Beginning Local History Research

Thanks to the San Mateo County Genealogical Society for their bump to this blog and review of the Friendly Acres history blog on October 19th.  (Yes, we have been inactive for a while, but have been quietly compiling new articles as yet to be published....hopefully during a school watch this space!)

The SMCGS website (revamped) and separate blog, which feature "society events, projects, meeting notes and other items of relevance to genealogists", has been a go-to for me when researching local names and places, particularly when I first started to look into my local neighborhood history.

Their new sites on Pinterest and Facebook as well as their Familysearch Wiki provide an amazing treasure trove of data and sources to keep your research going.

If you have an interest in genealogy, or local history, be sure to visit the San Mateo County Genealogical Society pages!

The Friendly Butcher

So what is the Severn Dairy Mural in Burlingame, CA, doing on a blog about a neighborhood in Redwood City?
Severn Lodge Dairy Mural, Burlingame, CA -
Naturally, there is a connection.  Firstly, its a segue from our last post on the Murals of Redwood City and mural of Friendly Acres, wherein we stressed the point that murals are not only beautiful but they bring the past alive   And secondly, the connection has everything to do with the livelihood of Harry Friend who founded the Friendly Acres neighborhood here in Redwood City.

In a small clip buried in the The Times from May 14, 1937, in the "Do you Remember Section", a tiny blurb entry is posted under "Twenty Years Ago Today".  It reads "Harry Friend and M. Silva of San Mateo and San Bruno, respectively, had purchased a herd of 149 Holstein cattle from the Severn dairy."

The Times and Daily News Leader, Burlingame, San Mateo, CA p.10, Friday 5/14/1937
The information this provided was a clue as to Harry Friend's dealings in the early decades of the 20th century.  Indeed, what was interesting about the purchase was that it clearly must have been important to be remembered by the newspapers twenty years later.

Friend had bought the cattle in 1917, which is around the time when the Severn Lodge mural is believed to have been painted.  The mural was created to advertize the Severn Dairy Creamery on California Drive, as well as the Milk Delivery company.

The purchase was also of note because it occurred at the peak of World War I,  and a month after the United States decided to join the Great War.  The average price per head, all ages, of cattle other than milk cows, was $35.92 in 1917 and sky rocketed almost 25% to $44.22 in 1919.

And Friend made the purchase not just with anyone, but with Manuel Silva, the son of the renowned rancher Custodio Silva.

Mr. [Custodio] Silva, of Silva Ranch, San Bruno, 188-? Online Archive of California - Contributing Institution: San Bruno Public Library, 
The Silvas had established themselves since the 1880s as ranchers on the Peninsula with various properties in and around the San Bruno and Millbrae areas - and were known most especially for their horse ranch close to the Tanforan thoroughbred RaceTrack.  Horses, and horse power, at the turn of the century were still the predominant mode of load pulling and transportation, everywhere, not just on farms.

A seven horse Hay Wagon cor. San Bruno Ave. & Oakdale Ave. On its way to the stock yards at Butcher Town. April 6 1928; OAC, Contributing Institution: UC Berkeley, Bancroft Library
For Harry Friend, the joint transaction with Silva for the Holsteins wasn't for dairy farming so much as for the Slaughterhouse which he operated in San Bruno.  The buying and selling of hides was an offshoot by-product venture which he also ran.

Cowboy corralling cattle at Butchertown in 1921.  Photograph dated  Jan 11 1921.
Source: San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library
It turns out that Friend was a butcher by trade.  He had arrived in the U.S. on Nov 13th 1901, age 26, from Kalisz, Poland, and his arrival records at Ellis Island, indicate his occupation as butcher.  His departure records from Hamburg corroborate not only his age but also his occupation as a "Fleischergeselle", which translates literally as "Journeyman Butcher".  (Note: A journeyman is not an Apprentice, but neither is he a Master of his trade.  A journeyman, comes from the french for "journée", meaning "day",  and meant someone who was hired by the day, i.e. paid on a daily basis, and not salaried.  Typically, they would be hired or contracted out to master tradesmen to fulfill a job.)

Immediately on arrival at Ellis Island, his name would be changed to the anglicized "Harry Friend" from the German "Abraham Freund", as per the departure records from Hamburg and ship's manifest of the SS. Milano.  Thereafter, he would use his arrival date in the U.S. as his date of birth, intentionally shaving off five years from his age.  Presumably this was to improve his job prospects in his newly adopted country - in essence creating a new identity and a new life for himself and his family. 

