The name Belmont comes from Beaumont. Count Leonetto Cirprini named a province in Italy after California, the place he dwelt. He was the first Italian ambassador and fought the Habsburgs as a Forty-Eighter, who I suspect were going to colonize California. Was Belmont going to be the capital of the Italian Unification, and, this is why Carl Janke brought six portable houses around the Cape? Little Italy?
I am going t establish correspondence, and unite the two Californias.
“He also describes how he assembled his elegant prefabricated home in Belmont, the first of consequence on the San Francisco peninsula, later to become the Ralston mansion.”
He died May 10, 1888, at age 76, comforted by his family and by the memory of the vast American prairies. It’s very evident that Leonetto Cipriani was part of Cecina’s history just as much as Amerigo Gabbani. Cipriani too owned and managed a hotel restaurant in the main street of Cecina. It’s very comprehensible that Leonetto Cipriani’s love for San Francisco and California prompted him to name the town in the vicinity of Cecina “La California”.
Throughout his travels he encountered local leaders and diplomats as well as other Italians. In Salt Lake City he met Brigham Young and other members of the Mormon hierarchy, with whom he established good relations, as well as an Italian musician named Gennaro Capone. In San Francisco, he was introduced to the French and Austrian Consuls as well as Nicola Lauro who he described as “the richest Italian merchant in the city” and his cousin Ottavio Cipriani. He also describes how he assembled his elegant prefabricated home in Belmont, the first of consequence on the San Francisco peninsula, later to become the Ralston mansion.
His memoirs Avventure della mia vita (pictured above) were published more than forty-five years after his death and were based on a manuscript that is still located in Bastia, Corsica in the original sea chest that he used during his travels. These memoirs were first translated into English by Ernest Falbo and published as California and Overland Diaries of Count Leonetto Cipriani from 1853 through 1871 (Portland, OR: The Champoeg Press, 1962). More recently I had the honor to examine the Cipriani archives in Bastia, Corsica. I included excerpts from Cipriani’s account in my documentary history of European travelers (including other prominent Italians) who visited Utah entitled
Victor Emmanuel was born the eldest son of Charles Albert, Prince of Carignano, and Maria Theresa of Austria. His father succeeded a distant cousin as King of Sardinia-Piedmont in 1831. He lived for some years of his youth in Florence and showed an early interest in politics, the military, and sports. In 1842, he married his cousin Adelaide of Austria. He was styled as the Duke of Savoy prior to becoming King of Sardinia-Piedmont.
He became King of Sardinia-Piedmont in 1849 when his father abdicated the throne after a humiliating military defeat by the Austrians at the Battle of Novara. Victor Emmanuel was immediately able to obtain a rather favorable armistice at Vignale by the Austrian imperial army commander Radetzky. The treaty, however, was not ratified by the Piedmontese lower parliamentary house, the Chamber of Deputies, and Victor Emmanuel retaliated by firing his Prime Minister Claudio Gabriele de Launay, replacing him with Massimo D’Azeglio. After new elections, the peace with Austria was accepted by the new Chamber of Deputies. In 1849 Victor Emmanuel also fiercely suppressed a revolt in Genoa, defining the rebels as a “vile and infected race of canailles.” In 1852, he appointed Count Camillo Benso of Cavour (“Count Cavour”) as Prime Minister of Piedmont-Sardinia. This turned out to be a wise choice, since Cavour was a political mastermind and a major player in the Italian unification in his own right. Victor Emmanuel II soon became the symbol of the “Risorgimento“, the Italian unification movement of the 1850s and early 60s. He was especially popular in the Kingdom of Sardinia-Piedmont because of his respect for the new constitution and his liberal reforms.
Maximilian (Spanish: Maximiliano; born Ferdinand Maximilian Joseph; 6 July 1832 – 19 June 1867) was the only monarch of the Second Mexican Empire. He was a younger brother of the Austrian emperor Francis Joseph I. After a distinguished career in the Austrian Navy, he entered into a scheme with Napoleon III of France to invade, conquer, and rule Mexico. France (along with England and Spain, who both withdrew the following year after negotiating agreements with Mexico’s democratic government) had invaded Mexico in the winter of 1861, as part of the War of the French Intervention. Seeking to legitimize French rule in the Americas, Napoleon III invited Maximilian to establish a new Mexican monarchy for him. With the support of the French army, and a group of conservative Mexican monarchists hostile to the liberal administration of new Mexican President Benito Juárez, Maximilian traveled to Mexico. Once there, he declared himself Emperor of Mexico on 10 April 1864.
|With a name like Belmont, meaning “beautiful mountain,” and a location that straddled the El Camino Real, and the original canyon road to the coast, how could a city not fail to prosper?
