An Illustrated History of Salinas City, California

by Gary S. Breschini, Trudy Haversat & Mona Gudgel

Heritage Media Corp., March 2000.

Sponsored by the Monterey County Historical Society

Introduction, by Assemblyman Peter C. Frusetta


We will never know who first set foot on the Salinas Plain, but when the first Spanish explorers arrived in the winter of 1769, pushing northward with scant supplies into a territory completely unknown, they found village after village of peaceful, industrious Indians, who greeted them with signs of peace and offerings of food. Little could those Indians know the vast changes which would soon follow.

Chapter One. Explorers and Settlers, 1769 - 1851

The first Spanish explorers were followed closely by soldiers and settlers who came to conquer the vast new land, by force if necessary, and missionaries zealous for spiritual conquests. Prior to 1820, Monterey, although the capitol, remained a remote outpost and the surrounding area was sparsely settled. After Mexican rule replaced Spanish rule in the 1820s, settlement expanded rapidly. In the 1830s the mission system collapsed, but by then the Indian population had been reduced by nearly 90%. California was taken over by Americans in 1846.

Chapter Two. The Beginnings of Salinas, 1852 - 1874

Following the Gold Rush, American settlement expanded rapidly, with new towns springing up throughout the state. The Salinas Plain was largely unoccupied during the Mexican era, but many small communities sprang up in the 1850s. With the demise of the cattle industry in the mid-1860s, and the switch to agriculture which followed, one of these, Salinas City, thrived and prospered. First laid out in 1868, the town boasted a population of nearly 600 by 1870. The Southern Pacific Railroad arrived in 1872, the same year Salinas City was named the county seat.

Chapter Three. Hard Times for Salinas City, 1875 - 1909

After the promising beginning came hard times. Drought, flood, discontent with both major political parties, financial panic, depression, and social unrest began in the 1870s and lasted until the turn of the century. In spite of these problems, the city continued to expand, reaching a population of 3,304 by 1900.

Building on advances in the previous decades, Salinas continued to grow slowly. The Southern Pacific Railroad's coastline route was finally completed, with Salinas as a major stop. At the same time the age of the automobile began. Vast irrigation projects sponsored by Claus Spreckels and others led to large scale agriculture. Salinas was no longer isolated, but took its place in an expanding network of commerce and industry. Even the earthquake of 1906 did little to slow the expansion.

Chapter Four. Consolidation, Growth and War, 1910 - 1918

Salinas continued to grow slowly throughout this decade; indeed from 1880 to 1920 the town's population just barely doubled. The advent of World War I spurred the agricultural industry, and for a while prices soared. The California rodeo was organized. Salinas was brought into the war more directly in 1917, when Troop C of the National Guard was mobilized and marched to the train station. Irrigation agriculture expanded, but by the end of the war sugar beets and grains were still dominant in the Salinas Valley, with barley, wheat, oats, and corn the most important grain crops.

Chapter Five. The Roaring Twenties and the Depression Years, 1919 - 1939

Major changes followed the war. This period began with 95,000 acres planted in grains, over 20,000 acres in sugar beets, and only 60 acres planted in lettuce. Ten years later beets were down to 200 acres and lettuce planting had soared to over 40,000 acres. With the huge jump in lettuce output came economic expansion and a corresponding increase in population. The Roaring Twenties brought construction of an airport and many other improvements, as well as prohibition and rum running, but in the long run the agricultural revolution was truly the most important event.

The Roaring Twenties ended with the stock market crash of 1929 and the Great Depression of the 1930s. While the city benefited from the Public Works Administration and other government assistance, the economy of the area was also kept stable during the Depression by the increasing productivity of agricultural crops. The 1930s also saw the beginning of the labor movement and the agricultural strikes. By the end of the decade the population had nearly tripled from its 1920 level, and most of this growth was directly related to the agricultural revolution.

Chapter Six. World War II and the Following Years, 1940 - 1945

As the country moved to a war footing many changes occurred in the Salinas area. In October of 1941, ground was broken for the first permanent USO building in the country, but the attack on Pearl Harbor occurred two days before it could be dedicated. Fort Ord was one of the largest training bases in the country, and the Army Air Corps built a facility at the airport. Even the Rodeo grounds were used, first as a branch garrison for Fort Ord then as an internment center for Japanese Americans. Salinas' Company C of the 194th Battalion was sent to the Philippines--to Corregidor and Bataan. Only 46 returned. In spite of the tragedy of war, Salinas continued to expand, largely due to agriculture; the vegetable industry became the world's largest, joining the Spreckels sugar factory, which was the world's largest refinery. After the war Salinas experienced another period of growth and expansion, which has continued to this day.

