Thursday, December 18, 2014

Just A Pile Of Rocks Or An Old West Icon

Here's a 2002 newsletter I penned for the now defunct "Chatsworth Equine Cultural Heritage Organization" (Chatsworth ECHO).  The question remains: Are they just a pile of rocks or the hidden gold of Chatsworth?

Over the past 100 years Chatworth, California's rocky hills became an Old West icon that cannot easily be separated from mythical cowboy heroes, names like Hopalong Cassidy, Gene Autry, Roy Rogers, and, of course, the Lone Ranger.

Not much has changed in a dozen years.  In an October 2013, Los Angeles Times news article we learned a Newport Beach developer is reviving a recession stalled housing development, and will soon build 314 houses in Chatsworth's Deerlake Highlands.

Will they be respectful to our history or just bulldoze away?  Will horsemen (and women) be forced out of Chatsworth as they have been in most of the rest of the San Fernando Valley?

Stay tuned...

Was Great Grandma A Marranos of Portugal

1807 engraving showing people being tortured during the Spanish Inquisition
Last year a distant cousin posted a story titled "Marranos return to Judaism after 500 years" (source on the page for my 10th great grandmother Susana DaCruz.  

I read the article and have been thinking about it ever since.  I've always had a strong affinity for Jewish people, so wouldn't it be amazing if I actually have a small percentage of Jewish blood flowing through my veins.


Marranos were originally Jews living in the Iberian Peninsula who converted or were forced to convert to Christianity.  Many of whom may have continued to practice Judaism in secret for more than five centuries.

Spanish Inquisition

Following the Spanish Inquisition in 1492, the Jews of Spain were expelled, and many fled to Portugal.  Then in 1497, the Jews of Portugal were forced to convert Christianity.  However, many of the converted Jews -- called marranos "pigs" by Christians -- continued to practice Judaism in secret.

It has been suggested that many of the converts, after being forced to abandon their Jewish names, chose surnames with a Catholic connotation to offer apparent proof of their loyalty to their new faith. 

A surname often chosen was Cruz -- which means cross.  In fact, the name Cruz is so widespread in Covilha, Portugal that a Portuguese author facetiously remarked that in that town there are more "Crosses" than in the cemetery.

Susana DaCruz

We may never know the truth about Susana DaCruz who was born 1628 in Sao Joao, Lisbon, Portugal, and died 28 Oct 1671, in St Jean, Lisbon, Portugal.  Given her name and the location of her birth there is a good chance she was part of a Marranos family.

Susana married João Rodrigues before 1650, in Lisbon, Portugal.  Their son João Rodrigue was born 1650 in St Jean, Lisbon, Portugal and emigrated to Quebec, New France (Canada) before 1671.  Records in New France identify João Rodrigue's mother as Susana LaCroix.

Update 2016

The results for my DNA tests suggest that I have from 0 to 2% European Jewish ancestry.  Statistically the result is zero, and states, "These are regions included in our evaluation, but where there is very little evidence that the region is part of your genetic ethnicity. Both the estimated amount and the range of the estimate are very small or zero."

However, in most other ethnicity regions such as Native American, West Africa, Pacific Islanders, and Asia my range is 0 to 0%, suggesting that there is, in fact, some small percentage of European Jewish ancestry.

In as much as Susana DaCruz is my 10th great grandmother the DNA I share with her is bound to be very small indeed, so I'm inclined to believe my 0 to 2% European Jewish ancestry comes from her.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Yosemite Winter Club History

In 1927, the Ahwahnee Hotel (above) was completed in Yosemite National Park.

Near the hotel California's first ski school opened the following year with Jules Fritsch -- a Swiss ski expert -- as instructor.  In those days Fritsch led six day snow excursions in Yosemite from the Ahwahnee Hotel to Tenaya Lake to support and strengthen the ski school.

Also in 1927, the Curry Company completed a four-track toboggan slide near Camp Curry in Yosemite National Park. 

About the same time Dr. Donald Tresidder, the first president the Yosemite Park & Curry Company, formed the Yosemite Winter Club.  The rare and highly collectible watch fob (above) is part of my collection.

In 1928 the Yosemite Winter Club built small ski hill and ski jump near Tenaya Creek Bridge.

In 1933, a ski lift was built at Badger Pass and the first slalom race in California was held that year.  While in high school about 1958, I learned to ski at Badger Pass.

Today Badger Pass is still a popular ski area for both downhill skiers and nordic skiers.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Reel Cowboys of the Santa Susanas -- Jack Hoxie

Jack Hoxie (1885–1965) was an American rodeo champion and Western motion picture star whose career began in the silent film era and thrived through the 1930s.

Jack Hoxie's limited Santa Susana locations filmography includes:

Outlaw Justice (1932) starring Jack Hoxie, Dorothy Gulliver, Donald Keith (Iverson Ranch) Majestic

Gun Law (1933) starring Jack Hoxie, Betty Boyd, Mary Carr (Iverson Ranch) Majestic