header chapter 03

Land squatting began in earnest promptly at the close of the Constitutional Convention, and, in the brand new county of Contra Costa, land-serious men began settling into the area surrounding San Antonio Slough. San Antonio Slough is now, after some considerable modification, recognized as Lake Merritt.

Within Rancho San Antonio, as it was throughout California, it had been the practice for some years for the occasional settler to occupy a tract of land with the blessings of the ranchero landlords. These tenant farmers were generally Mexicans, a few were South Americans, and there was at least one Frenchmen who occupied the meadows at the eastern end of the slough, at about were the Grand Lake Theater now stands. This man raised cattle and apparently enjoyed some success in selling milk across the Bay to the San Franciscans.

Some of these “squatters” paid their initial respects, established rental agreements with the Peraltas, and later secured their holdings by purchasing them outright. Others preferred to waive the formalities, ignore the legitimate claims of ownership, and occupy the land in arrogant disregard. This practice came to be endowed with legal sanction with the passage of the Homestead Act of April 20, 1851, and was substantially augmented with the passing of the Possessory Rights Act on April 20, 1852. The law provided for the settlement of public lands; the "squatters" were first encouraged to claim for their own private use what they "assumed" was unoccupied land, and later, in order to receive title, they were required only to deny their knowledge of prior ownership. These men soon organized within an alliance they called the Squatters' League. Many men, soon to realize considerable prominence in the East Bay community, began their political life as members of the League. The League did much to erode the security of the holders of Spanish and Mexican land grants.


The Brothers Patten

On the south banks of San Antonio Slough, two groups of settlers had appeared shortly after the close of the Constitutional Convention. Early in the fall of 1849 the three Patten brothers arrived by boat from Boston, Massachusetts. William and Edward landed in San Francisco a few days prior to their brother Robert. In February of 1850 the brothers leased from Antonio Peralta 150 acres adjacent to the Slough on its south bank (increasing this to 400 acres the next year). There they proceeded to farm, raising crops which were sold in San Francisco. Close by, the brothers discovered another squatter, and soon established a working partnership with this man. His name was Moses Chase. Chase and the Pattens were later to purchase the land they had squatted. The land upon which they lived grew into the town of Clinton, centered at about 5th Ave. just east of the Slough.

William Patten soon became involved in the politics of the new county government and served along with other locals, such Victor Castro and Samuel Robinson, on the first Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors in 1852. He married in 1854. Robert remained single and was not involved in much. Edward died within two years of his arrival.

Moses Chase

Moses Chase grew up in Massachusetts. After fulfilling his childhood ambition of being a sailor, he later went on to try his hand at manufacturing, matrimony, and gold prospecting. After realizing a consistently ho hum success at all three, as he had in most of his life's endeavors, he returned to San Francisco from the gold fields and shortly removed himself to the East Bay, occupying himself in a life of hunting and fishing. There, burdened with a gloomy outlook and the press of inclement weather, his health failed him. Moses took to his crude shelter where he was gratifyingly discovered and nursed back to health by his good neighbors the Pattens. Whatever the basis for this serendipitous merger, as the new partner Moses helped establish the town of Clinton. Moses named it in honor of a promising, but ultimately unsuccessful attempt at romance. The town venture did succeed however, but the success was predicated upon a coerced confederacy between Moses Chase and the Pattens and the ruthlessly successful law firm of Jones, Tompkins and Strode.

James LaRue

The second group of settlers which had established themselves on the east side of the slough arrived about a year after the Pattens. James R. LaRue settled himself and his family in the same general area after relocating from his recent home in St. Joseph, Michigan. They arrived via the overland route, along which he ventured an attempt at mining near the Northern California town of Placerville. Having failed to realize the anticipated riches, LaRue settled just east of the Pattens and Chase at about Thirteenth Avenue, in 1851. The spot chosen by LaRue happened to be that which was situated at the western end of the Camino Real, the Peralta/Castro Road, and included within its perimeter their Spanish "embarcadero". LaRue opened a general merchandising store and lumber business on land he too rented from Antonio Peralta. He then built a wharf at the old embarcadero. The embarcadero had originally been established for the convenience of the folks at the Mission San Jose, and was later maintained by Antonio Peralta for his and his bother Ignacio’s use in their business with Yerba Buena. El Camino Real was the road leading south from the landing to the Mission (now 14th Avenue and Mission Blvd.).

