header chapter 08

The nuclear settlement of East Berkeley, homes and businesses which surrounded the land set aside as the College of California, was well calculated in its development. There is little question but that very early in the developmental process this central piece of property was being groomed for sale to, and for occupancy by, the State. The idea of a State University had been well anticipated, and the plans for the town’s development give every evidence of being calculated on that eventuality.

Whatever the early intentions, the East Berkeley land passed from Domingo Peralta, through the McAllister group, to a limited cluster of six secondary buyers. Four of these entitled parties constituted the "Carpentier Squatters", Blake, Shattuck, Hillegass, and Leonard. The remaining two were Henry Durant and Orrin Simmons.


Orrin Simmons

Orrin Simmons was born in Woodstock, Vermont in 1808. His father, because his father was an invalid and unable to tend the farm, Orrin grew up in a position of primary responsibility. He ran the farm while going to school. At the age of 21 he left his home and went to Boston, from where he shipped out as supercargo on a vessel bound for Australia. From Australia he went to Chile, but lived at various times all over South and Central America. In Chile he erected a flour mill, built his own roads, manufactured his own wagons, and left shortly after completing that project. He then returned to Vermont, married Miss Hannah Bean, and honeymooned in San Salvador. The marriage produced five sons and one daughter.

Orrin returned with his bride to Chile and continued to conduct business all over the southern continents. In these commercial ventures he continued to enjoy quite moderate success, at least until an exorbitant duty that had been placed on exports (a precaution taken to counter the adverse effects of the gold rush) forced him to discontinue. While he never really settled, he did work as a foreman on a large ranch (The Tamala Estate) for about two years (1845-47) either for or with a man named Santiago Colburn. Accounts differ.

About this time he became relatively well acquainted with Juan Raphael Mora (1814-1860) who was at the time the President of Costa Rica. Mora and Simmons became partners, engaged in a variety of enterprises, and on July 12, 1849 they were granted a licence to construct and operate a canal. In 1850 Simmons chartered a boat and transported a load of choice hard woods he had received in lieu of wages, to San Francisco. His cargo sold for $30,000 on the 4th of March. Soon afterwards, he established himself in the hustle of the San Francisco gold rush community, and there, in 1852, entered into a business partnership with a Rollin Wheeler and James Ryder. With his new partners, calling themselves R. Wheeler & Company, they operated a wholesale lumber and hardware business for about a year before the two others sold out to Simmons. At the same time he operated another store in Sacramento, this one called Orrin Simmons and Co.

In September of 1854 Simmons mortgaged some his property for $5,000 with Lucas Turner & Co., and a month later purchased the "squatters rights" to 160 acres of choice Berkeley property situated immediately to the east of the claim of William Hillegass. The squatters claim was bought for $1,923 from S. A. Coburn, the same man Simmons had worked with or for in Chile. The mortgage was satisfied a year later after he sold out his San Francisco lumber business to two men, Norton and Potter.

His land in Berkeley lay between Strawberry Creek and the site of the future School for the Deaf and Blind. The following year (1855)he leased a 75 acre portion of his land to a Lewis Millington. It is unlikely that Simmons himself was living on his land at that time. He did move onto the property some time around 1857 and built a house at its western boundary, on the south fork of Strawberry Creek, about 200 feet east of the present location of Sather Tower.

Simmons obtained full title to the land for $2,500 from John A. Bonneron in November of 1857. It may be of some interest that Simmons shared the shipboard company of Bonnerons partner, a man named Hepburn, when he and Mrs. Simmons were making one of their many travels from the east to the west coast some 8 years prior. One month after securing full title to his land from Bonneron, Simmons purchased an adjacent 160 acres from Francoise Pioche for only $500. This second piece of property covers the land on which now sits the Greek Theater, and which extended as far north as Cedar Street. The northern portion of this property was somewhat later sold to Henry Durant. During the period of his ownership, Simmons engineered a reservoir and water supply in the Berkeley Hills, a project that was intended to serve the imminent university campus which would be situated below.

Simmons’ Berkeley holdings would eventually total 720 acres and would extend from College Avenue up the hill to Grizzley Peak. In 1864 Simmons sold all of his property to the College of California for $35,000 and moved to Oakland a year later, in 1865, residing then at the corner of 2nd and Harrison. Always the good businessman, he maintained control over the water supply to the College until he was paid in full for his land. Transfer of control did not take place until the end of 1865, long before any use had been made of this property. In May of 1866 Mrs. Simmons purchased back a small portion of the College Grounds. This sale, one amongst several made at the time, was done for the purpose of raising cash for the struggling College and which offered the buyer a good investment and a substantial return when the property was eventually sold to the State. In short, as early as 1866 the Berkeley location of the State University was already a good bet.

Besides the water supply project he had undertaken on behalf of the yet-to-be university, Simmons continued to engage in the work that he knew best. He also irrigated his extensive San Joaquin claims from Lake Tulare to the Bay when he built the Kings River Canal, and still later he built a 40 mile canal for Miller & Lux, the notoriously corrupt Central Valley land moguls.

Simmons was a member of the First Presbyterian Church of Oakland. He died in Oakland on March 12, 1890, at 82 years of age. His son, James E. Simmons, was a graduate of the UC Class of 1875 (and was a classmate of both William Carey Jones, Jr. and Josiah Royce) and later went on to be an attorney.

