Meet our Spring Speaker
Mark Vande Pol is a fourth generation Californian, born in 1954 at Kaiser Hospital, Oakland. He grew up in several cities in the Bay Area: Richmond, Walnut Creek, El Cerrito, San Francisco, and Lafayette. Both parents were members of the Sierra Club taking him car-camping all through early childhood. “Home” at that time were Calaveras Big Trees and skipping rocks on the Stanislaus River, both including drives through the flower fields of the Central Valley. During high school in San Francisco, many weekends were spent hitchhiking to Point Reyes National Seashore. Summers included multi-week solo backpacking trips in Yosemite. After clawing back into academic life via the junior college system in Oakland, Mark graduated from Harvey Mudd College in 1985. The philosophical reason for choosing an engineering degree was to understand how wealth is created, hands-on, to do something about a country that appeared even then to be in productive decline. After starting in microwave microelectronic manufacturing, Mark and his wife took a two year hiatus to build their home in the Santa Cruz Mountains with the desire to save a piece of the California he knew as a child. The property had a 200 year history of weed introductions and was horribly overgrown. In his next job, Mark affected a turnaround, inventing machinery to make new products at Becton Dickinson in Los Gatos. At that time, he joined the Santa Cruz County Local UN Agenda 21 Biodiversity and Ecosystem Management Roundtable. That process induced him to write his first book proposing a free market environmental management business method, later patented. Touring the American West to sell the book made it clear that our property had to be a paragon of what was being proposed, with the goal being a 100% native plant landscape, including small annual forbs. What was not known at the time was that no one had ever done that before. In the process, a second book exposited a transformational interpretation of the Biblical Sabbath for the Land. As part of that work, a third online book was begun to teach what had been learned to achieve what is considered by many to be the finest native plant restoration project on earth. The current goal is for the property to function as a laboratory to teach and develop restoration processes and to bring them within the economic reach of a landowner while learning more about how we might use and benefit from native plant management.
Debra Staab celebrates her birthday on January 25th. She has lived in the Santa Cruz Mountains for over seven years and has come to love the area, especially its history. She has penned numerous articles about mountain history many of which have been printed in the Mountain Network News and posted on the LPM website. Debra holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from San Jose State and worked in the technology field for over 30 years. Most recently she maintained the ancillary materials for the college-level business textbook Business and Society. Debra enjoys hiking, gardening, and spending time with her two cats.
Erik celebrates his birthday on January 31st and has been a Santa Cruz Mountain resident since 1976. He is the owner of the Santa Cruz Mountains Clothing company, and sells his goods, including Loma Prieta Museum gear, at events all across the mountains. Erik has always been fascinated by our local history and started reading every relevant history book he could get his hands on. With that he began collecting old historical postcards concerning all of the Santa Cruz Mountains. He continues to be amazed at finding and uncovering lost history and collecting bits and pieces about our past. Once Erik met Roger Mason and the LPM group getting its start, he was super excited to join and help. His graphic design skills did help in a major way as he designed the LPM logo you see today. Erik also contributes to the LPM by creating many of our event flyers and banners as well as branding for our LPM merchandise. He is a true asset to the group.
Black History Month
"Uncle Dave" Boffman
By Debra Staab
“Uncle Dave” Boffman was known as a wonderful storyteller and a man of integrity. He managed an 80 acre fruit ranch in Blackburn Gulch (near Vine Hill) with half of it planted in quality wine grapes and the rest in orchard crops. He was also a vintner and used a handmade wine press with a timber beam as its lever to produce his own wine. His wine and fruit were sold all over Santa Cruz and Santa Clara counties. Dave’s bare feet were the only sign of a difficult past. From the start, Dave endured a life of bumps and potholes. He was born on a Kentucky cotton plantation around 1808. While enslaved there, the young Dave was partnered with a girl named Matilda, and they had three sons and three daughters. When his master Henry Baughman died, Dave became the property of a grandson, Newton Baughman. The family moved to Missouri in 1848 where they caught Gold Rush fever and headed to California. Newton Baughman promised Dave he would be allowed to buy his freedom in California, but sadly Newton sold three of Dave’s children to finance the journey which turned out to be fraught with danger. Along the Missouri River Dave became separated from Baughman, and he had to withstand a frenzied chase by slave hunters, a pack of bloodhounds, and rifle fire. With a mixture of tenacity and good luck, Dave survived and he eventually reunited with Baughman at Fort Kearny in Nebraska. They continued west through territory belonging to Cheyenne and Pawnee who attacked the westward bound party on several occasions. Because slaves were not permitted to carry weapons, Dave was