LaRue, valued for his “squatters rights”, was also obliged to accept the same offer of joint venture with the law firm of Jones, Tompkins and Strode; meanwhile, Jones et al. lost little time in arranging the purchase of title to the very land LaRue was leasing. The partners later bought more land from Peralta, expanding the original holdings to extend all the way south to 23rd St. LaRue platted a town on the site, named it San Antonio, and later, with the progressive leadership of his legal/entrepreneurial partners, assisted in the merger of San Antonio with the two adjacent towns of Clinton and Lynn, which thereby resulted in the creation of the Brooklyn township. Somewhere further along the line Brooklyn came to be known as East Oakland. Lynn, which included the property now occupied by Highland Hospital, was developed by E. C. Sessions. Mr. Sessions, a banker and real estate developer of some local prominence, and once a partial owner of central Berkeley, platted the East Oakland area and bordered each parcel with eucalyptus and cypress trees. Many of these trees yet remain. Mr LaRue, in a few years time, was operating two steamers from his wharf between San Antonio and San Francisco, thereby increasing the competition in Bay transport, for in doing so he was stepping on the political and economic toes of Horace Carpentier. On this account his service was short lived, quickly absorbed by the competition, and destined to become a part of the greater Central Pacific Railroad transportation network. LaRue threw in his lot with Carpentier and fared well as a result. On the north side of the slough, three men dominated the real estate. Referred to as the Encinal, this area was noteworthy for its rich growth of Oak. It would soon be referred to as the town of Contra Costa, and soon afterwards as Oakland.

Edson Adams

Edson Adams, born in Connecticut in 1824, sailed for California in January of 1849. He arrived in July of that same year, went directly to the mines, and returned to San Francisco the following March. His luck was not exceptional. This early venture notwithstanding, Mr. Adams was soon to become one of the richest men in the Bay Area. His success was in no small measure the immediate result of his affiliation with Horace Carpentier. Together with Carpentier and a man named Andrew Moon, he squatted, plotted, and incorporated the town of Oakland. He married Hannah Jayne in 1855, she being at the time of her marriage Oakland's first school teacher. Her brother, Anselm Jayne, participated vigorously in the buying and selling of much of East Bay real estate and would soon marry his sister's sister-in-law, Julia Adams. Edson Adams served as one of the original trustees of the town of Oakland, a fact that comes as no surprise considering that he was one of the three "owners" of the town. Adams whose name adorned Oakland's finest neighborhood: Adams' Point, died rich and satisfied in 1888, at the age of 64

Andrew Moon

Andrew Moon, the second of the land greedy and now infamous Oakland squatters, was born in Binghampton, New York in 1800, a full 24 years before his partner Edson Adams. Raised to be a physician, he abandoned this paternal mandate to seek a military career, and served honorably in the Quartermasters' Corps. He traded his military dreams to pursue an equally attractive career in shipping. In 1849, already a man of middle age, and with a less than distinguished occupational career behind him, Moon recognized the opportunities which lay in California as his last chance to make his fortune, and joined the rush to the riches. He arrived in San Francisco that same year aboard the ship Panama. Like Adams, Moon earned his fame and his fortune less by his own cleverness as by his fortuitous membership in the legal/real estate partnership of Adams, Moon and Carpentier.

Horace Carpentier

Horace Walpole Carpentier, the youngest but the unquestionably dominant partner, was born to the gentry in Saratoga County, New York. Horace graduated from Columbia University in 1848 with a degree in law, soon thereafter booked passage westward, arriving in California in August of 1849. With the clear intention of spending no more time than would be necessary in this remote locale, his first days ashore were consumed in the cultivation of a splendid array of politically salubrious relationships, leading him into a career which delayed his return to the East Coast by more than 25 years. By February of 1850, the 26 year old Carpentier was already groomed and nominated as a candidate for the State Senate, an election which he failed to win.
In the Spring of 1850 Carpentier established his law office in San Francisco where he briefly made his home; he moved to the East Bay in 1852. It is not clear how or where he met his new partners, but with his practice established, he formalized his relationship with Adams and Moon, and with them proceeded to squat the lands of Vicente Peralta; homesteading, as it were, together a total of 480 acres. The property that they had expropriated stretched from the Slough on the east, the Estuary to the south, Fourteenth Street to the north and Adeline Street to the west. These would be the original boundaries of the town of Oakland.

