A little more than a month ago, I finished my first year at college. It was a year filled with new experiences and new faces. At a school with so many people, I quickly grew accustomed to answering a certain list of FAQs about me, with a popular one being, "Where are you from?"
Well, I've lived in Pleasanton since I was six, so I did most of my growing up here. It's a small suburb that people aren't usually familiar with, so I reply, "Pleasanton. Do you know of it?"
And instead of answering my question, I usually get a smirk and the response: "Is it pleasant there?"
And I half-heartedly chuckle, even though I've probably gotten that response a million times.
Good one guys, real original.
But then again, I guess it's better than Fart, Virginia or My Large Intestine, Texas.
I'm not joking. Those are real cities! Those folks should get a pat on the back for every "Where are you from?" they get. Seriously, who was in charge when those cities got named? Actually, the better question is probably "Why?"
Which makes me wonder - what's the history behind Pleasanton's name? And I realize - I've lived in the Tri-Valley for more than a decade, and I barely know the history behind anything.
So, in the spirit of "better late than never," I have learned the history behind not only Pleasanton's name, but also our neighbors, Dublin and Livermore. Let's take a trip into the past now, shall we?
A quick drive through Dublin, and it's not hard to notice the green clovers that decorate the city on street posts. Anyone who's ever been through St. Patrick's Day has probably deduced the obvious - our Dublin in California, was in fact, named after Dublin, Ireland. And yet, even the most knowledged historians differ on their views about the name's origins. While the details of the story vary, the general skeleton of it seems to remain the same. It all began when Jose Maria Amador, a discharged private in the Spanish Army and the administrator at Mission San Jose, was granted a piece of land in 1835. Vast amounts of land had opened up as a result of the secularization of the California missions, and Jose Maria Amador was merited 17,600 acres for his years of service. He called his property Rancho San Ramon. In 1850, two Irish immigrants, Michael Murray and Jeremiah Fallon, bought a part of Amador's land and decided to start a town. Along with the other Irish settlers, they were delighted by the area's plentiful resources, a bright contrast to the bleak conditions of the Irish Potato Famine. Many letters flooded back home to reach family members, and to pay homage to their origins, Murray and Fallon decided that their new city would be named, Dublin.
Now, if we move a bit to the East, we hit a second corner of the Tri-Valley - Livermore. A man of the same name, Robert Livermore, made his way to the area from England in 1821 and worked for years as a ranch foreman. Because it was required for legal residence at the time, Mr. Livermore converted to Catholicism and became a naturalized Mexican citizen. In 1835, he requested the Mexican government for a land grant, and he given a holding of 40,000 acres. He called his property Rancho Las Positas. However, Mr. Livermore never actually lived to see the city of Livermore, for he died in 1858. Rather, in 1869, the town was founded and named in his honor by a close friend, William Mendenhall, who had bought the land just a year before. And so, Livermore was born.
Last but not least, our final stop lands in Pleasanton. Like Dublin, the facts are muddled with some contradictory information and varying facts. However, there is a general storyline that most historians agree upon. It was founded by a man named John William Kottinger, an Austrian immigrant who settled in California in 1849. He married Maria Refugia Bernal, and they received property from the Bernal family as a gift. Located on the Rancho Valley de San Jose land grant, Kottinger decided to name the city Pleasonton, after his friend, the Civil War general Alfred Pleasonton. But, thanks to the beauty of human error, a misspelling by a U.S. Postal Service employee resulted in the city's current spelling of the name: Pleasanton.
Phew. Otherwise, who knows if this town would have ended up as pleasant as it is now.
Ha. Get it?
Real original right?