courtroom rather 
credibly, and Belli didn't want that to get in the newspapers, so 
part of the deal was that the record would be sealed so that 
inquiring reporters wouldn't pick it up. 

This all didn't occur overnight. This took several months 
before the court date, and it took probably seventy to eighty thou 
sand dollars in legal fees. There were also lawsuits filed to 
partition the property to get Eden and Scott's interests segregated 
out. Anyway, all the matters were settled. Scott's and Eden's 
interests were purchased by Brooks for a fairly small amount of money 
over a long period of time. Brooks offered those interests that he 
had acquired to anyone in the family that wanted them. Nobody did, 
so Brooks wound up in the Patterson Properties through the Brookmat 
Corporation, which is one of his entities. So that's why today you 
will see Brookmat as one of the limited partners in our organization. 


Forming a Family Corporation 

Buck: During that process with Scott and Eden and their lawyers, I remember 
a meeting down at Crosby's office in Oakland. We went out to lunch 
with Dave Patterson, and Brooks was there and one of the attorneys 
from Crosby's office that was working on the case. The question came 
up of what are we going to do in the future with these properties 
with this constant problem of fifteen, seventeen, twenty, and in the 
future, thirty, forty, fifty different owners in different places in 
different percentages. It created a real problem. The majority of 
the owners were basically hostage to any one, for whatever reason, 
good, bad, or otherwise. It was unfair. 

So we raised those questions and discussed them, and I remember 
suggesting that we try to get all the owners to create some kind of a 
legal entity that we could operate with and manage everybody's 
interests on a common basis. I had a model for this, not the same 
structure, but the success of joint family management was not lost on 
me because of my experience with my family and its associates and 
partners in Kern County, through the Bel ridge Oil Company. This had 
been a very successful story and worked because, and only because, we 
had common management. If we had had undivided ownerships on the oil 
property, we would have never, ever succeeded. We had just closed 
our deal with Belridge in 1979, so the object lesson was very fresh 
in my mind. 

So I suggested that we create some kind of a legal entity, and 
the fairest way that we thought of at that lunch meeting was to 
create a limited partnership. That way all the owners got basically 
the same tax benefits that they had currently, but instead of owning 
real estate they would own a limited partnership interest. Then we 
would add up all the owners and all the acres and make a ratio, and 
if you had ten acres out of a hundred, you got 10 percent of the 
limited partnership. You also would get 10 percent of the voting 
common stock in a corporation which would become the managing general 
partner of the partnership. So you had a corporation as a general 
partner, owned by all the landowners, or limited partners, in a ratio 
to their interests. If you had 50 percent, you basically controlled 
the corporation and controlled the family business. If you had 1 
percent, you had a vote, but you couldn't dictate to 99 percent. It 
seemed to be the only fair way to approach the problem. 

Finally, after about a year and a half, we got that 

Lage: Was that a difficult process, to get that approved? 


Buck: Yes. it was difficult and very expensive. It cost maybe fifty 
thousand dollars in legal fees to Crosby's office and other 
attorneys because it was new and everybody felt they were giving 
something up. naturally. We had to explain this to judges, for 
trusts. We had to explain it to judges who ruled conservator ships. 
We had to explain it to lawyers and accountants and owners and wives. 
It was just a long, difficult, time-consuming process. 

Lage: Did you have lawyers that handled it. or did you and Dave do it? 

Buck: Dave and I did a let of the work. I wasn't getting paid. I was a 
volunteer at that time. 

Lage: And Dave also. 

Buck: Yes, Dave never got paid. Crosby. Heafey's firm did a lot of the 

legal work when we finally got to the point where we were drafting 
documents and facing up to all the complicated issues that we faced 
in doing something like this. It wasn't as easy as I made it sound 
at that lunch meeting, where you could draw a chart en a piece of 
paper, with a circle for the corporation and a box for the limited 
partnership and a bunch of lines. It was very simple to look at. but 
not easy to implement. 

So Heafey's office did most of the legal work, and the family 
joined together and paid them. Finally, we got the structure 
accomplished, and we got nearly everybody in the partnership. 
Marj orie Patterson didn't join at first because she just couldn't 
make up her mind, and then she went into a conservator ship, and we 
had a lot of problems with that. That dragged on until last year, 
before we got her in. 

Lage: What would be the status of someone who didn't join the partnership? 

Buck: They would be an undivided owner, and until you had everybody in you 
really didn't accomplish very much because you still had a situation 
where somebody with a minority interest had a disproportionate say in 
what happened. 

Lage: Did anyone else hold out? 

Buck: Oh. we had a let of objections from a lot of people, and a lot of 

support from a lot of people. Some objections were valid, and some 
were frivolous. Some people didn't object; they just couldn't make 
up their mind and didn't want to do anything. It was a long, arduous 

Lage: How did John and Sally Adams feel about it? 


Buck: They were strongly in favor of it. The lawsuits by Belli really 

brought home te everybody the risks they were incurring by trying to 
run the ranch the way they had. In a little family where everybody 
is friendly and everybody knows everybody else, you usually don't 
have these problems. But the bigger it gets, the more diffused, and 
the less people know each other, the more disparate everybody's needs 
and goals are, the more likely it is you are going to have a problem 
like this. Typically, it comes from the little owner, not the big 

Finally, we got the entities created, we got everybody signed 
up, and we wound up with three partnerships one in Livermore, two 
in Fremont and one corporation which ran the two Fremont partner 
ships, and one corporation in Livermore which ran the Livermore 
partnership. The reason we had so many partnerships instead of just 
one was that the Livermore ownerships were very different from 
Fremont, and we didn't want to try to deal with the thorny problems 
of relative value and relative ownership. We wanted to try to keep 
the ownership basically commensurate with what it historically had 
been in each place. 

Then in Fremont, you had two distinct types of property: 
farmland north of Paseo Padre Parkway that was not zoned for 
development, and land south of Paseo Padre that was zoned for 
development and would be going into an active sales program or a 
development program. So we segregated those two because the values 
were different and the goals were different, but we had one 
corporation in Fremont which runs those two because the ownerships 
were similar en both sides of the family. 

Lage : Who runs the Livermore operation? 

Buck: We have a separate corporation out there, but it's run by the same 
people as Fremont's; it's just the ownership of stock in that 
corporation that is different. The management is exactly the same. 
The board of directors is basically the same. So that's how we wound 
up with the structure we have today. 

Lage: What is it called? What is PFM? 

Buck: PFM is the name of the corporate general partner in Fremont. Then we 
have PTLM, which is the corporate general partner in Livermore. 

Lage: Do these all mean something? 

Buck: I don't know. I think PFM was someone's idea of abbreviating 

Patterson and Fremont [Patterson Fremont Management], but that's one 
decision I didn't have to make. Dave and some of the lawyers cooked 
that one up, I think. Then we had Patbrook, which- is the development 
partnership in Fremont. I guess that was because of Breoks's name. 


Buck: and he was the consultant on that. Then we have Pa tag, which, 

obviously, is agricultural property in Fremont. Then we have Patliv, 
which is the Livermore one. 

We got all that accomplished by late '83, when we had everybody 
except Marjorie signed up. Marj orie initially couldn't make up her 
mind, and then she had some real problems and went into a 
conservator ship, which is another story entirely. 

Lage: Does that mean that her attorney made up her mind for her? 

Buck: No. it meant that nobody could make up her mind for her at all. 
because she was under a temporary conservator ship, and it was a 
contested conservator ship, and we really didn't get her into the 
partnership until 1985. In the meantime, everything that was done 
had to be approved by the court. If Patbrook did X, you had to get 
the court in Palm Springs to approve X, case by case. 

Lage: So you had to justify everything as a good business decision? 

Buck: Over opposition from her counsel, in some cases. Some of the 

opposition was not really justified, but that's just how the game was 
being played at the time because it was a. contested cense water ship. 
It was very expensive and very time-consuming to the family, again 
the kind of thing that would have been avoided if we had had the 
limited partnership earlier. But everybody in the family had to dig 
in their pockets and pay, including Marjorie. It cost Marjorie a 
fortune, and she had to pay her own attorney's fees, as well as 
Sally's attorney's fees because Sally was the temporary conservator. 
It was ridiculous. And I was going to Palm Springs every six weeks. 
It was crazy. 

Philosophical Objective; To Continue the Farming Operation 

Buck: By '83, the development process was complete. We had a planned 
district approved, EIR [environmental impact report] approved, 
development agreement in place. Everything was set up for a sales 
program, so then we began to go into the current mode, which is 
selling and/or developing properties. We decided to hold a lot of 
land, and we've sold some. 

Lage: How about the decision that the family wouldn't sell off all the land? 

Buck: That was made by the new board of directors. After we got these 

entities created, we elected people to the board of directors, and 
the board would meet much as the family had informally met before, 
and decisions would be arrived at by majority vote. We now had 
minutes for the board meetings, and all. Once we got into the '81, 


Buck: "82, '83 era, some minutes were kept. Of course, when the entities 
were created, we had a lot of minutes documenting what happened, 
whereas before there wasn't any record at all. 

Lage : Except the one you are creating now. 

Buck: Let's hope it's accurate. Let me make one more comment about 

these entities. At least the way I looked at it, and I think most of 
the people in the family shared my view, the entities gave the family 
the option to either manage the properties to the best advantage 
themselves, or to hire help, or a combination of the two. But they 
had a structure that could manage the property. Without that, they 
were going to get nowhere, and they would lose a lot of money, as 
well as their philosophical objectives. 

Lage: Was there a philosophical objective within the family? 

Buck: Yes, there is. I think a large measure of the family believes that 
the family should stay in the farming business. They felt it very 

Lage: At this time also? 

Buck: I think the family would like to see the farming operation continue. 
How viable it is over the long term I don't know. I would say that I 
would be real surprised to see an active farming presence other than 
just a caretaking operation beyond another ten years. They will 
always farm out there to take care of the ground, but as far as 
having an economic farm operation that makes money, makes a profit, 
and survives on its own, I don't think it can be done. 

The acreage is shrinking, the cities are not going to be 
interested in pursuing it anymore. Union City has already told us 
that if they have a chance they are going to cancel the Williamson 
Act for us on the forty acres that are north of the flood control 
channel. The handwriting is on the wall whether the family likes it 
or not. Then the choice becomes, if you want to farm, where should 
you farm and how much do you want to pay for the privilege of doing 
so? But certainly without a management entity, you don't have a 
prayer of continuing in the farming business. 

Lage: There is the land the park district owns that is being farmed. 

Buck: Some of that is being farmed on a lease basis. 

Lage: How much of Patterson family land is being farmed now? 

Buck: There are about 400 acres left in farming now. And the Alamedas 

lease that, or, basically, we give it to them, and they use it. We're 
not getting any rental income from it. That's how bad the farming 


Buck: operation is. We get zero rent; in fact, we are subsidizing them. I 
think this year we are giving them probably twenty-five or thirty 
thousand dollars to keep them around. 

Lage : It is interesting that the family has this strong commitment to 

continue farming. Is it partly to save this land for better things 

Buck: I think if you asked that question to different people in the family, 
they would give you different reasons for it. A let of people in the 
family are interested in preserving open space and green belt areas, 
and they are interested in farming as an ideal. 

Lage: Is this the older generation? 

Buck: Mostly the elder folks. There are seme younger folks who are in the 
farming business and feel very strongly about it. too. How that is 
going to be affected by reality as we move along here remains to be 
seen, because it is going te become, in my opinion, unrealistic to 
try to farm out here eventually. 

Lage: Things are closing in. 

Buck: Yes. It is going to happen inevitably, and I am afraid it is going 
to happen out here mostly because of the decisions that were made by 
the family before to sell what they sold and develop what they 
developed. They've developed the best farming land. They've put the 
farmer on to the secondary land. Water quality is not as good. Soil 
quality is marginal. So that has made it even more difficult for a 
fairly marginal operation to survive. 

Lage: So if the master planning had been done at an earlier stage ? 

Buck: Well, if the master plan had been done differently, with a farming 

orientation to it, I think you might have had a more viable farming 
operation. But the plan was not done that way. It was done for a 
lot of other reasons, mostly having to do with where the streets 
could be. where the sewer was. where the water was. and with very 
little attention paid to what the best farm land was. Economically, 
that was the only thing to do. It was a smart decision, economically, 
in terms of land value, but that decision certainly had its adverse 
impact on the farm. 

The Master Plan; Residential, High-Tech Park, Open Space, and Urban 
Re se rv e 

Lage: Can you talk further about the outcome of the master-planning 


Buck: Oh. yes. I haven't explained the master plan. [See town development 
plan. p. 399] 

The master plan divided the property into about five different 
areas. One was residential, in various villages, mixed-type 
residential of varying densities, some single family, some 
condominiums, some duplex-type townhouses. Another area was called 
the town center, which is a commercial area. Third would be the high 
technology research and development park, which was very much in 
vogue in the early eighties, and everybody wanted it. It looked 
wonderful and had nice trees and all that. 

Lage : Something the city would want? 

Buck: The city loved that, yes. That was incorporated in the master plan. 
The high-tech area was basically in the southwestern ends of the pro 
perty, down toward the Dumbarton B ridge- Thorton Avenue interchange area. 

The other two areas were open space because down at the lowest, 
western-most levels of the ranch, adjacent to the Coyote Hills park, 
there was some land that, as part of the planned district process, 
was set aside as permanent open space. The family basically worked 
out a deal to sell the development rights for that property to the 
city, and they have a receivable for that, and the property stays in 
open space. 

Lage: Now, how does that arrangement work? The family was recompensed for 
the fact that the city put that land into open space? 

Buck: Yes. The city said that the family could receive compensation for 
that dedication by allowing the city to take the hypothetical 
residential density for that property and reallocate it elsewhere in 
the city. The method by which you get paid is a little complex. The 
city will not pay you for those density rights. When a developer 
says, "I want to increase my density over here on Stevenson Blvd from 
eight units an acre to sixteen." he has to pay the city, normally, 
what they call an amenity fee. Basically, he has to buy the density 
from the city. They exhort a contribution from the developer in 
order to get the higher density to compensate the city for providing 
the extra services. 

Lage: Sometimes it's a contribution of a park. 

Buck: Yes, sometimes it's a park contribution. In Fremont, frequently it 
is an amenity-dollar calculation, which is based on a certain 
multiple of the park dedication fee. What it amounted to was that 
the Pattersons got $16,000 a unit for the hypothetical density that 
could have been built maybe someday on that open space land. It 
totals $2.4 million. Over a period of time, other developers can pay 


Buck: us. instead of paying the city for increased density rights on their 
property. So gradually we are selling those off. It will take a 

Lage : Is that an unusual arrangement? 

Buck: It's a very novel concept. The density transfer concept has been 

tried in a let of areas, and it hasn't worked very well because it is 
so complex and difficult to administer and figure out. Everybody 
feels his ox is being gored more than the next fellow's. As far as I 
know, at least out here in the West, it hasn't been done very 
successfully, particularly on an interj ur is diction basis. The 
Coastal Commission has tried to do this a lot. but they found that 
while they could make it work well within the coastal zone, they were 
trying to put units of density from the coastal zone out to someplace 
in a cow pasture, and it just didn't work. 

Anyway, within the city of Fremont it seems to work, and that's 
how we did the open space. 

Lage: Was that open space suitable for development? 

Buck: No, not really. It's toe low; it really has a lot of wetlands 

problems. You'd have to fill it extensively, almost prohibitively. 
The cost of filling down there would be very high. 

Lage: Is the open space going to be used for farming, or is it just empty 

Buck: Some of it is farmable. We are hoping to reclaim some of it. but it 
is not very good land for farming. There is a lot of saltwater 
intrusion. Seasonally, it is marshy. You can go down there and 
see you don't really need to be a farmer to tell what is going on. 
When they have a cauliflower crop, the heights of the plants just 
tail off as you go further west, until pretty soon a whole season's 
growth en a cauliflower plant will be about six inches, because the 
land quality is tailing off. 

So it is land that really had no other viable use to the family. 
Seme ef it may be reclaimed with some of the ground water work that 
we are doing, but it is pretty tough. 

The last area is called urban reserve, and that's the lands 
north of Paseo Padre Parkway that are net low and are not brackish, 
basically between Paseo Padre and the Alameda Creek, the area where 
the farm headquarters is down to the park and north to the Creek. 
That's called urban reserve. The city has reserved in their master 
plan. I think. 1400 units of residential density over there, and 100 
acres for high-technology park. That's subject to change, of course; 
high technology is overbuilt and in oversupply, so who knows what 
will happen to that. But sooner or later the city is going to want 


Buck: to see that developed. The pressure to develop that in the future 
will be pretty strong. In the meantime, we are farming it. That 
area is owned by the Patag partnership. 

Lage: So that is farm land only for the present. 

Buck: It will stay in farm land for the time being, one way or the other; 

if we have to send one of the family people out there with a tractor, 
we will still farm it. You really have to do that. You can't just 
let it go to weeds. 

Lage: But the Alamedas are farming that now? 
Buck: Right. 

Marketing the Ranch Lands; Sales to Kaiser and Ardenwood Development 

Lage: Let's discuss the decision to sell to Kaiser and Ardenwood 

Buck: After the master plan was completed and we had our family board, the 
marketing program was very low key. Jack Brooks just basically let 
people know that this land was available. Residential at that time 
in 1983-'84 was really slow high interest rates, poor market for 
housing, very few building starts. It didn't look like a 
particularly good time to be going into the residential development 
business. Remember, the family now was wholesaling only. They were 
not going to subdivide anything, not going to sell lots, not going to 
build streets, because we were concerned about becoming dealers, and 
the family did not have the expertise or the desire, at that time, to 
take a more active role. There were a lot of ways they could have 
avoided being a dealer without just saying we are going to wholesale 
things out, but at the time, the family wasn't ready for that. 

In this development, one of the things that was required to make 
it fly and make it work was off-site improvements, which are major 
things like streets, water lines, sewer lines, underground utility 
lines, railroad overcrossings, freeway overcrossings, freeway 
on-ramps, none of which was there. All we had in 1983 was a nice map 
with a lot of nice lines on it, and if you went out to the ranch, 
there was no evidence of it at all. 

So all of that had to be built, and it had to be paid for by 
somebody. The way they decided to do that was to form local 
improvement districts, two of them. Local improvement districts are 
local assessment districts which are formed by landowners in an area, 
who join together and agree to have their land taxed to pay for these 


Buck: improvements. The city sells municipal bonds and takes the money and 
pays for the improvements, and then the landowners pay those bonds 
off over twenty er twenty-five years. 

Lage : In this case, was it all Patterson land? 

Buck: Mostly Patterson lands. There were a few little landowners in there 
in district 25. District 27 was. I think. 100 percent Patterson. 

Various companies looked at buying the property. There was 
Hewlett Packard, some other computer companies. Chevron Land and 
Development Company looked at it. Shapell Industries looked at it; 
Citation looked at some of it. Some of those reached the point of 
offers, some ef them didn't. Chevron was, I think, prepared to pay 
$80,000 an acre for the whole thing, cash. 

Kaiser came along and said. "Ve will buy the high-technology 
portion only" for, I think, about $100.000 an acre. That seemed to 
be acceptable to the family. 


Buck: It was a pretty good deal. It was higher than any other bid. it was 
all cash, or delayed exchange. Under the tax rules at that time, you 
could take a long time to exchange; that was before the 1984 tax 
reform. We signed that deal up in June of '83 and closed it in 
February of '84. 

We formed local improvement district 25. One ef the big 
benefits ef doing the Kaiser transaction that way was that it got 
most ef the major off-site improvements in, through the local 
improvement district. The assessments would be shared by all the 
other land owners, principally Kaiser, and the Bridges piece. The 
Pattersons would be responsible for about 15 per cent of the total, 
through their ownership of the Town Center and two neighborhoods in 
village 3. The engineers' reports for those off- site improvements 
came to about $45 million dollars, so you are looking at a major 
obligation in terms of off-site work, all ef which had to be done 
before you could do any ef the residential sales, really, before you 
could do anything with the Town Center. 

It was a good deal for the Pattersons. It's easy to second- 
guess that decision. A let of people in the family have come along 
and said that the family sold too cheap, or shouldn't have done it. 
but all things considered, it wasn't that bad a deal, and it did get 
the off-sites in. which turned out to cost close to $53 million 
before we were through, and that's certainly something the Pattersons 
couldn't afford. 

Lage: I thought it was paid for through revenue bonds, and then it was paid 
back through taxes. 


Buck: It is paid by assessments on the property. When you get your 

property tax bill now, for the Town Center it amounts to $15.000 or 
$20,000 in regular property taxes; even with Kaiser's portion, you 
would be looking at $500.000 or $600.000 a year in bond amoritization 
for the improvements. So the family was not in a position to carry 
assessments on the whole thing. 

Of course, if they had done that, if all of this organization and 
all of this work had been done years ago, and they had gotten 
themselves in a real estate company position, that could have been 
done on the basis of the Pattersons paying for those assessments and 
doing the local improvement district themselves, and they would have 
sold the property for an awful lot more money. But they were not in 
that position. Kaiser, at least theoretically, was. It turned out 
they weren't either. [laughter] 

So anyway, they closed that deal. That decision was motivated 
primarily by the need for liquidity of the Pattersons. They wanted 

Lage : And this cash was kept within the corporation? 

Buck: No. The way the Patbrook partnership works, the proceeds of sales 

are basically divided up in accordance with each partner's undivided 
interests and then distributed out of the partnership so that each 
owner can take his money and go away with it. From time to time, in 
various places, we do the same thing with exchange properties. We 
distribute those out. 

So the family eventually ends up with their own things in their 
own little family groups. They can stay together if they want. That 
option is always there, but if they want to take their marbles and go 
away, they can do that too. Particularly the cash proceeds. Except 
for cash that we need to retain for the Town Center development, or to 
amortize these bonds in the Town Center, until we can get something 
built, surplus cash proceeds are distributed to partners. 

Then, about the same time, during '84. we negotiated an eight- 
year option program on all the residential property, with the 
exception of the Town Center area, the apartments in that area, to Ed 
deSilva and Jack Brooks. They call themselves Ardenwood Development 
Associates, and they had the right, beginning in 1984 and over the 
next eight years, to take down at least $2 1/2 million worth of 
property per year. As long as they do that, and they pay all LID 
[local improvement district] 27 assessments, they have the right to 
acquire all that property over an eight-year period. They have far 
exceeded that goal. Total value of that property comes to about $30 
or $32 million, and they are almost two-thirds through that, I think. 

Lage: So the housing market has picked up? 


Buck: The housing market in the last year and a half has been very good, so 
they are just going like crazy out there. 

The same considerations apply there. The Pattersons approached 
it from a wholesale basis. Brooks and deSilva basically are middle 
men. They are building some finished units for their own account, 
and some of the Pattersons are going to exchange into some of those 
units. But basically they are middle men. They do the development 
work. They buy the property from us in a chunk. They do a 
subdivision and record final maps. Then they sell individual lots or 
groups of lots to builders, who then go down and get a building 
permit and build a house. 

Lage: Do they sell many individual lets? 

Buck: The builders that they have taken money from so far are all buying 

groups of lets. They are big builders, like Kaufman & Broad. Citation 
Homes, and Standard Pacific, and other major residential builders 
taking up big chunks of lots. Brooks and deSilva will make a hefty 
profit by turning that property around and reselling it. 

Lage: Why didn't the family do that themselves? 

Buck: Three reasons: lack of expertise, number one; concern about becoming 
dealers, number two, although that concern could have been handled; 
and number three, an unwillingness to take the risk that's involved. 
One of the reasons they didn't want to do that, is that, in order to 
do the residential development, they would have had to participate in 
the other local improvement district, number 27. The costs of the 
improvements that are necessary for that district run more than $2 a 
foot. Well, that's mere than $80,000 an acre. You have two choices: 
either do it through the LID and pay the bonds, or you pay that in 

One of the things that sold the family on doing this thing with 
Brooks and deSilva was that Brooks and deSilva said, "We will do this 
project without selling bonds in the improvement district. We will 
pay for all the off-site improvements as we go, in cash." We are 
guaranteed that that will occur because the city won't give anybody a 
building permit until the assessments are paid. So we formed the 
district, the assessments were levied, but they are being paid off in 
cash as they go. so that buyers are getting lots, fully improved, 
with no assessments against them. And if there is a default in the 
option process say we went along with the option program for three 
years and Brooks and deSilva had bought a third of the property and 
developed it and we had two-thirds left, we would not be sitting 
there with two-thirds of that acreage subject to huge assessments, 
which, historically, the family felt that it would not be in a 
position to pay. They didn't want to lose the rest of the property if 
the residential building program either failed, or deSilva and Brooks 


Buck: went broke, or the housing market went down the tubes and they had to 
sit for five or six or seven years. This way they could still land 
bank, or hold the property indefinitely and farm it. 

Lage: So this was a more conservative approach. 

Buck: It was the most conservative approach possible. 

Lage: Was this discussed in the board of directors' meetings? 

Buck: Oh, yes. 

Lage: Different options were discussed, and this was the one decided on? 

Buck: This was the one that was decided on. And, again, there has been a 
lot of second guessing about whether this was the smartest thing to 
do or not. The family gave up a lot of profit opportunity, but they 
also avoided an awful lot ef risk. In this very early stage in their 
management, I don't think they were ready to assume a more active 
role. Years from now, if the same scenario occurs, I think they will 
have a lot more options because they've got a structure, they've got 
some management, and by that time they will have people who will 
hopefully know what they are doing. Then they will have more viable 
options to consider. These other options were there as options, but 
short of hiring some expert to come down and run the business for 
them, I don't see that there was anybody in the family at the time 
that was capable of doing that. 

Lage: When was this decision made? 

Buck: It would have been '84. It was after we had the structure, but we 
really didn't have any management. 



Need for Professional Management 

Lage : When were you hired to manage the family business? 

Buck: I was active in selling this whole thing from '82 on. I don't think 
anybody ever wrote me a check until the spring of '84. 

Lage: How did the family feel about actually paying seme of its members to 
take on this responsibility? 

Buck: They didn't like it at all. 

Lage: Did they not see it as a professional undertaking? 

Buck: No. families are funny. I've had the same problem with my family. 
For all the work that I did down there in Kern County for Belridge 
Oil Company, I never got paid a dime. Not one dime. That turned out 
to be a mammoth project and very successful. But families don't like 
to pay family members. It's a funny approach; they don't seem to 
mind paying some outside person lots of money, but if you are a 
member of the family, I guess you are not supposed to work for a fee. 

One of the themes I harped on all the way through this thing was 
that once we got to the point where there was professional 
management if it is going to be me, or anybody we have to pay for 
what people are doing. So finally they have done that, not without a 
lot of groaning and moaning, by the way. You should see these 
minutes the howls of how much it's costing. That's the nature of 

Lage: Are they assessed for that, or do you have enough money from selling 
the properties that the corporation has retained? 


Buck: PFM charges a management fee, now, to the various limited partnership 
groups for whatever it is that it is doing. And that money comes 
frm the partnership to the corporation, and the corporation pays 
salaries to the people that are here. We have an approved budget 
every year, and it's all gone ever quite carefully. 

Lage: Was there a deliberate decision to get someone from each branch of 
the family? 

Buck: I don't know that that was a deliberate decision. I know that I took 
the initiative originally to go beyond John and Sally and get some of 
the younger members of their family involved because there was a 
real lack of available family people to do anything, and I was not in 
a position to do it all myself. I couldn't afford to take that much 
time because I still had a lot of Buck family responsibility and 
always will. That's a much larger responsibility for me than this 
is. And it's going to get worse before it ever gets better. 

Lage: Have you been involved in the Marin County controversy?* 

Buck: Yes, I have been for the last year and a half, and that's going to go 
on forever, and I have all the rest of the Buck family to deal with. 
You see, that is just a part of what the Buck family has, so 
eventually I can't stay here and do this as much as I have. But the 
professional management was something that I really instigated, and 
it has worked out really well. 

Lage: Hew is the management responsibility divided between you and the 

Buck: It is sort of an informal working arrangement. We don't really have 
a hierarchy here. There are certain things that I do because of my 
experience and background and knowledge financial analysis, a lot of 
the accounting structure, and making sure the financial statements 
say what they want. I sort of supervise that. I do all the legal 
work, and I pretty much handle the hefty negotiations and the overall 
negotiating strategies. 

Leon does some of that and has been learning rapidly, amazingly 
rapidly, this wonderful business that we are in. He helps me on all 
of these things and does a lot of the day-to-day legwork that has to 
be done to analyze problems, like "should you stay in the Williamson 
Act or not," That really involves getting a lot of information 
together and studying it before making a decision. So he's here more 
than I am, and he does a lot of that the nuts and bolts things. 

*The lengthy court case that decided the proper disbursement of 
monies left by Beryl Buck's will for charitable purposes in Marin 


Lage: What about dealing with local governmental entities? 

Buck: It depends en what it is. Sometimes we both do it. In the case of 
getting our office out here [on Ardenwood Blvd.]. Leon has done all 
of that himself. I haven't had to do much there. Zoning problems, 
future planning problems, the planning process that is going on now 
in Union City. I have to get actively involved in that. 

Lage: Is Jack Brooks involved with you? 

Buck: No. his formal relationship with the family is kind of at an end. 
Informally, he helps us out with problems that come up. and he's 
available as a consultant. We pay him now on a case-by-case basis. 
If he is actively involved in a particular problem then he gets paid. 
He is not on the payroll. 

Jack Brooks as Master Politician and Long-Range Planner 

Lage: Tell me more about Jack Brooks. How would you assess his expertise 
in these matters of planning, dealing with cities, and so en? 

Buck: He is a master at the political arena. Most of the real estate 

business is political. He's very good at that. He's spent years at 
it, and he's very well connected politically, particularly in this 
area and in Sacramento. He can get a lot done because of that. So 
he is very effective and very knowledgeable. He's been in this 
business for thirty or forty years as a home builder and developer, 
so he knows what he is doing. He's been a big help. 

Lage: Is he good at long-range planning? 

Buck: Very good. He is very, very good at long-range planning. 

Lage: What kinds of questions should I ask when I interview him? 

Buck: Probably the same ones you have asked me, basically. He was very 

actively involved in everything that I have told you about all these 
problems with the family and the partnerships and the structure and 
the lawsuits. He was en the ether side of the table in nearly all of 

Lage: And probably dates further back than your involvement. 

Buck: Yes. He was involved with Singer Housing and can fill in a lot of 
gaps in the '68 through '78 time period that I don't have any 
information on. 


Lage: He was actually the principal negotiator, I believe, on that Singer 
Housing dispute with the city. 

Buck: He was it. The family had nothing to de with that at all, other than 
peripherally. They were decisions that he was making that had an 
effect on the family's property; he consulted with Don on that, very 
clearly. And seme decisions that were made did have a big effect on 
the family property the sewer in particular, and roads, the Paseo 
Padre overcrossing over the Nimitz freeway. The decision to make 
sure that got in was made, I think, in the early seventies. Without 
that, the value of this property would net be what it is today, 

Lage: I had the understanding that he actually put in the overcrossing, 
that the city required it for fire protection access. 

Buck: Well, that's a chicken and egg problem that you ought to ask him 

about, because if you didn't have the evercrossing, the city probably 
would have master planned the property differently. So I'm not sure 
what comes first, the overcrossing or the master plan. Obviously, 
with the master plan they've get, they have to have the overcressing 
because you have to have access, fire protection, ambulances, all of 
that. I suspect that the overcrossing was hatched by Jack, knowing 
that without it the master plan would not become what he wanted it to 
become. It would be a lower, less intensive use, which means less 

Lage: He sounds like a real mastermind. 

Buck: That's right. He is very good at long-range planning because he 
knows how all the pieces fit together. The same thing with the 
Thorton Avenue interchange at the other end of the property. If you 
don't have a good interchange there, good freeway access, hopefully a 
four-lane bridge, you are net going to have as intense development. 

Ardenwood Park: Economic Considerations 

Buck: The same thing with the four-lane bridge that went across the Alameda 
Creek. Without four lanes you have a big bottleneck there. 
Immediately, that affects value. The Nimitz-Decoto Road interchange 
was the same thing. It's a tough piece of property to work with. A 
typical developer comes out and looks at the Nimitz and highway 84 
interchange, and says, "That's where development has got to be." 
Well, that's the park! 


Buck: I've had mere than one developer come in here and say we are 

absolutely insane to have designed the property that way. It's not 
true, because we've just put the emphasis someplace else, but most 
people leek at the freeway interchange and say. "That's where you 
build. " 

Lage: Was that considered, or did the city have that land in mind so 
strongly for a park that you couldn't fight it? 

Buck: I think the original impetus for the park was that the first 

developer that took that over. Singer Housing, didn't want to pay for 
demolition. It would have cost them an incredible amount of money to 
get rid of those eucalyptus trees, so it was an economic decision 
first and foremost that brought the park about. I think otherwise 
you very likely would have seen the development at the freeway 
interchange where everybody says it ought to be. 

Lage: That's interesting, because in talking to the historical people I 
interviewed Dr. Robert Fisher you get the background of the 
development of interest in this property and all the lobbying to see 
it as a park. And then your analysis comes down to an economic 
decision because George Washington Patterson planted those eucalyptus 

Buck: Well, the developer probably would have pushed to have it developed 
over the opposition of the historians and the environmental groups 
because that land, in the traditional development process, is the 
most visible location. Everybody wants visibility, number one. and 
access, number one. And you could have had both at that corner 
which is now a park, but one of the things that tilted the 
developer's decision was the cost of removing those trees. It was a 
very significant aspect of the decision-making process; it is neither 
one nor the other, but it is a very important element. 

Lage: Does the park add any value to your property now that it is 
master planned the way that it is? 

Buck: I don't know that that is a significant contribution. It's just one of 
the things that makes it attractive. It's probably not as significant 
as some of the more mundane things like services and access, but it has 
a value, particularly for the residential property. It's hard to 
isolate these things, but it all has to be taken as part of the whole. 
You couldn't have gotten the master plan that was achieved through the 
city processing if you didn't give the city some of the things it 
wanted. The city knew that it wouldn't get the master plan it wanted 
and the things it wanted from the Pattersons if it didn't give us a few 
things, like the density-right transfer. So it was a give-and-take 
process. It's really hard to say that the park adds so many dollars. 
We just wound up with what we wound up with, and the value is what it 


Buck: is. based on a let of other things, like the cost to develop the 
property, the off-site amenity fees, sewer costs, all those other 

Lage: Does the family corporation own other lands and manage them too? 
Buck: Well, as we sell, we are exchanging into other properties. 
Lage: That must have been a decision made along the way, toe. 

Buck: Yes. Some people wanted to exchange because they didn't want to pay 
the capital gains tax. You don't, if you exchange for other real 
estate, so we have other lands and, mostly, ether commercial properties 
that we are acquiring through that route, and we manage those out of 
this office. But they are elsewhere San Diego, San Francisco, Carmel, 
Fremont. So that is one of the things that this office does. 

Gradually, this office will become more of a property management 
company, I think, which is what it was set up for. It's just going to 
manage a let of different kinds of property, instead of just the 
Patterson ranch. 

Lage: Can you think of anything else we should cover? 

Buck: [Referring to interview outline] Abby [Campbell] does the books, which 
I didn't tell you. You don't want to hear about my typical day. 

Lage: Well, I've seen some of it now. You are up here two days a week? 

Buck: Yes, two to three. I'm net in Carmel very much anymore. Between Marin 
and here, I'm in the Bay Area more than I want to be. 

Working to Preserve the Value of Urban Reserve Lands 

Lage: Did we talk enough about the relationships with the cities? That has 
come in during our discussion. 

Buck: Yes, I have alluded to it. I think the most significant thing we 

are doing now, in addition to the day-to-day management problems, is 
trying to make sure that the value of the 400-odd acres that the family 
still owns and keeps in agriculture is preserved. That requires 
active, long-range thinking now. Development is a long way off. we 
think, but it could come up sooner than we expect. 


Buck: The Ardenwood Villages have gone much, much faster than expected. 
Less than two years, and they are really almost through. The same 
can happen across the road with the Patag property. Whether it stays 
in farming or net is really immaterial. There are a lot of things we 
have to do new to make sure that those properties don't lose their 
future potential. 

Lage : How would they lose their future potential? 

Buck: They could become wetlands, for one. They could go back to a state or 
not necessarily back to. but into, because they have been farmed for so 
many years that who knows what state they were originally in but some 
of this property could become saltwater marshes if we don't take the 
right steps to control the effect of what the park is doing downstream, 
for instance. They have all these demonstration marshes and all these 
duck ponds and everything, which is wonderful from an environmental 
standpoint, but they are backing up the water. The water is backing up 
and coming into our farm ground, turning it into a saltwater marsh. 

That means two things to us: one. you can't farm it anymore, 
which is bad; and two. if and when we are required to develop that 
property, by political reality and the realities of the agricultural 
economy, we won't be able to. if it's a saltwater marsh. So there is 
a value there to the future members of the family that would be lost by 
poor decision making today. 

Lage: Are you working with the park district on that? 

Buck: We're working with the park district to make sure we don't have those 
kinds of problems. 

Lage: How cooperative are they? 

Buck: Surprisingly cooperative. They take a little nudge once in a while, 

but they realize that what we are saying is that they are damaging our 
property and they are going to take its value away. Unless they want 
to pay us for it. they can't do it. 

Lage: You do have legal rights, then. 

Buck: Oh yes. but if you j ust sit there, it is going to happen. One day you 
will wake up. and your land will not be what you thought it was. and 
then it's much tougher to put back. Some of these things are 
irreversible. You can wind up with property that is subject to the 
jurisdiction of the Army Corps of Engineers, for example. 

Lage: Do you think they were wetlands at one time? This whole area was 
something of a wetland before the flood control project. I guess. 


Buck: It's really hard to say. That's a difficult definition to come up 

with. Originally, these were all alluvial flood plains from the Niles 
Canyon, and they formed seasonally like they did from the Tigres and 
Euphrates rivers or the Egyptian delta. They flooded every winter, and 
you would go out after the flood waters had gone away and plant crops 
and do wonderfully. 

So originally that's what all this area was. but no longer, 
because you have the flood-control ponds upstream and all the recharge 
ponds, and there is no longer an alluvial situation out here. So it is 
really hard to say what they were once. What we are concerned about 
is if we don't do the right things today, not just with salt-water 
intrusion, but with streets and control of traffic, sewer capacity, the 
water system, what Union City does with its vacant land to the north of 
us. what Newark does to the south of us, what our neighbors do with 
shopping centers all of those things have a big impact en what the 
family owns. 

That's where we mess with the cities so much. That requires a lot 
of imagination and long-range planning. That's kind of fun; it's a let 
more fun that deciding if the farmer is going to plant corn er 
tomatoes, [laughter] 

Lage: Let's end with that thought. 

Transcribed by Ann Lage 
Final Typed by Shannon Page 


TAPE GUIDE Robert Buck 

Date of Interview: October 6. 1986 163 

tape 1, side A 163 

tape 1. side B 173 

tape 2. side A 183 

insert from tape 1, side B 185 

resume tape 2, side A 186 

tape 2, side B 195 


Regional Oral History Office 
The Bancroft Library 

University ef California 
Berkeley, California 


Leon G. Campbell. Jr. 

Balancing Agriculture and Development. 
Family and Public Interests 

An Interview Conducted 
Ann Lage 
in 1986 



1988 by the Regents of the University of California 







Family Background and Education 203 

Teaching History at UC Riverside and Stanford 204 

Beginning Involvement with the Patterson Properties 206 


Henry and William Patterson: Commitment to Agriculture 207 

Donald Patterson and the Postwar Period 208 

The Alameda County Flood Control District Decisions 209 

The Singer Housing Sale 211 


The Need for Incorporation 216 
Master- Planning and Sales of Land 

Pressures for Development in Fremont's North Plain 220 


The Changing Market 223 

Water Problems 226 

Relations with Agencies 227 


Non- Agricultural Development 229 
Union City. Newark, and Fremont City Planning 

A Historian Looks Ahead 234 

Property Management and Stewardship 235 



Leon Campbell brings to this interview the practical outlook of one 
who. as executive vice-president of Patterson Properties, is involved in 
day-to-day planning and management of the Patterson real estate holdings. 
At the same time, as former professor of history at the University of 
California, Riverside, he brings the historian's cast of mind to his 
observations of the past, present, and future of the Patterson ranch 
properties on Fremont's Northern Plain. 

Mr. Campbell is the son-in-law of Sally and John Adams and husband of 
Abigail Adams Campbell, whose interviews appear elsewhere in this volume of 
Patterson family oral histories. He was instrumental in working with Dr. 
Knox Mellon to place the George Washington Patterson home on the National 
Registry of Historic Places, and he was involved from the beginning in 
conceiving of, planning, and seeking funding for the oral history project. 
In addition to participating in this interview, he has written the 
introduction to this series. 

His remarks in the following interview focus on management decisions 
and master planning. In particular, he discusses the problems of 
maintaining agriculture in the midst of housing and industrial development 
and describes the process of coordinating the family's planning efforts with 
the three surrounding cities and other public agencies whose actions have an 
impact on Patterson properties. 

The interview was conducted on September 24, 1986. in the Patterson 
Properties office in Fremont, California. Mr. Campbell reviewed the 
transcript with care, elaborating on and clarifying his recorded comments. 
Tapes of the interview session are available at The Bancroft Library. 

Ann Lage 

Project Director 

September, 1988 

The Regional Oral History Office 

The Bancroft Library 

University of California at Berkeley 

Regional Oral History Office University of California 

Room 486 The Bancroft Library Berkeley, California 94720 


(Please print or write clearly) 

Your full name LCQu Cr . \~S\h f&fH J&. . 

Date of birth /7/Q/ lllX Place of birth Lc' /V-^-< r 75 \-f\ 


Father's full name /V" Lec.V Vj . ^ (\rtffa l| 

Birthplace N Of >> C<1 C {V. . H ; A.' A,' J.'l CM 

Occupation h h - /N/CAi'd ^ r^- O fl / ' 

Mother's full name f/fl/U. \.lcf F /AiT r 

Birthplace rK 

I J x k \ , - 

Occupation H \A. ^ ^ .^ c . |\J J'Ux. 

Where did you grow up ? r (A c .Kbyi-;A vf\ 


Present community VA^Kfo'-l 1 L>F V/-V - 

Education ."? Aiu? 0^ V J r j . L/o'^n i A A /^ . Mn 





Special interests or activities 

0'.-w\'w^.-. (1^3- ): "xci-7ti/c V.P. Pnf/r 



Family Background and Education 

[Date of Interview: September 24, 1986] 

Lage: Let's start with a little brief personal background where you 

were born and raised. 

Campbell: Surely, Ann. I was born in Los Angeles, California, on May 8, 
1938. My grandparents had emigrated out to Pasadena from 
Minnesota. My grandfather had come over from Scotland, and the 
family had farmed in Minnesota. My father was a doctor, a heart 
specialist in Pasadena. He had gone to school at Stanford and 
Johns Hopkins, and my mother had been a nurse in Baltimore, and 
they had met in medical school. I grew up in Pasadena, attended 
schools there, went to Stanford. I received my graduate degrees 
ending up with a Ph.D. in history, which I took in 1970 after 
completing military service. Really, I think my education 
emerged out of a lifelong interest in history, with a specific 
interest in Latin America. My father was very involved as an 
agriculturalist himself in a joint venture with the DiGiorgio 
Fruit Company. I did labor negotiations that required my 
knowledge of Spanish. From there, I went down to the University 
of Mexico and became very interested in Latin America. 

Lage: When did the labor negotiations take place? 

Campbell: This was in the 1950s. The bracero program was in effect then. 

Those were contract workers, and I worked for my dad in arranging 
labor contracts and other details. That required a knowledge of 
Spanish, and so I took lots of Spanish at Stanford and at the 
University of Mexico. I traveled widely, and ultimately went 
back and took a master's and a Ph.D. 

## This symbol indicates that a tape or segment of a tape has 
begun or ended. For a guide to the tapes, see page 238. 


Teaching History at UC Riverside and Stanford 

Campbell: In 1970, after having lived in Latin America and written my 

dissertation. I came back and took a job at the University of 
California. Riverside, one of two UC jobs that year that were 

Lage : Those were tight times for historians. 

Campbell: Those were very tight times I And I should say that in 1963 Abby 
and I were married.* Her father, as you know, is a neurosurgeon 
at UC San Francisco, and so we were always anxious to come back 
and are very involved with the University of California as a 

Lage: Your background is similar to the Pattersons the Scottish 

background, the agricultural... 

Campbell: Yes, there is some of that. I think. Sort of inadvertent. I 
guess we didn't realize the similarities as we went along. 
Certainly, the UC ties, traveling down in Latin America, living 
in Peru and Spain, doing work there and here which was very 
concerned with land, all contributed. Although I wasn't really 
doing anything in terms of agricultural history per se, we were 
living in areas that were agrarian and I learned a lot about 
farming economics. I was interested in that. 

At UC I started off as assistant professor, step one, and by 
1976 I had gone to full professor. I was chairman of the 
Department of History for four years and I was dean in the 
Division of Undergraduate Studies there at Riverside. So I 
really was totally dedicated to an academic career at that point. 
And neither one of us, I should say, Abby or I. were even 
remotely involved with the ranch. Abby, as you know, visited 
frequently with her parents and spent a good bit of time there. 
In fact, my only association with the ranch was when I was in 
graduate school at Stanford and we stored all of our furniture 
over there in a barn and neglected to cover it. This was when we 
first went off to Latin America. What we didn't know was that 
the barn was inhabited by bats which severely "depreciated" our 
furniture and left it really a mess. We came back a year later, 
and we were appalled at what had gone on. So we did know the 
ranch, its buildings, Abby's grandmother, and that sort of thing. 
Abby, of course, was very familiar, having grown up there. 

* Abigail Adams Campbell is the granddaughter of Henry Patterson 
and the daughter of John and Sally Patterson Adams. See page 378 
for interview with Abigail Adams. 


Campbell: I stayed with the University of California just until recently: 

in 1982, we first came up to northern California on my sabbatical 
after I had left the chairmanship. I came up as a visiting 
scholar at the Center for Latin American Studies at Stanford. 
During that year, 1982-1983, we became somewhat familiar with 
things that had gone on at the ranch when Bob Buck briefed us, 
although I was writing and we weren't intimately associated with 
it. However, we began to attend board meetings and soon got up 
to speed. Then in 1984 I returned to Riverside to teach. That 
is, we stayed up here, our kids were in school here, and I began 
to commute to UC Riverside. During that year I would be down 
there for three or four days and up here on the weekends, so we 
became more intimately acquainted with what was happening at the 
ranch and began to participate as decisions were made. The board 
indicated its desire to open a Patterson Properties business 
office to plan and manage its real estate, and it wished to have 
family management. I think by this time everyone realized it was 
already a large and somewhat complicated operation and that it 
needed direct supervision. In 1985 I began to come over here to 
Fremont one or two days a week, still maintaining my visiting 
scholar position at Stanford and continuing research. Then in 
June of 1985, I began to work more nearly full-time at the 
Patterson Properties office as did Abby, Bob, and Wil. We had 
four phones (all ringing) and no secretary! It was an 
experience, a "start up!" 

We set up this office. Then in June of 1986, I resigned 
from UC and was rehired as an adjunct professor of history at UC 
and retained my title over at Stanford. But I'm really here at 
Patterson in a full-time capacity now. You can't be in this 
business on a part-time basis; it changes too fast. 

Lage: But you still have a link to the academic world? 

Campbell: There's a link to UC and Stanford, which I would like to 

Lage: Will you be teaching any courses as adjunct professor? 

Campbell: I'm not teaching any at present but that possibility exists. 

They would like me to teach. I continue to guide the projects of 
graduate students who are in the pipeline taking master's and 
Ph.D.s. UC has me on a consultant ship basis where they bring me 
down now and then for short courses and things of that sort. 
When I'm in southern California I give talks on my research, and 
I still maintain a speaking schedule at professional meetings 
around the country. I'm still active in my research, but my 
production is, of course, much slower. 


Beginning Involvement with the Patterson Proper ties 

Lage: New maybe we can talk about why you decided to make the switch. 

Campbell: I think it was an organic process; it sort of evolved. First we 
began to attend board meetings. I think as early as 1983. and we 
realized that lots of responsibility had been shouldered by the 
family, and it was getting to be a burden. They couldn't be 
everywhere, dealing with Kaiser, the city of Fremont, the 
farmers, the park people, developers, engineers, etc. The board 
is composed of Patterson family members who are professionals, 
have careers of their own. families of their own; some are 
retired. The decision had to be reached reasonably shortly as to 
what the Pattersons were going to do with the remaining lands, 
and how they could keep control rather than give this over to 
others. That's one problem. The other was how actively they 
were going to manage and supervise the property which they had 
exchanged into and select other properties as productive 

So it was sort of a natural process. I think, since Abby and 
I were here and Bob Buck was spending a great deal of time here, 
too, that the three of us would begin to take over those 
responsibilities. We did it on a part-time basis for over a 
year, and then it became clear that unless the remaining lands 
were going to be sold immediately or management was turned over 
to an outside organization, we were the logical choice. The 
farming venture, for example, was in transition and needed help 
to return to viability. 

