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California Genealogy and History Archives


Merced County History

History of Merced County, California
Los Angeles, Calif.; Historic Record Co., 1925


(Numbers refer to pages.)


Preface   11
Chapter I - Indians, Spaniards, And Mexicans   33

Location, Topography, Streams, Plains. Gabriel Moraga Discovers And Names The Merced River And Mariposa Creek. Later Expeditions Into The San Joaquin Valley. Mission Indians And Horses. Pursuit Of The Thieves. Governor Sola's "Great Expedition." The Search For Mission Sites. Proposed Site On The Merced. Ortega And Pico Expedition. Luis Arguello. Pedro Mesa. Mexican Replaces Spanish Rule. The Spanish Heritage.

Chapter II - American Explorers   42

Jedediah Strong Smith Leads The First American Expedition Into The Valley. Traps And Camps On The "Wimilche." Crosses The Sierra Nevada To Salt Lake. Back Again. Troubles With The Mexican Government. Goes Out To The North. Destruction Of His Expedition By The Indians. James Ohio Pattie And Sylvester Pattie. Ewing Young's Expedition. Trapping In The Valley. The Hudson's Bay Company Trappers In The Valley. Elk, Antelope, And Beaver. Wild Horses. Joseph Reddeford Walker. Leaves Bonneville's Expedition. Did He Camp At Yosemite ? Walker's Pass. Guides For Emigrant Trains.
Chapter III - First American Settlers To California   51

Sutter's Fort And Dr. John Marsh's Ranch. Marsh's Letter To Lewis Casso Description Of California .. Ambitions Of England And Russia. The Failing Mexican Rule. Warning For The United States To Be On Guard. Limits Of Marsh's Information On Indians And Geography. The Eastern Boundary Of Mexican Settlement To Coast Range. The Bartleson-Bidwell Party. Interest In California Among People In The East. Bidwell's Account. Mexican Alarm At The Increasing Number Of Emigrants. Mcmahon, Grigsby, And Fremont-Walker Parties. Pio Pico Commissions Gantt And Marsh To Capture Indians. Small Numbers Of Spaniards And Mexicans.
Chapter IV - John C . Fremont   65

His Expedition Of 1842 To The Rocky Mountains. Expedition Of 1843-1844. Jessie Benton Fremont. The Mountain Howitzer. Reaches Fort Vancouver. The Search For Mary Lake And The Buena-Ventura River. Decides To Cross The Sierra Nevada In Winter. Crosses And Reaches Sutter's Fort. The Return By Walker's Pass. The Trip Through The San Joaquin Valley. Crosses The Merced Near The Stevinson Ranch. Observations On The Plants And Animals Of The Valley. Elk, Grizzlies, Wild Fowl, Wild Horses. Their Great Numbers On The West Side. Indian Signal Smokes. Speculations On Fremont's Purpose And Instructions. Buys A Grant From Alvarado. Attempts To Locate The Grant Near Stevinson. Near Le Grand. "Fremont's Ranch" On The Township Maps. Location And Confirmation In Mariposa County. Fremont As The Earliest Settler In The County.
Chapter V - Mother Mariposa   79

Establishment Of Mariposa County. Early Boundaries-Coast Range To Nevada Line, And South To San Bernardino. Agua Fria The First County Seat .. Early Towns: Agua Fria, Carson City, Hornitos, Horseshoe Bend, Coulterville, Barrett's, Quartzberg. The Indian War Of 1851. Dr. Bunnell's Book. James D. Savage's Trading Post On The South Fork. Indian Attack. The Discovery Of Yosemite. Battles On The Fresno And The Chowchilla. The Indians Defeated And Removed To A Reservation. Merced People Who Came From Mariposa.
Chapter VI - The Founders Of The County   89

Estimated Population Of The County In 1855. Location Of The Population. Twelve Living Pioneers Of That Year. The Township And Section Surveys Of The Fifties. Settlers Shown Upon The Maps. Montgomery, Scott, And Lewis Found Snelling. James Waters. Dr. Joshua Griffith. List Of Pioneers. J. W. Robertson, N. B. Stoneroad, E. T. Givens, W. C. Turner, W. L. Means, A. W. And J. J. Stevinson, Erastus Kelsey, William And Henry Nelson, T. C. Deane, "Grizzly Adams," Thomas Price, S. L. Givens, Thomas Givens, E. W. Buffum, N. S. Stockton, The Merced Express List. G. W. Halstead, John Keys, Nicholas Turner, John Ruddle, Allen Ruddle, Mrs. Ruddle, Antone Lagomarsino, J. W. Morgan, Lee Hamlin, Mrs. Sensabaugh, George P. Kelsey, Mrs. Penelope Rogers, W. C. Wilson, Isaac A. Ward, William Johnson, D. E. Lewis, James Cunningham, T. B. Cocanour, W. T. Barfield, E. G. Rector, G. W. Halstead Jr., B. F. Howell, J. L. Ivett, William Penrose, Harvey J. Ostrander, John L. Mcfarlane, John Phillips, A. W. Clough, Charles S. Peck, John And P. B. Bennett, Dr. J. W. Fitzhugh, John W. Bost, The Snelling Family. The Old Snelling Cemetery.
Chapter VII - Organization And Boundaries   113

