In the 1830s, most of what is now the park was located on the Rancho San Francisco de las Llagas granted to Carlos Castro. The reservoir is found on early public lands and also on the lesser Rancho La Polka granted to Isabel Ortega; her father, Ignacio Ortega, was granted the Rancho San Ysidro. Another of Ignacio's daughters, Clara Ortega, married John Gilroy for whom the City of Gilroy is named. Dedicated by the Santa Clara County Historic Heritage Commission
Martin Murphy Sr. brought his family to California as members of the Stephens-Murphy-Townsend Overland Party in 1844, and the family purchased and settled on the rancho to the north of Las Llagas, known as Rancho Ojo de Agua de la Coche. During the Gold Rush, Murphy's sons, John and Daniel, struck it rich, made a fortune selling dry goods, and established the town of Murphys. In 1848, the heirs of Carlos Castro sold Rancho Las Llagas to sons Daniel and Bernard.
By the 1850s, Daniel Murphy operated Las Llagas eventually owning 7,800 acres of the rancho. He also owned vast tracts of land elsewhere in California, Arizona, Nevada and Mexico. In 1851, Daniel married Mary Fisher; daughter of neighbor William Fisher, owner of the larger Rancho Laguna Seca found just north of La Coche. The daughter of Daniel & Mary, Diana Murphy, married Hiram Morgan Hill, for whom the City of Morgan Hill is named. In 1853, brother Bernard died in the Jenny Lind steamer explosion; was re-interred in the Chapel of San Martin, and the community later became known as San Martin. In the 1860s, the Martin Murphy Sr. family obtained patents to La Polka and Las Llagas demonstrating the family's control over most of the area's earlier ranchos.
The ranchos were subdivided after the 1890s with John Jay Baumgartner Jr. purchasing a portion of the earlier rancho lands in 1949. He built a home on the hill above the reservoir and later sold the ranch to Harvey Bear who raised his family and ran cattle there until his death. The heirs of Harvey Bear deeded the ranch to the Santa Clara County Parks and Recreation Department in 1997. Situated on the Calaveras Fault, the reservoir was approved for construction in 1934. The park opened on May 14, 2005 after many years of planning and development.
and the Santa Clara County Parks and Recreation Department
October 13, 2007
Mountain Charlie Chapter No. 1850
E Clampus Vitus Inc.
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