Monthly news & updates

November 1, 2023

A Message from the President

Dear Friends, Supporters and Members,

This month, appropriately, I am filled with GRATITUDE for so many things! For my unbelievable, enthusiastic, top-notch staff that has cheerfully and successfully created and executed more than 40 events including Ag-Tours, Time Travelers (twice), our Stars, Stripes and Swing Gala, the Sikh Oral History Project, Sip and Smoke, Mother’s Day Teas, five nights of Mystery Dinners – one person actually got the full solution correct this year – as well all our regular tours and so much more. Now, my industrious elves are about to embark on a fabulous Gottschalk’s Holiday Exhibit in our Gallery as well as to deck our halls with 14 trees, all adorned with decorations from our theme this year, “Holiday Tales.” Santa is on his way for the littles and their families, and a Holiday Tea is around the corner. 

How do you thank the best team anywhere? They trust I will find a way!

Onto our Board – for part of the year, our Chair was John Chandler, who passed the gavel at our July Board/Staff Strategic Planning Session to Chris Woolf, former Vice Chair. This occurred at the exact moment we were approached about purchasing a building for our expansive Archive – a plan that had been put in place well under the radar when I started at the FCHS in 2019. Our Board took a mighty leap of faith and supported this huge investment in our Society and the community. I said last month that a criticism about us had been that the Archive was not available for the public to use and enjoy. 

Well, NO MORE!

Give us a year or so and we will be proud to open our doors to everyone to research, interact with historical exhibits, share their Oral Histories and maybe even have a classically named cocktail at our beautiful bar. Our far-sighted Board and several extremely generous donors made the dream come true. My staff had already given me the nickname “Fairy Godmother” for providing them with the canvas to work their own forms of magic with curriculum, grants and so much more, that they never doubted our ability to manifest this wish. Fortunately, this time they were right! Read more about our special new home for the Archives in Roots of the Valley below. The place has quite a story to tell!

Enough gushing already about how lucky I am and on to you, our members, donors and supporters. Simply put, we could concoct the best, most educational and entertaining events and experiences, but without your attendance and generous financial contributions, nothing would have come to fruition. Costs are high for everything, including running a non-profit. You are the backbone of our organization and each and every one of you are genuinely appreciated. Please stay with us as we grow! At nearly 105 years of age, it was about time the Society had a place for all the amazing ephemera to be safely stored, digitized and made public whenever possible.

Thanks for your patience over the past 10 decades!

At times like these when I am feeling nostalgic and somewhat wistful, I tend to look back at editions of the Fresno Guide newspaper where my great-grandfather, Pop Laval, wrote a column in the 1950s and early ‘60s. 

In November 1961, he wrote a verse that I would like to share with you.


















To use his famous sign—off,

Bye now – I’ll Be Seeing You. Have a magnificent Thanksgiving holiday, one and all!

Warmest Holiday Wishes, 

Elizabeth Laval

President, Fresno County Historical Society


This holiday season, the Society will bring magic back to the Kearney Mansion Museum & Gallery with our annual display of Christmas at Kearney. The Mansion will be filled with decorated trees, each representing a local decorator's interpretation of a treasured Christmas Story for our "Holiday Tales" theme. 


From November 24th through New Year's Eve, guests will learn the history of Christmas Stories from 1816's The Nutcracker and the Mouse King all the way to 2005's Amazing Peace. Additionally, guests will tour the Kearney Mansion and learn the story of M. Theo Kearney and the Fruit Vale Estate. Special events are planned during the month, including a Meet & Greet with Santa and Holiday Tea Parties.

Many thanks to our local decorators and organizations that will bring their creativity and talent to decorating our trees this year: Susan Kampsen, Courtney Thiessen, Debbie Mortimer, Amy Jaye, Marisela Hernandez, June Boyce, Marilyn Fields, Kathy Burk, Darden Architects, The Cultural Arts Rotary, Kat Nielsen, Shelsea Avalos, Andrea Bendure, Amanda Welsh and Karen Olson.


November 24, 2023 beginning at 12pm 

Be among the first to enjoy our "Holiday Tales" Christmas Display on this Grand Opening day. We will offer a guided tour of the Mansion featuring over a dozen beautifully decorated trees, each representing a different beloved Christmas story. Guided tours will be offered to the public on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays at 12pm, 1:30pm and 3pm through the end of the year. Private and Group Tours are available during the week by appointment only.