The Act Of April 19, 1855, Creating Merced County. Provisions Of The Act. The Board Of Commissioners. Provision For The Assumption Of A Share Of The Mariposa County Debt. Boundary: Early County Extended South To Converse's Ferry And The Northeast Corner Of San Luis Obispo County. The Creation Of Fresno County In 1856 And The Loss Of Territory To Merced. Amendments Of Acts On Boundary. Surveys Of Boundaries. People Vs. Henderson. The First County Seat On Mariposa Creek. The County Seat Moved To Snelling's Ranch. Memorandum Of The Location Of The First County Seat. Minutes Of The First Meeting Of The Board Of Supervisors.
Chapter VIII - The Assessment Roll For 1857   129

The Assessment Book, Size And Character. How The Assessments Were Taken. What The Roll Shows About The Location Of The Property Assessed And The Location Of The Population. The Names And The Assessments. The Missing Pages. The Index And The Names It Supplies.
Chapter IX - Early Days In The County   151

What The 1857 Assessment Roll Shows. Settlement Confined To The Stream Bottoms. The Cattle Business The Main Industry. Simple Methods Of Living. Grain-Raising And Flour Mills. Spanish And American Cattle. Judges Of The Plains. The Free Range On The Plains. The Names On The Assessment Roll And The Nationalities They Show. Firearms. Dogs. Peter Fee's Diary, And The Varied Daily Life It Shows. Fremont Has A Small Revolution. Close Relations With Mariposa County. Small Scale Of County Affairs. Voting Precincts. Churches. Schools.
Chapter X - A Cross-Section Of Merced County Life In 1865   169

Early Newspapers. The Banner. Robertson And Wigginton's Herald. Extracts From The News Of The Times. The Strong Democratic Flavor Of The Editorials And The News. Post-War Politics. Camp Meetings. Advertisements. Professional Cards. The Stories Of The Missing Paper And The Horse That Came Back. Spurious Tickets. A Trip To Millerton. Steamboat Disaster. Earthquakes. Homicides. Inadequate Mail Facilities. Stages. Hunts. Cattle-Stealing.
Chapter XI - The Settlement Of The Plains   193

Steele's Herald And Argus. The Coming Of The Grain-Raisers. New Settlements. The Occupation Of The Plains. Settlements On Bear And Mariposa Creeks. The" Town Of Dover. Growth Of Snelling And Merced Falls. Ferries. Talk Of A Railroad. More Immigrants. Sandy Mush. Robla And Mcswain Settlements. Conflicts With The Cattle Men. Taking Up Of The Land. Isaac Friedlander And W. S. Chapman. Merced Falls Woolen Mill. Beyond The Joaquin. Grain On The West Side. Mushroom Towns Of Stanislaus County. Harvesters. Warehouses. River Navigation; Its Limitations.
Chapter XII - Early Days On The West Side   215

"Los Banos." The Mexican Grants On The West Side. Confirmation By The United States. Sanjon De Santa Rita. San Luis Gonzaga. Orestimba Y Las Garcas. Panoche De San Juan Y Los Carrisalitos. W. J. Stockton. Reminiscences Of Henry Miller. San Luis Ranch House. The Slight Population In 1872. Hardships Of The Settlers. Droughts. Poverty. Miller Builds His First Canal. Bull And Bear Fights. Old Los Banos And Dog Town. Dos Palos. The Outside Canal. Charles W. Smith. Coming To Badger Flat. Badger Flat To Hill's Ferry In The Seventies. Two Golden Weddings In One House. Recollections Of Henry Miller. W. J. Stockton's Speech Before The Lions' Club.
Chapter XIII - The Cattle Industry And The No-Fence Law   235

The Situation That The First Grain Farmers Found. The Cattle Business On The Free Government Range. The Early Cattle Barons. "Spanish" And "American" Cattle. Rodeos. Judges Of The Plains. Cattle In The Sierra Nevadas In Summer. Cattle Rustlers. Pioneer Justice. The Tree On The San Joaquin. Hangings Near Snelling. A Fight On The Plains. Marketing The Cattle Crop. At The Mines. At San Francisco, Stockton, And Sacramento. Payment In Gold. Overloading A Horse. The Early Fence Laws Were Cattle Men's Laws. Pixley's Barley Crop Destroyed By Cattle. Agreement For Settlement. The Meeting In The Spring Of 1869 At Patrick Carroll's Ranch. Solution Of The Problem. The Cattle Men Move Off. The Chowchilla Ranch. Montgomery And Chapman. Montgomery's Fence.
Chapter XIV - The Coming Of The Railroad And Founding Of Merced   243

