This article appeared in the October 7, 2015 edition of The West Sacramento News-Ledger.
The West Sacramento Historical Society: Looking Forward and Back
Writing and photographs by Thomas Farley and the West Sacramento Historical Society
The West Sacramento Historical Society is a forward-looking group with a constant focus on the past. Current and future projects keep Society’s members engaged in preserving our City’s history and in explaining how yesterday’s people and places make up what we are today. Let’s take an example.
West Sacramento is the consolidation of several smaller towns. Can you name them? Historical Society President Don Schatzel wonders. He says, “We went to a high school group and asked them what were the names of the four West Sacramento communities before the City became the City? They didn’t know. For them, the City has been a city for a hundred years. One person knew Broderick. But they didn’t know Washington, Southport, or Bryte.” Still, that does not discourage Schatzel. He enjoys bringing the past to the present.
“West Sacramento has had a long, vibrant history, a fun history once you get to know it,” Schatzel says. “One of our members just asked a waitress in Broderick, ‘Who was Broderick?’ She said, ‘I don’t know, I think he founded the City of West Sacramento.’” But the answer is much different than that. The Society, in always trying to educate people about our City’s heritage, has produced a small flyer on the man himself, David Colberth Broderick.
The circular, available at the Society’s gallery inside the West Sacramento Community Center, reveals Broderick to be a United States Senator from California. Chiefly associated with San Francisco, the anti-slavery Broderick was shot dead in a duel in 1859. West Sacramento’s Washington District later changed its name to honor the deceased senator, as well as to comply with a Postal Authority request – too many cities named Washington.
The Society is engaged in many projects. One involves renovating an old Bryte fire truck, a 1937 Chevrolet wooden tanker known as Lizzie. Schatzel says that Sierra Hart will give them an estimate on what it will cost to get it operating. They are also looking to do more outreach at schools. Rotating the exhibits at the Community Center is another continuing project. Schatzel says member Thom Lewis handles these displays, the current one being on the River Cats, the next to be a history of the equestrian community in West Sacramento.
Volunteers are sought by the Society. Schatzel says they always need people with website skills and those experienced in fundraising, but they can accommodate any measure of help. “Sometimes it’s just their availability to move things around in the storage room. And people don’t even have to work to help. Just come out to one of our events or fundraisers.” Speaking of which, the Society’s third annual fundraiser is October 10, at the Community Center’s Black Box Theatre. Tickets are $30 in advance to hear the Samantics choir, as they pay tribute to the films of Alfred Hitchcock. Call the Society at 374-1849 before the event sells out.