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VOL. 2 NO. 5

September 2000



The Union City Historical Museum (old Firehouse in Historic Alvarado) pictured here with the officials and directors.

  • Phil Verzola - Director
  • Hugh McNamara - Treasurer
  • Mike Christ - Director
  • Rita Price - Director
  • Miles Price - Director
  • Ligfinio Ray Raymundo - Director
  • Myrla Raymundo - CEO/President
  • Timothy Swenson - Vice President

On July 21, the Union City Historical Museum officials made a visit to the old firehouse in Smith Street, Alvarado district. This historic event marks the start of the work on the Museum. The Museum officials will start the work on the move in the next few months.


This latest chapter is being written in the never-ending saga of the establishment of the Union City Historical Museum, the very first museum in Union City. After many years of planning, community involvement and advocacy, and challenges, the Museum had materialized.

The City Council approved the final City Ordinance, the acquisition and improvement of the old Firehouse in Smith Street in the Alvarado area to be its city museum.

Union City is full of history. Union City is full of long time residents who can tell the city's history. The old Alvarado and the historic Decoto are the two oldest areas in the city. They still have a lot of historical homes and structures built in the late 1800s and early 1900s. The establishment of the Union City Historical Museum is the key to unearth a lot of these historical facts and artifacts.

We are almost forgetting our past. The Union City Historical Museum offers a long-term solution. We are happy of the City Council's action, because it is a step towards getting out of limbo and moving forward. As we all know, in September of 1998 the Union City Historical Museum, after a lot of hard work, was incorporated as a non-profit organization by Myrla Raymundo, MBA, a resident of Union City for many, many years and now it's CEO/President. The Museum is dedicated to recording and preserving the history of Union City. It records an oral history from people living in the community, collects artifacts, maintains a library for books and historic documents, and identifies and encourages preservation of historical buildings.

Residents are happy to provide the Museum with their old things and artifacts to show the community the things that our early residents lived with. The Museum maintains documents such as newspaper clips, magazines, pamphlets, books and photographs that tell the history of days gone by.

The City Council also approved an ordinance on the Preservation of Historical Buildings. A group of volunteers from the Museum helped the consultant hired by the city in gathering and documenting around 400 old homes and structures in Union City. This report was presented to the Planning Commission for acceptance and action. The commission moved that the Union City Historical Museum take the lead in selecting the homes for preservation and presenting them to the commission for approval. The motion was carried.

The Museum provides an educational program that includes the stories of our early homes, churches, commercial and industrial uses in the area, development patterns of the first settlements, construction of railroads, the first county seat in Alameda County, the previous city council officials and the business people and lawmakers of the city. This program is available to groups who wanted to know more about the history of the city. The Museum sends out a monthly newsletter depicting the history of the city and also runs a website on the Internet. The information regarding the Museum runs on Cable TV channel 20.

A book, ``Union City After Incorporation'' by author Myrla Raymundo, is in its final stage. It records the stories of long time Union City residents.

The Museum, which is also a member of the Union City Chamber of Commerce, boasts of around 100 members with two lifetime members. And the members are increasing in numbers.

To many residents of Union City and of the neighboring cities, the museum will be a welcome addition to the community. We hail the people who had a hand in the establishment of the first Union City Historical Museum and we reaffirm our whole-hearted support to the Museum.

UNION CITY FIRE DEPARTMENT - 1959 through 1989

A salute to the Fire Department personnel during those years.

Fire Chief Mike Vonada

In 1959, the Fire Protection Districts of Alvarado and Decoto merged and became an integral part of the Emergency Services for the City of Union City. Under the direction of Chief Ken Garcia, the Fire Department expanded and the new fire station in the central district became a reality. In 1984, the antiquated station in the Alvarado District was replaced with a new multi-engine facility.

In 1985, Chief Ken Garcia retired and Chief Mike Vonada was hired. Soon after, in 1986, the 95' aerial apparatus and two 1500 GPM Grumman engines were added to our equipment inventory.

In 1988, the building department was incorporated into the fire Department and had 3 chief officers, 1 fire marshal/chief building official, 9 captains, 12 engineers, 12 firefighters, 1 hazardous materials program coordinator, 1 hazardous materials inspector, 1 fire inspector, 2 building inspectors, and a clerical staff of 3.

