Descendants of a prestigious San Jose farming family have come forward to offer their family’s history after watching a story on NBC Bay Area News about the discovery of the remains of a previously-unknown house in San Jose’s Alum Rock Park.
Park officials discovered the site of the building after a grass fire in October of 2017 burned-away brush at the edge of the park to reveal the hidden remains. Park rangers had no idea of the origin of the building other than an early tax map from the early 1900s that listed the landowner as Davis Lundy.
After seeing the NBC Bay Area story about the search for answers, Richard Cameron, whose wife is a descendant of Davis Lundy, contacted the TV station offering to share the family’s history with park officials. Cameron supplied park rangers with a family tree, old Lundy family photos and the story of how the Lundy’s came to San Jose from North Carolina by wagon train in 1852.
“It’s been really nice to find out that somebody took the time to look at the stuff,” said Cameron who lives near Watsonville.
Alum Rock park ranger Huy Mac discovered the site following the fire and worked with archaeologist Andrew Kindon of West Valley College in Saratoga to try and unravel the mystery of what the building was and who had lived there. Mac said connecting to Lundy family members is helping flesh-out details of the origin of the building which existed before the area became part of what is said to be California’s oldest municipal park.
“Just being able to work them and put the story correctly accurate the best we can,” Mac said, “and have them be part of it is just huge.”
Catherine Lundy Storrs, great-granddaughter of Davis Lundy and his wife Margaret McGinness remembered her great-grandparents and remembered their daughter — her grandmother — talking about the family’s former ranch.
“When I would ask my grandma where in San Jose was the farm, where you lived,” Lundy Storrs said, “and she’d say the Alum Rock area.”
Cameron said the Lundy family once owned 400 acres of land that would eventually become part of Alum Rock Park. Three brothers and a sister made the trek from North Carolina in 1852. Cameron believed one of the older brothers initially owned the land and eventually Davis Lundy ended-up with it.
“They’re mostly farming horses up there,” Cameron said. “1860s, that’s all it was like ranches up there.”
When it was first discovered, the small plot of land was laden with debris from what’s believed to have been the original building. Kindon brought classes of his archaeology students to the sift the site, hauling away items like old bricks, door knobs, pieces of ceramics and window weights. From the company stamps on the bricks, Kindon deduced the house was built between 1905 and 1920.
“Even though this one building may not seem that important in and of itself,” Kindon said, “it’s part of the story of how San Jose came to be what it is today.”
After initially discovering the site Mac had planned to create an exhibit in the park’s visitor center with recovered items from the site. With the addition of the family’s input, the exhibit will now have names, photos and a story to go along with it. He said there is still much more information to compile.
“We’re still learning a lot more about the family and the history,” Mac said, “and just everything we uncovered.”