Posted in Early Montclair, History, Homes, 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. The call described Hays Canyon as “the 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 on 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 just beyond Thornhill School. It was latterly 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. Before moving to Hays Canyon, he was an Oakland Police officer for 12 years.

He owned 25 acres of farming land next to the property of Judge Gibson. His estate 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 beautiful 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 attended mainly 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 “freestyle.” At the 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.

More on Hays Canyon

The End

Author:

I grew up in the Montclair District of Oakland, CA. I attended Thornhill Elementary School, Montera Junior High, Skyline High School, and spent some time at Merritt College.

2 thoughts on “Residents of Hays Canyon – Now Montclair

  1. Very very nice copulation of this wonderful area we all grew up in (40’s-60’s) much beautiful history we were never privy to. We frequent the house for a scary Halloween experience and always took out of towners and family by to see this magnificent home. I grew up on Merriewood Drive over looking the Montclair valley and attended the grammar school on Morage & Thornhill, then Montera and Skyline.
    Thank you for the mem’s

    Liked by 1 person

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