Señor Vicente Peralta advanced serious objections to the cheeky encroachment by these men, and took exceptional pains to eject them from his property. Aided by the sheriff and his posse, they confronted the squatters. With Carpentier’s legal expertise and powers of persuasion, assets that would eventually make him the largest single land holder in the state, further difficulty was avoided and a way was secured that would permit their continued occupancy. In case words would failed, Carpentier had arranged the added assurance of the covert presence of Billy Mulligan, chief thug of Broderick's San Francisco political machine.
Authorities differ on the nature of settlement these men effected with Peralta. Some say Carpentier simply did as he pleased, others say that a lease was signed and rental payments made. Maybe.
Meanwhile, there were other activities in process which would effect both Peralta and Carpentier. Recall that several attempts to purchase the Peralta lands had been made, with no success, while Luis Peralta lived. When Luis died on August 25, 1851, the first transaction involving Rancho San Antonio was consummated: the first parcel was sold within three weeks. And with that sale the East Bay real estate feeding frenzy had begun.

The Purchase of Alameda

In September of 1850, William Chipman and Gideon Auginbaugh leased the southwest 160 acres of Antonio Peralta's property on the Encinal of Alameda. Thirteen months later they purchased the property outright, following the death of the elder Peralta.
On September 13, 1851, Juan Clar entered into a contract with Vicente Peralta for the purchase of the "Oakland" Encinal for a sum of $10,000. This parcel was bordered by San Antonio Slough on the east, the Estuary and Bay on the south and west, and a line at about Grand Avenue on the north. It included, of course, the property squatted by Carpentier and his partners. The sale was to be completed within four months, giving him the opportunity to find the needed patrons who could assist in the purchase. He put $3,000 down and promised the remainder by January 13th.
Five weeks later Antonio Peralta sold the portion of Alameda to Chipman and Auginbaugh for $14,000. Antonio of all the brothers seemed best able to read the times, could foresee the inevitable, and reconciled himself to fast profit and as few headaches as possible. By March of 1852 the purchase of the Oakland Encinal Juan Clar and his associates had been consummated, and Vicente Peralta's aggravation with the Encinal squatters was at an end.

William Chipman

William Worthington Chipman, a prominent San Francisco attorney, bought Alameda with his partner Gideon Auginbaugh, later extending the partnership to include Messrs. Fitch, Minturn, Foley, Hays, Caperton, McMurty, and William Sharon, an untrustworthy associate of William Ralston. Chipman was married to Catherine McLean who outlived him and upon his death became the second wife of John Dwinelle.

John Whipple Dwinelle

Mr. Dwinelle, another San Francisco lawyer, came to the area in 1849 at the age of 33 from his home state of New York. He was "elected" to Broderick's City Council of San Francisco in 1850, became the mayor of Oakland in 1864, and a member of the State Assembly in 1867, representing Alameda County. One of the first regents of the University, he was also a trustee of the College Homestead Association and a founder of the Bohemian club. In March of 1866 he became a partner in the Amador Water Co. with Francis Shattuck, Samuel Willey, and J. West Martin. Mr Dwinelle died in January of 1881 off the pier at Port Costa. Returning home from a visit with a client, he arrived at the ferry moments after it had left its landing. Ignoring shouted warnings, he fell into the void midst dock and deck, losing himself forever in the murkey waters of the Carquinez Straits.

The Purchase of the Encinal

Viewing the entire Oakland transaction in the clarity of hindsight, it would appear that Juan Clar had one foot snugly wedged in the Peralta door, both because of his Spanish blood, as well as his close personal friendship with William Toler, and a nephew, by marriage, of Vicente Peralta. He had further sweetened the pot by promising Vicente help with the noisome squatters. During the period in which lacked anything that would resemble valid title on the land, Clar provocatively sold a small portion of the Encinal (which, not so incidently, included the home of Edward Moon) to a man named Blakely Kelly. Two months later, in January of 1852, still operating on an exceedingly informal basis, he sold more land at the foot of Broadway, including a wharf under construction, which was unquestionably the project of Horace Carpentier. While certainly irksome, if not especially fruitful, these actions did get Carpentier's attention. The result of these provocative efforts to dislodge the squatters turned out to be somewhat different than had been wished.

While in the process of clearing the land of complications, Clar also insisted that the Peralta brothers each file a claim with the newly established U.S. Land Commission. This action was essential both to establish the validity of the Mexican grant as well as to guarantee title for the buyers. And in accordance with Juan Clar's advice, Vicente and his brother Domingo did petition the Land Commission on the 21st of January, 1852, that being the very first day of filing.

