Christine Esser

Fall Meet-up at Knott's Berry Farm - Thank You!

Thank you for registering for the behind-the-scenes tour at Knott's Berry Farm.  A confirmation email containing all of the final details will be emailed to you on Monday, October 18, 2021.  We look forward to seeing you there!

published Annual Meeting 2021-07-07 10:46:06 -0700

published May 2021 - San Bernardino in City-County Highlights 2021-05-19 10:08:16 -0700

San Bernardino

San Bernardino

History of San Bernardino: Sam Bernardino's history began in the early 19th century with the settling of the Spanish missionaries at the base of the beautiful mountain range.  In 1819, the mission San Gabriel was established and assisted the well-being of the native Indian population.  By 1834, the missions were ordered to close by the California governor and thus, the mission period came to and end.  San Bernardino quickly became vacant land, but not for long - it became an important trading route along the Spanish Trail.  Haciendas were soon built to house the Spanish landowners and the town flourished.  In 1860, gold was discovered and men from all around came to the area to try their luck. By the end of the 19th century, railroad companies such as Santa Fe, Union Pacific, and Southern Pacific found their way to San Bernardino, making it the hub for Southern California operations and creating the land boom of the 1880s.  By the mid-1900s, the automobile became a popular means of transportation and better roads were needed.  In 1926, Route 66 was created and would eventually connect Los Angeles to Chicago. 

Year Incorporated: 1854

Population: 216,089 (2020 census)

Historical Landmarks in San Bernardino: San Bernardino is home to many historical landmarks, many along the famous Route 66.  Historical landmarks include the Original McDonalds, which was once a family owned BBQ that turned into the fast food chain that it is today, the Wigwam Motel, and numerous vintage gas stations and diners, which were once common stops along travelers' journeys.  San Bernardino is also home to the Arrowhead geological monument as well as the historic San Bernardino Depot.  

Oldest Building in San Bernardino: The oldest known building in San Bernardino was a church that was built in 1865, which burned shortly after, but was rebuilt in 1878.  That church was also destroyed, but again rebuilt in 1910 and is still standing to this day.

Famous People That Have Lived in San Bernardino: San Bernardino was the host of pioneer trailblazers such as Jedidiah Smith and Kit Carson (1827).  The city of San Bernardino was also visited by four US Presidents - Theodore Roosevelt (1903), William Taft (1912), Dwight D. Eisenhower (1953), and Lyndon Johnson (1964).  

If I Only Had One Day to Spend in San Bernardino, What Should I See or Do? Travel the stretch of Route 66 that is home to so many historic landmarks.  Be sure to visit the historic Santa Fe Depot, the Arrowhead geological monument, the vintage motels and service stations, the Camp Cajon Monument, and even a visit to the beautiful San Bernardino National Forest!

Does a Passenger Train Run Through San Bernardino? The historical Santa Fe depot is a hub for Metrolink and Amtrak lines, transporting passengers throughout Southern California.  This historic depot is a must see on your trip to San Bernardino! 

What is the Best Time to Visit San Bernardino? Anytime is a good time to visit Southern California!  While the weather can be warm during the day in the summer months, the cooler evening are a wonderful host to evening summer events!  Spring and Fall are wonderful times to enjoy all the sites San Bernardino has to offer, without the heat.


Would you like your city or town featured on this page?  Please email Christine Esser in our administrative office at [email protected]!


published Membership Directory in About 2021-05-06 15:26:40 -0700

Thank You for Your Registration!

Thank you for your registration - we look forward to connecting with you on Zoom for our Winter Workshop Virtual Series!  A Zoom link will be emailed one day prior to each session in the series.  Please contact Christine Esser in our administrative office with any questions at [email protected] or [email protected]!

Thank You for Your RSVP!

