Joseph Weller Palm

Died in 2009

There was a large palm in the middle of the parking lot northeast of the intersection of Main Street and Weller Lane where a city park is now located.  Local legend is that Joseph Weller planted this palm on his ranch.  The palm was relocated by a developer to the corner of Main Street and Weller Lane, but died for lack of water after transplanting.

Around 1860, before Main Street took it's present path under the Calaveras Blvd. overpass, it followed the same route as the present Carlo and Winsor Streets.  Joseph Weller had filed squatter's rights to over 100 acres of land belonging to Rancho San Ignacio (Tularcitos) in February 1853.  Soon, he built his home and ranch buildings just north of his brother Abraham's 200 acre farm and blacksmith shop on the northwest side of this road (then known as Oakland-San Jose Road or Mission Road).  What is today Weller Lane was the access road to his ranch.  Where a walled housing development is located today, Joseph Weller's ranch house, barn, and dairy farm stood back in the 1870s.  Back then, the Oakland-San Jose Road passed right through what is now the Milpitas Public Library parking garage!

Joseph Weller came to Milpitas in 1852 and set up a blacksmith shop with his brother Abraham Weller. He had been a teacher in New York and retained his life-long love of learning after traveling west. He helped to create the first school district in Milpitas and was a founder of the Republican Party in the county. The first grammar school was built on the north boundary of Abraham Weller's land just west of the Oakland-San Jose Road, not far from the old Milpitas Grammar School building that is now part of the library.

It was Joseph Weller who formally named our town Milpitas when a Post Office was established for Milpitas Township in 1856 in Frederick Creighton's Dry Goods Store.  Fred Creighton was to be the first Postmaster of Milpitas Township.  According to local legend, there was strong sentiment to call the new town 'Penitencia,' the name some had been using for years, and the name of the nearby creek. Weller, who was the first Assistant Postmaster, reasoned that to untrained ears, the name closely sounded like 'penitentiary' and should not be used.  So, he filled in the name 'Milpitas' on the postal form because it was the commonly used name of the rancho on which the settlement stood. In time, with the passing of the older generation, the new name stuck.

Following the fire of 1912 that destroyed the first school on Main Street and while the new Milpitas Grammar School was under construction, classes were held in some of the ranch buildings, perhaps without charge to the school district. That new grammar school served for over fifty years, became the first city hall, then the city library, Senior Center, and is now part of a new library.

The Weller Palm was one of a handful of tangible reminders of our city's past.  Many have been lost in the rush to develop Milpitas.

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