San Bruno is one of the very old settlements of San Mateo County, and it was here that Francisco Sanchez and
his little band of compatriots held Washington Bartlett, the alcalde of San Francisco, and other Americans of San
Francisco prisoners during the troublous times forming California's transfer from Mexican to American rule. In
the days before the Gringo came this seat of population of the Buri Buri rancho was the scene of many a rodeo and
of the gathering of the Spanish American people of the region. With the coming of the white man a few scattered
families settled in the section and later a number of road houses were opened to take care of the sporting element
of San Francisco which drove down the peninsula with the fast teams for which San Francisco was noted and also
it provided entertainment and night lodging for the drivers and cattlemen who took their cattle and sheep to the
San Francisco market.
During the '80s a company of San Francisco capitalists looking for a place where horse racing might be carried
on advantageously located in what is now San Bruno. The sport of kings was indulged in here for years at the Tanforan
track and the most famous men, women, and horses of the racing world were regularly on view and here thousands
of dollars annually changed hands on the bets and tips of the admirers of the game. Here racing was carried on
at its best, or worst, until the law of California made betting a crime, and as soon as the anti betting law went
into effect Tanforan became a thing of the past until 1923 when the title to the place was purchased by San Francisco
interests, the grandstands were rebuilt, and for a short time horse racing again became popular, but this was only
for a time because without betting the sport was too tame and the use of Tanforan has again been discontinued.
It was in this famous inclosure that Jean Poulhan, the famous French aviator, who was the first man to fly in California,
gave his exhibition flights late in 1913 and at that time thousands upon thousands of people from all over this
section of the state came and stood in the rain hours at a time until the brave little Frenchman would arrive on
the scene, run his little airship out of its hangar, and go aloft several hundred feet and fly about for two or
three minutes while the assembled multitude gasped its wonder at the daring of this man who was beating the birds
in their flight.
In 1903 Hensley, Greene & Company took over the interests of Greene's uncle and made what was known as subdivision
number one of San Bruno Park. A short time after this the Belle Air subdivision, named after the Belle Air Island
which was in the tract of land, was opened by Alfred Wiehe & Company, and the rapidity with which these two
tracts were sold prompted the pioneer firm, which was made up of George A. Hensley and A. H. Greene, to open other
tracts of land, and so in a very short time the homes became so numerous that the people of the district asked
for the formation of a school district. The application to the county superintendent of schools, who is the author
of this history, set forth the fact that Messrs. Hensley and Greene would give a school site on the El Camino Real
and that the people of the district would themselves construct the school which would take care of the needs of
the district. The application for a district was recognized and the people, under the direction of A. A. LaReaux,
August Genevin, John Kirk, George Hughes, August Lund and other residents of the section, built the little red
schoolhouse which is now used as the city hall of the community. It was completed and dedicated on the 22nd of
February, 1907. The first teacher in the school was Mrs. Ella Lommis, and for many years Mrs. Lommis continued
her work. The present superintendent of schools is Mr. H. C. Hall, who has two schools under his supervision.
On the 5th of October, 1914, a petition was filed with the supervisors of San Mateo County asking for the formation
of a city of the sixth class. The right of the petitioners was recognized by the board of supervisors and the election
for incorporation was held on the 18th of December, when the vote stood 296 for incorporation, and 158 against
incorporation. The officers since incorporation have been:
At Incorporation - Trustees: Louis H. Traeger, Geo. W. Edwards, Fred C. Russell, J. J. Hearne, Emil Gibouret.
Clerk, Horace A. Bewley. Treasurer, Herman Matthiesen.
April 10, 1916 - Trustees: Louis H. Traeger, J. J. Hearne, Wm. N. Holliday, Patrick Kane, Fred C. Russell. Clerk,
Horace A. Bewley. Treasurer, Herman Matthiesen. Bewley resigned October 1, 1917, and Nettie A. Willits was appointed.
April 8, 1918 - Trustees: Harry Palmer, Edgar D. Christy, Patrick Kane. Clerk, Nettie A. Willits. Treasurer, Herman
Matthiesen. Christy resigned April 24, 1918, and Thos. McConnell was appointed May 8, 1918.
April 19, 1920 - Trustees: A. S. W. Grundy, John T. O'Connor, Dr. F. H. Smith. Clerk, Nettie A. Willits. Treasurer,
April 17, 1922 - Trustees: Geo. W. Edwards, Emil Halter, Dr. F. H. Smith.
April 21, 1924 - Trustees: J. T. O'Connor, Louis Henry Traeger. Clerk, Nettie A. Willits. Treasurer, Jos. Cunningham.
Geo. G. Hughes is postmaster.
The State Highway at San Bruno was the most heavily traveled road in California during the month of July, 1927,
according to the records of the State Highway Commission.
A count taken by the commission July 17 showed 29,338 automobiles and trucks traveled over the road during the
day. Indiana Street, Los Angeles, was second with 22,385.
The most important event to have taken place since the incorporation of the city is the purchase of a water system,
and a short time after this a bond issue of $220,000 was passed for the improvement of the water system, thus giving
to the city of San Bruno one of the best water distributing systems of any of the towns of this section. Early
in its incorporation the city council passed an ordinance making it necessary to improve all of the streets of
the city, and practically all of the thoroughfares are now paved. San Bruno in 1922 purchased from the school district
the old highway school property and located thereon its city hall. One of the fine lots on San Bruno Drive was
purchased and a fire house built thereon, and an adequate fire apparatus was obtained. Shortly after this the city
authorities ordered the planting of trees throughout the city, and now the section is becoming beautiful because
of that fact. A recreational park has been purchased and at some future date will be available. Before the city
authorities of many of the other towns had done so the trustees of San Bruno passed the zoning ordinance which
sharply defines business and residential sections. San Bruno has a Catholic and a Methodist church and a number
of fraternal organizations.
San Bruno is located on the State Highway and San Bruno Road and is served by the Southern Pacific Railroad, the
United Railroads and the Peninsula Rapid Transit Company. In this community is situated Uncle Tom's Cabin, which
was for many years the most famous road house of the peninsula section of California, and here Boniface Andrew
Buerck dispensed his wares with a lavish hand. Just across the street from Uncle Tom's Cabin, August Genevin, in
his Junction House, also entertained the people royally and well. Just south of San Bruno is located Lomita Park,
which is a thriving little community and is really a part of San Bruno.
Lomita Park was opened for settlement in 1904 by the Selby Rogers Company on land belonging to Ansel L. Easton.
Here almost immediately a choice subdivision and a number of beautiful homes sprang up and it is today one of the
thriving home communities of the peninsula. It is twelve miles from Third and Townsend streets on the Southern
Pacific Railroad, and it has a population of about 500, while the estimated population of San Bruno is about 3,000.