After the sales to Kaiser for the technology park and the 
option agreement with Ardenwood Development Associates were 
executed in 1985. there was considerable remaining land in 
Fremont and Livermore. I think the family then determined that 
what they really wanted, in a positive sense, was hands-on family 
management, to retain the properties for the long-term and to 
plan the future, since it was both an ongoing responsibility and 
an opportunity. 



He nry and Wil 1 i am Patterson; Commitment to Agriculture 

Lage : We should go back and try to get some of your impressions of the 

earlier events. 

Campbell: The Patterson family business prior to 1980 was agriculture. My 
knowledge of Henry and William is secondary. That is, I'm only 
partially familiar with Henry, who died before I met Abby. I did 
know Sarah Patterson only slightly when Abby and I were engaged, 
and we spent some time down at the ranch. 

I think their commitment to continuing the agricultural 
operation was very strong. This you can see from the ranch 
itself. What's interesting, I think, was how these families 
remained intimately associated with the East Bay. The Henry 
Patterson family moved to Piedmont for the schools. They always 
had a very strong East Bay orientation; the family was always 
connected to the ranch. Fremont really was remote in those days. 
It was not in the immediate postwar growth path which was 
developing around Oakland and, of course, San Francisco. So it 
was very rural here well after San Jose had developed, and life 
continued on much as it had years before. The Nimitz Freeway did 
link up the East Bay some before Highway 680 was built. But 
Fremont remained an agricultural area and the Pattersons 
continued on in agriculture as they had from the 1850s, the time 
of George Patterson. That's remarkable continuity well over a 
century of farming. 

Lage: And the Pattersons kept that going much longer than a lot of 

other families. 

Campbell: They did, for a long time, even as other farming interests went 
out of operation. The first lands developed were over on the 
east side of the freeway in Fremont proper. But in this northern 
plain, the Pattersons retained the land in farming, giving over 
some to form the Coyote Hills Regional Park. I can't think of 


Campbell: any ether large agricultural operations here that remained in 
being up until the 1950s and 1960s. So that's unique, and I 
think that speaks to their commitment to agriculture and to the 
land itself. 

As for Henry and William, as I understand it, there was a 
division of labor. Henry operated the ranches. And William 
carried out the task and a very important task of dealing with 
the municipalities. The city of Fremont was growing and 
beginning to encroach on the ranch. The water district, and the 
Alameda County Flood Control District, those kinds of issues were 
really very, very important. So the ranch wasn't just 
accidentally preserved; I think Henry and William had a lot to do 
with that. 

Donald Patterson and the Postwar Period 

Campbell: After their deaths Donald took over. 1 did not know Donald 
either, but I think there was a very direct sense of Donald 
succeeding Henry and William's stewardship. His long association 
with the ranch is an important period in the ranch's history. 

Lage : Right, and it seems to be a period that we don't know much about. 

Campbell: I don't know much directly, but I think it's a very important 

part, and some of the persons whom you're interviewing can fill 
you in. It's during that postwar period that the future of the 
north plain area took shape as the East Bay developed and people 
moved to the Bay Area as jobs were created. 

Lage: It's a key period. 

Campbell: It's a key period because there was a tremendous housing boom 
going on, particularly in San Jose and the Silicon Valley. I 
guess what's remarkable to me as a newcomer is how the Patterson 
Ranch avoided becoming swallowed up at that point. I would think 
that the lack of direct access via 880 and the new Dumbarton 
Bridge helped. These bridges really make the "Bay Area" a 
reality. There were land sales, but the emphasis in that period 
was on dedications and condemnations. I mean the breakup of the 
Patterson Ranch in the period prior to 1980 stems more from the 
creation of the Coyote Hills Regional Park than land sales. 
These acquisitions in turn laid the groundwork for the creation 
of the Ardenvood Regional Preserve, since they allowed urban 
planning within an open space environment. The planning for 
Ardenwood Forest New Town probably began with Donald, I think, 
and Jack Brooks. 


Lage: The Coyote Hills dedication is interesting, as I look through 

some of these newspaper clippings I've told you about [the Grace 
Williamson and local history collections, Fremont Public 
Library], It seemed to be quite controversial. Of course, the 
family's side is not in these newspapers, but it was apparently 
the first East Bay Regional Park that had to be obtained by 
eminent domain. So there was some unwillingness on the part of 
the family to have it dedicated, or at least there was 
disagreement about price. 

Campbell: That's something that I'm not really capable of commenting on. 
It never came up in any discussions. I think it's a source of 
pride today. Eminent domain is something that all large owners 
face, and it's regarded as a loss of livelihood. The Pattersons 
have faced it both in Fremont and in Livermore, and have deeded 
over not only Coyote Hills but Del Valle Regional Park. Today we 
maintain a cordial relationship with the East Bay Regional Park 
District [EBRPD] and know the directors of the district. We 
understand their objectives and they understand ours. Obviously, 
park districts have to be in the forefront of acquiring land, 
perhaps in advance of the population base to support them. The 
controversies may have had to do with the uses and boundaries of 
the park. After all, parks are public and farmers are private 
people. I would think those differences of viewpoint would 
probably be somewhat natural. 

Today we're intimately familiar with the need for 
preservation of wetlands and shoreline. But back in the 1950s, 
if you stop to think about it, those issues really weren't as 
apparent to owners or to municipalities as they are today. So a 
lot of it, I think, is a matter of understanding. We're very 
supportive of what the East Bay [Regional Park District] has done 
over in Coyote Hills, but preservation of agriculture also means 
protection of farmland. We still have to insure that the land 
and water are not harmed either from development or 
experimentation. We monitor water levels and water quality, 
since they affect crop yields a great deal. 

The Alameda County Flood Control District Decisions 

Lage: The other thing that struck me, in terms of this more distant 

past, is that it was the flood control district that made 
development possible on the northern plain. The flooding had 
actually promoted agriculture and enriched the soil. The flood 
control allowed development, and of course, William was president 
of the Alameda County Flood Control District. I wondered if you 
would know, although this may be much too much before your time, 
if he did that with foresight? 


Campbell: If it was a conscious foresight? It's really hard to tell what 
was conscious foresight and what was done as preservation of 
agricultural lands. I think te some degree you're right. 
Pleading promoted certain types of agriculture. On the other 
hand, flooding precluded other more rational types of 
agriculture: two-cropping, winter and spring cropping of land. 
So it may have been an agricultural decision which ultimately 
allowed for ether successive land uses. I doubt this was a 
primary motive, though. It was just sound conservation practice. 

It seems that the lettuce and cauliflower operations tended 
to be the most profitable and logical for this area. It led te 
the long-term tenancy of the L. S. Williams Company.* 

Lage: So it could have been an agricultural decision as well as 

thinking of development.** 

Campbell: Yes. my guess is that agriculture would be paramount because I 

don't think, in the long run, one could have foreseen the kind of 
development that is taking place out here today. That would have 
been the ultimate in foresight. Land and water quality were 
their biggest concerns. I think, on the other hand. Donald 
Patterson certainly began te anticipate residential growth early 
on as the Nimitz Freeway linked up the East Bay. But I think, 
really, farmers tend to do things to preserve their land. That's 
their major concern. Certainly the owners didn't have the 
wherewithal to support those things such as flood control. Those 
were bond issues that counties were interested in passing, I 
think Alameda County was beginning to function as a county and 
look at the East Bay in general terms. County governments which, 
because of growth, focused on areas such as Hayward and Oakland 
began to think of Fremont, think of Livermore. think of the 
outlying areas. Local water districts acted, and transportation 
authorities. So it turns out to have been very foresighted. It 
has permitted growth. But I don't believe that was the primary 
reason. I think it was the preservation of agriculture. 

I would just back up and say one thing. The flood control 
district and the water district decisions clearly, to my mind, as 
an historian, are pivotal because the hydro-geology of the North 
Plain is really crucial, even today. It is bay-front land. It's 
excellent land, but you have potential saltwater intrusion all 
along the bay as increased pumping takes place. And you have 
policies being carried out now by flood control districts setting 
levels and creating salinity barriers and so forth, all of which 

* See interview with Gene Williams in this series. 

** See 1955 interview with W. D. Patterson in appendix D to 
volume II of this series. 


Campbell: affects our water quality, often in unforeseen ways, i.e.. by 

forcing some saline water through the shale eastward in response 
t the recharging of fresh water aquifer. William and Henry did 
see early on that water was the key issue in maintaining agricul 
ture, so I think all of that is consistent with preserving the farm. 

William and certainly Donald later began to spend more and 
more of their time interacting with municipal agencies. The 
postwar really was a crucial period. It used to be. I think, 
that farmers sort of lived and let live. But the fact that they 
preserved the property really is a tribute to their successes 
with dealing with agencies and individuals since not until the 
1970s, as I understand it, did the city concern itself with 
agricultural preservation and planning on this scale. 

The Singer Housing Sale 

Lage : In the seventies, it seems that the sale to Singer Housing was 

the first big sale of Patterson land. Is that correct? 

Campbell: Yes. 

Lage: Are you familiar with that? 

Campbell: I'm not really familiar with that. Only to provide some 

background, I believe that there was not a conscious decision at 
that point to sell land for development. I think, again, that 
many of the Patterson land sales were primarily motivated by tax 
considerations so that sales were carried out as a means of 
preserving the balance of the property in agriculture. 

Lage: And some of it was land exchanges? 

Campbell: There were land exchanges that took place, primarily since 1984. 

Lage: Did the family exchange for other agricultural land? 

Campbell: Yes. The family exchanged back into agricultural land in Oregon 
and perhaps California. I'm really not sure about the extent of 
this. The first lands sold were located south of Jarvis 
Boulevard. Remember that Highway 84 wasn't in, Jarvis Boulevard 
was the only access to the West Bay, so it was natural that that 
land was developed first. 

Lage: I'm thinking of a different land exchange, though. This was report 

ed in the newspaper, and you never know how accurate it is. I read 
that part of the payment for the property that the Pattersons sold 
to Singer was in other lands in northern California and Oregon. 


Campbell: Yes. They bought cattle and agricultural property at least in 
Oregon. It may have been that seme of the family did trade for 
other agricultural land also. The commitment to farming and 
cattle raising has continued. 

Lage: I wondered if those were agricultural lands that the family 

considered continuing to farm. 

Campbell: That's quite interesting. Some of the family does raise cattle 
in Oregon today; this could be the same property. 

We've been consistent in making exchanges for. among other 
things, tax purposes, but also because the family now has 
property management capacity. We manage several properties for 
numerous Patterson family members. 

Lage: That sale to Singer turned out to be controversial, or the 

subsequent development that Singer Housing planned for it. There 
were a lot of political ins and outs. Was the family active in 
that, do you know? 

Campbell: I think Donald Patterson and to back up a little bit, there's no 
doubt that Donald Patterson took over the management of the ranch 
following the deaths of Henry and William. So Don's memoirs at 
the Pioneer Society might speak to that. I think the 
controversial aspect probably comes, again, from the fact that in 
1972 it was probably one of the larger developments in this rural 
area. It has to do, I guess, with the natural assumption of 
planning responsibilities on Fremont's part, looking at these 
developments, taking more of an active role in that. Cities 
began to take these duties on. Other than that, I don't know 
much about it. I do know, however, that the land sold to Singer 
was not in the Williamson Act, and the tax situation required a 
sale. Prop. 13 had not passed yet. 

Lage: At any rate, it was resolved. It did involve the house [the 

George Washington Patterson home, now preserved as part of the 
Ardenwood Regional Preserve], and maybe that's an important thing 
to look at. The house was sold along with the other acreage. 

Campbell: Yes, it did involve the house. The one thing I would reiterate 
is I think it was always the Patterson family's desire to have 
the house preserved and turned over to the public in some 
capacity. (I heard they had negotiated with the Boy Scouts of 
America and perhaps other groups.) The only question was how 
could that be financed. Because the city of Fremont, and I 
suppose even East Bay Park District at certain times didn't have 
the wherewithal to bring it back for public use. And you know, 
it was in a very dilapidated state following Henry and Sarah 
Patterson's deaths. The provision in William Patterson's will 


Campbell: was to burn his house.* He didn't want it standing as long as it 
couldn't be maintained. Fortunately, the George Washington 
Patterson house was preserved. 


Lage: There was no sense of not wanting the house open to the public in 

the case of William Patterson? 

Campbell: I don't know. The matter of preservation, planned developments 
the kinds of, oh, Irvine Ranch solutions or planned developments 
in general which included significant historic preservation, they 
were relatively rare in the 1950s. I think, again, what you see 
today in the Ardenweod Historic Preserve is the result of 
certainly ten years of planning. They began with the house. The 
idea was how do you protect the house, how do you protect the 
eucalyptus groves? There was a provision for that in the Singer 
contract. So the family and Jack Brooks understood, and I'm sure 
the city of Fremont understood right away the value of protecting 
the grove and the home. The only question was 1) who had the 
capacity, and 2) who should bear the costs, which seemed 
significant and were significant. This is how the master plan 
evolved around 1980. 

As time went on, it became clear that the farming operation 
was also unique and that some of it should be put into a 
preserve. The question was how to do it; I suppose Singer and 
Brooks had some ideas on how to do it originally, but the logical 
resolution was to have it go to the city and East Bay Regional 
Park District in some sort of a partnership. 

Lage: So this was something you see the family as having a positive 

interest in? 

Campbell: Oh, yes, definitely. In fact, I can recall the discussions 

ongoing when I was teaching in the East, as to how can we best do 
this. How can we assure the preservation of the house because a 
great deal of money has had to go into the restoration of that 
house. I think initially the city contributed the salary of a 
full-time guard. Taking it from that step to what you see today, 
landscaped, rehabilitated internally, the decent program that 
took a lot of community spirit by service clubs, the chamber of 
commerce, the family, etc. Everyone wanted to do it; the 
question was, who had the capacity to do it? 

* The William Patterson house was burned down after his death in 
1961, in accordance with a provision in his will that it must be 
destroyed if none of his sons wanted to live in it. 


Campbell: In my mind, the most creative element of the development itself 
is that it began with the inclusion of a great deal of open 
space. I'm net sure my data are correct, but if one takes into 
account all of the Patterson lands that are now under the 
auspices of East Bay Regional Park District, it may amount to 
about a tenth of their total holdings. If it's true, it's quite 
a contribution. 

Lage: Counting Del Valle? 

Campbell: Counting Del Valle. So I think it's unquestionable that the 

Patterson family had a concept of open space and farming and then 
acknowledged some development consistent with that concept. 

Lage: When we say "Patterson family" we talk about it as a unit, but 

was that actually the case? You had how many owners before you 
formed the corporation? 

Campbell: Yes, I think that certainly Donald Patterson took the lead and 

all that, but I know there was regular contact between Donald and 
the Adamses and Donald and his brothers. So I do think there was 
certainly informal agreement as to what should be done. 

Lage: Kind of an informal network of consultation? 

Campbell: Yes, I think they were all agreed on at least these goals. I 
don't believe there's any dispute at all about that as a goal. 
It's just that Donald was the business manager, which was 
traditional for the oldest son. but I think the family was 
certainly in agreement on it, even though some of them were in 
more secondary roles because they had their own businesses and 
their own professions. 

Lage: There wouldn't have been a formal means of coming to decisions at 

that point, would there? 

Campbell: I think they had a number of meetings at their residences, but 
things were done more informally then. I've gone back to our 
early minutes. They met on a regular basis, and certainly 
consulted by telephone. 

Lage: This would be prior to 1980? 

Campbell: Yes. It seems to me from the sixties on there was a lot of that. 

Lage: Some might want to disagree with you. 

Campbell: There's no doubt that the paramount fact is that Don ran things. 
That was very consistent with farm families where the oldest son 
was put in charge. I don't think there's any question of that, 
based on what I know. 






Lage : 
Campbell : 

Several people have brought that up. 

It was a matter of the oldest son and that he was the one in 

Someone had to do it. That's still true today. The fact is that 
these families acknowledged that the older son would do these 
things, and he in turn was prepared to do this job. They left 
him alone to do it. 

And he did it without any payment, I understand? 

Yes, that's right, as has David Patterson subsequently. I think 
we in this office owe them a tremendous debt for all the work 
that they did. They ran the ranch and ran their own businesses. 
And did well by us. Families who abdicate this responsibility 
usually regret it later. 



The Need for Incorporation 

Lage : Shall we look at that decision to form a family corporation and 

master plan the property? You've mentioned that to me as being 
kind of a key turning point. Were you involved in that? 

Campbell: Abby and I were not directly involved. Patterson Fremont 
Management was incorporated in 1983. PFM is the corporate 
general partner which runs the Fremont properties owned by 
several limited partnerships, as well as the properties that 
we've traded into subsequently as the results of exchanges, and 
handles all the other general business. Another corporation, 
PTLM. operates the Livermore ranch. 

Lage : And they are family corporations? 

Campbell: Yes. That came about, in my understanding, once it became clear 
that there was a management and development potential. I think 
essentially demographics indicated that there was going to be 
tremendous pressure for development out here, which is apparent 
today. As long as the ranch was in undivided ownership it meant 
that it was very difficult for the family to make decisions. 
With the death of Don, it moved past the ability of one individual 
to make all of these long-range plans en behalf of everyone else. 
No one person would want such responsibility. By that time you 
had several families, trusts, you had life income beneficiaries, 
you had people like ourselves, and then grandchildren remainder 
men and women. It became very complicated, and there were legal 
issues. So the corporation was formed as a means of 
orchestrating concerted family planning. There had been some 
evidence of disorganization earlier. 

Lage: Within the family? 


Campbell: Within the family. There were certain individuals with different 
interests who particularly wanted to sell their interests, which 
would have forced everyone to sell if they had been successful. 
So at that point PFM was capitalized and undivided ownership 
interests in land were exchanged for stock in the various 
partnerships. This took a while to accomplish, to explain why 
such a move was prudent. So everyone then was placed in a 
position where they controlled a pro rata share of a larger stock 
corporation. It meant that everybody voted their percentage 
interests and observed a set of by-laws, and you went back to 
majority rule. That was significant because it took the burden 
off family members who were having to operate on behalf of a lot 
of persons whom they couldn't contact daily or who didn't 
understand all that was taking place. A board of directors from 
the family was set up early in 1984 to jointly establish policy, 
and a staff was formed to implement these actions. 

Lage: Was that a decision that was accepted without much opposition? 

It seems like a logical way to go. 

Campbell: I think it was. As I say, there have been no indications of any 
departure from that idea once it was put into place. Again, it's 
very clear that decisions had to be made, but unless you're close 
to a rapidly changing situation like this one, you might not see 
the need for decisions and planning. As far as the partnerships 
which we manage, and we're in contact with all of the various 
partners through our quarterly newsletters and financial reports, 
the kinds of input we're getting is that they're very happy with 
the organization we have developed. Organization saves you money 
and protects your assets in the long run. 

Lage: How many members are there now? 

Campbell: Well, let's see. We have about twenty-five limited partners 
today. We have an eight-person board, which represents the 
various ownerships in the property. 

Lage: It includes all the active owners, are you saying, or the 


Campbell: All of the various ownerships are represented on that board 

through family representation; that is, one son of the William 
Patterson side of the family might sit en the board as a 
representative for his siblings and so forth. 

Lage: Is it assumed that the William Pattersons have a certain point of 

view and the Henry Pattersons another? 

Campbell: I think, historically, they probably had. I'm not sure it was 
always opposite, just separate. I'm sure you know independent 
farm families have very different points of view beyond their 


Campbell: agreement en land use. Some board members as trustees favor 

development more than do ethers who are strong environmentalists. 
But today I think those points of view are beginning to conform. 
There's a coincidence of interests today. That really stems from 
better information flow, regular meetings, a full-time business 
organization which can get together with the various owners and 
let them know what's happening out here. That isn't to say that 
there is complete unanimity of opinion en the beard. I don't 
think there is, and I wouldn't expect it. There are very 
divergent interests as to whether sales should be undertaken, 
what sort of uses the property ought to be put to... 

Lage : Does it break down along family lines? I think that would be 

kind of interesting if the views down into the second and third 
generations still reflected the two branches of the family. 

Campbell: I would say not. I used to think that it did, but once you have 
equivalent representation en the board. I think that, en the 
continuum from, say. development te perpetual open space, you 
find representation in every family for both of those positions. 
I don't believe it's generational either. People just have their 
own opinions on where these uses should intersect or balance off. 
What's interesting, though, is that virtually all of our board 
votes are unanimous. There's a great deal of discussion and 
give-and-take prior to a vote, but the votes themselves tend to 
be unanimous, and we go on te the next matter. Again, you debate 
matters of principle and policy, but oftentimes it gets back to 
the question of feasibility, like in the preservation of the 
house. The Patterson board can make all the decisions it wants, 
but we have to remember at the same time that the city councils 
of Fremont and Union City and Newark and the Association of Bay 
Area Governments, and the Army Corps of Engineers, environmental 
groups, the farm tenants, all these different agencies have their 
own agendas. So we're really part of a larger scheme, and one of 
the jobs ef this office is to try and accommodate those various 
interests, to find seme common ground en which they can agree. 

Master Planning and the Sales ef Land 

Lage: Is there a particular decision that we could explore that would 

show these things you've talked about in the abstract not only 
how a decision within the family is made, but how it's related to 
the feasibility issue? 

Campbell: Well. I think the two major decisions to date that the family has 
undertaken was the decision to master plan the ranch, and with 
respect to that master planning, to sell the technology park area 
to Kaiser. Then, secondly, te sell off part of the residential 
property to Ardenwood Development Associates. 


Lage: And when was that decision? 

Campbell: In February of '84, the Kaiser sale was consummated, and the same 
year the Ardenwood Development Associate Open Agreement was 

Lage: This was when you were involved? 

Campbell: That's when we were involved. Actually, I was elected to the 

board in December of '83, and we began to discuss both the Kaiser 
sale and the residential option agreements throughout '84. The 
Kaiser sale was all decided by the time I came on board; the ADA 
option was in the discussion stages. Those decisions were 
difficult to reach for the family because they represented the 
sale of a good bit of the property, and they also represented a 
clear development future. But, again, what made those decisions 
palatable, even to members of the family who would rather have 
seen the property stay the way it was, was that the deals were 
all cash, they produced improvement districts which added value 
to our remaining lands, and the development was reasonably 
restricted to certain parts of the ranch. In addition, a great 
deal of open space was preserved, and the farming operation was 
retained. If one takes into account the Coyote Hills and all of 
the property known as Tract M down the eastern slope of Coyote 
Hills, that acreage was dedicated as permanent open space, paid 
for through the assignment of saleable density rights. 

Lage: Under whose ownership at that period? Still the family? 

Campbell: No, that is open space under the jurisdiction of the city of 
Fremont. All of the property to the north and west of Paseo 
Padre remains in agriculture. Then the original commitment to 
the city to preserve the ranch house was expanded to include the 
preserve, the original farming operation, or about thirty-one 
acres in all. So I think, again, that's an example of planned 
development that was economically responsible but it also 
required developers to pay for the other amenities (streets, 
freeway overpasses, lighting, utilities) that would preserve the 
essential qualitites of the ranch as a public attraction. So 
that was a decision that was important; both of these decisions 
were important. 

Lage: Did you hire a master planner? 

Campbell: Jack Brooks served as master planner for this project. He, at 
that point, met regularly with the Patterson board and he has a 
small limited-partnership interest in part of the remaining 
Patterson lands. So that the Pattersons, I would say, were well 
informed as to what was taking place. It was an active role of 
the Pattersons; they were able to plan what was going to happen. 


Lage: Would it have been Jack Brooks who was the liaison to the various 

public agencies? The city...? 

Campbell: Yes. definitely. Jack has had a long association with the East 
Bay Oakland. San Leandro, Fremont. He's had something like a 
forty-year association with the family, knew Henry and William. 
worked with Donald. David, and today the entire group. So 
although the planning took a long time, the net result was that 
the city of Fremont probably began to see the possibilities of 
this as a model development. There weren't many big open-land 
plays of this sort in the Bay Area, in this area, that is, close 
in to the West Bay. The decision to permit the Ardenwood 
development was worked out. I guess, over a long period of time. 
The decisions were to build multi-family as well as single-family 
housing, cluster housing, which, we think, really meets a big need 
in this area, with the opening of the new Dumbarton Bridge, in 
about 1984. 

Lage: The family was able to sort ef come together, then? 

Campbell: Yes, I think the family began to realize that the sale of certain 
parts of the property were necessary in order to protect the rest 
of the property to do with as they chose down the line. It 
bought us the time, gave us the economic capacity to hold en to 
the Town Center area that you're familiar with, as well as the 
urban reserve land to the north. 

Pressures for Development in Fremont's North Plain 

Lage: Was one of the alternatives just not to sell at all and to keep 

more agriculture in operation? 

Campbell: Certainly it must have been an alternative. I wasn't associated 
with matters then, but I think it was an unworkable alternative. 
Municipalities have the right to cancel the Williamson Act which, 
prior to the passage of Proposition 13. was a means of keeping 
land in agriculture.* The city wanted this development it 
provided a tax base and is an attractive addition to the city. 
It's changed Fremont some. I think. 

* The Williamson Act [California Land Conservation Act, 1965] 
keeps taxes lower for land owners who contract with their local 
government to keep their land in agricultural use for at least 
ten years. Lands under this provision are assessed on the value 
for agricultural use rather than their development potential. 
Proposition 13 was the 1978 initiative measure which limited 
property tax in California. Ed. 


Lage: The family had used the Williamson Act, I assume? 

Campbell: Yes. I think the family utilized the Williamson Act to keep 

farming after other farming areas were going under, but this was 
due more to the fact that it's good farm land. After the passage 
of Prop. 13, the Williamson Act has been less responsible than 
land quality and commodity prices for keeping land in 

The structure of farming is such that farms have to pay for 
themselves. Higher yields don't always result in net profit 
increases. This farming operation has been up and down and farm 
prices are now in a trough, as you know. So if the Pattersons 
wanted to make up deficits of their own pockets it could have 
remained as it had. But that's difficult to do, when you're 
talking about eight, nine hundred acres of farmland. What we've 
chosen to do is to strengthen the remaining farming operation and 
make it profitable. 

Lage: You said that the Williamson Act could be cancelled. 

Campbell: Well, the point is that since cities can cancel the Williamson 
Act, it's quite possible that had the family wished to keep all 
the land in farming, if the Patterson family had taken that 
position, there's some indication, I would think, that the city 
of Fremont would have canceled it on their own initiative, as a 
result of wanting to plan and develop this area. Because the 
area south of Jarvis Boulevard was developed, Hayward was 
developing. Union City was anxious to this was the kind of area 
that Fremont was quite interested in. You couldn't overlook its 
bay front location. 

Keep in mind, too, that this was a period of high technology 
growth; in fact, the whale definition of Silicon Valley was 
expanded out of San Jose north to include the Mil pitas corridor, 
even all the way up to Foster City, maybe not in a strict 
geographic sense. But the other aspect of this property is that 
it is located between Stanford and UC Berkeley, two of the 
premier research universities in the world. So its future as a 
research park ultimately was picked up en by Kaiser, but it was 
seen by a lot of people. On this whole Highway 84 corridor, if 
you drive down it, you'll see R and D [research and development] 
zoning on either side, and because it has bay proximity, 
proximity to the high tech entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley and 
Sunnyvale, and land was cheaper here, it was a natural for this 
sort of usage. Cities were in competition to become the next 
Silicon Valley. 


Campbell: So I think those are the kinds of pressures that really indicated 
that fanning of the entire region was going to be impractical. 
The way you protected farming was to master plan and allow for 
farming in certain areas. And for development to be restricted 
in others. 



The Changing Market 

Lage : The farming really seems like an anachronism as you look at the 

high technology park, the multi-residential... 

Campbell: Yes, it's been difficult. We've learned a let about how you 
maintain in fact, that would probably be a good oral history 
project how do you maintain a high quality agriculture amidst 
tremendous change.* It hasn't been easy. You look down at 
Irvine, and you look at Orange County. The classic example. 
They never could do it down there. Farming went out of operation 
because of commercial and population pressures; people wanted to 
live there, basically. Here, the farmers' problems really don't 
have so much to do with the surrounding development because we've 
controlled that. They have more to do with the farming market. 
So the farming operation is changing tremendously; it's changing 
to much more of a local, regional, specialized farming operation. 
But people do want to live here, close to the bay and the 

Lage: You mentioned on the phone that the family is going to take an 

active role in agriculture. 

Campbell: Well, only this traditionally, large-scale farming has been 
mechanized, it's been oriented towards rapid transfer of farm 
produce to eastern markets, and it's been high overhead, high- 
technology farming. In recent years there has been a move away 
from that type of farming to specialized niches. Up here, for 
example, if you look at the labor situation whereas in the 
Central Valley you have a built-in labor supply, and labor is 
migratory, it migrates all up and down the Central Valley from 
the wine country down to Bakersf ield and beyond to El Centre. 

* See also interviews with Mel Alameda and Gene Williams in 
volume I of this series. 


Campbell: Up here, you don't have a stable labor pool, you have to provide 
labor housing in order to have large-scale farming. And labor's 
very expensive. This puts local farming at a disadvantage in a 
conventional market system. So that that, among other things, 
produces an inclination on the farmer's part to change to try and 
sell to local retail chains, market chains, to get into the 
specialty vegetable business, which is very hot now, to sell to 
restaurant chains, to market locally through fruit stands. All 
those things are a reorientation that would have taken place 
regardless of the development that's happened. 

Lage: But is that what is happening? 

Campbell: We're very involved now since the farming operation is in trouble 
and because we think that's one of the best ways to protect the 
farm operation. I should just stop to say that we've supported 
the farming operation; we've really made it possible for farming 
to continue up here. We built a new farm center; we built a new 
labor camp; we have reduced rents to zero, basically. 

Lage: The labor camp is located on the ranch properties? 

Campbell: Yes. We worked very closely with the farm tenants now, whereas 

in the past, farm tenants basically like other tenants, sent you 
a check at the end of the month. 


Ran the operation totally. 

Campbell: Ran the operation totally. But let me emphasize again how much 
this property is changing. Development patterns are changing, 
farming's changing, and we have to be really involved in that. 
As long as we farm, we want to see the farming profitable and 
heal thy . 

Lage: How many acres are left now in farming? 


I know that there's a 

Campbell: Well, yes, there's about four hundred acres in farming I would 
say we're farming something under five hundred acres right now. 

Lage: Dees that count the East Bay Regional Park lands? 

Campbell: No. the East Bay Regional Park lands are being farmed under 

contract, but I don't believe our people (the Alameda Company) 
are farming them. They're being farmed independently. We would 
be interested to farm those lands if they would be interested in 
having them extend their farming operation. I'm working on this 
now. So there's some chance that we might get involved in those 
kinds of farming contracts. 

Lage: You mean including it with the Alameda Company operation? 






Yes, te see if they would be interested in expanding their 
operation to include the park because East Bay is going te, 
eventually, have quite an extensive farming operation in the 
park. The Alamedas certainly know this area well. It's a matter 
of, I guess again, of logistics, of their ability to take on more 
farming. The specialty farming is very intensive, and the 
Alamedas have a retail farm outlet on the ranch, called Oak Grove 
Farm. This could give them a produce outlet at the park. 

They're doing a lot of direct marketing now with market 
chains, and they're starting to serve the population base out 


[Discussion about interviewing Gene Williams, who farmed 
Patterson lands from the 1950s-1981.] 

What Gene tells you will I think that's really a crucial 
period because that's the other side of the coin, what was really 
happening to farming as the Pattersons were making the decisions 
in flood control and development. Farming, you see, I think was 
on a gradual downslope. Production was falling off even before 
development began. 

Do you foresee agriculture making a comeback? It's a challenge, 
I would think, to fit into the urban setting. 

Well, it is a challenge, but I think it will; it's possible that 
farming will come back before high technology! That's the other 
local industry. It really is, I mean that seriously. Farmers 
will survive if they reorient and meet current demands. They're 
very sophisticated shoppers out there today; they're wanting 
fresh produce. Fresh produce is commanding very high prices in 
the markets; it's a matter of getting the right product to these 

It's certainly talked about enough the need for local farming, 
for local markets. 

It's talked about a lot. Alice Waters [owner of Chez Panisse, a 
highly regarded Berkeley restaurant] goes all the way down to a 
local operation we know in Rancho Santa Fe in San Diego County to 
get vegetables; others use the Webb Ranch in Portola Valley. The 
Chine family operation is in Rancho Santa Fe. 

Yes, I know of them. Their produce is wonderful. 

You know that? All right, that's the one. That's the model that 
we're trying to see developed up here, something like that, 
because it's a splendid family-run operation and superior 


Campbell : 


Campbell : 



preduce. Simply by word of mouth, they command a huge market 
down there. And with the freeway now, you see, too, the Paseo 
Padre freeway means that the farm produce operation is on a 
thoroughfare so the people can get to them now more easily. 

The crops would be much more diversified, too. 

Crops are diversified, yes. Yes, they're doing lots of bok choy 
and different kinds of lettuce, of course, cauliflower, tomatoes, 
two kinds of corn, white and yellow corn, beans, peppers. 
They're just getting into this. 

What kind of a labor pool do they have? 

The Alamedas have agricultural operations outside of Fremont, but 
their laborers run from unskilled agriculturalists to skilled 
tractor drivers, and I really don't know all the various types. 
But there are skilled and unskilled labor. They're housed right 
en the ranch. They're seasonal, but some of the people remain 
year-round, maintenance people. 

The family built the living quarters? 

The living quarters are barracks types, they're prefabs. But the 
family provided those and always has. Again, that's an 
additional expense because in most cases, in Salinas for example. 
you contract for labor. You just simply call up the labor 
organizer, whoever does it, and labor is provided on a temporary 
basis; it's much cheaper to do that. So there are lots of things 
that make farming here difficult. 

I can see that, but as you talk about the urban vegetable scene, 
that's the advantage of this area. 

Yes, well, we're hopeful, we're hopeful about that. Time will 
tell, but the residential development provides a local market, as 
do commuters. 

Water Problems 

Lage: You mentioned to me. when we were talking at one point, problems 

of saltwater intrusion. Is that a current concern? 

Campbell: It's been a concern for a long time. 

Lage: Matt Whitfield indicated that the water district had solved the 

problem of saltwater intrusion. 


Campbell: It depends. I guess, on how you define saltwater. From a farming 
standpoint it has a direct effect on quality. There's lots of 
boron concentration here. There's a very active effort by 
Alameda County Flood Control to recharge the Newark aquifer up to 
traditional levels; 1916, I think, is the base year. There are 
some ambitious plans by the Bay Area Conservation District, BCDC, 
to develop a barrier that's going to prevent saltwater intrusion. 
But this recharging moves saline water into some of our wells. 
Nevertheless, saline intrusion's always going to be a problem 
here, and it has a direct impact on agricultural yields. That's 
just a fact of life; it has to do with the geomorphology of the 
bay. The farmland towards the bay is low- lying and not as 
productive as that out by the old ranch. 

The other thing is, when you get away from water quality, 
water quantity's an issue. The water tables are much higher than 
they traditionally were. East Bay Regional Park District has a 
very active program of ponding, demonstration ponding, where they 
test the waters going into the bay for trace metals and for oils. 
That's a bird refuge; fish and game is active out there. Well, 
the ponding has impacts on farming because standing water tends 
to back up and create sloughs on our property. We are very 
actively trying to pump out this water, for slough maintenance. 
Because sloughs, if you leave them unattended, will grow, and 
they fill and erode good farmland. So we're doing that as part 
of protecting our farming. When you have water tables being as 
high as they are, it means that you can't get two crops off 
farmland during the year. So the whole water issue the 
wetlands, what is a wetland, what's a seasonal wetland, how can 
we keep farming effectively, those are issues that we regularly 
discuss with East Bay Park District and the other people out 

Relations with Agencies 

Lage : Is the Corps of Engineers involved in that? 

Campbell: Corps of Engineers hasn't been directly involved with us because 
we have no identified wetlands which we own. Corps of Engineers 
is more active, really, with some of the other owners out on the 
bayfront. All of these agencies, I think, have their own 
opinions about this land, and every development requires a full 
environmental impact report, so we spend a great deal of our time 
dealing with agencies. There is very little consensus in the 
wetlands area, beginning with definitions. 


Lage : Sounds very complicated. Do you find that the East Bay Park 

District is just take this pending issue are they concerned 
with yeur needs, understanding of your needs? 

Campbell: They're beginning to be. One ef the things is that you have 

agencies that are very active, they have their own agendas, they 
own their own lands, and farmlands and absentee ownership tends 
to be sort of passive. Before we opened the office our general 
supervision of farming and water issues had been somewhat 
sporadic. So I think many of the things that have happened were 
inadvertent. If you're dealing with. say. a homeowners' 
association right next door, those things aren't going to happen 
because home owners are present, they're going to be protecting 
their own interests. But they've been very understanding once 
the Patterson agenda has been explained to them. 

That's true. too. of the municipalities. Before we opened 
this office and were a daily presence and were known quantities 
here, there was a little bit of a vacuum. Brooks looked out for 
our interests but it's not the same as handling your own affairs. 
I think we're actively taking our board's wishes and translating 
that into action at the municipal level. So I think we're 
getting along so far! 

I do think there's a good bit of good will may be the right 
word. There's an understanding that this is a unique area, that 
it has to be done right. This project has gotten very strong 
strongly positive reviews at the city level. And the Pattersons 
have been good for Fremont for many years. We have credibility. 

Lage: That was going to be my next question did the city actively 

promote retaining agriculture there? What was their attitude 
towards it? 

Campbell: I'm not quite sure. Councils in the 1970s were more protective 
than their successors in the 1980s. I think the city has 
actively promoted the retaining of open space as part of 
development. I think their position on agriculture is certainly 
consistent with that. But their mandate really is to provide 
housing and jobs as well as open space, and Prop. 13 ended a lot 
of the municipal programs in terms of weed abatement and 
maintenance. That's been thrown back to the property owners. So 
since fanning is active and does a lot of those things, they have 
been happy with farming. However, the issue isn't joined yet 
since residential activity is consistent with current demand. 



Non- Agricultural Development 

Lage: We've talked a lot about agriculture; now, what about the lands 

that are going to be developed? Do you still retain some of 
those directly, or have you sold them? 

Campbell : We're retaining directly, Ann, an area called the Town Center, 
which is at the intersection of Ardenwood Boulevard and Paseo 
Padre. That is a sixty-acre parcel, fifteen acres of which are 
currently zoned commercially for a shopping center development. 
Another forty acres of residential, about 944 residential units, 
are presently zoned en that property. So we're concentrating on 
that right at this present time. 

Lage: Is that going to be developed by the family? 

Campbell: The family will develop that along with a development consultant 
in a joint venture. We're now exploring the exact structure of 
that venture, but we hope to be actively involved. 

Lage: That's been approved, though? 

Campbell: The project is approved. I mean the current zoning allows for 

that, and the Patterson family board has approved the concept of 
retaining the property; I think that's the crucial factor 
planning and maintaining it, keeping the Patterson signature on 
the property. 

Lage: Was the approval of the zoning by the city controversial? 

Campbell: No, that was part of the Ardenwood Forest general plan. That 

entire eight- hundred-acre parcel was approved in 1982. I think 
you have in your office a map which I sent you which indicates 


Campbell: the parameters of the general plan and the approved uses. 

Residential development requires industrial and commercial to 
keep alive the concept of working near where you live.* 

Lage: What about the Pattersons' lands in Livermore? 

Campbell: The Livermore lands are a different sort. Originally there were 
ten thousand acres or so of Livermore ranch land, that's down to 
about five thousand acres now. As you know, part of the 
Livermore ranch lands were given ever to East Bay Regional Park 
District for the Del Valle Park, which is an aquatic park. The 
remaining lands are leased out to a cattle operation. They'll 
remain as a cattle ranch; it's a hill ranch, and the cattle 
business, while it's not thriving, at least it's keeping its head 
above water. 


Are they protected under the Williamson Act? 

Campbell: That's a good question that land is net in Williamson, although 
I don't know that for sure. 

Lage: But high taxation isn't as big a problem as it was before Prop. 


Campbell: That doesn't seem to be a problem. The land is removed enough 
from Livermore. Livermore. certainly, is in the growth path of 
Highway 680. Pleasanten and all of these areas represent the end 
of that path right now. It's in the East Bay commute-shed. I 
guess the pressures will begin te develop in Livermore in the 
next decade. But again, it's all a function of absorption of 
built-eut areas now in Contra Costa. 

Lage: That might be your next master plan somewhere down the road. 

Campbell: Oh. gosh. I hope we resolve this one successfully firstl 

Lage: Are there things that we need to talk further about? Things I 

may have missed that you thought of? One quick question, is Jack 
Brooks still involved? 

Campbell: Yes. he is. That is. Jack was on a consultant ship basis with the 
family, which ended with the Kaiser sale. That was a formal 
arrangement between the family and Brooks. The informal 
arrangement, as I say. goes back forty years and still continues. 
We talk with him a lot about planning and issue resolution. 
There's no one who's better informed than he as to land-use 
policy in this area. 

* See town development plan. p. 399. 



He has the right connections, I understand. 

Campbell: Well. yes. he's earned those. He has very strong connections in 
the city. I would say as a result of doing the kinds of 
developments that the city favors. There's not ever been, to my 
knowledge, any controversy about the quality of the developments, 
although seme may oppose the fact of them. I'm told that this 
development has even received an award from the Sierra dub. 
which is unusual. Also, as a professional in the field, he's 
seen issues on the horizon which the family has only guessed at. 
such as the costs of our keeping the land and self- financing the 
improvement districts. He's emphasized planning a great deal. 
which has helped our own. So we emphasize planning with him, and 
he's saved us a good bit of agony. 

Union City, Newark, and Fremont City Planning 

Campbell: A great deal is going on. Unless you're familiar with decisions 
that are being made, unless you have a well-thought-out plan of 
your own, those decisions will be made in spite of you. This 
really means that it's our responsibility to take positions 
beforehand well, let me give you a specific example. In Union 
City, located just to the north of Ardenwood, there's a 
tremendous interest in planning, in giving Union City a 
definition. There are Union City and Centerville. lots of little 
towns there. They are interested in creating, really, I would 
say, the same kind of planning that's gone on in Fremont. Newark 
is a bit more developed out, and I suspect planning has gene on 
there for a longer time. 

The Patterson lands located north of the flood control 
channel come within Union City's jurisdiction, so that we feel 
that it's to our benefit to observe the deliberations, to be 
aware of all the environmental impact reports, to get an 
understanding of the city's philosophy. The cities can assign 
uses, assign densities, and those have a great deal of future 
effect. They affect your valuation, but they also affect your 
abilities as a landowner to do your own planning. The only way 
you can impact those studies is to be involved in the process 
from the beginning. 

Lage: Is that part of your role? 

Campbell: Part of my role is te issue Patterson position papers, to appear 
before planning commissions and councils, and take the board's 
wishes and translate these into policy. The other ownerships up 
here are large builders, Ponderosa Homes, Citation Builders. 


Campbell: Kaiser. Most of these large plots ether than ours have been 

taken down by large residential builders, and they're very active 
in the planning process, and so we have to be to*. 

Lage: What kinds of positions are you taking in Union City? 

Campbell: Right new. the position we're taking is to try to determine what 
is their thinking with regards to our lands. How do they view 
our lands? From a wetlands perspective? Can we stay in farming 
or will we be put into an assessment district as well? Do they 
see the future of our lands in industrial? In commercial? In 
residential? How are they acknowledging traffic flows? How will 
those impact on our lands across the channel? The Town Center 
area? We want to make sure that, if there is a development 
scenario adjacent to our lands, it's a well-planned one. If it's 
not well planned, then we want to insure that it's going te be 
and that our needs are recognized in the process. So it's a 
little different than planning your own lands. Once a general 
plan has been approved in Union City, then the rules are set. 
environmental impact studies have been completed, and then you 
have lost the choice of what you want to do with your own lands. 
So it's really in use determination. We need te balance our 
wishes with theirs. 

Lage: You want to be involved in this general plan. 

Campbell: You have to be involved early on. and you have te know what you 
want since they do. 

Lage: What is the quality of the people you deal with in the government 

in Union City and Fremont? 

Campbell: I'm impressed with councils and city governments. I really am. 
I've not had a great deal of experience dealing with them. I 
think these people spend a tremendous amount of time trying to 
understand the needs of their community and the extensive change 
that's taking place. They also have a very good conception of 
their cities. They're beginning te understand that they have a 
great responsibility in creating the city of the future. There 
is not likely to be agreement en many issues. Change bothers 
people, myself included. It's got to be explained and. better 
yet. made apparent that there are benefits. 

Lage: This is Union City in particular you're talking about? 

Campbell: I think you can apply the same te Fremont and. I'm sure, te 
Newark, too. They have tremendous responsibilities at the 
municipal level which perhaps they didn't have fifteen, twenty 
years ago. I don't want to misunderstand city government because 
I've net been a part of it, but choices today are so complex for 
volunteers I mean city council persons. They put in a tremendous 


Campbell: amount of time, and they're not paid large sums of money. 

They're the penultimate volunteers, really. Fremont appears to 
me to have planned well; the others are trying to catch up. 
We've been impressed wtih with staffs because my guess is that 
the whole planning process in southern Alameda County has not 
been as extensive as it has been elsewhere. I mean, the 
development crush hit earlier on, say, up the Highway 17 
corridor, and in the West Bay. So Fremont has some negative 
examples to avoid. 

Lage: Fremont seems to have put a lot ef energy into planning. 

Campbell: Fremont's put a tremendous amount in. If you drive through 
Fremont, with the hillside initiative which assures no 
development along the ridge line, with the city hall complex, and 
the space which is designated for libraries, and all civic 
functions being located in one area. It's the only community in 
this area that I can think of that has all of the qualities which 
will allow it to grow in an orderly way. My prediction, and 
remember, you heard it here first, is that Fremont is going to be 
the next Palo Alto; it will attract professionals, and managers 
will want to live and work here, because it's got the capacity to 
be what it wants to become. It doesn't have a lot of in-f ill 
development that has to be altered and changed. I think it can 
create spaces like Ardenwood. I know that's the feeling of the 
city planners. To some degree we share that feeling in 
Ardenwood. The opportunity is still there, which can't be said 
for some other places. 

Lage: That's true. Do you find that same quality in Union City? 

Campbell: I don't know Union City as well at all. I know Union City is 

spending a good deal of time and money in trying to determine how 
it's going to fit into the general scheme of things; how it's 
going to look. My impression is considerable redevelopment is 
required in the older areas, and there's not yet any agreement on 
the area west of Union City Boulevard. 

Lage: Aside from your formal appearances in front of boards or 

commissions, do you try to make informal contacts with civic 
leaders, councilmen? 

Campbell: Try to. Yes, we have gone out and taken the initiative in 
getting to know councilpersons and the mayors, and the staff 
persons. We also have gotten to know developers, private 
planners, engineers. Just again, part of it was our own 
education. These people had been doing these things on behalf ef 
the Patterson family for many years, and so it's taken at least a 
year to introduce ourselves and understand the thought processes 
which led up to the current situation. 


A Historian Looks Ahead 

Campbell: It's harder when you come on board in the middle. There's a lot 
of historical work to be done before you can get in a position 
where you really can plan for the future. You need to understand 
well the context first. 

Lage : 
Campbell : 

Campbell : 

So you understand that? 

So I understand that part of it. 

That's where the history professor comes in. [laughter] 

I understand that people really make a difference, shape events. 
Say you're dealing with cities, you're dealing with particular 
individuals who have long acquaintance with your properties. You 
have to sit down in the way we're sitting down today and 
understand just what's the whole history of the land use, where 
the process has been going for the recent past. Why is it 
shaping that way? Because once you understand that, then you can 
see where the process is headed and how much you can influence 
it. Net that everything is inevitable or inexorable, but many of 
the decisions have been made; it's clear that certain things are 
going to happen. If you want to prevent them or support them you 
have to know how to do so. 

Campbell : 

Do you want to give a prediction as a final word? 
Pale Alto your prediction? 

Or is the next 

My prediction is that this area (Le.. Ardenwood) will, in 
fifteen or twenty years, be unique because it is ideally located 
and because it has the planning opportunities that don't exist 
toe many ether places. There are seme other unique areas in the 
East Bay, this whole tri-city area (Union City, Newark, Fremont) 
that we're dealing with here in which Ardenwood is really the 
central twelve or thirteen hundred acres I think is going to 
have a direct impact on the development ef the greater San 
Francisco Bay Area. That was made possible by the expansion of 
the Dumbarton bridge. Work configurations today, where people 
cannot obtain affordable housing in the West Bay, yet the high- 
technology and white-cellar employment that tends to concentrate 
in Palo Alto and San Mateo can't continue indefinitely. Gridlock 
will occur before 2000 if it does. I think it's inevitable that 
Fremont is going to be associated with that kind of situation. 
Ultimately seme of those businesses and technologies are going to 
come this way and join up with the residential development which 
is taking place. It's get to happen; it's sensible. 