The sale of Oakland to Clar (and whomever he might then have been representing) was progressing nicely, but there was a need of greater financial support. More, or different, partners were required to complete the purchase. Seeking assistance from San Francisco's primary banking house, Palmer Cook and Company, he was introduced to his soon-to-be boss, the Sheriff of San Francisco County, John Coffee Hays. With Mr. Hays came another partner, John Caperton. Joining this association were three additional partners: B. De La Barra, Jacob Cost, and Joseph K. Irving. This partnership completed the purchase of 2,000 acres of Vicente Peralta's "Encinal" on March 13, 1852. The land transferred in this title conspicuously included the 480 acres squatted by Carpentier, Moon and Adams. A showdown was not far off.

During this same time Horace Carpentier had not been idle. While his claim was regarded as tenable, his position was clearly compromised by the legitimate purchase effected by the Clar group. Recognizing his increasingly flimsy grasp on this property, he exercised his well established political leverage by drawing upon his affiliation with San Francisco's political boss David Broderick. Mr Broderick coincidently enjoyed a similarly agreeable relationship with the new governor of the State, John Bigler, a man with pertinent, accessible influence.

In order to protect his interest in the land, Carpentier took swift and heroic steps to incorporate his holdings as a town, endowing the property with concocted yet legally authentic governmental status. As a town it would be exempt from the sale. Carpentier accomplished this ordinarily protracted process of municipal incorporation by introducing his bill at a time when the legislative session was all but over and everyone was in a rush to adjourn. With the issue escaping notice as it was shuffled in among minor and generally benign legislation awaiting vote and endorsement, it was further expedited in the process by the offer of reassurance from the new Governor, John Bigler, for any who begged to inquire.

Carpentier introduced the bill to the legislature less than two weeks after the Clar purchase. The incorporation was completed less than six weeks later. Nobody seemed to notice, or admitted to having noticed, that the new town was occupying land that was legally owned by other people. The few inhabitants of this new community remained unaware of these procedures.

San Pablo Road

A month after securing Oakland's incorporated status, Carpentier managed to convince the newly established Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors, a body which included Carpentier’s confederate, Victor Castro, to construct a road from Senor Castro's home in San Pablo to the Encinal, and the Carpentier wharf located at the foot of Broadway (Jack London Square). This became the board's first order of business at its first session, and on June 14, 1852 the supervisors dutifully ordered the laying out of the road from "Contra Costa" to San Pablo. It was variously referred to as Contra Costa Road, the County Road, and later San Pablo Road. Mr. Carpentier had cultivated the right kind of friendships.

Carpentier was now co-owner of most of the Encinal in an uneasy and forever undocumented, unofficial, remarkably informal arrangement with the actual purchasers. This ambiguous arrangement, a “gentlemen’s agreement” as it were, contained the opportunity for propitious resolution as time and circumstances demanded. The kind of arrangement that best suited the Carpentier style. In addition, he had established direct access from the seat of county government in Martinez to the town of Contra Costa.

Slavery and California Politics

To understand the nature of political alliances during these early days of Bay Area growth, it is important to consider the politics of the still adolescent United States. The difference in philosophy concerning the ownership of slaves and the question of the priority of states-rights cleanly divided all political thought. In a matter of only a few years the country would be divided against itself, these issues and passions carried to their bloody denouement. With the certain addition of California as a large, and obviously important new state, there was substantial concern over whether the new state would be affiliated with the North or the South; as Slave or Free. While the national balance of power would rest on the definition of every newly admitted state, the direction taken by California was expected to represent an important precedent.

The evolving leadership within California was itself cleanly divided. The Southern interests, or "The Chivalry," were well represented. William Gwin, already a political contender in Mississippi, had arrived in California at the opportune time to lead the Southern cause. His heart was set on a life in Washington D.C., and for this he wanted the job of U.S. Senator from the newly admitted state of California.

The northern or Union interests were passionately advanced by the likes of David Broderick, a man who felt no less strongly than Gwin about California's still to be filled position of U.S. Senator. Unlike the genteel background enjoyed by his primary adversary, Mr. Broderick derived from poor Irish stock, learned his politics on the streets of New York, and came west to avoid living out his political life as a small fish in that big pond. With his big city savvy, he fared well in this frontier town, gaining power and respect in an amazingly short time. He ran San Francisco as political boss, offered public offices for sale, and enjoyed the option of selling to whom his favor dictated. He used his position with admirable skill and maintained the loyalty of all those he appointed.