defenseless and was quickly captured by one of the tribes. Taken to their camp Dave feared for his life, but he was amazed to find himself being paraded around the village with many hands reaching out to touch him. He was later made aware that his black skin was seen as a sign of good fortune. Security was lax, and Dave easily escaped the indigenous village, reuniting once more with Baughman at Fort Laramie in Wyoming. From Wyoming the group joined a wagon train and finally made it to the gold fields of Calaveras County, California. Dave had made the entire journey westward, about two thousand miles, barefoot. Dave worked hard in the gold mines, and by the end of 1851 at age 43 he was able to buy his freedom from Baughman for $1000 and still had some money left for his future. California had become a State the year before under the condition that slavery would be prohibited within its borders, so in any case Dave was now a free man. Dave took the last name Boffman, spelling out Baughman phonetically, and he bought a small house on an acre of land in pueblo de Branciforte. Dave Boffman and a friend, Samuel McAdams, headed to the Santa Cruz Mountains to try their hands at logging. They leased a saw mill from Isaac Graham in Zayante. After just one season of cutting timber, Dave and Samuel loaded a schooner with redwood logs bound for San Francisco. Sadly, destiny was not on their side, and the schooner sank in a winter storm near Pescadero. Both men were bankrupted. Samuel left the country in despair, but Dave was resilient and almost immediately went to work for Tomas J. Weeks to farm various fruit crops along Branciforte Creek. By 1860 Dave had recovered financially and, along with a partner, he purchased a 45 acre farm in Rodeo Gulch where they grew fruit, wheat, and oats. It was a productive life until a wild unbranded colt wandered onto their property. Although Dave had no hand in the matter, the local Sheriff insisted that both land owners were liable for stealing the horse. Boffman was prohibited from giving testimony to defend himself in court because he was Black, and he and Weeks were forced to settle the debt by selling off Boffman’s land and livestock. It was an outrageous injustice. Dave Boffman’s friend Elihu Anthony immediately hired him to work in his store and advised him on how to homestead by clearing land himself. Dave put in months of back-breaking labor to clear 80 acres of brush in Vine Hill. Anthony helped Dave file the paperwork in 1864. Now at 56 years old Dave was back in the fruit and wine business. He would continue that lifestyle for nearly another 30 years. Dave Boffman received a late-life blessing when a friend located his granddaughter Annie, the child of his youngest girl. The two reunited and she cared for him for six months before returning to her home. While napping beside the fireplace in the cabin that he had built, Dave and his dog Watch were nearly burned to death, but they managed to survive. Anthony took him in, then later Dave was admitted to Agnews State Hospital and died five months later at the age of 85. David Boffman is buried at Santa Cruz Memorial Park.
Happy Birthday, Bill Wulf
By Debra Staab
Happy 85th Birthday to Los Gatos historian Bill Wulf! Willian A. Wulf was born January 12, 1939 in San Jose where he lived on 4th Street near the RR tracks until 1948 when his family moved to Los Gatos. Bill had loved living by the train tracks and at age 12 he joined the Central Coast Railway Club. There he met renowned historian Clyde Arbuckle, who quickly became his history mentor. Bill also met a boy at school named Ronnie who wore a Roy Rogers outfit and was an avid history buff. Ronnie’s parents also had an interest in history and furnished their son’s room with a great deal of old time decor. Ronnie and his family triggered Bill’s lifelong interest in collecting antiques. After high school, Bill earned an AA degree in History from San Jose City College. Degree in hand, Bill worked in a furniture refinishing store for a couple of years. In 1961, when the store closed, Bill began a long career as a hospital orderly at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center where his colleagues described him as being always helpful, gentle, and inspiring. In 2023, after 62 years at the hospital, Bill finally retired. During those many years as an orderly, Bill’s thirst for history never waned. His painstaking research on Los Gatos and the nearby mountains resulted in the publication of A History of the Santa Cruz Mountains in 1979. Bill also detailed the life story of George L. Colegrove, stagecoach driver and train operator. Additionally, Bill wrote various stories about the famous pioneer Mountain Charley. He is quoted in at least 125 books. Bill also taught a history class at De Anza College in the early ‘80s and gave a history talk in the Santa Cruz Mountains during Los Gatos’ Centennial year in 1987 Bill’s collection of antiques is extensive, and even after he recently donated dozens of large items to local museums, just about every square inch of his home remains filled with the past. It is a museum unto itself packed with historical furniture, signs, paintings, photos, models, telecommunications equipment, typewriters, cameras, lanterns, clocks, and dozens of other fascinating tchotchkes. Mr. Wulf has dedicated his entire life to public service both in the healthcare and history arenas. His historical works continue to inform and educate the community, and we at the LPM are ever grateful for his extensive contributions. Bill loves to hear from the locals and you can reach him at 408.249.0655. Cheers to Bill’s 85th year and we wish him many more!