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Cutting edge artifact gifted to Glen Ellen Historical Society

Cutting edge artifact gifted to Glen Ellen Historical Society


A bucksaw belonging to Martin Eden and used on the Thompson and London ranches, among other places, was retained over the years by the Zane family. Glenn Zane has passed it on to the society.

The rustic handsaw was probably purchased over a century ago at the old Poppe store. Looking closely, it’s evident that one bar of the bucksaw has been repaired with a tree branch. The patina and wear reflect hours of use on branches and firewood. The saw was used for years by Martin Eden himself.

Martin Eden was the modest, hard-working Swedish immigrant (born Marten Edin in Adalin, Sweden) who worked on “Redwood” Thompson’s property and the London ranch and other places in the 1880s. He lived alone in a one-room cabin on the Thompson property on Warm Springs Road, which is still there under the spreading branches of an old oak.

The Jack London novel titled Martin Eden was not, however, about Eden himself. It was a semiautobiographical story about class struggle and socialism,which interested London, and London seems simply to have borrowed the name of his workman and neighbor for the book’s main character.

As recently as the 1990s, several people remembered Martin Eden in Glen Ellen. Glenn Purcell remembered, in Childhood Memories of Glen Ellen, “Martin was always white-haired and wearing black rubber boots.” Eden had taught Purcell’s father how to go down to the creek at night with a lantern and pitchfork and spear a steelhead salmon for dinner.

Glenn Zane, a descendant of early pioneers Minnie Thompson Zane and Willis Zane, gave the bucksaw to the Historical Society early in March, where it was gratefully received by Jim Shere, director emeritus, and others at the historical society. It will take a prominent position in the museum that the historical society is envisioning on the Somoma Developmental Center property.