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In order to help genealogists, we have included a detailed index in the book. Those researching family histories will find the following names included (accents omitted):

Abbott, Carl
Abbott, Carlisle S.
Abbott, H.E.
Abel, Barney
Aceves, Antonio
Alpit, Mike
Alsop, Roy Jr.
Alsop, Sam
Alvarado, Juan
Anderson, Burton
Anderson, Henry
Anderson, Mary
Anderson, Walter
Armstrong, J.G.
Arnold, Edward
Ausonio, Andy
Baguio, Al
Ball, Henry S.
Bardin, Henry
Bardin, James (Jim) II
Bardin, James (Jim) Sr.
Bardin, William Sr.
Barlogio, V.J.
Beevers, Lawrence "Butch"
Bello, George
Bettencourt, Irene
Black, Ruth
Black, S.M.
Blanco, Tomas
Blythe, S.G.
Bordieu, Ed
Boronda, Jose Eusebio
Boronda, Jose Manuel
Boronda, Manuel
Bramers, Bill
Breckenridge, Georgeanna
Breen, James E.
Breschini Brothers
Breschini, Bernardo
Breschini, Domingo
Breschini, Ernest
Breschini, John
Breschini, Steve C.
Brewer, W.H.
Broadbent, Sylvia
Brown, Joe E.
Brown, Pat
Brumwell, William
Bryan, John
Bullene Bros.
Bullene, Pet
Burbeck, A.
Burke, M.J.
Butner, Charles
Cant˙a, Vicente
Carnegie, Andrew
Carr, Jesse D.
Castro, Joaquin
Castro, Jose Tiburcio
Castro, Macario
Castro, Manuel
Church & Knowlton
Church, Bruce
Clark, Elmer
Clark, Gertrude
Clark, Percy
Cleveland, President Grover
Click, Albert S.
Cominos, George
Cominos, Mike
Condon, George
Conner, Joe
Coolidge, President Calvin
Cooper, Alex
Cooper, Ignatius
Cooper, Leonard
Corey, Hiram
Corlett, Eileen
Cornett, Iver "Red"
Coulter, Edith
Coulter, Mable
Cracknell, Percy
Crockett, Joseph B.
Cruess, Edna
Custer, George Armstrong
Dashline, Sam
Daugherty, G.A.
Davis, H.L.
Davis, Tad
Dayton, Gene
de la Guerra, Maria Teresa
de la Torre, J.
Del Chiaro, Angelo
Donahue, Bernice
Dowling, James
Dread, Henry T.
Duncan, Chas.
Duncan, Frances
Duncan, Millie
Eade, Wes
Eastwood, O.D.
Eaton, Orrin O.
Eddy, Dr. E.D.
Edwards, T.C.
Emery, Walter
Engelhardt, Zephyrin
Erickson, Eric
Espinosa, Salvadore
Faneuf, Sam
Feliz, Nell
Ferry Morse Seed Co.
Field, Justice Stephen J.
Fink, Augusta
Fleckner, Dorothy Wood
Flint, Thomas
Fontes, Frank
Ford & Sanborn Co.
Ford J. Twaits Co.
Franklin, Benjamin
Fremont, John
Fry, Ray
Fulle, C.J.
Garin, H.P.
Geil, S.F.
Gigling, Anton
Giles, Sam
Gomez, Don Joaquin
Gordon, S.B.
Gould, George S.
Grant, L.W.
Grant, Marguerite
Graves, Captain El
Graves, George
Graves, Tom
Gray, Catherine (Cooper)
Greenwell, William
Griffen, Frank J.
Griffin, A.H.
Griffin, George
Gwynn, Ben F.
Harden, Gene
Hare, Dorothy
Hare, Lou
Hartnell, Teresa
Hartnell, William
Harvey, I.J.
Harvey, Will
Hauser, Steve
Hebbron, Arthur
Hebbron, Elton
Hebbron, Florence
Hebbron, James R.
Hebert, C.Z.
Hellman, Richard
Hepple, F.E.
Hill, James Bryant
Hill, William
Hinrichs, Mildred
Hirozawa, Frank
Hiserman, O.M.
Hitchcock, Benjamin
Holaday, Chase
Holaday, Marie
Holcomb, Homer
Holm, Alex
Holmes, George
Holmes, Tom
Hoover, President Herbert
Hopps, Martin
Howe, Deacon Elias
Hughes Bros.
Hughes, Andy
Hughes, Bill
Hughes, James (Jim)
Hughes, John
Hughes, Margaret
Hughes, Michael
Hughes, Ralph
Hughes, Tom
Hunsacker, Della
Hussey, Ruth
Hutchings, Mose
Hyde, Henry A.
Irwin Bros.
Iverson, Cora
Iverson, J.B.
Jacks, David
Jackson, A.B.
Jeffery, Bill
Johnson, L.E.
