Later this year, another centennial celebration is being planned. It will mark the 100th birthday of the incorporation of the city of Tracy. Before that occurred in July 1910, Tracy had no municipal government and was governed loosely from the county seat in Stockton.
Speaking at Tuesday’s meeting of the Tracy Rotary Club, City Manager Leon Churchill indicated that the city’s incorporation centennial will be celebrated in a series of events starting in July and continuing through the weekend of the Tracy Dry Bean Festival in September.
Originally, last October, the City Council voted to have the city’s centennial only during the bean fest, which is scheduled for the weekend of Sept. 11 and 12.
That was pretty much a snap decision, though, made without any public input and with little council discussion. It created two questions: When is the actual date of the city’s incorporation? And wouldn’t its celebration during the bean festival be lost in the shuffle of that annual event?
Subsequent answers to both questions resulted in the July-through-September celebration plans.
The exact date of Tracy’s incorporation is July 22, 1910. That was the date the California Secretary of State filed an order approved July 18 by San Joaquin County supervisors stipulating that Tracy voters had supported incorporation in a July 12 special election.
After hearing the secretary of state had filed the supervisors’ order, Tracy’s newly elected City Council, then known as the board of trustees, had its first meeting the same day in the Town Hall on West Seventh Street.
After filing the order, Secretary of State I.C.F. Curry took eight days — until July 30, 1910 — to sign a document certifying the election was valid. The July 30, 1910, date on the certificate briefly raised the belief that it was the date of the city’s birthday, but everything else points to July 22. The old city emblem — the one with the steam locomotive and crossed shocks of wheat — included the July 22, 1910, date.
Because July 22 this year falls on a Thursday, the opening round of centennial observances will probably be scheduled for Saturday, July 24. Close enough, I say.
Close indeed was the special election vote to incorporate. The proposition to make Tracy a city of sixth class won by a slender four-vote margin, 92-88. Tracyites were sharply divided on the benefits of incorporation, especially the prospects of additional taxes to support a city government with its own water and sewage systems, street improvements and police and fire departments.
Balancing city services with finances has gone on for nearly a century.
In approving incorporation by that razor-thin margin, voters in 1910 also elected five members to what was then called the city board of trustees. Elected were merchants Abe Grunauer and Charles Canale, property owner William Schmidt, Southern Pacific passenger agent David Payne and James Lamb, owner of Tracy Bottling Works.
Also elected were H.R. Youngblood, city clerk; J.D. Olmer, city treasurer; and W.L. Lampkey, city marshal.
At their July 22 meeting, trustees elected Grunauer, a partner in the Fabian-Grunauer Co. department store at Sixth Street and Central Avenue, as Tracy’s first mayor.
The rest, as they say, is history, as Tracy’s new civic government started on the road to providing services and facilities for a growing town. That same year, Tracy was becoming a Southern Pacific division point — where train crews were changed — and that brought in new railroad workers.
In the coming months, we’ll have more in the Press about the birth and development of municipal government in Tracy — and plans to celebrate the 100th anniversary of that birth.
• Sam Matthews, Tracy Press publisher emeritus, can be reached at 830-4234 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.