But between writing booklets and delivering history lectures at Los Medanos College, Bohakel started to notice things that didn’t match up. The man who once led walking tours of Rivertown pinpointed three historical monuments downtown that contain inaccuracies.
One of those alleged errors was actually perpetrated by one of his students, who painted the mural on Second Street across from the Nick Rodriguez Community Center. The mural depicts several moments that changed Antioch history, but it’s an innocuous reptile in the bottom left corner that caught Bohakel’s eye.
Bohakel said that although the Red Headed Garter Snake is portrayed on the mural, the snake is not indigenous to the area. While he was proud of his student’s work on the mural, Bohakel said she probably meant to paint the California Legless Lizard, which is native to this part of Contra Costa County.
He also noted that while the plaque on the mural celebrates the 125th anniversary of the city, there are three dates to which Antioch’s birth could be traced. “It doesn’t look like much,” Bohakel said. “Everything in the mural is OK, except for (the snake). … They’re just not found here.”
Across the street, near the bar Mutiny MFB, a plaque commemorates the “Birthplace of Antioch.” The inscription states that the first settlers, led by Captain George W. Kimball, came to Antioch on Sept. 16, 1850 aboard a ship called “California Packet No. 2.” The ship left Cutler, Maine in March of that year and reached San Francisco Bay on Aug. 24, Bohakel’s notes show.
While Bohakel affirmed that the ship was indeed called the California Packet, “No. 2” was simply its registration number and not part of the official name. Bohakel credited student assistant Janet Pineda with helping him find that one.
Pineda took a California history class taught by Bohakel became more interested in the subject, volunteering for extra credit and eventually becoming his official assistant, helping him with research and typing. She said that discovering these inaccuracies has been fascinating, and she’s been looking for such mistakes in her hometown of Pittsburg.
“I got drawn into it,” Pineda said. “I began to have a lot of appreciation for Antioch history. (The inaccuracies) were a little annoying.”
The third mistake Bohakel pointed out was on a plaque outside the police station dedicated to those who worked at the Antioch Fibreboard Company. The plaque states that the building, which operated until 1972, was purchased in 1900 by the “Brown Brothers.” However, Bohakel found that official documents show it was purchased by Peter Brown and Sons in 1902.
Bohakel said that while he recognizes the two plaque errors are inscribed on permanent historical markers, he’s hoping the mural can be corrected.