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The Vallejo Russian Silver Chest & Tribute to Peter McGettigan

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Saturday, February 9, 2019,
11am - 1pm


Honoring the late E. Peter Vallejo McGettigan

Please join Researchers Anonymous in honoring the late E. Peter Vallejo McGettigan -- videographer, veteran, volunteer, and much more. First, Peter’s sister Martha Vallejo McGettigan will speak about their Vallejo family and the Russian Silver Chest.

Then others will offer tributes to and remembrances of Peter:

  • Stan Stevens on the nomination of Peter for the Distinguished Historian Award.
  • Alverda Orlando on Peter’s work filming Davenport oral histories.
  • George Ow, Jr. on his friendship with Peter.
  • Joe Hall on Peter’s work for Community Television.

Attendees are also invited to say a few words about Peter and his work related to local history. There will also be a display of some of Peter’s art collection that he donated to the MAH.

Vallejo-McGettigan Family Collection

Martha’s talk evolves from an artifact in the Vallejo-McGettigan family collection for over 142 years. It demonstrates the diplomatic and respectful connection of the Russians in early California to the Spanish Mexicans of the time and the Vallejo family. This is a military campaign chest, engraved with the General M.G. Vallejo’s initials and his granddaughter’s, Francisca Carrillo Vallejo. This was a gesture of thank you for an event that happened between General Vallejo, Helena Gagarin Rotchev and Chief Solano. The background of the chest was told by the General to his son, Platon, who inherited the chest and then retold by Platon to his daughter, Francisca, who was given the chest on her wedding day in 1902. This background was recounted to Francisca’s children and grandchildren.

E. Peter Vallejo McGettigan was one of Francisca’s grandchildren and so connected to the Russian silver chest. He passed away June 14, 2018 in Santa Cruz, California, where he had been a resident since 1975. Peter became well known and recognized for his extensive documentaries, producing, directing, editing and chronicling that community’s history. He made several trips to Russia – first for a Sister City (Alushta) event in 2003, and then again in 2011 in conjunction with a documentary project in Croatia. His obituary can be found here.

Martha Ann Francisca Vallejo McGettigan

Martha Ann Francisca Vallejo McGettigan is an independent California historian. She has dedicated her life to preserving the histories of the Vallejo family, colonial Alta California, the women of the colonial era, the Californios/Ranchos period and California early statehood. She has also focused attention on the Native American tribes of Napa and Solano Counties, preserving a language and history of an extinct branch of the Suysun Patwin people.

On January 12, 2012 Presidio DAR member and descendant of the Presidio’s last Commandante under Mexico, Martha was invited by the Heritage Program of the Presidio Trust, to participate in the introductory workshop to begin the transformation of the Officer’s Club into a new museum. She was hired and involved for two and a half plus years after that initial meeting for founding families research, text research, consulting and artifact reproduction for the Spanish and Mexican eras.

In March of 2015 Martha was awarded the prestigious National DAR History Award Medal. The DAR history Award Medal is described that it, “is given to honor a man or woman whose study and promotion of American history has significantly advanced the understanding of our nation’s past. By sharing her family’s rich heritage and expanding on it with diligent research, Martha Vallejo McGettigan has enlightened us about the nature of relationships between the peoples living in Alta California.”