BY J. R. BOOTHE
THE first settlement of the region contingent to the city of Martinez, the county seat of Contra Costa County,
was made nearly a century ago. In the year 1823, over twenty years before gold was discovered in California, and
before the eyes of the East, and in fact the entire world, turned toward the Golden West, Ignacio Martinez and
Francisco Castro applied for and received grants to vast tracts of land, the latter receiving what was known as
the San Pablo Rancho, and Martinez receiving the Pinole grant. Their nearest neighbors were the Peraltas and the
Castros, of San Antonio and San Lorenzo. Martinez and Castro erected adobe residences, pretentious ones for that
period, built barns, and planted trees and vines, becoming the first fruit and grape growers in Contra Costa County.
Other families followed, but the haciendas of these two grandees were the hub of the life and the activity of this
There were no roads in those days. Trails led here and there across the valleys of waving corn and over the hills
where the virgin oak flourished. Fences were unknown; these early settlers did not fence off one piece of their
land from another, but allowed their cattle to roam at will.
The first of the two above named ranchos was named for Saint Paul (San Pablo), who was one of the most enthusiastic
as well as favorite disciples of the Saviour. The other, and the one with which we are concerned in this article,
derives its name from pinole (meal), the story being told that a band of hungry Mexicans, who had been in pursuit
of a band of Indians in the foothills of Mount Diablo, had their hunger appeased at a small settlement on San Pablo
Bay en route to the Mission San Rafael. The small and nearly famished band passed through the valley of El Hambre
(the vale of hunger), and their first food was a mess of meal obtained at this point, which they thereupon designated
Pinole, and when Ignacio Martinez was granted these leagues of land he perpetuated the name given the region by
the famished troopers.
In 1832 William Welch, a Scotchman, secured tide to the tract of land known as the Welch (or Las Juntas) Rancho,
on which a portion of the city of Martinez now stands.
From that time up to the discovery of gold at Sutter's mill there was little development of this region. In 1849
Colonel William M. Smith, acting as agent for the Martinez family, from whom the city derives its name, decided
upon founding a town. In furtherance of this project he employed Thomas A. Brown, who later became superior judge,
to survey and lay out one hundred and twenty acres on the westerly side of El Hambre Creek. This was promptly done,
and the tract being subdivided, the lots and blocks were quickly sold and the building of houses and stores commenced.
The first building erected in the town was the home of Doctor Leffler, built by Nicholas Hunsaker, and the second
by Judge Brown, in which he, with his brother Warren and Napoleon B. Smith, opened the first trading post in the
county. The house later occupied by E. W. Miller was built for a store for Boorham & Dana in 1849. About the
same time a store was erected for Howard & Wells. It was managed by Howard Havens, who later became the cashier
of the Donohoe-Kelly Bank of San Francisco.
In 1850-51 the first addition to the town was surveyed by Judge Brown, under instructions from the owners of the
Welch Rancho, El Hambre Creek being the line which divides the original survey (Pinole) from the additional survey
(Welch, or Las Juntas). This tract consisted of between five hundred and six hundred acres, and was also laid out
in blocks and lots. The first buildings erected were the houses of Wise, Douglas, Lawless, McMahon, Doctor Bolton,
and the Contra Costa News office. The Douglas house, it might be noted in passing, was used as the first office
of the county clerk.
In 1850 a negro named Jones opened a hotel on the site where the Alhambra Hotel was opened in later years and for
a long period conducted by Josiah Sturges. At this time the adobe residence of Vicente Martinez stood on what later
became known as the Doctor John Strentzel property, but other adobes were built soon after, closer to the heart
of the town.
In 1851 the first school was opened in the house which Judge Brown and his family occupied later, the school room
being used for a meeting house on Sundays, and the court, during its session, and the Masonic lodge holding their
meetings upstairs. R. B. McNair was the first teacher, although it has been stated that B. R. Holliday taught the
first school in the town.
Even in those early times Martinez had efficient teachers, but the lack of a suitable school building was felt.
Although complaint was made in 1858 that the school was not kept open for a sufficient period during the year,
it was not until 1872 that the difficulty was solved by the erection of an adequate building. This was accomplished
by the levying of a special school district tax, by which over six thousand dollars was raised for the first permanent
schoolhouse in Martinez. Today the schools of this town will compare favorably with any others in the State.
