Greenwood or Greenwood Valley


The History of El Dorado County, California by P. Sioli, pages 185-187

Was originally called Long Valley, and a trading post opened there sometime either in 1848, or the Spring of 1849, by John Greenwood; the first general store there was opened by Lewis B. Myers, Nathan Fairbanks and Louis Lane. Lane died soon and the business was continued by Fairbanks and Myers, but when, sometime after, they added a butcher shop to their business, Wm. P. Crone was taken as a partner. On the 25th of March, 1850, a son was born to Lewis B. Myers, and the town was called Lewisville after the first-born child in the township, if not in the county also. The name, however, was changed when a Post office was established, on account of there being another Louisville in the county, and Greenwood Valley substituted therefore. It is located in one of the loveliest little valleys of the foothills of the Sierra Nevada ; about five miles south of Georgetown, on the highway from Cave Valley to Georgetown. Here in early days a nice and lively village developed in a considerable short time, with a good society, in number as well as in kind, and as a proof for this assertion may be stated that the young men of the place once erected a theater with all conveniences and comforts, which was well supported by the people of the town and the surrounding mining camps. The people of this town had even higher aspirations. In 1854, when the fight for the change of the county seat f El dorado first commenced, Greenwood Valley concurred in the agitation and made quite a good race. There existed quite a number of large mercantile houses kept by : John Allen, from Ohio; Harrison Hilton & Cohea, John and Robert Sharp, Leeds & Bartlett, H. Lower, Ridgeway, George and Jacob Dunn. The first hotel was kept by a man by the name of Rosteen, called the "Buckeye House," Bloom & Partner kept the Illinois Exchange, afterwards the Nation. Mr. Bloom was the first Post Master, and being himself quite illiterate, he used to look at one or a couple of letters and after that would ask the caller to look for himself ; this, however, was no hindrance to his endeavor for a seat in the State Legislature which he was running for. Dr. Nelson was first physician. The first white woman in town was Mrs. Gates, Mrs. Powell and Mrs. Rosteen next. The first marriage in town was that of Mr. Rosteen, and the first-born child, as mentioned already, Lewis L. Meyers, son of Lewis B. Myers. Wm. Leed of Lawrenceburg, Indiana, died here in 1851, he had been a veteran of the Mexican war, and was the first to be burried in the regular burrying-ground. Wm. Crone was the pioneer agriculturist of this township; he broke ground and sowed barley, on what is now Mr. Terry's ranch, in 1851. A saw-mill was erected near Greenwood Valley in 1851, by Wm. Harris in co-partnership with Stephen Tyler, C. Foster and John Gleason. The Penobscott House, one of the oldest public houses and stopping places in the township, owned by L. Meyers, from 1851 to 1854, sold to Page & Lovejoy, who also bought Doctor Thomas' line of stages from Georgetown to Sacramento by way of Pilot Hill and Salmon Falls. Mr. Lovejoy is still interested in the stage business. Mr. Page's aspirations were running faster than the stage trot and higher than the highest stage seat, and did not let him rest until he succeeded with a seat in the Hall of Legislature. He of late was the representative of the second California congressional district at Washington. Page's Hotel belongs to those things that "have been."

