Purisima, The Town That Could Have Been Half Moon Bay: Part I

Purisima, The Town That Could Have Been Half Moon Bay: Part I

(Town of Purisima, circa 1870s, as depicted in the book, “The Illustrated History of San Mateo County,” Moore & DePue, publishers [1878]; reissued by Gilbert Richards Productions, Woodside, California in 1974)
Click on the image to get a bigger picture!

By June Morrall

[I wrote this in 1977, using resources at the San Mateo County History Museum, Redwood City County Courthouse.]

As the first Americans reached “La Costa,” [the coast] in 1853, some purchased land, some lived a simple existence on rented soil–and still others, called “squatters,” ignored the formal rules of land ownership.

When a group of these squatters descended upon the Rancho Miramontes in Half Moon Bay on Sept. 24, 1853, they found Mr. Miramontes’ friends waiting to run them off the land. Unable to defend themselves in the face of strong opposition, the squatters drove off to drum up support.

And–soon, the Americans returned with reinforcements, boosting their number to 40 or 50. During the heated confrontation, the squatters, who caught the Spanish off guard, managed to seize even more land than before. [But, apparently, their victory was short-lived.]

Within a year, some of these Americans–sensing confusion over a narrow strip of disputed land, located between the Canada Verde and Purisima Creek, headed straight for the controversial territory. Merchants, who dreamed of developing a prosperous business district on the north side of Purisima Creek, followed behind.

And in this magnificent rural setting, four miles south of Half Moon Bay, the new village of Purisima rivalled Spanishtown.

Continue reading “Purisima, The Town That Could Have Been Half Moon Bay: Part I”

……Purissima Cemetery……..John Purcell’s Gift….

Purissima Cemetery

Info from Dutra Mortuary (Now called Dutra-Randleman), Half Moon Bay

“Four miles south of the town of Half Moon Bay lies the little, almost obscure, cemetery of Purissima. It is situated on a hill opposite a little country school-house. Although mostly covered by grass, it does not lose its charm. In fact it adds to it because it is typical of what it is–a pioneer cemetery. purisima1.jpg

“Up to the 1860s the deceased of Purissima had been buried in Half Moon Bay or other far away parts. But on September 15, 1868 John Purcell deeded a section of his territory to the residents of Purissima for a burial ground. He decided to deed it with three clauses added to the document. One was that the cemetery be kept in the hands of a Purissima Cemetery Association; that there be no fees charged, and that there be no changes. Number Two clause sets aside a section of land 150′ by 500′ in the North-East and for the erection of a Protestant Church. Number Three reserves land for a family plot.

“The first person buried there was a little boy named Downing. Unfortunately, this was tragic for he was not dead when buried, but only in a coma. A similar example of this coma occurred shortly after the boy was buried, when a man took sick and fell in a stupor. The Downing boy’s father, realizing the possibility of his son’s having been buried unconscious, opened the grave and found that his sound had turned over!

“Other early settlers of Purissima are buried here, too. These include the family names of Britt, Richer, Doble, Locke and the Denmarks.”lockebro.jpg

(Photo: L-R: The Locke Brothers, Josiah, David & Silas.)

A “Happy Easter” Mural from Dar Waegner


Dar says: Our new mural that was the big white wall that was in my yard.. finally
done.. birds love it,, and the day after we finished it a chipmunk came
had not seen them in a year or more..
Happy Easter all

Dar lives south of HMB.

New To Me: Dogs for Diabetics


(Photo: At the beauty salon: Devin with her dog, Cody.)

I was having my hair done the other day when a young woman named Devin came into the salon with her dog. The dog, called “Cody,” looked like a service dog but Devin wasn’t blind. Turned out she was a diabetic, and the dog, as part of an innovative project, had been trained to “identify the subtle scent changes that hypoglycemia (low blood glucose) creates in body chemistry, changes undetectable to their human companions.”

What happens when your blood sugar is too low, I asked Devin. What does Cody do to alert you?

“Most importantly, at night, when I’m sleeping, and I’m at greater risk,” Devin told me, “Cody will jump up on the bed to wake me up.” She said, at other times, the dog will put his paw on her leg–he’ll do whatever needs to be done to get her attention.

Devin works in the City and lives in the East Bay–and she’s just crazy about Cody and the project called Dogs for Diabetics.

For information on this great project, please click here


Great story about Dogs For Diabetes.  My ex-coworker volunteered at Guide Dogs and had mentioned the Dogs For Diabetes program to me.  She moved to Bend and was hoping to do volunteer work for that program.  She has a guide dog breeder, Alda.  Did you know some doctors use standard poodles to detect certain types of cancer.  A naturopathic m.d.,  in Mill Valley (or maybe it’s San Anselmo) has two that he uses for diagnosing.  It’s amazing.  My friend, Bill, who died of lung cancer told me every time he walked into the office the dogs would come up to him, nudge his legs, bark and then sit.

