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Monday, January 20, 2014

Grateful Dead at Olompali, ca. June 1969

I was just sniffing around Olompali a little bit. It's a powerful place. I need to write a lot about it.

Anyway, sniffing around, as I say, and I come across this image:

And it comes from this blog post:

I only infer June 1969 because that's how the picture is dated. The I go to GDAO, and indeed it looks to be a photo shoot for Aoxomoxoa. Here's the GDAO cite:

Hamilton, Sylvia Clarke, “Aoxomoxoa photo shoot at Rancho Olompali: Bob Weir, Ken Babbs (?), Bill Kreutzmann, Phil Lesh, Jerry Garcia, Tom Constanten, Mickey Hart, Ron "Pigpen" McKernan, with photographer Tom Weir in the foreground,” Grateful Dead Archive Online, accessed January 20, 2014,

The picture is not available online at GDAO, it says on-site access only. Happy to have found it!

Who is the mystery man back there? GDAO has question marks for Ken Babbs.

If you love Olompali, and you should, check out that nice little blog post, which reminds us to think and act in preserving spaces like Olompali. What follow are some pix I took there July 6, 2011.

While I am in this space, let me drop a few more breadcrumbs:


  1. Rancho Olompali was a 8,877-acre (35.92 km2) Mexican land grant in present day Marin County, California given in 1843 by governor Manuel Micheltorena to Camilo Ynitia, son of a Coast Miwok chief.[1][7]
    Camilo Ynitia was the son of Chief Olompali, who led a tribe of Miwoks in Marin. He was born in a mountainous region of Marin, near San Pablo Bay, but he was raised at Mission San Rafael.(16)
    He had two daughters with his first wife, Cayetana, who died in 1850 after a fall from her
    horse. Before he died, he married Susana Maria and, according to legend,  buried
    saddlebags full of gold (from his sale of land to Black) in the hills of his ranch. Upon his
    death in 1856, rumor spread that robbers searching for his gold had murdered him. The
    details of his death are unknown, however. (17)
    The name Olompali comes from the lost Coast Miwok language and likely means southern village or southern people, states the state park's brochure. It has been in existence since 500 A.D. or nearly 2,000 years. It was a major Miwok center in 1,200 A.D. and seems to have been one of the largest in Marin County.(15) 
    The land grant is between present-day Novato and Petaluma.[4][5][6] A part of this land now comprises the Olompali State Historic Park.
    Camilo was the only Native American on the northern frontier of Alta California to secure and keep a large land grant for his tribe.[8]
    At the time of the Californian revolt known as the Bear Flag Revolt, on 24 June 1846 the Battle of Olompali occurred when a violent skirmish broke out at Camilo's adobe between a troop of American Bear Flaggers from Sonoma and a Mexican force of 50 from Monterey, under the command of Joaquin de la Toree. Several men were wounded and one man was reportedly killed, the only fatality associated with the brief California revolution. (18)
    With the cession of California to the United States following the Mexican-American War, the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo provided that the land grants would be honored. As required by the Land Act of 1851, a claim for Rancho Olompali was filed with the Public Land Commission in 1852,[9] and the grant was patented to Camilo Ynitia in 1862.[10]
    In 1852 Ynitia sold most of his land to James Black, grantee of Rancho Cañada de Jonive and one of the largest landowners in Marin County. (11)
    Camilo Ynitia was the last know Indian Chief Of the Marin County Area. He was the last known Indian to be shot with a bow and arrow, by his own people.(19)

