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


THIS TOWN on the Straits of Carquinez, about six miles below Martinez, named in honor of ex-Judge J. B. Crockett, late of the California Supreme Bench, is pleasantly located, with a fine outlook over the San Pablo Bay to the Coast Range, from Mount Tamalpais to the mountains of Mendocino in one direction, and to the Sierra Nevada in another. The location of Heald's extensive machine shops and foundry at that point created the necessity for the considerable growth of the town.

Crockett is located on a part of what was known as the Edwards ranch. As originally planned, the town site consisted of eighteen blocks, divided into lots fifty by one hundred feet, the streets running east and west.

The following item, taken from the Sacramento Record-Union of November 24, 1881, is the earliest mention of the town: "A town to be called Crocker [Crockett] has been laid out on the south shore of Carquinez Straits, seven miles below Martinez at Vallona Station. It is named in honor of Supreme Judge Crocker [Crockett]."

Thomas Edwards, the original owner of the town site of Crockett, was born in North Wales, April 5, 1812. When fourteen years of age Edwards left his native country and began a seafaring life, which he followed for ten years. After quitting the sea, he obtained employment in the capacity of mate on the steamers engaged in the immense trade of the Mississippi. It was at this time that he formed the acquaintance of W. C. Ralston, then steamboat clerk, and also of J. B. Crockett, who had just commenced the practice of law. The friendship thus began lasted throughout life. On February 19, 1843, he married Mary Pugh, a native of North Wales, born July 20, 1819. In May, 1849, he started for California. Spending the winter in Louisa County, Iowa, he went westward to Council Bluffs the following spring, where a company of about forty men and ten wagons was formed. Mrs. Edwards and a friend from St. Louis were the only ladies in the party. The final march was commenced early in May, 1850, via Fort Hall and Lassen's Cutoff. After traveling a few hundred miles together, Edwards and his family stopped for a day on the Platte River to rest the teams, thus allowing the remainder of the party to hurry on. The rest of the way across the plains was made alone. Journeying two thousand miles, California was reached in September, 1850, the first stopping place being on Mormon Slough, near Stockton, where they remained three weeks. After conducting affairs in Knight's Ferry and other localities, they moved to Carquinez Straits and engaged in farming and stock raising. The farm comprised 1800 acres. In 1881 an arrangement was entered into with Heald by which a foundry was established on the place and the town of Crockett laid out.

Joseph Bryant Crockett was born in Kentucky, 1809, of an old Scottish-American family. He was admitted to the practice of the law in Kentucky at the age of twenty two, and soon after founded the St. Louis Intelligences, a Whig paper, which he conducted with great ability for some time. Arriving in California in 1852, he again took up his law practice, his partners being Page, Whiting, Joseph Napthaly, and Congressman Piper. In 1868 he was appointed Supreme Justice by Governor Haight, and in 1869 was elected to succeed himself for the long term (ten years), which he filled out. Judge Crockett called and presided over the first public meeting held for the purpose of establishing the public library of San Francisco.

(From the Fifth Booster Edition of the Byron Times)

Crockett is one of the most substantial, busy, and energetic industrial cities of Contra Costa County, made famous because of the splendid achievements and enterprise of the California & Hawaiian Sugar Refining Company, whose annual production of manufactured sugar products is valued at about $30,350,000; its payroll is $625,000 a year, and nearly 700 employees are made happy.

The big plant and improvements at Crockett represent an investment of some $7,000,000, making this one of the most modern and complete sugar refineries in the world.

Crockett has many attractions and conveniences; has a fine waterfront, with a commodious harbor capable of receiving the largest of ocean going steamships; has fine hotels, general merchandise stores, business establishments, and schools and churches, and provides everything necessary for the happiness of its inhabitants.

Public parks and playgrounds for children, with rest rooms and many conveniences that aid health and create happiness, are special features provided by the founders of Crockett.

Every year a great May Day celebration is held in Crockett under the personal direction of the general manager of the California & Hawaiian Sugar Refining Company, which is participated in by officials of that big organization and by the hundreds of employees of the company, the citizens of Crockett, and thousands of invited guests from all parts of the county and State.

The big event in 1916 was unusually noticeable because it was combined with dedication exercises in honor of the new Y. M. C. A. Building, the new Carquinez Women's Clubhouse, and other grand improvements given to the city by the California & Hawaiian Sugar Refining Company for the pleasure and comfort of the citizens of Crockett.

A special feature was the Maypole dance, participated in by several hundred beautiful little children, daughters of the employees of the sugar refinery and business men and women of Crockett.