Thank you for your RSVP - we look forward to connecting with you on Zoom for our Winter Workshop Virtual Series!  A Zoom link will be emailed one day prior to each session in the series.  Please contact Christine Esser in our administrative office with any questions at [email protected] or [email protected]!

published January 25, 2021 - Waterford in Archives 2021-01-25 13:39:58 -0800



History of Waterford: In 1856, W. W. Baker came to California from Berryville, Arkansas. He purchased 160 acres by the Tuolumne River. Upon his return to Berryville, he formed a wagon train and returned to California with his bride, Caroline. Upon reaching the Sierra Nevada mountains, the wagon train became stuck in the snow. During this time, Caroline gave birth to twin girls, Alice and Belle; both lived full lives. The town of Bakersville was formed in 1857 in honor of Mr. Baker. In 1870, US Postal Office requested the town change its’ name due to confusion with other “Baker” towns. Mr. Baker had a ferry that crossed the Tuolumne River along with a mercantile. Members of the community suggested “Waterford” as when one crosses water, they ford the water. The name Waterford remains today. In 1891, the Southern Pacific Railroad reached Waterford crossing a wooden trestle bridge across the river and remained until 1976. The main crop in the early days was wheat. Other grains, fruit trees followed and even Erbs’ Fig Ranch which sent dried figs over the US. Waterford made the history books in 1948 with its’ Chateau Martin Winery. The processing plant sent “Largest Trainload of Wine in History Chateau Martin Winery in California to N.Y.C.” The Southern Pacific train had 25 cars of wine. The train was covered with a large banner and patriotic red, white, blue buntings. Photographers, a band and officials were present upon arrival in New York. The winery no longer exists. Today, Waterford is known as “The Gateway to Recreation” as it takes thousands to the lakes, reservoirs, hiking, fishing, camping and a backway up to Yosemite National Park.

Year Incorporated: Originally incorporated as Bakersville in 1857 and later incorporated as Waterford in November 1969.

Population: 8,456 (2010 Census)

Best Time To Visit Waterford: Based on the weather, the best time to visit Waterford is May - October, where the temperature is a beautiful sunny and 75 degrees!

Waterford is the "Gateway to Recreation": The city is the gateway to many places of interest including Turlock Lake State Recreation area, Lake Don Pedro Reservoir, Modesto Reservoir, New Melones Reservoir, La Grange Off Road Vehicle Recreation Area, and Yosemite National Park.

Historical Points of Interest in Waterford: The Waterford Historical Museum and the Tuolumne River.


Content generously provided by Holly Fielder, Region 14 Regional Vice President (RVP) for CCHS.  If you would like your city or town featured here, please contact Christine Esser in our administrative office at [email protected]!

More About Holly Fielder, Region 14 RVP

The above was written by Holly Fielder, RVP, region 14 (Stanislaus, Merced and Mariposa). My interest goes back to school where I took any course I could find related to history. I have been married for 46 years to my childhood sweetheart; no kids. I am a member of the Waterford Historical Society and served as Vice President and President for years. I am currently devoting my interest to CCHS as I believe in preservation of our history to educate the youth and honor those who came before us. In the future I hope to meet you all when we are able to do so.


Comments from fellow history lovers welcome below!


published August 17, 2020 - Hollywood in Archives 2020-08-18 14:19:57 -0700

August 17, 2020 - Hollywood

Region 27    

The first Hollywood movie was filmed on Whitley Estate on October 26, 1911.  Of all the products of popular culture, none is more sharply etched in our imagination than the movies. Most Americans instantly recognize images produced by the movies: Harrison Ford, as Indiana Jones, as an adventurous archeologist in Radars of the Lost Ark. Sean Connery, the gun-toting James Bond in Gold Finger, and Carrie Fisher, the beautiful princess who is fighting the evil emperor in Star Wars. Even those who have never seen ET, Casablanca or Gone With the Wind respond instantly to the advertisements, parodies, and TV skits that use these films' dialogue, images, and characters. So when was the first Hollywood movie filmed?

