Historical Nuggets 1: Oakland
Archeological evidence shows that Oakland and surrounding areas were inhabited as early as 4000 BCE. Around the 6th century AD, tribes, collectively referred to as the Ohlone, migrated into the area extending from San Francisco down to Big Sur and east into Contra Costa County. The Ohlone were never one tribe, rather they were comprised of more than 50 “nations” with distinct languages, co-existing through trade and marriage.
Their lives changed dramatically with the arrival of the Spanish in 1769. Wanting to protect “New Spain” from Russian colonization threats, Spain sent military troops up from Lower (Baja) California into Upper (Alta) California. With them came a Franciscan Friar, Father Junípero Serra with the order to extend the Catholic Church’s missions northward for the benefit of the indigenous peoples. In the following years, Serra founded seven of his missions in Ohlone territory, converting thousands of them to Catholicism and, in effect, undermining their culture.
Miguel José Serra took the name “Junípero” upon his ordination in honor of an earlier follower of St. Francis of Assisi. He was born on the island of Majorca (Spain) in 1713 and died in 1784 of a snake bite at Mission San Carlos Borroméo de Carmelo (Carmel, CA).
In 1820, the King of Spain gave Rancho San Antonio, a parcel of approximately 45,000 acres, to Luís María Peralta (b.1759 – d.1851) in recognition of his success as a military leader. In addition to Oakland, this grant incorporated the cities of of Albany, Berkeley, Emeryville, Piedmont, Alameda, and San Leandro.
Peralta’s family came to California in 1776 with the Juan Bautista de Anza expedition. These settlers were involved with founding the Presidio of San Francisco, Mission Santa Clara and the first town of Alta California, San José. It was the establishment of Mission San José that extended Spanish rule over what is now Oakland.
Peralta never lived on his huge estate, residing instead at the Peralta Adobe in San José. In 1842, he divided Rancho San Antonio amongst his four sons. He gave his five daughters the San José property and livestock.
It was around this time that logging of the East Bay hills began.
To be continued…