The relationship between Mr. Broderick and Mr. Carpentier was a natural. Broderick saw in Carpentier a source of already established strength; Carpentier regarded Broderick as an ideal point of leverage by which he could fulfill his political and commercial plans. Carpentier's loyalties were flexible, his alliances complex. Both men were New Yorkers, both were politically ambitions, and both were bachelors.

The Temescal Purchase

On August 1, 1853, Vicente Peralta sold the remainder of his holdings, less his 300 acre "reserve", to the same men who had bought the Encinal, plus their new partner Richard Pindall Hammond, brother-in-law of John Hays. On August 15, 1853, a deed of partition was executed allotting portions of "Encinal" lands to the several partners. The official division left Irving holding one half interest (on behalf of himself and some undisclosed "others"), Hays and Caperton jointly owned a quarter, and the heirs of Jacob Cost, who had since deceased, received the last quarter. Unmentioned but conspicuously excluded from the formal partitioning was the 480 acre townsite claimed by the Carpentier associates. Within a few days of the sale the general partnership was extended to include the bankers Edward Jones, William Dameron, and attorney Joseph Black. This was likely the result of the original partners mortgaging their shares, and the emergence of some silent partners.

Berkeley Purchase

Two weeks after the purchase of the Temescal property, a slightly revised version of that same partnership consummated the purchase of the majority of the land owned by Jose Domingo Peralta. Like his brother, Domingo held out a portion of his land from this sale for himself. The portion retained represented the Domingo Peralta Homestead, but was referred to, either incorrectly or alternately, but certainly ambiguously, and with an enduring legal confusion, as the Domingo Peralta Reservation. The confusion derives from the fact that the Domingo Peralta Reservation is not the same as the Domingo Peralta Reserve. The Reserve was far greater in size than was the Homestead.

The “Domingo Peralta Reserve” lands had, some six weeks earlier, been diminished by a sale in July of 1853 to partners John Fleming and William Harding. Fleming wanted the land which bordered the Bay (at the foot of what is now Gilman Street), to raise and ship cattle to his meat market in San Francisco. A year later he secured his title by paying off the resident squatters who had preceded him on this space. He then sold off the north 80 acres to Bridged Speckels. Later, portions which included the west side of Albany Hill ("El Cerrito") were sold by Fleming to explosives manufacturers.

A fraudulent "sheriff's sale" to Horace Carpentier also diminished the amount of Peralta land available for sale. Coincidently, Carpentier received title to this land on the same day as did Fleming (7/20/53), a slim three weeks prior to the major Berkeley sale. Carpentier claimed title to additional portions of the Peralta Reserve as well, and on this account the precise amount of land available for sale to the partners was not entirely clear. The complexities engendered by the ambiguous nature of the "Berkeley" purchase would linger for many years and consume many hours of legal hassle.

The Incorporation of Oakland

The town of Oakland had been incorporated on May 4, 1852. The first town trustees were Moon, Alfred Burrell, Amedee Marier, and Alpheus Staples, with a young Francis Shattuck serving as town clerk. Carpentier did not become a town officer, because his interests were focused more on the financial possibilities of the political device he had created than in bureaucratic title. As a lawyer he was alert to the problems of conflict of interest. His first interest was in the waterfront. He gathered around him men who would be sympathetic to his planning and not inclined to argue with vested power. With the promise of building a school house and a wharf for the town, and the added "promise" that he would return the waterfront when they wished, and with the guaranteed cooperation of Mr. Shattuck, he was deeded the waterfront.

After giving birth to the town of Oakland, Carpentier proceeded to make use of his political resources in the pursuit of further goals. While there was reason for confidence, he was nonetheless frustrated by the conservative proclivities of some members of the Contra Costa Board of Supervisors. Several of them had taken issue with what they regarded as his wholesale abuse of privilege, position, and the law. Undaunted, Carpentier allied himself with Henry Smith, then the State Assemblyman from Santa Clara County, who was coincidently also perturbed by political constriction. Together they found the necessary legislative support to extract portions of both Santa Clara and Contra Costa Counties, and from them create a new political entity. On March 25, 1853 an Act was passed by the State Legislature creating Alameda County. On the following day an election was held which provided Carpentier a seat in the State Assembly. This election was undisputedly corrupt. But Carpentier was a part of the Broderick political machine and anything was possible.

