History of Antioch, California, Part 2
From: The History of Contra Costa County, California
Edited by: F. J. Hulaniski
The Elms Publishing Co., Inc.
Berkeley, California 1917

Antioch, California History part 2


San Joaquin Lodge No. 151, of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows was organized in Antioch on January 9, 1869, by District Deputy Grand Master G. P. Loucks. William Girvan was elected Noble Grand, M. S. Levy, Vice Grand; George Thyarks, secretary; Russell Eddy, treasurer. Fred Wilkening was the only one of the five charter members who did not at once assume an official station. San Joaquin Lodge now has a membership of about 140, and jointly with the Masonic Lodge owns the lodge building on the corner of H and Second streets. This lodge is one of the largest and most important in Contra Costa County. Antioch Encampment No. 114, I. O. O. F., consisting of members of San Joaquin and Byron lodges, was instituted October g, 1908, with a charter membership of twenty three. J. T. Belshaw was elected the first Chief Patriarch. This organization has grown and prospered, and is now one of the leading fraternal societies in the town. Mizpah Rebekah Lodge, I. O. O. F., was instituted June 28, 1888, with a mere handful of members, but has grown very rapidly, until it now outnumbers the older San Joaquin Lodge of Odd Fellows. Many of Antioch's younger set are active members, and Mizpah Lodge is one of the prominent social as well as fraternal societies of the city.

General Winn Parlor No. 32, Native Sons of the Golden West, was instituted July 26, 1884, being one of the oldest parlors. Every year since its organization it has held a grand masque ball, which has become one of the principal social events of the year, and for the last eight years this parlor has given an annual amateur theatrical performance, the entire proceeds being donated to the Homeless Children Fund. This parlor has the honor of having in its membership one of the Past Grand Presidents of the order, Hon. Chas. M. Belshaw, and many of the most prominent citizens of this section are included in its list of members.

Antioch Aerie No. 785, Fraternal Order of Eagles, was instituted September 1, 1904, with a charter membership of 105, and has enjoyed a remarkable growth, having at the present time more than 300 members - the largest of any order in the city. It is also said to have the strongest treasury of any organization of a fraternal or social nature in this section.

Antioch Lodge No. 1612, Loyal Order of Moose, was organized in February, 1915, with Doctor W. S. George as the first dictator. The lodge hold its meetings in the Foresters of America building, and maintains elegant club rooms over the Bank of Antioch. The membership is large and growing.

Among the other fraternal societies that are well established and active in Antioch may be named the Foresters of America, the Improved Order of Red Men (Pocahontas Lodge), and the Young Men's Institute, a Catholic order; also, the U. P. E. C., U. P. P. E. C., I. D. E. S., and S. P. R. S. I., the last four named all being Portuguese orders. G. Azevedo, member of Antioch Council No. 51, U. P. E. C., has just finished a term of one year as Supreme President of the order.

Of clubs by far the most important is the Antioch Woman's Club. Besides being a popular social organization, this club has accomplished much for the material advancement of Antioch. It was through its efforts that the town has its modern automatic fire alarm system, and also the beautiful public library building on the corner of Sixth and F streets. Other important improvements have received substantial aid from the Woman's Club.

Among the business enterprises of Antioch with a continuous existence from their first establishment to the present day, the Antioch Lumber Company is without doubt the oldest. This industry was established in the year 1864 by the late Joseph Galloway and E. C. Boobar, who at that time owned a considerable portion of the town site, as well as the water front. The office and yards were located on the block on which the Arlington Hotel, Wall Shoe Store, etc., now stand, while the main steamboat wharf at the foot of H Street was utilized by the company for loading and unloading schooners, this being before the day of railroad transportation facilities. Joseph W. Galloway, son of the founder, acted as manager of the business until the death of his father in 1877, when he sold the business to William R. Forman, John C. Rouse, and Henry F. Beede, the latter having been in Mr. Galloway's employ as a clerk for some years. After a few years Forman sold his interest to J. P. Abbott, and in 1887 Rouse sold half of his half interest to the Simpson Lumber Company. After operating several years as a co-partnership, Feb. 20, 1907, the Antioch Lumber Company was incorporated, and still exists as a corporate body. Upon the death of Captain Simpson, in 1914, the Simpson heirs disposed of their stock to H. F. Beede, Mrs. Abbott, and Collins Rouse, of Berkeley. Beede has been the efficient general manager of this concern for many years, and under his direction the business has prospered and grown far beyond the most sanguine expectations of its founders. Besides handling lumber and mill products on a very large scale, this firm deals in coal, oils, grain, feed, etc. Nor are its activities confined to this city or the immediate environs, but, particularly of late years, extensive contracts have been secured from distant points, all of which have been handled in a manner mutually profitable and satisfactory to all the parties concerned and have reflected great credit upon the local firm. The Antioch Lumber Company now has its planing mill, yards, offices, wharves, and storerooms near the foot of Second Street.

