header chapter 04

The purchases of Peralta land were complicated by several irksome obstacles. One, Luis Peralta had no wish to sell his property; anything that was to transpire would respectfully await his departure. Two, the Peralta sons, for ample cause, had developed a formidable distrust of the American intruders, and were not especially disposed toward considering the several offers that were extended. Antonio was perhaps the most approachable, but he too waited until his father's passing. Three, several schemes had been devised that would impose a burden upon any sale of the lands of Rancho San Antonio.

The sale of the Oakland Encinal was first begun as a transaction between a South American tennant farmer, Jose Manuel Valdez, and Vicente Peralta. Juan Clar had been employed as the agent of Mr Valdez. Clar, it has been noted, was a man of some prominence whose Spanish birth, commendable record in the U.S. Navy, and civilian achievements, had provided him the respect of many. Clar took under his wing a junior officer, William Toler, who later married the daughter of Ingancio Peralta. Toler and Clar remained close friends, and it was through the former that Clar became acquainted with the Peralta family. When Valdez was ready to do business with Vicente, he approached Clar as the most probable agent.


Jose Valdez

Jose Valdez arrived in California in 1846, at the beginning of the American occupancy. He leased a plot of land from Vicente Peralta near the upper end of the slough, just south of the intersection of Broadway and Grand, land that would lie just outside of the original charter limits of Oakland. After residing there several years, Valdez approached Clar with the prospects of a purchase of prime portions of Peralta's property. Clar discussed the matter with Vicente; it was understood that they would wait for Don Luis' passing. In September of 1851 an agreement was reached whereby Valdez would buy the Encinal for $10,000, paying $3,000 down with the balance due by mid January, 1852. This was not the first offer made to Vicente, but it was the first that he accepted. The sale would be contingent upon the buyer honoring the occupancy and rights of Agustus (or Gustavius) Harper, a justice of the peace who was then occupying some 10 acres at what is now 7th Street and Oak, as well as those of a Mr Cook, of whom we know nothing.

As January approached, Clar realized that Valdez would not be able to secure the additional funds. Aware that he had the makings of a consequential arrangement, not to mention a respectable profit, Clar received an extension of the time constraints and began to look to his associations within the business population of San Francisco for probable buyers.

It is likely that the initial contact was made with John Hays, then sheriff of San Francisco. Sheriff Hays, along with his bankers, suggested several additional partners who had the means enabling them to participate in this purchase: Francisco de la Barra, Jacob Cost, and Joseph Irving. Hays would additionally include his good friend John Caperton.

There is precious little known of several of these men, however their involvement in the transaction was necessarily short lived. Whatever the arrangement, Valdez was out and a new partnership was in. However, regardless of history’s neglect of the part played by Valdez in the ultimate consummation of this purchase, in 1877 Valdez himself testified in hearings, related to the validity of the purchase, as to the essential role he played in these dealings. According to this testimony, he had been awarded gifts of land, the 100 acres upon which he was living, as something of a finder's fee, from several of the partners. His imprint on history has been noted by the naming of Valdez Street, near the intersection of Harrison and Grand.

Shortly after the purchase of Oakland, or Contra Costa as it was originally called, the partnership was reduced on two accounts. In no time at all, Jacob Cost died. His quarter interest in the Oakland Encinal would go to his heirs, three married daughters who lived either in or around Washington, D.C. Through their attorney, sales of their portions of the property would be ongoing for a number of years. Soon after Costs death, Clar and de la Barra sold their combined one third interest to Joseph Irving, making him the majority investor with a one half interest. Hays and Caperton retained their combined one quarter share. The scope of the purchase remained compromised by the 480 acres which had been appropriated and incorporated through the feverish efforts of Horace Carpentier.


The "Sheriffs Sale"

On December 27, 1852 a peremptory legal maneuver was accomplished by Horace Carpentier and his brother Edward Carpentier. Having first instigated an issue of a tax delinquency, owed by the "unknown owners" of Rancho San Antonio, Edward bought, at auction, an ambiguously described portion of unspecified size of the Rancho. By satisfying the delinquency, ownership was obtained. The Carpentiers took it upon themselves to define that portion gained by designating first the acreage actually or presumably owned by each of the known owners, and then claiming the unspecified remainder, which they figured amounted to the entire Rancho less the 26,519 acres which had otherwise been accounted for. The total area of the Rancho had been estimated at about 48,000 acres. That remainder, whatever it amounted to, became Edward's upon his paying the sheriff for the taxes due ($1827.33, including interest and fees). This ambiguous title to undesignated property would have the enduring effect of casting doubt upon the validity of title in any subsequent sales by the nominal owners. The responsibility of clearing title in any such transaction feel to the buyer; waivers would be available from the Carpentiers, when it served their purposes, at a fee. Having cleverly gained this superb leverage, the Carpentiers had effectively shoved their filial feet in the door to Rancho San Antonio. Never again would they be playing "catch up" with the competition.


The "Sisters Title"

Operating somewhat along the same lines as the “Sheriffs Sale” scheme is another which has been referred to as the “Sisters Title”. Two lawyers, Robert J. Simson and Nathanial W. Chittenden, approached the Peralta sisters in July of 1853 with the suggestion that their father's will may have illegally excluded them from their fair share of the Rancho. While none of the sisters believed that such was the case, and were themselves unwilling to pursue the possibility of their having an interest in the lands of Rancho San Antonio, all agreed to sell their presumptive, and unproven, title to the Rancho to these men. The money, in all cases, was to be paid upon the resolution of the matter in their favor. As such, no money changed hands at the time of the “sale”.

