“Nestled in the heart of a dramatic natural amphitheater formed by the Santa Cruz Mountains, Los Gatos serves as the gateway from the Santa Clara Valley to the Pacific Ocean. This happy accident of location allowed historic Los Gatos to witness a colorful parade of swashbuckling explorers, Franciscan padres, and hearty American pioneers, many of whom came to harvest virgin redwood forests from the mountains and grow fruit in exceptionally fertile soil. Los Gatos grew up around the 1850s flour mill established by Scotsman James Alexander Forbes. In 1878 the railroad arrived and was a powerful influence for more than 80 years. Named for the mountain lions that still inhabit the area, Los Gatos has reflected the expansive richness of the California Dream for 150 years.” – Images of America – Los Gatos, 2004, Peggy Conaway
IRISH IN LOS GATOS • MORNING WALK • 9.30am • $25, includes Irish brunch
Saturday, October 8th, Town Plaza Park (intersection of Main St. and Santa Cruz Ave – map). Meet at 9.30am sharp
Alan Feinberg, creator and developer of the recently launched Discover Lost Gatos smartphone app will lead a special Los Gatos – Listowel festival guided tour through the historic commercial district of Los Gatos. You’ll learn about a few of the remarkable Irish and Scottish settlers who helped to shape our sister city over the past two centuries. Among them: Charles Henry McKiernan, John Weldon Lyndon and Mary Barry Coggeshall. Planning Commissioner Michael Kane will meet the group in the historic center of town to talk about McKiernan and former mayor, Sandy Decker, will tell us more about Coggeshall at The Last Victorian. The walk will begin at Town Plaza Park and end at C.B. Hannegan’s where you can enjoy an Irish brunch, meet local historian Peggy Conaway, and view archive footage of the area in Los Gatos: Then and Now.
Charles Henry McKiernan
Born in Ireland sometime between 1825 and 1830, Charles McKiernan came to California during the Gold Rush of 1849. He was transporting supplies to the mines when he was attacked by Indians who killed his helpers and stole his livestock. That was when he decided he’d find a better place to make his home – in the Santa Cruz Mountains. McKiernan built a small cabin and claimed squatters rights to 2,000 acres of redwoods, becoming the first known European settler in the Santa Cruz mountains. A hunter, rancher, teamster, road-builder and stage-line operator, “Mountain Charley” McKiernan is famous in local lore for his life-or-death struggle with a giant native California grizzly bear.
John Weldon Lyndon
John Lyndon arrived in San Francisco by way of Panama at 23 years of age with 65 cents in his pocket. A man of modest means, he worked hard, saved his money, and purchased 100 acres of land which today would encompass much of the downtown commercial district. A hard-nosed businessman with little formal education, Lyndon survived many setbacks in his life. He continued to develop and invest in real estate, eventually becoming mayor of Los Gatos and one of the first five trustees when town was incorporated in 1887. Many consider him to be the “Father of Los Gatos.”
Mary Barry Coggeshall
Mary Barry came to San Francisco with her parents at age 9. In her late teens, Mary found a job as a servant girl for a wealthy family with three small children. Her fortunes took a turn for the better when she met and married the prominent and prosperous Benjamin Coggeshall in 1871. Their marriage didn’t last, but divorce was unacceptable, so she and Benjamin decided to live separate lives. Mary received a large settlement, built a fine home for herself and her children in Los Gatos, and told everyone that she was a widow. After a few years, she moved to Sacramento where she became quite a successful business woman in her own right.
Following our walk, at 10.30-10.45, we’ll gather at the popular local pub C.B. Hannegans to learn more from local historian Peggy Conaway about other Irish and Scottish characters that helped shape Los Gatos. We’ll have an opportunity to view archive footage of the area in Los Gatos: Then and Now screened in Hannegan’s courtyard.
MEET PEGGY CONAWAY
Peggy is the author of three books in the Arcadia series: Images of America – Los Gatos (2004), Los Gatos Generations (2007), and Images of Modern America – Los Gatos (2015), and co-author of Railroads of Los Gatos (2006) and of Legendary Locals of Los Gatos (2014). Peggy has been writing a local history column for the Los Gatos Weekly Times since 2004.
For her engaging retrospectives, Peggy gathered photographs from library and museums collections, newspaper resources, and private collections. She is the founder of the Los Gatos Library and Museum History Project, which makes thousands of historic Los Gatos photos available.
LOS GATOS: THEN and NOW
The “Then and Now” Lyric Media film, produced by Valerie Archer Wainwright and John Wainwright transports viewers through the history of Los Gatos. The footage comes alive with the juxtaposition of digitally enhanced historic photographs and matching high-definition video of Los Gatos today.
Rare film footage from the early twentieth century shows a stagecoach rumbling along Old Santa Cruz Highway, trolleys trundling through town, travelers at the train depot, and automobiles racing along the new, sixteen foot wide “Boulevard to the Pacific.”
Los Gatos was a railroad town, playing a prime role in one of the world’s greatest fruit-growing regions. The valley has since been transformed, but the natural beauty and vibrant character of its people continue to perpetuate the unique spirit of Los Gatos.