Henry Smith

The honorable Henry C. Smith was born in Ft. Defiance, Ohio and emigrated with his brother, Napoleon B. Smith to California as members of the Hastings Party. They arrived at Sutter's Fort on Christmas Day in 1846. Upon their arrival the brothers entered military service, and enthusiastically involved themselves in the Bear Flag Rebellion under the leadership of General Fremont. Within that same year, Henry began farming in the Mission San Jose area, and operated a general store out of the now secularized and all but abandoned Mission. There he successfully offered provisions to the gold seekers, whose overland route east from Yerba Buena took them conveniently past his mercantile establishment. His store was later moved to Alvarado, the community owned and developed by the legal team of Jones, Tompkins, and Strode. Alvarado, at the time of Henry Smith's residency, was not only a town of many pleasures, but an important inland river port as well. Commercial boats from Alvarado's docks provided efficient transport to the hungry Yerba Buena markets. The Mission San Jose area represented some of the richest agricultural land in the Bay Area (this being the prime reason the site was originally selected for a Mission) and the crops converted easily to handsome profits. As the result of his lucrative trade, Smith became not only quite rich, but, along with his brother Napoleon, increasingly effective in local politics.

Smith married Mary Vangorden of Niles, Michigan, and they had four children. The town of Niles, later to be the early location of California's motion picture industry, was named after his wife's home town. In 1846 Smith was appointed one of the first "alcaldes" under Military Governor Riley. On June 1, 1850 he was appointed Associate Judge of the Court of Sessions for Santa Clara County, a civic body that was the precursor to the County Board of Supervisors. In 1852 he was elected to the State Legislature from Santa Clara County, and introduced his bill on March 10, 1853 which created Alameda County and removed his jurisdiction and constituency from Santa Clara County. In March of 1855 Smith was elected to the Alameda County Board of Supervisors from Washington Township, was reelected on September 3, 1855, and was made its chairman on September 12, 1855.

Smith lost his seat on the board the next year to Joseph R. Mason. Mr. Mason was well known in both real estate and political circles; at one time adorned what is now Ashby Avenue was Mason Ave. Howver, this is not the same Joseph Mason who appears later to play a modest Berkeley's ongoing real estate saga. In 1859 Smith again ran for public office, this time for the position of County Clerk but was again defeated by Mr. Mason. Seeking a change in his political fortune, Smith moved from Alvarado to the Livermore Valley in 1867, was elected to the post of Justice of the Peace for Murray Township in 1871, resigned in 1872, and finally died in 1875. While no less of an opportunist, he was never a friend of Horace Carpentier.

The Carpentier-Smith affiliation was hardly established when divorce proceedings were instituted. For no sooner had Alameda County been created that Carpentier took steps to have the county seat moved from Smith's front yard in Alvarado to his own turf in Oakland. Failing in this, he attempted to have the southern boundary line of Alameda County redrawn to exclude everything south of Oakland. This effort failed as well. History bears testimony that with time Carpentier had his way.

With Peralta's land in his pocket and the County more or less under his control, Carpentier's dominion now ranged over most of northern Alameda County. For its first year, the county was governed by the "Court of Sessions", and this body was replaced by the Board of Supervisors in March of1854. An election held on December 5, 1854 resulted in a popular vote to change the county seat from Alvarado to San Leandro, placing it about half way between Smith and Carpentier. However patently suspicious these election results were, the site of county government was moved. The Board's first meeting at the new location was held on April 2, 1855. In August of 1855 there was a supervisorial decision to move it back to Alvarado. Which it was. Still later this decision was found to be illegal and back it went to San Leandro, there to stay until it was finally removed to Oakland.

Oakland Becomes A City

While maneuvering the political demise of Smith, Carpentier took steps to create a local government for Oakland that was more suitable to his disposition. He set about changing the town to a city and the governing council to a mayoral system. Two years after the creation of the Town, and a year to the day following the creation of the County, Carpentier made himself a city. The event took place on March 25, 1854; Horace Carpentier was dutifully installed as Oakland's first mayor.

