MEMORIES: MY SEVENTY-TWO YEARS IN THE ROMANTIC
OF YUBA CALIFORNIA
BY W. T. Ellis
with an introduction by Richard Belcher
EUGENE: THE UNIVERSITY OF OREGON
PRINTED BY JOHN HENRY NASH
Copyright, 1939, by W. T. Ellis, Marysville
DEDICATED TO MY OLD HOME TOWN MARYSVILLE
Family History and Random Boyhood Memories
MY FATHER, William Turner Ellis, was born on October 14, 1826 on a plantation near Mt. Auburn, Maryland and spent his youth there. Being born “south of the Mason & Dixon line,” he was a “Southerner” and a Democrat. The plantation was quite a large one and largely operated by slave labor; he received his education at Cincinnati, Ohio. The discovery of gold in California in 1849 proved an attraction which he could not resist and in 1852 took passage on a clipper ship for Panama, crossed the Isthmus and took passage on another ship for San Francisco. On the voyage he became acquainted with another young man named David E. Knight; they became life long friends and business associates in various enterprises and both took an active part in the building up of Marysville for the balance of their lives; father died in 1913 at the age of 87 years.
Father, when he first arrived in California, tried his hand at mining for a couple of years, then came to Marysville, where his friend Knight had located; father then took a position as head clerk for John C. Fall & Company which firm was doing a very large business in general merchandise in a two story brick building, situated on the bank of the Yuba River at what would now be the corner of First and Willow Streets, in Lot 1, of Block 1, Range F; this site is now underneath the present City levee there.
Directly across the street, on First Street, was situated the Merchants Hotel, a large three story brick structure; the old official City map made in 1856 shows a picture of this Hotel. The site of the hotel was approximately where the present City sewage plant is now located. At that time, the ground level there was about ten feet lower than D Street but at the same time this ground was about fourteen feet above the average summer surface of the Yuba River, while at “The Plaza,” which is still situated at the south end of High Street, on First Street, the natural ground level was about twenty-six feet above the average summer level of the river; at this Plaza the steamers and clipper ships used to land and discharge freight and passengers.
My mother, Lizzie Huntington, with three other sisters and a brother, came from Zanesville, Ohio to California, also via the Isthmus and reached Marysville in 1859. It was at this Merchants Hotel that my father and mother first met and were married on December 12, 1860; one of the sisters, Abbie Huntington married Judge T. B. Reardan; another sister, Amelia Huntington married Judge Gordon N. Mott, while the other sister Sarah Huntington lived with my father and mother. After my mother died on December 31, 1878, she married my father on May 12, 1886, but to me and my sisters she always remained “Aunt Sallie.” All these people made their homes in Marysville. In 1863 father purchased from Elisha Ransome for the sum of only $2800 the two-story brick residence situated at the northwest corner of D and Eighth Streets and it remained the family home for the next 57 years; I was born there on March 17, 1866 as was my younger sister Hope on August 9, 1871, my elder sister having been born on October 9, 1861 in the Merchants Hotel. Across the street from this old home was situated a small frame cottage, the lumber for which “came around The Horn” and in this small cottage resided Judge Stephen J. Field, first Alcalde (Mayor) of Marysville and in later years Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court. This house is now situated at about C and 18th Streets.
Judge Field and my uncle Judge Mott were great friends and often indulged in the old California indoor sport of playing poker. Some times, when funds were a little low with which to gamble, each owning quite a number of vacant City lots, they would use these lots for “stakes” and many of the old City abstracts will show transfers from G. N. Mott to Stephen J. Field and very rarely, Stephen J. Field to Gordon N. Mott, indicating that Field was the better poker player, I assume. Mott was a District Federal Judge, and as was the custom in those days, traveled from place to place, holding Court. On one of these trips, the stage was attacked by Indians on horseback, armed with bows and arrows; the driver let the four horses run wild in an effort to escape, but was struck with an arrow; Mott was the only passenger in the coach and to render the driver assistance, climbed up to the driver's seat, got the driver in the “boot” of the stage and, supporting him between his knees, drove to safety to the next stage station, the driver being dead on arrival. Mark Twain in his book entitled “Roughing It,” describes this occurrence.
Mott had three sons and one daughter; the younger son, my cousin Edward Marshall Mott, was highly educated, could speak Latin almost as well as English and always wanted to be an actor. When Field became Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court, he took Edward Mott back with him to Washington, D.C. and young Mott was his private secretary for a number of years, later being ordained as a Minister in the Episcopal Church; returning to Marysville as pastor of the old Episcopal Church, which was built in 1854 and is still standing at the northeast corner of E and 5th Streets. By the way, I was baptized in that church when a baby but unfortunately the baptism apparently “never took” very well. I was baptized with the name of William Densmore Ellis, the middle name being the name of a very favorite bookkeeper my father had in his employ and in whom he apparently placed too much confidence, for shortly after my baptism, this Mr. Densmore absconded with something like five thousand dollars and father immediately, of his own accord, changed my name to William T. Ellis, Jr., so I have always been in doubt as to just what my middle name rightfully is and possibly Mr. Densmore's peculations causing a mix-up in my middle name was the cause of my baptism in the church “not taking” very well.
In 1857, John C. Fall failed in business, largely because of extending too much credit, and my father took over the business in the same store and remained in business there until about 1862 when he purchased the large brick store building on First Street, between D and High Streets, the flood of 1862 causing him to seek a location on higher ground. At that time this was a one-story brick building and considered fireproof from the outside. The outside walls were exceedingly large and substantial, every window and door being double; the inside windows and doors were of glass while all the outside doors were of iron. The roof was a wooden hand split sugar pine shake roof, but under the roof was a heavy wooden flooring on which was a layer of about six inches of sand and on top a layer of bricks, so that the roof might catch fire and be destroyed but could not reach the interior of the building. In later years, he placed a second brick story on the building, occupying both floors for his business, which was conducted there, a record of fifty-seven years of continuous business. At one time, father had a branch store also in Winnemucca, Nevada when mining was lively in that section. He shipped his goods by teams and also by pack mule teams, crossing the Sierras by way of the old Hennesee Pass route, not only to Winnemucca but to other points such as Carson City, Virginia City and other State of Nevada points. He was also a partner with James Trayner in a flour mill, situated at about F and Second Streets, but the flood of 1875 ruined contents and the building and, being a total loss, it was never opened again.
Father never was much interested in politics although he was elected County Treasurer in 1875 and served two terms, it being the practice in those days to have some well known business man Treasurer, the deputy really doing all the work. His deputy was J. F. Eastman. The State collected state taxes in those days and I remember several times going to Sacramento with father and Eastman to “settle with the State,” the coin being carried in a large bag and father, Eastman and another man, all heavily armed, going down by train. Father was also a member of the City Council later on.
Father was always a great lover of good horses and saw that they were well cared for.
When I was very young, he maintained a very handsome driving mare called “Nellie” for his own personal use and for which he paid $1000 to a well known sportsman named Barney Ayers; he also had the only “Brewster buggy” in town which cost him $500; he was very proud of this outfit. For mother, he maintained two bay horses and a hack, called a landau, the top of which could fold to the front and rear and when mother and her sister went driving my elder sister and myself would always have an argument as to which one's turn it was to sit on the driver's seat with the driver, an Englishman who was in father's employ for many years; his name was Tom Jones; he saved his money and in later years returned to England and wrote back, saying that he had married and that he and his wife were running a roadside inn.
For his business use, father had another stable on the west side of High Street, in the rear of his store where he maintained four truck horses and three wagon horses. These horses were as carefully attended to as those at the home stable. His horses knew him and when he came near them, they would commence to “whinnie,” knowing that there was usually a lump of sugar in his pocket for them. In later years, his horses were all kept at the home stable. He always preferred horses of a gray color and liked them “well rounded out” and to look well fed. One day a large circus having come to town we delivered to the kitchen tent a wagon load of groceries; the attention of a man and his wife, who were both quite famous bare back equestrians, was attracted to our delivery horse; they immediately came down to the store and called on father and said they would like to purchase the horse because he had style and a particularly broad back, well adapted for somersaulting on, etc., and asked if he would sell them the horse. Now father was never known to sell a horse and he was particularly fond of this one; the horse was worth about $150 and he had no intention of selling, so with the idea of getting rid of them, he remarked, “Why, it would take $500 to buy that horse,” and then, much to his astonishment, they replied, “Here is your $500,” and offered him the money. Father tried to get out of the deal, said he had only been joking but the woman “stood pat,” said he had made his price, it had been accepted and believed him to be a man of his word. They got the horse and father was morose for several days afterwards. The following year, the same circus came to town, the man and his wife called on father and gave him some passes and told him to be sure and come to the circus and see the horse perform; well, we all went that evening and father, especially, was more than pleased to see his horse, looking rounder than ever and perfectly trained. After the show, we all went to the horse tent to see the horse, father with his pocket full of lumps of sugar, and when the horse commenced to “whinnie,” he was tickled to death, even after the woman told him, “Mr. Ellis, if you want to buy this horse back, $1,000 wouldn't buy him, because he has such a broad flat back, which is rare in most horses.” That circus came to town three times in after years and each time father went to the circus to see his horse.
This barn at home had a fancy cupola on top of the roof, with sloping slats on its four sides. Several of us young kids conceived the idea of making it a safe place to smoke. We hid there our Vanity Fair tobacco and brown cigarette papers and “rolled our own.” One day father came home earlier than usual, he saw smoke coming out of the cupola, put in an alarm, the fire engine came rushing up and the firemen discovered the cause of the smoke. I believe it was more the kidding that my father received than it was the smoking, which caused him to give me a “lambasting” that cured me of smoking until I got on long pants.
Shortly after I was born, for a nurse girl to look after my elder sister and myself, we had an Indian girl named Rose, who was purchased by father for $500. It appears that two miners, having been quite successful in mining, stole this young girl from her parents; one of the men being married, with a wife and children in San Francisco contemplated having the Indian girl for a nursemaid. This miner, however, when he reached Marysville got into a gambling game, lost all his gold dust and looked about for some one to whom he could “sell” the girl and father was the one who obtained her. This girl Rose would never sleep in a bed, she would roll up in a blanket and sleep on the floor at the head of a stairway, near our room; she could not stand civilization I guess, for when she had been in the family for about ten years she contracted tuberculosis and died after being ill for about three years.
My oldest sister and myself had a small wagon, made to order by a well known blacksmith and wagon maker by the name of Samuel Bradley. To this wagon we had hitched a team of trained goats and the two of us used to drive that rig all over town and in the open area, north of 8th Street and west of E Street, which in those days was called “the plains,” there being at that time no streets laid out and about a dozen scattered small residences with a large round brick powder house on what is now Motor Square; this area is now a closely built up residential section. We had these goats for several years and when they died, father had the wagon fitted with shafts and to it we hitched a pet deer, after it had reached some size. It was a buck deer and after it had grown some good sized horns it ceased to be a “pet” and one day, after having attacked me and “horning” me good and plenty, we had venison steaks for a few days.
When my sister and myself got older, we were given ponies and, later on, fine riding horses; we both spent lots of time horseback riding. In those days, every summer, the family would go to San Francisco for a vacation for a couple of months; we always stopped at the old Occidental Hotel on Montgomery Street. It was the leading hotel in those days and I have two vivid recollections of the hotel; one was the fleas, and in San Francisco those days fleas were abundant everywhere. The other recollection was of being ill with scarlet fever; we had been assigned rooms in which Joseph D. Grant of San Francisco had been ill with scarlet fever and, as fumigation was not practiced in those days, I contracted the illness. Diagonally across the street was the well known Russ House and in one of the stores on the ground floor was situated a toy shop; when I was convalescent, father made an arrangement with this toy store to furnish me a new toy of some kind each day, each day taking back the toy of the day before. I have often wondered how many cases of scarlet fever possibly may have scattered among other children in San Francisco.
After the Civil War, almost every one took a great interest in politics, and I remember, as a boy, speeches, pro and con, by nominees for election; a speech always drew a large crowd, the speakers were always quite rabid and the “bloody flag” was dwelt upon and many a fist fight resulted as the war was still fresh in the minds of every one and every man was either an “out in out” Democrat or Republican, which simply meant that he had been a sympathizer of the “South” or the “North.” At Presidential rallies both parties would try to outdo each other with their torchlight parades, bonfires on D Street, usually at 2nd and 3rd Streets, and “spell-binders” making speeches, on platforms, constructed usually in the middle of the street at 2nd and D Streets. The streets, sidewalks and the balconies in front of the buildings would be crowded with people. At the head of a Republican procession, generally one large man, holding aloft a long pole with a rooster, which was supposed to crow; while at the head of the other procession would generally be another man with a long pole, on top of which would be suspended a man's white shirt, daubed with red paint and typifying the “bloody shirt.” Bands would play and we young kids played no favorites, every procession looked good to us and the boys would vie for the “honor” of walking in front of and assisting in holding up the drummer's big bass drum; if a lad succeeded in this honor and chanced to be in the wrong procession and his father found it out, that kid was in for a good “licking” by his dad.
