Question: I moved to a beautiful neighborhood of Clovis last year that includes Thorburn Park. It has enormous trees, much older than our neighborhood. What is the history of this park?
— Chris Davis, Clovis
Answer: The 5-acre Thorburn Park at Alamos and Coventry avenues sits on the former homestead of the late Dr. Jack Thorburn and his wife, Margaret, who donated the land to the city of Clovis. The Clovis City Council named the park for the couple in 2003.
According to a history Margaret Thorburn wrote about the family’s home, which stood at 7301 E. Shaw Ave., the land was originally homesteaded by Johnny Dawson in the 1880s.
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“Mr. Dawson planted many of the trees that still stand, a number of which he brought down from the hills and mountains,” Thorburn wrote.
Ed Chester and his brothers later owned the property and “operated a successful dairy,” she recalled.
The Thorburns bought the land and house from Jack Hewlitt. “We found the property in a newspaper ad. Jack wanted it immediately,” she said of her husband. “The house had been added onto many times. There was no foundation and it was built on redwood (timbers). The outhouse and blacksmith shop and several barns and buildings were still there, though not intact. Living there was a continuous adventure.
“We later made the barn into a huge recreation room where we had lots of gatherings, particularly groups from Clovis schools,” Thorburn wrote. “We had a variety of animals and fowl and classes from Jefferson Elementary School would be bused out for field trips. We put in a pool and it was widely used by classes and clubs.” Their property was also used by local Future Farmers of America students, she said.
Jack and Margaret Thorburn reared their four children on the farm. “Our kids had the opportunity to learn a sense of responsibility taking care of the animals and helping with the gardening and chores,” she wrote. “To our knowledge, there had been only four owners when we sold it.”
The Thorburns moved to a home on the Kings River in the late 1990s. They were longtime supporters of the Kings River Conservancy, and Margaret Thorburn served as the group’s president in 2010. Thorburn Access Park at Highway 180 and Rio Vista Road is named for them.
Jack and Margaret Thorburn died within nine weeks of each other in 2012.
Q: When I was growing up, I saw Dr. Goldstein when I was sick. I don’t remember his first name, but I think his brother was a judge. I’d appreciate knowing more about the Goldsteins.
— Bess Stalis, Fresno
A: Dr. Max Goldstein was a native of Oklahoma and a graduate of the University of California Medical School in San Francisco, according to his obituary in the Visalia Times-Delta.
According to the book “Recollections” published by the Fresno-Madera Medical Society, Goldstein was an ear, nose and throat specialist who practiced in Fresno in the 1940s before moving to Visalia and opening an office there.
He died of a heart attack in 1989 at the age of 82 and was survived by his wife, Etta, and sister Francis Rodder. His brother Matt had died six years earlier.
Matt Goldstein was appointed to the Superior Court bench in 1956 by then-California governor Goodwin Knight, who was a friend from college days at Stanford University. Goldstein was elected to six-year terms on the bench in 1960 and 1966.
He retired in 1970 but continued to serve almost full-time in “temporary” positions until 1981.
Goldstein died in 1983 at the age of 84. He was survived by his wife, Eve, a son, Daniel of New York, a daughter, Marion Bar-Din of Berkeley, nine grandchildren, as well as his brother Max and their sister, Frances.
In 1964, Eve Goldstein was profiled in a series of Fresno Bee stories about “wives whose husbands are well-known Fresno citizens.” The story notes that the couple met on a blind date.
She was working as a secretary in New York when she returned to college to study journalism. She wanted to write for a newspaper but instead got a job writing publicity pieces on actors and movies for Warner Bros.
After her children were grown Goldstein wrote daily, writing novels and short stories, the story said. “Mrs. Goldstein considers her day a success if she writes something she likes. ‘If it sounds good to me, I’m happy,’ she said.”
Q: While going through some old books at a ranch once owned by the Quinn family in the 1930s and 1940s, I found an old notepad with the letterhead “The Pioneer Press.” Was that a newspaper?
— Dennis Salwasser, Reedley
A: The sample of note paper you sent may list founder Joseph A. Quinn and son Bradley Quinn as “publishers” of The Pioneer Press, but the publication was not a newspaper, according to Daniel Cunningham, retired vice president of Quinn Co.
The Pioneer Press was the name of the firm’s newsletter from the 1950s until 1960, Cunningham said. The motto under the name harkens to the company’s history in Valley agriculture: “He who tills the soil serves his country.”
Joseph Ambrose Quinn and C.C. Budd founded the tractor sales business in 1919, working out of a storeroom in a building on Merced Street between H Street and Broadway. They were the first distributors of Killefer tractors, later a part of the John Deere company, and also sold Holt Co. tractors, which later merged with Caterpillar.
The company later opened an office on H Street and eventually branched out to other aspects of the business in other Valley locations.
The company was known as Budd and Quinn until the 1950s, when Quinn’s son Bradley Quinn took over operation of the firm.
Joseph Quinn was born in New York City in 1891. He attended Cornell University, served in the Army in World War I and came to Fresno in 1919.
In addition to his tractor business, Quinn operated the CBQ Ranch about 24 miles east of Fresno for many years. He and his wife, Catherine, had a second home in Carmel for nearly 40 years. Quinn died in 1967 at age 76 after suffering a heart attack at the Carmel Post Office, according to his obituary in The Bee.
Bradley Quinn, a Fresno native, served in the Navy during World War II. He ran the family firm from 1954 to 1978 and died in 1981 at age 54, according to his obituary in The Bee.
Today the fourth generation of the family runs the business, Cunningham said.