Yuba County History
EARLY HISTORICAL SKETCH
CITY OF MARYSVILLE AND YUBA COUNTY
H. S. Hoblitzell
Printed and for sale at the Marysville Appeal Office
Price Twenty-Five Cents.
SKETCH OF MARYSVILLE
In the latter part of the year 1849, the owners of the land upon which the City of Marysville now stands, conceived the idea – a very pious one in lieu of subsequent events – of laying out a city, believing as they did the locality to be at once a natural and almost necessary terminus for the vast amount of supplies which would find their way to the interior of the northern mines. Accordingly in December of that year a French surveyor named LePlonjean was brought into service, and a survey of a portion of the ranch between the Yuba and Feather rivers into lots, blocks, and ranges as we have them to-day, is the result.
The spot upon which the city now stands, was in the early part of that year the peaceful abode of the contented husbandman, belonging to and forming an integral part of a grant of a large number of square leagues made to the veteran pioneer Gen. John A. Sutter, by the Central Government of Mexico upon his compliance with the then existing colonization laws of that country, viz.: That a certain number of families should locate on each grant so made. General Sutter having more leagues than family locators, leased for a term of nineteen years, in the year 1842 to one Theodore Cordua, the site of what is now the City of Marysville. Mr. Cordua had also obtained from the same Government which was so generous in her distribution of landed estates, a grant of land lying north of and adjoining the Sutter grant, extending from a point on Feather river about two miles above the mouth of the Yuba to the Honcut, and extending easterly a sufficient distance to embrace seven square leagues. It comprised upwards of 45,000 acres of land and was known as the Cordua grant. In the spring of 1849, Cordua disposed of his interest in his grant to Messrs. Nye, Foster and Covillaud, and the locality was then known and designated as “Nye’s Ranch.” At that time the ranch contained about 5,000 head of cattle, 600 horses, 500 or 600 hogs, and a small amount of poultry. Three adobe houses, venerable and antique in their construction, adorned the grounds and occupied severally by the three owners and their families, and were situated near what is now the foot of D street. They fell a victim to the great fire which destroyed a vast amount of property later in the city’s history. The amount of trade with the natives at that time, confined as it was to a few Digger Indians and greasers, as the lower order of Mexicans were called, was necessarily limited, but with the discovery of gold, and the tide of emigration flowing from nearly every portion of the habitable globe, all communication with the rich placer mines along the rivers, and banks, and bars to the north rapidly centered at this spot as the natural terminus of the boats engaged in freighting from cities below. Vast quantities of goods of every description, through the enterprise of the thousand and one gold-seekers who came along were soon deposited on the banks of the Yuba. “Explorers” and “prospectors” who had proceeded but a short distance up the Yuba, returned with glowing accounts of the richness of the deposits, which only served to stimulate the feverish and gregarious populations into the belief that the famous El Dorado had at length been reached.
AMONG THE NEW COMERS
At this time was a gentleman from Chili, in South America, whom the most of my pioneer friends will remember, I allude to Jose M. Ramirez. After having visited a number of the placer diggings on the Yuba, ascending as far as Foster’s Bar, he returned very forcibly impressed with the natural advantages of trade, and the great promise “Nye’s Ranch” gave of future importance. In the month of September, in connection with another old pioneer, whom some among my audience may remember – I allude to John Sampson – he effected the purchase of Messrs. Nye and Foster’s interest in the ranch. These gentlemen with the former remaining owner conceived the idea in December, of laying out a town. City lots were soon transferred to each purchasers at prices which would astonish any one who had never had anything to do in getting up miniature cities on paper. About this time, December, 1849, a name was wanted for the town or city which was to deprive the ranch of its distinctive nomenclature in the future. Pending the discussion what the name should be, a public meeting was called to consider the subject, some were in favor of “Yubaville,” others again wanted it “Yuba City,” while some favored “Norwich,” and a few “Sicadora.” At the meeting, however, it was resolved to call the future city after the only white lady then living on the town plat, Mrs. Covillaud. Her name being Mary it was then and there determined to call the new city, Marysville. At this time the number of white inhabitants probably did not exceed 300 all told, though many town lots had been disposed of, and every indication betokened lively times in the early spring, from the inflowing tide of immigration already settling in. In the month of January, 1850, the small side wheel steamer Lawrence, made her appearance at the upper part of the Plaza with a large freight and passenger list. She was shortly afterwards followed by the Linda and the Phoenix, the former passed up the river as far as the town of Linda, a few miles above, near the point known as Yuba Dam. The Lawrence continued to make regular trips between Sacramento and Marysville, yielding immense profits to the proprietors from carrying freight and passengers. The charges for freight were 8 cents per pound, and passengers fare $25, with no lack of patronage at these figures.
