Category Archives: Agriculture

Sig Sanchez

Sig Sanchez Presentation Poster, by Ricardo Alvarado II
Oral History By: Ricardo Alvarado
Submitted December 2013

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Poster

Abstract:
Sig Sanchez was born on November 11th 1920 in Hollister California. To a family with ten siblings, four whom were boys, the other six were girls. He grew up working on his family farm, and graduated from San Benito High School. After he graduated he stayed in Agriculture his whole life up to a few years ago. He had farms in Gilroy, Hollister, Merced, Imperial Valley, and Sacramento.
In 1953 Sig was told about an opening in the Gilroy City Council. That was when he started his political career. He stayed for nine years on the Gilroy City Council. He served two terms. He then ran for mayor and was elected in 1958 where he stayed for two terms, until 1963. In 1963 he ran for Santa Clara County Supervisors. He stayed for four terms, from 1963-1978. In 1980 Sig was appointed to the Santa Clara Water District board, where he stayed for thirty years. Sig had a very successful career in both politics and agriculture.

Alfred Bonturi

Alfred Bonturi Presentation Poster, by Ismael Torres
Oral History by: Ismael Torres
Submitted December 2013

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Poster

Abstract:
Alfred Bonturi was born on August 16 1925. He was born and raised in Hollister, California. Alfred Bonturi’s father Fausto Bonturi, was born in Tuscany, Italy, His mother Amelia Bonturi, was born in La Honda, California. He grew up with a large family of six girls and four boys. Alfred Bonturi went to school for twelve years and finished High School at San Benito High School. He started Junior College but only finished one year. Alfred Bonturi started farming at the age of fourteen after his father passed away. Alfred being the oldest son took over his father’s farm. He has been farming for over 70 years now. He has been part of many agriculture businesses including Sun-sweet growers, Cal-Can, and California Walnut among others. He has worked in the San Benito County Farm Bureau, and with the University of California. Alfred Bonturi has grown apricots, prune, grapes, and walnuts. He now only cultivates walnuts in his farm. Alfred Bonturi married Corinne Bonturi in 1950. They had two children; a son named Greg (53 years old) and a daughter named Brenda (50).

Janet Burback

Oral history by: Robert Ellison
Submitted December 4, 2012

Listen to Robert Ellison’s Interview of Janet Burback


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TILTON RANCH, 1917: Madrone, CA

The Janet Burbacks of this state are a dying breed. A fourth generation cattle rancher, she is one of a handful who are still family owned in Santa Clara County. She vows to continue as long as it is financially feasible and physically attainable. So how did Tilton Ranch get its beginning?

In 1917 Janet’s great grandparents were running cattle on 30,000 acres in Gilroy and decided to retire. Retired they did not stay and they purchased 3200 acres in the township of Madrone, just north of Morgan Hill. In the late 1920′s the ranch was passed to their daughter Lillie Tilton and her husband Jere Sheldon. They continued to operate the ranch until 1960 when Jere passed away. Lillie with the help of her daughter Barbera Sheldon and her husband Harold Baird ran the ranch till 1993 when Lillie passed away one month shy of her 100th birthday. Harold, Janet’s father, passed away in 2005 with Janet and her husband Greg Burback taking over the daily affairs with help from her sister Barbera.

Eugene Victor Routen

Oral history by: Justin Brager
Date submitted: December 4, 2012

Listen to Justin Brager’s Interview of Eugene Victor Routen


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I interviewed my great-grandfather Eugene Victor Routen. He is a survivor of the Dust Bowl and a WWII veteran. He went on to make the military his career.

Eugene was born at home in Seminole, Oklahoma, on April 17, 1919. It was Easter Sunday that year. He had two older brothers, Jesse and William. There were two little girls but they died as babies. Two years after Eugene’s birth, Raymond was born. His papa was a share-cropper. He had to give part of whatever they grew to the landowner every harvest-time. Times were always hard. He remembers having only one pair of overalls to wear–nothing else, no shoes, nothing. They were so very poor. The families picked cotton, all of them, to make a little extra money to get by. He recalled that when he was six, he had to drag a big long sack, picking cotton and crying, but not willing to quit. The boys finally got shoes when the weather got very cold and frosty. Eugene started to go to school in the second grade but quickly caught up, borrowing books so he could do his homework. He looked up to his teachers as people with knowledge of a wider world, and he wanted that.

