El Cerrito was incorporated in August 1917, four months after the United States entered World War I.

The settlement at that time was small, with a population estimated at between 1,500 and 2,000, but sent its share of young men to serve with the American Expeditionary Force in the conflict in France.

One of them was Louis Hagen, a member of an early American family that settled in what became El Cerrito in the late 19th century. Hagen was killed on the battlefield in France.

The American Legion chapter that formed in El Cerrito in 1928 was named for Hagen and led by his cousin, Louis E. Davis, who later became mayor. The chapter met at Schwake Hall and the Castro adobe until September 1932, when El Cerrito dedicated its new Veterans Memorial Building at 6401 Stockton Ave. with a parade and celebration.

The annual meeting of the El Cerrito Historical Society will be held at the building at 2 p.m. Jan. 25, and after taking care of society business, members and guests will tour the historic facility and learn about its past and future from members of the Louis Hagen post of the American Legion.

The meeting will also include reports on activities and accomplishments of the past year and nominations and voting on officers directors for the coming year.

The meeting is free and open to the public, but the society advises that the veterans building is not handicap accessible.


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Program on Pinole's Past: "Bars, Barbers, and Characters of Early Pinole" will be the topic when the Pinole Historical Society holds its quarterly program from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Feb. 7, in Conference Rooms 2A and 2B of the Kaiser Permanente Medical Office Building, 1301 Pinole Valley Road.

Society co-founder George Vincent is the speaker and "great photos and great stories" are promised at the free program about a somewhat bawdier era in the city's history. Refreshments will be served.

King holiday updates: The Richmond community group Self-Sustaining Communities (www.self-sustainingcommunities.org) will be at that city's Martin Luther King Jr., Day of Service on Jan. 20 on the Ohlone Greenway with another batch of donated fruit trees to distribute.

The 500 self-pollinating trees are from the Dave Wilson nursery and the distribution will be done by volunteers led by Barry Dugar, who has established a transition home for those formerly incarcerated.

  • El Cerrito has announced the details of its annual King holiday rally at 10:30 a.m. Jan. 20 at the El Cerrito High School theater, 540 Ashbury Ave.

    The keynote speaker will be Richmond native and entrepreneur Michael Parker, CEO and founder of Value-Centered Solutions Inc., who is described as "a visionary and motivator of change for the better."

    The program will feature performances by Bay Area Line Dancers, Oakland Black Cowboy Association, students from Harding and Madera elementary schools, the jazz bands from El Cerrito High and Portola Middle schools, the El Cerrito High dance program, local Girl and Boy Scout troops, Montessori Family School of El Cerrito and Berkeley, the Japanese American Citizens League, the East Bay Masonic Lodge, singer Tonnie Harvey and the Unitarian Church of Berkeley.

    FREE CONCERT: Down Home Music, 10341 San Pablo Ave. in El Cerrito, is offering "three shots for the price of one" at its next free in-store concert at 2 p.m. Jan. 18, when the performers will be "singers, songsters and raconteurs" Evertree, Kevin Fagan and Hobbyhorse. Details: www.downhomemusic.com.

    Contact Chris Treadway at 510-262-2784 or ctreadway@bayareanewsgroup.com. Follow him at Twitter.com/christreadway. Stay up-to-date on West Contra Costa news at IBABuzz.com/westcounty.