AT THE TIME WE WRITE
The water in the Yuba was moderately free from the sediment as we now see it. The bottom was pebbly, and in the low stages of water during the summer was easily forded by teams and pack animals. It may be a part of the history of that stream also to state, that from the shifting sands and mining debris since sent down from the mountains, directly in front of the city its bed has been filled to the depth of 25 feet, or in other words about a foot a year since the city’s first organization. At this period the principal business of the place – as was the case in nearly all California towns – was transacted under rudely and hastily constructed tents. The large number of adventurers daily landing and pitching their tents naturally gave rise to questions of interest and importance to all concerned. Up to this time there were no courts and indeed no law, except that inherited by every man’s “own right arm,” beyond this there was no redress, and the importance of a legal organization began to make itself keenly felt. An election for Alcalde and Sheriff was held on the 18th of January, 1850, at which 231 votes were cast. Alcalde was the Spanish term for magistrate or judge and used under our territorial existence.
STEPHEN J. FIELD ALCALDE.
Stephen J. Field of New York, a gentleman since honored as one of the Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States, was chosen First Alcalde, J. B. Wadleigh second ditto, and T. M. Twitchell Sheriff. Mr. Twitchell not qualifying, R. B. Buchanan was appointed in his stead. The whole administration of public affairs as it by general consent fell into the hands of these Supreme Judges, who were shortly afterwards commissioned by Governor Burnett and immediately entered upon their duties. The faithful, impartial and satisfactory manner in which law and justice were meted out by Judge Field are generally demonstrated by the records of his proceedings which are still preserved in the archives of the county. As illustrating the manner he had of disposing of matters which were brought to his notice, the following may be cited as an instance. Standing one morning in the principal thoroughfare of the city a well known citizen came riding down street on a recently purchased horse, when he was accosted by another individual who claimed ownership, a dispute naturally arose between the two about the identity of the animal which soon attracted the attention of quite a number of by-standers, His Honor among the rest. It was mutually agreed to leave the matter to him. So swearing each party there in the street he heard both sides and rendered his decision, which was that the claimant who had made his claim on the street was the rightful owner. His charge for the decision was a Mexican ounce, in those days of the value of $16, the price was cheerfully paid and both parties satisfied, when an adjournment was had to a neighboring saloon, which proved a highly gratifying operation to the crowd of disinterested spectators. At this time public gambling with its seductive and demoralizing influences had already become one of the leading characteristics of California progress, as well as greatness, and the embryo city came in for its share of votaries. The first public gambling house erected was situated on First street near D. It was known as the “Round Tent” and kept by James Wharton, who in later years was known as “Uncle Jimmy” by merchants, bankers, and even churchmen who had become familiar with his unostentatious charities, bestowed upon all whom he found to be needy. “Uncle Jimmy’s” abiding place consisted of a series of poles inserted into the ground and covered with blue canvass, something after the manner of the dressing room to a traveling circus in the tenting season. The profits of the game were immense, and the time was not long before a portion of these was invested in more comfortable quarters. The second house of the kind opened was the “Exchange,” erected on D street with an ell on First, for a long time this was the center of attraction, made memorable by the attractiveness of its superior music by articles of considerable repute who would at this late day indignantly refuse to appear in any other place than a concert room or theater. Musical talent at that time commanded the most utopian prices, any amateur who could torture horsehair or catgut into any consecutive sounds, reasonably endurable, found the gambling saloon a much more remunerative field for his labor than the richest laden placer or gulch. There seemed to be at the time we write, an almost universal mania for gambling, the amounts staked and the boldness manifested in these operations when taken into consideration at the present time seem almost fabulous. It was no uncommon thing to witness $2,000 to $3,000 bet on the turn of a card. Judge Field as Alcalde, filled every department of Justice and was the general adviser of the local government, his decisions were necessarily final, no appeals were allowed from his court, for the obvious reason, none other existed. A description of some of the early cases brought before him would doubtless prove interesting to this sketch but lack of time forbids any mention of them. As an instance of the kind of testimony elicited in those days, a single instance will suffice. A case was brought before him of cattle stealing, a very common occurrence in those days, one of the witnesses called, testified that the meat he had purchased from the parties accused, looked like beef, and tasted like beef but they called it Short Horned Elk.
YUBA COUNTY FORMED
During the session of the first Legislature, 1849-1850, the county of Yuba was formed, and Marysville selected as the county seat. On the first Monday in April, in the latter year an election was held for county officers resulting in the election of the following gentlemen for the respective offices: County Judge, H. P. Haun; County Attorney, S. B. Mulford; Clerk, E. D. Wheeler; Sheriff, R. B. Buchanan; Recorder, Alfred Lawton; Surveyor, J. B. Cushing; Treasurer, Levi W. Taylor; Assessor, S. C. Tompkins; Coroner, DR. S. T. Brewster. There were about 700 votes cast. The District Court and what was then called the Court of Sessions, met for the first time in June, 1850. In September Judge Field had other and greater honors thrust upon him, being elected to the Legislature as Yuba’s first member. The county then embraced all that territory now embraced in Yuba, Sierra and Nevada counties, and had no Senator and but one Assemblyman. the first census of the county was not taken until 1852, when the total number of persons was found to be 22,000. At the next session of the Legislature, Yuba county was awarded two Senators and five representatives, showing the rapidity with which the new county had progressed, and the importance of a full representation. Though at the same session Nevada county was formed out of the northeastern portion of the county. Like all new towns, Marysville had to receive her baptism of fire, which came on the 31st of August, 1850, destroying a vast amount of property, the fire was confined between the blocks bounded by D and E, and First and Second streets, within a week a second fire occurred destroying all the property south of First, between D and Maiden Lane, rolling Uncle Jimmy Wharton’s gambling tent up like a scroll, without the necessity of his folding it and getting out of the way.
