Connected to this site will be transcriptions from the various books containing history of Alameda County, California.  Should you want to transcribe any materials for this site, please contact me.  Thanks so much.  

History of Alameda County, California, by Frank Clinton Merritt, Chicago, Ill.: S.J. Clarke Pub. Co., 1928, 1276 pgs.; Chapter IV, The County's Early History, pgs.163-____. 

The Centennial Year Book of Alameda CountyCalifornia Biographical Sketches ~ Prominent Pioneers and Public Men
OaklandCalifornia, Published by William Halley, 1876

Miscellaneous, pg. 573


    California became a state on September 9, 1850, but it was not until March 25, 1853, that the bill creating Alameda County was approved.  The county derived its name from Alameda Creek, its principal stream, and which had been the dividing line between Contra Costa and Santa Clara counties.  The creek, lined with trees through the otherwise sparcely [sic] wooded plains, gave it the resemblance of a shady walk or road, which in Spanish is called an alameda.  When the Mexican pioneers discovered this section of the state they knew it b the name of the place of the alameda.  It is not known exactly what the population of the county was at the time of its creation.  In 1862 a second census was taken of Contra Costa County, and its entire population, including the portion secured by Alameda County in 1853, was but 2,750.  However, William Halley, who wrote his history of county in 1876, estimated the population of Alameda County in 1853 at about three thousand, which, he admits, was a considerable increase over the population of two years previous, when it was credited with 752.  The act creating the county reads as follows:  

    "Section 1.  The following shall constitute the boundaries and seat of justice of Alameda County:  Beginning at a point at the head of a slough, which is an arm of the Bay of San Francisco, making into the mainland in front of the Gegara ranches; thence to a lone sycamore tree that stands in a ravine between the dwellings of Fluhencia and Valentine Gegara; thence up said ravine to the top of the mountains; thence in a direct line easterly to the junction of the San Joaquin and Tuolumne Counties; thence northwestwardly to the west line of San Joaquin County to the slough known a the Piscadero; thence westwardly in a straight line until it strikes the dividing ridge in the direction of the house of Joel Harlan, in Amador Valley; thence westwardly along the middle of said ridge, crossing the gulch one-half mile below Prince's mill; thence to and running upon the dividing ridge between the redwoods, known as San Antonio and Prince's woods; thence along the top of said ridge to the head of the gulch or creek that divides the ranches of Peraltas from those known as the San Pablo ranches; thence down the middle of said gulch to its mouth; thence westwardly to the eastern line of the county of San Francisco; thence along said last mentioned line to the place of beginning.  Seat of justice, Alvarado.

    "Sec. 2.  There shall be held an election for county officers in the county of Alameda, on the second Monday of April, one thousand eight hundred and fifty-three, at which election the qualified voters of said county shall choose one county judge, one district attorney, one county clerk, who shall ex officio be county recorder, one sheriff, one county surveyor, one county assessor, one coroner, and one county treasurer.

    "Sec. 3.  James B. Larue, Michael Murray, J. S. Watkins, J. S. Marston, and Gustavus Harper are hereby appointed commissioners to designate the necessary election precincts in the county of Alameda for said election, and to appoint the judges and inspectors of election at the several precincts designated; to receive the returns, and to issue certificates of election to the parties receiving the highest number of legal votes, and in all other respects said election shall be conducted according to the provisions of the 'Act to regulate election,' passed March 23, 1850.

    "Sec. 4.  For the purpose of designating the several precincts in said county, said commissioners shall meet on the Monday two weeks previous to the day of election, and at said meeting shall designate the judges and inspectors of election for such precincts. The commissioners shall appoint one of their number as president and one as clerk, who shall keep a record of their proceedings in a book to be provided for that purpose, which record shall be deposited in the clerk's office after the commissioners shall have closed their labors.  A majority of said commissioners shall at all times constitute a quorum for the transaction of business.

    "Sec. 5.  The commissioners shall, immediately after designating the precincts and appointing the proper officers to conduct said election, give notice of such election, and the names of the officers appointed to conduct the same, by written or printed notices to be posted at each of the precincts, and aid notices shall be thus posted at least ten days before the election.

