Bay Farm Island Lagoon

Bay Farm Island Lagoon
View from Baywood Village looking across to Oyster Pond

Bay Farm Island Lagoon 2010

Bay Farm Island Lagoon 2010

Monday, May 31, 2010

Three Dimensional Museum Exhibit

When posed with the task of developing a "Three Dimensional Museum Exhibit", I was so excited because I knew exactly what I wanted to do. As noted in the above inset caption of the historical reference of Bay Farm Island, the early residents of Bay Farm Island entertained each other with outdoor dinner parties – complete with homemade wine and music.

I remember feeling envious of those families because even that oh-so-brief description conjured up so many delightful visions in my head. This assignment allows me to take my day dreaming further to a level that brings me even more enjoyment as I envision the Island paradise in the early 1800’s.

What I want the reader to take away from this "Three Dimensional Museum Exhibit" is that the story of early Bay Farm Island is one of richness – rich family connections, rich love – both young and old, rich fertile soil, rich nutrient laced produce, rich Italian culture, rich Italian food, rich red grapes made into sweet red wine, rich musical talent, and rich island pleasure.

The richness of Bay Farm Island is epitomized by the outdoor dinner parties of the time. The warm summer air cooled by the ever so gentle San Francisco Bay breeze. The moon lit sky speckled with stars illuminating brightly in the dark surroundings. The large family table surrounded by lush vegetation - nature at its best. A multitude of softly glowing lanterns hanging from the trees illuminating the large family table draped with a family heirloom Рa soft hand-embroidered tablecloth. The air is filled with the aroma of an abundance of scrumptious Italian entrees made from ancient secret family recipes brought to this country by traveling brave Sicilian immigrants, fresh vegetables saut̩ed in garlic and olive oil, salad overflowing with freshly grown vegetables Рsmothered in homemade Italian cilantro dressing. Lively Italian music plays in the background and both old and young lovers dance as the children join in. Wine flows Рtoasts are made thanking God for the abundance of richness Рrich family connections, rich love Рboth young and old, rich fertile soil, rich nutrient laced produce, rich Italian culture, rich Italian food, rich red grapes made into sweet red wine, rich musical talent, and rich island pleasure.

I am no longer envious of the early Bay Farm Island residents because I just lived through what I conjured up - so many delightful visions in my head. I took my day dreaming to the ultimate level, and I basked in the joy of all five senses – sight, smell, taste, hearing, and touch – I truly and deeply enjoyed the moment! My hope is that you do too.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Additional Info - The Narrative; Historical Significance; Secondary Sources; & The Wood Minor Collection

The Narrative:
At first I found it difficult to provide a strong narrative background; I found it difficult to determine the “one” idea about the story I want to tell. At the onset of the course, I began with the idea of telling the story of the history of Bay Farm Island – which is very general and vague. In my mind’s eye, I saw the story as one that would provide a brief history of the early days on the island when it was in habited by the farmers, the linkages to the “main island” of Alameda in regards to family, commerce, land development, etc.

Historical Significance:
The assignment also challenged me to determine what my local story about Bay Farm Island reveals about larger historical truths on the Island of Alameda and in California. Wow! At this point, this is where my focus began to change. When challenged with connecting the history of Bay Farm Island to the larger picture including the Island of Alameda and then connecting that history with the even larger picture including the State of California, I found what makes me tick.
I have revised my plan. My new plan is to tackle this as the large, massive project that I want to complete. But I will tackle the project in phases. Phase I will be the work completed in this course, as it will lay the groundwork for the next phases. I envision Phase I to incorporate just what I’ve discovered so far by going to the archives and getting the background story on housing, immigration, railways, commerce, farming, etc.

Secondary Sources:
When I first set out on this quest to document the history of Bay Farm Island, many to the “Woody Minor” collection located at the Alameda Free Library referred me. I spent hours perusing the infamous collection. It was time not only well spent gathering valuable information, but I was so surprised to find that it was also so enjoyable. I just loved pouring of the pages of the collection. The “Woody Minor” is a collection of newspaper articles that were authored by Woody Minor, an Alameda resident employed by the Alameda Times Star. Mr. Minor is still living, and he is on my list of those to interview in either Phase II or III of this multiple phased project of documenting the history of Bay Farm Island. My time was well spent at the Alameda Library because I discovered so many interesting factoids. I discovered that Bay Farm Island was first “settled” which translates into “inhabited by Europeans” beginning in the 1850’s and moderate development held steady until about the 1870’s. During these twenty years, the community was inhabited by a prominent figure by the name of Benadah Benedict who as an advocate for the island. One of the many things Benedict advocated for was the first school on Bay Farm Island. Interestingly, the Bay Farm Island community petitioned the local school board to finance a teacher for a school that was built and financed by the Bay Farm Island community. The schoolhouse was eventually abandoned and later dismantled. Bay Farm Island was referred to as a backdrop of Alameda development, an area that was frequented by hunters, which interestingly infuriated Bay Farm Island residents