During the Spring and Summer of 1850 a large and satisfactory business was done by the merchants, of a local character, and in dispatching merchandise of every description into the canyons and deep recesses of the mountains in the northern portion of the county large pack trains comprising in many instances two and three hundred mules, were almost daily packed on the public plaza, which then occupied the water front of the city, between High and E streets. It was nothing unusual to see $100,000 worth of assorted merchandise turned out on the Plaza, awaiting shipment by mule transportation. There were between 30 and 40 American packers, and about half as many more Mexicans who owned trains of pack mules engaged in this business. The number of mules owned in the city and which were used in packing to the mines was estimated at about 4,000 besides about 400 wagons engaged in transporting merchandise to parts accessible by wagon roads. Among the more prominent business houses at this time mention may be made of Messrs. J. C. Fall & Co.; Babb & Eaton; Ford & Goodwin; A. T. Farrish; S. Sartwell; J. H. Adams; Cook, Baker & Co.; Packard & Woodruff; Harrington & Hazletine; Jewett, Cheesman & Co.; Low & Bros.; Treadwell & Co.; Charles Lambert; Hochstadter & Bro.; etc. As an evidence of the amount of business which about this time was finding an outlet into the interior, it may be stated, that on one day there were as high as twenty-four sail vessels, of as many various dimensions, lying at the levee. The steamer “Governor Dana” as well as the “Lawrence” were then plying regularly between Sacramento and Marysville also, and being a pioneer in the freighting business, the former so continued until a very few years since. Early in January 1851, several public meetings were held to take into consideration the propriety of effecting a city organization. A draft of a charter was given to Judge Fields, our representative, and on February 5th, a bill passed the Legislature incorporating the city, dividing it into four wards and calling for an election of city officers on the first Monday in March. The charter experienced several changes by amendments passed at subsequent sessions of the law making power. Dr. W. M. Miles, was the first Mayor elected under the new city charter, and with him eight Aldermen, being two from each ward. The Council at their first meeting elected a Clerk, Treasurer, Assessor, Attorney and Marshal, and thus was set in motion the wheels of a local municipal government existing to-day under a modified form.
ROBBERY AND MURDER PREVALENT
It was not to be expected all who bent their steps hither were law abiding people, with the rush came some of the worst characters that ever troubled any community, consequently robbery and murders were of too frequent occurrence for the public weal. During the summer of 1850 one Geiger committed a cold blooded murder in mid day on D street near First. He met a debtor, as he was emerging from the United States Hotel, which then stood nearly midway the block, and demanded the amount due him, when informed he could not then pay it, Geiger drew his revolver and shot him dead in his tracks. The populace was aroused, and passion prompted summary vengeance, but reason interposed and the result was a large volunteer force watched the place used as a jail; it being considered unsafe, the committing magistrate sent him under a strong guard to the prison brig at Sacramento, from where he soon after made his escape. In April, 1851, so prevalent had crime become, the Legislature found it necessary to make an amendment to the criminal law of the State declaring robbery and grand larceny
PUNISHABLE BY DEATH,
In the discretion of the jury. It was not long before the people of Yuba county were given an opportunity to test this latter amendatory clause in a very aggravated case. The merchants in these days were in the habit from force of circumstances of leaving a vast amount of goods upon the sidewalk and in exposed places, and their disappearance became an object of extreme solicitude. A vigilance committee was formed about this time, composed mainly of the business men of the town, whose object was to ferret out the offenders. Suspicion fell upon one
Whose occupation was that of a teamster. He was engaged in hauling merchandise for his own and others account to the diggings on the Yuba. Positive evidence of his guilt was had, and in March, 1852, he was arrested by the officers of the law on a charge of grand larceny in stealing and conveying away unknown quantities of merchandise in the night time from in front of the various stores on the Plaza. His premises were searched and the following list of goods found therein, all of which were identified by the respective owners: 1,200 pounds of flour, 8 sacks of potatoes, 1 cask of ale, 3 half barrels of meal, 1 keg of powder, 1 half barrel of mackerel, the property of Low Bros.; 28 sacks of potatoes from Packard & Woodruff; 400 pounds of pork, 1 barrel of whisky, belonging to Fall & Co.; 1 sack of barley from Ream & Co.; also in the prisoners wagon 40 gallons of syrup, and 6 sacks of potatoes. He had his examination before the City Recorder, and was admitted to bail in the sum of $2,000. This action of the Recorder was severely criticized by a large portion of the citizens and Tanner was closely watched lest he should leave town, unwhipped of justice. On the 23d he was seen leaving town as was supposed, and chase was made, his pursuers noticed him throw something away which upon inspection proved to be a small bag containing an amount of money and three gold watches. He was caught and upon being taken to the Plaza a crowd of citizens gathered, and a committee of 25 of the most prominent merchants appointed to take testimony and try the culprit. He was taken to the vigilance committee rooms more dead than alive. Instantly the streets were alive with an excited populace, as it became bruited about that Tanner was in the hands of the committee. The officers of the law were powerless for the time being.