According to Hollywood myth, the first film made there was produced Cecil B DeMille's The Squaw Man in 1914, after the director decided not to alight in a snowbound Flagstaff, Arizona, but to proceed to Los Angeles. However, in 1911 a new exciting era of Hollywood was ushered in. The motion picture industry already had several studios in the heart of Los Angeles. The movie In the Sultan’s Power was produced in 1908 by Colonel Selig. It was the first full-length motion picture shot in an old mansion at Eighth and Olive. The motion picture industry did not come to Hollywood until HJ Whitley, The Father of Hollywood, spent over fifteen years and millions of dollars developing and beautifying the area. Considering how strenuously others urged producers and directors to settle in a number of other excellent sites, it is amazing that one man could convince the majority of them to settle in Hollywood. The first Hollywood motion picture taken by a Hollywood film company was taken on October 26, 1911. Although the movie never really had a name, it was a true piece of Hollywood’s history. The Whitley home was used as its set. The movie was filmed in the middle of their groves. The motion picture was directed by David and William Horsley and Al Christe. HJ was fortunate to meet the Horsley brothers as they were touring Hollywood and suggested that they might be able to lease the Blondeau Tavern on Sunset and Gower. He felt sure that it could easily be converted into a movie studio.

In the fall of 1911, the Nestor Motion Picture Company opened the first motion picture studio in Hollywood in the Blondeau Tavern. In May 1912, the Universal Film Company was formed and David Horsley and other small studios merged, each accepting shares in Universal as payment for their business. HJ realized at once that he had found a rare, untapped jewel that would make his town stand out from others. The rules of the game he now played were simple, much like the game of marbles he played when he was a child. The games would last several minutes, and the best player would leave with all the jewels. In this new game, the jewels were movie producers and directors. Others would try; but HJ possessed a decisive edge, a mystical power that drew people to him. HJ’s charm disarmed strangers and made them instant friends. He was a friend to everyone, one who would cheer you on when you were successful and who would support you when the going got rough. It was difficult to explain just how HJ created these bonds. After knowing HJ for just a few hours, it was like you knew him all your life; and you knew you would be friends forever. HJ stood out from others because of the levels of concern and service he offered.

David Horsley was walking down Hollywood Boulevard near the Hollywood Hotel and looking a little lost and confused when a pleasant, well-dressed gentleman appeared and asked if he could help. David told HJ what he was looking for. HJ not only pointed him in the right direction; he escorted him all the way down the street to his destination. David asked him his name and occupation. To David’s surprise, he introduced himself as the developer of Hollywood.  “I built the bank and hotel at the corner of Highland and Hollywood Boulevard.” When HJ spoke, his face lit up with an inward fire. He was transfigured. As the conversation wore on, an instant friendship developed. HJ even offered David the use of his elaborate gardens for filming. HJ was thrilled with the idea that this young, budding filmmaker would soon be opening a studio that would enhance the face of Hollywood.

Horsley’s studio achieved great success; and soon, many other studios were drawn to the area. HJ convinced David to purchase three lots: 3639 Whitley Heights, 3737 North Heights, and 4546 Whitley Heights Park Tract. He never lost a chance to make a sale. Hollywood began to grow by leaps and bounds, attracting many others to its famous hills. The Hollywood Hotel, which HJ Whitley built, played an enormous role in placing Hollywood on the world map. Industry giants, such as Jesse Lasky, Carl Laemmle, Louis B. Mayer, Harry Warner, and Irving Thalberg would stay at the hotel. Producers, directors, and writers held conferences on its broad verandahs. There was a continuous flow of silver screen stars arriving daily. Many of the famous silent screen movie idols made it their home. They were a lively bunch who attended dances held every Thursday night in the ballroom. Rudolph Valentino taught tango lessons to an influential studio executive, June Mathis, who later offered him the lead in Metro’s The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. The movie was a commercial and critical success and the beginning of Valentino’s career as a star. The Hollywood Hotel gained celebrity status when Valentino impulsively married actress Jean Aker in the lobby days after meeting her there. Rudolph Valentino lived in room 264. Where there were stars, there was gossip about their adventures. It was considered the place to be seen, and many business deals were transacted in its rooms. HJ made a suggestion to movie mogul Joe Schenck to put his entire company, including his movie star wife, Norma Talmadge, at the hotel while moving his studio from New York to Hollywood. Many years later, Norma would be their neighbor in Whitley Heights. HJ and Gigi (his wife) became friends with other notable stars that stayed at the hotel. The hotel register listed Charlie Chaplin, Norma Shearer, Douglas Fairbanks, Fatty Arbuckle, Lillian and Dorothy Gish, King Vidor, Lon Chaney, Carrie Jacobs Bond, Blanche Sweet, Mary Pickford, Lionel Barrymore, Buster Keaton, and countless others. As a thank-you to their faithful patrons, the hotel painted stars on the ceiling of the dining room with the actors’ names inside them. That way it was easy to identify which table belonged to which star. When the hotel was demolished in the 1950s the Hollywood Chamber decided to continue the tradition with the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Silent film stars danced and romanced in the hotel’s Dining Room of the Stars. As Hollywood grew, the hotel had a continuous flow of silent screen movie stars making it their home. Many ordinary citizens would stay at the Hollywood, hoping to get a glimpse or an autograph of their favorite star.

