the 1906 earthquake in San Francisco,
many square miles of the city were demolished and over $200,000,000 worth of
property was lost.
Martial law was declared and troops under General Funston were in
control. The saloons were all closed to
prevent crazed men from rioting and any person caught stealing was shot. Provisions sold at high prices and water sold
by the glass as water mains had broken and there was very little water.
the San Jose
area the Agnew Insane Asylum was demolished by the shock and some inmates were
buried while others escaped and fled.
were removed from San Francisco
by ferries and tugs to this side of the bay and they all headed for the hills
as they feared the quake would be followed by a tidal wave. It had been calculated that at least 200,000
refugees had come to this side of the bay.
the earthquake it had been reported that chimneys had been knocked down, dishes
knocked off shelves and all types of glassware broken in the numerous saloons
in this county. After the quake, all the
saloons were crowded with all types of people and old timers said it reminded
them of the Barbary Coast.
could see thousands of refugees camped along side of San Pablo Avenue, hungry and
penniless. Relief stations were set up
to take care of the refugees and food and shelter was provided. Most of the refugees drifted away but a few
stayed to make this area their home and some are still living here. Shortly after it was not unusual, at the
county line, to see the streetcars pulling up and property owners getting off
the cars with a bundle of two-by- fours or other building materials being
carried over their shoulder that they had purchased in Berkeley or Oakland. This was the only way some of the people were
able to get their building material to the property where they were
constructing their homes.
those days the county line was the end of the streetcar line and the conductor
was glad to see those people carrying material home getting off as this had
inconvenienced the passengers and windows were occasionally knocked out by a
board slung over someone’s shoulder.
the early time after the earthquake people would hitch horses to their wagon
and drive to Oakland and Berkeley to shop. This trip would take the better part of a
day. Shopping became much easier when
Mr. And Mrs. Ed Minor opened the first grocery and hardware supply store on San
Pablo Avenue, south of Fairmount, between the 7 Mile House Saloon and the
county line. When one refers to the county line, it is the boundary between Contra Costa
County and Alameda County.
On San Pablo Avenue,
it is Cerrito Creek which runs all the way from the bay to the hill area.
before streets were paved real estate promoters put in the sidewalks. One could look down almost any dirt road and
see wooden bridges for the wagons to cross over the great number of creeks in El Cerrito. Later when streets were being paved, the
bridges were torn down and culverts were built before street grading was
in the residential area were rather high but a few years before World War I one
could purchase lots for as low as $50.00 a piece. Now one is lucky if one could purchase a
building site for less than $10,000. In
fact homes that could have been purchased for about $800 in 1937,
have been sold in later years for around $15,000.
of the old timers say that before they called this village Rust, they called it
Schindler and that Albany Hill was referred to as McKeeve’s
Hill, and that section left of the cemetery was
referred to as Gallagher. The north end
of the village around Potrero and San
Pablo Avenue, was referred to as Stege Junction. [Editor’s note: some
early 1900s maps show a place named Schindler at the south end of town and
a place named “Schmidtville” in the vicinity of Schmidt Lane. Schmidtville had a
post office from July, 1900 to September 1901.
The name Schindler came from the name of the Santa Fe Station in the
south end of town. A. D. Schindler was
the recently retired Superintendent of the Santa Fe Railroad.]
Copyright Mervin Belfils,
Copyright El Cerrito Historical
Society, June 2006