Bearing presumptive title to any and all (again, unspecified) portions of Rancho San Antonio, those which could possibly be due the daughters of Luis Peralta, these men interrupted all subsequent land transactions, threatening to complicate the sale by their claim on the land. While no one believed that the "Sisters Title" had any validity, they also knew that it would consume many years of courtroom wrangling for this to be determined with any finality. As a result, they uniformly agreed to purchase the presumptive title from these two men. The Carpentiers were eventually also party to this elegant scam. Sales of "Sisters Title" went on for years, with many dollars changing hands as a result. The Peralta sisters, of course, profited not at all.


The “Temescal” Purchase

In August of 1853, a year after the first sale, a new partnership composed of John Hays, John Caperton, Joseph Irving, Lucian Hermann and Richard Hammond purchased most of the remainder of Vicente Peralta's land for $100,000. That part of his rancho not included in this transaction consisted of both the 700 acre "Reserve" which Vicente retained, as well as several small parcels which he had either sold or promised to farmers and ranchers already occupying the land.


Richard Pindall Hammond

Richard Hammond, a native of Maryland, was born October 6, 1820 in Hagerstown, Washington County. The son of William and Mary (Tilgham) Hammond, an old and respected Maryland family, he entered West Point July 1, 1837 with an assist from Andrew Jackson, and graduated in July of 1841, in the same class as Generals William Tecumsah Sherman and Ulysses S. Grant. A major in the army, he saw action in Mexico where he functioned as an acting judge advocate in the captured capital city before coming to California. He arrived on April 1, 1849 aboard the S. S. Oregon serving on garrison duty. Hammond later served as adjutant with the Third Artillery, but resigned May 26, 1851. Hammond was invited to Stockton by its founder, Captain Charles Weber. There he opened a law office and participated in Weber's real estate business, doing well in both respects. He left Stockton to serve in the State Assembly.

Major Hammond married Sarah E. (Lea?) Hays, sister of John Coffey Hays. Their son John Hays Hammond (1855-1936) later became a famous mining engineer. Hammond was elected to the State Assembly from San Joaquin County in 1852 and became its speaker. It was during his tenure that he became acquainted with Carpentier and offered his signature on the petition to secure the incorporation of the town of Oakland.

President Pierce appointed Hammond Collector of Customs for the Port of San Francisco from 1853-55. Hammond's performance as Collector came under intense scrutiny by J.Ross Browne, the secret government agent appointed by Secretary of the Treasury, James Gutherie. Browne found the customs house grossly mismanaged and after making recommendations on its improvement, finally encouraged the removal of Hammond. Upon his exit, Hammond took with him some $24,000 which he claimed to be commissions that hehad made on disbursements. Charges were filed and the matter occupied the courts for many years with equivocal results. Hammond meanwhile had returned to San Joaquin County and went into ranching and civic affairs. Later a regent of the University of California, he was also a confidant of Leland Stanford. He died on November 28, 1891.


Lucian Hermann

Lucian Hermann was known to be a gold rush merchant who lived in San Francisco at the corner of Sutter and Stockton. A past grand master of Louisiana Masonry, he became a member of the "French Lodge" in San Francisco. Also a Catholic, he failed in his attempt to become the mayor of San Francisco because of this religious affiliation. Beyond these sparse bits of information, and the fact that he was an associate of a very major player in this real estate drama: Francois Pioche, Mr Hermann remains a virtual unknown.

Two weeks following the purchase of Temescal, and one day after the partitioning of the shares of the Vicente Peralta sales among the new owners, a slightly revised partnership purchased the property of Domingo Peralta. While there were two purchases, ostensibly by two groups of buyers, that consumed the Rancho of Vicente and Domingo Peralta, it is likely that it was really a single alliance, composed in advance of both deals. Each of the partners then owned undivided shares of the total acreage accrued (less the Encinal, which remained a separate transaction) in proportion to their individual investments. In the constitution of the final group of buyers, the only new member was Hall McAllister.


Hall McAllister

McAllister was the son of Judge Mathew H. McAllister who was the first and only circut court judge of Oregon and Northern California between 1855 and 1862. Hall's brother was New York social arbiter Ward McAllister. Hall was a lawyer and leader of San Francisco society in its first generation. Born in Savannah (February 9, 1826) and educated at Yale, he represented the epitome of refinement and forensic elegance on the frontier. After practicing law in Georgia he came to California, arriving on the Panama on June 4, 1849. McAllister lived in the prestigious, Chivalry-heavy, South Park area of San Francisco.

McAllister was a large man who dressed at all times with dignity in a black frock coat and top hat. He was considered so eloquent that it was said that his court appearances rivaled opening night at the opera. Mark Twain, duly impressed by this man, wrote an imaginary legal drama starring McAllister. He dominated the San Francisco bar from 1851 when he argued a case for the vigilantes against the lawless 'hounds', until the stage was dominated by the next generation of barristers. After the decline of South Park, he and his wife moved to a town house on Mason near Sutter, while also maintaining a country home, Miramonte, near Mount Tamalpais in San Rafael.