The paper making industry, while not the oldest, is today the most important in Antioch. The mill was first established in 1889, by M. D. Keeney and operated by him and his three sons, E. M., W. C., and C. W. Keeney, on its present site, for about ten years. Straw, manila wrapping, and tissue papers comprised the principal part of the output, though some other varieties were made to special order. The capacity at that time was from three to five tons a day, according to the weight of the grade being made. In 1900 the Brown Brothers - Peter and James - bought the mill from the Keeneys and brought a number of their employees and some new machinery from Coralitos in Santa Cruz County, where they had been conducting a paper mill, and in due time remodeled the buildings and enlarged and improved the plant, adding the manufacture of various varieties of cardboards and folding box boards to their accomplishments. The industry was under this management until March, 1912, when the mills were acquired by the Paraffine Paint Co., of San Francisco, and incorporated as the California Paper & Board Mills. On November 13, 1912, the entire plant was destroyed by fire, but the work of rebuilding was begun at once on a much larger and more elaborate scale than before, and early in the summer of 1913 work was resumed. Besides all the varieties of papers and boards manufactured by their predecessors, the new company began the manufacture of "Amiwud," a wall board of unusual merit, which imitates grained hardwood with a fidelity which practically defies detection. This product has been extensively advertised, and is sold all over the United States and in many foreign countries. The normal day's output of this mill is more than ninety tons of finished product, and it is the largest and finest paper making establishment west of the Mississippi River. On January 1, 1917, this factory changed from a twelve hour to an eight hour work day, with no reduction in wages. It now employs in excess of 150 men, and the wages paid are the highest in the trade.


It was in 1849 that William Smith and his brother Joseph pre-empted the land where Antioch now stands. More than a year before this Captain Kimball had formed a company among his poor neighbors along the coast of Maine to build for itself a ship in which to go to California. This ship, the "California Packet," arrived in San Francisco August, 1850. Smith went on board this ship and induced twenty or thirty of the passengers to come and settle here, offering them building lots along the river, while they would farm the land toward the hills. They built five or six small houses in a row, extending nearly to the tules east of the town. Kimball's house, at the western end of the row, was built in the fall of 1851. Smith's house was larger than the others, and stood on the bluff overlooking the river.

Besides these dwelling houses, was a very small ship's cabin, that occupied a position near the site of the present schoolhouse. This Captain Mitchell removed from his ship and gave to the town for a schoolhouse. In this Miss Martha Douglas was installed as teacher. She soon resigned and Smith turned the school over to me. I was twelve years old. The house was small and dark, while out of doors was big and bright, and we had fine recesses. We still have in our midst two survivors of that most primitive school. They are Mrs. D. Parkison, of Oakland, and E. H. Kimball

In the fall of 1851 the little settlement thought it time to know what to call itself, and a meeting was held to decide the matter. No one but Smith had any special choice, so he had little difficulty in persuading the people to adopt Antioch as the name, his reason for this choice being that "the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch."

Early in the settlement of the place there was an epidemic of cholera, resulting in several deaths, and chills and fever prevailed. Farming failed. There was plenty of hay, however, as the valley and foothills were covered with luxuriant wild oats, and the tule land produced an abundance of coarse grass. But this could not yield sufficient income for the year round. The discouraged little band scattered. Some took their houses with them. The others abandoned theirs, either entirely or temporarily, and in 1852 Antioch was literally a deserted village

However, it did not remain long unoccupied. Smith and Kimball returned. McMaster came and built near the river front. Other families, at longer or shorter intervals, moved into the vicinity. There were no town limits, and the Hendersons, at the Arata place, the Thompsons, at Marsh Landing, Madam Fuller, at Oak Point, Wyatt and O'Brien, southwest of the paper mill, Robert Fuller, at the ranch, Doctor Adams, at Oak Springs, and the Hustels, in the sand hills, were our near neighbors. The arrival of each family made an epoch in our history, and we welcomed them gladly.

