Antioch to celebrate Sesquicentennial of Incorporation Day with ceremony Sunday, Feb. 6

150 years since Antioch became Contra Costa’s first city in 1872

First of yearlong calendar of events

Read about the City of Antioch incorporation history 

By Allen D. Payton

On February 6, 1872, the Contra Costa Board of Supervisors were petitioned by the town of Antioch for incorporation. Antioch was granted incorporation “for police purposes, and other purposes” and became the first city in the county. Next Sunday, Feb. 6, 2022, will be the 150th anniversary or sesquicentennial of that event. To celebrate, City leaders and the Celebrate Antioch Foundation will hold a ceremony to acknowledge Antioch’s incorporation date, Contra Costa County’s original city and one of the oldest cities in California, at the Birthplace of Antioch monument at the foot of F Street. A proclamation will be read, and a rededication held, followed by light snacks and drinks at the Antioch Senior Center.

Antioch’s Incorporation Day event will be held from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. and is the first of many events, this year to celebrate the City of Antioch Sesquicentennial.

City of Antioch Incorporation History

According to the book entitled, Antioch To The Twenties by Elise S. Benyo and published by the Antioch Unified School District, “the petition for the incorporation of the town of Antioch” submitted to the Board of Supervisors included the names of 101 electors. The document and the names read as follows:

Antioch’s first Mayor Roswell Butler Hard. Source: Antioch Historical Society

“We, the undersigned (being a majority of the Town of Antioch, and qualified electors and residents thereof for more than thirty days last past, the said town containing more than two hundred inhabitants,) do now most respectfully petition Your Honorable Body to incorporate the said town, under the name of Antioch, the same being about one mile in width by about three miles in length (but not exceeding the same), and situated on the San Joaquin River, adjoining the New York grant in this county, as per plate or map hereto attached; said town to be incorporated for police purposes, and other purposes. Pursuant to the statutes of this State. And your petitioners will ever pray, etc.

Donlon, S. Franklin Pitts, Henry N. Baker, Joseph Galloway, J. T. Cossan, Charles Peers, M. A. Morrisey, Van W. Phillips, Ferdinand Stain, Cyrus Cheney, Joseph Ott, W. A. Brunkhorst, William Jones, Robert West, George P. Rockford, Oliver Wolcott, F. Wilkening, George Thyarks, H. Gardner, James Martin, James Conroy, M. S. Levy, G. B. Robbins, George Gruenwald, W. Rountree, William C Johnson, Albert Brinck, J. C. McMaster, James Ewing, G. W. Kimball, Charles Kohn, Frederick Vollmer, T. N. Willis, J. J. McNulty, I. Lobree, D. Mayon, H. W. Fassett, Charles Wein, H. H. Dearien, George Miller, D. McCartney, D. N. Cleaves, G. S. Carman, Joseph Scheirwelup, J. E. Bollinger, R. B. Hard, J. R. Howard, R. J. Wally, Stephen Jessup, H. Rietoro , R. G. Houston, Francis Williams, Oscar M. Jessup, James T. Cushing, Abraham Low, H. L. Farland, John W. Strickler, Stephen Abbott, P. Griffin, George Perry, Job E. Warren, J. H. Lewis, S. S. Pitts, T. O. Carter, A. Brown, J. Nicholson, Jay Tuttle, S. T. Page, M. H. Jacobs, George McCoy, H. W. Brewer, T. Aug. Heinoch, J. A. Chittenden, Joseph L. Smith, John B. Turner, George W. Brown, R. R. Fuller, Thomas Martin, A. M. Marble,  Peter Donlon, R. Taylor, H. B. Reed, Christian Humble, S. B. Joslin, J. P. Abbott, Frank McFarlane, Warren Abbott, Joseph Baules, H. A. Foster, M. Homburg, James Gard, P. McDermott, J. Strickfield, John Tappeinen, H. Williamson, G. E. Wright H. Seers, Joseph P. Barron.”

Official Notice of Incorporation, Town Limits

The official notice of incorporation was published in The Antioch Ledger on Saturday, February 10, 1872, and described the city limits.

“It is therefore ordered that said town be, and the same is hereby declared Incorporated, and to be known by the name of Antioch, the corporate limits of said town to be as follows: Commencing at a point on the bank of the San Joaquin river, at the intersection of the line dividing Sections 14 and 15, Township 2 north, Range 1 east, Mount Diablo Base and Meridian, running thence from said point south on the said dividing line between Section 14 and 15, 22 and 23, one and one half miles to the South west corner of the North west quarter of Section 23, thence running East thee miles, to the South east corner of the North east quarter of Section 19, Township 2 north, Range 2 east, thence north, to the San Joaquin river, thence along the line of the ordinary high tides on the South bank of the San Joaquin river in a westerly direction to the point of beginning, and containing three square miles.” (Antioch is now almost 30 square miles).

The Hard House on Front (now First) Street was the first meeting place of the Antioch Board of Trustees/City Council in 1872. Photo courtesy of Antioch Historical Society.

First Board of Trustees (City Council) and Meeting Place

An election was held on February 24, 1872, held at the National Hall, on Main Street (now, I Street), according to a notice published in The Antioch Ledger, to elect the five members of the first Board of Trustees, Treasurer, Assessor and Marshal. Roswell Butler Hard, T. N. Willis, James Ewing, J. C. McMaster and George Gruenwald were elected as trustees. M.S. Levy was elected the city’s first clerk.

Hard’s home on Front (now First) Street, which is still standing, today, served as the meeting place of the first board of trustees of the newly incorporated City of Antioch on March 2, 1872. At the meeting, Hard was elected president (mayor).

According to the book entitled, Images of America – Antioch by the Antioch Historical Society, the mayor was “an influential businessman in Antioch. Hard owned six lots and built his large, two-story brick house on Front (First) Street” on one of the lots. “It was considered one of the handsomest and most costly houses in the county.” In addition, “the Hard House was the first building in the city to be recorded on the National Registry of Historic Places.”

Hard had held public office, previously as the elected County Supervisor in 1866 and 1868 and County Sheriff in 1867 and 1869. He held both jobs concurrently.

First Ordinance Prevented Livestock to “Run at Large”

On March 14, of the same year the By-laws were passed. Ordinance No. 1 prohibited owners of (live)stock to suffer (allow) the same to run at large within the limit of the town. An ordinance was passed regulating the use of firearms. A motion was passed to have Mr. Hard to furnish and repair the town prison.

Disincorporated and Incorporated Again

One interesting historical fact is, according to the book entitled, History of Contra Costa County California, Antioch “was first incorporated in 1872. Later it was disincorporated, but was again incorporated in 1890.

Special thanks to Jacquelyn Higgins, Adult/Teen Services Librarian of the Antioch Community Library for her research assistance for this article.


the attachments to this post:

Hard House

Mayor Roswell Butler Hard

Antioch Incorporation Day flier

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