San Mateo County Genealogical Society's Blog featuring society events, projects, meeting notes and other items of relevance to genealogists.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

San Mateo County Places - West Union

West Union Creek is a 4.5-mile-long stream originating on the east slope of Kings Mountain  and flowing down to the valley formed by the San Andreas Rift where it turns near the Phleger Estate to flow southeasterly on an unusually level course (for a mountain stream) to Adobe Corner in the town of Woodside where it joins Bear Gulch Creek, which in turn flows to San Francisquito Creek and ultimately, San Francisco Bay. (Description from National Park Service)

The origin of the name "West Union Creek" is attributed to Willard Whipple who named it "Union Creek".  He established two mills along the creek that he intended to call East Union and West Union. Those designations did not take, the mills being called instead  Whipple's Upper and Whipple's Lower Mill.  The upper mill was more widely known and the area around it was soon designated West Union. The Upper Mill was located in a direct line from today's Whipple Road.

Golden Gate National Parks Trail Map - Phleger Estate
Showing Whipple's Upper Mill just north of Phleger Estate

San Mateo County Times Gazette reported on 7 Mar 1885  "A little village of about a dozen houses was formed on the banks of the headwaters of San Francisquito Creek. This little burg, taking its name from that part of the county in which it existed, was called West Union. Its inhabitants, of which there were few, consisted mainly of the millhands in the surrounding hills. Close by, cosily nestled in the woods, was the village burial ground, composed of about a half dozen graves of the victims of accidents in the woods and others.  ........The village has entirely disappeared and in the place of the adjoining graveyard can now be seen broad acres of farm land."

The San Mateo County Times Gazette reported on 11 Dec 1886 that ..... 

"Years ago a little cemetery was located at West Union some fives miles north of Woodside...Only one body has been removed from the cemetery...Alexander MacDonald...The land has come into possession of some Italians who desire to use the property as part of a vineyard." 

Alden Tagg in his Norcal-L  posting 10 Oct 1997 states "The cemetery I have a hunch was west of Canada Road, perhaps a bit south of the school site."  (see San Mateo County Places: West Union

West Union School circa 1910
A school was established in the area.  In a post to Norcal-L on 10 Oct 1997 Alden Tagg notes "... the USGS/GNI does not show a West Union, however the Woodside 7.5 quadrangle does.  I guess no one's perfect. West Union Creek runs about 1/2 mile west of Canada Road andcomes down from the hills running NE then turns SE to run into Bear Gulch Creek south of Woodside Road. The West Union School was NNE of where the WU Creek bends from NE to SE, about 1/2 mile south of Edgewood Road a bit east of Canada Road. Hwy 280 runs through the old school property."

There were 72 students when the San Mateo County Gazette reported on 22 Oct 1859 ......

MYSTERIOUS DISAPPEARANCE – On the first day of July last, J.H. Pratt, Esq., who had been for some time engaged as teacher of the school at West Union, in this county, drew from the county treasury, one hundred and sixty two dollars, and two days afterwards started for San Francisco, since which time he has not been heard from. He was to have been absent but a few days, and was to have reopened his school after a short vacation. Mr. Pratt was temperate and regular in his habits, and his long-continued absence has created considerable uneasiness on the part of his friends. Fears are entertained that he has met with foul play. All his clothing and effects were left as usual – he having taken nothing with him except the clothing he wore at the time, and his money. He had recently purchased some land in Petaluma, and went to San Francisco to make a payment on it. We had a conversation with him just before he left, in which he stated that he should be absent but a few days, that he expected his wife out soon from the East, and intended to make this county his home. We do not know what State he came from. He was recently admitted to the bar in the District Court of this county, upon a certificate from the Supreme Court of Ohio. He was a rather short, thick-set man, sandy complexion, slightly bald, and about thirty-five years of age.

In Nov 1860 the school house was the site of county elections with  George F. Maynard serving as Inspector and  Robt. Greer and James Berry as Judges.  San Mateo County Gazette 6 Oct 1860

A petition dated 4 Nov 1861 stated, " The West Union (School) District shall be founded as follows, to wit; Commencing at the SE corner of the Wolf Ranch; thence West along the south lines of the lands of M Wolf and John Claffey to the point nearest the center of Sec 30 T 5 S R4W; thence to NE corner of the NQ quarter of Sec 9 T6 S R5W; thence East to the SW corner of the Home Farm; thence along the West line to the NW corner of said farm; thence to the SE corner of the Wolf Ranch. taking in Williams and Danl Ross to the old Watter Mill and to the Ride of the Mountain"

Signing the petition were: Robert Greer, OS Payne, Thomas Knights, Samuel Walker, Sylvester Waker
SH Snyder, M Erickson, Ales Little, Michael G Kelly, Jeremiah Conroy?, James Duffy, Edward Donnelly, Andrew McCormac, John Hanley, John S Richards, Michael McLaughlin, John Regan, Benjamin Ross, Michael Surrill ?, John Butte (Burke), Alex Stott, A S Bonen, Charles Hill

By 1920 only three students remained in the district and Superintendent Roy Cloud requested a temporary suspension.

Among those born in West Union was James V. Swift. Antone Scada and  Amada Valdes are listed in James Crowe's Death book as dying there and John Tomalis is listed in the Early Death Records.

West Union Creek Bridge
Sawmills in the Redwoods: Logging on the San Francisco Peninsula 1849-1967 Frank Stanger
The Town of West Union - John Edmunds

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