McAllister was not an owner of Rancho San Antonio for long. After first selling his share of Temescal in May of 1854 to a Alfred Godeffry, he divested himself of all his remaining interest in the Peralta lands in September of 1857 when he sold out his portion of Berkeley to Benjamin Davidson. This sale included his share in the Ramsey Ranch which was located in what was then called the "Mountain Lands",the Berkeley Hills north of Fairview Street. Mr McAllister died in 1888 at the age of 62 years.


Joseph Kincaid Irving

Joseph Irving was the only buyer to participate in all three of the Peralta purchases, resulting in the elevation of his status to that of major partner. While Mr Irving played a pivotal role in the purchase of these properties, very little is known of him prior to his venture into East Bay real estate. There is mention of him being a speculator in land and mining claims, there is evidence that he came originally from the state of Virginia, and we know that he lived in San Francisco at the time of these deals.

A San Francisco attorney, and brother to attorney Henry Irving, Joseph stepped into the initial Peralta purchase early in the transactions. He proceeded to buy up the shares of those who opted out early for quick profit, and went on to participate in the acquisition of more of the Peralta estate.

In 1854 Irving secured the services of a San Francisco attorney, Robert Fair, and preceded to put his fiscal household in order. This flurry of activity included the settlement of a promise to Jose Valdez, in which land pledged was finally transferred. It is clear from the orders he left with Mr Fair that he did not expect to be around long enough to mange his business for himself. Leaving for New York in June of that same year, he died two weeks later. The estate was initially managed by Mr Fair according to Irving's wishes, and for reasons that have not been forthcoming attorney Fair resigned his responsibility for managing the estate soon after he had begun. The task then fell to a public administrator, a Mr. Samuel Flower. While a portion of the estate went to his two married daughters in Virginia, and another portion that had been mortgaged with Palmer, Cook and Company would on default be owned by these bankers, the remainder was eventually purchased by his brother along with two of his associates. These men became the responsible agents for the subsequent sales. It is clear that Mr Irving was substantially into his senior years, a widower, and not unlikely a friend of Jacob Cost. These two very possibly were traveling companions and into the last adventure of their already successful lives. It is extraordinary that there is so little known of this man who played such a central role in the acquisition of Peralta soil.

One can only speculate as to Irvings relationship with John Hays. The connection could have been as simple as their cultural allegiance to Chivalry, but the evidence is not overwhelming on this point. More likely the merger came through their banking associations. Hays did his banking with Palmer, Cook and Company, Irving did his banking business mainly with Lucas, Turner, and Company. Turner and Irving were both Virginians. However, Lucas, Turner, and Company did not begin doing business until the middle of 1853, which means that initially Irving was doing business with Palmers' bank. It is likely that when the Lucas et al did open shop, Irving moved his account.
William Sherman was employed by Henry Turners' banking firm and was placed in the position of primary responsibility for the banks business in November of 1853, when Turner returned to the East. It was Sherman with whom Irving did business when he was ready to mortgage that portion of his Peralta land holdings. Sherman, who was from Ohio, and whose affiliations were clearly that of a Northerner, had accepted the military responsibility of suppressing the lawless Vigilante movement, which was an outgrowth of the Broderick shennanigans. Sherman was also affiliated through his military and surveying activities with Henry Turner, as well as Richard Hammond, John Hays, and John Caperton, as well as John Clar.

While the connection remains speculative, it is more than conceivable that the fortuitous merger leading to the partnership formed for the purchase of the Peralta property was the act of William Tecumsah Sherman, General, United States Army.


Joseph C. Palmer, banker

Joseph Palmer arrived in San Francisco from Nantucket in 1849. Senior partner in Palmer, Cook & Co. he and Cook were both of wealthy Nantucket whaling families. When they arrived in S. F. they bought out Thompson & Co., a real estate and banking business. Engaging in what was then a fashionable scam, in collusion with David Broderick, they made enormous profits on the sale of waterfront lots. By 1850 they were the largest banking firm in San Francisco and by 1853 the income from their rental properties, alone, exceeded $40,000.00 a month. Palmer was a close friend of John Fremont, serving as his finance chairman in Fremont's campaign for the presidency.

Palmer and Cook invested heavily in the East Bay where Palmer built a spacious family home near Mission San Jose in 1851. The house was named "Palmdale", it was located on a 365 acre tract, and was situated adjacent to the Vallejo adobe. Palmer was one of the first to establish Mission San Jose as a grape-growing and wine-producing area. The estate was later sold to E.L. Beard. Palmer's bank also financed Jacob Horner's agricultural successes in that same vicinity. In April of 1856, Joseph Palmer, Charles Cook, George Wright, and Edward Jones sold to Jules Bayerque "the establishment or mission of San Jose" for $100,000.

The Palmer, Cook & Co. building at the northwest corner of Kearney and Washington Streets, has been described as being the hangout for many of the old Mexican land-grant owners such as Juan Alvarado, J. J. Vallejo, Andres Pico, Joaquin Estudillo, General Covarrubias and Pablo De La Guerra. By befrinding these men, Palmer was able to buy or make loans on some of these fine lands when the rancheros required financial assistance in their lawsuits against squatters. The result, owing to the chronic inability of the Mexicans to repay their loans, was the eventual ownership of this property by Mr Palmer.