Later on, the Denis Kearney riots commenced to take place with the slogan, “The Chinese must go, Denis Kearney says so.” This agitation started in San Francisco and spread all over the State to a large extent. The poor inoffensive Chinese had a hard time of it; small boys, influenced by the attitude of their parents in many cases, would steal and scatter vegetables and laundry which the Chinese might be carrying in two large baskets, suspended on each end of a long flexible flattened pole, the latter swung across one shoulder; the loads which were carried with a swinging motion in this way were remarkable. Other “amusements” of the boys would be to watch a chance to tie two Chinese queues (called pigtails) together when unsuspected; another amusement of the boys was to throw stones at the Chinese and, if at times a rock “landed” properly,the Chinaman knew he had no redress. My father cautioned me never to do this, but one day I was playing marbles with several boys near our home when a Chinaman happened by; the other boys commenced to throw rocks at him which all missed; on the spur of the moment, to show the other boys that they were poor marksmen, I threw a rock which struck the Chinaman on the side of his cheek. This Chinaman had more spunk than others of his race and started after me; I ran across the street to our home and dashed in the back door, the Chinaman following me right into the house; unfortunately for me, father happened to be home; he asked the Chinaman what was the matter and when he obtained the information, he gave the Chinaman a dollar and asked him to wait while he proceeded to place me across his knees and warm the bosom of my trousers in such an effective manner that, for several days afterwards, I would have preferred to have taken my meals off the mantelpiece in place of sitting in a chair. That cured me from “shieing” rocks at any Chinese.
The Chinese did a lot of mining, generally taking over claims which the white men abandoned; they controlled the vegetable and laundry business and had several large mercantile stores on First Street. Chinese were used almost exclusively for common labor by the railroad company and for levee building; when levee building was first started, by William H. Parks (father of our local Fred Parks), in what was then called the Sutter tule basin (now the Armour Reclamation District), Mr. Parks used Chinese exclusively at first to build levees, the tools being shovels and wheelbarrows. There was a large Chinese population in Marysville, several very large stores with large stocks of Chinese goods, Hong Wo & Co. being the largest concern, situated at 314 First Street. In later years Sun Yet Sin hatched his plans to make a Republic of China there, which later on he succeeded in doing and became the first President of the Chinese Republic; his body is now residing in a very large and elaborate mausoleum (or shrine) in China, costing several million dollars.
On “China New Year's Day,” there was always a large celebration in Chinatown; many whites would call at the various stores and were always given presents as Chinese are always particularly liberal on that day. The air would be filled with the bursting of long strings of firecrackers to “drive away the devil.” Every Chinaman made it a point to have all his debts paid on that day; otherwise they considered it would be bad luck to start a new year with unpaid debts.
My father did a large business with the Chinese and extended them lots of credit and we never, as far as I can remember, ever lost a bill. There was at that time a Chinaman by the name of Len Noy who was a very large operator in raising potatoes near Marysville. He made plenty of money and had a wife, but decided that he was sufficiently affluent and an important personage to have a second wife with “little feet” so he went to China and brought back with him a very nice looking young Chinese girl about 20 years of age and with “small feet” which had been placed in that condition by firmly binding the feet with wrappings from an early age; this resulted in the woman being so badly crippled with such small feet that she could barely walk, but it was a sign of great beauty and attractiveness and it was notice to his countrymen of the husband's great affluence and importance. Len Noy had a good home on one of his ranch properties and installed his new wife therein, his first wife becoming second in importance and a servant to the first wife and perfectly satisfied in her new lowly position. Len Noy informed every one that he had paid $3000 for his new wife. Then followed several disastrous years for Len Noy; his potato crops were largely failures because of insufficient moisture, pests of different kinds, etc. My father had extended him credit to the extent of about $2500 and when New Year's arrived, Len Noy could not pay; he was exceedingly dejected and apologetic and contemplated selling his little foot wife; my father told him not to worry and to pay whenever he could; it took Len Noy about three years to pay off the debt and then he insisted upon giving the family some valuable presents.
New Year's day celebration was always followed in the next month with the Chinese “Bomb Day,” when bombs were shot up in the air with numbered tags attached and the one who caught the wicker ring with the attached tag when it descended to the ground was entitled to call for and retain for one year a prize screen which was expected to bring good luck to the holder for that year. Great crowds would congregate to witness the scramble for possession of the wicker rings, when they were shot up in the air, particularly for the big prize one, and in those days I have witnessed over 150 Chinese pull and haul and tug for over an hour, trying to get possession of this prize, their clothes torn to ribbons, their hands and arms scratched and bloody, until finally some one of them would be successful, with the aid of his friends, to escape and run as fast as he could to the Joss House where the prize would be awarded him. Then would follow processions and banquets where large roasted hogs, “cooked to a turn,” would be the piece de resistance.
It was always a mystery to our bookkeeper Charles Sawtell and myself where father spent his “loose change.” All the supplies for the kitchen at home were always purchased by our old Chinese cook Jack; at the end of each month he would bring all his bills to the office and either the bookkeeper or myself would give him the money to pay them. All the other bills for the house or family, for clothes, etc., would be mailed to us and checked up and be paid by check, so father really paid no bills himself; nevertheless, about every other day, he would go to the safe, take out a $20 roll of 50¢ pieces and put it in his pocket and charge himself with the amount. The fact of the matter was that this spending money went partially for a certain number of whiskey punches each day, which in those days cost ten cents, and, as he always had the habit of buying his drink and walking out, never loitering about saloons, this did not cost much; he smoked about fifteen cigars each day of the “3 for a half” variety, and almost every afternoon he would indulge in a game of pinochle for an hour or so; the balance of the money he gave away to various old timers who were “down and out” and were constantly asking for money “for a meal.” One day he passed out some money to several of these old fellows at the same time for meals and shortly afterwards he went in a saloon and found them all lined up before the bar, enjoying drinks at his expense in place of meals; he got peeved and had a large number of tickets printed “Good for a 25¢ meal at any restaurant, W. T. Ellis,” and commenced to pass them out in place of money. This appeared to work fairly well for a few months until one month there were several hundred of these tickets brought to the office to be cashed; an investigation disclosed that some unknown person had had printed a copy of his tickets, had disposed of them at various places for a discount of 10c each and then cleared out for parts unknown; that caused him to discontinue his free meal tickets and he returned to his old habit of dealing out cash instead.
One day, a young man came to the store and said he had a mining property in the mountains which he was going to open up and wanted to lay in a lot of supplies. One of the clerks proceeded to take his order, which was quite a large one; father glanced over the list of goods which had been ordered, came to the conclusion that it was not a well balanced order for a mine and became suspicious and when the young man asked if he would cash a small check, that convinced him that the young fellow was a crook; he immediately called the police and had him arrested; he was taken to the City jail and locked up but soon convinced the police that he was what he was representing himself to be and was released and purchased his goods elsewhere. He himself it appears had taken the matter good naturedly but shortly afterwards his father, learning of his son's experience, caused a suit to be commenced against father for $5000 for false imprisonment. A date for the trial was set, father engaged a well known attorney, Grove L. Johnson, of Sacramento to represent him; in the meantime, he was given a lot of good natured joshing by his friends and when the day for the trial came around, much to the objections of his attorney, who discovered that father had not sworn out any warrant for the man's arrest, and, through some neglect, the police docket did not even have the man's name or any charge placed against him, the attorney claimed that he was sure he could beat the case. Father, however, insisted upon settling the case without a trial. It cost him $3500 for the injured feelings of the young man's father, and he also had to pay his attorney, Mr. Johnson, $500 for his time and trouble in getting ready to defend the case. That was a very tender subject with him for several years.
I owe a great debt to my father because he trained me in practical ways and made me commence at the foot of the ladder and work up. He often said, “Use your head, Bill; make up your mind that what you are about to do is the right thing to do and never go off half cocked.” Another thing he insisted upon was punctuality; “If you make an engagement for 2:00 o'clock, that means 2:00 o'clock and not 2:05 o'clock.” As for drinking, and there was plenty in those days, he told me, “Learn how to hold your liquor, Bill, and be as moderate as possible for your own good and always remember that you are a gentleman.”
I never knew of father being sick a day of his life; it was only some six months before he died, at the age of 87, that he commenced to show signs of the “machinery wearing out” and then never made any complaint except to remark that he “didn't feel just right”; he took to bed about a week before he died and showed no sign that he realized his condition until about three days before the end, when one day, calling me to his side, he whispered to me, “Billy, I am a goner,” an old early day California expression.
THE first school I ever attended was a private school for small children, situated in the second story of a brick residence where the present Hall of Records is now located. The teacher was Miss Ella Moody whose parents had a ranch situated on the south side of the Buttes in Sutter County. I attended her school, I believe, about two years, and then went to another private school which was conducted by Mrs. S. M. Miles, wife of the first Mayor of Marysville. The school was in the present two-story brick residence situated at 427-8th Street. Mrs. Miles was a spiritualist and, occasionally, when she was conducting the school classes, she would excuse herself for a short while, saying “that she wanted to talk with her husband for a little while”; (he had been dead for a good many years). We could hear her “talking” to the Doctor in the next room but of course could not hear his replies, although she told us she could hear them; whether she did or not, she seemed to get a great satisfaction out of her conversations with her deceased husband.
A few years afterwards, I attended the public school which was then situated at the northeast corner of B and 7th Streets, where the State Highway Division headquarters are now located; it was a two-story brick building with two school rooms on each floor. Only boys went to this school, the girls those days going to the old grammar school, situated at the southwest corner of E and 7th Streets, where is now situated the Christian Science Church. I will never forget my first day's experience at the public school. I was “dolled out” with a new store suit, knee pants, leather boots with bright red square of leather on the top front of the boots, white flounced shirt with a wide collar turned back over the coat; I looked, I imagine, like a “little Lord Fauntleroy.” All the other boys were dressed in old coats and overalls; they looked “rough” and I soon found that they were “rough” because at recess time one of the boys by the name of Johnnie Lopez was selected to “dress me down”; a ring was formed by all the other boys and Lopez first made a jerk at my collar and tore that off; he then boxed my ears and followed with a good kick on my nice new boots; by that time I was “crying mad” and “we went to it”; he got me down in the dirt and gave me a “whale of a licking” and I still have a slight dent on the end of my nose in his attempt “to flatten it all over my face” as he told me. The teachers paid no attention to these little “diversions” but when I went home, with my new clothes badly damaged, I asked for, and obtained, permission to dress like the other boys and was then accepted “as one of the gang” after that.
The Superintendent of Schools those days was Mr. T. H. Steel (father of our present Superior Court Judge, Mr. Warren Steel). When Mr. Steel was Superintendent, he used to visit the school classes and we scholars were always “on edge” when he so visited. He would call on various scholars and when he would call out, for example, “Master Ellis, please stand up, I want to propound a problem for you to answer”; Master Ellis would stand up with trembling knees and wish a hole would open up so as to make a quick disappearance, because he knew what was coming, as the “problem” submitted was almost always a “catch question” which would usually be impossible to give the correct answer to. The children dreaded these occasional visits by Mr. Steel and I believe the teachers did also, as almost every boy would fail to give correct answers, which apparent stupidity on the part of the scholars the teacher looked upon as a reflection on his ability as an instructor.
Two of the teachers were named Babcock; they were brothers and one was quite deaf. The boys, sitting close to the wall in the deaf teacher's room which separated the two class rooms, would at times kick against the partition wall; this would bring in the other Babcock to complain to his brother, who would maintain that his boys were not doing so, “that he did not hear them doing so”; this happened several times and one day, the two Babcocks themselves “got into a scrap,” to the unbounded amusement and glee of the scholars.
Later on, changes were made and boys and girls went to school together and I advanced to the senior class of the Grammar School at E and 7th Streets, where Mrs. Emma Hapgood was teacher. When the boys and girls started going to the same school, it took some time for the boys to get “tamed down,” particularly with a woman teacher, but Mrs. Hapgood was equal to the task; she was an excellent teacher and a fine motherly woman but a strict disciplinarian when necessity required and a very large and powerfully built woman. This latter fact Godfrey Carden and I found out one day, when we placed on top of the large hot stove in the school room the contents of a small can of cayenne pepper during school hours, and, when she charged Carden and myself with being the guilty ones; admitting our guilt, she grabbed us each in turn by our coat collars, hauled us out of our seats over the school desks and gave us a licking; after that exhibition of her strength, all the boys were more circumspect.
I then advanced to the junior class of the High School, on the second floor of the same school building at 7th and E Streets. In those days there were the Junior, Middle and Senior classes; the Principal was Professor Hill, and afterwards Professor Kleeberger. There was generally a large junior class, but many scholars did not advance to the two higher classes as many of the boys and girls then went to work. When I graduated from the Senior Class in the third year, the class consisted of three girls, Anna McKenney, Laura Bordwell and Della Parks, and myself, the only boy. Anna McKenney was rated the brightest scholar in the High School and I well remember that I would not have passed the written examination for graduation had it not been for the fact that Anna sat at the next desk to me and surreptitiously gave me the correct answers to some of the written examination questions which I was “stumped on.”
That was the extent of my “schooling” as I then went to work in my father's store, but I became interested in good educational books and for several years afterwards I “polished up” my education with such reading.
Our Family Chinese Cook, Yuen Yeck Bow (Jack Ellis)
YUEN Yeck Bow, whom I will refer to herein as “Jack,” was one of the swarm of young Chinese who came to California principally to mine for gold but also to work on the construction of railroads, conducting laundry shops, vegetable gardens, etc. Jack, from his story, first tried mining, then worked on railroad construction, until one day a powder blast resulted in a large rock falling on his head and, as he described it, “he was dead for two days”; presumably, he was unconscious for that length of time, but he always insisted that he had been “dead” and was quite proud of the fact that he had come to life again. That accident cured him of railroading and he then became a cook for John H. Jewett, the banker, who at that time owned the brick residence at the southwest corner of C and 6th Streets. Some time afterwards Mr. Jewett and his wife closed the house and took a long trip to Europe and Jack then came to my father to be cook; this was about 1864 and, with the exception of about two years, when he took a trip to China, he stayed with our family until 1913, when my father died. In other words, he was our family cook for some 49 years.