So you have people living where they work? 



Campbell : 



You have people living where they work and living in an 
environment that is healthy, and I think there's not lest 
opportunity time from commuting. Problems create preconditions 
for solutions. The South Bay needs another administrative/ 
commercial headquarters, and maybe even cultural headquarters, as 
Palo Alto has evolved into being now. In the Palo Alto area the 
dominant feature has been Stanford University, of course. 

That's what Fremont lacks. 

That's what Fremont lacks, a university. But, to my mind, 
Stanford and Berkeley are close by. and Ardenwood being situated 
bewteen them has the opportunity to be what Ardenwood calls 
itself, and that is a new town. 

Anything else you would like to add? 

Gee. I think I've talked too long already, 
clean copy and want to retract everything. 

I'll probably see the 

Well, I don't think you'll want to retract. You might find areas 
that we didn't think of and you can add then. 

Property Management and Stewardship 




I can certainly be informed en a lot of these areas. I hope I've 
filled in some gaps. When Knex Mellon and I conceived of the 
oral history project it was designed to be of use to people 
looking at use evolution, planning. Maybe what we see as 
successes new will prove shortsighted. The only thing I can 
think of to add is just to emphasize what we do here a little 
bit. We manage all of the agricultural operations and all of the 
Patterson properties which are not only in Fremont, but 
Livermore, and the investment properties. We operate several 
limited partnerships. The major limited partnerships are the 
development partnership of Patbrook, but also the agricultural 
partnerships. Patag and Patliv. Those are all divided down into 
subgroups, that is, individual groups of owners who own a 
property. So we manage for about twenty-five separate partners, 
individuals and trusts. 

Now we didn't really talk about Patbrook. 

Is this a separate 

Patbrook refers to the Patterson lands in Fremont out of 
agriculture, being developed or approved for development. So 
Patbrook refers to the more actively managed properties, 
properties which we're either going to develop ourselves or which 
are managed as investment properties. 



And Jack Brooke is a partner ? 

Campbell: Well. Jack Brooks has a small interest in the Town Center 

project, purchased from Pattersons who wanted out. So he's a 
minority partner. 


Then the other partnerships? 

Campbell: The ether partnerships are all composed of family members in 
different properties located throughout California. 

Lage: This gets mere complicated. 

Campbell: It is dene as a unit. Let's say we're talking about the 

ownership of a particular building or property. The ownership of 
a particular building might be held by five, six. seven or mere 
Patterson family members including trusts. Title is held by 
Pat brook, and the building is managed by the corporate general 
partner of Patbroek which is PFM Inc.. which means this office. 
We do more than just manage, though, since the managers are also 
owners. We act as owners since we are owners. Our activities 
are far mere extensive than those of outside management. 


We talked a little bit about what we do with various 
municipalities, but I should emphasize that we have a very active 
management program of our own. As we take on the 
responsibilities of planning and developing some of these 
properties, the functions of the office will expand. Bob and I 
are stretched out pretty far as it is. running this big an 

Lage: Is there a dollar figure we can put en the corporation or is that 

private information? 

Campbell: It would just be speculative. I think it's very hard to estimate 
the value of the properties because you have residential values 
which we could probably determine through sales prices of 
housing, the values of the R & D [research and development] 
properties, you knew, you could get evaluations. But it would be 
speculative. The commercial property built out at present 
allowances probably would have a value of one hundred million 
dollars or so. That's a guesstimate. The value of the property 
has probably increased tenfold in the last ten years. 

Lag*: Is the increased value attributable te this kind of active 

management, would you say. or to general demand factors in the 


Campbell: It would be too presumptuous to claim the former but, to take one 
small area, our negotiations with Kaiser have resulted in 
considerable savings too numerous to recount. We opposed them en 
several issues which, had they changed uses as proposed, would 
have affected the Town Center uses. Just the simple supply and 
demand curve has added value, but planning continues to do so. 
The demand for housing; the kinds of retail uses we control are 
the only ones in the Ardenwood area. That is, we have allowable 
zoning for restaurants, for hotels, a shopping center, for these 
sorts of uses. Who's to say how valuable they are; they're net 
built yet. But they're unique in the sense that many of those 
uses aren't allowable otherwise in this North Plain area, in this 
proximate area. Se there's a great deal of potential to protect 
and to help establish, and our job, running the office, is just 
the stewardship. I suppose, trying to protect those future 
valuations. Everything we do is designed to protect the values 
that the family has built up over a hundred years. 

Lage: It sounds as if the family's interest in agriculture and 

maintaining it. in the long run was very economically beneficial, 
whereas other families sold out long age. 

Campbell: I think that's right. The Pattersons lasted longer than most. 
There's no doubt about that. Not selling everything off turned 
out to be probably the most appropriate solution. The family 
will be able te do what it wants to do when it wants to do it 
since it can afford te wait where ethers can't. Because this is 
not a syndication, there are no tax advantages te doing something 
immediately; the family can really pick and choose how it wants 
te proceed, and that's a big advantage as well as a big 
responsibility. Continuous ownership for over 130 years results 
in that. 

Lage: A lot ef planning and predicting involved. 

Campbell: Yes. 

[end of interview] 

Transcriber: Alexandra Walter 
Final Typist: Shannon Page 


TAPE GUIDE Leen Campbell 

Date of Interview: September 24. 1986 

tape 1. side A 203 

tape 1. side B 213 

tape 2. side A 225 

tape 2. side B 236 


Regional Oral History Office 
The Bancroft Library 

University of California 
Berkeley, California 


Wilcox Patterson 

Donald Patterson and Patterson Ranch Management. 

An Interview Conducted by 
Ann Lage 
in 1987 

Copyright (c) 1988 by the Regents of the University of California 


TABLE OF CONTENTS Wilcox Patterson 




Wilcox Patterson's Schooling and Career 243 

Donald Patterson's Education, Marriage, and Career 246 

First Housing Development on the Ranch. 1955 249 

Donald's Management of the Ranch 250 
Donald as Explorer. Amateur Entomologist. Businessman, 

World Traveller 252 

Donald's Goal: "The Orderly Liquidation of the Ranch" 255 

The 1971 Sale of Ranch Lands and Home to Singer Housing 258 


Donald's Illness and Death. 1979-1980 261 

A Model Master Plan 262 

Family Mavericks Spur Incorporation 262 

Transition to Professional Management by Family Members 266 

The Current Board and Future Directions 267 


Grandpa Will Patterson 269 

Hunting on Ranch Lands 270 

Exploring the Secrets of the W. D. Patterson Home 270 

Ranch Tenants and Employees 272 

Henry. Will, and Family History 273 

The Bountiful Harvest of the Ranch 275 



Wilcox Patterson ie the grandson of William D. Patterson and the second 
son of Donald Patterson. During the 1970s he worked in the savings and loan 
industry in Menlo Park. His interest in real estate and his close contact 
with his father during this time gives him insight into his father's 
management of the Patterson Ranch. He clearly states Donald Patterson's 
guiding principles in these years: "the orderly liquidation of the ranch," 
while protecting the interests of the ranch tenants and family members. 

His interview is valuable not only for its insight into the period when 
Donald was managing the ranch, but also for its sympathetic portrait of his 
father outside the business setting. Reserved, controlled, conservative at 
work, he also had a wide range of interests entomology, exploration, 
history and is described by his son as an adventuresome person and a 
fascinating conversationalist. 

Wilcox Patterson was involved after his father's death in management of 
the ranch properties and currently serves on the board of directors of the 
family corporation. His interview provides additional information on the 
swiftly moving events of the 1980s. After discussing the business aspects 
of the ranch, Wilcox gives some fond reminiscences of visiting the ranch as a 
youth and provides a look at his grandfather Will, his home, and the people 
and produce of the ranch. 

The interview was begun on April 1, 1987. in the patio of Wilcox's 
mother's home in Menlo Park, California. His wife. Sandy, was present for 
this session. Technical problems caused the latter portion of this 
interview to be unusable, and a second session was held on May 20, 1987. 
This time we met in his father's upstairs office, surrounded by photos and 
mementoes of his father 1 life. The setting seemed conducive to reminiscing 
about Donald, for it was in this office that Wilcox and his father had held 
many wide-ranging discussions during the 1970s. We were able to 
recapitulate the lost material from the first session and add to the 
portrait of Donald and the boyhood memories of the ranch. Wilcox reviewed 
his interview transcript, making minimal changes. Tapes are on deposit in 
The Bancroft Library. 

Ann Lage 

Project Director 

September, 1988 

Regional Oral History Office 

The Bancroft Library 

University of California at Berkeley 

Regional Oral History Office University of California 

Room 486 The Bancroft Library Berkeley, California 94720 


(Please print or write clearly) 

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Education y< v\fe ^ Q. 


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Wilcox Patterson's Schooling and Career 
[Date of Interview: April 1. 1987] ## 

Lage: Let's start with yeur own personal background briefly to outline 

where you are in the Patterson family, where you were born, and 
that kind of thing. 

Wilcoz P.: I was born in Oakland in 1941, January 28, at Lake Merritt 

Hospital. My mother and dad were renting a house at that time in 
Berkeley. When I was about a year and a half, we moved to Pale 
Alto and lived on Tevis Place in Palo Alto. Then when I was 
around two or two and a half we moved to Glenwood Avenue in 
Atherton where I was really raised. We lived there up until 
about 1 968 or so. 

I went to Menlo- Atherton High School, the public high 
school, for three years and one year to Menl School, a private 
school here in Atherton, which I enjoyed very much. I liked the 
small size of the private school and the stricter academic 
curriculum than we had in our public school. 

So when selecting a college, I chose a small West Coast 
four-year liberal arts college. The one I chose was Chapman 
College in southern California, which at that time offered a very 
unique study program. It was a single-subject study plan where 
you took one course for six weeks, received five semester hours 
and then went on to the next course. I enjoyed it, but it worked 
really better in theory than in practice. The school went back 
to the regular semester system my sophomore year. 

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begun or ended. For a guide to the tapes, see page 277. 


Wilcex P.: So I vent four years there, majoring in business administration, 
getting a bachelor of arts degree in 1962. After leaving 
college. I vent to vork in the banking industry for vhat is now 
First Interstate Bank. I worked for them in southern California 
for about three years during vhich time I met and 
married Pamela Cranmer. a girl vho vas also working in the 
banking industry. She vas from the New Jersey coast area. We 
lived in southern California for a couple of years, then moved 
here to northern California vhere I rented a house in Menlo Park. 
I vas transferred up here by the bank, but I v anted to come back 
here because I knev that I would, and vanted to. eventually verk 
with Dad in the family business. 

We had a daughter. Stacy, vhe vas born in late 1964 in Los 
Angeles. Then five years later a son. Reid, vas born at Palo 
Alto Hospital. I stayed vith United California Bank a total of 
five years. I vas working in their Palo Alto office vhen I met 
seme young fellows through the Palo Alto Junior Chamber of 
Commerce, vhich vas a very active group of young people in the 
Palo Alto area. Two of these fellows vere from a local savings 
and loan association. Pale Alto Savings, that vas a seventy-five 
year-old locally owned and operated company that had literally 
grown up vith Palo Alto. 

It vas a very unique company; it vas small, closely held, 
and dealt primarily in very high quality real estate, and their 
lending operation vas very conservative. I interviewed vith 
them, vent vith them in 1968 or '69, and started as a management 
trainee, one of three on a training program. A year and a half 
later I vas made the assistant manager of the Palo Alto main 
office. Six months later, due to some personnel changes and a 
merger vith another company. I vas elected vice-president and 
manager of the Menlo Park branch, vhich at that time vas their 
third largest branch out of five branches. 

I stayed there as manager in the Menlo Park office of vhat 
vas then Pale Alto-Salinas Savings (the name vas later changed to 
Northern California Savings) for a total of thirteen years, vhere 
I built that office into the second largest in the system. I vas 
then promoted in early '79 to the regional vice-president for the 
Peninsula-Bay Area vhich included fourteen branches from 
Burlingame dovn to Morgan Hill. I loved the vork. I worked vith 
about a hundred and fifty young people in fourteen offices and 
travelled a lot among them overseeing all of the operations: the 
savings, the real estate lending, personnel management, 
budgeting, and so on. 

I left the company in September of 1980 following my 
father's sudden death in March of that year. Dad vas stricken 
vith vhat ve later learned to be an inoperable brain tumor while 
vacationing vith my mother at one of the family's beach houses. 


Wilcex P. : Mahameku. in Hanalei, Kauai. I flew ever to Honolulu and met him 
there in the hospital where he was undergoing tests and beginning 
to shew seme signs of recovery. We spent three weeks there 
before he was able to travel, and then we returned to the 

My plan at that time was to stay on with the Northern 
California Savings but work with Dad much more closely, kind of 
as his eyes and ears in the business. However the doctors 
notified us here at the Palo Alto Clinic that, in fact, it was 
net a stroke as we had suspected, but it was an inoperable brain 
tumor. Apparently, the first signs of it occurred in late 
October, early November, of '79. several months before. Dad knew 
there was something wrong, but he did not, apparently, go to the 
doctor. The first major sign ef it was. of course, the seizure 
where he collapsed in Hawaii* I'm convinced that he knew what 
his condition was. so did the doctors, but he asked that it be 
kept from the family. He came back here, get his affairs in 
order, met with John and Sally Adams, talked with David, and died 
en March 3rd. 

With his death. I evaluated my situation over the next six 
months, found that I could not take over his work and do the job 
as regional vice-president ef Northern California Savings, so I 
gave notice to Northern California Savings and took over Dad's 
work full time. 

Lage: Was this again the sense of the first son of the first son? I 

keep picking this up from Patterson family members. 

Wilcox P. : No, I'm not the first son. My older brother. Bill, was teaching 
and had been a teacher for many years in the Sacramento area. 
But I was the closest. I did have the real estate lending 
background. I had been involved in running some of the family 
operations for about fifteen years. These were a small group of 
properties that Dad. through the years, had gifted to the five 
children. I had managed them for about fifteen years and would 
mail income checks out to my brothers and sisters each month. So 
I had the hands-n experience and I was the natural one, living 
here also, to come in and take ever. 

But at that time it was net taking ever just Dad's work. 
The president ef the board of directors ef Grove Farm Company, 
the privately- held sugar plantation on Kauai owned by the 
Wilcoxes. my mother's family, flew to Stanford University for a 
summer program for executives of small businesses. I met Dave 
Pratt during his stay at Stanford, and some months later David 
wrote me from Hawaii and asked me to join the board at Grove 
Farm, which I accepted. 


Wilzoc P. : In the meantime. I had been asked to join a board of directors of 
a local company here called Pacific Real Estate Investment Trust, 
which is a small, locally owned and operated real estate 
investment trust. At that time we had about twenty-five hundred 
stockholders; it's publicly held. So I also joined the board of 
directors of that company. The family had begun to invest in 
that company through my dad some years before. 

I took en seme outside things as well, and I began to 
realize that what I was doing in my work was very fractured. 
There were about seven major areas of endeavor, all of them 
required wearing a different hat. There needed to be some 
semblance of order brought to all of this because I felt like I 
was in a juggling act. About that time, and this was in late 
1980 and early '81. David Patterson and myself David is Dad's 
youngest brother and Dave has a very good business background 
training and had been managing his own affairs for a number of 
years after leaving private industry had been in regular and 
steady contact over the jointly-held family operations, due., the 
farming and the development in the Fremont area and the cattle 
ranching in Livermore. Dave and I were meeting with each other 
on a regular basis and began to formulate a plan to incorporate. 

Donald Patterson's Education. Marriage, and Career it 

Lage : Before we go into your involvement with the Patterson properties. 

I want to go back a little bit and talk more about your father. 
You were just telling me a story about how your mother knew the 

Wilcoz P. : Yes. Dad was the oldest of three sons by seven or eight years. I 
think, older than his brother Jack, Bruce's father. Dad went to 
grammar school in a small local farm-community school there, 
either in Newark or Centerville but within that area, close to 
the ranch house. 


Would that have been Lincoln School? 

Wilcox P. : It might have been I don't know the name of it but I remember 

him telling me that Grandpa and also Dad were concerned about the 
local high school. Dad wanted very much to go on to college. So 
he transferred to high school in Piedmont and went to Piedmont 
High School where he graduated. He went on to Harvard and then 
Stanford Graduate School of Business. 

My mother's family was living in Piedmont at the time. But 
my mother [Dorothy Wilcox Patterson] actually knew my grandmother 
and grandfather Patterson before she met my father because her 


Wilcox P. : parents and the Pattersons were friends. They used to come down 
for parties to the ranch long before Mem and Dad met each other. 
Even though Dad had graduated from Piedmont High School, I don't 
think Mom and Dad knew each other there. I think they met at the 
opera some years after Dad had graduated from college. 

Lage: Did your grandparents move up to Piedmont when your father did? 

Wilcex P. : No. I don't think so. I think my father was staying with family 
friends there during the week and going to school. I don't think 
the parents moved there. I'm rusty on that, but I'm going back 
to stories my dad told me. 

Then he met my mother formally after Harvard and Stanford, 
when he came back and was working in San Francisco and living in 
a very fancy bearding house with a group of bachelors; they had a 
butler and a cook, and they lived quite a high life in San 
Francisco. Dad met Mom at that time, which was long after my mem 
had met his parents. 


Was this while your dad was working? 

Wilcox P. : Yes, he was working then. I think he was working f r PABCO 

Chemical at that time; I'm not sure. He started there and was 
overseas with them in the late thirties, just prior to the 
outbreak of hostilities in Europe that led to World War IL He 
was mostly in Germany, and he had seme very interesting stories 
to tell about that. 

Lage: Let's discuss briefly what kind of business career your father 

had before he took over management of the Patterson Ranch. 

Wilcox P. : From my recollection, he worked at PABCO Chemical. He was a 

foreign representative for them working mostly in prewar Germany, 
in '36, '37, and was in Berlin. He spoke German pretty well 
apparently and was working with seme German companies over there 
en behalf of PABCO. Of course, there was a great deal of 
political unrest: Hitler was coming to power, and there was a 
lot of disruption, a lot of rallies going en in and around Berlin 
at that time. 

Apparently some men at one of the German companies that he 
was calling en mentioned a rally in the Sports Palace in Berlin, 
which is now in the eastern sector. Apparently I've seen it 
from the outside the capacity of that place is close to 300.000 
people, and Hitler was to speak that day. Dad was curious and 
went over to hear him. He said he was the most dynamic, 
electrifying speaker he'd ever heard in his life. He had a 
microphone and a very powerful public address system, and he 
worked the crowd up almost to a fever pitch. Dad was amazed at 
the influence he had over the people. 


Wilcoz P.: Toward the end of his talk, he called for a salute the Nazi 

salute, the raised hand and the "Heil Hitler" and Dad did not do 
that, and seme Germans that were in the crowd near him turned to 
him and said to him in German. "Salute." which he understood he 
understood German, he understood everything that was being said. 
I don't know why. I think maybe he was just being obstinate and 
perhaps was angry about seeing this, he didn't salute and they 
knocked him down and rolled him down a flight of stairs and gave 
him quite a roughing up. 


Did he protest that he wasn' t a German? 

Wilcez P. : No. they knew he was an American, but there was quite a fever 
pitch in the crowd. He wasn't hurt, but he said it emphasized 
and underscored the effect that Hitler had on a crowd. 


What a historical moment for him to have taken part in. 

Wilcoz P. : Very, and it was right after that that the company called back 

everyone from Germany and, as a matter of fact, even from Europe. 
Of course, hostilities broke out in Europe not tee long after 
that. But it was quite an interesting ezperience. 


Was this after he was married? 

Wilcez P. : I'm net sure. I'm trying to remember what year he and Mem were 
married. Thirty-seven, '38, right in there? Very close to that 


But he stayed with PABCO. 

Wilcoz P. : Yes. he stayed with them a few more years and then he went with 
Joshua Hendy Iron Works, which built steam turbine engines for 
ships during the war. They were in Sunnyvale. Dad was an 
engineer with them, or head of one of the engineering 
departments. Then they were bought out after the war by 
Westinghouse Corporation. Then Dad moved to National Motor 
Bearing Corporation and was the plant manager in Redwood City. 

When I was in the third grade, the teacher announced at the 
beginning of our class Miss Stelberg was her name, a very 
strict, a very good teacher she said. "I wonder if you all saw 
Mil Patterson's father on television last night on 'Richfield 
Success Story 1 ?" A lot of the kids had. I didn't because Dad 
wouldn't allow television in the house. [laughter] I didn't 
know anything about it. So typical of Dad, he didn't tell 


It seems like he kept to himself. 


Wilcox P. : He was a very modest guy. Yes, very modest guy. He thought it 
was a bunch of silly business, I think, but the sponsor of the 
shew had asked him to be interviewed on the program so he did. 
But he only said something about it after that embarrassing 
incident at school when we were all asked if we had seen him en 
television. [laughs] 

First Housing Development en the Ranch 

Lage: Was he with Westinghouse when he stepped in to help manage the 


Wilcox P. : No. he left Hendy after the buyout by Westinghouse. then went 
with National Motor Bearing Company, and he was with them from 
about 1945 to about 1955. Then I think it was 1955 when he quit 
National Motor Bearing and went to work running the ranch full 


Was that because of an illness of your grandfather? 

Wilcox P. : It was because my grandfather was getting on in years and needed 
some help. There were the early rumblings of development 
pressure in and around the ranch at that time. Let's see, 1955 
marks either the year or very close to the year when development 
first touched the ranch. That was through Jack Brooks and Wayne 
Valley, who then had Besco Construction Company. They had 
negotiated with Jack and David and Dad to buy seme land that they 
owned in their own right. Dad and Jack and David had each been 
gifted a hundred acres, three hundred acres total, by my 
grandfather, to manage en their own. They farmed that for years 
on their own and received the farm income from it. They decided 
to sell that land for development. The name of the project was 
Cabrill Park still there. It's on the east side of what is now 
the Nimitz freeway. 


It's very near where Jack Brooks has his office. 

Wilcox P. : Yes, that effice where Jack is right new was Jack Breoks's first 
construction office opened in 1955 or 1956, when he began to 
build the Cabrillo Park subdivision. I was fifteen, and I got a 
summer job as a construction laborer for Jack and worked on that 
subdivision laying subfloer. I weighed about 140 pounds, and I 
thought I was geing to die, I was so exhausted at the end of 
every day. I couldn't drive a car so my father would drop me in 
the morning and then I'd walk to my grandfather's house from 
there in the evening after work and then Dad would take me home. 
I've never worked so hard in my life. Golly! 


Lage: Was it an experience? 

Wilcez P. : Yea, There were three fellows working with me that were students 
at Oregon State. They were on the football team on scholarships, 
and Wayne Valley was a big football fan and, as you know, was one 
of the major owners of the Oakland Raiders and now, of course. 
Jack Brooks is toe. Wayne Valley gave these guys summer jobs to 
help with their education. All three of them quit; they couldn't 
take it. 

Lage: And you stayed on. 

Wilcox P. : And I stayed on. [laughs] 


It says something about . 

Wilcox P. : Well. I don't know. It said something about the work ethic. I 
think, that Dad believed so strongly in. 


So that was something you were brought up with? 

Wilcox P. : Oh, very. No sloughing off. no. 

There were some funny things that happened about that, too, 
because seme of my friends, when they were sixteen or seventeen, 
were getting new cars as gifts, you know, from their parents. I 
asked my dad about a car because I love cars still do and he 
said, "If you want a car. you go out and get a j ob and earn it." 
That's hew I started working for Jack Brooks summers even before 
I could drive. Then somewhere I got the idea [laughs] that Dad 
must be in some kind of financial difficulty. So at the dinner 
table one night I asked him if perhaps he and Mem were having 
difficulties and. if so. we kids could work part time. I've 
never seen him laugh so hard. [laughter] He said. "That has 
nothing to do with it." He said. "I want you to appreciate the 
value of the dollar." He was a very effective teacher in that 
respect. It stuck. But he got a good laugh out of that. 

Donald's Management of the Ranch 

Lage: Are you aware of what kind of things your father did in managing 

the ranch? What would a typical day be like? When I talk with 
former tenant-farmers, they present a picture of the tenant- 
farmers going about their business and giving a percentage to the 
ranch. When I talk with the family. I see Henry and Will and 
your father being much more active in ranch management. Now how 
do you see it? 


Wilcor P. : A typical day for Dad would be to drive over in the early 

morning he'd arrive about eight o'clock usually chat with my 
grandfather. I'd ride over with him a lot, and he'd chat with my 
grandfather when he got there at my grandfather's house, about 
business. They would confer sometimes for a couple of hours, 
often just the two of them. 

When Henry was alive, and remember he died when I was very 
young, but when he was alive he was kind of the front man. I 
mean, the real decision maker and the person that really had the 
last word. I think. He had a very sharp business mind. I think 
Will, my grandfather, and certainly Dad looked to him for the 
final decision at that time. When he was still alive. Grandpa 
and Dad would meet with him quite often. But a good part of 
their day was in meetings among the three of them and then later 
the two of them after Henry had died. I remember that Dad didn't 
quit his work and come over to the ranch on a full-time basis 
until after Henry had died because Henry and Will ran the ranches 
very well. Although Dad played an active part, it wasn't a full- 
time job. 

But the three of them would still do a let of conferring. 
They would go around in the car and visit the tenant-farmers and 
spend a great deal of time in their eld clothes and boots 
standing in the irrigation ditches out there in the field, just 
chatting with the people and finding out what's going on. 

When Henry died and Dad did this full time, he taught 
himself Spanish so that he could speak fluently with the 
fieldwerkers. He understood, I think, a little Portuguese as 
well. He would go out often on his own, often with my 
grandfather, but I remember, even after Grandpa was sick and 
wasn't able to go with him. Dad would go out and stand in the 
muddy trenches in his old clothes. He drove an old jeep station 
wagon and talked to the braceros in Spanish. 

Lage: These were probably the people who were working for the Gene 

Williams operation. 

Wilcox P. : Yes, these were a let of Gene's people that were irrigaters and 
field hands and foremen and people of this kind. Dad would go 
out, and there was method to his madness. He net only spoke in 
their language and really got a feel of what their problems were 
and what was going en and really put his finger on the pulse of 
the ranch, but he also get a marvelous opportunity to practice 
his Spanish. [laughs] 

Lage: The ranch furnished the labor camps and things like that, I 



Wilcez P. : Yes. the ranch furnished the camps, and Dad would go out to the 
camps almost daily and chat with the families as well. He loved 
talking to the Spanish people. He enjoyed Mexico, and later en. 
for his exploration work in Baja California with the California 
Academy of Sciences, he was named a fellow in the Royal 
Geographic Society in London. 

Donald as Explorer. Amateur Entomologist, Businessman. World 


Lage: There were many different aspects of his life, then, 

Wilcex P. : Yes. yes. interesting guy. 
in learning Spanish. 

He had a great interest in Mexico and 

Lage: Now what did he do in Baja California? 


What kind of 

Wilcox P. : He did exploration work primarily in the San Pedro Martier 

Mountains, which are the southern extention of the Sierra Nevada. 
Most of those were scientific trips having to do with his 
interest in entomology. He would go down there and lead 
expeditions of scientists from the California Academy of 
Sciences. He used to chuckle my older brother. Bill, would go 
down with him because Bill is also an entomologist. Dad would 
often handle the entomological [side], the role of the 

Often there would be ether entomologists with them, but 
there would also be he used to call them "bug men" scientists 
that specialized in the study of. for instance, scorpions. There 
was a scorpion fellow that used to go down, catch all these 
different kinds and label them and so on. There was a beetle 
man. [laughs] There were all kinds of scientists from the 
California Academy of Sciences that would come down on trips put 
together by the academy. 


Would your dad finance these trips? 

Wilcox P.: No. No. he would pay his own way. and the academy would pay the 
way of the scientists because Dad was not a scientist in the true 


But did he study entomology at Harvard? 


Wilcox P. : No. he studied it as a child. He was interested in entomology as 
a child and simply studied it as a hobby all his life. Also 
geology. He knew a great deal about geology. Engineering, 
mechanical engineering, and. of course, business. 

Lage: What did he study at Harvard? 

Wilcox P.: I believe his undergrad major was civil engineering, either civil 
or mechanical engineering at Harvard, and then it was, of course, 
business at the business school at Stanford. But it was an 
engineering background there, either civil or mechanical 
engineering combined with geology because one of his first jobs, 
either after he graduated from business school at Stanford or 
between Harvard and Stanford, was working in a sulphur mine during 
the summer in the Nevada desert. Another job that he had was 
working as a wiper in the engine room of a tramp steamer between 
San Francisco and New York going through the Panama Canal. He 
said it never got below about 120 degrees in there. 

Lage: He sounds like quite an adventuresome person. Did that come 

across in his personality? 

Wilcox P. : It did if you get him away from a business setting. If you were 
camping with him and telling stories, yes, it would come out. 
The way I learned a lot of things about my father was either 
through chatting with my Uncle Jack, who I really admired, and 
Jack was quite an adventurer, or talking with either friends of 
my dad or with Dad when he was away from the family and away from 
a business setting. He became much mere relaxed, much more 
jovial and outgoing and much more inclined to talk about his past 
that way. 

Lage: What was he like when he was in his business setting? 

Wilcox P. : Very controlled, very reserved, very precise, very conservative. 

I remember I became interested in sailing and boats, which 
was another interest that I've had all my life, and I remember I 
was at the ranch one day while Dad was over talking to Henry, I 
believe. I was pretty young, and I was talking to Uncle Jack. 
Jack mentioned a boat that Dad had owned, a forty-foot boat. I 
didn't know anything about this. Dad had sunk it in a storm off 
San Francisco, and Dad and a friend that he was with were rescued 
just in the nick of time. So I mentioned it to Dad, and he said, 
"Where did you hear that story?" [laughs] I was afraid to get 
Jack in trouble. So it finally came out that Jack had told me, 
and so then the story of this episode unfolded. It was a real 
saga, but none of us knew anything about this sort of thing. He 
did net discuss things like that. 

Lage: He kind of kept things to himself? 


Wilcoz P. : Yes. 

Lage: During our break you told me about coming over to visit your 

father. Let's record that to give a fuller picture of your 

Wilccx P. : Okay. I was saying that two or three times a week after work. 
when I worked here in downtown Menlo Park. I would swing by the 
house here. Dad and I would talk. oh. maybe for an hour before I 
headed home. My wife was also working, and we wouldn't normally 
get home till seven o'clock or so. But I talked to Dad about 
business. He had a tremendous insight into economic trends, 
where he felt things were going. 

In '78 or '79. I was promoted to regional vice-president, 
and I'd just gotten a brand new company car Chevrolet. I think. 
When I was promoted to regional vice-president they bought me a 
brand new Buick with all sorts of custom features on it. I came 
by with the new car and the promotion and told Dad about it. and 
he thought it was great. I said. "Yes. Come out and see my new 
car." He said, "Well, you j ust got a new car." 1 said, "I know, 
but they insist that a regional vice-president drive a Buick and 
not a Chevrolet, so I turned in the Chevrolet and they got me a 
new Buick." He said, "That's preposterous." He walked out and 
looked at this fancy car, and he shook his head. He said. "Don't 
you folks know what's coming? We're headed for a major 
recession." He was absolutely right; this was early '79. The 
big savings & loan and banking shakeout and real estate shakeeut 
came in late '80. '81. He was absolutely right. 

We used to talk about business; we used to talk about things 
he'd done. In the last five years, he opened up much more about 
his early adventures. He'd dene far more things than I'd ever 
dreamed of. My grandfather had loved adventure and had loved 
travel. When the beys were born, my dad and his brothers, he was 
restricted from doing a lot of that. He always wanted, after the 
beys were grown, to travel again. He waited too long and a 
stroke got him and then it was tee late; it was a downhill slide 
from there. So Dad said. "As soon as the youngest of you 
children is grown. I'm going to buy a condominium, sell the house 
on Glenwood, the big house, and buy a condominium where we can 
close the deor and travel." He and Mom did that for thirteen 
years. They travelled all over the world on scientific 
expeditions, on historical expeditions, trips. 

They spent a great deal of time in England where they kept a 
flat in London. They spent, oh, sometimes up to four or five 
months a year there in Sloane Square. When Dad was president of 
the Society of California Pioneers in 1967, he had occasion to 


from the 
Oakland Tribune 
October 1966 



W. Donald Patterson, 
shown with his wif t 
their Rancho Potrero de 
los Cerrifoi, has inter 
ests ranging from the 
historical- to the eon- 
temporary.*' .-''V.- 

Trltml MM tr HMUl Irtv 

The boots and Stetson that 
are part of W. Donald Patter 
son's uniform for operating 
his Newark ranch will be re 
placed by top hat, white tie 
and tails for the social sea 
son's fanciest shindig October 
20- ; 

That would be the annual 
member s-only champagne 
supper given at the Society of 
California Pioneers head 
quarters .on McAllister Street 
in San Francisco immediately 
preceding the opera opening. 

A post-Pioneer version of 
the Renaissance Man, Mr. 
Patterson can switch from 
Stetson to top hat to pith hel 
met with equal ease; the own 
er of Rancho Potrero de los 
Cerritos, who last month be 
came the 80th president of the 
^Pioneer Society, also is an ex 
plorer of repute as well as an ., 
authority on flood control 

LIKE ALL members of the 
116-year-old all-male pioneer 
organization, Mr. Patterson 
can prove descent from an 
ancestor who arrived in Cali 
fornia before 1850. 

George W. Patterson, his 
paternal grandfather, came 
here from the East in 1848, 
and his maternal great-grand 

father several weeks later. 
Grandfather Patterson, after 
some unsuccessful ventures in 
the Trinity region, acquired 
the Newark property and 
some 10,000 acres near Liver- 
more. . ,' 

Much of W. Donald's versa- 
t i 1 i t y would seem to have 
been inherited from his fa 
ther, William D. The elder 
Patterson was active in dra 
matics at Washington Town 
ship's high school, and later 
became greatly interested in 
water conservation and ex 
ploring. .' -;""" * *" 

IN ADDITION to his Pi 
oneer Society post, Patterson 
is a director of the San Fran- 
cisco Zoological Society, and 
a member of the California 
Academy of Sciences and the 
New York Explorers' Club. 

Last year, he organized a 

safari to Baja California to 
search (unsuccessfully) for 
treasure rumored to have 
been hidden by the Jesuits at 
the time of their expulsion 
from Mexico in 1767 by King 
Charles of Spain. ; 

Last winter, he accompa 
nied Dr. ; Thomas Poulter of 
the Stanford Research Insti 
tute to the Arctic on a scientif 
ic project sponsored, by the 
U.S. Navy. 

immediate plans for more ex- 
p lor ing, his ranch-running 
keeping him pretty well occu 
pied. ; '->i-. 

He and his wife (the former 
Dorothy Wilcox) are the par 
ents of five children, Grace, 
Eden, William, George and 
Wilcox (the latter is married 
and makes his home in An 
aheim).-^- __ 

They live in AUierton, but 
since it is a mere 15-minutc 
drive to the ranch, which 
straddles the Newark-Fre 
mont dividing line, Mr. Pat 
terson commutes back and 
forth constantly. - 

His father took a great deal 
of pride in his Pioneer Society 
membership and had the 
names of his three grandsons 
entered on the members' ros 
ter as soon as they were bom. 

THE SOCIETY'S present 
president shares his father's 
e s t e e m of the organization 
and is looking forward to its 
gala pre-opera dinner. 

But there is no element of 
the pompous in his pride. - . 

"It's really sort of fun," nej 
says, "to be surrounded by, 
portraits of a bunch of ances 
tors looking down their noses 
aim .while we eat." 



Because _.. , .. 

Mayor 'of London, Is the- _ 
son of .Jonathan Denny .-...._...,., 
.landed In San Francisco ln'"1 849,* ' 
;did somrgold mining and voted . 
fln the election to determine Call-" 
jtomia's statehood, the Society of 

Cai.fornia.- Pioneers felt it fitting : 
vV ~}.,, 


arfd proper to/tender a reception 

in honor of the visiting 'Mayor 

and his wife, Lady Denny. Society.' 

President W. Donald Patterson.' 

.and Mrs. Patterson headed 'the- 

receiving line. ,Mrs, Ciebrge 

'Brady, Jr., wife of .former society 

president, 'assisted: ?/* M '.' ; ", 


26th September, 1966. 

Dear Mr. Patterson, 

... pioneer president charted with Lord Mayor 

Your letter of September 20th to hnnd and I must say 
that I hardly expected to get a further -lembership certificate 
after having been presented with that munificent lithocraph 
hich has been shipped by sea and the receipt of which I am 
looking forward to with great pleasure. 

I can only reiterate to you and your colleagues my c 
feeling of privilege at being admitted to life membership of 
your Honourable Society. 

My wife and I will never forget the delightful reception 
you gave us at your Hall during our visit and we retain 
happiest memories of our fourth visit to San Francisco. 

In the course of next year, I hope to embark on a great 
reproduction programme , by Xerox or some such method, of all 
the twenty-eight letters written by my grandfather after 
sailing from England until his last one on sailing from Quebec 
in 1852, also his diary 1849/50 and the log of his homeward 
trip. I will certainly see that the Society receives copies. 

Meanwhile with kindest regards to you all, 

Believe me, 

Yours sincerely, 

Mr. Donald Patterson, 

The President of 

The Society of California Pioneers , 

456 McAllister Street, 

San Francisco, 

California 9^102. 


Wilcez P. : meet Lard Mayor Denny and his wife, the Lord Meyer of London at 
that time, who came over here for a visit. Mem and Dad 
entertained him at that time and got to like them very much. The 
Dennys invited them to come to England and they did, loved it, 
met a lot of the Dennys 1 friends, and decided to take a flat there 
in London, which, as I say, they did every year. Twice a year, 
actually, in May and October. 

Dad was a member of the Pacific Union dub in San Francisco, 
which had privileges also with Boodles in London, and so Dad 
would go to Boodles there in London, and not toe long after that, 
he was made a member of the Royal Geographic Society for his 
exploration in Baja California in Mexico, as we talked about 

So he had a wide range of interests all his life, but I 
found him to be the most fascinating in about the last five years 
of his life where he began to open up more about his early 
experiences to me. We talked a great deal about business 
together, and I found him utterly fascinating on that subject 
because he had such an insight, through his reading and his 
contacts and so on, into business and economic trends. I found it 
very helpful in my own work. And he was a fascinating person to 
talk to on almost any subject. 

Lage: He read widely, I see from the books here in his office. 

Wilcox P.: Very widely, on a range of subjects. He could talk more widely on 
more subjects than any person I ever met. For that reason, he 
was a fascinating conversationalist and, I think, very much sought 
after socially. He and Mom had a tremendous circle of friends. 
I know that, all through my life, people that knew us both would 
comment on what a fascinating person my father was. I was 
telling my wife. Sandy, just the other day one of my biggest 
regrets is that she did not have an opportunity to meet him 
because they would have struck it off very well. 


Donald's Goal; "The Orderly Liquidation of the Ranch" ff 

Last time I asked you what your father's guiding principles 
seemed to be in managing the ranch. Do you remember your answer 

Wilcox P. : I think, above all, integrity. He wanted to manage the ranch in 
a way that was very benevolent. It carried forward Henry and 
Will's way of doing business, which was conservative 
particularly Henry benevolent to those tenants and people that 
were connected with the ranch and, at the same time, trying to 


Wilcez P. : keep an eye on the interests the family members that had a 
stake in the ranch at that time. You remember there were far 
fever at that time because my generation wasn't directly 
involved. But Dad felt a tremendous obligation and 
responsibility to carry the ranch forward conservatively and not 
do anything that would jeopardize the future of the ranch or the 
financial future of any of the people connected with the ranch, 
either the tenants or the family. 

Lage: Obviously, development was taking place during the time that he 

managed the ranch. Was this part of his goal? 

Wilcox P. : Yes. His goal, and I can even quote it verbatim and then I'll 
qualify it, was "the orderly liquidation of the ranch." Now. 
this was his goal starting about 1965. After Grandpa passed 
away. Dad felt that the family was very diverse by this time, 
that seme of us really weren't very close we didn't knew each 
ether very well. The two branches of the family were widely 
scattered; they had diverse interests. We had a whole spectrum 
of interests and abilities and so on, and very, very few people 
showed any interest in the ranch whatsoever at that time. 

Lage: As an agricultural operation? 

Wilcox P. : As anything, yes. There was no interest in historic 

preservation; there was no interest in the ranch as a farming 
operation; there was no interest expressed towards preserving it. 
Dad felt that the pulse of the family, at that time, was pretty 
much total disinterest in the ranch. So he felt that the best 
way to handle it was to try to work smoothly with all the 
people and he had a very good relationship that he'd developed 
over the years with Marjorie. 

He was one of the few people that could speak to Marjorie 
because there was absolutely no communication between Marjerie 
end the rest of the family at all. She was living in Palm 
Springs then. But Marjorie had a major interest in the ranch. 
She had a great deal of love and respect for Dad. When he died, 
Marjorie called me and talked to me for about forty-five minutes. 
I was really moved at hew much she cared for Dad. She really 
cared a great deal for him and respected him a great deal. Se 
Dad worked very, very hard in a real balancing act of trying to 
work with Marjorie and her problems, which he was able to do, and 
at the same time, work with Sally and Sally and Marjorie weren't 
speaking at all; they hadn't for years... 

Lage: That requires a lot of tact. 

Wilcox P. : Yes. 


Wilcox P. : He felt at that time, and he discussed this with the family 
attorney, and I think rightly so at that time, that it was 
impossible to bring the family together in any kind of business 
sense: a partnership or corporation. With the disinterest that 
was evident then, or seeming disinterest, he felt that the 
orderly and gradual liquidation of the ranch was appropriate so 
that everybody could have their money from their share of the 
ranch and go their own way and do with it as they wished. 

Lage: Did he express this to everybody? 

Wilcox P. : No. he expressed it to me, and I think he expressed it to George. 
Now. whether he discussed this with Dave at that time. I don't 
know. But I remember he told me that at this time that was the 
philosophy under which he was operating. 

Lage: Was Jack Brooks the key person that he worked with towards that 


Wilcox P.: No. His relationship with Jack was interesting. There was a 

great deal of mutual respect, but Dad felt that although Jack had 
developed the ranch initially that initial three hundred acres 
for Cabrillo Park and there'd been many other inquiries by Jack 
and he knew that Jack would love to develop the whole ranch. Dad 
admired and respected Jack tremendously, but he felt that he 
didn't want one developer to have a held en the bulk of the 
ranch. He negotiated a deal for Sarah Patterson. Henry's widow, 
to sell three hundred acres of land to Transamerica Corporation 
for the development that's known as "the Lake" ever in Newark. 
He sold another piece to the Catholic Church. 


What did they do with that? 

Wilcox P. : They held it for a while and then resold it. They bought. 1 

think, twenty acres. Now what they were going to do with that I 
don't know. I didn't knew very much about that transaction. 

He sold a small piece to a Dr. Beretta, who is still active 
in the Fremont area. He's a dentist. I believe. So he spread 
around the development, and he did it slowly and carefully I 
think with the idea of somewhat of a master plan. 

Lage: A master plan in his own mind? 

Wilcox P. : In his own mind, yes. 


The 1971 Sale ef Ranch Lands and Home to Singer Housing ft 

Wilcox P.: It was in late 1979 that the city ef Fremont began to work 

towards developing a master plan for the development of what they 
referred to as the Northern Plain of Fremont, which was about 
1.100 acres, of which about 800 was our property. 

Lage: Does this Northern Plain have a smaller area than the ranch? I 

mean. 800 acres is your property, but the ranch included other 
property that was not part of the Northern Plain? 

Wilcox P. : Right. The development portion ef the Northern Plain of the city 
of Fremont is what you see now in that Kaiser High Tech Park, the 
Ardenwood Forest New Town. 

Lage: Is it bound by the two freeways, highways 84 and 880? 

Wilcox P. : Tea, and the bay. But it includes the Coyote Hills Regional 

Park, which is almost 1,100 acres. It is made up primarily ef 
the 300 acres that Kaiser has. the 200 acres in the historical 
Ardenwood Park and the 300 acres in the Ardenwood Forest New 
Town. Plus the land that had already been sold to Citation Homes 
that would become part of that Ardenwood Forest project. 

Lage: Before we go to 1979. let's just talk a little bit of that sale 

in the early seventies or around '71 to Singer. Did you get in 
en any of that? 

Wilcox P. : No. I was working here full time at Northern California Savings 

and I was pretty busy but I did go over and meet David and my dad 
and Jack Brooks I hadn't seen Dave for a long time, hadn't seen 
Brooks for a long time at the Title Company in San Leandr to 
sign those final papers. They were very, very complicated. Dave 
was there and it was the first time I had seen Dave in a number 
of years and I remember that he had net too long before that had 
open-heart surgery. I remember that he was recovering from that 
at that time. But anyway, we signed, or Dad signed and David 
and Brooks signed, an enormous stack ef escrow papers to close 
that transaction. 

Lage: But you don't know anything about the decision making, why it was 

that particular piece of land that was sold? 

Wilcox P.: No. I really don't. 

Lage: And what the thinking was about the house? The land included the 

George Washington Patterson house. 


Wilcox P. : The land at that time included the house. In exchange for the 

right to develop that land, part of the condition was that Singer 
give that house to the city. 

Lage : But not initially. That came out of the suit. 

Wilcox P. : Came out of the lawsuit and everything else that vent on. 

Lage: Do you remember anything about the family's feeling about 

preserving the house? 

Wilcox P. : Just a little. Dad felt it was a good thing. I remember him 
making a statement that he was concerned because Sally and Marj 
had bad memories about the house and wanted it destroyed, did not 
want it preserved. He felt that by the city taking possession of 
it. they would then do what was best, in the public interest, for 
that house, and that it would remove the family from an emotional 
decision-making process on the house. But I think his feeling at 
that time was that it should be preserved, that it did have real 
historic value, and that he was concerned that it would be either 
destroyed by vandals or development. So I think he felt that the 
right thing was for the city to take possession of that house and 
remove that as an emotional issue from the family. 

My sequence of the events involving that sale of land to 
Singer is somewhat clouded because I wasn't active in that at 
all, but I know that there was a lawsuit filed. What happened 
apparently was that the city, after the purchase, put that area 
in a ten-year development freeze that was broken several years 
later as the result of a lawsuit filed by Singer against the 
city. It was a very costly delay, and it was a very costly 
lawsuit. Singer won; they get it out of the development freeze 
and were able to go ahead with the development. 

But then there was a great deal of concern because the city 
then took possession of the house and some grounds around it, but 
they didn't have the money to do anything with it. They had a 
Fremont police officer and his family living there kind of as a 
caretaker, just sitting on the house literally, keeping away 
vandals, but that was about all. It was after Dad's death, and 
now I'm moving to the post-1980 era, but to carry on with the 
story of that house the city then came to the family about late 
80 or '81 and said. "Gee, if you could donate $75,000, we'll 
match that with labor and materials and we'll put $150,000 into 
the house and that will get the restoration process started." So 
David and I solicited family members and got people to donate 
that money out of the close of escrow of some land sales. So 
that got the funds. 

Lage: Did most members of the family donate? 


Wilcez P. : Mast. 

Lage: Did you have the sense that it was something they all supported? 

Wilcox P. : There was some disinterest and net all supported it. 

Lage: By that time it was a pretty diverse family. 

Wilcox P. : Yes. It was pretty scattered, and there was not a lot of 

interest in the ranches. You know, a lot ef people hadn't been 
on the ranch for years at that time. 



Donald's Illness and Death. 1979-1980 

Lage : You told us that after your father's death you stepped in and 

took a more active role, along with Dave. I think we've covered 

Wilcox P. : Yes. But in '79 the city, as I've mentioned, began to formulate 
a master plan for the Northern Plain of the city. I remember 
going to the planning commission and city council meetings with 
Dad. Dave was there with Brooks. This was late '79, November, 
December, and I remember driving Dad over, picking him up here at 
the house and driving him ever to one of these meetings, and en 
the way over I noticed that he didn't look well, at all. He 
looked exhausted. He seemed to be very slightly disoriented. 
When I say disoriented, I mean he wasn't quite as sharp as he 
usually was. I was concerned because I thought he was working 
too hard at that time and that he was exhausted. 

We get to the meeting, and he sat there with me very 
quietly. Then at the break we stood up, and people were milling 
about, and there were a lot of people from Fremont there that had 
been around for years that knew Grandpa and knew Dad. They would 
come over, and they were saying hi and so on. Dad became 
confused and actually disoriented. I get very worried. The 
meeting ran late, and I knew he was exhausted. When we went out 
together I asked him again if he was all right. I think this was 
about December of '79. We get in the car and he had mentioned a 
shortcut to cut through Fremont and go home. When I asked him 
about it. he couldn't remember. He get very confused. So we 
just drove home the normal long way around. That was my first 
clue that something was wrong. 

