History of Pacheco by Annie Loucks March 1939
History of Pacheco by Annie Loucks March 1939
In the midst of the beautiful Pacheco Valley under the shadow of Mount Diablo lies Pacheco once the largest, busiest and most enterprising town in Contra Costa County. Shorn of its early glory, it today is but a ghost of its early conditions.
Water and fire have been the elements tat have contributed to its decay.
When in 1853 G. L. Walwrath of New York built his home from timbers here from our famed Moraga Redwoods, he little knew that this building was to prove the first house in the future village.
Tiring of country life, Mr. Walwrath sold his house to my father George P. Loucks in 1856. Having faith in the rich agricultural land of the vicinity, Mr. Loucks sold his commission business in San Francisco and on December 8, 1857, moved to the ranch and at once began the erection of a large warehouse about a mile below the present town on Pacheco Creek which at the tme was navigable for small stern-wheel steamboats as far as my present home.
It may be a bit of town news to add that in this home on July 14, 1858, I was born, the first child born in Pacheco.
In 1857 William Hendrick purchased a tract of land from Mr. Loucks and on it erected a dwelling house and a flour mill. This mill was the only flour mill ever operated in Contra Costa County.
The home erected by Mr. Hendrick is the present Anderson home.
Around these two enterprises, the warehouse and the flour mill, the town grew.
Farmers from all parts of Central Contra Costa County hauled their grain to both warehouse and mill. From the Tasajara and the San Ramon valleys came great four and six-horse wagons with their precious loads of grain.
On the return trip loads of flour and goods from the ever increasing stores were taken. It required two days to make the round trip from the most remote branches.
The first sailing craft to come to the warehouse was the "Ida" by the late Captain Ludwig Anderson. Captain Anderson later built a larger and swifter vessel which he named the "Annie Caroline" honoring his eldest aughter and myself.
In 1857 Dr. J. H. Carothers purchased a tract of land from the Pacheco family on the eat bank f the Pacheco Creek and laid out the town of PAcheco. Here Hale and Fassett built the first business building called familiarly "The Long Store". About the same time Captain Anderson built his first residence and Elijah Hook erected a two story brick building, the lower floor being used for a general merchandise store and the upper floor later housed the Contra Costa Gazette. Building went on rapidly. Main street made a brave showing of several two story brick buildings. Dr. Carothers built a large concrete building which was occupied by small stores and as offices.
Residences built after the models of Eastern homes grew apace. Gardens and orchards were laid out and Pacheco was a reality.
Almost by magic the town grew and Pacheco became the hub about which things moved. All traffic from Southern and Eastern Contra Costa County to the County seat at Martinez passed through Pacheco.
Traffic to the Sacramento Valley passed through here, crossing on the Martinez Ferry. Great herds of long-horned Texas cattle, ox-teams, and large heavily laden Conostoga wagons en route to the Russian River County and the Nevada gold fields were familiar sights and caused a thrill equal to the airplane of today. These lingered to refresh both man and beast and many wonderful tales were related by teamsters and drivers.
About this time Hale and Fassett dissolved their partnership, and William and Henry became the new firm. Theirs was the finest store in the county. Their patrons came from as far south as Livermore and from as far east as Nortonville ad Somersville.
Pacheco depended upon the mines of Nortonville and Somersville for coal. The flour mill was operated by the use of coal. Every day the "Mill Team" as it was called, made a trip to the coal mines bringing back a load of this soft coal.
In later years when the mill property was owned by Russi and Sonner electricity became the driving power.
Two hotels were built. The "Eagle" on the corner of Main and Monument streets was owned and operated by Mr. Woodruff. This hotel is still used as the home of Mrs. DeMartini.
The "French" hotel was located on the corner of Main and Center streets and was operated by M. Bateau who gained a reptation for his fine French dinners. This hotel was burned in the 80's.
Restaurants and boarding places had their part in satisfying the inner man, while the town pump afforded refreshment for hrses and cattle.
In a very short time two iron foundries, a wagon building establishment, Soda Works, two lumber yards, blacksmith shos, meat markets, and a harness shop had been added to the business enterprises.
About this time the Pacheco Fire Engine Co. No. 1 was formed. To it Don Salvio Pacheco presented on February 16, 1862, a handsome banner elaborately trimmed with gold lace and surmounted by a gold eagle.
Uncle Sam early decided that we were entitled to a Post Office. The arrival of the mail coaches twice a day was the most exciting time of the day, for the Government news was at a high pitch about this time. Newspapers telling of Lincoln's death brought fabulous prices. The San Francisco mail came to Martinez by the river steamers and from there was brought to Pacheco by the four-horse coach owned and operated by the S . W. Johnson Livery Company. The early mail from Eastern Contra Costa County was brought from Antioch by coach. This line was operated by James Curry, father of the late H. C. Curry, who carried mail and passengers between Antioch and Oakland. Pacheco was the station were horses were exchanged. Wells Fargo Express did a thriving business.
