Squatter resistance to Sutter

A squatter meeting was held at the Herkimer House on 4th Street on the evening of July 1st with the object of raising funds to make a combined resistance to all lawsuits brought to enforce the title of John Sutter to the land around Sacramento. Dr. Charles Robinson was chairman and he was particularly bitter against the city council, called the common council then, which he accused of legislating in favor of Sutter’s claim to the land which Robinson thought they clearly had no right to do. … [Read more...]

A squatter open to reason

Occasionally a squatter could be found who was open to reason as to who the land he had taken over really belonged. Much of the ground squatted on had been cultivated by John Sutter until his workmen left him in 1848 to mine for gold. A few days after the excitement engendered by the recent destruction of squatters’ shanties in Sacramento one man, working ground that had once been farmed by Sutter, was asked by what authority he expected to hold the land he was on. “By preoccupation and … [Read more...]

Squatter meetings continue

From that December 4th 1849 meeting until well near the end of summer in 1850 squatter meetings continued to be held in Sacramento and the squatters themselves grew more violent and angry. At first these meetings were considered as mere boasting but in time they began to have an effect. Sam Brannan owned a store on John Sutter’s land and as one of the most active and influential men of the day, along with many other capitalists and politicians, he was on the side of Sutter’s grant. Because of … [Read more...]

Destruction of squatter homes

On Saturday evening that December 1, 1849 a meeting was held in Sacramento where much indignation was expressed toward the actions of city officials in the destruction of squatter homes. The opposition held a so called “law and order” meeting the following Tuesday. A speaker stand was made of dry goods boxes piled against the side of a saloon and bowling alley on K Street called “The Gem” and the crowd was large. Resolutions were presented saying the squatters acted lawlessly and in order to … [Read more...]

Early Sacramento and John Sutter

Early Sacramento was laid out on a Mexican land grant given to John Sutter by Governor Alvarado on June 18th, 1841. With the discovery of gold in January 1848 great crowds of miners converged at the confluence of the American and Sacramento Rivers where John Sutter’s fort was located. The embarcadero along the Sacramento River became a lively place and a town was laid out and took the name of the river, Sacramento. At first it was a town of tents, travelers and merchandise on the way to the … [Read more...]

Many squatters across California

Because of the many squatters across various parts of California, including cattle thieves and other freebooters who took property from the old ranchos and the comparatively small number of land and cattle owners, there grew almost from the beginning a large squatter interest which organized itself in various places into leagues and associations and influenced to a considerable extent the political, judicial and legislative history of California. With the absence of settled land titles actual … [Read more...]

Gold rush squatters

In spite of the extremely low land prices in the early gold rush days after the War with Mexico there were a great number of people known as squatters who unlawfully and forcibly took over land in all parts of California covered by Spanish or Mexican land grants, and nearly all land considered desirable was claimed to be within one of these grants. Most of the early emigrants, and particularly the squatters, came from the then western states of America. They had long looked at any unoccupied … [Read more...]

California gold rush land values

In the very early days of settlement before the gold rush California land values were of little account. Before 1846 land was worth less than a penny per acre. Mexico gave land away and encouraged people to occupy it. From 1846, and the advent of the War with Mexico, until 1849 there was little change and except for spots near pueblos, missions and springs, the value of cattle and other stock far outweighed that of the land they roamed. Starting at about 1850 and lasting for the next fifteen … [Read more...]

Ned McGowan tried

When Edward McGowan, indicted in San Francisco as an accessory before the fact to James Casey’s murder of James King of William, finally appeared in Sacramento he had the support of the Law and Order Party and was himself skilled at evading capture. After the killing he had hidden in San Francisco until June 27th when he slipped into San Mateo County and, by way of little used trails, made his way to the Refugio Rancho in Santa Barbara County on July 3rd. When news of his whereabouts reached the … [Read more...]

Vigilantes influence 1856 SF elections

In the election of November 1856 the People’s Party, the successor to the spirit and principles of the Committee of Vigilance, brought a whole new era into San Francisco and to some extent the state of California starting with a new mayor, Ephraim Willard Burr. With a goal of an honest and economical municipal government without selfish interest their candidates had been selected for honesty and integrity above all. Politics, nationality or religion was not important. It made no difference if a … [Read more...]