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February  2018

   Museum News   


Proud New Owners of Historic Fire Truck

"Members of the Marin History Museum were all smiles Wednesday as they took possession of an 83-year-old fire truck believed to be one of the first used by the Marin County Fire Department.

The 1935 International pickup truck was donated to the museum by Sonoma County resident Sue Smith and her family. It will be on long-term loan to the county fire department, which will restore the vehicle that still runs and has many of its original parts."  Marin IJ

   Feature Article


Brrr! It’s Cold Outside

January’s newsletter on snow and the recent winter storms left us chilled. What we need is a cozy, warm quilt. Fortunately, the Museum’s collection includes a wealth of quilts.  


At her website Womenfolk: The Art of Quilting, quilt historian Jane Hall describes the log cabin motif as a quintessential American design where red centers represent a cabin’s hearth and light and dark values mimic the sunny and shady sides of a prairie home. 


Our log cabin quilt, an engagement gift, was lovingly (and frugally) assembled in the 1930s from scraps of

old dresses. Generally constructed of unmatched fabric, most bulky log cabin quilts are tied rather than hand-stitched. The silk-like fabric of our quilt permitted its creators to delicately hand stitch the layers together. 


Photo Source: MHM 


One eye-catching quilt is from the Sais (or Saez) family. Wealthy women of leisure created brightly colored and heavily embroidered crazy quilts using fabric from newfangled textile mills. Less affluent quilters used wool scraps from the practical clothing they made at home. Piecing and embroidering a crazy quilt could take months. An 1844 issue of Harper’s Bazaar suggested that a full-sized crazy quilt could take as many as 1,500 hours to complete.  


Our Sais quilt celebrates the 

year 1796 through embroidery 

and a ribbon boasting a string of thirteen star American flags, the correct number of states in 1796.In these flags, the six-pointed stars are arranged in stripes rather than the circle of five-pointed stars we expect from the familiar “Betsy Ross” flag.       Photo Source: MHM 


(Historians disagree about who fashioned the first flag with both Betsy Ross and Francis Hopkins contenders for the honor.)


The quilt maker’s decision to highlight 1796 is a mystery. One possible explanation is that the family patriarch, Justo Nazario Sais, died that year in Santa Clara. 


Photo Source: MHM

Photo Source: MHM 


The Pooley sisters of Mill Valley donated generously to the Museum including their mother’s bridal dress and accessories (c.1874), linen hand towels (c. 1852), and several quilts including a crazy quilt pieced by their mother (c. 1884). 


The quilt is alleged to include a fragment of Mary Todd Lincoln’s white silk funeral shroud sewn onto red velvet. While it’s not possible for us to verify the claim, the Pooley family had connections in Illinois where Mrs. Lincoln died and was buried. In addition, Mrs. Lincoln passed a mere two years before Mrs. Pooley completed her quilt.  So pending a CSI Marin forensic analysis, we’re willing to accept the family’s assertion. 


It certainly makes for a grand story.                                           Photo Source: MHM 


Photo Source: MHM 

If you have quilts from early Marin, the Museum would gratefully add them to our collection. But, before donation, you might want to inspect them closely. The September 23, 1927, San Anselmo Herald featured this remarkable tidbit, “Mrs. H. G. Thorston of Davenport [near Santa Cruz] found $5,000 in currency [today’s $63,000] in an old quilt which she had used for several years.” It must have been a thick quilt. 

Faces of Marin



Domingo Saissource


The eldest of sixteen children, Domingo Sais served as a soldier at the Presidio of San Francisco and in the San Francisco militia. In 1839, in thanks for his military service, Sais was granted the one-and-a-half-square-league Rancho Cañada de Herrera (Valley of the Blacksmiths.) The Rancho’s 6,658 acres included today’s Fairfax, Sleepy Hollow, and most of San Anselmo. In 1840, Domingo built San Anselmo’s first structure, an adobe home on the hill above today’s Sais Avenue not far from San Anselmo Memorial Park.

Some historians suggest that Domingo claimed for himself land that was intended for his father and family. Regardless, the Mexican Government registered the property in his name. In 1852, after Mexico ceded California to the United States, Sais submitted a claim for the Rancho with the United States Public Land Commission created to validate California’s Spanish and Mexican land grants. A year after his claim submission, Sais fell from his horse and died. His claim was confirmed in 1876, twenty-three years after his death.

