History of Burnett Township, California
From: History of Santa Clara County, California
Alley, Bowen & Co. Publishers
San Francisco, California, 1881


Geography. - Geographically speaking Burnett township is situated in the eastern portion of Santa Clara county, and occupies a considerable portion of the vast Santa Clara valley.

Topography. - There is considerable of sameness in the topography of this township, comprising the large level plain the bottom of the valley and the range of mountains to the east and west. The highest point in the township is the "Loma de Tora," now known as Murphy's Peak, situated due west of Burnett Station.

Soil. - The soil of this township is equal in productiveness to any other portion of the county. Towards the center of the valley it is of a sandy nature, while near the foot hills it becomes a rich adobe.

Products. - Like nearly every portion of the Santa Clara valley, Burnett township will produce anything and everything. Grain, fruit and vegetables are cultivated to a large extent, while the line of railroad running through its center offers great vacilities for transport.

Timber. - Not much timber is to be found in Burnett township, though there is sufficient to supply the wants of its inhabitants.

Climate. - Like in other parts of the county, Burnett township has an equable climate, and though ranging hot in the months of July and August, are not too oppressive, but rather conduce to the harvesting which is then prosecuted with much vigor.

Early Settlement. - This township which received its name after the first Governor of California, Peter H. Burnett, is occupied chiefly by a number of thrifty farmers, there being no towns within its boundaries The first settlers to locate within its confines, other than the early Spanish rancheros, were the Murphy family - Martin Murphy, Sr., his wife and children. This was in the year 1844. Here they established themselves, entered into the pursuit, then common, of stock raising, and built a residence not far from the Eighteen mile House, at the mouth of the Coyote creek.

The next family to arrive was that of Captain William Fisher, a gentle man, who, coming from Lower California, in 1845, where he had resided for some years, purchased the Rancho Laguna Seca, and occupied it until his death, which was the first in the township, when his family succeeded to his estate, a portion of which is now occupied by them.

These two families would appear to have been the only residents of Burnett township until 1852, in which year William Tennant settled where the Twenty one mile House now stands. This gentleman informs us that when he arrived, there were no farms inclosed, and, save a little grain put in by Bernard Murphy, no cultivation of any kind was carried on. Soon, however, the richness of the soil became apparent, and today the land is one of teeming plenty.

The first frame building erected in the township, was the "Twelve mile House;" but prior to this there were a few adobe buildings. The first orchard was planted by Dan. Murphy, at the back of his location, while the first vineyard was the effort of Captain Fisher's enterprise.

The population, at the present time, is five hundred and forty - all engaged in agricultural pursuits, while it possesses the election precincts of Burnett and Highland, and the school districts of Burnett and Coyote.

TENNANT'S STATION. - This point on the route of the Southern Pacific Railroad, is a hotel and blacksmith's shop. The first of these was originally known as the Twenty one mile House, and was built by William Host in 1852. It was then a two story building twenty by twenty five feet. In November of that year the property was purchased by William Tennant, but the house was unfortunately destroyed by fire in 1853. Mr. Tennant, however, at once commenced its reconstruction, as it stands at present, two stories in height, twenty two by thirty six feet, with two wings, eighteen by twenty feet, and sixteen by eighteen feet respectively. Here Mr. Tennant conducts the postoffice, which was established April 5, 1871.

In 1876 this same enterprising gentleman erected a blacksmith's shop, which, though at first intended for private work, is now used by the neighborhood generally.

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