Judge Lynch on several occasions made his appearance in the community of Greenwood Valley: the first was in 1851, when James Graham, a Baltimorean, had shot and old well respected gentleman by the name of Lesly, on a prospecting trip, and after the deed was done he fled. Lesly, however, crawled to Tom Burche's cabin where he gave the alarm ; the assassin was caught at Uniontown, brought back, tried before a jury of twelve men, found guilty and hung to an oak tree on a lot in the town of Greenwood Valley, now owned by Mr. Ricci. The next occasion this very same oak tree had to plan an active part in the life of a person, was on July 23rd, 1854. William Shay and inoffensive gentleman was murdered in the most brutal manner by one Samuel Allen, who knocked him down, stamped on him until he was quite dead and then pounded on his head with stones crushing it to a jelly. Allen was arrested, taken before Justice Stoddard for examination and ordered to jail, but forcibly taken away from the officer by a large and excited crowd, who had decided about the prisoner's guiltiness, and an hour afterwards the dead body of Allen swung from the same oak tree limb where Graham had ended his treacherous life. In consequence of the assassination of Mr. Harrison Hilton by Henry Miller, on September 1st, 1857, a meeting of the citizens was called at the Buckeye Hotel ; the meeting was called to order by L. B. Curtis, Esq., Justice A. A. Stoddard was elected Chairman, and S. S. Buckeley Secretary ; a committee was appointed to draft resolutions expressive of the feeling entertained towards the deceased, on account of his untimely death, recognized his zealous, worthy and enterprising character, his moral character being above reproach, and his absence from society hardly to be filled as he had but few his equals as a citizen and friend. Finally, expressing their sympathy with the relatives in the Atlantic States; which resolutions were unanimously adopted. Dr. Nelson got and preserved the head of a Swede, who had been hung here, which had been separated afterwards from the body with a spade.

Greenwood Valley was by far more fortunate than its sister mining town, as far as the destruction by fire is concerned ; the first fire of any magnitude originated in Charles Nagler's house, where it was caused by an ash barrel standing at the corner of the house, and laid the entire business part of the town in ashes, in 1858. On February 3d, 1876, at an early hour, a box filled with combustibles etc., was discovered on fire and placed to the front of Felice Ricci's store, and had it not been for Chas. Nagler's watchdog, whose restless noise alarmed the clerk sleeping in the store, there would have been a big blaze, but under the circumstances it only could be called a close call, as the flames were subdued in time with the assistance of some neighbors. Nothing could be found out about the originator, and whether it was done with the intent to burn the town and get a chance for robbing or to gratify a personal grudge against Ricci. There speaks a great probability for the latter argument, however, if we consider the circumstances under which the premises of Messrs. Nagler and Ricci were set on fire June 3d, 1878; about two years afterwards, and residences, stores, etc., with all contents were totally destroyed; hardly anything could be saved. The fire evidently was the work of an incendiary. Loss $16,000.

Greenwood Valley is one of those mining towns that have understood to preserve quite a lively appearance, though not many of the old timers are left here. There is Orlando Shepherd, a native of Chilicothe county, Ohio, who came to California in 1850, and to Greenwood on March 31st, 1851; Jno. Daniels, better known as "Scotty," a native of Scotland, who came to California on board of a vessel in 1839, Lewis B. Myers, of the Chimney Rock ranch; and Wm. Harris. The present population numbers about two hundred, supports three stores, two hotels; one blacksmith shop, butcher shop and one brewery ; the first brewery was started by Jacob Winkleman.

The farming done in the township is not considerable and consists to the greater part in hay making. The principal support consists in mining, and there are the richest mining claims close onto town. The Nagler or French claim, first discovered by Mr. Sheperd, is a seam mine, worked after the hydraulic process, developing richer in greater depth. Mr. Desmarchais is the superintendent of the mine, with which a stamp mill is connected to crush the larger rock, and work the vast pile of tailing over. North of the French claim there is the Bower mine, run by eastern capital and pushed with great vigor. A Chinese agent some years ago came up here from San Francisco, offering the sum of $100,000, for this property as it stood at the time, while bout a year before that, it could have been bought for perhaps $15 or $20. The Chinese however were not the only ones who had found out the value of the mine, tests had been made to determine its extent and value, which had proven satisfactory to the owners, who decided not to sell for the sum offered. The Argonaut mine, upon which as long as 1852 prospecting was done to a limited extent in search of the quartz ledges, as from surface working course gold had been obtained in very paying quantities for years past, was lately sold to San Francisco parties, who have undertaken to make a thorough practical test of extent and value of the ledges of this mine, which, though most gratifying indications are given, as yet did not expose no well defined lode upon which to settle for working.

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