In 1852 the Union Hotel was built on the site of the James Hoey residence, and was for years conducted by Captain
R. E. Borden, then county treasurer.
On January 25, 1851, a petition signed by the citizens of Martinez was presented to the Court of Sessions, through
District Attorney J. F. Williams, praying for the incorporation of the town of Martinez. The petition reads as
"To the Honorable F. M. Warmcastle, County Judge: Your petitioners, citizens of Martinez, pray your honor
to incorporate the following metes and bounds to be known as the town of Martinez and to establish therein a police
for their local government and regulation of any commons pertaining to such town towit: Commencing at a point opposite
the old ferry house in the Straits of Carquinez, one fourth of a mile from high water mark; thence up the Straits
of Carquinez in a straight line one mile to a one one fourth of a mile from high water mark; thence running in
a southeasterly direction at right angles with the first line, one mile; thence running in a northwesterly direction
at right angles with the last line, one mile; thence in a northeasterly direction at right angles with the last
line to the place of beginning, so as to include one mile square."
The court thereupon ordered that the town of Martinez be duly incorporated, and the order provided that the election
of the first trustees be held on February 8, 1851. After a brief period, the Supreme Court declared the act under
which the incorporation had been effected void. Incorporation anew under the general law was objected to as involving
too much expense and machinery, and for over a quarter century, until 1876, Martinez continued as a village, without
corporate being or authority.
From the year 1852 on the town began to assert itself and became known far and wide. Many new buildings were erected
and a general era of prosperity ensued.
The Contra Costa Gazette, one of the oldest newspapers in the State of California, was established in Martinez
on Saturday, September 18, 1858, by W. B. Soule & Company. For nearly three score years, without missing an
issue, this publication has recorded each week the events which have contributed to the history of Contra Costa
County. The files at many times have been used as reference by the archivists of the University of California in
the compilation of California history. Throughout its entire existence the politics of the paper have remained
Republican. On the seventh publication the management was changed and C. R. K. Bonnard and B. E. Hillsman became
the owners. From its first issue the paper appeared in four pages of seven columns, well edited and printed, at
a subscription price of five dollars a year. The Bonnard Company controlled the Gazette until February 26, 1859,
when it was purchased by W. Bradford, who became the sole owner. Bradford conducted the paper alone until April
28, 1860, when he sold an undivided half interest to R. R. Bunker. Under this management it was published until
March 23, 1861, when Bradford disposed of his interest to W. W. Theobalds. With the development of the grain shipping
industry and agricultural activity at Pacheco, situated five miles from Martinez, that community became the leading
commercial center of the county. In September, 1861, the Gazette was moved to Pacheco. In that town it was published
for twelve years. The brick building, of which the plant occupied the second floor, was badly damaged by an earthquake
on October 21, 1868. A near by barn was secured, and, after many difficulties in moving the machinery and type
from the shattered structure, the paper was published at its usual time. On July 8, 1865, another change occurred
in the management, when C. B. Porter purchased the interest of Theobalds. The life of the Gazette has not been
without its misfortunes, the second of which occurred in September, 1871. One morning a fire broke out in the building,
and before it could be extinguished every scrap of material and machinery had been destroyed. Within forty eight
hours an entire new plant had been secured and the paper appeared on its usual day of issue. Subsequent to the
gradual decline of Pacheco as a shipping center, the Gazette was moved back to Martinez in November, 1873. A new
frame structure was erected for the use of the paper in Main Street, on the present site of the Gazette building.
On March 3, 1882, F. K. Foster, a newspaperman well known throughout the State, purchased a third interest in the
publication, which he held until November 3, 1883, when Porter severed his connection with the concern and a copartnership
was formed between Bunker and Foster. This firm conducted the paper until August 27, 1887, when Thomas S. Davenport
purchased the interest of Foster. On January 4, 1888, appeared the first publication of the Gazette as a semi weekly.
