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September 16, 2009 > History: Washington Township Historical Society

History: Washington Township Historical Society

The Country Club of Washington Township was working on the second edition of their History of Washington Township in 1949. Their research committee was granted the authority to continue research and "to collect, preserve and diffuse information relating to the history of Washington Township."

The Society was founded October 25, 1949. Winifred Bendel was president; Joseph Shinn Jr., vice president; Leroy Broun III, secretary; Mary Griffin, treasurer; and Leoda Brown, Curator. Directors were John Briar, Ted Harvey, Clara May, Stuart McClure, Paul Power, Ruby Rogers, Harold Speetzen and Laura Whipple.

Presidents through the years were; Winifred Bendel, Florence Shinn, George Roeding Jr., Elbert Parks, George Coit, LeRoy Broun, Paul, Power, Amelia Silva, John Weed, Hans Larson and Bill Martin. Cecilia Weed was president four separate times. Mary Liston Griffin served as treasurer for the first 25 years. The Society has had many other dedicated workers including Sister Mary Carmody, Wilma Prewitt, Hampton Weed, Joseph Maciel, Gorden Lindsey, Carmelita Freitas, Lunny Ryan, Jeanette Vieux, Wilhelmine Berge, Allan Walton, Ray McGinn, Viriginia Stull and Maybelle Bray.

In October 1974, The Washington Township Historical Society celebrated its Silver Anniversary with two days of exhibits, movies, awards and programs at Olive Hyde Community Center. Olive Hyde had been a faithful supporter of the Society.

The Society has had many successful activities and projects over the years including the Alameda County Centennial, erecting the "El Camino Bell" at Mission San Jose, locating and marking historical sites, recommending names for parks, restoring the Niles flagpole, maintaining exhibits at Mission San Jose, Alameda County Fairs, schools, libraries, festivals and places of business. Joseph Maciel framed the M.L. Stevens Mission paintings with molding from his father's home. Other projects included a restoration and docent program for the Higuera Adobe and installing bronze plaques for the five districts of Fremont. Allan Walton was plaque committee chairman. Hampton and Cecilia Weed led bus tours several times a year to historic sites in the Bay Area, Gold Country, Yosemite, Hearst Castle and all military installations within 200 miles.

Cecilia and Hampton Weed were eventually unable to continue leadership of the organization and reluctantly gave up their positions. Tom Champion was elected president, Bill Reynolds, vice president, Vivian Larsen, secretary, Betty Dunseth, Treasurer and Regena Dennie, Curator in 1997. Projects included a tour of the Belvoir Hotel and upkeep of the Higuera Adobe.

The August 1998 newsletter featured a "Farewell to Lt. Col. Hampton Weed, a true lover of history." Jack Hassett was elected president in 1999. The organization celebrated its 50th year anniversary in the year 2000. Mae Avila shared her story of life in Warm Springs with the group in 2001.

B.J. Bunting was elected president in 2002. The society worked with the Centerville Presbyterian Church. Cecilia Weed saved the church steeple and asked it to be stored by Dirk Lorez in back of his flower shop. A highlight of the next year was the post office display at the Founders Day Picnic behind Mission San Jose.

Nancy Lorigan became president in 2004. The organization joined other local historical groups to host the Conference of California Historical Societies.

Highlights of the next year were a tour of St. James Episcopal Church led by Betty McCoy, Cindy Scott's talk on the Stiver's family, and a tour of the Math/Science Nucleus Museum led by Joyce Blueford. Cecilia Weed was the honored guest at the annual memory lane potluck.

Donald Barsi became president in 2006 and the society helped the City of Fremont celebrate its 50th anniversary. Ed Pentaleri presented a brief history of Fremont and Patricia Schaffarczyk led a program of video oral histories. Al Minard, Eilif Andersen and Regena Dennie conducted bus tours.

The next year sister Charlotte Shea gave a history of the Dominican Sisters and Beth Booth donated a GiclŽe water color by Hal Booth. The society dedicated plaques for the Curtner Mansion and the Blasdell House.

Brian Barlow was elected president in 2008. Mission Peak Heritage Foundation invited members of the society to a potluck dinner. These two groups joined with the Museum of Local History in a united effort to restore and preserve the Higuera Adobe.

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