Photo Source:

Maria Augustina Sais

Baptized: February 17, 1828 - 1864

Maria Augustina Sais, a sister to Domingo Sais, married James Black  in May 1844 at the Mission San Raphael Archangel. A year later, they welcomed a beloved daughter named after her mother. In 1849, their son James Black III died within a year of his birth. The Blacks were a wealthy and, by all accounts, happy family. James made his money in cattle and by leasing out his extensive land holdings. Young Maria, who preferred the Anglicized name Mary, studied in San Francisco while her mother tended their adobe home.

In October 1863, Mary wed the “scientific” dentist, Galen Burdell. To celebrate, James Black gave his daughter Rancho Olompali (now Olompali State Park) along with nine hundred head of cattle.

A few short months after the wedding, Maria Augustina visited her son-in-law’s San Francisco office for treatment, dying in his dental chair from what is presumed to have been chloroform poisoning His wife’s death emotionally devastated James Black, launching events including a hasty remarriage, betrayal, and four court trials which enthralled and appalled Marinites for over a decade.

Photo Source: MHM


Edith Makepeace Pooley

June 7 1875 – August 8 1971

Eliza Pooley (Searight)

March 23 1877 – April 19 1969

In December 1897, the Pooley sisters along with their parents, Arthur and Anna, moved into a custom-built house on Miller Avenue in Mill Valley. Edith later described their home as an “exhibition house.”

An accomplished pianist and piano teacher, Edith instructed hundreds of young women and men in the Leschetizky method  from her home, Home Croft.           

Her student musicians gave performances proudly wearing small silver pins consisting of a lyre surrounded by laurel leaves and the initials H.C.M.C: Home Croft Musical Club.

Photo Source:  Mill Valley Record 1922

Eliza married Beath P. Searight in 1907 only to lose her husband a short fourteen years later. The 1930 census shows the sisters living together once again in the family home on Miller Avenue with their widowed mother.

In the mid-1950s, the sisters moved, together still, into the San Francisco Ladies Protection and Relief Society’s retirement home: The Heritage. 

Photo Source: SF Ladies Protection and Relief Society

Edith and Eliza passed within a few years of each other aged 96 and 92 respectively and were buried in a common grave at the Cypress Lawn Memorial Park in Colma. 


Photo Source:

Community Events of Interest


Now Through April 1

Housing, Creativity, & Community

Quilters Feature Bolinas Structures

Bolinas Museum

19 Bolinas quilters have created a 20 square quilt plus eight individual squares.  They picture structures in Bolinas that knit the community together.  The quilt will be raffled on June 6 as a fundraiser for the Bolinas Community Land Trust.
Thursday, February 1

Presidio Tunnel Tops: From Concept to Reality

Marin Art and Garden Center - The Studio

Join us for a special presentation by Richard Kennedy, RLA, lead designer for the Presidio Tunnel Tops parklands, in conjunction with the exhibition, “Presidio Tunnel Tops: San Francisco Like you’ve Never Seen it Before”  

Presentation - 6:00-7:30 pm - Followed by wine reception

Registration required

 Friday, February 2

Paying the Price for Peace

Sausalito Public Library 

The series continues with an award-winning film edited by Sausalito storyteller Susan Utell and directed and produced by Bo Boudart. Through the life and times of Air Force veteran S. Brian Willson, Paying the Price for Peace tells the story of a world-wide anti-war movement to expose the truth about the United States’ addiction to war.

The film is narrated by Peter Coyote, with appearances by Martin Sheen, Daniel Ellsberg, and many other peace activists and veterans. Susan Utell will answer questions from the audience after the film.  (2016, 97 minutes)


·      7:00 PM 8:30 PM

 Friday, February 9
 Sausalito Seeker

us   Sausalito Public Library 

One of the filmmakers behind the classic Sausalito waterfront story Last Free Ride, Saul Rouda filmed the tribulations of the houseboat community from 1968 to 1984. In his latest film project, Sausalito Seekers, Saul takes Sausalito's story a little deeper, flushing out the nasty and the sublime and touching on the existential, with help from Joe Tate, Bill Kirsch, Larry Moyer, Shel Silverstein, and a large supporting cast. This program will also feature the short film Waldo Point, along with several resurrected film portraits of the "good old days.”