J. H. JEWETT WAS THEN MAYOR.
He was early upon the ground, and placing himself upon a dry goods box in the middle of the street, made a strong and impassioned appeal for law, justice and good order. He was ably assisted by a score or two of others and the result was a conference with the Committee. He was admitted to the committee rooms and there learned that the guilt of the prisoner was positive, and a decision had been arrived at to execute summary vengeance upon the culprit. He made a second forcible appeal to the Committee, which had the effect to moderate their decision, so far, that while they would not consent to hand the prisoner over to the officers of the law, they were willing to turn him loose and let him take his chances of being torn limb from limb, or dispatched by the unerring revolver in the hands of the populace below. This was reluctantly acceded to by the Mayor, who lost no time in making it known to a few trusted officers and friends in the street whom he stationed at the foot of the stairway to receive the prisoner and escort him to jail. While these proceedings were going on in the Committee room, the wife of the prisoner with her two little children, one a bright little boy with golden ringlets falling in profuse clusters over his shoulders, and the elder a little girl of 7 or 8 summers, were parading the street below, petitioning and pleading in the most piteous manner the excited crowd to spare her husband, “for the love of God! oh spare, oh! spare my husband,” fell as it never fell before from the lips of a trusting though misguided wife. While the prisoner was being brought down the stairway, a few of the committeemen who were averse to the judgment of the majority, to hand him over to the crowd below went out upon the balcony and shouted to the excited crowd in the streets to be on the alert he was coming down the stairway. The excitement now became intense and instantly the cry arose “hang him! hang him!” The moment he emerged from the doorway he was seized by a strong cordon of faithful officers, who hurriedly carried him along toward the jail, the crowd pressing at every point, strategy had to be used and the prisoner was hurriedly run through the Recorder’s office leading into a back street, and was finally securely lodged in the wooden jail where now stands the present structure. His trial came on in the May term of the County Court, Judge Haun presiding. The testimony against him was so conclusive the jury had but little trouble in arriving at a verdict of guilty, and the sentence recorded was “death by hanging.” The first and only instance in Yuba county, where life was forfeited for a few dollars’ worth of purchasable articles. The sentence of the Court was faithfully carried out on the 28th of May. A year or two later, this amendment to criminal law was expunged from the statute books.
THE FIRST NEWSPAPER
On the 5th of August, 1850, the Marysville Herald was started, the first paper published north of Sacramento, under the proprietorship and editorial charge of Colonel Robert H. Taylor. A year late Colonel Taylor associated with him S. C. Marsett, known then and now as “Jeems Pipes of Pipesville.” Under their administration the paper flourished and became very popular. The Herald had no opposition until the establishment of the California Express, in 1851, the first number of which was issued November 3d, of that year by Gee, Giles & Co., under the editorial control of Colonel Richard Rust. Each paper was issued tri-weekly, with a regular steamer edition for the 1st and 15th of each month for circulation in the Atlantic states. A large circulation of the larger editions were secured by persons who preferred sending a paper to writing letters to those they left behind. In November, 1855, a third paper was established by J. DeMott & Co., and christened the Daily Inquirer. It was Democratic in principles and edited by C. M. Gorham. January 9th, 1858, the first number of the Marysville Daily News was published by A. S. Randall & Co., and General James Allen installed as editor. The material of the Herald and Inquirer was purchased by the proprietors, and thus the News was born when these two papers named died. The News had a brief career and the material was purchased in August, 1858, and used in the publication of the National Democrat. As its name indicates it was an exponent of true Democratic principles, with its editorial columns presided over by John R. Ridge, who had occupied a similar position on the California Express, after the retirement of Colonel Rust in 1857. Mr. Ridge was one of the most graceful writers in the State, and devoted a good portion of his time to literature and the muse. The Daily and Weekly Appeal was first issued January 23d, 1860, by George W. Bloor & Co., and edited for a short time by H. R. Mighels, now of the Carson Appeal, William Bausman, now of the San Francisco Call, succeeded Mr. Mighels, and on the 2d of June, 1860, Benjamin P. Avery came down from San Juan, and with Emmet Brown and W. L. Cowan purchased the interest of Messrs. Bloor & Co., and Mr. Avery installed as editor. In the fall of that year Noah Brooks, now of the New York Tribune, purchased Cowan’s interest, and became associated with Mr. Avery in the editorial management of the paper. The paper under this management may be said to have been unequaled by any other in the State in point of typography and editorial ability. To complete the list of papers we have but three others to mention, the Standard, A. S. Smith proprietor, the Defender, by H. W. Atwell, and the Marysville Herald of a very recent date, by the Messrs. Parry Bros. All of these were short lived and were of comparatively recent dates and only mentioned in their order to complete the list of newspapers published in this city in its first quarter centennial growth.
