Charles Davis McComish.

History of Colusa and Glenn counties, California, with biographical sketches of the leading men and women of the counties who have been identified with their growth and development from the early days online

. (page 1 of 95)
Online LibraryCharles Davis McComishHistory of Colusa and Glenn counties, California, with biographical sketches of the leading men and women of the counties who have been identified with their growth and development from the early days → online text (page 1 of 95)
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3 1833 01067 2084


Colusa and Glenn Counties



Biographical Sketches


The Leading- Men and Women of the Counties Who have

been Identified with their Growth and

Developtnent from the Early

Days to the Present


Charles Davis McCo mish and Mrs. Rebecca T. Lambert







By Charles Davis McComish


Foreword 1 1

Former histories of Colusa County: History by Will S. Green, pub-
lished in 18S0. exhaustive in detail and copiously illustrated; history
by Justus H. Rogers, published in 1891, a complete and valuable work
for its period — Purpose and field of the present history.


Early History of Califorxia 18

Legends and stories of the coming of one Manuelo, a Spanish sailor,
to San Francisco Bay— The voyage of Cabrillo, in 1542— Conditions in
California before the coming of the white men — Sir Francis Drake
reaches California in 1579, on his trip around the world — Visits of
Spanish vessels from 1579 to 1602 — Father Junipero Serra establishes
the first of the Spanish missions, at San Diego, in 1769 — Growth and
prosperity of the missions, 1769 to 1833 — Restrictions upon the mis-
sions under Spanish rule, 1769 to 1824 — Russian fur-trading post estab-
lished at Fort Ross in 1812 — Arrival of American and English adven-
turers — Jedediah S. Smith, the first white man to cross the Sierra
Nevada Mountains, 1825 — Chapman marries the daughter of Captain
Ortega, the discoverer of San Francisco Bay — Conditions in California
under Mexican rule — Decline and secularization of the missions — The
Indians dispossessed — Capt. John Sutter arrives, 1839 — John Bidwell
and party, 1841 — First wave of the great flood of immigration — The
Bear Flag army — California passes from Mexican to American dom-
ination — Discovery of gold by James W. Marshall, 1848, and the coming
of the forty-niners — Admission of California to statehood, 1850.

Early Explorations and First Settlers 22

Early Explorations: Colusa County as organized in 1851 — Transfer
of territory to Tehama County in 1855 — County division, and formation
of Glenn County, in 1891 — Present boundaries of the county — First
visited by white men in 1843 — General Bidwell's narrative of the trip
of these first authenticated explorers of the county — Location of the
Larkin's Childrens' Grant by General Bidwell, 1844 — Canoe trip
through Colusa County by Edward A. Farwell and Thomas Fallon —
Visit of a party of trappers under Jack Myers — Manufacture of grind-
stones on Grindstone Creek, in 1845, by Lassen, Moon, and Merritt —
Exploration of the valley by Dr. Robert Semple, in 1847. The
Settlers: John S. Williams, sent from Monterey by Thomas O. Larkin,
in 1S47. to settle on the Larkin grant — Williams succeeded by Charles
B. Sterling in 1S4S — William B. Ide settles on the east side of the river
— Watt Anderson locates at the present site of Sycamore — These three
settlements the only ones within the present boundaries of Colusa
County when the first of the forty-niners came.


Geography, and Flora and Fauna 28

Geography: Topography of the Sacramento Valley roughly Illustrated
— General slope of the land — The Trough — Natural drainage features —
General description of the surface — The "plains" — Distances and loca-


tion. Vegetation: Marked effect of seasonal changes on the appear-
ance of the country in the early days— Luxuriance of the vegetation
in the spring or early summer— Timber lands along the river— The
"tule lands" — Vegetation of the foothill country— Timber lands along
the western boundary— The profusion of wild flowers— The alkali lands
and "goose lands." The Wild AxniALs of the County: Colusa County
abundantlv stocked with wild animals when the white man came —
These quickly exterminated by the early settlers— Tragic fate of the
vast herds of antelope and elk— The passing of the grizzly— The black
Ijear- The mountain lion— The short-tailed wildcat— The crafty coyote
—Raccoons, foxes, and skunks — Will S. Green, on the destruction of
the elk and the antelope— The kindlier fate of the deer— The rabbit:
Cottontails and jack-rabbits— The rodents: Rats and mice, ground-
squirrels and gophers— The wild goose; numbers and depredations—
The wild duck: Canvasback, mallard, sprig, teal, widgeon; numbers
and depredations— The quail— The dove— Other birds: The swan,
crane, mud hen, turkey buzzard, blackbird, meadow lark, hawks, owls,
linnets, sparrows, woodpeckers, robin, blue jay, magpie, and chaparral
cock— Yellow jackets and mosquitoes in the early days.


