Posted in Early Montclair, History, Home Building, People

Residents of Hays Canyon – Now Montclair

Hays Canyon or sometimes called Jack Hayes Canyon was the area in hills beyond Piedmont.  It was named for Col. John “Jack” Coffee Hays (1817-1883) who lived in the area from 1856-1883.   His estate Fernwood was located approx. where Moraga Avenue, (Hays Canyon Rd.)  Hwy 13 and Thornhill Drive (Thorn Road) meet. 

Hays (Hayes) Canyon was in the Piedmont District and both the Brooklyn and Oakland Townships

The main road to the or through the canyon was called the “Hays (Hayes) Canyon Road” which traveled the route of present day Moraga Avenue.  According to one article the beginning of Hays Canyon was at Bonita Avenue in Piedmont.

From Google Maps

Hays Canyon Road is now known as Moraga Avenue

Hays Canyon is now Montclair.

In 1891, the S.F. Call described Hays Canyonthe romantic valley just beyond the ridge that receives its name from the famous Colonel Jack Hays” and “the beautiful home of W. J. Dingee” and the “fine places of Mrs Kohler, Judge E.M Gibson and Mrs. Fields and others.

S F Call – Mar 22, 1891

Colonel John C. Hays – Fernwood

Residence of Col. John C. Hays, Oakland, Alameda County, California.”
(Published by Thompson & West, Oakland, Cal., 1878)
from Oakland History Room

Hays died at home April 22, 1883, at the age of 66.   After his death Fernwood was sold to William J. Dingee.

Wm J. Dingee – Fernwood

Dingee built an opulent 19-room Queen-Anne style mansion, and had additional landscaping done with gardens, terraces and waterfalls. He also added such features as a deer park and an elk paddock.

Athens of the Pacific” 1896

Sadly, the home and countless artworks were destroyed in a fire in 1899. Oakland Tribune Oct 19, 1899

After the Fernwood burned Mrs. Adeline Percy built a modern log cabin on the property. In the 1920s the property was sold and subdivided.

Oakland Tribune March 12, 1916
Yellow arrow Percy Log Cabin, green arrow pool, blue arrow tennis courts.
Oakland Tribune Aug 19, 1923

Judge E. M. Gibson – Cote Brilliant

Judge E.M. Gibson owned the property the just beyond Thornhill School. It was latter owned by E.M Boggs. The house burned down in 1910. Dr. Mark Emerson bought the land in the mid-1920s and built a lovely home and lived there until the late 1950s. St John’s Episcopal Church is now there.

Map showing the locations of the Gibson and Fields land
Oakland Tribune April 23, 1887
Oakland Tribune Jun 1888
Oakland Directory 1889
Oakland Tribune 1888
1891

J. B. Fields

Joseph B. Fields was born in England. Prior to moving to Hays Canyon he was an Oakland Police officer for 12 years.

He owned 25 acres of farming land next the the property of Judge Gibson. His land was in the general location of Aspinwall Road is today.

Oakland Tribune April 16, 1890
SF Chronicle Jan 25,,1891

Mrs. C.A. Kohler – Glen Kohler

Glen Kohler the home of Mrs.. Kohler was located about where Thornhill Drive, Pinehaven Road and Woodhaven Way meet.

Cordelia A. (“CA”) Kohler was the widow of Andrew Kohler (1819-1885) of Kohler & Chase Pianos,  who had a fine home Hays Canyon on Thorn Road (Thornhill Drive) she named it  Glen Kohler.

She died at her home in Hays Canyon on November 27, 1894.  Her funeral was largely attended by the old settlers of the county and was held at her home on November 30, 1894.  She is  buried at Mountain View Cemetery  alongside her husband Andrew and her daughter Louisa (1849-1854)  who died at the  young age of 5.

Oakland Tribune Oct 17 1885

Glen Kohler was designed by architects the Samuel and Joseph C. Newsom (Newsom Brothers) in 1885. The residence was 18 rooms, in what was know as the “free style”. At a cost of about $10,000.

Oakland Tribune Nov 14, 1885
Oakland Tribune Feb 12, 1886
S F Call Nov 29, 1894

I don’t know what happened to Glen Kohler after Mrs. Kohler died. It is possible it was used at a Sanatorium (more on that later).

More on Hays Canyon

The End

Author:

I have been an Oakland history buff since going on an Oakland Heritage Alliance Tour of the Fernwood Neighborhood in the Montclair District of Oakland, in the mid-80's. On that tour, I learned that there use to be a train (Sacramento Northern) that ran through Montclair, in the early 1900's and that people lived the area as early as 1860's. I have been hooked ever since. Since then I have spent a lot of time looking into the history of Montclair and I have learned a lot. I feel this will be the best way to get it out of my head and onto paper.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s