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CHURCHES.—-Martinez boasts at present three places of worship for the Episcopals, Congregational and Roman Catholic denominations, all of them neat buildings with comparatively large congregations, considering the size of the place. The first to establish a church in Martinez were the Romanists, of which we append a few remarks, there being no actual history of the edifice extant:—
Roman Catholic CHURCH.—The first services of this body were held in a building built in 1849 by Judge Brown, Warren Brown and N. B. Smith as a store, and is now used as a barn by Mrs. Bent. Here they worshipped for some time, and afterwards laid the foundation for a more pretentious edifice to be constructed of adobe near the railroad tank, but which was never completed. In 1855, or thereabouts, a church was erected on the northeast corner of the lot now occupied by the residence of Dr. Carothers, but on this being blown down in or about I860, the present building was put up.
Grace Church, Martinez, (protestant Episcopal).—The history of the Protestant Episcopal Church in Martinez is inseparably connected with that of Benicia, whither as early as 1854, and for years after, members of the church were wont to cross the Straits of Carquinez and proceed. The first clergyman of the church known to have officiated in Benicia was the Rev. D. J. Moore, although services had been held there by Major Townsend, U. S. A., as far back as September 24, 1854. The second clergyman was Rev. Orange Clarke, who came to California as Chaplain to the U. S. Marine Hospital, who, although unconnected with any parish as Rector, rendered his services at different points, as needed. This is the first clergyman of the church known to have held services in Martinez, and was during the Winter 1854-5. The next occasional officiating clergyman was Rev. Elijah W. Hager, Chaplain U. S. N. To the gentleman who first had charge of St. Paul's Church, Benicia, as Rector (1858), the church in Martinez is also indebted, but to none does it owe more of its early growth than to the Rev. James Cameron, who had charge of St. Paul's parish from 1860 to I860. He officiated in the Methodist Church in Martinez very frequently, and during his incumbency Mr. J. Williams, of Martinez, who had been Junior Warden and Vestryman of St. Paul's, and Mr. Samuel Gray, of Benicia, acted as Lay Readers alternately in this place. In November, I860, Mr. Cameron was succeeded by Rev. Henry G. Perry, who from that time also officiated at Martinez. Here he established a Sunday-school, procured for it a new library, and supplied it with catechisms. He found also that plans and specifications for a church had been prepared with a view to building, the occasional services being still held in the Methodist House of Worship. The communicants, however, remained attached to St. Paul's Church, Benicia, where the Eucharist was regularly administered to them, they crossing the Straits for that purpose.
On February 3, 1867, Martinez was visited by the Right Rev. Bishop Kip, who preached in the Methodist church. On October 9, 1867, the Pacific Associate Mission was organized in the Church of the Holy Communion, New York, by Revs. James Lloyd Breck, D. D., and John A. Merrick, D. D., Priests; and Revs. E. C. Cowan, B. D., and James H. Smith, Deacons. They reached San Francisco November 3d, and San Jose on the following day, and immediately commenced their work of education and missions. The missionary field was apportioned into eight stations, of which Martinez was one; the Rev. Mr. Perry transferring his church work at this juncture (1868) to their care. In January, 1868, they removed to Benicia, where they founded the Missionary College of St. Augustine, and from that point as a center carried on their missionary work. The first known administration of the Holy Eucharist at Martinez was by them, on Easter Sunday, 1868, nine communicants being present, besides the missionaries. The members of St. Augustine's College, under the supervision of the Rev. Dr. Breck, Dean, continued their care of the mission at Martinez through the year 1869-70; the work being first under the charge of Rev. E. P. Gray, Professor of Literature and Interpretation of Scripture. At this time considerable earnestness seems to have been aroused among the members of the church in the village, and during the year 1869, through the exertions of certain ladies of the congregation, money was raised, and the church building was begun and completed. The plans were furnished by Rev. Mr. Gray, and he superintended its erection. The work was commenced the last of July or beginning of August, and finished early in October. The entire cost of the church was seventeen hundred and fifty dollars. Soon after the completion of the church Mr. Gray gave place to Rev. E. C. Cowan, Headmaster of St. Augustine's Grammar School, who continued in charge until the Spring of 1870. Yet, until May, 1870, the communicants at Martinez had not severed their connection with St. Paul's, Benicia, Dr. Breck's parish. In January, 1870, by the advice of Rev. Dr. Breck, the church property was deeded in trust to the Bishop of the Diocese and his successor in office. On Sunday, July 10, 1870, Grace Church, Martinez, was consecrated by the Right Rev. William Ingraham Kip, D. D., he being assisted in the services by Revs. Dr. Breck and E. C. Cowan. The request for consecration was read by Mr. C. C. Swain, and the sentence of consecration by Rev. Mr. Cowan, who had been the last missionary in charge. During the visit the Bishop appointed Judge Thomas A. Brown and C. C. Swain trustees to take charge of the church property. On June 10, 1870, the constitution of St. Augustine's College at Benicia had been so changed that the theological and college departments were suspended. Dr. Breck and his associates in the Theological School resigned, and the Associate Mission came to an end. The connection of Rev. J. A. Merrick, D. D. with the college and mission being thus severed, August 24, 1870, he took
pastoral charge of the new parish of Grace Church, Martinez, now for the first time become wholly independent of the church in Benicia. Dr. Merrick continued his charge only to the beginning of the year 1871, when failing health obliged him to resign.
