Town of Danville
510 La Gonda Way
Danville, CA 94526
(925) 314-3300

Although Danville was incorporated as a city in 1982, it has been in existence since the gold rush days. Daniel and Andrew Inman bought 400 acres in what is now Old Town Danville with their mining earnings in 1854, and the town has flourished ever since. The Town's connection to its Old West past is preserved in the downtown cluster of narrow roads and the remarkable number of early buildings that still remain.

With a population of approximately 39,881, Danville is known for its small-town atmosphere and its outstanding quality of life. Eight parks, with ball fields, tennis courts, picnic facilities, playground equipment and walking trails, offer family activities all year long. The Iron Horse Trail provides miles of paths for biking and walking. Danville's weather boasts nearly 300 days of sunshine every year.

Special events bring out the small-town atmosphere. The Fourth of July Parade and Light the Old Oak Tree are highlights of the year along with art festivals and holiday festivities. The Village Theatre offers live theater productions. The art gallery in the same building showcases local talent. "Music In the Park" a summer concert series, features local groups.

First-rate restaurants draw people from as far away as San Francisco. A wide variety of outstanding cuisine is available. The lovely Danville Hotel Territory, with its cluster of specialty shops, has a favorite eating establishment and is a special Danville landmark. Another popular restaurant, Bridges, was made famous when segments of the movie Mrs. Doubtfire were filmed there.

Danville's quaint downtown area is a natural for unique specialty shops. Parking is plentiful. The Danville Farmers' Market draws big crowds to Old Town every Saturday from ten to 1pm. Other retail stores include antiques, jewelry, and gift and art shops.

Danville is governed by a mayor/council form of government with day-to-day operations performed by a Town Manager. The Town Council meets the first and third Tuesdays of each month at the Town Meeting Hall - 201 Front Street at 7:30 p.m.

We welcome you to discover Danville. You'll find out why it is one of the leading small communities in California - offering the feel of yesterday and the opportunities of tomorrow.

Source: "Danville Area Community Guide" published by the Danville Area Chamber of Commerce.


A Town is Born

For over 130 years, Danville's history has been one of change and growth. Often referred to as the "Heart of the San Ramon Valley," Danville was first populated by Indians who lived next to the creeks and camped on Mount Diablo in the summer. Later it was part of Mission San Jose's grazing land and a Mexican land grant called Rancho San Ramon.

Danville was settled and named by Americans drawn here by the California Gold rush. Daniel and Andrew Inman bought 400 acres of Old Town Danville with their mining earnings in 1854, after living here for a summer two years earlier. By 1858, the community boasted a blacksmith, a hotel, a wheelwright and a general store and the townsfolk wanted a post office.

But what should the community be called? In an article years later, Dan Inman said "quite a number (of names) were suggested." He and Andrew rejected "Inmanville," finally settling on Danville. According to the modest Dan, the name was chosen as much or more out of respect for Andrew's mother-in-law who was born and raised near Danville, Kentucky. Of course it also recognized the energetic young Dan who was later an Alameda County Assemblyman and Supervisor. 

The Danville Post Office opened in 1860 with hotel owner Henry W. Harris as the first postmaster. Harris reported in 1862 that there were 20 people living in the town proper, with 200 ballots cast in the last general election. Hearing stories of the prosperity to be found in California, people from the mid-west and east began to settle in Danville and the surrounding valleys. Most new residents had been farmers and observed that the valley land was fertile and the weather benign, altogether an ideal place to settle. The 1869 census counted nearly 1800 people in the combined Danville and Lafayette areas. They squatted or purchased land from the Mexican and other owners and established ranches, farms and businesses. 

Settlers raised cattle and sheep and grew wheat, barley and onions. Later the farms produced hay, a wide variety of fruit crops (apples, plums, pears), walnuts and almonds. In the 1800's horses and wagons hauled these products north to the docks at Pacheco and Martinez, following Road No. 2, which wound by San Ramon Creek and was almost impassable in the rainy season. 

The Community Evolves 

Churches, schools, farmers unions and fraternal lodges began as the community evolved. The Union Academy, a private high school begun by the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, served the County from 1859 to 1868 when it burned down. The Danville Presbyterian Church was dedicated in 1875, following a vote of Protestants regarding what denomination it should be. The new building was described as the handsomest church building in the County by the writers of the day. 

In 1873, Danville Grange No. 85 was chartered with Charles Wood elected as the first Worthy Master. The Grange began as a family farmers union and included all the Valley "movers and shakers." It served as the focal point for community social, educational and political activity for years and still meets at its Hall on Diablo Road. 

A remarkable number of early Danville buildings remain today such as the houses belonging to the Boone, Osborn, Young, Spilker, Podva, Vecki, Root, Elliott and Hartz families. The Danville Hotel and original 1874 Grange Hall exist as well. Many of the early pioneer names appear on the streets and schools, including Baldwin, Harlan, Wood, Love, Hemme, Boone, Bettencourt and Meese. 

When the Southern Pacific Railroad came to the Valley in 1891, Danville changed dramatically. The farmers built warehouses and shipped crops by rail in any kind of weather, and the residents traveled to and from Danville with an ease they had not experienced before. 

John Hartz sold 8.65 acres of his land for the Danville station and granted land access to the depot. He then subdivided and sold lots east of the station, shifting the town's focus from Front Street to Hartz Avenue. Eventually, a bank, drug store, saloon, doctor's office and Chinese laundry joined the houses lining the street. The Danville Hotel originally sat across from the station and was moved to face Hartz avenue in 1927. 

The Twentieth Century 

The twentieth century found Danville affected by the wars, the Spanish flu, the depression and new immigrants. The Valley became a melting pot of Chinese, Portuguese, German, and Japanese immigrants. They often began working in the hay fields or as cooks and gardeners, later becoming blacksmiths, landowners, teachers and storekeepers. 

Residents worked diligently to improve their community. In 1910 a public high school district was organized and San Ramon Valley Union High School was built; a library supervised by Lillian Close opened in 1913 with 104 books; St. Isidore's Catholic Church was first established at Hartz and Linda Mesa in 1910; and an Improvement League spearheaded the first streetlights and paved roads in 1915. 

Danville continued to be farm country well into the 1940's. The whole Valley had 2,120 people in 1940, growing to 4,630 by 1950. Developments such as Montair and Cameo Acres were built, the water and sewer districts extended their boundaries, and the new I-680 freeway which sliced through Danville in the mid-1960's altered Danville permanently. 

The Valley population leaped from 12,700 in 1960 to 25,900 in 1970, to 41,100 in 1975 to 57,300 in 1980. The 1980 census showed that 82 percent of Danville's 26,500 had arrived after 1970. The days when everybody knew everybody else were long gone. 

But in 1982, Danville citizens showed their strong sense of identity by voting to incorporate their community, allowing themselves to shape future changes more directly. 

After 130 years, the small settlement on the banks of the Creek has grown from a blacksmith shop to a thriving community - still changing, still beautiful and still special.

 At present, it is my belief that the Daniel and Andrew Inman mentioned are the sons of Johnathon J. M. and Malvina Inman.

Johnathon J. M. had a brother, Daniel, who died in southern CA. But I believe he is too far south to be the onw mentioned.

Jim Williams