The leading industry was cattle raising. Doctor Marsh had large herds of wild Spanish cattle, and those who wished could have the use of a limited number, and half the increase for breaking them. Had their milking qualities equaled the length of their horns and their athletic abilities, they would have been very valuable. However, what little milk they did give was very rich and they proved a fair investment to those who chose to avail themselves of Doctor Marsh's offer.

In those days the only public conveyance between Antioch and the outside world was the schooner "Enterprise," commanded by Captain Miller, with "Charley" as the crew, which made a weekly trip between here and San Francisco, carrying passengers and the mail and the various products of the farm and dairy, and bringing back from the city the numerous things needed by the community. My recollections of this craft are a mixture of gratitude and misery - gratitude for the means of transportation and for the invariable kindness of the captain and crew, and the misery of the trip - sometimes three days, and the inevitable seasickness. It gave me all the boat riding I wanted for many years.

There were a number of children within walking distance, and we had several terms of school in one of the abandoned houses, at which I trust there was more work and less play than in the first school.

The social function was a monthly sewing bee and lunch, which met "turn about" at the several neighbors, and sewed for the hostess, and exchanged news.

Smith often conducted a service on Sunday, and there was occasionally a traveling preacher.

California in its early settlement was much hampered by the Spanish grants, which roamed around devouring every fertile spot, and giving the settlers no rest for the soles of their feet. Antioch had its full share in this kind of trouble. Being between the Marsh grant and Los Medanos the people were "warned off" first by one and then the other. Finally, after years of harassment and wearing litigation, it was taken by Los Medanos, and Galloway and Boobar bought the town.

Antioch has always been a town with a great future. Its advantages as a manufacturing center were early recognized, and more or less feasible enterprises have marked its entire history. More than forty years ago McMaster started brick kilns, and several houses were built from the product. Potteries have been tried many times, with sufficient success to prove it could be done if properly managed. Hope rose with the smelting works. A furnace and chimney seventy five feet high were put up, and twenty or thirty more were to follow, if this was a success in reducing the copper ore brought from Copperopolis. The sequel is evident. There were no more chimneys, but the one stood many years - a monument to dead hope and a perennial subject for the inquisitive traveler.

The development of the coal mines in the hills south of town about 1860 was the occasion of Antioch's becoming a town in any real sense. It was made a shipping point, and many teams and men were needed to handle the coal. This made blacksmiths and other mechanics necessary. Families came and stores followed. More children required better school facilities, and a wooden schoolhouse was built.

There were enough who wanted regular church services. A young man named Morgan preached very acceptably in the schoolhouse, and the Congregational church society was formed. So many people made sufficient travel and traffic for it to be worth the while of the Stockton boats to stop, and wharves were built. Meanwhile people had learned by slow degrees that the land in eastern Contra Costa was very productive, if properly worked. This kept Antioch still alive when the shipping of coal was diverted to other points.

These imperfect glimpses of the past show that, although our history has been marked all the way along by sufficient disappointment and failure to insure our keeping properly humble, yet the present condition of the town proves that while the growth has not been rapid, we have very noticeably advanced and are very comfortably expecting our great future.

There is no particular in which Antioch has changed more than in its facilities for travel. In a previous chapter allusion has been made to the difficulties of communication with the outside world. These were the inconveniences incident to the development of new countries. Public conveyances are not liable to exist where there is a very small public to accommodate.

The various plans to bridge over the lack of transportation were often amusing and sometimes disagreeable. Once, when the Stockton boat attempted to put a party ashore in a rowboat, they landed them by the high bank where the warehouses now are. The tide was so high that there was only a narrow strip of beach to stand on. Fortunately, there was a gentleman in the party, and by the help of his cane and the bushes growing on the bank he managed to reach the top. He went to the nearest house for help, and, finding no one at home, helped himself to their clothes line, and lowering that to the others succeeded in hauling them to the top.