When father died, Jack told me that he wanted to go back to China and spend his last days in the land of his ancestors; he asked permission to take some things in the house back with him and I told him to help himself. We had four large old fashioned trunks and he selected the smallest one and packed it with various odds and ends, then decided to use the next larger trunk and finally ended up with using the largest trunk. He then asked me for my father's watch, which he had not worn for years; it was a very fine gold Swiss watch but old fashioned to the extent that it had to be wound with a key, having been made before the “stem winder” had come into vogue. I brought him the watch and chain, which had been in the office safe for many years but he then asked for the “fancy thing” which was attached to the chain.
This “fancy thing” which he referred to was a Knights Templar Maltese Cross emblem, so I gave that also to him, but for fear it might get him in some trouble, I gave him a letter, stating that the watch, chain and emblem had been given him and that it was his property. I fixed him up with a good cash present and he departed but not 'till I had given him a good old hug, for we had become very much attached to him and, as a baby, he had watched particularly more over me than my sisters, because I was a boy. He sailed for the home of his ancestors on June 12, 1913.
About three years later, I received a letter from him (written by some Chinese friend in “pigeon English”), telling me he was getting along all right and also enclosed his photograph and very conspicuous on his vest was the gold chain and the Maltese Cross emblem; I got word some years later that he had died and I presume some other Chinese is sporting that watch, chain and Maltese Cross.
Jack was quite a character; he was very small and almost every one knew him, especially the children. He did some marketing himself every day, always carrying a basket, swung on his arm, in which he would carry bananas, or some other fruits and candies; the children knew of this and on his way home he would be coaxed for some of the things in his basket and by the time he reached home, many times the basket would be empty; he had a great fondness for children, but, like all Chinese, favored boys. He was very faithful and generous to a fault and every Christmas, notwithstanding our protestations, he would give us valuable presents. One of the most difficult decisions he ever had to make was when the edict went forth that all good Chinese should cut off their queues and let all their hair grow, “American fashion”; he just hated to give up that old “pigtail” of his, but he finally did and then became quite proud of the change.
As I look back over the years, I realize that I have spent but little time on vacations.
When I went to work for my father, employees of any business houses did not expect vacations, either with or without pay, as is the established custom these present times. To have told “The Boss” in those earlier days that you wanted a vacation was about the same thing as telling him that you were quitting your job, for that was the usual result. Even Sundays were not full vacation days because many of the business houses kept open Sunday morning until the noon hour and as for week days, the closing hour was 8:00 P.M. with some and 9:00 P.M. with others.
After I had been advanced in the store, I was the one who was really responsible for the movement to have all stores close at 6:00 P.M., among the employees of many of the stores. We organized rather secretly but the story soon leaked out and for a while there was strenuous opposition by the employers and even the working people made some objections, claiming that as they all worked until 6:00 P.M. they would have no time to trade with the stores closing at the same time as they quit work. We finally won our point and a few years later also induced most of the stores to remain closed all day on Sundays. It was then that clerks formed small groups for amusement, the one I belonged to being called “The Saturday Night and Sunday Too Club,” which I will tell about in another chapter.
Of course, being the Boss' son, I enjoyed a few more privileges and occasionally took off a couple of days for fishing and hunting and some summers I took vacations of a week or so with others for a mountain trip where fishing and all kinds of game were abundant, the only trouble being that so much time was lost in going and coming wagons and horses.
In later years, I formed a “fishing partnership” with L. L. Green, cashier for many years of the Rideout Bank at Oroville, and with E. E. Biggs, also a cashier for many years with the Rideout Bank at Gridley. We took our vacations at Rocky Point on the west shore of Klamath Lake where we had a small cabin. It was a small resort where we could obtain our meals. We had our own motor boat and the three of us made daily excursions to different points as that lake is some forty miles long with many small streams, fed by ice cold large springs where we could catch the “big fellows.” When we first commenced to go up there, the legal limit was fifty pounds of trout per day to the person; on one trip, six of us in two boats, on an excursion to the Williamson River, caught the total limit of three hundred pounds of trout, varying in size from four pounds up to fifteen pounds to the fish; they were all “Rainbow Trout,” great fighters and great sport. The largest one I ever caught weighed fifteen pounds but the largest one I ever saw caught was a rainbow trout, weighing twenty-three and a half pounds. This was on July 23, 1921; the fish was hooked by Dr. A. E. Sykes, a dentist of Oakland, California; the length of this fish was thirty-seven inches, its girth twenty-four and a half inches and was caught with a six-ounce rod and braided silk line of 30-pound test, the bait being a basireno. Mr. Green and myself were fishing nearby at the time and stopped fishing to watch the contest which Sykes was having with his fish; it took Sykes about an hour to wear his fish out and gradually work him close to his boat so he could land him with a gaff hook. As soon as he had the fish safely in his boat, we all started back to camp post haste; Sykes immediately packed up his belongings and, accompanied by several of us, struck out for Klamath Falls, had the fish photographed and we made affidavits before a Notary Public, and Sykes and his fish took the train for Oakland, the fish being packed on ice in the dining car. The following year, Sykes again showed up at the Camp and he told us that when he reached Oakland he had the fish frozen in a large cake of ice, which was renewed from time to time and for several weeks it was exhibited in show windows of sporting goods houses in Oakland and San Francisco where it attracted a great deal of attention. The story was written up in sporting magazines of national circulation and resulted in presents being sent him by sporting goods houses from various sections of the country consisting of fishing rods, tents, fishing tackle, etc., which he said more than filled a large store room which he had at his home.
When it comes to telling fish stories, I know that, while a man may have a first class reputation for truth and veracity, still, when it comes to his telling about his fishing, it is permissible to be a first class liar; notwithstanding this fact, I am going to tell a fish story. One day, Green, Biggs, A. L. Brownlee and myself were out fishing on the lake; we were having our usual good luck; Green got about a ten pounder hooked and the rest of us drew in our lines. This fish was a good fighter and it took some time to gradually draw him close to the boat; when he was about five feet from the boat, he suddenly made another leap in the air, in an effort to shake off the hook, then drove down under the boat, coming up again in the air on the other side and, when doing so, the line got tangled in the boat's keel, so when the fish was about three feet in the air, the line suddenly went taut, which caused the fish to land in the boat at Green's feet. I never saw a man as astonished as Green was, in fact we were all so. Green maintained that he had established a “record” by having a fish like him so much that he had jumped in the boat to be caught. When we reached camp, Green immediately told all those present of his experience and asked three of us to corroborate his statement; we all three declined to do so, saying that it was just one of Green's fish stories; he was very peeved as we “stood pat” in our denials, but, later on, when Green showed signs of getting considerably peeved at us, we admitted to the facts. Both my two old friends, Green and Biggs, have passed to other happy hunting grounds, but I still have my friend A. L. Brownlee left to okay this story, unless any possible reader of this may also decide that when it comes to fishing, he also is in the first class liar class.
Of course, my brief vacations were not confined to fishing and hunting; as a young man, some forty-five years ago, I managed occasional visits to San Francisco on business and quite naturally pleasure also; those were the days of “Old San Francisco”; one of the popular resorts was Sanquinetti's Restaurant at North Beach, largely patronized by Italians. If you went out there, particularly on a Saturday or Sunday evening, with your lady friend, “when the going commenced to be good,” it was the custom and rule that any man could go to any table where a girl was sitting with her boy friend and take her by the arm and invite her to dance, whether he was acquainted with her or not; if her boy friend objected, it meant a fight. Late in the evening, when every one was well “organized,” they would commence to break up loaves of bread and throw the pieces at one another and at times the air would be filled with flying pieces of bread, some times full loaves; it was just “an old Italian custom.” Those were the days of the well known “French Restaurants,” such as “The Pup,” “The Poodle Dog,” “The Fly Trap,” “Marchands,” “Zinkands,” and others where was served the most excellent food at really very reasonable prices; they were “more refined and decorous” than the North Beach resorts but they all had their “private dining rooms” on the second floor. “Those were the days of real sport” to be remembered now with many amusing and fond memories.
All the first class barrooms were elaborately furnished, with many wonderful paintings, and there was always a long table presided over by a chef in immaculate white jacket and apron and tall white cap, and on the table was spread a variety of vegetables, fish and invariably a six or seven rib roast, all piping hot and “cooked to a turn.” The customer would possibly order a drink and then pick up a plate and the chef would serve him whatever he desired, with no charge; it was just for the convenience and pleasure of the patrons, but the patrons were of a class who usually had many more than one drink; if a “moocher” commenced to make it a habit to call quite often and buy a ten cent drink and indulge in what was, at least, a 50 cent free lunch, he was politely informed that his room was more appreciated than his company. Dan Sullivan, who had been raised as a poor boy in Marysville, had a very elaborate bar in the old Grand Hotel on Market Street, opposite the Palace Hotel; he was always delighted to see any one from Marysville and would always invite you to the bar and tell the bartender, “the drinks are on the house for my old Marysville friends”; well some times I thought that Dan's system was not such a bad one for the house after all.
This chapter is supposed to have to do with “vacations” and brings to mind that the longest vacation and the longest time I ever was away from Marysville at one time was in 1886 for three months. I got some stomach disorder and was advised a vacation with a sea voyage and a trip to the “Sandwich Islands,” as they were generally termed those days, was recommended. I left shortly after the first of April and was supposed to return about the latter part of May but, for a fact, I did not leave there until the fifth of July; too many attractions and distractions simply prevented my return.
I left for the Islands on the steamer Zelandia, armed with many letters of introduction to various people, signed by Mr. Claus Spreckels, then “the Sugar King” and from whose sugar factory our store was a good customer for many carloads of sugar. Claus Spreckels, those days, was referred to as the “uncrowned king” of the Islands where he controlled almost all the sugar cane plantations. The Islands those days were a kingdom, King Kalakaua being on the throne. When I registered at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel, the head clerk looked at my signature and asked if I was a member of an Ellis family who used to stop at the old Occidental Hotel in San Francisco; when I assured him that I was, he asked if I remembered him, which I did not. He then said, “I am W. S. Bartlett, I used to be head clerk at the Occidental Hotel and when you were a young boy, about fifteen years old, I used to take you out to North Beach with me and you learned to swim there.” He then said, “I am not going to put you in the room I have assigned you to, I am going to give you a small cottage in the palm garden in the rear of the hotel where a lot of young fellows are stopping and you will enjoy it more out there.” He introduced me to these young men, each of whom had a small one room cottage and bath; a number of young Kanaka girls acted as house maids, when they were not singing and playing on guitars, etc.; the arrangement was very satisfactory. The day I landed there were rumors of a revolution and one of the first men I met and happened to have a letter of introduction to, was a man by the name of Ashford; when he found I was from Marysville he asked me if I knew his two uncles, Joe Ashford, an old time lawyer of Marysville, and his brother, Ben Ashford, who had a large ranch and warehouse for grain storage on the Feather River at Ashford's landing near Plumas Bend. When I told him I knew them both very well, he took me in charge and confided that they were going to have a revolution in a day or two, that he occupied the position of Attorney General and that his brother was Commander in Chief of the Army (which consisted of about 300 soldiers, most all Americans) and said that a large part of the population was ready to revolt when he gave the word, and advised that I join the revolution. I joined up. About two days following, a mass meeting was held, attended mostly by Americans, a new constitution was read and unanimously approved and a large committee was appointed to wait on the King and present same and give him 24 hours to accept or refuse. When the 24 hour time limit expired, the King signified his approval and every one was apparently satisfied. During the agitation, the saloons were ordered closed but I found that while the front doors were locked, the back doors were all open, so no one suffered from thirst. I was staying at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel as were many of the ringleaders of the revolution, and a few evenings after, to show that there were no hard feelings by the King, he came over to the Hotel at the head of his very wonderful band and gave a concert in front of the Hotel.
To still further show his good feelings, the King gave a large banquet (called a luah); it was a stag affair, and there were many invitations to the local political powers as well as many officers from some American, French and English warships at anchor in the harbor; I was “among those present.” The Palace had a very large banquet hall and every one sat on the floor in rows, “tailor fashion” and just as an appetizer, every one had a quart of imported French champagne, set in front of him; well, the reader can guess the finish. When the “going was good,” the King called in about fifteen of his private hula dancers to entertain us; they were professionals, trained from childhood up and danced only for the King and his guests and were dressed mainly in wreaths and smiles. Two days later, when I awakened, I thought I had been dreaming but my head told me otherwise.
On May 24th was the Queen's Birthday, so the English warship officers decided to hold a celebration and many were invited; this also was a stag affair and again I was “among those present.” There was much music from Hawaiian men and women entertainers and early in the morning, after about ten thousand toasts to “THE Queen, God Bless Her,” the affair became so very boisterous and noisy that a squad of Hawaiian police were called to stop the disturbance; this was resented by the English and resulted in many being arrested and taken to police headquarters, but when it was ascertained that among those arrested were the Ambassadors of England, France, United States, Spain and other foreign countries, they were profuse in their apologies for the “mistake.”
Shortly after, the 4th of July rolled around and the Americans concluded to reciprocate and also have a celebration and invite many guests. I was a member of the Committee of Arrangements and we decided that ours would not be a stag affair but that we would have ladies present. Well, my memory is still a little hazy of just what happened but I know it was a wonderful success, so much so, that I decided that Honolulu was no place for the cure of any stomach ailments and the following day I took ship for home, with a number of young men with whom I had become acquainted.