What remains intriguingly unclear is the nature and extent of a relationship Simmons had with Durant. Equally unclear, but patently well established, was his relationship with the men who were at that time the owners of Berkeley. In historical retrospect, it would seem that his occupancy of this particular parcel of land was more than fortuitous. That he became involved in this Berkeley land and with the Lucas Turner & Co. Bank so shortly after the bank acquired their interest in this land is more than coincidence. The partners to the grand purchase, especially the senior partners, were interested in immediate earnings to be derived from their investment, and were attentive to whatever improvements would maximize the expected return. Simmons as owner/occupant, given his resources and proven skills, could only be regarded as an advantage to all parties concerned.

Simmons himself claimed a close relationship with Durant, he credited himself with suggesting the Berkeley site as ideal for a college, and might have contributed to the fiscal backing of Durant's entrepreneurial activities which themselves enhanced the property values in this remote neighborhood. Simmons also shared a relationship with the BLTIA, a group among which Durant was a principal. It has been suggested that when the BLTIA encountered a fiscal crises, it was Simmons who provided the funds that helped secure some of their assets.

The adventitious involvement Simmons had in the definition of these properties may have depended less upon his immediate local contacts as it did upon his earlier work in South America, especially in Chile. From this remote outpost came a remarkable number of Bay Area notables who had lived and worked in that country prior to their activities in the Bay Area.


Berkeley's Chilean Connection

The European community in Chile was small, and composed almost exclusively of the members of the commercial trading class. To expect that those men of similar background and interest, who were located in this remote spot, in the days prior to the Mexican war, were not well acquainted with each other, would be unrealistic. It is most probable that those who left that southernmost cultural freeport for San Francisco shared in a common ambition. It is also probable that when these men made business decisions, they followed the natural inclination to rely upon those who were most familiar, those whose reliability had been established. While the specific connections formed among the members of this group have never been made explicit, it is reasonable to regard them as a group, and to conjecture regarding the lines of intercourse which characterizes the relationships within this group.

Among this assemblage we find Francoise Pioche, Jules Bayereque (a French merchant and partner of Pioche), Governor Bigler (appointed by Pres. Buchanan as ambassador to Chile, retired in 1860), Samuel Merritt, James Lick (piano builder in Chile before coming to S. F., associated with Patrick Livermore and Atherton there),, Faxon Atherton ( a merchant married to a Chilean and father of George who married Gertrude.), James Alexander Forbes ( a British citizen educated in Montevideo and resident of Chile through the 20's), Jaspar O'Farrell (the surveyor general of Alta California who came to the State by way of Chile), Rosario Sisterna (the West Berkeley land owner who was referred to as "a pioneer from Chile"), Felipe Fierro, Orrin Simmons and, somewhat more speculatively Valdez, Ysunza and Espejo whose Chilean identities have been often obliquely referenced.


Felipe Fierro

Felipe Fierro was born in Chile 1816. When he came to California is not known, however he lived in San Francisco while he pursued his occupation as a merchant and was the first officially appointed Chilean Consul to San Francisco, replacing the self-appointed counsel, Samuel Price. Fierro was also the editor/publisher of the first Chilean newspaper in San Francisco, "El Eco". In addition, as a partner of Horace Carpentier, he assisted in the legal representation of the Peraltas. Paid in property, these parcels quickly became a portion of the Carpentier holdings in Berkeley.


Early Roadways

East Berkeley developed according to plan and, well before the first real citizens had arrived and established residences in this area, town platting had been well begun. The initial plan was no more complicated than to locate the proposed campus of the College of California in the area between the forks of Strawberry Creek. In 1856, with the beginnings of Ocean View or Jacobs' Landing offering promise of a direct link with San Francisco, a roadway was laid out from the proposed campus site to the Bay.

On March 5, 1856 Shattuck and A. J. Croley were appointed by the commissioners to view out and locate a public highway (Addison Street) in Oakland township commencing at a point on the Temescal Road (The Peralta Road) on the line between the land of Joshua Hathaway and F. K. Shattuck, running westerly along between the land of H. A. Hathaway and Shattuck, Walker and Robertson, Randell, and Connolly, and terminating on the San Pablo Road on the line of H. M. Randall. Aligned from the north end of the Shattuck property to the mouth of Strawberry Creek, or Jacobs' wharf, Addison Street was to be Berkeley's first modern roadway.

For those in and about Berkeley in those days, the north south traffic continued to use San Pablo Road on the west side, the Temescal, or Peralta Road on the east, and even further east the established trail which ran between Simmons and Hillegass' property (Audubon Street, later College Avenue), and which intersected with the Telegraph Road (now Claremont Blvd.) at the five mile house (at Claremont and College). In 1856, these roads, which were in actuality little more than widened paths, constituted the totality of the Berkeley boulevards.

In January of 1859 a petition was submitted to the board of supervisors requesting that a road be installed that roughly conformed to the route taken by the Peralta road, but which would be laid out along the dividing line between plots 68 and 69, properties owned by Shattuck and Blake. It would run from the southern boundary of plot 79, Addison Street, south to a junction with the Peralta, or Temescal, Road. For the center of Berkeley, this would mean moving the established Peralta road a few feet west. From today's perspective, the Peralta road has been effectively erased, but remains in vestige as the present, relatively inconspicuous and abbreviated, progress of Racine Street.

