CLAYTON — The City Council has eagerly authorized a Clayton Historical Society request to reinstate its historic monument program, which would add to the nine existing markers throughout the city.
“Those are the wonderful stone monuments with the brass plaques that tell you all about our history,” Councilwoman Julie Pierce said. “There”s one on the City Hall door too.”
The markers were created and installed through community donations, at no cost to taxpayers, according to past society presidents Dick Ellis and Bob Hoyer (first mayor of Clayton) who constitute the monument task force.
“It has been nine years since the last monument was installed. Bob Hoyer and I chose the eucalyptus grove and the Keller Ranch property, which was north of Clayton Road across the creek and included what is now the Clayton Library,” Ellis said.
The Grove, as it is now known, has always been a center of activity for Clayton, and they hope to dedicate that monument in a ceremony during one of the summer concerts.
“George Scammon planted the eucalyptus trees during the 1800s,” Ellis said later. “We suspect the seeds came from Australia.”
His suspicion is confirmed by Martin Easton who said, “You”ll see patches of eucalyptus all over Contra Costa County because a seedling salesman came from Australia at that time. People bought them to grow wood for lumber and they were the wrong kind of seeds — no good for lumber.”
The Grove became the site of a saloon, the popular old-time Doug Mitchell family cabin and barn (now the General Store on the same property) and a Keller butcher shop, but those were all gone by 1972, Ellis explained.
“Locals gathered there to start on trail rides, begin the Fourth of July parade, and for all kind of gatherings. Kids chased a greased pig in a pen, climbed a greased pole and ran three-legged races,” he recalled.
Those recollections may or may not appear on The Grove monument. That is up to Charmetta Mann and Janet Easton, who are from pioneering families, still live in Clayton and are responsible for message on the plaques.
“They do the research and determine the wording on the plaques,” Ellis said. “The more words, the higher the cost.”
Historical society president JoAnn Caspar said Ellis and Hoyer will launch a fundraising campaign in late January to pay for the two large stones, bronze plaques and installation, which cost $1,500 to $2,000 each.
“We are looking a $25 donation per donor,” Ellis said.
The exact location of the Keller Ranch monument is yet to be determined, but it will be installed at a safe and obvious place near the trailhead at the east end of Main Street with a dedication ceremony in the fall.
The idea for historic markers came about in 1994 when Pete Lawrence was on the council and there was concern that with new development, the sites might be lost or forgotten, according to Ellis.
Existing historic monument sites include the Clayton Club; Joel Clayton House Historical Museum; Moresi”s Chophouse which was The Growler (a saloon) and later a French Restaurant, La Coquette. The Mt. Diablo Elementary School was the location of the old two-room school house, which is now behind the Clayton Club; Endeavor Hall; Clayton Post Office; Historical Museum Garden next to the museum; the city of Clayton offices, formerly the De Martini Winery; and the trailhead to the Black Diamond Mines that was known as Black Diamond Way. There is a walking tour booklet of monument locations available at Clayton Historical Society Museum.
Contact Dana Guzzetti at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 925-202-9292.
For more information about the Clayton Historical Society, museum, and its programs and projects, visit www.claytonhistory.org or call 925-672-0240.