EARLY CHURCH ORGANIZATIONS
We have portrayed the mania for gambling in the earlier portion of our sketch, we would not have it go forth to the world that all were gamblers. While the great mass of frequenters to the saloons may be said to have included traders, miners. mechanics, speculators, law and medical professors, there were those who came in the Spirit of their Master to establish his church in these western wilds that good might flow therefrom.
THE RELIGIOUS SERVICES,
Of which we have any note were held in March, 1850, on a flat boat moored near the Plaza, conducted by the Rev. Mr. Washburne. He was shortly afterwards succeeded by a Methodist clergyman named Wilson, and he by Rev. J. W. Brier, holding their services in the open air under a large oak tree then standing at the upper end of the Plaza. Mr. Wilson passed to his final reward the following summer, and his remains were carried to their last resting place on the border of the slough, between Fifth and Sixth on F street, which was at that time the only burying ground and quite a distance from the business center of town. Mr. Brier succeeded in drawing a congregation about him and a small wooden structure was erected on the west side of D street between Third and Fourth for the accommodation of the society. Mr. Brier was known to the early residents as an energetic business man and Christian, and to his efficiency is the society indebted for the brick edifice they now occupy on the corner of Fourth and E streets, which was erected in the fall of 1853 at a cost of $20,000.
REV. WILLIAM BRIER
A brother of the gentleman named organized the Presbyterian Society in September 1850, and convened his congregation in the Masonic Hall, a temporary structure where now stands the magnificent structure belonging to the fraternity on the corner of E and Third streets. A year later a frame building was erected for the uses of the society on the northwest corner of D and Third streets. In the fall of 1853, Rev. Isaac H. Brayton succeeded Mr. Brier and preached acceptably to the congregation for a year, when he was succeeded by Rev. E. B. Walsworth in May, 1853. In May 1854, this house of worship was destroyed by fire after which their new and handsome edifice on the corner of D and Fifth streets was erected at a cost of about $25,000. In March 1853, Rev. Peter Magagnotta, of the religious order of the Passionists Fathers, familiarly known as
And loved and respected alike by Protestants and Catholics for his many acts of benevolence and kindness to persons of every creed, built from his own private purse, a small frame church building on the north side of 7th between C and D streets, which he caused to be dedicated to the Catholic faith. In September 1855, their present large and handsome brick edifice was begun, since known as St. Joseph’s Cathedral. Other congregations followed, and in later years, the Episcopal and Baptist churches were built, also one colored Baptist, and colored Methodist church.
The first public school was organized in 1852, in the basement of the M. E. Church, and have been continued steadily increasing in the number of pupils, and in their usefulness to the present day. The first school building erected is the same now occupied as the boys department, and was completed in 1858. Another elegant structure has since been erected at the corner of Seventh and E streets occupied as the girls department. The number of children in the city between the ages of four and eighteen years, as returned by the school marshal, for 1857, the earliest record we have, was 535. Private schools began to multiply at a later date, and in 1853,
THE ORDER OF NOTRE DAME,
With its parent house in Germany, mainly through the instrumentality of Father Peter before mentioned, established a branch school for young ladies only – the second of the order in the State – at the corner of Eighth and C streets, which has been conducted by the Sisters of the order, to the present time.
Up to 1853, Marysville had no regularly organized
A hook and ladder company calling themselves the “Mutuals” had been formed for mutual protection, composed mainly of the business men of the town, in September, 1851, but not until August 1853, was there an organized department. August 17th,
EUREKA ENGINE COMPANY NO. 1,
Was organized, with 65 active members. At an election held soon after the following officers were elected and duly installed: Chief Engineer, P. J. Welsh; First assistant, M. D. Dobbins; Second assistant, Jacob Levy; Secretary, P. J. Jocelyn.
YUBA ENGINE NO. 2,
Organized in May of the following year with 58 members. In October 1855 the Mutual Hook and Ladder Company, was merged into
MUTUAL ENGINE COMPANY NO. 3,
Under a reorganization with 40 active members. In July, 1857,
WARREN ENGINE COMPANY NO. 4,
Was organized with a membership of 45. Besides these engine companies there were three hose companies, named respectively, Eureka No. 1, Yuba No. 2, and Mutual No. 3, aggregating 46 members. The volunteer system prevailed. About this time a spirit of rivalry and emulation sprang up between the several companies as to who would “get on the first water,” to the apparent utter disregard of the financial status of the Insurance Companies that generally had to foot the bills. About this time great dissatisfaction existed at the frequency of fires, and not until a few salutary lessons had been given those through whose agency they were kindled, did the citizens have a rest. Their frequency may be said to have “burnt out” the system, for shortly thereafter a
PAID FIRE DEPARTMENT
Was organized, the spirit of rivalry died out, fires became less frequent, and under the now order of things the department has become efficient to do battle with the “fire fiend” when occasion requires its service.
