Charles Weber, merchant of Stockton

Charles M. Weber

Charles M. Weber left his native Bavaria in 1836 to come to America. He was 22 years old when he landed in New Orleans that winter. Then, in 1837, he contracted yellow fever. When he recovered he was off to Texas to help Sam Houston in his war against Mexico. By 1841 Weber had made his way to St. Louis where he heard glowing reports of the advantages of a country by the Pacific shores, and joined John Bidwell and others on the first wagon train to California. After spending a winter at Sutter’s fort, Weber started a business in the pueblo of San Jose and did well. Then, in 1844, he acquired ranch land along the San Joaquin River near French Camp, the southern outpost on the fur trappers’ route between California and Fort Vancouver in the Oregon Territory.

Stockton 1856

In March of 1848 someone brought specimens of gold to Weber’s ranch. He then organized a prospecting party that included a number of friendly local Indians and set out to explore the mountains north of the Stanislaus River. But the gold fever caught them and, coupled with their haste and inexperience, they found no gold until they reached the Mokelumne River. Here the first deposits recorded in what would become known as the southern mines were unearthed. But Weber continued on to the American River, and found gold at every stream he crossed. He stopped to mine for a while at a creek that ran parallel to the American before it turned north and met that river just west of the sawmill at Coloma. This is Weber Creek.

Charles Weber house

Soon Weber left gold mining to his Indian friends and returned to his ranch where he set up a trading post and mapped out a town that he named Stockton after the Commodore. Along with the Sacramento, the San Joaquin River is one of the two major rivers of California’s central valley and was an important transportation artery in gold rush times. Stockton became the major supply point for goods and equipment bound for the many boom towns that would sprout up like weeds south of the Consumnes River.

 

Comments

  1. Don’t you just love those early pioneers. They made the most of what situations offered. Loved this one.

    • It seems a lot of the early pioneers to California did well. Timing is important. Weber started a town called Weberville along Weber Creek near Placerville. It’s a ghost town now and privately owned. I went looking for it and thought maybe I’d found it but the land was posted and I decided against trespassing. Sometimes I wish had given it a go.

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