« PreviousContinue »
deep. In the year 1856, Mr. Fernandez erected a warehouse, which stood where now is the railroad depot, and in it, in partnership with H. Cruz, opened a store, or trading post. At the same time he constructed two small wharves, one thirty feet in length by twenty in width, and the other twenty feet long and eight feet wide. There was eight feet of water at the end of each. One of these wharves has disappeared; that last mentioned has, in the intervening years, been from time to time extended, until to-day it has attained a length of two thousand three hundred feet, yet with this extension, in like ratio, so has the depth of water decreased, for, as an absolute fact, at the extremity of this jetty which in 1856, when only twenty feet in length, and where was found water eight feet deep, twentysix years later only the same depth is to be found at more than half a mile from shore.
The original warehouse as constructed in 1856, was one hundred by twenty feet in dimensions, and served its purpose until partially carried away by a freshet, on January 4, 1862, destroying a large quantity of grain stored therein. From time to time, Mr. Fernandez has added to his property at Pinole. At the present writing he has four excellent warehouses, with a capacity of storing one hundred thousand sacks of grain, his entire premises covering fully five acres.
In 1861 he severed his connection in the store with Mr. Cruz, since when he has maintained that trade on his own account.
About a quarter of a mile from the depot and the store of Mr. Fernandez, is the blacksmith and carriage shop of Messrs. Boyd and Fraser, surrounded by a few buildings, all presenting a neat and thrifty appearance.
Situated as Pinole is, at the mouth of the rich and beautiful valley of the same name, with such facility of access, proximity to San Francisco, on the pebbly beach of the San Pablo Bay, there is no reason why the little hamlet should not, in the near future, become a favorite location for suburban residences, desirable building sites in the neighborhood being plenty and capable of high improvements.
Hercules Powder Works.—These works are situated in the vicinity of Pinole station, and like those of the "Vulcan," have had their share of accidents. A terrific explosion occurred January 11, 1882, at 11:55 o'clock, A. M., in the mixing house of the Hercules Powder Works, at Pinole Station, which is about eighteen miles north of Oakland. The shock was perceptible at Oakland, and the cause was at once attributed to the blowing up of one of the powder works north of the City. Twenty minutes after the calamity, a telephone dispatch announced that the explosion had occurred at the Hercules Powder Works which are located half a mile northeast of Pinole Station. The buildings were erected in a series of gullies and ravines. In the first were the acid works, in the second were the mixing and" packing houses, and in the third was the magazine, so that in the event of an explosion in any one, the others would escape injury. The cause of the trouble was the explosion of the steam chest in the mixing-house. There were twenty-five white men and twenty-five chinamen employed in that building, and just as soon as they perceived evidences of trouble, they all ran for dear life. When the works went up, they were all outside, making tracks for a place of safety. The concussion exploded fifteen hundred pounds of powder, and several boxes in the packing-houses adjoining; the flying timbers killed one chinaman, and injured two others. The windows of all the dwellings in the vicinity of the place were also blown out. In the residence of the Superintendent, E. Scott, there was not even half a pane of glass left. Only one white person was in any manner hurt, and he received a cut from a flying piece of glass. The big still at the acid house, which cost fifteen thousand dollars, was entirely uninjured. The damage amounted to about twenty-five hundred or three thousand dollars. The works had only been up about five or six months. The body of the defunct celestial was taken in charge by the Coroner. The mongolians would not approach it, and would not suffer its removal to their quarters, and it was temporarily deposited in an adjoining warehouse. At San Rafael, the houses were shaken by the concussion, as if by an earthquake, and in Oakland the shock was so severe as to cause many, apprehending danger from an earthquake, to run out of their houses. In Livermore, the shock was distinctly felt, and was attributed to an earthquake. Another chinaman since died, the others received injuries, but not beyond a few bruises and cuts.
SAN PABLO.—This village derives its name from the Rancho granted to Don Francisco Castro in 1823, and is one of the earliest settlements in the county. It is not authenticated who the actual first foreign settler in the place was. The residence of the Castros was the same as that lately occupied by Governor Juan B. Alvarado, who died there on July 13, 1882, aged seventy-three years and five months.