The size of the paper was decreased from seven to six columns, four pages. After being published at this size until
April 11, 1888, the increase of business necessitated its enlargement to eight columns. James Foster, on October
3, 1888, purchased from Davenport a half interest, which he held, with Bunker as a partner, until his death, on
July 17, 1893. After being published for five years as a semi weekly, the paper was restored on January 7, 1893,
to a weekly publication. Following the death of Foster, his interest was sold to Wallace Clarence Brown, who edited
the paper in conjunction with Bunker. After thirty six years as a part owner of the Gazette, Bunker disposed of
his interest to Brown on December 7, 1895. After conducting the paper for three years, Brown sold the entire business
in 1898 to G. E. Milnes. On March 1, 1900, the Daily Press, the first successful daily paper in Contra Costa County,
was established in Martinez by W. A. Rugg. After publishing the Press for four years, Rugg disposed of the paper
to the Gazette Publishing Company, which changed the name to the Daily Gazette. In 1907 Rugg, the former editor
of the Daily Press, purchased from G. E. Milnes the controlling interest in the Gazette Publishing Company, and
from that time on the management of the two publications has remained the same.
The California Express was published at Martinez about 1867 by Alexander Montgomery, who had in 1861 commenced
the publication of the Napa Echo, which violently opposed the administration of President Lincoln, and every measure
taken to subdue the Southern Rebellion. Its circulation and patronage were limited, and in a pecuniary point of
view it was never successful. Still it kept on until April, 1865, when it suspended publication on the morning
of the announcement of Lincoln's assassination. After its removal to Martinez it continued regularly for about
The Enterprise was started in Martinez in 1871 by J. W. Collier as a democratic paper. It was, however, printed
in San Francisco, the publication office being at Martinez. It lived but a short time.
The Contra Costa Standard was established at Pacheco in 1873. In October, 1877, it was removed to Martinez. It
has been one of the influential weekly publications in the central section of the State in that it has always advocated
and worked for those principles that make for progress and the development of the county's interests. The Martinez
Daily Standard is published in conjunction with the weekly Contra Costa Standard. Both are owned by the Contra
Costa Publishing Company, a joint stock company. The daily was established in 1911, and has become an influential
factor in the county's affairs. In politics these two publications are of Republican affiliation and strong advocates
of Republican policies, though of the more progressive or independent type. The weekly consists of eight pages,
and is published on Saturday. The daily is a four page publication, and is issued every evening except Sunday.
Will R. Sharkey is the editor and manager of both publications.
On November 6, 1858, W. K. Leavitt was given the contract for the building of the Roman Catholic church, which
was blown down about 1866, whereupon the present edifice was erected.
On April 8, 1859, Martinez and Benicia were first joined by telegraph and on June 6th of the same year Mette &
Co. established the first stage line between Martinez and Oakland.
On September 17, 1860, Martinez Engine Company No. I was organized. On February 15, 1862, the ladies of Martinez
raised a fund of one hundred dollars in a few hours for the fencing of the Alhambra Cemetery. In May, 1867, Coffin
& Standish erected a flour mill which was later occupied by Black's cannery.
The Martinez Water Company was incorporated on September 5, 1871. Martinez Hook and Ladder Company was organized
on February 4, 1871.
In February, 1876, the citizens of Martinez, mindful of the fact that the corporate existence of the town had lapsed
many years before, reincorporated the municipality, the boundaries being defined as follows: "Beginning at
a point where the fence dividing the lands of J. P. Jones and L. I. Fish touches the Straits of Carquinez; thence
southwardly along the said fence and continuing the same course to the line of the homestead tract of H. Bush;
thence westwardly along the north line of Bush's homestead tract to the Arroyo del Hambre; thence southerly along
said arroyo to the center of G Street; thence westwardly along G Street to the western boundary of the town of
Martinez as originally surveyed; thence northwardly, following the western boundary of the town plat to the Straits
of Carquinez; thence eastwardly along the shores of the Straits of Carquinez to the place of beginning." On
May 23, 1876, Thomas McMahon and L. C. Wittenmyer were elected two of the three trustees and J. R. L. Smith assessor
and tax collector.
In the year 1879 the Bush homestead property was purchased for the site of a Roman Catholic college, which was
later erected by the Christian Brothers Society of St. Mary's College and given the name of the De La Salle Institute.