After some wrangling, dissent, and alternative proposals, this route was established. It would not be actually delineated until 1876, after the railroad tracks had been installed, and just before the first buildings were built on the roadway's west side. The west side of the new roadway was owned by its primary promoters, Shattuck and Barker. Opposite the first commercial buildings was the railroad depot, occupying space that was the property of the Central Pacific Railroad. The new road would initially be called Guyot Street, which was changed to Shattuck Avenue somewhat later. This concourse was 60 feet in width, it lay west of the weed and chaparral which enclosed railroad tracks, and conformed roughly to what are today’s south bound lanes of Shattuck Ave. This road would maintain as a narrow street until the mid 1890's when the eastern, or north bound lanes would be graded and made a portion of Berkeley's main boulevard, providing for traffic on both sides of the railroad tracks. It was not until the 1890's, when "Stanford Place" on the east side of the railroad yard was created atop reclaimed swamp land, that commercial buildings were built upon the east side of the street.

In 1860, still several years away from any real inhabitation of this fairly remote portion of Oakland township, and a year after the planning of Shattuck Ave., Dwight Way was laid out. This avenue bisected the 160 acre plots of the four famous squatters, an arrangement the meaning of which would become self evident several years later. Dwight way was originally called "the Leonard road", because of Leonard's initial effort to have this enacted and the fact that his family were the only inhabitants which at that time were living in the vicinity. As originally conceived, Dwight way would extend from what is now College Ave westward to San Pablo Road.

In 1871, University Avenue was proposed and established, over the relatively minor objections of its detractors. The effect was to subordinate the Addison Street plan that was favored by the Shattuck contingent. By the time that University Avenue was laid out and graded, East Berkeley was showing the first encouraging signs of settlement.


The College Homestead Association

The first organized effort to encourage settlement of the East Berkeley community originated with the establishment of the College Homestead Tract. Trustees of the College of California, determined to attract settlement of the area proposed as the college location, contracted to purchase land immediately south of the college site, namely that land lying between Bancroft and Dwight, College and Grove. Nominally, the purpose of the Association was to help support the school by sale of residential property adjoining the Campus site. On September 1, 1864, the College Homestead Association was incorporated by the trustees and vigorously promoted by Sam Willey, then VP, financial manager, and acting President of the College. In major portion, the project was his. The remaining officers of the Association included: President; William T. Sherman, Secretary; T. B. Bigelow, Treasurer; W. C. Ralston, Trustees: Sherman, Bigelow, John Dwinelle, L. B. Benchley, Rev. E. B. Walsworth, Cyrus Palmer, and Ira P. Rankin.


William Tecumsah Sherman

William Sherman, born the 8th of February in 1820 was the son of Charles R. and Mary Hoyt Sherman, of New Lancaster, Ohio. He graduated from West Point, Class of 1840 and then, after having effectively established his military career, he married Ellen Ewing on May 1, 1850. William Sherman arrived in Monterey aboard the Lexington in 1846. Lieutenant Sherman came to San Francisco in 1847 during the American conquest, where he saw action chiefly as a surveyor. In 1849 Sherman was an observer at the Constitutional Convention.

During his military service he met Henry Turner, of Lucas, Turner, and Co., and was persuaded to consider the possibilities of a banking career in the new Bay Area. Sherman resigned from the Army in 1853 to settle in San Francisco as a partner in Turner’s banking firm. By November of that same year, Sherman was placed in charge of the San Francisco office when Turner found it necessary to return east.

When civic disturbances broke out three years later, Governor J. Neely Johnson appointed Sherman major general in charge of the state militia in hopes of putting an end to vigilante rule. He did not do especially well at this assignment, having been provided with little authority and insufficient arms for his troops. Sherman had no greater success as a banker, and his circumstances were further complicated by a wife who loathed San Francisco.

Sherman was heavily involved in the financial backing of the partners who purchased the Rancho of Domingo and Vicente Peralta, and through the Irving mortgage became a partner with an the undivided interest in that consortium. Sherman went on to purchase Berkeley property for himself, including one lot in the College Homestead Tract (NW corner of Bancroft and Bowditch). During the early stages of the Association’s business, Sherman was in the East, leading the Union Troops for President Lincoln.


William Chapman ("Billy") Ralston

William Chapman Ralston was born in 1826 in Ohio, and died in 1875 (drowned at Neptune Beach, near North Beach) in San Francisco. He came to California as agent for Garrison and Morgan of N. Y. in 1854 and founded Donohoe, Ralston & Co. with Eugene Kelley and Joseph A. Donohoe. He withdrew from that enterprise in 1864 and became involved in the founding of the College Homestead Association and the Bank of California, the latter with Darius Ogden Mills and others. He became President of the bank in 1872. By 1871 he was listed as worth something in excess of a million dollars.

In 1855 Ralston lived on Fremont Street, near Harrison, later on Tehama Street and there built a $140,000.00 Spanish house. He married Elizabeth Red Fry on May 20, 1858; they had 5 children. During the years 1868-69 Ralston spent between $700,000 and $800,000 as a lobbyist for the insurance business.

On July 9, 1868 W. C. Ralston was elected the first treasurer of the board of Regents of the University of California. On January 1, 1869 a committee was created by the Regents to serve as executive head of the University until a president could be elected. It consisted of "the professionally ruthless Samuel Butterworth, the unworldly Rev. Horacio Stebbins, and the flamboyant plunderer of the Comstock, William C. Ralston." (Stadtman, pp.41-42). Ralston was closely associated with Horace Carpentier and the Central Pacific Railroad. Ralston, H. H. Haight, J Mora Moss, and Horace Carpentier were directors of the California State Telegraph Co. which was established in 1863, and they served together in that capacity at least until 1865. Another of Ralston's companies, the Cornell Watch Company, was one of the first to relocate to Ocean View within the BLTIA Tract. He died spectacularly on August 27, 1875.