From February 1 to July 1, 1871, Rev. Wm. Benet was engaged to act as missionary; but from the time of his departure no services were held in the church until March, 1872, when arrangements were made by Dr. Breck, by which either he, or Rev. William P. Tucker supplied the place as they were able, or Mr. H. W. Taylor acted as Lay Reader. This arrangement continued for a year and a half, the duty for the most part falling upon Mr. Tucker, at that time Rector of St. Augustine's College. In October, 1873, the Bishop sent Rev. Henry B. Monges, Deacon, to take charge of the parish. Mr. Monges gave his services to the church from that time until August, 1878, when he resigned the parish into the hands of the Bishop, but still, at the Bishop's request, kept up services for over a year more. During his charge a tower was erected, and a bell procured, at a cost of nearly six hundred dollars; a new organ and a new carpet for the church were bought and over two hundred volumes were given by his personal friends to the Sunday School Library. May 13, 1880, Rev. James Abercrombie, D. D., the present incumbent, then residing in Los Angeles, having removed there after resigning the rectorship of Trinity Church, Santa Barbara, at the solicitation of the Bishop entered upon the rectorship of the parish. During his ministry, two handsome chandeliers were early presented to the church by Mr. Josiah Sturges, a handsome altar, the joint offering of the Rector and Mr. Byron Brown was in the chancel on Thanksgiving' Day, November 24, 1881, and on Christmas Day, a beautiful Prayer Desk and Seat, offerings of Hon. Elam Brown, were therein placed. On New Year's Day, 1882, a Memorial Chancel Window to the Rev. James Lloyd Breck, D. D., founder of the parish, and made by Edward Colgate, of New York, was in place, together with a small side window by the same artist. The-following, from The Living Church of January 28, 1882, is a description of the Memorial: "The window is a triplet six and a half feet by ten feet. The central figure is the Good Shepherd, with a countenance, as has been remarked, with much truth, of ' beautiful and tender expression.' Above is a descending dove, surmounted to the right and left by Alpha and Omega. Below is the I. H. S. On either side are the symbols of the four gospels, and of the Holy Eucharist; and at the base is 'In Memoriam, Rev. James Lloyd Breck, D. D. Died March 30th, 1876.' The design is most appropriate, and the coloring and effect of the whole admirable and elegant." A convenient and expressive Prothesis was soon after provided. Easter Sunday, April 9, 1882, the congregation found the redwood walls and open roof of the church becomingly tinted, with the timbers left the natural color, also a Stone Font, an offering of the Youth of the parish. On the Altar, too, was an exquisite metal Cross and Vases made by R. Geissler, of New York. Early in this year all arrangements were completed in the obtaining of the corner lot contiguous to that whereon is the church, the intention being to move this to the central line; accordingly trees have been planted in the new acquisition.