The fact is that Belmont is a city with roots older than the county itself. When California organized its first state government in 1850, San Mateo County didn’t exist, and instead made up the southern portion of San Francisco County.
And in 1853, when the state’s original 27 counties were divided up further, there still wasn’t a San Mateo County, but there was a Belmont.
||According to Erwin Guddee, author of “California Place Names,” Belmont is a variation of the French “beaumount,” a commonly used place name in America, meaning beautiful mountain, and was first used here around 1850 or 1851 to describe the hillside landmark that forms the city’s backdrop.
The register of California Post Offices lists Belmont as an official place name as of July 18, 1854 – a full two years before San Mateo County was finally carved out of San Francisco County.
Long before that event however, Belmont was at the center of the Rancho Las Pulgas (Ranch of the Fleas), the 35,000 acre cattle ranch granted in 1825 to Luis Antonio Arguello.
|They ran their cattle on the broad plain between the hills and the bay, where Redwood City and Belmont sprawl today. The Gold Rush of 1849 however, turned the Arguello’s lives upside down, forcing them to defend the title to their land in a court battle that took them, and most other California families as well, all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. The Arguellos’ Las Pulgas was among the first ranchos to win their case, but it would cost them; thousands of acres were paid to attorneys, including lawyer-developer Simon Mezes.
The ambitious San Francisco attorney spent most of the 1850s litigating, speculating, subdividing and developing Redwood City. On the 5,000 acre payment he received from the Arguellos, he settled and built a home. In 1853 he sold several acres to his law partner Leonetto Cipriani, an Italian expatriate who built a charming country estate before returning to Italy in 1864. With the creation of the County in 1856, the growth of Redwood City and the increasing traffic on the main San Francisco-San Jose Road, the El Camino Real, Belmont grew.
A roadhouse built in 1850 by innkeeper Charles Angelo where the El Camino crossed the old road to the coast, formed the nucleus of “the Corners,” where small businesses flourished serving the growing traffic of carriages, stage coaches, farm wagons and later, the railroad.
Former Governor John McDougal settled in Belmont and in 1857 merchant Adam Castor built a store across from Angelo’s and later, a wharf for grain farmers.
Soon pioneer Belmont Postmaster John Ellet built a small hotel on land he too bought from Mezes.
The great railroad financier spared no expense – a ballroom, a banquet hall, bowling alley, Turkish baths, stables and a reservoir – the amenities and extravagances were endless.
Ralston’s sudden death in 1875 left his family living in a small cottage on the property as Ralston Hall was sold to partner William Sharon to cover debts. The estate remained a showplace however, passing through several owners, until 1923 when, as a Catholic Women’s School, it formed the beginning of what became today’s highly respected Notre Dame de Namur University.
In the 1880s, another hotel and industry – a sarsaparilla factory – joined the prosperous “Corners” when the Janke family opened the Belmont Soda Works, and followed up on their success with Belmont Park, a picnic park on the south side of Belmont Creek.
Merchant Walter Emmett became a leading citizen, adding a livery stable, saloon and other ventures to “The Corners,” including cement sidewalks and electric lights by 1909.
The 1920s were boom times for the country and the county. Thanks to the automobile, the newly opened Dumbarton and San Mateo bridges, and the piece-by-piece paving of the Bayshore Highway in the 1920s and 1930s, congestion was moved off the three-lane (the middle was for passing) El Camino Real and Belmont started becoming the suburb it is today.
In 1926, it became official when the town was the 11th in the county to incorporate. The Great Depression slowed the growth of the city to a crawl and in 1940, only 1,200 people called Belmont home. World War II saw the city’s population triple, with a 1950 census count of 5,500.
For the last 50 years Belmont has continued to grow and prosper, and it has become an upscale, chic address for some of the Bay Area’s most notable executives, dignitaries and patrons.