BENEFICIAL AND SOCIAL ORDERS
Began to organize as early as 1850. Marysville Lodge, F. and A. M., received its charter November 27th of that year, and was followed by Yuba Lodge No. 5, I. O. O. F., which was organized July 27th, 1853, with the following as charter members: L. B. Farrish, Mark Brumagin, D. W. C. Rice, Richard Rust, J. H. Scales, T. G. B. Knapp, I. Kuplar, John C. Fall, Levi Hite, J. S. Bluton, J. R. Totman, T. A. Stombs, C. N. Gray, L. J. Badollet, A. Pollard, H. F. Gilmore, J. W. Winter. The first meeting of the Lodge was held in a small room also occupied by the Masonic lodge in an unpretentious frame structure which then stood near the corner of D and Second streets the present site of the Western House. We mention this by way of comparison with the present magnificent structure now owned and occupied by these orders, standing on the principal corners of our principal thoroughfares.
MINING CAMPS AND TOWNS
It is impossible to give anything like a faithful sketch of the county without a mention – imperfect though it may be – of the several mining localities which offered rich premiums to the prospectors in the early days of mining. Our time limits us to a few of which mention may be profitably made.
A distance of fifteen miles, on the Yuba, is one of the oldest mining localities in the county, and where vast amounts of gold have been taken, and untold fortunes made in the earlier years. Few, if any of the old pioneer spirits can now be found hovering around their stamping ground.
A distance of thirty-five miles from Marysville, on the Yuba river, was worked as early as 1849, and took its name from William Foster, one of the first prospectors, and also one of the original proprietors of Nye’s Ranch. Being situate[d] on the road to the more northern mines it early became a place of considerable importance. A number of traders established themselves here, and a large trade sprung up with the mining camps up and down the river, and in gulches and ravines near and remote. William Hawley, Esq., since and now a resident of this city, was one of the early prominent traders there, and held the position of Alcalde of the town. J. H. and S. M. Atchison, and O. P. Stidger, names familiar to most of us, were all early residents of the “bar” at the time we speak.
Besides the placer mines and paying gulches there were also rich hill diggings discovered by the tireless prospector, and among these we note as one of the most important, first
THE TOWN OF CAMPTONVILLE
In the northeastern part of the county, about 40 miles from Marysville. In 1852, a company of prospectors started out in quest of new discoveries. In the vicinity of what is now known as Camptonville, Samuel Whiting, one of the party who had already acquired some experience in hill diggings, proposed to sink a shaft, his comrades, Messrs. William Cowan, J. Campton, J. M. and J. J. Campbell, the latter, at the time proprietors of a public house a few miles further up in the mountains, called the Nevada House, with some opposition from these men, which he finally overcame, the shaft was sunk, and the result proved the discovery of one of the richest gold fields in the northern part of the state. Here the present site of the town was established, being named after Mr. Campton one of the prospecting party. Being on the direct line of travel to other points farther up on the branches of the two rivers – Feather and Yuba – the town progressed rapidly and public houses and stores multiplied until an extensive business was created, which centered there as the base of supplies for other diggings near and remote.
GALENA AND YOUNG’S HILL,
Within a radius of a few miles were prospected by some early miners from the lead mines of Galena, Illinois, with success in 1853. A large amount of gold has been taken out, estimated by a gentleman now a resident of Camptonville, at $2,000,000. In later years the hills around about have been nearly washed away by hydraulic power.
Near the head of Indiana creek was early prospected and found to be rich in the glittering mineral, General Rowe, whom many of my audience know personally in his later years, with J. P. Brown, of Camptonville, were early prospectors here. A number of rich quartz ledges have also been discovered at a later day in that vicinity, and the community now as then is composed mostly of French, Italians and Portugese. In the same vicinity is Oregon Hill, now known as Greenville; also, New York and Ohio Flats, situated on a branch of Dry Creek, all have been worked extensively, with remunerative profits to the hardy toilers.
A locality noted in the early days as the home of Captain Dobbins, has always been a point of interest. Winslow Bar near here is principly noted for having been worked by the first importation of Asiatics and was named after Captain Winslow, who being in China at the discovery of gold at Sutter run, immediately came hither, bringing with him a goodly company of Chinese to perform their manual labor under his guidance. It proved to be a rich mining camp. Colonel Prentice, J. P. Brown, Charles Herald, and a few more adventurous spirits were among the early settlers. This place like many others we could mention is now scarcely visited, save by a few Chinamen who wander there to view it as their first stamping ground on free soil.
A distance of 18 miles from Marysville early attracted the attention of miners from the “bars” in the vicinity, as a location where they could work during the periods of high water when the bars on the river were submerged. Shafts were sunk, and tunnels commenced which have since yielded immensely in golden treasure. A good deal of paying ground still exists, though mining is pursued in these claims very differently now from what was done in the earlier days. Near the latter place, is another of equal importance with the commonplace title of
Gatesville was the name by which this locality was first known, but was early abandoned for the present one. The surface diggings were first worked in 1850, in most places to a depth of two feet, and afterwards less, paying the toiling miner large wages. At a later day ditches were constructed, and improved methods of mining adopted, by the construction of large sluices, in which quicksilver entered largely, that the smaller particles of the precious metal might be obtained which had heretofore escaped the vigilant eye of the hardy miner. At a later day hydraulic power was introduced, and immense quantities of blasting powder brought into requisition to level the surrounding hills. What was a quarter of a century ago, a small mining camp, is to-day a thriving, active mining town with numerous families to add to its stability.