This portion of this newsletter is dedicated to the men and women who have been responsible for the growth and development of the Union City fire Department. The commitment and dedication these people have displayed these years has produced a Fire Department the citizens of Union City can be proud of.

Decoto Volunteers:

  • Bob Alcantor
  • Ken Garcia
  • Tony Garcia
  • Galo Gonzales
  • Steve Martin
  • Harold Martin
  • Rich Martinez
  • Chris Guerra
  • John Sanchez
  • Joe Seoane
  • Paul Garcia
  • Frank Delgado
  • Don Martin, Jr.
  • Chris Hernandez
  • Jack Guerra
  • Irv Williams
  • Al Roderigues
  • Joe Fararrio
  • Jim Souza
  • John Torquemada
  • Pete Rodriguez
  • Don Martin, Sr.
  • Joe Martin
  • Hil Gonzalez
  • Mike Mota
  • Sandy Sandoval
  • Manuel Garcia
  • Alvarado Volunteers:
  • Jack Kemp
  • Ken Peffer
  • Dan Rose
  • Conrad Preciado
  • Luz Perciado
  • Manuel Perry
  • Joe Rose
  • Emelio Re
  • John Agraviador
  • Bill Machado
  • Dennis Machado
  • Melvin Allegre
  • Frank Pinto
  • Peter Pinto
  • Don Brune
  • David Brune
  • Tony Alexander
  • Clarance Flores
  • Norman Silveria
  • Gerry Delgado
  • Richard Rose
  • Stanley Rose
  • Gordon Rose
  • Al Rose
  • Arnold Gardetto
  • Glenn Bachelder
  • Joe Sanchez
  • Gene Kanniainen
  • Wayne Machado
  • Wilbert Hendrix
  • John Wright
  • Joe Goulart
  • Marvin Rose
  • Dale Rose

Union City Fire Department

  • Fred Adams
  • Biff Beltz
  • Brad Bieck
  • Steve Blagden
  • Mike Brown
  • Greg Dillingham
  • John Fuller
  • Ruben Gonzales
  • Darin Guardanapo
  • Anthony Hansen
  • Norm Hudson
  • Roy Johns
  • Jacqueline Jones
  • Richard Martinez
  • Harold Martin
  • Jim Martin
  • Casey Mc Cuaig
  • David Miller
  • John Orfield
  • George Passadore
  • Bill Fernandez
  • Ken Peffer
  • Mike Pelley
  • Joe Perry
  • Norman Rathbun
  • Steve Rogge
  • Dan Rose
  • Rudy Sandoval
  • Steve Silva
  • Dennis Smith
  • Mike Souza
  • Archie Terry
  • Mike Vonada
  • Tai Wilson
  • John Stanchina
  • Roan Oatis
  • Jeff Graham
  • Retired Personnel
  • Chief Ken Garcia
  • Asst. Chief Al Roderigues
  • Tony Garcia
  • Captain Jack Kemp
  • Steve Martin
  • Jim Souza
  • Arnold Gardetto
  • Captain Conrad Preciado
  • Galo Gonzalez
  • Gil Mendoza
  • Dave Brune
  • Captain Bob Alcantor
  • Pete Rodriguez
  • Code Enforcement
  • Danielle Stefani
  • Chuck Eberhardt
  • Dave Duncan
  • Boyd Davis
  • Steve Anderson
  • Greg Dillingham
  • Clerical Staff
  • Carolyn Sullivan
  • Nanette Kautz
  • Cathy Higuchi

Union City Timelines

It is important for us to know what transpired in the particular years in our city.

1770 -1845

1770's Spanish Explorers cross in Union City plain. Discover thousands of Costenos Indians.

1790's Missionaries develop settlements in Union City area.

Spanish explorers and settlers founded the Mission San Jose.

Francisco Padres attempted to ``Christianize'' and colonize Indians at Mission San Jose.

Mexican Governor Juan Alvarado grants his cousin Jose de Jesus Vallejo land in Decoto area.

