Virtual Museum Tour

Display items change regularly, some of the items below might still be on display and others might have been cycled out



Maria Martina Arellanes Martinez

(1787 - 1868)

Maria’s parents, Manuel Ramirez de Arellano and Maria Agueda Lopez de Haro, traveled with the Juan Bautista de Anza expedition as far as Santa Barbara, CA.  She was born in November 1787 after they arrived there.  In 1802, Maria married Don Ignacio Martinez, Together they had eleven children.  Personal items owned by their daughters are on display here.








livingroom2  Seat of County Government

In 1850 California establishes Contra Costa County and named Martinez “the seat of justice” due to its location, industry and transportation connections. 

The Bell, cast in Seneca Falls, NY in the 1850s, traveled around the horn and hung in Martinez’s first courthouse, built in 1854.  It was then moved to the new 1901 courthouse, where it rang until 1953 when it was removed due to earthquake precautions.

Martinez became an important link in travel between areas north and south of the Carquinez Strait.

1847 - The San Francisco Bay Area's first scheduled ferry service carried miners and camp followers to the gold fields from the Martinez waterfront.

1878-1899 - The Railroads, first along the waterfront, then across the Alhambra Valley by trestle, made Martinez the primary trading center for the region.

In 1870 William and Henry Hale incorporated as the Contra Costa Savings and Loan Bank, and in 1872 the savings and loan expanded into a full-fledged bank, with the name shortened to Contra Costa Bank. The gate and register book are from the bank.






livingroomwineAgriculture - Riches of the Valley

1850s - Farming provided our city's first source of wealth.  Fall harvest time in the Alhambra Valley once meant a familiar hands-on relationship with the local crops - harvesting and bailing hay, alfalfa and wheat, while also picking and processing tomatoes grapes, pears, apples and nuts.  It was a busy time and all hands were needed to accomplish these important tasks.  Their crops and produce were shipped to San Francisco and around the world.  Productive farming lasted until the early 1950s.





Native People of Martineznativepeople


Items on display are from the Native Americans who lived in the area.  The Ohlone gathered mollusks along the coast and Bayshore. Mollusks were an important food source and provided the Ohlone with shells to adorn themselves, trade and utilize as tools.  The Ohlone used abalone, olivella, and clamshells to make beads, disks and ornaments.  The Ohlone used clamshell disc or beads as a form of currency in trade, and as a form of wealth that they could transfer between one another or inherit.  Ohlone and Miwok burials often contained necklaces of clamshell discs.

Bone and Antler Tools.  Native Americans manufactured bone and antler into tools, including rib bone scrapers, wedges, awls to make blankets, and scapula saws to cut tule.

Obsidian projectile point.  Native Americans used obsidian, a volcanic glass, to create projectile points, darts, spears and knives, which they used for hunting and butchering animals.  Obsidian does not occur locally in the Bay Area.  It is likely the Ohlone traded with other groups for obsidian from the Napa Valley, Lake County, or the Bodie Hills (Eastern Sierra Nevada)



































judgearnesonJudge Richard Earle Arnason

1921 - 2015

Richard Earle Arnason was born on a farm near Hansel, South Dakota, where he learned the value of early rising and hard work.  He exhibited these traits his entire life.

On November 1, 1945 he married the love of his life, Joyce Locklin.  Their union produced four children.

After graduating from Boalt Hall School of Law, now known as UC Berkley School of Law, he was admitted to the bar on December 11th, 1945.

From 1949 until his appointment to the Superior Court, he was in private practice in Alameda County and Contra Costa County.  As an “early birthday present”, he was appointed by Governor Edmund G.”Pat” Brown to the Contra Costa County Superior Court bench on October 3, 1963 and continued in that position until “forced” retirement in December 1992.  He continued as a judge of the Superior Court because of an assignment by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of California.

His “final” assignment terminated in January 2012.  He served nearly fifty years as a Superior Court Judge, a feat matched only by a few.  Judge Arnason was an avid Cal Bear Football Fan.

