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August 6, 2008 > New parks, old gas station and school

New parks, old gas station and school

Submitted By Steve Munzel
Photos By Dustin Findley

The three parks recently named are John McDermott Park, Tom Evatt Park, and O'Toole Elms Park. John McDermott was a nice man who was active in the Milpitas Historical Society - as his widow, Betty McDermott, continues to be. For more on John McDermott, please see TCV Milpitas for July 16, 2008.

Tom Evatt was the first mayor of Milpitas. He died a couple of years ago. On his property he ran a kind of early motel called a motor camp where there were separate little cabins for the customers. He told Milpitas historian Steve Munzel how when he was building it they ran across Native American remains buried in a sitting position. The bones were sent to the dump in those days. Tom was a businessman, volunteer fireman, and helped to pass the first water district bond to get safe potable water for the city, a cause led by Anthony Spangler, whose service station still pumps gas near Main Street and Calaveras Blvd. making it the oldest commercial business in the county.

On a side note, the gas station founded by Anthony Spangler and his brother before WWI is still in business as Main Street Gas. It is not owned by any descendant of Spangler, who died in 1949. There is also an elementary school named after him. The Manor is a nice neighborhood in which to raise a family. Most of the staff at the school - it is still there after over 50 years - think Spangler was the owner of a ranch where the school is located, which is not the case.

The O'Toole Elms were a stand of American Elms that lined the driveway from Main Street to John O'Toole's Victorian mansion (now where Elmwood Jail is located - the jail was named for the trees). They were planted by John O'Toole just after the Civil War, making them about 140 years old when they were destroyed. Some were five feet in diameter. O'Toole was a prominent rancher/farmer in the 1860s-1880s. He grew crops and raised racehorses (there was a race track located between where 880 is now and Coyote Creek). You can find out more about O'Toole and the elms and see photos the trees on the Milpitas History Homepage. The Milpitas History Homepage, http://www.milpitashistory.org/home, is not part of the Milpitas Historical Society.

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