Governor Alvarado moved to San Pablo in 1849. He owned the greater portion of the large San Pablo Rancho, numbering thousands of acres, extending south from the bay of that name to about what is now the Alameda county line. Many claimants have appeared for the land and contested the ownership. Gradually acres have been relinquished, until at present only about fifty acres remain about the homestead. There is an important suit of Joseph Emeric vs. the Alvarados at present before the Supreme Court, and it was thought that a decision would be rendered on Saturday, July 15th, the day of the defendant's burial. The Emeries have a large place in the village, and are now among the principal land-holders.
The homestead of the Alvarados at San Pablo is one of the oldest and most picturesque in the State. It was built about 1838, and was on the property at the time it was purchased by ex-Governor Alvarado. It is about a mile and a half from the railroad station. A winding country road leads to the place, through hay-fields most of the way, and stops abruptly in front of the romantic old house. At present the house stands about thirty feet back from the road. Formerly it stood alone in the center of the large Rancho. But now there are about its few acres the houses of the villagers, and directly opposite the old vine-covered house is the village saloon. The house is one-story in height, and is built of adobe. It is long and low, after the manner of old Californian houses. Across the outer front, about one hundred feet wide, and around the northern side and rear, is a broad porch. Over this grapevines and climbing roses trail in the wildest disorder, running up to the roof on the moss-covered stringers, and trying to force an entrance to the low windows. The walls are about two feet thick at one end of the house. On the outside is a stairway which leads to the attic above. Huge roof joists of hewn timber project at. both ends of the house, and support the broad eaves. Many improvements were made when purchased by the Alvarados. The adobe walls were covered with clap-boards, and the interior was improved in many ways. The entire yard is overrun with shrubbery and flowering plants. Over the front path and winding walks about the house are low arbors covered with grapevines. Traces of former taste and care are visible in the arrangement of the yard, but now weeds and thistles are among the flowers, and a general appearance of ruin and neglect is about the entire place. Near the house is an old orchard of many hundred bearing trees. In the rear are old sheds and yards for poultry, and near by is the stable with tumble-down " lean-to's" about it.
The funeral ceremonies of the Roman Catholic Church were celebrated by Rev. Father Cummins, who is in charge of the San Pablo Mission. On the coffin were a few simple floral offerings, and at the head lay a cross of tea roses. The church is a plain little affair, and the ceremony was much simpler than is usual in the Catholic Church, the priest having only one assistant. A high mass was said, and at the head of the coffin the absolution with the requiescat in pace was repeated, accompanied by sprinkling of holy water over the coffin. In the chancel, under a picture of Christ, six candles in brass candlesticks were burning at the side of a small crucifix. The Latin services were read and recited in a low monotone, while the small assemblage of villagers listened in respectful silence.
At one time in his life the deceased was a regular attendant at the little church, and during his lifetime was the priest's helper in many charitable works. He gave the parish several acres, on which the present church building and the school house and priest's residence are now standing.
We are informed by William H. Martin, who came to the State in Stevenson's famous regiment, that when he first saw San Pablo there was a store, kept by Weatherby & Poole, where now the Union Saloon stands, while John Proviso kept a like establishment on the opposite side of the street, which had, however, been first opened by a Chileno, whose name is now forgotten. In 1855, a hotel was conducted by Peck & Dohrmann, and known as the San Pablo Hotel. This was an adobe house, and stood next to the site now occupied by the above-mentioned saloon. John Galvin lived where his widow now resides.
On December G, 1860, a meeting was held in the village for the purpose of organizing a joint-stock company to purchase a steamer, to run daily between San Pablo and San Francisco as a ferry-boat. On August 14, 1864, the new Catholic church was dedicated to St. Paul by Archbishop Allemany, the cost of the church being three hundred dollars.