03/21/1844 Mexican Governor gives land grants to Tomas Pacheco and Augustin Alviso (Alvarado Area).


Mormon farmer's ship "Brooklyn" arrives at Yerba Buena Horner and Mowry Families.

John Horner forms Union City settlement. Union City named after River Steamer ``The Union'' owned by Mr. Horner.

1852/4 "Horner Stage" First stage line between Mission San Jose and Union City.

Union City and New Haven settlements combine to form Alvarado. Named in honor of former Mexican Governor Juan Bautista Alvarado.

Decoto Brothers Ezra, Adolphus, and John sail through the Golden Gate from New York via Ismus of Panama.


Dyer Brothers, Ehpraim and Ebenezer, import sugar beet seed from Germany and plant 150 acres as a test plot.

1860 First formal Alvarado School erected on Smith Street. Served until 1924 prior schools operated out of homes.

1862 Saint Anne's Catholic Church was built in Alvarado on Smith and Watkins Street.

John Whipple comes to present day Decoto to begin farming.

First railroad line through Union City through Decoto, the Western Pacific Railroad. Line ran through Niles Canyon, and turned North to Oakland and South to San Jose.

1868 First recorded Earthquake hits Union City area at 7:45 am on October 21 (7.25).

Union Pacific Salt Company incorporated by John Whortum.


1870 Decoto founded. Decoto Brothers purchase 284 acres from Western Pacific Railroad.

1870 Dyer brothers deliver the first ton of sugar to markets in the Western United States.

Sugar beet processing plant opens in Alvarado.

Alvarado Post office opened.

First Decoto General Store opened by Andrew Jackson, Central Pacific Stadium Agent.

1880 Alvarado Population reaches 400.

Decoto Population reaches 600.

Masonic Home dedicated and built.


Fire Department founded

Alvarado Bank forms.

Alvarado Volunteer Fire Department founded.

1907 Our Lady of the Rosary founded.

Decoto population reaches 950.

Decoto Chamber of Commerce formed.

New Alvarado School built with 13 classrooms.

New Decoto School Built.

Decoto Volunteer Fire Department formed.

Holly Sugar Corporation purchased Alvarado Sugar Company.

Alvarado Pioneer Newspaper founded.

Pacific State Steel founded in Decoto.

New Holly Sugar Factory completed. The company operated until 1967.


World War II Memorial dedicated.

American Pipe Company founded (now known as U.S. Pipe).

City of Newark incorporated.

City of Fremont incorporated.

Interstate 880 opens.

Alvarado population reaches 1500.

Decoto population reaches 3500.

Citizens Committee formed that it included Tom Kitayama, John Ratekin, Oscar Dowe, Kenneth Garcia, Elvin Rose, and others petitioned for incorporation to keep Hayward from Amending Decoto and Alvarado.


Jan. 15, 1959 Union City Votes to Incorporate (837-220 Vote).

Union City population reaches 6000.

Jan. 26, 1959 City of Union City's Council duties begins. Joseph Seaone Jr., Joseph Lewis, Tom Kitayama, John Ratekin, and Oscar Dan.

Jan. 29, 1959 Tom Kitayama unanimously elected mayor of Union City by City Council.

May 26, 1959 City of Union City hires First Fire Chief, Kenneth Garcia.

July 30, 1959 First City of Union City budget approved at $300,013.00

Aug. 27, 1959 Union City's Council veto's Cal State Union City site. College ended up in Hayward.

Sept. 22, 1959 City of Union City leases first City Hall at 309 `H' Street.

Oct. 22, 1959 Union City leader, First Edition.


1960 James Logan High School opened.

Union City expanded to 18 square miles. Hill areas annexed.

Union City population reaches 6,103.

Union City drive-in opens.

Kennedy Community Center is built.

Union City Bart opens.

1974 City Bus Service ``The Flea'' starts.

Civic Center is built.

1977 Holly Sugar Mill is demolished.

Museum Logo

The Museum Officials decided to acquire a Logo. Steps will be taken to announce to the public, especially to students, a Logo contest. Once selected, the Logo will be used by the Museum.

Old Photographs and Artifacts

Donations of artifacts, photographs and materials are being accepted for display in the Museum. Your artifacts will be placed in glass cases with your names on them. Please call us for pickup of the materials.

