No, this isn’t Prince’s latest unpronounceable name-glyph. Instead, according our fellow history geeks at The Bernal History Project, this symbol was the cattle brand used by the Bernal family to mark their livestock in the days when José Cornelio Bernal ruled the rancho that is now our neighborhood.
The meaning of the symbol is unknown, but that only adds to our aura of mystery. Two things need to happen right away: Someone needs to turn this into a t-shirt to be sold at Heartfelt, and a few intrepid souls need to get this tattooed onto their body parts. (Free beer for the first person to send me a photo of same.)
Update: Reader Marina Cazorla has a theory about the meaning of the brand:
I was intrigued by the mystery of the brand, which looked like VF. After doing a bit of poking around, I’m fairly sure that the “V” stood for Vernal, an early spelling of Bernal. (Juan Francisco “Vernal,” born 1737, was José Cornelio Bernal’s grandfather, and the first member of the family to settle in the area.) And perhaps the F is for Francisco? Spanish/Mexican/Californio surnames usually have two names (one from the mother, one from the father) which would explain why the brand’s two letters possibly come from one person. Of course, it would be helpful to know what year (if any) that brand is associated with, that way we’d be slighter clearer on whether the brand was made during JFV’s lifetime.”
Updated Update: Reader someJuan comes through with an important confirmation. He writes:
Found it. The owner of the brand is listed as Francisco Bernal on the Bureau of Livestock Identification’s website. Look under the “First County Brands” link. However, it’s listed as belonging to the County of Santa Clara.
Ah yes. But it is most definitely listed: