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SLOJX Street Names ION THE STREET WHERE YOU LIVE Joseph A. Carotenuti History is where you find it…and not always confined to the pages of a book. Anyone living in San Luis Obispo…indeed the entire County…who drives, walks, jogs or even just sits shares in our local history. With a little curiosity, patience, and perseverance, searching the past becomes something much more than an academic exercise. Have you ever met a more enthusiastic group than genealogists as they comb about for clues about their ancestors? From one name a panorama of time opens before those who inquire. History is best learned from its closeness to the heart. In other words, start exploring the past closest to you. For instance…what’s the history behind the name of your street? Certainly, Foothill, Hollyhock, and Tulip are self- explanatory while Marsh, Court, Garden, and Palm present no particular historical challenge. Every community has small kernels of its past in street names. Of the 633 streets in the City’s official list, many remember those who made contributions to the evolving community. Explore a map of San Luis Obispo (or any community), read down the list of streets and you will bump into history. For example, find Hawthorne Elementary School. Lo and behold! The school is literally surrounded by names from the pioneer past. (The school was named after Nathaniel Hawthorne, a great writer but with not the remotest connection to the city. However, the evolution of schools – and their names – is worth some study time.) Did you drive or walk there on Sandercock Street? Founded by William Sandercock in 1872, the oldest business in San Luis Obispo still bears his name. Delivering and hauling goods and merchandise throughout the area, the company ledgers are an informal census over years of business as the company served (and still serves) a wide range of individuals and businesses. A few of you may have even driven or walked along a much shorter Hutton Street. William Rich Hutton came to California in 1847 with his uncle who was appointed paymaster for the Union troops at the time. Traveling through the state, he eventually surveyed the Wilson, Branch, and Dana rancheros in South County as well as provided a survey and map for the settlement of San Luis Obispo. It was a challenge and he was paid well: $627. He was appointed, then elected County Surveyor, but left in 1851 to become a noted engineer on the east coast. It is an appropriate street name for someone who provided the first map of the settlement. Equally important, as an amateur artist, he left the earliest known sketches of both the Mission as well as the settlement. Fortunately, a record of his drawings and letters from California are available in our library. On the east side of the school is Story Street. George Story was an early City Engineer for the City appointed in the mid-1880s. He continued his service well into the 1900s. His name on a street is another appropriate remembrance for a man who worked to bring some order to public thoroughfares. In those day, the owners along any particular “street” petitioned the City fathers to have the street “opened” - usually extended in front of the owner’s property, graded and/or graveled, or…the sign of progress…request a sidewalk. Of course, most costs were the responsibility of the petitioners. The City Engineer’s many duties included plotting the street’s course and determining costs as well as individual shares in the expenses. Intersections, however, became the responsibility of the municipality and the challenge was attempting to connect a street when both ends started at a distance from each other. Today, we still experience remnants of the solutions. The final street surrounding the school bears the name of a family remembered mostly for their ties with Arroyo Grande – Branch Street. Francisco Branch was born in New York in 1802 and received a 17,000-acre grant from Mexican Governor Alvarado. The Santa Manuela rancho was surveyed by Hutton and included today’s Arroyo Grande. Branch was well respected and became a member of the first Board of Supervisors in 1852. It is appropriate that the family name adjoins a school as in 1874 Branch donated an acre of land for the first school in Arroyo Grande, built the school, hired a teacher, and paid all the expenses for the first year! Not a street surrounding the school…but clearly visible from the playground…is tiny Ward Street. Horatio Ward was one of the earliest surveyors in the County. Many of the earliest maps bear his name along with Robert R. Harris whose street is not too far away. Clearly, here is an elementary school surrounded by local history. What an exciting lesson as the students learn a bit of the past by walking around the playing field! LEARN MORE ABOUT IT! Myron Angel’s History of San Luis Obispo County is a must for local history. Annie Morrison’s Pioneers of San Luis Obispo County (1917) profiles hundreds of personalities. 827