Palmer also became closely associated with many of the leading lawyers, politicians and men-about-town in San Francisco, such as Jack Hays, A. E. "Hog" Davis (founder of Newark), David Broderick, James Lick, Sam Brannan, and lawyer Alfred A. Cohen. All of them he brought to "Palmdale" for weekends and summer visits.

Palmer, Cook & Co. went out of business in 1859. Before the creditors could get his Alameda County property he transferred title to his father-in-law. Some of the property was sold off but in 1880 Edward Field (Palmer's father in law) was still listed as owning 1,340 acres and Palmer 304.


Exit of Lucian Hermann

In the latter half of 1854 the partnership which now owned the majority of the V & D Peralta rancho consisted of John Hays, John Caperton, Richard Hammond, Hall McAllister, Lucian Hermann, and the estate of Joseph Irving. The next to depart the merger was Mr Hermann. In January of 1854 Hermann sold to C.J Brenham half interest in his quarter interest in Temescal and Berkeley. In March of 1865 Hermann defaulted in his payments on his remaining one eighth interest and his share of both Temescal and Berkeley was purchased by a fellow Frenchman, Francois Pioche, together with his partner Jules Bayerque. In August of 1856 the portion sold to Brenham was also the object of default, and was secured by J. Mora Moss, the agent of Mssrs Pioche and Bayereque. Title was promptly transferred by him to Pioche. Hermann was out, Pioche was in.

Upon the acquisition of Hermann's share, Pioche requested that the still jointly owned undivided property be suitably apportioned among the various partners. By the time that the actual division took place the extended partnership had grown considerably, and now included fourteen additional members, fifteen including the Pioche twosome. The new partners came in via one of what were then the four nominal partners: Hays, Irving, Sanjurjo and Pinoche.


The Sanjurjo Group

Altogether there were five members introduced into the partnership through an early sale by Hall McAllister. The group includes Francisco Sanjurjo, J. Hepburn, John A. Bonneron, Evelyn Faulkner and James Bell. Virtually nothing is known of any of these people who individually or collectively owned several significant portions of the Berkeley landscape.

As early as October of 1854 Sanjurjo bought his way in by purchasing that 320/2002's portion of Temescal that McAllister had previously unloaded on Godeffry and the next day he sold a 1/4 portion (or 80/2002's) of this undivided interest to Hepburn. In November of 1855, Hepburn sold what he had bought from Sanjurjo to James Bell and Evelyn Faulkner, realizing a 20% profit on a $5000 investment. As events continued to unfold, it became clear that Sanjurjo, Bonneron, Faulkner and Bell were in some kind of partnership. Hepburn's subsequent dealings would suggest that he was also a partner with the other four, but the nature of these relationships, as well as the means of entry for Mr Bonneron, appears to be forever lost to history.


The Hays Contingent

At the time of apportionment the partnership included the names of Dameron, Jones, Gwin, and Truett. Of these Dameron (who had worked under Hammond in the Customs House) and Jones were bankers, likely mortgage holders that backed Hays in his initial venture. William McKendree Gwin and his wife Mary were living primarially in Washington, D.C. while Mr Gwin was serving as California's first senator, and where his wife dominated the center of Washington's social life. Truett was ambiguously associated with the Gwins.


William Gwin

William Gwin, the stereotypical southern gentleman from Tennessee, was trained in medicine and law, was a former congressman from Mississippi, was a friend of Richard Hammond, and a confidential secretary to Andrew Jackson. Gwin came west with a reputation substantially tainted by some highly questionable land scams in Mississippi and Texas with the notorious William Walker, and arrived in San Francisco in July 1849 aboard the Panama (in the company of Hall McAllister et al.). Here he led the Southern delegation (those amenable to slavery) at the Constitutional Convention of 1849. When in San Francisco, the Gwin's lived in fashionable South Park during the 1850's, where they became the leaders of the southern wing of West Coast Chivalry. Gwin was elected U. S. Senator on the twentieth of December, 1849, and was reelected in January of 1857. He and Fremont were the State's first senators. Because of the many political complications in this man's life, his federal career was interrupted and he was alternatively elected to the State Legislature 1850-55 and again 1857-61. Gwin died in New York, on September 9, 1885.


The Pioche Contingent

Francois A.L. Pioche, ultimately a major shareholder in this real estate venture, was a Frenchman who obtained his East Bay holdings from another Frenchman, Lucian Hermann. It would appear that he had been introduced into the partnership by his partner in several other business ventures, Joseph Mora Moss, who Pioche included in the eventual partnership. Moss would go on to positions of considerable wealth and power within later partnerships with Horace Carpentier, William Chapman Ralston, and others.