December 2nd & 3rd from 10am to 3pm

Meet Santa at the Kearney Mansion Museum and create a unique family memory in a gorgeous setting this year. Bring your family to take pictures with our Victorian Santa and enjoy a self-guided tour of this historic home decorated with themed Christmas trees and antique toys that just might not be on your children's wish list! Hot chocolate & Christmas cookies are included with your admission this day as well. If you would like to bring a new, unwrapped toy to donate, you will receive a free admission to the Mansion and Museum. 

December 9th at 11am and 3pm

It's tea time at Kearney Mansion once again. Our annual Holiday Tea Party is back by popular demand. You and your guests will enjoy the elegance of Holiday Tea served in the Mansion Dining and Reception rooms surrounded by Christmas trees. The event includes a guided tour of the Mansion and a Gallery talk. The teas will fill quickly and space is limited. Don't miss it!



Recent visitors to the Kearney Mansion Museum (KMM) are now experiencing extended guided tours. If you have not been on a guided Kearney Mansion tour within this past season, you are in for a treat as our former 45-minute guided tours are now one hour and 15-minute tours starting at 12 noon, then again at 1:30 PM, with the last round starting at 3:30 PM every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Visitors now have more time to enjoy our rotating exhibits, new gift shop items and, coming soon, a permanent exhibit that will illustrate life on the historic Kearney ranch.

I want to take this time to recognize our fierce, enthusiastic and diverse tour guide team. I have the pleasure of managing and directing the Historical Society’s Tourism Division with five other unique tour guides. Begining with Mark Pozzi who started off as a docent with the Kearney Mansion Museum. He has been with the Historical Society for many years, and I was happy to attract him as an employee when I came on the scene in October 2019, after I saw his passion for the Society. I admired his heart to keep history alive and his joy about our new focus led by the President of the Fresno County Historical Society, Elizabeth Laval. Mark enjoys leading tours at the Mansion, especially with senior groups and he is one of my main tour guides by my side during our Fields of Fresno Ag Tours ( I like to call him “Sheriff”. 

Next up is the delightful and sharp Shelsea Avalos. Shelsea wears many hats here and is studying in the medical field. She demonstrates a passion for knowledge on every tour and the whole office just feels better when she comes through the doors. She holds a spirit of excellence and leads our historical tours of the Mansion with care and class. Her can-do attitude and professional demeanor makes all FCHS projects smoother. I love hearing her make friendly conversation with our tourists. 

Humberto Gonzales is our next tour guide I would like to acknowledge. He is a student at Fresno State majoring in history (yeah!) and is available to lead Mansion Tours on the weekend. Humberto has assisted with our Fields of Fresno Ag Tours since his first day as a guide. Along with Shelsea, he leads our Spanish language tours also. He displays confidence and knows how to engage our guests. 

Now for Joshua Villanueva. He wears two hats; he works as a tour guide but also assists with archives research! His tours are lively and detailed, and I admire his passion for keeping history alive. I enjoy hearing him get excited as he shares historical information that he has read or discovered within our Archives. You cannot train a person to be excited or to love what they do...that is why his presence is valued. He loves preserving history. 

I want to acknowledge one of our on-call guides for unique events and tours - Amanda Welsh. For some time, she was a regularly scheduled guide at the Mansion but despite new opportunities, she insists on remaining on-call for future Society needs. She previously was my right hand in handling large group tours, training new guides, and leading tours independently. She, too, is a history graduate from Fresno State, maintains her enthusiasm for our mission, and is a joy to work with when I can steal her away as needed. 

The next time you book a tour with us you will see them leading you through history. Take the time to thank them for choosing the Fresno County Historical Society as their place to keep history alive. Catch myself, Mark, and Humberto on our next Fields of Fresno Ag Tour on Saturday, November 18th. This last Ag tour of the year will be starting at the Kearney Mansion Museum at 8:15 am and will feature a guided tour of two Belmont Nursery locations -- did you know Belmont Nursery has a separate production yard that is not open to the public? You get to see it when their Production Manager, Chris, gives us a backstage tour. Then we will be heading to the second location, Belmont Nursery’s retail yard. Our third location ends at the historical A. Nonini Winery that has been around for over one hundred years. Jim Nonini will greet us at his family-owned winery for wine tasting. Lunch is always included and provided by Sweet Bee Catering. Book your $85 seats on our page as reservations are required. For any questions, please feel free to contact me, Candice Calderón via email or by phone at (559) 777-4091. 



