George Ulshofer and the First Named Streets of Glen Park
Sometimes we discover new information quite by accident. It is by such a happenstance that the first streets of Glen Park have now been revealed to us. It also brings to light how far back our dairy history actually goes, giving the Holstein cow perched high on the sign at the entrance to the Glen Canyon Recreation Area an even deeper meaning.
As noted in the History of Glen Park Among the Pines on this website, and based on a map of the City and County of San Francisco by surveyor Vitus Wackenreuder in 1861,there were at least four dairy farms, or “milch ranches” as they were called, along Islais Creek. Two were in Glen Canyon: one operated by John Gardiner (or Gardner) that appears to have been in the area just west of and below Christopher Playground, and the other by Robert Clark, whose property appears to have been at the approximate location of the Glen Canyon baseball field. Further downstream on the south bank of Islais Creek, George Ulshofer is noted on the map to have a structure that may be near the site of today’s Glen Park School, and Henry Wilson on the north bank of the creek has a structure that appears to be near today’s intersection of Diamond and Chenery Streets.
We can push the history of milk ranches in our neighborhoods back at least another year with the Non-Population Schedule of District 11 in San Francisco, part of the 1860 U.S. Federal Census. This schedule documents the statistics of farms and other industries throughout the United States. In it, we find the following:
George “Ulsoffer”, owner of 10 acres of improved land valued at $1,000 (about $26,000 today), three horses, 30 “milch” cows, 26 “other” cows, and 20 swine. The value of his livestock lists at $2,000 (about $52,000 today – twice the value he placed on his land).
As for the other dairymen in the area of Glen Park and Glen Canyon:
Henry Wilson owned 160 acres of improved land valued at $8,000 ($208,000 today), $500 ($13,000 today) worth of farm implements and machinery, plus three horses, 40 milk cows, 56 other cows, and four swine valued at $2,500 ($65,000 today), in addition to 200 bushels of oats;
Robert Clark (Glen Canyon) owned 15 acres of improved land valued at $1,000, four horses, 13 milk cows, and 25 other cows, all valued at $2,000, plus 100 bushels of oats; and
John H. Gardiner (Glen Canyon) claimed he owned a staggering 540 improved acres valued at $10,000 ($260,000 today), 10 horses, 90 milk cows, 45 other cows, and 2 swine totaling $4,000 in value ($104,000 today), plus 500 bushels of oats.
In addition, two other milk ranchers not listed on the Wackenreuder map of 1861 but who are listed in the 1860 U.S. Federal Census adjacent to George Ulshofer include:
Abel Wade, owner of 200 improved acres valued at $5,000 ($130,000), in addition to 8 horses, 50 milk cows, 32 other cows, and nine swine valued at $2,700 ($70,000 today);
and, a separate surprise that would lead us to the origins of Wilder Street along today’s border of the Fairmount Tract and Glen Park:
William P. Wilder, owner of 15 improved acres valued at $1,000, and two horses, 35 milk cows, 12 other cows, and 10 swine all valued at $1,000.
So, the next time you’re standing in your back yard in Glen Park or walking through Glen Canyon, take a moment to consider this: just over 150 years ago there were nearly 500 ruminating heads of free-ranging cattle wandering over this fertile land, in addition to at least 22 horses and 35 hogs and pigs! And based on the definition of free-ranging, there was likely an intermingling of additional livestock from neighboring Fairmount Tract and the Sunnyside.
A Happy Coincidence
Now for our accidental discovery. The George H. Goddard Map of the City and County of San Francisco in 1869 shows the boundaries of some of the City’s properties. The land owned by George Ulshofer (in this case, “Ulshoffer”) is a polygon that is basically rectangular in shape, with an extension along the northwestern border. The property of his neighbor, Henry Wilson, is not shown, nor is there a milk rancher Wilson listed in the 1869 directory. (Right click the map to view in a new window.)
Source: George H. Goddard, City and County of San Francisco. David Rumsey Historical Map Collection.
On the Goddard map, the eastern end of Ulshofer’s property abuts up against the San Francisco-San Jose Railroad, and a railroad depot sits at the southern edge. Just across from the depot on the other side of the tracks a large rock is noted, which may be the source of the name “Rock Ranch” that would be used now and then for subsequent descriptions of the area. The location of this rock may have been near the intersection of today’s Bosworth and Lyell Streets.
Earlier this year when I was exploring a local antiquarian book fair, I came across Langley’s Map of the City and County of San Francisco published in 1877. The thrill of a Eureka! moment nearly took my breath away when I saw the same outline for the boundaries of the Ulshofer property at the same location, but now laid out in a street plat! Research of local vintage newspapers appeared to indicate the plat was developed by the Mission and Thirtieth Street Extension Homestead Association. (Right click the map to open in a new window.)