The Indians 37

Attitude of the early settlers toward the Indians characterized by in-
justice and cruelty— Bidwell's estimate of the number of Indians in
the county— Green's estimate of the number of Colus Indians — Effect
of the epidemic of 1832 or 1833— The Indian villages— Origin of the
name Colus — The chief village of the Colus Indians — No Indian villages
on the plains — The foothill Indians the nearest neighbors on the west
to the river Indians — The chief tribe of the foothill Indians located
along Cortina Creek — Numerous settlements along Bear Creek, Stony
Creek, and other streams — Migration of the foothill Indians in the dry
season of 1S44 — Forage treaties of the Indians — The mountain tribes —
Appearance of the Colusa Indians — Their dress — Their love of orna-
ments — Their customs in this respect somewhat different from those
of the Indians of the East — Not essentially a warlike people — Develop-
ment of their constructive faculty limited by climatic conditions — The
villages intended for shelter during the wet season — Construction of
their houses and sweat-houses — Manner of sleeping — Food of the In-
dian — Pish the great food staple, particularly of the river Indians —
Manner of catching and drying salmon — The acorn; manner of gath-
ering and storing, and method of preparation — Failure of the acorn
crop a serious matter — Other articles of diet — Gathering of the oat
crop — Manner of cooking grasshoppers and grubs — Capture of a large
game animal an occasion for intemperate feasting — Inveterate improvi-
dence of the Indian — Each tribe governed by a chief — Power of the
chief — Wise and just government of the Colus Indians under Chief
Sioc — Personality and character of Sioc — Organization of the Indian
community — Marital relations — Religious beliefs but feebly developed
— Various superstitious customs — Sickness; its cause and cure — The
sweat-cure and its results — Funeral rites and burial customs — Other
structures and articles constructed by the Indians, and their uses —
Method employed in killing a deer— Capture of game birds— Evidence
of the Indians' friendly attitude towards the whites — Attitude of the
whites towards the Indians— Death of Chief Sioc— Factors that accel-
erated the rapid decline of the race — Uprisings and reprisals — Captain
Hukely, successor of Sioc — The government takes a hand — Text of a
treaty with the Colusa Indians, drawn up and signed in 1851, and
transmitted to the United States Senate for ratification — The treaty
pigeon-holed through political intrigue until 1905 — Patient watching
and waiting of the fast-dwindling tribes for the fulfillment of their
deferred hope — Government provision for the Indians in 1907 — Aid also
extended by private subscription — Indian school founded through
county appropriation— Present population and condition of the ranch-
eria north of Colusa — The other Indians of the county.



