Contra Costa County











     A prominent and successful agriculturist and stock-raiser of Contra Costa county, Peter Garrity is numbered among those study men of Pinole who have so largely contributed to the development of its industrial interests.  Coming of pioneer stock, he is a native and to the manner born, his birth having occurred on the farm which he now owns and occupies, April 3, 1863, being a son of the late Cornelius Garrity.

     Born and reared in County Sligo, Ireland, Cornelius Garrity grew to manhood in his native town, and there learned the art of distilling liquor.  At the age of twenty-two years, desirous of trying life in a new country, he immigrated to the United States, and for two years tried his luck in New York City.  Going thence to New Orleans, he was for seven years a contractor in masonry, finding plenty of work in that line to keep him busy.  Subsequently following the trail of the gold seekers, he came to California, arriving in San Francisco in 1852.  Not finding the desired fortune at the mines in which he was first employed, he located in Contra Costa county, near Pinole, and bought a squatter's right to the ranch now owned and occupied by his son Peter, buying of the Frisbie and Carpentier titles until he had five hundred acres of land in his farm.  Subsequently, with three other men, he purchased three hundred and thirty acres of the San Pablo ranch, but this he soon sold.  Turning his attention then to the improvement of his original purchase, he erected a house, barns and outbuildings, fenced the land, and set out fruit and shade trees, rendering it one of the most attractive and valuable ranches of this section of the county.  For thirty-four years his land, and all adjoining tracts, was claimed by Spanish grants, and he was in constant fear of losing his ranch.  By a subsequent decision of the courts it was proved to be government land, and he, by right of possession for more than thirty years and having it enclosed by fences, was given first title to it and secured the first patent on the property.  As a farmer he was very successful, raising grain, stock and hay, and never regretted that he had chosen to engage in agricultural pursuits rather than open a distillery, as he was strongly urged to do by men of prominence in financial circles, his refusal to do so being based on the fact that he had a family growing up, and he feared the influence on his sons would not be good.  In June, 1894, he passed to the higher life, being then eighty-five years of age.  A man of broad and liberal ideas, he was everywhere respected, and his death was sincerely mourned by a large circle of friends and acquaintances.

     Prior to leaving Ireland Cornelius Garrity married Margaret Gilloon, who was born in County Sligo, Ireland, and came with him to America as a bride.  Of their happy union thirteen children were born, namely:  Patrick, John and Mary, deceased; Mrs. Elizabeth Buckley, of San Francisco; Cornelius and James, deceased; Peter, the subject of this sketch; Thomas and Anna, deceased; and four children that died in infancy.  The mother survived her husband, dying in 1903, at the age of eighty-six years.

      Reared and educated in Contra Costa county, Peter Garrity assisted his father in the care of the home farm until after attaining his majority.  Soon after that time he went to San Francisco, where he was made first principal of the Palace hotel, with power of special officer.  After giving up that position he served as police officer in Oakland for five years.  Returning then to the home ranch.  Mr. Garrity succeeded his father in its ownership, and is managing it most ably, carrying on general farming in all its branches.  In his vocation he has been prospered, his practical and systematic methods, excellent judgment and skill in his operations being conducive to success.  Mr. Garrity married, in San Francisco, Mrs. Hester McVicker, who was born in County Antrim, Ireland, a daughter of John and Margaret Logan.





Transcribed 9-17-16  Marilyn R. Pankey.

ญญญญSource: History of the State of California & Biographical Record of Coast Counties, California by Prof. J. M. Guinn, A. M., Pages 1325-1326. The Chapman Publishing Co., Chicago, 1904.

2016  Marilyn R. Pankey.







Contra Costa County Biographies

Golden Nugget Library