Other than the fact that in October of '79 we'd been sailing 
together up at Inverness, and we sailed all the way up Tomales 
Bay, which is about ten miles. It was a windy day. and we sailed 
up to this little island near the mouth of the bay and turned 


Wilcax P. : areund and came home. On the way home, he fell asleep in the 
beat and I sailed it home. When we got back to the house, he 
went upstairs and slept for five hours. Mom remarked about it. 
She said. "Donald has been looking awfully tired lately." This 
was October, late October. '79. 

Then my next exposure to this and I thought nothing of this 
at the time but I was very concerned at that planning commission 
meeting in Fremont in December of '79. Then, of course, it was 
in late January that he suffered a seizure in the islands and 
then he died on March 3rd. It was an inoperable brain tumor. 

A Model Master Plan 

Wilcox P. : But after his death. Jack Brooks, the city, chamber ef commerce, 
all kinds of people there active in Fremont, began to hammer 
together this master plan. There were seventeen or eighteen 
plans submitted to the city. The final one is what you see now, 
which I think is an excellent plan. 

Lage: Wasn't it the one that Jack Brooks took quite a role in? 

Wilcox P. : Yes. Jack, with his knowledge of planning and knowledge ef the 
city and the lay ef the land, played a major role in that final 
draft, but it was an enormous project involving many people and 
it took two or three years to hammer it out. It's a good 
balance. A 200-acre park dividing the housing from the high tech 
and then surrounded on the bay side by the wildlife park ef 1,000 
acres. It's a marvelous balance. But it was an opportunity for 
a city to work with a large piece of land that was once basically 
under one ownership. That doesn't happen too often. I think, I 
hope, that we'll see this as a model in the future for this kind 
ef master plan. 

Family Mavericks Spur Incorporation 

Lage: Let's move on to the decision to form a family corporation. 

Earlier you described to me the problems with your sister and 
cousin that were part of the historical background to this 
decision. Do you want to record that story? 

Wilcox P. : Yes. After Dad died. I took over his work here in the office in 
which we're sitting. All his files were here. For six months I 
continued to act as regional vice-president for Northern 
California Saving, handling the peninsula region for them. It 


Wilcox P. : get to be toe much, and I left in October of 1980 and began te 
work full time, working both out of an office in my home in 
Woodeide. and also here in Dad's office, and working closely with 
David, as I mentioned before, 

Eden, my youngest sister, and I had always been. I felt, 
quite close. I managed some jointly owned property for us five 
kids here and mailed my brothers and sisters a check every month 
for their share of the income, handled all the books, and I 
always included a little letter te Eden. "How are you doing? Do 
you need anything? Is everything okay?" She'd met a couple of 
real characters in Berkeley when she graduated from Gal and was 
living in a commune in Tennessee. I was very worried about her. 
My dad had been very worried and very upset about her. 

I began to see the relations deteriorate between Eden and 
the family for no apparent reason. I called and was told by this 
"guru". Roger Solomon, that it was Eden's desire to liquidate all 
of her personal interests in the ranch land for cash immediately. 
Were we interested in buying her out? I said. "Well, this is a 
new twist. Why dees she want to do that?" I was very skeptical 
and very suspicious. I didn't know this fellow. I could barely 
understand him; he spoke with a heavy European accent, very 
demanding, very pushy. I'd heard some bad things about him from 
my brothers and sisters who had visited back there. My father 
was very skeptical of this whole arrangement, so naturally I was 
suspicious, and my thought was to protect Eden's interests. Next 
thing I knew, there was some correspondence from Eden offering 
her interest for sale at what I felt was an unreasonable price. 
I felt that perhaps we could reason with her. I knew the value 
of her interest would increase in years te come. I saw no need 
for her to liquidate everything. Next thing we knew there was a 
lawsuit. It was also joined by David's sen, Scott. 

Lage: Had they had any communication, Scott and Eden? 

Wilcox P. : None before this time. As a matter of fact. Eden and Scott 

didn't even know each ether at all. How they made contact. I 
den't know. Maybe Dave has some theories on that. But we found 
that obviously this "guru" did a lot of research on the family. 
One ef the things that I found happened was that when Eden came 
out for my father's funeral and stayed a month with my wife and 
me. she rifled my father's files and obtained copies ef my 
grandfather's will and trust and my father's will. Naturally, 
being a beneficiary they received the inventory of Dad's estate. 

Somehow this Solomon character also discovered that Scott 
Patterson had feelings ef estrangement from the family, which I 
wasn't aware ef. and get him to join in the lawsuit. They hired 
Melvin Belli and came after the family. Well, David and I were 


Wilcox P. : the only two active members in the business of the family at that 
time. This was '81. '82. So we settled, and Jack Brooks bought 
ut their interests, as the family was unable to financially. 

About that time. Dave and I looked at each other and we 
said. "This business of having the undivided ownerships we're 
going to have to incorporate to keep this thing together." and a 
few people started thinking that. TJee, maybe we ought to keep 
this thing together." David did a lot of work, a lot of calling, 
a let of writing to family members that hadn't been in contact 
for years. He did a tremendous job. 

Lage: So this was kind of a reversal of your father's plan for the 

ranch land. 

Wilcox P. : It's a reversal of the previous trend, the orderly liquidation. 
David began to write and call and stay in contact with a lot of 
people that had been estranged from the family net estranged, 
but just net in contact with the family for years and began te 
generate an interest, advocate for an interest in preserving the 
holding under seme sort of a corporate or partnership structure. 

Lage: Was this with the idea that it would be financially beneficial? 

Wilcox P. : Yes. So Dave and I got together with Crosby. Heaf ey. Reach & 

May. who were the law firm that represented us in the suit, very 
ably, and we brought all their best minds together. We brought 
Jack Brooks into the process of trying to come up with a fair 
system of converting undivided interests in real estate which at 
this point were deadly because any dissident could block 
everybody else from doing anything even if they owned one 
percent, unless you filed a partition suit and bought them out. 
So I remember a brain storming session that lasted five hours at 
Crosby. Heaf ey. Roach & May. We had a number of the senior 
partners there from the law firm. We had Jack Brooks there; we 
had Jack's attorney, who was a very able guy; we had David, 
myself, and a number ef very sharp attorneys. 

Lage: How about Bob Buck? 

Wilcox P. : Bob was net in that meeting. He hadn't come into the process 
yet. I don't think Beb was there. 

But we had some very able young attorneys that worked under 
the partners at Crosby. Heafey. Roach & May. We finally divised 
an equitable system ef converting these undivided interests into 
shares of stock in a corporation that would be the managing 
general partner for three partnerships that would run the ranch, 
two partnerships in Fremont and one in Livermore. Actually. 
there was PFM Corporation PFM, Inc. which was a family 
corporation in which we all held shares of stock, which acted as 


Mil cox P. : the managing general partner for the two partnerships to run the 
Fremont ranch. Patag, which ran the agriculturally zoned lands, 
and Patbrook. which ran these lands which were slated for 
development. PTLM. which is the corporation which runs the 
Livermcre ranch and is the managing general partner in the 
limited partnership, Patliv, that runs that. Anyway, it was 
fairly complicated. 

Lage : And the conversion? 

Wilcox P. : And the conversion process was very, very complicated. 

Lage: But didn't some of you own particular portions as well as 

undivided interests in ? 

Wilcox P. : Right. The interests were both undivided but with some 
individually owned parcels. 

Lage: Did you look at what the development plan was for those different 


Wilcox P. : The development plan was pretty much formulated, yes. We knew 

basically what areas were going to be development and which were 
going to be slated for agriculture. We assigned respective 
values to them, but the common denominator that we had to use. 
the only common denominator there was at that time, was the tax 
assessor's values placed on the land at that time, and we 
converted it on that basis. But it was a very complicated job 
and Dave. I think, deserves most of the credit for that. He did 
a tremendous amount of leg work and a tremendous amount of 
working late at home on figures. Dave is very good at that, 
making this conversion process accurate and making it happen and 
bringing this all together. 

Lage: It sounds like there would be a lot of public relations required 

among the family? 

Wilcox P. : Yes, a lot of public relations. But it did come together. 

Kicking and screaming, it came together and now it works very 
well. But it necessitated buying out these dissident members of 
the family: Eden. Scott. Jackie Humbergex David's former wife. 
There was a long and very difficult process of bringing Marjerie 
and her interest into this through her conservator, which is 
Security Pacific Bank. 


Transition to Professional Management by Family Members 

Lags: You mentioned that you worked in the PFM office after the 

decision was made to have professional management. 

Wilcox P. : Yes. Leon and Bob Buck and I had several meetings at my house. 
and we mapped out what we felt were the requirements of the 
office bear in mind, we hadn't even got an office together then 
yet. We discussed about what we would need and about what time 
each of us could afford to spend. I committed two days a week. 
Tuesdays and Thursdays, to work there in the office and did that 
for about a year and a half when we had the office that was 
leased ever in the hub area of Fremont. 


This was getting the management going? 

Wilcoz P.: Getting it going, right. Leasing a space, interviewing and 

hiring a secretary, getting the office going, getting the filing 
system set up, moving the files from David's place and my office 
over there. Getting the office up and running, which took a long 
time. One of the problems was that Abby Campbell and I worked 
very hard en an interview process and hired a very competent 
woman full time to be secretary for us ever there, a woman that 
had a great deal of development exposure in Fremont and knew a 
lot of people and so en. We leased the office and hired her. and 
then John and Sally indicated that they, at that time, hadn't 
made up their minds that they wanted a full-time office. So we 
put everything on held for about five months. In the meantime, 
the woman quit and found another job. [laughs] Abby and I were 
going over and babysitting essentially an empty office with this 
employee and trying to keep her busy. 


This is after the corporation was formed and you still had to . 

Wilcoz P.: Yes. We had the board's unanimous blessing to go ahead with an 
office and we went ahead, until Sally and John's misgivings. 


Se once we got the blessing again, we carried forward with 
the office without a secretary, with Abby and myself and Bob and 
Leon doing it. Then Leon and Abby moved up here [from 
Riverside], and Leon came en full time, which helped a great 
deal. After a year and a half I was elected president of the 
Pacific Real Estate Investment Trust, a locally-owned and 
publicly-held real estate investment trust. My work began to 
expand with seme of the investments that I was doing. 


Wilcox P. : I had formed our own small corporation and partnerships which I 
was running for my mother and my brothers and sisters. My 
mother's health situation. Pacific Real Estate Investment Trust, 
and the management of my brothers' and sisters' affairs became 
such that I felt it was time to move away from the PFM office. 
With Leon coming en beard full time and getting more involved, 
there wasn't a need for my services so much. So that left the 
office with Leon, Bob, Abby, and my recommendation that they take 
my salary and put it towards hiring a secretary now because we 
needed it. which they did. Se now there's a secretary and these 
three, and it runs fine. You've spoken with Bob and Leon so you 
knew . 

Lage: Right, I've gotten a good picture, I think, of that. 

The Current Board and Future Directions 

Lage: Do you have any comments you'd want to make about hew the beard 

operates from your peint of view? How are decisions made when. I 
guess, there still are a lot of diverse opinions? 

Wilcox P. : Yes, there's a lot of diverse input, but I think that everybody 

is pretty satisfied with the final decision that's made. What we 
strive for is to get satisfaction from as many of the board 
members and their constituents as possible. 

Lage: And each beard member mere or less represents a certain branch of 

the family? 

Wilcox P. : Right. In most cases, each represents other family members. Net 
all, but in mest cases. For instance. David and I represent the 
W.D. Patterson trusts en the board, and Bruce represents his 
father's trust besides his own interests and his sister's and 
mother's interests, so there's seme multiple representations 
there. But we have a wide range of opinions on nearly every 
issue on the board. I think we have good exchanges and good 
input. We have the one outside member from Security Pacific 

Lage : Representing Marj rie? 

Wilcox P.: Representing Marjerie's interest, right. So I think the process 
works very well. 

Lage: What do yeu see as the future? Will this go en as a property 

management corporation or ? 


Wilcox P. : There is diversity ef opinion on that right now. I think what 
we've seen in the last year particularly is a desire of the 
majority ef the family to move away from the idea of developing 
the Town Center portion ef the ranch which is that key sixty- acre 
parcel that we're keeping for development right in the middle of 
that Northern Plain area. We're moving away from the idea of 
trying to develop that ourselves or joint venture that ourselves. 
I think the consensus ef the beard and the family is moving more 
towards handling that in the same way that we've handled other 
lands: hold onto it until the optimum time, bring it to the 
optimum point, and then sell that land en perhaps a successive 
option agreement er something ef that kind, allowing the people 
that have an ownership interest in that piece to either take cash 
or exchange for other 1 ike-value real estate as they've been 
doing. Each family member has the option, then, of putting their 
exchange property under the property management agreement of the 
PFM office as an ongoing thing. 

Lage: Se some will stay with it. 

Wilcox P.: Seme will stay with the corporation, yes. Some will stay with 
the corporation, but there's been a diversity of opinion there. 
There's been concern about the operating costs ef that office: 
the salaries and the operating costs. There's been concern among 
those people that have had property management experience ever 
the years about having the office manage the property as opposed 
to having them manage the property themselves. So the future, 
the long-term future, of that office is at this point. I think, 
probably in question. But certainly in the near term, and I'm 
talking five years. I think there's a need for that office to 
operate, to be a presence in Fremont, to be a presence in the 
family to ensure a sense of unity and to possibly discourage a 
recurrence ef the kind of litigation that we saw in '81. 

Lage: Very good. You've given me a different perspective, 

important te record a variety of points ef view. 




Grandpa Will Patterson 

Lage : I wanted te pick up seme memories from your boyhood about the 

ranch, your grandfather. Will, and your great-uncle. Henry. 

Wilcox P. : My memories of Grandpa, as we called him. are marvelous. 

absolutely wonderful. One of the warmest, kindest people I've 
ever met. Wonderful with children, loved all his grandchildren, 

Lage : 

He had a close relationship with them? 

Wilcoz P. : Very close relationship with him. All of us kids admired him. 

loved him. He would take us in his jeep, and he had a funny dog 
named Oscar that was a long haired hound of some kind, a 
wonderful, old dog. That dog died and Jack had gotten a dog 
called Trooper, a white bull terrier that was the funniest dog I 
ever saw in my life. It would ride around in the jeep with 
Grandpa, just loved him, go everywhere with him. If it saw a 
cat. it would go crazy. It would even climb a tree to get at a 

I remember riding in the jeep with my grandfather, and 
Grandpa was driving, and Uncle Jack was in the seat next to him, 
and Trooper was sitting up in the back with me. Without warning. 
Grandpa went over a steep embankment in his jeep, an old navy 
jeep, and the dog flew forward the whole length of the jeep and 
slammed head first into the iron or metal dashboard of this jeep. 
I swear it put a dent in the dashboard, and the dog looked around 
and shook his head and crawled back up on the seat with me, 
didn't hurt him a bit. Jack and Grandpa just howled. They 
thought it was just the funniest thing. But this dog was just a 
real character. If you know what a bull terrier looks like, it's 
the dog that George C. Scott had in the movie Patton. 


Hunting en Ranch Lands 

Wilcox P. : Anyway, lets of wonderful memories. I did a fair bit of duck and 
pheasant hunting and rabbit hunting en the ranch as a boy while 
Dad was in his business meetings with Grandpa and Uncle Henry. I 
was always a little afraid of Henry because he was so stern. But 
I think he was a very kind man; I sensed that. I would tramp 
around the ranch with my .22 rifle and became a pretty good shot 
and enjoyed hunting. I also did duck and pheasant shooting en 
the ranch. 

Lage: It must have been a wonderful spot. 

Wilcox P. : On. yes. The family holding was 3.000 acres at that time, a 
little mere, and there wasn't much around that. I mean, you 
could walk all the way from my grandfather's house to the bay 
lands. The only people that you'd see would be perhaps an 
occasional car on the little secondary reads and a few 
f ieldwerkers, and lots and lots of jack rabbits and pheasants and 
so on. Down at the lower part of the ranch by the bay lands that 
are new the Coyote Hills Park, that was all duck ponds. 

Lage: Both Henry and William hunted, didn't they? 

Wilcox P.: Yes. both hunted. I used to see Marjerie down there a lot. She 
was a crack shot and loved hunting. She had a red I think it 
was a red jeep that she'd ride around in. Occasionally I'd run 
inte her. I remember one day Dad dropped me off en one of the 
levees by the duck pond to hunt ducks by myself, and he was late 
in picking me up, and I was freezing cold. Marjerie drove by; 
she spotted me out there and wondered if I was okay. She drove 
by and drove me back to the house in her jeep. I think. But I 
liked her very much. I do like her very much. 

I had a fabulous childhood. It was tied in very closely 
with the ranch, very closely with my grandfather and with Uncle 
Jack and Uncle David. 

Exploring the Secrets of the W.D. Patterson House 

Lage: You were telling me some about the house and the explorations you 

made as a bey. 

Wilcox P. : Yes. the house was marvelous. It had a porch that went around 

almost three sides, two sides anyway, with big columns. It was a 
two-story brown shingle, enormous place, and I thought it was 
very beautiful. It was warm, kind of dark inside. You entered 


Wilcox P. : into a big entry hall with a fireplace and then to your left was 
a wonderful, beautiful living reom with a big fireplace where we 
used to have our Christina ses. Then there was a series of sitting 
rooms and then a wonderful dining room, again with a fireplace. 
That's where we used to have our Christmas dinners, with Uncle 
Jack carving. Then a marvelous breakfast room and a huge kitchen 
and pantry. 


All a lot of wood. 

Wilcox P. : A lot of wood, a lot of dark wood. This is all on the first 
floor. Then there was an area that was later used as a wine 
cellar; there was a huge back porch; bathroom; back hall. Then 
there was a marvelous back hall and off that back hall was the 
gun room. There were, I don't know, hundreds of guns in there. 
Collections from World War I, World War II. There were shotguns, 
pistols, rifles that my grandfather and Jack and Dad and Dave had 
acquired over the years. It was a fascinating reom for us to go 
in and poke around because it was memorabilia from years and 
years and years. There' d be cases of dynamite in there [laughs] 
which were later moved out to the barn. It was a very masculine 
house, very much a ranch house, very much an outdoor, rough and 
tumble house. 

Then upstairs it was all bedrooms and halls and bathrooms. 
George would remember better than I, but there were one, two. 
three, at least four very large bedrooms upstairs with three or 
four baths. 

Lage: That was planning ahead when he built that as a newly married 


Wilcox P. : Yes. Then there was a big separate garage. 

Lage: How about your grandmother? How did she fit into this masculine 


Wilcox P. : Well, very well. She was a very strong woman. I remember her as 
being very, very smart. She wasn't as outgoing as my 
grandfather; she was mere reserved. I remember Dad telling me 
she had a very goed mind for business, very much like Uncle Henry 
did. She was a very shrewd lady, very smart, a very warm lady 
but quieter, and she was ill fairly early on in my life. She 
died before my grandfather, you see, so I don't remember her 
nearly as well, nor was her personality as outgoing as Grandpa's. 

Lage: You didn't have that kind of close relationship? 

Wilcox P. : No, I didn't, but only because I was much younger. I remember 

that she had a terrible time and was in a great deal of pain, all 
of my life that I knew her, with arthritis, particularly in her 


Wilcoz P. : hands. That was a tremendous discomfort to her. but she was a 
wonderful woman. I know that Dad admired her tremendously. I 
remember that she had collected some coins, for instance, that 
caught her eye. They were U.S. coins that she thought looked odd 
or one thing or another. It turned out that some of these were 
very, very valuable due to minting discrepancies. Kind of 
interesting. I think she had quite a stamp collection, too. but 
I don't remember that as well. 


You had mentioned to me the secret panels of the house. 

Wilcoz P. : Yes. there were three or four secret panels built into the house 
for the storage of valuables. Dad and Grandpa told us about 
these panels. They didn't describe them; they just said they 
were secret panels. That's the way they described them. That 
was all. They said. "Why don't you see if you can find them?" 

There were really three secret panels, I think three, and 
then a secret area that Dad had as a fort when he was a little 
kid, up under the main stairs, but you got to it from the basement. 
We never did find that; Dad had to tell us where it was. But we 
found the secret panels. The one in the dining room was 
activated by a doorbell button hidden en top of one of the 
moldings that went around the lower paneling in the room. You 
had to reach up we had to stand on a chair. I think, to do it 
and feel your way. and you'd touch this button and it would 
activate a battery-powered solenoid switch which would pop open a 
door. It was a panel that must have been eighteen inches wide by 
four feet tall, maybe, something like that. Then there was 
another one in one of the halls between two of the upstairs 
bedrooms that led to a small staircase built en the outside of 
one ef the chimneys that went up through the house and led up to 
the attic. 

Lage: What a wonderful place of adventure for kids. 

Wilcoz P. : Oh. for kids to just roam around it was like a castle with 3.000 
acres of ground around it. It was a fascinating place, and it 
was filled with fascinating people. Uncle Jack was a fascinating 
man. I admired him greatly, and my grandfather was a fascinating 
man. There were a lot ef interesting people around. 

Ranch Tenants and Employees 

Lage: Did you have any contact with the various families that lived on 

the ranch? 


Wilcox P. : Net so much. We had some contact with the Andrades that leased 
from the ranch; some contact with some of the L. S. Williams 
people. There were some early dairy farmers that leased from us. 
the Marchy family they were Swiss that we saw from time to 
time. But two people that did make an impression on me and also. 
I think, on George were Dennis and Nora. They were a husband and 
wife team. He was the gardener, and she was the cook. They were 
live- in help that my grandfather and grandmother had for years, 
and they were marvelous people. I remember when I was about five 
years old, I was asking Dennis about the pigs that were in the 
pen out back. He said, "Do you want to see them?" He picked me 
up and put me inside the fence. Well, [laughs] pigs can be 
dangerous 1 They grunted and started coming for me. I remember 
yelling bloody murder, and Dennis snatching me out of there. He 
had ahold of me the whole time, but it wasn't obvious to me! 

Lage: That made its impression. 

Wilcox P. : Yes, but he was a neat guy. Had a wonderful sense of humor. He 
and his wife. Nora, cared a great deal about my grandmother and 
grandfather, and vice versa. Also they enjoyed the kids coming 
ever and visiting. 

Henry. Will, and Family History 

Lage: Any insights to your great-uncle, Henry, from your point of view? 

Wilcox P. : Oh, from my point of view? I didn't know him well. When I saw 
him. he was always all business. He was always serious, never 
smiling. I was a little bit afraid of him because he always 
seemed so stern and so serious. But yet I always sensed that he 
was a kind man. I never saw him angry or I never saw him any 
other than just serious and very business-like and very somber. 


Even with his brother, your grandfather? 

Wilcox P. : Yes. It was always business with him. 

Lage: Did they seem to have a warm relationship or ? 

Wilcox P. : Yes, they seemed to have a kind of understanding of one another 
than was a good fit in business, and it was a respect and 
understanding and a liking of one another, yes. 


They'd worked that long together. 


Wilcex P. : Oh. yes, and very, very well together from everything I could 

see. But I was pretty young then. I was eleven or twelve. But 
I sensed that Henry was a sad man, even at that age. I didn't 
have any idea why, but I sensed that there was a sadness in him 
but that he was a good man. But I always thought he was very 

Lage: Did the family talk at all about the previous generation? Did 

you have any sense of family history, of Clara Hawley Patterson 
or George Washington Patterson? 

Wilcex P. : You mean in my childhood? 


At any time. 

Wilcox P. : In my childhood, very little because Grandpa and Henry were alive 
during most of that time. 

Lage: They didn't discuss their mother? 

Wilcex P. : No, they didn't. They were more concerned with current issues 

and. with them alive and both houses there and the ranch running 
in full steam as it always had, there wasn't much I wasn't 
aware, anyway, of much talk of George Washington or Clara Hawley 
Patterson. After their death. Dad did quite a bit of research 
into the past and did seme tapes, which he stored at the Society 
ef California Pioneers. 

Lage: Yes, we are transcribing these. 

Wilcex P. : So Dad became interested in the family roots and family history. 
Then since Dad died. Dave and Joan Patterson have dene a let of 
research into the early, early history. Going back to where 
George Washington came from in Pennsylvania and Illinois and 
coming out here. So they've done a lot of historical research. 

But no. when I was a child, that was history. 

Lage: That's right. Maybe we don't start looking until it's 


Wilcox P. : Yes, and it wasn't until Henry and Grandpa died that I began to 
get a sense of any history. Then when Dad died, a much greater 
sense of history. 

Lage: Then, of course. George has taken quite an interest. 

Wilcex P. : Yes. 


The Bountiful Harvest of the Ranch 

Lage: Anything else you want to add about the early days on the ranch 

for you? 

Wilcox P. : No. Just wonderful memories, particularly in the summertime, 
tramping through the orchard and picking the ripe figs and 
cherries that would grow. One of the things that we mentioned 
earlier, I think, was the cider parties, the apple cider parties, 
which go way back in my memory. I was five or six at that time. 

Lage: So they were an ongoing thing? 

Wilcox P. : Yes, they were an ongoing thing, and they were a marvelous party. 
Forty, fifty, sixty people. Dad and Dave and Jack bringing 
bushel baskets of apples and dumping them into the top of the 
apple press or grinder. Then they'd be ground and that would 
then be pressed, and the fresh cider would pour out. 

Lage: This was all dene there during the party? 

Wilcox P. : Yes. 

Lage : 

Did the guests participate and help in picking the apples? 

Wilcox P. : Yes, and made gallons and gallons of cider. Then I can remember 
picking cherries, being up en a ten foot ladder and picking 
cherries in this marvelous orchard. There were lequats, there 
were apricots, peaches, cherries, figs, walnuts, hazelnuts, 
nectarines, all growing in orchards surrounding my grandfather's 
house. You could spend all day and not have any meals, just eat 
off the trees in the summertime. Then in the fall you'd gather 
the hazelnuts and walnuts and chestnuts, too. We'd gather 
chestnuts and then roast them over the fire. Marvelous place. 
It was like another world. 

Lage: It wasn't that long ago, and yet it certainly is a disappearing 

way of life around the Bay Area. 

Wilcox P. : It began to disappear in the mid-fifties. 
Lage: When did the Nimitz freeway come through there? 

Wilcox P.: I was working on the project for Jack Brooks building Cabrillo 

Park, and that summer the earth movers began breaking ground for 
the freeway. That was 1956, I believe, or '57, because I can 
remember I was driving by then, and I could no longer walk back 
to my grandmother's because they'd fenced off the excavation 
area, and I had to cross at Decote Road at the over crossing 


Lage: So that divided the ranch and really wan kind of a symbol of the 


Wilcox P. : Ye. 

[End of Interview] 

Transcriber: Anne Schofield 
Final Typist: Shannon Page 


TAPE GUIDE Wilcex Patterson 

Interview 1: April 1. 1987 243 

tape 1. side A 243 
tape 1, side B net recorded 

Interview 2: May 20, 1987 246 

tape 2, side A 246 

insert from tape 2. side B 254 

resume tape 2, side A 255 

tape 2. side B 258 

tape 3. side A 266 
tape 3, side B not recorded 


Regional Oral History Office 
The Bancroft Library 

University of California 
Berkeley. California 


George Patterson 

Recalling the Pattersons' Past: 
The Family. Land, and Historic Homes 

An Interview Conducted by 
Ann Lage 
in 1987 

Copyright (^ 1988 by the Regents of the University of California 


TABLE OF CONTENTS George Patterson 




The Wilcoxes from Hawaii 282 

Patterson Family Sense of History 28A 

Destruction of the W. D. Patterson House 286 

Tales of George Washington Patterson 288 

Great-Grandmother dara Hawley Patterson 292 


Christmas Eve Rituals 295 

Floods in the Fifties 297 

Will: His Jeep, Dog. and Colt .455 298 

Grandmother May, Quiet and Genteel 301 

Boyhood Explorations of Attic and Carriage House 303 

The Two Family Branches and the Direction of the Ranch 305 

History of the Livermore Ranch 307 

Coyote Hills as Nike Missile Base and Site for Biosonar 

Research 310 

Sale of Coyote Hills and Del Valle for Public Parks 313 
Donald Patterson's Style: Inspiring Trust in Dealings 

with People 315 

Intergeneratienal Interest in History and the Society of 

California Pioneers 318 

Working with Donald Overseeing the Ranch 321 

Donald's Goals: Gradual Liquidation, Productive Farming 323 

The Farnsworth Hydro ponic Operation 323 

Family Contribution to Preserving the G. W. Patterson Home 326 

Ardenwood as a Living History Museum 330 

Ranch Management after Donald's Death 333 

The Family Corporation 33 A 




George Patterson continues the family interest in history. Like his 
father. Donald, and grandfather, William. George is active in the Society of 
California Pioneers. He also serves on the Patterson House Advisory Board 
and is well versed in Patterson family lore. His interview provides 
colorful pictures of his great-grandparents. George Washington and Clara 
Hawley Patterson; and telling reminiscences of his grandparents. William D. 
and May Patterson, and of their home on the Patterson Ranch. 

George Patterson also worked closely with his father, Donald, on the 
ranch, and he adds to our knowledge of Donald's management style and his 
relations with the ranch tenants. He describes the diverse uses of ranch 
properties before Donald's death including a Nike missle base, a biosonar 
research facility, a gladiolus nursery, and a hydroponic farm operation. 
His interest in family history is reflected in his efforts to aid the 
restoration of the George Washington Patterson home and his ongoing 
involvement on the house advisory board. 

George Patterson was interviewed in two sessions, on April 1. 1987. and 
May 20. 1987, at his mother's home in Menlo Park, California. 

Ann Lage 

September, 1988 

Regional Oral History Office 

The Bancroft Library 

University of California at Berkeley 

Regional Oral History Office 
Room 486 The Bancroft Library 


University of California 
Berkeley, California 94720 


(Please write clearly. Use black ink.) 

Your full name -0 f&* 
Date of birth JQ-J.^- 



> fSqri c 

Father's full name 

Occupation manage nte* t // 1^5*6 f _ Birthplace 
d^ ~/~ 

Mother's full name bfcrf/iJ &/I 
Occupation /)ptJ 'ij(-fp 


Your spouse 

Your children 


Where did you grow up? 

Present community rah /y /-tr> r\ 


Ct* I v - *f 

Occupation (s) 

//- f 


Areas of expertise 

Other interests or activities /// y 

Organizations in which you are active 

<Si & (/ TO C/) /& 



The Wilcoxes From Hawaii 

[Date of Interview: April 1. 1987] ## 

Lage: Let's start with your personal background. Where do you fit in 

the Patterson family tree? 

George P. : Yes, well, you know pretty much the same as Wil. [This 

interview took place immediately after the interview with George 
Patterson's brother, Wilcox.] George Patterson, the middle 
child, two older brothers, William Donald III and Wilcox, and 
then two younger sisters, Eden and Grace. As I say, myself in 
the middle. My parents, Donald and Dorothy Patterson, 

Lage: One thing I didn't get from Wil was something about your mother 

and her family. 

George P. : The Wilcox family. 

Lage: Right. Your mother said she was born in Oakland, raised in 


George P. : Yes, and they lived in a house on Lake Merritt and then later 
moved to Lincoln Avenue in Piedmont. 

Lage: And what's the tie to Hawaii? 

George P. : Well, my great grandparents were Abner and Lucy Wilcox, who came 
from Harwinton, Connecticut, and left on a sailing ship with the 
8th Mission Company of the American Board of Commissioners for 
Foreign Missions of Boston, Massachusetts. They arrived in 
Hawaii (or the Sandwich Islands, at that time) in 1837. There 
was a group of people. They were mostly teachers and all manner 

## This symbol indicates that a tape or segment of a tape has 
begun or ended. For a guide to the tapes, see page 337. 


George P.: of people teachers and preachers, agricultural people, and just 
a general sort ef thing. You know, every few years they would 
send these mission companies over. 

Abner and Lucy had, I think, seven sons, or something like 
that. They originally went to Oahu and then were stationed on 
the island of Kauai. which is where the Wilcoz family henceforth 
stayed and established. They had a mission on Hanalei Bay. a 
mission house and the church and a school, which are all still 
there, preserved as museums by the Wilcox family. They're all 
tied in with the Hawaiian Mission Children's Society, which is 
an organization formed of all families that are descended from 
one of these mission companies that went over to the Sandwich 

As happened with most of these missionary families, they 
spent their life teaching or working with the Hawaiians. and 
then their children usually stayed on in the islands and went 
into either agriculture, planting, or trade. In our case, the 
family went into sugar planting. George Norton Wilcoz. who's my 
namesake I was named George Norton Patterson was sort of the 
main man in the family, and he went to work for this existing 
Grove Farm plantation, which was run by some Germans. They had 
problems with irrigation and getting the water from one side of 
the island to the other. So he went back to school in the 
East I think he went to Princeton and took up hydraulic 

He went back to the Islands and solved the irrigation 
problem, and over a long period of time and hard work, he 
acquired the plantation, not from the Hawaiians, but from the 
German planters. I guess they gave up. The family has pretty 
much been oriented around that plantation ever since, and it has 
been expanded through the years, and they bought an adjoining 
plantation and sugar mill. So that's really been the base of 
the island side of the Wilcox family. 

Now, of these seven brothers, some of them stayed in the 
Islands, stayed in sugar planting, and then the eldest. Charles 
Hart Wilcox. came back to California, to Oroville. and went into 
various businesses, principally hardware and lumber. My mother 
is descended from that side, from the California side. So 
that's why there are two branches, two sides, of the Wilcox 
family, the mainland side and the island side. 

Brother Wil is on the board of directors, one of the people 
representing what they call the mainland side of the family. So 
that's where that all ties in. There's no Hawaiian ancestry, or 
blood, in the family. It's all New England Protestant 
missionary, but they're very old and established in the Islands. 
Through the years, they were very public-spirited people, gave a 


George P. : let of money and assistance to the Hawaiian people, in terms of 
hospitals, clinics, and schools, and just generally good works. 
Anyway, that's the Wilcox side. 

Patterson Family Sense of History 

Lage: I'm glad we got that recorded. It's interesting that you come 

from this historical family en both sides. 

George P. : On both sides, yes, that's right. Maybe that accounts for some 
ef my interest in history because I've always been made very 
aware of this on both sides. I was always closely connected 
with the ranch, the Patterson side, because it's so close at 
hand. The Hawaiian side was always stories and everything, 
until I was twenty-one or something, and I went over te the 
Islands for the first time and really saw that firsthand. 

Lage: In the Patterson family, was there a let of sense ef history? 

George P. : Yes. there was. The people who. to my knowledge, were most 

closely associated with the history or the most interested in 
it, and in preserving it, were my grandfather well, going 
back my great-grandfather, George Washington Patterson, was one 
of the early members of the Society ef California Pioneers in 
San Francisco, which was an organization founded in 1849 of 
people who came out to California, principally San Francisco, 
before the end ef 1850. Originally, it was before the end of 
1849, but then they moved it up to 1850. 

Lage: So it was actually founded at that time. 

George P. : At that time. yes. And my great-grandfather was. I believe, one 
ef the founding members, or one of the very early members of the 
society; he was active in it. Then my grandfather, William 
Donald Patterson, was active in the Pioneer Society as well and 
followed that up very closely, and then my father was also very 
active, and I'm a member and on the board of the Society f 
California Pioneers also. 

My father was president for a two-year term of office. I 
know my grandfather gave a let of artifacts and support to the 
Pioneer Society through the years. He gave collections; he gave 
some family artifacts and also purchased collections of gold- 
mining implements, and a collection of everything from Wells 
Fargo items to gold-mining tools, and that sort of thing. 

My grandfather had gathered up and kept stacked away in 
trunks in the attic all of the old records, accounts, diaries. 


George P. : letters, tax rolls, property deeds and maps, all that stuff. 

dating back to the beginning of the ranch kept it all together, 
organized, and then that was given a few years ago by my father 
to the Society of California Pioneers so that it would always be 
kept in one place, with access to anybody that had a legitimate 
interest in looking at it. 

Lage : I looked over some of that when we first started this project. 

It's a wonderful collection. 

George P. : Right. It was organized and catalogued a few years ago by a 

fellow that my father had go in and organize it and itemize it. 
That's the type of thing in so many families that I've talked to 
that through the years gets scattered because each member of the 
family and their children and their grandchildren, they find it. 
and they say. "Oh. yeah, well, you can have this diary, and you 
can have these letters, and I want this photograph." and back 
and forth. Pretty soon it gets scattered around, and then if 
somebody wants to do some research or really bring this all 
together, it's very difficult because it's scattered so widely. 
Oftentimes, some of it is lost completely, or it's never seen by 
anybody. It's just sort of pack-ratted away. And this way, it 
will always be protected, and the diaries and letters have been 
transcribed into typed manuscripts, so that they are readable. 
The original letters are there on file in the library which, of 
course, now is in great turmoil because it's all being rebuilt. 
The whole society is being renovated so most of that stuff is 
boxed up now; you can't see it. It probably won't be available 
maybe for another year. 

A person who's very very active in that, and has been 
compiling a history, and is one of the main people for the 
preservation of the Ardenwood House, the George Washington 
Patterson house, is Dr. Robert Fisher. [See interview in this 
series.] He has a great collection in fact, when he was going 
through the house, anything pertaining to the family records or 
business accounts, all those sorts of things, he turned those 
over to my father, and they were included in that collection at 
the Society of California Pioneers. So most things are there, 
and there's a wonderful collection of old photographs, and Dr. 
Fisher also has some of those. I've seen most of them. 

It is fortunate that those things were saved, and it's 
partly because the family lived in the same houses from when 
they were built. They were never abandoned, and they always 
were kept there right up until the end. They were able to keep 
an eye on them. 

i v/; 

: William D. Patterson home, 1950s. 

Below: Patterson family group on the porch of W. D. Patterson home, 

1942. Left to right, William, Joan (wife of Jack), May (wife of 
William), John B. (Jack) and Donald (sons of William). 

R J 









. , v 


Destruction of the W. D. Patterson Home 

Lage: When your grandfather's house was burned, was it carefully gene 


George P. : Oh. yes. very definitely, yes. All the historic stuff had been 
taken out and was taken over to the Pioneer Society, and 
anything pertaining historically to the ranch or anything was 
taken out. The contents of the house was divided up. The three 
brothers, by themselves, without any outside influence, went 
through the house, and each person picked out what they wanted, 
put it in a pile or put their label on it or whatever, and then 
the rest of it was given to charitable organizations. So. all 
the things that were of historic value had long since been 
gathered and protected. 

I even went there myself just before the house was burned 
because I think there was a period there when they were kind of 
vacillating back and forth, really whether to do this or not, 
and so I went through the attic very, very closely and found a 
let of things that weren't historic as far as the family was 
concerned, but I found it very interesting. My grandfather had 
a strong interest in participation in the First World War. He 
was the organizer of the sixth liberty loan on the West Coast, 
and so there was all this literature in the form of magazines 
and papers and all this sort of thing, both British and 
American, on the First World War. There was a whole firsthand 
history of the First World War stacked away in trunks, which was 
going to be destroyed. I was fascinated with it, so I took all 
that, and I have it stored away. I don't know whatever I'll do 
with it, but it's interesting to look at. 

There wasn't really much left in the house. The Catholic 
Church was given permission to come in, and they took the 
furnace, which was relatively new, and the furniture and all 
that sort of thing was either taken by the family members or 
given away. The only thing is that at that time there wasn't as 
much interest in eld houses, architecture, preservation, and 
restoring of eld houses that there is now, and the house had 
beautiful woodwork and cabinetry beautiful glass crystal 
cabinets in the dining room, and the living room was done in 
redwood, clearheart redwood, with a rustic brick fireplace, and 
a column of redwood pillars. 

Then, the entrance hall was, as I remember, done in oak 
with a sandstone block fireplace, and the library was done in 
oak as well, with built-in shelves and that sort of thing, and 
it kind of had a round sort of tower-like room, with little 
triangle- shaped windows. The dining room was done, I believe, 
in a combination of mahogany and a light-colored wood that might 


George P. : possibly have been gumwood. Very, very pretty. And then, of 
course, the house had all the original lighting fixtures. It 
was built in 1904, and they had electricity there at the time 
that it was built. Looking back on it. I kick myself for not 
taking those because throughout they were completely original. 
The dining room, and the living room, and the hallways were 
beautiful sort of the craftsman style, early turn-of-the- 
century craftsman- style fixtures. And. of course, the whole 
house was that style. 

Lage: Do you know who it was designed by, or anything about that? 

George P. : No. I don't. That's a good question; I don't know who would 

have the answer. My uncle David might know. It was a beautiful 
house, and it was all designed as one house it wasn't an 
eclectic put-together series of additions like the George 
Washington house, the original house. 

The year the house was built, 1904. was sort of the height 
of that craftsman period; it was just after the Victorian. It 
was almost a classic example of that, with the brown- shingled 
exterior and the porch that went all the way around, and the 
interior rooms downstairs all had the open-beamed ceiling. Not 
a vaulted ceiling, but just a flat ceiling with the heavy beams 
running across. That was carried through in all the rooms 
downstairs. And as I say, beautifully done. The paneling had 
never been painted over; nobody had ever gone in and modernized 
it or changed it in any way. It was one of these styles that 
now, of course, everybody really appreciates, and they're trying 
to put houses back to that. It was. essentially, because it was 
always lived in by the same family, left the same. It was in 
beautiful condition, and as I say, I have a collection of 
photographs of the interior. I'll show you those sometime. 

Right at the end, I think some of those things might have 
been taken, but my last memory was that they were all there. 
Maybe at the end, some people wanted some of the woodwork and 
fixtures, but I sort of doubt it. 

Lage: When I looked through the papers at the Pioneer Society, I 

noticed somewhere in one your grandfather's diaries a reference 
to Maybeck, 

George P. : Well, if in fact it really was a May beck-designed house, that 
puts it in a whole other category, and makes it even more of a 
crime to have burned the house. I wish you hadn't said that, 
because I was sort of saying, well, it wasn't that historical. 

Lage: It didn't say it was a Maybeck house; it's just that his name 

was mentioned [in 1931-1933], and I noted that. 


George P. : Oh. yes. Because Bernard Maybeck is yes. If it was. I'll feel 
even verse. But it could have been; it was right at that period 
when he was designing the houses; it had a let of his features. 

Lage: Don't you think that would have been noted by your family, or 

your grandfather would have mentioned it? 

George P. : Yes, I think so. Of course, at the time that my grandfather was 
alive, I didn't have that sophisticated an interest in eld 
houses. I liked old things, but I wasn't sure why yet. I loved 
the feeling of it, and I was more concentrated en the light 
fixtures and the wall switches, you know, the old push-button 
wall switches. I think, at the time, the word Maybeck wouldn't 
have rung a bell, but I never recall hearing that. But it's 
certainly possible. 

Lage: I think that would be in the record, because I think the things 

Maybeck designed are known. 

George P. : They are they're books of all his houses, or at least all the 
known ones. Now, there's a few that might have slipped through, 
but this was such a large, spectacular house that if it were 
designed by Maybeck, it would be in the books. 
But a lot of the ideas that were a trademark of his style were 
incorporated in the house. The plans of the house I think were 
in the attic. As I remember, they were rolled up, all these 
blueprints. I vaguely remember this, I could be mixing this up 
with the other house, but I vaguely remember that. Because all 
that type of thing was saved. I believe that they were there; 
they were rolled up and they were suspended by strings in the 
rafters to keep them away from the rats. But they wouldn't have 
had any interest to me at the time. My memory may be playing 
tricks on me. 

Tales of George Washington Patterson 

Lage: Did that first Calfornia generation of Pattersons get talked 

about in the family; did you hear stories about George 
Washington Patterson, or about Clara Haw ley Patterson? 

George P. : Yes, I did. Not a great deal as I say, when my grandfather was 
alive, I was not that interested in the history of people. I 
was interested in things more: guns, for instance, and 
artifacts, farm machinery, the dynamite I was interested in the 
dynamite-blasting machine all that sort of thing, and well 
measuring devices, you know. Something more tangible, 
mechanical, that sort of thing. But I do remember stories about 
George Washington, and Clara Haw ley just more or less generally 
more about his character. 


George P. : The most revealing story that I ever heard about George 

Washington Patterson wasn't from the family; it was from a 
neighbor who had grown up there with George Washington 
Patterson, named Wally McKeown. They had the neighboring ranch, 
and it's since been divided up and subdivided; the house is 
still there, right across Alameda Creek from the ranch, so they 
were close neighbors. Now, my father did some tapes with Wally. 

Lage: As part of this project we have transcribed those tapes. [See 

volume I.] McKeown was quite elderly at the time. 

George P. : He was. yes. He was ninety-seven at that time. Well. Wally 

told me some stories, because I would drop in occasionally and 
bring him a basket full of cauliflower from the fields this was 
a few years ago. He lived there by himself in the old house 
with his sister, neither one of them ever married. She was a 
little bit younger, in better health, but very very poor 
eyesight. She was almost blind. But a very interesting lady to 
talk to. and Wally was an interesting old fellow. Each time 
you'd see him. he'd have different stories, different 
recollections. You'd ask him a question about something one 
time, and you'd get a blank, and then you'd be over there 
another time and he would tell you the story that you wanted to 
hear, but without any prompting it would just pep up out of his 

I was driving along one day. along the levee which separated 
the two ranches, about a year, year and a half before he died. 
His eyesight was very poor at this time, and he was out right 
along the road, the levee road, trimming some ivy. Actually, it 
was quite amazing at this age. he was probably ninety-eight or 
something at that time. He was out there with his clippers, and 
he was clipping the ivy that was growing onto the road. I mean. 
it was just one of those funny little things that he decided 
he'd do. but he was one of these people that was up and out 
every day. as long as he was alive. It just was his routine. 

So I pulled up and walked over to him. and I was fairly 
close to him. and I said. 'Cood morning Wally I How are you 
doing today?" He looked up and he squinted at me, because he 
couldn't really see. and he said. "Who are you?" I said. "I'm 
George Patterson." To him, this meant George Washington 
Patterson. He about fell over backwards; he just took a gasp of 
his breath, and if he could turn any whiter than he already was. 
he would have, and he said. 'George Washington? But you died!" 
And I said. "Oh. Wally. no no no. I'm his great-grandson. I'm 
George Norton Patterson." It took a few minutes for him to 
regain his composure because it was like his old friend who had 
died in 1895 had come back from the dead, you know, and 
confronted him. He was quite shook up. 


George P. : But anyway, when he got it all sorted out that I was the great- 
grandson, we chatted a bit. But that was very interesting. He 
said "You sounded like him," or something. Which was really 
interesting, that he could remember something like that, back 
that far. 

Lage: Right. Because he must have been much younger than your great 


George P. : He was. I don't know what the age comparison was, but he would 
have been a boy. a young boy, at the time. He wasn't his 
contemporary; he didn't grow up with him in that sense, but he 
remembered him because one of the stories that he told me was 
very revealing about George Patterson's character. 

When he was a bey. and I don't know the year he didn't 
know the year either we used to have a navigable slough that 
came in from the bay, wound in behind the Coyote Hills, which is 
now the Coyote Hills Regional Park. It has since been dredged 
out and straightened, as part of the Alameda Creek Flood Control 
Proj ect. by the Army Corps of Engineers. But at that time, 
there were sloughs that came in, and in behind the hills there 
was a landing there. Patterson Landing. It had some big barns 
and warehouses and wharves. They were private, for the ranch, 
similar to what a lot of properties along the bay at that time 
had. It was before the railroad was in. and to get produce to 
San Francisco and Oakland, you shipped it by scow schooners 
shallow-draft sailing schooners. We have some very nice 
photographs of them that we got from the maritime museum in San 
Francisco. They happen to have a record of them. 

The main one I think there were three altogether but the 
one we have photographs of is called the Broadgauge. Anyway, 
these schooners would come in behind the hills there to the 
landing, and they would load up with grain, and hay, and 
produce whatever was being produced at the time and take it up 
to San Francisco, to the wharves up there, and unload it and 
sell it. There wasn't any trucking at that time; to send 
something by wagon would be a terribly roundabout way. if in 
fact it would even be possible most of the year. And as I say, 
the railroad hadn't been developed yet. and to get to San 
Francisco, of course, there were no bridges; so these schooners 
were the ideal way, and there were lots of them en the bay. Any 
property that had landings on the bay would have schooners, so 
there must have been quite a crowd of these schooners plying the 
bay, hauling cargo to and from around the bay across the bay, 
down the bay, up the bay, to San Francisco. 

Anyway, one day Wally came out. It was midmorning, as 
Wally told it. The barns down at the landing had caught fire 
and were burning. People had run down there, you know it was 


George P. : big excitement, and it was down by the bay so you could see it 
frn all around. So everybody was running down there to see 
what was happening. They were burning, of course, and they had 
ne pumps or fire control systems and certainly no fire 
department. Everybody was running around frantically, wondering 
what to do and getting buckets of water and what net. Somebody 
ran up to the house and told George Washington Patterson that 
the barns were on fire. 

