Tri-Valley writer, historian dies at 79
Herbert Hagemann Jr. loved protecting area's past

By Kara Shire
Valley Times

June 30, 2000

LIVERMORE — Herbert Hagemann Jr., a descendant of the Tri-Valley's first pioneers who had a fervor for preserving local history, a gentlemanly demeanor and a knack for telling stories, died Tuesday. He was 79.

Hagemann's family roots stretch back to Juan Francisco Bernal, who settled here in 1737, and branch out to the Sunol and Livermore families of the 1800s.

A wiry figure with a dry sense of humor, "he was a quiet man," said his nephew, Carl Holm. "Rather soft on the exterior and rather firm on the interior. Always dignified. Soft spoken, and firm in his convictions."

Hagemann grew up in one of the valley's oldest structures, a wood home built by Antonio Maria Pico in 1836 that sat on West Olivina Street, just a few miles from the old flagpole in the center of town. He farmed the 300-acre homestead, alternating between grain, livestock and tomatoes, with his father until 1962.

It was then that Hagemann turned his attention to local issues, and his passion for protecting the valley's rich history took hold.

"That was his love," said Cynthia Ostle, education director of the Amador Livermore Valley Historical Society Museum, an organization Hagemann helped create. "He really loved promoting the history of the valley and wanted to ensure that future generations will know the roots of this area."

Hagemann was a past master of the Masonic Lodge and patron of the Eastern Star. He served on the Livermore Chamber of Commerce board and was a founding member of the Californianos, a society of descendants of the early Spanish settlers in California.

It was his wish that his old family home in which he lived through his life be preserved, and it is expected that the house will be donated to the Californianos.

"He was a kind and wonderful person," said his sister, Augusta Holm. "Anything to do with historic areas, he got into it."

Pat Lane, who worked for decades with Hagemann on the historical society board, described him as hard-working and personable and noted with awe his "extremely flowery, magnificent, old-fashioned handwriting."

Hagemann's ultimate devotion to preserving the valley's history led him to write several books, one outlining the history of Pleasanton and another, called "Crane Ridge Lookout," that chronicled his early days in Livermore.

"Looking back to the period of the 1930s in Livermore presents a picture that most residents of this city could hardly believe today," Hagemann wrote in 1976. "The town was small, with a population of some 2,500 inhabitants, and the surrounding area was all ranches, farms and vineyards."

He writes of the Depression when there were bread lines in the cities, but "on the farm there was plenty of food, just no money." And he tells mischievous stories of his boyhood days, of playing hooky from school and his explorations at the Crane Ridge Lookout.

Hagemann is survived by his sister, Augusta Holm of Livermore; nephew, Carl Holm of Cypress; great-nephews, Christian Holm of Livermore and Eric Holm of Denver; great-niece Catherine Holm of Madrid, Spain; and great-cousin, Jim Kottinger of Livermore.

Visitation will be from 5 to 9 p.m. Sunday at Callaghan Mortuary, 3833 East Ave., Livermore. Services will be at 10 a.m. Monday at the mortuary. Burial will be private.

Contributions can be made to the Amador Livermore Valley Historical Society in Herbert Hagemann's name, 603 Main St., Pleasanton, CA 94566.