Congregational Church, Martinez.—A congregation of this denomination was organized June 18,1874, in Martinez, by calling a meeting. The first resident pastor was the Rev. W. S. Clark, who was succeeded, in 1875, by Rev. E. B. Tuttle, who had pastoral care of the congregation for four years. During his charge the neat little building formerly owned and occupied by the Methodist Episcopal body was purchased, and in it services have ever since been held. In 1879 Mr. Tuttle was succeeded by Rev. John Hooper, who at the expiration gave place to Rev. A. Drahms, the present minister, in January, 1881. The Church is entirely free from debt, the building is in good condition, and the society numbers forty-five members.
SCHOOLS.—The first school in Martinez was taught by that worthy pioneer, B. R. Holliday, but it was many years before any permanent building was erected for that purpose. In 1858 it was complained that there was no good school kept open during the year, but the matter would appear to have remained in abeyance until 1872, when, during the month of October, the Martinez School District raised by tax the sum of three thousand dollars for the purpose of building a schoolhouse, which for twenty years and more they had been in want of. To this end, under the presidency of Hon. C. B. Porter, a meeting of the citizens of Martinez was held October 12, 1872, to consider what measures should be taken to provide the district with a suitable school building. On the 16th, the meeting, having been adjourned to that date, Mr. Fowler submitted a plan of a four-room building, two stories high, forty by eighty feet on the ground, to cost a sum not exceeding six thousand dollars; but nothing more was then done than the appointment of a committee to ascertain upon what terms a loan of three or four thousand dollars could be obtained. On October 19th they reported that the last named sum could be borrowed at twelve per cent, per annum, payable semi-annually, the principal to be paid in installments of not less than one thousand dollars at any time after one, and within a term of four, five and six years, as might be agreed upon. On November 23d the trustees invited bids for furnishing materials and erecting a public schoolhouse, seventy-two by thirty-two feet, with central hall and tower, a projection front and rear twelve by twenty feet, cross-roofed with the body of the building which is to be surmounted with a cupola and belfry. The bid of Burrell & Co., of Oakland, for six thousand, nine hundred and forty dollars was duly accepted and work commenced, the whole being completed early in 1873.
The public school at Martinez is a building worthy of any metropolis. The main body of the house is seventy-two by thirty-two feet, with full height, central tower or stair hall fifteen by twenty-five feet, and rear central stair hall fifteen by twenty feet. The .structure rests on a solid brick foundation, sunk two feet below the ground, rising a foot and a half above the surface. The cupola, crowning it at a height of sixty feet above the ground, has a twelve-foot square base, supporting a belfry curving into a square of five feet at the crown around which is an iron railing with curved braces from the angles supporting the rod of the weather-vane. Each of the four fine school-rooms are lighted by six large windows. The upper stair halls afford rooms for school apparatus, library, etc. The building is located near the center of the valley village, in full view of the Straits of Carquinez and Benicia, and in the shadow of lofty hills.
The Gazette of July 5, 1873, says: "For the purpose of securing the required funds—about one thousand dollars—to fence handsomely, lay out, grade and embellish with trees and shrubbery, the school block and the block adjacent, set apart and dedicated as a public square, the people of Martinez propose instituting a series of public entertainments, which will include amateur dramatic representations, socials, lectures, festivals, concerts and school exhibition exercises, and such other various attractions as will offer to the people a pleasant inducement to contribute their money for the accomplishment of a plan of public improvements which they all heartily desire." "The best laid plans 'mongst mice and men gang aft agley." The "hearty desire " may still remain—so does the square, still public, but, to wandering cattle and grunting porkers!
NEWSPAPERS.—There are two newspapers published in Martinez, both of which have a considerable circulation throughout the county, and which are conducted with much editorial skill. Below we give full histories of each.
The Contra Costa Gazette, from the files of which a large and interesting portion of the matter compiled in this history is derived, was the first newspaper published in Contra Costa county. Its first issue appeared on the 8th day of September, 1858. It is now consequently near the close of its twenty-fourth year, and has never missed its regular publication day, although the earthquake of October 21,1868, made a wreck of the brick building at Pacheco, in the second story of whicli its office was located, and obliged a hasty temporary removal of the press and sufficient type for getting out the paper to the ground floor of a vacant frame structure. The continual recurrence of more or less startling "tremblous" during forty-eight hours after the great shock rendered it perilous to remain in the shattered building, and very difficult to procure sufficient help that would incur the risk involved in removal of the press and necessary office material from it. Again, in