Ten years previous to this time, Grace Church (Protestant Episcopal) was built, although the many communicants
who resided here had attended worship since 1854 at St. Paul's Church, Benicia, at times having services here in
the Methodist church. The Rev. E. P. Gray was the first pastor, and the parish is now in charge of the Rev. E.
The Congregational church was organized in Martinez on June 18, 1874, and the first resident pastor was the Rev.
W. S. Clark. A few years later the Methodist church building was purchased. The work of the church is now under
the direction of the Rev. Clarence A. Stone.
In the spring of 1874 the Contra Costa News was established in the town of Pacheco, but was later removed to Martinez,
where it existed under various managements and under numerous names until it has become the Contra Costa Standard.
The Alhambra Cemetery (Protestant) was originally a portion of the Pinole grant included within the boundaries
of the town of Martinez by the original survey. The area is five acres, and is now the property of the association
organized for the purpose of managing its affairs. Contiguous to Alhambra Cemetery is St. Catherine's Cemetery
(Roman Catholic), where many of the early settlers in this county and town have been laid to rest.
For several years Shirley & Mizner operated the ferry between Martinez and Benicia, continuing in that business,
with a landing at the foot of Ferry Street, until the late '70s, when they sold out to the Northern Railway Company,
which, together with the San Pablo & Tulare Railway Company, built the first railroad through Martinez. The
original line from Oakland east the "golden spike" line was built through Martinez, via Tracy, Lathrop,
and Lodi, to Sacramento, the Benicia-Sacramento line - the "Calpe" - being constructed several years
The old Morgan House, erected in 1885 at the corner of Main and Ferry streets, was destroyed by fire in 1887, and
Bernardo Fernandez, who had acquired the property, immediately started the erection of the Martinez Hotel, which
stands today on the property, a three - story structure, lately remodeled, but which at the time was the most pretentious
building in the county. In the same year the Congregational church as it stands today was erected and two years
later the Martinez Electric Light & Gas Company was started.
It is no exaggeration to state that Martinez is one of the most picturesque towns in the State. It has a sylvan
beauty all its own; shade trees abound on every street and hedges and flowering plants surround most of the residences.
Climate and soil are such that some of the finest fruits and flowers of Contra Costa County are grown in its vicinity.
In the near by valleys are situated some of the finest vineyards and orchards in the State. They are made possible
largely by the mountain range which shelters this region from sea winds. Through this range the Straits of Carquinez
have forced their way.
Situated on the Straits of Carquinez, all the commerce of the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers is brought in
touch with Martinez, a goodly share of which she receives. Suisun Bay, about three miles wide at this point, lies
directly in front of the town. Across the channel lies Benicia, with its army barracks, and its big railroad ferry,
and beyond which may be seen the purple and gently rolling contour of the Coast Range mountains. On the southern
side of the straits, Martinez nestles in a crescent shaped cove, sheltered on the west by a wall of hills which
rise abruptly from the water, affording an effective barrier against the trade winds of the Pacific and forming
a picturesque background.
Like all other communities, Martinez has suffered the usual loss from devastating fires. The first serious conflagration
occurred in September, 1856, when the Union Hotel and Blum's, Lazar's, and Hook's stores were destroyed. No serious
fire occurred again until July 18, 1867; on this date the mansion on the Gift place was destroyed. Then followed
another interval of almost the same duration, but on December 12, 1876, a group of five fine buildings on the southwest
corner of Main and Ferry streets was obliterated. A sixth building, belonging to John McCann, also suffered heavy
damage, but he made sufficient repairs to again occupy it by the 30th of December. Fire again visited Martinez
on March 16, 1877, on this occasion the home of Mrs. Jane E. Chase being destroyed, and on January 6, 1878, the
Granger's Restaurant, owned by F. D. Briare, met a similar fate. A loss that was severely felt occurred on March
8, 1880, when the Alhambra schoolhouse was burned to the ground. Doubtless there have been occasional conflagrations
since this last date, but they are here omitted as lacking in the historical interest of the earlier disasters.
Today Martinez has a thoroughly modern and efficient fire equipment, of which its citizens are justly proud, and
the town is thus effectually insured against serious disaster from fire.
