Friday, May 22, 2009

Saint Justus, California

A quick follow-up to yesterday’s Hollister-related post: The name of my town would have been something else, if it wasn’t for a certain naysayer. According to Wikipedia, my hometown — originally founded as the San Justo Homestead Association, which took it name from Saint Justus, who attempted to convert the heathen Anglo-Saxons to Christianity in the seventh century — was initially going to be known as San Justo. Henry Hagen, a man described as a Napa vintner and a member of the homestead association, allegedly argued that California already had enough towns with Spanish saint names and that perhaps the city should honor “someone less holy.” That’s how Wikipedia puts it, anyway. Those on the name selection committee eventually found a namesake in William Welles Hollister, the famed state-crossing shepherd who founded Hollister before deciding to move on to Santa Barbara, where he died. The name San Justo still exists in various places throughout the county, maybe most prominently in the name of Rancho San Justo Middle School.

memorialized here if not in my town’s name

No idea if Wikipedia has this right, but I love that my hometown got its name on what sounds like a whim. “Oh, you don’t like this one? Then how about this thing we just came up with? It doesn’t sound all Spanish-y. And junk.”

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