I have since then seen many hula dancers, both on the stage and on the screen, but never have I ever seen dancers who performed like the King's private dancers. The dancers wore different costumes for different dances, such as grass skirts or tapa gowns, other dances, well, largely garlands of flowers and winning smiles. Some dances were seated, the dancer sitting cross-legged on the floor, the body swaying from the waist up, the arms wiggled sinuously, while in the hands there would be a pair of pebbles called ili ili and clicked with the rhythm of the body and the music, the latter being furnished by native musicians who used gourds, cocoanut shells, rattles and guitars. Each dance was symbolic of some certain thing, in fact, they were really religious dances, being representative of the pleasures they expected to enjoy in after life.
Like Mark Twain, the Islands were found very “appealing” and I would like again to make a visit, but this time no doubt would find them “spoiled” by civilization and the “Huapalas” would not be what they used to be.
Early Days of Gambling in Marysville
FROM a Directory of the City of Marysville, published in 1855, appears the following article:
“The first public gaming house erected in this city was situated on First street, south side, between D and Maiden Lane. It was kept by James Wharton, and was known as the Round Tent. It consisted of a series of poles inserted into the earth and covered with canvas. Others followed soon after, outvieing in the splendor of their adornments, and the inducements which they held out for the allurement of victims, among which was the El Dorado. This was erected on D street, having an L on First, and for a long time was the grand point of attraction for all the votaries of chance in this section of the country. Music sent out its charms from this great gambling centre, and artists that would now indignantly refuse to appear in any other place than the concert-room, or the theatre, hesitated not to regale the bacchanalian crowd that assembled with their most exquisite strains, batoning upon the applause that occasionally exploded from the absorbed and stultified gamblers. Musical talent, at that time, commanded the most Utopian prices. Any amateur that could torture horse hair and cat-gut 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. This great maelstrom of fortune was lined with all the salacious attractions that obscene pictures and “bar decorations” could give it. Every species of gambling was here spred out to the gaze of visitors in its most winning aspect. Many an American who had left his home, and with it the early morals and inculcations that years of anxious care and solicitude had been spent to give him, shook them off, as he did the decencies that had been taught him at the fire-side, on his arrival here, and was impulsively hurried to that vortex of penury, ruin and disgrace--The Gambling Table. Every phase of this soul-destroying pestilence was practiced with all its enticing allurements. The representatives of all nations were assembled at these games of hazard; all avocations mingled in promiscuously, without regard to “distinction or color,” including the consecrated expounders of the glorious Gospel of our blessed Redeemer, and from them down to the poor, benighted Greaser, with his dilapidated serape, or the more timid son of New England, who had never before been beyond the influence and control of his mother's apron strings. All the games that the ingenuity of ages have invented for swindling “green ones” out of their senses and “loose funds,” could be found here in unadulterated perfection. The A B C--the Sweat Cloth--Faro--Monte--Props--Poker, and other inventions for “fleecing,” that none but the arch fiend, Beelzebub himself, could have dreamed of, were paraded ostentatiously before the serried throng, with all the appearance of being the pre-eminent and powerful “institutions” of the age. Everybody, from the highest functionary in the city to the most demented adventurer, was always present to witness or take part in this extraordinary compound of vice and felony--deeming no harm in the example thus inadvertently set by them! Coin, at this time, was not sufficiently abundant to be used as a betting medium by both parties in a game and, consequently, dust in bags became, to the dignified proprietors, the pledge of chance. Those who indulged in this fascinating and intellectual amusement deposited their bags of gold with the gamesters, and drew from them the necessary amount of the circulating medium to play with, for the time, as a kind of loan--a sort of convenience to “help them out”--a loan that seldom failed to work the ultimate and speedy ruin of the parties negotiating the favor. Concentrated at this grand gambling focus, could be found a conglomeration of characters that the genius of few people, at present known in the literary world, would be adequate to describe. Hogarth and Cruikshank might look upon the picture, and wonder where to begin and be bewildered to know where to leave off. Here, naked and unmasked depravity daily, nightly, and unblushingly manifested itself--exhibiting all its horrid deformity without fear of any curtailment of its disgusting proportions. In the many of frequenters to this place could be found the speculators, traders, miners, mechanics, medical, divinity and law professors--all hovering around the insidious and delusive glare of the ignis fatuus--seldom leaving it, until consumed by its effulgency, or until returning sense had seen their brains scattered about the Plaza from the mouth of a pistol.
“The universal mania for gambling at this time was not condemned or denounced by one man in fifty, either by his absence from these altars of pollution, or an open declaration of his hatred and abhorrence of the vice. The amounts staked, and the boldness manifested in these operations, when taken into consideration at the present time, seem fabulous. The sums hazarded on the single turning of a card, to the uninitiated, exceed belief. Every saloon and table forced into this nefarious vice was daily and nightly crowded, and frequently so literally overwhelmed, that it was at the risk of physical disablement that the infatuated ventured near them. A spectator to these exciting scenes had reason to congratulate himself if he escaped with a whole skin. Immense fortunes were frequently thrown into the scale of chance, and spread out to the gaping multitude with the same apparent indifference that one throws down a dollar for refreshments. In a few fleeting hours, ten thousand dollars would be lost or won, without exciting the least inconvenience to parties in the game. It was no uncommon thing to see from $2,000 to $3,000 bet on the best hand at poker. Indeed, so popular had gaming become, that the progenitors of and most fortunate in the disgusting business, began to be regarded as the leaders in public affairs; and for a short time, such was their effrontery, that these “men of influence” came near controlling the destinies of the town. Hundreds of men--aye, thousands, whose paternal influences had led them to regard this, prolific mother of all vices, as a stain upon the character of man--who had left their homes by “forced means,” with weeping children, dependent and confiding wives, or doting fathers and mothers, sending aspirations to heaven for their health, prosperity and speedy return from the dreaming land of gold, where subsistence and ample means were to roll in almost unsought--could be seen at all times, directing their steps to these infamous and God-forsaken haunts. Here the first hundred or first thousand dollars earned in California speedily disappeared, and with it the ambition, honor, and self-respect of its possessor. Daniel Webster once said, on a memorable occasion, 'This is a checkered life.' It was so in California in '49 and '50. There is no exaggeration in this picture.”
How I was Cured of Gambling
LIKE all early day towns of California, gambling was one of the leading indoor sports of Marysville and I presume has always continued to be so, in, however, a much less degree.
As a young man, I remember that almost every saloon had gambling rooms in the rear, but there were two larger establishments which were fitted up for gambling only, faro being the principal game. One of these establishments was conducted by John Stevenson and the other by Alfred Mann, both of them being highly respected citizens and popular and with reputations of running absolutely “square” games.
I knew both of these men very well, particularly Alf Mann, as he was familiarly called; he was a very fine looking and dignified person and his wife was a handsome woman and her diamonds were the envy of other members of her sex.
To have a little diversion in the way of gambling those days was not particularly frowned upon by the general public, and quite often I used to patronize Alf's place for a little diversion of this kind; I had a sort of sneaking, lingering fondness for playing faro; I did not play big stakes and with only more or less indifferent results.
It was in January, 1887 that, with three kindred spirits, I decided to make a visit to an annual event which was held at St. Paul, known and advertised quite generally as the “St. Paul Ice Carnival”; each year they would build a large building made of blocks of ice and hold carnival therein. Having heard much of these events, my companions and I decided to pay St. Paul a visit.
Our first stop was at Portland for two days, then to Seattle and Spokane (population about 1500 then) for a day each. We then reached Butte, Montana where I got engrossed in playing faro and my companions continued on to St. Paul; as I was very considerably on the winning end of the game, I stayed over at Butte. On the third night, “Lady Luck” deserted me and my winnings of about three thousand dollars vanished into thin air and I was flat broke. I wired home for funds and returned; I had had a good time and have always considered the experience well worth while, as to this day I have never gambled at cards. In fact, I haven't played a game of card of any kind for some forty-five years; I simply lost interest in card playing thereafter.
On my trip back home, I decided to take the steamer from Portland to San Francisco. I took passage on the steamer Columbia, reached Astoria where two attempts were made to cross over the bar but the Captain each time considered it dangerous and returned and we docked for two days at the Astoria wharf. I found some kindred spirits on the steamer and we decided to give a ball on the dock. We “passed the hat” among the passengers, raised funds and had hand bills printed and circulated in town, inviting every one to a free ball. The invitations circulated were as follows:
Given by the passengers
of STEAMSHIP COLUMBIA
F. BOLLES Commander
Astoria Dock, Jan. 22, 1887.
No expense has been spared to make this the grandest social event of the season. The 21st Astoria Artillery Band of 36 pieces has been engaged for the occasion and will dispense the melodies to the terpsichorean artists, and electric arc lights will illumine the scene. All are cordially invited.
COMMITTEE OF ARRANGEMENTS:
W. G. DODD, W. N. SMITH,
GEO. W. JESSUP, J. SELLING. W. T. ELLIIS, JR.
Waltz, Mable Lancers, Hattie Schottische, Lucina
Polka, Pitti Sing
Plain Quadrille, Our Grandmother
Polka, Kiss Me Baby
Real Reel, Old Black Joe
Schottische, Our Sweethearts
Waltz, Love Me Darling
Saratoga, Wait'till we Cross the Bar
Waltz, Yum Yum
Farewell--Music by the Band.
Iron Bars are tough,
Legal Bars are tougher,
Whiskey Bars are rough,
But the Columbia Bar is ROUGHER.
Please consider this an invitation and ticket of admission.
We arranged with a local saloon man to have a branch bar at the wharf and he did a big business, as pretty near the whole town accepted the invitation. When the steamer crossed the bar the next day at high tide many didn't give a hang if the steamer sank or not.
The City of Marysville in Early Days
THE first City Directory of Marysville was published in Marysville under date of August, 1853 by Hale & Emory, who had a printing office at that time on the southeast corner of First and High Streets, near the bank of the Yuba River. The publishers mentioned the difficulties of compiling such a book in the new town and referred to Marysville as “the second City in California,” claiming its population as being close to ten thousand and only exceeded in size by San Francisco. At that time it was claimed that there were about 4000 pack animals and 400 wagons transporting freight out of Marysville to the mining regions and four stage lines had been established. A few years previous, the only building on the site of the town was an adobe house, the headquarters of what was called the Nye Ranch, which was destroyed by a fire in 1851 when the new “mushroom” town consisted mostly of tents and a scattering of frame buildings.
Trade and commerce really began before there was any City laid out. The City's area and all the territory lying between the Yuba and Feather Rivers, north to Honcut Creek to the base of the foothills on the east, was under the control of Theodore Cordua, who had arrived in California in 1842, had visited the territory where the City of Sacramento now is and then had moved northerly to the Yuba River, after leasing from John Sutter, who had arrived in California in 1839, the area which afterwards became the City of Marysville, and then added to his possessions the larger area, mentioned above, by making an application for a private grant from the Mexican government for the additional area. It was Cordua's plan to go into the cattle business on a large scale; he called his holdings New Mecklenburg, after his old home country and was the first settler in that area.
In 1846, a Frenchman by the name of Charles Covillaud arrived at New Mecklenburg, having arrived in America at New Orleans in 1841. Covillaud first worked for Cordua as a cooper, that having been his trade in France. Cordua, experiencing difficulties in operating his ranch and disposing of his cattle, took Covillaud in as a partner in 1848 but, not being able to get along harmoniously with his partner, Cordua sold out his half interest to two new arrivals, Michael C. Nye and William M. Foster, and returned to his old home town from which he had originally emigrated. Nye, Foster and Covillaud then formed a company called Covillaud & Company and their holdings became generally known as Nye's Ranch, on the Yuba River, which in those days was spelled sometimes “Juba” and “Yubo.” Covillaud bought his two partners out in 1849, the year after gold had been discovered on the Yuba River. Covillaud's new partners arrived in California from Chile in 1849 and came directly to Covillaud's holdings; one of them was Jose Manuel Ramirez, a native of that country who had been an officer in the navy of Chile in its war for independence; the other partner was John Sampson, a native of England. These two men had been attracted by the discovery of gold and had brought with them assorted merchandise and a number of other Chilenos to work for them. That same year, Theodore Sicard also became a partner of the first three. They soon were convinced that there was the necessity of a town at the confluence of the two rivers, particularly as the Feather River was navigable to its junction with the Yuba and the Yuba River was navigable to the edge of the foothills, that having been demonstrated by a small steamer which had navigated the Yuba for a few miles to a rancho owned by a man named Rose, where there was a rich mining area called afterwards “Rose Bar.” The owner of the small steamer which was called the “Linda” (from which the present Linda Township derived its name), was named Cunningham and he endeavored to interest Rose in establishing a town on his property. This fact, no doubt, was the reason that the owners of Nye's Ranch concluded to make haste and lay out a town on their property. Covillaud and his partners then engaged the services of a surveyor by the name of Auguste Le Plongeon to survey a town site and the result was the town site as Marysville is now established. Time had proved that he did an excellent job. In 1850, in the month of January, an advertisement was inserted in Sacramento and San Francisco papers, informing the public of the new town site, and inviting settlers and calling attention to the fact that it could be reached by two steamers, the “Lawrence” and the “Linda” which were making regular trips to Sacramento twice a week.
An influx of people began, many coming to establish businesses of various kinds, and tents of all sizes commenced to be erected, to be followed later with wooden structures. At that same time, another town had been laid out on the west side of the Feather River and was called Yuba City, and for some time there was great rivalry between the two places. For quite a while, Yuba City had the larger population, but eventually lost out in the race, mainly because the traffic was with the mining section to the east and to cross the Feather River from Yuba City was a great hindrance. Some time later a small ferry was established but it was many years before a bridge was constructed across the river. In the meantime, a town site had been laid out about four miles south of Marysville, which was called Eliza, this because during the summer season steamers could come up to what was afterwards called Eliza Bend, when they could not reach Marysville and, for a time, it looked as if Eliza was going to win out against Marysville.