Did you miss the Time Travelers event at Kearney Park? If you did, you missed a lot of fun! From the Buffalo Soldiers and Duane Penner’s hand-made brooms to Minna Eshleman’s freshly churned butter and the musings of M. Theo Kearney himself, history was in full bloom.


Students had the opportunity to sample bits of many of our fabulous local museums, chat with local historical figures, enjoy hands-on activities and more. The Kings River Conservancy, Meux Home Museum, Fossil Discovery Center, Armenian Heritage Museum, Museum of the Sierra, and the Clovis Veterans Museum all offered glimpses into our history, while the Fresno Folklore Society provided traditional music as a backdrop. Fresno City College’s Asian American Staff and Faculty and Latino Staff and Faculty Associations and Asian American Club participated with food, Dragon Dancers and provided a peek into the world of the Filipino immigrants in Fresno County. 

Not only were there many things to see, but there was so much to do. The California Living History Group taught students how to write in cursive with a quill pen, how to do laundry with a washboard and how to make simple dolls from scraps of fabric, much like settler’s children did. The African American Farmers of California had heritage recipes to share along with stalks of okra-something a lot of us had never seen! 

There was a lot of excitement surrounding blacksmiths Reuel Darling and Frank Jackson, who brought a real forge and anvil with them, and gave live iron-working demonstrations. And some lucky students were chosen to ride a bicycle-powered lathe used by Natalie Trujillo to turn chunks of wood into beautiful bowls, spoons, and rings. 

But wait, that is not all! There were opportunities for square dancing lessons, swag from the North Central Fire District, chances to pet a black bear and puma (ok, just their pelts), and learning how to measure a tree’s height without ever touching it. 

A huge “thank you” to all the amazing volunteers that made this event possible, from museum employees to the organizations and individuals. There is no way we could have provided this experience for THREE THOUSAND kids without you! Thanks to you, horizons were expanded, interests were piqued and an appreciation for history and other cultures was gained. 

We look forward to another successful event next year. 


BY: Cami Cipolla

Hello Friends of the Archives!

As we leave October behind us and dive into November headfirst, many Fresno County residents are readying for the various cultural and religious holidays coming our way in the next several months. Though each holiday is celebrated in diverse ways, by different people, for various reasons, one thing that all holidays have in common is being together with those closest to you. Whether it be family, friends, organization members, or whomever, we celebrate together, we celebrate in personal ways and with variegated viewpoints. The holidays are all about celebrating the values that bring us together in life. These important connections can bring us unity through togetherness, generosity and gratitude. Many holidays during the fall and winter months are ways for us to gather with those we love and care about and express our gratitude and appreciation for them.

For our upcoming exhibits, The Legacy of Gottschalks: The Store That Cares and From China to Fresno: A 150-Year Cultural Journey, I have been knee deep in ephemera, newspaper articles, items and research to tell these stories. Throughout this process, celebration is a common underlying theme. Celebrating community, culture, and togetherness. 

Our Archives hold the memories of past celebrations that allow us to look back and learn about and connect with our heritage. As I looked back through history’s lens, I found myself fully immersed in different Fresno County cultural celebrations that reminded me of how truly diverse our community is. Documenting our traditions and celebrations is just as important as documenting our histories. Future generations rely on these memories to interpret our history and what was important to us.


As you go into this season of celebration, gratitude and togetherness be sure to take photos, write down memories, document why and what you are celebrating and with whom. Tell your story. We want to hear it!

Cheers, friends… and happy holidays!


Mystery At Kearney Mansion Events A Success

“Ooooh, I do love a good intrigue!” 

