Luke Branquinho

Luke Branquinho tips his hat to the crowd after his final go-round at the 2014 National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas.

Associated Press

Dec. 8, 1787: The original Mission La Purisima was founded at the site of the present city of Lompoc.

Dec. 21, 1812: Most of Mission Santa Ines was destroyed by an earthquake.

Dec. 25, 1846: Lt. Col. John C. Fremont camped at Benjamin Foxen's Rancho Tinaquaic before being led by Foxen's son, Guillermo, over the San Marcos Pass.

Dec. 22, 1870: The first marriage in the Santa Maria Valley took place when Rebecca Miller wed John James Holloway.

Dec. 6, 1872: Thomas Hart, a blacksmith from England, became the first resident owner in the new town of Guadalupe when he purchased eight lots from Theodore LeRoy.

Dec. 25, 1876: On its maiden voyage from San Francisco, the schooner Anna Lyle was shipwrecked off Point Sal during a severe storm.

December 1883: Santa Maria's first brick building was put up by T.A. Jones to replace a two-story wooden structure that was destroyed in a fire Sept. 3 of that same year. The second story of the new building became a lodge room for the Santa Maria Masons, the office of Judge Thornburgh and a reading room for WCTU. The Santa Maria Times moved in the following January.

December 1884: The Campodonico Store, located at Guadalupe and 9th streets in Guadalupe, opened for business, offering commodities ranging from groceries to clothing, plus grain and hay.

Dec. 19, 1889: The Santa Maria Graphics was published by John F. Krider.

Dec.11, 1892: The second Methodist Episcopal Church was built on the Northwest corner of Lincoln and Church streets under the leadership of the Rev. George Weaver.

Dec. 2, 1904: With a mighty roar, a column of oil and gas shot up through the rig floor to a height of 150 feet, and oil began to pour down the gullies and creek beds. Thus, Hartnell No. 1, forever to be known as "Old Maud," and the biggest producer of oil the world had ever seen, was born.

Dec.15, 1917: Two hundred and fifty men from this area were serving in Uncle Sam's service, including some who were already in France.

Dec. 5, 1922: The Santa Maria Chapter of Rotary International, sponsored by the Santa Barbara Rotary Club, was chartered and met for the first time at the Santa Maria Inn.

Dec. 25, 1925: KFXC, operated by Capt. Allan G. Hancock's La Brea Securities, went on the air for the first time.

December 1926: Radio station KSMR, operated by the Santa Maria Valley Railroad company, began broadcasting.

Dec. 14, 1932: Melbourne “Rocky” Dana was appointed justice of the peace in Nipomo.

Dec. 1, 1933: Santa Maria received news from the federal government that it would receive money to build a new City Hall.

Dec. 5, 1933: Prohibition ended.

Dec. 10, 1938: Santa Maria Police Capt. Ben Stowell was kidnapped while on duty. He was finally dumped from the kidnappers' car near the junction of the Cuyama and Maricopa highways, some 70 miles from here.

Sep. 9, 1939: Santa Maria Elks Lodge #1538 held dedication services at its nee lodge on Vine Street (now the site of Sears parking lot).

Dec. 31, 1939: With about 2,400 lines in service, the Associated Telephone Company Ltd. acquired the Santa Barbara Telephone Company. In January of 1953, Associated Telephone became General Telephone Company.

Dec. 7, 1941: The newly restored Mission La Purisima Concepcion de Maria Santisima was dedicated after 200 young men from the government Civilian Conservation Corps had spent seven years restoring the site. The mission is now a unit of the California State Park system.

Dec. 7, 1941: Clarence and Kenneth Cooper, both of Casmalia and serving aboard the U.S.S. Arizona, were killed in the early morning hours Japan bombed Pearl Harbor.

Dec. 10, 1941: The first of many blackouts on the California coast took place, with all lights being put out from Monterey to the Mexican border.

Dec. 1, 1942: President Franklin D. Roosevelt ordered nationwide gas rationing.

Dec. 24, 1943: A dance held at the Veterans' Memorial Building marked the first activity of the Elks Recreation Foundation with a horse named Trelawney offered as the door prize.

Dec. 29, 1944: The POWs at Camp Cooke went on a 24-hour labor strike in protest of some of the POWs having to work in quarries owned by the John Manville Corp as the company was processing raw materials for military use.

Dec. 6, 1955: Shooting began on "Spirit of St. Louis" in Santa Maria, with the aging Hancock Field used to represent Roosevelt Air Field in Long Island.

Dec. 7, 1957: The secretary of defense directed the transfer of South Camp Cooke (almost 20,000 acres) from the Army to the Navy for use as a projected national missile range.

Dec. 1, 1955: Dick Maretti and Clarence Minetti purchased the Palace Hotel from Elvezia and Angelo Ferrari. The partners changed the name to the Far Western Tavern.

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Dec. 16, 1958: The Space Age was launched when Vandenberg Air Force Base sent its first missile up into the sky.

Dec. 11, 1962: Ground was broken for the 2 million dollars Columbia Records plant.

Dec. 1, 1965: Guadalupe voters approved a $135,000 bond issue to purchase the privately owned Campodonico Water Works.

Dec. 15, 1969: It was announced that, for the first time in history, the Santa Maria High School girls could compete in interscholastic sports.

Dec. 18, 1974: Santa Maria Union High School graduate Bryn Smith signed his first professional baseball contract with the Baltimore Orioles.

Dec. 11, 1997: Santa Maria Athletic Club's Redskins (Santa Maria's only semi-pro football team) held its 50th reunion at the Rancho Bowl with Jim Gamble (the club's manager) acting as master of ceremonies.

Dec. 1, 1998: Robin Ventura, a 1985 Righetti High School graduate, signed as a free agent with the New York Mets.

Dec. 7, 2001: The Freedom Monument, honoring those Santa Maria Valley veterans who gave lives during time of war and all veterans and military members still serving on active duty, was dedicated.

Dec. 7, 2001: Robin Ventura was traded by the New York Mets to the New York Yankees.

Dec. 16, 2003: Alice Patino, who was appointed by her fellow City Council members to serve as mayor pro tem in 2004, became Santa Maria's first woman to serve in that capacity.

December 2004: Luke Branquinho, son of Brandy and Johnnie Branquinho, was crowned the Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association’s Steer Wrestling Champion of 2004 at the National Finals in Los Angeles.

Dec. 15, 2004: The Pioneer Valley High School Panthers Junior Varsity soccer team won its first game on the new soccer field by beating the Cabrillo Conquistadors, 2-1.

Dec. 9, 2006: The Santa Maria Times announced that Nancy Stewart was selling Stewart’s Honda. The dealership was the 38th Honda dealership in the U.S. when Nancy and Jack Stewart took on the Honda brand in 1970.

Dec. 19, 2006: Hilda Zacharias was sworn in as Santa Maria's third female City Council member in the city's history.

Dec. 13, 2014: Luke Branquinho, of Los Alamos, won his fifth world championship at the 2014 National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas.

Shirley Contreras lives in Orcutt and writes for the Santa Maria Valley Historical Society. She can be contacted at 623-8193 or at shirleycontreras2@yahoo.com. Her book, “The Good Years,” a selection of stories she’s written for the Santa Maria Times since 1991, is on sale at the Santa Maria Valley Historical Society, 616 S. Broadway.

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