The Early Settlers 49

But three settlements within the present boundaries of Colusa County
when the first forty-niners came — John S. Williams — William B. Ide —
Watt Anderson — Charles B. Sterling — Sterling's cache — The gold rush,
and its effect on the settlement of the county — 1850: Admission of
California to statehood, and authorization by the legislature for the
organization of Colusa County — Robert Scrapie's trip up the Sacra-
mento Valley, and his choice of a location for Col. Charles D. Semple
at "Salmon Bend" — By mistake. Colonel Semple establishes his camp
at Powell Slough — Trip of the Colusa — Colonel Semple relocates his
town — Semple & Green's store building — Keeps and Hale's hotel —
Sheppard — Semple & Green add hotel accommodations to their store
building — The hotel department leased — The first white woman to
live in Colusa — William Vincent and family — The first child born in
Colusa — Population of Colusa in 1851 — Settlement of lands along the
river by cattle men and farmers in 1850 and 1851 — Establishment of
"hotels" — Competition between boatmen and teamsters, and between
the two routes of passenger travel to the northern mines — Colusa be-
comes a shipping center and center for stage lines — Line of settlements
established along the river, by 1851. from the northern boundary of
the county to Wilkins' Slough— Hiram Willits, and the Seventeen-Mile
House — J. M. Arnett, and the Sixteen-Mile House — J. P. J. Helphenstine
— Sterling's Ranch — Thomas Parton. and the Eleven-Mile House —
Charles Brooks and Ben Payne — L. H. Helphenstine. and the Ten-Mile
House — Henry Russell Helphenstine — S. H. Cooper, and the Nine-Mile
House — Robert Payne and James Hill, and the Seven-Mile House —
Obed DeLong, and the Five-Mile House — Mysterious disappearance of
Robert N. Parkhill — Farmers and stockmen located in the immediate
vicinity of Colusa abouf 1851: J. T. Marr. White Brothers, Abbe
Brothers, James Keefer, John Rogers, and Marion Tate — O. C. Berkey,
George Carhart, and Silas Howard — The Gibson brothers — Jack Long
—John Fitch and Joe Parnsworth — The Grimes brothers — E. R. Gra-
ham and Richard Welsh — Colusa County's first plow — The Graham
family — J. C. Johnson, and the Ohio House — The east side of the
river, the plains, and the foothills practically uninhabited in 1851 —
Similar settlements along the river in what is now Glenn County, but
none on the plains — U. P. Monroe — Rivalry of Colusa and Monroeville
• — Settlement of the county rapid after 1851 — Active settlement of the
east side of the river begins in 1852- Henry Ahlf— Nick Laux — J. W.
Jones — W. F. Goad — Frank Steele — Col. L. F. Moulton — Joseph Mc-
Connell. Clinton and Joseph McVay, Thomas Williams, and Jefferson
Tate — The foothills settled next after the river district — Stock ranches
located in Spring Valley in 1852 and 1853— John Sites and others settle
in Antelope Valley — Mrs. Spear — Settlement of Bear Valley, as de-
scribed by Godfrey C. Ingrim in 1877 — Settlement of the Stonyford
section — Lands about Williams, Arbuckle, and College City settled
earlier than those about Maxwell and Delevan — Southern part of the
plains settled earlier than the northern— E. B. McDow and W. S. Green
on settlement of the plains — Semple and Green's ranch on Freshwater
Creek, 1853— Joseph S. Gibson, 1854— W. H. Williams— Andrew Pierce
— Julius and Gustav Weyand— J. W. Brim — William Kaerth— Joseph P.
Sherer- J. C. Stovall, 1858- Conditions within Colusa County at the
beginning of the Civil War.


Orgaxizatiox of the County 59

Distribution of population. 1851 — Rivalry of Colusa and Monroeville —
Origin of the name "Colusa" — Boundaries of the county defined by state
legislature — Name of county "Colusi" until 1854 — Monroeville's peti-
tion — Election of January 10, 1851 — County government established at
Monroeville — Establishment of the seat of justice at Colusa — Monroe-
ville again petitions — Election of July 11, 1851 — Colusa secures the
county seat, 1853 — Contract let for new courthouse — Text of Judge Ide's
report to the state treasurer, 1851 — William B. Ide's unique place in


the early government of the county — The first county "jail" — Location
of the old courthouse — The old court of sessions — Influence of U. P.
Monroe in the early government of the county — Growth of the popula-
tion — Bill introduced in state Senate, in 1852, providing for county


Colusa County Politically 68

Political conditions in the county at the time of its organization, and
after the removal of the county seat to Colusa — The slavery question —
The presidential election of 1864 — Colusa the "banner Democratic
county of the state" — The waning of partisanship with the passage
of non-partisan laws — Southern sympathizers' plan to celebrate Presi-
dent Lincoln's assassination — The plan frustrated by John H. Liening
in true Western style — Arrest and imprisonment of the leaders — In-
dictment of Captain Starr, Mr. Liening, and others — The cases dis-
missed— "Camp Pap Rice" and John Miller Post— Colusa County, as
at first laid out — The two centers of population— Territory transferred
to Tehama County in 1855— Attempt to transfer territory from Colusa
County to Lake County, 1864— Attempt to transfer territory to Butte
County, 1866 — Railroad completed to Willows, 1878— Willows begins
agitation for county division — Public meeting in Orland, 1882 — Bill
introduced in 1887, providing for county division — County division in
the campaign of 1888 — Bill for county division passes both houses in
1889, but is vetoed by the Governor — The election of 1890 — Arrests for
ballot-box stuffing — The cases dismissed — The election of May 5, 1891
— County division wins — Glenn County named after Dr. H. J. Glenn —
The town of Princeton and Senator John Boggs' ranch transferred from
Glenn County to Colusa County in 1893 — Status of the liquor question
in the county — Effect of the Progressive movement on the Republican
party in the county — The Grange movement — People's Independent
party, 1873 — The Constitution party, 1879— Dr. H. J. Glenn Democratic
nominee for Governor. 1S79— Rise and growth of anti-Chinese senti-
ment, 1880-1890- Delegates appointed to the anti-Chinese convention
in Sacramento, 1888 — Passage liy Congress of Chinese exclusion bill —
Present relations of the two races — Some exceptions to Democratic
success at the polls — The liquor question as a political issue — The
county at first on a "wide-open" basis — The saloon long a power in
politics — The Good Templars organize opposition to the saloons — J. D.
McNary, Peter Earp, and Stewart Harris — First Good Templars lodge in
Colusa, 1868; Col. J. F. Wilkins and O. S. Mason among its officers —
Results of election called by temperance people, 1874 — Organization of
the Union Temperance Sunday School under J. D, McNary, Judge E. A.
Bridgeford. and Charles B. Whiting. 1892 — County license ordinance
providing for precinct option introduced before the board of super-
visors. December 10, 1908 — Result of the vote by precincts, November
8, 1910— Passage of the Wylie local option law. 1911 — All the districts
outside the incorporated town of Colusa go dry, November 5, 1912 —
Results of recent votes.