His most notable case was the People v Angela Davis in 1972.  He was assigned to the case after the original judge was kidnapped and murdered


police1Martinez Police and Fire

Display of Contra Costa County Sheriff and Martinez Police Badges











Display of Fire Boxes and the Fire Alarms



















Sheriff R.R. Veale.  Contra Costa County Sheriff for over 40 years, from 1895 - 1935. 








registerRegister from Amato’s Restaurant

411 and 414 Ferry Street

1933 - 1985










Dalton - Adding and Calculating machine.

Dalton was the first 10-key adding machine.  Ours is dated 1922










The Hobart Coffee Grinder Model 265 came from Lasell’s Mercantile Store.









1951 Zenith Trans-Oceanic Radio










Wall phone #10F2, from the home of Anthony and Marie Maderos,

In 1881, James Borland brought the first telephone service to Martinez.  The company was called the Contra Costa County Telephone Company and the telephone equipment was installed in the railroad depot.  Pacific Bell acquired his company in 1892.  







musicboxMusic Box - German Polyphon from the late 1880’s












Alhambra High School Band Uniform 1970 - 1984

Elementary School Desk











Sousaphone from the Martinez Marching Band, also used in the Alhambra High School Marching Band for several years. 

Rudolfo Cheli is credited with assembling The Martinez Liberty Band  circa 1916 by teaching music to young men.  In 1918, Sabatino Barlettani became the director and changed the name to The Martinez Municipal Band. The band was discontinued during World War II.






















A child's scooter






forestermodelTrains and Waterfront

 The Forester


A four-masted lumber schooner, the Forester was launched in 1900 at the Hay & Wright  Ship Yards, Alameda, CA.  It was beached on the Martinez mudflats by her owner, Capt. Otto Daeweritz, in 1935.  The captain lived aboard until his death in 1947.


 To find out more about the Forester visit our History Section





Lanterns from the Forester



Waterfornt Display




Propeller Guard - This is one of the propeller guards which were placed at the stern of fishing boats to protect the nets from damage.


The Lyle Gun was used to send rope from the Forester to another ship to transfer people or goods.








L.C.Smith & Brothers Typewriter (ca 1915)

 Desk and oil lap were used by Captain Otto Daeweritz, the owner and skipper of the Forester.








 To find out more about the Port Chicago Disaster visit our History Section









The Southern Pacific Bridge  Dedicated November 1, 1930 Replaced the ferry service between Porta Costa and Benicia

















This 12 inch heigth bell came off a switch engine at MOCOCO (Mountain Copper Company, Martinez)



waterfrontforesterOil on canvas, showing Martinez in 1937 by artist Lowney D. Young of Walnut Creek.  Shown is the schooner Forester and the domed 1903 Court House.




waterfrontnetsSalmon fishing net of the type that would have been used by the Italian Fishermen.






James Rankin

Trunk made from Elephant hide that James Rankin brought with him when he emigrated from Scotland to Contra Costa County


 To find out more about James Rankin visit our History Section






A Quilt of Many Stories


This 1880s “Crazy Quilt”, or “Friendship Quilt”, was the result of a bet between two young Martinez gentlemen, William Beverly Holiday and his friend Frank Frazer.  The winner of the bet would be the one who could first complete a crazy quilt from squares embroidered by their “lady friends”

In the mid-1390s, William Beverly Holiday, the winner of the bet, gave his granddaughter, Myra Honnegar, a cardboard box filled with a stack of 25 silk squares, sewn in a crazy pattern quilt.  each one different.  She and her mother, Myra “Dode” Holiday Honnegar, completed the quilt to give to William for Christmas.

In 1949, after Will's death, his sister, Nell Holiday Brackman, wrote the story of the quilt and mini-biographies of each of the women who had so lovely created each of the squares.

Geoffrey Harrison and his mother, Myra Honnegar Harrison, recently donated the quilt to the Martinez Historical Society so that “Maybe our donation will entice others to donate historic pieces of their family history to help preserve our community heritage”.

This pristine quilt is too fragile to display, but photographs have been taken of the quilt and the framed photograph is now on display on the Museum along with stories of the quilters.











Suit by Max Pearl, Taylor - Martinez, CA

Clock is from the MOCOCO Company Store (Mountain Copper Company, Martinez) 









How many of you remember Humpty Dumpty from Rankin Park?














Stone molding off the Alhambra Union High school












Martinez Historical Society

1005 Escobar Street - Martinez, CA 94553  (925) 228-8160