T. B. Bigelow

Nothing is known of Mr Bigelow outside of his involvement as a principal in the formation of the Oakland Bank of Savings in 1875, his signing of the charter of the College of California in 1855, and as an officer of the College Homestead Association.

By 1864 Henry Durant was clearly no longer connected with the College of California in any administrative or commercial sense, and quite minimally in any educative capacity. He had by this time become, in fact, a competitor to the College in the realm of local real estate development. While the Reverend Durant had grown to be clearly less altruistic as he continued to approach life's many opportunities, the Reverend Samuel Wiley held the faith.

From the Articles of Incorporation: "The lands to be distributed to the members of this association are a portion of a tract belonging to The College of California ... contiguous to the college site." When incorporated, the capital stock was $62,500 divided over 125 shares at $550 each. The area designated was carved into lots that were approximately 1 acre in size. At the time of incorporation, it was agreed that the association was to continue for five years. A supernally prophetic provision, for in just five years the College land would, if all went well, belong to the State of California.

In August of 1864 George Blake promised to sell to the College of California, for the College Homestead Association, a total of 40 acres, at $200 per acre. In this contract he stipulated that $6000 of the total must be paid by the first of September, 1865 and that the College would need to place $500 down. By December of 1865 the full amount had not been paid, however Blake extended the terms of the loan, adding interest to that which remained overdue.

During that same year, Hillegass and Leonard also sold 40 acres to the Association, Leonard receiving the same amount as Blake, Hillegass raising the ante to $9000 for the same total acreage. The land offered by Hillegass and Leonard was purchased outright, with the aide of montages. Blake's property was bought piecemeal, with payments made as lots were sold. The contract with Shattuck proceeded in another direction altogether.

In the laying out of the College Homestead tract it became necessary to adjust the course of College Avenue, since in its original design it did not lay parallel to Shattuck Ave, forming in its course an uneven Eastern boundary. From Dwight as far as Bancroft the roadway was shifted slightly westward. As a result College Avenue forever more jogged at Bancroft.

In September of 1865, Shattuck pledged to the College of California the same amount of land, but added stipulations that would eventually lead to the termination this contract. Shattuck demanded that he receive $1,000 on account immediately up front, the selling price was to be $200 per acre, he accepted their promissory note dated October 1, 1865 for $7,000.00, and he noted that it would be due in one year of that date or the Association would forfeit the deal and the grand. No grace period was permitted. The interest would be calculated at 1% per month. On May 17, 1871, after several inevitable delays that were patiently tolerated by the seller, the College and F. K. Shattuck canceled their agreement to transfer ownership of this tract of land. Almost immediately, Shattuck sold the same parcel of land to James Barker. The College Homestead tract, on this account, would extend only as far west as Shattuck Avenue.

It is likely that the Association failed to meet Shattucks deadline because land sales were initially quite poor. There were early sales of the Homestead property, almost exclusively to the principles in the association or their immediate business associates. After this initial flurry in which what were thought to be the choice parcels were snapped up, business dropped off severely.

The plans and aspirations of the College of California struggled along until the State agreed to purchase the property and locate the State University on this site. This decision was aided immeasurably by the announcement by the Central Pacific Railroad to extend a spur line into Berkeley. The news of both events arrived almost simultaneously, their joint occurrence was far from coincidental.

In June of i861, the Central Pacific Railroad was formally incorporated by Collis Huntington, Mark Hopkins, Charles Crocker and Leland Stanford. Their railroad would later become the Southern Pacific.


Collis Potter Huntington

Collis Huntington was born in Connecticut, in 1821. Moving to upstate New York, he became a storekeeper from where, in 1849, he left for California with a stock of goods. In Sacramento, he and Mark Hopkins set up a store selling mining supplies. It was there that they met Theodor Judah, and learned of his plan to build a transcontinental railroad across the Sierra via Dutch Flat. Regarding this as a fundamentally good idea, Huntington along with several associates, the "Big Four", financed the survey with the help of government grants. Judah unexpectedly died in 1863 and the "Big Four" took over the railroad project entirely. Stanford, then governor of California, was made president of the railroad corporation and handler of their political matters in California. Huntington was in charge of all eastern business arrangements and matters related to federal financing. In 1890, after a financial falling out with Stanford, Huntington became president of the company. He died in 1900.


Mark Hopkins

Born on September 9, 1813 at Henderson, in upstate New York, Mark was the son of Mark and Anastasia Lukins (Kellogg) Hopkins. His grandfather's name was Moses. His brother, who would also play his role in the activities of early Berkeley, was given grandad's name. Mark left New York with another brother, Ezra Augustus, his friend Edw. H. Miller, and his cousin Wm. K. Sherwood. They arrived in San Francisco in August of 1849 after sailing around the horn. Anticipating a new culture, Mark had studied Spanish on the voyage.

On their arrival, Hopkins and Miller ran a grocery and general merchandise store in Sacramento. In 1854 Mark married his cousin, Mary Francis Sherwood Hopkins (Searles) in New York on September 20. He and his wife adopted an orphan, Timothy. Of the partners, Hopkins was the oldest, the most modest, and the first to die. He passed away in Yuma, Arizona on March 29, 1878, where he had gone for his health.