In the immediate vicinity, and on the direct stage road to Nevada and North San Juan in Nevada county, is a town of considerable importance, containing a number of beautiful residences, stores, two churches, two hotels, and a large and flourishing public school, attended by over a hundred regular scholars, showing that proper attention is being had to the education of the rising generation.
We have thus in an imperfect manner sketched the town and county to the best of our ability in the limited time allotted, with the faculties at hand, and other pressing duties demanding our attention. Where comparatively only a few years ago, the growing crops of the hardy rancher waived their nodding plumes to the passing breeze, as it swept through the length and breadth of the great Sacramento Valley, to-day stands the city of Marysville. Her inhabitants characterized by industry thrift and enterprise. And her society softened by the refining influences of woman; where then was waste, now stand tasteful residences, with well cultivated yards, filled with shrubbery and plants to please the eye and gratify the senses. Morally as well as socially, there is a vast improvement, gambling, if not entirely suppressed, is not so openly carried on as of yore, and with intemperance greatly checked, the standard of respectability is far above that of former times. It cannot be doubted by an observant person, that the City of Marysville will continue her progress in the scale of good order and good morals, as she has in commercial prosperity and influence.
EARLY REMINISCENCES OF THE MARYSVILLE BAR –
A BRIEF SKETCH OF ITS MORE PROMINENT MEMBERS.
(Our old friend Steven Addington, formerly of the California Express, now of the Colusa Sun, has kindly furnished us with the following interesting sketch of the early members of the Marysville Bar. At the time he writes the Bar of this city was regarded as second to none in the State in point of legal ability, none knew the actors better therein better than he. At one time the Marysville Bar held a very prominent position in this State and among its members were to be found some of the brightest lights of the legal profession.) It has occurred to us that many lawyers of Marysville have figured extensively in filling various public positions, and we propose to refer to such as we can now call to mind: Stephen J. Field, who was among the first settlers of that city, is well known as one of the ablest jurists in the country. He was first elected Alcalde, an office which existed before the regular organization of our Courts, was a member of our first Legislature, and framed most of our laws on the formation of the State. He had a very fine practice. He was elected to the State Supreme Bench, and is now one of the Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States. Judge Field was a prominent candidate for the United States Senate at the time of the election of Mr. Broderick, and was spoken of for President in the Convention that nominated Mr. Seymour. His opinions on points of law stand as high perhaps, as those of any man living. Charles H. Bryan was also a gentleman of extraordinary ability, and filled a place on the Supreme Bench. He was a man of excitable character, warm and generous impulses, had failings like unto many Californians, which caused thorns to spring up in his pathway, and his life proved of rather a chequered character. George C. Gorham was a student in the office of Judge Field, but did not apply himself strictly to his profession. He was a great favorite of Field, however, who endeavored to make a lawyer of him, but George preferred the excitement of politics, and devoted much of his time to writing for party newspapers. He was several times elected City Clerk, acted as Under Sheriff, was appointed Clerk of the United States District Court, became a candidate for Governor, was defeated, and afterwards elected Secretary of the Senate of the United States, the position which he now holds. Charles E. DeLong came down to Marysville from the upper waters of the Yuba river, where he had spent some of the years of his boyhood in mining and other occupations. He was admitted to the Bar in that city, served in both branches of the State Legislature, and removed to Virginia City. He became a formidable candidate for United States Senator from the State of Nevada, and frightened old Jim Nye, his opponent, almost out of his boots. DeLong was a shrewd and active politician, and when he undertakes to carry a political point, makes the fur fly. Upon his defeat for the Senate, he was appointed Minister to Japan by President Grant, a position which he resigned a short time ago, and is now a candidate for United States Senator again in Nevada, with good prospects of success, provided the Democracy do not again carry the State. Gordon N. Mott was City Recorder, and was the first United States District Judge in Nevada, having been appointed by President Lincoln. He now holds the position of Court Commissioner in San Francisco. I. S. Belcher was elected District Attorney, District Judge, and Justice of the Supreme Court. He is regarded as a fine lawyer. R. S. Messick had a very extensive practice. He served in the State Senate, removed to Virginia City, and was elected District Judge. T. B. Reardon was also a prominent attorney. He was elected District Attorney and now holds the position of District Judge for the Nevada District. S. M. Bliss was County Judge for a number of years, and was afterwards elected District Judge. Jesse O. Goodwin has always stood high both in the criminal and civil practice. He served in the State Senate, was County Judge, and has been a prominent candidate for Congress, having been beaten in the Convention for the nomination by one vote, and been favorably spoken of for the United States Senate. Col. N. E. Whiteside, as genial and kind-hearted gentleman as ever lived, was the popular Speaker of the House of this State, and has been prominent before the people for Congress. Charles E. Filkins served as County Judge, has been selected to preside over several State Conventions, and is a true Californian, a genial gentleman, and an able lawyer. General William Walker, the “gray-eyed