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Leonard McKay

Leonard McKay

Welcome to www.leonardmckay.com, the site dedicated to the life and learnings of Leonard McKay, historian, San Jose, California. My grandfather was an amazing man and a wealth of knowledge. As such, I have decided that it is a crime to let his knowledge go to waste, and will be developing this site in his honor.

Excerpts from Leonard's Blog

  • Presbyterians and Prostitutes: When Chinese men from Canton arrived during the gold rush as contract laborers, they never intended to stay here. If a man could manage to save $100, he could return to his village and live out the rest of his days, never having to work again. But very few accomplished this goal, as gambling and opium took their toll. In order to enter Chinese heaven their bones had to be buried in China, and shipping the remains of men whom died in California back to their home became big business.
  • The First State Legislature: The “Legislature of a Thousand Drinks” is the unmerited sobriquet remembering the first State Legislature of California held here in San Jose in late1849 and early 1850. The elected senators and assemblymen were all very young men—most of whom had been in California for less than two years—with little or no training in law, and yet they made some of the most important laws governing our state, most of which are still in effect today. The total budget for the first year of operation was $348,000.
  • Dirt (Part I): For the next few weeks, I am going to write about “dirt.” Not political dirt, not Hollywood dirt, just plain dirt—the kind we have underneath us, some of the best dirt in the world.
  • Dutch Hamann (Part 2): Let’s get back to the man in charge of change—A.P. “Dutch” Hamann. He graduated from the University of Santa Clara during the early stages of the great depression. Although his name was Anthony P. Hamann, everyone I’ve ever known called him “Dutch,” a nickname derived from his German heritage. Dutch was the alumni director of the University when I first knew him prior to World War II. When the war broke out, Santa Clara became practically deserted as the priests, students, faculty and administrators were called to military duty. Dutch joined the Navy where he rose to the rank of Lt. Commander. After the war he returned to Santa Clara as business manager, but after a few years he left to join General Motors as division manager in Oakland.
  • The 1906 Earthquake (Part 3): I have told you a little about what happened in San Jose and San Francisco. Now let’s see what Ralph Rambo remembers about that fatal day and incident. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Ralph Rambo, he was an eminent historian and cartoonist who wrote 14 pamphlets about life in Santa Clara Valley. The following account is taken from his excellent booklet, E Day. The family’s windmill, their sole source of water, had been toppled by the quake.