After leaving Ellis Island and settling down in Brooklyn and Manhattan, we know from the 1905 New York City Census records that Friend was already occupied as a Butcher there.  He moved west to San Francisco with his wife, child, and younger brother Solomon, shortly after.

By 1910 the family were living in Vista Grande, which, a year later in 1911, would become known as Daly City. (Vista Grande was a refugee village which had sprung up on a hillside known as Daly's Hill on John Daly's dairy farm, where people fleeing the 1906 San Francisco earthquake began to erect semi-permanent and permanent structures.)

While living in Vista Grande, Friend was working as a self-employed hide buyer and broker.  Hides were a cash commodity and typically hide buyers were employed by the local tanneries.  Smaller tanneries would buy their raw material from reliable slaughterer brokers or receivers that they could trust.  Friend's experience as a butcher/slaughterer made him a valuable asset to many businesses that relied on the raw materials, not just hides and skins, from cattle and livestock.

He still maintained a butcher's business and in 1917, Friend is registered with a licensed slaughter house in San Bruno.

The records indicate he continued on in business as a Butcher until 1922, around his mid-40s when he took up real estate full time.  His daughter, Eva, who was also his bookkeeper ended up marrying within the trade, to Jean Bercut, of the famed Bercut Brothers.  The Bercuts emigrated from Limoges, France, in 1906, and Henri and Pierre, Jean's brothers, opened their first butcher's shop, "Grand Market" in San Francisco in 1912.  They went on to establish the nationally famous Grant Meat Market, located at 743 Market Street, at the tail of Grant Ave where it runs into Market Street.  The Bercut Bros. were known to have the finest meat market in the United States, their reputation having been made initially on boneless cuts of beef.
San Francisco Chronicle, 17 Dec 1912

They eventually relocated to Chestnut Street and in the 1960s the old Meat Market on Grant was turned into a parking lot.


  1. Horse Hay wagon Image: | 7 horse hay wagon
  2. Lead Steer Image: - Lead Steer
  3. Custodia Silva Image: | - Online Archive of California ; California Digital Library
  4.  Sausalito News, Vol 37, # 27, 2 July 1921 - Much Loss in Beef Cattle |
  5. Severn Lodge Dairy Mural, Burlingame -
  6. Severn Lodge - The Founding Families of Burlingame-Hillsborough blog
  7. Severn Dairy -
  8. Henry Pike Bowie and Severn Lodge in article "Jeffer Daykin: Henry Pike Bowie & the "Daimyo" Gate" Aug 17, 2009 in  Half Moon Bay Memories & El Granada Observer, Created by June MorrallHamburg Passenger Manifest Oct 1 1901, Milano Ship, Ellis Island Foundation Passenger Search.
  9. Cattle Brands and Licensed Slaughterers of 1918 - Showing all recorded Cattle Brands and the names and addresses of all licensed slaughterers on record in the offiœ of the Cattle Protection Board of California - published by the Cattle Protection Board of California., 1919
  10. California Census and Voter Registrations

Friendly Acres Mural

It may seem strange to write about murals in a local history blog, but murals have been popping up all around Redwood City this year, 2015, and they're of cultural and historic importance.  Murals are not a new invention.  They have been around since the beginning of time.  We've seen them in caves from the Upper Paleothic times, to as recently as vintage advertizing signs and graffitti in World War I and II trenches.  For as long as man has had a wall to draw on, we have painted and drawn our way through time leaving a mark of who we are for future generations.

So, the other day, while driving along Florence/Bay past Delucchi's Market (formerly the Key Market), at Marsh Manor, it was wonderful to come upon a rare scene of a field full of California poppies on the west facing wall of the building (looking out toward the Friendly Acres Water Company building).

The mural, painted by Nic Motley, shows a field of sunny yellow poppies and bluebells, camouflaging the utility box at the base of the wall.  A standalone barn door (painted over an actual door) with no barn to go with it awkwardly borders the edge of the mural.  Nonetheless it a friendly little vignette and it certainly brighten up a beige corner.

