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...]

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...]

The start of San Leandro

Another man who, in the fall of 1849, gave gold mining a fair shot and was disappointed with his results was Thomas W. Mulford, a handy and adaptable lad from Long Island. He came to San Francisco and along with a few others began hunting the game that then was abundant in the many marshes along the bay near the city and for which there was already a booming demand. In order to navigate the narrow sloughs and shallows the group bought a small ship and several boats and soon began supplying a … [Read more...]

The tragic case of Michael Brennan

But not all miners had the perseverance of Alvinza Hayward. Take the tragic case of Michael Brennan and his mine near Grass Valley. Brennan came to America from Ireland and landed a job with the New York Herald. When news of the California gold reached him he invested a lot of cash in the Rocky Bar Company who operated a gold mine on Massachusetts Hill near Grass Valley. For several years his investments paid off handsomely but hard times fell on the mine and Brennan, with his wife and three … [Read more...]

Alvinza Hayward

Pluck and perseverance were the most notable characteristics of the men who made vast fortunes from gold in California. This was especially true in quartz mining, which required a tremendous amount of time, effort and capital to realize a profit. And one of the best examples of this is the career of Alvinza Hayward who went on to hold significant interests in a number of gold mines, the Comstock Lode, timber, coal, railroads, and was an investor in the San Francisco City Gas Company as well as a … [Read more...]

The citrus industry in California

Another early Californian who contributed much to the growth of a major state industry was William Wolfskill, a neighbor and contemporary of Jean Louis Vignes. But while Vignes devoted himself to wine making Wolfskill specialized in oranges and other orchard fruits. But unlike Vignes who was born in France, Wolfskill was a true American pioneer. He was born in 1798 in Kentucky and his family moved to Boone’s Lick, Mississippi in 1809. Then in 1822 Wolfskill headed west and was among the first … [Read more...]

The start of California wineries

In the years before California became a part of the United States there were many important men who already exerted a large influence over the events to come. Among the most widely known were John Marsh, Thomas Larkin, John Sutter, Pearson Reading and John Bidwell, but there were others who added their own special talents to the evolution of the great state of California. One of these men was Jean Luis Vignes, born and raised near Bordeaux, France, he came first to Honolulu in what was then the … [Read more...]

Rich mines of the Rancho las Mariposas

In 1863 John Fremont sold the Rancho las Mariposas and all the mine holdings to Morris Ketchum, a New York Banker who formed the Mariposa Mining Corporation. The company was so poorly managed that by 1865 it was bankrupt and the mines had to be sold at a sheriff’s auction. The final resolution of the rancho ran from the Merced River to Bridgeport. At it’s widest it lay about seventeen miles across and averaged five from east to west. The other towns there included Guadalupe, Arkansas Flat, Agua … [Read more...]

Fights over gold bankrupt Fremont

When the new American government of California ordered a survey of the Rancho las Mariposas, John Fremont managed to swing the boundaries of the rancho around so as to encompass, and thus secure title to, some of the richest gold bearing areas, including the famous Pine Tree and Josephine mines, Mariposa, and Bear Valley. When he began to evict these miners from rich, gold producing operations they had sunk a great deal of capitol into a fierce resentment of Fremont was aroused. Many miners … [Read more...]

The Merced River

Flowing down from beautiful Yosemite Valley the Merced River skirts by the Rancho las Mariposas, a former Mexican land grant once owned by the famous explorer and leader of the California Battalion in the War with Mexico, John C. Fremont. 44,386 acres of land once thought to be the richest body of land belonging to a single person in the world, and Fremont, for whom Thomas Larkin had bought the property from ex-governor Juan Batista Alvarado for $3,000, was at first extremely unhappy with it’s … [Read more...]