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


DANVILLE is eighteen miles south of Martinez, and is in the very choicest portion of the famous San Ramon Valley, with the beautiful Los Tampos Range on the west, whose varying shadows change with every hour of the day's sunshine and are ever admired, while Mount Diablo rears its towering height of nearly four thousand feet on the east. These physical features account for the uniform climate of the place which renders it so desirable for homes.

The town had its inception some time about 1859, when Andrew and Daniel Inman, then owners of what is now Kelly brothers' property, put up the first building to be used for a blacksmith shop. Not long afterward M. Cohen, of the firm of Wolf & Cohen, merchants, of Alamo, then a flourishing business center, saw the advantages of the location for a store and erected the building on the corner which, after defying the elements for nearly sixty years, was torn down only recently. About the time the store was built came the question of a name for the town. Inmanville and a number of others was suggested, but all proved unsatisfactory, when Andrew Inman proposed they should leave the naming to his mother-in-law, "Aunt Sallie" Young, grandmother of A. J. Young. She asked that it be called Danville, after her native place in Kentucky.

A two story hotel, afterward destroyed by fire, was built by a Mr. Harris. In this building the postoffice found a home, in a windowless 7 by 9 room, in which Harris, as postmaster, often performed his clerical duties by the aid of a lantern. For many years the mail was carried from Walnut Creek on horseback. J. Madison Stowe, now mayor of Pacific Grove, was the mail carrier at one time. The mail was due at Danville at 4 P. M. daily, and was always on time, unless "Jim" was challenged by some boy on the road to play a game of marbles for "keeps," at which time it was "unavoidably late." A second store was established by P. E. Peel. He was succeeded by John Conway, who for many years carried on a successful business. Thus by the addition of one enterprise after another the little town had a prosperous growth.

The Grangers' hall, the first public building of the place, came in 1872-73, and two years later the Presbyterian church was built, at that time the finest church edifice in the county. The first schoolhouse was an old building, built in 1865, and stood one mile south of town. In 187o it was moved to town, and occupied the identical spot where the grammar school building now stands and which took its place in 1895.

In the summer of 1891 the Southern Pacific Railroad reached the town. Soon after John Hartz surveyed and offered his addition to the town of Danville, the lots being soon sold, and from that time progress has been rapid, and the result is the achievements of the present time. The Oakland, Antioch & Eastern Railway made its advent in 1914, and by it the distance from San Francisco to Danville is reduced from fifty six miles to thirty two miles, and the schedule time is cut to half the former time required to make the trip.

Danville's future is promising. Many improvements are in contemplation, among them the erection of the high school building at a cost of $15,000, which is to meet the requirements of the school organized five years ago, and a new grammar school building will soon be needed. Enterprises of various kinds are to be developed. The magnificent improvements at Diablo, with the expected influx of population as a result of the sale of many lots in that estate, together with the scenic highway to the summit, promises much. El Rio has done much and will do more for the future of Danville.

It is eminently proper here, in addition to those already mentioned, to name a few of the many pioneers who have been instrumental in the development of Danville and the adjoining region: Thomas Flournoy, J. J. Kerr, John P. Chrisman, J. E. Close, R. O. Baldwin, William Z. Stone, William Meese, D. N. Sherburne, Charles Wood, Dr. J. L. Labarce, A. J. Young, J. O. Stewart, and R. B. Love.

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