At another time a party of three started from San Francisco in a small sailboat quite early in the morning. For a wonder, the wind was low and they were still in sight of the city at sundown. By night the wind was rested and ready for action, and made things almost too lively for the little craft, but it kept on till Bay Point was reached, where it was tied up to wait for a change in the tide, to come with the morning. When morning came one of the party, seeing a wagon loaded with hay and headed east, begged the privilege of finishing the journey by land. A strong norther was blowing; the ride was very tedious and not at all luxurious; but toward night the wagon reached New York Landing, where an old couple took the wanderer in for the night. In the morning the small boat was on hand, and the journey was finished according to the original plan.

Soon after the development of the coal mines and the increase of the populationthecommerce of the town warranted the building of a wharf, and then the Stockton boats would stop. Then, as now, that brought all the travel in the night. Antioch felt proud when the "Parthenius" started to make daily trips from Antioch to San Francisco. She left here at six in the morning and returned in the evening, giving people several hours in the city, and was a great convenience. But when the Southern Pacific was put through the steamboat was altogether too slow, and she soon ceased to make the trip. Now there are fifteen different ways of getting out of town every day, ten by railroad and five by boat, which is quite a contrast to once a week on a little schooner.


The first attempt at a school in Antioch was held in a small cabin, which had been removed from an abandoned ship, belonging to Captain Mitchell, to a site near the present school building. The first permanent teacher was Adelia B. Kimball (now Mrs. A. B. Schott), a girl of 12 years, daughter of Captain G. W. Kimball. There were about half a dozen young children. She taught a few months at a time for several years.

The next building was a small one room house, in the vicinity of E Street. Afterward Joseph Galloway gave the present grammar school site, and a small wooden building was erected. Next was a two story brick house, supplemented, as population increased, by wooden class rooms, one north and the other south of the brick building. These rooms becoming inadequate, and the brick building of doubtful safety, the present grammar school edifice was put up in 1890.

The second teacher was James Cruickshank, who taught a few terms. He was followed by Mrs. Woodruff, an exceptionally fine teacher. Afterward the school had for principals J. P. Abbott, Warren Abbott, and Miss Carpenter, which brings it to comparatively modern times.

In the early days we had no California State Series school books, but such books as the various families brought from the East. The furniture was anything that came handy - chairs brought from home, boxes for desks, anything one could reasonably use as a seat.


Until a few years ago Antioch had a deserved reputation for having about the poorest streets of any town in the State; now it is known far and wide for having the best thoroughfares of any place of equal size in California, and it is believed that its streets are not excelled by any city of its class in the United States. In fact, it was not until 1908 that any permanent street improvement was undertaken. Then the greater portions of L, G, Second, Fourth and Sixth streets were paved with the petrolithic process. These being the principal business and central residence streets, the improvement was of marked value; but the process of paving proved unsuited to this climate, and the pavements were soon worn out. It was about this time that compulsory laying of sidewalks was begun. The cost of the improvements at this period was slightly in excess of twenty two thousand dollars, exclusive of sidewalks. In 1912 the matter of further street improvement was taken up under the provisions of the street improvement act of 1911, and about forty blocks on Third, Fourth, F, H, and I streets were paved with one course oil macadam. These streets, which were completed in 1913, have proved very satisfactory, and give promise of great durability. The cost of paving these streets was, in round numbers, seventy two thousand dollars. In 1915 16 the streets previously paved by the petrolithic process were re-paved with four inch and five inch concrete base, with Topeka top dressing of one and a half inches. Also, the majority of the streets which had not been previously improved were paved, either through legal proceedings or by private contract, so that some fifty one blocks of the town are now paved with concrete, which is conceded to be the very best and most substantial paving to be secured. Besides these improvements, many blocks of good sidewalks were laid. The cost of the street work, not including sidewalks, retaining walls, etc., was in excess of one hundred and eleven thousand dollars. Altogether Antioch has expended since 1908 for street betterment close to a quarter of a million of dollars.