The first serious earthquake to be felt by Martinez was on Wednesday, October 21, 1868, considerable damage being
caused by a temblor that simultaneously visited various other parts of the State. The new stone building of the
Alhambra Hotel was damaged to the extent of having two of its walls thrown down. The walls of the brick buildings
belonging to Blum, Lazar, Colman, and the Fish Brothers were considerably cracked. The heaviest toll was levied
on the courthouse, a part of the top and rear walls of which was thrown down.
In common with cities of other sections of the State, Martinez felt the severe earthquake of April 18, 1906, but
the damage sustained was slight and such as could be speedily repaired. It may be mentioned at this point that
no lives were lost on either occasion. The observation is often made in California that earthquakes in this region
are far less to be feared than the devastating cyclones and thunder storms in the East.
In the old days, when the town was under the spell of the Spanish influence, along with the other sections of central
and southern California, there was no great haste about doing things. Her population, in which the Latin races
predominated, basked in the wonderful California climate, devoid of ambition to enter the lists of commercialism
with its attendant hurry and rush. A living could be made with comparatively little toil, and why disturb oneself
beyond procuring the necessaries of life? There was always manana, and today one might enjoy a siesta. The old
time afternoon siesta lengthened into years instead of hours. Its sway persisted for six decades, and then it passed
out as completely as once had been its dominion. Martinez is living today. Gone are ma¬nana and the siesta,
for Martinez, keeping pace with the other thriving cities of Contra Costa County, has awakened to the keen throb
of commercial activity and civic pride.
The population of Martinez has grown so rapidly in the past two years (1915-16) that hotels and restaurants have
been hard pressed to keep pace with the demand for accommodations, although many new buildings have been erected
and old ones have been remodeled and enlarged. This was all brought about by the Royal Dutch Shell Company. Selecting
Martinez, with its splendid transportation facilities, both by water and rail, as being in every way desirable
for the location of its oil refineries, this great concern purchased four hundred acres of land in and adjacent
to the town, embracing the Arnstein, Cutler, and Potter holdings, began active building operations toward the end
of 1914, and erected a $5,000,000 refinery to employ over two thousand men. The California branch of the immense
Dutch-English syndicate is known as the Shell Oil Company of California, and is capitalized at $55,000,000. The
parent corporation has extensive oil holdings in the Dutch East Indies, Roumania, Russia, and Egypt, and is a large
manufacturer of gasoline, kerosene, and lubricating oils and greases. The California operations began with the
purchase of some of the finest holdings in the Coalinga oil fields. A pipe-line eight inches in diameter now extends
from the Coalinga oil holdings to the refinery at Martinez, a distance of 176 miles. It is capable of supplying
about 15,000 barrels of crude oil per day. In less than two years this company has accomplished a vast amount of
work. The first view of the Shell properties is met over the hill and just east of the main refinery. Here are
seen twenty mammoth steel tanks, capable of holding in the aggregate over a million barrels of crude oil. These
tanks cost a total of over $300,000. Counting all, big and little, the company will have about 175 tanks, with
a total capacity of over three million barrels.
At the central refinery one's attention is first arrested by the Trumble plant. Here are found an immense maze
and network of pipes that carry in the crude oil, to go through the various stages of refinement, at the rate of
ten thousand barrels a day. It all looks like Greek to the visitor, although the guide seems to have a mass of
information at the end of his tongue. He talks glibly of superheaters, dephlegmators, and condensers, and we have
to take his word for it and pass on. Soon we find ourselves in the big boiler house, where eight Heine water tube
boilers supply all the steam for the refinery. Although they develop two thousand horse power, only two men are
required to watch over them. The place is scrupulously clean throughout.
Just in front of the boiler house the pumping plant is situated. Twenty great pumps are kept busy pumping the distilled
product, in its various stages, to the storage tanks, where the finished product is kept. A little farther along
we come to the two colossal cooling towers, which help to economize on the water consumption, which is a large
item in a plant of this size. Passing around to the north, we view the kerosene agitators, with a capacity of treating
four thousand barrels. Then we find ourselves at the bleaching house, where the celebrated Shell lubricants are
made. Our time grows short, so we rapidly pass on to the machine shops and main storehouse, both marvels of efficiency.
