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March  2018


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           Museum News   



Thaddeus Welch (1844-1919)

Self portrait, 1878

Ludmilla Pilat Welch (1867-1925)

Landscape with horses grazing beyond

On December 14, 2017, Peter Y. Pilat generously donated to the Marin History Museum thirty-six paintings spanning 1878 through 1916 created by his aunt, Ludmilla Pilat Welch (1867-1925) and her husband, Thaddeus Welch (1844-1919). Despite a sixteen year age difference, the couple married in 1883, moved to California in 1893, and eventually built a home not far from the Dipsea Trail at the foot of Steep Ravine. Upon Thaddeus’s death in December 1919, the San Francisco Chronicle described the former Marin resident as a “noted painter of Tamalpais scenes.” Although lesser known than her husband, Ludmilla’s collection is grounded in landscapes evocative of early Marin, Yosemite, and Santa Cruz Island.


   Feature Article

Brand of Ownership 

It was a simple advertisement, easily missed among the Marin Journal’s February 1918 “For Sale” notices and reports of land transfers; but woe to the rancher who ignored the warning.  

                                        Source MHM 

The text’s slight size belied a larger problem: cattle rustling. Registered brands protected cattlemen’s roving investments. As the 2007 California Brand Book reminded ranchers, “Your brand is your livestock’s return address.”  

When not stealing cattle, a brazen thief might pinch another man’s brand, a risky and illogical business since brand thieves were hung, and branding your cattle with another man’s mark increases his herd, not yours. Still, brands are registered not only by their pattern but also by their location. Move a circle-c © from a steer’s rump to his shoulder and it’s considered a different brand. 


Artistic thieves used a “running brand” (often a simple J pattern) to transform brands into something altogether new. Small adjustments make large differences. Extend a bar — to get a rail ——. Elongate a half diamond and you have a rafter . In both cases, the modification yields a new brand. 

Ignacio Pacheco registered one of Marin’s earliest brands at the Mission San Raphael in 1845. Reflecting his heritage, Pacheco’s brand was more decorative than the simple numbers, initials, or block figures favored by Anglo ranchers. Don Timoteo Murphy, San Rafael’s Alcalade, handwrote Pacheco’s registration in Spanish.  


Source: MHM 


Source: Eugene P. Ongaro 


Hilaria Sanchez, the widow of John Reed who owned the Rancho Corte Madera del Presidio, was the first woman to register her own brand in what we’d like to think was an empowering19th century feminist moment, although Sanchez was probably more interested in counting her cattle than in demanding female equality. 


The Museum’s collection includes not only Marin’s first brand book (1845-1917) but also the second volume (1918-1932), with large block images of registered brands. We’re proud to safeguard several brands including the three-inch square JT brand from the J. A. Thomason Ranch. Don Timoteo Murphy’s leaning-T brand measures a substantial seven and one-half inches by four inches, easy to read from horseback. 


Marin Brand Book Vol. II       Source: MHM 

 Thomason Ranch Brand                  Source: MHM 

     Don Timoteo Murphy Brand                  Source: MHM

Brands are California’s past and present—with welcome changes. Hot irons have gone electric with a constant heat that reduces dangerous burns. Freezing brands are less traumatic for livestock and the hair grows back white, a mark you may have seen on local horses. And of course, tattoos and microchips are contemporary markings for both livestock and Marin’s dogs. 


Source: Wikipedia 


The Museum thanks Ernest P. Ongaro for his 2008 book, Brands of California—Sonoma and Marin Counties, which inspired this article. 

        Faces of Marin        


                                 Jasper O’Farrell 

                         (1817- November 16, 1875) 



         Source:  California-The Irish Dream, by Patrick J. Dowling, Photo Courtesy of Society of California Pioneers 

A Dublin-born engineer, Jasper O’Farrell reached San Francisco by way of South America on October 14, 1843. Based on O’Farrell’s experience surveying for both English and American companies, the Mexican government hired him to survey the fledgling city and surrounding counties. In return, he received one section of land for every twenty he laid out.  

O’Farrell fled to his San Rafael retreat when San Francisco property owners threatened to lynch him after his Market Street plans cut through their property. 

In addition to surveying, O’Farrell raised cattle. His brand, an artistic interplay of his initials , wouldn’t look out of place on one of Silicon Valley’s latest gizmos. Initially registered in Los Angeles in 1846, the detail-oriented professional also recorded his brand at the Mission San Raphael in April 1849. 

On November 16, 1875, at fifty-eight-years of age, while sharing a drink with an actor named McCabe at San Francisco’s Semple Saloon, O’Farrell collapsed and died, leaving behind his wife Mary (McChristian) and several children. 

