History of Washington Township, Alameda County, California

The Country Club, under whose auspices this history is published, was the outcome of two political equality societies, one of Centreville and one of Niles. The first meeting of the Woman's Club of Washington Township, afterward re-named the Country Club, was held in December, 1897, at the home of Mrs. C.H. Allen, Centreville. At that time there were present twenty-five women from different parts of the township, who became charter members of the club then organized. At the present writing six of the seven villages in the township are represented, and there are a few members from outside districts.

Believing that the history of this township would be valuable as a part of Alameda County and of the State, the women of the Country Club began this work early in May, 1908. Every active member contributed something to it, and the heads of the various committees compiled the material into papers, which were read at a "Golden Jubilee" meeting, held May 19th, in the Town Hall of Centreville, to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the organization of the township. The past and the present, represented by the pioneers, their children and grandchildren, crowded the hall, which was tastefully decorated with great branches of golden mustard blooms, California poppies, and wild oats in luxuriant profusion.

On either side of the platform were tables covered with valued relics and papers belonging to early days. The papers read at this meeting proved so interesting that the Club decided to preserve them in permanent form. To the old settlers some of the records may appear incorrect, and some so familiar as to seem unimportant: but the compilers believe that every fact and incident related is of interest and worth recounting, for the events of the past are rapidly fading away; and it is hoped that the reading of these pages may revive old memories and incite each pioneer now living to put in writing his early California experience, particularly that part of it which relates to this locality and its first settlement by Americans ; so that not only historical facts may be gathered, but traditions also may be collected and kept for future use.


Table of Contents

Argonaut Club of Washington, Murray and Eden Townships 128
Centerville and Vicinity 59
Civil War Notes 81
Decoto, Town and District 109
First Assessment Roll of Washington Township 124
First School Census 130
Introduction 5
Irvington 84
Mission San Jose 37
Names of Members of Pioneer Society 122
Newark 114
Niles 97
Pioneers of Washington Township 123
Preface 2
Productions and Acreage 129
Rainfall and Temperature 132
School Expenditures 132
Senorita Guadalupe de Jesus Vallejo 133
The Indian's Lament 45
The Key to My Old Home 133
The Mission of San Jose 28
Union City and Alvarado 46
Warm Springs 91


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The greater part of Washington Township lies in what Father Palou, California's earliest historian, calls the Valle de San Jose, a name applied formerly to the whole long valley, because of the location therein of San Jose, one of the pueblos of California. Subsequently it was called Santa Clara, and the upper portion of it is often spoken of as the Alameda Valley, from the creek of that name flowing through it. Father Palotu incidentally mentions that when, in 1773, Capt. Bautista's party went through here from Monterey in search of San Francisco, the soldiers killed elk so large that the antlers measured eight feet from tip to tip. In 1793 the Spanish government of this country decided to establish a third town, or pueblo, and sent out a party to explore, as appears in the report, from Santa Cruz Mission "to the place of the Alameda," and although this place contained a creek, the pueblo, Branciforte, was located near Santa Cruz Mission, but was soon abandoned. There were twenty-one missions, four presidios (garrisons), and three pueblos (civic settlements) including Branciforte, established before 1833, when the missions were secularized. The history of the founding of these old missions is one of interest to everybody. Many of them are now in ruins, only piles of adobe indicating the places where they once stood, but the settlement and civilization of early California were wholly due to their institution, and although now of little or no civic importance, they mark a valuable as v^ell as poetic epoch in the history of the state- and the several localities in which they were established. In 1707 one of them was founded in what is now Washington Township, and so it follows that the early history of the township is largely that of Mission San Jose, which appears elsewhere in this work. In 1834 when the Mexican congress passed the act releasing the Indians from the control of the misrdons, and appointing men to manage the affairs of mission property, Don Jose de Jesus Vallejo was appointed administrator at Mission S.an Jose, where he lived many years.