Pacheco now presented a scene of life and bustle. The histching rails from early morning until late afternoon were filled with teams, carraiges, and saddled horses of people from the surrounding country. Many fine matched carriage teams were to be found for there were lovers of fine horses in the country.. ColonelW. W. Gift whose home was mid-way between Martinez and Pacheco was a lover of fine horses and was a familiar visitor at Pacheco. He did much towards encouraging the breeding of blood horses in our community. *
* At this time an endeavor was made to incorporate the town. The papers were made out and ready to be recorded but a question arose as to whom the honor of the first mayorship be given. while the discussion was being carried on interest waned on the main qestion and the papers were never recorded. In consequence Pacheco never had a mayor.
The first school was built in 1859 and D. S. Woodruff became the first teacher. This building soon became inadaquate to accomodate the rapidly increasing school population, so in 1863 a large two story building was erected. The dedication of this building was my first appearance at a grown-up ball. The wonder of it all! The lights, music, dancers, and wonder of wonders, a black-eyed, curly haired-rosy-cheeked teachedr made Miss Nettie Dond who later became Mrs. Woods, and until a few years ago when death claimed her, was connected with the San Francisco schools.
Miss Jane Weeks, a sister of Mrs. Henry Hale of Martinez, a graduate of Knock College, Galesbury, Illinois, became the principal of the new school. Under her guidance, superior instruction, and charm of manner a high standard of scholarship was attained by the young men and women who were her pupils.
It was not unusual to find pupils of nineteen and twenty years of age in school. There were no high schools outside of San Francisco at this time so pupils continued their advanced courses until something else interested them. The Pacheco school continued these high school branches until the county schools became strictly graded.
This building was occupied until 1926 when it was condemned and a very modern cement building was erected. **
**Many pupils whose careers are worthy of note have gone out from the old school but time and spac e will not alw me to name all. However, two outstanding names that are very familiar to you are those of Doctor Marianna Bertola who was born in Pacheco and Warren Greghory who was born in Ygnacio Valley and Commuted daily.
Churches-- The first church built in Pacheco was the Presbyterian in 1862. The Rev. Yager was the first pastor and his eloquence filled the church every Sabbath. His flock was drawn from as far south as Walnut Creek and from Clayton and vicinity. Children went to Sunday School in those days, and sat quietly through the church services afterwards.
Later a Roman Catholic was built which drew a large congregation from the surrounding country; and at a later date the Congregational body built a church, and the Free Methodist followers bought a dwelling which they remodeled for a meet house.
With the decline of the town the Roman Catholic Church was moved to Concord, and the other churches, after a brave fight, surrendered, so today Pacheco is churchless. Its popuation is dependent upon the neighboring towns for itsspiritual guidance.
Lodges had their part in the social life of the town. Pacheco Lodge #117 I. O. O. F. organized in July 1863 is still existent but has moved to its location in Concord, The "Independent Order of of Good Templers", "Chosen Friends", and "Pacheco Grange of Husbandry" flourished for several yearsbut lapsed with the passing of the town's importance.
The Contra Costa Agricultural, Horticultural and Mechanical Society was organized in Martinez on January 1, 1859, but owing to Pacheco's central location it was moved to Pacheco and the pavillion, race track, Stockbarn and other necessary buildings were build in the Eastern part of town.
The annual fai was the one great event in the county. Families from the far confines of the county and distant places filled the hotels, boarding houses and homes of friends. Many who could not find lodgings in town were permitted to erect tents in the center of the race track.
Even in those early years fine exhibits of orchard, field, and garden products, livestock, and machinery were made. Housewives exhibited their handiwork as well as their culinary skills. Some of the finest race horses in the state and their famous drivers were seen on the track.
The grandstand filled with a gayly dressed crowd, fine carraiges within the rail, and the band playing caused a thrill tooo exciting for words.
One great attraction was the "Ice Cream Parlor". At that period ice cream was a luxury, and we children hoarded our money for an entire year in order to satisfy our longingfor that daintyat the next fair.
The grand ball under the management of the Society proved a fitting climax to the week of sports.
At this time the wheat in the virgin soil of the surounding fields was growing taller than man. Life on the farm was a busy one. The farmer had no harvesters and cooks houses in those days, so his home must be open to the men of the harvest fields as an eating place. On our farm, when a double crew was operating, forty men were provided with three meals a day.
(a section is missing from this article due to the mishaps of the Pleasant Hill Library Copy machine of which I strongly detest and am prone o the use of foul language when I describe said copy machine. Pardon. A.I.P.)
twice a day.
During this perios Pacheco had experienced one disasterous fire in the "Farmers' Bank" on Main Street; but undaunted, rebuilding began at once. Seven years later another fire destroyed some of the most imposing buildings on Main Street, and October 21, 1868 a severe earthquake destroyed or injured many of the brick and concrete buildings. But Phoenix-like the town again arose.
With the increasing business and wealth the need of a bank was realized. On December 29, 1870 the "Contra Costa Savings and Loan Bank" was organized wit the following directors; - Barry Baldwin, G. M. Bryant, Walter K. Dell, John Gambs, and W. M. Hale. The capital stock was fifty thousand dollars and the time limit was fifty years, but by 1882 the bank had moved its location to Martinez and so began the bank of Martinez.
