From: The Oakland Daily Evening Tribune, 04 December 1875, Page 3, Column 3
EARLY DAYS OF OAKLAND
The Pioneers of Alameda County.
The San Antonio Rancho and Its Owner
How Carpentier, Moon and Adams Got the Better of Peralta
The Division of Contra Costa and the Formation of Alameda County.
CATTLE THIEVES AND VIGILANTES
How Horace W. Came Near Hanging.
As Alameda county increases in age and population, its past becomes interesting. As its history has not yet been written, we have to rely on tradition for our knowledge of it. But many of the actors that first appeared upon the scene are at this date alive and well, and take pleasure in reciting their pioneer experiences. It was fortunate for them that they had no great privations to endure, or hardships to encounter. They had no forests to subdue, or savages to assail them. They cast their lines in pleasant places, and those that were prudent, soon acquired a competency. They found a land whose virgin mould yielded abundantly with the slightest cultivation. Wild oats covered hill and plain, and thousands of cattle roamed at large. Of these they were welcome to kill and eat. What body of new settlers was ever before so well blessed? No plague beset them. In those days neither locust nor rodent proved a pest. Troubles came, however, in their train. They were pursued by those commorants known as land grabbers. Never did administration make such blunder as that which acknowledged
THE SPANISH AND AMERICAN GRANTS
And allowed their owners to possess them intact. It seems amazing that people possessed of such experience in the settlement of Territories and States, as the United States officials should have departed from the rule adopted with regard to the settlement of western Territories, and not held the land for actual settlers. By commuting with the grantees a world of vexation, fraud, and injustice would have been prevented. By pursuing this course, the land could have been disposed of by the United States patent at the regular government rates, as it could have been purchased at merely nominal proces from those who held it from the Spanish and Mexican governments. Alameda was not among the first formed counties, but was carved out of Contra Costa and Santa Clara in 1853. That portion of the county lying south of the Alameda creek, and including Alvarado, Centerville, Niles and Mission San Jose, now constituting Washington township, belonged to Santa Clara; and all the rest, including Murray township, belonged to Contra Costa, with Martinez as the county seat.
THE FIRST SETTLEMENT
Was formed at the ex-mission of San Jose, when the padres built the first church, and planted the first fruit trees. The location was well chosen on account of position. A broad valley spread beneath the site, the climate was particularly favorable for the cultivation of the grape, and the only practicable road to the great San Joaquin valley led through it. Here a portion of that adventurous band of men who followed Fremont, "the path-finder"--the Smiths, Mendenhalls, and Harlans found a resting place. In 1846, other auxiliaries came in the form of a band of
Who made a near locality their home. Among these was John M. Horner, the first farmer of Alameda county, who is yet alive and hearty, and a much respected man. Others found their way into the county, in some instances, at even an earlier date. Robert Livermore, an Englishman, was settled in the valley bearing his name before Fremont's time, having several years previously landed at Monterey.
"OLD MAN MURRAY,"
After whom half the county is called, made his way to the country in 1846, by way of Mexico, and was for years the neighbor of Jose Maria Amador, who then possessed the rancho now owned by J. W. Dougherty at Dublin. As early as 1846, many Americans and Europeans were engaged in making lumber in the redwoods, three or four miles back of Brooklyn. Here several of those who have since figured conspicuously in the county, found their first employment. Here Henry C. Smith, who subsequently served in the Legislature and secured the creation of Alameda county, in conjunction with Horace W. Carpentier, whipsawed redwood lumber. Here "Old Man Murray" hauled lumber to the embarcadero of San Antonio, before the late J. B. Larue set foot within it. And these were all preceeded by George Patterson, who is now engaged in the congenial occupation of weighing men's bodies with a machine, at North Beach, San Francisco.
THE FIRST HOUSE
Built in San Antonio belonged to a couple of Frenchmen, whose names the writer has not learned. It was situated on the hill above the landing; James B. Larue came next, and established himself at the embarcadero. In February, 1850, the brothers Palton and Moses Chase
Situated between San Antonio and Oakland, and in conjunction with the lawyers Tompkins, Jones, and Strode, who subsequently appeared upon the scene, and laid out a town.
