History of Placer County, California

We herewith introduce to our patrons and the public the illustrated History of Placer County. Since the occupation of the country by Americans, following the discovery of gold. Placer has borne such an important part in the affairs, development and progress of the State that she may be classed as the most distinctive representative county. By her position, midway in the tier of counties, rising like a grand wall into the snowy regions of the sky along our eastern border, she presents the con- figuration of the keystone to an arch reared by the Almighty, binding the mountain to the plain, the lowlands of the Sacramento Valley to the plateau of Nevada, the only county of the series having such connection and embracing so many features. Placer County is a representative from the extended section of territory occupied, including many soils, climates and productions; from the wealth and different character of her mines; from being the home of many pioneers, who, in lofty spirit, enterprise, statesmanship, and progress, have moulded the policy, advanced the prosperity, and made the most indellible impress upon all matters of the State; from her fruits of every zone; from her geology, mineralogy, and topography; from her broad semi-tropic plains and her snow-crowned peaks; from her forest-covered ridges and deep cafions; from her lovely lakes and gold-bedded rivers; from her hundreds of miles of mining canals her deep explorations of the ancient glacial channels; her bold system of wagon roads, and from her long lines of railroads, she stands as the most observed of the counties of California; the one presenting the most salient features for delineation; the one whose history is the most comprehensive and important.

Her history could not be written without including many acts, incidents and descriptions belonging to other sections of or pertaining to the State, either having a distant or close connection, or constituting a basis upon which to build. In the following pages such divergence from the direct history of Placer will be observed, but adding to its completeness. Preceding page sixty-five is reference to the pre-American history of California, to the gold discovery, to immigration, routes of travel, and physical features of a general character, applicable to the State; and in the political history, the affairs and politicians of the State and Nation are introduced, all forming so close a connection as with difficulty to segregate. The aim and design of the publishers and writers have been to make a concise, comprehensive, exact, and complete history of Placer County, with her connection with the State, setting forth the varied and unparalleled resources; the progress and prosperity; and such sketches of the people and of individual property as will record for future thought and observation the occupation, social condition, manners, and life of the past and present. We have studied to present the dry facts of history in an attractive manner, with biographical sketches and portraits of many prominent men, views of many of the pretty homes throughout the county, illustrating the refinement of the people, the scenery and resources. We hope we have been successful in accomplishing these designs.

The literary work has been under the charge of Myron Angel, assisted by M.D. Fairchild; both pioneers of 1849; both early residents of Placer County; both connected with the press through many years of editorial life, and familiar with the region and the subjects of which they have written. Mr. Fairchild was one of the settlers of Illinoistown in 1849, and there passed that eventful and stormy winter, fighting the predatory savages and seeking out and rescuing people caught in the unexpected snows, instances of which he has impersonally related. For several years he was a resident of the county; the discoverer of Rich Bar on the North Fork of the American, where he washed out tens of thousands of dollars of the beautiful golden flakes, and with the exception of a very few years spent in other parts of the country. Placer, Nevada and El Dorado Counties have been his home. He is at present editor of the Oroville Mercury, in Butte County.

The writings of others are credited in their places in the book. Many references to the Placer Herald will be observed. We have been fortunate in obtaining complete files of that paper, the oldest in the county and one of the oldest on the Pacific Coast, always an able journal and comprising in its thirty volumes through thirty years of publication, a contemporaneous history of the State in general and of Placer County in particular. For these files we are indebted to the courtesy of W. Dana Perkins, Esq., of Rocklin; Isaac Stonecipher, Esq., of Lincoln, and J.A. Filcher, Esq., the publisher. To Mr. Stonecipher the public are under obligations for the care he has taken in the preservation of the first three volumes of the Herald, being, we believe, the only complete ones in existence; and to Mr. Perkins for his fore- sight and care in preserving the twenty-seven later volumes in full, and parts of the first three. The value of such a continuous series of papers can scarcely be estimated, and their value increases as the years pass by. A newspaper gives the facts of the day and the history of the time, an indisputable diary is very interesting while fresh, is regarded as useless rubbish in a week or a month, but a sacred relic when years have dimmed its color and mark its date in the faint memories of the past. Men's recollections differ, and few agree on the most important questions, but with the files of the old papers for reference, an umpire is found which fairly and correctly settles all disputes.