Along the water front all the varied activities of filling and shipping barreled and canned light oils are carried
on. Here a wharf thirty three hundred feet long stretches out to deep water, where there is a depth of thirty two
feet at low tide, enabling the largest ocean going vessels to load at all times of the year. Extending from the
product tanks to the docks are seven pipe lines, enabling vessels to load with five thousand barrels of any one
product in an hour. All parts of the refinery are connected with the wharf by a narrow gauge railway.
Some idea of the vast amount of work that has been done is gained from the fact that over four hundred thousand
cubic feet of earth has been excavated for the erection of tanks, buildings, and the construction of roads. About
seven thousand cubic feet of concrete has been laid down for the foundations of buildings. Upward of four miles
of macadamized roads extend to all parts of the large tract, and over forty miles of pipe line has been laid to
Starting with a payroll of three thousand dollars a month in December, 1914, the Shell Oil Company was paying forty
three thousand dollars a month in December, 1915. The payroll is doubtless much larger now, with the addition of
many skilled men to operate the plant.
Just east of the city, at the terminus of a 275 mile pipe line from the Kern-Midway field near Bakersfield, the
refinery of the Associated Oil Company is situated. Work is now (in the summer of 1916) being pushed forward to
double the capacity of the refinery, to take care of its rapidly increasing business. The capacity of the new plant
will be twenty five thousand barrels a day, the refined products including gasoline, distillate, kerosene, and
benzine. The annual output will be worth about three million dollars, and the annual payroll will approach $150,000.
The Associated Oil Company has also leased and operates, in connection with its own plant, the refinery of the
American Oriental Oil Company at Martinez.
Another industry of which Martinez is proud is the Mountain Copper Company, situated about a mile and a half northeast,
just beyond the city limits, occupying Bullshead Point, on the shore of Suisun Bay. Here one beholds an immense
chimney, surrounded by factory buildings. An immense sign, large enough to be read miles away, bears the name "Mococo,"
by which the community is known. The title was derived from the first two letters of each of the words Mountain
Copper Company. This institution, which is largely controlled by English capital and which operates entirely in
California, has been in existence since 1894. Since that year it has operated four copper mines in Shasta County,
including the famous Iron Mountain mine, from which twenty million dollars' worth of copper was taken before it
showed signs of being exhausted, when other mines were developed to take its place. The company now smelts all
its ores at the Mococo plant, established in 1905. A smelter at Keswick, in Shasta County, was abandoned in 1907,
and a similar plant in New Jersey was closed down in 1906, it being found more economical and satisfactory in every
way to perform all the work at the local plant. To accomplish this the establishment runs day and night the year
The product from the mines is divided into two classes, known as siliceous ore and sulphide ore. The former
carries about three per cent of copper and the latter is rich in sulphuric acid. The siliceous ore is melted, and
from it is extracted blister copper, which is molded into "pigs" weighing two hundred and forty pounds
each. The sulphide ore is shipped to the various manufacturers of sulphuric acid on the Pacific Coast, including
the Standard Oil Company, the General Chemical Company, and the Du Pont Powder Company. After roasting out the
sulphur, the residue, containing about one per cent of copper and a small amount of gold and silver, is returned
to the Mountain Copper Company. The company also has its own sulphuric-acid plant, utilizing the sulphur from the
Iron Mountain ore.
Of growing interest to California agriculturists is the superior quality of fertilizer which Mococo plant turns
out from its byproducts. It is commercially known as superphosphate, and is the basis of all mixed fertilizers.