7:00 PM 8:30 PM

Friday, February 16
A Tribute to Larry Moyer

Sausalito Public Library


Larry Moyer was a fixture on the Sausalito waterfront for more than forty years. An artist, filmmaker, photographer, raconteur, and close friend of Shel Silverstein, Larry spent his last years living on Shel’s old houseboat, Evil Eye. Larry passed away in 2016 at the age of 92.

This special program will feature clips of interviews and performances, along with a scene from Larry’s 1963 beatnik classic, The Moving Finger. Larry’s good friend and fellow Sausalitan Kayla Kahn will introduce the program, and there will be time for the audience to share stories after the screening. 


7:00 PM 8:30 PM


Wednesday, February 21


Construction of a Museum: The Story of The Hamilton Field History Museum


Novato Public Library

Ray Dwelly, HFHM Director of Operations and Maintenance, will tell the story of the volunteer-led effort to construct and open the museum.

The Hamilton Field History Museum (HFHM) opened in May 2010 on the 75th anniversary of the dedication of Hamilton Air Field in 1935. The museum, housed in the building that was originally the base firehouse, exists to collect, preserve, exhibit, and interpret the history, growth, and development of Hamilton Field and Hamilton Air Force Base.


7:00 – 8:00 pm


Museum News, Events, Feature Article, Faces of Marin, 100 Years Ago, Community Events




It Happened in Marin: True Stories from the Other Side of the Golden Gate
by Jim Holden

Thursday, Feb. 22, 

7:00 pm 

Elks Lodge,

1312 Mission Ave.

San Rafael

Featured Speaker:

 Local author and historian Jim Holden presents an illustrated talk with highlights from his new book: It Happened in Marin: True Stories from the Other Side of the Golden Gate. Learn the inside stories of Marin’s first female entrepreneur; the Buck Trust; Mt. Tamalpais; the Golden Gate Bridge; Synanon founder Charles Dederich; Kit Carson’s legacy in Marin, and much more!

$10 admission.  Free entry for Elks with ID card

Please  RSVP:  415-382-1182

Sponsored by:




Marin Journal  

February 1918


Marin county ranchers are smiling.  It has rained.

From Monday afternoon until 9 o'clock this morning there was a generous downpour of wealth. It measured, according to the tabulation kept by the Bank of San Rafael, 3.57 inches. That was in San Rafael. In the vicinity of Mt. Tamalais the downfall was much heavier, and reports have come from the northern part of the couty that the rain-fall there has been steadier than here.

At any rate, men who depend upon the soil for their livelihood, agree that the drenching is worth barrels of money.

Editor's note: We could use such a downpour right now!



We can use your help! Have a little time on our hands and looking to help a local non-profit? Below is a list of some of the volunteer positions we need to fill.

Please let us know if any of these look interesting to you by emailing or calling 415-382-1182. We would love to hear form you!


We are starting to create a lot of content for our eNewsletters, social media sites, and future traveling exhibitions and publications. If you like to do historical research and write short articles, we could use your help.


Along with writers, we need editors to give the final article its blessing before it goes to print. This volunteer job can be done from home or on site. Let us know if you have that required eagle eye and grammatical tenacity to tackle this job.

Heavy Lifter

We need a few strong individuals to help move heavy shelving units within the Collections Facility. If you have few hours to spare during the week and could help us move our shelves, we would love to hear from you.

Special Event Assistant

If you enjoy hosting or attending a well-planned party, you’ll be a natural at during the Museum’s special events. We would love to see you help create the party, greet guests who attend, and  keep that friendly and festive feeling going for the whole evening.


Capture the moment for us! Your photos of the Museum’s special events and exhibitions will be invaluable for public outreach, future fundraising campaigns and our institution’s historical record. We could use your help documenting our history!

Are you a student looking for community service hours? Know a student who needs hours before graduating?  The Marin History Museum is a 501(c)3 and can grant students their community service hours.

Let us know and we’ll take care of it!

P. O. Box 150727, San Rafael, CA 94915        415-382-1182    

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