Charles Frederick Crocker

Crocker was born in Troy, New York in 1822. After mining for iron in Indiana, he went to California in 1850 to mine for gold. Unsuccessful at that, he went into store keeping (a dry goods store) in Sacramento where he became acquainted with Huntington, Hopkins and Stanford, all of them merchants. They became the "Big Four" of railroad fame.

Charles was the on-site "construction" man for the railroad while the other three tended to the books and the political logistics. Crocker is attributed with having brought Chinese laborers to California. This becomes something of an oddity in light of Stanford's anti-Chinese platform in his quest for the governorship of California. Crocker later became president of the Southern Pacific Railroad after the merger of the two companies. He was a resident of South Park, living at the corner of Fourth and Townsend Streets. He was a Regent of the University in 1893.


Leland Stanford

Stanford was born in 1824 in Watervliet (8 miles from Albany), New York. His father, Josiah, built the Albany to Schenectady R.R. in 1829. Leland became a lawyer and settled in Wisconsin in 1848 where he married Jane Lathrop. In 1852, Stanford was burned out of his office. Regarding this event an omen, he left his wife, sailed from New York and arrived in San Francisco in July, and traveled inland to join his six forty niner brothers. Together they opened a retail store in the mining country. In 1855 Stanford sent for his wife and together they set up house keeping in Sacramento.

With his position in the Central Pacific Railroad, he became one of the biggest landowners in California. Defeated in his run for governor of California in 1859 he was successful in 1861 and served from 1862 to 1863. A staunch Union supporter and a dyed-in-the-wool Republican (and founder of the State’s Republican party), Stanford was elected U. S. Senator by the state's legislature in 1885 and re elected in 1891.

In 1871 he was listed as being worth over 10 million dollars. Stanford died at Palo Alto on June 20 1893.

The Central Pacific plan was to build an overland railroad eastward from Sacramento. In January of 1862 Leland Stanford was inaugurated governor of the State of California. In October of 1862, Central Pacific Railroad stock went on sale in Sacramento. Scarcely a coincidence.

The Oakland Waterfront Co. Inc. was established as a component of the Western Pacific Railroad Co., which was a subsidiary of the Central Pacific Railroad Company. Its first trustees were H. W. Carpentier, Pres., Leland Stanford, Treasurer, Sam Merritt, VP, Lloyd Tevis, Sec., John B. Felton, and E. R. Carpentier. Within this arrangement, Carpentier became a member of the board of directors of the Central Pacific and it was generally felt that as a member of that board his voice was almost as loud as any one of the "Big Four". The Central Pacific Railroad and later Southern Pacific Railroad owned virtually all the local steam lines in Alameda County. Carpentier already had obtained exclusive rights to the Oakland waterfront.


John Brooke Felton

John Felton was born in Saugus, Mass. in 1827 and was a graduate of Harvard Universities Law School. He came to California in 1854 and joined in the founding of the San Francisco law firm of Whitcomb, Pringle, & Felton. Felton was a large man who spent lavishly and ate to excess. He has been described as "massive and leonine in physical aspect, refined and gentle in his demeanor."

Becoming disenchanted with the political climate of San Francisco, he moved himself across the Bay and settled in Oakland, very soon to be affiliated with Horace Carpentier. Here Felton played an important part in the famed "compromise of 1868" under which the Central Pacific Railroad won a large portion of the Oakland waterfront. In 1867 he was hired by the city of Oakland, with a promise of land in payment for his assistance in helping the city to recover the waterfront which had been conveyed to Carpentier 15 years earlier. Having accepted this legal responsibility, he almost immediately went into clandestine association with Carpentier. By March of 1868 Felton was on the Board of Trustees for the Oakland Waterfront Company. At this time he was also the Grand Orator of the Grand Lodge of California Masonry, a position of no little influence.

Felton was made a Regent of UC [ serving from 1868 to his death in 1877], his status changing to honorary when he was appointed, on March 23, 1868, to be the attorney to the Regents. On March 1, 1869, Felton was elected Mayor of Oakland, and was re-elected the following term. He also enjoyed a long standing association with J. Mora Moss who was involved in municipal money schemes in San Francisco. On July 31, 1873 he was appointed, with others, to serve as the executor of Francoise Pioche's estate.

John Felton died in Oakland on May 2, 1877. Widely praised, he was honored by one of the most lavish funerals in the history of Oakland. He is perhaps best known for his business, political, and social relationship with Horace Carpentier, Michael Reese, James Lick, and Samuel Merritt, all bachelors, men who had been described as "eschewing the company of women". He was for a time remembered by at least three streets which bore his name; one of which is now 63rd Street, and two in Berkeley, one of which was renamed Derby Street, the other was absorbed by the University campus, and no longer exists.

In April of 1868, with the help of John Felton, Alameda County deeded 500 acres to the Western Pacific Railroad Company through the Oakland Waterfront Company to be used as a terminal for the transcontinental railroad, along with 2 strips of land as right-of-way. This has come down as the "great Compromise of 1868". This arrangement was perhaps Carpentier's public swan song, in that it is the last time he garnished any municipal respect. This renewal of respect was due entirely to the acquisition of the Central Pacific Railroad Terminus to Oakland. Citizens were so pleased by this triumph over San Francisco that many overlooked the many past infractions of their nemesis. Along with the Carpentier brothers and Felton, for his trouble in the project, the far more corrupt Sam Merritt, then Mayor of Oakland, received a $100,000.00 lot directly behind the landing site at Washington and Clay Streets. For this he was denounced in local press but just laughed it off... after all he had the property free and clear.


