By JOSEPH PIMENTEL*
He was also a savvy real estate investor, who once owned the land in downtown Los Angeles where the Biltmore Hotel stands.
“He’d write about the elections or how he received a chicken as a payment for helping fix someone’s broken leg,” said Alison, 59, of Laguna Beach. “Reading the diaries, it’s a fabulous experience. It feels like I am there.”
And now, Alison is sharing his great grandfather’s personal diaries and medical journals with the public online.
In 2015, Alison donated to the Anaheim Heritage Center a treasure trove of more than 40 of Bullard’s journals, medical diaries, patient records, photographs, film and other keepsakes that provide a glimpse of Anaheim’s early history. But it’s only recently that some of his donated work is available to be viewed on the city’s website.
“This is a very important connection to the founding families like the Lagenbergers and Schmidts,” said Jane Newell, heritage services manager for the Anaheim Public Library. “We don’t have any materials in the first person of the early families. This gives us a sense of who Dr. Bullard was and what life was like in Anaheim.”
Anaheim was founded in 1857 by German-American settlers who wanted to create a wine colony in the Los Angeles region. Alison is a direct descendant of those early settlers. His great grandmother, Frances Emily Schmidt (Dr. Bullard’s wife), was a daughter of Theodore Schmidt and Clementine Zimmerman.
Schmidt came up with the name Anaheim, which is a combination of the German word home, “heim,” and the settler’s location near the Santa Ana River. Anaheim means “home by the river Ana,” Newell said.
“Those early German families were really into democracy so they voted for that name,” Newell said. Other names considered were Anagau (territory by the river Ana) or Wineheim (home of the wine), she added. Anaheim won by one vote over Anagau.
Alison started getting interested in his family’s history in the early 1970s. Alison’s grandfather, John Anson Bullard, would often ask the teen to come over and shared their family’s legacy and journals.
“I’m so proud of my history,” Alison said. “I’m so glad that he kept these artifacts. Often times, we’d see these old books, photos and journals in the attic and throw them away.”
Hard copies of the Bullard Collection are housed at the Anaheim Heritage Center, which is part of the Muzeo complex in downtown Anaheim. But they are for reference only. The goal is to digitize the whole collection so anyone can have access, Newell said.
“These are voices of the past,” said Alison, who encourages other residents who may have old significant family journals to preserve or donate them. “It’s their memories and when I read these diaries, it’s almost like I’m having a conversation with them. The more I read, I’m getting to know them better and learning about their personal history as well as the history of Orange County.”
*Staff writer of the Orange County Register
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