Another town site was laid out at the mouth of the Feather River and was called Vernon and for some time there was quite a population there, also at Nicolaus, about nineteen miles by river below Marysville, where tidal effect gave good navigation throughout the year. Still another town site which was laid out on the Feather was named Fremont; in time Fremont and Eliza became memories, but Nicolaus and Vernon still retain their names on the map. At a large ranch, about six miles south of Yuba City, Captain John Sutter maintained part-time headquarters when he was not at Sutter's Fort at Sacramento; this ranch he called Hock Farm and raised wine grapes there; for many years, the small round iron fort he maintained on the ranch, near the river bank, as a protection against the Indians was in existence. It was destroyed by a break in the levee there in 1907; the remains of this old iron fort are now used as a background for a placque, commemorating the memory of Hock Farm.
After Marysville was first laid out by Covillaud and his partners (it was then called Yubaville), there were practically no established laws and crime became more or less rampant; it was about this time (1850) that a new arrival appeared on the scene, who afterward became first “Alcalde” (Spanish for Mayor). He was Stephen J. Field, who later was Justice of the Peace, then State Assemblyman, then State Supreme Court Justice, and still later, for many years, Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court.
I have attempted herein to briefly touch on the early history of Marysville, gleaned largely from the various old City Directories still in existence in the City Library; from Judge Field's own book, and from tales told me by my father, who was well acquainted with Judge Field.
A few years ago, Professor Earl Ramey of the Marysville Junior College did an immense amount of research work on the early history of Marysville and published a book of one hundred pages sponsored by the California Historical Society of San Francisco. The book is entitled “The Beginnings of Marysville.” Professor Ramey commences with information from a diary of Jedediah Strong Smith who was the first known visitor to the site of Marysville in 1828. Smith had journeyed overland to California with a number of trappers; from there on, Professor Ramey brings out a lot of very interesting “ancient” history up to about 1860 or about six years before I first put in my appearance in Marysville, which was in 1866. I have endeavored to “carry on” from where Professor Ramey's book left off.
I have seen many changes in Marysville during my life time. Marysville, as I remember it as a small lad, had the built-up business and residential section practically all south of 9th Street and east of F Street, which about marked the boundary of the lake, which in those days extended north and south entirely through the City and to the north and west of the lake. There were a few scattered houses south of 8th Street, while to the north, that area was called “the plains,” streets were not laid out, there were no fences and one could walk or drive in any direction. Crossing the lake was a narrow street on 5th Street and another on E Street. Both of these streets had elevated wooden bridges for sidewalks, and there was another elevated wooden bridge on 8th Street, between E and F Streets.
The only worth-while and substantially built residences on the west side of the “slough” were the very fine residence built by John C. Fall at the southwest corner of 7th and G Streets, now owned by Mr. Richard Belcher; on the southwest corner of 8th and G Streets a two story brick residence owned by Sheriff Matt Woods, where the Arthur Chase residence is now situated, and across the street from these two residences a two story brick residence, for many years owned by Colonel J. B. Fuller, where the present playground of the Primary School is now located. Where are now situated such buildings as the Elk's Club, Memorial Auditorium, Dunning Rideout Residence, Diamond Match Company plant, W. S. O'Brien residence, Anderson Tractor Company's buildings and the City's Sewage pump plant at F and 2nd Streets was all lake area. The lake was quite wide between 8th and 10th Streets, the south bank being on the north side of my father's large yard where some forty-five years ago I planted a row of palm trees within ten feet of the lake bank; these palm trees are now there, very tall, and are on the south line of the residence now owned by Dr. E. E. Gray. Across the street from my father's home, on the bank of the lake, there were several Indian “tepees,” where a number of “Bucks,” “Mahales” and their children camped, mostly in the winter months, as during the summer months they would go to the mountains to hunt and fish. During the summers, at the edge of the foothills, there usually were large quantities of grasshoppers and “when they were in season,” the Indians would gather up large quantities in sacks, dip them in water to drown them, and spread them out to dry. Then the women would grind them up into a fine powder and use it for “flour” to make pancakes; they were considered a great delicacy.
Directly across the street from my father's home, there was a small cottage at the northeast corner of D and 8th Streets (where the Swain residence now is) and this cottage was for quite a long time the residence of Stephen J. Field. This small cottage was moved by Mr. Swain and is now located at about C and 18th Streets. I have always understood that the lumber used in its construction came from the east, “around The Horn.”
Some 40 years ago, the Southern Pacific Railroad built their present track on 9th Street, which was at that time an earth embankment in the center of the lake, where the present curve of the track now is, leading to E Street. The County Hospital in those early days was a two story brick building, situated close to the south bank of Simmerly Slough, about two blocks northeast of the present Hospital buildings. The Marysville of today presents an entirely different picture than I remember it in those days, and I can visualize even greater improvements when, some day not far distant, the few remaining residence lots west of E Street will have homes on them and the large area east of A Street will also be a large residential section. This will commence when some day the City authorities realize that the City itself must take the initiative and force the removal of many unsightly shacks in that area, encourage the planting of shade trees and improve the streets, which the City could well afford to do at its own expense to encourage home building which will result in increased assessment rolls which will eventually reimburse the City for that expenditure. When I was Mayor, some 43 years ago, had not the City taken the initiative in causing to be filled all of the lake between 9th and 2nd Streets, there would not have been the development on the west side of that lake area which now exists there. It is unfortunate, but so many people require such a long time to adjust themselves to new ideas; many influences tend to frustrate and stop the use of ideas, very largely because of lack of vision. I still hope that the aim and desires of “The East Side Improvement Club” will eventually materialize.
Judge Stephen J. Field
THE site of the City of Marysville was first obtained from the Mexican Government by Theodore Cordua and later on he obtained a private grant of “seven leagues lying just north of his lease” which took in practically all the territory bounded on the south by the Yuba River, on the west by the Feather River, and on the north by Honcut Creek. He then started in the stock business, planning to have his main market for his products at Mexico. This was in the year 1842. He had known of the gold discovery near San Fernando in 1842, and in March, 1848, while visiting at the new Helvetia Rancho, was shown some of the newly mined gold from Coloma on the American River but was not very much impressed, assuming that the American River mines would be of no great importance. During the month of June, 1848 gold was discovered also at several places on the Yuba River. In the year 1841 Charles Covillaud, a Frenchman born at Cognac, France arrived in America in the year 1841, landing at New Orleans where he lived for two years. In 1843 he went north to St. Louis, Missouri and engaged in a trading enterprise. In 1846 he joined a party of trappers who were coming overland to California and in October of the same year came to the future site of Marysville and worked for Cordua. In June, 1848 he was among the first to mine on the Yuba after discovery of gold there, and operated a good claim. In October, 1848 Cordua decided he would be unable to operate his Rancho alone and took Covillaud in as a partner, the latter becoming half owner in the Cordua interests; still later on he became associated with Theodore Sicard and others in operating their large properties and also doing mining. The Christmas of 1848 Charles Covillaud married Mary Murphy, a sister of Mrs. Nye and of Mrs. Foster, survivor of the Donner Party. About that time the “Gold Rush” had started.
I might mention here that William H. Parks, in the spring of 1849, came to California overland and settled at Rose Bar on the Yuba River and constructed a dam across the River at that point to facilitate mining during the drier months, and also set up a store at the Bar and commenced operating pack trains from Marysville to give supplies to the diggings. He was very active in the new town which was afterwards established on the present site of Marysville and he was one of the pioneers who founded Downieville but later he returned to Marysville where he had a long and prominent political career becoming one of the town's most noted citizens, second only to Stephen J. Field.
It soon became apparent to various people that a town-site should be laid out. Among those first decided on was the town to be known as Linda, also another one on the present site of Yuba City. At that time a French surveyor named Auguste Le Plongeon arrived; he was a surveyor and was responsible for the laying out of the town-site of Marysville which already had quite a large population living mostly in tents. It was in 1850 that the site of Yuba City had a larger estimated population than Marysville and it was in that year that John H. Jewett and Horace Beach arrived in Yuba City from Sacramento with a train of pack mules and a stock of merchandise. It took them about a week to decide whether they should establish their business in the site of Yuba City or the site of Marysville, but finally they decided to settle on the east bank of the river and swam the Feather River with their mules and settled in Marysville where they established a profitable business.
It was in December, 1849 that Stephen J. Field arrived at San Francisco and after a short attempt to practice as an attorney, decided to establish himself in the newly laid out town of Vernon (at the mouth of the Feather River); but when he arrived at the site of Vernon, flood waters covered almost the entire territory, so he decided to come to the new town of Marysville (at that time called “Jubaville” which previously had been called Nye's Ranch), the town-site having just been laid out. Judge Field describes his arrival in his “Memoirs” as follows:
“No sooner had the vessel (Lawrence) struck the landing at Nye's Ranch than all the passengers, some forty or fifty in number, as if moved by a common impulse, started for an old adobe building, which stood upon the bank of the river, and near which were numerous tents. Judging by the number of the tents, there must have been from five hundred to a thousand people there. When we reached the adobe and entered the principal room, we saw a map spread out upon the counter, containing the plan of a town, which was called “Yubaville,” and a man standing behind it, crying out, “Gentlemen, put your names down; put your names down, all you that want lots.” He seemed to address himself to me, and I asked the price of the lots. He answered, “Two hundred and fifty dollars each for lots 80 by 160 feet.” I replied, “But suppose a man puts his name down and afterwards don't want the lots?” He rejoined, “Oh, you need not take them if you don't want them; put your names down, gentlemen, you that want lots.” I took him at his word and wrote my name down for sixty-five lots, aggregating in all $16,250. This produced a great sensation. To the best of my recollection I had only about twenty dollars left of what Col. Stevenson had paid me; but it was immediately noised about that a great capitalist had come up from San Francisco to invest in lots in the rising town. The consequence was that the proprietors of the place waited upon me and showed me great attention.”
The proprietors of the new town-site engaged Field to draw a conveyance which would place them in possession of the equity Sutter might claim in the town-site and Sutter shortly after came to Marysville and signed a document selling his interests to Charles Covillaud, Jose Manuel Ramirez, Theodore Sicard and John Sampson, for $10,000. This was all that tract of land included in the territory granted to him by the Governor of California. A few days after this was accomplished, a mass meeting was held at the town's headquarters, and it was resolved to hold a general election that same day to select officers for a temporary local government to be patterned after the prevailing Mexican type. Field managed to get his name placed in nomination for first Alcalde, the most important office. His opponent was C. B. Dodson of Illinois. It was a campaign of only a few hours and Field won by 9 votes, largely through the activities and influence brought to bear by William H. Parks. Shortly after, it was decided that the name Yubaville, which many called Jubaville, was not liked, very largely because the name of Yuba City had been already adopted for the town on the west bank of the Feather River. At a mass meeting to decide upon a new name, various names were suggested but finally one man arose and in quite an impressive and effective speech proposed that the town be named in honor of Mrs. Mary Covillaud, the wife of one of the proprietors, a member of the famous Donner Party and the first white woman to be in Marysville. His suggestion prevailed and the name of Marysville was adopted for the new town.
Field as Alcalde was practically the whole government, notwithstanding the fact that they had a town council which there is no record of ever having had a meeting. Field and his clerk, Lorenzo Babb, ran the business of the City and shortly afterwards Field was also appointed Justice of the Peace and so became the arbitrator of all disputes of various kinds. Field afterwards became very prominent throughout the State, later on becoming a member of the Legislature, State Supreme Court and finally presiding Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States which latter position he held for a great many years.
In Field's “Memoirs” he describes many amusing and interesting experiences which he had in Marysville as Alcalde; for example, “One morning, about five o'clock, a man tapped at my window, and cried, 'Alcalde, Alcalde, there has been a robbery, and you are wanted.' I got up at once, and while I was dressing he told his story. Nearly every one in those days lived in a tent and had his gold dust with him. The man, who proved to be Gildersleeve, the famous runner, upon going to bed the previous evening had placed several pounds of gold dust in his trunk, which was not locked. In the night some one had cut through his tent and taken the gold dust. I asked him if he suspected anybody; and he named two men, and gave such reasons for his suspicion that I immediately dictated a warrant for their arrest; and in a short time the two men were arrested and brought before me. The gold dust was found on one of them. I immediately called a grand jury, by whom he was indicted. I then called a petit jury, and assigned counsel for the prisoner. He was immediately placed upon his trial, and was convicted. The whole proceeding occupied only a part of the day. There was a great crowd and much excitement, and some talk of lynching. Curiously enough, my real trouble did not commence until after the conviction. What was to be done with the prisoner? How was he to be punished? Imposing a fine would not answer; and, if he had been discharged, the crowd would have immediately hung him. When at San Francisco, Mayor Geary of that place told me if I would send my convicts to him, with money enough to pay for a ball and chain for each one, he would put them in the chain-gang. But at that time the price of passage by steamer from Marysville to San Francisco was fifty dollars, which, with the expense of an officer to accompany the prisoner, and the price of a ball and chain, would have amounted to a much larger sum than the prosecution could afford; so it was clearly impracticable to think of sending him to San Francisco. Nor is it at all likely that the people would have consented to his removal. Under these circumstances there was but one course to pursue, and, however repugnant it was to my feelings to adopt it, I believe it was the only thing that saved the man's life. I ordered him to be publicly whipped with fifty lashes, and added that if he were found, within the next two years, in the vicinity of Marysville, he should again be whipped. I, however, privately ordered a physician to be present so as to see that no unnecessary severity was practiced. In accordance with this sentence, the fellow was immediately taken out and flogged; and that was the last seen of him in that region. He went off and never came back. The latter part of the sentence, however, was supererogatory; for there was something so degrading in a public whipping, that I have never known a man thus whipped who would stay longer than he could help, or ever desire to return. However this may have been, the sense of justice of the community was satisfied. No blood had been shed; there had been no hanging; yet a severe public example had been given.”