James Martin Miller  

(May 1, 1814- November 25, 1890) 

Source:  California-The Irish Dream, by Patrick J. Dowling, Photo Courtesy of William J. Miller III 


Irish-born James Miller and Mary Murphy met and married in Canada before immigrating to America. Unsatisfied with their land, the Miller family left Missouri for California 1844. Ellen Independence Miller was born en route on, predictably, the Fourth of July. The challenging cross-country journey reduced the family to scarcely surviving on soup made from a boiled leather lariat. 

In Marin, Miller met a fellow Irishman from County Wexford, Don Timoteo Murphy. Miller bought 680 acres of Don Timoteo’s Las Gallinas Rancho to support his dairy business. He eventually replaced the family’s adobe home with Miller Hall, an imposing three-story wooden structure described as “a dwelling of magnificent proportions lying four miles north of San Rafael on the Petaluma Road,” now the Marinwood Development. Besides entertaining guests for evenings and extended visits, the building corralled (barely, we assume) James and Mary’s brood of ten children.    

A generous man, Miller financed—and to a large degree populated— San Rafael’s first private school at 4th andA streets.

Editor's note: We stumbled across a photo and short biography of the Miller's Fourth of July baby and just had to share.


                    Source: MARIN—A History, Barry Spitz

Ellen Independence Miller, shown above circa 1864, never married. She died at her family home, Miller Hall, on February 5, 1905.  



A History

, Spitz, Barry

Ellen Independence Miller, shown here near her twentieth birthday,

never married. She

died at her family home, Miller Hall, on February 5, 1905.

Don Timoteo Murphy 


Source: Hans Roenau, Marinscope 


The Marin Pioneer who wrestled a bear—and lived to brag about it—hailed from Wexford, Ireland. Described as a “fine looking man, tall, powerfully and well built, a good horseman and a keen hunter,” Timothy Murphy arrived in San Francisco in 1828 as the local agent for an English firm, shipping hides back to London.


Murphy became a naturalized Mexican citizen in 1839, most likely changing his name at that time. Don Timoteo Murphy’s services to Marin were numerous: Indian Agent (arguing for Indian land rights,) Land Commissioner, Justice of the Peace, Alcalde (Mayor) of San Rafael, and administrator of the San Raphael Mission. At General Vallejo’s request, he traveled to England and purchased blooded bulls to improve Marin’s breeding stock.  

Don Timoteo died a bachelor. His nephew, John Lucas, inherited his uncle’s Santa Margarita Rancho—now known as Lucas Valley. 

Community Events of Interest


Now Through April 1

Housing, Creativity, & Community

Quilters Feature Bolinas Structures

Bolinas Museum

Nineteen 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.


For more information  


Thursday, March 2

Filmmaker Gary Yost - The Invisible Peak

Ross Valley Historical Society 

Marin Art and Garden Center - Livermore Pavilion

Filmmaker GARY YOST is best known for his films about Mt Tam, including A Day in the Life of a Fire Lookout. He will discuss and show short videos he has made supporting the restoration of West Peak which was leveled to create a Cold War era Air Force Base. Yost’s first film in the trilogy The Invisible Peak has been shown on PBS, screened at film festivals and has won many awards.

Presentation - 11:00am - Followed by wine reception


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




Thursday, March 22, 

7:00 pm 

Elks Lodge,

1312 Mission Ave.

San Rafael

The Northwestern Pacific Railroad, Lifeline of the Redwood Empire  Boom and Bust  

by Angelo Figone

       Featured Speaker:        Angelo Figone

From the boom years of Northern California's lumber traffic to the demise of the Redwood Empire's lifeline, this is the 50-year story of the Northwestern Pacific Railroad, 1951-2001. The presentation documents the challenges and rewards of the Southern Pacific's unique subsidiary including excerpts from former MWPRR employees who were there. 

$10 admission.  Free entry for Elks with ID card

Please  RSVP: or   415-382-1182

Sponsored by:




Marin Journal   March 1918 

Honest Man Found Without a Lantern 

Tax Collector J. A. Saunders is not Diogenes

He says honest men in California are as numerous as soldiers and sailors and he doesn't have to have a lighted lantern to spy the out. For instance: Saunders received a check Monday for $10.  A letter accompanied the check.  It was from Frank Phillips of 321 I street,  Sacramento.         "Twenty-six years ago" Phillips wrote, "I worked on a Marin county ranch.  I looked up from my job one day and saw the poll tax man coming,  I beat it.  I can beat the poll tax man, but I can't beat my conscience.  The poll tax was $2 but I figure that the interest on what I owe will bring my indebtedness up to about $10.  Here it is." The old county files failed to disclose the charge  against Phillis, so Tax Collector Saunders is planning to turn the money over to the Red Cross and to notify Phillips of its disposition.



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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