Antioch is one of the oldest towns in California. In 1848, John Marsh, owner of Rancho Los Meganos, one of the largest ranches in California, built a landing on the San Joaquin River in what is now Antioch. It became known as Marsh’s Landing, and was the shipping point for the 17,000-acre rancho. It included a pier extending well out into the river, enabling vessels drawing 15 feet of water to tie up there at any season of the year. The landing also included a slaughterhouse, smokehouse for curing hams, rodeo grounds, and even a 1½-story dwelling, embellished with fretwork, that was brought around the Horn to serve as a home for the mayordomo (manager) and his wife.
In 1849, twin brothers, Rev. William Wiggins Smith and Rev. Joseph Horton Smith, sailed from Boston, purchased land from John Marsh and founded a town slightly west of Marsh’s Landing, and named it Smith’s Landing. During the town picnic on July 4, 1851, William, the town’s new minister persuaded the residents to change the name of the town to Antioch, for the biblical city of Antioch “inasmuch as the first settlers were disciples of Christ, and one of them had died and was buried on the land, that it be given a Bible name in his honor, and suggested ‘Antioch’, (a Syria town where two important rivers meet and where the followers of Christ were first called Christians), and by united acclamation it was so christened.”
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