Earliest Subdivision of Berkeley & Environs
Annotated example of Julius Kellersberger's 1852 map of the Domingo Peralta and Vicente Peralta Ranchos, lithographed by Britton & Rey in San Francisco and likely annotated in the hand of James Boardman, an early Oakland City Engineer and Alameda County Surveyor (1864-1868).
The present map is perhaps the only surviving example of the original subdivision map of the Berkeley area and the first modern map of the region. The map was created by surveyor (Swiss) Julius Kellersberger in order to facilitate the subdivision of a portion of the Mexican land grant lands of the Alta California area, Rancho San Antonio, following the Mexican-American War and U.S. statehood. Undertaken at a time when the Peralta family was deeply embroiled in litigation and in desperate need of funds, the map illustrates the status of the lands which would become Berkeley, Piedmont, Claremont, West Oakland and part of Alameda.
The map is centered on Vicente Peralta's 700 acres reserve, showing the intersection of three roads which would become Alcatraz Avenue, Claremont Avenue and College Avenue, with Alcatraz Avenue noted in pencil in an early hand. The map extends north to Cerity Creek, Albany Hill Park, Golden Gate Fields and the Berkeley Hills, south to the Oakland Estuary and the west part of Alameda Island, and east to Piedmont, Indian Gulch, Panorama Hill and Tilden Regional Park.
This is a rare example of a commercially published map depicting Ranchos granted by Spain, prior to Mexican independence. Covering all of Berkeley, Claremont, Piedmont and West Oakland, the map is a remarkable survival, made even more remarkable then the extensive pencil annotations, many of which record technical details of the original surveys of the lots depicted.
In 1852-1853, José Domingo Peralta started selling parcels of his part of the Rancho, mostly in order to pay off debts. The parcels were defined on a map surveyed by Julius Kellersberger, who had been hired by three land developers to survey the northern part of Rancho San Antonio, to assist in the determination of land ownership. Filed by Kellersberger on September 2, 1853, this map shows José Domingo Peralta's "reserve" to the far left. José Vicente Peralta's "reserve" is in the center.
Among the structures shown on the map are Domingo Peralta's House, Vicente Peralta's House (unnamed, at the right corner of the 700 acres) and Encinal Wharf on Alameda Island (current site of the Encinal Yacht Club), which was constructed in 1852. "Brik Kilns" located near Lake Merritt, shows the location of Romby's Brickyard on Adam's Point, on the north end of Lake Merritt. Several unnamed piers at the foot of Broadway can also be seen. These piers were home to the earliest ferry routes between San Francisco and Oakland on what was called the "creek route". The name was derived from the Oakland landing site located at the foot of Broadway, fronting on the Oakland Estuary.
In 1851, Captain Thomas Gray, began the first regular ferry service to San Francisco from the East Bay. Service started with the stern-wheel Sacramento River packet, General Sutter and the small iron steam ferry, Kangaroo. Service was augmented in 1852 by Caleb Cope, the small ferry Hector powered by a steam sawmill engine, and the river packets Jenny Lind and Boston. Boston burned that year and was replaced first by William Brown's San Joaquin River packet Erastus Corning and then by Charles Minturn's river packet Red Jacket. In 1853, Minturn formed the Contra Costa Steam Navigation Company and had the ferry Clinton built expressly for trans-bay service.
The map also shows the 700 acres reserved by Vicente Peralta, after selling the rest of his holdings to land speculators, for $110,000, in 1852-1853, and the 300 acres reserved by Domingo Peralta, after selling the rest of his holdings for $82,000, in 1853. The Land Commission would subsequently confirm to the Peralta's the lands owned by them, on February 8, 1854.
The Peralta family was part of the group of settlers that arrived in Alta, California in 1776, on the famous de Anza expedition. Seventeen-year-old Luis Maria Peralta accompanied his father, mother and three siblings. This group of settlers subsequently helped found the San Francisco Presidio, Mission Santa Clara, and the pueblo of San Jose.
