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GEORGE McDOUGAL

George McDougal was a prominent character in the days of the founding of Sacramento city. He was a brother of I, John, the second governor of California, and came here from Indiana in 1848, and, joining Fremont's battalion, was with it in the campaign in Southern California. After his return to San Francisco, he became prominent there, and after gold was discovered joined the rush of prospectors and had some exciting experiences in the mines. As narrated elsewhere, shortly after the survey of Sacramento was completed, he secured a lease from Sutter of a portion of the river front for a ferry, at a point below the entrance to Sutter slough. With his partner, Judge Blackburn of Santa Cruz, he opened the first store in the place, bringing up a store ship and anchoring it near the foot of I street. When Captain Sutter's son arrived, however, and the father transferred to him an interest in the city, a debate soon arose between him and McDougal as to the latter 's rights under the lease, McDougal claiming that he was entitled to several hundred feet of the front. The court decided in favor of Sutter, McDougal became dissatisfied with the place and determined to "extinguish the projects" of the new city and to move to Sutterville. He removed all his goods to that place, and departed to the east, leaving his brother John in charge of the store. John then issued immense placards, announcing that the firm had determined to lead in the competition, and would therefore sell goods "at cost and freight," adding a verbal assurance that, if necessary to obtain patronage under that combination, they would sell the goods at first cost. The merchants at the fort combined, however, and by a well-laid scheme forced McDougal & Co. to close up business.

George wandered from the east into Utah, New Mexico and the adjacent territories, and reports of his death finally reached the coast. A brother in the east administered on his estate, and all trace of George was lost for years. Finally Captain Brown, of the ram Stonewall, was going through the Straits of Magellan, on his way to Japan, when some Patagonian chiefs came on board. Among them was a hirsute, squalid, weather-tanned and very tattooed man," who proved to be none other than "Colonel George McDougal," who had journeyed through Central America and various countries of South America, and was now prospecting at a solitary station in the Straits, called Sandy Point, having become the chief of an Indian tribe.

McDougal was a giant in size and had always been so stately and handsome that he had been called "Lord George McDougal." Captain Brown said that after he had been shaved, cleaned up and dressed in good clothes, McDougal was the handsomest and most distinguished man lie had ever seen. McDougal sobbed and cried when told of his family, but refused to remain on board or go with the ship, as he had a valuable mine which he was developing with the aid of the Indians. He promised, however, that he would proceed further north as soon as possible and would go home, and when Captain Brown afterwards met him in Valparaiso, he succeeded in sending him home. 


Source:
History of Sacramento County, California
Biographical Sketches of The Leading Men and Women of the County Who Have Been Identified With Its Growth and Development from the Early Days to the Present
History By: William L. Willis
Historic Record Company, Los Angeles, California (1913)

Transcribed by Peggy Hooper 2011