    "Sec. 6.  Sealed returns from the officers of election may be delivered to any member of said board.

    "The commissioners shall meet in the town of New Haven, on the tenth day subsequent to the day of election, and the returns shall then be opened by said commissioners and canvassed, and the persons having the highest number of legal votes for the several offices to be filled shall be declared elected, and the president shall immediately make out and send or deliver to each person chosen a certificate of election, signed by him as president of the commission, and attested by the clerk.

    "Sec. 7.  Each person chosen shall qualify and enter upon the discharge of the duties of his office within ten days after the receipt of his certificate of election.  The person elected as county judge shall qualify before the president of commissioners.  Persons elected to the other offices ma qualify before the county judge, or before said president.

    "Sec. 8.  The president of the commissioners shall transmit without delay an abstract of said election returns to the Secretary of State, and retain the original returns until the clerk shall qualify, when he shall file the ame in the clerk's office.

    "Sec. 9.  The county judge shall hold his office for four years, and until his successor is chosen and qualified.  The other officers shall hold their offices for two years, and until their successors are chosen and qualified pursuant to law.

    "Sec. 10.  The county judge and two associate justices, to be chosen from among the justices of the peace that may be elected from among themselves, shall form a court of sessions for the transaction of all county business authorized to be transacted by boards of supervisor in other counties of the State.

    "Sec. 11.  At the first term of the court of sessions of said county of Alameda, said court shall appoint two commissioners, to meet a corresponding number of commissioners to be appointed on the part of the county of Santa Clara, and the like number on the part of the county of Contra Costa, for the purpose of ascertaining and settling the amount of indebtedness said county of Alameda shall assume of said counties; and when so ascertained and ratified by said commissioners, or a majority of them, the court of sessions of Alameda County hall issue a warrant in favor of the county treasurer of each of said counties for the sum awarded to each respectively, payable out of any funds that may come into the treasury of Alameda County.  The said commissioners shall meet in the town of Alvarado, on the first Monday of July, A. D. 1853, which shall be known as the seat of justice of Alameda County. 

    "Sec. 12.  The county judge shall receive as compensation two thousand five hundred dollars per annum, payable quarterly out of the county treasury, and the district attorney shall receive as compensation for his services one thousand dollars per annum, payable quarterly out of the county treasury of said county. 

    "Sec. 13.  The county-seat of Alameda County shall be at the town of New Haven.

    "Sec. 14.  Alameda County shall be in the third judicial district, and there shall be four terms of the district court holden in said county each year. 

    "Sec. 15.  The commissioners appointed to conduct the election as in this act specified, may also, at the same time, place, and manner, order an election for not less than five justices of the peace in said county, to qualify in manner as other officers elected under the provisions of this act, and shall hold their offices for one year, and until their successors are chosen and qualified. 

    "Sec. 16.  The recorders of Contra Costa and Santa Clara Counties, upon application and payment of the fees, shall transmit to the clerk's office of the county of Alameda certified copies of all deeds or other papers recorded in their offices, wherein the subject-matter of such deed or other paper is situated in Alameda County.  The clerks of Contra Costa and Santa Clara Counties shall transmit all files in their offices, wherein both parties reside in Alameda County, or where the sub-matter is situated in said county, and for such services the clerk shall receive the fees allowed by law; said clerk shall transmit as aforesaid, and upon like conditions, all papers and files relating to unfinished actions or proceedings in the nature of actions, whether original or on appeal, wherein both parties reside in said Alameda County. 

    "And also in location actions wherein the subject-matter in controversy is situated in said Alameda County.  Nothing in this act shall be so construed as to prevent those persons now citizens of Contract Costa County, who by the operation of this shall become citizens of Alameda County, from participation in and voting at the election to be held in Contract Costa County on the 26th day of March, one thousand eight hundred and fifty-three. 