The Western Union Telegraph Company completed its line to Pacheco May 29, 1869 en route to Antioch.
May 10, 1871, officers were chosen for a newly organized military company.
On February 6, 1874, the "Pacheco Tobacco Company" was incorporated with a capital of ten thousand dollars for the purpose of leasing or purchasing land for the raising, curing, and manufacture of the product. The tobacco grew marvelously, but proved to be too strong in flavor to be of use commercially so the the company lapsed.
The tractor of today had its incepton in Pacheco when Philander Standish made the first steam gangplow in the iron foundry of his brother Syranus Standish. The trial of the plow was made on a level field East of Pacheco. Farmers came from many miles to watch the working of the plow. William Kelleher of Diablo Valley bought the machine and after operating it for a time found it too cumbersome and expensive for practical use. In the meantime Mr. Standish had rebuilt his model and made it a horse power plow. These "Standish Gangplows" were used on my father's ranch. Mr. Standish had these plows patented in the U. S. and in nearly every country in Europe. His patents and medals may be found in the Museum at Cleveland, Ohio. The gradual improvement of this first steam plow has become our tractor of today.
Pacheco filled a large place in the political life of the county. The County slogan was "As goes Pacheco so goes the County", so you may be sure that Pacheco's vote was eagerly sought.
The Agricultural Pavillion was used for political rallies. Martinez would gather her forces and with music, torches and an anvil that made a great noise would come to Pacheco. If the gathering was Republican they would stop in front of Mr. Loucks' gate, build a bon fire, fire the anvil, the band would play, the torches flare, my father would enter the speaker's carriage and the procession would move on. How I longed to be a man so that I cold vote and take part in all of the excitement. The priveledge to vote has become a reality, but the procession has passed away.
While all these stirring times were passing, Pacheco was fighting its arch enemy WATER. The great flood of January 1862 carried the warehouse of Mr. Loucks and all of its contents out to the bay and the silt from the flooded district partly filled the navigable channel. Mr. Loucks never rebuilt the warehouse but devoted himself to raising grain, sheep, and fine horses.
William Hook, father of Ex-Supervisor Vincent Hook, had built a concrete warehouse on the eastern side of town and from it had dug a canal to deep water. This canal too filled, so a track was built and a horse drawn car used to carry the grain to tide water. This was abandoned in a short time.
With the fillings of land business houses and homes were raised, until Pacheco became a veritable "town on stilts".
At this time the Hawkshurst addition was laid out on the west side of the creek and soon the schoolhouse and the larger part of the residences were moved to the new location. But the Fates proved unkind, and the reoccuring floods filled the new levels, and changed the course of the creek. In 1869 Fernando Pacheco and Francisco Galindo who owned the land, offered to lay out a town two miles east of Pacheco to give a certain number of lots to those of the flood-stricken merchants of Pacheco who would move their places of busines there. The exodus soon began, and so Concord was founded. Martinez, too, received a goodly number of enterprises. Gradually the town declined, and, ere we realized it, Pacheco surrendered her crown.
Only we of that early period who have memories of the glories that were, can feel the heart pangs one feels as for the loss of a loved friend.
But we are not entirely disheartened! With the building of Contra Costa's main highway through our Main Street, the location of Contra Costa'sfirst Public Park within the original survey of Pacheco, and the Contra Costa Golf Club on our southern boundary the worldis again recognizing our fine climate and beauty of location.
The element which caused our downfall will cause us to rise again - This time on a hill slope.
When artisan water becomes available, the the natual beauty of its scenery and its unrivaled climate will lure those seeking country homes and Pacheco will rise again.
When Colonel Lindbergh pressed the button that sent the first beam from "Standard Diablo" it fell upon Pacheco as well as upon her grander sisters. No longer are we a "Deserted Village". Progress is ours.
Since wrting the original "History of Pacheco" many changes have come to the tow which is fast becoming a desirable place of residence.
With City Water, Coast Counties Gas and Pacific Gas & Electric Company, Electricity and Dial telephones, the new homes are equipped with every modern convenience.
The homes are ?ented before they are complete and more are eagerly sought. While Pacheco will probably never again become a manufacturing town, it will, with its location on the state highway and the new Arnold Industrial Highway and its unsurpassed climate, lure homeseekers.
the Central Valley Canal will be located on its Western Boundary.
With the Contra Costa Golf Club on its Southern boundary and the Martinez Gun Club on its Northern, the many visitors to these places are learning of its merits.
The Central Valley C anal will be located on its Western Boundary
The fertile lands adjoining the town are being devoted to intensive truck farming. When Vallejo no longer wished to remain the capitol of California, the choice of a new Capitol lay between Pacheco and Benecia.
Pacheco lost by TWO votes.
The county has purchased several acres to enlarge the popular park at Pacheco.
In the early days of Pacheco, saloons and gambling houses had their quota of visitors.
When one famous gambling house was demolished several years ago several gold coins of early date were found between the floor and the ceiling of a lower room. One well known game lasted a week, at the end of which Mr. "X" put a mortgage on his home and Mr. "Z" took his wife and daughter to the Centennial Exposition in Philidelphia.