Alfred Cohen

Another strange actor in the railroad scenario was Alfred Cohen. Cohen was an attorney and one of the first appointed to the Alameda County Superior Court bench. He served in that role between 1857 and 1858. Always active in the real estate trading of east bay lands, he at one time owned a 600 acre tract of Alameda County land.

Cohen was hired by a group of San Francisco lawyers to buy out the railroad. When this failed he was hired by the railroad, in 1871, to serve as their attorney. Part owner of an alternative railroad system serving portions of the Bay Area, his role appears to have been one of holding these interests for the "Big Four" rather than as a representative of its competition. It would appear that the railroad had no real competition.

In 1881 Cohen, while employed by the railroad, was hired by the City of Oakland to prosecute the railroad in its conspiracy to usurp public lands. The results of this effort were predictable. Still later, Cohen was accused of embezzling from the railroad, prosecuted for this alleged infraction he beat the rap, and was rehired by the railroad. An intriguing set of circumstances for which many details are regrettably missing.

On May 10, 1869 the transcontinental railroad was completed at Promontory Point, Utah. It was there that the Central Pacific Railroad met the Union Pacific Railroad which had built its way westward, and Leland Stanford drove the golden spike.

On September 6, 1869 the Central Pacific Railroad opened the route through San Joaquin Valley and Niles Canyon to Oakland. Now travelers would no longer need transfer to boats in Sacramento. On October 28, 1869 the Western Pacific Railroad and the San Francisco & Oakland Railroad were consolidated with L. Stanford as President. On the next day, October 29, the first locomotive rolled into town. On November 8, 1869, the first westbound transcontinental train arrived at the new depot at 7th and Broadway.

Guided by those bent on establishing a community around the new University, on April 4, 1870, Frank Shattuck, and others, petitioned for the right to establish a railway up Adeline Street to the vicinity of University Avenue. On this same day the Board of Supervisors instituted Adeline Street as a public thoroughfare, at least as far as the city limits. Railroad fever gripped the Eastbay.

On May 2, 1870 Hiram Tubbs, J. West Martin, W. A. Bray, F. K. Shattuck, W. Van Voorhies, T. LeRoy, A. J. Snyder, George M. Blake, Harry Linden, and Allen Gladding, all prominent Oakland businessmen, were granted the right to lay and operate for twenty-five years, a railroad from Fruit Vale to and upon the Twelfth-Street bridge in Oakland, as well as one on Adeline Street. The proposed line, up Adeline, failed to develop as as a route to Berkeley, as it was later decided to consider first a coastal railway which would provide service to Ocean View, as well as points north, and to run a spur line off at Emeryville as the access to Berkeley. On July 27, 1876 the first section of the Berkeley and Bay Shore Railroad was inaugurated; it ran two miles, from Oakland Point to the Willows (the 580 Interchange). By August 16, there were regular trips from the Oakland Wharf with six trains per day stopping at San Pablo Road, Alcatraz, Dwight and Emory's.

On March 10, 1876 Edward Wiard, C. M. Beaudry, G. Peladeau, Wm. O'Neal, Peter Mathews, Michael Curtis, Mary Curtis, Samuel B. and Sally McKee, A. B. Dixon, Mrs. Ann Dwyer, Mark T. Ashby, Francis K. Shattuck, C. W. Steel, D. C. Steel, H. W. Bowman, P. B. Woodward, Mrs. Mary Ann Townsend, P. Maloney, Geo. Hallett, Pliney Bartlett, P. E. Dalton, met to agree upon providing access to Berkeley along the new route up Stanford Avenue to Adeline Street, then to Shattuck Avenue, for the proposed railroad spur to Berkeley. It was expected that the various property owners along this route would be transferring portions of their property to the railroad through their elected trustees: Geo. Emory, A. S. Harmon, and J. L. Barker. Of those attending, all agreed to this donation of land except for Peter Mathews, Mary Townsend, and Peter Maloney. The agreement specified how much each person would be surrendering, for Mary Townsend and Peter Maloney, the proposed donation would absorb the majority of their property. It is not clear what stayed the consent of Peter Mathews.

On June 6, 1876 Franklin Warner deeded to the Northern Pacific Railroad Co. 1.41 acres immediately south of University Avenue and the 200 feet east of the proposed roadway (i.e., Shattuck Ave). For this the railroad paid $2000. This would be the area employed by the railroad as its Berkeley terminus, and which later would be occupied by the commercial island that separates the north and southbound traffic lanes of Shattuck between Center Street and University Avenue.

In spite of the several objections made to the railroad plan, on August 16, 1876 the first train pulled into the Center Street Station, arriving from the Oakland Wharf. Steam train service had been established to Berkeley. The train went only so far as Center Street and almost immediately efforts were put forth to extend service north to Vine Street.

On January 15, 1877 the main line of the Central Pacific Railroad from Shellmound St. to Delaware St. in West Berkeley was opened, completing the transportation link between San Francisco and Ocean View.

On May 29, 1878, Daniel Fraser, David Irwin, T. S. Ewing, Wm. Lumbard, Wm. Holland, Isaac Brock, and Hugh M. Howell, property owners in the small settlement to the north of the campus, deeded to Henry Berryman the necessary land making possible the railroad extension north of University Avenue and the erection of a passenger depot at the new terminus, which was to be located immediately north of Vine Street. Their offer constituted a strip 20 feet wide beginning 130 feet from the center of Rose St. and going south along the east side of Shattuck Ave., 530 feet to Vine St.