Antioch was one of the first towns of this section to adopt municipal ownership of its water supply, and has proven a splendid example of the practicability and desirability of publicly owned utilities. Prior to the year 1903 the water supply was furnished by a private company, of which the Hon. Charles M. Belshaw was the head. Owing to the rapid growth and development of the town, the securing of more adequate facilities was deemed desirable, and bond issues of twenty two thousand dollars were voted for a water plant and eight thousand dollars for sewers. In 1904 installations were completed of a modern sewer and drainage system and an up to date water system electrically operated. In due time the water system became inadequate to meet the demands of the growing population, and additions were found necessary. Accordingly, in 1913 another bond issue of twenty five thousand dollars was voted, and in 1914 larger mains were installed, a high pressure filtration plant and an Alberger fire underwriters' centrifugal pump put in commission, and in 1916 an efficient chlorination plant was added, so that now the water supply is equal to any demand likely to arise for many years, and the quality is such that it passes the most severe tests of the State Board of Health for purity and wholesomeness. The average daily consumption is five hundred thousand gallons, and the average rate (flat rate plan) is $1.25 a month.

Antioch has a two thousand dollar Gamewell automatic fire alarm system and an excellent volunteer department, with splendid equipment, including an auto chemical truck. Insurance rates are accordingly lower than in many of the larger cities.


Until comparatively recent years Antioch's residences had to depend upon oil or acetylene for lighting, and such street lights as were installed were coal oil lamps, which were far from satisfactory. On July 14, 1902, H. F. Beede secured from the board of trustees a franchise for an electric light system, which, however, without any profit whatsoever to himself he turned over to L. A. Reniff early in 1903, who installed a dynamo (driven by a gasoline engine) in a building near the planing mill. While this was some improvement over former conditions, the service was not perfect by any means, and before long the plant was closed down and current purchased from the Pacific Gas & Electric Company to supply the customers. In July, 1910, the franchise passed into the hands of the latter company, which now gives what is well nigh perfect service and at a very reasonable rate. The streets are well lighted with lamps ranging in candle power from 250 to 600. Current for operating motors is also supplied. In 1915 the Contra Costa Gas Company secured a franchise and extended its lines to this city, and now furnishes a very high grade of gas for both lighting and fuel purposes.


Not least among Antioch's manifold industries and resources is the growing, packing, and shipping of celery, asparagus, and other fruits and vegetables. More asparagus is shipped from this place than from any other town in the world, and more celery than from any other point in the United States. About two thirds of the potatoes grown in the State are raised on the islands in the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers in the immediate vicinity of Antioch. The Santa Fe Refrigerator Despatch operates steamers that ply the rivers and collect green fruits and vegetables, bringing them to Antioch, where they are placed in iced cars and sent to Eastern markets. So important is Antioch as a shipping point for this company that its Pacific Coast manager, S. M. Fulton, resides here. Exact figures were not obtainable in time for this article, but the approximate volume of shipments of a few of these commodities is annually as follows: Celery, 1200 to 1500 carloads; asparagus, 250 carloads; almonds, 7 carloads; grapes, 70 carloads; apricots, 10 carloads; peaches, 8 carloads; dried fruits ( apricots and peaches), 2 carloads; hay (wheat, barley, and oats), 500 carloads; wheat, 10 carloads; barley, 8 carloads.

There are large pits of a fine quality of sand located just east of town, and hundreds of carloads and boatloads are shipped annually. Other miscellaneous products, such as potatoes, onions, beans, and various small fruits and berries, contribute many more carloads to the grand total. Altogether close to eight thousand carloads of varied products are shipped from Antioch every year.

Among other interesting items concerning Antioch are the following: It has the finest climate on earth; deep water frontage where oceangoing vessels can and do come; the largest paper mill west of the Mississippi; one of the best equipped high schools in the State; a municipally owned water system with plenty of filtered water; the best streets of any town of its size in the country; numerous river transportation lines; two transcontinental railroads; two electric power lines; two banks with combined resources of nearly a million dollars; many modern stores with complete stocks, where goods are sold at prices so moderate that there is no temptation to shop in the city; a beautiful public library, and many modern business and residence buildings. Antioch has a population upward of twenty five hundred, and is fifty miles from San Francisco, at the junction of the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers.

This town is entering upon an era of unusual growth and development, and the prospects are that within a very few years it will be one of the most important interior towns in California. Since the completion of the new street improvements, building has taken on fresh impetus, and within the past year or two many handsome residences and new business buildings have been erected. A fine large brick garage (the third one in town) has just been completed, and the new telephone building will be ready for occupancy in a few weeks. Antioch is truly the "Metropolis of eastern Contra Costa."

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