Livermore History - Laddsville
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History of Laddsville
East 1st Street. This picture was taken in 1896 from the McLeod building, (which was being used as the Masonic hall at the time), looking east (the inscription is incorrect). The building on the right is Independence Hall (the Bank of Livermore at that time). (see photos). St. Michael's church (original location) is on the left. It burned down in August 4, 1916. The SP railroad tracks run at an angle, crossing 1st St in front of the church. On the south (right) side of 1st on the far side of the tracks is the remainder of Laddsville, most of which would be behind the church. Laddsville burned in 1871, destroying most of the structures. This is only only known view of Laddsville, other than a few photos of businesses (below). The bottom right corner of the photo (SW corner of McLeod & 1st) is the future (nor former) home of the Sweeney Opera House (see photos) which existed from about 1904 to 1945. At the left near the bottom is the Diamond Flour Mill (see photos), constructed in 1884, with the smoke stack for the power plant behind it.
Laddsville Jeweler, DF Badgley.
Signs on windows: "Jeweler DF Badgley"
"All Kinds of Jewelery - Repairing done"
("Jewelery" spelled as it appears on the window)
Signs at bottom of deck: "..... Bitters", "C & S Axle Grease", "Jesse Moore ...."
South side of E First St, near WP tracks
Sign on corner: "Livermore Steam Beer" Is this what they are enjoying in the picture?
By Gary Drummond
Used by Permission
In the spring of 1864 a wagon load of lumber appeared in the eastern end of the Livermore Valley. It belonged to one Alphonso Ladd and was intended for a frame house. Ladd had pre-empted a 160 acre parcel of the Robert Livermore Rancho Las Positas - perhaps "squatted" is a more apt term since the boundaries of Livermore's property had not yet been quieted. It was Ladd's intention to start a small community to be known as Laddsville. Its location was at the junction of a wagon trail from Dublin with another that crossed the valley from the southwest. That wagon trail from Dublin is today known as Junction Avenue.
Ladd brought another load of lumber into the valley in the fall of 1864 for the construction of a hotel. Besides rooms to let at 50 cents a night, Ladd provided convivial spirits over a bar consisting of two planks laid over upright barrels.
Ladd's venture attracted others to his new community. A general mercantile store; a blacksmith shop, followed by a second one, offering services making and repairing equipment for surrounding farms; a druggist, a brewery and eating establishments were established in the business district. The need for a school became apparent by 1866 - it was established some distance west of the community, near the intersection of what is now Portola and Rincon Avenues, primarily to serve farm children. And by 1868, Laddsville had become a noticeable community, consisting of perhaps 50 people, not more than a half-dozen of whom were registered to vote.
The news coming out of Laddsville at this time was, in most instances, of a violent nature: knifings and shootings. But there was more innocent amusement in the town. Until 1875 the townspeople enjoyed bull fights on Sundays and , on other occasions, a bear might be pitted against a bull, or a dog set upon a badger that was given refuge in a barrel. The bullring was said to have been 30 feet in diameter and seven feet high with several tiers of seats around the ring.
But Alphonso Ladd did not live to see his community in full bloom. He died on November 2, 1868, when he was only 40 years old.
Laddsville bustled with activity in the spring of 1869. The Central Pacific Railroad was being pushed through the valley which meant an economic benefit to the community. Railroad workers required boarding places, lodging, and other wants which residents were quick to supply.
Fire struck the business district of Laddsville in September, 1871. With no fire protection in place, the conflagration quickly spread throughout the village. The town was never rebuilt: most of the inhabitants moved to the new town of Livermore, just a half-mile down the road.
contains 128 pages of Livermore Historical photos and commentary.
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