He got on his white horse and rede down and took one look 
at the situation, just without saying a word, summed it up and 
assessed the situation as being totally hopeless. No need to 
get excited, no need to panic. It was going to burn to the 
ground and that was it. Start rebuilding tomorrow. That's what 
impressed Wally so much; here was this man whose all year's 
produce and what not was going up in flames, and he was just 
completely dead calm about it. Didn't say a word. Took one 
look at it and turned around and rode back and had lunch, 

Wally was so impressed with that; George Washington 
Patterson had such a bearing, sitting there in the saddle with 
his hat and he just was totally unmoved by the whole situation. 
And Wally said. "That really impressed me. The man was not 
without feelings, but he just was very practical and not carried 
away by emotion." He just assessed the situation and left. To 
Wally, the figure of this man sitting there on the white horse, 
watching this, was amazing. He remembered that like it happened 
yesterday. He described everything; he described the reaction 
of the people and the contrast between this frantic effort to 
put out this fire and the reaction of one person who should be 
concerned but was totally passive to the whole thing. He said 
he really admired Mr. Patterson. He was not what did he say? 
he was not a highly approachable, chatty sort of man; he was a 
man of few words. He was on the serious side, but you know had 
everybody's respect, and a very fair and kind person. But not 
overly on the social side. 

Lage: Not maybe as outgoing as your grandfather. 

George P. : Yes, right. That was very interesting, that little picture from 

Lage: That's good; it's nice to have the recollection of somebody who 

remembers firsthand. 

George P.: Yes. Well, that was the last person alive that remembered him. 

Lage: That's nice that you got to talk to him. and that your father 

interviewed him. 


Great-Grandmother Clara Hawley Patterson tf# 

Lage: What about your great-grandmother, Clara Hawley Patterson? Your 

father knew her, as a child. 

George P. : Yes. She died in 1916, and she was oh, let's see what I've 
heard about her. She was quite a bit younger than George 
Washington. She was very interested in foreign countries, 
foreign travel. She was very interested in cultural things; did 
a lot of reading. In fact, a lot of her books are there in the 
library. She was very well-read and interested in the world at 
large, probably much more than George Patterson was. He was, 
from what I gather, primarily interested and concerned with the 
local community, his own ranch, of course, and the local 
organizations. Which, of course, dara was as well, but she 
also had this very strong interest in the outside world, in a 
much broader sense. I know she had a fascination for 
horticulture and plants of all types from all different parts of 
the world. The garden over there at the Ardenwood house, the 
old house, reflects that. There are a lot of very interesting 
eld trees and plants, I'm sure most of which have long since 
disappeared, but there are a few left that were planted by her. 

She was also interested particularly in Asian culture. We 
have at the Pioneer Society picture albums that she took. Some 
of them were after 1895, when she did some travelling overseas. 
We have a let of these picturebooks, showing her to be somebody 
very interested in another culture. 

Lage: Did your father pass any stories down about her? 

George P. : Yes, I'm trying to remember what they are, offhand. She was 
very interested, of course, in the Orient, and something that 
really applies to the ranch that was interesting in 1915, they 
had the Panama- Pacific World Exposition in San Francisco; the 
Palace of Fine Arts is the remaining structure from that. It 
was quite an elaborate fair that had pavilions from all 
different parts of the world. She was very fascinated, as I 
say, with Japan. When the fair was breaking up, they were 
tearing down or selling off all the artifacts in other words, 
if you wanted a building, or you wanted parts of it, they were 
being seld, and what wasn't sold or was toe big was torn down. 

Well, she admired this Japanese house. It was, I think, a 
typical Japanese residence, as I understand it, a domestic 
house. Quite a nice one. Quite a good-sized house. She bought 
that, had it disassembled. It had been made in Japan, thin 
walls and a wooden frame and rice paper, a beautifully built 
house. It was disassembled and shipped to, San Francisco from 


George P. : Japan, and then it was disassembled and moved to Ardenwood. It 
was about a quarter of a mile from the old house, out in the 
walnut orchard. 

Lage: Is it still there? 

George P. : No. It burned down, mysteriously, on December 7 or 8. 1941. as 
the story goes. Now. Sally Adams, who was living en the ranch 
and growing up, probably would know more exactly, but the story 
I got was that it may have been coincidence or it may have been 
by some other cause you know, hoboes living it and setting fire 
to it accidentally but 

Lage: The date [one day after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor] 

would make one suspicious of arson. 

George P. : Yes. The date would yes. The story is that that's when it 

burned down. Now. I've heard conflicting stories, but I think 
it seems to boil down to the fact that it did burn down then, 
and that it was some resentment against the Japanese, which was 
running at a rather high pitch at that point. So, anything 
obviously Japanese was fair game. 

So anyway, after the exposition the house was moved down; 
they poured a foundation for it; it was all set up. We have a 
nice set of architectural photographs of it at the Pioneer 
Society. They're nice, big, clear pictures of it, just after it 
was completed. It was intended to have all the oriental gardens 
around it, but that was never finished. The house, I don't 
think, was ever furnished, but it was finished as far as the 
structure itself and had all the fittings and fixtures. I've 
sifted through the ashes over there where it was and found all 
the brass fitting little hinges and cornerpieces and what not, 
a typical Japanese house, and pieces of rooftiles the ends of 
the roofs would have these tiles with a chrysanthemum on them. 
There's bits and pieces of that in the rubble there. 

I don't know if it was just going to be like a summer 
house, or a tea house, or whether she actually planned to move 
into it. I have a feeling that she planned to live there at 
least in the summers because she had a very strong interest and 
a liking of the simplicity and the airiness, so to speak, of the 
Japanese house. 

Lage: Very different from the old Victorian house. 

George P. : Right; exactly. It would be a complete contrast from this old 
heavy sort of Victorian mansion; it would be a great, lovely 
thing in the spring to move out to that house and still have the 
old family, solid house there behind you, maybe for the winter, 
but in the summer it would be wonderful. And then with lovely 


George P. : Japanese gardens around it, it would really be a nice place. 
Really a shame that it's not still there. 

But anyway it was completed up t that point, and I think 
it was even plumbed and wired because I found plumbing pipes and 
electrical wires in amongst the ruins. And according to the 
photographs, it was pretty well finished. Then, she died in 
1916, right in the midst of this project. So that put an end to 

After George Washington died in 1895, then here. I dan't 
know the dates, because everybody's been pretty mum on this 
subject. She was, I believe, on a trip, on a steamer, te Europe 
or to the Orient, and she met this parson, r preacher, who was 
a very nice fellow. What was his name? [William H.] Layson. 

Lags: Was he a local pastor? 

George P. : I don't know whether he might have been local. I heard that 

they met on a trip, and I know they travelled together. He was 
by all accounts a wonderful gentleman, but there was a let of 
friction there. You must remember that dara Hawley was 
considerably younger than George Washington, so she would still 
be midlife when she remarried. 

The boys, though, Henry Hawley Patterson, the oldest son, 
and William Donald Patterson, the younger sen, were deadset 
against their mother remarrying. I guess they just didn't like 
it. So this guy was not appreciated; he was not received well. 
I guess at that time the boys would have been maybe away at 
college, or something. You'd have to figure out the dates and 
the times and who was where. But he was not liked. So that 
didn't last very long. I think most of the time they spent 
together was away from the house it was on trips, or it was 
away, so that it didn't aggravate the boys. But it didn't last 
very long, I don't know if it was a year or two, something like 
that, and they dissolved the marriage. [Layson died in 1909.] 

So I know very little about the person. There's been very 
little recorded in the family about it. Just one of those 
things that is just sort of mum. 

Lage: It didn't get talked about in the family? 

George P. : Yes. But getting back to dara. I understand that she was a 
very attractive lady, very well educated, and interested in a 
lot of subjects that were completely outside the operation of a 
ranch. Whereas George Washington, I have the feeling, was 
more well, he had a big operation to run there, and he didn't 
have the time, I suppose, to be interested in outside things. 



Christmas Eve Rituals 

Lage: Let's move on to your memories of your grandfather. Tell me 

about when you visited the ranch as a bey. 

George P. : The principal visit to the ranch was Christmas Eve. Everybody 
went over there. There was my grandfather and my grandmother, 
and the three boys: William Donald, my father, the eldest; and 
then Jack Patterson, the second eldest; and then David, the 
youngest of the three. At that time, my earliest memories would 
be myself and my two brothers; David and his wife. Jackie, and 
their children. Scott and Laura. David's children were very 
young at that time. Then there was Uncle Jack, and his 
children. Bruce and Mi mi. They were younger as well, but a 
little bit older than David's children. 

Every year. Christmas Eve was really, for me. the high 
point of Christmas. It was the Christmas. We went over in the 
evening, and the house was all lit up. It was very Christmasy. 
and there were fires going in all the fireplaces. It seems to 
me. as a child, it was always storming heavily around Christmas. 
It wasn't snowing, but it was storming, and sometimes there were 
even floodwaters that were over the roads going into the house, 
and that sort of thing, which all made it very exciting and 
interesting. It really was at that time very rural. There were 
the few big estates, principally the ranch, and then there were 
a few small farmhouses in the peripheral area, and then the 
small towns. But basically, going across the Dumbarton Bridge, 
and going into the ranch, there was really nothing. It was 
really out in the country. Going across the old Dumbarton 
Bridge and over to the ranch at night was a real adventure. 
Then you'd come across huge groves of eucalyptus trees the 
whole setting of the place, and the whole atmosphere, was really 
magical for a child. It's something that's a high point of my 
memories as a child. 


Lage: What was Christmas Eve like? Was your grandfather open to all 

the kids coming? 

George P.: Oh, yes. He was a very warm person, very jovial. Always had 
his little pet jokes and tricks he'd play on you. He really 
seemed to enjoy his grandchildren. It really was, in my memory, 
a model Christmas, model family Christmas. I mean, it was right 
out of Norman Rockwell [laughter]. 

There would be this huge, big Christmas tree, which my dad 
and my uncles had set up. I think Uncle Jack was the one who 
was in charge of that, as I remember. He played the role of 
Santa Glaus. Of course, it was in the big living room, and they 
had the tree in there, and of course there was the fire going, 
and it was just a beautiful old living room. Even then, it made 
such an incredible impression en me. this dark wood and the 
fireplace and that sort of thing. My grandmother all dressed up 
in a very nice manner everybody was all dressed up. It seems 
then that people really dressed up for an occasion. I remember 
it clearly. 

We would all be out in the hallway and the library. The 
dining room was closed off, being set for a big Christmas Eve 
dinner, and so we'd all sit around in the library and the 
entrance hall where the front door came in off the porch. 
There was also a big rearing fire there; there was a fireplace. 
Jack and David would be in the living room; they had the big 
sliding doors, and they had velvet curtains that would go across 
too. They would be in there arranging all the presents and 
getting it all set for Christmas. 

In all the excitement of those days, I can't remember 
whether we had dinner first and then went in to open the 
presents after dinner I think that's the way it was or the 
other way around, whether we opened the presents and then went 
into dinner. I can remember everything else really clearly, and 
I remember it was quite a banquet, quite a feast, in the old 
formal sense of the word, in the beautiful dining room with all 
crystal cabinets, and all the beautiful china and glassware and 

And there was a beautiful turkey brought out, and I 
remember that Uncle Jack was always the chef of the family. He 
really admired and appreciated fine food and fine wine, and he'd 
gene to school in France for a long time. I think he went all 
through high school in France, and spoke French fluently, and 
had quite a love of the French culture. So, naturally, he was 
very interested in cooking and seeing that a meal was presented 
just right. He would preside over the carving of the turkey and 
all that. My grandfather would sit at the head of the table, 
and my grandmother would sit at the foot of the table. 


George P. : We would have a lovely big dinner, and of course, everyone 

wanted to go in and open the presents. We would put on this 
thing "oh. Santa Glaus is herel" Well, it would be my Uncle 
Jack, as I remember, playing the role of Santa Glaus. He would 
come in. and everybody would be arrayed around the tree and the 
fireplace. The presents would be handed out by Uncle Jack. Of 
course, it seemed always that Christmas Eve. the atmosphere and 
the setting, was the nicest or the most authentically what you 
think of in your mind and your fantasy as Christmas. It was 
really a wonderful evening, and it always seemed that we had 
gotten the best presents, etc. 

Then, late at night, after it was all ever, we all piled in 
the old station wagon and drove home because we lived over in 
Atherton, which is directly across the bay. I have very warm 
memories about Christmas Eve at the ranch. 

Floods in the Fifties 

George P. : We'd go over quite often on weekends all during the year. I'd 
say mostly in the summer, the good weather, but also in the 
winter. In 1955 when it was flooding and the levees were 
washing out. all us kids were ever there and my dad and my mom 
and my brothers. There was a National Guard encampment down on 
the hills at the time, or maybe they were brought in from 
outside. I can't remember. But anyway, they helped put sandbags 
on this levee, and we all went out to help, both my grandfather 
and myself, to help load sandbags on all these places where the 
water was starting to wash ever. So we worked late into the 
night, totally soaked and piling bags up. Well, during the 
middle of the night, the flood peaked crested and the levee 
washed out anyway, and the lower part of the ranch was flooded. 
So it was to no avail. 

The house wasn't flooded, because it was higher than the 
surrounding ground, but the roads leading in and out were awash, 
and there was quite a current of water, and it was difficult at 
night and everything you couldn't see where the road was so my 
dad said we'd spend the night there. That was really fun; that 
was a real adventure. 

That was, I think, 1955 '55 or '58. There were a couple 
of times when there were floods like that, every few years. 
There isn't any more; that's the reason the Army Corps of 
Engineers put in that big flood control channel. But it takes a 
let of the what should we say the adventure out of the place. 
And the place is new civilized; it's a city; it's no longer a 
rural ranch, that sort of thing. Times have really changed. 


George P. : During the summer, we'd come over a lot, during summer vacation, 
and spend weekends there, or come over for the day. spend a long 
day. My dad always was very strongly interested in the ranch 
operation, and in the business end of it. and he'd always be in 
business sessions with his father. Just in the general running 
of the ranch. And also, the planning and starting in the mid- 
fifties the future development of the ranch, starting out on a 
small scale. But that was coming into people's minds at that 

Lage: Were you aware at the time that development was coming? 

George P. : Yes. gradually, a little bit. 

Lage: I heard that in 1955. just before Henry died, they actually had 

had a plan with Jack Brooks to 

George P. : They had started working on it. yes. And some of the first land 
that was sold was by my dad. and Uncle David, and Uncle Jack, 
who each had a hundred acres across Jarvis Road; they could do 
whatever they wanted with it. It was part of the ranch 
operation, but it was their own land. Sally and Marjorie, my 
cousins, each had I don't knew 150 acres or 200 acres, 
something like that on the same side of Jarvis Road. And that 
was the first land that was sold off for housing development. I 
remember that. Jack Brooks was the developer en that, and Wil 
and, I think, my brother Bill both worked during the summers en 
the construction crews ever there. 

But that was some of the first development ever there, and 
they were small tract houses. One of the early tract 
developments around there. So at that time the ranch was 
starting to on the outer fringes be sold off and developed. 

Will: His Jeep. Dog, and Celt .455 

George P. : I'd spend most of the time with my grandfather in his eld World 
War II surplus army jeep, open jeep, that he used to drive 
around in, and then he also had a 1939 Oldsmebile coupe Opera 
Coupe, they call it. It had been his regular car, and then he 
just retired it to drive around the fields. It was a great- 
running car. 

Lage: You must have loved that. 

George P. : Yesl And it was great to have for the dogs to hop in the back. 
Then he had a later model, I think a 1954, '55 Oldsmebile. as 
his current car to drive on the road, although he'd take that 
out on the fields too. sometimes, if he felt like it. 


Lage : He'd take you around with him on his ? 

George P.: Yea. I would go around, on weekends. I would go around with him 
all the time, to check on this pump or that pump, or make sure 
the water was irrigating this field, or it wasn't overflowing 
onto this roadway. And to check that everything was running 
smoothly, and that there was no another favorite pastime of his 
was to patrol the ranch for trespassers either people hunting 
or just people trespassing en the ranch. At that time there 
weren't many people around, so that you really knew when 
somebody was there that shouldn't be. It wasn't bordered by all 
these subdivisions, at all. So there wasn't just constant 
people around. 

He'd ride around in the eld car. or the old j eep. and he'd 
have his dog in the back, his dog Trooper, who was a white I 
don't know if it was a pit bull or a bull terrier one of those 
ones, you know, with the deep set eyes and the long funny face. 
It was great, a real funny dog; this is the dog that I most 
remember all the time that I was there. I think originally it 
was Uncle Jack's dog, because Uncle Jack had lived there for a 
time. I think, after the war. It was a twin dog to the dog that 
General George Fatten had in the Second World War. I think 
Uncle Jack was quite an admirer of General Patten, so he had a 
dog j ust like it. 

Anyway, it became my grandfather's dog. So we'd go 
driving all around the dusty roads, all around the ranch, and 
down on the hills and all around, around the Indian burial 
mounds and all over the place, and every time there* d be a 

Lage: He was aware they were Indian burial mounds? 

George P. : Oh, very much so; oh. yes. They were small hills there, and 
they were being excavated even at the time. They were just 
starting to do excavation by San Francisco State, San Jose 
State. Stanford University. University of California at 
Berkeley; they all had a little project there, eventually. Dr. 
Treganza. I believe, was from San Jose State or something and 
was the principal person, later, at least when I used to be over 
there all the time. But there were other people. And my 
grandfather would always go chat with the archaeologists about 
the digging. He was very fascinated by that sort of thing, and 
he'd always have long chats. It was. of course, fascinating for 
me. and I could go back to school en Monday morning and tell the 
class about my experiences at the Indian mound and especially 
come back with a skull or something; it was quite impressive. I 
think they all thought it was a bit strange. 


George P. : But anyway, it was absolutely great fun for a kid to have a 

place like this. My grandfather was a very warm person, as long 
as you were en the right side ef the fence. I mean, he loved 
his grandchildren, and he was really warm and considerate, and 
he really did a lot of things just being with him was really a 
lot of fun. It was different than being with your parents, 
because your parents are always under pressure about something 
the grandfather, everything was always okay. 

So we'd always be riding around, and every time a 
jackrabbit jumped out of one ef the rows ef cauliflower or corn 
or tomatoes, or something. Trooper wouldn't even wait for the 
door to be open. He'd try to leap out the window, if he was in 
the old Oldsmobile. If he was in the jeep, ef course, it was 
open, and it just didn't matter how fast you were driving along; 
the dog would just leap out ef this car. full tilt, chasing this 
jackrabbit. And he would sometimes chase them down; oftentimes 
he wouldn't because they would run down one row of a cultivated 
field, and then they would jump ever, unseen by the deg, into 
another row or something, and the deg would lose it that way. 
Then it would run across the rows, and down and across, and the 
dog would be following straight down. But anyway, it was very 
comical to watch. The deg had a great time. My grandfather 
always let the dog out, when we'd be driving, twenty-five, 
thirty miles an hour, and the dog would want to get out just to 
run. run along side the car. We'd be driving along, and of 
course there would be a cloud ef dust coming off the rear 
wheels, and it didn't seem to bother the dog. The dog would be 
just running through this huge cloud ef dust. I don't know if 
the dog was short on brains, or what, but he just adored my 
grandfather, and vice versa. So that was really great. 

And my grandfather was very good at explaining everything, 
you know. Why such-and-such was a certain way, and why this was 
that, and se on. A few times I saw the ether side; his tough 
side. He was a deputy sheriff, which I suppose a let ef people 
out in the rural areas are; if they're a big landowner, they get 
a star. Anyway, he had this big eld revolver, big old Colt 
.455. He carried it in the glove box of the old Oldsmobile. He 
had his badge pinned to the inside of the door. Occasionally, 
he'd come across some trespassers, and he'd come up and in no 
uncertain terms run them off the property. 

They usually would turn tail and get out of there, once he 
told them rather gruffly that it was private property. But 
occasionally, they would see this little old man, and he wasn't 
a big fellow, you knew. He was fairly small ef stature. And 
they would give him some backtalk, because he didn't look like 
much. He had a little fedora hat, kind of crunched down on his 
head, and he just looked like a farmer in this old car. So he'd 
reach into the glove box and pull out this big, huge revolver. 


George P. : and he'd point it at them, and generally that was the end of any 
sort of argument or resistance. People would high-tail it out 
of there. 

I remember once it was on a bridge trestle that runs 
through the center of the ranch, the old Western Pacific tracks. 
It originally was the old route of the South Pacific Coast 
railroad that went through that's a whole ether story, which 
you've heard, about my great-grandfather trying to stop the 
railroad. Well, it's the same track line, and there's these 
series of little trestles across the ranch where water courses 
go under the tracks. They're net very high, but you can drive a 
car under them. They're access through to other fields. These 
two guys were up en the trestle one time, and my grandfather 
pulled up down below, and they started giving him a bad time. 
swearing at him, and they threw a couple of stones off the 
tracks at him. And boy. he just stepped out with this big 
revolver, and I've never seen two people disappear down the 
tracks fasterl But that certainly put an end to trespassing. 

Lage: Must have made an impression on you, also. 

George P.: It did. Made a very good impression. I realized he was a 

great, jovial, kind sort of person, and he was a small sort of 
person, and he seemed very kindly. But. if you crossed him. 
depending on which side of the fence you were on . But anyway, 
a delightful person. Just nothing but the most wonderful 
memories about him. 

Lage: Did yeu have any sense of an ethical code he was trying to pass 

on. or ? 

George P. : Yes; oh yes. very definitely a strong belief in the rights of 
private propertyl Just generally, yes. a wonderful person, and 
as I say. a person that was more relaxed than my dad, which, I 
think, is always true. Your grandparents are always more 
relaxed than your parents themselves because they don't feel so 
much that they have to always be a guide or always be correcting 
en something. 

Grandmother May, Quiet and Genteel 

Lage: How about your grandmother? Was she a memorable figure? 

George P. : Very much so. But she was a sort of quieter person; all the 
time that I knew her she was a very genteel lady. 



George P. : There was the breakfast room between the kitchen and dining 

room, which opened onto a brick walkway lined with herb plants, 
and then it went out into kind of a brick patio and through a 
hedge, to kind of a secret garden, the magnolia garden, It had 
these big magnolia trees in the middle f it, great shade trees. 
Beautiful, surrounded by a very high hedge, completely isolated 
from everything else. There was a swing out there and chairs, 
and she'd have tea out there in the spring and the summer. And 
always I remember her with a sunbennet, wearing these sort of 
hexagon- shaped glasses, old-style glasses, with a bonnet and 
sort of a springtime dress on. This is the picture that 
immediately comes to mind. She was very sort of proper, very 
much the old style lady. 

Lage: More reserved? 

George P. : Yes. I'd say a little bit more reserved, although she certainly 
had a good sense of humor, but it was a drier sense of humor, 
maybe. And she was very smart, a very shrewd person. And then 
I remember, in the winters and stuff. I'd come over, and we'd 
sit en the couch in the library, and she'd read stories to me. 
hour after hour. They were out of this big book I'm sure it 
was probably some English story about this world of animals. 
It wasn't any f the ones that I recognize, you know, like Wind 
in the Willows or something that you'd heard of. 

She used to always read me chapters out ef this book, and 
it was absolutely fascinating. I wish I could find the book, or 
remember it. Of course. I learned a lot f words. I remember, 
from that. I remember learning what the word menagerie meant. 
It seems to me that it must have been English, because there 
were a lot ef words that sounded very English, looking back on 
it. But anyway, she liked to spend this time reading with me, 
and then, as I say. out in the garden, but always looking very 
much a lady. Wonderful person, but more severe in a nice way, 
but a more serious sort of a person. And of course, I only 
remember her in the earliest memory, because she died well 
before my grandfather did. So later, when I used to spend a lot 
more time over at the ranch on my own, with some f my friends, 
down on the hills hunting rabbits, and generally just shooting 
and hiking around and stuff she had died by that time. That 
was during high school. 

Boyhood Explorations of Attic and Carriage House 

George P.: I spent most of my weekends and even some days after school 

during my high school years aver there. I could just drive over 
after school because myself and my friends had a car. and I 
started an interest at that time in guns and gun collecting and 
shooting and that sort of stuff, which was something my 
grandfather was always very interested in. At that time, of 
course. Uncle Jack lived ever there, and being an old 
paratrooper and cavalry officer, he was very interested in guns 
and shooting and military things. 

Lage: Now. when would this have been? 

George P. : This was, let's see, late fifties, early sixties. Now. the 

stories about my grandmother, of course, are earlier. Because 
she died I can't remember what year she died. I remember 
staying ever there for a weekend in the winter and staying 
upstairs, and I can really remember the big bathroom, with the 
big bathtub, and all of it had been done in little octagon tiles 
on the floors, and then the oval windows in the bathroom. They 
were leaded glass windows that looked out from the front of the 
house. It was the big master bathroom, and then there was a big 
bedroom en each side. I remember one day coming in cold and wet 
from being outside, and I remember my grandmother fixing up this 
huge big bathtub full of bath salts and all this sort of thing, 
and being thrown into the bathtub. 

Really nice memories. And of course, my favorite areas 
were the attic of the house and the old barn or really carriage 
house out back, with the various rooms and the loft there. In 
these days, they had lots of room and they put everything that 
was no longer used up in the left or in the attic or in the 
barn, rather than threw it out. They would put it away 
someplace, save it. So the attic was full of fascinating items, 
and so was the eld carriage house, or barn. Now, this is all to 
do with my grandfather's house, not the other house. 

There were all these racks of big old green bottles, and 
there was an old cider press, and then there was all these oak 
barrels. During Prohibition, they used to make cider, and 
ferment it make hard cider. There was a lot of this left ever 
in these big green, champagne- type bottles, all dusty and 
everything, on these eld racks. It was really fascinating. And 
then the old cider press it would grind up the apples, and 
then there was a press on it for making cider. That's an 
interesting thing, because they had cider parties over there. I 
remember some of the later ones, but apparently we have quite a 
picture album of them. Of course, it was before my time, so I 
wasn't there. 


George P. : But they started in about 1938, going all the way up until the 
early fifties. Every year at apple harvest time, they'd have a 
whole gathering of their friends over, and of course my 
grandparents would be there, and there were lets of friends. I 
think at that time my parents were living in Berkeley the 
Berkeley hills. A whole group of their friends and they would 
gather over there for these big cider parties. They would all 
go out and pick sacks full of apples, and then bring them in. 
and put them in the grinder, and make it into pulp, and then 
press it. On the other end of the cider press is this big like 
a wine press and you press all the juice out. and then they 
bottled it in gallon jugs. There would be gallons and gallons 
of this cider, and it was absolutely delicious because it had 
all the ingredients of the apples. It wasn't filtered or 
anything; it was just great. 

So. they were quite a social gathering. I personally 
remember the last one or two of these parties. But they have 
them quite well documented with phetegraphs. so if anybody wants 
to get the feeling of what it was like. 

Lage: The park district has the albums? 

George P. : Yes. They're absolutely fascinating. That cider press and I 

remember one time, the day my grandfather had it all rebuilt and 
everything. Then after he died, and the house was burned down, 
and it sat around and kind of get kicked around there, and then 
it was moved over to one of the outbuildings over at the 
Ardenwood house. It was in need of renovation again, but it 
could have been fixed up. and somebody filched it. Somebody ran 
off with it; somebody came along with a pickup truck or 
something, a couple of guys, and got rid of it. 

Five years age, I was wandering around this antique 
cooperative you knew, these places where all these people have 
all these antiques to sell. It was kind of a grand opening 
thing, and everything was on sale. There was an exact, almost 
an exact replica, or same type of cider press, as the one that 
had always been en the ranch, made by the same maker, same 
company, and in beautiful condition. It was a little bit 
smaller model; it was probably the next size down. So I bought 
it and took it over to the ranch and gave it to the people at 
the Ardenweod Park. So they use it now and have these cider- 
making gatherings over there. Cider making was a major part ef 
the life around the houses over there. Certainly around my 
grandfather's house. I didn't know that much about the people 
and what went on at my great-grandfather's house, the Ardenwood 

But anyway, they do have a cider press over there. Of 
course, by this time, all the apple trees have died. [laughter] 


Lage: They have to import apples? 

George P. : Well, they do new. but they've replanted the orchard, part of 
it. and eventually they'll have their own apples. 

But as I say. I had a great time in the attics and lofts 
and everything over there, exploring all this stuff. And of 
course, I had all these questions I'd come down and I'd ask my 
grandfather about this and about that, where did this come from, 
and what is that you know, a lifetime of things that he'd 

There was the gun room, with the racks of guns, and it had 
all these Indian artifacts from the burial mounds, and it had a 
little jar full of gold that he'd saved, panning, when he was 
spending time in the Sierras. He went on the Alaskan geld rush, 
in 1901. He went up there, and he went bear-hunting up there a 
few times. So he had all his equipment from that, and 
snowshoes. and his ice axe. and the big bear rifle, and all his 
camping gear that he took with him. He was a great one for 
adventure. His brother, Henry, was the one that stayed home on 
the ranch and minded the farm. I think pretty much most of his 
life. My grandfather, of course, worked with him and helped 
him, but when he could, he went off on adventure trips. He was 
much more of an adventuresome person, in terms of hunting and 
mountain climbing, looking for gold, whatever. He was a real 
adventurer at heart. When he could get away, he would do that. 

The TWo Family Branches and the Direction of the Ranch 

Lage: Do you remember your uncle Henry at all? 

George P. : I do; yes. Not nearly as clearly as my grandfather, because he 
was a quiet sort of man to me, he looked like a little Italian 
wine-grower, sort of. He had that little fedora hat. and he was 
a short sort of fellow, in a dark suit. I'd see him usually 
with my grandfather; when we were out patrolling around the 
ranch, we would come across him, or we would go over to the 
house and see him. He was a kindly person. As I say. I didn't 
get to really know him very well. Just, you know, the 
pleasantries that you'd exchange with someone like that. 

Because, the two families were not close they worked very 
well en a business level, and in terms of running the ranch, it 
worked very well. But socially, they had completely separate 
social lives, and pretty much separate groups of friends, and 
the two houses were separated by about a mile or a mile and a 
half of woods and fields, so they really were not in each 


George P. : ether's way. by any means, and I think it was a respect and. 
above everything, it was a respect for their privacy and 
individual lives. But. I think, the two that got along well 
were, ef course, my grandfather and his brother. That worked 
well. That's the family there's always been a distance between 
them that. I think, to a certain degree exists to this day. 

Lage: Do you see differences within the family today as dividing along 

those family lines, or it seems like there's a lot of 

George P. : Well, there's a lot ef crossover because both sides ef the 
family are jointly owners and tied together by this ranch. 
Everything was jointly owned, together, so everything had to be 
run together. Of course, now, as Wil explained, it's all been 
set up in corporations and that sort ef thing. 

Lage: But the differences of opinion, say, that exist today in how the 

ranch should be developed do you see connections back to the 
differences between the Henry side of the family and the W. D. 

George P. : Yes. I suppose so. I wasn't really a party to the differences 
going back to Henry and Will, but there the development didn't 
really come into the picture that much because Henry was 
strictly concerned with running the ranch, and the development 
thing had just started to come into play when my grandfather was 
alive. So, it's really been the next generation that's had to 
hash out the pace and the direction of development. But it's 
really been guided pretty much on our side by well, eur 
desires, but Jack Brooks and his planning and his ideas; he's 
the expert in that area. And his ability to interface all of 
that with the city of Fremont and the city of Newark. He works 
very well with the city and the government people and the park 
people, but in the final analysis, it's really what the city and 
the city council and the planning commission of the City ef 
Fremont, principally, what they want to see done with what they 
call the northern plain, which is that whole lower part ef the 
ranch. It's just hashing out the different ways ef developing 
it, really, coming to the same point. 

That's why I say Jack Brooks is such an expert at that. He 
knows, and has worked with, and gets along with both sides very 
well. So he's a wonderful person te see these things through. 

Lage: Did you work with him as often as your brothers? 

George P. : Not as much. I did have a number of sessions with him, jointly 
with him and my father, a number of times, and then, since then, 
I've met with him with other family members; with Wil. for 
instance, and with my Uncle David, to sort of plan out the 


George P. : strategy and direction and where things go. But more and more 
it's become what the city of Fremont wants, and the East Bay 
Regional Park District, because large areas were initially taken 
into Coyote Hills. There was a thousand acres there that were 
taken for the East Bay Regional Park District, and then there's 
the two hundred acres that's the Ardenweod Regional Preserve, 
and then the cattle ranch behind Livermore. which was an 
interesting story how that was acquired, and I think I'm telling 
the right story if I tell you that. But anyway, the state took 
a large piece of land up there somewhere around thirty-five 
hundred acres for the Del Valle Reservoir and the park 
surrounding it. 

History of the Livermore Ranch 

George P. : I don't have all the figures on the story behind the cattle 

ranch in Livermore. It could be researched out at the Pioneer 
Society because. I think, all the deeds are there. My great 
grandfather was a great one for leaning money, and that's how. 
after the gold rush when he came down to Mission San Jose, he 
started out in farming, but just renting from the Spanish 
landowners. But I think he did pretty well in loaning money. 
He did okay in the gold fields in the American River. In fact, 
we have a little envelope with the first gold nuggets that he 
dug. But I think he did better in loaning money, and land deals 
and that sort of thing. 

He had a brother, named Andrew Jackson Patterson, who came 
out from Indiana sometime after he did. He came out here, and 
was married. He was fascinated with race horses and horse 
racing, and he had a place not toe far from the old home ranch 
there, and he raised these race horses. Then he had this land 
up in Livermore. which is now the original part of the Patterson 
cattle ranch. Sometime along the line, he got into debt, or 
needed money, and so he borrowed money from his brother. George 
Washington Patterson, to I don't know what. His story is very 
vague and very sketchy, and I don't know very much about it. My 
father didn't know much about him. and he was sort of considered 
the black sheep of the family. 

As my father always summed it up. he liked fast horses and 
faster women. So, he ended up he just disappeared. Anyway, the 
original part of the ranch went to his brother George, who was 
much more serious, much more of a businessman, and always tried 
to, whenever he could, acquire adjoining lands. Whenever he was 
able to, he would buy or manage to somehow get adjoining land to 
build larger and larger because both ranches are made up of a 
lot of individual, smaller pieces that he was able to buy out. 


George P. : Anyway, on the cattle ranch thing. George had loaned Andrew some 
money, and he couldn't pay it back, but for collateral, he had 
that ranch, which, I think, he used to run his horses, raise his 
horses or something, up there behind Livermere. And so when 
Andrew defaulted on the loan, or whatever the circumstances 
were. George Washington ended up with that. That was the basis 
of the cattle ranch, and he bought adjoining land to make that 
into a holding of ten thousand acres. He did the same with the 
lower ranch [in Washington Township], starting out with maybe a 
couple hundred acres, and then eventually ending up at its peak 
with about thirty-five hundred acres, all told. It's, of 
course, considerably less than that now, and the cattle ranch is 
considerably less than it was. 

And then another adjoining ranch that he bought up there in 
Livermore was the Pope Ranch, and Pope Flat, which is now all 
underwater. It was nice bottom country, with a beautiful creek 
with sycamore trees, and in the spring we used to go up and have 
great picnics up there. 

Lage: Is that now Del Valle Reservoir? 

George P. : Yes. The Del Valle Reservoir is there now. I remember the old 
house; it was an old pioneer, two-story house. Beautiful old 
place, totally weathered, and riddled with woodpecker holes, 
full of acorns and pine nuts. We have some photographs, 
fortunately. That's gone, that was destroyed. They destroyed 
all that; cut all the trees down and everything before they 
filled the reservoir. And there were all these woodchopper's 
cottages on the property. 

But that main old house was very interesting. Old man Pope 
came out in the geld rush, and he settled there, and lived in 
this cabin. I think he lived there by himself. Quite a 
substantial old house; two stories. And as I say, even when I 
saw it, it was in a severe state of disrepair. It was a classic 
abandoned house, something you would expect to see out in the 
prairies after the Dust Bowl or something. The windows and 
everything were gone, but it was a very nicely made old house. 
It was, of course, all made with clear redwood with square 
nails, and very early. It was probably built in, say, around 
1860, I would imagine. But as I say, it was a shell of its 
former self when I had seen it, and it had an eld stone 
foundation, nicely made stone foundation, and then the rest of 
the house was wood. It was full of barn owls and swallows, and 
the walls were full of honeybee nests. But it really had a 
classic picture of an old house, abandoned house someplace. If 
it ever was painted, there wasn't any paint en it; it was 
completely weathered down to nothing. 


George P. : But anyway, when my great-grandfather had bought that piece of 
property and paid old man Pope the money, he just walked away 
and left everything in the house untouched. Just took the money 
and. I think, headed to San Francisco, or something. Laying on 
the table my grandfather used to tell me this story was a 
matched set of 36-caliber dueling pistols, long-barreled dueling 
pistols or beet pistols, as they called them sometimes. Very 
simple percussion you know. 1860s vintage. They were oh. I 
can almost remember the make on them; Allan and Thurber. I 
think, was the make. 

And then, there was a Hawkin rifle, completely original and 
in darn near immaculate condition. The Hawkin rifle was the 
pattern after which all the frontier rifles were made. It is 
the beginning, the model after which there were lots and lots of 
copies. But it's a very, very famous rifle. It's sort of a 
development of the cross between the small-bore Kentucky rifle 
and the heavy gauge buffalo gun type thing. It was ideal for 
the purposes out West. here. But this was a true, original, 
authentic Hawkin rifle, in. as I say, immaculate condition. My 
father had always said, and my grandfather even said. "It's on 
loan to the Pioneer Society." So I'd never seen it. 

A few years ago. after my dad had died and my grandfather 
had died. I went up and saw it with the gun expert at the 
Pioneer Society one of the members who's quite an expert on 
guns. We looked at it, and he was absolutely amazed. 
Apparently, it's become a very, very valuable gun, and this is 
just a beautiful example of it. 

Lage: Have you told this story to the Pioneer Society? 

George P. : I've told them the story; whether it's been recorded or net. I 

don't know. Yes, it should go with the gun, shouldn't it? It's 
in the vault at the Pioneer Society, for good reason, because 
it's a very valuable gun. 

It's in such good condition because when Pope walked away, 
my grandfather walked in to take over the property, and there it 
was. laying on the table, and he gave it to the Pioneer Society. 
Well. I was always told he loaned it to the Pioneer Society, but 
en their catalogue it has it was given to them. So, maybe my 
father had the story mixed up. But it was in 1933 or something. 
so it was way back that it was given. But that's just an 
example of some of the memories I have about that particular 
pi ace . 



Coyote Hills as Nike Missile Base and Site for Biesenar Research 

Lage: You mentioned earlier about the Nike base on the Coyote Hills. 

Why don't yu tell me more about that? 

George P. : The Nike missiles were one of America's very first operational 
greund-to-air defense systems. It was a relatively short-range 
ground-to-air missile that they would put around in a perimeter 
around important areas. The San Francisco Bay Area being an 
important area. I believe it was about 1955 or just roughly 
about that time they decided to situate thirteen sites all 
around the San Francisco Bay. The Coyote Hills were the only 
hills that were actually right on the southern part of the San 
Francisco Bay, rather than back quite a ways. And since these 
were relatively short-range missiles, they needed them pretty 
close to their anticipated target. 

They negotiated with my grandfather about situating this 
base. They knew, of course, exactly where they wanted it; the 
question was, would we sell that land to the U.S. Army so they 
could build this base? It was three underground silos, with 
iron doors that would open, and then the missile would come up 
and it would be fired, and the whole thing could be hidden away. 
That was on the highest point of the furthest north of the 
hills the crest of the hill up there. Not the highest hill, 
but the furthest north of that line of hills, with a clear line 
of sight out over San Francisco, essentially. 

Then, in that hollow where the old duck-hunting club was 
it's gene now, but there was a lovely old duck club in that 
hollow. There was a woods there, and my grandfather had planted 
the trees and built the duck club there, in 1933, right at the 
height of the Depression. He and all his buddies from the 
Bohemian Club built that. He had it moved up there in two 
sections and put together. Below that, there [was] what they 
called the house pond, which was a duck pond where the family 


George P. : weuld sheet ducks. And there was where the barracks, and the 
mess hall, the recreation facilities were everything for the 
men that would be stationed there and then on the far hills 
would be the guidance radar system; the scanning radar and the 
guidance radar system for the missiles. They were radar-guided, 
and they'd pick up the plane, hopefully, like thirty miles out 
beyond the Golden Gate, and then be able to intercept with these 
missiles, from all these different locations. 

That was the radar station, which was up on the crest of 
the far hill, which was just across the line, and it was really 
on property that belonged to Leslie Salt Company. So. the army 
wanted to buy this land from us. and they wanted to buy it in 
the worst way. My grandfather said. "No. absolutely net." Then 
they said. "Okay, we'll lease it from you." because they were 
going to get the land one way or another. My grandfather's 
theory was that the way weapons systems become obsolete as time 
goes on. in a probably fairly short number of years it would 
become obsolete, and they would leave. Or at least deactivate 
the place. 

So they said, t)kay, we'll lease it from you for a dollar a 
year." So that's what they did; they built this big missile 
base, and they ran it as an active base for probably about ten 
years. It was surrounded by a high cyclone fence, top security, 
and there were guards at all the gates, and what not. so that 
meant we were excluded from anything inside that fenced area, 
which took up 

Lage : Would that be the Coyote Hills park area now? 

George P. : No. no. Far less than that. I don't remember how many acres. 
but. really, it was just the hill land, didn't really cover out 
into the flats. Now, the Coyote Hills Regional Park covers all 
that marsh area, what was the old duck ponds, the old hunting- 
shooting ponds, and a lot of marsh area that really to us was 
waste land. It wasn't the hills and the lower part of the 
ranch was pretty much cattle grazing because the hills were just 
dryland grazing, and then the flatland, it was too wet in the 
winters; it's the absolutely lowest part there. It's where all 
the water collects. It was fresh water, but it was sometimes 
brackish. It just wasn't used for anything, except maybe some 
cattle grazing. So it wasn't productive land that they were 
taking out of production. 



George P. : Anyway, they leased it from us. and they went ahead and built 

this big project. It really didn't interfere with the ranching 
operation that much. They built a big all-weather road along 
the existing Patterson Ranch Road, all the way out to the hills. 
Actually, they built that up so that it would be out of water 
even in the height of winter and the flood times. So there was 
some advantages to it. It was an all-weather, paved road it 
wasn't paved, it was gravelled, I guess, but it was fully 
passable year round. 

They fenced it all off, and for about ten years it was an 
active base. As happens, it became really obsolete; my 
grandfather was absolutely right. In other words, it wasn't the 
days where they build a fort, and it's good for a hundred years. 
I mean, it was very short term. 

But then the local National Guard took it over, as a 
National Guard base, for another few years. Then they finally 
said they wanted to trim their budget and get rid of it. So 
they turned it back to us. They turned the land back to us, but 
there were the cinderblock buildings, and there was a water 
system with a big water tank on the hill, and there was all the 
roads, and there was a lot of stuff. Of course, a lot of it 
couldn't be removed; it was just there. But they had really put 
a lot of improvements into the land; it must have cost a 
tremendous amount of money, as most government projects do. 
They really go first-class. But basically the buildings, and 
all the plumbing and electrical system and all that, they said, 
"We're going to put that up for salvage bid. Somebody's going 
to come in and strip these places, and then they'll just leave 
the concrete buildings there. But they won't be much good; all 
the useful stuff will be taken out." 

My dad said, *Vait, look." (This was after my grandfather 
died, by this time.) "ttow much do you want for everything in 
place?" They said. "Well, we really wouldn't get that much for 
salvage. It's worth a lot more in place to you." My dad didn't 
have any idea what he'd use it for. but he figured, all of those 
buildings and stuff, the whole layout was perfectly intact. It 
was an operating unit. So they settled on a thousand dollars 
for the whole thing. That cleared the books, a thousand 

Then my dad went shopping around, with this completely 
separate, isolated facility that was way away from everything, 
ideal for research, or something that you don't want neighbors 
close by that are going to complain. He knew Dr. Poulter over 
at Poulter Laboratories, which is an offshoot of Stanford 
Research Institute. I guess, at that time, he still was with 
Stanford Research Institute, doing biosenar research, using 
seals. They had a big grant from the Department of the Navy. 


George P. : Bureau of Ships Undersea Warfare Department. So they leased 
the whole outfit, as it sat. just everything, for $24.000 a 

Lag*: That was a good business deal I 

George P.: It was yest If we had a few mere like that... It was a stroke 
ef luck. Poulter Laboratories or SRI was looking for an 
isolated site. They had one. but it was way far away it was 
too far away. People couldn't go over for the day, do their 
research work, and then come back to Menlo Park or Palo Alto. 
It was just geographically far away. This was ideal. It was 
twenty minutes away. 

They leased it; they set up several operations there, but 
mainly Dr. Boulter's Biesonar Laboratory, where they used seals 
and sea liens to do underwater communications and detection 
experiments. In other words, figuring how seals and ether 
marine mammals communicate under water by using low frequency 
sounds and vibrations, so that they could develop better methods 
for submarine communication. 

They built all these tanks there for their seals, but 
essentially left all the buildings and everything. Then, the 
missile pits of course, the army took the missiles out and they 
took the launchers, so essentially, they were just big pits with 
steel doors, and all the hydraulic equipment that operated 
things, but the actual launchers were gone. These were 
subleased to another division of Stanford Research, I think, 
that was doing experimental work in explosives that separate the 
sections of rockets as they go, as the stage burns out. There's 
an exploding band that separates the two sections of the rocket. 
Also, with bullets, for use in Vietnam, high velocity bullets, 
but they split up into three little darts, rather than one 
projectile. Anyway, that's just an aside. Then they also had a 
program working with the deaf ever there, also to do with the 
biosonar thing, to try to see hew communication with low 
frequency sounds can possibly be used by deaf people. 

Sale of Coyote Hills and Del Valle for Public Parks 

George P. : So that went on for a number of years, very successfully, and my 
dad and I met and became friends with a lot of the scientists 
and people over there. It was quite a good-sized organization. 
That went on all the way right up to when the East Bay Regional 
Park decided they wanted that land as a park. So at that time 
we negotiated with them, and then they purchased the thousand 
acres. Now, because it's obviously for park, they have to 


George P. : purchase it; they have the right to do it, the right of eminent 
domain, se they can take it. It just means coming to an 
agreement a settlement that's agreeable to both sides. 

I don't remember the mechanics of it. but it was a very 
pleasant deal. Because the land really wasn't worth much in 
terms of productivity. It was not an area that you could 
develop; the land was too low, and I'd certainly hate to see 
buildings en the hills there. Se the park bought it, took it 
ever, cleared got rid of everything to do with the missile 
base everything roads, fences, buildings everything except a 
couple of buildings at the headquarters, which is their museum 
and their headquarters there. 

Lage: They're still using those buildings? 

George P. : Yes. Those buildings were part of the missile site buildings. 
But they knocked down, and they filled in the missile pits, so 
you can hike up the hill; there's no vestige at all of anything 
out there. In other words, their idea was to put it back te its 
natural state. They took a lot of the reads, and they 
completely ripped them up and reseeded with grass. 

Lage: Did you get involved at all; were you in touch with your father 

about the negotiations with the park district? 

George P. : Net that much, because I was away at that time. I was overseas 
for a couple of years, travelling. So I really didn't get 
involved in that. But I remember him telling me about it, that 
it worked out very smoothly; as opposed to the Del Valle, the 
state acquisition of the Del Valle area. 

Lage: That wasn't smooth? 

George P. : No. That wasn't smooth at all; it was a couple of years in 
court. The state really wanted to play hardball with that. 
They only wanted to pay us what my great-grandfather had paid 
for the land. It was up to us to preve that, in fact, it was 
worth more than that. So we had all these consultants, and my 
dad worked for a couple of years, finding comparable sales in 
the area, getting gravel quarrying companies te agree to a 
contract of X number of millions of yards of gravel, at a 
certain price per yard, and establish these values. Also, it 
would completely cut our cattle operation in half, so that you'd 
have a thousand acres on this side and the balance en this side, 
and in the middle the full length of the property would be cut 
in half by the reservoir, with no way across. 

Lage: Did you object to having that taken, or just wanted a fair 



George P. : Oh* both. I mean, we objected to having it taken, because it 
upset the cattle operation, which was running very well at the 
time, going full blast. But they were going to take it whether 
we liked it or not. It was the eminent domain thing. 

Eventually, after all this time in court, we came to a 
price that was, I guess, fair at the time. We spent a great 
deal on lawyer fees lawyers and consultants and people to build 
our case, to prove our case but it paid off in the long run. 
We got a fair price, plus covering all the legal costs. But my 
dad spent about two years of his life doing practically nothing 

Donald Patterson's Style; Inspiring Trust in Dealings with 

Lage : Now I'm getting a picture a picture of what your dad had to do! 