Lynn K. McCloskey

Email Lynn: [email protected]

Princeton-by-the-Sea: Coastside Luminaries Celebrate Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony at the New Oceano Hotel & Spa



(Photo: Indoor Shopping Mall with beautiful glass roof)
By June Morrall

The crowds were thick and upbeat in the lobby of the new Oceano Hotel & Spa at Princeton-by-the-Sea. On a drizzly Coastside evening, they were there to witness the long-awaited ribbon cutting ceremony, performed by jovial county Supervisor Rich Gordon.

The lobby was so busy that I couldn’t get a hard count on how many folks had come to celebrate with the Coastside’s Keet Nerhan, the man associated with the nearly completed project.

And in the middle of the festive mood, the loud conversations and live music, I watched Keet Nerhan confidently walk through the jammed room, constantly stopped by well-wishers wanting to shake his hand and offer well deserved congratulations.

Remember that the Oceano Hotel & Spa is opening in the early stages of what appears to be a serious economic recession.

For Nerhan, reaching tonight’s ribbon cutting ceremony has been a long, hard journey (and I’m sure there’s a book in it), a project that has been in the works for decades (and one that famous developer Henry Doelger considered in the 1950s).

The Oceano Hotel &Spa is surely the most complex project Keet Nerhan has worked on in his entire career—and one has only to look at the attention to detail to appreciate the accomplishment.

The Oceano Hotel & Spa has impressive conference facilities that feature fine views of the harbor and Pillar Point. There’s a nautical theme throughout; for example, a model yacht placed above the fireplace and a variety of seashells used creatively. This motif is carried throughout the hotel

It’s not just a hotel, though; you must look up when you’re walking through the indoor shopping mall with its extraordinarily beautiful glass “roof.â€? No shops were open yet, and I have no idea how many have been rented.

The restaurant-in-the-round, or so it looked to me, is an eye-catcher and I’m certain there are beautiful harbor views.

For little Princeton-by-the-Sea, a harbor-fishing village with some 450 permanent residents, the Oceano Hotel & Spa is an amazing project bigger than anything else nearby. It will definitely become a venue for people and families hungry for something fun to do—close to home, easy on the gas tank–and that is why I feel it will be a success.

As for me, I hope that good take-out restaurants move in. As a superb blueprint, I’m thinking of the Ferry Building in San Francisco—where everything is fresh and comes from local farms and flower growers. We have the talent right here on the Coastside.

And I have never encountered a grumpy salesperson or moody waiter at the Ferry Building—They must give a congeniality test to all potential employees; everyone is so cheerful and loves what they are doing. I hope that’s what we get at the Oceano Hotel & Spa.

But the Oceano Hotel & Spa will have its supporters and its detractors, and the argument over what is appropriate for the Coastside will continue to be a bitter source of controversy


(Photos below: Getting the ribbon ready for cutting and Supervisor Rich Gordon poses for me–I was using an Iphone).


(Photos below: Keet Nerhan (at right) with Supervisor Rich Gordon; Fireplace)

A Little Corner of Moss Beach, Part Two: An Email Conversation With Elaine Martini Teixeira

I am delighted to present Part II of my email conversation with Mrs. Elaine M. Teixeira, a most gracious woman, who shows us Moss Beach, as it was. Thank you Mrs. Teixeira.

lorettaelaine.jpeg (Mrs. Elaine M. Teixeira, at right, with her sister, Loretta.)

Half Moon Bay Memories (HMBM): You have family connections to the Torre family of Moss Beach. Are they related to Frank Torres, the deceased owner of the Marine View Restaurant?

Elaine Martini Teixeira (ETM)

Frank Torres is not related to the Torre family, he was from Peru – There is no “s” on our family name. My grandfather’s brother, Giovannibattista (John), had a son named Frank, the family lived above Ottavio Torre’s family on Sunshine Valley Road. That home is still there but boarded up. I had forgotten but, Donald Torre, my first cousin, said the State purchased it for a future bypass, but because of the forthcoming tunnel, the new road will not go thru there.

Frank Torres owned the Torres Marine View Hotel/restaurant

and the Montara Beach Hotel, along Highway 1, on the way to Devil’s Slide. The one in Montara burned down

and Frank Torres rebuilt it. Later it was rebuilt and became for the Chart House, then the Outrigge. It is still there, but closed. The Marine View spot is now the Distillery.

Did you know Fanny Torres?

Yes, I knew Fanny Torres, my Mother worked as a salad lady for Frank and Fanny at the Montara restaurant, knew them even before. No, she was not related to the Lea’s in HMB. They are Italian, she was not.

Please tell my readers a little about yourself.

