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March 11, 2009 > History: Pioneers in Union City

History: Pioneers in Union City

By Myrla Raymundo

In l846, a band of Mormon farmers arrived at Yerba Buena on the steamer Brooklyn. They worked their way down the San Ramon corridor from Martinez and moved into abandoned Mission San Jose barracks, warehouses and half-ruined adobes. And of course, they found their way to Union City. Some of their names are in common usage today.

Ezra Decoto:
Landlocked, Decoto became a railroad town whose growth was spurred by the arrival of the Western Pacific Railroad through Niles Canyon in l869. The town was formed out of land owned by the family of Ezra Decoto. Its location made it an ideal spot for a railroad station. The year l870 brought incorporation of Decoto and by the turn of the century, 580 people lived there. Ezra Decoto was born in l833 near Montreal, Canada. He was the first of three brothers to move to Alameda County. After buying, farming, and selling different parcels, he and his two brothers bought 334 acres of land near the right-of-way of the Western Pacific Railroad. The Decoto Land Company bought 284 acres to develop a railroad town. Decoto was originally spelled "de Coteau."

John Horner:
In 1850, John Horner, with his brother William, shipped crops netting almost $100,000 and laid out a town eight blocks square in l851. He located the streets on the south side of the Creek, purchased a small Sacramento River steamer called The Union and named his settlement Union City. John Horner started a general store.

Henry Smith:
A storekeeper and American Alcalde in Mission San Jose, Henry Smith sold his store and moved to Union City near John Horner. Smith built two warehouses at the wharf in Union City. He started a settlement called New Haven, named after his hometown in Connecticut. It was north and east of the great elbow of the creek. Hotels and eating places sprang up along with saloons and gaming rooms.

John C. Whipple:
John C. Whipple was lured to California in search of gold in the spring of l854. He invested in many acres of land in Alameda County. He bought 200 acres near the Decoto Brothers Ranch on what is now Whipple Road and added 300 acres to his domain on the hills east of the Hayward-Niles Road. He planted fruit trees and used the land for cattle and cultivating grains and vegetables.

Captain Marsten:
The steamer The Union, captained by Marsten, made the round trip to San Francisco once a day with produce and brought back passengers, mail, hardware, tools, and merchandize.

A.W. Church:
Church arrived in California from New York in l849. After failing as a miner, he opened the first store in New Haven (Alvarado). In 1853, he was elected as the first County Clerk of Alameda County. His store became the first County Courthouse.

Capt. Richard Barron:
Capt Barron was born in Ireland in l824 and immigrated to the United States in l846. He moved to California in 1850 and became the third owner of the Landing in Union City (Alvarado.)

John Quigley:
In 1862, John Quigley, a pioneer salt-maker of Alameda County, commenced operations as Quigley Salt Works in Alvarado.

Ebenezer H. Dyer:
Ebenezer H. Dyer, along with his brother Ephraim, bought, then built a sugar beet factory on his property in 1870; the first successful one in the United States. A new company was organized by E.H. Dyer as the Standard Sugar Manufacturing Company in l879, and operated until l886.

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