Thursday, August 8, 2013

"Packing Houses of Santa Clara County": Encyclopedia of Prune-related Knowledge

Genealogists have it easy. When you're trying to track down a person, their name is your key; their government records, and brushes with fame in the newspaper all appear with their name attached, so searches are often easy.

When I've been trying to track down the businesses along the railroad tracks in San Jose, it hasn't been as easy. Companies might have leased buildings or land, leaving little trace in permanent records. No single source exists to tell when a business was operating at a given location. Heck, there's often little to tell what that business did, or when it ceased to operate, or when they sold out to the big corporation.

As I've been researching San Jose canneries and dried fruit packing houses, I've been keeping my own notes, either as articles in this blog (such as the article on the occupants of the warehouses around the Market Street depot), in a big online document thanks to Google Docs, or on scraps of paper. None are perfect for searching or sharing.

Luckily, there's other ways to share that data.

I've put my San Jose cannery and packing house notes together into a website called:

Packing Houses of Santa Clara County

It's also a Wiki, so you're also welcome to help out - adding information about new industries, correcting mistakes in the data, or just reading about all the businesses that have existed along Bassett Street next to the old Market Street depot, or businesses related to the Salsina Canning Company on Lincoln Ave, or the capsule biography of Edith Daley, the canner's favorite newspaper woman. There are entries for 160 local industries so far, with addresses, owners, and history for each. I suspect I'm still missing many memorable businesses and interesting stories.

Many of the canneries and dried fruit packers of the Santa Clara Valley were also active in other parts of the state, so there's also information on Hunt Brothers in Santa Rosa, or the list of packers in Fresno. Feel free to add information on canneries and packing houses in your favorite part of California as well.

I'm hoping this data will be useful to others, and that you all can help fill your particular canning- or San Jose-related knowledge. I'll continue to post interesting stories here; Packing Houses of Santa Clara County will be the place to find the stories I haven't written about, or find links to further information. Check it out, and let me know what you think!

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