History of San Lorenzo, California

Eden Township - 1877

Editor's Note

The text here is from Official and Historical Atlas Map of Alameda County, Oakland: Thompson & West, 1878. County atlases in the late nineteenth century were partially vanity publications. They were published on an advance subscription basis, with more affluent property owners paying additional money to have pictures of their homes and farms included.

The history contained in these county atlases typically relied heavily on the personal recollections of oldtimers, with little verification through systematic research. Nevertheless, the real value of these atlases was (and is) the plat maps, which were carefully drawn and show the names of property owners throughout the county, the locations of schools and churches, etc.

Present-day Hayward was originally called Haywards.

Eden Township
San Leandro, Haywards, San Lorenzo, and Mount Eden


The area of this township is about sixty thousand acres, much of which is mountainous and unfit for agricultural purposes, but suitable for grazing.

Upon the bay front there is a wide margin of salt marsh, through which numerous navigable sloughs take their tortuous way.

The topographical features of this township are similar to those of the valley in general -- marsh lands skirting the bay, a highly productive valley, from two to four miles in width, rising to the eastward into the foothills and mountains of the Contra Costa Range.

The San Leandro Creek separates this from Brooklyn Township, and the San Lorenzo Creek traverses it about midway between its eastern and western boundaries.

Smaller streams flow from the mountains at different points, thus rendering a supply of water adequate in any but years of drouth.

The climate is substantially like that of the western slope of the coast range throughout the valley, with perhaps a slight exception in its favor over the country swept by winds direct from the Golden Gate. At all events such is the state of climate and soil that Eden, in the department of horticulture, stands pre-eminent among the townships of the county.

The general settlement of this township was somewhat later than that of its neighbor, Washington, but having commenced was more rapid.

The better portion of the valley was covered by three Mexican grants, conveyed respectively to Jose Joaquin Estudillo, Francisco Soto, and Jose Jesus Vallejo. The Rancho de San Lorenzo, granted to Guillermo Castro, comprised about twenty-seven thousand acres, and included the present town of Haywards and what is designated on the maps as Castro Valley.

Upon the advent of the American settlers these grants were occupied by their respective owners. Estudillo, at or prior to 1837, settled upon the Rancho de San Leandro, his adobe residence being near the creek, and not far from the town of San Leandro.

Castro and Soto were neighbors, and lived near Haywards. Vallejo resided at the Mission San Jose.

The lives of these landed proprietors, like those of their race and occupation everywhere throughout the province, were passed in Arcadian tranquillity, until the flood of American pioneers encroached upon their domains, and harassed them with trespasses and vexatious lawlessness.

The valleys and hillsides were covered with their cattle, while their habits and customs were such that their wants were few and the means of gratification abundant. The Indians, though numerous, were friendly, and many were gathered about the owners of the ranchos, being employed in various capacities.

There were several rancherias in the township -- one near the County Infirmary and others on the San Leandro and San Lorenzo Creeks. A few scattered remnants of the once-populous tribes were living here as late as 1859.

The excellent opportunities afforded by the sloughs and marshes of the township for killing game was the inducement that brought hither the first settlers of Eden Township. Wild geese, ducks, and curlew were very abundant, and commanded from three to five dollars per dozen in San Francisco. With such inducements several gentlemen, who afterwards became permanent settlers and prominent citizens, of the county, engaged in the business of killing game for profit.

In the latter part of 1850, Captain Roberts, with his partner, Thompson, made their way up the slough past what is now Roberts' Landing, tied up their launch, or ship's boat, and commenced shooting waterfowl, with a success that would astonish sportsmen of to-day. At that time the first American settler had not located upon any portion of the township, except a Mr. Ward, who years before had married into the Estudillo family, and prior to 1862 there were less than a score of Americans in Eden Township. In fact, land had not, with scarcely an exception, been taken possession of for agricultural purposes.

William Hayward came in the fall of 1851, and located in the Palomares Canyon, where he expected the government would in due time make him the owner of one hundred and sixty acres of California land, but he was not long in finding out that he was a trespasser upon the propertv of Castro.

He was informed, however, by Castro that he was welcome to cultivate land on certain terms that were mutually satisfactory, and thenceforth the two continued on the friendliest terms while Castro remained an inhabitant of the county.

When Mr. Hayward pitched his tent in front of the hotel that bears his name, he does not remember that a single American was farming in the valley below, but before the close of the year 1852 the whole plain was dotted with squatters' tents and cabins. The Estudillo Ranch was the recipient of most attention at the hands of the squatters, and so numerous were they in the vicinity of San Lorenzo that the place for years was known as Squatterville.

