One of the first grammar schools in the valley was placed near the cemetery in 1854. Mrs. Jones said Richard Webster was the first teacher. Smith (who was one of the students) said that Webster “was popular with the pupils. He had good discipline, but I never knew of his punishing a pupil.”
In 1858 a new high school, the Union Academy, was established across from the church on the west side of the Martinez Road (today’s Danville Blvd.). It opened for classes in 1859 and burned down in 1868. The first trustees were John M. Jones (Mary Ann’s husband), Silas Stone and Robert Love.
The Cumberland Presbyterian Church actively promoted higher education in the west and set up a committee in 1857 to create a high school in Contra Costa County. After a protracted County-wide debate over the school location, leaders from Alamo and Danville organized the Contra Costa Education Association and built the 3-story Union Academy for boarding and day students. It was the largest building in the Valley and ranchers came regularly to meetings, church services and other events at the Academy. During the 1861-2 floods, residents took refuge in the Academy. After it burned down in 1868, students who went beyond grammar school boarded in Oakland and elsewhere for their high school education.
In addition, in 1861 a newspaper, the Pacific Cumberland Presbyter, was published in Alamo by the Rev. T. M. Johnston. He might have produced it out of the Academy or the Church since he evidently owned land next to the church during the 1860s.
The Alamo Cemetery was placed on a gentle hill east of San Ramon Creek in the 1850s. There might have been earlier burials, but the first recorded one was that of six-year old Callie Chrisman in 1856.
Precise American ownership of the hill at that time is unknown. John B. Watson owned property along the Martinez Road in this area and sold a parcel to August Hemme for his first home in 1856. Watson and Hemme were both community-minded. Watson donated land for the new Cumberland Presbyterian Church in 1856, while Hemme evidently sold the Union Academy parcel at a very reasonable price in 1858.
By the 1860s valley residents and visitors frequented the small downtowns in Alamo, Danville and Limerick/San Ramon to use the general stores and post offices, blacksmith shops and one-room grammar schools. Disagreements over the Civil War created tensions during these years. But the existence of the high school, church and cemetery clustered on the Alamo-Danville border helped gather people together and nurture the new communities.
Today the cemetery is owned and managed by the Alamo-Lafayette Cemetery District which also has a cemetery in Lafayette. The office is located at 3285 Mt. Diablo Blvd. in the back of the Lafayette Cemetery. The phone number is 925-284-1353.