THREE OF THE OLD TIMERS
By Miss Nolan
(Contributed by Oakland Pioneers - No. 55)
In the '60's there lived on the north side of Fourth street between Washington and clay, a Scotchman named John Ross. He was a house and sign painter by trade, but he had two very interesting hobbies besides his work. He collected cactus plants of all varieties and had the whole front and side of his store-dwelling covered with glass until it resembled a hothouse or conservatory. When the different plants were in bloom it was a beautiful sight for the passersby. The back yard was also filled with hardy varieties of cactus wherever there was space to spare. Ross was a bachelor and consequently could have everything his own way. Besides collecting cactus plants, he had a fad of collecting newspapers and at one time had complete files of the Oakland newspapers published at that time. If these files could be run down and located they surely would now be of great interest.
About the same time, a carpenter from Alsace-Lorraine, H. Reinstadtler, lived in a neat little cottage at the lower end of Franklin street. His wife was French also and a very neat housekeeper. They had a very pretty garden surrounding their home and the plants seemed to thrive, although very near the estuary. The little house was afterwards moved out Grove street, between Twenty-eighth and Twenty-ninth,
Guillaume (commonly known as "William") Peladeau, came to Oakland in 1856 and lived here continuously for more than 51 years. During that period, he was never more than a few miles from the city, excepting once, when in 1908 he visited his birthplace at West Farnham, Quebec, Canada.
One of his first ventures upon arriving in Oakland, was the operation of a farm nearby, in Contra Costa county, which he owned in partnership with the late L. M. Beaudry. They remained in partnership for many years, engaging in the contracting business about 1868, and laid the first pavement on Broadway, which was then only a dusty or muddy thoroughfare. Street cars to the outlying district were as yet unknown, and one of the activities of Peladeau & Beaudry was the operation of a stage line running to San Pablo, in connection with their livery stable in lower Broadway.
In 1878 they went into the undertaking business, forming the partnership known "Beaudry & McAvoy," which they conducted for many years thereafter. Peladeau died at his home in Emeryville on November 1, 1912. Although 78 years of age at the time or his death, during his later years his memory was very keen. He frequently entertained his friends with incidents of the early days, showing the remarkable changes which had taken place in the transbay cities within his time.
Mrs. Anna B. Gallagher, a niece of Mr. Peladeau, now residing in Berkeley, but who was born in Castro Valley, this county, tells many entertaining incidents in regard to life in the early days. On Sunday. the whole family usually started out early to attend mass in Oakland at the little church on Seventh street between Jefferson and Grove. This was in the '50's, before Oakland had a resident pastor, One Sunday the congregation waited a long time for the priest to come over from San Francisco to hold service, but when he finally reached the church they were told that the boiler of the steamer had blown up on the way over, but that all the passengers were rescued.
When the archbishop decided to send a resident pastor for the Oakland church, Rev. Father John Quinn was selected, and he roomed and boarded with an old couple by the name of Pat Hayes and wife. In 1864 Father Quinn died and he was succeeded by Rev. Father Michael King, who held the pastorate for many years thereafter. One of Miss Gallagher's brothers, nephew of Mr. Peladeau, is now a Jesuit priest at St. Ignatius college, San Francisco - Rev. Hugh Gallagher.