This rancho was believed to be government land, but after years of litigation the grant was confirmed to the representatives of Estudillo. Less trouble was experienced on the other grants, although all of them were the occasion of more or less litigation.

From 1852 the population increased rapidly, and business soon fell into substantially the same channels it runs in today. The landings on the sloughs were established, and soon became busy with the transportation of the products of the farmers. Captains Roberts, Chisholm, Wicks, Barron, and Mulford were among the first to engage in this business.

Potatoes were largely cultivated at the first, and afterwards grain. The facilities afforded by the salt marshes for manufacturing salt were availed of, and the business became quite an extensive and important one. Horticulture may be regarded the leading industry of the township, not that the majority of the inhabitants are engaged in it, but that the most extensive fruit-growers of the county are located here, and that the soil and climate are eminently adapted to the production of fruit. The banks of the San Lorenzo Creek are lined with orchards and gardens than which it is probable no place in California can boast of better.

E. T. Crane, Esq., was first to inaugurate this business, and continues largely engaged in it, but the orchards of William Meek and E. Lewelling have acquired almost a national reputation. The lands of the township are cultivated with the greatest care, as indeed they must be to render them profitable at the valuation placed upon them.

The town is easy and convenient of access to market. The Central Pacific Railroad has three stations within the limits. Three landings upon the bay do the greater part of the heavy freighting. There are four towns in Eden Township, San Leandro, Haywards, San Lorenzo, and Mount Eden, the two former being incorporated.


is about nine miles distant from Oakland, and lies on the southern bank of the San Leandro Creek. Its means of communication with Oakland and San Francisco are by the Central Pacific Railroad, and by the excellent county road, which is in good condition throughout the year, from Oakland to this place.

Freighting by way of the bay is done from Wick's and Anderson's Landing.

Being located in the valley and upon the banks of the creek, the fertility of the soil render the growing of trees, fruits, and vegetables easy and profitable; as a consequence, San Leandro is embowered by fruit and ornamental trees and surrounded by gardens.

At the organization of the county the county-seat was established at Alvarado, but after a short continuance at that place was changed to San Leandro, where it remained for nearly twenty years. During this time the town grew steadily, and became the home of a number of enterprising and distinguished citizens. Schools, churches, and societies were established, and the town acquired a reputation as a desirable place of residence. Such in fact it is at the present time.

There is not much manufacturing carried on here, excepting that of the Sweepstakes Plow Company, a concern manufacturing farm machinery on an extensive scale.

The place was first settled upon by Jose Joaquin Estudillo, who in 1842 obtained from the Mexican Government a grant of the Rancho de San Leandro, containing about seven thousand acres. Before that time Estudillo had occupied it, having built an adobe residence near the site of the present town, where he raised a large family. For a long time he served in the army, in consideration of which he obtained the valuable property where he reared his family and died, leaving numerous descendants, some of which still live where their ancestor commenced his patriarchal life, almost unneighbored and alone.

In 1850 the only indication of a settlement on the southern bank of the San Leandro was the residence of the Estudillo family and a Mexican school-house. Four years afterwards it became, and for a long time con- tinued, the county-seat of Alameda County. While such it enjoyed the advantages usually attaching to the seat of justice; but its removal, although resisted by the inhabitants of San Leandro and vicinity with an earnestness that has rendered the controversy memorable in the annals of the county, did not seriously affect the prosperity of the place.

In the month of February, 1872 a meeting of the citizens of San Leandro was called at the court-house to consider the question of incorporating the town.

The project appearing to meet the approbation of the citizens, thereupon a committee of five was appointed to draft an act of incorporation. The committee consisted of Stephen G. Nye, A. T. Corell, I. A. Amerman, J. H. Putnam, and Socrates Huff.

March 21, 1872, the bill to incorporate, having passed both houses, received the Governor's approval....

. . .

It is safe to say that no town of California has been better satisfied with, or profited more by, a town organization than San Leandro. The administration of affairs has been just, taxes light, and satisfaction general. The population is about fourteen hundred.


This town takes its name from William Hayward, its first American settler. It is pleasantly situated in the foothills of the Contra Costa Range, at the entrance to Castro Valley. It is considerably elevated above the level of the sea, thus affording a magnificent view of the valley, bay, the mountains beyond, and, in favorable atmosphere, the City of San Francisco.

The healthful and sightly location is a prime cause of its growth and prosperity. It is about fourteen miles distant from Oakland, and four miles eastward from the bay. It formerly had direct railroad communication with Alameda, thence by ferry to San Francisco, but since the building of the Central Pacific Railroad the local road has been absorbed, and the station is now about one mile distant from the town.

Haywards is located in the Rancho de San Lorenzo, and within the corporate limits of the town was the adobe residence of Guillermo Castro, the grantee and proprietor of the rancho.