The Museum's Speakers Bureau

The group just gave a presentation to the residents of the Senior Citizen apartments ``The Vintage'' last August 15th. The residents really enjoyed the historical stories. Please call us if you need presentations on the history of Union City.

The Museum's Web Site

Visit the Museum Web Site, which contains information about the museum, past issues of the newsletters and a virtual museum. The virtual museum also has information on California State Historical Landmarks in Union City.


Luis Triana

Luis Triana built the house that he still lives in in 1940. It is a nice and well kept house with hard floors and beautiful windows. Born in Mexico, on August 29, 1912, Luis still looks so young at age 88. He is tall and handsome. He was brought to Fresno at age two and went to school there.

Trinidad, his wife of many years died last year. Luis said that Trinidad helped in building the house. Their children are Armida, who is in Sacramento, Bob, in Union City, Luis in Fresno and Yolanda, a Union City Human Relations Commissioner, in Union City.

He worked as a carpenter in 1940, worked a few days at the pacific States Steel, but said work was too dirty that he quit. He worked as a security guard and worked up to 75 till he retired.

His civic duties are he established the first Teen Club in Union City, and was the first president, he was part of a steering committee who worked for the city's incorporation. He worked with Mr. Franco, Mr. Alvelais and Bernie Morales. He was part of the boys Club and had a CYO in town. He was also one of the volunteer firemen in the Decoto area.

He fondly remember the city, no sidewalks, empty lots, apricot orchard, Holly Sugar, Port Chicago. Coast guard for two years. He remembers a little store that sells Mexican foods.

There was a fire burned because of gambling in the store. There was a store owned by Alvarez who gives credit to people. He remembers the church at 12th and H Street that was burned down and built by the community.

Marjorie Re

Excerpt from the NEWS REGISTER: Sat. Jan 28, 1967

``Chamber Accords ``Top Citizen'' To UC Churchwoman

More than 200 persons, attending Union City's annual installation banquet on January 28, 1967 witnessed an unusual Citizen of the Year Award being granted to a housewife.

Mrs. Marjorie Re, 3540, Smith Street received the special award from Larry Wiemer, outgoing chamber president who is manager of the First Western Bank in Union City and Mick Ratekin, chamber manager.

An active member of St. Anne's Catholic Church, Mrs. Re was cited for her untiring efforts to comfort and assist the handicapped, sick and aged residents of Union City. Her devotion and active leadership in the church and general concern with the community's welfare.

Oscar C. Dowe last night was installed as the new chamber president by Superior Court Judge John C. Purchio, installing officer.''

Marjorie Re was born on December 16, 1922. At age 77, she still lives in the same house that her late husband bought for them when they got married in 1941. She worked for the Naka Nursery at Niles as a bookkeeper and retired in 1973. Her husband Emilio, who just passed away, was one of the early volunteer fire fighters at the Alvarado Fire Station.

Living in the old Alvarado, Marjorie worked as a volunteer for the old St. Anne's Catholic Church near her house. She did a lot of tasks, including scrubbing floors because during that time there were no paid help. She and husband Emilio were pillars of the church and only stopped working when St. Anne's moved to a new location at Dyer. They went to gatherings and enjoy with friends.

``I miss my husband so much, `` Marjorie said, and she started to shed some tears. Their house is beautiful and is one of the old historic homes in Alvarado.

Margaret is one of the unsung heroes of Union City. We are very proud of her and we wish her many, many more years.


It is time to renew membership in the Union City Historical Museum for Fiscal Year 2000-2001. Please send your membership fee payable to the Union City Historical Museum, to our Treasurer, Hugh McNamara, 32238 Mercury Way, Union City, CA 94587.

Membership dues are payable for Fiscal Year 2000-2001 - July 1, 2000 through June 30, 2001.


  • Individual-----------------------$10
  • Supporting---------------------- $25
  • Corporate/Business------------ $50
  • Lifetime-------------------------$200

Send your membership fee payable to the Union City Historical Museum to:

  • Hugh McNamara, Treasurer
  • 32238 Mercury Way.
  • Union City, CA 94587

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