Presenting the Past: A Historical Sketch of San Ramon Valley, Part III | July 3, 2009 | Danville Express | |

Danville Express

Living - July 3, 2009

Presenting the Past: A Historical Sketch of San Ramon Valley, Part III

by Friederiche Humburg

Editor's note: Miss Humburg wrote this history based on research and conversations with her aunt Flora May Stone Jones, for "The Valley kernel," the first San Ramon Valley Union High School annual in 1914.

In 1859 leading residents organized the Contra Costa Educational Association, and erected the Union Academy, a boarding and day school. The Academy opened for instruction in June 1860, with Rev. David McClure as its first principal, while Silas Stone, John M. Jones and Robert Love comprised its first Board of Trustees. The Union Academy was a large three storied structure, centrally located between Alamo and Danville, on the west side of the county road, on land that is now a prune orchard belonging to E. B. Anderson. The fine locusts which grace the roadway at that spot, were planted in the days of the Academy, to adorn the entrance to its grounds.

John H. Braly, in later years principal of the San Jose Normal School, succeeded Dr. McClure as principal. Mr. Braly's successor was Rev. Robert King, and in 1868, during his principalship the Academy was destroyed by fire, and was never rebuilt. The church building almost directly opposite the academy site afforded temporary school accommodations. In the mean time other towns had sprung up - Danville (so named for Daniel Inman, its first resident), Limerick (now San Ramon) and Walnut Creek situated at the junction of Walnut and San Ramon creeks. District schools were established at Alamo and at these younger towns.

In 1910, by popular vote of Danville, San Ramon, Alamo, Green Valley, and Sycamore districts, a high school was established at Danville, and named the San Ramon Valley Union High School. Although still in its infancy it gives promise of becoming a power in the land.

In nothing does history show progress in greater degree than in modes of transportation. Beginning with that ox team which "gee" "hawed" its way through our valley in 1847, we may trace the means of travel next by the saddle horse, then by carriages, drawn by horses. Next came the steam railroad with the advent of the Southern Pacific in 1891; in more recent years, by scores of automobiles; and now in 1914, the Oakland, Antioch and Eastern electric railroad lands us in the metropolis in less than two hours.

Since the coming of our first American settlers in 1851, the years have brought many changes besides those of transportation. Many of the big ranches have been divided into smaller holdings. With the increase of population and more intensive farming, land has steadily increased in value, and instead of being sold by the "league" it is measured to the hundredth of an acre. Instead of the scattering farm houses of the fifties, the valley and foothills are dotted with comfortable and attractive homes.

Better facilities for handling perishable products, have changed many grain fields into orchards, and fruit from San Ramon Valley now commands the highest prices in the markets of eastern cities.

We, of the San Ramon Valley, have much for which to be thankful - thankful for Nature's gifts of ideal climate and fertile soil; for a varied and beautiful landscape; for educational and commercial facilities of modern times; for the touch of romance that has come to us from olden days; for musical names - relics of the sons of Spain; but above all are we glad and thankful that we are descendants of men and women who, thrilled by the tales of the "Pathfinder," braved the dangers and hard ships of the long journey across the plains, bringing with them little of material riches, but a wealth of courage, fortitude, energy, industry, and integrity. As inheritors of this wealth, may we of the present day, live up to the high standard set by our forefathers - the pioneers of San Ramon Valley.

Provided by Beverly Lane, curator of the Museum of the San Ramon Valley and co-author of "San Ramon Valley: Alamo, Danville, and San Ramon" and "Vintage Danville: 150 Years of Memories."


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