To-day San Pablo is a quiet little town about twenty miles from San Francisco, with which it is connected by the Bay Shore Line of the Central Pacific. It is situated on the San Pablo Flat, about five miles from the bay. Around the railroad station are a few scattered houses, and farther east, nearer the ridge of hills, is a small group of houses in the neighborhood.of the Alvarado place. The country is comparatively level, having a slight slope toward the water.
The place and vicinity is not in a very flourishing condition, owing hitherto chiefly to the unsettled condition of land titles. It is hoped, however, that, owing to recent litigation, such may be at an end. No settler, although he may have resided on the land for many years, cares to expend much in the way of improvements until his title is perfected. The moment this difficulty is finally settled, San Pablo will improve rapidly, as its nearness by rail to San Francisco makes it a desirable location. Now the village has few good buildings, the Roman Catholic Church and school property being the best. Here they have had an organization ever since the country was settled. There is also a Baptist Church in San Pablo, a commodious and well-appearing building.
Vulcan Powder Works.—This establishment is situated near Stege Station, on the San Pablo Raucho, where the company has extensive works and several buildings, established about three years ago. No less than three disastrous explosions have occurred on the premises, but the last has been the most terrific and lamentable. The tale of the harrowing accident is as follows: At ten o'clock on the morning of March 27, 1882, the Vulcan Powder Works was running in full operation, engaged in making bank blasting powder, technically known as " BB " powder. There were two large buildings, which are entirely destroyed. In a two-story building, known as the main building, in which the operation of granulating was conducted, the mixing was carried on and the engines were located. The other building was the dry room. This was a large frame structure about sixty by fifty feet, and forty feet high. An important addition was building to the dry room at the time of the tragic accident. The two buildings were separated and some distance apart, but a wooden elevator ran from the main building to that used for drying purposes. At five minutes past ten o'clock a fire broke out in the jig in the granulating room. The small amount of powder there blazed in an instant, and the fire was communicated to the wood work adjoining. A stream of fire rushed along the elevator to the dry room, in which three tons of powder were stored. When the fire reached this there was no loud report noticed at the works, and there seemed to be no concussion. No windows were broken, even in the houses within two hundred yards. The dry house was blown apart in an instant, wounding and killing the men engaged there. The main building did not fall until after the dry room had gone. A small building used as an ofiice was also consumed. The officers at the Powder works call particular attention to the fact that the devastation was caused by a fire, and not by an explosion. There were five white men and six Chinamen killed. Four white men were injured. Following is a list of the killed. George Stansfield, engineer; Lamb (initials supposed to be H. C.), was a carpenter of Temescal, working on the improvements to the dry house; L. W. Starr, a carpenter at work in the dry house; Thomas Mills, a carpenter at work in the dry house; Stewart, first name unknown, reported as a general assistant at the works.
Following are the men injured: Gottlieb Koch, carpenter at work on dry house, was wounded in the neighborhood of the liver, not thought to be serious. W. B. Dales, foreman of the BB works, was fearfully burned about the face and head. Dales may not be fatally injured, but it is impossible to tell at this time the result. Peter Schafer, a carpenter, has severe and probably fatal injuries to the spine. He lives on Twenty-sixth street, between Mission and Howard, San Francisco, and has a wife and two children. Ferris, first name unknown, a carpenter and partner of Lamb, was severely burned, and has internal injuries. The body of the engineer, Stansfield, was lying face downward, near the door of the main building. The clothing was entirely burned from the upper part of the body. The lower limbs were distorted terribly. The face was badly burned, and a string of clotted blood hung from the lifeless lips. Men who were at work on the dry room when the fire occurred were probably killed by the fall. The bodies of Lamb and Starr were lying in the Pound, burned and blackened so that identification by any marks of feature or countenance was impossible. The bodies were recognized by the remnants of clothihg, and by the position in which they were found. Starr is brother-in-law of the Superintendent of of the works, 0. B. Hardy. The six Chinamen fell in the midst of the flames, and when the fire had burned over nothing but skeletons remained. Every trace of clothing, skin and flesh was gone. Lamb, whose name is Horace C., is a resident of Temescal, and a very well-known builder. His