Johnson, Maud
Johnson, William
Johnston, Bob
Keiver, Yvonne
Kelley, John
Kidder, John F.
King, J.S.
Kirschner, Lilian
Kitamuro, Saburo
Klamath River Jack
Kondo, Ichijuro
Krough, Ann Hughes
Kubo, Mitsuko
Lacey, George
Lafka, Katherine
Lanini, John
Lapierra, Marcel
Larkin, Thomas O.
Lauritzen, Frank
Lauritzen, J.P.
Lauritzen, Jay
Lawson, Stanley
Leach, E.J.
Leach, Wm. H.
Leese, Jacob P.
Leese, Mary
Lefcowitz, Abe
Lefton, Abe
Lemon, Addie
Leonard, George
Louis, Charles
Lund, Art
Lund, Art
Lynch, H.W.
Lynn, Alice
Maracci, Egidio
Margolin, Malcolm
Marshal, Brenda
Martin, Carmel
Martin, Daniel
Maruyama, Katsujiro
Matthews, Sam
McCallum, Dr. William B.
McDougall, James H.
McDougall, John
McFadden, Charles
McFadden, Frank
Melhiesen, Katrina
Merrill, T.R.
Methiesen, Georgette
Meyenberg, John B.
Meyers, Frank S.
Mignola, Al
Mills, Carrie
Moffit, Fred E.
Molera, Andrew
Morrill, Dorothy
Morrison-Knudsen Co.
Murieta, Joaquin
Murphy, Spud
Nardi & Sbrana
Narvaez, Jose M.
Nissen, Myron
Noland, Harry
Nunes, Rosalie
Nutting, Ken
O'Cayer (Frenchie)
Ord, General Edward O.C.
Palmtag, Ed
Parker, Bea
Parker, Garth
Parker, Paul
Parkhurst, Charley (Charlotte)
Parsons, Al
Paul, Francis
Pedroni, Greg
Pekoch, George
Pesante, Grace
Petersen, Grant
Peterson, Miss
Phillips, Clarence
Phillips, Frances
Phillips, Tom
Phillips, Trig
Pico, Jose Dolores
Pierce, Samuel
Pierson, Hattie
Place, Ralph
Porter, Bea
Portola, Captain Gaspar de
Pradia, Joe
Pyburn, W. H.
Redmond, E.J.
Relply, Captain
Renault, Jean
Renault, Jean
Renison, Thomas
Resetar, Peter M.
Riker, Alanson
Robins, Skeeter Bill
Robinson, Tex
Rogers, C.C.
Rogers, Will
Rolph, "Sunny" Jim
Romero, Antonio
Roosevelt, President Franklin
Rossi, Ed
Rowlings, George
Rumsey, John W.
Saccone, E. "Ben"
Sagehorn, Irma
Sanborn, L.W.
Schmidt, William
Serra, Fr. Junipero
Sewell, Nelson B.
Sherwood, Eugene
Sherwood, Fred
Shikuma, Unosuke
Silacci, Carol
Silacci, Hank
Silacci, Ki
Silacci, Norma Jean
Silacci, Pat
Sloat, Commodore
Smith, Austin
Smith, Madeline
Smith, Perry
Soberanes, Jose Maria
Soto, Damasa
Soto, Francisco
Soto, J.M.
Soto, P.
Soto, Zeferino
Spaulding, Ted
Spiegl, Ellis H.
Spreckels, Claus
Stahl, Jesse
Steinbeck, John
Stevens, Harry
Stevenson, Robert Louis
Stilwell, General Joseph
Stirling, Duncan
Stirling, Emma
Stirling, Lester
Stokes, Ty
Stolich, Peter
Storm, Nell Hughes
Strobel, H.L.
Struve, Henry
Taft, President William H.
Takahashi, Kanichiro
Tavernetti, Paul "Turk"
Tebo, Agnes
Tebo, Louis
Tholcke, Grover
Thompson, Imogene
Trescony, Alberto
Trescony, Julius
Tuttle, Dr. H.D.
Tuttle, Mildred
Tynan, Jan
Tynan, Mike
Underwood, Bert
Vancouver, George
Vanderhurst, William
Vasquez, Tiburcio
Villa, Pancho
Vizcaino, Sebastian
Walker, Jimmy
Walker, Rose
Waterman, Gertrude
Watkins, Rolin C.
Watson, Thos.
Weeks, William
Wells, Myrtle
Werner, Richard J.
Whisman, Alpha
Whisman, Clara
Whistman, John
White, Thomas
Wilcoxen, F.B.
Wilson, Claude
Wilson, President Woodrow
Wing, Ruth
Winham, Lillian
Winker, Clabe
Winkle, Dorothy
Wood, Lt. Howard
Wood, Wallace A.
Wyckoff, Ralph
Yamamoto, Heizuchi
Yamoto Cemetery
Yin, Shorty Lee
Zabala, A.J.
Zabala, Billy (Billie)
Zabala, P.E.
Zabala, Virginia
Zuniga y Acevedo, Don Gaspar de

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