Redwood City's Cultural Commission have been working with the Peninsula Arts Council and city officials to reinforce the city’s role as a center of art and culture for the Peninsula.  What started off as a small idea to transform those big ugly utility boxes that are eye sores on our streets, by painting them, has resulted in a wonderfully whimsical beautification project.  The program has already been tested out in other civic centers since 2004, in Berkeley, San Francisco, Palo Alto, Emeryville, Oakland, San Jose to popular success - such that the utility boxes have become landmarks in some cases and incorporated into tourist walking tours.

The project's goals are to deter unsightly graffiti on the utility boxes, bring art to unexpected places and enhance the beauty and vibrancy of Redwood City for years to come.    Interested sponsors and artists may contact the Project Coordinator, Sheila Cepero, or call (650) 303-0216 for more information.   (Utility Box Mural Program, Redwood City Parks & Rec Dept., 1400 Roosevelpt Ave., Redwood City, CA 94061).

Probably the most beautiful mural in Redwood City at this time and, in my opinion, in the San Francisco Bay Area  has to be the Crouching Tiger mural, on Commercial Street behind the Crouching Tiger chinese restaurant.  Painted in 3 weeks by artist Morgan Bricca who finished it for the Chinese New Year Lunar celebrations this year, 2015.   The trompe l'oeil style draws you into a chinese sreet village scene, where even the restaurant's actual chef is seen sitting on the front steps of one the buildings in the foreground.   The mural not only draws you into the scene and into the restaurant but, again, cleverly disguises ....yes, a utility box.

When you see Ms Bricca's her work you'll agree that not all artists are made equal.

Commercial Street, home to the Crouching Tiger mural, is a back alley that runs from Broadway to Brewster.  It is home also to another mural, a vintage advertizing sign, which was discovered in 2013 when renovation to the former Joy Meadow restaurant at the corner of El Camino and Brewster, (701 El Camino Real) revealed a wonderful handpainted Coca Cola mural.

With the discovery of the Coke sign and on the basis of Ms Bricca's work, it is not surprising to hear that most of the merchants with wall frontage on Commercial Street are now keen on being a part of the mural project.

An interesting evolution continues in the world of murals.  New ones are continually being commissioned and created while old ones are constantly being rediscovered and restored.

Perhaps the oldest murals in Redwood City are the painted signs from the Holmquist Hardware Store on the corner of Stambaugh Street and Main (at 875 Main Street), and the Diller-Chamberlain Store at 726 Main Street.  The Holmquist store clearly says 1895 as its date.  The Chamberlain store signage, has no known date, but it is known that the store operated from around 1859 to 1911, as a Wells Fargo station office and General Store.  The painted white lettering against red brick was discovered when the building was being renovated and preserved. It still maintains a somewhat legible script on the side of the build that reads,"P.P. Chamberlain General Merchandise". 

Photo: Sanfranman59 - Wikimedia Common

Photo: Avi Morgan, on Flickr
 Art is an expression of time and therefore of history.  It is the presence of permanent murals, commissioned paintings and signage which connects us to near and distant memories of people who were here before us and allows us to understand what may have operated inside or outside of a given building, and what appealed to the artistic sensibilities of a given age.

So enjoy the art and utility boxes around you, and why not try your hand at painting a utility box.  You may end up creating and preserving history at the same time.

Thumbs up to the city's Cultural Committee for sponsoring this project.

1)  Informational guide and form on the Redwood City Utility Box project, to apply as an Artist, or to sponsor a building or box.
2) Wikipedia Public Art project
3) Library of Congress:  Diller-Chamberlain Store, 726 Main Street, Redwood City
4) Find-a-grave:  Rudolf Carl Holmquist store, 875 Main Street, Redwood City
5) Coke Sign on Commercial Street:  Building front on 701 El Camino Real.
5) Nic Motley website, Friendly Acres muralist for Delucchi's Market
6) Website for muralist Morgan Bricca
7) San Jose Mercury News: "Redwood City Pilot Program looks to transform infrastructure into art", Jan 12 2015 

Friendly Acres Airport

It was 1926 and both Daniel Stafford and the Redwood Committee had lost the bid to establish the San Francisco airport on Sweeny Ranch lands (read more in the post on Sweeny Ranch Airport) - lands that adjoined the Redwood City airport.  That loss lead to the creation of the neighborhood we know as Friendly Acres.