To Mr. H.W. Hulbert, of Georgetown, El Dorado County, we are indebted for files of the Advance and other papers of Placer County; to Henry W. Fenton, Esq., editor and publisher of the Argus, for papers and courtesies; to O.F. Seavey, Esq., for a comprehensive article on the schools of the county; to Claude Chana. of Wheatland, Yuba County, for his account of the gold discovery in Auburn Ravine, and his first efforts in horticulture; to Charles A. Tuttle, Esq., of Oakland, for information on the bench and bar and other subjects; to John B. Hobson, M.E., of Iowa Hill, for his notes and the use of his map of the Iowa Hill Divide; and to all who have rendered assistance we return our thanks.

To our patrons we express our sense of obligation for their liberal support of the work and the interest they have taken in having prepared a history and exposition of the beauties and resources of their county. Without their generous aid, no such book could have been published. In compliance with their desire we have made a book that will be both useful and ornamental. Every effort has been made to gather from every source of information obtainable all the facts of history and statistics of production and progress. These are now collated and preserved, and will stand forever the basis of any future history that may be written. In this volume are preserved the records of events, of pioneers, of elections, of candidates and office-holders, of road and railroad building, and of all the material subjects that have agitated the public mind during the eventful period of the discovery of gold, the formation of the Government, and to the present time. In this we have endeavored to do absolute justice, unbiassed by politics, self-interest or preconceived opinions. That we have extolled the wealth and resources of the county is because we have investigated them, and while some opinions and selections appear exaggerated to the pessimist and the casual observer, we believe in all we have said. In our remarks on the Central Pacific Railroad Company and its controversy with the people we express no opinion but that founded on facts and a clear sense of right. The facts are given and are incontrovertible.

Undoubtedly there are many imperfections in the work. Much more could be written of Placer, more events narrated, comments extended, men and localities noted which have been omitted, some though lack of space and time, some through accident, neglect or want of information, and perhaps something is published that were better left out. But we believe our book to be valuable as a history, attractive as an ornament, and fulfilling the purpose of our promise.

In conclusion, we wish to refer with gratitude to the excellent work displayed in the publication, to the Pacific Press Publishing Company, of Oakland; to Louis H. Evarts, of Philadelphia, for wood engravings, and to J.L. Laplace, lithographer, of San Francisco.

Among the publications of value which have rendered aid are the Directories of Placer County; one published in 1861 by Messrs. Steele, Bull, and Houston, and the other by the Argus Publishing Company, in 1875.

 

Table of Contents

Introduction 910

CHAPTER I.
Scanty Knowledge of the Pacific Coast Fifty Years Since Story of "Sergas," by Esplandin Titles to Immense Regions Conferred by the Pope Expeditions for Discovery and Settlement Sir Francis Drake's Operations Expeditions Overland Marvelous Stories of a Big Canon Expedition of Father Escalante 1112

CHAPTER II.
BIG CANON OF THE COLORADO 1217

CHAPTER III.
The Exiles of Loreto Father Tierra's Methods of Conversion Death of Father Tierra Arrest of the Jesuits Midnight Parting Permanent Occupation of California Missions in Charge of Francisco Friars Character of Father Junipero Exploring Expeditions Origin of the name of the Bay Mission Dolores Death of Father Junipero 1720

CHAPTER IV.
THE MISSIONS OF ST. FRANCIS 2023

CHAPTER V.
DOWNFALL OF THE OLD MISSIONS 2324

CHAPTER VI.
PRIMITIVE AGRICULTURE 2426

CHAPTER VII.
Sir Francis Drake's Discoveries The Fabulous Straits of Anian Arctic Weather in June Russian Invasion Native Animals Various facts and Events 2629

CHAPTER VIII.
THE AMERICAN CONQUEST 2931

CHAPTER IX.
SAN JOAQUIN VALLEY FROM THE TIME CAPT. C.M. WEBER FIRST SAW IT IN NOVEMBER, 1841, UNTIL THE CLOSE OF 1847 31-39

