Time Immortal


All characters in Time Immortal are fictitious, or are fictionalized versions of historic or present-day persons. All locations in Time Immortal existed during the 19th century. The following historic people and places have served as inspirations for this work of fiction.

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Casa de Umbrales, Morgan Hill California


The site of Casa de Umbrales, the fictional home where John and Sarah lived, is based on the ruins of an old Victorian farm house, which lie beneath the waters of Uvas Reservoir in the foothills above Morgan Hill California. In drought years, as the water level drops, the ruins of the old farm house which once stood there, rise up from beneath the water like ghosts. These ruins have now deteriorated to the point that they can barely be recognized as such, but what is left can be seen in the foreground of the photograph. The little basin-shaped valley that John loved now encircles the reservoir, but once a small creek ran out of the hills and down through the valley.

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Captain John Pope Davenport and Ellen Davenport, Davenport California


Captain John Pope Davenport was transporting a load of oranges down the coast of California when his ship passed a large school of whales. The idea struck him that California would be an ideal place to start a whaling business. His wife Ellen supported the idea, perferring to keep her handsome husband close to home, where she could keep an eye on him. Captain Davenport founded the whaling industry in Monterey, where his home, the oldest brick house in California, still stands. Later, he founded the tiny coastal town of Davenport. By the 1880's the whaling industry was in decline and the Davenports moved to the Santa Cruz area. Ultimately, they were buried in Soquel. In Time Immortal, the Davenports are fictionalized as the grandparents of John Tisdale and Jack Hall.

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Oak Hill Cemetery, San Jose California


Oak Hill Cemetery (Now Oak Hill Memorial Park) at the corner of Monterey Highway and Curnter Avenue has been the final residence of San Joseans since 1849. The graves of Nellie Tisdale and the baby exist only in the pages of Time Immortal. In the photograph, an old angel with a star caught in her hair, lovingly scatters flowers over the deceased.

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The Electric Tower, San Jose California


The Electric Tower was an iconic structure that once straddled the intersection of Market and Santa Clara Streets, in the heart of downtown San Jose. Although it was never much good at lighting downtown, it became symbolic of the city itself even after it fell in a windstorm in 1915.

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The Orpheus Saloon, San Jose California


The Orpheus Saloon still stands at the corner of El Dorado Street (Present day Post Street) and Lightstone Alley in downtown San Jose. It is one of the few structures that survive from the 19th century, when El Dorado Street was the heart of the city's notorious red light district. A unique feature of the Orpheus Saloon was its marble-tiled gutter, which ran along the front of the bar. These marble tiles extended up the front of bar and encouraged male patrons to relieve themselves right there at the bar, without the inconvenience of having to step outside. Just up a flight of wooden stairs on the second floor above the saloon was a brothel, so that customers could satisfy nearly every whim, without ever straying far from the Orpheus. Back in the days of El Dorado Street, prostitutes leaned out of the upstairs windows and enticed prospective customers to venture inside.

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Bank of San Jose and T. Ellard Beans, San Jose California


The Bank of San Jose was founded in 1866 by T. Ellard Beans, and stood at the corner of First and Santa Clara Streets in downtown. In Time Immortal, 'Banker Beans' is once again in business.

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Livery Stable on Orchard Street, San Jose California


Louis Pfau once ran a livery stable on Orchard Street, just around the corner from El Dorado Street. Here a horsedrawn hack could be rented, providing cheap, affordable transportation around San Jose. In 1924, Orchard Street was renamed Almaden Avenue, however this sign on Almaden still points the way into the past.

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Big Jim's Chinatown, San Jose California


Big Jim's Chinatown is more politely referred to as 'Woolen Mills Chinatown' today. In the 19th century it was also know as the 'Taylor Street Chinatown' and 'Phillipsville'. It came into existance following a devastaing fire that destroyed the Market Street Chinatown in 1887, When Chin Shin, also known as 'Big Jim', leased land that had been part of the Woolen Mills that stood along Guadalupe Creek near Hobson Street, under what is now the Guadalupe Parkway section of Highway 87. Census records for the time show a number of women working in the business of prostitution as well as in other professions. Although there are no known opium dens, historical and archaeological evidence suggests that opium use took place in private homes and in the back rooms of otherwise legitimate businesses.

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El Dorado Street, San Jose California


It is still possible to walk down the sidewalks of notorious El Dorado Street in downtown San Jose. It renamed Post Street in an attempt to tidy up the street's sullied reputation. Sadly, it has worked, and there are few reminders left of the street’s once scandalous past. But history never quite forgets such things and the street still has a strange way of closing in upon itself as one turns the corner onto El Dorado from First Street and one can almost hear the whispers of the women who once called out from vanished doorways.

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Lizzie Burt and the Brothel on Vine Street, San Jose California


Lizzie Burt is the name of a prostitute which appears on the 1880 census records. Her name then disappears from public records and what became of her, like so many others in her profession, is unknown. We have only this brief glimpse into her life when she was recorded by a census taker in 1880. In a building on Vine Street, just off El Dorado, Lizzie once entertained her customers. The site is now lost beneath a high-rise business park on Almaden Expressway and the Guadalupe Park section of Highway 87. However, standing at the western end of present-day Post Street (Formerly El Dorado) in downtown San Jose, one can still face west and try to look through the modern-day steel and glass monstrosities that cloud the horizon, and remember what once stood there.

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The Swamp House Brothel, Boulder Creek California


The Swamp House was located in what is now a vacant lot behind the IOOF building on the corner of Central and Forest Avenues. The land under the Swamp House had a particularly high water table, which caused the building to slowly sink into the muck. Patrons of the brothel had to walk across a couple of planks to get to the girls inside. The high water table still causes the business owners on that block almost as much grief as it did the girls of the Swamp House.

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Moody and Cress' Livery Stable, Boulder Creek California


Today the Livery Stable on Central Avenue in Boulder Creek serves as a storage building. Although the years have taken their toll on it's appearance, it is virtually unchanged from the time it was built and inside its walls the old horse stalls stand empty, as if still waiting for horses and carriages that never arrive.

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Sweeney's Grocery, Gas Station, Movie House, Roller Rink and Brothel, Boulder Creek California


In 1915, Albert Sweeney ran a combination grocery store, gasoline station, silent movie house, roller rink and brothel, in the building which still stands on the corner of Central and Forest Avenues. In Time Immortal, Sweeney's business is in the building ten years earlier than it actually was.

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Jackie Tisdale's Primer


During the writing of Time Immortal a copy of 'The Progressive Second Reader' was donated in the spirit of inspirational assistance during the writing of the schoolhouse chapter. The book contains wonderful engravings and read-aloud passages, each extolling Victorian moral values. The verse read by young Jackie Tisdale comes from its pages. Ironically, this gift by a complete stranger, contained an unexpected surprise- It was printed by the author's great-great-great-grandfather.

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Copyright © Claire Britton-Warren, 2009

Time Immortal
A Novel by Claire Britton-Warren