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Santa Ynez Valley Historical Museum
Where history comes alive...
Where history comes alive...

Santa Ynez Valley Historical Museum's posts

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A message from our Board President...

Today is the last day to donate in the 2014 tax year! Your year-end, tax deductible donation will not only assist the Museum's efforts to create exciting exhibitions,  new history displays, events and educational programming for children but it works to preserve the Valley's priceless historical collection in its care.
The Museum brings our community exceptional exhibitions of historical relevance, outstanding events and historical presentations.  These are the "public" activities of the Museum, however, behind the scenes the Museum staff and volunteers are working to catalog and digitize the entire history collection for long-term preservation.
With your help we have made the Santa Ynez Valley Historical Museum a cultural hub in 2014 with many varied programs, events and changing exhibitions. Donate today and your year-end gift will go directly to helping us continue our growth as an educational treasure and a place for the community to gather.
We urge you to donate today for your support is vital to keeping our Museum vibrant and sustainable in the future.
Thank you and Happy New Year,
C. Dan Conaway
Board President

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Holiday Blown Glass Ornament Exhibit ~ “Shining Through the Branches”
December 7 through January 11.

In conjunction with the Holiday Party the Costume Council of the Santa Ynez Valley Historical Museum is filling the Jeannette Lyons gallery with a huge selection of handmade -mouth blown glass Christmas tree ornaments.

Blowing molten glass into hollow shapes has been an art for thousands of years, but the creation of these fragile holiday ornaments began in Eastern Europe around 1900. They soon became “must have” collectables for Christmas trees throughout Europe and the United States. Mirrored and brilliantly colored these delicate ornaments added sparkle to holiday greens.

Sadly, the factories and artisans that created these works of art were devastated by WWII and then hit by a second, and perhaps worse, calamity by ending up east of the Iron Curtain while the majority of their customers were on the west.

That would have been the end of the story except for an accident and a young American named Christopher Radko. The story goes that the Radko family tree containing more than 1,000 vintage glass blown ornaments fell and smashed. As a gift to his saddened family Christopher went to purchase replacements only to find that glass blown ornaments were no longer made.

After a lengthy search Christopher found a single glassblower willing to reproduce the ornament designs remembered from his family collection. These new glass blown ornaments were so successful that by 1985 Christopher Radko began selling his beautifully designed treasures across the US.

The Museum’s holiday exhibit features over 1,000 handmade, blown glass ornaments. Guests will be delighted to find ornaments in the shapes that are associated with the cultures of various countries, undersea life, animals - including a sparkling, coiled cobra…and, of course, Santa in all variety of formats.

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To take part in the wonderful philanthropic initiative that is #GivingTuesday.

Donate now:

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In 2014 we also hosted many great parties at the Museum. Donate today to keep the party going in 2015:

I'm sure everyone fondly remembers Fiesta in the Vines our annual summer Fiesta party with a new twist! In celebration of our "Uncorked: Evolution of Wine in the Santa Ynez Valley" exhibit on the history of the wine industry in Santa Ynez Valley, we held an expansive wine tasting event featuring over 20 Valley wineries including Valley favorites and new, boutique wineries pouring some awesome wines.

And last month was the 30th Anniversary of the Vaquero Show & Sale. Which had a Gala Preview Party, Concert, and every day included food and cocktails. We welcomed thousands of aficionados and amateurs all gathering to learn and celebrate Vaquero Culture.

Donate today to continue celebrating all Santa Barbara County has to offer.

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Donate today to help fund our education efforts in 2015:

The Santa Ynez Valley Historical Museum works every day to bridge the gap education budget cuts have created. We offer school tours and kids camps dedicated to a whole-child learning model and development of critical thinking while imparting knowledge and skills of a bygone era. Donate today and your year-end gift will go directly to helping us continue and expand our exceptional education program.

Our summer Wild West Camp is the only summer camp program of its kind in Santa Barbara County. The Wild West Camp includes activities, crafts and games that children of early Santa Ynez Valley would have experienced. Campers learn to shoot a bow and arrow from expert archery coaches, they are shown how to rope in the true Californio way; they weave their own pine needle basket; make real butter and a dutch oven stew, create bees wax candles, just to name a few activities.

All children who pass through our doors learn to appreciate the things they have in this modern day and they build self-esteem with their peers and family by sharing their new found knowledge and skills.

Your year-end donation will not only assist the Museum's efforts to bring you relevant programs, exhibits and events but it will help further our efforts to give children who come to the Museum an understanding of our local history.

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Donate today to support great lectures at the Museum:

In 2014 we learned about Salomon Pico whose escapades as a stealthy bandit around the area of Los Alamos are thought to have formed the basis for the popular character “Zorro.”

An upstanding cattle broker by day and the leader of a violent bandit gang by night Pico and his little band of robbers were known to hold up and, in many cases, murder innocent men who rode through the Central Coast carrying large amounts of gold dust.

We also had, in conjunction with the Kimono exhibit, Sochi Nomoto give a public demonstration and talk on the traditional Japanese tea ceremony.

And we also learned more about the distinct AVAs that reside in the Santa Ynez Valley region a panel discussion and wine tasting with local noted winemakers.

To continue this great lecture tradition into 2015 donate now!