Bonnie and Dave Robeson

Oral history by: Yvonne Yurek
Date submitted: December 4, 2012

Listen to Yvonne Yurek’s Interview of Bonnie and Dave Robeson


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Bonnie Robeson was born in Minot, North Dakota and has six siblings (3 boys and 3 girls). Her Mother is originally from Puerto Rico and when her father was stationed in San Juan, he met Bonnie’s mother, married her and brought her back to the United States. The family would move from state to state due to her father being in the service, but finally they settled in San Jose, California. Bonnie remembers when South San Jose was all orchards and recalled how homes started to be rapidly built resulting in most of the orchards being torn down. Bonnie attended Andrew Hill High School and participated in a lot of extracurricular activities such as: swim club, synchronized swimming, getting her Red Cross certification and even cheerleading. She also recalled doing some fun things with her family like piling into a station wagon to go on camping trips or up to Lake Tahoe. After high school, Bonnie took a lot of business classes in hopes of being a secretary. Bonnie met her future husband Dave when she was in high school and he was in College. Dave happened to be a good friend of Bonnie’s best friend’s boyfriend and so they were set up on a blind date, got to know each other and started to date. One of the things they would do together in Morgan Hill was go to the Circle Drive-In or the A&W where care hops came out to the car to get your order.

Frances Palmtag

Oral history by: Deborah McDonald
Date submitted: December 10, 2012

Listen to Deborah McDonald’s Interview of Frances Palmtag


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Frances Palmtag was born in Hollister, California on December 5, 1921. Her parents were Carl and Myrtle (O’Conner) Palmtag. She had two sisters, Hazel born (June 2, 1923) and Charlsie born (July 10, 1931). Her maternal grandparents were Benjamin and Mary (Niggle) O’Connor. Benjamin was of Irish descent from Offaly Ireland and Mary was of Swiss-German descent. Her paternal grandparents were Charles and Amelia (Krayer) Palmtag. Charles and Amelia were both born in Germany and came to America separately. Charles was from Emmendigen and Amelia was from Alsace-Lorraine. They were married in San Francisco. They settled in Hollister and had three children, Marie, Carl, and Muriel. They had a butcher shop in Los Banos. Frances believes her grandfather knew Henry Miller. They moved to Quien Sabe Ranch in Tres Pinos where Charles worked as a foreman. He saved his money and bought a ranch in Hollister and grew prunes, apricots and walnuts. He worked at both ranches for a while and when his son Carl came home from WWI he began working at the family ranch with his father. Carl was born on August 12, 1894 and married Myrtle O’Connor in February 1921. Myrtle was a California girl and was born in Hollister on August 4, 1891. Myrtle had a sister Ruby (Nyland) and a brother Benjamin.

Ted Minoru Kubota

Oral history by: Brett Jackson

Date submitted: December, 2011

While I was growing up my grandfather seemed to be a quiet, funny, hardworking man. As it came to be, he lived a very stressful life that was rich in experience, and discrimination, that helped make him the man he is today. Throughout the struggles he endured, he was still able to nurture the loving family he has now and still works hard every day.

Emma Villarreal Garza

Oral history by: Adolfo Tellez
Date submitted: December, 2011

Emma Villarreal Garza is an extraordinary woman with a life that is both exciting and magnificent. Emma father came from Spain and her grandmother came from Mexico. Emma was born on July 9, 1946 in D’hanis, Texas. D’hanis is a place that is known for its brick making factory and it was also where Emma’s father worked at times. Production, specifically agricultural production, takes a huge place in Emma’s life. In D’hanis, she lived in a little country house on five acres. She and her family would grow corn there to make a living. While living in D’hanis, Emma lost Rodolfo, her eight month old brother, to a high fever and infection. At the time they were no where near a hospital and could not save him. This was a tragedy that her and her family would have to overcome and they would never forget it.