Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Founding Fathers: the Beginning

According to Hubert Howe Bancroft the population of California in 1830 was 4,250. This includes soldiers, convicts, and others from Spain and Mexico. This does not include those tribes in the bay area known as the Costanoan (Ohlone). California first belonged to Spain and then Mexico. Nothing like absolute ownership of land by individuals was yet recognized by the government, therefore, the lands were up for grabs.
John Meirs Horner
Into this environment came John Meirs Horner now a farmer and a former school teacher in the winter in New Jersey. He and his wife, Elisha Hyatt, and son, Cyrus Irea, were aboard the ship known as the Brooklyn along with 252 other passengers when it left New York on Feb. 4th 1946. Most of the passengers were of the Mormon religion. Farm equipment and a printing press were included on board, and at the last moment, 179 volumes of Harpers Family Library were added. Books, especially those for school use, were not forgotton. (History of California vol V 1846-1848. Hubert Howe Bancroft. p. 546. Wallace Hubberd: Santa Barbara California.)

According to the writings of J. M. Horner, "The population of Yerba Buena, (now San Francisco), when we arrived there on July 31st, 1846 was said to be forty." According to Horner, "When I arrived in California, it was in the throes of a revolution. A war was raging between the United States and Mexico. The gold fever broke out with epidemic violence in 1848, and took nearly all the people (ourselves included) off to the mines. We did not get much gold. I carried my rifle and pistol wherever l went prospecting, but seeing no one whom I wanted to shoot and no one who wished to shoot me, I concluded my pistol was useless and traded it to a Spaniard for a yoke of oxen, the first animals I ever owned; with them I plowed for my first crop of vegetables in California." ( In 1850 he purchased one hundred acres of land at the landing, on the Alameda river, and laid out the town of Union City upon it. We also purchased the steamer Union to carry our produce to market. (the chapbook Rancho San Miguel. Silver, Mae.)

William Yeats HornerIn 1850 California Statehood was established and William joined his brother. Two years later William was sent to New York on business for J. M Horner and Co. He came back with his father and mother and all their children and grandchildren, two of John's wife's sisters, and a brother. There were twenty-two people to add to the population of Union City. In 1854 they purchased Rancho San Miguel, nineteen hundred and fifty acres, at the landing on the Alameda Creek. Both brothers worked for the company which was established to take their crops to the market. They grew huge crops of potatoes along with wheat, barley, cabbages, onions and tomatoes. Since there were no flour mills in California they built one in Union City. (the chapbook, Rancho San Miguel. Silver, Mae.)

Henry C. Smith
In 1851 the city of New Haven was laid out right next to the land called Alvarado. Alvarado was owned by two San Francisco lawyers. There was nothing on it. Alvarado was named for Mexican Governor of California from 1836 to 1842, Juan Alvarado. Henry Smith was the owner of the general store in New Haven. The town was named after Smith's home town, New Haven, Connecticut. In 1853, New Haven joined Alvarado, and Alvarado became the county of seat of the newly formed Alameda County. There was no longer the city of New Haven. (Wikipedia)