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The Santa Ynez Valley Historical Museum & Parks-Janeway Carriage House will be participating in #givingtuesday  this year.

Join our Make 2015 Great campaign by emailing us your favourite memories of 2014 at We will share them on our social media networks on Tuesday December 2, 2014 as we fundraise to ensure that 2015 is even better!

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2009 Honored Vaquera Vi Hansen

Viola “Vi” Hansen first became a cattle rancher in Arizona in the early 1930’s with her husband Grant Barney Schley. Then and later, Vi spent many hours in the saddle, as she put it, “Eating the dust of the herd as we moved them from one pasture to another.” When WWII started, the family moved back to Santa Barbara County, where Vi had been raised. They discovered just what they were looking for on Happy Canyon Road in the Santa Ynez Valley.

Barney was an accomplished pilot, but tragedy struck in April 1943. Barney took off from Long Beach in a new B-25 bomber. Bad weather hit them over the mountain, and Barney was killed when the plane crashed. Thus Vi was left with four young sons and a cattle ranch. At first, she leased the grazing rights to Raymond Cornelius and focused on raising her boys. She continued, however, to ride her beloved horses, and it was through one of them that she met her second husband, Sig Hansen, about five years later.

Sig and Vi were not married long before they purchased a herd of Black Angus cows and began raising cattle on the ranch. Sometime in the early 1950’s they bought their first Charolais bull, named Amos. They liked the larger, leaner calves that resulted, so they kept getting new Charolais bulls until their herd of black cows had transformed into a herd of white cows. By the 1970’s and 1980’s, as the market for leaner, but still tender beef grew, the Hansen & Schley Ranch’s white bull calves replacement heifers were in great demand throughout the tri-counties and beyond.

Through all of this, Vi spent countless days in the saddle and countless hours wielding needles to vaccinate calves or to treat sick cows. She also kept the ranch books, paid the bills, checked water troughs and even helped fix fences, and took an active part in the ranch’s horse breeding program.


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Ed Field, 2000 Honored Vaquero, is a fourth generation silversmith whose namesake great-grandfather came to California seeking his fortune during the Gold Rush. He eventually ended up in Santa Barbara where he repaired watches and decorated saddles and bridles with silver. His son John continued the family business extending it to include designing ornate bits using a method of stamped silver inlay rather than engraving.

While a teenager Ed sat in his grandfather’s workshop learning the silversmith’s trade, and helping with the many chores involved. He watched not only his grandfather but his father Frank and his Aunt Rita. The beauty of the silver inlay design was only part of the bit maker’s work. This equipment was used in the service of highly refined horsemanship so its shape, weight and balance had to be engineered perfectly. The whole process can take tedious weeks to complete.

On weekends Ed exercised polo horses for Dr. Elmer Boeseke who also hired Vaqueros to break his horses. Boeseke enlisted the help of John Field, Ed’s grandfather to modify the spade bit known as the Las Cruces for his polo horses. What he developed is now known as the Ortega, a style still popular today.

Ed and his brother Walter opened a shop in 1945 in Santa Barbara where they did repair work on bits and spurs. He worked during the day at a lumberyard and made the bits at night. In 1952 he and his brother-in-law started a packing outfit in the Sierras, but as his family grew Field put aside his silver smithing and horsemanship. He took a job as a millwright and retired after 30 years.

In retirement, Field soon he became bored, and with encouragement from his wife Jessie, Field started making bits again. What he considers a hobby, fans of his art cherish what may be one of the last links to the colorful equestrian history of California.


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Howard P. Jensen Honored Vaquero 2005

Howard Jensen is a Santa Ynez Valley native born in 1929. Howard wanted to be a cowboy ever since he could remember. Luckily, his pal Jimmy had a big ranch and his father Odin Buell took the boys with him to gather cattle, brand and doctor his herds. Howard got his first horse when he was 13 and an old-time vaquero, Juan Faustero, a Buell Ranch hand, taught him how to rope. “Juan used to say throwing a rope was like throwing a rock,” Howard remembers. “Juan picked up a rock and threw it at a tin can to demonstrate and I got into the habit of tossing rocks to improve my aim as a roper.” Faustero and fellow cowboy, Ben Duval, also taught Howard how to braid rawhide.

Howard was working at the Ballard Field Ranch owned by Henry Johnson when he was called to serve in the Korean War. After returning home in 1952, he continued life as a cowboy. Howard married his wife Mavis in 1959. They and daughter Diane moved to Oregon in 1970 and built a house, barns and sheds on 70 acres. He attended Bill Long’s saddle making school in Spokane, Washington for six months, mastering the art of building a good working saddle.

Howard and Mavis returned to California, lured by friends who begged him to set up a saddle repair business and opened the Valley Saddlery in Buellton. “We were so busy repairing all kinds of saddles and tack that I didn’t have time to build many custom saddles,” Howard remembers. “I must have replaced the sheepskin lining on hundreds of saddles. Our shop became a gathering place for everyone who had horses in the valley.”

“I learned a lot from working on old saddles. I would take them apart and learn the tricks of the old masters,” says Howard. “I restored and rebuild many saddles that Marty and Linda Paich collected and that was a real education.” Howard and Mavis retired and closed their saddle shop in 1983.

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