CHAPTER X.
BIOGRAPHIC SKETCH OF GENERAL SUTTER 3946

CHAPTER XI.
THE KING'S ORPHAN 4647

CHAPTER XII.
SUTTER'S FORT IN 1846 4749

CHAPTER XIII.
THE HISTORY OF THE DONNER PARTY 4951

CHAPTER XIV.
THE DISCOVERY OF GOLD 5158

CHAPTER XV.
EARLY CONDITION OF THIS REGION 58-65

CHAPTER XVI.
EARLY MINING HISTORY 6581

CHAPTER XVII.
EMIGRATION TO CALIFORNIA 8189

CHAPTER XVIII.
ORGANIZATION OF STATE GOVERNMENT 8995

CHAPTER XIX.
ORGANIZATION OF PLACER COUNTY 95100

CHAPTER XX.
POLITICAL HISTORY OF PLACER COUNTY 100113

CHAPTER XXI.
POLITICAL HISTORY OF PLACER COUNTY 113126

CHAPTER XXII.
POLITICAL HISTORY OF PLACER COUNTY. (CONTINUED.) 126135

CHAPTER XXIII.
POLITICAL HISTORY OF PLACER COUNTY. (CONTINUED.) 135142

CHAPTER XXIV.
FINANCIAL HISTORY 142 152

CHAPTER XXV.
FINANCIAL HISTORY. (CONTINUED.) 152165

CHAPTER XXVI.
FINANCIAL HISTORY. (CONTINUED.) 165178

CHAPTER XXVII.
MINING 178 186

CHAPTER XXVIII.
MINING. (CONTINUED.) 186197

CHAPTER XXIX.
MINING LAWS 197205

CHAPTER XXX.
MINING. (CONTINUED.) 205214

CHAPTER XXXI.
MINING. (CONTINUED.) 214225

CHAPTER XXXII.
MINING. (CONTINUED.) 225 237

CHAPTER XXXIII.
AGRICULTURE 237-248

CHAPTER XXXIV.
AGRICULTURE. (CONTINUED.) 248257

CHAPTER XXXV.
PUBLIC SCHOOLS 257267

CHAPTER XXXVI.
RAILROADS 267282

CHAPTER XXXVII.
WAGON ROADS OF PLACER COUNTY 282-291

CHAPTER XXXVIII.
JOURNALISM 291301

CHAPTER XXXIX.
SOCIETIES 301315

CHAPTER XL.
CHURCH, BENCH, AND BAR 315323

CHAPTER XLI.
THE CRIMINAL RECORD 323345

CHAPTER XLII.
MILITARY 345350

CHAPTER XLIII.
DESTROYED BY FIRE 350355

CHAPTER XLV.
REMINISCENCES OF ILLINOISTOWN 355364

CHAPTER XLV.
TOWNS AND LOCALITIES 364370

CHAPTER XLVI.
TOWNS AND LOCALITIES. (CONTINUED.) 376400

CHAPTER XLVII.
RIVER BARS, VALLEYS, LAKES, ANIMALS, ETC 400408

CHAPTER XLVIII.
OBITUARIES OF PIONEERS.
Obituaries of Pioneers 408412
Patrons Directory 412416

 

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Those who studied geography forty or fifty years since, recollect low little was known of the "Great West," "Lewis and Clarke's Expedition to the Rocky Mountains and Oregon," contained about all that was known of the Pacific coast; and hundreds of persons now living, remember that that portion of the map now marked California and Arizona, was occupied with a table of distances from Washington to our larger cities. The Rocky Mountains were represented as a single range, running from the Isthmus of Darien to the North Pole. More facts concerning the Pacific slope were learned in the first fifty years after the discovery of the New World, than in the following two hundred. The deserts of Arizona and the "Great Canon," shut off exploration and settlement from this direction, though rumors of a country rich in gold, had circulation among the hordes that overrun Mexico soon after its conquest by Cortez and his followers. On such rumors, was founded the story of "Sergas" by Esplandin, the son of Amadis of Gaul, which contained "the story of a country called California, very near to the terrestrial paradise, which was peopled by black women without any men among them, because they were accustomed to live after the manner of the Amazons. They were of strong and hardened bodies, of ardent courage, and great force. The island was the strongest in the world, from its steep and rocky cliffs. Their arms were all of gold, and so were the caparisons of the wild horses they rode."