George P. : Yes. he did. And it was partly because he was the oldest. 
There were the two daughters on the Henry Patterson side. 
Actually, there was a third daughter, but she was killed in 
1928. But. essentially, two daughters on that side, and then 
there were the three brothers on the ether side. My dad being 
the eldest, I guess he took it en himself, and he had a lot of 
business background. He'd had an industrial career, which he 
was sort of winding down, and while my grandfather was still 
alive but ailing, he really get involved fully in the ranch. 

I think, principally, the main strong point that he had in 
working with the ranch and why he was so successful was because 
of the way he dealt with people, on all levels. He had a very 
good way ef dealing with people: with the tenants on the 
property, with the city, with anybody that he had to deal with. 
It was a very business-like manner, yet it was open and 
friendly. Absolutely above reproach, in terms of integrity and 
honesty, and he was very widely admired for that. Just a nice 
person to do business with. I. of course, spent a lot ef time 
with him. in his dealings with other people. In fact, that was 
his high point. He was better at dealing with outside people 
than he was, say, with us kids in the family. He was trusted, 
people felt comfortable with him. and also he might have 
represented the owners, but yet he was able to deal and 
negotiate with people on any level and make them feel 
comfortable, as though it was a one-to-one, and he wasn't 
talking down to people. Providing it wasn't in some conflict 
with somebody. 


George P. : He always had a really nice manner and way of dealing with 

people which instilled trust. For instance, the Alamedas. He 
was held in very high regard, just his way of dealing. So 
consequently, things ran pretty smoothly with the people that 
were on the ranch. There were the principal people the Alameda 
family, with the L. S. Williams Company, owned by Gene Williams, 
but the Alameda family, the three generations of them, worked 
there. Then the Fudenna brothers, and then there was. of 
course, people like the Chinese flower growers that grew the 
asters, and then the Italians that grew the gladiolus. You 
know, five acres, ten acres at a time. 

Joe Lunghi was the Italian guy that grew the gladiolus. 
Everytime we'd go over there, I'd get armloads of flowers. You 
know, t)h, for the missus, for your mother, for your 
girlfriend!" I'd say, "I'm not married!" "Oh, take it to 
somebody!" Great armloads, jeez, a fortune in flowers. A very 
generous, warm-hearted guy. 

And then, of course, people like Bob Farnsworth, who had a 
little experimental sort of station there, which well. I mean, 
it was commercial, but it he died before he was able to get it 
into a large scale hydroponics. He was growing lettuce, 
several varieties of lettuce, using hydroponic methods. 

There were a lot of other little side projects and people 
that wanted to use a couple acres here and a couple acres there. 
Regardless of how bizarre or how mindless some scheme was, or 
how insignificant I mean, if some guy wanted to borrow a ten- 
foot piece of land to do something, to put a trailer on for a 
month or something my dad would give that person his undivided 
attention and work with the person, just as though it were a big 
major project. 

Lage: That's a nice quality. 

George P.: Yes. People felt that they weren't just being brushed aside or 
that there wasn't any importance here. Because basically, the 
real thing was that he was fascinated with putting together 
things. He liked working with people and with projects, and he 
liked to see things happen. But of course, the more things and 
little projects and people that wanted to do something on the 
ranch, it all had to be balanced and worked out in an agreeable 
way with the people who were already there. If all these little 
people wanted a little bit of land here, little land there 
well, how does that affect the Alamedas? They were first and 
foremost and primarily our whole allegience it was to the 
Alamedas because they were the principal people, and they were 
good family friends. They had been friends for three 
generations. The old man [Tony Alameda] with my grandfather. 


Gerge P.: were contemporaries, and Mel Alameda* was younger, but sort of 

contemporary with my dad, and then there's the boys that are all 
over there now. They're Wil's and my age. They've all stayed 
on the Patterson Ranch, all these years. 

* See interviews with Mel Alameda and Gene Williams in this 



Intergenerational Interest in History and the Society of 
California Pioneers 

[Date of Interview: May 20. 1987] ## 

Lage: There was one thing that I. in looking over the transcript from 

the first interview. I neglected to ask you, just in brief 
outline, where you grew up, where you went to school, things 
like that. 

George P.: Oh. yes. Just a brief on myself. I was born in Palo Alto, and 
then when I was about one year old, moved to a house on Glenwood 
Avenue in Atherten, where I grew up. It's right outside the 
main gates to the old Flood estate, Lindenwood. So that was the 
neighborhood that I grew up in. I went to Ensinal Grammar 
School, and then Menlo-Atherton High School, and then was in the 
Air Force and stf tioned in Hawaii, in Hickam Field and Honolulu, 
and attended the University of Hawaii. Also, when I came back 
here to the Bay Area. Foothill College. My connection with the 
ranch is weekends or several weeks in the summer, and various 
holidays, spending at the ranch. 

Lage: As a young person. 

George P. : As a young person, as a child growing up. 

Lage: Was your connection with the ranch more of a job or a career 

thing, or did you have other jobs? 

George P. : Originally, out of school and out of the Air Force, I was 

involved in electronics. I was an electronics technician in 
several companies in the Silicon Valley area, mostly in Palo 
Alto. I did that for a number of years, and gradually came to 
work more with my father in working with the ranch. Gradually 
learning, sort of as his apprentice, if you will, starting while 


George P. : I was still working for the electronics companies. Then, as it 
became busier and more things to do with the ranch. I phased out 
f the 8-t*-5. Silicon Valley, into working with my dad. with 
the ranch and other commercial properties. This eventually 
turned into pretty much full-time employment, looking after the 
various interests. 

Lage: I see. And what other interests have you pursued? I knew 

you've been involved with the Society of California Pioneers. 
Are there other kinds of things we should mention? You've been 
on the beard of the Pioneer Society? 

George P.: Yes. That was also sort of connected with the ranch, and my 

interest in family history, really, and interest in history in 
general. I have kind of a fascination with old things, 
especially eld buildings. My dad introduced me to the Society 
of California Pioneers. I'd always been a life member; the boys 
in the family were given life membership by my grandfather, as a 
gift, at quite a young age. But I hadn't really been very 
involved with the Pioneer Society; I'd been to a few of their 
annual gatherings. 

But then my father did his two-year period I think it was 
two years as president ef the Society of California Pioneers. 
Of course, my grandfather and my great-grandfather had also been 
very active in the Society ef California Pioneers. In fact, my 
great-grandfather was ene of the very early founding members, as 
I understand. So my dad was very, very active with the 
Pioneers, and of course he did this period of the presidency, 
and then he was very involved with their project their 
ownership and their running ef the Father Serra House, in Spain. 
I believe it's in Majorca. 

Lage: Did the society run that, in Spain? 

George P. : Yes. The Father Serra house, his birthplace and house where he 
grew up. was given to the City of San Francisco, I believe in 
the 1930s just a very small little stone house in a village. 
The city, ef course, didn't really have the facilities to take 
care of it; it wasn't their type of project. So it was turned 
over to the Society of California Pioneers, and it was run by 
them as a museum, and they supported it, and they paid the 
caretaker's wages and any sort cf maintenance that occurred 
since. I think. 1932 and all the way up to about five years ago, 
when it was given back to the Spanish government, and they 
continue to run it as a museum. But they wanted it back, and it 
was costing the society a fair bit of money every year. So we 
turned it over and presented them with a bronze plaque, stating 
that the Pioneer Society was responsible for the restoration and 
management ef it for many years. So it was all very nice; it 
was all a friendly sort of exchange. 


George P. : My father was very active in the last few years of the running 
of the Serra house and was responsible in generating a lot of 
interest in the house. They did several tours over there; the 
Society of California Pioneers would take groups over there. I 
think they went over three or four times, different years. Of 
course, they met with all the officials the mayor, and all that 
sort of thing, and it was quite a deal. That was a little bit 
before I was involved with the Pioneer Society, but it was a 
favorite project of my dad's. I know he was very involved with 
that and enjoyed it very much. My mother went ever with him as 

But anyway, that era passed. Then, I went up to do some 
research in the Patterson papers and the Patterson archives 
there; mainly looking at old ranch records and old photographs, 
to do with the restoration of the house George Washington 
Patterson's house. There's a lot of eld photographs and 
records. In the process of that, I was introduced around t the 
director, and the librarian, various people up there. 

They had these social gatherings, and they still do. called 
conviviums. where it's just kind of a social gathering for all 
the members, and all the people on the board of directors. 
There were a lot of people my age; it was a whole younger group 
that was starting to come into the Pioneer Society. That was 
partly one of my dad's projects, to get younger members involved 
in the Pioneer Society, so it wasn't strictly an old man's 
organization really get some young enthusiasm in it. So that's 
about the time that I became involved with the Pioneer Society, 
and it's been a lot of fun and very interesting. I go to all 
their gatherings, as well as being on the board and going to the 
board meetings, luncheon meetings that they have once a month. 
There are monthly conviviums and the annual celebration 
commemorating the discovery f gold; they have various other 
special events, an opera supper, and things like that quite a 
nice social side of the organization. 

Then I was appointed, or selected, for a county vice- 
president, of which they have one for each county in the state, 
and then from there I moved up to vice-president, and now I'm a 
full director. So it's very interesting, and a lot of really 
interesting people 

Lage: Are these positions elected or appointed? 

George P.: Kind f a combination. They are suggested you're put up for 
the position, and then you're voted in on a ballot. But it's 
pretty much always whatever the nominating committee recommends 
is approved. It's not really a contest; it's just that if they 
think you're ready, you're involved enough in the society to 
fill that position. And then, of course, they have various 


George P. : committees, and I know my father was on a number of committees, 
the Father Serra house being his major one. But there was all 
sorts of other committees. 

Working with Donald Overseeing the Ranch 

Lage : Let's talk a little bit about your work with your father as he 

managed the ranch. We get seme of that last time, but sort of 
stepped in the middle. 

George P. : Oh. yes. 

Lage: He was heavily involved in managing the ranch, and yet he did 

travel a lot. Did you fill in for him when he was travelling, 
or did things sort of run on their own? 

George P. : Well, they could run on their own, day-to-day, if there was no 
crisis or no problem. 

Lage: What kind ef crisis would there be? 

George P. : Well. I suppose first and foremost with the ranch, of course, in 
the summer, would be making sure there was an adequate supply of 
irrigation water to all the fields. Now. this is en the lower 
ranch, the agricultural ranch, net the cattle ranch behind 
Livermore; that's different. But mainly, it would be the water. 
There were somewhere between twelve and fourteen deep water 
wells, which had big electric pumps which pumped somewhere 
around five, six hundred gallons a minute of irrigation water 
from the underground gravels. Those are all interconnected 
through a network of pipelines and valves, which is quite 
complicated. There's a chart that pretty much shews where 
everything goes, but there's always little surprises and 
pipelines that nobody knew about or a valve that was hidden 
somewhere. The water can be shifted around from one field to 
another and mixed fer instance, some of the wells down in the 
bay have a higher salt, or saline mix in the water, which is 
not very geed for agriculture. The plants will die if the 
saline content gets too high. 

So lots ef times they mix the water to bring it up to an 
acceptable level ef purity, by mixing water from a high-quality 
well with one ef lesser quality, and the mix averages out and is 
acceptable water. 

Lage: Were these devices that your grandfather and Uncle Henry 

developed, do you think? 


George P. : Well, the water system was always interrelated, because lots of 
times a pump would fail the motor would burn out or the well 
casing would collapse, or the bowls had to be raised or be 
adjusted from damage from gravel or whatever. The system was 
always designed so that the water could be shifted around and 
supply a certain area or certain fields from several different 
wells, because there were always things that came up. They had 
to have an adequate water supply because in the hot summer they 
had to have irrigation. 

Lage: You had tenants actually in charge of the farming on their own. 

but you had to be sure they had the water. 

George P. : Yes. They knew the irrigation obviously, they were the ones 

that were using it they knew the irrigation system quite well, 
and knew hew to operate it. But I'd work with them, especially 
when it came time for repairs or seme sort of emergency work, to 
make sure that we got the repair crews eut there, the pump 
company to take care of the problem. This was. I think, one of 
the important things about the position ef being en the ranch a 
good deal of the time and working closely with the growers, 
which, by this time, were mostly the Alameda family. Gene 
Williams, and the Fudenna brothers, who later phased eut. and it 
was entirely the Alamedas. 

And then there was the flower growers, both the Chinese 
growing asters, and the Italian flower growers growing 
gladiolus, for market. They would have anywhere from five to 
fifteen acres of flowers for which they needed their own 
separate water supply, and they had te have certain land, 
certain conditions. Some ef them had to be rotated every year. 
They could only plant them one year at a time. So that was just 
a little side business; it was a minor part ef the agricultural 
operation, but it was very interesting. Of course, every time 
we went over, we get armloads of fresh flowers te take home. 
That was great. The house was always full of flowers. 

Water, I'd say. was probably the most important thing. But 
there were other things. There were culverts to be maintained, 
and reads and fences. Of course, at this point, all the 
equipment was owned by the Alamedas er the Fudennas most ef the 
equipment. We still had some of it. The buildings were ours, 
se we were responsible for seeing that they were maintained. 
But more and more, as time went along, more ef the 
responsibility was taken over directly by the growers, whereas 
now, they pretty much completely run their own operation. The 
family is less involved, on a day-to-day level. 


Donald's Goals; Gradual Liquidation, Productive Farming 

Lage: Did your father, as you were working with him. express seme 

idea ef what he thought the direction of the ranch would be. or 
what he wanted it to be? 

George P. : Oh. yes. For quite a while back, dating back to. I suppose, the 
mid-fifties, he had worked with Jack Brooks, who is a major old- 
time developer in the area, en future plans for the ranch. He 
could see that agriculture was gradually going to be phased out. 
He had always planned for an orderly liquidation of the farm 
lands, ever a long period of time, as the land was needed either 
for industrial, commercial, or residential use. Being the outer 
fringe of Fremont, what they call the Northern Plain, it was 
kind of on the edge, and it bordered the bay. ef course, and 
that's the reason the county took the park here, the Coyote 
Hills, for the Coyote Hills Regional Park, which is a thousand 
acres of the Coyote Hills and the fresh-water marsh lands in 
front ef the hills. It was the old duck ponds, and duck-hunting 
area, and new it's a wonderful wildlife sanctuary, especially 
for birds, marine birds. It's quite a nice, protected, 
sheltered area, for ducks, etc. 

But besides that park, planning for the development started 
quite a ways back. As far as I'm aware. I'd say it was the mid- 
fifties, really. But it was a really low-key sort of thing, and 
it gradually became more and more active, as the city ef Fremont 
grew and needed the land. Also at the same time. Dad was 
pursuing new ideas in agriculture. In other words, it wasn't 
like, say, '*0kay. agriculture's on the way out. let's kind of put 
it en lew priority." A lot ef emphasis was put on making the 
farming operation in fact, I'd say that was my father's main 
interest, doing everything he could, and ef course working with 
the Alamedas and the Williams, to make the farming operation 
more efficient, more productive per acre. We were farming fewer 
acres, and costs were increasing costs of water, costs ef all 
the services that go with it. So te make it competitive and 
make it worthwhile te continue farming, they had te try out new 
advanced methods and new advanced equipment. Of course, the 
Alamedas are very innovative that way. adapting conditions and 
equipment to fit exactly that type of land, the conditions and 
the crops that they were growing. 

The Farnsworth Hydreponic Operation 

George P.: One of the most interesting sidelights on that was this guy 
named Bob Farnsworth, who was a real devotee of the future 
potential of hydroponics in agriculture. He came from an 


George P. : engineering background; he wasn't a farmer, but he had this idea 
that you could have very high productivity all year round. His 
specialty was lettuce, various types of lettuce. But it could 
be used for other things tomatoes, melons, whatever. 

He and my dad worked together, and I worked with him quite 
a bit. I worked one summer with Bob Farnsworth off and on, a 
week here, a week there. As I say, my dad really took this 
project to heart and helped Farnsworth a great deal with it. 
What we did, essentially, was lease him an area of land that we 
really weren't using for anything; it was around the old feedlot 
barns. It was a couple of acres of waste ground. It didn't 
matter, because it was hydroponics, and his lettuce would be 
growing floating on styrofeam rafts in shallow tanks of water 
and nutrient solution. He was very, very innovative, and he was 
really a mechanical engineer, of very high caliber. 

The farming aspect of it was something he'd learned much 
later. He applied the combination of his mechanical knowledge, 
because it was a very mechanized operation, with the 
agricultural to grow a high-intensity crop that had a high 
market value. It was specialty lettuces for finer restaurants 
in San Francisco. It worked out very well, and he expanded and 
had a series of six greenhouses all together, and it was all 
heated and ventilated. He did it all himself; he built the 
whole thing himself; it was a one-man operation. He had his son 
help him and a couple of workers to help him, but he was down 
there ten, twelve hours a day. seven days a week* working en 
this and perfecting it. and every day he was trying seme new 
ideas. And with beautiful results; the produce that he grew was 
beautifully uniform, and as I say. it was equally as good in 
summer or winter. 

Lage: How long did he do this operation? 

George P.: Let's see. He was doing this altogether for about five years. 

Lage: In the seventies? 

George P. : Yes, late seventies. I'm trying to recall the exact years, but 
it would be late seventies, early eighties. I'm trying to think 
when he died. The operation came to a sudden end. 
unfortunately. Wonderful guy. he lived up in Piedmont, so he'd 
drive down every day. The thing is. he was a heavy smoker. His 
one vice, I guess. He really smoked a lot of cigarettes, and he 
started looking not so well there toward the end, and he went in 
for a medical check-up, and he had major lung cancer. He 
rapidly went downhill from there, and it seems to me, looking 
back, in a matter of a few months he died. Yet. he was so 
devoted to this hydroponics that right up to the end, and it 
seems to me the last couple of months, he would come down every 


George P. : day and put in ae much work as he could. It was difficult for 
him; he was obviously suffering and at the end of his life. He 
knew it was terminal. But he really was dedicated to it. and he 
tried to get people interested, like his sen. for instance, to 
carry this on. But he was unable to find anybody to take it on. 

Lage: Did you have a sense that it was financially viable? 

George P. : Well, it was with him. because he was donating all of his time, 
essentially. If he worked all the numbers out. and he paid 
himself a salary, I don't know how it would work out. But I 
knew he made money because he just was so dedicated. But as a 
going business, selling it to somebody and having a profitable 
business. I don't know whether it was a large enough scale at 
that point. His idea, of course, was to expand it and make it 
quite a large operation to supply, say. all of the metropolitan 
area. All of Oakland and San Francisco. 

It was unfortunate that his sen didn't follow on and take 
an interest. Rather than tear down the greenhouses and 
everything after he died, the son came to an agreement with the 
Alamedas. and they took ever the operation. But they didn't use 
it as a hydroponic operation. They just used it as greenhouses, 
and they still do. They tried for one year, they tried growing 
mushrooms, which worked quite well, but it was too labor 
intensive, and it was sidetracking their main operation of 
lettuce and cauliflower. So new. they use it just as a 
greenhouse for starting their little seedlings, for the 

But the hydroponics was very interesting, and my dad spent 
a let of time ever there with Farnsworth. discussing it. I know 
my dad, especially when he went to England there's a lot of 
hydroponic farming dene in England he went and talked with and 
interviewed a lot of these hydroponic operations, and they, of 
course, all had slightly different variations of it. Dad brought 
all these ideas back and discussed them with Bob Farnsworth. 

So. it was a real interesting thing for my dad. and for 
myself, to watch this. But. as I say, at least as far as we're 
concerned, that's where it ended. Other people are doing it 
successfully, but it was not something that the Alamedas wanted 
te get into. It was a whole other field, and a whole other 


Family Contribution to Preserving the G. W. Patterson Home 

Lage: New. what about your dad's relationship to his cousins, and 

brother, as he ran the ranch? Did he consult with them, or did 
you have a sense of that? 

George P.: Well, he did, yes. of course, on all major matters, anything to 
do with real estate selling land or right-of-ways, or 
permission for somebody to do something en the ranch anything 
that affected the other owners of the property. On a day-to-day 
level, operational level, there wasn't a lot of interaction, 
because I think other people in the family had their own 
activities that they were involved in, and it was running 
smoothly, and they were certainly there to lend a hand. But it 
really was a one-person operation, at least while my dad was 
alive and active. At the same time that I was sort of helping 
with the field operations 

Lage: Just let me get the dates on that. I don't think we ever had a 

clear idea. Do you remember when you started working on sort of 
a regular basis with your dad? 

George P. : I couldn't I'd have to look it up. I couldn't tell you exactly 
the year, because it kind of phased in. It wasn't like all of a 
sudden I stopped working in electronics. It was kind of a 
gradual thing, that I phased into it. 

Lage: Mid-seventies? 

George P. : Yes. I would say it was in the mid-seventies. 

Lage: We don't need an exact date. 

George P. : Yes, early or mid-seventies, because I went off en a trip for a 
while, a long extended trip overseas two extended trips. When 
I came back from. I guess, the second one of those, I went back 
to work in electronics, but I also started working more and mere 
with my dad. And, also. I became interested in the historical 
side of it and wanted to find out more of the family background 
and history just what went on on the ranch, back before my 
time. You know, details, and where various buildings were, and 
just what it was like in the old days. 

Lage: Was your dad interested in preserving the family house? 

George P. : The house that he grew up in was destroyed, the William Donald 
Patterson house, because in the will it was stated that if 
nobody in the immediate family wanted to use it, it was to be 
destroyed, and that was carried out. Looking back, it's 
unfortunate that it was. because now it would have made a 


George P. : wonderful addition te the Ardenwood Park. They have the 

original old house, but at that time, the family. I guess, just 
didn't see the other house as being a historic resource. It 
wasn't that old it was 1904, which certainly, in my opinion, is 
old enough, but it depends on what generation you are. So they 
didn't think of it as being that historically significant. 

But now, it really would have been wonderful to save it, to 
have had a caretaker to look after it. but at that time they 
didn't know that it was going to be eventually a public park, 
and that sort of thing. It was still just the ranch, and it was 
a house they didn't have a use for. and if they didn't have it 
taken care of. and caretakers living there, it would have been 
vandalized and wrecked anyway. They kind of wanted to remember 
it. and have people remember it. as it was in its heyday. 

So, as far as the W. D. Patterson house was concerned, no. 
there was no interest in keeping that, and the other house, [the 
George Washington Patterson house] of course, was still being 
lived in by Marj orie Patterson. She lived there for many, many 
years, until she finally moved to Palm Desert. I can't remember 
the year exactly. But, at that time, a caretaker was found te 
live in the house and at least take care of it. I think he was 
a Fremont police detective. He and his family lived there for a 
few years and looked after it and kept the place intact. Of 
course, it had all the furniture with the house; everything was 
in the house, so it was all original, or at least quite 
original, with a lot of the original Victorian furniture, 
especially in the principal rooms, the parlor and the principal 

I think people really started having an awareness of 
keeping the house and preserving it as a historical resource 
about the mid-seventies, when that part of the ranch was 
included in a land deal with Singer Housing, originally. 


George P. : It was kind of a roundabout sort of thing, that part of the deal 
was. To get permission from the city of Fremont to develop the 
surrounding lands for residential, the developer or the family 
or the combination thereof, donated park land to the city of 
Fremont, which included the eld house and the site of my 
grandfather's house, the one that was burned down. And the 
eucalyptus groves surrounding the two houses, and all the barns 
nd outbuildings the whole original old farm area. This was 
the least desirable for farming because it was heavily wooded, 
with the eucalyptus forests, and it. of course, had the old 
house there. 


George P. : So that was donated, or given to the city of Fremont by the 

Lage : Did your father express an opinion about that? 

George P. : He thought no. he was in favor of it. I mean. well, it was 

just part of the deal. At that time. Fremont didn't really knew 
what to do with it. It was a growing community, and they really 
hadn't this area was a thing that they knew they wanted for a 
park, but they weren't really ready to develop it. So. they 
said, well, we'll take it and just have a caretaker and net do 
anything with it until such a time as we have the funds and the 
public interest to develop this into a park. Se it kind of sat 
in limbe for a number of years, with a caretaker living in it. 
and nothing the land was being farmed, but the park wasn't 
being developed at all. It was kind of just in a holding 

The house obviously needed some immediate attention, mainly 
exterior restoration. It needed a new reef, painting. A lot of 
the woodwork, the Victorian scroll work and railings and 
banisters and rain gutters, were beginning to rot away and 
needed restoration. There were seme trees growing up close 
alongside the house, which was causing damage to the foundation 
and to the porch. 

The city did net have the money. Dr. [Robert] Fisher, with 
his Mission Peak Heritage Foundation, was very active has been 
for years in trying to preserve the house, trying to get the 
city to allot funds to restore the house, or at least prevent 
further damage. So. the city just didn't have the money. I got 
together with seme ef the ether family members and the city and 
Dr. Fisher, and Jack Brooks, and I went around to everybody. We 
first get an estimate through a company that Jack Brooks had 
some involvement in. and their specialty was building Victorian 
houses, reproduction ef Victorian houses, or restoring Victorian 
houses. So they had the expertise with the carpentry work, and 
all that. 

Se. first I got an estimate and met with the people on what 
it would cost. Now. this was just for exterior work; it really 
didn't include foundation work or any of the interior, which was 
still in quite nice, original shape. There were a few leaks in 
the reef, and there was some damage to the plaster and the 
woodwork inside, but still fairly minor. But it obviously 
needed immediate attention. 

When they came up with an estimate, a bid for the job, and 
I contacted everyone in the family what I did was, based on 
their ownership share of the ranch, approximately, we would 
divide the cost of this restoration based on their share. I 


George P. : called everybody and met with people, and. essentially, presented 
them the whole plan, and what it would accomplish. Essentially. 
it would preserve the building, until such a time as they could 
really get into a full restoration, as part the park. 

So. I went around and got a commitment from everybody for 
their share. As I say. most people in the family, as well as 
Jack Brooks and the city of Fremont, all contributed their 

Lage : Was the family very receptive? 

George P. : There were certain members that had their own life elsewhere and 
were not interested. Frankly, they just didn't care one way or 
another whether the house I mean, they essentially said. well, 
why doesn't it go the way of the other house, of the William 
Patterson house? Why don't you just burn it down and forget 
about it? 

Well, at this point, the family didn't own it. for a start. 
It belonged to the city of Fremont. They had a long-term plan 
to restore it and use it as a centerpiece for this Ardenwood 
Regional Park. Which they've dene, and they've done a very nice 
job. But at that time, there really wasn't much interest in the 
house, outside of a few people and Dr. Fisher. 

Lage: Do you think the people that were most interested were the ones 

who had had childhood connections? 

George P. : Net necessarily; no, not necessarily. It was people that were 
interested in history and old buildings, more than anything. 
You can't really make a general statement because it was partly 
what each person was doing with their life at that time. I 
mean, some people lived out of the area; they really didn't have 
very much connection with the ranch any more. And in some 
cases, that's now completely changed, and those people have 
developed quite an interest in the family. It's really gone 
full cycle. Because that was kind of the low point of the 
family involvement with the ranch. I guess. 

Actually, this was after my dad's death. So he really 
wasn't a party to this 

Lage: So it was about 1980? 

George P. : Yes. So anyway, we collected the money, and the house was all 
completely scaffolded, which was a major, major project. I 
think that was the city of Fremont's contribution. Oh. they 
worked there, it seems to me. for a couple of months, and 
completely re-roofed it. painted it. replaced all the woodwork 
that needed replacing, took out the trees that were damaging the 


George P. : house. When they were finished, it was almost tee bright. The 
trees had been stripped away, and it was sitting there, just 
this gleaming white and on a bright day it was almost too 
bright to look at. It was just all white; there was no 
contrasting color. 

Ardenwoed as a Living History Muse UP 

George P. : Anyway, that really got the ball rolling, and then the city 

after this realized, wow. with this investment, and it really is 
a fine place, a centerpiece to the park, and more and more 
interest started developing in the park, and there were 
organizations that got involved in donating time and money. 
Now, of course, it's really come into it's own. The city of 
Fremont leased the park, which is a total of 205 acres, to the 
East Bay Regional Park District, for I think twenty-five years. 
They run the park, and the city of Fremont and the East Bay 
Regional Park District run and administer the house. 

Dr. Fisher has been very active in the restoration of the 
house and donated a tremendous amount of time and expertise in 
restoring it. A lot of items that had been removed from the 
house through the years have been returned. Seme nice 
paintings, some furnishings, and just mainly a let of interest 
and a lot of energy. Then, the city came in later and has spent 
a lot of money on various things insulating the house, 
fumigating it for termites, doing a lot of foundation work, 
putting in a very involved alarm system, fire protection system, 
as well as the park, doing the grounds: the gardens, the 
fountains were fixed up, the pool, all the buildings, the 
outbuildings, the barns. The ones that were salvageable have 
been restored; the ones that were too far gone were tern down. 

New, it's pretty much a working farm in the 1880s, 1890s. 
During the summer, they have all the farming being dene by 
horse-drawn equipment, as it would be in the Victorian period. 
All the workers and the docents they have quite a group of 
volunteer docents for the house, and they're all in costume for 
that period. Of course, they have quite a story about the house 
and the Patterson family that the docents will recite. 

Lage: How do you feel about that? 

George P. : Well, it's interesting. I go and listen sometimes. I always 
learn something. There's always bits and pieces, facts that I 
didn't know, and sometimes it gets a little bit embellished to 
make the story mere interesting. People are always interested 


George P. : in the little odd sort ef things, especially scandal or anything 
like that makes it more interesting. Or ghosts, you know, the 

But on the whole, it's done very well, and the restoration 
of the interior, especially, is ongoing. It looks very well, 
they've dene a lot of work, but it's one ef those things that's 
probably never ending. It's an ongoing project, and pretty much 
has been under the guidance ef Dr. Fisher. I've helped out 
pretty much consistently through the years, mainly with just 
ideas and advice, and information about the house that I've 
learned either from talking to people, the family and my father, 
and information that I've gotten researching the records ef the 
Pioneer Society. 

Lage: You're en the house advisory board, isn't that right? 

George P. : Yes. the Patterson House Advisory Board. It's a committee or a 
beard that is answerable to the city of Fremont. Just en ideas, 
and what they think should be dene with the house, hew it should 
be run. how the house should be shown you knew, the uses ef the 
house. They want to keep it a very limited use; they take 
limited groups through, and they're all guided with a decent. 
It's net a free-run sort of place, because it's very much ef a. 
what you would say. living museum. Things aren't roped off. 
Rooms aren't cordoned off; you pretty much can go through the 
house, at least the part that's en show, to give the feeling of 
being a house where the Pattersons lived, in the 1880s. And net 
be a static museum. 

Part of the house, the newer part, has been converted into 
quarters for the caretaker for the house. So they live there at 
the back of the house, and the kitchen is being restored as an 
old farm kitchen, and all the principal rooms, of course, are 
open to show. It's very nicely presented. But you can't say 
there will be a certain date when it will be finished, because 
there's always improvements or other pieces of furniture that 
they're coming up with, or they're changing the light fixtures 
to make it mere authentic. It's interesting; they picked the 
period ef the principal Queen Anne-Victorian addition, which was 
built about 1880. or something. The part of the house that's en 
shew is ef that period. 

That meant undoing some things that had been dene later, 
for instance the front rooms had electricity put in. They had 
these old electric chandeliers from around the turn of the 
century, which were very interesting and very beautiful in 
themselves, but they weren't the original kerosene lamps. 
Originally, they had kerosene, and then it went to electric. 
So. the electric ones were taken out. and they put in 
reproduction kerosense lamps, which are fine in a way. It's 


George P. : brought it back to how it would have looked in the 1880s. but 

there's another way of looking at preservation or restoration of 
a museum house. The other idea is to leave these transitions in 
place, to show. yes. it's Victorian, but this was added this 
was changed at such-and-such a time, and you see the whole 
progression of the history of the family living there. Then the 
newer parts of the house that were added, say 1900. 1910. that 
also is part of this progression. 

Lage: Now. would that decision have been made by the East Bay Regional 

Parks or your house advisory beard or ? 

George P. : Mostly by the house advisory beard, and the city, and Dr. 

Fisher. Dr. Fisher is one of the people involved in the board, 
as well as being or. he was the head of the Mission Peak 
Heritage Foundation. But it seemed to be the general consensus 
that the Queen Anne-Victorian part of the house would be the 
part that's really on show. The really early part was built. 
I'd say, in 1854 nobody knows exactly, but that's a rough 
estimate. Then the 1910 kitchen wing was built out back. 

Lage: Dr. Fisher told me that the house advisory board became kind of 

a political football for a while. 

George P. : Well, it did because in Fremont, there's. I guess, a lot of 
that, a lot of politicals. I'm not involved in that at all 
because, first of all, I don't live in Fremont; I live in Palo 
Alto. I was also a family member, a non-voting family member. 
There was a lot of politics. There were two historical 
organizations, the Mission Peak Heritage Foundation, founded and 
headed by Dr. Fisher, and then there's the Washington Township 
Historical Society, which is the original historical society in 
the Fremont area. They don't get along at all. There's quite a 
quarrel, and I think it's principally Dr. Fisher being in a 
disagreement with the people of the group that run the 
Washington Township group. 

So. he split off from that and formed this other group, the 
Mission Peak Heritage Foundation. So these two groups have 
always been at odds, and I think that's been resolved now. but 
it was that. Then there was the political side of it, and Dr. 
Fisher always felt that the city of Fremont was not really that 
interested in preserving the house, and that it was just used as 
a political thing. Now, as I say, I wasn't involved in all that, 
that's not my interest. I was mainly interested in seeing that 
the house was authentically restored and done in a sensitive, 
authentic way. and net made a commercial venture. 

Lage: Are you happy overall with the way the park is developing? 


George P. : Yes. I'd say so. My only reservation IE that I am sort of 

biased, because I knew I grew up with a close association with 
it. I knew it as a private house, a private estate, a private 
ranch, and pretty much a family thing, and it was a lot more 
oh. what should we say? informal, less structured. I mean, it 
was just there; it was a funny old house, and it was full of all 
this old stuff. 

Now it's a park, and it is run by the rule book. It's run 
as a government agency, and as a park, by necessity. I mean, it 
has to be open and accessible to large groups of people, it has 
to be all visible for interpretation, and it's a showpiece. So 
the feeling and the character of the place in that sense has 
changed. But it's of necessity. It has to be. I think they've 
done a good job, and I think it's turned out very well, the way 
they've dene it. 

Ranch Management After Donald's Death 

Lage : The one thing we didn't get to was the changes in management of 

the ranch after your father died. I wanted you to comment on that 
sort of interim period. You father had pretty much run the show 

George P. : Okay. Well, then I continued and became more actively involved. 
My brother Wil became quite actively involved. My Uncle David, 
my dad's youngest brother, who had always been on the fringes, 
on the sidelines, and very much involved but in a lesser way 
than my dad. he became very involved. On the other side of the 
family, en the Adams side. Sally and Marjerie Patterson well. 
Sally and her husband. Dr. John Adams, became very involved with 
the ranch property, and they more or less looked after the 
interests ef Marjerie Patterson as well because she was living 
out of the area and not really involved in the ranch. She 
hadn't been for quite a few years. She had been the most 
involved years ago. but she had completely withdrawn from the 
ranch. So her interests were looked after by Sally and John. 
They became very involved, and also Bob Buck [David Patterson's 
son-in-law] became very involved, especially with the legal 
with the founding of the corporation. Abby and Leon Campbell 
became very active.* Several ether people became quite active. 
So what really happened, it went from my father really running 
the whole show, and myself helping him. to a much broader family 
involvement, a much broader management, involving the two 
principal sides of the family and a larger group ef people, 
members ef the family. 

* See interviews with these family members in this series. 


Lage: And did you continue with seme ef the field operations? 

George P. : Yes. I did. For a while there, for a few years. I was still 
quite involved, especially from the time my dad died up until 
fairly recently. But as I say. in the last few years, the 
corporation has been set up. everything runs very smoothly. My 
interest now and my involvement is principally with the historic 
side of it, the house with the Patterson House Advisory Board, 
the East Bay Regional Park District, city of Fremont, the people 
who are running the park. I meet with them and see them fairly 
often and talk about details of restoration of the house and the 
farm and the grounds. Just little bits and details that I have 
learned about or remembered or found at the Pioneer Society. 
Also, talking to people that have grown up in the area. I know 
the park has done this too. and they've interviewed a lot ef 
old-time people. For instance. Joe Perry, who is an old-time 
farmer in the area, is now doing the farming for the Ardenwood 
Regional Preserve. So I kind of just keep in touch with these 
people, and meet with them on an informal level, and discuss 
restoration and the various little details ef the house kind ef 
as a liaison between the Patterson family and the park people, 
but all on a very informal basis. 

The Family Corporation 

Lage: Hew do you feel about the direction that the property management 

corporation has taken? Are you satisfied? 

George P. : In terms ef the development and all that? Well, yes, I would 

say so, on the whole, because it really was the outgrowth of the 
master plan for that whole area, for the Northern Plain, which 
meant that the city ef Fremont and the planning commission, all 
these people were heavily involved. Jack Brooks representing 
the developers and the family they all came together and hashed 
this out. While the corporation was being formed er put 
together in a formal manner, these plans were being worked out: 
just what area will be residential, what area is industrial, 
what area is going to be the town center, shopping center. All 
this was planned over a period of several years, and everybody 
approved it. and essentially what's happening now is it's being 
put together. The plan is being followed, being carried out. 

Lage: Do you feel that your point f view r your interests are 

represented en the beard? How are they represented, with 
yourself not being a member ef the board? 

George P. : Oh, you mean with the family corporation? 


Lage: Right. 

George P.: Well. I and my brothers and sisters meet with brother Wil. who 
is on the board, and discuss all the goings-on of the ranch and 
how it's being run and managed, and the property. Mainly, a let 
of the discussion involves the reinvestment of funds that are 
generated as this development is moving forward. Each time they 
take a block of land for development, this has all been 
preplanned out so we know pretty much exactly for how much and 
when each block will be sold, and the monies that are generated 
from that then are re-invested in other real estate. Either as 
a trade into other properties, and some of them on the Ardenweod 
Development, some of the residential part, we just trade right 
back into residential units that are built on the land that we 
sold. So it's kind of putting the money back into the property. 
That's really mainly what it involves now. is the placement, the 
reinvestment of the money. 

Lage: So the beard members, like Wil. sort of represent your branch of 

the family? 

George P. : Yes. As far as the business end of things, yes. I think, to 

sum it up. for years one of the main or most important things my 
dad did in running the ranch was to keep a day-to-day ongoing 
connection between the Patterson family and the various tenants 
on the land, principally the Williams and the Alamedas. and up 
at the cattle ranch with the Bankes. Just keep a family 
presence there, as opposed to being absentee landlords that 
just, you knew, "Send the check somewhere and take care of your 
own problems." We wanted to keep a very close family 
involvement in what was going on, even though we weren't 
actually doing the farming, or the ranching. But just keep en a 
really close basis with the operation, close contact with the 

Lage: How did you find working with the Alamedas? You had some 

dealings with them. 

George P. : They're wonderful people to deal with. yes. The Alamedas are 
wonderful. There's Mel, the father these are the people that 
I've dealt with mainly. There was his father. Tony, which would 
be the grandfather, and I remember him. but I've never really 
dealt with him. But there was Mel Alameda. and then the boys 
that worked on the ranch, principally Steve Alameda. and the 
other boys. I worked with them for quite a long time, working 
with my dad. and then that whole period afterwards, during the 
restructuring of the ranch, and really that period where all the 
development really started to take off. We were trying to 
balance the farming needs of the Alamedas with the demands of 
the development, which really cut up the ranch, cut up the 
roads, the irrigation systems, all that. That all had to be 


George P. : worked around and adjusted to because the farming had to go on. 
the irrigation had to go en. but at the same time, they were 
cutting trenches and ditches, and they were cutting through 
pipelines, and they were doing all this stuff and wells were 
being taken out of service, so water had to be routed from other 

So it was an awful let of shuffling around and day-to-day 
sort of emergency situations, if you will. That's all been 
resolved now. Everything's in place, pretty much, except on a 
small scale. So it's pretty much settled in. There are some 
other areas that will go into development, but the farming area 
has pretty much been delineated out on a permanent basis, at 
least for the forseeable future. There will be certain lands 
that will remain farming, and it's already planned out. We knew 
what is going to be built on the remaining lands, and somewhat 
of a time frame. As I say, all the pieces are in place, and it 
seems to be running pretty smoothly. 

[End of Interview] 

Transcribed and Final Typed by Shannon Page 


TAPE GUIDE George Patterson 

Interview 1: April 1. 1987 282 

tape 1. side A 282 

tape 1. side B 292 

tape 2. side A 301 

tape 2. side B 311 

Interview 2: May 20. 1987 318 

tape 3, side A 318 

tape 3, side B 327 


Regional Oral History Office 
The Bancroft Library 

University of California 
Berkeley, California 


Bruce Patterson 

Youth on the Patterson Ranch. 

An Interview Conducted by 
Ann Lage 
in 1987 

Copyright Q 1988 by the Regents of the University of California 


and Oz 
on ranch in Horton, Oregon, 1986 

TABLE OF CONTENTS Bruce Patterson 



Running the Ranch as an Economic Unit for Three Generations 342 

Three Brothers: Donald, Jack, and David 343 

Aunt Sarah, a Forceful Woman 345 

Pressures to Develop From Within and Without 346 

Jack Patterson Wild Youth. Paratrooper. Rancher 348 

Aunt Marj orie 350 


Nora, the Cook 352 

Recalling Grandfather Will 353 

Secrets of the W. D. Patterson House 355 

Burning the House, Selling the Land 356 

Roses. Miniature Golf, Deer Park on the Grounds 358 

The Ranch Operation and the Tenant Farmers 359 

Grandmother May Bird and Other Family Memories 363 

Crops and Employees 366 

Humorous Recollections of Grandparents 367 


Becoming a Cattle Rancher 369 

Management of Patterson Properties in the Eighties 371 

Wife. Alene Patterson 374 

Preserving the Past at Ardenwood Park 375 



Bruce Patterson is the only interviewee from the younger generation of 
Pattersons who actually has lived on the ranch. From 1957 through 1962 his 
father. Jack Patterson, lived with his family in the William D. Patterson 
home. This was the period after Jack's uncle, Henry, had died and his 
father. William, was in failing health. (William died in 1961.) 

The experiences on the ranch in his teen years made a lasting 
impression on Bruce Patterson; with his share of the income from sales of 
Patterson ranch properties he purchased a cattle ranch in Oregon and lived 
and worked on the ranch with his wife and two children. At the time of this 
interview, he was the only Patterson family interviewee still active in a 
farm ing/ ranch ing enterprise. 

Bruce's interview is valuable for the information it provides about his 
father, Jack, and his perspective on how the course of the ranch's 
development was influenced by the relationship between the three sons of 
William Patterson. He also gives an engaging portrait of his aunt Marjorie, 
some humorous reminiscences of his grandparents, and vivid recollections of 
the ranch on the eve of its capitulation to the forces of change and 
development in southern Alameda County stories of capturing the escaped 
pigs as a visiting mayor looked on; of the cook, Nora, and her kindnesses to 
vagrants; and of the ranch's rich bounty, when he could set out in the 
morning and "eat my way all the way across the ranch." 

Bruce Patterson was interviewed on April 10, 1987, at a picnic table on 
the grounds of the Ardenwood Regional Preserve. He was in town for a 
meeting of the Patterson family corporation board of directors and had just 
returned from a visit to the family's cattle ranch in Livermore. The 
morning of the interview he had walked around the site of the William D. 
Patterson home at Ardenwood, reviving old memories. The tapes of the 
interview, complete with sounds of school children visiting the park, are in 
The Bancroft Library. 

Ann Lage 

Project Director 

September, 1988 

Regional Oral History Office 

The Bancroft Library 

University of California at Berkeley 

Regional Oral History Office 
Room 486 The Bancroft Library 

University of California 
Berkeley, California 94720 



(Please write clearly. Use black ink.) 

Your full name 13>nu 

Date of birth N/ovJ- 7-H . 


Father's full name Jott*J 


Birthplace h<JMOM'f ) 

Mother's full name sjoq/o f Gcf^ 

, CcJlJ 



Your spouse 

Your children /C<l/S V*ntle 

Where did you grow up? 
Present community 

K**ck S.P. 


Occupation (s) 

Areas of expertise CATTLE 


Other interests or activities 

Organizations in which you are active SOCK-/-Y 



Running the Ranch as an Economic Unit for Three Generations 
[Date of Interview: April 10. 1987] #tf 

[Discussion about historical document by George Washington 
Patterson in The Bancroft Library, included in this volume.] 

Bruce P. : I've only heard it, you know, through my grandfather, but George 
Washington Patterson was really the guy who put it all together; 
later, my grandfather Will and Henry were essentially the main 
managers. Henry was really a financial wizard, and Will would g 
out and make things happen; he would get the job done, and Henry 
would say, "This is the way it's got to be done." So there was 
the enforcer and management there. The relationship between 
them was equally as almost combative, you know, they always had 
something going; there was always a lot of tension. 

Lage: I want to know what you saw between the two of them. 

Bruce P. : Okay. Henry died in the fifties, and my recollections of him are 
very, very vague, but I lived with my grandfather, so 
recollections of him are very, very vivid. 

Lage: Give me the years when you were living with him. 

Bruce P. : I was living here with him from 1957 to almost 1963. So I was 
here on the ranch for six years. 

Lage: And you were how old? 

Bruce P. : Let's see, I was between the ages of ten and I guess it would be 
almost sixteen, fifteen. 

## This symbol indicates that a tape or segment of a tape has 
begun or ended. For a guide to the tapes, see page 377. 


Lage: Did you go around the ranch with your grandfather? 

Bruce P. : Oh. yes. sure, he shoved me where all the irrigation lines lay on 
this whole ranch. It was crazy, because all through my family, 
there had always been a desire to run this ranch as an economic 
unit. There are three brothers, my oldest uncle, Donald, was the 
first born; my father. Jack, was the second, and David was the 
third born. Just as Will and Henry ran things their way. in each 
of these three boys there's a very, very strong desire to run 
things their own way. which made it difficult for them to 
cooperate on a joint venture. 

Three Brothers; Donald. Jack, and David 

Bruce P. : After my grandfather had his first stroke. Jack was essentially 
managing the place, because we were living there. 

Lage: Do you remember when that was? 

Bruce P. : Oh. it was probably '58. or something like that, because my 

grandmother died in, I think, in '56 or '55. and that was sort of 
a pretty traumatic time, and I think that was soon after that. 
But my father, all he wanted to do was to run the ranch, and all 
Donald wanted to do was run the ranch, but they could never run 
it together. They were always at loggerheads. 

Lage: They were different types. I understand. 

Bruce P. : Totally, absolutely different. My father was a cowboy, and my 
Uncle Donald was a Harvard graduate it's a positive point for 
both sides. I would say but they were very strong individuals in 
their own way. When Donald decided that he had other things to 
do in life, then it was time for Jack to start managing things. 
My grandfather died in 1961; my father died in 1965. and things 
just pretty much lay in limbo. Donald came back between '65 and 
'80 and essentially just let the place be an absentee landlord 
kind of a deal. He just leased the plots of land out and got the 
money from them. Donald died in 1980. 

Lage: Was your father actually in charge of the ranch when you lived 

here? That hasn't come out in other interviews, so let's try to 
bring that out. The story I've pieced together was that when 
Henry and Will started to fade or not be quite as strong, that 
Donald decided he should step in and came over and essentially 
ran it until he died. 


Bruce P. : Yes. there was the interim in there, when we moved ever after my 
grandfather's stroke, since my father was here, that freed up 
Donald to do a lot of other things, and he did incredible things. 
He was one of the people that brought back the snow leopards from 
Nepal for the San Francisco Zoological Society. He was an 
honorary member of the Royal Explorers (Hub in London. Just a 
really dynamic kind of a fellow, always alive. I mean he just 
had so much life in him. So when my father was here I would go 
around with him. My main job. really, was to just sort of learn 
everything I was expected to know when it became my turn, right? 

Lage: So they were really grooming you? 

Bruce P. : Well, yes, my father was grooming me because he had been groomed, 
and yet the cooperative effort of the three brothers to make this 
again a family farm never came together. My father went and 
worked for years for Libby, McNeill, and Libby as a field 
inspector, and he would go around and look at crops, and see what 
was worth buying and what wasn't. Because of that, he knew what 
the vegetable market was demanding from the grower, and he knew 
better varieties to plant in one place and another; he was really 
sort of fine-tuning his brain. 

Lage: When did he do that? 

Bruce P. : All during the fifties he worked for Libby, and David, and my 
father, and Donald, I think, all sort of generally agreed that 
*K)kay, Jack, you take care of the crop area part of the deal; 
David, you do something else; and Donald would be doing something 
else." Generally they agreed that this was the philosophy, but 
personally, you know, it just never came together. I guess what 
I'm seeing now is that this is David's turn now, and David, bless 
his heart, has always been a land developer. You know, it's made 
us all very wealthy people, and at the same time, it's really 
robbed us of part of what we really are. 