The Cahuenga Pass also played its part by offering a route through the hills to the Valley. It had originally been a simple, winding trail over which cattle had been driven. In 1909 HJ Whitley headed a land syndicate that purchase 48,000 acres to develop the San Fernando Valley. In 1911, the tracks to the Red Car were laid. When the San Fernando Valley became a center for the movie studios, the pass was the main link between it and Hollywood. For the biggest stars in Hollywood, there were mansions. The hills of Hollywood were filled with directors, producers, writers, stars, HJ and Gigi’s close friends. But the crews and struggling extras that stood in line daily, hoping to get picked for parts, needed less expensive places to live. HJ saw that the Valley offered such a spot. Soon, thousands of hopeful young men and women came to California seeking fame and fortune in the motion picture industry. Not long after Nestor Company opened in Hollywood Cecil B. DeMille and D. W. Griffith began making movies in Hollywood. They had been drawn to the community by HJ Whitley's marketing campaigns. By the early 1920s, Hollywood had become the world's film capital. It produced nearly all films shown in the United States and collected 80 percent of the revenue from films shown abroad. During the 20s, Hollywood strengthened its position as world leader by recruiting many of Europe's most talented actors and actors, like Greta Garbo, Rudolph Valentino, Marlene Dietrich, Charles Boyer and Hedy Lamarr, directors like Ernst Lubitsch and Alford Hitchcock, as well as camera operators, lighting technicians, and set designers. Silent cinema defined a new art form in the comedies of Chaplin, Keaton and Lloyd and the psychological dramas of Erich von Stroheim and King Vidor. They joined a homegrown supply of actors — lured west from the New York City. By the end of the decade, Hollywood was the nation's fifth largest industry, attracting 83 cents out of every dollar Americans spent on amusement.

The studios that made the first silent classics in Hollywood would continue to grow for the next century and become the giants of today. Warner Brothers Pictures incorporated in 1923. In 1924, MGM, Columbia Pictures and MCA were founded. In 1926, Famous Players-Lasky Corporation spent $1 million on United Studios' property where Paramount Pictures have been located since 1935.


Information generously provided by Gaelyn Whitley Keith, Great-Granddaughter of H.J. Whitley (October 7, 1847 – June 3, 1931) and author of The Father of Hollywood.   Gaelyn with her husband Randy is a resident of El Dorado Hills CA. If you would like your city or town featured here, please contact Christine Esser in our administrative office at [email protected]!


published 2020 Slate of Officers 2020-06-05 11:43:52 -0700

2020-2022 Slate of Officers

As a valued member in good standing of the Conference of California Historical Societies, please cast your vote on the following
Slate of Officers for the 2020-2022 term!  If you are interested in becoming a member of our Board of Directors, please contact the 
CCHS administrative office at [email protected].

commented on June 1, 2020 - Placerville 2020-06-02 16:56:30 -0700 · Flag
This was an amazing city to visit during the 2019 CCHS Annual Meeting! It was truly an enjoyable visit and I look forward to returning when travel throughout the state is able to resume!

published 2020 Annual Meeting in Upcoming CCHS Events 2020-04-28 08:35:02 -0700