In the latter part of 1861, William Hayward pitched his tent opposite the site of his present hotel, thereby becoming the first American settler of the town. He soon became engaged in trade -- farming and hotel-keeping -- in which latter capacity he is well known throughout the county.

In 1854, Castro laid the plat of a town, and, with some changes made by him two years afterwards, it constitutes the main features of the present town.

Upon the completion of the Alameda and Haywards Railroad the town grew steadily, and in 1876, March 11, the Governor approved a bill for the incorporation of the town. The boundaries were fixed as follows ....

. . .

Haywards has a population of about thirteen hundred, and has churches and schools adequate to the requirements of the inhabitants....

Of religious societies there are the Congregational, in charge of Rev. J. T. Wills; Methodist, with Rev. S. Kinsey pastor; and the Catholic, in charge of Father Nugent.

The secret societies are represented as follows:

I. 0. 0. F. -- Sycamore Lodge, No. 129. George A. Goodell, N. G. B. F. Thomas, R. S.

Alameda Encampment, No. 28, I. 0. 0. F. -- Daniel Luce, C. P.; J. Pimentel, Scribe.

F. and A. M. -- Eucalyptus Lodge, No. 243. George A. Whidden, W. M.; Joel Russell, Secretary.

Good Templars. -- Laurel Lodge, No. 202. L. H. Brown, W. C. T.; T. B. Russell, W. S.

Sons of Temperance. -- Haywards Division, No. 14. P. H. Flausberg, W. P.; E. Medberry, Scribe.

Haywards Independent Band of Hope. -- A. C. Bloomer, President; H. W. Rice, Secretary.

Ancient 0rder United Workmen. -- Haywards Lodge, No. 18. George A. Whidden, M. W.; F. M. Dallam, Recorder.

Workingmen's Club. -- Daniel Salmon, President; J. C. White, Secretary.

The Fire Department is represented by the Hayward Fire Company, No. 1. Alex Allen, Foreman. Hook and Ladder, No. 2. -- George Brown, Foreman. Asa Collins is Chief Engineer of the Department, and E. H. Collins, Sec.

In the matter of hotels the town is exceptionally favored. Haywards' and Tony Oakes' houses are well known throughout this part of the country.

Since the removal of the works of H. W. Rice, manufacturer of the celebrated Straw Burning Engines, Haywards is without any extensive manufacturing interests, unless we except the making of beer, which is carried on at two breweries.

The town has one well-conducted newspaper, -- the Haywards Weekly Journal -- started March 24, 1877, by Charles Coolidge; but in May of the same year the paper came into the hands of Frank M. Dallam, its present editor and proprietor.


is an unincorporated village lying on the northerly bank of the San Lorenzo Creek, and distant about twelve miles from Oakland. In 1852-53, the squatters on the Estudillo Ranch were so numerous in the vicinity of San Lorenzo that it was called Squatterville, and as such was known for some time. Business was first started here by John Boyle, who put up a blacksmith shop in December, 1853. Dying shortly afterwards, Henry Smyth, who bad been employed by Boyle and started the first forge-fire in San Lorenzo, succeeded to his business, which has grown into an establishment for repairing and manufacturing farm machinery, employing from fifteen to twenty men. Mr. Smyth is still proprietor of these works, a lithographic view of which may be seen on page 102.

Following the blacksmith-shop of Boyle was the store of Daniel Olds, built on the site of the Willows' Hotel in the early part of 1864. The same year was built, by A. E. Crane, the San Lorenzo House. Not many additions to the business places started in 1853-64 have been made since. [Editor's note: see 1877 map of San Lorenzo.]

Besides the works of Henry Smyth there is nothing in manufacturing industry. A few years ago a joint stock company ereted a spacious and expensive establishment for drying fruit on the Alden process, but this did not prove a success.

San Lorenzo lies in one of the most fertile localities to be found in the entire State, and in horticultural productions it is famous throughout the country.

More systematic and careful cultivation of land cannot be found in California, and residences, grounds, orchards, and gardens indicate a class of inhabitants that has profited by the natural wealth to make luxuriant and comfortable homes. At San Lorenzo there is a railroad station, two hotels, post-office, store, a few shops, excellent school, and a neat church, in which are held union services.

About one mile and a half from the town, to the northwest, is the landing of Captain William Roberts, one of the earliest settlers of Eden Township, and first to establish a landing.

The schooner Helen Eliza, belonging to Captain Roberts and his partners, was the first boat to transport to market the products of this part of the township.


is a small place on the road between San Lorenzo and Alvarado. It has a post office, store, and the shops of H. Reininger. Near here is the Mount Eden or [Capt. James] Barron's Landing....