River Transportation Fails. More Railroad Talk. The Need Of The Farmers. Lack Of Transportation Prevents The Moving Of Grain. Dover And Hill's Ferry Warehouses. Lack Of Money. Stockton And Her Railroad Projects. The San Joaquin And Tulare Railroad. Other Projects. The Growth Of Plainsburg. Talk Of "Jefferson" County On The West Side. The Railroad Approaches. The Railroad Bond Project Proposed And Dropped. Tuolumne And Paradise Cities. The Railroad Crosses Stanislaus County. Reaches The Merced. The New Town On Bear Creek. First Location, Before The Railroad Came. The Railroad Town. Wagon Roads. Laying Out The Town. The Sale Of Lots. The El Capitan Hotel And The Depot. Rapid Growth Of The Town.
Chapter XV - Merced Becomes The County Seat   261

Agitation For The Removal Of The County Seat. The Argus Opposes The Move. "Livingstone-Cressey" Becomes A Candidate. The Campaign For The Removal. Charges Against The Railroad. Merced Wins. Plans For The Court House. The Awarding Of The Contract. The Construction Of The Building. Moving The County Seat. The Completion Of The Building. Dedication Ceremonies. Report Of The Committee Of Inspection.
Chapter XVI  - County Officials   275

A Chronological List Of The County Officials Of Merced County, Elected And Appointed, With The Dates Of Their Election Or Appointment, From The Time Of The Organization Of The County To The End Of 1924.
Chapter XVII Population   297

Estimate Of Population Of The County At The Time Of Organization. The Assessment Roll Of 1857. The Census Of 1860. The Several Succeeding Federal Censuses. Percentages Of Growth, Decade By Decade. Population Of Merced County Towns And Their Neighbors. Analysis Of The Population Of The Several Censuses. The Elements Of Population By Sex And By Nationalities.
Chapter XVIII Transportation   305

Light Shed On County's History By Transportation. Difficulties Of Early-Day Transportation. Ox Wagons. The Early Routes Of Travel. Reasons For Their Location. Travel From Stockton To The Southern Mines. Freighting And Staging. Mail Routes. Alvin Fisher. C. H. Huffman. Hughes & Keyes. W. H. Hartley. Stoddard & Hubbard. M. Mcclenathan. Washburn Brothers. E. M. And D. K. Stoddard. Freighting To The Mines. The Decay Of The Heighting. The Growth Of Staging To Yosemite. Railroad Transportation. Early Ferries. Modern Highways. The Influence Of River Transportation On The County's History.
Chapter XIX  - Education   317

The First Districts And The First Superintendent. The Very Small Beginnings. The School Situation In 1862. A Thousand Dollars For The County. The First Teachers' Institute. Condition Of The Schools During The War. The Growth Of Schools With The Coming Of The Grain-Raisers. The Boundaries Defined. Creation Of New Districts. Modern Schools. The Growth Year By Year During The Last Quarter-Century. Growth Of The High Schools. Grammar Schools. Present Status Of The Schools. Expenditures For Schools.
Chapter XX Newspapers   327

Steele's Banner. Its Stormy History. Destruction By Union Soldiers. The Ephemeral Democrat And Democratic Record. Robert Son And Wigginton's Herald. Its History. Steele's Herald. Steele's San Joaquin Valley Argus. The Merced People. The Merced Tribune. Beckwith. Madden. Granice Kills Madden. Brief History Of The Case. The Daily Argus. The Express. The Star. The Journal. The Sun. The Sun-Star. County Papers.
Chapter XXI Irrigation   333

Early Irrigation From The Merced River. The Ditches Along The River Bottom. William G. Collier. The Robia Canal. The Fanners' Canal Company. The Crocker-Huffman Land & Water Company. The Merced Irrigation District. Irrigation From Other Streams. The San Joaquin. Henry Miller's Two Canals. The Stevinson Canal. The Turlock Irrigation District. Water From The Tuolumne. Water Disputes. The Big San Joaquin River Water Storage District.
Chapter XXII - Towns And Subdivisions   361

Snelling, Merced Falls And Forlorn Hope. Dover And Chester. Merced. Early Owners Of The Site. Maps. Livingston. Atwater. Old Los Banos And Dog Town. Hill's Ferry. Volta. Los Banos. The Santa Fe Towns: Le Grand, Geneva-Whitton-Planada, Cressey, Winton. West Side Towns: Dos Palos, Gustine, Ingomar. Irwin City And Hilmar. Delhi. Stevinson. Smaller Towns. Subdivisions And Colonies. Subdivision With Irrigation As A Unified Movement. Incorporated Towns: Merced, Los Banos, Gustine, Atwater, Livingston.