OAKLAND, THE BRIDE OF THE BAY
Was at this time unknown and unnamed; but in 1851, Adams, Moon and Carpentier appeared upon the scene, and planted themselves as squatters upon the land of Vincent Peralta, who lived some three miles north of the site, of the town, and was the owner, with his brother, of all the territory extending from Clinton to the Castro ranch, several miles north of his residence.
THE SITE OF THE NEW CITY
was a sandy plain covered with a thick growth of evergreen, oak trees and chapparel. It was a part of Don Luis Peralta's grant from the Mexican Government, which extended from "the deep creek of San Leandro" to a point several miles north of the present city limits, and bounded by the Castro ranch, and extended about fifteen miles north and south. The grant was known as the
SAN ANTONIO RANCHO,
And was made as a reward for public services, Don Luis having been a soldier of the Republic. The original grantee never lived upon the ranch himself, but in 1842 he divided it among his four sons, the portion upon which Oakland is built falling to the lot of Vincente. The whole tract was used as a grazing ground, and thousands of Spanish cattle roamed at large on hill and plain. No sooner had
ADAMS, MOON AND CARPENTIER
Settled themselves upon his soil than Peralta commenced to complain of the loss of his wood and the destructio nof cattle, as predatory parties seemed to do as they pleased with his property. The encroachments of Adams and company were particularly obnoxious to the lord of the soil, and they having no legal right to possession, he took steps
TO HAVE THEM EJECTED.
In compliance with his wish in this regard, Deputy Sheriff Kelly was sent down from Martinez with an armed posse to remove the trespassing trio. Kelly had seen service, having been one of COl. Jack Hayes' noted Texan rangers. All of Kelley's [sic] men were well mounted and well armed, and had the precaution to take a surgeon along with them, as they expected battle and bloodletting.
THE SHERIFF'S POSSE
arriving at Peralta's house, they received reinforcements in the native auxiliaries of Peralta. Before proceeding to assault the 16 by 12 shanty occupied by the trespassers, which was situated by the landing, the Sheriff's men were hospitably entertained by the Mexican pioneer, on whose errand they had come. They were treated to tarteros, roast beef and beans, then the general diet of the natives. Peralta's reinforcements consisted of about forty mounted men, who wore the prevalent costume of leather breeches, buttoned down the sides, broad sombreros, and various colored sashes around their waists.
When the line of march was taken up for
THE FIRST HOUSE
In Oakland, the fifty doughty warriors proceeded in double file, Peralta riding alongside of Kelly, his native forces bringing up the rear. Arrived at the shanty, they found Moon alone in possession. The Deputy Sheriff, as an officer of the law, informed him of their errand, told him they professed to be gentlemen, but must perform what was a disagreeable but necessary duty. Moon listened quietly to the complaint, was calm and complacent, and affected great astonishment at the proceeding. He protested, there was nothing further from his intentions and those of his associates than to do Don Peralta--whom he declared he esteemed highly--any injury. Anything that was necessary on their part to do in order to satisfy Peralta would be done, and such a display of authority and force he considered altogether unnecessary.
Peralta complained of the many wrongs he was enduring, and stated it was absolutely necessary for his own protection that trespassers of all kinds should be punished, and these gentlemen, he declared, had shown no respect for his rights and authority. After some further palaver, in which Moon displayed the smoothness of his tongue and the wilyness of his way, the party that came so fully armed were completely disarmed by the innocent manner and abundant promises of Moon. Stratagem was better than battle, and the crafty lawyer well understood its use. The result was, that a lease was agreed upon for a certain number of acres of land, and Moon & Co. thus received exactly what they wanted. Peralta subsequently found out
THE PERFIDITY OF THIS PROCEDING [sic]
As the terms of the lease were never complied with, and the land was forever lost to him. The lease, of course, was craftily worded, so that the lawyers had all the advantage. On the strength of their lease, the squatters assumed the rights of owners, and proceeded to lay out the new town. Settles [sic] came in, and the contests that ensued between them and Carpentier are now notorious.
WHAT OAKLAND WAS LIKE IN 1851.
One of my many informants--a lady--describes what Oakland was like in the first year of its foundation, as follows:
"I crossed in 1851 from San Francisco to Oakland, then known as Contra Costa, in a small steamer belonging to a Mr. Rhodes, who brought her from New York. It was her first trip across the bay, and the charge was one dollar. I landed at Broadway and walked all around the place among the outspreading oak trees, which were very thick, and could see but one house, which was used as a hotel or place of public accommodation, and here I put up. It was near the landing, and was called "Love Grove House." The charge was a dollar for a meal, and a dollar for a bed. The latter was so hard and uncomfortable that I will not forget it as long as I live. The house was a very temporary affair, and seemed to be designed for the accommodation of hunters and sportsmen."