  2. Black's daughter, Mary, married Dr. Galen Burdell. Black's wife, Maria Agustina Sais, died in Dr. Burdell's dental chair in 1864.[11]
    Although the dentist was absolved of blame, Mary's father could not forgive him. He said, "I don't want Dr. Burdell's name or Mary's included in my will," according to Mason. However, he had given Mary Olompali Ranch on her wedding day in 1863.
    Black then started drinking. Visits to Mary's father were an ordeal. Mary's pregnancy seemed to make him worse.
    "Black continued to ride about his property on horseback, often too inebriated to sit in the saddle," wrote Mason.
     In 1866 Black married Maria Loreto Duarte, Ygnacio Pacheco’s widow. By 1866, having amassed a small fortune from his dental practice and sales of a tooth powder he invented, Dr. Burdell and his wife left San Francisco and made their permanent home on the land they called Rancho Olompia.
    "Late in 1869 he took a particularly bad spill, suffering a two-inch wound at the base of his skull. Softening of the brain followed, but he was still able to get about." Later, he died in convulsions so terrible an onlooker thought he had been poisoned.
    The 1880 History of Marin said of him, "The leaves of the great book of life closed and another of California's oldest pioneers has passed from time to eternity."
    Black's death brought family passions to the surface. Dr. Burdell had gone to the reading of the will at the Pacheco House, while Mary stayed outside. "Later that evening, he brought an attorney to read the will in a private suite of a San Rafael hotel. When the attorney left the room, Mary tore her father's signature off with her teeth, apparently swallowing it, since it was never found. She was arrested but quickly released, a story that was given sensational treatment in the San Francisco press," Mason wrote.
    Retribution was only possible in a court of law. Mary hired three top attorneys and filed her contest in probate court in 1870. She claimed her father's mind had been influenced by his drinking, and he had been under the influence of his wife, Mrs. Pacheco. Mary asked for a jury trial and got it. Persons known to Mary testified against her father, and she won her case.(15)
    James Black died in 1870.[12]

  3. Galen and Mary now concentrated on Olompali. The 20,000 acres included large portions of Novato and Nicasio. "Here the retired dentist found ample outlets for his inventive mind. On the San Pablo Bay he ran his own soil reclamation project. His orchards were of many kinds of fruit: apple, pear, quince, fig, pomegrante, persimmon, apricot, peach and plum. Fifty acres were planted in 30 varieties of grapes, a kind of experimental vineyard with :a hint of noble wines to come." Dr. Burdel's banana trees did poorly, but his 200 orange trees were the equal of any on Los Angeles, Jack Mason wrote. (15)
    Mary's property was hers alone, 950 acres at the head of Tomales Bay, once known as the Stocker Ranch. It soon became Point Reyes Station once the North Pacific Coast Railway came into being. Dr. Burdell managed the ranch.
    "Mary Burdell, an energetic as her husband, planted the first ambitious garden in the county," wrote Mason. When she traveled to Japan, Mary brought home the first planting of exotics to the county.
    Mary was a perfectionist in social etiquette. The tablecloth had to be of the finest linen, the silverware polished to the nth degree. She and her husband played lady and lord of the manor. Every Christmas they would deliver turkeys to their friends, and Galen would leave a gold watch at every home they visited.
    Mary suffered with gallstones. In 1900, an operation could be put off no longer. She made out her will. It was to be divided three ways between her husband Galen, her son James, and daughter Mabel. She died during the operation.(15)
    A major significant change occurred in 1911 when James Burdell (Galen and Mary’s son) hired a contractor for the then princely sun of $15,000 to expand and convert the wood frame building into a 26-room mansion. Interior fireplaces and a second story veranda were added. A row of white columns lined the façade toward the garden. The gabled roof was replaced with a flat roof, and stucco was applied to the exterior of the building. With the addition of electric lighting, the Burdell home became the premier residence in Marin County.
    The mansion and ranch remained in the Burdell family until 1943, when it was sold to Court Harrington. Several changes of ownership followed during the next 25 years.(14)
    The property had ended up in the hands of the University of San Francisco by the 1950's.
    In the 1960's, they attempted to sell it various times, but when various buyers defaulted, the property kept reverting back to USF.(13)
    Before it was a commune, Mr. Martin owned the ranch.
    Houseboat developer Don McCoy leased Olompali in 1967 with inheritance money and turned it into a hippie commune called The Chosen Family.(15) Donald Crawford McCoy developed the first houseboat neighborhood in Sausalito, and owned the houseboat where Otis Redding wrote "The Dock of the Bay."
    An electric fire severely damaged the building at 5:00 A.M. on February 2, 1969.(14) While many in the commune were working at a rock concert light show in San Francisco, an electrical fire broke out at the mansion and gutted it. The fire was part of a downward spiral Olompali-Barton blames on a decision to open the commune up to more than a closely knit circle of families. "There were the freeloaders who came," she said, "who sat in the 
living room playing music and not helping at all." Police raided the commune twice and busted members for drugs. And after the fire, two toddlers drowned in the ranch's pool when a woman who was supposed to be watching them failed in her responsibility, Olompali-Barton said. The tragedy led to the commune's final collapse.(23)

  4. Jerry performed here in
    5/22/66 Grateful Dead
    6/1/66 Grateful Dead
    9/5/66 Grateful Dead
    7/28/68 Jack Casady Mickey Hart


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