I feel that all the time because all I wanted to do was to 
ranch, and that's why I went to Oregon because there was no room 
for me to get integrated into this situation, and it was more 
personality than anything else. But I had to do what I had to 
do, and so I went and did it. I look at it as very karmic, too, 
because I made a lot of money out of this deal, and I feel that 
if I take that and put it back into the land, or put it into 
something that is really, spiritually, what I want to do, then I'm 
not just some sleazy land developer who sits around and goes to 
the country club. I kind of want to remove myself from that 
because it's very, very hard for me to see this happen. Like in 
everything else, there's a trade-off. But anyway, so much for 
personal philosophy. 

Lage: That's important to record. 


Aunt Sarah. A Forceful Woman 

Bruce P. : Well. I remember, getting back te the relatives. I used te pick 
up the mail every morning and drive it around, and I would drop 
off Henry and Sarah's on the lawn there. The kids usually never 
went up to Sarah's office, which were the four lower windows 
there all in a row [pointing to the house]. That's Sarah's 
office. Sarah was a very forceful, very, very strong woman. 

Lage: She scared you. I can seel 

Bruce P. : We would see Aunt Sarah, and we would just, you know, "Hi Aunt 
Sarah, how are you?" And all the kids would just sort of stand 
there, and she was just one formidable woman, and she ran Henry's 
half of the deal after Henry died. So she was maybe net as 
astute, businesswise. as Henry, but there was nobody that could 
out-buffalo her. We would get together, eh. once every couple of 
years with the H. H. side of the family like Thanksgiving, all 
the families would come together, but when we had Christmas at 
the W. D. house we never came over here, and vice versa. 

Lage: So they would get together but at separate houses? 

Bruce P. : Yes. and there would be phone calls, or something, or maybe 

John Dr. Adams would come over and say hi, because he and my 
father were really good friends, and it used to mean a lot to 
them to meet together. They went through the war together. My 
father was in 0. S.S. in France, and John was a paratrooper in a 
commando unit, so they had that sort of camaraderie. There 
wasn't a lot of give and take, businesswise. between the 
families, and that's what we see now in the Patterson Properties 
organization, is that these old prejudices and suspicions have 
transcended generations 

Lage: Is the family still divided along the lines of the two family 


Bruce P. : Pretty much. yes. 

Lage: Because you seem te be environmentally concerned, like John 

Adams, more of that frame of mind. 

Bruce P. : Well. yes. sure. The ranch had kind of it's sort of dead. I 

guess, because everybody else in the family went on their own in 
business and has sort of made it. Well, now everybody's a 
businessman, and the ranch is just another business. John's 
always been very environmentally oriented, a very open-minded, 
compassionate person. I'm very "simpatico" with him because he 
wants to keep open space; he likes the green things in the world. 


Bruce P. : 

you knew, and I do too. And yet property is a commodity that 
people are going to exploit if they can, if it's to their own 
best interest. 

Pressures to Develop From Within and Without 

Lage: What about the argument that I've heard that the pressure to 

develop came from outside, from the city of Fremont, which wanted 
to see this land developed? 

Bruce P. : Yes. well, that's what we've seen around here. We went through a 
lot of trouble to get this whole development set up the way we 
could live with it and. of course, to benefit us in the long-run. 
Land development is such a weird deal that it's all very 
subjective, and it always changes. What was your question again, 
I'm starting to wander a little bit. 

Lage: My question was whether you agreed that there were outside 

pressures to develop? That if you didn't develop, you would lose 
your initiative because they were going to force it by changes of 
taxation, and soon? 

Bruce P. : Well, we were all under the Williamson Act. as an agriculture 

preserve, so they couldn't really do anything to us, except come 
in and condemn the land, release us from the tax liability 
because of their condemnation. 

Lage: They could cancel the Williamson Act. 

Bruce P. : Yes. I think that it's outside pressure to a certain extent, and 
I feel that it was inside pressure from the family to sort of get 
everybody some money along the way. but I think that we could 
have kept this land and farmed it and net had to develop, and 
still been okay as people. 

I think, though, that agriculture is really shifting. 
There's more emphasis down in the Central Valley for more 
intensive farming. They're going to Tucson. There are a lot 
more vegetables and crops coming out of Mexico, and especially 
just because the balance of payments deficit, and just because of 
the market. 

So agriculture here I think if we had kept it all in one 
piece, that it would have worked, but I think that now that it's 
been broken up into smaller pieces less profitable to manage and 
to operate, it's not working anymore. We're subsidizing the 
Alamedas over there, and they're net making any money anymore. 


Bruce P. : The Pattersons are picking up the taxes for that, making all the 
improvements, and forgiving them a lot ef debts, because 
vegetables just aren't making it anymore. 

Lage: And they're working now on the poorer agricultural land. 

Bruce P.: Yes. they are. exactly. It's always been so incredible to me 
I've dene a lot of travelling, and all around the world, 
especially in Europe, but people will build on the side of 
something, and leave the best land to be used. Civilization 
comes to a point where they see. well, you can't farm concrete. 
You've got to have something else. That's always bothered me 
that that's been the mentality of the Americans. Put it down 
where it's nice and flat, because it's easy, but 

Lage: I interviewed Mel Alameda. and he really kind of choked up 

talking about how people could put houses on this land a God- 
given beautiful piece of land. 

Bruce P. : Oh. yes. sure. It's a tough one. it really is. I guess we all 
deal with it in our own way. but yes, it's tough. I don't like 
it. But anyway, you had asked in your letter how this ranch 
maybe fit as a microcosm of the area. I would say that this was 
probably the end of feudalism, the end ef the large landlord and 
the indentured serfs. I've just been reading Bancroft's history, 
coming from .1600s and compressing California down. I've just 
gotten past the 1800s in his book, but you can just see the 
change is slow and then. boom, there's a point where it explodes. 
And we reached the point here. too. but. like we were making two 
hundred dollars. $210 per acre, per year, off of crops. 

Lage: Now when was this? 

Bruce P. : Well, this was just within the last five years, and that was one 
of the reasons to sell the place, because we sold the land for a 
hundred and some thousand dollars an acre. Can you believe that? 
I mean, that's incredible. 

Lage: That's one of the pressures then. 

Bruce P.: Yes. it is. that was the economic pressure from the heirs, I 

think, and in all you know. I mean I like my Uncle David, but 
this was David's chance to do what he was going to do. and what 
he wanted to do was develop it. He wanted to leave us all rich, 
which he did. but, like I said earlier, there's always a trade 

Lage: David implies in his interview that he actually has a more 

balanced approach than many of the family, particularly some of 
the younger members, because he goes for a balance, leaving open 



Bruce P. 


Bruce P. 


Bruce P. : 

space, supporting the park* but some of the younger generation 
wants it all developed. Do you see it that way? 

I think that it's really important for David to have this [the 
park] left as it was because I think that, in his own soul, he's 
trading off what used to be for what he can keep tangible for 
new. John and Sally saw. and still see. really no reason for 
development. That's from their point of view. I guess I have to 
say that the W. D. side of the family had always been quite a bit 
poorer than the H. H. side of the family, and so that enters into 
what happens, too. I know that, with my cousins, the ones that I 
see on a regular basis, every one of them would rather see the 
ranch as it had been twenty years ago, okay, and yet we're all 
reaping the benefits of what's happening. 

It's hard to remove yourself from that. 

It is. because there is no black and white anymore, it's all 
gray. I think David feels that he is being balanced in it. and I 
couldn't disagree with that. I guess every person's fulcrum is 
at a different point. I don't know. I think we should have built 
down where the Alamedas can't grow. 

Yes, that would have been ideal, 

But that wasn't as good a 

No, not at all, and as far as what we could get through to be 
developed they didn't want to be in the wetland, the marginal 
land, the developers wanted to buy this land. So there it went. 

Jack Patterson; Wild Youth. Paratrooper. Rancher 

Lage: Let's go back a little. We started off kind of plunging into the 

middle. Did we get your birthdate? 

Bruce P. : I was born November 24. 1946. 

Lage: And give me your father's and mother's names. 

Bruce P.: My father is John. "Jack", Patterson. He was born either 1912 or 
1914. depending en who you talk to. died in 1965. He went to 
private schools. He went to Palo Alto Military Academy, which I 
attended, and he went to Menlo School, which I attended. He went 
to Stanford for about a year, until he discovered the night life 
of San Francisco. [laughter] He promptly left school for 


Bruce P. : He had a hard time settling down in life. He was unlike my older 
uncle. Donald; Donald's very, yeu know, he knew what he wanted to 
do and he went and did it. same with David. My father was always 
a wild fellow. My grandfather and grandmother had him spend the 
summer up at the cattle ranch in Livermore to kind of get him 
away from the social scene, but he just took his top hat and his 
tails up to the cattle ranch, and he would dress up. and he would 
drive the eld pickup into San Francisco and hit the spots again, 
and he'd come back, and Mom and Dad wouldn't knew. 

Lage: How did you hear all these tales? 

Bruce P. : I keep my ears open and my mouth shut because nobody will ever 
tell me anything about my father if I ask them, and if I do. it 
will always be a little bit slanted towards what you want to 

Lage: You were nineteen when he died? 

Bruce P. : I was eighteen when he died; yes. I was in the army. So anyway. 
I just listened. You see. I never learned a lot about my father 
because my father never talked to me very much. My father didn't 
want children, and it was very obvious; my mother wanted 
children, so obviously she had them. But there was never the 
father-son communication, and so I find out all these things 
after he's dead, right. But anyhow, after he got through 
partying in the city, my grandfather and grandmother put him on a 
boat, a freighter, and sent him around the world, took about a 
year, so he could sow his wild oats internationally. I suppose, 
instead of just locally, or it would catch up with the family. 
He did that and came back, lived on the ranch for a while, up in 
Livermore, ran cattle up there, and end of the thirties, he get 
married. He married my mother in 1939. She's from San 

Lage: What was her name? 

Bruce P. : Joan Meek was her maiden name, and her dad was a stockbroker and 
her mother's 

Lage: She came from a wealthy family? 

Bruce P. : Well. yes. they had lost a lot in the Depression, though, and so 
she wasn't a real socialite, but they were still solvent. They 
were married in '39, and he went into the cavalry, horse cavalry, 
naturally, at Fort Riley. They discontinued the horse cavalry 
and made it into the armored corps in 1940 or '41. So he joined 
the 0. S.S. because he had spent a couple of years in school in 
Switzerland and was fluent in French and the dialects, read and 
then spoke French fluently, and so consequently he joined the 
Q.S.S. and was a paratrooper. He won a silver star in France for 


Bruce P.: trying to save some guy's life. He made numerous jumps behind 
the lines, supplying and communicating with the French 

Lage: That was his adventuresome quality. 

Bruce P. : Yes, that was it. So after the war. he came back and wanted to 
farm. He farmed some land. I remember, as a really small kid. 
three, four, five years. I used to sit on the back of his little 
caterpillar, and we would go plant beets day after day, I 


Lage: So he actually had done hands-on farming. 

Bruce P. : Yes, he farmed across Jarvis Road there. He had a couple of 
hundred acres. My grandfather gave all the boys a couple of 
hundred acres, and he gave them each a lot of money when they 
turned twenty-one. Yes, he said, "That's all you're going to get 
new, so make it or break it." And they all made it. So my dad 
did that for a couple of years, and he made money at it, but 
there was still the dream of not just working his place, but 
working the whole. 

Lage: Did he express that to you or are you getting that from talking 

to others? 

Bruce P. : I've gotten it from talking to other people, as well as I 

remember him here, the way he was here, and he was really in his 
element here. This is what he wanted to do. 

Lage: He liked it? 

Bruce P. : He liked running his ranch; he liked doing it. All the good and 
the bad in between. That meant a lot to him. My mother didn't 
like it over here at all. It was too far away from her friends 
on the Peninsula, and she didn't like the drive. There was an 
incident that sort of came out that cousin Marj orie lived here. 
She was coming back from the city one night and went through East 
Palo Alto and was attacked ever there by some black guys, and so 
the story came out, and in the next couple of days my father was 
gone at night. He packed up and he was sitting ever in East Palo 
Alt waiting for these fellows who matched the description 
Marj orie gave him. Nothing ever came of it. 

Aunt Marj erie 

Bruce P.: But Marj erie and my dad and mom were always really good friends. 
Marj orie, I think, was in the woman's army corps, or something, 
in the Second World War, and so they had that in common, as well 


Bruce P. : as when they were children, there were no ether kids for miles. 
and Marjerie and my dad were always best friends as cousins, and 
then my mem came into the picture, and they were pretty 
simpatico, and so that was a pretty good threesome. Marjorie had 
a couple of bad marriages and kind of cracked up later en. kind 
of too bad. I remember her as really a wonderful gal. 

Lage: She did some farming toe. I believe? 

Bruce P. : Yes. she did. 

Lage: Did she actually farm hands-on? 

Bruce P. : Yes. she and my dad. they would get eut there and get dirty 

together, yes. I mean Marjerie was more like Sarah, just a real 
outgoing woman, a real strong woman. The undercurrent around 
here on the Henry side of the family was that, if you're net 
careful, those W. D. boys are going to take away everything you 
own. Everything in this ranch is split in half, all the way down 
to square feet. It's amazing, the percentages are so minute 
around here. 

But yes, Marjerie had. I think, part of her face disfigured 
from a bomb blast in the Second World War, so being sort of 
isolated and protected, she wasn't so self-conscious, maybe, 
about going out in public. But all the stories I ever remember 
about Marjerie were really, really good. Good times, you know, 
really a nice person. Sally. I didn't really know at all just 
because she was with John in Piedmont and wasn't here. 

Lage: Okay, now, your brothers and sisters? 

Bruce P. : I've got one sister, her name is Jean, lives in southeastern 
Idaho, another out-in-the-middle-of-nowhere person. 

Lage: Is she involved in ranching? 

Bruce P.: Ne. net really, she just lives off of her investments. I don't 
know what she's doing out there. 

Lage: Is she older? 

Bruce P.: Yes, she's two years older than I am. She's forty-two. She's not 
really actively involved in this place or anything related to 

Lage: She's still out in a rural area. 



Nora, the Cook 

Bruce P. : We all it was an incredible experience te walk out your back 
doer, and as far as you could see. you owned. I used to spend 
days all summer long I would walk out at eight o'clock in the 
morning out the back deer, and I could eat my way all the way to 
the drainage canal down there by the McKeowns. and I could go all 
the way to the hills, and I could eat my way all the way back, 
and when I got home at six or seven o'clock at night* you knew. I 
wasn't even hungry. The cook that we had was just an incredible 
cook. She had been with the family for a long, long time and had 
raised all the boys as well as the next generation coming up. 

Lage: Was she Chinese by chance? 

Bruce P. : No. she was I think from Montana. Her name was Nora Abney. She 
had a husband named Dennis. Dennis was the gardener, handyman; 
Nora was the cook. There was a cleaning lady named Margaret 
Sanderval who was with us for many, many years. But as far as 
people around there, really, the Abneys were the only ones that 
were there a lot. 

When I was ten years old. Nora and Dennis also had a 
restaurant in Niles that they leased out. Well, they decided 
that they were tired of working for my grandfather for the 
summer, and so they decided te take the summer off and go work at 
their place. My father thought it would be a good idea for me te 
learn hew to work, so I was indentured over I spent the summer 
being a busboy for free. I would ge six in the morning to ten at 
night, right? 

Lage: That was helpful for them. 

Bruce P. : Well, yes, it was. and it was important for my father to educate 
me in not thinking that I was something particularly special be 
cause I lived in a big house and had servants. I'm glad of that. 


Lage: It's interesting that that was important te him. 

Bruce P.: Yes. So anyway. I came through Niles yesterday, coming from 

Livermore, and it was a real shock because as a boy. we used to 
feed the bums out the back deer, that would go through the rail 
yards. The first day I was there, this guy came and just looked 
like hell, and he asked me. "You got something to eat?" I ran 
back inside. I said. "Nora. Nora, there's somebody out there." 
She came out and she said. ^Dh. it's you again? What is it this 
time? A cheeseburger?" So she went in, cooked him a complete 
meal, stuck it out the back dear, and that was it. A really, 
really nice person. So anyhow. I learned a lot. And just coming 
through there yesterday was really, really a de j a vu because I 
had spent a lot of time just walking around there, and it hasn't 
changed at all. It's really neat. 

Lage: That's nice that there's some place that hasn't changed. 

Bruce P. : Yes, I was really, really amazed. 

Recalling Grandfather Will 

Lage: Before you came to live here, were you nearby? 

Bruce P. : Yes. we lived over on the Peninsula, in Palo Alto. 
Lage: Did you come and visit? 

Bruce P. : Oh, yes, we used te come over almost every weekend. I used te 

come over and de a let of hunting, from about six years old. It 
was a very gun- oriented family, we all hunted everything that we 
could. Se that's what I did. 

Lage: Se you knew your grandfather when he was in good health? 

Bruce P. : Oh. yes. I used to ride around with him. He had this old '39 
Olds mobile. It was a white one. two-door, and everybody knew 
that thing. When it was coming, eld Will was in the car. He was 
a special deputy; he had a little badge, and he used to carry his 
455 pistol. Colt revolver, on his seat there, so in case anybody 
gave him a bad time, he could just whip it out and show it to 
them. He did quite a few times. I was amazed at that guy. 

Lage: While you were with him? 

Bruce P. : Yes. This one guy once came and started giving my grandfather a 
hard time, and my grandfather pulled the gun on him and told him 
te get his ass off the place or he was going to kill him. This 


Bruce P.: guy just stood up to him, "You can't tell me what to do." My 

father was just down the row of trees a little bit. and my father 
came up and saw the gun and he says. "Don't you talk to my father 
like that." So anyway, the guy left. But there were incidents 
like that around here; it was almost vigilante. It was exciting 
for a kid, though; it was just like the Wild West. 

My grandfather was always really interested in gold mining 
because that's the way his father initially get enough money to 
get this place going, through the geld fields. And I guess he 
had some shares in some Alaskan mines during the Alaskan gold 
rush. He went up to Juneau, and he helped survey the Taku 
glacier up there when it 


Bruce P. : There's a little vial of gold flakes in there that we used to go 
in and look at, and shake, and take them out. and feel them. We 
would look at the gold, at least I would. This was the chain 
that linked us all together, right? So my grandfather, he would 
talk about that, and he had his snow shoes up on the wall, and 
his ice ax, and he had this picture ef him standing over a kediak 
bear with his rifle, one ef the things he had dene en the way up 

Just lots ef little things, you could go digging around and 
find old obsidian arrowheads that we used to get from the Indian 
mounds up here, mortars and pestles, all sorts ef stuff, just 
artifacts. There's a gold mine on the cattle ranch up in 
Livermore that never really paid out, but that was one of the 
reasons why he bought that ranch, because it's got a mine on it. 
Couldn't leave that one alone. He also bought that ranch to run 
cattle because we were growing so much barley and feed down here, 

Lage: Now this would have been your great-grandfather who bought the 


Bruce P. : Yes, but he put enough into grain, and it was carried over to 

when my grandfather I don't remember when my great-grandfather 

Lage: I think it was 1895. 

Bruce P. : Yes. because I remember my grandfather was really young when he 

sort of came into all of this. In fact, there are pictures of him 
swinging from the mast of one of the old grain schooners down by 
the slough down there in his 1906 Stanford shirt, pretty funny. 
But that was just another way to utilize the ground. It was good 
for barley, good for grain over there, because it's loose soil; 
it's a good medium. 


Bruce P.: There used to be a legend that under one of these bigger trees 
that there was a jar of fifty-dollar gold pieces buried, and we 
could never figure out whether it was really there because great 
grandfather was like that; he liked to have his gold around. But 
then we figured, well, maybe it was something that kept the kids 
busy for a while so that they wouldn't be hanging around the 

Lage: Did you go out and leek for it? 

Bruce P.: Oh, yes. I mean, this place was tern up numerous times, just all 
the kids, and it would always be Will's kids that were over 
digging up because Henry's kids wouldn't do it. So anyhow. 

Secrets of the W. D. Patterson House 

Lage: I talked to your cousin Wil about the secret panels in your 

grandfather Will's house. 

Bruce P.: Yes, sure. 

Lage: You lived in that house? 

Bruce P. : Yes. 

Lage: Did your grandfather live there at the same time? 

Bruce P. : Yes. 

Lage: But your grandmother had died? 

Bruce P. : Yes. she had died, I think, a year or so before we moved in. 

Lage: Did you spend some time looking for a secret passage? 

Bruce P. : Oh, yes. They weren't tee hard to find. There was one in the 
dining room; just as you would go in, it was the first panel on 
the right, and it would swing open. You could climb in there, 
and it also had a little shelf up there where my father used to 
keep an automatic pistol. There was one upstairs in my 
grandmother's closet, and it was behind all the clothes, and it 
was a door that would swing in, and you could crawl in there. It 
was big enough for a person to hide; I guess they did that in 
case somebody got in the house, they could just hide out. 

As a kid I was able to get in there, and you go up to the 
attic, you could go back down more or less along the line of the 
chimney to the first floor, between the kitchen and the library. 


Bruce P. : and yeu could pound on the walls to people. [Laughter] It was 
neat. There was one that yeu could get down in through, and 
during Christmas, all the kids would be sent to one end of the 
house; well, we could get to the panel and watch all this going 

Underneath the stairs of the main entranceway my father 
when he was, I guess, twelve or thirteen had a little kind of a 
clubhouse under there. Pinups, 1920s and thirties pinups. 

Lage: That still survived? 

Bruce P. : Yes, they had survived till they burnt the house, but to get to 
that, you had to crawl under the house, past the furnace, and 
past all the dead rats, and then there was this little tiny 
beard, and you would pull the beard back, and you would climb in 
there, and he had a kerosene lamp there, and old comic books, 
cigarette butts, when they were practicing smoking. 

In fact, they were under there one time, my father and a 
friend of his from the military academy, and they started a fire 
underneath the steps. They were down there, and my grandfather 
didn't know about this place, right? My grandfather's sitting in 
the front room there reading, and smoke starts to come from under 
the stairs. So he immediately shouted. "Firel" and tried to find 
eut what was going on. He ripped the stairs out. and there was 
my father sitting there looking at him, and all this smoke coming 
out. So anyway, he got caught on that deal. 

But I went under there when I lived there, and it was just 
like going into a museum. It reminded me of pictures in the last 
couple of months in National Geographic. They had a picture of 
Scott's hut down in Antarctica, you know, where just everything is 
preserved. It was just like walking into the past, it was really 
neat, yes. So that all went down with the house, everything that 
was under there. A friend of mine from the military academy, we 
went under there, and he thought it was pretty neat. So he got 
an old stone Cock-'NMJull ginger beer bottle, one of the really 
eld relics. 

Burning the House, Selling the Land 

Lage: Where were you when the house was burnt? 

Bruce P. : Let's see, that was I think, sixty-four, sixty-five, I was in 

high school in Los Altos. Yes, we all gathered over on the lawn, 
and my uncle Donald went around and put the torch to the place. 


Lage: That must have been hard to do and hard to watch. 

Bruce P.: It was amazing. Every person has their own way of dealing with 

it. Aunt Sarah was over there, in her lawn chair; it was sort of 
fun to make fire jokes. I just sort of watched it. Donald had 
always been the type of person that was always moving forward, 
and the past was really nothing that was very important, you 
know, and so he just saw this as. "Well, my grandfather wanted it 
burned if nobody wanted to live there. It's being burned." My 
father saw it as quite a different experience, and I don't know 
how David took it. I haven't talked to him about it. 

But having lived there. I was just horrified. That house 
was so architecturally perfect. It had integrity, it had 
incredible beauty inside, it was fashioned more or less like a 
German hunting lodge. It had deep oak panels; it had big. big. 
light gold oak beams; it had pillars; and it was all just 
exquisite woodwork. There was cherry wood for fireplace covers. 
Brazilian rosewood, it was truly amazing. 

Lage: Some of that at least should have been saved, if not the house. 

Bruce P. : Yes. But it cost a lot to maintain the place, and nobody really 
wanted to give up their life to live there. My father saw that 
it wasn't going to be working farming anymore, and it was time 
for everybody to move on. 

Lage: So even at that point you think your father saw that the 

development was en its way? 

Bruce P. : Yes. because he had sold some of his land too. Things were 

gradually moving. Jack Brooks was always here. I can go back 
thirty-five years like I'm a trustee for one of these trusts 
and all these documents, if it's got real estate on it. Brooks 
has got his name on it. But that's always the way it had been 
around here. 

Lage: Who did he develop the relationship with first? Who did he 


Bruce P. : Jack Brooks? 
Lage: Yes. 

Bruce P. : Well, he and my uncle David had always been good developmental 

friends, and so there was always that line of communication. My 
Uncle Donald didn't really have much to do with Brooks. He did 
business with them occasionally, but Donald didn't, I don't 
think, really like, essentially neuveau riche kind of people. 
Jack was making a lot of money, and making it, and of course the 
Pattersons always look at themselves as having been here for so 


Bruce P. : long that we're almost landed gentry, or aristocracy er 

something, and there was a little bit of that bias in there, and 
it was a personality conflict as well. Donald was a very 
refined, sort of standoffish kind of a person, and Jack was kind 
of a land salesman. So that's sort of the way that went. My 
father did a lot of business with Brooks en land trades. 

Lage: Your grandfather sold land to him also? 

Bruce P. : Yes. Not as much, though, as the boys. My grandfather didn't 

need to sell anything. S that's sort of the way that one went. 

Roses, Miniature Golf, Deer Park en the Grounds 

Bruce P. : Walking around the house this morning. I was thinking about some 
of the things that I remember about the place. One. that the 
grounds were always immaculate. My grandmother had a passion for 
roses, and there were roses all the way around the house, all the 

Lage: You're talking about the W. D. 

Bruce P. : Yes, the W. D. House, yes. They were always into horticulture, 
always had new fruit trees, different kinds of fruit trees, 
always trying different crosses. The family orchard down there 
had oranges, tangerines, lemons, just every kind of fruit 
imaginable. My grandmother had a little rock garden. It was 
sort of concentric rings of recks, with little annual flowers in 
them, next to a miniature golf course that had been built for the 
kids in this grove of trees. 

When I lived there, the golf course had pretty much receded 
into the past, but what had remained were these wire vines, and 
oh, I guess, they covered about a half an acre. They would climb 
all the way to the tops of these trees, and as kids we could 
stand en one limb and jump across and grab these vines like 
baboons, and you wouldn't fall down, you could scramble up to the 
top, and just climb all ever. It was just incredible. My 
grandfather had a deer park back there, too. where he would keep 
deer, just to have around. 

Lage: They didn't hunt these deer? 

Bruce P.: No, no, they were just for looks. Ne, if we wanted to hunt deer, 
we went up to the cattle ranch in Livermore. That's where the 
deer came from. Upland birds, ducks, things like that, well, 
we've got those down here. Yes. they always had something for 
horticultural going. Uncle Henry spent quite a few years 


Bruce P.: hybridizing a white sweet corn. It was just a hebby. I remember 

one summer be had planted, I guess, about two hundred acres of this 
corn, and it was a different kind of corn, small kerneled. early 
ripening. So I went through and I sampled about every fifth or 
sixth row all the way down. It was all really sweet and good. 
But he never marketed it, never tried to do anything with it. It 
was just something he sort of like Luther Burbank had come up 
with, "Ah, I would like to try this." 

The Ranch Operation and Tenant Farmers 

Lage: As you remember the operation, or what you know of it even before 

you were around, hew much of it was directly farmed by the two 
brothers, Henry and Will, and how much was leased out. and 
tenant- farmed? 

Bruce P. : Most of it was tenant-farmed once Will and Henry took over 

because there was just too much. When my great-grandfather was 
here, he did a lot of it. as well as hired people. But the whole 
place has never been farmed exclusively by the family. Earlier 
on. there weren't the numbers in the generations to make a work 
force, and now that the numbers are essentially here, nobody's 
doing it. 

Lage: So that's what I had understood, that for the most part, it was 


Bruce P.: Yes, it always has been; it's just the acquisition of the land 

really never stopped, just pick up a piece here or there. But I 
can look in History of Washington Township, the inside cover 
there has a lot of tracks from about McKeowns down to Warm 
Springs. You can kind of see the way it goes; I could tell what 
my grandfather picked up along the way. Kind of interesting. 

Lage: You had described earlier, and then we got sidetracked and went 

en to something else, about how the two brothers worked together. 

Bruce P. : Will and Henry? 

Lage: Right, you said that one of them was the financial wizard. Can 

you elaborate on that? 

Bruce P. : Probably not too much other than I very rarely ever saw Henry out 
in the fields being the honcho. It was always my grandfather 
going around and telling the field bosses what's happening and 
making sure that everything was done the right way and, 
especially, on time, because in farming time is of the essence. 


Lage: So he would look into what the tenant farmers were doing? 

Bruce P. : Well, no, he would sort of get together and find out. "Well, what 
do you want to grow? Okay, this ground is better for this than 
that. If you're going to be growing beets, are you going to be 
able to make it? Is your profit going to pay us as well as you?" 
Just sort of the nuts and bolts of the operation. 

Lage: So there was an active manager, not just leaving it to the 


Bruce P.: Oh, no, very active. On a lot of the tracts, too, we would just 
hire somebody and his crew to put it in, and then we would 
sharecrop it. 

Lage: When you say you sharecrop, hew does that work? 

Bruce P. : Well, okay, instead of the grower paying the owner a flat fee, 
you would take a percentage of the crop, and it was usually 
either/or, whichever was more. That was usually the case. Sort 
of interesting, we were always really concerned about making the 
land pay, and yet at the same time, down by the feed lots down 
there, you know where those are? 

Lage : No. 

Bruce P. : Towards Patterson Ranch Road, down there, my grandfather used to 
lease out for virtually nothing a forty-acre triangle for the 
Chinese growers, the flower growers. My grandfather always loved 
flowers, and so did my grandmother, and so consequently payment 
for the rent would be taken in bulbs, it would be taken in 
flowers. We used to get boxes and boxes of firecrackers every 
third of July. 

There used to be a couple of eld houses out on the other 
side of these barns, and a fellow named Low Yee used to live 
there with his sons. Low Yee spoke virtually no English, but he 
and my grandfather were always able to communicate, and my 
grandfather spoke no Chinese. They had been friends for years 
and years. They had never spoken English to each other, but Low 
Yee was always there with his flowers and his family, and Will 
was always there with the ground to plant the flowers and the 
family on. So they had a really great relationship. 

The kids would come over to the house sometimes, and just 
sort of look around because it was so different. Yet. I would 
always get together with them because they were kids and I was 
using their firecrackers, and so we would establish a rapport 
like that. 


Bruce P. : Low Yee came over one day. and no one was home but Nora, the 

cook, and you knew how servants will always have their If you're 
a servant you're a servant, you're okay. Well. Low Yee didn't 
speak any English, and Nora didn't speak any Chinese, but Low Yee 
ended up in the kitchen having a roll, you know, and they were 
sitting around talking, and everybody arrived. I remember my 
grandfather gave him a tour through the house, which, you know, 
my grandfather never toured anybody through the house, but he 
toured Low Yee through the house. 

My mother has this really, really beautiful, big. red. 
lacquered chest, sandalwood inside, and lacquer painted on the 
outside with brass, that I guess my grandmother get in China in 
the twenties. He nearly had a cardiac arrest when he saw that 
thing. He just, "Oh!" He just pored over it. and he touched 
it. My family did a lot of traveling, and there were all these 
things from all over the world in the house, and, I don't knew, 
it was really neat. I remember that. It was a really nice 
experience for everybody. 

Lage: Do you remember any of the other tenant farmers? 

Bruce P.: Let's see. there was the Maciel family. That was Tony Maciel. 
and then there was a younger son that I met about three or four 
years ago, and I don't remember his name, maybe it was Joe. But 
anyhow, my father was really good friends with Tony and learned a 
lot about farming from him. They were here for, oh. twenty, 
twenty-five years, a long time. Let me think. Well, the cattle 
ranch, we always ran our own cattle on there. 

Lage: So that was a direct operation, the cattle ranch? 

Bruce P. : Yes. We had a foreman up there named Bob Root. He was a vet 

from Texas. Old Dec. he was the greatest guy. He taught me how 
to ride a cutting horse, taught me how to rope, taught me hew to 
shoot deer, taught me hew te shoe a horse, taught me how te 
brand, castrate, dehorn cattle. 

Lage: You worked ever there? 

Bruce P. : Yes, well. I got shipped up there during the summers. 

"Dec. you need some help?" 

"Well, okay." 

"Well, here comes Bruce for a couple of weeks." So I spent 
a lot of time doing that. I enjoyed that because it was something 
that my father had done, and it had a lot of meaning to me 
because I wanted to be a cowboy too. 


Lage: It has stayed with you. 

Bruce P.: Yes, I suppose it has. I often think of myself as a real 
contradiction, though, supposedly from a lower-upper class 
background, or an upper-middle class background. I'm just happy 
being dirty. [Laughter] So well, what we have to do, we have to 
do, I think. 

Lage: Do you remember the dairies? 

Bruce P.: Marchy's dairy, yes. I remember Marchy's. 

Lage: I interviewed Frank Borghi just last week. He had a dairy here 

on the ranch. 

Bruce P. : That might have been before my time. 

Lage: Now, let's see. he closed out I think he was during your time. 

I think it was mid-fifties, he moved off the ranch. 

Bruce P. : I remember Marchy had one down close to where the Alamedas are 
now. I used to go. usually sit in my grandfather's car while 
they talked, because the dogs were really fierce over there. 

Lage: Now Borghi remembers he dealt mainly with Henry that the rent 

was never raised the whole time. They moved off because they 
knew that they were paying such ridiculously low rent, and they 
couldn't ask for the kind of improvements they needed. 

Bruce P. : Well, that doesn't sound unusual. Henry and Will always had 

enough money to where they knew they weren't going to go broke, 
and they knew that they didn't have to jack the price up every 
year. It was important for them, I think, to have the land used, 
and have it possible for somebody to make money off of it. as 
well as for themselves to make money off of it. 

Lage: Borghi and his wife told me that, during the Depression, many 

years Will and Henry wouldn't collect any rent. They knew these 
farmers couldn't pay anything. 

Bruce P. : There was an old guy named Tony that used to live down at the 
feed lot. a little Mexican guy, and he was the most amazing 
character around. He had these little Chihuahuas, just ugly 
little Chihuahuas. He lived in this one block stone house at the 
feed lot, and he worked for my grandfather. He was kind of. not 
the manager, just sort of he was there, you know, in case 
something went wrong he would call my grandfather. 

Tony worked for years and years down there, and he would 
work, oh, eleven months a year, all the time, and the twelfth 
month he would take his yearly wages and he would go back down to 


Bruce P. : Mexico to see his family. Towards the end of that month 

inevitably, invariably, there would be this call from Mexico, 
"Mr. Patterson. I'm in jail, I need another twenty-five dollars 
for my bail." [Laughter] And my grandfather would send him the 
bail down, send him the money, and Tony would come back. 

Then he would go back down again, sometimes he would go down 
once a year, and sometimes he would go back down within that same 
month, and then he would call again, and he would need more bail 
money, and then he would finally milk this one pretty dry, and 
then he would finally stick around. My grandfather always sent 
him the money. It was sort of a chuckle around the house. My 
father would say. 'Veil. Father, we got a call from Tony." My 
grandfather would just sort of laugh, and say, "Well, where do we 
send it?" And he used to send it off. 

But yes, they were always really charitable guys. My 
grandfather was always giving money to somebody. He was just 
like that. 

Grandmother May Bird and Other Family Memories 

Lage : What about your grandmother? What do you remember of her? 

Bruce P. : Not very much, She was a fairly tall, substantial woman, not 
fat. but her bones were big. because my sister resembles her a 
let. and my sister's a big woman. My uncle David has a let of 
the bone structure that my grandmother did. I remember her as 
being a really happy grandmother; she always liked to have the 
kids around. My most vivid memories of her, though, were just in 
her last couple of years, when she had arthritis really badly, 
and she was really in a lot of pain, and it was hard on my 
grandfather to watch this. But she always had a lot of courage, 
and she was always I mean, even if she couldn't held a child, 
she would still put her arm on one of the kids, and you could 
always feel that. That was pretty tough for everybody because 
she was such a good woman. But I hear that mostly from other 
people, and my very limited experience with her was that, yes, 
she was a very wonderful woman. Her family was from Yreka, and 
the Bird family had one of the first general stores up in Yreka. 

Lage: They met at Stanford? 

Bruce P.: I don't really know how they met, I have no idea. 

Lag*: They both seemed to be child- oriented, or at least that's what 

I've heard about your grandfather, that they really enjoyed the 
kids. Did you have that impression? 


Bruce P. : Oh. yes. The family Christmases. and every year we used to go up 
to the cattle ranch and have a barbecue. Doc Root would 
slaughter a steer. We would have half a steer, all steaks. The 
whole family would go up there, and even John and Sally's side of 
the family would come up, and just have a really big family 
blowout. That's when everybody was really shining. It was nice 
to have a family that was working, that was together, that was 
happy, because earlier on. like I said, we really didn't cross 
paths with everybody all that often. 

Lage: Did you sense this from your grandfather? Did he tell you to 

keep away from the house or from Henry and Sarah? 

Bruce P.: No. It was just that. well, first of all, there weren't any kids 
here [at Henry's home] anymore, and so there was really nothing 
here for me other than just sort of the curiosity of the place. 
Sarah always had a German shepherd or a Deberman or something 
around, and that wasn't the most hospitable thing for a kid to 
run into, either. No. it was mostly the three sons and the two 
daughters always were sort of standoffish from each other, I mean 
with the exception of Marj orie. It's sort of hard to say these 
things as generalities, in that I can go right back and cite the 
exceptions. But there was a distance between the families, yes. 

Lage: I wanted you to follow up on another remark, when we were talking 

about the relationship between Henry and Will, and you said there 
was always a lot of tension in it, now is that something you 
observed? Did you see them have their meetings about the ranch 
as a kid? 

Bruce P. : Yes, and it was, I think, because they were both the type of 
person who couldn't wait to get it done, and so the exchanges 
were always rather sharp without being argumentative, so much as, 
''Okay, we said this is going to work, well, what about this?" 
'\3kay, well, if we do this, this will work." You know, sort of 
the either/or's, the if's and and's of it. 

Lage: That sounds communicative. 

Bruce P.: Well, yes, I would say it would be communicative, but it was just 
their personalities. 

Lage: Did they have sharply defined personalities as you remember? 

Bruce P.: Yes, and although I'm not as close to that particular 
relationship as others, and so I really 

Lage: You were probably pretty young then. 


Bruce P.: Yes. and very impressionable. Even like when I went aver to the 
site ef my grandfather's house this morning, I remember it as 
being a big, incredible place, and I wae walking around, seeing 
where everything was. and I guess it was quite a bit smaller. My 
perspective had changed quite a bit. 

Lage : There's just a foundation there, now. is that right? 

Bruce P. : Yes, well, there's part ef the driveway; there's the porte 

cochere. where the car was parked. That's just bricked on the 
ground, and that's where I got all of my bearings from. There 
were only a few trees still there. The old hedge I used to trim 
as a kid is still there. It needs trimming. 

And it's been dozed over. tee. I think things have been sort 
of disrupted. Although when I was there this morning I found a 
big piece of granite that was part ef the foundation, and so I 
put that in the back of the car. and I gave it to my cousin Wil 
to hang on to. because I'm flying home; it's eighty pounds ef 

Lage: You'll find some use for that. 

Bruce P. : Oh. yes. I'll put it in something at home. 

Lage: Did your grandfather pass down any stories about his mother or 


Bruce P. : No. net at all. as I remember. This is Clara Hawley? No, no. 

Lage: Those were the pioneers, and they really she seems like quite a 


Bruce P. : Well the Haw leys were here well, in fact James Hawley opened the 
Red Hotel, it was the first or second hotel in this area. I sort 
of take pride in tracing my roots back, you know. I'm a fourth- 
generation farmer. Well, if I went back. I would be a fifth- 
generation hotelier. 

Lage: That's right, on the other side, if you follow the female line. 

Bruce P.: Yes. right. And that's something that's really interesting in 

this family, too. is that it is always the male line, and on the 
W. D.'s side it's because they're all boys. I suppose. But I've 
spent some time looking into the Hawley and the Bird side of 
things, and it's equally as romantic and interesting and as 
historical as anything else, it's all from where you're coming. 

Lage: I talked to two women this week who are Hawley descendants. One 

of them is Haw ley-Beard, and James Beard was the man that your 
great-grandfather went to work for when he came down from the 


Lage: geld mine, really, kind of hew he got his start. He leased land 

from them and then bought it. 

Bruce P.: Oh. well I'll be darned 1 

Lage: So that's a nice combination, There's a lot of Haw ley family 

interest in genealogy, and keeping together. 

Bruce P. ; That's good. Yes. because the Pattersons had really never been 
that interested in it. although things have been saved at the 
Society of California Pioneers. 


Bruce P. : George [Donald's son. George Patterson. See interview in this 
series.] is a great source of knowledge. 

Lage: He had seme good tales. 

Bruce P. : Oh. George is we've done a lot together. 

Lage: George and Wil must be a couple of years older than you. 

Bruce P. : Yes, I think George is probably two or three years elder than I 
am. Yes. Wil is maybe three or four, something like that, not 
toe much older, though. 

Lage: But your father didn't talk about his family, or your 


Bruce P. : No. 

Crops and Employees 

Lage: When you were still here what kind of crops were being grown? 

Bruce P. : Oh. geez. everything, yes, it was corn, sugar beets, cucumbers, 
cauliflower, brussels sprouts, broccoli, tomatoes; not too many 
melons, that didn't seem to work too well here; horse beans; 
barley; a lot of grain on the other side of the railroad tracks 
down by the hills there that's good grain land. That's about 
it. I don't think carrots, I don't remember carrots, and I don't 
remember spuds, I don't think we did any spuds. 

I remember there used to be a lot of nut harvests around. 
In fact, in this old grove that used to be a lot thicker and 
deeper, there was this one old guy that used to come around every 
year, this eld bum. I don't remember his name, but he used to 


Bruce P. : live in a little tin shack down there. My mother would say. 

T)en't you ever go near him; he's dirty and he's dangerousl" You 
knew. well, he was a friend of my grandfather's. He would come 
back every year and pick nuts for him. 

So I went down there with my grandfather. He wanted to tell 
the guy. well, it's time to get to work. So I kind of hid 
behind my grandfather, and he pounded en the corrugated roofing, 
and this eld guy comes. He's hung over, and he looks out, 
Tlello, Mr. Patterson." "Well, you ready te go to work?" And 
the guy says, *K)h. all right." So about a week later the guy 
came over to the house. He's more or less put together, and he 
says. "I'm here to work." So he put him to work, just picking 
walnuts, gathering them. 

Lage : New did he live en the ranch here? 

Bruce P.: The eld guy? Yes, just right over there. When I was out 

hunting. I used to get really brave, and sneak all the way down, 
and stalk this place: "Well, if he's there he'll never know I'm 
coming, and if he's not there, well then I'll know it. and I'll 
just sneep around." one of these kind of deals. He never had 
anything there but an old blanket and a couple of wine bottles. 
But there was sort ef the intrigue ef the place. 

My grandfather was like that, people would come through that 
might otherwise just be run eff. and if they would look for work, 
he would find something for them te do. Give them some money, 
and let them keep moving. I remember as a kid, on the horse barns 
behind the old house back there, there were always the old hobo 
signs of "easy time" or "watch out for the dog" and stuff like 
that, the old signs on the wall, I remember those. 

They would sometimes show up at the kitchen doer there, when 
Nora was cooking, and the rule of the house was that she was 
never te give them anything from the house, because we really 
didn't want them prowling around, but she would always give them 
something. She would say. "I'm not supposed te be doing this. 
and I'm going te get in trouble if I do, but if you j ust take it 
and move on. it will work out." And it always did. 

Hum or eusRe collections ef Grandparents 

Bruce P.: Just thinking about little things like that towards the end of 
my grandmother's life she became more and more religious, maybe 
not any more than she was, but it was more apparent in her 
behavior. She used to have a Reverend Freeman, the Episcopal 
priest, over every Sunday afternoon, and they would go in the 


Bruce P. : living room and close all the drapes. We always thought they 
were having a seance er something going on in there, and they 
would sit there and murmur and murmur. [Laughs] 

Then they would be dene, and they would come out. and the 
reverend would be sort of standing around, being fairly beatific, 
and my grandmother would look at my grandfather, and grandfather 
would look at my grandmother, and my grandfather would kind of 
smirk, and my grandmother would say, "Will, the reverend needs a 
contribution." [Laughter] My grandfather would sort of look at 
him. he would dig down and give him some money. It was sort of 
an arrangement that they had been through for years, but it was 

Lage: Your grandfather didn't take part in the religious activities? 

Bruce P. : No, not my grandfather, [laughs] One time, I guess it was the 
mayor I don't know whether it was the mayor ef Centerville, 
these little towns. Decoto. Centerville. Union City, I don't 
remember who it was, some dignitary, some visiting dignitary was 
there visiting my grandfather, and it was a very formal affair, 
and the pigs get loose from the pig pen. I thought this was a 
pretty good deal, so I was going to help Dennis round them up. 
Well, you know how pigs are, they just go. So we chased the pigs 
around for a while, and we were trying to keep them from 
squealing and yelling because this was going on in the house, and 
we didn't want any 

Lage: You weren't trying to stir it up? 

Bruce P. : No, we wanted to get these pigs away so the mayor wouldn't see 

what really went on at the Patterson Ranch. So we didn't do it, 
they get up on the porch, and as my grandfather and the mayor 
were walking out of the front door these two big bears were 
running, and Dennis and I were right behind them, I got one by 
the tail, and Dennis was cursing the other one. They were taken 
aback, and they watched us go by. 

We got them, we wrestled them, you heard this squealing and 
all this stuff. When you get a pig, if you can get behind him, 
grab him by the hecks, and lift him up and use him like a 
wheelbarrow, they can't come back on you. They'll kick a lot, 
but as long as you hold onto their hocks, you can wheel them 
where you want to go. So Dennis and I grabbed these hogs, 
wheeled them around, and we wheeled them right back in front ef 
the mayor and my grandfather, pigs there howling and squealing, 
and my grandfather, he saw the humor in it. The mayer he was 
kind of trying to get out of the way of the pigs, he wasn't quite 
sure of this whole deal. Some ef those things that happened are 
really funny, yes. 



Becoming A Cattle Rancher 

Lage : Did you feel, when your grandfather was driving around, that he 

was grooming you and preparing you to take ever, or did he see 
that it was coming to an end? 

Bruce P. : No. he didn't see that it was coming to an end. although he 

didn't see that it wasn't going to be taken over. I think he 
just assumed that my father was there, he was going to be doing 
something, and that the boys were supposed to be doing this. I 
don't think that he saw the end of it. and I don't think that I 
was being groomed by him so much as just shown what was all of 
ours, and how we had always done it, whether I came back to do it 
or not. I don't think he really thought about that. 

Lage: Did he kind of insinuate a certain direction for you or suggest, 

perhaps, you ought to get into something else? 

Bruce P. : No. not at all. 

Lage: David had the feeling that he was always told to do something 

else, because Donald was going to take over. 

Bruce P. : Well, that's sort of an assumption in families. I see it in 
Oregon, eld families, where the eldest always picks up, or is 
expected to pick up the later care, and consequently they inherit 
the house, and/or property, and/or something more than the other 
beneficiaries would get. David was the youngest of the three 
sons by quite a few years, and I think that that might have had 
something to do with the way he was brought into the business or 
kept out of the business, because he's mentioned. "Well. I was 
always the baby in the family." And that had played somehow in 
the way the cards were dealt. 

Lag*: You were still pretty young to be talking about what you should 

prepare for when your grandfather was alive. 



Bruce P.: Sure. sure, well they just wanted to keep me in school, right? 
Lage: [Laughs] Hard to do? 

Bruce P. : Well, it was. for me. because I'm the kind of person that I 

would rather get out and learn about things in the environment. I 
was never able to really sit still in class and concentrate. 
Most of my knowledge about life has been empirical. I learned a 
lot in college, but I still 

Lage: Where did you go to college? 

Bruce P. : Cabrillo College in Santa Cruz. But that's academics as opposed 
to just what you learn, and that's always been the way I've 
looked at things, try to absorb them. 

Lage: What happened after college? How did you get into cattle 


Bruce P. : Let's see. got out of school, and I didn't really have a whole 
lot to do. 

Lage: When did you graduate? 

Bruce P. : It would be 1971? Yes, because I moved up to Oregon in '72. How 
did I get into that? I wanted to be a part of this place, and it 
didn't work out. They sold some land to Singer Housing Company, 
so I took the money that I got from the Singer sale and put it 
into land in Oregon. It was a tax avoidance deal. Then I moved 
out of the Bay Area because we had just had our first son. and I 
didn't really want to raise him here. So I just found some land 
that was compatible, bought it. and now raise cattle on it. But 
it's sort of what I wanted to do anyway. If I wasn't a Patterson 
with the money that comes with it. I might have done something 
entirely different in life, and I'm sure I would have, but the 
way all the cards fell, that's what I did. 