The plant is capable of manufacturing, about thirty thousand tons of fertilizer a year. Owing to the fertility
of California's soil, agriculturists in the past have used very little fertilizer, but it is coming more and more
into use, especially by the far sighted and scientific farmers. According to T. B. Smith, the superintendent of
the company, "the State of California at present uses only from forty thousand to fifty thousand tons of fertilizer
a year, while some smaller States back East use from seven hundred thousand to eight hundred thousand tons; but
they'll all have to come to it." The company's holdings cover fifty five acres of highland and twenty five
acres of marsh. The smelter has a capacity of four hundred tons of ore a day, or a monthly output of five hundred
tons of blister copper. The heat is contributed by three immense reverberating furnaces, the largest of which consumes
ninety three hundred gallons of fuel oil a day, the other two requiring seven thousand gallons each. Copper smelting
takes place at a temperature of thirteen hundred degrees centigrade, and the process requires the highest degree
of accuracy. An error of five minutes over or under would spoil an entire batch, but such a mistake has not occurred
in six years. A foreman, who is a master in his line, is always on the watch. The various products are valued at
two and a quarter million dollars annually, and the yearly payroll is nearly half a million dollars, four hundred
men being employed.
The operations are conducted in such a manner that no injurious odors are released, and this condition permits
the most luxurious plant life to flourish about the grounds. Here are found a variety of fruits, banks of poppies
and lupine, and even a field of hay. It is asserted that a similar sight will not be found at any other smelter
in the world.
Martinez has numerous other commercial and industrial interests, of which time and space forbid more than a brief
mention. These include one distinctly home product, the Stephenson patent cooler, manufactured by the L. Anderson
Lumber Company. The device is an iceless cooler, a great boon to housewives, enabling them to keep vegetables,
meats, and cooked foods from one meal to another with none of the inconveniences of a refrigerator. There is also
a great demand for it among dairymen. The secret of the cooler, which resembles an ordinary cupboard, is in its
burlap side walls, a water pan beneath, and tubes for the circulation of air. In a room at a temperature of ninety
degrees, the thermometer in the cooler stands at sixty degrees. E. J. Randall, a resident of Concord, is the manager
of the company. He gives the sales his personal attention, and states that the cooler now sells in many States
of the Union, and even as far away as Cuba. It has never been necessary to employ a road salesman, as the demand
has kept the plant running to full capacity. About fifteen hundred were manufactured last year. The Anderson Company
also operates a complete lumber yard, and is one of the oldest lumber and building material concerns in the section.
Another long established business institution is the J. E. Colton Winery on West Howard Street. Colton has been
engaged in viticulture for over twenty years, and has a fine fifty acre vineyard, half of which is devoted to table
grapes and half to wine grapes. Aged wines are his specialty. Each year over 125,000 gallons of the best quality
of dry wines is produced, and this finds a ready sale throughout the State. The Colton Winery, the largest independent
winery in the county, is operated under the most sanitary conditions possible, Colton, who is serving his first
term as city trustee and mayor, is a strong exponent of the City Beautiful idea.
MARTINEZ DEVELOPMENT BOARD
All the functions of a chamber of commerce are performed by the recently organized Martinez Development Board,
whose membership comprises some of the most wide awake citizens of Martinez. The new organization is backed by
the business men of the community, and is making every effort to enhance the growth of the town and further its
commercial interests. Judge C. H. Hayden, member of the city council, is president of the board; O. K. Smith, a
prominent official of the Mountain Copper Company, is vice president; Don C. Ray, district manager for the Pacific
Gas & Electric Company, is secretary; A. E. Dunkel, former county recorder, now head of a large abstract and
title business, is treasurer. The board of governors consists of the following prominent citizens: J. E. Rodgers,
R. R. Veale, Hardin Morrow, A. E. Blum, E. A. Majors, A. E. Dunkel, B. Schapiro, and C. M. Wooster.
Although organized late in 1915, the Martinez Development Board carried to a successful conclusion a number of
large projects before the end of the year. A very important matter which is being ably conducted by the Board is
that of settling all litigation over landholdings along the city water front, so that there will be no obstruction
in the way of manufacturing and other interests using this acreage for the future welfare of Martinez. During the
past year (1916) the activities of the board have been largely directed toward obtaining a new charter for Martinez,
in keeping with the larger growth and activities of the municipality. The organization is also working diligently
in favor of a city owned water supply, improvements in paved streets, and for bond issues to make these projects
Among the newer public buildings that reflect great credit on Martinez is the county hospital, recently erected
at a cost of seventy thousand dollars. It is picturesquely situated on a promontory overlooking the city proper.