Transportation _ 75

Importance of transportation facilities — Colusa County long content to
be a "cow county" — Improvements in transportation during the last
decade — Improvements to come. Steajikk Transportation: Condi-
tions favorable to making Colusa a steamboat terminal and distributing
point — Obstacles that bad to be overcome — Five boats go to Colusa or
higher in 1850— The Martha Jane, 1851— The Benicia, 1851- The Orient
establishes regular steamboat service to Colusa — Growth of steamboat-
ing on the Sacramento, San Joaquin, and Feather Rivers — Combination
of boat owners— Effect of the railroads on the steamboat traffic- The
steamboat company sells out to the railroad company, 1876— Organiza-
of the Sacramento Wood Company, 1860 — This becomes the Sacra-
mento Transportation Company and absorbs the railroad company's
steamboat business north of Sacramento — Organization of the Farmers'


Transportation Company, 1901 — The Valletta — Service of the Sacra-
mento Transportation Company and the Farmers' Transportation
Company between Colusa and San Francisco and Sacramento — Agree-
ment between the two companies, 1917 — Effect of the railroads on the
passenger traffic of the boats — The California-Pacific Railroad's line of
boats, 1873-1876— Freight rates in the days of the Orient— Present
freight rates by boat. Railroads: The -"Colusa, Marysville and Ne-
vada Railroad" projected, but never built — The Northern Railway en-
ters the county. May 15. 1876- Celebrations at Arbuckle and Williams
— The road continued to Willows in 1878— Colusa loses the main line
— Colusa authorized to issue bonds for a connecting line, 1876 — Circu-
lation of subscription papers — Officers elected, and articles of incorpora-
tion of the Colusa Railroad Company filed — Determination of the loca-
tion — First passenger train between Colusa and Colusa Junction, April
30, 1886 — Company name changed to Colusa & Lake Railroad Company
— Road extended to Sites, September 29, 1886— First locomotive arrives
by barge in Colusa, November 30, 1885— George Ogden the first en-
gineer — E. A. Harrington the first superintendent, succeeded by M. E.
Burrows — The road operated for over twenty-nine years — The fare
between Colusa and the Junction — Development of interurban electric
roads — Agents of the Northern Electric secure land in Colusa for ter-
minal purposes, 1906 — Progress of the road — OflBcials of the road
secure franchise on Market Street — The "Shasta Southern," and its
activities in Colusa and Princeton — Activities of Southern Pacific rep-
resentatives — The Northern Electric surveyors begin running lines in
town for their road, December 31. 1906 — The Shasta Southern's opera-
tions discontinued — The Northern Electric applies to the trustees of
Colusa for an exclusive franchise along the river front — Verses by Mrs,
R. M. Liening — Water-front franchise granted, but not exclusive —
Terms of the first franchise — Delays — Offer made by the railroad
people in 1911 — Bonds placed with the people of the county — Articles
of incorporation filed, Nov. 14. 1911 — Contract signed for erection of
the Meridian bridge — Contracts placed for grading the road — Progress
of the work — First car to cross the bridge, and first train to arrive in
Colusa — First outbound and first inbound freight — The carnival, June
13 and 14, 1913 — First passenger train into Colusa — Regular passenger
service established, June 16, 1913— The flood of February 3, 1915 —
Traffic resumed, October 15. 1915 — Other roads projected — Cooperation
of the Sacramento Valley Sugar Company with the Colusa & Hamilton,
projected by the Southern Pacific — The proposed route announced —
Progress of construction — Delay in ballasting — The road's first passen-
ger train into Colusa — Freight service to Princeton established, Sep-
tember 1, 1914 — Damage by the flood of February, 1915 — Freight
service resumed and improved — Freight rates — The West Side Electric
— The meeting at Willows, March 27, 1911 — Work of the committee,
and progress of construction — Work suspended on account of financial
difficulties — Proposed route — Railroad between Colusa and Chico advo-
cated by W. S. Green — Surveys for the road made by Green and Moul-
ton in 1875 — Fruitless efforts made to interest the electric power
line in 1900. Highways: The first "highway" — Roads laid out along
section lines — Character of the early roads — Bond issue of 1868, for
roads and bridges — Character of the gravel roads^Experiments with
oiled roads and macadamized road — The state issues $18,000,000 worth
of bonds for concrete highways — County bond issue defeated — Efforts
to bring the state highway up the river and through Princeton — State
aid dependent on the raising of One per cent, interest — Mass meetings
at Williams and Colusa — $452,000 bond issue carried, March 17, 1914 —
Purposes of the bond Issue— Construction begins— The lateral from
Williams to Colusa completed. 1916 — Main line completed through the
county from north to south — Plans for extension of the system — •
Wooden bridges replaced by concrete structures, 1914-1916. Stage
Lines: Early mail and passenger service by stage — Baxter & Company
and a Mr. Johnson operate rival lines between Colusa and Shasta —
Most of the travel diverted from the Marysville to the Colusa route —
Tri-weekly service between Colusa and Princeton, 1869 — Opposition
stage line between Colusa and Marysville — Reduction of fares — Organ-
ization of the Bartlett Springs & Bear Valley Toll Road Company,