Lage: Did what you learn in Livermore help out in your operation up 

there, to start from scratch? 

Bruce P. : Oh. yes. The whole place was a real education because, like 
working at the cattle ranch, you learn these types of things; 
working around here, just being exposed to the way people grow 
things, the way it's dene. You can't help but really absorb 

Lage: How active are you on the ranch? De you manage it? 

Bruce P. : Yes, it's me and my wife, and my kids, yes. 
Lage: How many kids? 


Bruce P. : Three. My oldest daughter's a freshman at Western Washington 
State up in Bellingham. and my oldest son is a junior in high 
school, and the youngest is eighth grade; he's almost fourteen. 

Lage : They come out and help around the ranch? 

Bruce P.: Oh. yes. they're pretty good with the cattle. They don't like 
it. Derek, my oldest son. he doesn't like it. but it doesn't 
mean they can't do it. So. yes. it works out. 

Lage: He won't choose it? 

Bruce P.: No. no. he won't. They all understand that that's what I'm 
doing, and as long as they're there, as part of the family, 
that's the family deal. I'm sort of toying with selling that 
place and buying a bigger one east of the mountains, just more 

Lage: Where are you now? 

Bruce P. : In between Eugene and the Pacific, it's right at the top of the 
coast range mountains that run through there. A lot of big 
trees. Douglas firs. 

Lage: Sounds like a beautiful spot. 

Bruce P. : Oh. yes. it's really wonderful. Nice and quiet, it's the 

smallest school district in Oregon. I think that there are four 
hundred people in the district. It's just really rural. I find 
peace there. 

Management of Patterson Properties in the Eighties 

Lage: We talked a little bit about development. Let's take that Singer 

sale that you mentioned. Was that something you were consulted 

Bruce P. : No, because I had an undivided ownership interest in this block 
of land. It was decided that the block of land would be sold I 
guess Donald and David decided it and then once that was done, 
then it just all filtered down the pipeline. No. I wasn't 
consulted at all. It's only since this office has been 
established that really anybody has been involved in the 
decision- making process ether than just the principals involved, 
which is usually one or two brothers, but nothing beyond that. 

Lag*: Do you like this method of managing? Are you glad that it's kind 

of stayed together, and you formed the family corporation? 


Bruce P. : Yes. but I vender what the point of it is. because eventually 
it's all going to be sold. 

Lage : Even so, they want to keep it together as a property management 


Bruce P. : They want to do that, but I think that, given the people in the 

family, not everyone wants to be involved in you know, I like to 
run my own businesses; I'm that type of a person. Some people 
don't, and that's what the management is for. I have a hard time 
wondering if it's going to be viable in the long run. I like 
being involved because this is the first time that all of the 
family is able to get together and talk. Usually it was just one 
or two people who would do all the talking for everybody, and 
that was it, so it's a revitalization of the family circle, and 
at the same time, I think it's just a matter of time before we're 
done with this, and then we're done with it. Then we're just 
like three or four other million people around here that live in 
an area where it used to be pretty and now it's houses. 

Lage: Anything else about the current operation? Do you feel like the 

board works well, makes its decisions well? 

Bruce P. : I think that they do an exceptional job considering the divergent 
viewpoints. I think that they bend ever backwards to make 
everything work, and I know that they work their tails off all 
the time, for all of us. 

Lage: The managers? 

Bruce P. : Yes, Leon, and Bob. and Abby. They're always there, and they're 
doing the work. I couldn't be happier with it as it is. I would 
do it differently, you would do it differently, but I think the 
family's really fortunate to have such good people working for 

Lage: People I interview talk about these divergent viewpoints, and 

yet when you try to pin people down 

Bruce P. : What are they? 

Lage: What are they! I also hear that all the votes are unanimous, 

that people come together before the voting stages. 

Bruce P. : Yes. because we had a lot of divisiveness before this was 

incorporated, and so everybody's trying really hard to cooperate 
to make it a smooth operation. I personally I'm rooted to the 
soil. I'll always be like that. My uncle David's net; he's a 
commercial developer. My cousin Wil is active in various and 
sundry business deals that he's been very successful in* and 


Bruce P. : everybody has sort f found their own life, and they're mostly 
businessmen. There's nothing wrong with being a businessman; I 
mean. I'm a businessman now that I'm with this. 

I look at myself as regressing because I'm going back to 
saying. "It should have been left the ether way," and yet other 
people are moving en into other identities that the fortunes ef 
this place have brought them. So you get me that says. "Don't do 
it." John Adams says. "Don't do it." David says. "Do it. but 
we'll never go out ef farming." But aren't we? There's net much 
left. So the divergent views are some people want their money 
direct, some people want to use a management scheme to take care 
of their assets, some people want to just do this and that. 

Lage: Do some people want to develop the Town Center themselves? 

Bruce P.: Yes. we had talked about that. We figured that it was going to 
cost us about eighty million dollars to do it. We could raise 
that kind of money, but ne one wants to be eighty million dollars 
in debt, and it would be a collective family debt. So we looked 
at that and we said. "A bird in the hand is worth two in the 
bush, and we're sitting en this land, we already own it. why 
jeopardize it?" Because I would rather have less and have it 
than have the gamble for more and net have it. because if I was 
to make it only in the cattle business, or only have cattle as my 
sole income, I would not be here talking to you. I would be home 
working. As it is, it's work anyway. So there are divergent 
opinions, and yet it's hard to say that when everybody is 
unanimous one way er another. But a lot ef it is like Hebson's 
choice, you just sort ef. well, it's either this er that. well, 
we'll go on with this one. 

Lage: That's right, reaching some kind of a compromise. 

Bruce P. : Yes, that's really what it's been, and that's been good for the 
family because we've always been very, oh. hardheaded. We have 
our own ideas and held to them. 

Lage: I understand your grandfather and Henry, shortly before Henry 

died, were working out a scheme to divide the ranch between the 
two families. Were you aware ef that? 

Bruce P. : Ne. but I knew that there had always been a problem of each 

family having their independence from each ether, and that's even 
a problem now in this development, because we're all still in 
there, we're still all in this property together. It's just 
percentages instead of seven people en X amount ef acres. I 
don't knew, it's been something that's always been in the wind, 
and yet I was never really aware that there was a move underfoot 


Bruce P. : to de that. Yet it had always been talked about, because it had 
been a real impediment to development, 1 suppose, and just 
generally t working with the land. 

Lage: Just making decisions? 

Bruce P. : Yes, you get twelve different people to dictate en twelve 
different acres, and brother, you've get a problem. 

Wife. Alene Patterson 

Lage: How would you like to deal with a situation like that at your 

cattle ranch? 

Bruce P. : [Laughs] I'm fortunate in that my wife and I are mere or less of 
one mind, and so we don't usually butt heads on something like 
that, but yes. 

Lage: What's your wife's name? 

Bruce P. : Alene. 

Lage: And her maiden name? 

Bruce P. : Peterson. She came from Madison. Wisconsin. Her dad was 

chairman of the education department at University ef Wisconsin 
for many, many years, spent a lot ef time traveling around the 
world, spent a couple of years in Nigeria, a year in Korea and 
the Philippines, establishing school standards and criteria. He 
was involved with organizing the whole teacher education system, 
and worked in the Philippines for a year doing the same thing. 
Educational, all education. His family was farmers from 
Nebraska, immigrants. She's half Danish and half German. She 
started riding horses when she was about three because they had 
put her on the work horses when they went out in the morning, and 
at lunch time she would get off the work horse and go eat lunch, 
and they would stick her back on. 

Lage: So that's in her background too. How interesting. 

Bruce P. : Yes. she's always loved animals and has always had horses. 

Lage: Did you meet her at Santa Cruz? 

Bruce P. : No. no. I met her up in Puget Sound. I for many years played 
guitar, and I went to a guitar workshop up there and met her 
there; so that was it. She played classical guitar for a while, 
but now we both just play cattle, [laughter] 

Preserving the Past at Ardenwood Park 

Lage: Last question, what do you think about Ardenwood Park? Are you 

glad to see it here? 

Bruce P. : Yes. I'm very glad to see it. I'm glad to see it because this 
place has never looked better in my memory, and I think it's 
really important that people net lose track of what has been, 
because our family has really been an integral part of this area 
for a long, long time, and that's not to say that it's good or 
bad. but it's important that people have a past. I really feel 
that. This is a collective past, not only my past or something, 
but everybody can relate to the hours and the years going by 
here. I've got to drive up to the airport today, and when I get 
out on that freeway 

Lage: Oh, I'm heading that way too. 

Bruce P.: Yes. okay. I remember when the Bayshore Freeway wasn't even 

there, and I remember riding horses all over this ranch. The way 
it used to be, I'm sort of stuck in that. 

Lage: The park is such a tiny island. 

Bruce P. : It is. it truly is. 

Lage: But you really do get removed here from all the development 

that's around it. 

Bruce P. : Yes. I think it's really a great idea, I think it's super. 

Lage: I'll be curious to see what they develop over in your old 


Bruce P. : Yes. so will I. It was a real shock to go there today, because I 
haven't for years and years, and I sort of have to exorcise these 
things after a while, you know. Just looking around, it will 
never be the same, any way you look at it. If they had had to 
burn one house, they should have burned this one [the George 
Washington Patterson house]. [Laughter] But I think this is 
really more what people think of the Queen Anne style, and the 
older part of the house here, the one that's facing us people 
think of that as mere pioneer, more traditional, than they would 
Will's German hunting mansion, 

Lage: Well, it dates back further, and I think there's a romance about 

the Victorian age. 

Bruce P. : Oh. I think so too. 


Lage: But it's just too bad there wasn't the kind of momentum to make 

the Will Patterson home into a public place. 

Bruce P. : Well, at that time no one ever dreamed that this was going to 

[end of interview] 

Transcriber: Alexandra Walter 
Final Typist: Shannon Page 


TAPE GUIDE Bruce Patterson 

Date of Interview: April 10. 1987 

tape 1. side A 342 

tape 1. side B 354 

tape 2. side A 366 

tape 2, side B not recorded 


Regional Oral History Office 
The Bancroft Library 

University of California 
Berkeley. California 


Abigail Adams Campbell 

Summers at Ardenwood with Grandparents 
Sarah and Henry Patterson 

An Interview Conducted by 
Ann Lage 
in 1987 

Copyright (c) 1988 by the Regents of the University of California 

TABLE OF CONTENTS Abigail Adams Campbell 



Background and Family 382 

Henry and Will Patterson 383 

A Granddaughter' s Portrait of Sarah 385 

Visiting the Victorian Mansion 387 

Roaming the Grounds 389 

Household Help and Family Meals 390 

Ranch Management after Henry and Will 393 

Management by Family Corporation and Staff 394 

The Patterson House as a Public Park 396 

Mere Memories of Sarah 397 



INTERVIEW HISTORY Abigail Adams Campbell 

Abigail Campbell was included among the interviewees for this volume 
on the family's perspective when it was realized that three grandchildren of 
William Patterson were represented, but we had no stories from grandchildren 
of Henry Patterson who may have visited the ranch and stayed in the George 
Washington Patterson house as youths. Abby Campbell, the daughter of John 
and Sally Adams and favored granddaughter of Sarah and Henry Patterson, 
agreed to share her memories with us. 

Abby first stayed on the ranch at about age three in the early forties 
and spent about two weeks there during the summers until her teen years. 
Her remarks give us descriptive accounts of Henry and Sarah through the 
eyes of a loving and appreciative granddaughter. They add to the picture of 
life at Ardenwood during the postwar period, shortly before the pressures of 
development in southern Alameda County were to change the area beyond 

Abby Campbell now is part of the management team for Patterson 
Properties, along with her husband, Leon Campbell, and Robert Buck, whose 
interviews are included in this volume. She also serves on the Patterson 
House Advisory Board. The following interview was conducted on July 27, 
1987, at the offices of Patterson Properties in Fremont, California. When 
Mrs. Campbell reviewed the transcript of the interview, she deleted some 
personal references which she felt were not relevant to the project. The 
descriptions of her grandparents, however, remain virtually unchanged. 

Ann Lage 

Project Director 

September, 1988 

Regional Oral History Office 

The Bancroft Library 

University of California at Berkeley 

Regional Oral History Office 
Room A86 The Bancroft Library 


University of California 
Berkeley, California 94720 


Your full name 

(Please write clearly. Use black ink.) 

ihi J 

Date of birth 


Father's full name ^ ft/If) 



Mother's full namevj)^//! 


Your spouse 

Q , 


Your children 



Where did you grow up? 
Present community 
Education /) . 6 


Occupation (s) 

Areas of expertise 

Other interests or activities 

Organizations in which you are active 


Background and Family 
[Date of Interview: July 27. 1987] ft 


Let's begin by placing you in the family where you were born, 
who your parents were, and siblings. 

A. Campbell: I was born October 15th. 1940. in Boston. Massachusetts, when 
my father was in medical school at Harvard. My parents are 
John and Sally Adams. I have an elder sister. Susan, and a 
younger brother, Henry, who's named after Henry Patterson. I 
went to the University of California. Berkeley, got my A.B. 
and then get my master's in art history at University of 
California. Riverside. I did work for the Stanford University 
Museum for a couple of years. 

Lage: So you have a background in history as well? 

A. Campbell: Art history. 


A. Campbell : 


At what point did you marry? 

I married [Leon Campbell] right after I graduated in 1963. 
[See interview with Leon Campbell in this series.] 

And you did your work at Riverside while Leon was teaching? 

A. Campbell: Exactly. 

Lage: And how about your own children? 

A. Campbell: We have four children. The oldest one. Blake, just graduated 
from Stanford and is going to UCLA Law School. And number 
two, Sallie, will be a senior at Stanford. Number three. 
Margarita, who was born in Peru, is going to Duke University 
in the fall. And William, number four, is sixteen and will be 
a senior in high school at Groton School, which is back East. 

Lage: Interesting. Sounds like a wonderful family. 

A. Campbell: Busy. 


All going off in their own direction. Well, that places you 
on the Henry Patterson side of the family. Just fill me in a 
little bit on your father's family. You mentioned your father 
is of the John Adams family. 

## This symbol indicates that a tape or segment of a tape has 
begun or ended. For a guide to the tapes, see page 398. 


A. Campbell: Let's see. His great. I don't know how many it would be. 
great-whatever-grandfather was a brother of John Adams. 

Lage : 

Did your father grew up in the East? 

A. Campbell: No. grew up in Berkeley, because his father was a philosophy 
professor at the University of California. 

Lage: And you grew up in Piedmont? 

A. Campbell: Piedmont. 

Henry and Will Patterson 


A. Campbell: 


A. Campbell: 

Lage : 

Let's go back to what your memories of the Patterson ranch 
were. When did you come to the ranch, and how much time did 
you spend there? 

Ever since I was very, very young. I used to spend summers 
with my grandparents. 

The entire summer or ? 

I think, for about two weeks I'd come down during the summer. 
Probably started when I was about three. 

By yourself? 

A. Campbell: I'd come down by myself. A couple of times my sister and I 
both would come* but lots of times I came by myself. Mainly 
it was because my mother had been ill. I think the first time 
I came I was quite young, and she had been very ill and was 
hospitalized. So that was the first time. I was really 
young. And I remember that vividly as you do the first time 
you ever leave home. I don't know how old I was. but I'm 
assuming probably three. 


A. Campbell : 

Lage : 

And then you continued to come through ? 

I just don't remember. I probably came maybe every summer. 
every ether summer. I just don't know. Until I. perhaps, was 
eleven or twelve, and then I went away to camp. 

Do you have memories of your grandfather? 

A. Campbell: Oh. yes. 



A. Campbell : 


A. Campbell: 

He died in 1955. So you were fifteen, 
he from your point of view? 

What kind of a man was 


A. Campbell: 


A. Campbell: 


A. Campbell : 


A. Campbell : 


A. Campbell: 

Sort of quiet. Did not speak a lot. But very kind, and a 
wonderful sense of humor. But didn't say a lot. I used to go 
with him to visit the tenant farmers. He'd bring me along in 
the car or on the walks. 

What do you recall about the visits to the tenant farmers? 
What did his role seem to be with the tenant farmers? Can you 
remember that? 

Not really. My vivid memory, as I try to think about this, 
was that he would always quiz me on identifying all the crops 
and the plants at their different stages. So I would be 
rewarded for recognizing that was cauliflower, broccoli, er 
whatever, when it was just a little teeny plant. He would 
play games with me that way as a child. He was always very 
proud. He'd come back and say. "Abby recognized it right 
away." The crops were quite diverse in these days, net as it 
is today, where there's just sort of a two-crop basis. So 
that was always fun. And I used to go out in the vegetable 
garden. The house had its own vegetable garden with berries 
and all that. And I used to go out and help him pick. 

Did they have a direct employee who took care of the crops 
near the home? 

I think there must have been, but I don't remember. 
You don't remember a Donald Furtado, by chance? 

No. I just don't remember. I probably didn't pay a lot of 
attention to names. I might recognize faces. 

Did you have much relationship with your cousins? 

None. The families stayed very separate, as you probably have 
heard before. 

What about Will? Did you see much of him? 

Uncle Will use to come over every day. Oh, yes. I remember 
seeing him. Always saw Uncle Will. 

He was more outgoing? 

He was much mere outgoing. Had a twinkle in his eye. He'd 
come over and he and my grandfather would have consultations 
every day. 


A Granddaughter* s Portrait of Sarah 


Now what about your grandmother? What do you knew about her 
background, for instance? She came from Los Angeles? 

A. Campbell: I think so. Is that right? Isn't that funny? I guess she 
did. What I've heard is that she vent to the University of 
California and get her master's in astronomy. She was a very 
brilliant woman. 

Lage: Tell me about her. because that's what we don't have a very 

good picture of. Even your own mother. I don't think, gave us 
a very complete picture. 

A. Campbell: I just loved her. She was a wonderful woman. I have these 
wonderful memories of her. And my grandfather, but he was 
busy with the ranch. I spent a lot of time with my 

Lage: What kind of a person was she? 

A. Campbell: Interesting. I can remember she would sit and read to me for 
hours as a little girl out on the swing on that lawn. We read 
all The Wind in the Willows, and she would spend two or three 
hours reading to me every afternoon. It was wonderful. 
Sitting in one of those old-fashioned swings, with the canopy 
over it. and we'd rock, and she'd read to me. It was warm, 
sort of sunny days, and it was just wonderful. We'd have 
fresh lemonade...! just have this vivid memory. 


Can you recall the kinds of things she'd talk to you about? 
Tour father mentioned she had a keen intellect. 

A. Campbell: Keen intellect. She was an interesting woman. She took me to 
plays and the symphony, as a little girl. The opera. We'd go 
and spend the night in San Francisco at the St. Francis Hotel, 
and she'd take me to all these cultural events. She was well 


A. Campbell 


Did you have a sense she enjoyed living in a rural area? 

Oh, I think so. She and my grandfather had a wonderful 
relationship. I do remember that. He adored her. As a 
grandchild staying there, if my grandfather said something and 
I disagreed with it, there was no question. You just didn't 
object or question him. 

What about if his wife disagreed, or did she just not 
di sa gree ? 


A. Campbell : 


A. Campbell : 


A. Campbell : 


A. Campbell: 


A. Campbell: 


A. Campbell: 


A. Campbell: 


A. Campbell: 

I don't remember that. I was too young. 
She comes across as a strong woman. 

She was a very strong woman. But I just don't remember that* 

Do you know what role she took with the ranch? 

That didn't come into your relationship? Because I knew at 
one point she kept the books. 

Well, I didn 1 1 know that. She probably did. 

Do you know what she did with her days besides reading? 

She loved to garden. She was an avid gardener. Spent hours 
in the garden. She had gardeners, but she herself did work in 
the garden. With flowers. In fact, there's a picture you can 
see of the garden on the wall there as you go out. I think my 
father took a slide. She had a beautiful garden. She spent a 
lot of time gardening. 

And she was a member of this book club this very 
intellectual book club of women who would read books and then 
discuss them. 

Was that a group of local women? 

From Piedmont. They would come out to the ranch. She went in 
a lot. She didn't stay out on the ranch all of the time. Of 
course, when my mother and her sister were older, they moved 
into town for school. For quite a long period of time. 
Probably four or five years. 

Henry moved in also and commuted back 

But when the children were in college, they moved back? Is 
that correct? 

I guess so. Probably. Because I came out there in 1943. 

Would you remember her as being a lively person or a reserved 


A. Campbell : 


A. Campbell: 


A. Campbell: 

I think women of that er ere sort of reserved, but she had a 
wonderful sense of humor. I can remember her laughing a lot 
and telling jokes. She had a very quick wit. We used to play 
word games. She used to do the double acrostic, which was out 
of the Saturday Review. She and my mother both subscribed to 
the Saturday Review, and it was a great contest who would 
finish it first, and who would get it all correct and net have 
to use any references. They had sort of a thing going between 
them phone calls back and forth between my grandmother and 
mother over the double acrostic. 

Was she strict with you. or permissive, er did this just not 
come up? 

Oh. I think she was strict. You had to have very good table 
manners. It was imperative that you had nice table manners. 
That's where I learned all about table manners. And the meals 
were always very formal except for Sunday night. My 
grandmother had help, and it was always served, even both 
lunch and dinner. But on Sunday night was the help's night 
off. My grandmother would cook, and we'd all eat in the 
kitchen. My grandfather, my grandmother, and myself would eat 
in the kitchen just on a little table. She'd do the cooking. 

In the other meals, would you dress for dinner, and would 
Henry dress for dinner? 

I'm sure he did. because he always wore a tie. My grandmother 
always had a skirt on. Even when she was gardening, she 
always had a skirt, and the big straw hat. and the gloves. 
She always wore the gloves to protect her hands. I remember 
that vividly. 


Visiting the Victorian Mansion 

What do you remember about the house? 
place er favorite rooms that you had? 

Was there a special 

A. Campbell: When I would come I would sleep in the nursery, which you 

probably didn't see, because that's been converted into the 
living quarters for the park manager. But that was the 
nursery, and it was a big room. That's where I used to sleep. 
The house creaked, being redwood. I do remember that. Very 
creaky house. I used to always get in bed with my 
grandmother; I'd go get in bed with her in the morning. 


Did you play up in the attic at all? 


A. Campbell: No. never. It scared me to death. There were always bees up 
there. We never went in the attic. We sort of peeked. We 
used to play in the elevator a lot. Believe me. we played 
pretend games in the elevator all the time. 


A. Campbell: 


A. Campbell 


Are the furnishings, as they are now. at all the way you 
remember them? 

No. no. The guest bedroom is the same, that sort of old heavy 
furniture. The formal parlor is pretty much the same. They 
brought things back. When I was there, we spent all our time 
in the sitting room. If you go in what they call the front 
door, it would be that room to the right. There was always a 
fire going. It had very comfortable, ordinary furniture 
couches, two big chairs. My grandmother had her chair. My 
grandfather had his chair. 

And now it's booklined. isn't it? 

No. The books were in the library, right off that room. That 
was my grandmother's desk, where she did all her work. My 
grandfather's was the one further. I don't even know what 
they're calling it now in the house, but that's where we spent 
all our time. Never, never were we in the formal living room. 
They just didn't live in that part at all. 

I think that was typical, too, to have a room for 
entertaining. Do you remember entertaining going en. special 

A. Campbell: I really don't. I think my father would always have UC 

medical school picnics where the whole medical school would 
come out. If they entertained, I was never there. I just 
remember we'd come out once a month for Sunday dinner, which 
would be at two o'clock in the afternoon. That would be just 


A. Campbell 


Did you come for Christmas? 

No. Thanksgiving, definitely. But Christmas, usually because 
as a child you want Christmas in your own home, they would 
always come to our house for Christmas. 

Now I heard a story about her dogs 
did that come later? 

Do you remember dogs? Or 
Who told you that? 

A. Campbell: I don't remember dogs at all. 

Lage: The other side of the family. The boys. Wil and 


A. Campbell: I just remember that Uncle Will had a pit bull that was just 
the scariest dog in the world. 


I didn't realize that they had pit bulls at that time. 

A. Campbell: I remember. It had pink eyes. He always had it en a leash. 

He didn't have it very long, but I can remember my grandmother 
saying, "That dog is a mean dog; don't go near it." But I 
don't remember dogs at all. 

Lage: Maybe that came later, because it was past 1955. 

A. Campbell: There was never a dog there when I was a child. I would bring 
my dog in the summer. They did not have dogs. They had lots 
of cats, because of the mice and gophers and stuff. 

Roaming the Grounds 

Lage: Did you roam around the grounds at all? 

A. Campbell: Oh. a lot. 

Lage: Were there particular places? 

A. Campbell: The barn. I'd throw rocks at the owls. Climb up the water 
tower, which I was forbidden to do. but we'd do it anyway. 
Jump from the left into the hay. And the pigs. They had a 
wonderful pig pen. Huge, big pigs. We'd go feed the pigs. 


Was there a sense that girls shouldn't do certain kinds of 

A. Campbell: Not at all. 

A. Campbell: 

Lage : 

You had to learn the manners, and learn to be ladylike, but 
the rest 

Oh. oh yes. You could do anything. I spent all the time in 
the swimming pool. They use to fill the swimming pool up with 
fresh water. And let it all drain out after we went home. 
I'd always swim. The swimming pool was wonderful. I'd bring 
my friends out when I was older, and we'd come out for the day 
to swim. 

What about Aunt Marjorie? I hear some really nice tales 
about Aunt Marjorie when she was younger that she liked to 
hunt, that she had her own farm area. Do you remember her? 


A. Campbell: Oh. yes. because she was really kind to me. I would go out 
with her when she was farming. 


A. Campbell: 


A. Campbell : 


A. Campbell : 

Was she actually doing hands-on farming? 

No. She had tenants, but she would be directing the tenants. 
My grandfather gave her a piece of property, and she literally 
did run it hired the tenants and oversaw the crops. I would 
go with her during the day when she would go out and spend 
time. She was, as I remember, really involved in their 
families. I do remember that about her, asking about the 
families and the children. As I think of it now, my 
grandfather was that way. too. concerned about the children's 
education. I remember somebody being sick one time, and they 
were concerned about it. 

I've really heard some very nice tales about your grandfather 
from the people who worked on the ranch. They describe him as 
being very kind. 

Oh, I think he was a very kind man. 
And forgiving money owed. 

Yes, I think so. I didn't know any of that. I never heard 
it. But I think that's very true. 

Household Help and Family Meals 


A. Campbell: 

You mentioned household help, 
you remember that? 

How much household help? Do 

Lage : 

I just remember the couple. Kenneth and Dorothy, who were a 
Japanese couple that I may have just heard this, and I didn't 
know them. They were Japanese, so when the Second World War 
broke out. they just sort of disappeared one day. They just 
packed their bags one night and left. My grandparents thought 
they were wonderful. It was the best help they ever had. 
They never had help like that again. There was always 
somebody there. They usually tried to get a couple. I can't 
remember names, but there was always somebody living in that 
house in the back one who would do the cooking and the other 
one who would maybe help with the gardening. I can't remember 
their names. Isn't that funny? I should. 

Well, there was probably a succession of them. 


A. Campbell : 

Lage : 

A. Campbell: 


A. Campbell : 


A. Campbell: 


A. Campbell : 


A. Campbell: 

Yes. but not that many. I remember Kenneth and Dorothy. 
seen pictures of them, when I was a baby. 



A. Campbell: 


A. Campbell : 


A. Campbell : 

The mention ef the Japanese reminds me of the tea house. Was 
that still ? 

The one that's out on the property? The one that's out there 
now the gazebo? 

No. There was a Japanese tea house that Clara Hawley built. 
I don't even remember any tea house. Where was it? 

The story I've heard was that it was burned down during the 
war. probably due to some anti-Japanese sentiment. 

Oh. really? I don't remember. You see. my mother would know 
all that. I just don't remember that at all. 

Do you recall the deer park? 
I don't remember that either. 

That might have been more connected with Will Patterson's 

It must have been, because I just don't remember that. At 
all. I remember the pantry of the kitchen. I remember game 
hanging there and a side of beef. They'd hang all the meat. 
And you'd see all the vegetables laid out. I remember the 
potato cellar. 

Now tell me mere about these things. The game was this your 
grandfather's hunting? 

Right. The pheasant or the duck that they would hunt. There 
was never lamb. There never would be lamb served because of 
my grandfather being a cattleman. And the minute my mother 
got married and had her own house, she had leg of lamb all the 

Would the beef be from the cattle ranch? 

Oh. yes. A cow would be slaughtered, and he'd hang it. 

It didn't have to be refrigerated? 

Well, you hang beef anyway. It's always hung, so it would 
age. Then, I'm sure, they cut it up and refrigerated it. The 
food was wonderful. You'd go out and have these wonderful 
meals. They would be long, with lots of adults, but we as 


A. Campbell : 

children had to sit at the table and only speak-when-spoken-to 
type of thing. And that wasn't how it was at our house 
growing up. But the food... I can just remember these 
wonderful desserts. I mean homemade boysenberry, and 
blackberry, and raspberry pies for dessert, with homemade ice 
cream. Oh yes. And floating-island pudding. I can remember 
we used to call it grandma's favorite pudding. She used to 
always make that herself, not the cook. I mean, food was very 
important. And meals were very important. 


Kind of a social center of the day. 
typical then, in general. 

I think that was more 

A. Campbell: That's right. Yes. None of this "eat and run", [laughter] 


A. Campbell : 


Was there ever any sense that you particularly would have 
anything to do with the ranch as an older person? 

No, my grandfather always wanted my father to be involved. My 
father and my grandfather got along very well. My grand 
father, I know, always wanted my father to take over and run 
the ranch. And, of course, they understood that he never 
would, because he went to medical school. But this was before, 
when, I guess, they were courting, or even before he went to 
medical school. When they were in college. When he was in 
college. There must have been probably two or three years 
that my mother and father were dating before they went to 
medical school. And, of course, women did not take it over. 

When did you have the sense that the thought was that someday 
this is all going to be developed? 

A. Campbell: I never thought about it. 

Lage: It wasn't brought up? 

A. Campbell : No. No. Not at all. 

Lage: Every time I come down here I see new homes. 

A. Campbell: Oh, isn't it awful I [laughter] Terrible. 


A. Campbell: 

What about politics, religion, those things that sometimes 
aren't discussed in families? Were they discussed around the 
dinner table? 

Definitely. Very definitely. Politics were discussed. I, as 
a child, do remember talk about presidential candidates and 
other lively political discussions. 



Did your grandmother and grandfather have similar views? 

A. Campbell: Yes. I think so. I think, probably. Politics was discussed 

Lage: What about religion? Was your grandmother a church-goer? 

A. Campbell: No. It's always sort of been a joke in our family that there 
were Presbyterian ministers on both sides. On my father's and 
my mother's. Grandparents, and great grandparents, and so 
when it got down to their parents, they'd had it growing up. 
religion shoved down their throat. And religion did not play 
a big part in my grandparents' lives, on both sides. It was 
not important. 

Ranch Management After Henry and Will 


Let's talk a little bit about mere recent history. The 
formation of the family corporation and all. Were you in on 

A. Campbell: No, because we were out of the country and really knew nothing 
about it particularly, except that it was happening. And I 
can remember my mother and my father would say that they'd be 
having meetings and they were incorporating. But I don't know 
anything about it really. We were out of the country. 


You didn't have a sense of how things were run before that? 
Did you have any sense 

A. Campbell: I remember Donald having a very strong role. 
Lage: Did you know Donald very well? 

A. Campbell : 


A. Campbell: 

Yes. Well, not very well. But I knew him because he would 
even come and visit my grandmother when I would be out there. 
And he'd come in and say what was happening, as far as the 

In the course of interviewing Jack Brooks and other people. I 
was told that just before your grandfather died, they were 
ready to sign a sales agreement that would have included what 
is now the park area, where the house is. 

I think what they had agreed to. and my father to this day 
says that, that Will and Henry had divided the property up so 
it was a fair and equal division whatever they felt at that 
time so the two sides would each own their own land. Then 


A. Campbell : 


A. Campbell : 

they wouldn't have to be together and own this jointly for 
perpetuity. Somehow, after my grandfather died, nobody knows, 
but that plan, no one's ever found it again. My father is the 
one you should talk to about that. Have you interviewed my 

I didn't, but Knox Mellon did. 

I'm sure that's all. because my father says it's always sort 
of a mystery. Where did that plan go? There was a division. 
Then, of course, I'm not in on the incorporation. So, it 
would be my father, I'm sure, who would know all that. 

Management by Family Corporation and Staff 


When did you become involved as part of the operation here? 

A. Campbell: When we moved back up here, and that would be five years ago. 
I can remember my mother said. "Well, you're here. Please 
come to the meetings." They were held in my parents' house in 
the evenings, and this was really after it was incorporated. 
I was not involved in any of that. This would be meetings to 
discuss whether to sell to Kaiser at that point. I knew 
nothing about it, and my mother said, "You should, as the next 
generation, knew what's going on. Please come." So, I did. 
I started attending meetings. 


At that time, were they talking about having a professional 
management, paid management, as they have new? 

A. Campbell: No. You know how things just sort of evolve. There are gaps, 
and they need to be filled. That's how that happened. I 
think my brother-in-law and Leon got on the board, so each 
side of the family would have equal representation. 


A. Campbell: 

Lage : 

A. Campbell: 

Isn't your father on the board? 

Yes. he is en the board, but they feel the next generation 
should be involved in seeing what's happened. And so that's 
kind of how it happened, basically. 

And hew about the decision to become involved as part of the 
paid management? 

I thought about that, and I can't really remember how it 
happened, except that we were either going to have to do it or 
pay somebody from the outside to do it. David has always been 
very adamant about "keeping it in the family." He feels very 


A. Campbell: strongly about that. So Leon took a leave of absence for the 
year, and it just sort of evolved. We wanted to stay in 
northern California, and he was needed. Things needed to get 
done. I. to begin with, came out, and started to realize that 
I just didn't want to deal with these developers and business. 
I was working at Stanford museum at that time. I started 
paying the bills and doing all the bookkeeping. It just 
evolved, and there it was. 

Lage: Are you finding it interesting now that it's happening? 

A. Campbell: Oh, yes. I do. 

Lage : 

A. Campbell: 


A. Campbell : 


A. Campbell : 


A. Campbell : 


A. Campbell: 


Do you get involved at all in meetings or dealing with 
developers, dealing with councilman? 

Not very much. No. I basically just do the bookkeeping and 
pay the bills. And the budget. We do an extensive budget 
because we have so many people that are part of the family 
company. We project this year and next year, all the way up 
to 1989. actually. So I do that type of thing. Work en the 

Do you have any sense in observing the board, that the past 
differences in the past affects decisions today? Generational 
differences, or the two sides of the family? 

Oh, I don't think so. I just think the basic difference would 
be that the other side of the family has always been mere 
pro-development than our side of the family. But it works 
very well. You respect each other's opinions. You get along 
and do what you have to do. 

Do you work well with David Patterson? 

I don't really work with David Patterson that much. 

You're net actually on the board? 

I'm not actually on the board. No. my husband is. I go to 
the beard meetings. I'm offically the secretary's assistant, 
because my mother is the secretary- treasurer. I'm the 
assistant secretary- treasurer. 

Do you have any dealings with Jack Brooks? 

Not much. No. 

Or any sense ef his role in all this? 

A. Campbell: Not really, no. 


The Patterson Home as a Public Park 


A. Campbell: 


A. Campbell: 


Is there anything you'd like to add that we haven't covered, 
either memories from the past or something in the current 

Not particularly. I have very fond memories of the past 
because it was sort of an idyllic life. I'd come out and 
visit and stay on the ranch for two weeks. It was always 
wonderful. I was the only child, and so I was paid a let of 

Does that affect at all your feelings about the development or 
decisions that are being made? Does your memory of what it 
used to be like 

It's net as I remember it, but I think they're doing a very 
good job. And I'm on the board, the Patterson House Advisory 
Board. They're doing a good job with the funds that they 

It's not as I remember it, though. My grandmother's 
sister was an artist, and so a lot of her paintings were 
always all through the house. Those aren't there. And all 
the books. The grounds are very different. They had te 
change those, because of the paths, and the public, and all ef 
that. The grounds were very different then, when I was 
growing up. 

Is the advisory beard interested in making it the way you 
recall it? Of course, they're trying to put it back to the 

A. Campbell: Right. Right. And they just hired a consultant. And they 
should do what they want to do with it. I don't feel that 
they should keep it the same way as I remember it, because I 
think they're trying te bring it back to 1880s. Of course one 
half ef the house was built much later than the other. 
There's sort of controversy about what you de there. 

Lage: Overall, are you pleased? 

A. Campbell: Oh, I think it's fine. I just am glad, because having seen 

older houses supposedly left to a city or something, and then 
they don't have the funds to do anything about it. You can 
just drive by them in many small cities er towns. They're 
just in terrible, terrible condition. So, I'm glad to see 
that they're going to keep the house. And it is the oldest 
Victorian in Alameda county. And I think they're doing a good 
job. yes. I have no 


Lage : 

A. Campbell! 

It certainly is getting a let of use. 

Oh. it is. I think it's wonderful. I think it's great what 
they're doing. And I think the regional park is doing a 
terrific job. It's exciting. I love to see all those little 
kids running around. I think it's great. 

Lage : 

A. Campbell 


More Memories of Sarah 

You were saying your grandmother died in... 

She died in 1965. Would that be correct? I think it was 
1965. I had a baby. I'd still go visit her. In graduate 
school we lived in Escondido Village, and after our first 
child was born, I used to go over and visit her. Just drive 
across the Dumbarton Bridge. She was net well then. 

I recall that she and my grandfather teek my sister and 
me. when I was probably ten. to New York City f er a week at 
Easter. Stayed in the Waldorf hotel. They were wonderful 
grandparents. They just did wonderful things for us. which I 
hope I will do as a grandparent. I really do have wonderful 
memories and thoughts. She was very interested in us. 
genuinely interested, yes. 

When she was elder, were her health and mental abilities good? 
Did she stay alert? 

A. Campbell: Pretty much so. She just was sort of frail. I think she 

maybe faded in and out a little bit. but she was still pretty 
astute toward the end. Yes. 

[End of Interview] 

Transcriber: Melanie Moorhead 
Final Typist: Shannon Page 


TAPE GUIDE Abby Canpbell 

Date ef Interview: July 27. 1987 

tape 1. side A 382 

tape 1. side B 392 






Key for 1981 town development plan 

DU Intensity Scale 

Village I 

Neighborhood Cluster 1 
Neighborhood Cluster 2 
Neighborhood Cluster 3 
Neighborhood Cluster 4 

Village II 

Neighborhood Cluster i 
Neighborhood Cluster 2 
Neighborhood Cluster 3 
Neighborhood Cluster 4 

VII ,;e m 

Noighborhood Cluster 1 
Neighborhood Cluster 2 
Neighborhood Ouster 3 



E'ementary School/Park 
Elementary School/Park 
junior High School 
Senior High School 







! Ardenwood Park Expansion 

^ "!' High Technology Industry 

IB Town Center 

ill-; Secondary Commercial 

gig Thoroughfare 

^ Collector 

= Service Street 

J# Visual Park-Tral Corridor 

; S Park & Ride 

Fre Station 



















1961 THE AL-AMEDA. SAN JOSE. CA 95126' (4O6) 249-6152 



Adams. John. (int.) 107-125. 155. 

178-179. 345 
Adams. Sally Patterson, (int.) 83- 

105. 178-179. 256 
agriculture. See Patterson Ranch, 

agriculture on 
Alameda County Flood Control 

District. 152, 209, 227 
Alameda and Sons. 181-182. 185, 

224-226, 316-317, 335-336. 346-347 
Arden railroad station. 96-97, 102 
Ardenwood Development Associates, 

187-188, 218-219 

Ardetwood Regional Preserve, 375- 
376, 396-397 
decent program, 76-77 
establishment, 193-194, 212 
Patterson House Advisory Board, 

331-332, 396 

preservation and restoration of G. 
W. Patterson home, 258-259, 
326-333. See also Patterson, 
George Washington, home; 
Patterson, Henry, home 

Beard, E. L.. 50. 66-67 

Belli. Melvin. 153. 175-176, 179, 

Brooks. John (Jack). 113-114. 121- 
123. 144. 150-151. 167. 169. 171- 
177. 179. 185. 192-193, 219-220, 
228, 230-231. 236. 249-250. 257. 
262. 298. 306, 323, 328. 357-358 

Buck. Robert, 154-155, (int.) 160- 
198. 264, 266-267 

Campbell. Abigail, 155, 195, 204, 

266-267. (int.) 378-398 
Campbell, Leon. 154-155, 191-192, 

(int.) 199-238, 266-267 

Chinese families in southern Alameda 

County. 15-16. 73-74. 103. 360- 

Coyote Hills, southern Alameda 

County. 209, 310-314 
Coyote Hills Regional Park, 209, 

311, 313-314. 323 

Del Valle Reservoir, 314-315 
deSilva, Edward, 187-188 

East Bay Regional Park District, 
196, 209, 227-228. See also 
Ardeiwood Regional Preserve. 
Coyote Hills Regional Park 

Engs, Stuart, 155 

Farnsworth. Robert, 323-325 

Faull, Bertha, 36-37. 67 

Fisher, Robert, 23, 76, 285, 328- 

floods, northern plain, 17, 152, 

Fremont, California 

and Ardenwood, 328-330, 332 
planning for development, 144- 
145, 149, 151. 165-166. 220-221. 
228. 232-233. 258-259 
vs. Singer Housing Company. 151, 
166-170. 327-328 

Hawley, Clara. See Patterson, dara 

Hawley. James. 8, 20-21. 23. 32. 

54. 59 
Hawley family descendents, 32-78. 

See also Patterson, Clara Hawley; 

Paterson, May Hawley; Faull, Bertha; 

Volmer, William; Thane, Bart and 

Laura; Whipple, Annie Hawley 


Hawley family reunion*. 55-57. 78 

Japanese tea house. See Patterson 
Ranch. Japanese tea house. 

Kaiser Industries. 186-187. 218- 

219. 237 
Korstad. Jeanette. (int.) 62-80 

land-use planning. See Patterson 
ranch and properties, master plan 

Layson. William. 9. 22. 38-40. 72. 

McKeown. Wally. 289-291 

Newark. California. 232-233 

Pa tag. 180. 235. See also 

Patterson Ranch, agriculture on 
Pat brook, 235-236. See also 

Patterson ranch and properties. 


Paterson. May Hawley. 33. 67. 68-69 
Patliv, 180. See also Patterson 

Ranch. Livenoore 
Patterson, Alene, 374 
Patterson, Andrew. 26. 51-52, 307- 


Patterson, Bruce. (int.) 338-377 
Patterson. Clara Hawley. 32. 74. 


characterized. 8-9. 21. 87. 292- 

family education and mores. 69- 
70. 74-76 

good works, 36, 38. 54 

marriage to Layson. 22. 38-39. 
92. 294 

travels, 39-40. 69. 71-72 
Patterson. David. (int.) 127-158. 

165-166. 264-265. 333, 344. 347- 

348, 372-373 

Patterson. Donald (William Donald 
II). (narrative/int.) 5-26, 
(interviewer) 32-60 
characterized, 118-119, 137-138, 
143, 250. 315-316. 349. 357-358 
education and career, 246-249 
illness and death, 244-245, 261- 


interests. 252-255. 284. 319-321 
ranch management. 120-121. 123- 
124. 165-166. 171. 250-252. 255- 
260. 323, 344 

Patterson, Eden, 153, 174-177, 263 
Patterson. George Norton. (int.) 


Patterson, George Washington. i- 
xiii. 6-9. 14-15. 20-21. 24-26. 
54-55. 284. 288-291. 307-308 
home. 9, 23-24, 37-38. See also 
Patterson, Henry, home; Ardenwood 
Regional Preserve 
Patterson, Henry 

characterized, 89-90, 100, 111- 

112, 273-274. 305. 384 
home. 92-95. 101. 146, 170. 213. 
326-330. 387-389. See also 
Ardenwood Regional Preserve; 
Patterson, George Washington, 

interest in development, 112-114 
ranch management, 91, 112-115, 

124, 251. 359 

Patterson. John (Jack), 118-119, 
141-143, 253, 296-297, 343-344, 
345. 348-350 
Patterson. Marjorie. 117. 178. 180. 

256. 327. 350-351. 389-390 
Patterson, May Bird. 13, 118, 119, 
138-139, 271. 301-302. 363. 367- 
Patterson. Sally. See Adams. Sally 


Patterson, Sarah, 87-88, 90, 113, 
115-116. 118, 139. 146. 345. 385- 
387, 392-393. 397 

Patterson, Scott, 153, 175-177, 263 
Patterson. Wilcox. 155, (int.) 239- 
277, 372 


Patterson, William Donald. Sr. 
characterized. 99-101. 136-137. 

269. 298-301. 305. 353-355. 367- 

home. 13. 103. 120. 136-138, 145- 

146. 270-272, 286-288, 295-297, 

303-304, 327. 355-358 
interests. 10-13. 139-141. 284 
ranch management. 10, 91. 359-360 
Patterson family 

interest in family heritage, 89. 

115. 141. 259-260. 274. 284-288. 

318-321. 326-330. 365-366 
relationships. 118-119, 143, 256- 

257, 305-306. 345-346. 364 
Patterson Fremont Management [PFM] . 
179. 216. 236. See also Patterson 
ranch and properties management. 

Patterson Landing. 8, 40, 290-291 
Patterson Livermore Management 

[PTLM] , 179. See also Patterson 
Ranch, Livermore 
Patterson Ranch. Livermore, 7. 18, 

156. 230, 307-309, 361 
Patterson Ranch, southern Alameda 

acquisition of. 7, 14-15 
agriculture on. 121-122, 148-150, 

181-182. 184-185. 207-211. 220- 

227, 316-317. 323-325. 335-336. 

childhood recollections, 88, 90, 

92-98, 135, 275-276, 295-297, 


deer park, 58-59 
development of, pre-1980, 112- 

114, 121-122. 144-145. 152. 211- 

214. 255-260. 298. 323 
employees and tenant farmers. 15. 

272-273, 316-317. 352-353. 362- 

363, 366-367, 390 
grounds and outbuildings, 45-47, 

101-102, 104 
hunting on. 57. 99. 116-117. 270. 

310. 353 
Japanese tea house. 71, 292-294 

Patterson Ranch, southern Alameda 
County (continued) 
management under Donald Patterson. 

120-122. 146. 208. 212-215. 250- 

252. 321-325 
management under G. W. Patterson, 

management under Henry and 

William, 10, 22, 91, 111-112, 

in public ownership, 150, 152, 

reclamation of wetlands, 8, 12. 

See also Coyote Hills; names of 

Patterson family members; 

Patterson ranch and property 

management, 1980s 
Patterson ranch and property 
management. 1980s. 122-123. 147. 
154-157. 171-197. 206. 266-268, 
333-336, 371-374, 395-395 
divergent views, 148, 154, 217- 

218. 266-268. 345-348. 372-374 
external relations. 195-197, 227- 

228, 231-233 
family incorporation, 153-154, 

177-180, 216-218, 246, 262-265 
master plan, 171-174, 182-185, 

218-222, 262 

Poulter Laboratories, 312-313 
Price, Marilyn, (int.) 62-80 

Root, Bob, 361, 364 

Singer Housing Company, 151, 166- 
170, 211-212, 258, 327-328 

Society of California Pioneers, 
141. 254-255. 284-285. 309. 319- 

Thane, Bart and Laura. 43-44. 67-68 

Union City. California, 231-233 


Valley. Wayne. 113. 14A. 147-148. 

168. 249-250 
Volmer. William. (int.) 30-60 

Washington Township 

education, 86-87 

Northern Plain, early families, 

44-46. 52-54 
water quality. 226-227 
Whipple. Annie Hawley. 69. 76 
Wilcox family. 282-284 
Williams. Gene. 225 
Williamson Act, 154, 165, 166, 220- 



B.A., University of California, Berkeley, with major 
in history, 1963 

M.A. , University of California, Berkeley, history, 1965 

Post-graduate studies, University of California, Berkeley, 
1965-66, American history and education; Junior 
College teaching credential, State of California 

Chairman, Sierra Club History Committee, 1978-1986; oral 
history coordinator, 1974-present 

Interviewer/Editor, Regional Oral History Office, in the 
fields of conservation and natural resources, 
land use, university history, California political 
history, 1976-present. 


B.A. Pomona College 

M.A. Claremont Graduate School 

Ph.D. Claremont Graduate School 

1960-1975 Professor of History, Immaculate Heart College 

1976-1983 Director, State Office of Historic Preservation 

1977-1983 State Historic Preservation Officer 

1975-1983 Executive Secretary, State Historical Resources 

1984-date President, Mellon & Associates, Historic 
Preservation, Historical Research 

1986-date Executive Director, Mission Inn Foundation 

1987-date Adjunct Professor of History, University of 
California, Riverside