Such were the results of efforts which, in their incipient stages a decade prior, encouraged the State to select the Berkeley site of the College of California as the first home of the State University. With the announcement of the selected location, the sales of home sites increased dramatically and the actual settlement of East Berkeley began in earnest. While train service would not begin for another eight years, the news was sufficient to inspire confidence in the Berkeley project. Meanwhile, with the assurance that a University would actually be opening on the proposed site and the Central Pacific Railroad still several years away, efforts were made to provide a more ready transportation link with Oakland.

On May 22, 1871 a petition to install railroad up Broadway and then out University Street to Audubon St (both now College Avenue) to the University site was filed with the county board of supervisors by Edw. Tompkins (of Jones, Tompkins, and Strode), T. J. Murphy (Antisell), and R. E. Houghton. Their petition was granted on June 19, 1871 but never implemented. On that same day, the County supervisors received a second petition from Henry Durant and James B. Woolsey for the right to construct a railroad up Telegraph Road to the crossing of Temescal Creek (at what is now Claremont Ave), thence overland to and up Choate (beginning then at Dwight Way) as far as Bancroft Way. Two months later Durant's railroad plan had been approved and was assigned to the Oakland Railroad Company. By mid April, 1872, while the new University buildings were under construction, Durant's Oakland Railroad was completed. The horse drawn "bobtail" cars connected Oakland, via Temescal, with the new campus at the end of Choate (Telegraph) at Allston Way. In November of 1877 the Oakland Railroad Company was authorized to operate their road with a dummy (steam) engine in lieu of horses. Authorization was granted on the proviso that its operation remained beyond the city limits.

With the promise of the State's presence, and the very real likelihood that all of the College Homestead Tract property would be sold, a new tract was opened by the trustees in May of 1868, this one imaginatively named the Berkeley Properties. This land, sold in larger and more expensive parcels, covered the area east of the Homestead Tract (the up-hill side of College Ave.) and about as far north as the present site of the Greek Theater. It extended as far south as the already established site of the School for the Deaf and Blind. These select properties were sold to a number of prominent people whose intention, if not to occupy this property, would be to sell it to the University at a later date at a substantial profit. In many instances, a profound elitism described the course of events. Illustrative of this is the fact that even the Reverend Samuel Willey, father of the College Homestead Association, when he selected his own homesite, located himself upon one in the Berkeley Property tract. His home was located just east of College Avenue, on the north side of Dwight Way.

The promise of the railroad clearly led the way for the State's decision on the Berkeley site. Their interest in Berkeley had already been indicated in their decision, a year prior to the University decision, to move the School for the Deaf, Dumb, and Blind from San Francisco to the East Bay. Selecting land that had been owned by John Kearney, they purchased the property (now the Clark Kerr Campus) in February of 1867 and laid the cornerstone for their first building in September of that same year. Mr Kearney's plans to farm his land were quickly abandoned, and his income considerably augmented by the profit realized in this sale.

While the College Homestead Association struggled to sell lots within their tract south of Bancroft Way, Durant focused upon his two major Berkeley developments, Villa Lots to the South, and Villa Lots to the West. The former occupied the property north of Bancroft Way, which included the business block of Telegraph Avenue between Bancroft and Allston Ways, as well as a tract of predominantly residential properties, an area that is now occupied by the curve in Oxford Street, the University Track Field, the New Athletic Complex, the Unitarian Church, Zellerbach Hall, Sproul Plaza, and Sproul Hall. In this endeavor he had the assistance of his partner, Samuel Merritt.


Samuel Merritt

Sam Merritt was born in Harpswell, Cumberland County, Maine, on March 30, 1822. Sam was the youngest of his parent’s three children; his father died when he was thirteen. Sam entered Bowdoin College, in Brunswick, Maine at the age 18 and graduated a Doctor of Medicine when he was 22. From his college days, he established what would be a long lasting friendship with Daniel Webster.

Five years after his graduation, he purchased a vessel of about 140 tons, loaded a general cargo, and set sail on November 28, 1849. He put into Rio and Valparaiso, spent a week at each port, and arrived in San Francisco on the fifth of May, 1850. His first days in San Francisco were occupied in his role of physician, however his activities soon veered from his chosen profession which he was not known to practice thereafter.

Sam sold his stock and chartered a brig, The Kendall, at $800.00 a month, to run between San Francisco and Humboldt Bay. He soon profited greatly in this trade with the Northwest. In January of 1852 he was elected to his seat in the State Legislature, becoming an assemblyman from Mariposa County. His tenure overlapped with that of Horace Carpentier, beginning what would become a fast and long relationship, both public and private.

In May of 1852 Merritt purchased land on the shore of what would become Lake M

erritt, spending $6,000.00 to do so. Following his year in state politics, Merritt returned to Maine for a time in May of 1853 and had two ships built. He returned to San Francisco in January of the following year. In 1854, Sam Merritt built a wharf and warehouse on the east side of the lake near the beginning of East 11th Street. At that location he sold sand, brick, and lumber. At this point his political interests took him across the Bay to San Francisco.

He became an active member of the Vigilance Committee in 1856 and was elected a supervisor for the 5th Ward in San Francisco. However, in 1858 his interests again changed, and he went east again and traveled for two years through the U. S. and Europe. He returned to Oakland in the fall of 1860.