However the Second World War only served to resurrect those commercial airport aspirations. And at the end of the war, in the late summer and fall of 1945, David Dewey Bohannon proposed the idea of building an airport at the end of Marsh Road.

Bohannon, like Daniel Stafford before him, was a real estate developer who had purchased the Belle Haven Tract from Harry Friend who, in turn, had originally purchased Belle Haven in 1935 during the depression.  Belle Haven represented the most easterly parcels of land of the old Sweeny Ranch (ranch lands carved out of the original Pulgas Rancho).

Despite the high and rapid turnover of owners, Redwood City airport, between Chestnut and Woodside road, had continued to operate during the 30s and 40s and the airfield was commonly referred to during the 2nd World War as Sanders' field.

No doubt influenced by the war time aviation activity, and the superb geographic conditions which the Navy had written about in 1916, coupled with Redwood City's 1925 slogan of "Climate Best by Government Test", Bohannon had pitched the idea of rezoning 72 acres of land north and east of Marsh Rd on the northern side of Bayshore Highway to create an airfield by the bay. 

At 72 acres, the proposed extent of land for the Friendly Acres airport (what we know today as the Industrial Park area) would have been a little under four times the size of today's Bayfront Park, at the end of Marsh Road, which is about 22 acres.

The Times, San Mateo, CA, Oct 20 1945

But Sander's Field, and the war in general, had given the residents of Friendly Acres its share of aviation mishaps:  noise from low flying aircraft, plane crashes by flying aces (read about the crash landing here), and bombs being dropped on the neighborhood, (more about the warhead incident here) were just a few of the trials that befell local residents.

The Times, San Mateo, CA, Dec 29 1939

Inevitably, the combined communities of Friendly Acres and Atherton saw fit to deny Bohannon's application for an airfield citing noise and land value depreciation as objectionable.

Unable to develop the airport, Bohannon went on to build 1305 homes in the Belle Haven Tract, (today, in East Palo Alto and East Menlo Park), which they envisioned as "a home builder's paradise where wildflowers bloom year 'round..."  


  • San Mateo County Genealogy, SF Place Names, Belle Haven:
  • Friendly Acres Airport Banned - San Mateo Times, Oct 20 1945
  • Low Flying Aviator Scare Friendly Acres - San Mateo Times, Dec 29 1939

Vestiges of Redwood City Airport

For those of you who wrote in with comments and information following the article on Sweeny Ranch / Sanders Airport thank you for your emails.

I have been advised by several people that there is still one building of the original Redwood City Airport that remains intact and should be considered a historic building.  (And hopefully it is considered a historic building by the Redwood City History Committee.)

The building in question was originally the Aviation Cafe which had been owned and operated by the Andreini family from 1925 to 1969.  Ettore and Carolina Andreini had emigrated to the U.S. from Italy in 1921 and established themselves in Redwood City in the middle of what was then one of the busiest and most prestigious flying schools and airports in the state of California.

The Andreini's cleverly chose a site for their restaurant that was located immediately opposite the hangars which stood where Grant Yard is now, on the western end of the airfield.  (On the corner of Chestnut and Spring, opposite where the county corporation yard today stands.)  It would have been a place where pilots, students and passengers would have immediately gone to for a coffee and bite to eat.

The cafe was sold by the Andreini's in 1969 and in the 70's became the "Hideaway Lounge" offering cocktails and live music, which is how many people still remember it.
Vintage Hideaway Lounge matchbook covers.  Left, cover logo of cowboy on bucking bronco, reminiscent of the Redwood City Rodeo - [Source: ebay - sold]; Right, an elegant evening matchbook cover with gold embossed lettering, [Source: Frank Kelsey on Flickr].   Retail between $6-10 each!  
Today, their building continues to stand and to provide food as it did back in 1925.  Nowadays it houses the Apatzingan Mexican restaurant. 

Click here to locate on Google Maps.
So for all you hardcore airplane aficionados and airport archaelogists if you're interested in sneaking a peek at the place - then you might want to pay a visit to Apatzingan's at 739 Chestnut St., Redwood City, CA 94063.  Phone number (650) 599-9172 

I can't find a website for the Apatzingan restaurant.  But they do have a page on with plenty of reviews from the general public.

References: San Mateo Times, 4 December 1975, Death Notice Caroline Andreini.