CARPENTIER AS A POLITICIAN
Horace W. Carpentier, who assumed to rule everything in the early days of Oakland, sought distinction as a legislator, but his politics, it may be readily assumed by those who know the reputation of the man, were solely such as tended to his personal aggrandizement. In 1852, he was elected to the Legislature to represent Contra Costa county. His seat was contested and he was ousted. He manged, however, to secure a re-election. To secure his choice in the appointment of County Attorney was a matter of solicitude with him. Overtures were made to various parties in order to have things fixed to suit his designs, but he was mistrusted by everyone, and failed. During his term, however, the division of the county, (and one of his pet schemes), was effected, and Alameda constructed out of Contra Costa and Santa Clara. Henry C. Smith, who then resided at Union City, and represented Santa Clara, must have the chief credit of this achievement. Between him and Carpentier arose a sharp and expensive contest for the location of the county seat. This was the first of a series of squabbles which but recently terminated. Carpentier, of course, wanted it in Oakland, Smith wanted it at Union City; and between the contending parties a compromise was proposed, which would locate it at San Leandro. Smith finally carried the day, and Union City was selected. A few years later, by a vote of the people and by fraud, it was removed to San Leandro; but it having been discovered that there was some legal hitch in the matter, it was again removed to Union City, until the Legislature met, when the removal to San Leandro was confirmed by that body. In 1872, a vote was taken, which resulted in favor of a removal to Oakland by a large majority. Brooklyn, just previous to this, had voted herself into Oakland, and the Supervisors having the selection of the locality upon which to erect the Courthouse, made choice of Brooklyn, which proved very distasteful to the people of Oakland proper, who appealed to the last Legistlature for redress, and succeeded in having it finally located on one of the Broadway plazas, not far from the scene of Carpentier's early proceedings.
HOW CARPENTIER SECURED ADVANTAGES
One of the bones of contention in Alameda county for years has been the Lake Peralta or Twelfth-street bridge, which now unite East with West Oakland. The construction of this bridge was first proposed when Oakland was a part of Contra Costa. The Board of Supervisors undertook the work and gave the contract to one Gilman. Gilman, however, did not get paid for his work, and Carpentier secured possession of the bridge, as his personal property, erected a toll house and collected toll for several years. How he secured possession of the water front of Oakland has been frequently referred to.
IN THE TOILS OF A VIGILANCE COMMITTEE
Carpentier more narrowly escaped hanging at the hands of a Vigilance Committee, formed in the Redwoods near San Antonio. Cattle stealing is now a crime mostly attributed to the Mexicans, but in the early days they were the aggrieved parties and the new comers thought it no crime to carry off and slay the cattle of the ranchers that roamed around so plentifully. In the language of an early settler, "Every one killed cattle." The owners freely consented that settlers might kill and eat what they wanted, but not drive away or steal any. The stealing, however, was not confined to wild or Mexican cattle, and valuable imported American cattle were frequently stolen and slaughtered. The evil became so great that it instigated the formation of a Vigilance Committee for the punishment of thieves. On one occasion "Old Man Murray" lost twenty-five head of American cows, worth from $150 to $300 each; and a neighbor of his, named Fallon, lost one hundred head, worth $6,000. Two Frenchmen, who butchered at San Antonio (now Brooklyn), were caught slaughtering some of the stolen cattle, were tried by the Vigilance Committee, found guilty, and hanged from an oak tree near where the Presbyterian Church now stands. Murray discovered two men named Leonard and Moran in the act of slaughtering his cattle, back of Blaiz's restaurant, near the bridge. He had the thieves arrested and tried; but they got Carpentier to defend them, and he secured their acquittal. This so exasperated the Vigilantes that they seized Carpentier's person, tried him for complicity, and condemned him to be hanged. He was released, however, on condition of hsi paying for all the stolen cattle; but had a narrow escape from lynching.
Carpentier for many years has taken no part in Oakland affairs, and, his deeds as a landgrabber in Alameda and Contra Costa counties have made him so unpopular as to procure for him the reputation of being "the best abused man in California." W. H.