and opening of the stage line between Colusa and Bartlett and Allen
Springs, 1873 — Increase of passenger traffic over the route— Stage lines
established between Colusa and Chico and Colusa and Wilbur Springs,
1S74 — Nine stage lines out of Colusa in 1874 — Line opened between
Leesville and Fonts Springs, 1876— Tri-weekly service between Colusa
and Willows, via Princeton, 1877— Effect of the coming of the railroads
on the stage lines — Horse stages displaced by auto stages — Lines still
in service. The ArToiioBiLE ix Coli'sa County: The first velocipede —
The first steam "traction wagon" — Dr. W. T. Rathbun's steam Loco-
mobile proves to be the chief feature of the county fair at Colusa in
1S9S — M. C. Dillman brings in the first gasoline car — Other early cars
— Trip of Will S. Green's Locomobile from Sacramento to Colusa, 1900
— Rapid increase in the number of automobiles in the county — The
Ford in Colusa County — Introduction of the auto hearse — Auto trucks
and tractors fast supplanting horse power. The Aeiioplane: Various
flights planned — Flight at the Odd Fellows' picnic at Grimes, 1917.


Irrigation and Reclamation

Reclamatiox: District 67: Formed in 1867— Construction of the
levee across the south end of Mormon Basin — District reorganized as
District 479— Present trustees. District 108: Formed in 1870— Terri-
tory embraced— The district divided, and District 729 formed, 1902 —
The district as reorganized in 1911— First trustees— The river levee-
Reorganization and construction work under Jesse Poundstone and
Charles de St. Maurice — The back levee— The pumping plants— Cost
of the improvements — Present trustees. District 124: Formed in 1871
— Territory embraced— First trustees— The levee— Later trustees —
Lapse of the district. Other Projects: Reclamation work on Col. L.
F. Moulton's ranch— J. W. Parks' dam— Crocker Estate Company's
levee — Sacramento and San Joaquin Drainage District; scope of the
plans, and authorized cost of the project— Sacramento Valley West Side
Levee District; scope of the project, and plan of assessment — The Iron
Canyon Project. -Iekigatiox: Will S. Green's advocacy of irrigation—
His connection with the Central Irrigation District — Lines run and
route established for a canal through Colusa and Yolo Counties, to
utilize the waters of the Sacramento River — Failure of the plan — Cor-
poration formed and money raised to utilize the waters of Stony
Creek— The project defeated by the owners of riparian rights— Green's
advocacy of the district plan as against the plan of appropriators —
Passage of the Wright Act, and organization of Central District— Text
of Frank Adams' historical account of the district — The meetings of
March 26 and April 22, at Maxwell, and the committees appointed —
Mistakes made — The Central Canal and Irrigation Company extends
the river branch to Princeton — Decision of the Supreme Court in 1915,
and formation of a new district at Princeton— Construction of Central
Canal, and installation of pumping plant — Financial straits of the Sac-

Online LibraryCharles Davis McComishHistory of Colusa and Glenn counties, California, with biographical sketches of the leading men and women of the counties who have been identified with their growth and development from the early days → online text (page 1 of 95)