Tag Archives: Coast Miwok

Farming oysters by the bay

Pam Jensen and Theresa Harlan at the former town of Hamlet

Pam Jensen was raised on her family’s oyster farm in the train-stop town of Hamlet, on the northern shore of Tomales Bay. Her great-grandfather immigrated from Denmark in the 1880s and bought the farm that included the train stop and its town. Pam’s mother was of Coast Miwok descent and many of her relatives still lived around the bay when she married Henry Jensen in 1955.

Today there is no trace of the town, the farm or the restaurant that the Jensen family operated for over 50 years, and all of her relatives (on both sides) have left the area. In this episode of the Story Shed, we join Pam and her cousin, Theresa Harlan, as they visit Pam’s childhood home and reminisce about the old days. Join us to hear their conversation about picking and shucking oysters, and what it was like to be a Native American kid in a mostly white community. Listen to the program by clicking the arrow below, or download the mp3 here.

For more information on the town of Hamlet, you can read a detailed history that was prepared for the National Park Service by Dewey Livingston.

This show originally aired on KWMR radio station on June 21, 2012.


Native to Tomales Bay

Theresa Harlan and her husband Tiger at Laird’s Landing

Theresa Harlan’s mother grew up on the Point Reyes Peninsula during the 1920s in a mixed race household. Her father was Swiss-Italian and her mother was of both coast Miwok and Filipino descent. The family lived on the edge of Tomales Bay at the place now known as Laird’s Landing, and both her parents worked on nearby ranches. In this show, Theresa talks about their life there with her cousin, Pam Jensen, who grew up across the bay (at the oyster farm that had been in her family for generations).

Today,  neither Theresa nor Pam have any close family left in the area. Theresa says that many Native America families moved away during World War II, including her mother. Her grandmother passed on, and her uncle lost the land to a local rancher after a court battle during the 1950s. In this show, Theresa talks about her mother’s stories of her childhood on the point, and what it meant to her mom as an adult when the tribe finally gained Federal recognition. Listen to the show by clicking the arrow below, or download the mp3 here.:

Photos of Theresa’s family’s homestead are below, taken when her mother was young. And tune in on June 21 for the next episode of Story Shed. In it, we will go with Pam Jensen to visit the place where Jensen’s Oyster Company once stood and hear about her family’s life on the shores of Tomales Bay.

The Campigli family home at Laird's Landing

The Campigli family home at Laird’s Landing

Theresa's mom, Elizabeth Campigli, with Henry Jensen

Theresa’s mom, Elizabeth Campigli, with Henry Jensen

Bertha Felix Campigli with her cow at Laird's Landing

Bertha Felix Campigli with her cow at Laird’s Landing