In the sixties, besides helping to start the California Marine Mutual Insurance Co. with Casper T. Hopkins, Sam Merritt was building and trading in ships for the coast and China trade, as well as absorbing East Bay real estate. He built a home for himself in the block bordered by 14th, 15th, Jackson and Madison. This house had the first elevator in Oakland.

In 1867 he was elected to the common council of Oakland to fill a vacancy in the office of mayor (W. W. Crane had resigned), and the following year he was elected by the people to be Mayor of Oakland (1868-69) While publically identifying himself as a "foe" of Carpentier, he remained loyal to Horace and provided him the needed support, the result of which was the establishment of the Waterfront Corporation, and the location of the Central Pacific Railroad terminus in Oakland. As Mayor he oversaw the legal activities which gave the appearance of returning the waterfront to the city (through Carpentier's Oakland Waterfront Co.) and ended up himself owning a substantial chunk of it. Merritt was in fact a member of Oakland Waterfront Co., and along with Felton, the city attorney, acted ostensibly on behalf of the city to surreptitiously guarantee the goals that he held jointly with Carpentier. Felton, incidently, followed Merritt into the mayor's chair. While serving as mayor, Merritt was responsible for converting the 12th Street Bridge into the 12th Street Dam, thus creating the lake which now bears his name.

While in the mayor's chair during the year 1868, Governor Haight, a man tight with both Durant and Carpentier, appointed Merritt a regent of the new State University. He was also involved, with Albert Brayton, in the establishment of Mountain View Cemetery and in March of 1868 Merritt was instrumental in founding Oakland's Library Association.

In June of 1868, Merritt joined Durant as an owner of the Villa Lots to the South, and participated in the development of this property. When the State bought into the College of California site and sought bids for the construction of the two University buildings, Merritt successfully, but illegally, won the bid for the construction of North Hall. He had developed a reputation as a ruthless contractor, and has been described as providing free lumber in exchange for a mortgage, then acting swiftly to foreclose when the opportunity presented. Both he and Durant are on record for selling several pieces of real estate to a Mary Ann Reilly who was later found to be mentally deranged and legally incompetent. The sales persisted beyond the occasion of her commitment.

In October of 1872 the corner stone was laid for Agricultural College building (South Hall, still standing) on the new University Campus, and shortly afterward work began on the College of Letters building (North Hall, which was declared dangerous and then demolished in 1916). At the time that it was built, Merritt was serving as the Building and Grounds Committee chairman, and in defiance of what was clearly a flagrant conflict of interest: it was Merritt who provided all of the lumber and other materials employed on this construction as the owner of the lumber company which had secured the valued contracts. The lumber and supplies were later identified as being of inferior grade and yet sold as premium stock. In 1875, Merritt was censured for this activity, removed from his role as regent, and told to pay back his profit. As would be expected, he claimed that he had earned only a modest sum. Beyond 1875, his political career was likewise quite modest.

Merritt was one of the founders of the Oakland Bank of Savings, and remained a director until his death. However, while living, he stood six foot three weighing 340 lbs. with coal black chin whiskers. He never married. Merritt was reputed to have close "associations with other bachelors, specifically Felton and Carpentier." He owned the yacht "Casco" on which he entertained Robert L. Stevenson, also a bachelor. He died in his home in Oakland On the 17th of August, 1890, 69 years old, a victim of Diabetes. He had a sister, Mrs. Catharine Garcelon who established the hospital in his name.

During the period for construction of North and South Halls, the building crew occupied the small hotel built in 1872 which occupied the site where the Student Union now stands. This hotel became the first Berkeley residence for the entering class in 1873 when the two classroom buildings were occupied for the first time. Around this hotel grew up the early commercial neighborhood serving the few students, school employees, and faculty. As a result of the traffic generated by this early focus of activity, as well as by the horse car which Durant arranged to have arrive at the campus via this same location, the initially conceived Dana Street gate to the University never materialized as what was planned to be the school's main entrance. The Dana Street plan was dramatically illustrated by the early rush to purchase the lots fronting on this Street when they lots first went on sale by the College Homestead Association. The original owners of those lots describe a veritable who's who of the local power of those days. Neither Dana Street nor Telegraph Avenue were at the time conceived as having commercial potential, and their use was characteristically for well appointed, large, fashionable homes fronting each upon a pleasant avenue. Because of both usage and further planning, it would be Telegraph that later would realize its full commercial potential. Since the early 1960's, Dana Street north of Bancroft Way has virtually ceased to exist, while Sather Gate remains the grand portal to the University Campus.

Durant's other campus property, the Villa Lots to the West, occupied that area which extends from Shattuck Avenue to Oxford Street, University Avenue to Hearst Street. While there are records of modest sales (including the corner property at University and Shattuck, which Durant sold to John Acheson in September of 1874, and upon which the first downtown hotel was erected two years later in time to serve the convenience of railroad travelers) this tract would soon be managed by Sam Penwell who acquired it from the estate of Henry Durant.

While engaged in the Villa Lots promotion, Henry was also buying up directly, and through his associates, the northern end of the Blake property as well as the property just north of Blake, the Terminal Tract. This portion of Berkeley represents the block between Shattuck and Oxford, University and Addison, Henry's share of the Pioche donation. While active in this trading, there would be no development or real occupancy of these properties for yet another 20 years, long after Henry was gone. Still, it was clear that Durant’s real estate acumen was exceptional, and with the interest shown the scene was being set for the center of town, the major commercial development which would surround the railroad station at Center Street.

[Chapter 07] -[Chapter Index] - [Chapter 09]

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