And a good intrigue is exactly what those who attended one of the series of Mystery Dinners received! Riveting questions and wild theories abounded as everyone scurried to answer the question “Whodunit!?” after the demise a famous ghost hunter and hotel guest, Ivor Feeling. A precious very few were able to sift through the red herrings and bountiful clues to identify the murderer! Truth-seekers wandered throughout the Mansion premises, noshing on delicious tastes and merry cocktails during the event, in attempts to put together who the rascal was that did the deed, how they did it and more importantly, the motive behind it all! It was a sight to behold, so many amateur sleuthers, digging through clues and details and sharing that information with each other in many cases, in hopes of unveiling the evildoer!

We want to offer a standing ovation to entire cast with special thanks to Renee Newlove who served as both director and our erstwhile crime solver Detective Inspector Dick Lacey.

The Fresno County Historical Society thanks all of our attendees for making the events incredibly memorable. We are already looking forward to next year’s whodunit!


The Fresno Republican Printery Building

The Fresno Republican Printery Building, more commonly known as The Downtown Club is soon to be the new home of the Fresno City & County Archives!

That cat may be fully out of the bag but there is much you do not know about this building, Number 005 on the Local Historical Register and also listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Some fun facts: the Printery was built in 1919, the same year the FCHS was founded. The printing press that remains a stalwart guardian of the property was actually used to print some of the newspapers that are in our Fresno Morning Republican Archive and will be on display after we move in. 

When architects Edward Glass and Charles Butner were planning the structure, with its specialized purpose to accommodate the job printing division of the then powerful Fresno Morning Republican newspaper, they were required to produce what was essentially a large warehouse space, with six banks of northern exposure skylights to naturally illuminate over 8,500 square feet of print shop. Structurally, the building was designed with two-story high exposed brick walls on the east and west sides, as well as in the rear. A series of 12 exposed tresses, engineered by Edward Glass, continue to span the print shop in pairs, which rest on six centrally aligned posts.

From its sidewalk frontage on Kern Street, The Printery presents an elegantly symmetrical and carefully proportioned commercial façade of plastered brick; with simple exposed-brick windowsills and headers; painted window sash and door casements; repetitive diamond-shaped decorative tiles; and a long shallow canopy eave of red Spanish roofing tile. There are many more explicit descriptives in the application for the National Register.

William Glass, father of architect Edward Glass, had been the business manager of The Fresno Morning Republican since 1890, when Founder and Publisher, Dr. Chester Rowell, had recruited him from the San Francisco Bulletin. The elder Rowell’s nephew and namesake became editor of the paper in 1898 and shared the triumphant rise to power of The Republican in partnership with William Glass. When the newspaper division was ultimately sold to the Osborne Brothers, the founding families severed their partnership, and William Glass assumed control of the job printing business as his share of the settlement. 

In 1925, William Glass was elected Commissioner of Finance in the City of Fresno, after selling The Evening Herald – one of his several attempts to keep a hand in the newspaper business. The Herald was unknowingly sold to agents for the James McClatchy Publishing Company and was shut down in 1924. Likewise, the McClatchy empire eventually absorbed the ailing Fresno Morning Republican on March 21, 1932, catapulting The Fresno Bee into exclusive prominence in this community. 

The early Republican newspaper is unquestionably viewed as having been a major force in the social, cultural and publishing history of early California.

In 1926, on the 50th anniversary of the Printery (not the building itself), The Fresno Morning Republican touted:

“Grown from a Small One Press Shop to the Biggest Printery in California Outside of San Francisco and Los Angeles”

“In September 1876, just 50 years ago, the late Dr. Chester Rowell established a weekly newspaper with which a small job printing plant was attached. The small weekly newspaper became a powerful daily of metropolitan proportions and the job printing department developed into the largest and best equipped establishment of its kind in California, outside of the cities of San Francisco and Los Angeles.

“The Fresno Republican Printery Co. is now an establishment far beyond the dreams of its founder. It is housed in its own building at 2130 Kern Street. This building was designed for the printing plant and is the proverbial ‘last word’ in printing plant construction and arrangement.

“The Fresno Republican Printery Co. in trade circles is regarded as the ‘big’ printing plant of Central California, and it lives up to its name by doing practically all of the large printing of this section. Your telephone directory, city directory, as well as most of the local magazines and other publications are products of its presses. Sixty percent of Fresno’s large, modern press equipment is operated in this plant.


