Joseph Weller Palm

Died 2009

Once there was a large palm in the middle of the lot northeast of the intersection of Main Street and Weller Lane.  Local legend is that the date palm had been planted by J. R. Weller in the early years of the twentieth century.  When the parcel was sold to a developer in 2005, the tree was moved to the northeast corner of the intersection of Main Street and Weller Lane.  Unfortunately the tree did not survive and for many years its upright dead trunk was seen by visitors to the Public Library next door.

In the latter half of the nineteenth century, before Main Street took it's present path under the Calaveras Blvd. overpass, it followed the same route as the present Winsor Street. Joseph Weller had built his home and ranch buildings on the northwest side of this road (then known as Oakland-San Jose Road or Mission Road).

Joseph Weller came to Milpitas in the 1850s. 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. It was Joseph Weller who formally named our town Milpitas when a Post Office was built here in 1858. According to local legend, there was strong sentiment to call the new town Penitencia, the name some had been using for years. Weller 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 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 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 Milpitas Public Library.

The Weller Palm was one of a handful of tangible reminders of our city's past. 

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