    "Sec. 17.  The parts of counties out of which the county of Alameda is formed shall, for judicial purposes, remain in and constitute parts of the counties to which they respectively belonged before the passage of this act until the county of Alameda shall be organized under the provisions of this act." 


    Among the men who did most in shaping the affairs of the new county were Horace W. Carpentier, who was in the legislature and materially assisted in the passage and approval of the act; our first county judge, A. M. Crane; the first county clerk, A. M. Church, and the pioneer Henry C. Smith, who played an important part in the politics of the county for several years.  The parties of that time were the Democrats and the Whigs but party lines were not drawn in the first county election.  However, there were plenty of candidates for each office, from three to six participating in the free for all contest.  The men chosen were A. M. Crane, county judge; A. N. Broder, sheriff; William H. Combs, district attorney; A. M. Church, county clerk; J. S. Marston, treasurer; Joseph S. Watkins, public administrator; H. A. Higley, county surveyor; George W. Goucher, county assessor; W. W. Brier, superintendent of schools.  Jacob Grewel, of Santa Clara County, joint senator for that county, Alameda and Contra Cost counties, remained as such for two years following the election of 1853; and Joseph S. Watkins was our first assemblyman.  The District Judge was Craven P. Hester.


    It seems probable that some two thousand new settlers came to the territory now embraced in Alameda County between the census of 1850 and the creation of the county in 1853.  No record of many of those who came is available; but a brief summary of the distribution of the settlers a short time before the influx can be made for the purpose of showing the great changes which have occurred.  It had only been in the winter of 1849-50 that Moses Chase pitched his tent at what is now the foot of Broadway, upon the vast domain of the Peraltas.  Then had come the Patten Brothers to Clinton; then, Adams, Carpentier and Moon in 1850 to Oakland; and James B. Larue to San Antonio in 1851.  At that time men were whip-sawing the redwoods at San Antonio into lumber.  Between there and the Old Mission were chiefly the Mexican rancheros and their retainers.  San Lorenzo was an Indian rancheria, with the Estudillo residence.  Haywards was the site of the Castro residence.  In the valley beyond, Amador had undisputed possession of his ast holdings.  Mount Eden was little else than a wilderness; while New Haven was the Mission embarcadero, but without a house.  A few settlers were in the neighborhood of Centerville while John M. Horner resided near the old "Corners."  Henry C. Smith kept store at the Mission, and acted as Alcalde, administering justice under his appointment from General Riley.  Warm Springs, so famous in later years, was known only to Indians and native Californians.  Sunol was the lone inhabitant of the valley which bears his name.  Augustine Bernal had come up from San Jose and settled at Alisal, now Pleasanton, in 1850; and he and Livermore, Noriega, Amador, and Francisco Alviso held approximately half the county. 

    Then came the first influx, and Oakland was incorporated in 1852 with possibly a hundred voters.  Men in the Redwoods commenced to scatter and secure lands.  Alameda was laid out in 1852 by Chipman and Aughenbau; and Damon and Clark established their landings in Brooklyn township.  Wicks, Mulford, Minor and William Smith squatted on lands near San Leandro.  Then Capt. John Chisholm and Capt. William Roberts commenced warehouses there for shipping operations to San Francisco.  Then came Robert Farrelly, the Blackwoods, Kennedys, McMurtys, Cranes, Harlans, Johnsons, and Campbells--the founders of "Squatterville."  Mount Eden lands were claimed in 1852 by Charles Duerr, Fritz Boehmer, George Meyer, Alex. Peterson, Joel Russell and William FieldHayward pitched his tent on the open spaces.  A. M. Church returned to the county in 1852 to start a store at New Haven.  John Threlfall and William Blacow located at Centerville; Tim Rix opened his "zinc house;" and John M. Horner gathered his brothers around him for extensive farming operations.  L. P. Gates, Ned Nehaus Morrison and Tyseon were then located between Niles and the Mission; and others came, including the Combses, Marstons, Haleys, Chamberlains, Palmers, Breyfogles, Watkinses, Briers, Berds Moores, Broders, Ellsworths, Smiths, Huffs; while still further south the newcomers included George W. Peacock, Henry Curtner, Thomas W. Millard, the Columbets, and others.  Michael Murray and his friend Fallon appeared at Amador; together with J. W. Dougherty, William Glasskin and John ScarlettJames Johnson had branched out in the sheep business with Murray, Allen and Capt. Jack O'BrienJ. West Martin, John English and the Knapp Brothers had started to cultivate ground on the Santa Rita Rancho.  J. W. Kottinger founded Alisal, or Pleasanton; Green Patterson was at the old Livermore residence; and Zimmerman was at the Mountain House, the outpost of our civilization of that time.  These were the names of the prominent pioneers handed down to us through the passing years, who were here but a short time before the creation of the county, and the list contains the names of many who were prominent for years afterwards in politics and in the business enterprises of the early days. 