J. Mora Moss

Joseph Mora Moss, a financier and early regent of UC [1868-80], came to California with the gold rush, already having made and lost several fortunes in the east. His first job in San Francisco was that of clerk, but he soon went on to more profitable enterprises, involving himself in no less than the buying and selling of much of the East Bay as partner and agent to Pioche and Bayereque. His business life included, c.1859, serving as trustee and superintendent of the Sacramento River Railroad. He was at one time a partner in a farming scheme in the San Joaquin River Delta with Napolean Bonapart Byrne, an early resident of some renown in Berkeley. They along with Dr. Nicholson (a prominent physician in Oakland) and a Mr. Pettigrew bought Venice Island near Stockton. In March of 1863 the Freeport Railroad Co. was organized with Geo. F. Bragg, J. B. Bayerque, Geo. W. Mowe, J. P. Robinson, and Moss as directors. Moss, Ralston, H. H. Haight, and Carpentier were directors of the Calif. State Telegraph Co. established circa 1863. On July 12, 1873, Ralston formed the San Francisco and Colorado River Railroad Co.; its directors included himself, Moss, John Parrott, and Peter Donahue.

In December of 1861 Moss, Beale, Herman Wohler and Horace Carpentier bought the Arroyo Seco Rancho from Andres Pico. The grant's authenticity was in litigation for many years, but when it was bought, Judge Ogden Hoffman reversed an earlier decision and confirmed the grant amid charges of bribery and perjury. The original decision was handed down by Hoffman's successor, Hall McAllister.

Moss' San Francisco residence was on Mission between 6th and 7th opposite Yerba Buena Cemetery. Pioche later became the owner and occupant of that house. Moss' cottage in Oakland's Mosswood Park, at MacArthur and Broadway, was built when he was a middle aged bachelor in 1863; he married the following year. The city of Oakland acquired the property in 1912.


Francois Louis Alfred Pioche

Pioche was born in St. Dizier, France in 1818. The son of a well to do French businessman, he was educated as a lawyer. When he was 23, Francois received, from an uncle, a large legacy which he proceeded to squander. Francois had earned himself a reputation for daring investments and a love of cultural refinements. While still a young man, he took a job as "Chancelier" at the French Consulate in Santiago, Chile where he met Jules B. Bayerque a bookkeeper at the trading house of Roux et Cie. They formed a personal and business relationship that lasted until Pioche's death.

Enticed by the Gold Rush, he and Bayerque came to California, from Chile, arriving February 20, 1849. Working together, they did quite well in the mines within a very short time. Returning to San Francisco a year later, they set up a retail and import store at Clay St. near Montgomery.

Wasting no time at all, that same year Pioche established a bank with yet another partner, a Mr. A. Hughes. As a Parisian banking firm they built a sumptuous building at the corner of Montgomery and Jackson; they were originally located on the south side of Clay facing Leidesdorff's building. The new building survived the '06 quake but was replaced by the Playboy Club in the Sixties. Hughes retired shortly after the partnership was established and Pioche & Bayerque soon after became active in organizing many of San Francisco's public utilities. He built the first of San Francisco's great urban car lines, the Market Street Railroad, with steam cars which ran from Mission Dolores past Hayes Valley to the foot of Market Street.

With his successful career well underway, Pioche took the next step by returning to France in 1852 and secured some $6,000,000 in invested capital. This money came from many individuals from all walks of life ("from prostitutes to bankers") with which he returned to invest in California. So well applied were these funds that while still in the '50s he was able to pay dividends of 20-25% to his French investors. These investments were in lucrative rental properties, stores, wharves, and warehouses. Later they invested in the undeveloped hills above the harbor. They purchased enormous tracts around Visitation Valley, the Bernal and San Miguel Ranchos, Mission Dolores, Mission San Jose, Hayes Valley, and the Western Addition. At one time Pioche held a half interest in Rancho Azusa; he also developed the Sierra Mining and Irrigation Flume.

On September 25, 1852 with Bayerque et al. he formed the Contra Costa Porcelain and Tile Co. Pioche imported 40 Parisienne chefs to S. F. and opened a restaurant, Le Poulet d'Or (later The Poodle Dog), and thus began the Bay Area's ever-flourishing affaire d'amour avec la cuisine Francaise.

In 1853, shortly after completing his East Bay venture, he again returned to France, and spent most of his time there throughout the remainder of the decade. He did return briefly in 1856 when the gold rush was over and prices were dropping. He later backed the San Jose Railroad which joined the Market Street Line. He financed the Jackson Street Wharf Co., the San Francisco Gas Works (later P. G. & E.) and the Spring Valley Water Co.

While Pioche was away Bayerque, A. Caselli and J. Mora Moss were managing the affairs of the business.

The Sullivan Block stands on the site of his Mission St. house. This home was lavishly furnished but was largely destroyed in 1862 when the Sans Souci Lake in the hills above flooded. After the flood, his property became known as Piochone, and it was there that he killed himself on May 2, 1872, leaving no apparent reason. After his death Antoine Borel purchased his summer home which was located in San Mateo.

The extensive dealings of Francois Pioche throughout California and Nevada were legendary and touched every aspect of the new state's growth. Virtually every county in California has records of large ranchos bought by Pioche. His estate, which included paintings, mineral specimens, and a library of some 1,500 books, was left to the University of California.

During the celebration of the French Centennial, at San Francisco, a plaque was dedicated in his honor under the auspices of the California Historical Society. There is a short street near Bernal Heights which was named for Pioche.


The Irving Contingent

Prior to leaving for his last trip to the East Coast, Joseph Irving mortgaged a portion of his undivided interests in his newly acquired property, with Lucas, Turner and Company. At his death much of this property reverted to the mortgage holders. The result was that to the partnership were added Henry Turner and William Tecumseh Sherman, two San Francisco bankers.