The Final Days of Domingo Peralta

The 1853 sale by Domingo Peralta to McAllister et al. represented a large portion of his land, but by no means all. (While Hall McAllister was a latecommer to the partnership and altogether played a relatively minor role, his name has traditionally been employed as the designee of the purchase; for example, the frequent references to the "McAllister line" separating the purchase from the Reserve). Domingo held out what he called his "Reservation", or his "Homestead". The Homestead was often described as being of about 300 acres. The designation was ambiguous then, and has been confused more so in the interim. The homestead was about all that Peralta could then reasonably claim as his own, and was an area of near square design which surrounded his home. The Peralta house was located near the intersection of Sacramento and Hopkins Sts.
The "McAllister" purchase did consume all of the southern portion of Domingo Peralta's land, and everything to the west lying south of a line drawn from his house to the mouth of Strawberry Creek. The areas lying both north and east of his house remained a zone of some ambiguity for years to come.

The Peralta Reserve, designated on the Kellersberger map as including the northwest part of Berkeley and all of the City of Albany, had been distinctly eroded prior to the sale by the Carpentier purchase at an "auction" made in November of '52 (the "sheriff's sale") and that portion adjacent to the Carpentier claim that had been purchased by Fleming. The remainder of this "reserve" land would soon be paid out through unrecovered mortgages to the Peralta attorneys in lieu of fee for service. Virtually all of it would ultimately fall to the "financial portfolio" of Horace Carpentier. The Homestead itself was sold in smaller parcels to a variety of buyers.

In the obligatory disposition of his remaining lands, Domingo struggled to cut his loses, but pursued this course far to late. He persisted in referring to his holdings as yet extending from the "land purchased by McAllister et. al" on the south, on the west by the "waters of the bay", on the north by either "Cerrito Creek" or "the San Pablo Rancho", and on the east by the "crest of the range of mountains". In most all of these claims, Domingo had a tendency to err. However, it would appear that he was simply not well enough informed to know the true extent of his remaining holdings.

Of considerable importance is the fact that Domingo Peralta was illiterate. As a result, he was obliged to accepted the word of those who consistently betrayed his trust, and by these people he was afforded no clarity in what he had lost. Further, there were no natural, let alone man made, points of reference on the land. But even if there had been points of clear geographic reference the ambiguity would scarcely have been diminished. Nowhere in the documents relating to the McAllister sale was there any stipulation as to the number of acres encompassed, nor was there any clear description of the parcel's northern boundary. Confusion regarding what had been sold and what was yet available was evident early and sustained for many years.

Because he was unable to see what he had sold, Domingo thought what he wanted to think. Consequently there were numerous conflicting sales of the "mountain lands" (this would be all of the Berkeley neighborhoods north of Eunice St. and east of Colusa) by both the Peralta family and the McAllister group, providing a confusing assortment of data to the historian 130 years later.
To make matters even worse for Domingo, his cousin and neighbor, Senor Victor Castro, and most significantly a political buddy of Horace Carpentier, was encouraged to pursue a legal claim of Codornices Creek as the "Rancho" or "Rodeo Line," the legal boundary between the Castro and Peralta holdings. Prior to that claim, and certainly since, the boundary had been set at Cerrito Creek. Had this contention been upheld by the courts, which after many years of litigation it was finally denied, it would have deprived Domingo of at least 60% of his "reserve." Regardless of the merits of the case, Domingo was obliged to defend his land, a necessity which profited only his lawyer. The fact of the matter, Domingo, not the most astute of men, was surrounded on all sides by predators, any one of which was far more clever than he.

With the great purchase and the absorption of the Reserve, the final curtain began to fall. With the death of Jose Domingo in 1865, the small remainder of Berkeley lands passed finally from Mexican hands to those of the Americans. During this period of early sales, there was little alteration in Berkeley's manifest presentation that would testify to man's presence or progress, save a small industrial settlement at the shore, and a scattering of a very few small farms. The Berkeley shore was still in large part marsh land, interrupted here and there by sandy beaches. San Pablo Road was crudely laid out and employed by the Castro brothers as their coach route into and out of Oakland, crossing nine streams as it wound its way through Berkeley. The Peralta Road, later altered and developed as Shattuck Avenue, remained for the time a lazy, sometimes dusty, sometimes muddy path. The creeks were mostly bordered by lush growth, especially near their source where the canyons interrupt the descending hills. The land otherwise stretched out in an unbroken undulating plain, describing its gradual but compulsory rise from the shoreline to the hills. With the next turnover of the now neatly parceled chunks of what had been Domingo Peralta's legacy, this bucolic picture would begin to change.


[Chapter 02] -[Chapter Index] - [Chapter 04]