More Street Names South of the Trestle
By Charlene Perry
Martinez News-Gazette - January 24, 1984
“Following last week’s query concerning street names in Muir Oaks, Bob Latchaw, a resident of the area for many years, called to tell us that Milden Road was derived from the developers’ names Milburn and Dennis. But he didn’t know the origin of other names in the area. He did, however suggest how we might contact Mr. Milburn, so we may find out about Hampton and Venner. (ED note: currently it is not clear that the information was ever obtained.)
“Latchaw also told us that the present Muir Oaks subdivision, which opened in the late 1940s, is on the exact site of a subdivision set up in the 1910 era. The developers, by using the layout planned some 30 years earlier, were able to avoid a lot of red tape that accompanies a newly plotted subdivision.
“Other street names in the area (off or near Pleasant Hill Road East) named for one time residents include Hayward Court, for Orville Hayward, who farmed that area from 1884; nearby Barber Lane, is named for the earliest landowner of that property, Matthew Barber who came to Alhambra Valley in 1854 and bought 442 acres abutting that of Dr. John Strentzel. (ED. Note; there will be more about Matthew in a future column as he was a respected early county leader much mourned when he died in 1891. The home that he built still exists on Barber Lane). Barber’ son-in-law is remembered with Lander Drive, named for Judge Lander, who was married to Barber’s daughter, Maria, and who died as a young man. Their daughter was Aga Lander, a long time school teacher in Martinez. (Ed. Note: Miss Lander was also one of the founders of the Martinez Free Reading Room, the forerunner of the County Library System).
“In the two blocks of Alhambra Way just off Alhambra Avenue, Grothman Lane is named after Mrs. Emma Ann Grothman, who bought the old Wolford home and acreage in 1914. A widow, Mrs. Grothman left San Francisco following the death of her husband, looking for a country home and farm. The large old house with its wide porch and outbuildings was typical of the farm homes of the last part of the 19th century and recalls an earlier time of leisurely living. We regret that we were unable to find a photograph of this fine old farmhouse and that the surrounding trees and shrubs make it almost impossible to take a current picture.
“The 13 acres, planted to pears, peaches and grapes, was a profitable venture for Mrs. Grothman. She enjoyed the new town and became a member of the local social set. The acres have been subdivided and now bear many modern homes.
“When we come to Brackman Lane (off Alhambra Way near Pleasant Hill East and Muir Station Road) this columnist can get into a bind as there were two well-known Brackman families, but we will go with the Fred Brackmans and hope we are correct. (Ed. Note: The current “we” checked with Fred’s grandson, Herb, and the previous “we” was correct which she obviously was extremely certain of as she wouldn’t have written it otherwise). Their home (and orchards) were in the area through which Brackman Lane travels (between Haag Rd. and Pleasant Hill Road East) while the Louis Brackman dairy farm was much nearer to town behind Alhambra High near the end of F Street. (This writer was told recently that Haag Road is named after the family of the late respected Martinez pharmacist, Phillip Haag. I have not had a chance to verify that, however. Any information would be appreciated by leaving a message and contact information at the News-Gazette offices).
“Fred Brackman was a native of Ignacio Valley, but came to Alhambra Valley in 1885 while Louis Brackman was a native of Pinole born in 1863, who lived on several Alhambra Valley ranches before buying the town property where his dairy supplied milk products to County Hospital.
“To the left off Alhambra Valley Road (“at the curve”) is Wanda Way which was named for Wanda Muir Hanna, daughter of John Muir. (She and her husband Tom and their family lived in the Dutch colonial home built by her grandfather, Dr. Strentzel, next to Jose Lane and just before the curve. The house was destroyed by fire about 30 years ago.) We have been told that Jose Lane (off the Road just before the curve) was named for Jose Figuerredo, who worked on the Muir Land for many years. The Strentzels lived there until the 1880s when what is now called the John Muir House was built. John and Louie Muir and their two daughters lived in the original Strentzel home until the doctor died in 1890 and they moved into the mansion with Mrs. Strentzel.
“Again, with Raap Avenue (which runs north to south from H Street to Arroyo Drive), there were two Raap families. Henry Raap (for whom the street is named) came from Germany in 1854, settling in Alhambra Valley. In 1853, he bought the ranch originally owned by Warren Brown, son of county pioneer Elam Brown at the end of Alhambra Avenue (probably around H Street) This land would later be divided by the Alhambra Extension, which started in the late 1940s. Another Raap, Peter, also from Germany, arrived in 1866, settling in Alhambra Valley to farm.”
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