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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

  • Credo Quia Absurdum: There has been considerable debate about the purpose of the Ancient and Honorable Order of E Clampus Vitus. Is it a men’s historical and drinking society, or is it a drinking and historical society? What does the name stand for? I can’t answer these questions and the name doesn’t translate into anything meaningful in English. The society’s roots—as a benevolent fraternal society—go deep into the gold rush history of California, when there was a real need for such things.
  • The 1906 Earthquake (Part 4): “So Dad whipped up the horse and we made a harried tour of the disrupted city. Certain sights were implanted in the mind of this 12-year old. San Francisco suffered most from its great fire. In that respect San Jose was more fortunate. The [fire] control was excellent in comparison. We arrived to see only one fire in progress on Second Street. Remember this was before fire engines were motorized. So the team or rather three abreast horses were tied across the street from the Jose Theater. The fire was just one building, now under control. But the street was strangely deserted. Why was there no crowd? Where were the usual spectators?”
  • The Great Lion Murder: Many years ago, an article appeared in the newspaper about the Great Lion Murder. It was confirmed by historian Larry Campbell (now nearly 100 years old), but neither of us could remember where we saw it. For nearly a decade, I have been searching for the original report. I contacted Paul Lion, descendant of the owners of Lion’s Furniture Store on the corner of Second and San Fernando Streets where the incident took place, but he was unaware of the story. Imagine my surprise when, at a recent Pioneer board meeting, the young lady sitting next to me was Alix Lion, who had a copy of the original story and sent it to me. Here is the original as it appeared in the San Jose Mercury on Wednesday, April 30, 1902:
  • The 1906 Earthquake (Part 2): Last week I told of the immediate aftermath of the earthquake in San Jose. San Francisco was another story—one of the greatest tragedies of California history. Estimates of the dead numbered more than 700, but the true count will never be known.
  • My Lucky Penny: I spied a penny on the ground, It was lying there all along- Reached down and picked it up, My pocket’s now its home.