Gold Dust Shipments from Marysville
FROM an old Marysville City Directory, printed in 1858, appears the following:
“GOLD DUST BUSINESS OF MARYSVILLE”
“The gold dust business for the last year was very considerable, as figures below show that very nearly half of the shipments in 1858 to the Atlantic Cities were made of the gold dust purchased and shipped by Low Bros. & Company, Reynolds Bros., and Mark Brumagin & Co., all bankers of our City; --”
Total amount of Gold Dust shipped by above Bankers in 1857 $10,175,000.00
Total amount shipped from January 1st to June 31st, 1858 $ 4,350,000.00
Total amount in a year and a half, $14,525,000.00
In recent years, since records have been kept by the State Division of Mines, for the last eighteen years Yuba County has been the largest gold producing County in the State with the exception of six of those years.
Religion in Marysville in Early Days and Schools
IT IS of record in an old City Directory printed in 1855, that the first preaching in Marysville was by Rev. Mr. Washburn who conducted services on Sundays on an old barge on the Yuba River near the foot of D Street in 1850. He and his wife conducted a small lodging house, where she attended to the house and kitchen management, while on week days the husband conducted a faro game in a rear room back of the bar of the hotel. This story was denied in later years, it being claimed that Mr. Washburn had a son, who opened a saloon next to his father's hotel, much to the objections of his father. Which story is true is of course impossible to prove but I believe that “history” should give Washburn Senior the benefit of the doubt.
In the Marysville City Directory of 1857, appears the following; --
“The first preaching in Marysville (if we except the exhortations of an old gentleman who used to hold forth occasionally in the Spring of 1850, under an old oak on the Plaza), was in the summer of that year, by Rev. Mr. Wilson, a clergyman of the Methodist denomination. The congregation met in a wooden building on D Street until 1852, under the preaching of Mr. Wilson at first, and subsequently of Rev. Messrs. Burnell and Bryer. The present brick house of worship, corner of Fourth and E Streets, is a neat edifice and was built by this congregation in 1852, principally by the exertions of Mr. Bryer. In the fall of 1850, a Presbyterian congregation was formed, and met at the Masonic Hall, until in 1851, a small wooden church was erected by them. Rev. J. W. Bryer was their first pastor. In 1854, their church was destroyed by fire, and a new site was purchased at the corner of D and Fifth Streets. In the east end of the lot, which is eighty by one hundred and sixty feet in extent, a small brick edifice has been erected, which is now used for a place of worship. The following year, the present handsome structure was erected with a bell and very large clock, with faces on all four sides of the tall spire. The arrangement for part of the financing of this structure is interesting; a campaign for funds was launched, the slogan of which was “Buy a shingle for the spire,” and from all parts of California came contributions of $20 with which to “buy a shingle” and the financing in the sum of $33,000 was accomplished promptly.
“The Episcopal congregation was formed in 1854 and Rev. E. W. Hager chosen Rector. St. John's, a fine brick church, was erected, mainly by the energy and influence of Mr. Hager, in the latter part of 1855, on the corner of E and Fifth Streets (it is still there).
“The Catholic pastor, Rev. Peter Magagnotto, organized a church here, in the fall of 1852. A wooden church was built in 1853 and occupied until the elegant brick structure of St. Joseph's Church was completed in 1856. This is by far the most expensive church edifice in this part of the State and when its Gothic spire is completed will be a great ornament to the City.” NOTE (This is the same very fine edifice, always kept in wonderful repair, at 7th and C Streets and, at this writing, presided over by Monsignor Patrick Guerin).
“Common schools, sufficient to meet the wants of the City, are fostered and sustained by the excellent school system of the State. Miss Wells, a most estimable lady, and a superior teacher, has recently opened an academy for young ladies in which all the higher branches, with music, drawing, painting, etc., are taught.
“The Sisters of Notre Dame have also opened a similar institution, but on a more extensive scale, in a large three-story edifice, erected for the purpose.” (Since that time, this institution has greatly expanded and now is a very prominent and popular educational school and is accredited to the University of California; the plant occupies an entire City block.)
As a young boy, I well remember Bishop Patrick O'Connell of the Catholic church; at that time Marysville was the head of the Diocese; in later years, it was moved to Sacramento. The Catholic Church was only two blocks from my father's home and father and the Bishop were good friends and quite often father would invite the Bishop to take dinner with our family. The Bishop was rather small in stature, exceedingly affable and had a wonderful fund of humor and the family always enjoyed his visits. I also enjoyed seeing him come to dinner but for perhaps a reprehensible reason. When the Bishop came for dinner, champagne was always served and when dinner was over and every one retired to the parlor, I would remain in the dining room and before our Chinese cook Jack cleared off the table, I would watch my chance and empty any glasses which might have some champagne left in them. When the Bishop would take his departure, he would always place his hand on my head and say to me, “Always be a good boy, William,” and William would always feel a little guilty when he answered “Yes, sir,” with possibly a glass of champagne in his “tummie” which he had sneaked from the dinner table.
Early Day Theatrical Amusements in Marysville
IN THE Marysville City Directory of 1859, appears the following:
“Amusements are in a less flourishing condition with us than formerly, which is doubtless attributable to the fact that we seldom see fair talent in the various companies of strollers who, from time to time, pitch their tents with us. The first entertainment ever given in Marysville was by Mr. H. Rossitter, and consisted of a few legerdemain tricks and slack wire dancing. The entertainment was given in the winter of 1850, in the ball room of the St. Charles Hotel, corner of D and Third Streets. Early in the summer of 1881, Dr. Robinson opened a spacious canvas theatre on the corner of High and Second Streets, with a fair vaudeville company, and was very successful. Following him came James Stark, the California Tragedian, supported by Nesbitt McCron, an English actor of much merit, and Mrs. J. H. Kirby, now Mrs. Stark. The season was good for both managers and audiences. In 1852, the somewhat celebrated George Chapman furnished some economical theatricals in a small room on First Street. In October of the same year, C. E. Bingham visited Marysville with a company, and held forth in the bath-house, corner of D and First Streets. His success was such that it was thought a theatre might be sustained--but who would build it? It might be a failure, and money was paying five per cent per month interest. At last, two enterprising citizens, Seymour Pixley, Esq., architect, and William W. Smith, Esq., then Clerk of the City, entered upon the experiment. A neat and tastefully decorated theatre was completed in December, and opened by Mr. Bingham, who, though himself a good actor, had collected around him a company more numerous than talented. He did well for two months, which is a long season for a small town. This theatre was destroyed by fire and the present brick one was erected on its ruins by R. A. Eddy, Esq.; it is now owned by J. S. Eshom, Esq.”
The City Directory of 1855 states that “this theatre was constructed at an expense of $24,000.” “There are about six hundred seats in the house, each affording an uninterrupted sight of the stage.”
All the noted actors and actresses of world-wide reputation later appeared at this theatre; there are still in existence in Marysville large theatrical posters advising of the coming of Edwin Booth and other famous actors. Marysville was always known as a good patron of theatricals. In later days when the best shows from New York went on tour, playing only the large cities, when they had completed an engagement of from one to two weeks at San Francisco, with the next big town being Portland, they would almost invariably stop off for a one night show at Marysville, and “pass up” Sacramento. There were two reasons for this: first, Marysville had the reputation of giving liberal patronage; and second, no time was lost, as the train would reach Marysville at five p.m. and the next train north left about midnight, so the show had ample time to give their entertainment and be on their way north on the same day, but if they showed at Sacramento, they would not have time to catch this night train and had to stay over one day there. Of these high class shows, Marysville would average about two a month. At this same time, other cheaper shows made regular circuits. They presented lurid melodramas which were highly popular, their prices usually being 10c, 20c and 30c, and their usual run in a town was one week, with a different melodrama each night; they always did a good business.
In those days the “gallery gods” were rather a tough and independent lot and never refrained from expressing their pleasure or displeasure in a very marked degree when, in their opinion, either was required. Of the better shows, a very popular pair of actors was Miss Nance O'Neill and Mr. McKee Rankin. They were giving a very excellent show one evening when, in one of the scenes, the play called for Miss O'Neill to be kissed several times by her leading man, and each time this occurred, immediately a lot of loud, resounding “smacks,” sounding like kisses, emanated from the gallery. When the curtain went down after that act, Miss O'Neill came out before the curtain and expressed herself in no uncertain terms regarding the boorishness of the people in the gallery; she was “sure mad” and she “put it over” so well that the large audience gave her a great ovation and there were no more unpleasant experiences that evening.
A few years later, however, she returned with another high class show; but, on this occasion, it was very evident that she had been indulging too much in the “cup that cheers” before the performance, and the gallery again “held forth” and the show was a “flop.” The following morning, an editorial appeared in the Appeal, entitled, “Oh, Nance! How could you?” written by the proprietor, F. W. Johnson, which was very clever and most amusing. The result was that Nance never came to Marysville again.
It was about this time that complaints became rather numerous about the gallery patrons. At this time, the theatre was managed by Mr. Frank Atkins, who endeavored to keep the gallery more circumspect by having a couple of special policemen present, but without much avail. I spoke about the matter to Atkins one day and he told me that he had special police up in the gallery but, as the gallery was rather dark, it was impossible for these two officers to locate the guilty parties and, of course, no one up there would give information. Atkins said, “I am doing my best, but really, Ellis, you don't know what a real tough gallery is like; why, before I came to Marysville, I managed a theatre for several years at Oroville and we used to have some vaudeville and minstrel shows but what the people liked best were good old melodramas. At one time,” said Atkins, “one of those 15c, 25c and 35c shows was holding forth for a week, a different show each evening. In one of the shows there was a beautiful young heroine who lived in a small mountain village, and it happened that she was one day pursued by the villain of the play; the heroine escaped from him and fled to a lonely old mountain cabin, in which she barricaded herself; the villain was gradually forcing in the old door of the cabin when the heroine looked out a window and, in a most pleading voice, exclaimed, 'What can I do to save my honor?'” “Just at that moment,” Atkins said, “a big Hill Billy who was taking the show very seriously, and was very much wrought up by the predicament of the heroine, rose from his seat in the gallery and shouted to the girl in an extremely loud and excited voice, 'Cross your legs' “Well,” Said Atkins, “the audience was convulsed; order could not be maintained and finally the audience was dismissed for that evening; and,” added Atkins, “no one wanted their money back at the box office when they went out, evidently everyone had their 'money's worth.' So,” said Atkins, “don't you fellows complain about the Marysville gallery. You just don't know what a real tough gallery is like.”
The Marysville Bar in Early Days
THE disciples of the law played a very important part in the history of Yuba County and much of its success was due to the efforts of those gentlemen. The Bar of Yuba has always been, and is now, justly celebrated for the learning, culture and ability of its members, and has given to the country many who achieved a national reputation in the higher walks of political and judicial life.
In the following list, the date immediately following the name is the year in which practice was commenced at the Bar in Yuba County. Names are given only of those who commenced practice priorto 1870.
SIDNEY ABELL, 1854. Came from New York.
L. J. ASHFORD, 1861. From Canada. Associate Justice of Court of Sessions, 1860. Admitted to the Bar here in 1861.
FRANCIS L. AUDE, 1850-62. Born in Kentucky. Came from Missouri. Supervisor, 1857. Member of the Assembly; 1858-59. Went to Virginia City in 1862, and from there to San Francisco.
W. T. BARBOUR, 1851-60. From Kentucky. District Judge here from 1852 to 1858. Went to Virginia City in 1860, where he died.
F. BARNARD, 1851-57. From New York. Died at Parks' Bar, 1857.
R. BARNARD, 1853. From New York. Died here in 1856.
G. G. BARNARD, 1853-54. From New York. Returned to New York in 1854. Became Recorder of New York City, and Judge of the Superior Court in that City, and was impeached for complicity in the Tammany frauds in 1873.
I. S. BELCHER, 1853. From Vermont. District Attorney, 1856-57. City Attorney, 1859. District Judge, 1864-69. Justice of the Supreme Court, 1870. Chief Commissioner of Supreme Court, 1885-98.
WILLIAM C. BELCHER, 1856. From Vermont. City Attorney, 1858. School Commissioner, 1868-69 and 1872-77.
J. C. BLACK, 1863-64. From--. Moved to San Jose in 1864.
S. M. BLISS, 1851. From Pennsylvania. Member of Court of Sessions, 1853. County Judge, 1854-58, 1868-75, and 1877-79. District Judge, 1859-63.
CHARLES H. BRYAN, 1851-60. From Ohio. District Attorney, 1852. Member of State Senate, 1854. Justice Supreme Court, 1855. Went to Virginia City, 1860. Died at Carson City, 1878.
W. C. BURNETT, 1854-58. From New York. State Senator, 1856-57. Went to San Francisco, 1858, and was City and County Attorney there.
NICHOLAS CARROLL, 1854-55. From New York. Died in San Francisco.
TIMOTHY DAME, 1859-61. From Indiana. Went to San Jose in 1861.
M. VAN B. DAUBY, 1852-56. From New York. Died here in 1856.
CHARLES E. DELONG, 1857-63. From New York. Member of Assembly, 1858-59. State Senator, 1861-62. Went to Virginia City, 1863. Minister to Japan, 1869. Died in 1877.
