AN EARLY HISTORY OF CONCORD, CALIFORNIA
Once the Town of Todos Santos on the Land Grant of Monte Del Diablo
A small tribelet of Chupcan (Bay Miwok) Indians composed the first inhabitants of our valley.
Dominated by a great mountain to their south, the Chupcan lived along the valley’s streams which flowed north to the wide tule marshes on the edge of the Bay.
They shared the valley, and the oak-covered hills with tremendous herds of elk, deer and antelope. Salmon filled the streams; grizzly bears roamed foothills.
It wasn’t until 1772 that Spanish explorer, led by Captain Pedro Fages and Father Juan Crespi, became the first outsiders to cross this area. In 1776, Lt. Colonel
Juan Bautista de Anza, Lt. Jose Joaquin Moraga, and Father Pedro Font — after leading the first colonists from Mexico to Monterey, California — would be the next Europeans to visit the valley. For the next 50-60 years, the Spanish would explore, but not settle in our valley.
In 1828, Don Salvio Pacheco, whose ancestors were soldier-colonists with Anza, petitioned the Mexican government for lands in the valley. A native California and retired Spanish militiaman, Don Salvio was serving as a senior civil servant at the Pueblo of San Jose when he finally received the “Monte del Diablo” land grant in 1834. The 17,921 acre grant covered our valley from the Walnut Creek channel east to the hills, and generally from the Mt. Diablo foothills north to the Bay.
The name “Monte del Diablo” which was assigned to Don Salvio’s land grant, and ultimately to his Rancho, originally had been used by Spanish soldiers to describe a dense thicket (monte) of willows at the north end of our valley. The soldiers believed the thicket was possessed by evil, devilish Indian spirits, hence the name, “Monte del Diablo” – thicket of the devil.
Don Salvio’s son, Fernando Pacheco, was sent immediately to occupy the grant and begin cattle operations on the Pacheco family’s new Rancho. Don Salvio would not move his entire family to the Rancho until 1846, when a series of revolts by new American settlers swept the Mexican government from Alta California.
The Rancho Monte del Diablo prospered. Don Salvio’s grand adobe, which is still located in downtown Concord, became the business, social and cultural center of the region. Don Fernando’s adobe, now a nationally registered historical landmark, was built a few miles north on low hills overlooking the Bay.
Don Francisco Galindo, whose grandfather also had immigrated north with Anza, would come to the Rancho from San Francisco to marry Don Salvio’s daughter, Maria Dolores Manuela. The Galindo’s wood frame home, also a national landmark, remains today near the Clayton Road extension and Galindo Street. The Galindo’s wood frame home, also a national landmark, remains today near the Clayton Road extension and Galindo Street. Ruth Galindo, a fourth generation descendant of the original owners, retained ownership in the family until her death in 1999. Title to the property was transferred to the City of Concord and now resides with the Concord Historical Society.
In the 1850’s and 1860’s, the new California cities on the coast and in the central valley were creating a major demand for foodstuffs and raw materials. The Rancho Monte del Diablo, and the new American settlers in the valley, provided the cattle, grains, lime and coal which were in such short supply. A new town, called Pacheco, adjacent to the Rancho, prospered as an industrial and transshipment center. Its unique, inland, deep-water channel permitted supply ships easy access to the produce and products of central Contra Costa County.
The town of Pacheco’s prosperity was short lived. A series of fires continued to gut the town and hinder its growth. Recurring and disastrous floods caused by several years of heavy rainfall soaked the businesses. The resulting erosion silted up the ship channel, rendering Pacheco’s wharves and warehouses useless. A major earthquake in 1868 would accelerate the search by the town’s devastated merchants for a safer location.
Don Salvio Pacheco, Fernando Pacheco, & Francisco Galindo
The Todos Santos town plan was sited diagonally across the road which connected Clayton and its busy coal fields to the old docks at Pacheco. The new town would cover 20 acres and be divided into 19 blocks and a public plaza. Its perimeter was marked by Bonifacio Street on the northwest, East Street on the northeast, Contra Costa Street on the southeast, and Galindo Street on the southwest.
Original streets names in Todos Santos reflected the founders’ family pride, American patriotism, and sense of place. Some names have obvious sources, others require an explanation. Bonifacio Street was likely named after Don Salvio’s deceased son, Bonifacio Antonio Pacheco. Lincoln Street, named after assassinated President Abraham Lincoln, was later changed to Concord Boulevard. Grant Street honored then newly-elected President U. S. Grant; Colfax Street his Vice President Schuyler Colfax. Mt. Diablo Street would reflect the name mistakenly taken by Americans from the Rancho’s title for use on the great mountain which overshadowed the town. Contra Costa Street acknowledged the local county; it would be changed to Sunset Street, then later, changed again to Clayton Road for its new western extension. Fernando Street, named for one of the founders, would soon be changed to Willow Pass Road.
The name Todos Santos would not identify the new town for long. Within months after Todos Santos has been recorded as the official name, CONCORD was heralded by the Contra Costa Gazette as the actual name. In an article dated April 17, 1869, the paper, published in Pacheco town, congratulated the residents of Concord for adopting such a meaningful name for their new village. They highlighted the harmonious spirit and euphony of this fine name. Despite later published reminders and protests by Fernando Pacheco, Concord became the name of our new town.
Sam Bacon was the first Pacheco town merchant to move to Todos Santos / Concord. In 1869, he reopened his general merchandise store on the north corner of Salvio and Galindo Streets. Other merchants would quickly follow; Concord would prosper as an agricultural support community for central Contra Costa County. By 1879, a population of 300 was reported. In would double by February 1905, when incorporation of the “Town of Concord” was approved by a local two-vote margin.
It would take 35 years for the population to double again. Small town Concord would begin World War II with an extraordinary high school, a modern hospital, five churches, two railroads, a fine library, a nationally-recognized central plaza, two cinemas, a full-service downtown commercial area, tree-lined streets, comfortable homes, and a population of only 1,400. The war years brought awarenes from the outside; the post-war years began a population boom. Our growing bedroom community, then with a population of about 6,500, became the “City of Concord” in January 1948. Soon, the new city would expand to also cover the northern portion of the adjacent Rancho San Miguel, which had originally been granted to Salvio’s uncle, Miguel Pacheco. Today, the farms, orchards and the old Rancho are neighborhoods; the classic old downtown has a multi-story skyline. Concord has a diverse population approaching 125,000, and in the year 2000 was the largest city in Contra Costa County. Confident of its future, Concord is especially proud of its rich history.