The Wood Minor Collection:
Another interesting factoid I discovered in the “Woody Minor” collection was that in the 1860’s, the bridge connecting the Island of Alameda with Bay Farm Island was dismantled requiring residents to ride a boat to Alameda. The bridge that was dismantled was named after two prominent Alameda figures of the time - Chipman and Augenbaugh – both of whom have namesakes in present-day Alameda. I plan to do further research to determine why the bridge was dismantled and when it was replaced. However, In my research has determined that many aspects of Bay Farm Island were neglected – especially the roads.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

ASSIGNMENT #9 ~ Conclusion

The old adage, “parting is such sweet sorrow” is more than appropriate in this venue because I have enjoyed this course more than any other I have taken in my entire academic journey – which by the way ends after six consecutive years of schooling as I graduate from graduate school in two weeks on June 12, 2010. Yeah baby! I must reiterate how incredibly awesome the experience of becoming a full-fledged historian has been for me. I honestly feel as though I have been given the golden opportunity by Professor Linda Ivey to live and breath as would a historian over the last 10 weeks, and I’m filled with gratitude. Thank you.

I will utilize this venue as an opportunity to add information and sum up my story - The Only Written History of Bay Farm Island. The final impressions that I want to leave the reader with is that this journey has brought to the completion the Phase I of a long litany of phases that I will travel through as I complete the full and comprehensive telling of the story of Bay Farm Island from the 1800’s into the new millennia. Within Phase I of this story, the creative hook I found lies within the story of landfill. Challenged with the task of building a narrative and tying together what my research about BFI has uncovered, I discovered that I encountered at every turn the subject of landfill. The story of landfill is how BFI began and it is how it has become the Island paradise that it is today. As I set out to collect information and collected, collected, and collected some more, all the information unearthed spoke of landfill. The real diamond I discovered is the Woody Minor Collection at the Alameda Free Library. This priceless collection chronicles the first settlement on the island by Italian farmers, the first efforts to develop the land for residential use with the essential task of reclaiming land to prevent flooding of roads and residences, and the eventual sophisticated, organized efforts to collectively reclaim major portions of land in the area for large scale residential development. A brief visit to the area today explains why such effort was expended as it is abundant in natural beauty despite the planned setting. The once fertile sought after agricultural marshland slowly began to be viewed prime real estate and became one of many reclaiming projects that were commonplace within during the era in California’s Central Valley. However, for BFI the project to reclaim land was unique because it was for residential purposes. The historical context behind this effort is a topic that is of much interest to me and will be further explored in Phase II of the multi-phased project. I suspect that the land reclaiming project and the dredging of the waterway between the Main Island of Alameda are linked to the Cold War, and I will explore that in detail in subsequent phases of this project. There are numerous topics to be researched in the following phases of this project that I, as a self proclaimed historian, still need to uncover. I must admit that I am thrilled about what I may unearth! In conclusion, what I want you to walk away thinking about is, “where you can purchase my books that cover phases II, III, IV, & V of The Only Written History of Bay Farm Island.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Oldest Maps of Rancho San Antonio

Oldest Map of Rancho San Antonio - encompassing present day Alameda, Bay Farm Island, Oakland, and various other cities:

Rancho San Antonio - Bay Farm Island identified as "squigley" line in lower middle:

Friday, May 21, 2010

ASSIGNMENT #8 ~ Public History

Land grant given to Peralta:

Earliest map of the area referred to as Rancho San Antonio:

Map of Rancho San Antonio with Bay Farm Island is located at the bottom middle:

Bay Farm Island is located at the bottom right hand corner of this earliest map of the area:


Monday, May 17, 2010

Assignment #6 ~ Continued

Below are three different kinds of advertisements for land in the Island City of Alameda. These advertisements makes claims of a comfortable climate, excellent soil for agricultural purposes, and the fact that mud does not exist because the soil "soaks up the rain as soon as it falls."

There are no advertisements for land for sale on Bay Farm Island. In fact, the maps of the area at the time do not include many parts of the island that are currently inhabited. At this point in the history of the island and it's surrounding area, these portions are marked as "marsh land" as indicated in the upper left-hand corner of this advertisement.

It isn't until later that what is referred to as "re-claiming" of the land occurs and the marsh area are filled in and built upon. More on this subject to come...

Assignment #6

In the early 1900's, the "Ark Community" occupied the marsh land between the Island of Alameda and Bay Farm Island. Modest cottages on piles occupied most of the area. However, there the was one gem built in the San Leandro Bay. The Philani Castle as it was named was complete with winding stair case that led to a look out tower.

The community was touted as a desirable place to live with Bay breezes that claim to heal. It evern came equipped with it's own bathhouse as the one pictured here in the foreground.

The Woody Minor Collection covered the story of both the Ark Colony and the sale of real estate on the Island paradise and shares that the land upon which the Ark Colony was built was not owned by the occupants, and there were many dissagreements over the settlement. Land on the Island City of Alameda was being parceled off and sold. Advertisement for the land made many interesting claims that will be shared later.