Todos Santos becomes Concord
FERNANDO PACHECO was so frustrated about the name of the little village, that he, his father, Salvio Pacheco, and his brother-in-law, Francisco Galindo, had just created that he took out an ad in the Contra Costa Gazette.
Fernando with his father and brother-in-law started thinking about a new town after the disastrous floods of the winter of 1861–1862. The water had all but wiped out Pacheco, the first thriving community built on the 17,000-acre land grant of Rancho Monte del Diablo.
Pacheco, the town, was named after Don Salvio Pacheco. It was one of those bad luck spots, and Don Salvio didn’t much care to have his name attached to such an unfortunate place. A fire destroyed most of the town in 1867, and then in 1868 came a 7.0 earthquake followed by another flood.
So in 1869 the three men hired a surveyor, Luis Castro, of Oakland. They showed him a 20-acre site on relatively high ground. Castro divided the acres into 19 blocks of 12 lots each. In the center was a one-acre plaza, which the Pachecos and Galindo donated to the new town. Then in order to induce the merchants to move out of Pacheco, Fernando, Salvio, and Galindo offered to sell them lots in a new town, which was to be built on high ground near Salvio’s own adobe, for $1.
One of the first to take advantage of the offer was Sam Bacon, a merchant, who put down his $1 and bought lots 4 and 5 in Block B from Fernando. The deed was recorded and a notice published in the Contra Costa Gazette of June 12, 1869. The name of the town was listed as Todos Santos.
Todos Santos becomes Concord
The three men named their new town Todos Santos (All Saints), but somehow the name didn’t sit well on the tongues of their American neighbors. The Americans kept referring to the place as “Drunken Indian,” in reference to a community of Native-Americans who lived on Salvio Pacheco’s rancho.
How the town of Todos Santos became Concord isn’t clear. The first reference to the name is a short paragraph in the Gazette, which mentions that the people have chosen the name of Concord for the new community.
But Fernando still wasn’t having any part of the new name. He sold lots in 1870, 1871, and 1872. The lots weren’t always sold for $1. The bargain price apparently only was for those businessmen who had been flooded out of Pacheco.
The usual price of lots in the new town was $40 to $50 each. Each time a lot was sold a notice was published in the Gazette. At first the notices list Todos Santos as the town. The first time Concord is mentioned is on a notice dated September 13, 1870. And then Concord becomes the name listed on the lot sales with increasing frequency, until the only place one finds the name of Todos Santos is on the little Catholic Church built in the 1870s.
Fernando gave up his fight against the name of Concord gracefully. He had a big ranch to operate, rodeos to run, and fiestas to host. He loved to give parties and apparently hated to eat alone. Most of the time 20 to 30 people sat at his table enjoying his hospitality.
Fernando was 17 years old in 1835 when his father sent him from the family home in San Jose to Rancho Monte del Diablo. Fernando’s job was to occupy the property and supervise the vaqueros. Contra Costa was on the edge of the wilderness. Indian raids were common. Salvio had acquired the 17,000-acre parcel of land from the Mexican government in 1834 to run his cattle. He let his son operate the place and only visited once a year to count his cows.
While Fernando was working the cattle ranch, Salvio was active in the local government of San Jose, acting as secretary to the council and at times as the alcalde. However, war was to change Salvio’s daily occupation, and where he made his home.
In 1846, when war broke out between the United States and Mexico, Salvio was the keeper of the public archives in San Jose. A group of armed Americans showed up one day demanding the key to the Hall of Records. With guns pointing at his head, Salvio relinquished the key. With the Americans in charge, there was nothing for Salvio to do, so he packed up his family and went north to join his son, Fernando, on the Rancho Monte del Diablo.
Fernando was now in his twenties and married to a widow, Pasquala Figueroa Vasquez. Salvio had given his son 1,000 acres of the rancho when Fernando reached the age of 21. The couple built an adobe in what is now north Concord. They raised six children, and Fernando expanded his 1,000 acres to 3,000.
Fernando’s hospitality was legend. He and his wife gave fiestas that lasted up to several weeks. Whole beefs and sheep were barbecued. So many people came that the adobe couldn’t house them all, so they camped on the grounds.
The adobe stayed in the family until the death of Fernando’s daughter Bersabe Pacheco. Located on Grant Street, the adobe has been restored and is owned by the city of Concord.
Fernando was a striking figure. He was big, probably the biggest man in the county. In fact he was so huge that every year he would go to Martinez to get weighed, and the result would be published in the paper.
On October 13, 1866 the Gazette printed: “Mr. Fernando Pacheco, when in town a few days since, tried his weight upon the platform scales of Mr. Pons, and lifted the beam at 402 pounds, a gain of 17 pounds within the year since his weight was last taken.”
Fernando was so fat he couldn’t travel without an attendant. He had a carriage made with a shelf to support his stomach. When he died, in 1884, the undertaker had to have a special coffin built.
The Concord Sun eulogized: “The career of the deceased, from his birth in San Jose, has been marked with a series of charities commanding the affection of his entire people and the respect of a large number of Americans. Hundreds of people have been continually the recipients of his unbounded benevolence.”