FRANCIS J. DUNN, 1852-57. From Wisconsin. Born in Kentucky. Went to Nevada County in 1857, where he died in 1872.
J. G. EASTMAN, 1864-72. From Ohio. City Attorney, 1870-71. Moved to San Francisco, 1872.
B. E. S. ELY, 1858-59. From Pennsylvania. Member of Assembly, 1858.
STEPHEN J. FIELD, 1850-63. From New York. First Alcalde of Marysville, 1850. Member of Assembly, 1851. Justice Supreme Court, 1859, which position he held for many years. United States Circuit Judge, California, 1863. Was elevated to the Supreme Bench of the United States in 1863. He was a brother of Cyrus W. and David Dudley Field.
CHARLES E. FILKINS, 1851-75. From New York. County Judge, 1861. City Attorney, 1873. Died in Marysville, 1876.
J. J. FOSTER, 1854-60. From Tennessee. Went to Virginia City, 1860. Died in Austin, Nevada, in 1867.
JESSE O. GOODWIN, 1850. From New York. District Attorney, 1850-51. Supervisor, 1855. State Senator, 1857-58 and 1878-79. City Recorder, 1859. County Judge, 1862-67. Died, 1879.
GEORGE C. GORHAM, 1859-60. Was admitted here but never practiced. Editor of the Marysville Daily Enquirer, 1855-56, and the Marysville National Democrat, 1859. On the San Francisco Nation, 1860, and the Sacramento Union, 1861. Clerk in United States District Court, 1865-67. Candidate for Governor, 1867. Secretary United States Senate, 1868-79. Secretary National Republican Executive Committee, 1876.
E. O. F. HASTINGS, 1861-62. From Ohio. At one time a Member of the Assembly. Register United States Land Office, 1859. Moved to Washington, 1862.
FRANCIS L. HATCH, 1854-63. From Texas. District Attorney, 1858-61. Went to Santa Clara County, 1863. Was County Judge of Colusa County.
HENRY P. HAUN, 1850-61. From Iowa. Born in Kentucky. County Judge, 1850-53. United States Senator to fill Broderick's unexpired term, 1860. Died in Marysville, 1861.
DAVID L. HAUN, 1858-62. From Kentucky. Member of Assembly, 1861. Went to Plumas County in 1862, wher he was District Attorney.
CHARLES G. HUBBARD, 1858-65. From New York. Moved to San Francisco in 1865.
A. C. HUSTON, 1854-56. From New York. Was killed in the Nicaragua expedition, 1856.
PHIL. W. KEYSER, 1850. From Maryland. Alcalde of Eliz, 1850. Postmaster Marysville, 1852. County Judge of Sutter County, 1860-63, 1867-71. District Judge, 1870-79.
CHARLES KEYSER, 1858-61. From Maryland. Went to Nevada, 1861.
WILLIAM B. LATHAM, 1866-67. From Ohio. Went to San Francisco in 1867.
CHARLES LINDLY, 1854-62. From Illinois. Born in Kentucky. County Clerk and Recorder, 1852-53. City Attorney, 1856-57. Receiver United States Land Office, 1858. County Judge, 1859-62. Went to Virginia City, 1862. Code Commissioner, 1871-72.
ALFRED A. MACE, 1860-63. From France. Went to Virginia City, 1863. Died in San Francisco.
LLOYD MAGRUDER, 1858-63. From Arkansas. County Clerk, 1856-57. Member of the Assembly, 1861. Killed by highwaymen in Washington Territory in 1863.
E. C. MARSHALL, 1854-56. From Ohio. Born in Kentucky. Member of Congress, 1853. Returned to Ohio, 1856.
LEONIDAS MARTIN, 1850-56. From Alabama. District Attorney, 1854-55. Returned to Alabama in 1856. Was appointed Minister to Valparaiso, where he soon after died.
GEORGE MAY, 1858-71. From Missouri. Went to the lower part of the State in 1871.
F. J. MCCANN, 1850-70. From Kentucky. Born in Maryland. County Judge, Sierra County, 1856. District Attorney, 1864-65. Went to Santa Cruz in 1870.
JOHN T. MCCARTY, 1850-59. From Indiana. City Recorder, 1857-58. Died here in, 1859.
J. W. MCCORKLE, 1850-63. From Ohio. Member of the Legislature, 1851. Elected to Congress, 1851. Moved to Virginia City, 1863. Went to San Francisco, 1868.
R. H. MCDANIEL, JR., 1861-68. From Mississippi. Died in Marysville in 1868.
W. H. MCGREW, 1861. Admitted here. Lived in Sutter County.
I. C. MCQUAID, 1852-59. From Ohio. Moved to Sutter County, 1859. District Attorney Sutter County, 1859-63.
J. A. MCQUAID, 1857-64. From Ohio. Moved to Virginia City, 1864.
R. R. MERRILL, 1857-73. From Ohio. District Attorney, 1866-69. Died at Marysville in 1873.
R. S. MESICK, 1851-63. From New York. State Senator, 1857. Moved to Virginia City, 1863. Was District Judge in Nevada.
WM. S. MESICK, 1854-60. From New York. Went to Virginia City, 1860.
R. C. MILNE, 1858-60. From Vermont. Died in Marysville in 1860.
HENRY K. MITCHELL, 1856-63. From New York. Moved to Virginia City, 1863.
JOHN H. MITCHELL, 1850-51. Died in Marysville in 1851.
ZACH MONTGOMERY, 1854-64. From Kentucky. Member of the Assembly, 1860. Went to San Francisco in 1864. Editor Occident and Vanguard, 1864. Was a member of the Legislature.
GORDON N. MOTT, 1850-60. From Ohio. Served in the Mexican war. First County Judge of Sutter County. District Judge, 1851. City Recorder, 1855. Appointed Judge of the Supreme Court in Nevada, 1861. Delegate to Congress, 1863-64. Court Commissioner, 19th District, San Francisco, 1874.
SAMUEL B. MULFORD, 1850-63. From Pennsylvania. District Attorney, 1850. City Recorder, 1856. Died at Marysville, 1863.
WM. G. MURPHY, 1863. From Tennessee. District Attorney, 1870-72. City Attorney, 1875-79. Went to Virginia City in 1863 and returned in 1866.
H. L. PIERSON, 1869-78. From Louisiana. Lived in Sutter County. Died in 1878.
JAMES MCC. REARDON, 1857-75. From Maryland. Went to Virginia City, 1861. Clerk Supreme Court, Nevada, 1863. Returned to Marysville in 1867, where he died in 1875.
T. B. REARDON, 1851-63. From Maryland. County Clerk Sutter County, 1850-51. County Judge, Sutter County, 1851-52. Went to Virginia City, 1863. Then District Judge Fourteenth California District.
GEORGE ROWE, 1850-73. From Ohio. County Treasurer, 1851-54. District Attorney, 1862-63. Died in Marysville in 1873.
WALLACE ROWE, 1860-62. Admitted to the Bar here. Died in 1862.
OSCAR ROWE, 1868. Admitted here and went to Texas.
D. R. SAMPLE, 1863-65. From Indiana. Went to Sacramento in 1865 where he afterwards died.
S. P. SEMPER, 1861-73. From England. Admitted here, but did not practice. Died in Marysville in 1873.
EZRA K. SHERWOOD, 1855-56. From New York. Was killed by accident in 1856.
ELWOOD P. SINE, 1861-63. From Indiana. Went to Nevada in 1863.
WM. SINGER, 1854. From Missouri. Born in Pennsylvania. Justice of Court of Sessions, 1853-55 and 1857-59. Mayor of Marysville, 1858-59.
WM. F. SMITH, 1855-56. From New York. Went to San Francisco in 1856.
S. B. SMITH, 1855-61. From New York. Was a Commissioner of the Indian War Debt. Left Marysville in 1861.
GABRIEL N. SWEZY, 1850-75. From New York. District Attorney, 1853. City Attorney, 1856. Member of the Assembly, 1857. Died in Marysville in 1875.
JOSEPH TIDBALL, 1858-60. From Virginia. Died in Marysville in 1860.
WM. R. TURNER, 1850-51. From Mississippi. District Judge, 1850. in 1851 of Humboldt District, 1851-56. Died in Humboldt County.
PETER VAN CLIEF, 1870-78. From Ohio. Moved to San Francisco in 1878.
WM. WALKER, 1851-53. From Tennessee. Editor of San Francisco Herald, 1850. Leader of the filibustering expedition to Lower California in 1853-54. Editor in Sacramento in 1855. Leader of the celebrated invasion of Nicaragua, where he was captured and shot September 12, 1860. He was known as “the Gray-eyed Man of Destiny.”
HENRY P. WATKINS, 1850-63. From Missouri. Born in Kentucky. District Attorney, 1850. Second in command of the Lower California expedition, 1853-54. State Senator, 1860-61. Moved to Alameda County, where he died about 1876.
E. D. WHEELER, 1858-60. From New York. County Clerk and Recorder, 1851. State Senator, 1859. Became District Judge in San Francisco in 1870.
N. E. WHITESIDES, 1851-76. From Illinois. Speaker of the Assembly, 1858. Died in Marysville in 1876.
W. P. WILKINS, 1856-57. From North Carolina.
W. L. WILLIS, 1853-55. From Alabama. Born in Tennessee. Died in Marysville in 1855.
GILBERT E. WINTERS, 1852-55. From Ohio. Mayor in 1854. Died in Marysville in 1855.
Every one of the above has long since passed away leaving no successors to “carry on” except I. S. Belcher, whose son, Richard Belcher, has been and still is a leading Attorney of Marysville for many years, occupying the same offices as did his father and uncle, in the early days, at 228 1/2 D Street; a worthy son of an illustrious sire and who upholds the traditions of the old firm of Belcher Brothers.
Early Day Railroads, Steamboats and Stages
THE first constructed railroad in Yuba County was the California Northern Railroad. Ground was broken January 22, 1861 and the road was completed between Marysville and Oroville on February 15, 1864. This road was incorporated on June 29, 1860 with a capital stock of one million dollars; M. D. Darrow was President, and Chinery and Binney were the contractors for the road's construction. Butte County was very much interested in this road and loaned County bonds in the sum of $209,000 to assist in its construction, the interest rate being 10 per cent. In later years, ownership of the road was with N. D. Rideout and A. J. Binney. It is still being operated, now being owned by the Southern Pacific Company.
The second railroad to be constructed was the California Central Railroad; work was commenced at Folsom in 1858; in 1861, grading had been finished two-thirds of the distance and track laid as far as Lincoln. The name was then changed to the California and Oregon Railroad and the Common Council of Marysville, on October 7, 1868, passed an Ordinance granting rights of way, etc., to the railroad, which was completed to Marysville shortly afterwards.
The third railroad was the California Pacific Railroad, for which a survey was completed in 1853, but nothing was done. A new survey was then completed in 1857, the company was organized on October, 1857, with a capital stock of three million dollars. Yuba County voted to give $200,000 but actually gave bonds for $100,000. The road was projected to run from Marysville to Vallejo, there to connect with boats running to San Francisco. In 1871, the road, being completed to Marysville, annexed the Napa Valley and other roads. Unfortunately, the road between Knight's Landing and Yuba City had been laid out through the low tule basin area in Sutter County and succeeding floods eventually caused the road to be abandoned. In later years, that portion which traversed the low basin area was replaced by a new road on the west bank of the Feather River, on higher ground, and is still in operation. A considerable portion of the old original earth embankment in the tule basin was utilized for the new fine highway, connecting Yuba City with Knight's Landing, a few years ago.
In 1853, a regular line of steamers left Marysville daily for San Francisco, one steamer leaving at 7:00 A.M. and the other at 2:00 P.M. At San Francisco, the Pacific Mail Steamship Company had lines of steamers to New Orleans and New York, via Panama. They controlled twelve boats, “leaving San Francisco on the 1st, 8th, 16th, and 24th of each month; at Panama about the 2nd, 10th, 18th, and 26th of each month.” In 1853, many stage lines were in operation; in 1858 this business was largely controlled by the California Stage Company, which operated from Oregon on the north to the southern part of the State. Marysville being a central point, innumerable stage left early in the morning daily to forty-eight designated points in the mining area in the mountains.
Fire Departments of Early Days
THE first fire department was organized on August 17, 1853; in 1858, it had grown very considerably and consisted of seven different companies as follows:--Eureka Engine No. 1, Yuba Engine No. 2, Mutual Engine Company No. 3, Warren Engine Company No. 4, Eureka Hose Company No. 1, Yuba Hose Company No. 2 and the Mutual Hose Company No. 3. These several engine and hose companies had a combined membership of over 275 members, it being quite an honor and distinction to be a member of some one of these companies. They all had their separate headquarters and were really “clubs” and the members held many meetings and jollifications. When a fire occurred, there was great rivalry as to which Company would reach the fire first and maintain the best reputation for such prompt service My father told me that it was rumored in those days, that in several small fires, that a certain company had been guilty of having started the fire themselves, the members of that Company being given advance notice to hold themselves in readiness and so “beat the other fellows” to the fire. Each Company always lost some time in starting with their apparatus, as it was the “correct thing” to do to have each member, when he arrived at his company's headquarters, take time to “doll up” with regular large red fire hats, red flannel shirts, patent leather stitched fronts and with wide belts, on which would be silver plated letters designating the organization's name and number. Nearly all prominent citizens were members of one of these companies, either as an active or “exempt” member.