My full name is Elaine Martini Teixeira. My brother, Raymond Martini, he and his wife Cathy, live in HMB; he used to have Reliable Plumbing in HMB. My older sister, Gloria Bernardo lives four house up from me in Redwood City. My younger sister, Loretta, is married to Guido Santini; they live opn the coast hwy, near Frenchman’s Creek.

I graduated from Moss Beach Grammar School,

and Half Moon Bay High School, the location in 1948 was on Kelly Avenue, across from the present Catholic Church.

My husband,Tony Teixeira, & I married in 1949 in the original Catholic Church, which is now the site of their social hall, behind the current church building. We had two children, Kevin, married with two children and living in Sunnyvale, and a daughter, Stacy, living in Sunnyvale. Tony died about 2 1/2 yrs ago. It is his two sisters, Mary Schuttloffel and Hazel Dooley Cornett, and father, Antone, on the front cover of your Princeton book (“Princeton-by-the-Sea“.) His brother was John, had Captain John’s boats in Princeton.

Why did Italians settle in Moss Beach?

One reason some of them settled there, they had relations that proceeded them, and they came to join family, all immigrants like to join others who speak their language, and, also, some came to get work, on the farms, etc. My Mother’s father and brothers, along with their father, may have settled first up in the gold country, and my Dad and his brothers joined their older half-brother up in Nevada. They all eventually came to San Francisco. My Mom’s father and his brother came to Moss Beach after the earthquake. Had dairy cows and guess the coastside gave them the opportunity to move the dairy down to Moss Beach and get away from the ‘quake area of San Francisco.

Were there any special places in Moss Beach where Italians would go to have fun?

There is another building, down old Highway 1 (originally Etheldore), below the grocery store, owned by my grandfather. There was a bar in there and all the daughters of the Torre brothers would come to the dances, and that is where several found their future husbands. I was recently told they also had movies up stairs, over the saloon area in this building. Later, of course, there was the Moss Beach Club building and there was the structure down on the Moss Beach

below the cliffs believe it was called the Reefs. I am sure there were other places, Dan’s had a bar and restaurant, up the road from our grocery store. Alot of entertaining was done in the homes.

Several of the family members, especially the women, met their husbands, as I said, at the dances. Many of the men worked on the local farms.

Both of my Mom’s cousins from her Mom’s side of the family, Daisy and Angelina Baresoni were quite young when their parents died; they were raised in Ottavio Torre’s family on Sunshine Valley Road. When the two finished grade school, they went to SF to work in the garment industry and lived with their dad’s relations, but they returned to live in Sunshine Valley, after their marriages.

Did you go to Moss Beach Grammar School? What about churches?


Yes, I attended Moss Beach Grammar School, all of my family did – plus various cousins. I, at one time, had six cousins going to school with me – David and June Torre, Donald Torre, Albert Bertolucci, Roy Cardellini and Bob Prouse.

The school building burned down; after it was closed. My younger sister , Loretta graduated from the Moss Beach school, called Faralone View, it was located up on the property above the Light House, part of the former Navel Station from World War II..

While I was in grade school, Montara School was closed and combined with Moss Beach.. Therefore, Rosina Pecoraro – who you knew – my two cousins, Roy Cardellini, Bob Prowse (children of Daisy and Angelina) – Georgina Bettencourt, Gladine and Clifford Harp, and a few others, all came down to Moss Beach to continue their education.

There was a Catholic Church, just a street or so below the Post Office, near the ocean. It was part of the HMB parish and the priests came out to conduct mass at 9 am every Sunday. We had religious lessons and received first communion there. A woman, Mrs. Jordan, who lived in Moss Beach, taught the lessons, and I believe, Margaret Kyne gave them, later.

There were, also, two places, one in Moss Beach (they came down from SF) close to the beach, and another up in Marine View (different order) where there were homes used by the Nuns for vacation.

I saw more of the nuns from Moss Beach, they would come in and shop at our store. It might be that later, priests, also came there for that reason, but not when I was young or living on the coast.

I have heard that Italians, who weren’t citizens had to move from the West side of Highway 1 to the East side during WWII. Is that true?



Yes, all the Italian families and others who were not citizens had to move. We were lucky that we were on the “right side” of the highway. The Cima family had to move, as well as the Benedetti family, who lived down below us on Hwy One, near the current entrance to Seton Hospital.

You certainly come from a large family!


I hope I didn’t misspell any names. AND, if you get lost along the way, I understand. The women that put together my “family book” would get so confused; in the Torre family, three brothers (another brother, Filipo, lived in SF) named a daughter Rose, two name them Lena, two Eva. To distinguish who they wee talking about, it was Little Rosie, Rosie Filipo, Little Eva, Big Lena and Little Lena – guess you get my point! For some reason, the boys lucked out, had more original names, some after past generations, but no duplications within the same generation.