The last member of the partnership, who entered with neither fanfare nor apparent connection was another San Francisco banker, Benjamin Davidson. Davidson was included at the time of the division, however there is no evidence that he received any specific portion of the Rancho. It was sometime later that he purchased all of Hall McAllister's Berkeley properties, and bought a 160 acre plot from Pioche. One may surmise that Davidson represented the fiscal backing of one of the original partners, very possibly McAllister, and was included because of the mortgages he held on the undivided property.


Dividing the Land

The apportionment of Peralta land among the many partners required that it be surveyed, and then divided into parcels that could be assigned. For this task U.S. Survryor-General John Hays commissioned his office subordinate, Julius Kellersberger to do the job in "his spare time". Rancho San Antonio had previously been surveyed but was not yet partitioned in 1852, by Alexy Von Schmidt, best known for the "Von Schmidt Line" which was the first boundary survey between California and Nevada (running from Lake Tahoe to the Colorado River). Kellersberger had actually received the commission, and had begun his task, several years prior to Pioche's request for the partitioning, and had worked at it sporadically while occupied with his other official duties. But with the press for completion, Kellersberger brought it together along with the delineation of assignable plots.

Kellersberger had previously completed a survey of the Encinal purchase on behalf of his boss, John Hays, but this study had been ordered resurveyed by Carpentier because of a disagreement over details which favored Hays. At that time Carpentier engaged Pierre Portois to redo the project, the result considerably more in accord with the lay of land envisioned by Carpentier. The ensuing rancor epitomized the adversarial nature of the Carpentier-Hays relationship.

The Kellersberger map of the Temescal and Berkeley properties was published in 1856 and served as the basis for the subsequent apportionment of "divided interests". What is notable in regard to this map is the mislocation of several of Berkeley's larger creeks, the disproportionate representation of the hilly portions of Berkeley (the Mountain Lands), and the exceedingly linear representation of the Peralta Road. While it can not be argued that Kellersberger lacked the skill, time, means, equipment, or application to do the job properly, it seems much more likely that the distortions were prescribed as part of the commission and were meant to effect some real estate advantages.


The Domingo Peralta Homestead

Examination of the Kellersberger "Map of the Ranchos of Vicente and Domingo Peralta", with particular reference to Berkeley, shows no representation of the Domingo Peralta Homestead. The Homestead had been established in December of 1854, but was then lacking in the particulars of its precise location or its shape. When the configuration and location were later, it was drawn to represent a near perfect square, and was aligned to conform to a true north/south axis. Noteworthy, the southeast corner of the Homestead is cut off (by the Carpentier Line), precluding its intrusion into two of the numbered plots. The excision of this corner of the square also brings the total size of the Homestead roughly to its defined 300 acres. It neatly surrounds the Peralta home which lies at its geometric center. Contemporary reference would place Sonoma Avenue as the northernmost boundary, and Santa Fe Avenue as the westernmost boundary.

The need to demarcate the Domingo Peralta homestead was finally accomplished in 1862, in a manner that discommoded no party disproportionately. The homestead, superimposed on the Kellersberger map, intrudes into and thereby diminishes several of the numbered plots, as well as that area identified as the Reserve. At the time that the dimensions of the homestead were finally agreed upon, Horace Carpentier had established a credible claim to most of the Reserve lands. The final rendering of the homestead's alignment was the result of a compromise worked out between the purchasing partners and Carpentier. Placed as it is, its area intrudes equally into the purchase and the Reserve, diminishing neither more than the other.


Plotting the Purchase

The arrangement of Kellersberger's plots takes it's reference from some "givens" that preshadowed the division. Efforts were made to design a matrix of nearly square, 160 acre, plots. The focus of Kellersberger’s arrangement within Berkeley centers on the peremptory claims made by four early squatters whose properties were ideally situated in the flat area nearest the hills. These four claims spanned several creeks, and encompassed a significant stretch of the Peralta road. This property describes a square that measures one mile on a side. The remaining plots are arranged to group around this seminal area which is bordered by Grove Street [MLK Jr Way], Russel St, College Avenue and Addison St. There are other eccentric plot designations, some of odd sizes, some of odd shapes, most of which reflect established, previous claims which were to be taken seriously by the purchasers.

Those portions of Domingo Peralta’s land that were not included in the sale remained ambiguous, in spite of the apparent objectivity of this survey and map. Nowhere in the description of title does it give the number of acres purchased by the partnership (McAllister et al.), nor does it define the amount of land retained by Domingo. The line separating the purchase from the Domingo Peralta property, a line approximating Hopkins Street, was drawn from his house to the foot of University Avenue (the mouth of Strawberry Creek). Beyond this meager attempt at objectivity, the boundary remained vague and contestable. As a result of the inherent ambiguity, the controversy raged for many years, with much of the debate centering on the validity of the Kellersberge map. The full advantage fell to Horace Carpentier whose claims on the Berkeley properties were, by his own design, vague, diffuse, and all inclusive.

But Horace Carpentier, still unhappy with the work of Julius Kellersberger, commissioned his own survey. This work was performed by Horace Higley. Mr Higley was the official county surveyor, elected in September of 1855, and he occupied this position until 1861. He was also the "official" surveyor for the "squatters league" which included both Carpentier and Hays as members. The results of this survey were condemned by many as fraudulent. Again, disputes over land continued for many years. Oddly enough, Higely later emerges as owner of certain centrally located plots of Berkeley soil, suspiciously without any clear indication as to how he came to possess this title.


