In the beginning all was dark and then Governor Micheltorena, Governor of Alta California, created the “Potrero de Los Cerritos” Mexican land grant for Augustin Alviso and Tomas Pacheco. The date was March 23, 1844. They were given all the land between the Alameda Creek and the Sanjon de Los Alisos. This grant consisted of 3 leagues of property (some 10,610 acres), 4,000 head of cattle, 200 horses and mares, and 2,000 sheep.

The beginning of their property is at the point where the abandoned creek bed of the “Sanjon de Los Alisos” broke off from the Alameda Creek. The old creek bed, which is no longer visible today, originated from a point between the easterly projection of Thornton Avenue and Peralta Boulevard in today’s Fremont California.

The northern boundary of their grant followed the Alameda Creek from the meeting point with the Sanjon de Los Alisos north to Alvarado and from Alvarado west to the Cerritos Hills. Hence the northern boundary was the Alameda Creek and everything south of Alameda Creek to point where Alameda Creek meets the old Sanjon de Los Alisos creek bed.

The southern boundary of the property is the origination point of the Sanjon de Los Alisos, an abandoned Alameda Creek bed still visible in 1844, but is almost totally obliterated today. The Sanjon de Los Alisos begins at a point just south of a straight-line extension due east of Thornton Avenue where it would meet the present Alameda Creek. From here it heads slightly south to a point almost touching Peralta Boulevard. Thence it meanders slightly northwest to a point where it crosses Fremont Boulevard just south of Thornton Avenue. It continues slightly west by northwest into Cabrillo Park to Gibraltar Drive (Near Coronado) and then darts south before crossing Coronado near LaSalle Street. It then continues southwest across I-880 just north of the Thornton Avenue Cloverleaf. Thence it makes a slightly northwest jaunt across Newark Boulevard near Cherry, across Cedar to a point on Lido Boulevard just south of Jarvis Avenue. From here it turns southwest and empties into the Jarvis/Beard Landing Slough. Everything north of this creek bed to the Alameda Creek was the Potrero de Los Cerritos land grant.

This grant encompassed the town of Alvarado (south of the Alameda Creek) and all of the Alviso District and small portions of northern Fremont and Newark.

Following is a land owners map showing the area of the Potrero de Los Cerritos grant highlighted in pink. I have entered the names of streets and roads within or near (in blue) the grant district. I have labeled the areas known as “Machado’s Corner and the Bell Ranch Bridge also in blue. This will enable you to see most of the actual grant and Alvarado as they existed in 1878.

You will note that Alvarado straddles both sides of the Alameda Creek from its junction with Dry Creek north through Alvarado. Only the area south of Alameda Creek is within the grant of the Potrero de Los Cerritos.

landowner map

Landowners Map, Washington Township, Thompson & West 1878
(Increase magnification to 200% for best viewing)

In the early years, this was pretty much all Alvarado. Newark and Decoto did not come into existence until the 1870’s (although there were persons living in these areas). It appears the Alviso District was more closely allied to Alvarado than Centerville. There are two reasons to support this; first the Alviso School District was considered part of Alvarado for voting purposes.

An article in The Oakland Tribune dated May 12, 1954, shows that the National Primary election held on June 8, 1954, for persons in the Alviso School District was held at the Alviso School, Precinct No.3 of Alvarado.

Second, the U.S. Federal Census includes the Alviso District in the Alvarado Enumeration District for the 1930 U.S. Census, the last census that the National Archives that has been released to the public. The E.D. runs from the Bell Ranch Bridge west to Decoto Road and Jarvis Landing Road to the lands of the Patterson’s (including the Patterson’s home). Thence to Alvarado and around to part of Whipple Road and up Alvarado-Niles Road to Dry Creek.

This was pretty much Alvarado proper for many years. But as you read through these articles you will find obvious references to persons or places, which are in either today’s Fremont or Newark. I could have changed them or deleted them, but I decided not to do this.

There are several reasons, one is that I do not know actual home address of every person mentioned with Alvarado; hence deletion would be arbitrary and incomplete. Second people or companies that lie outside of Alvarado but are mentioned did have an influence on Alvarado. The salt companies are a good example. Except for the Oliver Bros. in Mt. Eden, most of the others are mentioned as being in Alvarado (either as headquartered here or processing here). Remember, Newark did not begin to come into its own until the late 1870’s.

Persons who did not live in Alvarado but had some influence over events are also part this work. Take for example Leslie H. Maffey, Alvarado Grammar School Principal from the mid 1940’s past the end of my work in January 1959. He was a resident of Warm Springs.

Mr. Maffey’s achievements as the Principal of Alvarado Grammar School included being a member of the Alvarado Chamber of Commerce, a member of the Alvarado PTA, and a member of the committee to incorporate Union City; he did all of this while he spent eight hours or more a day as Superintendent of the Alvarado School District. He then stayed after work to attend countless meetings, preparing analyses, budgets, and plans for a new school in 1958. But he wasn’t a resident of Alvarado. As a matter fact, when these meeting were over he had to drive home to Warm Springs and get prepared for the next day’s work. Until 1957 there was no freeway to Warm Springs.

Raymond Cunha spent a lot of time in Alvarado, but he was a resident of Irvington. He was prominent in the Alvarado Eagles for many years in the 1950’s. As a matter of fact some of the people mentioned are only Alvaradan’s as far as their affiliation with Alvarado social organizations or their employment in Alvarado. I could not recognize them all, or even some of them, so I left most of them in.

The one exception is the Alvarado Farm Home Center. This organization apparently started out as an Alvarado group and somewhere along the line ended up being associated with Alvarado in name only.