Cornelis Bol, a Dutch physicist, earned fame and fortune upon his invention of the high-intensity mercury vapor lamp leading to a position at Stanford University. Dr. Cornelis Bol married twice and fathered six sons. After his second marriage he left Holland in favor of the Barron Park neighborhood. In 1934, Bol decided that he needed to keep his boys occupied, so he took them to the county fair with the purpose of buying a horse. Upon realizing that a horse would prove to be a hefty investment, he opted for a donkey instead, marking the start of a unique community tradition. Over time, more donkeys would be introduced, reaching nearly half a dozen at the herd’s peak.
As the neighborhood realized the impact of the donkeys on the community, they collaborated with the Bol family to turn the donkey pasture into a park for families to enjoy. This effort turned Bol Park into a permanent fixture of Barron Park, ensuring that generations of families would have the pleasure of visiting the donkeys. Although the last of the Bol family herd, Mickey, died in 1989, new donkey arrivals have kept the tradition going ever since. Pericles (Perry) arrived in 1997 and Miner 49-er (Niner) arrived in 1998. With Niner’s death in 2016, Jenny became the newest donkey arriving in November 2016. With the help of donors, volunteers, and the community, Barron Park Donkeys have maintained a stable presence in the pasture giving each passerby a beautiful glimpse into rural life and exposure to a pastoral past.