Source: Langley's Map, City and County of San Francisco, 1877. Courtesy of a Private Collector.
This discovery was confirmed by the Index Map of the City of San Francisco Assessor’s Office (1884) that includes the names of various homestead associations. (Right click on map to open in a new window.)
Source: Index Map, City and County of San Francisco, Assessor's Office, David
Rumsey Map Historical Map Collection.
George Ulshofer, Milk Rancher
Who was George Ulshofer and how did that transaction come about? According to census records, George Ulshofer was born around 1820 in Wurtemburg, Germany, then known as Swabia or Bavaria. It’s not known when he arrived in the United States or San Francisco. However, the earliest residence yet found is from the 1858 San Francisco Directory in which he is listed as a dairyman on Presidio Road (the approximate route of today’s Lombard Street), east of the Presidio House. There is no directory listing for Ulshofer in 1859.
The San Francisco City Directory 1862 notes he is still residing along Islais Creek, stating the location as Milk Ranch at Rock House Hill, near Old San José Road, 5 miles from City Hall. Rock House Hill may be the name of the hill upon which Glen Park School now sits, given that the big rock was located at the base of the eastern slope of the hill. Ulshofer only employed European workers on his ranch: George Brumer, 29 year old milkman, Russia; Hubert Van Deursen, 18 year old milkman, Holland; Frank Shelling, 26 year old laborer, Germany; Louis Miller, 25 year old laborer, Switzerland; John Redford, 34 year old carpenter, Sweden; and Henry Gutzen, 22 year old laborer, Germany. Glen Park, Fairmount Tract, and the Sunnyside would continue to reflect such European diversity for many decades.
In 1863, Ulshofer is listed as a milkman living at Mission Dolores. I contacted the archivist at Mission Dolores and, unfortunately, they have no records that specifically refer to him. By the time the 1865 City Directory is published, Ulshofer has moved his milk ranch to 17th and Douglass Streets in San Francisco’s Eureka Valley.
Mission and Thirtieth Street Extension Homestead
The Mission and Thirtieth Street Extension Homestead Union was reported to have filed its certificate of association on May 20, 1869 for the purchase of the San Miguel Rancho. Capital stock was $105,000 ($1.8 million today) and the trustees were F.W. Myrick, William T. Gunn, F. Mantell, Albert Macy, and C.F. Brown. Yet, two days before the certificate was filed, the association placed the following add in the Daily Alta California for the sale of home lots:
Source: Daily Alta California, May 15, 1871. California Digital Newspaper Collection.
Two years later, on April 4, 1871, an article appeared in the Daily Alta California reporting that George Ulshofer had filed suit against the Mission-Thirtieth St Extension Homestead Company, alleging that he was the owner and in the actual possession the 25 acres of land in question, 10 acres more than his census record of 1860. Ulshofer went to court to have the land declared his own. Two weeks later, another brief note in the Daily Alta California stated that a “Decree to quiet title to premises described in complaint granted.” No further reports about the transaction were located. Given that the plat remained unchanged following the decree, perhaps Ulshofer and the trustees of the Mission and Thirtieth Street Homestead Extension Union came to a financial agreement.
The First Streets in Glen Park
The Thirtieth and Mission Street Extension Homestead Map, published April 23, 1872, provides us with a clear view of the first streets laid out in Glen Park: (right click the image to open in a new tab):
Source: San Francisco Public Library, SFH 76, Homestead Maps, Vols A & B.
Though the grid may seem recognizable, clearly the street names do not. Here is another image of the homestead map with current street names (many street names changed over the years between the 1880s and 1909 to eliminate duplication throughout the City and confusion among both residents and the postal service) (right click the image to open in a new tab):
Source: San Francisco Public Library, SFH 76, Homestead Maps, Vols A & B.
So, if you live or work on on either side of Bosworth between Diamond and Burnside, then congratulations! You are part of the oldest section in Glen Park, along with the Glen Park BART Station, Glen Park School, St. John's School, and the Glen Park Greenway that will soon complete the connection between the BART Station and Twin Peaks.
Source: Google Maps.
Father of Glen Park?
George Ulshofer divorced his wife, Mary, in 1870 (though afterwards, she would list herself in the City directory as “widow”). At some point, George moved to Martinez in Contra Costa County where he would continue farming, with the earliest known Contra Costa directory listing in 1887. He passed away on August 17, 1898 in San Francisco. George Ulshofer, who could be designated as the “father” of Glen Park, was interred at the International Order of Odd Fellows (IOOF) Cemetery in San Francisco in the Columbarium, located at One Lorraine Court near Stanyan Street and Anza Boulevard.