“A fully equipped bookbinding department is a feature of this institution. Here are all the folding, punching, perforating, stitching, sewing, ruling and other machines that are used in a general bindery. Its products range from the ordinary folder or pamphlet to a full bound cash book or loose-leaf ledger.”

On behalf of the FCHS, we are so appreciative of all your warm wishes as we embark on this once-in-a-lifetime journey to relocate our Archives. 




the use or involvement of volunteer labor, especially in community services.

Volunteerism can mean a lot of different things, to many different people. At its most basic, it’s a vital expression of human relationships. The by-products of volunteerism are many. The true spirit of volunteerism is infused with many societal values such as mutual trust, providing a sense of belonging and empowerment; these all notably contribute to one’s quality of life. These are the types of cornerstones that make one feel complete and connected to their community.

 Did you know through volunteerism, one can reap seven key benefits:

 1. Feel a connection with others within the community - people can make new friends and strengthen existing relationships.

 2. Build self-confidence and self-esteem - through a series of accomplishments, one can feel a sense of pride by taking you out of your natural comfort zone and environment.

 3. Important for physical health - get off the couch and work with others while, literally, moving towards a common goal.

4. Important for mental health - can help counteract the effects of stress, depression and anxiety and will have a profound effect on your psychological well-being.

 5. Imparts a sense of purpose - when one donates their time to an organization with a mission they can support one hundred percent.

 6. Can help provide perspective - for people who feel overwhelmed by the problems mounting up day by day, volunteering experiences can put some of those things into the right perspective to where they may not seem so overwhelming any longer.

 7. Important for your career - volunteering experience can be incredibly useful and reflects that you can take initiative to help and impact the lives of other people. 

The Fresno County Historical Society has been and is currently focused on community - partnering with community leaders, collecting and preserving all written records and other materials of historical value to the citizenry of Fresno County and more broadly, the San Joaquin Valley. We want to ensure that future generations will look back and understand the important part that Fresno County has played in the rich history of California. Volunteerism has been woven through the fabric of Valley history. We have a saying that it is not just about what happened a hundred years ago. It’s about every single thing we do that creates ripple effects in history. We are making history every day.

If you would like to help us, consider volunteering during one of the remaining upcoming events we host:

Christmas at Kearney Installation from11/14-11/19

Santa Meet & Greet on 12/2 and 12/3

Member’s Reception on12/2

Kearney Council Dinner on 12/6

Holiday Tea Party on 12/9



By: Estela Anahi Jaramillo

Reprinted from The Business Journal

By day - Sanger's Randy Stumpfhauser is a school principal. But this weekend he'll cement his legacy with his first love and career path, entering the BMX hall of fame in Tulsa, Oklahoma alongside his family.

"I started in 1986. I was nine, and there was a track here in Sanger called Apache Land," Stumpfhauser said. "It had just opened and after my first race, I was just hooked." 

Stumpfhauser began to chase his dream of going pro. "I remember looking at all the pros and top amateurs in the magazines and definitely wanting to compete with them," Stumpfhauser said. He finally made his mark in 1995 at a national bicycle league race in Columbus, Ohio.

"I remember bringing home the prize money they would put cash in an envelope, and I remember having that in my backpack on the plane ride home and being super stoked," Stumpfhauser said. 

"Stumpy" or "Stumpdog" as he became known in the sport began to rack up accolades. Like winning the Golden Crank for rookie of the year. "It got to a point at the end of that year where you start having to look at 'I really have to work hard at this' if I want to compete with the best so getting a training program, working with weights," Stumpfhauser said.


Cedric Alexander - November 15, 2023

The Future of Public Safety in America

Cedric Alexander is a public servant, thought leader, and author of "In Defense of Public Service: How 22 Million Government Workers Will Save Our Republic." In his new book, Cedric makes a case for the importance of the public servant to uphold the legitimacy of U.S. Democracy. Cedric began his career over 40 years ago in 1977 as a Deputy Sheriff in Leon County, Florida. From his beginnings in law enforcement, Cedric went on to serve in numerous capacities at all levels of government; local, state, and federal. His background combines a long career as a deputy, a police officer, a detective, a deputy mayor, and a police chief in cities across the United States. He will share his vision for creating safer cities across the United States.