The First "Community" of Bay Point

By Dean McLeod

Communities exist when individuals and families are bound by common interest. Education of children has always been a powerful measure of community in Bay Point.

Since there were few towns in 19th century Contra Costa County, leaders set up districts for government functions. The primary district was the school district. Voting district boundaries often corresponded to the school districts, as did road districts. Late in the 1870s pest control districts were established. Again, the school district boundaries defined the area of community interest.

Community was defined by the school. The history of the Bay Point School District becomes a large part of the 19th century history of present-day Bay Point.

Although a law instituting school districts was passed in 1852, it wasn't until 1855 that Contra Costa's school system really began to get under way.

BAY POINT SCHOOL DISTRICT FIRST IN COUNTY

But it was not until two years later that school district boundaries were set up in Contra Costa County. In 1857, five districts were created. The first in the county, Bay Point School District was created by the Board of Supervisors on the 6th of January 1857.

The district covered a large area "beginning at Walnut Creek Bridge", past Salvio Pacheco's house, "over the hills toward New York to intersect the Meridian line at the foot of the hills in New York Valley," then up to the shore line, along Suisun Bay and eventually back to Salvio Pacheco's house.

If the school creates and measures community, then in 1857 Contra Costans had a community that covered from Pacheco to the Mt. Diablo Meridian line, which is just west of Railroad Avenue. Families in Pachecoville sent their kids to the school, along with farmers and stock raisers east of Willow Pass.

There was major population growth in the county after the Civil War. As a result, settlers all over Contra Costa County felt the need to re-organize the school district boundaries. In August of 1868, the Board of Supervisors approved numerous petitions, including one presented by Thomas Parkinson to modify the boundaries of the Bay Point School District.

NEW BOUNDARIES

The new boundaries began on the Willow Pass Road where it meets modern Highway 4. From there the boundary passed north through what is now Clyde to Suisun Bay. The whole of the waterfront six miles east to the Mount Diablo Meridian formed the northern boundary. The Meridian was a national landmark established in the earliest California surveys. It followed the western boundary of Rancho Los Medanos and can be found on modern maps just west of Railroad Avenue in Pittsburg. The school district boundary went south along the Meridian line three miles from the Bay, then west back over the Willow Pass.

A new era for education in Bay Point began. A young spinster whose family lived in Green Valley took a keen interest in education. The young Sarah E. Huntington attended and graduated from Benicia Academy about 1867.

The 20th Century brought many changes to the Bay Point School District, but this was the beginning.


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