The City had the following disastrous fires in its early history:
August 31, 1851 $500,000.00 loss
September 10, 1851 80,000.00 loss
May 25, 1854 158,550.00 loss
July 18, 1854 250,000.00 loss
October 22, 1854 11,000.00 loss
August, 1856 145,000.00 loss
In 1858, the assessed value of property in Marysville was $4,388,894. After the three fires in 1854, more attention was given to a better class of buildings, and the use of brick became almost universal, particularly in the business section, where in most cases there would be outside iron doors and shutters, and Marysville became very largely a “City of brick.” At one time, I remember, every business house in Marysville was in a brick building.
List of Hotels in the County of Yuba in 1858 Outside of the City of Marysville
LOCATED ON THE FOSTER'S BAR ROAD.
BRIGGS Hotel, George G. Briggs; Farmers' Hotel, A. Pomyea; Zabriskies Hotel, A. L. Zabriskie; Ten Mile House J. H. Bruce; Eleven Mile House, A. D. Andrews; Spring Valley House, A. Pauly; Prairie House, Johnson; Empire House, Beninger; Peoria House, Capt. T. Phillips; Galena House, D. J. Gashairie; Stanfield Hall, Wm. Stanfield; Payne's Ranch, J. Payne; Tennessee House, Richardson; Eighteen Mile House, W. Taylor; Oak Grove House, J. M. Abbott; Martin House, N. J. Martin; Oregon House, Rice & Co.; California House, Moses Robbins; Keystone House, A. Cross; Maple Spring House, P. Labadie; Oregon Hill House and Store, R. Stroud; Greenville House and Store, Edgar & Co.; El Dorado Hotel, P. Guerin; Hotel de France, Gottish & Shorman; Clay's Ranch House, John Clay; Temperance House, Camptonville, Lewis Lewis.
SACRAMENTO, AUBURN AND BEAR RIVER ROADS.
Eliza House, Eliza; Haswell Ranch, Bear River; Johnson's Ranch, Bear River, M. Thornburgh; Fount Royal House and Store, F. Waddell; Graham House, W. Graham; Round Tent, J. E. Slater; Brady House, J & M. Brady; Eureka House, F. Bridges; Sand Flat House, Sand Flat.
LA PORTE AND ST. LOUIS ROAD.
Saw Mill Cottage; Jefferson House, J. Evans; Brownsville House, Martin Knox; Washington House, S. Rice; New York House, Wm. Leedom; Mount Hope, Wm. Smith; Woodville House, J. Wood; Clapboard Ranch, E. Kellogg; Barton House, J. M. Miller; Columbus House, A. Barnhart; Pike County House; Diamond Spring House; American House, E. Whiting; Seneca House; Lexington House; Eagleville Hotel; Pine Grove House; Junction House, J. Bogardus; National House, Camptonville, W. J. Ford; U. S. Hotel, Camptonville, M. K. Napier; Golden Eagle, Brown's Valley, J. Rule.
PARKS' BAR ROAD.
Dry Creek House; Big Bar House, Long Bar, Madame Lobier; New England House, Parks' Bar, Mrs. Baker; Timbuctoo House, Timbuctoo, Mayou & Davis; National Hotel, Timbuctoo, J. Howard; Codding's Hotel, Timbuctoo, Mrs. Codding; Smartsville Hotel and Store, L. B. Clark; Empire House, Mooney & Moody; Union House, F. Chapman; Cass & Co.'s Hotel, Sucker Flat, Cass & Co.
Park Hotel, C. S. Ellis; Oak Grove House, J. Cushing; Prairie House, S. Ewers; Sewell's Ranch, Reese; Honcut House, J. Gordon; Eight Mile House; Mayhue Hotel, N. B. Nelson.
Stage Lines Running from Marysville, in 1861
FROM Marysville to Long Bar, Empire Ranch, Rough & Ready, Grass Valley & Nevada.
From Marysville to Wiser's Ferry, Sand Flat, Ousley's Bar, Kenebec Bar, Empire Ranch, French Corral, Sweetland, Sebastopol, San Juan, Emery's Crossing, Camptonville, Forest City and Downieville.
From Marysville to Oregon House, Keystone Ranch, Indiana Ranch, New York House, Pine Grove House, Columbus House, American House, La Porte & St. Louis.
From Marysville to Sewel's Ranch, Bangor, Hansonville, Brownsville, New York Flat, Forbestown, Woodville and Strawberry Valley.
From Marysville to Oroville, Thompson's Flat, Pence's Ranch, Spanishtown and Inskip.
Two lines daily from Marysville, via Nicolaus to Sacramento.
From Marysville to Long Bar, Parks' Bar, Timbuctoo, Sucker Flat & Empire Ranch. Tri-weekly line from Marysville, via Johnson's Rancho to Auburn.
A daily line from Marysville, via Oroville, Bidwell's Bar, Berry Creek, Mountain House, Peavine, Buck's Ranch, Meadow Valley, Spanish Ranch, Quincy and American Valley.
Also, Sawtelle's Stage line ran from Marysville to Honcut, Central House and Oroville.
The above lines, all originated in Marysville; in addition, the California Stage Company's coaches operated from Sacramento, through Marysville to Oregon. This line had daily coaches running as follows: Sacramento City, Nicolaus, Marysville, Honcut, Oroville, Rio Seco, Chico, Tehama, Red Bluff, Cottonwood, Horse-town, American Ranch, Shasta, French Gulch, Trinity Center, Callahan's Ranch, Ottitiewa, Yreka, Ashland Mills, Jacksonville, North Canyonville, Round Prairie, Roseburg, Winchester, Oakland, Eugene City, Corvallis, Albany, Salem, and Oregon City to Portland, Oregon, a distance in all of 750 miles.
Leaves San Francisco for St. Louis, Mo. carrying U.S. Overland Mail and passengers every Monday & Friday.
The Pony Express leaves San Francisco every Wednesday and Saturday at 3:30 P.M. Charges $2.50 for one-quarter ounce and heavier weights in proportion.
Early Day Newspapers
THE first newspaper published in Marysville was the Marysville Herald, the first issue being on August 6, 1850, by R. H. Taylor, who was both editor and proprietor. The paper was conducted by him as a bi-weekly until January 28th, 1851, when Stephen C. Massett purchased an interest. Massett was quite a character; as a young man, he had come to America from London, England, in 1837; for the next twelve years he drifted about, obtaining various jobs as an accountant, assistant in a law office, and at times earned a living by his excellent penmanship. He was fond of theatres and got acquainted with many persons connected with that profession. He had an excellent baritone voice and used it to advantage with various showmen, later on becoming an actor. He composed songs, some of which became very popular. He then became a lecturer and impersonator and made money and, in 1843, embarked on a trip to the Mediterranean and wrote letters of his experiences, which were sent to an eastern newspaper for publication, signing same “Jeems Pipes.” In 1849, he decided to come to California, coming by way of Panama and landing at San Francisco, where he obtained employment with a Colonel J. D. Stevenson, who was in the business of selling lots in a proposed new town, Massett making his headquarters, however, in San Francisco. While there, he gave a public concert which was quite successful. He then went to Sacramento, obtaining employment as an auctioneer of merchandise and, at the same time, wrote a number of poems which were printed by newspapers. He also contributed articles to the newspapers in Sacramento and San Francisco of a humorous character and always signed them “Jeems Pipes of Pipesville,” which struck the popular fancy. Meeting Mr. Taylor, the owner of the Marysville Herald, on a trip, Taylor persuaded him to come to Marysville and purchase a half interest in his newspaper, with the result that he “pepped up” the paper and became very well known by his amusing articles, largely directed at local persons and local events.
The California Express made its appearance as a daily paper on November 3rd, 1851, and was published by Gee Giles & Co.; it was described as being “equal in size to the largest daily out of San Francisco.”
The Daily Inquirer made its appearance on November 17, 1851, being issued by J. De Mott & Co. Later on, in 1858, another newspaper made its appearance. This was the National Democrat, published by A. S. Randall & Co. It was also a daily and weekly paper with a claimed circulation of 3500.
Mining in the Streets of Marysville Prohibited
THE minutes of the City Council on August 12th, 1851 disclose that at that meeting Mayor S. M. Miles (first Mayor of Marysville) raised objections to mining which had been started by some miners at the intersection of E and Front Streets (where the Western Pacific freight shed is now located on top of the levee). The Mayor was authorized to issue a proclamation. His edict was as follows:
“It having been represented to me that sundry persons have laid out and staked claims on the bar in front of the steamer landing for mining purposes, now, therefore, I, S. M. Miles, Mayor of the City of Marysville, do hereby caution all persons against trespassing on or injuring the public grounds within the limits of the City of Marysville in any manner whatsoever.”
It is not very generally known that the south limits of the City of Marysville include the present north channel of the Yuba River, a width of approximately 600 feet, making the river channel the property of the City of Marysville.
It might be of interest to note that, in later years, another attempt was made to take up a mining claim on this same channel, in an effort to “put out of business” a sand plant there in which I was a partner. The facts are as follows: In 1907 a sand plant was established on the levee at about the foot of B Street, permission being for an 80 foot frontage; the proprietor, having been a miner, took up a mining claim on the entire river channel. In 1909, Emery Oliver, L. L. Green, A. L. Brownlee and myself formed a partnership and started another sand and gravel business between A and B Streets on the river bank, and obtained from the City a lease on the river channel between the D Street Bridge and the Southern Pacific Bridge, excepting the 80 foot strip crossing the river channel which the other plant had leased from the City.
Both plants operated for some years. Then the rival plant was finally disposed of to the Coast Rock and Gravel Co., which was operating many plants throughout the state. Later on, we leased our plant to the Coast Rock and Gravel Co. for a period of eight years at a very satisfactory rental. At the end of the eight year period, the Coast Rock and Gravel Co. was enlarged, many more plants purchased throughout the State, the name changed to the Pacific Coast Aggregates, and they planned to control the sand and gravel business in the State, north of the Tehachepi mountains.
When our lease expired, we took up with them the matter of a new lease, telling them that, if they did not care to again lease our plant, we were planning on the construction of a new plant, as they had permitted our plant to get in a “run down” condition during the term of their lease. We could get no definite decision from them for some time and finally insisting upon a reply, they responded with an offer to lease at a ridiculously low figure, which we immediately declined.
We then commenced planning for a new plant equipment; and one day, Mr. Oliver, who then lived in Sacramento, was cautioned by a friend who was connected with the Pacific Coast Aggregates Co. to be careful about expending much money on a new plant, as there was a possibility that the larger company might proceed to “put us out of business,” as they had certain “rights” which would enable them to stop our extracting sand and gravel from the river channel.
Mr. Oliver was considerably perturbed and came to Marysville to see me and told me of the information which had been imparted to him and wanted to know what the other company might “have up their sleeve.” I then told him that the original owner of their Marysville plant had taken up a “mining claim” when the plant was first established but that I had never mentioned it as I was satisfied it gave him no legal rights, as the river channel belonged to the City of Marysville and the site of the City of Marysville had been acquired under Mexican rule and that no lands could have mining locations placed on them when such lands were privately owned prior to the United States Government taking over California. I also told him that, if there was any doubt in his mind, he should consult the Land Office in Sacramento.
This Mr. Oliver did; and, finding these statements to be correct and that the Coast Rock and Gravel Co. could not “put us out of business,” we determined to have a little “satisfaction” at their expense, so Mr. Oliver appeared before their Board of Directors and again broached the subject of a new lease. He was then informed that they owned a “mining claim” on the Yuba River and intimated that our company had better accept the lease which they had proffered, otherwise we would have to close down. Mr. Oliver then had the satisfaction of explaining to them that their mining claim was worthless (much to their chagrin), that we declined to enter into a new lease with them, and we again commenced to operate our plant. After twenty-eight years, we are still in business “at the old stand.”
A Labor Strike in 1853
THERE was a labor strike in Marysville in August of 1853. That was probably the first here. The word “strike” was already well known, apparently.
The Daily Evening Herald, predecessor of the Morning Appeal, said in its issue of August 8, 1853, that the carpenters employed on buildings under construction had gone out on strike and that they had held a parade that day, with a band and everything. The men were being paid only $4.00 and $6.50, which was quite a comedown from the $16.00 a day for miners and common labor in the days to and preceding 1851.The Herald said that the carpenters had to pay $12.00 for board, $3.00 for room and $2.00 for laundry, by the week, and therefore needed more pay. They were demanding $8.00 a day.
State Reform School in Yuba County
AS PEOPLE commenced to flock into the State, after the discovery of gold, many brought children with them. Some became rather “wild” and got in various kinds of trouble and agitation commenced to have some State Institution established where these wayward young boys and girls could be kept and not be placed in other institutions with hardened criminals.
Governor Weller, in 1859, made a recommendation to the Legislature; finally, on April 14th, 1859, an Act was passed creating a “State Reform School,” and three Commissioners appointed to select a site, and immediately many places wanted the school. In December, 1859, this Commission selected a site of one hundred acres on the east bank of the Feather River, about five miles north of Marysville, and owned by Charles Covillaud. The City of Marysville had previously had the tract surveyed, purchase price agreed upon and, on April 18, 1860, the Legislature made an appropriation of $30,000 for the school, the City of Marysville paying for the site. The building which was erected was 218 feet long and with an average width of 52 feet, there being three stories and a basement. In 1861, the Legislature appropriated $25,000 for the interior furnishings, etc.
The largest roll of inmates was fifty-four, in 1866. Finally, in 1868, mainly through the efforts of the San Francisco Industrial School, and with the reluctance of Legislators to make appropriations, the school was closed, and by an Act of the Legislature, the site was donated to the City of Marysville, and subsequently sold to James Strain for $6000, the owner of the adjoining land.
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