man of destiny,” who figured so prominently in filibustering expeditions was a partner of Colonel Watkins in the practice of law. We have often heard it remarked that during his residence in Marysville, where the inhabitants were noted for their hospitality and genial dispositions. Walker always maintained a stolid indifference for those around him, and confided in no man. It will be recollected that he was captured by the officers of a British man-of-war lying off Nicaragua, handed over to the authorities, and executed. His life was of a very eventful character. His partner, Colonel Watkins, served in the State Senate. Lloyd Magruder was more of a politician than a lawyer. He served as County Clerk and was elected to the Legislature. He was a stirling man of true honor. His partner, Charles Lindley, was elected County Judge, and appointed Code Commissioner by Governor Haight. E. D. Wheeler was elected County Clerk, and is now a District Judge in San Francisco. Colonel F. L. Hatch, a lawyer of superior ability, was elected District Attorney for several terms, and now holds the position of Judge of this county. Phil. W. Keyser was Postmaster of Marysville for several years, was elected Judge of Sutter county, and is now our affable and able District Judge. H. P. Haun was elected County Judge, and was appointed by Governor Weller to fill the unexpired term in the United States Senate occasioned by the death of D. C. Broderick. W. T. Parbour was for many years District Judge for the Marysville District, was appointed by the President one of the Board of Examiners at West Point, and filled other positions of honor and trust. G. N. Swezy, a lawyer of eminent ability, was elected to the Legislature, but having no taste for political life, turned his attention to agricultural pursuits, in which he has been very successful. Sam. B. Smith, who at one time was a partner of Judge Field, was a prominent political stock jobber, and was considered a capital engineer in pulling the wires for such as stood in need of his services. He was appointed Commissioner of the Indian war debt, and while East, married the daughter of John J. Circo, United States Sub-Treasurer, well known in financial circles. Through the influence of his father-in-law he obtained many contracts for supplies to the Government during the war, and acquired a fortune. E. C. Marshall, or “Ned” Marshall, as he was familiarly termed, was a member of the well known family by that name in Kentucky. He was a fine orator, keen, sarcastic and of great wit. He was elected to Congress, and came within a few votes of receiving the nomination to the United States Senate. A friend once related to us the circumstances of his being on the steamer which conveyed “Ned” Marshall East, on his way to Congress. The baggage of the Congressman elect consisted of a small leather satchel, and a bottle of whisky. J. W. McCorkle, although not a regular member of the Marysville Bar, spent much of his time in that city, making it his home for a long period and participated in the legal proceedings. The genial Judge is well known throughout this State. He served in Congress, and was a prominent candidate for Governor. E. O. F. Hastings was appointed by President Buchanan Register of the Land Office, served in the Legislature from Sutter county, and now represents the State in land matters, and is a prominent land lawyer at Washington. Charles S. Fairfax was considered the most popular man before the people for office, of any man that ever lived in the State, gave up the legal profession for political preferment. He was Register of the Land Office, Speaker of the Assembly, and for many years Clerk of the State Supreme Court, which at that time was a very lucrative position. Zach. Montgomery, a gentleman of acknowledged ability, served in the State Legislature, afterwards edited a newspaper in San Francisco, and subsequently amassed quite a fortune by land speculations in Alameda county. He was known as a close student, of the strictest integrity, and of strong prejudices. Judge Turner, if we are correct was the first District Judge. He was afterwards elected District Judge of the Humboldt District. Colonel Samuel B. Mulford, a very eccentric, extraordinary and talented gentleman, served for some years as City Recorder, as did also John T. McCarty, a gentleman of fine ability. W. C. Belcher served as School Commissioner for several years, and we believe never put in any claims for political honors. H. K. Mitchell, who studied law in the office of Judge Field, secured a very fine practice. He was a young man of very sterling ability. He removed to Virginia City, and ran for Congress on two occasions on the Democratic ticket, but was best by Ashly. General George Rowe was called a “walking library.” He was a great reader, and retained a vast fund of knowledge, which he could impart when required to do so, on almost any subject. He was exceedingly eccentric, and during the latter part of his life was a firm believer in spiritualism. He served as District Attorney. James G. Eastman, although not of this Bar at the early period referred to by us, subsequently became a member thereof. He is well known as one of the most effective and eloquent orators of the coast, and stumped the State on behalf of Governor Booth. He is now Secretary of the State Board of Equalization, and has an extensive practice in San Francisco. There are many other gentlemen who have and do now hold prominent positions at the Marysville Bar, but those named above are now on our memory as we write this hasty sketch. Other gentlemen besides members of the bar, who resided in that city, have filled very prominent positions. The Bar of Marysville was regarded as of very able character, and from the honors conferred on the members thereof, we should be led to believe that their merits were somewhat appreciated. Many changes have taken place since the days to which we allude. While some are still engaged in healing dissentions and seeking justice in behalf of their fellow-men, others have gone before that Great Tribunal from which there is no appeal, and now dwell where dissentions are unknown.
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