In 1820, Rancho San Antonio was given to Luís Peralta with the requirement that he establish a permanent dwelling on the property within one year. His third son Antonio Marie Peralta (1801-1879), built the first adobe on the site in 1821. Sometime around 1828, Antonio brought his first wife, Maria Dolores Galindo, to live on the rancho and the other three sons of Luís María Peralta soon followed. Eventually, Vicente, Domingo and Ignacio Peralta, all built their own homes in various parts of the rancho, in order to better manage the large grant. José Domingo Peralta (1795-1865), who had his own rancho in present-day Santa Clara-San Mateo counties, was convinced to move to Rancho San Antonio in the 1830s and eventually built an adobe in 1841, in the northernmost part of the rancho in what is now the city of Berkeley. The oldest son, Hermenegildo Ignacio (1791-1874), after retiring as alcalde in San José, came to the rancho in 1835 and established a residence in the southernmost area in present-day northern San Leandro. The youngest son, José Vicente (1812-1871), lived with his brother Antonio until he married and built his own adobe in 1836, in what is now the northern Temescal district of Oakland.
In 1842, Luís María Peralta journeyed to the rancho in order to divide the rancho land among his four sons.
- Antonio received 16,067 acres of land from 68th Avenue to present-day Lake Merritt and up the eastern side of Lake Merritt to Indian Gulch, now known as Trestle Glen. Antonio's portion also included the peninsula of Alameda.
- Ignacio received approximately 9,416 acres from southeastern San Leandro Creek to approximately 68th Avenue in Oakland.
- Vicente received the acreage that included the entire original town of Oakland, from Lake Merritt to the present Temescal district.
- Domingo received all of what is present-day Albany and Berkeley and a small portion of northern Oakland.
The acreage of each portion is only known because of the patents later received by the brothers from the US government. Both Ignacio and Antonio received separate patents for their portions, but Vicente and Domingo applied for a joint patent that totaled 19,143 acres.
Julius G. Kellersberger (aka "Kellersberg") (February 9, 1821 - 1900), was a civil engineer; surveyor; town, bridge, and railroad builder; and Confederate chief engineer of East Texas who, in 1852, mapped out and named the streets of Oakland, California.
Born in Switzerland in 1820, Kellersberger learned civil engineering and the military sciences at a military academy in Austria. He traveled to New York in 1847, worked as a surveyor in Central Park and around New York City, then moved to Texas where he married Caroline Bauch, daughter of a Lutheran pastor. After news of the gold rush reached Texas, the Kellersberger's embarked on a six-month voyage to San Francisco around Cape Horn. While in San Francisco, Kellersberger (in 1851 and 1856) was a member of the Committee of Safety of the San Francisco Vigilantes, a group which hanged three murderers and forced a hundred other outlaws to leave town on penalty of death.
Julius Kellersberger was hired in 1851-1852, by Oakland founders Edson Adams, Andrew Moon, and Horace Carpentier, to survey Oakland's original townsite. In 1852, Kellersberger laid out Oakland's street pattern in the area at the mouth of the San Antonio Creek and Contra Costa Bayou. Kellersberger's "Complete Map of Oakland" continues to serve as the basis of the legal descriptions for many parcels within Oakland's original boundaries.
Kellersberger was appointed engineer of the town of Oakland, then later in 1854, he was elected the first city engineer of the City of Oakland. In September, 1855, he was appointed by President Franklin Pierce, as Deputy Surveyor-General of California under Colonel Jack Hays, charged with completing such important surveys as the "Humboldt Meridian … north to the state line … and to extend the second standard line … west to the Pacific Ocean … " He also completed the survey of the "Mount Diablo Meridian … west to the Pacific Ocean."
President James Buchanan in 1857 removed Hays and Kellersberger from office in furtherance of his "Spoils System" policy. Having already been offered a railroad construction assignment in Mexico, Kellersberger decided to leave California permanently, and he sent his wife and children back to Galveston to live. He ultimately returned to Switzerland, where he died in 1900.
The Kellersberger map is of the utmost rarity. We locate only the example at the Bancroft Library, although there are references to the official copy recorded with the Alameda County Recorder. The present example varies slightly from the Berkeley example, in that it lacks the Britton & Rey imprint in the lower right corner and also includes the survey, partition and filing dates. We believe the Bancroft copy may be a later 1870 certified copy of the original, as on line illustrations show annotations in the top left corner, noting a filing date of 1857 and a certified copy date of June 22, 1870. The map also appears to be a blue line print and not the original lithograph. learning.berkeley.edu/ut/images/history/KellersbergersMapLarge.jpg