    The old Court of Sessions managed the affairs of our county at first, performing the functions later conferred upon the board of supervisors when created.  The first term o the Court was held at the county seat, Alvarado, June 5, 1853.  Hon. Adison M. Crane, County Judge, presided; and in addition there were present A. M. Church, Andrew H. Broder, and William H. Combs, the county clerk, sheriff and district attorney.  The five justices of the peace chosen at the first election gathered there to choose two of their number as the associate justices of the court.  These men were A. W. Harris, I. S. Long, David S. Lacey, A. Marier and John McMurtyDavid S. Lacey and I. S. Long were so honored.  Their first act was to admit the district attorney to practice law.  Then they proceeded to divide the county into six townships, namely:  Contra Costa, Clinton, Eden, Washington, Oakland, and Murray.  These divisions remained only until December 12 of that year, when they were re-bounded and reduced to five, namely:  Oakland, Clinton, Eden, Washington and Murray.  On January 5, 1878, they were again changed to six--Alameda, Brooklyn, Eden, Murray, Oakland and Washington.

    After the creation of the township boundaries, the court next considered the application of the Contra Costa Steam Navigation Company for a renewal of their license or franchise for ferries.  H. W. Carpentier appeared as their attorney.  This franchise had originally been granted to William H. Brown, but had been assigned.  The court ordered that the petition be granted for a year commencing April 7th following, and fixed the charges the company might make at 50 cents for each foot passenger; $2 for each horse, mule or cow; $1.50 for each empty wagon; 50 cents for each hog or sheep carried; and 25 cents for each hundred pounds of freight. 

    Road matters were then considered, the county being divided into seven districts.  Number seven commenced at Oakjland and ran north to the county line, near the Vincente Peralta home, and R. M. Randall was appointed supervisor.  A petition was presented asking for a road from the Peralta residence to Oakland.  Another one was presented asking for a road commencing at Alvarado and running northwesterly to intersect the road between San Antonio and the Mission San Jose at some point between Alameda and San Lorenzo creeks. 

    In September, Asa Walker, S. P. Hopkins, H. M. Randall, B. F. Ferris, A. Marshall, William Fleming, Calvin Rogers and S. H. Robinson were elected justices of the peace.  Marshall and Robinson were named associate justices of the Court of Sessions.  F. K. Shattuck was a deputy sheriff during the year 1853.  In November George M. Blake of Oakland petitioned the court, asking that Contra Costa township be abolished and combined with Oakland township.  A poll-tax for highway purposes was imposed during the early period of the county's existence.  In 1853 all able-bodied men between 18 and 45 were required to perform two days' labor.  In 1854 this was made four days, or a settlement of $3 for each day.  In 1854 the total amount spent by the county for educational purposes was $4,765.  There were 577 children in the county between ages of five and eighteen, of which 330 were boys.  The average daily attendance was but 129.  The county's assessed valuation that year was $4,383,19, with a state tax of $26,298.91.  There were only eleven voting precincts in the county at the first election. 


    Like most counties

page 170


From:  History of Alameda County, California, by Frank Clinton Merritt, Chicago, Ill.: S.J. Clarke Pub. Co., 1928, 1276 pgs.; Chapter IV, The County's Early History, pgs.163-____.