Mountain Lands

Besides the specific designation of discrete sections of land, the Kellersberger map included two additional areas, numbered plots 93 and 94. These large and rather amorphous areas represent the section now known as the North Berkeley Hills, and the hilly area east of the Campus, which has nearly always belonged to the University. These areas are referred to in various transactions as the "Mountain Lands". They were not divided for many years, they were seemingly owned by various members of the partnership in "undivided" shares, and except for the portion which was early on sold to Orrin Simmons, who passed it on to the University, they fell ultimately into the Carpentier portfolio.

The effective limits set upon the purchase by the partners clearly placed the majority of the community of Ocean View, developing on its own around the mouth of Strawberry Creek since 1853, within the Peralta Reserve. Title to the Reserve portions, for some time, remained considerably more elusive than that of the Homestead. While Domingo did make some specific and binding sales to local citizens within the Homestead, he realized limited cash return from those lands designated as the Reserve. His Reserve holdings were progressively consumed by the costs of legal representation, which more often than not involved his nemesis, Horace Carpentier.


Dissimilarity in the Parceling of the Land

It may be worth noting once again that the property of Ignacio Peralta at the southernmost end of the Rancho was retained long after his three brothers lost theirs to the American developer. This was due in large measure to the assistance of his sensible and honest family who's efforts were enhanced by the competent intervention of his son-in-law, William Toler. Antonio Peralta, who did sell the majority of his holdings, sold in large parcels and primarily to the legal firm of Jones, Tompkins, and Strode. While the Carpentier presence was evident in and about sections of East Oakland, the legal partners did end up with a majority of what had been given Antonio by his dad. In contrast to the complications encountered by the partners buying north of the lake, Jones et al. did not bother with a proper survey, did not divide the land south of the lake into discrete plots, but sold portions ad lib as the demand presented. The resulting organization of communities, the creation of neighborhoods, and the diversity of activity is to be contrasted with the alternative style of development described by Berkeley's evolution.

Analogously, the development of Temescal, the land between the original town of Oakland and Berkeley, possesses as well a different characteristic than does Berkeley. Because of its relative proximity to the burgeoning town of Oakland, this area enjoyed extensive early settlement which preceded the partitioning. As a result, the Vicente Peralta portion of the Rancho was divided into much smaller sections, each section conforming to property that had already been settled. The hilly portions had quickly been claimed by the community's rich and famous. While Temescal developed in a manner that can more easily be described as spontaneous, the development of Berkeley would be the eventual result of a careful planning conducted before the actual occupancy of the land.


The Forgone Conclusions

With the Peralta Reserve effectively excluded, and the Kellersberger map at hand, the division of the Berkeley purchase began in earnest in July of 1856. This was accomplished by variously composed majority groupings deeding away specific plots to individual members. Ownership of these individual plots was complicated by the fact of sub-partnerships, which included the mortgage holders, as well as the claims on the land by several early squatters. The squatters, or renters, had each obtained some rights to the land, requiring later negotiations and ultimate payoffs to clear their presumptive titles. In some cases the squatters, or renters, simply purchased the property from the partner who received title to their portion of the land.

Among these early claimants to Domingo Peraltas property were the following names: Connolly, Randall, Carleton, Robertson, Benton, Isunza, Johnson, Bailey, Harwood, Almy & Taylor, Millington, Maxwell, Noel, Madison, Walker, Simmons, Higgins, Mathews, Shattuck, Blake, Leonard, and Hillegass. While the number of squatters would suggest that the Berkeley area was well populated, the actual scene was quite the opposite. Few of these squatters occupied their land, beyond meeting the minimal requirements needed to legally establish a squatter’s claim. Many turned over their "rights", realizing a quick profit from the purchasing partner. A few of them did opt to complete the transaction and to retain the property for their own use. Among the latter were those who remained to farm the land including Higgins, Mathews, Carleton, and Leonard. Others who opted to purchase their full title were outright speculators, including Shattuck, Simmons, Blake, and Hillegass. Of these four, only Blake gave little mind to actually occupying his land.


Assignment of Plots

Within the Berkeley purchase the assignment of plots varied not only as to size, but also in regard to the desirability of the land and the importance of the partner. Around what is now the site of the University of California, an area earmarked for town platting and college development even before the partitioning of the land, the plots fell to the majority partners, namely the Hays, Pioche, and the Sanjurjo group, in virtually equal portions. The claims of Shattuck and his cohorts figured prominently in this favored section.

The assignment of numbered plots to the various partners proceeded according to their apportioned pecuniary interest in the Rancho. That some partners held joint ownership of many of these plots, singularly assigned, is testified to by their collective participation in the sales.


