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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

  • Anatomy of a Street (Part 1): What San Jose street is actually in two cites, has had a murder by hired assassins, has three churches and narrows at both ends? What street had a property with a live lion patrolling the grounds in the 1930s and has a house that was once a brothel before it was moved to its present location? What private eye living on this street was stabbed when answering his door late one night in 1974?
  • Dutch Hamann (Part 1): In more than two hundred years of San Jose’s history, who changed the city the most? Actually there were two politicians, each of whom had a profound effect and each of whom I have been privileged to call friend. One increased the population from a small town of 95,000 people and an area of 17 square miles to a metropolis of over 500,000 people and a city sprawled over 137 square miles. During his 19 years in office, the city changed from a canning and food processing center to a manufacturing and hi-tech center and earned the “All-American City” award along the way. The other politician, Tom McEnery, took an antiquated downtown and created a renaissance with a dramatic skyline during his two terms as mayor.
  • Dirt (Part 3): The policy imposed by the Missions was that the Indians should work, tend the fields and care for the animals. This was a concept that they didn’t like or understand. (Locally, the Indians never had permanent settlements in the valley and their gods Eagle, Hummingbird and Coyote lived in the mountains—Eagle on Mt. Diablo and Hummingbird on Mt. Umunhum.) The Missions also separated the unmarried Indian men and women at night, another concept they didn’t like.
  • Early Land Grants: Many people have asked me about the land grants dating from the Pueblo de San Jose era. Most people refer to them as the “Spanish Land Grants.” In fact, the grants were nearly all Mexican grants as the Spanish king’s land was only given to retired soldiers for their military service. Of the 44 land grants in Santa Clara County, only three were Spanish while 41 were Mexican. To receive a Mexican Grant, an individual only had to petition the governor, file a crude map of the area, and submit a fee of about twelve dollars. The petition could be for a city house lot or a 50,000 acre rancho. In addition, one had to be a Mexican citizen and of the Catholic faith. To become a Mexican citizen, an individual merely had to pledge allegiance to Mexico.
  • The 1906 Earthquake (Part 5): “Agnews Asylum had suffered the worst catastrophe in the Valley. Santa Clara College had nobly responded. With all the wires down, a horseman had taken word to Santa Clara and at least 100 students had run or ridden their wheels after the horseman to the great disaster. Wagons passed us transporting casualties to Santa Clara after they were pulled from the ruins.