Constructed of brick and concrete, the handsome structure comprises three stories, made up of two main wings, with
a connecting bridge, or corridor. The surounding grounds are maintained in a manner quite in keeping with the dignity
and beauty of the edifice. Here a skilled staff of physicians and surgeons ministers to the unfortunate and suffering
in a most competent and efficient manner.
The new city hall is located in the heart of town. In this building are conducted all the municipal affairs which
are now administered at the courthouse.
Most impressive of all the public buildings of Martinez is the courthouse, which was erected in 1901, at a cost
of six hundred thousand dollars. It comprises two full stories and a basement, granite and concrete being used
in its construction. The whole is topped by a magnificent dome that lends the appearance of a capitol building.
One is equally impressed with the interior, all of the offices being handsomely equipped with Oriental rugs and
mission furniture, the equal of which is seldom found in a building of this kind.
Martinez became the county seat in 1851, and such it has remained ever since. The present county officials are
as follows: Superior judges, R. H. Latimer and A. B. McKenzie, both of Martinez; supervisors, Zeb Knott, of Richmond,
J. P. Casey, of Port Costa, Vincent Hook, of Concord, W. J. Buchanan, of Pittsburg, and J. H. Trythall, of Antioch;
county clerk, J. H. Wells, of Martinez; district attorney, T. D. Johnston, of Martinez; sheriff, R. R. Veale, of
Martinez; auditor, A. N. Sullenger, of Martinez; recorder, M. H. Hurley, of Martinez; assessor, George O. Meese,
of Martinez; tax collector, M. W. Joost, of Martinez; treasurer, J. Rio Baker, of Martinez; superintendent of schools,
W. H. Hanlon, of Martinez; coroner, Doctor C. L. Abbott, of Richmond; public administrator, C. E. Daley, of Martinez;
surveyor, Ralph R. Arnold, of Martinez; superintendent of county hospital, W. H. Hough, of Martinez; county physician,
E. W. Merrithew, of Martinez; probation officer, A. J. McMahon, of Martinez; health officer, W. S. George, of Antioch.
The following miscellaneous items form a part of the history of the town of Martinez: Commercial Hotel, Main Street,
built in 1892; destroyed by fire in 1904. County Hospital established in the '90s, new brick building built in
1910, and new addition in 1915. Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe line built through in 1891. Courthouse erected
in 1901, at cost of over $600,000; Hall of Records proposed directly across street, in property acquired several
years ago. Fire started August 19, 1904, in Stephenson patent cooler factory, wiping out two blocks, including
the Curry livery stable, the opera house, the Bank of Martinez, the McNamara-Winkelman block, Rankin building,
and Commercial Hotel. Mountain Copper smelter erected in 1892, employing nearly 300 men. Bullshead Oil Works, now
American Oriental Company, built refinery in 1905. Martinez Electric Light & Gas Works inaugurated in 1887.
Pacific Coast Steel & Iron Manufacturing Company built steel works in 1884. Northern Railway Company (Southern
Pacific) and San Pablo & Tulare Railroad Company built through here in late '70s. Shirley & Mizner then
sold Martinez-to-Benicia ferry to railroad company, which closed up the ferry service. Peyton Chemical Works built
in 1900. California Transportation Company (river steamer line) built wharf and began regular service in 1909.
Congregational church built in 1904. Alhambra water plant established in 1903, bottling water piped from Alhambra
Springs, six miles out in Alhambra Valley. Under bond issue in 1911 city acquired fifty five acres of water front
land, and built municipal wharf and city hail. Pacific Gas & Electric Company purchased Contra Costa Electric
Light & Power Company in 1911 and entered local field. Great Western Power Company came in 1913. Contra Costa
Gas Company began service in 1915. Corporate limits of town extended in 1909; second extension attempted in 1916,
but failed. Alhambra high school building erected in 1904, and grammar school building in 1909. Bonds voted for
new $51,000 grammar school.
New home sites opened for settlement in last few years, water mains extended, many miles of cement sidewalks laid,
electric lighting system extended, new homes built, street paving commenced.
The Martinez-Benicia ferry was established in 1913. The State highway is how building from Martinez to Berkeley.
The county highway connects with tunnel road and Mount Diablo Boulevard and new bay shore highway to Bay Point,
bringing Associated Oil Refinery within three miles of city.