Early Sales Within the Reserve

Outside of the purchase, Domingo Peralta sold or leased portions of his Reserve, and otherwise accommodated those who simply plunked themselves down upon his property. These arrangements, apart from the relentless erosion to his holdings that was accomplished by his attorneys, would bear relevance in the later developments of the town of Berkeley. In 1852, Peralta sold to J.J. Fleming a modest portion of land that was surrounded on three sides by the Bay and on the east by a creek, or bayou. Fleming's Point was situated where we today find Golden Gate Fields. In 1854 Fleming purchased additional ground, that which is now occupied by Albany Village. He is given credit for owning the backside of Albany Hill, later selling it to those engaged in dynamite manufacturing, however in this respect the records are not revealing. Immediately south of Fleming's purchase was land owned by Carpentier, centering on Gilman Street, which he had obtained from the trumped up sheriff's sale of November, 1852. Between Carpentier's land and the mouth of Strawberry Creek, other early settlers secured land from Peralta within the next two years. One hundred yards south of Carpentier's property and close by the shore was the house and 200 acre farm of Juan Espejo. While the arrangements Sr. Espejo had with Peralta are nowhere made clear, it would appear that he occupied the land, as a tenant. In November of 1853 Espejo sold his entire interest and moved. For some time afterward his home remained a significant landmark, there were so few at the time, employed as a point of reference in all the early descriptions of property in that vicinity. Several months after Espejo vacated his property, Captain James Jacobs purchased 50 acres at the mouth of Strawberry Creek, near to what is now Hearst Ave. While this purchase is not recorded, it is likely that he bought the squatters rights from the men who had bought from Espejo, viz., Sam J. Clarke and John Wycoop. On March 5, 1861, Captain Jacobs and his wife, Margaret Ann, formally homesteaded 2.54 acres of the Domingo Peralta Reserve. This was the same property he had originally settled, which was located 340 yards up the beach from the McAllister line (the line running from Domingo’s house to the mouth of Strawberry Creek). It would appear that Peralta had little to say about Jacob's occupancy of these "tidelands" and was inclined to accommodate him because he wished to make use of the wharf that Jacobs maintained.


James Jacobs

James H. Jacobs was born Jacobson in 1825 in Denmark. He moved as a young boy to Boston, went to school in North Wilbrahaim, Mass., finished school and went to sea. In 1851 he came to San Francisco via Panama and traveled on to Dutch Flats, in the Gold Country. It was there that his fellow miners changed his name. He worked the mines for a year and a half and came back to San Francisco. Jacobs began shipping grain and freight in his sloop from his Berkeley location to San Francisco and from there loaded again for the run to Sacramento. At first he had no wharf and on foggy nights, as he returned home in his sloop, his wife would guide him, waving a little bitty lantern, to his landing. Several years afterward, in concert with his partner Zimri Heywood, he constructed a wharf which he located between what is now Delaware and Hearst Streets. This wharf was forever known as "Jacobs Landing".

Captain Jacobs is reported to have had trouble with Carpentier over his title to the land. Jacobs was a trustee of the Ocean View School District, was elected Marshall in Berkeley's first election, and was later elected town Assessor. In 1882 Jacobs accepted a position in Port Sal, Santa Barbara and moved from Berkeley.

Adjacent to Jacobs, and a few feet south, was the property of John Everding. Everding acquired this property in 1855, in all likelihood from these same men who sold to Jacobs. The precise arrangements are uncertain since this sale had never been recorded. The agreement must have been somewhat tenuous, however, for in 1860 Everding was obliged to pay Peralta, along with his then attorney of record, Cipriano Thurn, $4000 for his 100 acre share of the Reserve. Thurn was Carpentier's partner in law.

A smaller (10 acre) parcel of this same land, laying along San Pablo Road, that was occupied in 1853 was employed as an Inn for travelers. This property belonged to William Bowen. Most of Bowen's property actually lay within the McAllister purchase, and on this account he was eventually obliged to make payment to the nominal owner. A portion of Bowen’s property lay within the Reserve and for this there is no record of any payment whatsoever. Captain Bowen occupied most of the block between Deleware and Virginia on the west side of San Pablo Road.


William Bowen

William J. Bowen was born in Fall River, Bristol County, Mass. on March 14, 1811. He left home at 17 to pursue a seafaring life, working his way up to captain of his own ship. He married Mary Ann in Sydney and brought his new wife back to California. Bowen first came to California in either 1846 or 1847 on the "Currency Lass" from Honolulu. Trying his hand first as a miner, his experiences at the mines led him to attempt employment as a lumberman in Bodega. In 1850 Bowen and his wife settled in Sausalito. In 1853 they came to Ocean View where he built and operated a small grocery store on the San Pablo Road. Approximately one year later he added hotel accommodations and a saloon. It was said that "...very little groceries were sold however, the stock consisting mainly of liquor, tobacco, candy, etc." He ran his store and hotel for 23 years, at which time he entered the wood, coal, and feed trade, advertising as Bowen and Bowen, until he died on April 17, 1887.

By 1855, one year before the partitioning of the major Berkeley purchase, all of the property from Strawberry Creek north, including all that is now the city of Albany, had been claimed. Occupancy, however, was insignificant. With the exception of a very occasional farmer working the land in middle Berkeley, there were no substantial signs of settlement; the few people present were clustered in the area around the mouth of Strawberry Creek.

But with the establishment of Bowen's Inn and Jacobs' Wharf, and especially with the interest shown this locale by John Everding in 1855, notice started to develop in what would come to be known as the community of Jacobs' Landing, or later and more popularly, Ocean View. Yet another fifteen years would then elapse before the earliest attempts at settlement would commence in the eastern portions of what is now the business and cultural center of Berkeley.

 

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