The 1916 celebration was made a royal holiday event. Invited guests from the cities and towns around were there through special invitation. There was a great floral and decorated float parade. Automobiles gaily bedecked added to the grandeur of the occasion, while bands of music played, and every one was made welcome and happy as the guests of the people of Crockett.

In the evening a grand carnival was held, followed by a masked ball, which was attended by many notable and prominent people of San Francisco, Crockett, and the country around.

It was a happy, joyous event, creating, as it did, a feeling of friendship and reciprocity among employers and employed, making them for the time being one big family of people interested in the present, future, and advancing interests of Crockett, as a home place for intelligent and contented workmen who appreciate the very best of treatment, such as is accorded by the California & Hawaiian Sugar Refining Company and its officers and heads of departments.

It is such interests as these May Day occasions and celebrations which have done much to cement the strong friendship existing between capital and labor at Crockett, and which go far toward making this an ideal industrial city.

In this connection, it is a pleasure and very timely to mention George M. Rolph, general manager of the California & Hawaiian Sugar Refining Company, who as the head of this big industry at Crockett has always taken much interest in the people and the development of the city.

He has taken that personal part in activities which proves his sincerity, and he enjoys the personal regard, respect, and esteem of every man, woman, and child in Crockett, not only among those employed by his big refinery, but among the people of every class.

George M. Rolph is really and truly a man who does things. His men rely upon him in time of need and are ever ready to work for and with him in time of emergencies. It is men of this character and heart who are recognized as leaders in action and who are usually found at the top directing great industrial enterprises.

Crockett also has a Citizens' Improvement Association, organized for exploitation, publicity, and the general advancement of the city. Meritorious enterprises are fostered, aided, and encouraged, entertainment features are provided for the town, and the idea is to create more interest in Crockett and its attractions. Like every other city in Contra Costa County, Crockett enjoyed unparalleled building activities in 1915-16, which still continue unabated. Nearly all of the new edifices are residences, modern in every respect. The residence section is rapidly extending on the hills overlooking the business section.


The town of Crockett - Queen City of the Carquinez Straits - is to be congratulated on having within its boundaries one of the largest industries of the Pacific Coast - the California & Hawaiian Sugar Refining Company.

This refinery is in operation 300 days of the year, and is the only sugar refinery in the world where the men work in shifts of eight hours each. The output of refined sugar is about 950 tons per day, or 280,000 tons per annum.

This sugar is shipped in packages of various styles and weights, not only to all the Pacific Coast States - some of it going as far north as Alaska and as far away as the Philippines - but its distribution extends as far east as Illinois.

The raw sugar from which this refined product is obtained comes principally from the Hawaiian Islands in the great freighters that ply between San Francisco and the Hawaiian ports. At times it has been even necessary to bring it from points as far away as Peru and Java. Almost any day from December until the following October, steamers of immense carrying capacity may be seen discharging at the wharves of this company.

Mechanical contrivances of all sorts, such as slat and belt conveyors of every description, aid in unloading one of these 8000 to 13,000 ton steamers, discharging 2500 tons daily.

The raw sugar is then placed in one of the vast warehouses located on the company's land, which, by the way, has a deep water frontage of 2400 feet. It is drawn on by the refinery later as needed in the process of manufacture.

A visit to this refinery would prove most interesting. Here one may see the large vacuum pans which boil fifty tons of sugar every two hours, the great boilers which require hundreds of barrels of oil per day to keep the machinery in motion, machines for weighing and sacking the granulated sugar, machines for putting sugar in cartons which automatically pack and seal thirty two five pound cartons every minute.

In turning out from 17,000 to 18,000 bags of sugar per day, each bag containing the finished product, 25,000 yards of cotton cloth are made up daily as inner liners, which are fine, white bags, placed inside the coarser jute bags to keep the sugar immaculately clean.

While the refinery and extensive warehouses are a great part of this industry, the company has also given a substantial evidence of its interest in the town of Crockett and the welfare of its employees in the splendid hotel it owns, equipped with all modern conveniences, lobby, card rooms, and a pleasant dining room, where the best food is served; the Y. M. C. A. Building, erected at a cost of about $50,000, with its splendid swimming pool, gymnasium, library, billiard room and numerous sleeping rooms; and that the feminine portion of Crockett and vicinity may not feel neglected, the management has built a beautiful building which is used as a women's club, where spare hours may be comfortably enjoyed.

In fact, no better example can be found in the West of an effort on the part of a corporation to maintain right relations between employer and employee than exists in the town of Crockett.

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